Posted February 19, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

NFL Draft, NFL draft 2014, NFL offseason 2014
2014 NFL Mock Draft: Teddy Bridgewater has all the skills needed to succeed at the next level.

Teddy Bridgewater has all the skills needed to succeed at the next level. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Now that Super Bowl XLVIII is in the books, it’s time to move on to the Silly Season — that is, the time before the scouting combine and various Pro Days in which we analysts try to guess what teams are thinking, or what they should be thinking, just as teams are ramping up their own film work and putting their initial heavy draft boards together.

Still, there are obvious needs and great fits all over the place, and since Mock Draft Season is more popular than Wabbit Season and Duck Season put together (not to mention the fact that my colleague Chris Burke is way ahead of the game with his own mocks), it’s time to get rolling with more virtual drafts than you can shake a proverbial stick at.

In this mock, we’re going with overall talent as opposed to pure fit, which is why some players who may go overdrafted based on positional importance (like Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr) are out of the picture. We will, of course, come at this mockery from several different angles over the next few months.

1. Houston Texans (2-14): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.

The Houston Texans clearly need a franchise quarterback as they start a rebuild under new head coach Bill O’Brien. And though there are several intriguing quarterbacks in this draft class, none possess Bridgewater’s combination of mobility, ability to throw on the run, capability to make every throw, and command of the game that will pay dividends at the next level. Size is a concern, but take a look at Tom Brady and Drew Brees — NFL training programs can make quarterbacks better, faster and stronger, and Bridgewater has everything else needed to succeed.

2. St. Louis — via Washington (3-13): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M.

The Rams may look at a quarterback later in the draft, and it would be very tempting to take a receiver this high, but it’s pretty clear that protection is the primary issue. Sam Bradford may still have a shot at franchise-level production if he can stay upright and healthy. Matthews is the premier outside lineman in this class — the kind of player you can set and forget (in a very good sense) for the next five years.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina.

Clowney doesn’t dip in this mock because of any nonsense about his motor, motivation or production — it’s simply a matter of team need, and how the draft rolls sometimes. In this case, going third will be an ideal situation for him, because head coach Gus Bradley learned a lot from Pete Carroll as Seattle’s defensive coordinator from 2009 through ’12, including how to use defensive linemen in variable situations and in rotational packages. In such a system, Clowney’s ability to play outside and move inside at times, taking on double teams and still getting production all the while, will be featured in the best possible ways

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.

He’s not the safest pick, that’s for sure — the YOLO lifestyle and occasionally weird on-field decisions will leave some teams wondering how he’ll handle things once the playbooks and defenses get a lot more complicated. Manziel has an element of randomness in his play that brings Tony Romo to mind, but the Browns desperately need something at that position — and Manziel also possesses the ability to carry his team on his back at times.

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson.

The Raiders still have a bunch of needs as they continue their interminable post-Al Davis rebuilding process, but let’s give them a sure playmaker in Watkins. Few draft prospects in recent years have possessed his combination of speed, acceleration and ability to catch the ball on the run — and then hit a second gear. Like Percy Harvin and Cordarrelle Patterson, Watkins can line up all over the field, giving Oakland’s quarterback du jour all kinds of new possibilities.

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is one of the league’s most respected personnel men, but his failures on both lines are coming home to roost more and more. This team lacks a consistent pass rusher, can be beaten inside in the run game, and protection is a fairly major issue. In Robinson, the Falcons will at least have a player capable of taking care of Matt Ryan’s blindside and clearing the way in the run game. Robinson is a mauler who needs technical refinement, but the Falcons need to start amassing pure physical talent at the heart of their franchise.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo.

New Bucs head coach Lovie Smith has inherited an estimable linebacker corps, but as he built his Bears teams on the combination of linebacker acumen and pass-rush consistency, Mack would be a tremendous addition to a defense that is in for a major upgrade from a coaching perspective. He set FBS career records with 75 tackles for loss and 16 forced fumbles, and with his physical talents, Mack can do everything from drop into coverage to clog up the A-gaps in the dual-linebacker blitzes Smith loves to set up.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1): Blake Bortles, QB, UCF.

Matt Cassell will void his contract and become a free agent, and it’s not like he was the long-term answer at the position, anyway. And Christian Ponder isn’t really the answer to any question at this point. New head coach Mike Zimmer has a quandary at the game’s most important position, and Bortles would be an intriguing pick here. He’s already impressed many of those who would ordinarily dismiss him due to the small-school bias. The next step will be to take his impressive size (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and surprising mobility and add an advanced playbook understanding. Right now, Bortles is a see-it-and-throw-it guy who will bail against pressure.

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10): C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama.

Mosley and Kiko Alonso in the same defense? Seems unfair to the rest of the AFC East, but that’s how it goes sometimes. This is high for a linebacker, but you don’t see a lot of linebackers with Mosley’s range, versatility and field awareness. Putting him in this defense would give the Bills one unreal base front seven, and allow the team to play nickel and dime with impunity, because the linebackers would be flying all over the place.

10. Detroit Lions (7-9): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State.

The Lions have a new head coach in Jim Caldwell, but the same old problem on defense — a group of cornerbacks that should surely play better given the amount of pressure provided up front. Dennard, the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner, would provide a home-state solution with the legitimate shutdown fluidity that makes him the best cornerback in this draft class.

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.

If the Titans don’t go quarterback here (and they very well might), perhaps an edge rusher would fit the bill. Barr still needs a bit of finishing work, but he absolutely explodes off the tape. Barr comes off the ball well inside and outside, has tremendous flexibility and strength, and he could be even scarier once he gets into an NFL training program.

12. New York Giants (7-9): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.

New York’s regression on offense had a great deal to do with an offensive line that just didn’t step up. Eli Manning was an interception festival at times, and the formerly dominant run game was nothing special in 2013. Tom Coughlin’s team can pick up interior linemen later in the draft, but adding Lewan up top gives that line an edge and flexibility. Toughness will mask certain technique issues as Lewan gets the hang of the NFL game.

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Marqise Lee, WR, USC.

Whoever the Rams’ quarterback is in 2014 and beyond, the need for targets has been clear for years. And as this team tries to ascend in the brutally tough NFC West, Lee would go a long way toward spicing the offense right up. A star in USC’s pro-style offense, Lee can beat the press coverage that is a divisional staple, understands the advanced routes and cuts that the NFL requires and can simply blast off over the top at times.

14. Chicago Bears (8-8): Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt.

Injuries marred Chicago’s defensive line in 2013, but projecting Donald here is more about the future than any short-term spackle. Pitt opponents tried just about everything to slow him down, and nothing worked. Because you won’t often see an interior lineman blast off and kill the gaps as he does, Donald would have the chance to become Chicago’s best interior defensive lineman since Tommie Harris’ glory days.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame.

Yes, cornerback is a sure need, and this team always seems to require more help on the offensive line. But Dick LeBeau’s defenses are built on a root hog up the middle who can soak up double teams and let everyone else fly around. Not only can Nix do that at 6-2 and 345 pounds, but also he can bull through those schemes arrayed against him to add to any team’s pressure concepts. Conditioning is a slight concern, but Nix would be around veterans who understand what it takes.

16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)*: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M.

Baltimore’s offense fell off a cliff in 2013, and while the run game was the major issue, nobody with a brain is ready to give up on Ray Rice. Instead, the Ravens should be looking at better targets for Joe Flacco, who desperately missed Anquan Boldin last season. Evans has the size at 6-5 and 225 pounds to deal with aggressive defensive backs, but he can also get free in a straight line — something he showed over and over when he was on the receiving end of footballs from Johnny Manziel. Given Flacco’s natural feel for the deep ball, Evans would have Rookie of the Year potential in this offense.

111 comments
FootballUnfanatic
FootballUnfanatic

Alabama University has produced some of the best quarterbacks in NFL. Bart Starr, Joe Namath. Houston Texans should pick him as a quarterback, if the going to draft a quarterback. Cloney ..First......Mc Carran from Alabama  second. great choices.

TanzimAhmed
TanzimAhmed

Everybody come check out my site thepigskincolumn.wordpress.com . For those of you interested in the draft I just evaluated Teddy Bridgewater.

TommyKoenig
TommyKoenig

I have a feeling that the Rams will get out of that pick and snag some picks from Minnesota this year.  I guess it is a matter of how much they want either Matthews or Watkins.  Minnesota is right up there with Jax and Cleveland in needing a QB.  Maybe even more with the years pilling up on Peterson.  Clowney to Houston and the Vikes with what ever QB they fall in love with at the combine/pro day.  

SinclairPhos
SinclairPhos

This is a perfect example of out of town stupid.  The Bears are going to be rebuilding their defense this year.  They will need impact, NFL Ready players.  Those typically come from the first few rounds of the NFL Draft. The draft by design is about bringing in rookies for the future. That being said, the author lists Donald and then says that is all about the future.  Is Donald NFL ready?  Will he have an impact week 1?  If he is not or will not, he will not be picked @ 14. 

sporra01
sporra01

What happened to Austin Seferian-jenkins? 

KenYoung
KenYoung

If the browns take clowny then take Beckum jr or Roby then Hyde then Boyd the Russell Wilson of 2014 can't wait till may let's go browns

KenYoung
KenYoung

Clowny to browns the beast mode of defense lets go

John4
John4

If the Rams go for a WR with the 13 pick, it should be for Mike Evans instead of Marquise Lee.  (If available).   Lee seems to have a body which will be injury prone, (waist too narrow).  The NFL is going to larger WRs.  (Difficult for CBs and LBs to cover).  

John4
John4

Sammy Watkins will be a "game changer" for the next 8-10 years.  He cannot go too high.

John4
John4

My buddy "Cool" has told me I need to avoid just being negative about players.

Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles will be very very good NFL QBs.  Both should be picked top 5.

I liked Johnny Manziel in the Bowl Game, but do NOT think he will be a good NFL QB.  Too small, too "sandlot"  (cool movie, not good in an NFL QB)!, will audible to a pass too often, lacks an NFL body type, the factors which made him successful in college will not occur nearly as often in the NFL.

(Note that many Heisman QBs have struggled in the NFL).  

John4
John4

Kyle Van Noy will not be a good NFL LB.  I don't think he can cover TEs or WRs (there are many WRs typically on the field) in the NFL.  He also lacks "muscle density".  

John4
John4

Kelvin Benjamin has a body type well suited for the NFL.  I see him moving up in the draft.

John4
John4

Taylor Lewan is not as athletic as he needs to be as an NFL Tackle.  He probably should move to guard.  

John4
John4

CJ Mosley looks like a RB playing LB.  Good instincts, but not well suited for the NFL.  I do not see a good future for Mosley in the NFL.

John4
John4

The Rams can "set and forget" Matthews for FIVE years?  Huh?  Does anyone know his lineage?  You can "set and forget" Matthews for the next 12 to 14 years.  

MichaelBruneau
MichaelBruneau

Additionally, if Clowney falls to 3 or (esp. 4) - I could see the Bucs finding a way to trade up and secure a solid pass rushing end to complement McCoy.

MichaelBruneau
MichaelBruneau

I would be floored if the Jags didn't take 2nd best QB in draft...that said - it's the Jags.

ToddStrieter
ToddStrieter

Flaccid is the ravens qb..........bananas.

JohnMatuszak
JohnMatuszak

Raiders D gave up 453 points last year but by all means draft a WR..idiotic

JimSmith4
JimSmith4

Bortles will outplay Bridgewater in the NFL.

Cydjim
Cydjim

Chargers pick at 25 just as dumb as the local rag...DE is not a position in need, a big nose tackle yes but not an end. It will be corner/nose tackle/OL with draft value on their chart

jgut48
jgut48

Shad Khan guaranteed a QB with their first pick, or maybe even 2 QBs the whole draft, this mock is not very accurate

UlisseP
UlisseP

It's time to stop blaming Sam Bradford's shortcomings on the o-line and/or his receivers. The guy is mostly a 1-read QB who lacks game awareness and throws panicky slants as soon as he has a d-lineman 5 yards from his face. He'd be a great backup anywhere, but someone who will light up the NFC West he is not. Pull the plug on him and restart, St Louis.

Kopernicus1967
Kopernicus1967

I see the Browns trading up to 1 to be sure to get Manziel for some reason.  


Maybe because it makes no logical sense whatsoever....

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

All this pre-draft mock nonsense reminds me of a line from solo artist Sammy Hagar's tune "There's Only One Way to Rock"...


"It's all just mental masturbation..."


Skeet Skeet, parakeets!


(Reaches for more coffee....)

GTT
GTT

"nonsense about his motor, motivation or production" Now, that's some nonsense.

Coyoteboy
Coyoteboy

If Peter King is right that the Texans are smart, then he is wrong that they will take Bridgewater. He is about a Geno Smith-level talent. His delivery is weird-looking. He just doesn't look like an NFL QB, and I am not talking about his race. He could easily drop to the Vikings, and if they don't grab him, maybe to the Cardinals. Clowney was hurt much of the year, which King doesn't even bother to mention. Plus he wasn't getting paid. I don't blame him for taking the year off. He will BLOW AWAY the combine, and there is no way he will last. And why was King talking about the Texans taking Vince Young in the 2006 Draft? Nobody expected them to take Young, the draft hype was all about Reggie Bush.

Suncawy
Suncawy

Why would Dallas draft a safety ? Are people tryiing to channel their inner Jerry ? The D-Line was a complete mess and the guy who led the team in sacks in a free agent. Even Jerry can't be that dumb...or could he ?

TH20
TH20

if the draft goes this way, Bortles and or Carr will be around in round two. The vikings may as well pick someone like Barr and grab Carr or Bortles in round two, even if they have to trade up a few spots.

sportsGuy12
sportsGuy12

I guess Clowney to Jacksonville does make sense considering the defensive-minded coach Gus Bradley, although if Bridgewater is available take him

John4
John4

@sporra01  He has some off the field issues, but certainly has a body type (and University of Washington stats) that indicate he should be a very good TE.  He works very well in a crowd.  Figure he would be valuable in first and goal (and second and third) situations where an offense is passing.   

Josh H
Josh H

@John4 5 years would be the length of his rookie contract for a high 1st round pick...

JoyWells
JoyWells

Yeah right this comparison of the two is hilarious. Although I like Bortles considering what teddy does he ideally fits perfect into the NFL, but we'll see

John4
John4

@UlisseP  Ulisse - I agree 100%.  Time for the Rams to cut Bradford (and his huge contract - which will open up several possibilities for bringing in players due to a more competitive salary structure).  The Rams need to draft either Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater with the number 2 overall pick (thank you Redskins).   

MatthewEugeneHaag
MatthewEugeneHaag

@UlisseP  Really?  Before his line decided to let the avalanche through on him again this year he was on his way to his best year as a pro.  Go ahead pull your plug.  The Vikes with Norv will take him and then you can whine about why they let him go.

John4
John4

@Kopernicus1967  No reason to trade up to one overall.  Manziel will go no higher than 4th overall.  (For the record, I do not think Manziel will be a good NFL QB).  

John4
John4

@btcvsolo  Mental Masturbation - funny.  I had a boss once who loved that phrase.  (Hulcha was his last name).

JoyWells
JoyWells

Geno Smith wasn't even a winner in college, he didn't have a quick release and played in a spread offense. Teddy plays in a pro style offense, was a winner and was second in all of college football in terms of accuracy. Once again this is a color comparison that lazy people lean on to make their points

JPM
JPM

@Coyoteboy  

King didn't write this article, nitwit. If you enjoy slamming King, reply to his posts.

John4
John4

@Suncawy  Dallas would draft a safety because they badly need one.  

RickHendrick
RickHendrick

@Suncawy  Jerry is a messy mix of narcissism and muddled thought. The "Boys will not win until they are pried from his cold hands.

John4
John4

@TH20  You don't REALLY think Bortles will be around in round two, do you?

MatthewEugeneHaag
MatthewEugeneHaag

@TH20  Carr will be probably but not Bortles.  I have a strong feeling that the Vikes will miss out on the good QB's at 8 and reach for Carr which is a mistake.  I don't think JVille can pass on a QB this year.  I think they take Bortles or Manziel at 3 and the other goes to Cleveland at 4.  

MichaelBruneau
MichaelBruneau

@sportsGuy12  Clowney is as close to a can't miss prospect as possible, and would be a solid pick.  That said, I see the Jags taking a top flight QB as it's a more important position (and need).

RayIsBipolar
RayIsBipolar

@sportsGuy12  I think teams have a better chance of building a top 10 defense through the draft rather than finding a top 10 qb Why not build the D and try to find a "game managing" qb either in FA, trade or mid rounds.


I know its not that easy but I would feel more confident trying to win that way.

MatthewEugeneHaag
MatthewEugeneHaag

@John4 @UlisseP  I agree that his contract needs to go.  Frankly I hope it happens so another team can sign him...Like I stated the vikings....for a fraction of the original contract.  Then we can see if we have a major player.  

MatthewEugeneHaag
MatthewEugeneHaag

@RayIsBipolar @sportsGuy12  Not that many QB's gonna be available on the Free Market.  Vick and maybe Bradford are the only two I can think of that I might trust.  I mean Cassel if thats the route you wanna go.  Personally feeling?  I would have the Texans take Clowney and pair him with Watt.  Use Keenum as your QB and grab a WR in round 2.  I have an inkling that Lee might slip cause of injury and if he does I can see Houston taking him.

John4
John4

@MatthewEugeneHaag Note that IF Bradford is released, he will resign with another team for 20% to 30% (PER YEAR) what the Rams have been paying him.  He is paid FAR too much.