by Greg Gabriel
April 22, 02014
We have done two previous mock drafts at the NFP this year, but those were done by Eric Galko from Optimum Scouting and myself using an alternating pick method. This time, I'm going it alone.
Anyone who has read my articles or followed me on twitter knows that I am a believer that this year’s quarterback class will not be taken as high as many in the media believe. Some feel that three or four quarterbacks will get drafted in the top 10. While I feel that there will be (maybe) three quarterbacks taken in the first round, I don’t feel any are deserving of top 10 status. In saying that, I still believe one could go that high, but if it does happen, the team making that selection is reaching. They would be better off trading down a few slots. That being said, here is my guess of how the first round could look come May 8th. As soon as one trade is made this mock will be out the window, but then again, that’s the problem with mocks.
1 – Houston Texans - Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Houston has a QB need, but a QB is not one of the top 10 best players in this draft, let alone the best. Based on 2013, tape, Clowney was not the best player, but he is the most talented. When Clowney is on his game, he can be an extremely dominant and disruptive player. With people like J.J. Watt in the Houston locker room, I feel that Clowney will play to his potential. Houston will look for a QB with their next pick.
2 – St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
The Rams will be looking to trade with this pick. If they can’t get one done, Matthews could very well be there man. Rams' Coach Jeff Fisher coached Matthews' father Bruce. Fisher is hoping like father like son.
3 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
The Jags are also in need of a quarterback, but will be patient and wait until the next pick. Justin Blackmon has been a disappointment while in Jacksonvillem and by taking Watkins, they are hoping he solidifies the position. Don’t be shocked if both Houston and Jacksonville try and trade into the bottom of the first round to select their quarterback.
4 - Cleveland Browns – Greg Robinson – OT- Auburn
The Browns also have a QB need and will wait. There are some in league circles that feel Robinson is the best player in this draft. He still had two years of college eligibility left, and there is no telling how good a player Robinson can be.
5 – Oakland Raiders – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
The Raiders tried to sign Rodger Saffold in free agency, but he couldn’t pass their physical. While they did sign Donald Penn, he doesn’t have the talent of Lewan who could be a fixture on the Oakland line for years to come.
6 – Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
If the draft falls the way I have it, it won’t take the Falcons long to make this selection. Mack can play on his on his feet on base downs and be used as a pass rusher on passing downs. He is a complete player who can give the Falcons some dominant plays right from the start.
7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Under the leadership of Lovie Smith and Jason Licht, the Bucs have done a great job in free agency acquiring talent. They go into the draft with the flexibility to draft the best available player. With the Bucs having traded Mike Williams to Buffalo a few weeks ago, the wide receiver position still has a hole to fill. Evans gives quarterback Josh McCown a big receiver, similar to Brandon Marshall.
8 – Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
The Vikings missed on Christian Ponder three years ago and can’t afford to miss on their QB pick this year. Like the other teams needing a QB, they could pass now and take one later. Word around the league is that Carr is their top rated signal caller and so they pull the trigger right here.
9 – Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
If one of the top three tackles had still been available, I feel the Bills would have gone in that direction. Trading for hometown receiver Mike Williams took care of a need at receiver, so Ebron becomes the logical choice. With his size, speed, and talent, he can be used in a variety of ways to create match-up problems for the defense.
10 – Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma St.
The Lions would love to trade up to draft one of the premier players, so look for that to happen. If they have to stay at this spot, the pick could be safety, corner, or wide receiver. Gilbert is the highest rated corner on the board.
11 – Tennessee Titans – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – DS – Alabama
The Titans could go safety or corner here. Clinton-Dix is higher rated then the next best corner and they choose to go with him. This will turn out to be a solid choice for them.
12 – New York Giants – Aaron Donald – DT – Pittsburgh
The Giants could go for a number of players in this slot. They have needs on the D-Line, wide receiver, linebacker, and tight end. Donald lacks ideal size, but he has a non-stop motor and gives the G-Men an inside pass rusher they don’t currently have.
13 – St. Louis Rams – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
This was a difficult choice because the Rams could go corner at this slot. Going into the year, Lee was the highest rated receiver in college football. While his play wasn’t as good as it was in 2012, he gives the Rams another big-play receiver. His return work doesn’t hurt.
14 – Chicago Bears – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan St.
The Bears went after defensive linemen in free agency. In the draft, they will take care of the secondary. Had Donald fallen to here, he would have been a possibility, as would Clinton-Dix. When you compare Dennard to safety Calvin Pryor, Dennard is the better overall player. The Bears may look to trade down if this is the scenario they are looking at.
15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
The Steelers are looking at some good players and could go in several different directions. Anthony Barr would give them another edge pass rusher, or they could look at a receiver like Odell Beckham. Mosley is the type of winning player Kevin Colbert likes.
16 – Dallas Cowboys – Anthony Barr – DE/OLB – UCLA
This pick may look a little off the wall, but Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli needs an edge rusher for his scheme to work. They signed Henry Melton in free agency to play the three-technique and Barr will provide the outside pass rush. He needs to add a little bulk and increase his upper body strength, but the traits are there for him to become a dominant edge rusher for years to come.
17 – Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Pryor – DS – Louisville
The Ravens weren’t happy with their safety play last year. Pryor gives them a physical, downhill player who can be comfortable at either free or strong safety.
18 – New York Jets – Odell Beckham Jr. – WR – LSU
At this pick, the surprise would be if the Jets didn’t select a receiver. Still, there is a chance that they could go for a corner as that is a position of need as well.
19 – Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
There have been reports of late that the Dolphins may look at Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio. I’m not buying it. While Kouandjio is a good tackle candidate, he reportedly has an arthritic knee. Martin is about as consistent as they come and he can play tackle or guard. He also has top football character, something Miami needs in their locker room right now.
20 – Arizona Cardinals – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger, and this could be an ideal situation for Bridgewater. He can come in and learn for a year or two behind Palmer and then take over when he is ready.
21 – Green Bay Packers – Ryan Shazier – LB – Ohio State
When Shazier entered the draft in January, there was some worry about his size. He was listed at being 222. Shazier, who is a junior entry, came to the combine at 235 and ran in the 4.4’s at his pro day. He will give the Pack a rangy and instinctive playmaker. It is an excellent pick at this point in the draft.
22 – Philadelphia Eagles – Brandin Cooks – WR - Oregon State
The Eagles cut DeSean Jackson a few weeks ago. Cooks is a similar athlete with speed and run-after-the-catch skills. Chip Kelly is very familiar with his talent.
23 – Kansas City Chiefs – Davante Adams – WR – Fresno State
The Chiefs don’t have a second round pick, so this could be a trade down slot, especially for a club looking to move up for a QB. If a trade can’t be made, Adams is an Andy Reid type of pick.
24 – Cincinnati Bengals – Kyle Fuller – DC – VPI
The Bengals have a solid squad and could go in several different directions. Fuller is a very good corner with size, length, and speed. He is a good fit for their defensive scheme.
25 – San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
We should start getting a run on corners in this area of the draft. Their value is just too good for this late in the round. Some clubs will have Verrett off their board because of his height (5096), but if he was 5110 he might be the first corner selected. He is a very talented player.
26 – Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
The Browns are patient and still get their man. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan has worked with an athletic QB before in RGIII and knows how to get the most out of Johnny Football.
27 – New Orleans Saints – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
It’s surprising that Ealy is still available this late in the round. With Ealy’s athleticism, he should be able to play on his feet in base downs and as a pass rusher on passing downs. This is a value pick at this point of the first round.
28 – Carolina Panthers – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
The Panthers have a need at tackle and wide receiver. If Kouandjio's knees weren’t a problem, he would have been drafted earlier. How serious the problem is, I don’t know, but if the Doctors pass him, he is a great pick at this point of the draft.
29 – New England Patriots – Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
I almost gave Hageman to New Orleans a few picks earlier, but I felt Ealy was a better pick for their scheme. These two picks could very well flip-flop come draft day. Hageman is a very talented player. When you grade the flashes, he looks like a top 15 talent. If he can become a more consistent player, he will be an excellent selection for the Pats.
30 – San Francisco 49ers – Dee Ford – OLB/DE – Auburn
With the off-field problems the 49ers have had with Aldon Smith, Ford may be the perfect replacement. Ford is an undersized pass rusher, with the athleticism and agility to play on his feet.
31 – Denver Broncos – Bradley Roby – CB – Ohio State
The Broncos need to add depth in the secondary. They could also use a receiver, but at this point in the draft, Roby carries better value than any receiver on the board.
32 – Seattle Seahawks – Louis Nix III – DT – Notre Dame
The Seahawks lost some defensive line depth during free agency. Nix addresses the need at the position. He is a prototypical nose tackle but can play in an even or odd front. While not a top pass rusher, he has the quickness and power to collapse the pocket.
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