2014 NFL Draft: A Way Too Early Mock of Next May’s Draft
Roll the red carpet out. I’m ready to talk about the 2014 NFL Draft.
Yes, it’s not even October yet. The NFL season isn’t even a quarter over. But my Green Bay Packers are 1-2, are on a bye and this has been a fairly lackluster NFL season and in a lot of respects, a lackluster fantasy football season, too.
I blame David Wilson and C.J. Spiller for being so damn pedestrian. I blame the New York Giants for going 0-3. And Tom Brady for not having any fun weapons to throw to. I also blame Johnny Manziel for being so friggin’ awesome that I can hardly wait until the NFL season is over so I can see which currently horrible team is soon to be a whole lot better.
Also, I blame Josh Freeman. Sorry, I just felt I’d join the club (looking at you, Schiano).
Alright, with that, I know it’s early and none of this will stick, but I have to try. But instead of going all sheepish with the current standings, I’d rather project a bit to make it a little more realistic. Roughly, this is how the 2014 NFL Draft order (and possibly the selections, too) could look come May. Yes, the draft is in May. Write that down.
As The Joker would say…here…we…go:
Note: In-house draftnik Keet Bailey sat with me and held my hand during this mock (which we did live, by the way), as we took turns picking players for each team for the first round.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (Keet’s Pick) – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville*
This franchise needs a lot of help and while Jadeveon Clowney would be a great selection here, this team just cannot go without a quarterback any longer.
Bridgewater has a lot of great tools that could make him the next great quarterback in the NFL. He has a strong arm, great quarterback presence and the ability to step in the pocket and deliver accurate passes.
Despite lacking Braxton Miller type rushing stats, the guy can actually run if he needs to, being able to escape pressure in the pocket and keep plays going. He’s a smart kid with a lot to offer at the next level.
2. Oakland Raiders (Kevin’s Pick) – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Oakland could seriously consider a quarterback here, too, and they just might. However, it’s going to be awfully hard to pass on such a world class stud at defensive end. Clowney would help give the Raiders an elite pass-rush (it’s already actually over-achieving early in the year) and would only help a young and rising secondary. With Terrelle Pryor proving critics wrong with each passing week, quarterback doesn’t seem like the hole in one pick it did heading into the season. Clowney does.
3. Cleveland Browns (Keet’s Pick) – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon*
This is going to throw everyone for a loop because this is not your traditional selection. The Browns would love to get their hands on Teddy Bridgewater if available, but the Jaguars fail at doing NFL things just a bit more.
Mariota is not going to be a fan favorite as of September 2013, but if he comes out for the 2014 NFL Draft, this kid could rise up draft boards in a big way. He has great size just under 6’4 and 211 pounds and has outstanding athleticism.
What sells me on Mariota over Manziel is his decision making and the fact that he tends to protect the football by not making crummy passes like Johnny Manziel, turning the ball over less. He has picked up the college game very quickly and is an early favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, while also showing that he can lead a complex offense that requires the intangibles that not all collegiate quarterbacks have. Watch him over the course of the season and you’ll be impressed. While he doesn’t possess traditional pocket passer ability, he still has a solid arm and resembles Colin Kaepernick with his play making ability.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Kevin’s Pick) – Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Greg Schiano’s days are probably numbered in Tampa Bay and I’m not sure if anyone really buys into third round pick Mike Glennon being the future at QB in Tampa. Tampa Bay’s GM already made it known the ship has sailed on Josh Freeman and if Glennon tanks (and he probably will), it’ll be time to start over under center. Tampa Bay could keep adding to an improved defense or beef up the offense line, but not here at the four spot. Boyd is a poor man’s Donovan McNabb and he has a very high ceiling. He’s proven to be a great leader and clutch performer, with the ability to move the ball both with his legs and arm. You’d like better size out of your quarterback, but Boyd is svelt and a complete passer.
5. Minnesota Vikings (Keet’s Pick) – Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Just a few days ago Mettenberger was brought up in a discussion on Twitter. I expressed my concern after watching him in 2012 show inconsistency, but also plenty of upside. In 2013 Mettenberger has been flawless and it seems that he has changed his mechanics and delivery enough to prove that he is a legitimate NFL quarterback in the future.
His size is exceptional just over 6’5 and 230 pounds, his pocket presence has greatly improved and he can make all of the NFL throws. What’s been most surprising is his ability to read the field and make better decisions. The season is still young, but this kid is going to rise to the top of the boards. He fits perfectly with what the Vikings need in a quarterback. They need a player that can get the ball into the hands of Adrian Peterson and then surprise defenders over the top with Cordarrelle Patterson in the long run, making big plays down field.
While he seems like a reach at the moment, I can assure you that this guy will rise to the top of boards come next April.
6. Arizona Cardinals (Kevin’s Pick) – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
This is a tough spot to draft. Do you draft Manziel, Brett Hundley, or another stud, or do you build for the future by shoring up the trenches? Obviously the Cardinals are thinking about protecting their next quarterback before drafting him.
Jake Matthews is the best tackle in the class regardless of what Taylor Lewan thinks. Matthews is the son of legendary utility offensive lineman Bruce Matthews and he is pretty darn good. Carson Palmer has already been sacked nine times in three games and the lack of protection is a big reason why this offense struggles to get going.
A running back here would be great, but the value of Matthews outside of the top five is just too great here. The Cardinals drafted Bobby Massie and Nate Potter in 2013, but neither projects as a future starter at left tackle going forward.
7. Buffalo Bills (Keet’s Pick) – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
It’s simple. The Bills drafted their franchise quarterback a year ago in E.J. Manuel and it’s time to get him some more help. Stevie Johnson makes plays, and Robert Woods could develop into a solid #2 someday at most. But Lee is a play making machine.
Lee lacks great size, but he is a burner that plays physical with great hands. Mental lapses have occurred more in 2013, and many believe he should have came out in 2012, but his quarterback situation is less than ideal at the moment. Regardless, the guy catches passes, makes plays after the catch and scores touchdowns. If this offense wants to succeed, the Bills will help out their young quarterback by giving him elite options to throw to.
8. St. Louis Rams (Kevin’s Pick) – HaHa Clinton-Dix, SAF, Alabama
There’s no guarantee that he will come out, but assuming he does, he could be one of the better safeties to come out in recent years. Clinton-Dix emerged as an elite play maker in 2012 and so far has done an exceptional job in 2013.
The Rams drafted T.J. McDonald to play FS 2012, and now they can get their run support safety early in 2014 by grabbing Clinton-Dix who is very well rounded, has very good size and is a very capable tackler. We want to see more play making ability over the course of the season, but HaHa Clinton-Dix has established himself as one of the elite play makers on the best defense in the country.
9. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) (Keet’s Pick) – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
This is going to be tough. Is Sam Bradford the future of the franchise? We’re still not sure, unfortunately. So far in 2013 he looks like he’s ready to make plays but he still needs support. The line has protected him until they played a real pass rush in Dallas and Roger Saffold is not the long term solution on the right side.
Kouandjio has a lot of ability run blocking and can develop into a great pass protector. Do you generally want to draft a right tackle the top 10? Not necessarily, but there is justification here as the defense has a lot of talent to be developed, but the line is still very shaky, especially in the run game.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (Kevin’s Pick) – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Can the Steelers really be this blessed? I feel like we’ve been talking about this for 10 straight years now, but it’s still happening: Pittsburgh’s offensive line is atrocious and it’s finally catching up to them. The lumbering Ben Roethlisberger can’t evade the rush as effectively as he once could and injuries are taking their toll. This line can’t even run-block consistently anymore. It starts outside, though, where they can get a man-eater in Lewan. Lewan has ideal heigh, size and strength and simply can bring a mean streak to the table Pitt is lacking. It doesn’t get much better than this.
11. New York Giants (Keet’s Pick) – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Hakeem Nicks is a free agent in 2014, and unless he starts learning how to throw to himself, he will likely ask to walk and test out the market. Sammy Watkins is an extremely fun pick to mock at this selection, and while the Giants also need offensive line depth and help overall, Justin Pugh is expected to kick over to the left side at some point in the near future. Not to mention, this team simply does not invest first round draft picks on offensive lineman.
Evans is a big body that has good speed and the ability to pluck the ball out of the air effortlessly. He uses his 6’5 230 pound frame very well without offensive interference penalties and does a nice job of adjusting to poor passes and making the play. He still is raw in some aspects as he is only a redshirt sophomore, but the guy can make plays, has exceptional size and hands of glue. Reuben Randle is very solid, but a #2 role for him is asking a bit much in the long run. Evans could be dominant and the Giants could eventually see an Evans, Randle, Cruz lineup for Eli Manning.
12. San Diego Chargers (Kevin’s Pick) – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Chargers don’t have an elite defense and not having stud corners is a fairly big reason why. It’s such a shame, too, as they’re wasting the prime of an elite safety in Eric Weddle. It’s time to get Weddle some help, as well as the pass-rush. Roby has the make-up of a stud cover corner. He plays the ball extremely well and rarely loses sight of his man. He’s had some off-field brushes, but he’s too talented to slide much further than the 12 spot, and might even be a top-10 pick. If the Chargers let a potentially elite cover corner out of their grasp, they’re idiots.
13. Tennessee Titans (Keet’s Pick) – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Likely next April Nix will be a top 15 selection, if not top 10 and for good reason. The guy just plugs rushing lanes, while also showing penetration ability. The Titans defensive line lacks consistent play makers and needs someone who can make a difference. Before Albert Haynesworth went crazy, their defensive line had an identity.
Nix gives this defensive line a much needed physical presence that they can compete with in the AFC South and if the Titans want consistency on defense, they’ll address the front seven immediately.
14. Carolina Panthers (Kevin’s Pick) – Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Chris Gamble retired last year and Carolina’s weakness on defense so far this year has clearly come from the secondary. Landing a potential top-end corner could go a long way in putting the finishing touches on a young, rising defense. Safety is another area of concern and the Panthers still need a WR to take attention away from Steve Smith, but Roberson will be hard to pass up.
15. New York Jets (Keet’s Pick) – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Stephen Hill is still raw, but is finally showing signs of improvement. After him an aging Santonio Holmes randomly shows up as a “play maker” for the offense, while Jeremy Kerley and his unhealthy self take stabs at deciding which one wants to attempt to produce for the week.
Watkins is a speedster with great hands and route running ability that has tremendous upside. Geno Smith needs weapons to succeed and this defense has holes, but not nearly as much as this offense that lacks any sort of consistency. Watkins can come in from day one and make an impact.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (Kevin’s Pick) – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Football arrives to the NFL. I personally think he’s a special talent and could go much higher, but I can’t see him dropping much lower than this spot. Michael Vick is looking solid and the Eagles have two quality backups, but let’s face it: Chip Kelly needs a long-term solution for his offense. Vick will be 34 next year and this season could be a disaster, while neither Nick Foles or Matt Barkley are athletic enough to give this offense what it deserves. Manziel is what Kelly needs. He needs to work on footwork and pocket presence, but he has good arm strength, solid accuracy and athleticism that is off the charts for the position. He and Kelly could terrorize the league for years. Or bomb at the same time. Either way, it’s a perfect match.
17. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis) (Keet’s Pick) – Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
The average college football fan is going to hate this selection, but this kid is big, fast and physical. Moncrief is not a household name mostly because he plays with a quarterback in Bo Wallace that simply cannot get the ball to him down field and make accurate passes.
Moncrief stands around 6’3 and 225 pounds but he can run with any cornerback in the nation, he adjusts to the ball like nobody else in the nation and he has reliable hands. His route running needs work and he is a bit raw, but having a play maker like him combined with Josh Gordon could be just what the Browns need if they want to become an elite offense any time in the near future. Look for Moncrief to turn heads if he comes out and enters the NFL combine, likely locking himself as a top 20 selection.
18. Detroit Lions (Kevin’s Pick) – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Brandon Pettigrew has to go. He’s a plodding tight end who can’t do anything after the catch and isn’t even a red-zone factor. He’s already being phased out of the offense, so let’s make it official. While Pett’s ineptitude is reason enough to move on, it will be borderline impossible to pass on Seferian-Jenkins, who is a beast from the word go. Blessed with elite size and athleticism, he’s going to be a major problem for opposing defenses.
19. Dallas Cowboys (Keet’s Pick) – Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
Anthony Spencer can’t seem to stay healthy and while DeMarcus Ware is great, this team has to pressure the quarterback if they want to win football games. Offensively, they could afford to snag a guard, but a player of Barr’s potential should not fall out of the top 20.
Barr, a former running back, has switched to the defensive side of the ball and made big time plays. His quickness off of the edge is exceptional and while he needs to add bulk and build strength, his upside is huge. Cowboys get a potential top 10 talent here.
20. Baltimore Ravens (Kevin’s Pick) – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
This is an interesting pick, but what makes sense is that Matthews can make plays all over the field. His speed is not elite, but he fits perfectly in an offense that highlights Torrey Smith’s speed and down field ability.
Matthews would end up in a role similar to Anquan Boldin’s in 2012, although with more production in the regular season. He has solid upside as a potential #1 and surefire #2 receiver on most teams. His ability to be physical and catch everything will make him attractive. With Jacoby Jones hurt and historically inconsistent, Baltimore could look to beef up their passing game by adding a legit talent.
21. Miami Dolphins (Keet’s Pick) – Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
There’s little reason to believe Richardson will fall to this pick in May, but in this draft, it happened. The Giants could easily be a contender for grabbing Richardson just outside the top 10 with his ability to anchor down the left side of the offensive line.
Losing Jake Long has been a bit of an issue with Jonathan Martin starting at left tackle for the first time in his career. Martin has upside as a left tackle, but seems to be progressing at a very slow rate. Richardson would be a steal with the 21st pick and could work on the right side to get acclimated to NFL speed, much like the Jaguars are doing with Luke Joeckel and the Chiefs are doing with Eric Fisher, the first two picks of the 2013 NFL draft.
22. Cincinnati Bengals (Kevin’s Pick) – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Cincy may want to grab another body at wide receiver or someone for depth in their secondary, but they also need to think about the future of their line-backing corps. James Harrison isn’t a long-term solution on the outside and really isn’t all that of a natural fit, so finding his replacement would be a good idea. Shazier is Ohio bred, athletic and as reliable as they come. He’ll fit in nicely with a very deep Cincy defense.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (Keet’s Pick) – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
When you’re attempting to create a dominant defense, you can never have too much depth. The Chiefs have a very stout defensive line right now led by Dontari Poe, Tyson Jackson and Mike DeVito. DeVito has played very well and is not a bad player at all, but the position can be upgraded and younger by adding Tuitt.
When you look at 34 defensive lineman, it doesn’t get much better than Tuitt. He’s aggressive against the run, forces multiple blockers often and pushes his man into the backfield consistently. He’s another guy like Antonio Richardson that could be drafted much higher than the early 20′s.
24. Atlanta Falcons (Kevin’s Pick) – Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
The Falcons need help with their pass-rush. They let Jonathan Abraham walk, Osi Umenyiora is old and they lost Kroy Brierrman to an injury. I know they could go corner, running back or tight end here, but if they want to remain among the top NFC teams and contend, they need to re-build their pass-rush. It starts with Lynch here.
25. Chicago Bears (Keet’s Pick) – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The Bears have four cornerbacks that could test free agent waters in 2014 including Charles Tillman, Zackary Bowman and Tim Jennings.
Assuming they can only bring back one or two, if they want to keep up their dominant defensive play, they’ll want to invest in a big time corner that can run with most NFL wide receivers. Ekpre-Olomu has a very smooth back pedal, flips his hips quickly and can run with most receivers stride for stride.
He has recently shown an improved ability when tackling in the open field and has #2 cornerback upside at the very least.
26. New Orleans Saints (Kevin’s Pick) – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
New Orleans needs the right pieces for their 3-4 and Jonathan Vilma really isn’t one of them. Rob Ryan actually has this defense playing at an extremely high level already. Imagine what can happen once all the right tools are in place. The Saints need edge rushers and d-line help, too, but Mosley can solve the problem in the middle. He’s an athlete who can cover and blitz at a high level. He may not be the best value here, but he makes a ton of sense.
27. Houston Texans (Keet’s Pick) – David Yankey, OL, Stanford
Guard or tackle? Does it matter? You can never have too much depth on the offensive line. The Texans interior line has been mediocre so far this season and on top of that, Wade Smith is no guarantee to return in 2014.
Yankey is versatile enough to play right tackle and both guard positions and utilizes his aggressiveness to go track down defenders to knock out of the way, getting to the second level effortlessly. Some have said that he could be as good, if not better than former Cardinal David DeCastro who was selected in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012.
28. Green Bay Packers (Kevin’s Pick) – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Jermichael Finley has looked solid through three games but he’s still in a contract year and drops too many passes. If the Packers let him walk, they’ll have no on to turn to and will have to start over at the position. Ebron looks like the ideal canvas to start anew with, as he has good size and amazing athleticism.
29. New England Patriots (Keet’s Pick) – Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
The only reason Purifoy seems to slip is because of how raw he still is. He’s still not a complete corner and relies too heavily on his instincts. His open field tackling has not shown much improvement, but the fact that he can make plays with the ball, he can locate it better than anyone on that defense, as well as run with anybody else in the country makes him quite valuable.
He’s still a bit of a project, but the Patriots could lose Aqib Talib to free agency (unless he keeps his high play going), and while there is some depth, they need more play makers in the secondary. It’s too hard to see Purifoy not making it in the first round come next May.
30. San Francisco 49ers (Kevin’s Pick) – Devante Parker, WR, Louisville
This could be a bit of a reach, but the 49ers want to get even faster on offense and Parker gives them a big play threat that can stretch the field for Colin Kaepernick’s big arm.
While he may not run a sub 4.40 forty yard dash, he plays faster than he is, while also staying quick in and out of his cuts. Having Teddy Bridgewater throwing to him is a big plus, and while his production is not going to win him any collegiate awards, he is still a top talent at wide receiver if he comes out.
31. Seattle Seahawks (Keet’s Pick) – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Buffalo has a player worthy of a first round pick? You’re darn right they do. Mack is very, very good, hard to block while playing with a high motor and instincts.
His athleticism is off the charts for a man of his size (6’3 245), and he can do it all. In fact, a late first round selection may be too low for him. Imagine Mack playing next to Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in a defense that’s already dominant. Not only is he the best pick available here but it gives them even more depth and an immediate competitor to O’Brien Schofield.
32. Denver Broncos (Kevin’s Pick) – Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
In all reality, Hundley should be going in front of Tahj Boyd. At least that’s the consensus. Hundley may just be the complete package at quarterback, having great pocket awareness and strong arm, exceptional accuracy and a good release.
He will need to work on getting the ball out a bit quicker and throwing the ball away, making better decisions. But Peyton Manning can’t play forever and if we want to be realistic, neither Brock Osweiler or Zac Dysert really have starting quarterback potential at the moment. This is a surprise pick considering that would make three quarterbacks in three years for the Broncos, but Hundley falling this low is too good to pass up.
Let’s face it. This mock draft has a lot of talented players missing, but considering it is September, this is all just opinion based mostly on team needs. This draft order will likely change completely (outside of the Jaguars) and there are always several trades in the first round that make mock drafts seemingly impossible to predict.
We’ll be getting out more mock drafts as the season progresses to keep our readers fresh on who’s hot and who’s not at the collegiate level. It’s not unbelievable to see several different names on the next 2014 NFL mock draft that we do here on NFLSoup.
The Bills desperately need a cornerback, and help on the offensive line, and another linebacker. They’ll take a tight end before they take another wideout.
Mark, you’d rather the Bills take a TE over a stand out play maker than Lee? Smart clubs take BPA if they want to win. See Patriots.
The guy has played well this season and looks like an NFL quarterback. You won’t like it now, but next April, he’ll be a first round pick.
Next May, sorry. Still not used to May.