Draft Headquarters 2014 Mock Draft

Updated: March 29th, 2014


Heading into the week my No. 1 quarterback and projected No. 1 overall pick was Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. After putting on a show at his Pro Day, that opinion has not changed. Manziel grew up just under four hours away from Houston, played for the home state Aggies, and has admirers at the top of the Houston Texans organization. Looking for the face of their franchise on the offensive side of the ball, the Texans have their eye on the homegrown signal caller. My money is still on Manziel going No. 1 overall to Houston to jump start the Texan offense.


Depending on who you ask, a trade down from this position sounds like it's all but a foregone conclusion that it will happen. However, in the event that St. Louis opts to stay put, there's reason to think that they could use this selection from Washington to fortify their offensive line for years to come. Auburn's Greg Robinson is a future Pro Bowl talent with the upside to develop into one of the game's best offensive linemen. The best left tackle prospect since Joe Thomas, Robinson would pair with Jake Long to give St. Louis one of the best duos of left tackles in the league.



There's a theory that the Jacksonville Jaguars could take the best available quarterback at No. 3 overall. However, knowing that the team is led by a defensive-minded head coach, that theory may prove to be wrong. Very quietly a buzz has been growing that Jacksonville is enamored with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and would love for him to fall into their laps with the third pick. Clowney has rare talent that the entire country knows about, and landing with a fiery coach to motivate him and consistently put him in a position to succeed would make this a great fit for him. This has a realistic chance of happening.



Most people that you talk to suggest that the Cleveland Browns will be looking to take a quarterback at No. 4 overall. The only question is which quarterback. With a downfield receiver in Josh Gordon capable of stretching the field vertically, it would make sense that UCF's Blake Bortles would be a player that the Browns would have on their radar. Bortles would be the right type of player to select here and let him develop behind Brian Hoyer before he takes over as the starting quarterback in Cleveland.



The Oakland Raiders have made upgrading the quarterback position a high priority for this offseason. While they went out and traded for Matt Schaub, they restructured his contract in a way that suggests he'll be a one year stop-gap option for the team. Looking to the future, the Raiders need to find a franchise quarterback to build around. That player could come in the form or Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. One of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country, Bridgewater has his questions like anyone else, however for the first time in a long time the Raiders would have a face of the franchise to build around.



After adding Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai up front on the defensive line, it is assumed that the Atlanta Falcons will be making the transition to the 3-4 defense. If the team is transitioning to the new defense, then it is expected that they will be targeting an outside rush linebacker to help make the switch. A versatile player who could play end or outside linebacker in the NFL, Mack has the type of tools to bring immediate production to a team at the next level. With 73.5 tackles for loss, 28.5 sacks, and an NCAA-record 16 forced fumbles, Mack has proven over the course of his career that he has what it takes to excel in the NFL. He'd slide right in alongside Sean Weatherspoon as two key pieces to build around in the Falcons' front seven.



The continued off-field issues with Mike Williams is another sign that his long-term future with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be bleak. While the team invested in Vincent Jackson, the Bucs are in need of an additional playmaker in the passing game, and word is that they have their eye on Clemson's Sammy Watkins. An explosive talent who can score from anywhere on the field, Watkins would invigorate the Buccaneer offense and give them a great offensive piece to build around for the future.



In reaching five wins in 2013, the Minnesota Vikings may have very well put themselves out of contention for one of the top quarterback prospects, barring a trade up for one. Owning a defense that is riddled with holes and expected to lose key veterans, the Vikings would be wise to draft one of the best defensive players in the draft if they are unable to draft a quarterback early. They would like to draft Buffalo's Khalil Mack, however it's unclear if he will last to No. 8 overall. Alabama's C.J. Mosley is a do-it-all linebacker whose leadership, intangibles, and complete skillset make him one of the premier defensive prospects in the 2014 Draft. On a Minnesota defense that has had a revolving door at the MIKE linebacker position, adding the stability and immediate production that Mosley could bring would be a major upgrade for the Vikings.



From a value standpoint, the Buffalo Bills are in a position to land a premier player at No. 9 overall. One likelihood is that one of the top offensive tackles could fall to them, giving them an opportunity to shore up their offensive line for the future. Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews is as reliable of a blind side pass protector as you'll find in this year's draft. Matthews is a future 10-15 year starter who will be a Pro Bowl-caliber player for the team that drafts him.



The Detroit Lions finished the season in the bottom third of the league in passing defense, giving up 246-yards per game through the air to opposing offenses. While Chris Houston is under contract for the next four years, Darius Slay had an up-and-down rookie season and the team was desperate enough to sign Rashean Mathis to a one-year deal as a short-term stop gap option. The team lacks depth and starting-caliber talent at the position, something that has been lacking for a few years. Adding a premier talent would be a major upgrade for the Lions. Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is one of the most intriguing talents in the country. After having an outstanding sophomore season in 2011, posting 15 passes defended, Gilbert had a let down of a junior year in 2012. However, he had a come back roaring in 2013, totaling six interceptions and seven pass breakups through 12 games for the Cowboys. Owning a knack for making a play on the ball, and an eye for the end zone, Gilbert returned two interceptions and one kickoff for a touchdown this year. For a Lions team looking for a playmaker in their secondary, Gilbert would be a fine addition.



With the expected loss of Alterraun Verner to free agency this offseason, the Tennessee Titans are going to enter 2014 with Jason McCourty, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Tommie Campbell, and Coty Sensabaugh at the cornerback position. For Tennessee bringing in a talented corner to replace Verner would be a smart decision. Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard is one of the top cornerback prospects in the country. A lockdown cover corner who excels playing in man coverage, he would be a major upgrade as an immediate producer for a defense that needs one.



After signing left tackle Will Beatty to an extension and drafting Justin Pugh, the hope was that the New York Giants offensive line wouldn't have deteriorated to the point that it has. However, having given up 40 sacks, which has led to an NFL-worst 27 interceptions from Eli Manning, in addition to producing just 3.5 yards per carry in the run game, third-worst in the NFL, it's become clear that the team must make a move to continue to upgrade what has become the clear weakness of their roster. Michigan's Taylor Lewan is a tough, physical player who owns a massive frame and is in a similar mold to former Wolverine Jake Long. While he's had a few inconsistent games in 2013, Lewan still projects as one of the premier offensive tackle prospects in the upcoming draft and would fill a major hole for the Giants.



The St. Louis Rams have had a carousel at their receiver position in recent years, plugging in piece after piece, and seem to still be looking for the right answer. While Tavon Austin fills a major need and has the tools to develop into one of the game's best slot receivers, the team still has a hole outside as Brian Quick has been a bust and Chris Givens is one-dimensional. The team could stand to use this pick to grab one of the draft's best receivers. At 6'5, 230 pounds, Mike Evans has proven to be physically dominant at the collegiate level with his ability to stretch the field vertically and high-point jump balls over smaller defensive backs. Adding Evans to continue to rebuild their receiving core would be a strong upgrade for St. Louis.



The Chicago Bears' defensive line has undergone a major reconstruction this offseason with Julius Pepper, Henry Melton, and Corey Wootton gone. However, the team added Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston to the mix and may still be looking for tackle help inside. Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald is a player whose draft stock has been on the rise since the beginning of the season. Following a great Senior Bowl and terrific Combine, he is a lock to be drafted in the first round. Pairing him with Stephen Paea inside would be a strong move to bolster the defensive line for the Bears.



In 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers gave up 43 sacks and averaged just 3.5 yards-per-carry on the ground, third-worst in the league. Left tackle Mike Adams was benched following his poor play and no longer looks like the answer at left tackle. If there is any team in the league that is craving for a productive blind side pass protector, it's the Steelers. Tennessee's Antonio Richardson is a massive prospect who owns the tools and raw upside to develop into a fine blindside left tackle for an NFL team. In Pittsburgh he would be a strong fit at left tackle and effectively fill the hole at the position that has been there for a few years.



The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2014 draft with a clear need at the safety position. Returning Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox, the team has lacked a premier player here for years, and it is expected to be a priority for them this year. Louisville's Calvin Pryor is a dynamic, game-changing underclassman who is the top safety in this year's draft. His hard-hitting mentality and playmaking ability in the back half would be a fine addition to a Cowboys' secondary that could certainly use it.



In a span of a year, the Baltimore Ravens will have seen Marcus Spears, Arthur Jones, and Terrence Cody all head out the door, leaving the team with little depth on the defensive line. Behind Brandon Williams and Chris Canty at defensive end, the team lacks quality developmental talent that could eventually take over for Canty in a year or two. That problem could be solved by bringing in a player like Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt is a big, strong end prospect who looks the part of a five-technique end at 320 pounds. His combination of strength and mobility makes him a great fit at five technique and he'd be a strong addition for Baltimore to pair with Williams for the future.



While Geno Smith is the presumptive starting quarterback in New York for 2014, the Jets still lack talent at the wide receiver position. While the team added Eric Decker in free agency, there is still work to be done in upgrading the talent at wideout for the Jets. Brandin Cooks is one of the fastest, most electric receivers in this year's draft. A smaller, slot type, Cooks would be a great fit inside playing alongside Decker and Stephen Hill outside as the team attempts to rebuild its receiving core. Cooks is a big play waiting to happen and would bring an added dimension to the Jets' offense that they have lacked in recent years.



In 2013 the Miami Dolphins gave up more sacks than any team in the NFL with 58. After adding Branden Albert to play left tackle, the team has begun to shore up its offensive line. However there is still work to do and adding a player like Notre Dame's Zack Martin would be a strong upgrade. Martin is a versatile prospect who could play tackle or guard at the next level, and would be tried at right tackle first to bookend Albert; if not there, he would move inside and give the team a bright interior offensive lineman to build around up front.



Defensively, the Arizona Cardinals have a trio of pass rushers who are short-term options (Lorenzo Alexander, John Abraham, Matt Shaughnessy), yet lack long-term talented players to develop in their defense. One player worth looking at early is Auburn's Dee Ford, whose standup rush ability and raw speed would be a perfect fit in the Cardinals' 3-4 defense. Ford's speed and explosive qualities elevated him to a sure-first round pick after a dominant Senior Bowl. He'd be a fine addition to the Arizona defense.



With Jermichael Finley's departure, the Packers currently hold recently re-signed Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick as their top players at the tight end position. To add another dimension to this offense, considering adding a premier talent in the form of North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron would be a move worth strongly considering. Eric Ebron is a matchup nightmare due to his size, strength, and speed for the position. He compares to a high-end Ed Dickson and would be capable of producing immediately for the Packers.



Defensively, the Philadelphia Eagles struggled against the pass in 2013. The team is likely to look at the cornerback position early in the 2014 draft to add a talented future starter to the position. Ohio State's Bradley Roby is a talented player at the position who had an up-and-down junior season. The underclassman declared for the 2014 draft, and following a terrific Combine workout he has a great chance of being drafted in the first round.. Being drafted to a team where he could learn the position rather than be forced into immediate action would be an ideal situation for Roby in Philadelphia.



At the tight end position for the Kansas City Chiefs, Anthony Fasano was signed a year ago as a short-term option, and while the team drafted Travis Kelce, he was lost for the season with microfracture surgery. Adding a detatched tight end in the mold of Jace Amaro to play both on the line as well as in the slot would add another dimension to the Chiefs offense. Texas Tech's Jace Amaro is one of the best receiving targets in the country. The massive 6'5, 260 pounder owns the athleticism of a receiver in a tight ends body and caught 106 passes for 1,352 yards (12.75 ypc) and seven touchdowns. Adding his seam-stretching ability to the Chiefs offense would give Kansas City another premier weapon for Alex Smith to throw to.



The Cincinnati Bengals own a roster with few holes, however due to injury they may be looking at the cornerback position in the upcoming draft. Leon Hall was put on injured reserve with his second torn Achilles in three years, putting his long-term future in doubt. Both Terence Newman and Pacman Jones are on short-term contracts, and Dre Kirkpatrick has struggled to stay healthy thus far in his career. Adding a talent like Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller to bring along and develop behind the trio of veterans would be an ideal situation for Cincinnati. Fuller offers the height and length that the team desires at the position.



The San Diego Chargers were one of the surprise playoff teams in 2013, finishing the regular season on the arm of Philip Rivers. However, the team finished the year ranked fourth-worst in the NFL in pass defense, giving up 258 yards per game to opposing offenses. Derek Cox was a free agent bust and subsequently cut, and the Chargers were relying on Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall at both cornerback positions. While Marshall was re-signed, the team is still expected to target a cornerback early in the 2014 Draft. TCU's Jason Verrett is a player who lacks height, yet makes up for it with an aggressive mentality and lockdown coverage skills. He'd be a fine player to add to the mix and has the tools to develop into a quality future starter at the next level.



As the Cleveland Browns begin yet another overhaul of the organization and continue their rebuild, one position worth looking closely at is the inside linebacker position where the team opted to cut D'Qwell Jackson and will attempt to replace him with Karlos Dansby. While Dansby is a fine short-term option, the possibility was already there that the team would upgrade from Craig Robertson. Adding a premier player to the mix here would add a lot to the Cleveland defense. Ohio State's Ryan Shazier is an athletic, rangy linebacker with the speed to play sideline-to-sideline. Plugging him in alongside Dansby and behind nose tackle Phillip Taylor would be a terrific fit for the former Buckeye.



After releasing Will Smith, the New Orlean Saints currently have Victor Butler, Junior Galette, and Kyle Knox as their outside rush linebackers in their 3-4 defense. With an expected upgrade coming at the position, it is easy to look at a player like UCLA's Anthony Barr. Barr has experience making plays lined up from several alignments, and would be a fine selection for the Saints and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to add to their assortment of pass rushers. He could rush the passer standing up as well as with a hand on the ground and would be another talented piece to add to their defense in New Orleans.



The Carolina Panthers receiving corps is currently in a state of flux after cutting Steve Smith and losing both Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn to free agency. It is a foregone conclusion that the team will draft a receiver in the first round, the only question is which player. USC's Marqise Lee is an electric talent who dealt with injuries as a junior and didn't run as fast as expected at the Combine. However, from a talent perspective, he is one of the premier players at his position for the 2014 Draft and would be an immediate upgrade for the Panthers.



Despite bringing back Julian Edelman in free agency, the New England Patriots still lack the type of presence at split end that made them Super Bowl contenders when Randy Moss was stretching the field vertically for them. One player who possesses enormous upside and could add a new dimension to the Patriot offense is Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin is a long, lean, highly-athletic receiver with the height and length desired at the position. While still more raw than most believe, Benjamin is a year away from being a standout NFL receiver who would be a fantastic complementary option for Tom Brady for the future.



The San Francisco 49ers receiving corps was assured of short-term success when Anquan Boldin was re-signed in 2014. However looking to the future, the team does not have a long-term answer opposite Michael Crabtree. Although Quinton Patton could be a nice complementary piece, he is not likely to be the answer as the team's No. 2 receiver. One player would could be that player, and could also contribute immediately is Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews. A complete player at the position with a terrific combination of height, speed, and raw athleticism, Matthews is a polished player who could produce as a rookie for the 49ers.



The Denver Broncos did a nice job of shoring up the cornerback position in the short-term by signing Aqib Talib this offseason, however the loss of Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has still left a void with a need for more depth to develop. One darkhorse player for the first round is Rice's Phillip Gaines. One of the most productive on-ball defensive backs in the country over the past four years, Gaines owns the height, length, speed, and production in college to suggest that he has a very bright future at the next level. Don't sleep on Gaines, as he'd be a fine player to bring in and develop for the Denver secondary.



This offseason the Seattle Seahawks cut Sidney Rice and saw Golden Tate leave via free agency. In their current receiving corps the team has Percy Harvin to pair with Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. While all three players present enough upside to give the team a quality trio of receivers to throw to, the team lacks the type of big, field-stretching presence that they were hoping Rice would be for them. One player who could develop into that type of player is Clemson's Martavis Bryant. A physically-impressive player who looks the part, Bryant owns the height, length, and straight-line speed to be a dangerous downfield presence at the next level.