I have finally, with hours to go, got my 2014 NFL Draft up and by pick two it could be completely off. That’s how it is trying to predict the NFL draft…
Some things to consider…
– Watch for the trades. I have St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, Cincinnati, New England and Denver as the most likely teams to move around given their needs and the players that should be available when they pick. With rookie salaries being fixed, the trades are easier to rationalize making my job of predicting these trades impossible. For our case here, I am assuming nobody trades, but I do bring attention to possible trade scenarios in my rational of a couple of these picks.
– Two – three quarterbacks in the first-round. Manziel could fall, but it’s unlikely, and Bortles and Bridgewater figure to be first-round picks. However, there are always players who are considered top options only to fall into the second round. Anything can happen.
– Running backs will again slide. I think Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde is the first running back to go, but he won’t be selected until at least the end of the first-round, most likely the second-round.
– Michael Sam should be drafted, regardless of these rumors that he is a seventh-rounder at best. All discussion of his sexuality aside, he should be drafted. It seems a little ridiculous for a player who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year would go undrafted after dominating in the SEC where NFL scouts salivate over the talent and “quality of competition”. Sam is a “tweener” without a true position between defensive end and outside rush linebacker, but he clearly can play against good competition and that alone should be worth a look
– A lot of smokescreens. Most of the “breaking news” rumors were just rumors and will not happen, but you already knew that.
So, let’s get into my picks…
1. Houston Texans
My Pick – DE Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina
– Who else would they pick? There is a need at quarterback, but none of the options warrant a top overall pick. There are talented players across the board, but none come close to the potential that Clowney possesses. He truly is a “once-in-a-generation” player in terms of true ability. A lot has been made about his work ethic, but if you put him on a team with leaders like J.J. Watt, you have to think his work ethic will be worked out and NFL teams will be terrorized by the most natural pass rusher since Julius Peppers.
2. St. Louis Rams
My Pick – OT Greg Robinson – Auburn
– Robinson has been mocked to St. Louis here often. Robinson is the top offensive tackle prospect in the draft, but he does have his share of concerns. He is predominantly a run blocker, in terms of what you see on tape, but possesses all the traits necessary to be a top tackle. In St. Louis, he could begin his career on the right side, where his college success as a run blocker will help him transition, and then eventually move to left tackle perhaps. It makes sense, but I also wouldn’t rule out the Rams trading out of this pick. St. Louis has moved around frequently over the past couple NFL drafts, so they would potentially move quicker than other teams, even in the number two spot.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
My Pick – WR Sammy Watkins – Clemson
– Watkins is an incredible talent. He is a burner, yet stands in at 6’1″ giving him solid size given his athleticism. He is easily considered the most dynamic playmaker in the draft and Jacksonville, while needing a lot of everything, really needs playmakers. Mack could go here and Manziel has been mocked here, but I like the pick of Watkins. You have to think Jacksonville is trying to replace the indefinitely suspended Justin Blackmon at the receiver position. Look for Jacksonville to trade into the end of the first round or use their second round pick on Watkins’ future running mate at the quarterback position.
4. Cleveland Browns
My Pick – QB Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M
– Again, I’m not a huge fan of Manziel, but he will be taken around this point in the draft. Manziel, in most circles, is considered an incredible talent who should be a star and face of a franchise for years to come. While Cleveland’s fan base is very loyal, the excitement that Manziel would bring the organization would be immense, plus, if he really does play as well as people think, he could be a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
5. Oakland Raiders
My Pick – OLB/DE Khalil Mack – Buffalo
– I’ve mentioned Mack a couple times. He should be an exceptional NFL player as a sure-fire top-five pick. “Sure-fire” is a cringe-worthy phrase in relation to the NFL Draft, but Mack really does look to be one. Oakland needs talent, especially those who can pressure the quarterbacks in their division. Mack fits the bill, and by this point, he is a great value pick here.
6. Atlanta Falcons
My Pick – OT Jake Matthews – Texas A&M
– Atlanta always seems to need offensive line help to protect Matt Ryan. Matthews was widely considered a top pick if he entered the draft a year ago. Matthews won’t be considered for top-five, but the talent is still there. I see him stepping in and quietly protecting Ryan for years to come.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
My Pick – WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M
– Evans has been almost unanimously mocked here to Tampa Bay and for good reason. Evans has the size and skill to be taken top-ten, but no other team to this point has a pressing need for the talented former Aggie. Evans has been favorably compared to Randy Moss, but the more accurate comparison may be to current Buccaneers’ receiver, Vincent Jackson. Having both on the field at the same time would be eerily similar to Chicago’s offensive attack with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Quite the combination they could be.
8. Minnesota Vikings
My Pick – QB Blake Bortles – UCF
– Christian Ponder is quickly becoming a failed experiment and Matt Cassel is not the answer. I could easily see the Vikings taking Bortles, who seems to be everything Ponder didn’t turn out to be.
9. Buffalo Bills
My Pick – TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina
– Buffalo is now looking to really develop the talent around second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel. Ebron is considered the next great tight end in the NFL’s “mismatch passing league” and considering how tight ends are a quarterback’s best friend, Ebron makes a heck of a lot of sense here.
10. Detroit Lions
My Pick – CB Justin Gilbert – Oklahoma State
– Detroit has needed to shore up their secondary for years. Gilbert is more athletically gifted than other corner prospects, so there is the sense that Gilbert has the highest ceiling. I personally like Darqueze Dennard, but nonetheless, taking Gilbert here isn’t a bad idea.
11. Tennessee Titans
My Pick – CB Kyle Fuller – Virginia Tech
– Tennessee lost Alterraun Verner in free agency, who was quietly developing into a high-quality starter, so now they must look to replace his talent. It is well known that Jake Locker remains precariously as the number one quarterback, but I think if Tennessee does take one, it will be in rounds two or three.
12. New York Giants
My Pick – OT Taylor Lewan – Michigan
– The Giants needs to add a top lineman prospect if they hope to help Eli Manning and the nonexistent run game offensively. Notre Dame’s Zack Martin figures to come into the equation here too. Martin is a very versatile offensive lineman prospect, but I think Lewan, who may have been a top-five pick a year ago, is the pick here.
13. St. Louis Rams
My Pick – S Calvin Pryor – Louisville
– I doubt St. Louis opts not to trade one of their two first-round picks, but if they stay here (or maybe even trade back a bit), I think they go after Pryor. Pryor is a very active and talented safety prospect who has the ability to be a playmaker on the back end of the Rams’ young and dangerous defense.
14. Chicago Bears
My Pick – DT Aaron Donald – Pittsburgh
– Donald has quickly become known as the top defensive line prospect in this draft despite being somewhat undersized for the position. That said, Donald possesses the strength and quickness that Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins demonstrates. Atkins, knocked for similar “flaws” was a fourth-round pick, but Donald will be taken in the first round, I think, by a team like Chicago who is trying to find Henry Melton’s replacement after he left for Dallas in free agency.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
My Pick – WR Odell Beckham Jr. – LSU
– Pittsburgh does still have Antonio Brown at receiver, but there were times last season where it felt as if Brown was completely by himself trying to help Ben Roethlisberger move the ball. That was with Emmanuel Sanders, who signed with Denver in free agency. While some people feel a cornerback is the likely pick, I think Pittsburgh goes after a receiver here and Beckham Jr. is the guy.
16. Dallas Cowboys
My Pick – OLB/DE Anthony Barr
– Dallas inexplicably let DeMarcus Ware walk (okay, it makes some salary cap sense, but still…), so now a team that struggled with their front seven a year ago is without their most talented player and most talented pass rusher. Barr doesn’t replace Ware, but he does fill a need and has enough talent to play a big role in Big D is a couple years. I will mention this… there are rumors of Johnny Manziel being taken here if he is available. I wouldn’t be at all surprised by that. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jerry Jones trades up for “Johnny Football”. Finding Romo’s eventual replacement makes sense and Jones seems to love guys with Manziel’s sort of…”brashness”.
17. Baltimore Ravens
My Pick – OT Zack Martin – Notre Dame
– There is a very good chance Martin is gone by this point. Highly talented offensive tackles tend to go pretty early after all, but I’m putting Martin here because Baltimore’s offensive line could use his talent and versatility. There is a sense that Martin can play tackle and guard. With Baltimore just letting Michael Oher walk, Martin or another tackle prospect at this point would make sense.
18. New York Jets
My Pick – WR Brandin Cooks – Oregon State
– The Jets entered last season seemingly lacking playmakers on the offensive side of the ball and now a year later they enter the draft with… sort of the same dilemma. They have talent at running back, even newly acquired Chris Johnson aside, and have second-year Geno Smith in, presumably, a quarterback competition with Michael Vick, but the wide receiver position remains relatively bare. Jeremy Kerley and free agency addition Eric Decker are pretty solid, but Cooks would certainly help the unit.
19. Miami Dolphins
My Pick – OT Cyrus Kouandjio – Alabama
– Miami needs an offensive tackle. Even prior to the Jonathan Martin – Richie Incognito incident, Miami was in need of an offensive tackle. Kouandjio may be considered a bit of a reach, considering who is likely to be on the board at this point, but he does fill a need and is talented. Plus, we know that where players are drafted mean nothing to potential success.
20. Arizona Cardinals
My Pick – OLB Ryan Shazier – Ohio State
– There is some question of if Arizona will go after a quarterback here to eventually replace Carson Palmer. However, I think Arizona thinks they can compete, even in the rugged NFC West, now and picking a developmental quarterback with your first-round pick isn’t the way you go about that. So, I think Arizona takes Shazier who is very athletic and can play at a high level early in his career.
21. Green Bay Packers
My Pick – ILB C.J. Mosley – Alabama
– I’ve seen Mosley mocked all over the first round, so he may not be here at this point, but if he is, Green Bay would have to pull the trigger. They could use a new infusion of young talent at inside linebacker and Mosley could be a solid player for years to come.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
My Pick – S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – Alabama
– Philadelphia could use defensive help considering their offensive effectiveness last season. Clinton-Dix would help the Eagles at safety where they have been hurting since Brian Dawkins left.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
My Pick – WR Marquise Lee – USC
– The Chiefs may also look at cornerback here, but they could really use a playmaking receiver like Lee. Lee was widely considered the top receiving prospect in the NCAA entering this past season, but injuries derailed his year. Lee could easily be the top receiver when we look back on this draft if the injuries don’t become a theme of his career.
24. Cincinnati Bengals
My Pick – CB Darqueze Dennard – Michigan State
– Dennard is one of, if not the, top cornerback prospect in this draft, but there are always players who are projected as early picks that drop. Dennard, being a more physical corner who perhaps lacks the pure, highly coveted athleticism that teams want from their corners, could slip. The Bengals will take the best player available here and in this case it happens to be a pressing need (some pun intended).
25. San Diego Chargers
My Pick – CB Jason Verrett – TCU
– San Diego is another team in need of a cornerback after a successful season behind a surprisingly solid offense. The defense didn’t force enough turnovers though, so you would think the Chargers would go after someone early in this draft to address that problem.
26. Cleveland Browns
My Pick – CB Bradley Roby – Ohio State
– Cornerback Joe Haden is a superstar, but the rest of the secondary could use another guy like Roby. With that said, I think if everything shook out this way, you would probably be looking at Cleveland trying to trade back. They could also look at wide receiver, but I could see Cleveland taking a guy like Roby before adding a receiver.
27. New Orleans Saints
My Pick – WR Kelvin Benjamin – Florida State
– New Orleans, for all their passing yardage, is suddenly rather bare at receiver. Marques Colston is coming off a down year, Lance Moore is gone and even Darren Sproles is out of town. Benjamin is a big, physical receiver right now, but could develop into something that terrorizes defenses even more.
28. Carolina Panthers
My Pick – WR Cody Latimer – Indiana
– Carolina needs a receiver desperately as their two starters are Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant to this point. Latimer has been widely considered a potential steal in this draft with strong hands, top-flight speed and a decent frame. If you are the Panthers, I feel like you have to take a receiver and Latimer is the best one here. Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses has been mocked here a lot as well though.
29. New England Patriots
My Pick – TE Jace Amaro – Texas Tech
– I can almost guarantee that New England trades out of this pick, probably to someone targeting quarterback Derek Carr (Oakland?) and then still gets Amaro. You know New England wants to get back to their two tight end looks and with Rob Gronkowski fighting injuries, the Patriots need to get another guy who can, perhaps… eventually… fill-in.
30. San Francisco 49ers
My Pick – DE Stephon Tuitt – Notre Dame
– San Francisco needs to begin fortifying their defensive line, especially with their primary pass rusher, Aldon Smith, still on thin ice. Good defensive lines are more than one group of starters, but a full unit of talent. Tuitt would be a huge part of that rotation and eventually taking over the starting role.
31. Denver Broncos
My Pick – OT Morgan Moses – Virginia
– Denver is looking for defensive help, but providing offensive line depth, much less depth at tackle may ultimately be the final call. Denver, coming off a Super Bowl run, doesn’t need a lot, which allows them to take more developmental or less urgent picks. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is where we see Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde taken. This is about where the first running back can expect to be taken in today’s pass-happy league.
32. Seattle Seahawks
My Pick – DT Louis Nix III – Notre Dame
– Seattle plays “4-3 with 3-4 personnel“, so I guess everyone is worth considering with the Seahawks. Nix is a big body who could be another in an increasingly long line of solid, defensive draft picks that pan out exceptionally well for Seattle.