And so it ends, the Seahawks trounced the Broncos in the Super Bowl and now the 2013 NFL season comes to a close.
But the 2014 season has just begun. The Combine is only a week a way, free agency is less than a month away, and the NFL draft is only two months away. Don’t you just love how there’s really no off-season? It’s football season all the time! What more could one want?
Nothing really, except for the NFL Draft to be in April and not May. Thanks again Roger! We love a never-ending football season, but really? You had to move the draft to May? It just gives NFL bloggers and analysts, like me, more time to do mock drafts! Instead of 9,000 mock drafts, there will be 11,000! Let’s clog the Internet full of mock drafts, just because Roger Goodell gave us time to do mocks 10.0, 11.0 and 12.0!
So without further ado (I have to get started on mock 2.0 already), my NFL Mock Draft 1.0. Feel free to comment if you think my picks are wrong (which they probably are, after all this is mock 1.0) and/or vote in the poll below.
With the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft (don’t worry there’s only fanfare for the first picks, I won’t make long, Roger Goodell-like introductions for the rest, unless of course you enjoy them) the Houston Texans select: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: The Texans really faltered this year with injuries and inept quarterback play. While Case Keenum will probably be back with the Texans next year, he didn’t perform like a NFL starting quarterback this year. Therefore they will draft a quarterback in Bridgewater, who’s a mobile pocket passer, throwing for over 3,900 yards and a 31/4 touchdown to interception ratio. Right now, Bridgewater is the best and safest quarterback in this year’s draft. With a good QB, Houston could make the jump next year from worst to first.
2. St Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M. The Rams need to shore up their offensive line and have a weakness at tackle. Matthews is easily the best offensive lineman in the draft and would help protect Sam Bradford on passing downs. It is also possible that the Rams could take advantage of a quarterback-desperate team such as the Cleveland Browns or the Minnesota Vikings and make a trade to acquire more picks.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina. The Jacksonville Jaguars were tied for dead-last in the NFL in sacks, with 31.0. If Jacksonville ever wants to compete in the NFL, their defense is going to have to improve heavily. Gus Bradley is a defensive coach and the Jaguars always love to surprise people and take defensive linemen. They take one here, who is already an incredible pass rusher and will make an immediate impact.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. The Browns desperately need a quarterback after using, not one, not two, but three quarterbacks this past season. While Brian Hoyer will be back, he hasn’t proved himself to be a legitimate NFL starting quarterback, and the Browns will look to find their future QB with this pick. Newly promoted general manager Ray Farmer, a Duke alum, most likely watched Manziel lead the Aggies back from a 21-point deficit to beat Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Browns select Manziel here to turn their offense around.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. The Oakland Raiders love guys with speed. With a need at wide receiver, the Raiders take the best wideout in the draft in Watkins who sped his way to 12 touchdowns and 1400+ yards at Clemson. While the Raiders could use a quarterback as well, I think they give the combination of Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin another shot, and give them a true No. 1 wide receiver in Watkins.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn. The Falcons have huge needs on the defensive and offensive lines. With Clowney off the board, the Falcons elect to take Robinson, a superb rush and pass blocker who paved the way for Auburn’s 1,000 yard rusher, Tre Mason.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo. Mack is a player Lovie Smith will love. Mack had a huge game against Ohio State this year and finished the season with 10.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, three interceptions and 100 tackles. The Buccaneers need an edge rusher and Mack will give them that, being a force to be reckoned with on their defense for years to come.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida. With Bortles having fallen past Cleveland, Minnesota nabs him at No. 8 in desperate need of a quarterback. Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder and Matt Cassell are not NFL starting quarterbacks and the 6’4” Bortles will fill that role. Bortles is an incredibly accurate passer with great arm strength and good mobility to succeed in the NFL.
9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. The Bills have a great middle linebacker in Kiko Alonso but need someone to line up next to him. Barr will be that guy after a huge season with the Bruins including 10 sacks and five forced fumbles and big games against Oregon and Stanford.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. The Lions ranked No. 23 in passing defense this past year allowing almost 250 passing yards per game. In a division with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler throwing the ball, the Lions need to improve their defensive backs. Enter Dennard, captain of the Spartan “no-fly zone.” Dennard had three interceptions and 10 passes defended his senior year and the Spartans won the Rose Bowl with the third best defense in the country.
11. Tennessee Titans: Ha Ha Clinton Dix, S, Alabama. The Titans defense is in need of a rush 3-4 outside linebacker and a safety. With the top two OLBs off the board (Mack and Barr), the Titans take the best safety in the draft in Clinton Dix. Clinton Dix adds depth to the Titans secondary and will immediately make an impact on a team that tied for No. 22 in the NFL in interceptions with 13.
12. New York Giants: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State. With Linval Joseph hitting free agency this year, the Giants will need a replacement to shore up the No. 14 ranked rush defense. With Hakeem Nicks and Justin Tuck also free agents, the Giants won’t be able to sign all three and drafting Jernigan will soften the loss of Joseph. Jernigan led a stout Seminole defense that helped Florida State win the BCS National Championship.
13. St. Louis Rams: Marqise Lee, WR, USC. After adding Jake Matthews to shore up the offense line, the Rams will look to give Sam Bradford some weapons to work with, with Ha Ha Clinton Dix no longer on the draft board. They added Tavon Austin last year and will supplement him with Lee, who finished his college career with over 3,000 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns.
14. Chicago Bears: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame. The Chicago Bears had the worst run-defense in the entire NFL this past year, contributing to them missing the playoffs. The Bears will attempt to shore up their pass defense by upgrading the interior of their defensive line with Nix, who had 14 tackles for a loss during his three-year career at Notre Dame.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State. The Steelers have one of the oldest secondaries in the league. As a team that prides itself on its tough defense, the Steelers will look to infuse their defense with some youth. With Ike Taylor unable to cover No. 1 receivers as well as he used to, the Steelers add Gilbert to shore up their aging secondary.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan. Both Ravens offensive tackles, Michael Oher and Eugene Monroe, are free agents and the Ravens will probably not re-sign them both. To shore up their rushing attack, which ranked No. 30 in the NFL, and restock their offensive line, the Ravens take Lewan, a great pass and run blocker.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri. The Cowboys defense was absolutely abysmal this past year, ranked No. 30 against the pass and No. 27 against the run. The Cowboys will also need to add a defensive end to replace Anthony Spencer, a free agent. Enter Ealy who had 4.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss with Missouri. Early will add an impact rusher to the Cowboys defensive front.
18. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: The Jets need to give their young quarterback, Geno Smith, weapons in order to facilitate his improvement. Evans is the third best receiver in a deep class of wideouts. In two seasons with the Aggies, he caught over 140 balls for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame. Neither of the Dolphins offensive tackles played that well this season and one was involved in a bullying scandal. The Dolphins need to upgrade their line and do so with former Notre Dame tackle Martin.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama. While the Cardinals offensive line was improved last year, they still gave up 41 sacks and an upgrade at offensive tackle is needed. Enter Kouandjio who was superb against Auburn, not allowing any pressure on the quarterback and opening up running lanes.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota. B.J Raji is a free agent and the Packers are not expected to re-sign him, as their rush defense was ranked No. 25 in the NFL this past season. To replace Raji, the Packers draft Hageman, who faced his fair-share of double teams at Minnesota, but still posted 13 tackles for a loss and seven passes defended.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville. The Eagles had the No. 32 ranked pass defense this past season. Pryor, a hard-hitting safety, will help to improve their pass defense, as he had 69 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and four passes defended with Louisville this past year.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama. The Chiefs end Mosley’s fall taking the best defensive player available. Mosley will fill the void left by Akeem Jordan who will most likely leave in free agency. The Chiefs will look to improve their defense so they’ll never blow a 28-point deficit ever again.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida. Leon Hall has torn his Achilles twice in three years and might never return to form. The Bengals have had an excellent defense, in part due to their secondary the past couple of years and improve it here with the selection of Purifoy, who has the potential to be a man-to-man cornerback in the NFL.
25. San Diego Chargers: Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State. The Chargers ranked No. 29 in pass defense this past season and could use an upgrade at both cornerback positions. At FSU, Joyner had 5.5 sacks, 7 tackles for a loss, 3 forced fumbles and two interceptions. Joyner will immediate be slated to start in San Diego and improve their secondary.
26. Cleveland Browns: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State. After adding Johnny Manziel with the fourth overall selection, the Browns need to outfit him with some weapons. After Josh Gordon the Browns do not have a legitimate NFL wide receiver. Greg Little will most likely not be with the team next year, and the same goes for Davone Bess. To prevent Gordon from being quadruple-covered the Browns take the 6’5” Benjamin, adding to Johnny Cleveland’s arsenal of weapons.
27. New Orleans Saints: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU. With the possibility of Malcom Jenkins leaving in free agency, the Saints select his replacement, Jason Verrett out of TCU. The Saints also could elect to take Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State here, but I think he would be a bit of a reach in the first round.
28. Carolina Panthers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU. The Panthers continue to build around quarterback Cam Newton by grabbing an explosive pass-catcher in Beckham. With Ted Ginn Jr. hitting free agency, Beckham will replace as Ginn both a receiver and kickoff returner.
29. New England Patriots: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. With Rob Gronkowski injured again and Aaron Hernandez in jail, Tom Brady needs someone to throw the ball to. Ebron had an excellent 2013 season catching 62 passes for over 900 yards and three touchdowns. Ebron gives Brady a big-target to go along with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State. Both Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham are free agents, but even if either is resigned, the 49ers still don’t have an explosive play-maker at the wide receiver position. Drafting Robinson will change that. Robinson posted over 1,400 yards receiving to go along with six touchdowns, including a spectacular catch that helped Penn State tie the game and send it to overtime against Michigan.
31. Denver Broncos: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida. The Broncos’ defense was constantly beaten on third down and kept on the field during the Super Bowl. With Champ Bailey not getting any younger and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a free agent, the Broncos have a large need in their secondary. Roberson’s good size and length, allowing him to disrupt receivers’ routes and ability to play man-coverage will improve the Broncos secondary.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense still don’t have true No. 1 wideout. With Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin headed to free agency, the Seahawks will look to add a top flight receiver to further improve their offense. Matthews had 112 receptions for over 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns at Vanderbilt. A combination of him and Wilson makes the Seahawks’ offense even scarier.