Final 2014 NFL Mock Draft (1st round)

1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE. South Carolina

Quarterback is the indefinite need, but talent counts for a lot. If the Texans decision-making staff isn’t in love with any passers, it’ll be tough to justify passing on the player with the most upside in the draft for any other positional player.


2. St. Louis Rams (f/WAS): Greg Robinson, OT. Auburn

While the bad taste of the failed Jason Smith selection still lingers, the Rams need to be courageous and make the right pick. Whether Robinson ultimately moves Jake Long over to right tackle or not, the picks gives them a couple legitimately talented bookends. Protecting Sam Bradford from further missed time should be among the top priorities.


3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB. Texas A&M

Blaine Gabbert has officially left town and Jacksonville is under a new regime that showed signs of improvement in 2013. A new quarterback to both infuse a level of talent and also reinvigorate league-wide appeal in the franchise couldn’t hurt.


4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR. Clemson

If there truly is no interest in selecting one of the available quarterbacks with this pick, than finding more offensive weapons for the eventual long-term signal caller is imperative. Watkins, paired with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, would pose a dynamic threat for opposing defenses.


5. Oakland Raiders: Jake Matthews, OT. Texas A&M

The natural fit to a team that desperately needs a long-term answer to the left tackle position. Whomever the quarterback is moving forward, the Raiders need to be able to protect him.


6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB. Buffalo

No draft decisions are easy, but when fit, need, and talent blend into one available prospect, it doesn’t need to be that hard a selection. The Falcons could use help in the pass rushing department and Khalil Mack, perhaps more importantly, doubles as a complete player as well.


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR. Texas A&M

Mike Williams is now in Buffalo and there’s no legitimate depth to speak of. Pairing Johnny Manziel’s favorite target with an equally imposing Vincent Jackson appears to be the most logical choice. Lovie Smith is now in town and brought McCown with him as his starting quarterback. The Bucs can put that supposed need off for now.


8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB. Central Florida

The Vikes could go in a number of directions with this selection depending on their view of the quarterback class. In my eyes, two things are certain – Physically, Blake Bortles warrants No. 1 consideration and schematically, he’s a fit for Norv Turner’s offense. If Bortles can recreate the success of another ex-Viking quarterback & UCF alum from the past, than this would be a great selection.


9. Buffalo Bills: Zack Martin, OT. Notre Dame

Being a former OL coach (with success), you have to think Doug Marrone values blockers more than most would. Injuries derailed an otherwise encouraging rookie campaign from E.J. Manuel. Keeping him clean and upright is important, and I think that may take precedent. Martin is an experienced leader with the flexibility to even project at guard.


10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB. Oklahoma State

I don’t buy the theory that Detroit would opt for a pass catcher over an available top cornerback prospect. Justin Gilbert is a legitimate top 10 talent and at a position of long-term need for the Lions. I’ll give Detroit’s staff credit and continue believing they’ll make the logical choice in this scenario.


11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB. UCLA

Shaun Phillips was signed and the Titans boast a couple of good young linebackers in the Zach Brown, Akeem Ayers duo. Still, there’s no such thing as ‘too many’ pass rushers. Anthony Barr is good value at this point and a good fir for Ray Horton’s base 3-4.


12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald, DT. Pittsburgh

He’s been steadily rising despite his obvious lack of size, and for good reason. The G-Men lost big Linval Joseph in free agency but still possess enough meat on the interior defensive line with Cullen Jenkins and 2013 2nd round pick Jonathan Hankins.


13. St. Louis Rams: Hasean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, S. Alabama

The trade that allowed Washington to select RG3 has partially helped St. Louis stockpile quality defensive players. After addressing the glaring offensive need, the Rams look to address one of the few glaring needs remaining on defense. In-the-box strong safety T.J. McDonald was impressive, but now he’s paired with a true center-fielder with range who can cover.


14. Chicago Bears: Bradley Roby, CB. Ohio State

Charles Tillman is on his last legs and may even be moving inside to safety at some point next year. New blood is needed at the position in an NFC North with a good group of opposing receivers.


15. Pittsburgh Steelers: C.J. Mosley, ILB. Alabama

Pittsburgh does well to capitalize on experienced, proven college players in the early round and it’s hard to argue Mosley isn’t best available at this point, either. Partnering him with Lawrence Timmons would form a very difficult duo to play against.


16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE. Missouri

Ealy is as slam-dunk of a pick as you’ll see for Dallas at this point. Finding a potential top 10 talent, at a position that has just become a primary need, fall to the middle of round one is true value. DeMarcus Ware out, Kony Ealy in.


17. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, S. Louisville

In the post Ed Reed era, Matt Elam was added and was encouraging as a rookie. Calvin Pryor, a physical, downhill hitter with raw coverage skills would be an ideal complement. The position would unquestionably be solidified.


18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE. North Carolina

A tight end?! Seriously, we’re talking steal at this point if Ebron nears the 20s. The Jets added a reliable offensive producer in Eric Decker and can bolster the offensive weaponry in a different way with this selection. Ultimately, the team needs talented pass catchers. They get one here.


19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT. Michigan

Plug and play prospect for the Phins. The offensive tackle need is negated and Ryan Tannehill gains some much needed protection help. Lewan at No. 19 would be good value if he were around here.


20. Arizona Cardinals: Dee Ford, OLB. Auburn

When you give the Cards roster a look, you’ll quickly realize that they don’t have many glaring holes that can be filled with the group available. However, the team lacks a true disruption off the edge.


21. Green Bay Packers: Ra’Shede Hageman, DL. Minnesota

Ted Thompson is a draft day wildcard who, in multiple instances, has had little fear of selecting someone who maybe wasn’t the popular choice. Hageman has top 10 potential and if given time to develop consistency, this could easily prove to be a steal down the road.


22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Fuller, CB. Virginia Tech

An athlete with size and speed, the Va Tech product has been rising well. The Eagles 3-4 transition has some good pieces, but the secondary could certainly stand to still be improved.


23. Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr., WR. LSU

After a staggeringly quick turnaround, the Chiefs are now a team without many glaring holes. The offense lacks a bit of a punch, and a wide receiver trio of Dwayne Bowe, Odell Beckham Jr., and Donnie Avery is little more formidable.


24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, OLB. Ohio State

Despite losing Michael Johnson, the Bengals still have a lot invested in the defensive end position. We’ve witnessed the value of a large group of good young linebackers in recent years, and Shazier fits the mold. A quick, twitchy athlete with sideline to sideline qualities. Slots in right next to (and complements downhill defenders) Maualuga and Burfict nicely.


25. San Diego Chargers: Darqueze Dennard, CB. Michigan State

I think the cornerback group may shake out this way, but were Darqueze Dennard the fourth off the board, someone gets a major steal. San Diego simply can’t enter the 2014 season with its current crop of corners.


26. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB. Louisville

After landing the weapon earlier in Sammy Watkins, the Browns get the quarterback to piece everything together here. Bridgewater helped build up a Lousiville program without a plethora of talent surrounding him. He enters Cleveland with a few very legitimate targets.


27. New Orleans Saints: DeMarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB. Boise State

Unfortunately for the pass rusher-hungry Saints, nobody of great value remains. However, Boise State’s DeMarcus Lawrence has 1st round upside and could develop nicely into Junior Galette’s sidekick.


28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR. USC

The Panthers already had a big wide receiver need even before Steve Smith left town. Now without the long-time leader, the grunt work will be spread out amongst the current crop. However, Marqise Lee has plenty of experience being a workhorse in the passing game.


29. New England Patriots: Kelvin Benjamin, WR. Florida State

Physically, the FSU receiver is Calvin Johnson without the speed. Great high-point skills and can overmatch most corners on the boundary. New England got by with a rather sub-par group last year and Benjamin helps infuse some talent – as well as a threat in the redzone.


30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephon Tuitt, DE. Notre Dame

Shear value at this point. Tuitt’s slide is more of a formality and the 49ers are happy to see it. Justin Smith is extra long in the tooth, while Ray McDonald is on the wrong side of 30. Preparing for the future is never a bad thing.


31. Denver Broncos: Allen Robinson, WR. Penn State

Offering many stylistic similarities to Demaryius Thomas, Allen Robinson’s addition could make Denver’s downfield offense even more deadly. A tough vertical receiver who wins many 50-50 balls. Eric Decker is now in New York and Peyton needs his targets.


32. Seattle Seahawks: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT. Alabama

The champions don’t have many needs, but the loss of right tackle Breno Giacomini might have left the most immediate need going into 2014. Kouandjio is one of the best natural right tackles in this class and Pete Carroll already had 1st round success with James Carpenter – another Alabama alum.

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