The 2014 NFL Draft order is one day away from being officially set as the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos square off in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday. Regardless of which team wins here is version one of what may happen during the draft.
1. Houston Texans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
While quarterback is the obvious choice for Houston with Johnny Manziel on the board the franchise will instead go with defense. Linebacker Brian Cushing has missed most of past two seasons due to injuries and besides J.J. Watt the defense regressed significantly in 2013 which is why Barr will get taken no.1 overall.
He’s arguably the best defensive player in the draft. The outside linebacker recorded 66 tackles including 20 for loss, to go along with 10 sacks, six forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
2. St. Louis Rams: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Last year the Ram drafted wide receiver Tavon Austin in hopes of giving quarterback Sam Bradford a play maker with the ability to stretch the field. The plan backfired as Austin’s rookie season resulted in 40 receptions, 418 yards and four touchdowns.
2014 will give St. Louis a mulligan with the opportunity to take Watkins who has the potential to become a legitimate no.1 receiver at the NFL level while Austin translates to a no.3 receiver.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Jaguars organization desperately needs a franchise quarter and Manziel is just that. One positive for him is that Justin Blackmon is one of the better young receivers in the game though he needs to mature quickly as he’s already been suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
What makes Manziel attractive for Jacksonville is his ability to escape pressure and make plays with his arm or running with the football.
4. Cleveland Browns: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Greg Little has been a failure for the Browns and is better known for his ability to drop passes rather than his ability to catch the football. Adding another target to go along with tight end Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon who led the NFL in receiving yards even after missing the first two games of the season due to suspension.
This means Evans is the perfect choice for Cleveland and will take away the ability for defenses to focus on Gordon.
5. Oakland Raiders: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
With Terrelle Pryor not likely back and Matthew McGloin who at times showed flashes of brilliance the Raiders do not have a franchise quarterback on the roster. Bridgewater changes that and for Louisville in 2013 he threw for over 3,900 yards, 30 touchdowns and threw only four interceptions.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Defense has been a problem for the Falcons and Nix will definitely help out in the running game with his massive size (6’3″ 340 lbs) and his presence will get felt immediately on a team that ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Expect Darrelle Revis to look better in 2014 after one season removed from a torn ACL. The secondary is key for the Buccaneers as last season a linebacker led the team in interceptions and overall were mediocre when it came to allowing touchdowns through the air.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder will definitely not be first in line as a starter for the Vikings in 2014 and likely won’t even be with the organization. This means drafting their franchise quarterback and giving Carr the opportunity to lead the team from day one.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Regardless of who started at quarterback the offensive line didn’t protect allowing 46 sacks. Matthews considered by many as the best tackle in the draft and quarterback E.J. Manuel will definitely appreciate better protection in passing situations.
10. Detroit Lions: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Even after acquiring Reggie Bush the Lions struggled to make defenses honest when it came to covering Calvin Johnson. Lee even with a down year at USC is still one of the better receivers in the draft and will replace the inconsistent and injury prone Nate Burleson.
11. Tennessee Titans: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
It doesn’t seem that Kenny Britt will stay a member of the Titans much longer meaning that Robinson becomes his replacement. At Penn State in 2013 he caught 97 passes for 1,432 yards, six touchdowns and averaged 14.8 yards per reception.
At 6’3″ 210 pounds has excellent size and will become crucial to Jake Locker having a successful 2014 season.
12. New York Giants: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
For some Robinson got ranked as a better pro prospect than Matthews. In 2013 the Giants struggled to protect Eli Manning who led the NFL with 27 interceptions the offensive tackle out of Auburn get the chance to add a 6’5″ 320 pound tackle to protect Manning.
13. Rams: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
Running backs Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson found it hard to find holes to run through. With Jackson available at no.13 the Rams will jump on the opportunity to improve their run blocking.
14. Chicago Bears: HaHa Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Bears need an upgrade over Chris Conte and will get the opportunity to take one of the better safeties in the draft in Clinton-Dix. Last season for Alabama he recorded 51 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and four passes defended.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
While drafting a receiver here makes sense there’s an even bigger need to improve their defensive line and Tuittwill do just that. Ziggy Hood disappointed in 2013 and Cameron Heyward a decent season. Tuitt at Notre Dame recorded 49 tackles along with nine tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, forced a fumble and recorded an interception.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Teams are now placing an emphasis on character and Clowney may see his draft stock take a tumble leaving the Cowboys an opportunity to draft one of the most athletic players in the draft. He may get the opportunity to replace DeMarcus Ware if he gets moved.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Ravens need to get younger at tight end and Seferian-Jenkins is an excellent pass catcher and will likely replace Dallas Clark who is 34-years old.
18. New York Jets: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
A crazy notion right? Since the team has gone with Geno Smith at quarterback, yet there are some who believe that he doesn’t possess the characteristics to become a franchise quarterback. Bortles stock has continually risen and it’s not that far-fetched to believe he’ll at least compete for the starting job and eventually take over for Smith.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
Last season the Dolphins were known more for a scandal involving bullying than their play in 2013. With Richie Incognito gone the team will draft one of the better guards in the draft in Richardson.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Zack Martin, G/OT, Notre Dame
Taylor Lewan made sense here until reports of his involvement of an alleged rape involving a teammate, which will significantly impact his draft stock. The Cardinals will still upgrade their offensive line by taking Martin a versatile linemen who exceeds at pass protection which is a definitive need with Carson Palmer not being known for his ability to escape pressure.
21. Green Bay Packers: RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
With the possibility of B.J. Raji asking for more than the Packers can afford. Hageman becomes the replacement for Green Bay at defensive tackle. He faced plenty of double teams at Minnesota and recorded 38 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, two sacks, two blocked kicks, an interception and eight passes defended.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Philadelphia struggled to get a consistent pass rush and only Trent Cole made an impact on a consistent basis. Mack is one of the best pass rushers at the outside linebacker position and will help out Cole.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Alex Smith will get a receiver that will become a threat in the red zone with his tremendous size and as shown by his game-winning touchdown reception in the National Title game against Auburn. He also helps take pressure off Dwayne Bowe.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Michael Johnson is a free agent and Ealy is the best available defensive end and replacement for Johnson. At Missouri in 2013 he registered 42 tackles with 14 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three forced fumbles, an interception returned for a touchdown and six passes broken up.
25. San Diego Chargers: Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
A rash of injuries didn’t help the Chargers and with two of their guard being lost in free agency. Su’a-Filo did play some tackle in 2012, yet is better suited for playing guard at the NFL level. He is a solid run blocker and pass protector and one of the few first round talents in the draft.
26. Browns: Zack Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Cleveland made a major mistake in drafting Brandon Weeden in the first round and he’ll not likely be apart of the organization in 2014. Mettenberger played extremely well in his senior year and improved on his accuracy and unfortunately his career at LSU ended when he tore his ACL.
27. New Orleans Saints: Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford
Last season the Saints improved their pass rush it still needs some work. At Stanford in 2013 Murphy recorded 62 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception returned for a touchdown, blocked a kick and six passes defended.
28. Carolina Panthers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Steve Smith is still the Panthers best receiver and he’s getting up there in age. Brandon LaFell has not produced consistently and Ted Ginn is a free agent and that means it’s essential for the franchise to find a wide receiver to complement Smith and Beckham Jr fits that description.
29. New England Patriots: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Rob Gronkowski cannot stay healthy for the Patriots and Aaron Hernandez is no longer with the organization due to his criminal activity. Meaning that it’s essential for Tom Brady to have another threat at tight end and Ebron fits perfectly.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Rumors swirl around what will happen with Carlos Rogers and Tarrell Brown is a free agent who isn’t likely to get re-signed. This means the 49ers will look to the draft and take one of the better corners in Dennard.
31. Seattle Seahawks: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The Seahawks have options here yet there’s no question that the pick will get used to upgrade the receiving core as the team lacks weapons for quarterback Russell Wilson. Amaro makes the most sense as he’d get used as a safety valve and as one of the best tight ends in the draft.
32. Denver Broncos: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Wesley Woodyard and Paris Lenon struggled for much of 2013 and with Mosley being one of the betterinside linebackers in the draft the Broncos get their upgrade.