SkoodSports’ NFL Mock Draft: Volume 1

Posted: December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

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The NFL playoff push is in full swing. However, it’s never too early to begin looking at next spring’s NFL draft. The Houston Texans, champions of the AFC South in 2011 & 2012, are currently on the clock as the top pick in the 2014 draft. Their need for a franchise QB is obvious, and they will kick off a new era of Houston football by selecting…

1. 34Houston Texans – QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

The Texans need to find a new franchise quarterback as Matt Schaub has clearly fallen off a cliff and out of the good graces of Houston fans and personnel alike. Case Keenum looked decent at times this season. But, he’s no franchise savior. Bridgewater, the consensus #1 QB available this May, will contend with the likes of Jadeveon Clowney, Jake Matthews, and Johnny Manziel for this pick.

2. 14-1 St. Louis Rams (From Washington) – OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

The son of Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews is a candidate for the number one pick, as bookend tackles typically are. The Rams can thank the Redskins for this pick, as Washington shipped it to St. Louis in the 2012 Robert Griffin III trade. Matthews fills a need opposite Jake Long and gives St. Louis, who lost their starting QB due to injury this season, some serious protection up front.

3. 30-1 Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Derek Carr, Fresno State

Jadeveon Clowney is a candidate to go to Jacksonville. But, Gus Bradley will really want to find his franchise quarterback after spending his first season tutoring Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert. The latter is a bonafide bust who will find himself on the free agent market sometime next summer. Carr is the brother of David, the 2002 #1 overall pick. While his brother busted after being taken by the expansion Texans, Derek shows all the tools that David had and more.

4. oak Oakland Raiders – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

The Raiders could be looking to land a franchise signal caller. But, with both Bridgewater and Carr gone, they’ll risk another season with Matt McGloin or Terrelle Pryor at the helm in order to select Clowney. The South Carolina DE would have been the #1 overall pick last season. Instead, he is seeing his stock slip due to a perceived lack of determination and commitment during the 2013 season. Regardless, he is a tremendous talent going to a team that has never shied away from taking physical specimens.

5. cle Cleveland Browns – QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

The Browns have seen Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, and Jason Campbell all spend time as their starting quarterback this season. None of them are potential franchise players, either. In fact, Cleveland has not had a bonafide franchise signal caller since Bernie Kosar in the 1980s. It’s time to take one. Johnny Football may have his detractors. But, there’s no doubting his talent as a two-way force at the quarterback position. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner could finally bring some excitement to the Dawg Pound.

6. atl Atlanta Falcons – DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame

The Falcons have fallen on hard times in 2013 after a spectacular five-year run. The main culprit, outside of injuries, is the lack of pressure generated from their defense. Nix or UCLA’s Anthony Barr would go a long way to improve that weakness and get Atlanta back to the postseason.

7. tam Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OT Greg Robinson, Auburn

One of the keys to the Tigers’ run to the National Championship Game was the performance of tackle Greg Robinson. That recent string of success has him shooting up the boards. The Bucs have a ton of talent on defense and at the offensive skill positions. But, they need to make sure that Mike Glennon has a pocket with which to look like Frankenstein in.

8. min Minnesota Vikings – QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida

The last time a Central Florida QB was taken in round one, it was the Vikings selecting Daunte Culpepper in 1999. That obviously turned out pretty well for awhile. The exceptional season for the Knights can be attributed to this young QB’s performance. He may or may not come out. But, if he does, expect him to go early in round one. Minnesota desperately needs a QB after spending millions on Josh Freeman just to watch him hold a clipboard.

9. ten Tennessee Titans – DE/OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA

Tennessee has needs on both sides of the ball, including quarterback and safety. But, their inability to get consistent pressure on the quarterback only serves to make their secondary look worse than it probably is. Barr is a potential top-3 pick and grabbing him at nine would be an absolute steal for the Titans.

10. buf Buffalo Bills – OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

One can never go wrong selecting an Alabama lineman, as plenty have been taken high in the draft over the last few years. Kouandjio may have a tough name to spell. But, he’s also very good at protecting the passer, allowing AJ McCarron to do his thing over the last few seasons without having to worry about a pass rush. Buffalo needs offensive skill as well. But, protecting EJ Manuel, who has missed multiple games with injuries this year, should be priority #1.

11. giants19 New York Giants – ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama

The Giants have tried to patch together their linebacking corps over the last few years with very little success. If they ever hope of getting their defense back to championship caliber, they’re going to have to build up the front seven. Mosley is a big, tough senior who should easily go in round one.

12. pitt23 Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

Pittsburgh is on the verge of back-to-back playoff-less campaigns. That is unacceptable in Steel City. It’s even worse when one considers that many of their losses came on the backs of their once storied defense. Pittsburgh’s secondary has, for far too long, been reliant on aging players like Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor. In Dennard, they’d grab the best secondary player in the draft and a potential shutdown corner.

13. 20 New York Jets – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

It’s pretty clear that the Jets need to find Geno Smith some weapons, regardless of who the coach is at the time of the draft. Santonio Holmes is aging and, other than an occasional glimpse from Stephen Hill, there’s not much else in the cupboard. Watkins might have been a first round pick last year. Now, as a junior, he is incredibly likely to go in the top-half of round one.

14. 14-1 St. Louis Rams – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

The Rams took the diminutive yet speedy Tavon Austin in the first round last year. He gives them a brilliant deep threat who can score from anywhere on the field except the red zone. Now, they’ll find their red zone specialist in the 6’5 Evans. Johnny Manziel’s favorite target, Evans will provide a security blanket for Sam Bradford and act as a terror for opposing cornerbacks on fade routes.

15. lions8 Detroit Lions – S Haha Clinton-Dix, Alabama

The Lions will add to their plethora of talent on both sides of the ball by taking the electric Clinton-Dix from Alabama. The Lions’ secondary has been the weakest link on their defense and adding a playmaker like Haha will give them stars throughout a disappointing and underachieving roster.

16. dal6 Dallas Cowboys – DE Trent Murphy, Stanford

I think Dallas will finally recognize that they need to find a legitimate pass rusher opposite Demarcus Ware. Anthony Spencer had a strong 2012. But, the injury that he suffered this year will plague him for at least the beginning of 2014. Murphy is a big (6-6, 261) specimen who can dominate opposing tackles with his strength and long arms.

17. cha24 San Diego Chargers – OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo

San Diego needs pass rushers in order for their 3-4 defense to be successful. Mack was a terror to opposing offenses in 2013, leading the MAC in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (19). The Chargers have the talent on offense to make the playoffs. It’s the defense that needs a few more playmakers and Mack is certainly one of them.

18. pack9 Green Bay Packers – CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

Tramon Williams is a good NFL starter at one cornerback. But, Sam Shields has been exposed at times in 2013 and could use a replacement. Ekpre-Olomu was a great playmaker for the Ducks this season and almost certainly would be taken by Philadelphia if he reached Chip Kelly’s team in the draft. Instead, the Packers will forego their need for a tight end and improve their once fearsome defensive secondary.

19. cards22 Arizona Cardinals – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

The Cardinals have needed a tackle for what seems like a decade. They’ll grab a potential top-10 pick in Lewan, who falls down to the late-teens thanks to team need.

20. mia15 Miami Dolphins – OG David Yankey, Stanford

The Cardinal have sent a lot of linemen to the pros, including former Dolphin Jonathan Martin. Hopefully, the Fish’s experience with the aforementioned former Stanford star doesn’t sour their taste for Pac-12 guards. Yankey is the top interior lineman off the board and will go a long way to keeping Ryan Tannehill upright in 2014.

21. chi3 Chicago Bears – DT/DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame

Big defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt is a perfect fit for a Bears team desperate for size up front. With the worst run defense in football, Chicago will need to rectify their leaky front seven if they’re to see the “Monsters of the Midway” return. Tuitt is the second Notre Dame defensive lineman taken. But, he could end up being a better value than Louis Nix if taken this low.

22. cle Cleveland Browns (From Indianapolis) – RB Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona

With the pick acquired from Indianapolis for Trent Richardson, the Browns replace their former #1 pick with another. Carey is an electric back with the potential to be a game changer in the NFL. That’s something that Cleveland hasn’t had since Ernest Byner was fumbling away AFC titles in the 1980s.

23.  ben4 Cincinnati Bengals – CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

One of the faster risers this season, Gilbert helped lead Oklahoma State to a 10-2 season. The Bengals are desperate for secondary help after Leon Hall tore his achilles for the second time.

24. eagles21 Philadelphia Eagles – OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

The Eagles need help in their secondary. There’s no doubt about that. But, the pass rush is just as important as adequate pressure on the quarterback can help cover up the holes in the back of the defense. Ryan Shazier is the #1 available pass rushing linebacker at this point and possibly in the entire draft. He led the Big Ten with 134 tackles and 22.5 tackles for loss this season.

25. bal33 Baltimore Ravens – OT Cameron Erving, Florida State

The defending champs have had a hard time developing any sort of running game thanks to a pitiful offensive line. Erving will be yet another tackle off to board.

26. new17 New England Patriots – TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Considered the best tight end in the draft, Ebron caught 55 passes for 895 yards and 3 TD this season. With Aaron Hernandez incarcerated and Rob Gronkowski recovering from a torn ACL, what better way to improve Brady’s passing game than by landing the best tight end in the draft?

27. saints18 New Orleans Saints – OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson

One of the best defensive players in football this season, Beasley recorded 19 tackles for loss for Clemson’s defense, forcing four fumbles in the process. Rob Ryan loves speedy outside linebackers who can cover and rush the passer. That’s exactly what he would be getting out of Beasley.

28. sanf25 San Francisco 49ers – DT/DE RaShede Hageman, Minnesota

Justin Smith is aging and the Pro Bowl DE won’t be around for too much longer. Hageman is the type of hybrid lineman that can either play 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end. In San Francisco’s case, grooming him to supplant Smith as 3-4 end would give them a big piece to keep the pressure off their superstar duo at LB, Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman.

29. panth29 Carolina Panthers – CB Jason Verrett, Texas Christian

The one weakness on Carolina’s defense is in the secondary. Verrett may not have the size that NFL teams covet nowadays (5-10, 175). But, his speed (4.49) could be enough to boost him into round one.

30. sanf7 Denver Broncos – OG Cyril Richardson, Baylor

Denver believes that they already have their replacement for Peyton Manning in Brock Osweiler. So, they’ll have to find a couple of linemen in the draft to protect them. Richardson has tremendous size (6-5, 340) and should be available at the end of round one.

31. kc12 Kansas City Chiefs – WR Marqise Lee, Southern California

Dwayne Bowe is a great red zone threat. But, Andy Reid’s offense thrived in Philadelphia the most when it had DeSean Jackson going deep and opening up the underneath routes. Lee could be Reid’s Jackson in Kansas City if the Chiefs are so inclined to make this pick.

32. sea26 Seattle Seahawks – TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

The Seahawks have weapons all throughout their roster. But, Zach Miller is probably the weakest link altogether. The 6-5 tight end may have had the best numbers of anyone in the country, catching 98 passes for 1240 yards and 7 TD.

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