SkoodSports’ NFL Mock Draft: Volume 3

Posted: February 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

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The playoffs are over and it’s time to get ready for the long and enduring offseason. But, have no fear, SkoodSports is here to give you another version of the 2014 NFL Mock Draft.

1. 34Houston Texans – QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

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. I originally had Teddy Bridgewater in this spot. However, the league is seemingly warming to the thought of Johnny Manziel being a top draft choice. There remain questions about Johnny Football’s size and arm strength. But, his Texas fanfare and overall upside could attract him to Bill O’Brien, who has a history of coaching up quarterbacks.

2. 14-1 St. Louis Rams (From Washington) – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

This pick was originally Jake Matthews, the offensive tackle from Texas A&M. However, Jeff Fisher has never been keen on selecting offensive linemen early. Instead, he’s always focused on improving the defense early in the draft. Clowney would have been the #1 overall draft choice a year ago. He still could be in 2014. Yes, St. Louis has Robert Quinn and Chris Long. But, the latter’s contract is going to be in excess of $15 million in 2015. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for St. Louis to grab Clowney, a generational pass rusher, and rotate him in during his rookie campaign before taking over for Long the following year. After all, the Seahawks proved in 2013 that you can never have too many pass rushers. A trade of this pick is also likely.

3. 30-1 Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

The Jaguars would be insane not to grab Bridgewater if he is still around at #3. Jacksonville hasn’t had a franchise quarterback since Mark Brunell left town a decade ago. Misfires on Byron Leftwich and Blaine Gabbert should be enough to prove to this team that taking the sure thing is never a bad thing. Bridgewater combines freakish athleticism with a rocket arm and solid leadership skills. Gus Bradley wants to build the defense. But, you’re not going to win much in the NFL without a franchise signal caller. Bridgewater could be that guy in Jacksonville.

4. cle Cleveland Browns – QB Blake Bortles, UCF

Cleveland would prefer Manziel here. But, with the Texas A&M star gone, they settle for UCF’s Blake Bortles. In the end, it might be a better pick for a franchise so downtrodden and cursed with failure. Manziel will likely be a powder keg of drama and media attention wherever he goes. Bortles, on the other hand, has sat under the radar for much of his life. Granted, many analysts have him going #1 to Houston. But, if the Texans choose otherwise, it could be a coup for Cleveland. The former Knight has solid size (6-3, 230), athleticism, and a smooth release.

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

I’m hesitant to put Matthews here because it just makes too much sense. Yes, Oakland is without a franchise quarterback. But, there doesn’t seem to be a good value pick at this point for that position. Matthews, on the other hand, is potentially the player most prepared to start from day one. The son of Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews protected Manziel for the past two years and could be a stud left tackle for the next decade. This would allow Oakland to pursue someone like Mike Vick this offseason and also poach a future starter at QB later in the draft.

6. atl Atlanta Falcons – OT Greg Robinson, Auburn

Atlanta saw all too well what not protecting Matt Ryan could do to their once prolific postseason hopes. As we saw last year (three tackles taken in the top four of the draft), linemen are a premium early. Grabbing Robinson would allow them to focus on improving their defense with the rest of their selections.

7. tam Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

The Buccaneers likely found their franchise QB with Mike Glennon last year. They’ll now have to grab the youngster a few weapons this offseason. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are quality outside threats. But, Watkins would give Tampa Bay the gamebreaker that they need to put together a solid offense under Lovie Smith with Doug Martin hopefully healthy by the time training camp arrives. 

8. min Minnesota Vikings – QB Derek Carr, Fresno State

With Blake Bortles gone, the Vikings have to settle for Derek Carr. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Derek will be quick to tell you that he isn’t his brother. David never had a strong running game to support him and lead the league in times sacked in each of his first 3 seasons (setting a record in the category in the process). Carr has all the tools and intangibles to be a spectacular NFL signal-caller. Having a solid line and Adrian Peterson to hand the ball to for the first few years of his career should also help.

9. buf Buffalo Bills – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

The Bills have a massive chasm on the right side of their line. Their dependence on the run will only be possible if EJ Manuel can stay healthy and command the offense for 16 games next year after missing time during his rookie season. Lewan had tons of big game experience during his collegiate days and would be a massive upgrade immediately.

10. lions8 Detroit Lions – ILB CJ Mosley, Alabama

Detroit should look to improve their defense in the first round. Their line is solid. But, the back seven of their unit could use some reinforcements. Mosley was a rock for four years at Alabama and would find life a lot easier behind Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Cornerback could be another route, as Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard is another possibility.

11. ten Tennessee Titans – DE/OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo

Pass rushers have become the new quarterbacks of the NFL Draft. That is, teams will sacrifice other needs to fill a less pressing need if the latter is a pass rusher. Mack is an intriguing prospect coming out of a smaller school. Despite that fact, he’s the second best pass rusher in this draft behind Clowney. Ken Whisenhunt could look to improve his offensive talent here. But, with the quarterbacks and Sammy Watkins gone, the value just isn’t there.

12. giants19 New York Giants – OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA

Landing Barr, the consensus top 4-3 OLB in the draft, would be a major coup for the Giants. The revolving door of Jon Beason, Keith Rivers, etc. has left Giants fans clamoring for the days when Lawrence Taylor set fear into the hearts of opposing offenses. I’m not saying Barr is going to be Lawrence Taylor. But, he’s certainly going to be an improvement over the garbage that they’ve sent out there in recent seasons.

13. 14-1 St. Louis Rams – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

It would seem like overkill to select wide receivers in back-to-back drafts (not to mention that they used the 33rd overall pick in 2012 on WR Brian Quick). But, the plethora of picks that St. Louis possesses and their need to add playmakers certainly warrants the selection. Evans stands at an impressive 6’5″ and would provide a quality compliment as a red zone threat to the diminutive Tavon Austin.

14. chi3 Chicago Bears – DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida St.

I’m not so sure that Chicago can rely on Jeremiah Ratliff to stay on the football field for 16 games next season. Even if they can, their defensive front-seven was among the worst in football and couldn’t stop the run when their playoff lives depended on it. Jernigan is soaring up the boards after helping the Seminoles win the BCS championship and would be a brilliant fit on Chicago’s line.

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

Granted, Pittsburgh could sorely use an improvement at offensive tackle. But, with most of the first round graded tackles off the board, Pittsburgh instead chooses to take the top cornerback available in Dennard. A possible future shutdown secondary player, Dennard had a strong senior season for the Spartans and would greatly improve an aging Pittsburgh secondary.

16. bal33 Baltimore Ravens – OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

For all the success that Baltimore’s line had during their Super Bowl run a year ago, that’s just how bad they were in 2013. If the Ravens are to rebound, they’ll need to keep Joe Flacco upright and get Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce going on the ground again. Kouandjio is a phenomenal pass blocker, having delivered the goods at an elite level while protecting AJ McCarron’s blindside.

17. dal6 Dallas Cowboys – DE Kony Ealy, Missouri

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. Ealy is the second best 4-3 end after Clowney and could go as high as pick 7 or 8. His athleticism is astounding. With Ware undergoing surgery this week, Dallas needs to find depth on the defensive line.

18. 20 New York Jets – WR Marqise Lee, USC

The Jets can’t go into 2014 with the same putrid set of weapons for Geno Smith as they did in 2013. Marqise Lee may spell his first name uniquely. But, he’s the best playmaker still on the board and would immediately be one of the best on the Jets’ entire roster.

19. 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.

20. cards22 Arizona Cardinals – TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Arizona could use an upgrade on their offensive line and at quarterback. But, the value just isn’t here for that kind of pick. The Cardinals haven’t had a solid tight end in years. Ebron is the best overall player at that position, and he doesn’t bring with him the potential baggage that Jace Amaro does.

21. pack9 Green Bay Packers – DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame

Green Bay is going to lose BJ Raji to free agency and it’s not as though their depth in the front seven was outstanding to begin with. Nix is your classic nose tackle, coming in at 6-2, 345 pounds. Just what the doctor ordered for a Green Bay team that struggled against the run at times in 2013.

22. eagles21 Philadelphia Eagles – S HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama

Philadelphia will likely go best player available in the first round. Now, that doesn’t mean they’ll grab a running back if he’s the BPA at #22. Realistically, the Eagles should look to take a pass rusher, a cornerback, or a safety early on. Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert is a possibility here. But, the Eagles expect to go into 2014 with Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams, and Brandon Boykin as their top three corners, so selecting another this early is a reach. Clinton-Dix is the uncontested #1 safety on the board. He’s more of a coverage specialist than a run stuffer, as Clinton-Dix lacks the strength to take on blockers at this stage in his career. Still, a centerfielder is exactly what the doctor ordered after fans had to watch Kurt Coleman and Patrick Chung look absolutely lost in coverage the last few seasons. Louisville’s Calvin Pryor is another possibility. Though, we’ll wait and see how well he does at the combine before making any rash judgments.

23. kc12 Kansas City Chiefs – WR Odell Beckham Jr, LSU

Offensively, the Chiefs most pressing need is a deep threat for Alex Smith to take the pressure off of Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. Beckham may not be a better overall prospect than Kelvin Benjamin. But, his 4.45 speed combined with top of the line elusiveness makes him the perfect match for Andy Reid’s offense.

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

There was a time when cornerback was a strength of the Bengals’ defense. That’s not the case anymore. Cincinnati could look to find a replacement for free agent DE Michael Johnson. But, the value pick here is Gilbert. The Oklahoma State product has solid size and speed and would immediately be a dramatic upgrade in the secondary.

25. cha24  San Diego Chargers – OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame

San Diego’s secondary could use work. But, the offensive line relied far too much on King Dunlap last year to be considered even remotely a strength. Martin played in big games with the Irish, has tremendous versatility (played both guard and tackle at times), and dominated the Senior Bowl last month.

26. cle Cleveland Browns (From Indianapolis) – WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

Cleveland should probably go defense here. But, this is the Browns that we are talking about. After selecting Blake Bortles earlier this round, they’ll bite at the chance to take the 6’5″ wideout coming off a national championship with the Seminoles. Benjamin would match up well with the more speedy Josh Gordon to give Cleveland an absolutely stellar trio of receivers along with 2012 4th round pick Travis Benjamin (no relation).

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. 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.

29. new17 New England Patriots – TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

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. 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?

30. 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.

31. 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.

32. sea26 Seattle Seahawks – DE Dee Ford, Auburn

Ford recorded two sacks in the Senior Bowl, which immediately shot him up the draft rankings. A fluid athlete with incredible burst, Ford would replace Michael Bennett, who announced this week that he will not give the Seahawks a hometown discount on the free agent market.

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