2014 NFL Mock Drafts

Pete Prisco
By
The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com


Quarterbacks are at the epicenter of draft buzz again, but there is a different twist this time.

Much of the excitement for the 2014 QB class centers around many of the so-called "second-tier" passers such as Pittsburgh's Tom Savage, LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Georgia's Aaron Murray.

Should the Texans, Jaguars, Browns, Raiders and Vikings elect to take relatively sure things at other positions in the first round, they might find that exciting consolation prizes are waiting a round or two later.

Gambling that a favorite sleeper makes it through is not for the faint of heart, which is why many believe the Texans (and others) in the first round will ultimately be placing their biggest bets on the game's most important position.

With less than a month before the Houston Texans turn in their card to kick off the 2014 draft, here is how I see the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft shaking out.

NFL Mock Draft - 4/14/2014
Round 1
1. Houston Texans

(2-14)
Blake Bortles, QB, UCF: The best players in the 2014 draft play other positions but every indication is that the Texans are set on taking a quarterback with the first pick. Trading away Matt Schaub and signing veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is respected for his willingness to mentor young quarterbacks, are the latest indications of the Texans' plans. Bortles wasn't perfect at his Pro Day but he was improved from his Combine throwing session, which optimists will take as a sign that he's only scratching the surface of his ability. Bortles' perceived upside and fit O'Brien's offense make the UCF product the logical fit for Houston.
2. Atlanta Falcons (from St. Louis)

(4-12)
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: If Clowney is available to the Rams, I would expect the team to have plenty of suitors looking to move up to secure his services. The most comfortable deal to complete for GM Les Snead may be with his former boss, Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff, who may view Clowney as the dynamic edge rusher defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is looking for to make the Falcons' defense as frightening as its offense.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars

(4-12)
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: The Jaguars have enough ammunition to consider trading up a spot for Clowney and might be fortunate enough that he lands in their laps, in which case head coach Gus Bradley may be cartwheeling down the hallways at team headquarters. Mack, big and athletic enough to handle the LEO and strong-side linebacker duties in Bradley's 4-3 scheme, would be a terrific consolation prize.
4. Cleveland Browns

(4-12)
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Veteran Brian Hoyer is a serviceable quarterback but he, like virtually every other quarterback the Browns have trotted out since Bernie Kosar, lacks the star power to turn around this rudderless franchise. Do I have questions about Manziel's ability to hold up in the ultra-physical AFC North, especially at gusty and grassy FirstEnergy Stadium? Sure, but waiting to see which quarterback may fall to No. 26 (or lower) could mean more of the same for a long-suffering fan base.
5. Oakland Raiders

(4-12)
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: The addition of veteran Matt Schaub and Maurice Jones-Drew in recent weeks is an indication that Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie is feeling the pressure to win now. Watkins' vacuum-like hands and first-step acceleration make him a big play waiting to happen. Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr could also be in play here should two passers come off the board in the first four picks.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Atlanta)

(7-9)
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: To compete in the ultra-physical NFC West division, priority No. 1 for the Rams must be to get tougher at the line of scrimmage. Trading down four spots with the Falcons still puts the team in position to nab one of the star tackles, in this case the ultra-reliable and versatile Matthews, whom Jeff Fisher may value over Auburn's Greg Robinson simply due to the comfort of coaching his father (Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews) back in Tennessee.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(4-12)
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: No one attacked free agency like Tampa, which gives head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht plenty of options with this pick. Wide receiver is probably the most likely scenario given the jettisoning of Mike Williams and a quarterback or pass rusher are also possibilities. Landing a blue-chip talent like Robinson this late is precisely why the news Bucs' brains-trust have worked so hard thus far this offseason.
8. Minnesota Vikings

(5-10-1)
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: Mike Zimmer's choice of Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator is an indication that he is looking for quarterback with the big arm to keep safeties from crowding the line of scrimmage. The quarterbacks already on the roster do not possess this type of ability, nor does Louisville's Bridgewater. Vikings' general manager Rick Spielman and Turner were among those who took in Carr's very impressive Pro Day workout.
9. Buffalo Bills

(6-10)
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: The addition of veteran wideout Mike Williams lessens the need for playmaking pass-catchers but doesn't eliminate it. The 6-4, 250-pound Ebron possesses eye-popping speed and agility, which could aid young E.J. Manuel's development.
10. Detroit Lions

(7-9)
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin inherits a unit that was terrible a year ago in creating turnovers. Safety Louis Delmas led the team with three interceptions and he's no longer on the roster. Veteran Chris Houston was the only cornerback on the team to intercept a pass. Gilbert is a proven playmaker who led the Big 12 with seven interceptions in 2013 and returned six kickoffs for scores over his collegiate career.
11. Tennessee Titans

(7-9)
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: The Titans tied for 21st in the NFL with 36 sacks recorded in 2013 with defensive tackle Jurell Casey chipping in a disproportionate 10.5 of them. With the Titans expected to transition to a 3-4 defense under Ray Horton, Casey's numbers are likely to fall, creating a need for more pass rushers. Only two years removed from playing on offense, Barr lacks the polish to rank as a top 10 pick for everyone but his tremendous blend of size (6-5, 255), speed (4.44) and flexibility made him a star rush linebacker in UCLA's 3-4 scheme.
12. NY Giants

(7-9)
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: To get back into Super Bowl contention the Giants must protect Eli Manning, whether that come in the form of additional blockers or pass-catchers. The 6-5, 231-pound Evans plays with the physicality and speed to feast on the relatively short corners of the NFC East division and is an excellent value at this point in the draft.
13. St. Louis Rams

(7-9)
Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama: The additional T.J. McDonald a year ago could pay real dividends if the Rams were able to complement him with a more fluid centerfielder to operate at free safety. Clinton-Dix boasts the field-speed, agility and ball-skills to star in this role.
14. Chicago Bears

(8-8)
Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville: Given the additions of defensive linemen Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen and Willie Young via agency, the Bears are likely to focus on the back seven in the draft. Pryor's instincts and physicality would make him a welcomed addition to a beleaguered deep patrol.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers

(8-8)
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: The once-proud Pittsburgh defense has fallen off in recent years and reinforcements are needed at all three levels. Given his polish, aggression and schematic fit, Dennard would make a lot of sense.
16. Dallas Cowboys

(8-8)
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: The signing of defensive tackle Henry Melton helps fill the gaping hole in the middle of Dallas' defensive line but the Cowboys may want insurance that his surgically-repaired knee will hold up. Donald is a terrific fit in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's scheme and comes with the full trophy closet that Jerry Jones appreciates, as well.
17. Baltimore Ravens

(8-8)
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: General manager Ozzie Newsome is a master on draft day in large part because he sticks to the Best Player Available strategy. Lewan is a top 10 talent, whose propensity for over-aggression on and off the field could result in a bit of a slide.
18. NY Jets

(8-8)
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: Rookie Geno Smith certainly took his lumps as a rookie but considering the weapons surrounding him, his struggles aren't surprising and he appears likely to return as the Jets' starter in 2014. Beckham is an extraordinary athlete with the agility and speed to complement newly signed possession receiver Eric Decker.
19. Miami Dolphins

(8-8)
Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame: With Branden Albert signed to take over at left tackle, the Dolphins can instead shift their draft-day focus towards boosting the play inside at guard. Zack Martin, unrelated to Jonathan Martin by genetics or style of play, is a coach's dream. While perhaps lacking the body type scouts prefer at tackle (where he started 50 of his 52 career games for the Irish), Martin slides well laterally and controls opponents with fierce hand usage.
20. Arizona Cardinals

(10-6)
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State: John Abraham led the Cardinals with 11.5 sacks in 2013 but 2014 will be his 15th in the NFL. Lawrence is a bit of a gamble. He was suspended three times in just two years at Boise State but is a gifted pass rusher who may just be scratching the surface of his potential.
21. Green Bay Packers

(8-7-1)
Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame: The aggressive and somewhat surprising addition of Julius Peppers certainly diversifies Green Bay's pass rush but further reinforcements may be needed on the interior, where the team appears ready to move on from veterans Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett. Nix is built similarly to holdover B.J. Raji, who was brought back on a one-year deal but plays with a more consistent motor.
22. Philadelphia Eagles

(10-6)
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: Chip Kelly is, of course, most known for offense but during his tenure at Oregon, his Ducks featured terrific cornerback play, as well. The Eagles took a significant step in improving upon their 30th ranked pass defense by landing former New Orleans Saints' safety Malcolm Jenkins but more help is needed. Roby struggles a bit with consistency but the tools are there to warrant top 20 consideration.
23. Kansas City Chiefs

(11-5)
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: The Chiefs may have shown their hand by expressing interest in Emmanuel Sanders and, to a lesser-extent, DeSean Jackson. Fortunately, the trio of Odell Beckham, Cooks and Southern Cal's Marqise Lee offer a similar skill-set as a dynamic slot receiver and returner. Cooks, the reigning Biletnikoff winner as the nation's top receiver, might be an especially good fit given his reliable routes and soft hands.
24. Cincinnati Bengals

(11-5)
Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State: The Bengals' re-signing of Vincent Rey offsets the release of James Harrison but Cincinnati could still be on the look-out for versatile linebackers equally capable of attacking quarterbacks or dropping back into coverage. Shazier's instincts, speed and explosive hitting make him an intriguing fit on a defense that prides itself on physicality.
25. San Diego Chargers

(9-7)
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: Even with the addition of former Cincinnati Bengal Brandon Ghee, the Chargers' secondary is littered with question marks, especially at cornerback. Fuller may lack the size and flashy athleticism of some of his peers but he's an instinctive, physical player who would fit in well in defensive coordinator John Pagano's scheme.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis)

(4-12)
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: General manager Ray Farmer may swing for the fences with one of his first-round picks but expect the other to be a safer selection. Verrett lacks ideal size but he's a tenacious defender in the mold of former Minnesota Vikings' Pro Bowler Antoine Winfield. Pairing him with Joe Haden would give the Browns a formidable duo of cover corners.
27. New Orleans Saints

(11-5)
C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: Mosley's awareness and reliable open-field tackling skills make him an easy projection to the NFL but, like a lot of Alabama players, his checkered medical history could lead to a slight slip on draft day. It is hard to imagine him slipping past a Saints' squad begging for front seven defenders to capitalize on their gifted secondary.
28. Carolina Panthers

(12-4)
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia: While receiver and cornerback are areas of concern, replacing longtime standout left tackle Jordan Gross is the Panthers' top priority. Moses is a gifted athlete whose game took off in 2013 after making the jump from right to left tackle, momentum he built upon with an impressive effort at the Senior Bowl.
29. New England Patriots

(12-4)
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: Ealy starred at defensive end for the Tigers and certainly will be viewed as a quality defensive end from teams operating out of a 4-3 but he's a fluid athlete also capable of making the transition as a standup outside linebacker in the 3-4. Few value versatility more than Bill Belichick.
30. San Francisco 49ers

(12-4)
Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California: Considered by some to be a top-10 lock after a breathtaking sophomore season that earned him the Biletnikoff Award, Lee instead struggled with injury and inconsistency in 2013. For a club with two dependable possession receivers in Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin but lacking a traditional playmaker at the position, Lee could prove a steal.
31. Denver Broncos

(13-3)
Joel Bitonio, OG, Nevada: The Broncos spent millions in free agency to overhaul the defense but protecting Peyton Manning should be priority No. 1. Given the loss of starting guards Zane Beadles (who signed with Jacksonville) and Chris Kuper to retirement, Denver will almost surely dedicate an early pick towards the offensive line. Gritty and versatile, Bitonio would make a lot of sense.
32. Seattle Seahawks

(13-3)
Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA: Under head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, the Seahawks have pulled plenty of surprises in recent drafts but the loss of two starting left guard Paul McQuistan and right tackle Breno Giacomini in free agency could test their willingness to think outside of the box in 2014. Seattle won't reach to fill a need but if an aggressive, versatile blocker like Su'a-Filo is available, he'd make a lot of sense.
Round 2
1. Houston Texans

(2-14)
Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: The ultra-confident Ford might get a chance to prove he's a better pass rusher than Clowney if medical questions push him out of the top 32.
2. Washington Redskins

(3-13)
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: An undersized offensive line was pushed around too often a year ago. Kouandjio is technically raw but tough, physical and highly aggressive.
3. Cleveland Browns

(4-12)
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: With Josh Gordon one failed NFL policies test away from a year-long suspension and Greg Little as likely to drop a ball as catch it, the Browns can't afford to let big, talented receivers slip by.
4. Oakland Raiders

(4-12)
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: Take a quarterback? The Raiders rarely follow conventional thinking and may instead see the strong, athletic Jernigan as a potential replacement for free agent defection Lamarr Houston.
5. St. Louis Rams (from Atlanta)

(7-9)
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: With the second pick receiver from the Falcons -- in a trade projected for this mock draft involving the No. 2 overall pick -- the wait ends for Bridgewater, whose slight frame and case of glove-less jitters during his Pro Day appears to have his stock sliding. Over the past five seasons (college and pro) Rams' starting quarterback Sam Bradford has started just 52 of 77 career games. Adding a quality insurance plan could be critical to the Rams improving in Jeff Fisher's third season.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(4-12)
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: Pairing the 6-5, 240-pound Benjamin with 6-5, 230-pound Vincent Jackson could give new Bucs' quarterback Josh McCown similar big targets as he had in Chicago with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars

(4-12)
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois: If the Jaguars don't take a quarterback in the first round, they could rely upon their Senior Bowl experience, which included coaching Garopollo.
8. Minnesota Vikings

(5-10-1)
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young: Pairing Van Noy with Chad Greenway would give the Vikings two versatile and instinctive linebackers on the perimeter.
9. Buffalo Bills

(6-10)
Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois: Replacing Jairus Byrd must be a priority given that the road to the AFC East title requires slowing down Tom Brady and the Patriots' passing attack.
10. Tennessee Titans

(7-9)
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn: Jettisoning Chris Johnson will look like less of a gamble once the Titans take their pick of the running back class here.
11. NY Giants

(7-9)
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington: Tom Coughlin will appreciate Sankey's no-nonsense approach and three-down reliability.
12. St. Louis Rams

(7-9)
Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State: The run on backs continues with Jeff Fisher getting the draft's most physical back to complete St. Louis' refurbished offense.
13. Detroit Lions

(7-9)
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida: GM Martin Mayhew has publicly stated he expects more out of Nick Fairley. Bringing in a talented pass rusher to challenge him for playing time might finally get the message across.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers

(8-8)
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson: The Steelers have reportedly promised Ben Roethlisberger some big receivers. The 6-4, 211-pound Bryant offers Plaxico Burress-like upside.
15. Dallas Cowboys

(8-8)
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State: Crichton may lack the elite athleticism of some of the top pass rushers in this class, but his hands and motor never quit.
16. Baltimore Ravens

(8-8)
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State: Ozzie Newsome could see Richburgh - viewed by some as a plug and play talent -- as an instant upgrade over incumbent starting center Gino Gradkowski.
17. NY Jets

(8-8)
Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech: The Jets rely on their defensive line to supply their pass rush but could see this former Yellow Jacket as a fit as a traditional 3-4 edge rusher.
18. Miami Dolphins

(8-8)
Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State: Whether it be at corner or as an upgrade at safety, Joyner is just too instinctive and athletic to ignore.
19. Chicago Bears

(8-8)
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida: Given their focus on the defensive line in free agency, adding youth and grit to the Chicago secondary could extend into Round Two for the Bears.
20. Arizona Cardinals

(10-6)
Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh: Bruce Arians may love Carson Palmer but adding a young, strong-armed quarterback for the future would be wise.
21. Green Bay Packers

(8-7-1)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: The reigning Mackey Award winner possesses the length and reliable mitts to help ease the sting of the expected loss of Jermichael Finley.
22. Philadelphia Eagles

(10-6)
Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame: Productive and light on his feet for a 300-plus pounder, Tuitt could be one of the needed reinforcements up front.
23. Cincinnati Bengals

(11-5)
JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee: The Bengals do a terrific job each year of filling holes and could see the underrated James as an ideal replacement for right tackle Anthony Collins, who left via free agency.
24. San Francisco 49ers

(12-4)
RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: Hageman's talent screams first round but inconsistent tape could drop him much lower. Jim Harbaugh loves a challenge and may be able to coax stardom from Hageman.
25. San Diego Chargers

(9-7)
DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State: The Chargers boast two of the better young five-technique defensive ends in Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes and could see the 6-4, 322-pound Jones as a quality nose guard candidate.
26. New Orleans Saints

(11-5)
Marcus Martin, C, Southern California: With veteran Brian de la Puente signing with the Chicago Bears, the highly physical, aggressive Martin could be counted on to start as a rookie.
27. Indianapolis Colts

(11-5)
Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State: The Colts might see the rangy and physical Bucannon as a cheaper version of free agent defection Antoine Bethea.
28. Carolina Panthers

(12-4)
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss: Due to the extraordinary depth at the position, the Panthers can afford to wait until Day Two to find receivers for Cam Newton.
29. San Francisco 49ers

(12-4)
Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice: With 11 draft picks to play with, the 49ers can gamble on Gaines, a fast-rising cover corner with size and speed.
30. New England Patriots

(12-4)
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: With Rob Gronkowski recovering from ACL surgery the Patriots can't afford to let a talented athletic seam threat pass by.
31. Denver Broncos

(13-3)
Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State: Replacing Eric Decker with a similarly reliable route-runner and hands-catcher like Adams shouldn't be this easy.
32. Seattle Seahawks

(13-3)
Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville: Pete Carroll is always looking for edge rushers and with Cliff Avril only signed for one more year, adding depth at the LEO position is critical.

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