2014 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Post Week 4 Projections
Who is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft?
Heading into Week 5, there are more questions than answers. Which quarterback will teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns be fighting over? Where will superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney land? And perhaps most importantly, which team will be drafting first overall?
There's a lot of football left to be played, but it's always educational (and entertaining) to get a look at how the draft order and player stock look. Heading into Week 5 of the NFL season, here's how the first round would shake out.
And as always, the draft order here is taken from Bovada Super Bowl odds and adjusted for playoff seeding.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville
If the Jacksonville Jaguars get the first pick in the draft, they have to select a quarterback. Period. There's no way around it. This team has to find a franchise QB.
Teddy Bridgewater looks like a franchise prospect. While he's not at the level of Andrew Luck, he's pretty close. Bridgewater at this stage grades out higher than Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and other former top quarterbacks. He's the real deal.
The Jaguars are not one pick away from excellence, but getting an elite-level quarterback under center is the first step towards contending as a team.
2. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
The Oakland Raiders just might play their way out of the top of the 2014 draft, but Las Vegas odds still list them as the second-worst team in the league. That means they would be able to pick the 2014 draft's top prospect—Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney has received a ton of criticism this season—most of it unwarranted. Watching him on film, there is no doubt that the South Carolina defensive end should be a high pick in the 2014 draft.
Playing Clowney next to Lamarr Houston, if Oakland is able to re-sign him, would give the Raiders a strong defensive line to build around. And if Terrelle Pryor keeps playing well, he'll keep the team from drafting a quarterback too early in the draft.
3. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon
The Cleveland Browns' focus for the 2014 offseason centers around one thing—finding a quarterback.
Brandon Weeden wasn't the answer. Brian Hoyer has looked good in two games, but is he their long-term answer? Highly doubtful. Marcus Mariota could be.
The Oregon redshirt sophomore is no lock to enter the 2014 NFL draft, but if his stock stays this high, it would be hard to see how he passes it up. As a true dual-threat player, Mariota would inject a shot of adrenaline into the Cleveland offense. And if Rod Chudzinski's work with Cam Newton in Carolina is any indication of how the two would work together, Mariota would be a welcome addition to the Browns' depth chart.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Anthony Barr, Outside Linebacker, UCLA
There aren't many holes on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster, which is a credit to the job done by general manager Mark Domenik as of late. So where do they go in the first round?
You might think quarterback, but the team drafted Mike Glennon to work behind Josh Freeman. Now that he has taken over the starting job, Glennon would get the nod in 2014. That prevents them from looking at a quarterback—at least in the first round.
One area where they can improve is at outside linebacker. Adding a dynamic, three-tool linebacker to play next to Lavonte David and Mason Foster would round out a young defense that's quickly becoming a threat. Give them Anthony Barr—who resembles Von Miller—and this defense is Super Bowl-quality.
5. New York Jets
The Pick: Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Geno Smith is the answer for this team at quarterback. Now he needs some help around him.
Clemson's Sammy Watkins is the clear-cut top wide receiving prospect in the 2014 class. With his size, speed, hands and run-after-catch ability, he would give Smith a legitimate weapon opposite vertical threat Stephen Hill.
Watkins, Hill and Smith would form the nucleus of a young team in New York. While drafting a wide receiver won't fix all of the team's problems, it would make them more dangerous. And with a great young defense being built on the other side of the ball, this is the type of move the Jets front office has to be willing to make.
6. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Tajh Boyd, Quarterback, Clemson
Do we all feel safe in saying that Christian Ponder is not the answer at quarterback? Good, because that should be common knowledge at this point.
The Vikings front office has to be looking forward to the offseason and what should be a loaded quarterback class. The biggest question mark is how far will top senior quarterback Tajh Boyd be pushed down the board by underclassmen entering the draft?
Vikings fans will hope he—or someone else—will still be available for them. If the Vikings are drafting No. 6 overall, Boyd has to be the guy. He's a battle-tested, tough pocket quarterback with the agility to make plays on the edge. And with his strong arm and deep accuracy, he resembles a guy the Vikings had at quarterback not that long ago. And no, not Donovan McNabb. Randall Cunningham.
7. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
The Tennessee Titans have a lot of young talent, making the job of predicting their first-round pick that much harder. The one area where a future need will be cropping up is at offensive tackle.
David Stewart, at right tackle, has battled injuries and a slight decline in play as of late. On the left side Michael Roos is still a stud, but he's also nearing the twilight of his career as he turns 31 this season. Jake Matthews' dad Bruce, an NFL Hall of Famer, is the Titans offensive line coach. This almost makes too much sense.
But the younger Matthews fills a need here—current and future—and gives the team a can't-miss prospect whom they know won't be an issue on or off the field.
8. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
Watching the Carolina Panthers this season, you can see the talent on both sides of the ball that will form the building blocks of this roster. Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Star Lotulelei, Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson are legitimate, identifiable guys they can build around. Now let the building begin.
The first stop has to be getting younger—and better—at wide receiver. Steve Smith has been great, but he's no spring chicken. Marqise Lee is, and his dynamic ability as a go-to receiver at USC has prepared him for a successful life in the NFL.
Line Lee up opposite Smith with Newton in the backfield, and let this offense go.
9. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama
You have to respect the talent level being built up in Buffalo. The Bills have found a young quarterback (EJ Manuel), two solid running backs, a host of wide receivers and a few pieces on defense. Now they need to fill in the gaps.
Middle linebacker Kiko Alonso is the real deal, but the team is thin at outside linebacker. That's where Alabama's C.J. Mosley comes into play.
Mosley has the talent to play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and on the inside or outside. The Bills will fall in love with his versatility and toughness next to the super-athletic Alonso. That's a pair that NFL offenses will learn to fear.
10. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
The Arizona Cardinals will face a tough question on the offensive line after the 2013 season. Actually, two of them.
Left tackle Levi Brown is locked up through the 2016 season and is making a healthy $4.75 million this year. Whether or not he's played up to that level of pay is up for debate. The team's front office may decide it's time to move on and really upgrade at left tackle.
On the right side, Eric Winston is top-tier, but he's on a one-year deal. For a tackle who turns 30 this year, it will be interesting to see how the team views him in their long-term plans.
That might open the door for a second straight season of a lineman being the pick for the Cardinals. Michigan's Taylor Lewan hasn't been flawless this season, but he's a technician and a proven warrior in man-blocking situations.
That's an upgrade over what the Cardinals have in Levi Brown. Lewan and Winston would be the way to go moving forward.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State
It's obvious that the Pittsburgh Steelers need a lot of help on both sides of the ball. That opens the door for Kevin Colbert to draft the highest ranked player on their board.
"Best player available" drafting has some merits, and when a team has a lot of needs, it is a great way to build up the talent base. In Pittsburgh, "best player available in a position of need" might be the best way to go, though.
The team's secondary is getting older and slower. They tried to address that with safety Shamarko Thomas in this year's draft, but the cornerback position needs help. Ike Taylor is old, Keenan Lewis is gone, and the remaining players—like Cortez Allen—haven't proven themselves yet.
Ohio State's Bradley Roby is a plug-and-play cornerback. He has the size, speed and ball skills to step right into a starting lineup and help the Steelers take on A.J. Green and the rest of the AFC North.
12. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)
The Pick: Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor
A 2012 trade that allowed Washington to draft Robert Griffin III is still paying dividends for the St. Louis Rams. In the upcoming draft, it's looking like a future top-15 pick.
With back-to-back picks in the latest Vegas-inspired draft order, the Rams will be able to continue to add high-value talent to the depth chart. Much like they did with two first-round picks in the 2013 draft, they can look at the best players on the board and fill needs now and later.
Cyril Richardson should be a starter in his first practice. He's powerful, but also agile coming out of the Baylor system. He can run-block, pass-block, maul and finesse. He's good.
13. St. Louis Rams
The Pick: Louis Nix, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
With their own pick in the 2014 draft, the Rams can look to the interior of their defensive line and add a premier talent.
Notre Dame's Louis Nix would line up next to 2012 first-rounder Michael Brockers and be flanked by ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long. If you can't imagine that foursome on the field together, trust me when I tell you that they would be elite. The Rams defensive line is already good without an athlete like Nix in the middle mixing things up.
Trades and free agency allow the Rams to draft for value and talent here and not as much for need. They would want to look at both safety positions in other rounds, but in Round 1 they can feel good about getting an impact defensive tackle.
14. San Diego Chargers
The Pick: Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
The 2013 NFL draft brought right tackle D.J. Fluker to the team, and he looks like a keeper. Now they need to find his counterpart on the left side.
If the Chargers keep winning, they'll potentially push themselves out of the running for a Jake Matthews-type player. The good news is that the 2014 class should be loaded at tackle—again. Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Antonio Richardson all have top-15 ability.
Richardson is known as the only guy to truly shut down Jadeveon Clowney last season, and his 2013 has been just as good. He's a true starting-caliber tackle on the left side. And that's something the Chargers desperately need.
15. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis)
The Pick: De'Anthony Thomas, Offensive Weapon, Oregon
The trade that sent Trent Richardson to Indianapolis is projected to net the Cleveland Browns the No. 15 pick in the draft (based on Vegas odds). That puts them into a position to grab a highly talented offensive weapon.
De'Anthony Thomas is a little bit Tavon Austin, a little bit Darren Sproles and a whole lot of awesome. He's capable of handling the ball as a running back, wide receiver (inside or boundary) and as a return man. No matter how you get him the ball, he's likely to do something dangerous with it.
That's what the Browns need on offense. Thomas and Josh Gordon working with Marcus Mariota in a spread-out attack? Yes, please.
16. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Khalil Mack, Outside Linebacker, Buffalo
Take a glance at the Detroit Lions roster and you'll see loads of talent. Playoff-caliber talent, in fact. That makes for few holes and few needs on draft day.
General manager Martin Mayhew must focus on building up the talent in the back seven of the defense. They've drafted in bulk in Rounds 2-7, but haven't targeted those positions with first-round picks since the Ernie Sims fiasco. Now they can.
Put Khalil Mack behind Ziggy Ansah and you have two dominant prospects on the right side of the defense. Add in the fact that Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are already elite-level players and that's a tough defense to stop.
The best cure for subpar secondary players? A great pass rush. Mayhew can rely on his pressure men until the young defensive backs develop.
17. New York Giants
The Pick: Timmy Jernigan, Defensive Tackle, Florida State
There are big problems in New York. General manager Jerry Reese has to move away from his Band-Aid approach to fixing the roster and start drafting talented offensive linemen, defensive pass-rushers and linebackers.
That movement started with Justin Pugh in the 2013 first round, but it's not a one-year deal. On the defensive side, the team's attempts to find athletic defensive tackles have failed. That has to change this season if they hope to ever free up Jason Pierre-Paul.
FSU's Timmy Jernigan is in his first full season as a starter, but he's something special. With a killer first step and instincts, he's the type of freak the Giants need to keep offensive lines from double-teaming JPP on every passing down.
18. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Cornerback, Oregon
Many people expect Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly to push for one of his former college players in the 2014 draft. I do too. Just not Marcus Mariota or De'Anthony Thomas.
The Eagles are expected to play themselves out of the running for the two offensive playmakers—and that's OK. Where they need a Duck the most is on defense.
Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has faced the uptempo, high-octane Oregon offense for three seasons in practice. He's quick, smart and has the toughness to keep pace with physical receivers. And that's what the Eagles are sorely missing in their secondary right now.
19. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
The Dolphins offense looks revamped thanks to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback and the money spent by general manager Jeff Ireland this offseason, but the offensive line is a little weak. Enter Cyrus Kouandjio.
If Mount Kouandjio is on the board when it's time for the Miami Dolphins to pick in Round 1, he should be the pick. Easily. And he'll step in from Day 1 as the team's right tackle—similar to what Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson are doing in their respective cities this fall.
Kouandjio and Jonathan Martin would give Miami two young bookend tackles to anchor an offense on the rise.
20. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Stephon Tuitt, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
A shift to the 4-3 defense in Dallas has been met with improving performance, but the ideal talent isn't in place for the schemes of Monte Kiffin. Jerry Jones and Co. will go to work this offseason with that in mind.
Stephon Tuitt plays defensive end in Notre Dame's 3-4 scheme, but he has the athletic ability to shift inside and dominate in the NFL. Tuitt's strength and leverage are displayed on the edge in a 3-4 scheme, as his quickness and knifing ability reek havoc in passing situations.
That's exactly what the interior of the Dallas defensive line is missing.
21. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt
The 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs look like a completely different team under Andy Reid. That coaching may only go so far before the lack of talent catches up with them, though. What must change?
General manager John Dorsey and Reid filled in holes on defense and the offensive line through the draft and free agency, but the failure of wide receiver Jon Baldwin to develop into a quality starter kept the team from becoming more balanced on offense. Baldwin was shipped to San Francisco, though, and the team is still without a long-term option at that No. 2 wideout spot.
Enter Jordan Matthews.
The Vanderbilt star has been a one-man wrecking crew in the SEC the last two seasons. He has the size, quickness after the catch and concentration to be everything Baldwin wasn't.
22. Chicago Bears
The Pick: Ryan Shazier, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State
Phil Emery has quietly fixed a lot of the problems he inherited when taking over the general manager job in Chicago. The Bears now have a strong offensive line, talent and depth at wide receiver and tight end and a defense that's getting younger.
Emery deserves a ton of praise, but the job is not finished. He must build a Bears team that can consistently compete with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. To do that, the defense has to continue to get younger, faster and more aggressive.
Adding a perimeter player will be the key. Cornerback or safety could be a need—Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are getting up there in age—but at this point in the draft the best available edge defender is key. And on my board, that's Ryan Shazier. And boy is he good.
Shazier has a first step to kill for, and he uses it well to make plays against the run, against the quarterback and in coverage. Pair him with veteran Lance Briggs and 2013 rookie Jon Bostic and you have a recipe for hard-hitting defense.
23. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
It doesn't take an expert to know that the Baltimore Ravens need help at wide receiver. They do need help, and it has to come through the draft in a Baltimore system that trusts general manager Ozzie Newsome to find young players.
That's worked to the tune of two Super Bowl rings, but this reload might be Newsome's toughest gig yet. Finding a viable threat at wide receiver to build around quarterback Joe Flacco has to be the focal point of the early rounds.
If a top-tier wide receiver happens to be available for the Ravens, the pick is easy. Looking at the draft in September, Texas A&M redshirt sophomore Mike Evans looks like a perfect fit.
Evans is big, strong and able to work up the field with impressive technique for a young player. He uses his size well, similar to Alshon Jeffery in many ways, and would be the physical wide receiver the Ravens need opposite the speedy Torrey Smith.
24. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Aaron Lynch, Defensive End, South Florida
Free agency, age and missed draft picks have caused a decrease in talent for the Atlanta Falcons on the defensive line. That means it's time for general manager Thomas Dimitroff to find another draft-day starter.
His first look should be to South Florida, where Aaron Lynch has been turning heads since he transferred from Notre Dame. Lynch is an athletic freak in the Jason Pierre-Paul mold—which is enough to convince scouts and general managers he's worth a first-round pick.
Lynch's athletic ability makes him a worthy pick at the end of the first round. He's raw, but there's a ton of natural ability just waiting to be harnessed.
25. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU
The Cincinnati Bengals have gone from being a punch line to a viable playoff contender. They did that with excellent drafting, supported by head coach Marvin Lewis and his staff. Now the goal is to keep the talent level up and to cut off any drop in talent due to turnover.
The biggest area of need on this roster comes in the secondary. To date, Dre Kirkpatrick hasn't paid off at cornerback. Leon Hall is a high-level starter, but veterans Terence Newman and Adam Jones can't be counted on for long.
Unless a bigger need arises throughout the remainder of the season, the Bengals would be lucky to find Jason Verrett on the board here. He's physical despite not being a huge player and is a heady ball hawk against the pass. Verrett has the natural technique that Kirkpatrick lacks, which makes him a safe pick here.
26. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
The New Orleans Saints defense has been recharged thanks to coordinator Rob Ryan—and they're getting impressive early-season results in spite of the talent on the field in some places. That's where Mickey Loomis comes in.
The Saints general manager will work with Ryan and head coach Sean Payton to identify the right type of players for the scheme, and then he'll go get them. That's what they do best, and it's a working formula in the team's front office.
The short drive to Alabama will help them discover Adrian Hubbard. A big, physical pass-rusher with untapped potential, Hubbard's best days will come when unleashed in the NFL. Nick Saban likes to keep Hubbard playing conservative defense, but Ryan will let his freakish natural ability loose.
27. Houston Texans
The Pick: Kyle Van Noy, Linebacker, BYU
The Houston Texans have been a serious Super Bowl contender for several seasons, but this is a team with many needs to address.
Quarterback, the right side of the offensive line and youth next to J.J. Watt on the defensive line are key needs. The position most likely to be filled with good value in Round 1, though, is at linebacker.
The team has Brian Cushing, Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed, but they still need another key starter in the 3-4 defense. That's where a do-it-all player like Kyle Van Noy enters and completes the puzzle. The BYU defender has caused problems in college on the edge, but he has the size and skill set that might allow him to do more damage on the inside once in the NFL.
No matter where you line him up, Van Noy has serious ability to stop the football. To keep the defense young, fresh and aggressive in Houston, players like him are a must.
28. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State
Most of the problems in Green Bay largely revolve around injuries, but to be honest, this team needs an infusion of talent. That starts on the offensive line.
Josh Sitton is great at one guard spot, but the other side hasn't been as good. T.J. Lang and friends can do a solid job because of the great quarterback behind them. That doesn't mean they're high-quality starters. Ted Thompson will want to look long and hard at this group in the offseason.
Something that could help right away is a blue-chip prospect. Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State is that guy. He's big enough to handle nose tackles and defensive linemen one-on-one, but he shows good quickness in space and is agile enough to pull and work the second level.
29. New England Patriots
The Pick: Brandon Coleman, Wide Receiver, Rutgers
Stop me if you've heard this one before: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick drafts a former Rutgers player. Sound familiar? That's become that's the modus operandi for the team of late, but it hasn't resulted in a go-to wide receiver whom defenses must game-plan for. That could change this year.
Brandon Coleman is a big, physical, aggressive wide receiver—and he's from Rutgers. That fits into exactly what Belichick loves. His ability to separate on the boundary will be a difference-maker for Tom Brady as the star quarterback enters the last stage of his brilliant career.
Brady to Coleman could be the right dynamic to get the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
30. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Aaron Colvin, Cornerback, Oklahoma
The once-vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense doesn't look so great this year. It may be due to film study and advanced offensive scheming, but it's also a strong possibility that the cornerbacks in place just aren't very good.
Tarell Brown has been a penalty flag magnet all season. Nnamdi Asomugha will never be the player he was in Oakland. The team's most promising cornerback, Chris Culliver, is out for the year. And Carlos Rogers is on his last NFL legs.
The 49ers haven't buckled down and drafted for need as of late, but it's time. As the team has to pay star players on both sides of the ball, drafting for impact becomes a much bigger priority. Finding players like Aaron Colvin, who can step in and play immediately, will become the focus for GM Trent Baalke and Co.
Colvin is underrated considering his talent and level of competition. That could push him down into the laps of the waiting 49ers—a team that desperately needs this man-coverage expert on their depth chart.
31. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Will Sutton, Defensive Tackle, Arizona State
Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton has been downright dominant at times in college, but questions over his measurables are likely to keep his draft stock down. His loss on draft day will be a gain when he's drafted by a team with more talent overall.
The Seattle Seahawks have built themselves into a Super Bowl contender by finding guys like Sutton. Bruce Irvin, Max Unger, Russell Wilson, Golden Tate are all examples of their drafting prowess. Sutton is simply next in that line.
Playing as a three-technique pass-rusher in the Seattle system, Sutton would be free to use his speed and athletic ability to penetrate the line and crash the pocket. That's another thing these Seahawks do so well—letting players do what they do best.
32. Denver Broncos
The Pick: Antone Exum, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
The Super Bowl winners may be playing in Denver, but this is a roster full of aging veterans. That is something John Elway has to focus on continually—how to build a talented, experienced team and manage the youth on the depth chart to keep the squad competing in the future.
Staying young—and talented—is the key. That makes the team's draft picks so important even if those rookies don't play immediately.
One such area is at cornerback, where Champ Bailey is nearing the end of his career. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, if re-signed, and Chris Harris are good enough to step into starting roles, but depth then becomes an issue. The smart play is to rotate the talent. As Bailey goes out, a rookie comes in.
Virginia Tech's Antone Exum may be one of the big risers in this year's draft. Similar to Desmond Trufant in last year's crop, he's a physical cornerback with the vision and speed to be a Day 1 starter.