With Week 8 finishing up, most teams are officially at the halfway point of the regular season. With that in mind, it's time to start looking at the upcoming 2014 NFL draft.
With most teams playing seven or eight games this season, we are starting to see some real needs at key positions. Meanwhile, the college season is in full swing, and a number of players are emerging around the country.
With just one game remaining this week, let's take a look at the latest 2014 NFL mock draft. Rankings are based off every team's winning percentage heading into Monday Night Football. In the event of a tie, the team with a better point differential will get the lower draft pick. For the final two picks, we will use the top NFC and AFC teams in regards to winning percentage.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
While Jadeveon Clowney is still the best player in the NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars need a quarterback more than anything right now.
It's currently a close race for the top quarterback between Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota, but Bridgewater still has a slight edge. He's the more developed passer that can help the Jaguars right away, hopefully finally giving them a franchise quarterback to build around.
With Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, Bridgewater could give the Jaguars a solid offense in 2014.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I don't think Mike Glennon is the answer at quarterback, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to have a very hard time passing on the top player in the NFL draft.
Just about everything is going wrong in Tampa Bay, but Clowney could help the defense in a hurry. Despite what people are saying, he's still an incredibly dominant defensive player that will give offensive coordinators nightmares at the next level, and the Bucs shouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger on this pick.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Josh Freeman experiment isn't going to last after this season for the Minnesota Vikings. He signed a one-year deal, and with the chance to take one of these great quarterbacks in the coming draft class, they're going to have to pick one of them up.
The next best QB to Bridgewater would be Mariota, but it's a really close race. Mariota is an incredibly dynamic player that can be really explosive through the air and on the ground. With him and Adrian Peterson in the backfield, this could be an entertaining offense to watch next year.
4. New York Giants: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
As bad as Eli Manning has been, it's not all on him this year. The offensive line isn't doing him any favors with the fourth-worst pass protection grade in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Easily the best offensive lineman in this year's draft, Jake Matthews is an athletic offensive tackle that can move around and simply dominate his assignment. He could help keep Eli off his back and hopefully get the offense moving once again.
5. Houston Texans: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
As crazy as it would have sounded at the beginning of the season, the Houston Texans are well on their way to a top-five pick this year, and Matt Schaub looks to be on his way out as the starting quarterback.
There aren't a ton of holes on this team, so they need to focus on getting the passing game going. Tajh Boyd has the tools to be an instant starter in the NFL, and if you can give him Andre Johnson and his former teammate DeAndre Hopkins to throw to, he could bring the Texans back into the playoffs very quickly.
6. St. Louis Rams (From Washington): Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
The two obvious needs right now for the St. Louis Rams are at running back and safety, but there aren't any players worth a top-10 pick at either of these positions, so they can try and go with the best player available at a position they could improve on.
The defensive line already has some great players with Chris Long, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers, but could you imagine how much better they would be with Louis Nix in there?
The Rams could draft Nix and be in great position with their front seven. They will also have a second first-round pick this year, so they will be in great position to take this extremely talented defensive tackle.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The current situation on the offensive line is not good, and the Pittsburgh Steelers won't hesitate to bring in an offensive tackle.
Naturally, the Steelers would love to draft Matthews out of Texas A&M, but with him gone, they will have to settle with Taylor Lewan.
Lewan is still a nice consolation prize. He has a ton of upside and would be a great fit at left tackle to protect Ben Roethlisberger's blind side.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
I was hesitant to put Anthony Barr here based off the defensive scheme for the Falcons, but Atlanta will have no problem taking the player that is arguably the second-best prospect this year with the No. 8 pick.
Barr is probably the most deadly pass-rusher in this year's draft, and his versatility could let him play in a three-point stance or as a standing outside linebacker. The Falcons do play with a 4-3 defense, but Barr is so talented that they will find ways to get him on the field.
9. Buffalo Bills: Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson
After focusing so much on building up the offense this past year, it's time for the Bills to shift their attention to the other side of the ball.
The Bills could go in a lot of different directions here, but one player that's been shooting up draft boards lately has been Vic Beasley. Kiko Alonso has been great, but the Bills need another linebacker to strengthen the defense.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
With what we've seen so far, the Philadelphia Eagles need help in the secondary more than most teams do. They're giving up around 300 passing yards per game and are one of the worst teams in the league at stopping opposing quarterbacks.
Bradley Roby is starting to slide down draft boards a bit, but he's still the best cornerback in the draft. He has some great speed and is already and experienced defensive back that will give a much-needed lift for the Eagles on defense.
11. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Cleveland Browns have their own problems at quarterback, but I think they can wait and use their second pick in the first round with Bridgewater, Boyd and Mariota all gone.
With this pick, the Browns can still focus on offense by bringing in Sammy Watkins. He would be a terrific receiver to play opposite Josh Gordon, and that would give whoever plays under center next year three great options to throw to with Jordan Cameron at tight end.
12. St. Louis Rams: Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Those other needs are still here at the No. 12 pick for the Rams, but they will still be happy with a big boost on the inside of the offensive line.
Cyril Richardson has been one of the big reasons why Baylor has been so explosive this season. When it comes to pro-ready prospects, there might not be another player more ready to play in the NFL.
13. Oakland Raiders: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
There is a serious lack of talent on the Oakland Raiders depth chart right now, and they will be in position to draft their top player on the board with the No. 13 pick.
C.J. Mosley is an ideal choice here. He can help out that defense that's struggling with consistency right now by being a player that can make plays all over the field.
14. Miami Dolphins: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
I originally had the Miami Dolphins taking an offensive tackle here but after they traded for Bryant McKinnie, that doesn't seem like a possibility, at least for now.
The Dolphins do have some pieces in the secondary, but they could certainly use another one. They have a few options here, but I like Colvin as the next best option at cornerback. He has some great size at 6'0'' and he's capable of keeping up with most wide receivers.
15. Tennessee Titans: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Bringing in Andy Levitre was a good move by the Tennessee Titans. Still, that offensive line hasn't been very good, and they need even more help.
Cyrus Kouandjio didn't have the best start to the season, but he's turning it around again. He started falling down draft boards to start the season, but he's well on his way to being a top-15 pick.
Chris Johnson is struggling to run behind the current line, and while a good part of that is on him, he could break out some big plays if the Titans decide to upgrade the offensive line.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Despite having Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, the Baltimore Ravens simply can't get anything to work on the ground. The interior of the offensive line has been pretty terrible with the exception of Marshal Yanda, so adding another interior lineman could help a lot.
He's going to be a reach, but Gabe Jackson is the next best interior lineman the Ravens can grab. He would do a great job helping them get the running game going once again, and that would completely change the offense.
17. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The defense looks great for the New York Jets, so they won't need to worry too much about adding an instant starter on that side of the ball.
On the other hand, the Jets really need to give Geno Smith a legitimate weapon to throw to, and I can't think of a better one than Mike Evans out of Texas A&M.
At 6'5'' and 225 pounds, Evans is a true possession receiver. He isn't going to be a vertical threat, but he would be a nightmare in the red zone. He can create separation against physical defensive backs and does a great job keeping his feet in bounds, making him a perfect target for Geno.
18. Arizona Cardinals: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
I probably didn't need to tell you this, but the Arizona Cardinals have a very bad offensive line. But just in case you don't believe me, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has given them a -43.2 pass block grade, by far the worst mark in the league.
The best option here would be to go with Antonio Richardson. He's had some huge games in college, and is definitely worth a first-round pick.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The transition to a 4-3 defense has been a tough one this season for the Dallas Cowboys, and they're going to need new faces that can fit in this scheme.
One of those new faces could very well be Stephon Tuitt if he decides to declare for the NFL draft. While he is technically listed as a defensive end, he would have no problem moving inside and stuffing the run.
Tuitt could be a dominant defensive presence in the NFL, and he would fit well with the Cowboys as they try to thrive in a 4-3 scheme.
20. Chicago Bears: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
The defense just doesn't look the same for the Chicago Bears this year, and the big focus is going to be adding youth at linebacker.
When it comes to ideal fits, Ryan Shazier would be perfect for Chicago. Not only can he make big plays as an outside linebacker, he would also be able to join Jon Bostic to give the Bears two fantastic young guys for the future.
21. San Diego Chargers: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The San Diego Chargers could go in a couple of directions here. They could add another offensive lineman to give Philip Rivers some more protection, but the bigger need here is adding to a secondary that's letting receivers run all over the field.
On an Oregon team that loves speed and athleticism, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu fits right in on defense. He has some incredible speed and is able to keep up with even some of the fastest receivers in the country. In the NFL, Ekpre-Olomu would be an ideal corner going up against slot receivers.
22. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Even with the injury concerns, Marqise Lee is still one of the top wide receiver prospects in the country. We've seen how explosive he is while at USC, and he could make those same plays at the pro level.
23. Detroit Lions: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Right now, the Detroit Lions need to find any way possible to keep Chris Houston from seeing the field. However, they're going to have to likely wait until the 2014 season before they can do that.
Loucheiz Purifoy is someone that has a ridiculous amount of upside given his overall athleticism. He's not the safest pick out there, but given his potential, the Lions should draft him and try to improve their secondary in a big way.
24. Green Bay Packers: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
The Green Bay Packers don't have a ton of holes right now, but they could always get better on the offensive line and add some depth in the likely event that someone goes down.
With so many offensive tackles already taken, Cameron Erving is the next best pick. He's not a super exciting option, but he's proven during his time at Florida State that he's ready to play in the NFL.
25. Cleveland Browns (From Indianapolis): Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
I've been blown away with the transformation of Zach Mettenberger this year. After a decent 2012 season, the LSU quarterback has looked like a legitimate NFL prospect thanks to Cam Cameron, who took over as the offensive coordinator for the Tigers.
The Browns got another first-round pick after sending away Trent Richardson, and now they have another chance to find their franchise quarterback with Mettenberger.
They haven't had success at the position for some time, but the Browns are due for a franchise QB, right?
26. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Another team that could go in a few different directions with their pick, the New England Patriots would probably be in good shape if they went with another player on the defensive line with this one.
Ra'Shede Hageman is one of those under-the-radar prospects that's quickly gaining some steam, and Bill Belichick loves guys like that.
While Vince Wilfork will likely return for the 2014 season, the Patriots still need some help on the inside, and Hageman makes the most sense here.
27. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Cincinnati Bengals needed some help in the secondary even before the injury to Leon Hall. Now, they will have a chance to bolster that secondary with another solid cornerback.
Jason Verrett isn't a specialist in pass coverage, but he does do everything well. He has some very smooth hips and footwork to keep up with outside receivers and will be a strong player in either zone or man coverage.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
It didn't take long for me to decide what the San Francisco 49ers need, and that's a wide receiver.
Jordan Matthews has the upside to be a future Pro Bowler. At 6'3'' and 205 pounds, Matthews has the size and speed to play on the outside at the next level. He may play at a smaller school, but he's stepped up against some really good SEC teams this season.
29. Seattle Seahawks: Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
The Seattle Seahawks may very well be the most complete team in all of football, which makes it difficult to predict where they'll go with their first-round pick. One place they could go is on the inside of the defensive line.
Anthony Johnson has the tools as a defensive tackle to be elite one day. He doesn't have much trouble plugging up holes and is able to get pressure on the inside.
There are already so many great players on this defense that adding another will make them almost unstoppable.
30. Denver Broncos: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
As unstoppable as the offense is for the Denver Broncos, their defense is struggling right now against the pass, even with Von Miller back. That secondary needs some help, and adding a safety would certainly do the trick.
Easily the best safety in the draft, HaHa Clinton-Dix provides a unique combination of on-field awareness and all-around athleticism that can make him a future star at the position.
At some point, the Broncos are going to have to slow down opposing quarterbacks. Clinton-Dix will be able to do that almost single-handedly.
31. New Orleans Saints: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
White the New Orleans Saints have improved dramatically with the switch to a 3-4 defense, they could always use some more help on that side of the ball.
It certainly wouldn't hurt for New Orleans to draft a frightening pass-rusher, and that's where Khalil Mack comes in. Although he is great at getting to the quarterback, he also does a solid job stopping the run and dropping into coverage.
Even though he's from a small school, Mack has proven he's the real deal. The Saints will take the highest player on their board, and I would be surprised if that's not Mack given this scenario.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
There are very few needs for the only team that's still undefeated, but the Kansas City Chiefs could go with a tight end to make the passing game a bit more deadly with Alex Smith under center.
As of right now, Austin Seferian-Jenkins is easily the top tight end prospect heading into May. He would be a huge safety blanket for Smith and could open the field for other guys like Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery.
There are other positions the Chiefs could focus on, but with how good Seferian-Jenkins is, the offense would be thrilled to have him.
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