2014 NFL Draft: Post-Wild Card 3-Round Update
Wild Card Weekend is in the books, so it's time for a major NFL mock draft update, this time with a full three rounds.
Going deeper into the prospects really shows where this draft is at its strongest. Positions like wide receiver and cornerback carry talent well into the third round. Other positions, like offensive tackle, fall off a bit sooner, while positions like running back and safety are really a mixed bag.
Overall, looking at this draft 96 picks deep gives great perspective that if teams play their cards right, they can fill significant needs with this current crop of prospects.
Let us take a look at this latest projection.
First Round: Picks 1-4
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville
With a new regime taking over, it is hard to imagine the Houston Texans passing on Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is the closest thing to a sure thing there is in this draft. The Texans have lots of talent on their roster; they just need someone to lead them on offense.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
It stands to reason that the St. Louis Rams are going to try very hard to deal this pick. However, should they fail to find a buyer, they can instead upgrade their offensive line. Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews is a complete left tackle prospect in every sense of the word. He would allow the Rams to move tackle Rodger Saffold to guard and would really strengthen the line.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
There is a genuine possibility that the Jacksonville Jaguars draft a quarterback with this pick, but that would mean passing on one of the most explosive defensive players in the country. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney might not be the starting quarterback they need, but that doesn't change what a great player he is.
4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, Quarterback, UCF
No name in the NFL draft world is hotter than UCF quarterback Blake Bortles. Fresh off his bowl performance, Bortles appears to have elevated himself to elite status among NFL draft prospects. If the Cleveland Browns are serious about improving their team, they must start with quarterback. Bortles is a fascinating prospect and an intriguing athlete who is likely to be a little over-drafted.
First Round: Picks 5-8
5. Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr, Quarterback, Fresno State
Analogous to the Browns, the Oakland Raiders are not getting the most out of their players due to struggles under center. Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr has the most impressive arm of any player in the draft, and he's put up ridiculous stats.
There are some questions about his poise and ability to play in a pro offense, but nevertheless, Carr's ceiling is high and he is likely worth a risk, even this early.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
There are multiple spots in which the Atlanta Falcons can improve. One of those is surely at offensive tackle. With the entry of Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, there is another elite tackle to pick from. Robinson is a violent, physical athlete who works well in space. He would be a welcome addition to an offensive line that really struggled last season.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
One of the best things you can do for a young quarterback is give him a spectacular weapon. Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Mike Glennon needs someone to get to the football to. Enter Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and his elite playmaking ability. Watkins can do anything on the field and can hurt a defense in multiple ways.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
When you have a running back like Adrian Peterson, it is a disservice to not surround him with players who complement him. Poor quarterback play has hamstrung this team for several seasons, and it is time for a change.
Texas A&M Johnny Manziel might not fit the mold of your typical NFL quarterback, but that does not mean that he cannot be a winning quarterback. Manziel is as exciting a player to watch as there is in this draft. The roll of the dice is how his game translates at the next level.
First Round: Picks 9-12
9. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama
The Buffalo Bills won big when they drafted linebacker Kiko Alonso in 2013. Alonso has been one of the best defensive players in the league. In 2014, the Bills can add a player just as talented to pair up with Alonso. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who can excel at any position. This would allow the Bills to move him around to maximize his playmaking.
10. Detroit Lions: Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
Even with all the unrest, it doesn't appear that the Detroit Lions are ready to give up on quarterback Matt Stafford. Either way, this franchise has never properly addressed the wide receiver position opposite Calvin Johnson. USC wide receiver Marqise Lee is one of the most underrated players in the draft and would be a perfect complement to Johnson and his ability to stretch the field.
11. Tennessee Titans: Khalil Mack, Defensive End, Buffalo
Since the top quarterbacks have all come off the board, the Tennessee Titans should look to the other side of the football. Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack would give the Titans a player they haven't had on their roster since defensive end Jevon Kearse. Mack is a disruptive force off the edge and can impact the game in multiple ways.
12. New York Giants: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
Safety may not appear to be a primary need for the New York Giants, but getting more athletic in the defensive secondary is a need. Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is far and away the top safety in the draft. If the Giants pass on him here, the next-best defensive back they'd get would be much less impactful.
First Round: Picks 13-16
13. St. Louis Rams: Kony Ealy, Defensive End, Missouri
The St. Louis Rams have one of the best pass-rushing defensive ends in the league in Robert Quinn. With Quinn's breakout season, expect more attention on him in 2014. The Rams would be well-served to draft a player they can line up opposite him who will make plays. Missouri's Kony Ealy is a hybrid defensive end who can play a stand-up linebacker or drop his hand on the ground and rush the passer.
14. Chicago Bears: Ra'Shede Hageman, Defensive Tackle, Minnesota
As the season has gone on, Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman has steadily improved and been on the climb. At this point, Hageman is the one defensive tackle toward the top who could come in and really affect a defense as a run-stopper and with his ability to penetrate and rush the passer.
There must be some profound rebuilding on the Chicago Bears defensive line, so why not start with Hageman?
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State
2013 was a forgettable year for the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary. It's an aging group that was exposed far too often. This sort of play makes the pick of a cornerback early an uncomplicated one. Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert has ascended to the top of the rankings because he is big and experienced and plays with solid all-around technique.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan didn't have the year he expected to have after opting to return for his senior season. Some problems with consistency raise questions about his ability to play left tackle in the NFL. This little slip makes him a real value pick for the Baltimore Ravens. Their offensive line play was inconsistent in 2013, and there is an unquestionable need for an upgrade.
First Round: Picks 17-20
17. Dallas Cowboys: Louis Nix III, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
Should the Dallas Cowboys decide to stick with their current defensive scheme, an upgrade at defensive tackle is a must. They need a big wide-body defensive tackle who can penetrate at the snap and clog run lanes. Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III is a huge man with real power and quick feet.
18. New York Jets: Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Florida State
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith showed some flashes in 2013. Considering just how poor his skill players are around him, it is hard to get too down on him. Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin would give Smith a huge red-zone target with surprising athleticism and a very raw skill set. Should Benjamin choose to declare, his potential alone will make him tough to pass up.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
The offensive line situation of the Miami Dolphins is not so bad as one might think. Considering the turnover along the offensive line, it is inspiring just how well the group rallied.
Even with that, offensive line is still a top need going into 2014. Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio would be an excellent value pick at this point in the first round. Kouandjio is a punishing run-blocker, and underrated pass protector. There are areas in his game he can improve, like how he uses his hands, but the potential to be great is there.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
At first glance, the Arizona Cardinals might be a team on the hunt for a different quarterback. However, the reality is that the problem with this team is not the quarterback. The Cardinals offensive line struggled much more than the team's quarterbacks in 2013.
Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson is a talented athlete at the tackle position. He's a massive road-grading tackle who does a very good job in the run game.
First Round: Picks 21-24
21. Green Bay Packers: Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech
It's unclear at this point whether or not the Green Bay Packers will have the services of tight end Jermichael Finley in 2014. Considering how much the Packers like to use the tight end in the passing game, it makes sense at this point to plan for the worst.
Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro is a terrific passing-catching tight end and capable blocker. Amaro was the focus of the Red Raiders' passing attack, and he always seemed to come through in the clutch.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State
As explosive as the Philadelphia Eagles offense is, there is still work to be done on defense. Cornerback is a top priority for this team, and Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby really fits the bill. Roby is far from perfect in terms of technique, but his speed is off the charts. You can coach up technique and assignment football, but no other cornerback in this draft can run like Roby.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Without a doubt, the Kansas City Chiefs defense is the fundamental unit on this team. It is an attacking group that keeps this team in games.
However, on offense things are less exciting.
The offense seems to have the potential to be quite explosive with quarterback Alex Smith under center, so the Chiefs should give him another weapon here. Texas A&M Mike Evans is a huge target for Smith. Evans has significant experience in working with a mobile quarterback and has a knack for making the acrobatic catch.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Darqueze Dennard, Cornerback, Michigan State
Looking over the Cincinnati Bengals roster, there aren't a lot of glaring holes. They can therefore go for the highest rated player on the board who fills a need, and that's the cornerback. Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard is a fantastic all-around coverage corner with exceptional ball skills. The Bengals cornerbacks aren't getting any younger, so this is certainly a priority.
First Round: Picks 25-28
25. San Diego Chargers: Vic Beasley, Linebacker, Clemson
It's hard to imagine that Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley will fall this far. However, if he does, the San Diego Chargers will be quick to snatch him up. The Chargers have more questions than answers at their outside linebacker spots, and Beasley looks made to come off the edge in that rush linebacker role.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis): Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt
The Cleveland Browns used their preceding first-round pick to draft their quarterback of the future. They can use their second selection to bring him a weapon. The Browns already have the flashy wide receiver in Josh Gordon, so adding Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews makes sense. Matthews is fundamentally sound and as sure-handed as any player in this group.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State
As good as the New Orleans Saints' 3-4 defense has played, there is room for improvement. One area in particular is the pass rush. The Saints need a player to line up opposite linebacker Junior Galette.
Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier comes from a 4-3 defense, but he looks like the kind of player who could transition into the role of 3-4 rush outside linebacker in the Saints' scheme.
28. New England Patriots: Anthony Barr, Linebacker, UCLA
This may seem low for UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, but there are real holes to his game. Barr depends on a very limited set of tools which is going to limit the teams that can use him. The New England Patriots have a chance to get a real steal this late, if they can find his spot.
First Round: Picks 29-32
29. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Penn State
There aren't many holes on this San Francisco 49ers team. The defense is scary good, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick leads the offense. At this point in the round, getting Kaepernick a weapon in the passing game makes a lot of sense.
Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson might not be a household name, but be sure that the 6'3", 210-pound speedster can play. He has terrific hands and can do serious damage after the catch.
30. Carolina Panthers: Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver, LSU
After using the 2013 NFL draft to bolster their defense, the Carolina Panthers can turn to the offense in 2014. Wide receiver Steve Smith is still very talented, but the Panthers need to think of the future. LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry would make a serious long-term replacement for Smith and an excellent pairing for wide receiver Brandon LaFell. Landry has NFL-caliber size and speed to go along with great hands.
31. Denver Broncos: Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU
Cornerback is a need for the Denver Broncos, but it's not the highest priority going into 2014. A pass-rush specialist would probably make more sense here.
However, in terms of value, TCU cornerback Jason Verrett is a much better prospect than the subsequent best defensive end or outside linebacker on the board. Verrett is a great coverage player with very sound technique and ball skills.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina
The Seattle Seahawks have built one of the most physical, punishing defenses in the NFL. On offense, quarterback Russell Wilson is fabulous. It only makes sense to give him another weapon in the passing game.
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron can work in the slot and run the seams as well as any player in this draft. He is not an overpowering blocker, but he runs crisp routes and has soft hands.
You don't have to go very far into the second round to realize just how much talent this draft has. There are a half dozen players in the top half of this round who could easily find themselves swapping spots with a first-round pick and no one would bat an eye.
Players like running back Ka'Deem Carey and inside linebacker Shayne Skov are the eminent players at their position and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins came into the season as the top tight end. Overall, this round could generate as many starters the preceding round did.
1. Houston Texans: Benardrick McKinney, Defensive End, Mississippi State
2. Washington Redskins: Stephon Tuitt, Defensive End, Notre Dame
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tajh Boyd, Quarterback, Clemson
4. Cleveland Browns: Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor
5. Oakland Raiders: Odell Beckham, Wide Receiver, LSU
6. Atlanta Falcons: Trent Murphy, Defensive End, Stanford
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Michael Sam, Linebacker, Missouri
8. Minnesota Vikings: Will Sutton, Defensive Tackle, Arizona State
9. Buffalo Bills: La'el Collins, Offensive Tackle, LSU
10. Detroit Lions: Loucheiz Purifoy, Cornerback, Florida
11. Tennessee Titans: Ka'Deem Carey, Running Back, Arizona
12. New York Giants: Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver, Oregon State
13. St. Louis Rams: Shayne Skov, Linebacker, Stanford
14. Chicago Bears: Ahmad Dixon, Safety, Baylor
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington State
16. Baltimore Ravens: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight End, Washington
17. Dallas Cowboys: Kyle Van Noy, Linebacker, BYU
18. New York Jets: Adrian Hubbard, Linebacker, Alabama
19. Miami Dolphins: Ego Ferguson, Defensive Tackle, LSU
20. Arizona Cardinals: Jeremiah Attaochu, Linebacker, Georgia Tech
21. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor, Safety, Louisville
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Paul Richardson, Wide Receiver, Colorado
23. San Francisco 49ers (from Kansas City): Dominique Easley, Defensive Tackle, Florida
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Timmy Jernigan, Defensive Tackle, FSU
25. San Diego Chargers: Marcus Roberson, Cornerback, Florida
26. Indianapolis Colts: Jack Mewhort, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
27. New Orleans Saints: Davante Adams, Wide Receiver, Fresno State
28. New England Patriots: Brandon Coleman, Wide Receiver, Rutgers
29. San Francisco 49ers: Dion Bailey, Safety, USC
30. Carolina Panthers: Joel Bitonio, Offensive Tackle, Nevada
31. Denver Broncos: Zack Martin, Guard, Notre Dame
32. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, Guard, Stanford
The third round opens up with the Houston Texans taking Virginia Tech Kyle Fuller, who could end up moving to safety in the NFL. The round ends with the Minnesota Vikings taking star Auburn running back Tre Mason to spell running back Adrian Peterson.
The level of talent this late in the draft really illustrates how good teams can make themselves great if they use their picks wisely. Seeing so many players with such talent taken this late also gives you the idea that teams that are patient and willing to make some trades could roll up some extra picks and go for quantity and quality in this draft.
1. Houston Texans:Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
2. Washington Redskins: Christian Jones, Linebacker, FSU
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: DeVante Parker, Wide Receiver, Louisville
4. Cleveland Browns: De'Anthony Thomas, Running Back, Oregon
5. Oakland Raiders: James Hurst, Offensive Tackle, North Carolina
6. Atlanta Falcons: Troy Niklas, Tight End, Notre Dame
7. New York Jets (from Tampa Bay): Aaron Colvin, Cornerback, Oklahoma
8. Minnesota Vikings: Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End, Texas
9. Buffalo Bills: Terrence Brooks, Safety, FSU
10. Detroit Lions: Lamarcus Joyner, Safety, FSU
11. San Francisco 49ers (from Tennessee): Pierre Desir, Cornerback, Lindenwood
12. New York Giants: E.J. Gaines, Cornerback, Missouri
13. St. Louis Rams: Carlos Hyde, Running Back, Ohio State
14. Chicago Bears: Xavier Su'a-Filo, Guard, UCLA
15. Cleveland Browns (from Pittsburgh): Ed Stinson, Defensive End, Alabama
16. Baltimore Ravens: Victor Hampton, Cornerback, South Carolina
17. Dallas Cowboys: Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback, Eastern Illinois
18. New York Jets: Lache Seastrunk, Running Back, Baylor
19. Miami Dolphins: Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State
20. Arizona Cardinals: A.J. McCarron, Quarterback, Alabama
21. Green Bay Packers: Aaron Donald, Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Craig Loston, Safety, LSU
23. Kansas City Chiefs: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tight End, Iowa
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jordan Zumwalt, LB UCLA
25. San Diego Chargers: Donte Moncrief, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
26. Indianapolis Colts: Josh Mauro, Defensive End, Stanford
27. New Orleans Saints: Terrance Mitchell, Cornerback, Oregon
28. New England Patriots: Scott Crichton, Defensive End, Oregon State
29. San Francisco 49ers: Logan Thomas, Quarterback, Virginia Tech
30. Carolina Panthers: Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas
31. Denver Broncos: Trevor Riley, Defensive End, Utah
32. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle): Tre Mason, Running Back, Auburn