2014 NFL Mock Draft: Best Possible Selections for 1st-Round Teams

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IJanuary 30, 2014

There's been an odd shift in the perception of the top quarterback talent in this draft. 

At the end of the college bowl season, it was hard to find anyone projecting anyone but Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater as the first quarterback off the board. 

That is far from the case now. For instance, CBS' Rob Rang and Dane Brulger both have Central Florida's Blake Bortles as the first quarterback off the board. Then there are mocks like the one from ESPN Insider's draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.

He has Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel going off the board at No. 1 overall. Kiper adds "I spoke to a number of high-ranking NFL evaluators this week, and this is the one QB [Manziel] anyone felt certain was a top-5 pick."

As you'll see below, however, I haven't swayed off the Bridgewater bandwagon. 

Take a look at how I see the quarterback position, and all others, playing out in the first round. 


Langford's 2014 NFL Mock Draft

1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

The Houston Texans shouldn't ignore their need for a quarterback at the top of this draft, and I believe that will lead them to Bridgewater. 

Of that group of quarterbacks I mentioned above, Bridgewater is the safest selection. 

Bortles has all the physical tools, but he faced lesser competition in college and underwhelmed in his bowl game this year. There is the fear that Bortles may not be able to handle an NFL pass rush. 

Then there is Manziel. His amazing and exciting style of play often puts him in harm's way, and he doesn't exactly have the size to suggest he can withstand the pounding. 

Bridgewater has the size, skills and track record to suggest he can start on Sundays. 


2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jadeveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina

Defensive line is far from the St. Louis Rams' biggest need. With defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, the Rams have a talented duo on the edge. 

Still, Clowney is the most physically gifted athlete in this draft. He has the size and explosion to play inside or outside on the defensive line.

He will make an immediate impact, and if he can stay healthy and motivated, he has legitimate Hall of Fame potential. 

That should be too much for the Rams to pass on. 


3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

The Jacksonville Jaguars will enter this draft with the following quote weighing heavily on their thought process: 

If the draft plays out the way I've got here, the Jags will be choosing between Manziel and Bortles.

Bortles' skill set may actually have Bortles off the board before the Jaguars select:  

In the end, I see the Jaguars siding with a pocket passer who has the size to suggest he can handle the hits.


4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Browns will just hope that one of the big three quarterbacks is still on the board, and if it is Manziel, I don't think they'll be complaining: 

With exciting weapons already in the passing game and a second first-round selection in this draft, the Browns have a chance to have a dynamic offense next season. 


5. Oakland Raiders: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is a popular selection here. I'm confident the Raiders will go defense if all of the top three quarterbacks are off the board. 

This roster is void of talent on the defensive side. The Raiders could use an infusion of talent on the offensive side as well, but I see them turning to free agency and a mountain of cap space to help that process. 

In general, it is easier for rookies to make a bigger instant impact on defense, and instant impact is what head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie need as they enter their third year on the job.

Anthony Barr is still a bit raw, but his sheer athleticism will give the Raiders' pass rush a badly needed boost. 


6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

The Atlanta Falcons must get stronger in the offensive trenches. No player will help them accomplish this as thoroughly as Auburn's Greg Robinson.

Robinson is a bull in the run game. He is a little unpolished in pass protection, but he has all the physical skills to stand out there as well. 


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have budding talent in the passing game. Quarterback Mike Glennon showed some promise last season, and wide receiver Vincent Jackson and tight end Timothy Wright give this team solid weapons.

Throw Sammy Watkins into the mix, and that group can be downright frightening. Watkins has the explosiveness to stretch out opposing defenses.


8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State 

Derek Carr is a bit of a reach here. There are questions regarding his ability to handle the pass rush of the NFL, and that starts with his footwork: 

Still, he is not without arm talent and potential. He put up huge numbers at Fresno State. This will be enough to have the Vikings, who are desperate for a quarterback upgrade, to take a flier on him.


9. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama 

All of a sudden, the Bills are looking really stout in the middle of their defense. With strong play along the defensive line, rookie Kiko Alonso was free to make impact tackles last season.

With the addition of the athletic ability and outstanding coverage skills, the Bills will have a complete front seven.


10. Detroit Lions: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

The Detroit Lions need to find a linebacker to clean up behind their defensive line as the Bills did.

Khalil Mack has the athleticism to cover space and and get to the passer. Also, his nose for the ball would have him racking up a lot of tackles for this defense.


11. Tennessee Titans: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M 

Jake Matthews just might be the safest player in this draft. He is polished and physically dominant.

He can't match the athleticism of Robinson, which I believe will leave him as the second offensive lineman off the board.

That will be just fine with the Titans. This offensive line has a good core in the middle but could use a talent like Matthews on the edge.


12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

The New York Giants have many needs, and a tight end who can stretch the field is one of them. Brandon Meyers did a solid job for the Giants last season, but he is a free agent, and he's not exactly a dangerous playmaker. 

Eric Ebron is definitely a playmaking threat. He is athletic, big and explosive. 


13. St. Louis Rams: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

The St. Louis Rams will already be making their second pick of the 2014 draft by No. 13.

I have them taking Clowney at No. 2 and then double-dipping on that side of the ball at No. 13.

Dargueze Dennard is a good value here and potentially a shutdown corner. His addition would help solidify the Rams' young and inconsistent set of corners.


14. Chicago Bears: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

The Chicago Bears would be insane to draft anything but defense. I don't think the current Bears regime is insane.

Stephon Tuitt would be a great place to start. He has the strength to handle the interior of a defensive line while being a force in the run game.

There are some concerns over Tuitt, however. 

CBS' and NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang explains some of the question marks on Tuitt: 

Clowney isn't the only highly regarded defensive lineman who struggled under the burden of monstrous expectations in 2013.

After dominating as a sophomore, Tuitt began his junior campaign out of shape (after missing spring due to hernia surgery) and struggled with consistency all season. Highly athletic with the frame to star as either a 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end, Tuitt's upside is just too tantalizing to ignore.

Tuitt will want to come into the combine in great shape. Assuming that happens, the Bears won't be able to pass on him.


15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

The Pittsburgh Steelers turned around their season as the offensive line improved its play. That helped spring to life a previously dormant running game, and it helped keep quarterback Ben Roethlisberger upright. 

Despite the improvements, the Steelers would be wise to spend this pick on a tackle. 

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will be a free agent at the end of next season and will be due for a big raise. Also, left tackle Kelvin Beachum is not the best long-term answer on that side.

Taylor Lewan would be. He is a polished product with solid physical skills. 


16. Baltimore Ravens: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio had a disastrous Sugar Bowl. The performance certainly didn't help his draft stock. The good news for Kouandjio is that he has a wealth of quality tape in other big games, and he is athletically gifted. 

I don't see any way he slides past the first 20 when there are teams like the Ravens desperate for help along the offensive line. 

Baltimore's offensive line was bad in the run and pass game last year, and on top of that, tackles Michael Oher and Eugene Monroe are free agents. 


17. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville 

The Dallas Cowboys must find a long-term answer at free safety to help center a terrible secondary.

Calvin Pryor is a prospect on the rise, and I only expect the combine to continue that process. 

He has great athleticism and the ability to make an impact in the run and pass game.


18. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Offense has to be the biggest priority for the New York Jets. That side of the ball suffers from a complete lack of playmakers.

Mike Evans is not the most explosive wide receiver available here, but his size makes him a threat all over the field.

Geno Smith's development definitely could use a receiver like Evans to help him out on third downs and in the red zone.


19. Miami Dolphins: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee 

In case you haven't noticed, Miami is in need of new talent in its offensive front five.

At 6’6″ and 330 pounds, Richardson is a beast. He will need good coaching to help him overcome his lack of knee bend. 

Richardson has all the tools to be a dominant tackle in the run and pass game. He will just have to be dedicated to learning and maintaining the fundamentals of his craft. 


20. Arizona Cardinals: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Well if it isn't another team in dire need of offensive line help.

Zack Martin's strength, size and work ethic make him more than fit for starting duty along the offensive line. That may not be at tackle, however.

Rob Rang explains: "Martin does not possess great height, arm length or foot speed."

No matter to the Cardinals. They can use Martin's help at guard. 


21. Green Bay Packers: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota 

Ra'Shede Hageman is one of the more interesting prospects in this class. He is 6'6" and comfortably over 300 pounds, and he has the explosiveness of a linebacker.

Still, athletic talent doesn't always translate onto the football field, and Hageman was far from a prolific producer in college.

Still, his massive ceiling makes him worth the gamble at No. 21 for the Packers. 


22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

The Philadelphia Eagles finished dead last in passing defense this past season. Obviously, upgrades are needed. 

The Eagles won't be able to find a better value in that department than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama. 

Clinton-Dix has good size and range for the position, and he has the potential to be the kind of free safety who makes game-changing plays. 


23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC 

As the season progressed, the Kansas City Chiefs began to win more with their offense than their defense. Still, this team would be wise to add talent to a passing game that was far too dependent on Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. 

Marqise Lee's ability to get downfield will help open up the rest of the field. 


24. Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State 

The Cincinnati Bengals have solid talent at cornerback, but Justin Gilbert is a strong value, and he could potentially give the Bengals a shutdown corner.

Gilbert is 6'0" and 200 pounds and still has the quickness and speed to be left on an island on the outside of the defense. 


25. San Diego Chargers: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri

If the draft plays out like this, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Chargers try to move up to nab Gilbert. San Diego must improve its pass defense.

In the end, E.J. Gaines is not a bad second choice. Gaines is just slightly smaller than Gilbert and has comparable athleticism.


26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

The Cleveland Browns have one of the most dynamic players in football with wide receiver Josh Gordon. Pairing his athleticism with the size of Kelvin Benjamin is a strong fit.

As we saw with Benjamin's game-winning catch in the national championship game, he has the ability to go up and grab passes over any defender. 

Combine that with Gordon, tight end Jordan Cameron and possibly the quarterback they draft at No. 4, and the Browns will have the foundation for an excellent passing game. 


27. New Orleans Saints: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Jason Verrett's size, or lack thereof, may mean he will be limited to playing nickel. At 5'10" and 176 pounds, he may not be able to hang outside. 

Still, he has the athleticism to be excellent while guarding the slot. This will help the Saints continue to improve on defense. It will also give them the coverage they need to freely stack the box as they liked to this past season. 


28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State  

The Carolina Panthers are close to having a Super Bowl team. Their biggest weakness comes in the passing game. 

Brandin Cooks will give the Panthers an explosive option in that department. At 5'10", Cooks is actually strikingly similar to current Panthers receiver Steve Smith. 

He has solid strength for his size and can toast defenders while coming out of his breaks. 


29. New England Patriots: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

Ryan Shazier reminds me a bit of the Panthers' Luke Kuechly in that he has an instinct for making his way to the ball but not the most eye-popping athleticism.

Shazier is constantly around the ball in the running game and solid in pass coverage. He is the kind of player who would allow Bill Belichick to freely send other blitzers.


30. San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida

Marcus Roberson is a physical corner who isn't afraid to come up and help in run support. The San Francisco 49ers love physical players, and they could use another cornerback on an already stout defense.


31. Denver Broncos: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

The Denver Broncos have succeeded this season despite their pass rush falling off the map. Kony Ealy would help with that. 

Ealy has outstanding length and a good first step. He is a natural pass-rusher. There are questions about his effort, which will could leave him on the board for the Broncos, but his potential is too much for Denver to pass on. 


32. Seattle Seahawks: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

Much has been made of Russell Wilson's diminished stats as the season wore on. What must be factored into that is Wilson received poor pass protection, and he doesn't have an elite weapon to throw to. 

Percy Harvin staying healthy could certainly help with the weapons department, but Seattle should look to improve both areas in this draft.

Allen Robinson may not develop into an elite weapon, but he has good size and hands and runs strong routes. He is the best value for the Seahawks here. 


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