||03-01-2014 10:50 AM
Re: Rotoworld 2014 Mock Drafts
Evan Silva's first mock
This is my initial mock draft of the 2014 offseason. I'll probably end up doing three...
1. Houston Texans -- Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
I think this pick will come down to Bortles versus Jedeveon Clowney, and Bill O'Brien will push owner Bob McNair and GM Rick Smith to let the rookie coach put his stamp on the franchise with a quarterback who possesses many prototypical traits. At 6-foot-5, 232, Bortles lands somewhere between Andrew Luck and Jake Locker with plus athleticism and above-average arm strength, but suspect accuracy. Like Locker, Bortles' mechanics are a work in progress. Like Luck, Bortles is a physical, efficient pocket manager who isn't easy to sack. In an ideal world, O'Brien would sign a veteran "bridge" quarterback to open the season as Houston's starter, easing Bortles into the job.
2. St. Louis Rams -- Auburn OT Greg Robinson
Jeff Fisher's teams unfailingly prioritize offensive line play, pouring premium picks and free agent dollars into the trenches dating back to Fisher's tenure in Houston and Tennessee. Robinson is this year's highest-ceiling lineman at 6-foot-5, 332 with 35-inch arms and a freakish 4.92 forty time. Drawing Larry Allen comparisons inside the NFL, Robinson is ready to clear alleys in a pro run game. He's the most consistently dominant prospect in this class, regardless of position. As LT Jake Long is recovering from ACL and MCL tears, RT Rodger Saffold is a free agent, RG Harvey Dahl and C Scott Wells are cap-casualty candidates, and left guard remains a revolving door in St. Louis, the Rams don't have a single offensive line position settled for 2014.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
Second-year Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell will have a regime-defining decision to make should Clowney and Bridgewater both "fall" to No. 3. Like division-rival Houston, I think Jacksonville would lean quarterback in that scenario, with hopes of landing an edge rusher at a later selection. Although Bridgewater is generally considered a somewhat low-ceiling passer, his pocket instincts, accuracy, touch, and leadership skills remind of Russell Wilson. As Jags coach and ex-Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can attest, Wilson's had a sea-changing impact on his team.
4. Cleveland Browns -- Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
As Jimmy Haslam has displayed an itchy trigger finger with hirings and firings in under two years as Browns owner, rookie GM Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine should feel overwhelming urgency to produce immediate wins. I think they're all but locked into quarterback at No. 4. Cleveland is also set up to hone an unconventional style of signal caller with Kyle Shanahan in place as offensive coordinator. During stints with Houston and Washington, Kyle showed an impressive knack for designing offense around his quarterback's strengths, rather than forcing square pegs into round holes. It can't hurt that Manziel would instantly energize an antsy fan base.
5. Oakland Raiders -- South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
Hotseat GM Reggie McKenzie's fingers are crossed that one of the draft's top quarterbacks will last to No. 5. Clowney and Clemson's Sammy Watkins figure to be McKenzie's primary "fallback" options, as both are instant-impact prospects, albeit at positions of lesser importance. Clowney would fill a gaping need. Oakland's full starting defensive line is entering free agency: RE Lamarr Houston, LE Jason Hunter, NT Pat Sims, and DT Vance Walker. This position was arguably the Raiders' biggest 2013 team strength, creating a colossal cavity in coach Dennis Allen's defense.
6. Atlanta Falcons -- Buffalo LB/DE Khalil Mack
The Falcons are popularly viewed as a potential trade-up team based on GM Thomas Dimitroff's past draft-day aggressiveness, but this is a club coming off a 4-12 season that received bottom-five line play on both sides of the ball. Atlanta is not one player away. Dimitroff needs to stand pat and take best player available, and Mack is it at No. 6. Coordinator Mike Nolan's defense requires a front-seven makeover highlighted by a game-changing pass rusher. Mack could fill a Von Miller-like strong-side role, or play 3-4 rush 'backer. Nolan has history working with both alignments.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
8. Minnesota Vikings -- Texas A&M WR Mike Evans
9. Buffalo Bills -- Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
The Bills are set at three positions on the offensive line, but lack stability at right tackle and left guard. Projected to various spots by various evaluators, Matthews would upgrade either. More consistent in pass protection than Auburn's Greg Robinson, Matthews is regarded as one of the surest bets in this year's draft class. Adding him would improve E.J. Manuel's odds of success.
10. Detroit Lions -- North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
11. Tennessee Titans -- Notre Dame NT Louis Nix
12. New York Giants -- Notre Dame G/T Zack Martin
Aside from 2013 first-rounder Justin Pugh, Giants GM Jerry Reese's recent drafts have yielded sub-par results from offensive linemen. Teams don't often use back-to-back first-rounders on the same position, but New York's current situation requires it. Reese's front five fell directly off a cliff in 2013, regularly torpedoing the Giants' run and passing games. Martin played tackle for the Fighting Irish, but will be a guard in the pros. He stands in at 6-foot-4, 308 with 32 7/8-inch arms.
13. St. Louis Rams -- Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
14. Chicago Bears -- Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
15. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
16. Dallas Cowboys -- Alabama ILB C.J. Mosley
17. Baltimore Ravens -- Michigan OT Taylor Lewan
18. New York Jets -- UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
19. Miami Dolphins -- UCLA OG Xavier Su’a-Filo
The Dolphins seem locked into an offensive lineman at this pick for a couple of reasons. They need to put the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito fiasco behind them. And C Mike Pouncey is currently Miami's only worthwhile front-five starter. During a recent tape study of Su’a-Filo, SI's Doug Farrar dubbed him a "pure finisher" with a "nasty streak" who "seems determined to play right to (and sometimes through) the whistle." Su’a-Filo proceeded to tear up the NFL Combine.
20. Arizona Cardinals -- Auburn DE/LB Dee Ford
John Abraham turns 36 in May, and the Cardinals return a pedestrian foursome of Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander, Alex Okafor, and Dontay Moch behind him at outside linebacker. This team sorely needs a threatening presence off the edge. Ford is an explosive rusher with edge-bending ability at 6-foot-2 and 252 pounds. He's an ideal fit at outside linebacker in Todd Bowles' 3-4.
21. Green Bay Packers -- Louisville S Calvin Pryor
22. Philadelphia Eagles -- Minnesota DL Ra'Shede Hageman
An edge-setting five technique at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds with nearly 34-inch arms, Hageman fits the Eagles' profile with a prototypical build. Snap-to-snap consistency concerns may keep Hageman out of the top-20 selections, but he would add high-ceiling talent to an Eagles defensive front seven that should be the cream of the crop in the NFC East this season. After locking up Riley Cooper, Jason Kelce, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Peters, look for the Eagles to attack defense in the draft.
23. Kansas City Chiefs -- Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward
24. Cincinnati Bengals -- Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
25. San Diego Chargers -- Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert
26. Cleveland Browns -- LSU WR Odell Beckham
27. New Orleans Saints -- Ohio State CB Bradley Roby
28. Carolina Panthers -- Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas
Wideout and offensive line look like bigger needs for Carolina on paper, but Niklas could assist in both areas as an impact in-line blocker with an enormous catch radius. He goes 6-foot-7, 270 with 34 1/8-inch arms, and is built country strong enough to block defensive ends. As the Panthers are short on wideouts, their base 2014 offense would make heavy use of 12 personnel with Niklas and Greg Olsen on the field together. OC Mike Shula is a proponent of smash-mouth offense, and Carolina could assert its will via this new “two-tight” approach, particularly in the running game.
29. New England Patriots -- Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
30. San Francisco 49ers -- USC WR Marqise Lee
31. Denver Broncos -- Ohio State OLB Ryan Shazier
Assuming Denver retains free agent CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, its biggest team need is on the second level of DC Jack Del Rio's defense. LBs Paris Lenon, Wesley Woodyard, and Stewart Bradley all have expiring contracts. Look for Shazier's stock to soar at the Buckeyes' March 7 Pro Day, when he may flirt with 4.4s in the forty. Possessing outstanding range, cover skills, and striking ability, Shazier could play middle or weak-side linebacker for the Broncos.
32. Seattle Seahawks -- Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan
Seattle's roster is loaded enough that GM John Schneider can stay true to his board on draft day. Highly disruptive versus both the run and pass, Jernigan can play one and three technique in a 4-3. The Seahawks released LE Red Bryant to save salary cap space, and three more key Seattle D-Linemen are free agents: DE Michael Bennett, DT Clinton McDonald, and DT Tony McDaniel. Jernigan would quickly challenge to start next to Brandon Mebane.
Also Considered: Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks, TCU CB Jason Verrett, Georgia Tech DE/LB Jeremiah Attaochu, Stanford OG David Yankey, Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller, Missouri DE Kony Ealy, Clemson OL Brandon Thomas, Arizona State DT Will Sutton, Fresno State QB Derek Carr, Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde, Clemson CB Bashaud Breeland, Virginia OT Morgan Moses, Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Florida State DB Lamarcus Joyner, Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort, Florida DT Dominique Easley, Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Louisville DE/LB Marcus Smith, South Florida DL Aaron Lynch, USC C Marcus Martin.