Join Date: Apr 2008
Re: Kiper 2014
1. Houston Texans: LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
The Texans are in some ways like Kansas City drafting at No. 1 last year in that they don't fit the profile of a team drafting so high. The personnel situation isn't terrible; the defense can keep them in games; they have a new head coach who has a good track record with quarterbacks and may not be content to wait on a rookie QB to develop when he could be winning. Mack is a fit in most systems, but he'd excel in this system as a pass-rusher and a player who can back up and make plays in space and to the edges. Houston hasn't been active in free agency, but Mack can fill a role and be a key contributor early for a team that can start winning again. And it's been almost a full year since a player from the MAC went No. 1, right?
2. St. Louis Rams: T Greg Robinson, Auburn
Even with the strange change of direction on Rodger Saffold, given the concerns about Jake Long's ability to stay healthy, starter ability at tackle is still a major question, and the Rams can't afford to be thin up front in 2014. I think this is an obvious spot where a trade could happen, but if you have the chance to draft a potential star at tackle in the same year you need to find out if the QB you've paid a lot of money is worth it, you may not want to overthink it. Robinson can be a special player, and the Rams would improve up front with him around, starting in Week 1.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
The Jags have done some work in free agency, with the addition of versatile defensive lineman Red Bryant among the notables. And while they need a quarterback, I don't think they'd pass on the most talented player in the draft if he's around at No. 3. The Jags decided to re-sign Chad Henne, and while I don't think they did so based on the idea he's an immovable object at starter, I do think they believe they can win football games with him starting if they improve everywhere else. And Clowney certainly improves a pass rush that we've been talking about as a draft priority for way too long.
4. Cleveland Browns: QB Blake Bortles, UCF
The Browns have already released Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. In other words, the writing is on the wall and the depth chart has a pretty big vacancy. So they'll keep Brian Hoyer as a possible starter and draft a QB at this spot knowing it's not such a bad place for a young QB to succeed, given their ability to pass-block up front and the fact that they have some dangerous weapons in the passing game in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Yes, I can see either Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel here, but this is a bet on where the Browns end up after evaluating all of them closely.
5. Oakland Raiders: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
The Raiders are actively trying to improve the offensive line in free agency, the Rodger Saffold soap opera not withstanding. Austin Howard is the one name in the fold so far. This is a possible trade-down slot given the many personnel needs this team still has, but it'd be hard to pass on the most NFL-ready QB in the draft, and a player who could help turn the franchise around. The current QB depth chart in Oakland simply doesn't promise much, so Bridgewater has the potential to play early and not just survive, but change the fortunes and direction of the franchise.
6. Atlanta Falcons: T Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
8. Minnesota Vikings: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
As I talk to teams, I get the sense there's a great deal of uncertainty around the quarterbacks in this draft. But there's a point where uncertainty turns into a reasonable bet, and Manziel at this point on the board is closer to the latter. There are some decent weapons in place in Minnesota for Manziel. There's a great deal of uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball here, but it doesn't outweigh the questions at QB. Manziel could be the solution and, drafted here, there's no question he'd come in with a chip on his shoulder.
9. Buffalo Bills: T Taylor Lewan, Michigan
10. Detroit Lions: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
11. Tennessee Titans: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
12. New York Giants: TE Eric Ebron, UNC
13. St. Louis Rams: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
14. Chicago Bears: DT Aaron Donald, Pitt
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
16. Dallas Cowboys: DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
17. Baltimore Ravens: WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
18. New York Jets: WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
19. Miami Dolphins: T Zack Martin, Notre Dame
20. Arizona Cardinals: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
21. Green Bay Packers: LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
22. Philadelphia Eagles: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
23. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Marqise Lee, USC
24. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
25. San Diego Chargers: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
26. Cleveland Browns: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
27. New Orleans Saints: DE Dee Ford, Auburn
28. Carolina Panthers: T Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama
29. New England Patriots: DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
30. San Francisco 49ers: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
31. Denver Broncos: LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
32. Seattle Seahawks: DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame