Less than a month remains before the 2014 NFL Draft begins, and the blogosphere is still abuzz with guesswork on who goes where. Most analysts, amateur and advanced, agree that no pick is yet set in stone. But time is running out, and I have to start getting my picks in order. We can assume there will be a few trade scenarios through the first round — there were five last year — but, come on. I hate it when I am looking over mock drafts online and these guys have five or 10 trades in their list. So, that said, let’s take a look at a few of the big question marks still hanging.
Number one Houston Texans — Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Manziel is a local hero as well as a good fit for the Texans. They’re in dire need of a quarterback. Their top dog from last season, Matt Schaub, was at the absolute bottom of the pack, and he can’t stay healthy. Their backup wasn’t much better. Josh Freeman, Kevin Kolb, Matt Flynn, David Garrard, Rex Grossman—those are the names of the free agents up for grabs to fill the QB slot. Houston needs a young guy who can step into the role and be a first-year starter. Even with some still questioning his ability to play with the big boys, Johnny Football is a household name, and he’ll get the nod as first overall.
Number six Atlanta Falcons — Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: A lot of drafts have Clowney going first overall, and that makes sense. With the “take the best player available” mentality, Clowney undoubtedly stands above the rest. He is the most talented college player headed into the NFL this year. But I adhere more to the “take-the-best-player-in-the-position-you-need-to-fill” mentality, and the Texans need a QB. Plus, the Falcons have shown the most interest in Clowney thus far, having set up a private practice with him following pro day. Clowney himself told ESPN that he doesn’t want to fall to that sixth spot, but “I wish [the Falcons] would trade up for me.” Who could argue with reciprocity like that?
Number 14 Chicago Bears — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: My recommendation to the Bears has been the same for the last three years running — draft the best guy from ’Bama! They’ve yet to take my advice. Chicago’s defense was the worst in the NFL last season. It’s time for a makeover. Weakness exists in every layer of the Chicago defense, from the front line to the secondary. I think most fans would agree, though, that the biggest weakness is Chris Conte. Clinton-Dix is a prime replacement, but this could all just be wishful thinking. Most drafts have him going earlier than the 14-spot, and the Bears have yet to make any moves toward cutting Conte — for whatever reason. Regardless, he’ll sit out the first few months of the 2014 season and this sets the stage for Clinton-Dix to show us his stuff.
Vikings will take a quarterback; the Jags will take a quarterback. Most teams will probably be working on their offense in the first round. Some of the biggest defensive names to look out for: Louis Nix from Notre Dame, Calvin Pryor from Louisville and Aaron Donald from Pitt. I wish I had time to pontificate on all my picks here, but unfortunately I’m running out of space. You can check out my complete list online at VidetteOnline.com!
2014 NFL Mock Draft
1. Houston Texans – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
4. Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
5. Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
8. Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
9. Buffalo Bills – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
11. Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
13. St. Louis Rams – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
14. Chicago Bears – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
16. Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
17. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
18. New York Jets – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
20. Arizona Cardinals – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
21. Green Bay Packers – CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
25. San Diego Chargers – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts) – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
27. New Orleans Saints – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
28. Carolina Panthers – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
29. New England Patriots – Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
30. San Francisco 49ers – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
31. Denver Broncos – Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
32. Seattle Seahawks – Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA