1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Texans need to start over from scratch after the catastrophic season they’re enduring. Matt Schaub is probably playing his last season as a Texan and even though he had some great stats over the years, he was never able to get them over the edge to win the elusive Super Bowl. The Texans have experimented with former undrafted free agent quarterback Case Keenum and even though he’s shown flashes, he isn’t the long term answer for the Texans. With the firing of head coach Gary Kubiak, the selection of Bridgewater, the top ranked quarterback prospect, becomes an easy decision to make. The Texans already have weapons to help Bridgewater succeed and a rock solid defense to support him.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Rams own this pick from the RG3 trade with the Redskins, who are having an abysmal season this year. The Rams are a young team that are a few key players away from being a real threat in the NFC. Jake Long has played very well this season at left tackle but the Rams could use an upgrade at right tackle, even though Joe Barksdale has been a pleasant surprise. With talented guard Rodger Saffold coming off of a knee injury, extra insurance will be welcomed along the offensive front. With the Rams taking Jake Matthews here, they can kick Barksdale into guard and move Matthews to tackle, solidifying their offensive line as one of the leagues best. Jake Matthews has had an incredible senior year for Texas A&M, taking over the blind side from Luke Joeckel, the number two overall selection in last years draft.
3. Atlanta Falcons – Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
The Falcons have had a calamitous year after suffering through key injuries, aging impact players, and an inept defense. With the return of Julio Jones next season, the Falcons don’t have a choice but to draft defense, defense, and more defense in the 2014 Draft. At this point in the draft, they have a decision to make between South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. While Clowney is the superior prospect, he has had work ethic and conditioning issues come to the light. Anthony Barr on the other hand is known for his effort on every single play and his work ethic even further shines bright considering the fact he was a fullback two years ago and is now dominating the PAC-12 as a rush linebacker. The work he put in to make that transition the resounding success it is, will resonate within the Falcons front office and make it likely that they will pull the trigger on Barr over Clowney at this juncture. Barr would also be a tremendous upgrade over Kroy Biermann who tore his Achilles tendon early in the season
4. Minnesota Vikings – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Vikings have many needs, including the quarterback position, but unless they trade down into the first round, taking Johnny Manziel or Brett Hundley at number four overall is a bit of a reach, as Christian Ponder has played decent football this year. Instead they grab the super-prospect that is Clowney. Clowney burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2011 with eight sacks and absolutely dominated the competition in 2012 with twelve sacks. This year however, Clowney has been off his game as he appears to be protecting himself for the next level and does not appear to be in top physical condition. However, the upside is so great in Clowney that he would still be considered a steal at this point in the draft. With Jared Allen leaving due to an expiring contract, defensive end suddenly becomes a huge need as Brian Robison has always benefited from having an elite player on the other side of the line. Clowney and Robison could create a devastating duo for years to come, assuming Minnesota can keep Clowney on the right track.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
What are the Jaguars doing? They’ve won four out of their last five games and have essentially taken themselves out of the Teddy Bridgewater sweepstakes after being a near lock to obtain his services at the beginning of the season. Luckily, it looks like Brett Hundley will declare for the draft this year. Hundley has a cannon for an arm and near-elite athleticism for the quarterback position. Hundley has immense upside but he is still a little raw. Hundley would tremendously benefit from an extra year at UCLA to improve his footwork and accuracy for the next level. However, if he declares you can’t really blame him considering the amount of money that’s staring him right in the face. If Hundley can live up to his immense potential, Jacksonville will have finally found their franchise quarterback they’ve so desperately needed.
6. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The run on quarterbacks continues with possibly the most polarizing player in this years class besides possibly Jadeveon Clowney. Manziel has greatly improved his footwork, accuracy, and arm strength to become a fantastic pocket passer. He also has the ability to extend plays with his legs and has become very good at throwing on the run. He is not the run first quarterback he was last year, he has adapted his game to become more attractive to NFL teams. The Browns can finally move on from the disaster that was Brandon Weeden and allow Manizel and Jason Campbell to compete for the starting job next season.
7. Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
This years quarterback class is much stronger than last years class as Derek Carr is the fourth quarterback to go in the top ten. The Raiders have gotten flashes from Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor, but that shouldn’t stop them from selecting a top tier talent in Derek Carr. Some teams may be slightly hesitant to select Carr because of his brother’s failure in Houston, but that shouldn’t be held against Carr. He is extremely accurate and has dominated the Mountain West this season. As long as he has a strong bowl game against USC and a good offseason, Carr could find himself in the top ten.
8. Buffalo Bills – Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
Khalil Mack came into this season as a preseason All-American, but still fell under the radar because he plays at Buffalo. When Buffalo took on Ohio State early in the season, Mack simply dominated the Buckeyes with 2.5 sacks and an 45 yard interception return for a touchdown. This gave Mack the national recognition he deserved and really put him on the map for the NFL. He has been unstoppable this year with 94 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and 3 interceptions with 2 being returned for touchdowns. Mack would be a perfect fit in Buffalo’s defense as they continue to improve their pass rush.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
With all the top tier quarterbacks gone, Tampa Bay has to “settle” for C.J. Mosley. Mosley has been an integral part of Alabama’s elite defense since his freshman year. He has manned the middle linebacker position for four years and is the unquestioned leader of the Alabama defense. He is very smart and will easily step into any NFL defense and pick up the playbook without problem as he has been extremely well prepared by Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide coaching staff. Mosley is an elite coverage linebacker while also being rock solid in run support. He would be a great upgrade over Mason Foster who has struggled this year and would be a leader in Tampa Bay for years to come.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Steelers could use a complement to Antonio Brown and Sammy Watkins gives them a receiver that is more talented than Mike Wallace ever was. Watkins is extremely dangerous after the catch and is an explosive deep threat as well. Watkins has 85 catches, 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. He really showed off his explosive ability versus Georgia in the season opener catching a short pass from Tajh Boyd and exploding up the sideline for a 77 yard touchdown pass. He could be the deep threat Pittsburgh has missed since the departure of Mike Wallace.
Here is a preview Watkins’ matchup versus the Ohio State defense in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl.
11. Tennessee Titans – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Titans could elect to take an offensive tackle here such as Michigan’s Taylor Lewan or Florida State’s Cameron Erving, however they have Michael Roos and David Stewart under contract until 2015 at the latest. Jurell Casey has been an absolute beast this year at defensive tackle for the Titans but they should think about adding a more permanent solution next to him. The 6’3″ 340lb Louis Nix would be a perfect fit in Tennessee. He has surprising quickness and athleticism for a man his size and would shore up the Titans mediocre run defense.
12. New York Giants – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Giants could use help on their defensive interior while also improving their pass rush. Jernigan would be the perfect fit here for the Giants. He is already a great run defender and shows flashes in pass rush. He has the tools to become an elite interior pass rush presence in the NFL. The Giants sorely need to resurrect their pass rush which has been lacking this year as they are tied third last in sacks with 25 on the year.
13. St. Louis Rams – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
With their second pick, the Rams need to upgrade their secondary as Cortland Finnegan has been playing like the worst cornerback in the league this year. It’s too early to give up on Janoris Jenkins considering he had a solid rookie season but they should dump Finnegan this offseason considering the abysmal level he has played at this season. Gilbert could step in right away and be lockdown corner for the Rams.
14. New York Jets – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Geno Smith has been disgustingly bad at times but in his defense, he doesn’t have much to work with. Santonio Holmes hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy and if he continues to be a cancer to the organization could be cut. Mike Evans would be exactly what the doctor ordered for Geno Smith. Evans is big, physical receiver in the mold of Vincent Jackson. Evans is averaging 20 yards per reception this season and has 12 touchdowns on the year. He would be a great red zone target for the young quarterback to grow with.
15. San Diego Chargers – HaSean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
San Diego has the second worst pass defense in the league giving up an astonishing average of 8.4 yards per attempt. The only competent player they have in their secondary is safety Eric Weddle and he could really use some help at the back end of the defense. Marcus Gilchrist has been abysmal this season and needs to be upgraded immediately. HaSean Clinton-Dix burst onto the national scene during his sophomore season for the Crimson Tide, emerging as an instinctive playmaker in the secondary; something the Chargers desperately need.
16. Green Bay Packers – Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
Following the broken collarbone to Aaron Rodgers, the Packers need to make sure Rodgers has elite protection at all times. They could definitely upgrade the likes of Marshall Newhouse and David Bakhtiari. Also they should add competition for former first round pick Derek Sherrod, who appears to be a bust. Erving has burst onto the scene this year as the best players on a deep, talented, dominating Florida State offensive line. He is above-average in pass protection and a road grading run blocker.
17. Chicago Bears – Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame
With the injury to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton, the Bears have become thin on the defensive interior. Stephen Paea is enjoying a solid season but the rest of the Bears defensive line has been horrific. They need to instill some youth in their defensive line and Stephon Tuitt is the man for the job. He is strong versus the run and has excelled in pass rush during his career at Notre Dame. He would be a great fit in a 4-3 as tackle or in a 3-4 as an end.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Cowboys really need to improve their pass rush as Jason Hatcher is heading into his thirties and there isn’t an interior pass rush threat besides him. Hageman has been having an incredible season for Minnesota and he has shot his draft stock up tremendously this year showing elite athleticism and a good skill set for the position.
19. Miami Dolphins – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Taylor Lewan hasn’t had as productive a senior season as he did his junior year, but he would still be a tremendous upgrade on their offensive line in lieu of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying saga. They could also use Lewan to replace veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie who is struggling this year.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
The Cardinals have an outstanding defense led by Pro Bowl talents Daryl Washington, Patrick Peterson, and Tyrann Mathieu. While they have a fantastic pass rush, key players Darnell Dockett and John Abraham are nearing the end of their careers. Trent Murphy leads the nation in sacks with 14 and dominates the line of scrimmage for the Cardinal.
21. Detroit Lions – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Lions have all the talent in the world they just keep shooting themselves in the foot with bad penalties and undisciplined play at times. They need to begin an influx of high character, good work ethic players to help get them over the hump. Dennard, cousin of troubled Patriots corner Alfonzo Dennard, fits the bill as a high character guy. He would also provide an upgrade at corner over the struggling Chris Houston and Darius Slay.
22. Baltimore Ravens – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Joe Flacco needs more receivers to work with outside of Torrey Smith. Marqise Lee, once considered a top ten prospect, would be a typical Ozzie Newsome pick to grab a talented falling player.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Chip Kelly has proved that he could adapt his offense from Oregon to an offense that works in the NFL. Their defense however, could use improvement. Roberson, one of two stud cornerbacks for the Florida Gators would be an upgrade over the struggling Cary Williams.
24. Cleveland Browns – Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
The Browns grabbed their quarterback of the future (again) and now they must surround him weapons. Hyde would be a great addition to Manziel, Jordan Cameron, and Josh Gordon. Hyde has good blend of speed and power that would make him enticing for the Browns.
25. Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Cam Newton has really improved this season which is impressive considering his alarming lack of a supporting cast. The Panthers simply can’t rely on Brandon Lafell as their number two receiver. They also need to prepare for life without Steve Smith which is rapidly approaching. Benjamin fits the bill as the future for the Panthers at wideout.
26. San Francisco 49ers – Iko Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The 49ers don’t have many holes on their roster so they can afford to go best player available which is Ekpre-Olomu. He would be a good replacement for the aging Carlos Rogers and form a formidable cornerback tandem with Tramaine Brock.
27. Cincinnati Bengals – Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida
The Bengals are another team without many holes, but with Leon Hall tearing his Achilles Tendon and Dre Kirkpatrick not lliving up to expectations, they may opt for a cornerback at this point in the draft. Purifoy has some off the field problems, but the Bengals are a team that seem to ignore that.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
The Chiefs have been the turnaround story of the NFL this year after finishing 2-14 last season to starting off 9-0 this year and now have a record of 10-3. The interior blocking of the Chiefs leaves a lot to be desired as Jeff Allen once again has been a disaster this year. A major upgrade is needed, also Andy Reid loves drafting linemen.
29. New England Patriots – Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
The Patriots receiving corp has been decimated through free agency, injuries, and severe off the field issues. With Rob Gronkowski tearing his ACL and MCL, tight end has become an even bigger need. Ebron has been fantastic this year for the Tarheels and would be able to step into the Patriots system and immediately become a factor.
30. New Orleans Saints – Cyrus Kouandijo, OT, Alabama
The Saints are another team that doesn’t need much help from the draft. One of the few weak links up front is left tackle Charles Brown, who often finds himself overmatched in pass protection. Kouandijo has a massive upside, he just needs to work on his footwork in pass protection but he definitely has the athletic ability to be a franchise left tackle at the next level.
31. Seattle Seahawks – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
It’s incredible how well Russell Wilson has played considering his sub-par supporting cast. If Russell Wilson had an elite intermediate target to work with, this offense could take off to a whole new level. Russell Wilson, Seferian-Jenkins, Marshawn Lynch, and a healthy Percy Harvin would make the Seahawks offense almost unstoppable.
32. Denver Broncos – Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
The Broncos can afford to take the best player available and that happens to be Crichton who bolster an already strong Broncos pass rush. He could be the replacement for Shaun Phillips in the near future.