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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

NFL Mock Draft 2014 (May 8th 2014)

The NFL claim that Radio City Music Hall was booked this year as the reason the NFL Draft was pushed back from the usual date, although it has become clear that Roger Goodell loves to make the NFL a year round event.

It was the case for a prime-time slot to release the NFL schedule and you wouldn't believe that we still have to wait four months before the regular season kicks off for the 2014 season.

Pushing back the Draft means we have also seen more teams trying to hide what they are going to be doing in the Draft and that has led to more rumours and over-analysing certain players. Through the last few months, players have risen and fallen up and down the Draft and it has reached the point where I just want them to get started.

There are also more trades than usual if the last couple of years since the new CBA was agreed is anything to go by and I expect the 2014 Draft to also feature a number of moves.

I will put through some mock trades that I think will come about in the Draft, although a Mock Draft is rarely something that can be thoroughly predicted as teams are busy trying to disguise what they are going to do. The last couple of years has seen at least 11 moves in the First Round and I have mocked for 10 to happen, although this mock could quickly go by the wayside depending on how the chips fall early on.

1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney DE
I had initially mocked Atlanta to make the trade with Houston and move up and take this 'once in a generation' Defensive End, but that has looked less and less likely. Barring a strange turn of events in the last 24 hours, Houston will likely keep the Number 1 Pick in the Draft.

If Houston don't manage to earn the trade they want, I would expect them to make Clowney their first pick and give him JJ Watt as a mentor to improve that Defense.

2. St Louis Rams: Greg Robinson OT
I am not taken in by all the talk that St Louis are going to pick Johnny Manziel with the Number 2 Pick and am convinced they are trying to find a suitor who gets desperate to move up. If that doesn't happen, I initially thought the Rams would pick Sammy Watkins in a position of real need, but instead it seems they are leaning towards Greg Robinson to ensure Sam Bradford is well protected.

In the NFC West, any improvement on the Offensive Line is well regarded compared with the strong Defenses they will be seeing all season in just Divisional games.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack LB
I vividly remember Khalil Mack's performance against Ohio State while with the Buffalo Bulls and his Draft position has been improving ever since January.

Gus Bradley is rebuilding the Jaguars and his Seattle connection means he is likely to keep the Defense improving and this is the best player on that side of the ball in the Draft, while no Quarter Back stands out.

Sammy Watkins could be a potential pick with Justin Blackmon likely to be out indefinitely, but Bradley is focusing on the Defense first and a WR need could be filled later in the Draft.

4. Mock Trade Tampa Bay Buccaneers w/ Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins
I had Cleveland going with Johnny Manziel at this position up until the last couple of days where the signs are that they won't be interested in making a move at Quarter Back with the Number 4 Pick in the Draft. That gives the Brown the option to move down and acquire more picks or take the best player in the Draft at a position of need.

For the purpose of my Mock Draft, I have them making a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who seem to be very keen on Manziel themselves, but who take the best player on the board in Sammy Watkins after losing Mike Williams in the off-season. Watkins can start opposite Vincent Jackson and eventually groomed to take over as the Number 1 Receiver in Tampa and the Buccaneers will be keen to move above the Detroit Lions who are also very keen on the Receiver.

5. Buffalo Bills Mock Trade w/ Oakland: Mike Evans WR
This is the second mock trade I have predicted as Buffalo seem happy with the Quarter Back EJ Manuel but are trying to give him a great chance of succeeding by bringing in a huge WR in Mike Evans.

Evans is going to be a huge red zone target and could work well opposite Steve Johnson and figures to be his eventual replacement as the Number 1 target in Buffalo.

6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews OT
I had mocked Atlanta to make the trade with Houston so they could get Jadaveon Clowney, but that seems to have fallen through in the final few days before the Draft and they may have to just pick from where they sit. It could be a chance for the Falcons to move down, but they may just decide to pick the best Offensive Tackle left on the board to aid in protecting Matt Ryan who was hit far too often last season.

7. Mock Trade Cleveland Browns w/ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnny Manziel QB
It has been said that the Cleveland Browns won't be taking Johnny Manziel with the Number 4 Pick in the Draft, but who is to say they wouldn't take the plunge if they move down as I have mocked them to? They pick up an additional pick in the Draft and also have the chance to take the Quarter Back they have perhaps wanted all along too.

8. Dallas Cowboys Mock Trade w/ Minnesota VikingsAaron Donald DT
I was happy to mock Dallas to trade out of the Number 16 Pick in the Draft, but I was also expecting to have them moving down the table UNLESS Aaron Donald was still available at this spot.

The Cowboys have signed Henry Melton, but there is no knowing how his health will hold up and they will be desperate to move above teams who need Defensive Line help including Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Minnesota would be glad to deal out of the Number 8 Pick for the additional picks they receive and feeling this is too high for their next Quarter Back.

9. Oakland Raiders Mock Trade w/ Buffalo: Taylor Lewan OL
This franchise took an extra pick to fall down the Draft, but they have signed Matt Schaub to play Quarter Back and can wait for a potential new signal caller in the later Rounds while adding much needed picks.

After seeing Jared Veldheer move to Arizona in the off-season, the Offensive Line has a gaping hole that could be filled by Taylor Lewan who looks the third best Offensive Line prospect behind Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews, both of who are off the board.

10. Detroit LionsCalvin Pryor S
I considered mock trading Detroit out of this pick as I think there is a real possibility they will do so in the Draft, but ended up sticking with them taking a player of real need.

The Lions Secondary does need an upgrade and I considered the pick to be between Calvin Pryor and Justin Gilbert- However, it seems the Lions are fairly happy with the young Corner Backs they have on the roster, so it was the Safety position they Draft for and I picked Pryor over Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama as the attitude of Pryor roaming the middle of the field may fit better with this Defense.

11. Tennessee TitansHa Ha Clinton-Dix S
Even if Detroit decide to go with another player, I don't imagine Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will remain on the board too long as Tennessee need to improve on their Safety position.

There is a chance they trade down with a lot of holes to fill in the team, including potentially needing a new Quarter Back, but Clinton-Dix fills a need and Tennessee may be surprised to still find him on the board if Detroit go with Calvin Pryor instead.

12. NY Giants Anthony Barr LB
I think the New York Giants will be over the moon if Anthony Barr falls to them at the Number 12 Pick in the Draft and I can't see them going in any other direction if that occurs.

This is not a team that makes a lot of trades up or down and I think they will be very happy with the player they have a chance to pick.

13. St Louis Rams: Odell Beckham Jr WR
Picking Greg Robinson at Number 2 would give the Offensive Line a boost in talent, but the St Louis Rams would then have two options with their second pick in the First Round.

They could either trade down with the likes of the New York Jets very keen to move up or they could take Odell Beckham Jr themselves to give Sam Bradford another speedy Receiver to go along with Tavon Austin.

Either way, the Rams will do what they can to prevent the San Francisco 49ers picking the player they seem to be very keen to grab by moving up the Draft.

14. New York Jets Mock Trade w/ Chicago Bears: Brandin Cooks WR
Chicago may feel they can make better improvements in their roster by moving down and it is clear that the Wide Receiver desperate New York Jets would be keen to move up and take one of the talents that they can pair with Eric Decker.

Odell Beckham Jr is off the board by this pick thanks to the St Louis Rams (unless the Jets make a trade with them) and Brandin Cooks has been linked with the Jets over the last few weeks so they make the move to get him.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert CB
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a number of areas in an ageing Defense that needs improvement and they take the best player in a real position of need at the Corner Back spots. Justin Gilbert would improve a team that was burned through the air a few too many times last season.

16. Minnesota Vikings Mock Trade w/ Dallas Cowboys: Blake Bortles QB
Minnesota are definitely in for a new Quarter Back after refusing to take up the fifth option on Christian Ponder and I think they would be very happy to take Blake Bortles at this spot.

Bortles would be a perfect fit for what Norv Turner will want to run from the Offense and he could be eased into a team that will still be very reliant on moving the chains behind Adrian Peterson.

17. Baltimore Ravens: Eric Ebron TE
There is a need at Receiver in Baltimore and all the talk about potentially picking up a Linebacker would be put on the backburner if Eric Ebron is still on the board at this stage.

There is a real chance that happens with my mock and the Ravens would be over the moon to be able to pick up Ebron here... If he is off the board, I imagine CJ Mosley could be the potential pick or a trade down the Draft.

18. Chicago Bears Mock Trade w/ New York Jets: CJ Mosley LB
I have the Chicago Bears moving down the Draft because the two Safeties are off the board by the time it got to their Pick and they were able to find a trade partner in the New York Jets who needed a Wide Receiver.

That could all work out well for the Bears if CJ Mosley is still on the board with the Linebacker potentially the next leader in the middle of the Defense that has been missing since Brian Urlacher retired.

19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin OL
The Miami Dolphins may be considering a trade up the Draft, but they may also be fortunate enough to land what many have termed the safest pick in the Draft.

We all know the Offensive Line problems Miami had last season and Zack Martin would be a strong piece to try and resolve those issues as he is capable of playing at Tackle and Guard.

20. Arizona Cardinals: Ryan Shazier LB
I expect Bruce Arian's team to pick a Quarter Back, but I can see them waiting later in the Draft to do that and address a more important need in the First Round.

That could be at Linebacker where they may have another suspension coming for Darryl Washington and Karlos Dansby has departed for richer pastures. This pick could also be CJ Mosley if he falls into the Number 20 spot, but I have him going two spots higher to the Chicago Bears, but the Cardinals get a very good second option.

21. Green Bay Packers: Stephon Tuitt DE
Green Bay have to be a big contender to drop down the Draft if one of the teams below them fall in love with a Wide Receiver or Corner Back, but those aren't positions that the Packers really need to focus on.

The only way they jump up the Draft is if they can make a deal with the Baltimore Ravens to grab Erik Ebron in the position he lands in my mock, but otherwise they may take Stephon Tuitt who could be the replacement for Julius Peppers if the latter doesn't work out this season. You can't have enough strong pass rushers and Tuitt has the chance of being a very effective player for years to come.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Darqueze Dennard CB
I would be surprised if the Philadelphia Eagles didn't use the First Round Pick on a Defensive player despite losing DeSean Jackson to the Washington Redskins.

Wide Receiver can be looked at later in the Draft unless they decide it is worth risking moving up the Draft- they may also consider getting one of the Linebackers that fall down the board as worthy of moving up for.

However, if they don't, there are plenty of holes on the Defensive side of the ball and they may take what is the best Corner Back, without off field issues, in Darqueze Dennard to match against the passing attacks in the NFC East.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marquise Lee WR
Kansas City had a strong season last year, but they need more creases to their Offense and picking a Wide Receiver that has surprisingly fallen down the board could be the best way forward for them.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Bradley Roby CB
There is a clear need in the Secondary for Cincinnati and there has never been any fear from the team to take players with perhaps questionable issues off the field.

Bradley Roby fits into that category, but he could also be a difference maker in the Secondary and has to be the pick for the Bengals despite the rumours of them sniffing around for a new Quarter Back in Andy Dalton's contract season.

25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller CB
There are a number of needs for the San Diego Chargers on the Defensive side of the ball, even if the General Manager Tom Telesco admits that he is not afraid of looking at an Offensive weapon if someone falls to him.

That is unlikely with the way my mock has gone and the choice came down to Louis Nix III or Kyle Fuller and I have gone with the Corner Back considering San Diego play in the same Division as Peyton Manning.

He has a decent size and could help the Chargers in a real position of need, even if it is a slight reach to get him here.

26. Cleveland Browns: Carlos Hyde RB
There are rumours that the Cleveland Browns are going to try and trade this Pick with the Washington Redskins for Quarter Back Kirk Cousins, although in my mock that wouldn't make sense after taking Johnny Manziel at Number 7.

If the Browns go the way I may imagine, despite the rumours being vastly to the contrary, I can see them picking another Offensive weapon here.

It would be the reverse situation of 2012 when Cleveland took Trent Richardson and then Brandon Weedon later in the First Round, but Carlos Hyde could help carry the workload with new signing Ben Tate. That is especially the case considering Tate can be physically worn down and Hyde would be the eventual replacement at Running Back.

27. New Orleans Saints: Jason Verrett CB
There is a real chance that the New Orleans Saints could move up the Draft to either take a Wide Receiver or one of the top three Corner Backs on the board, but finding a partner may be tough considering a lot of the teams in their vicinity will be looking to add those pieces too.

In that case, the Saints may pick Jason Verrett to bolster a Corner Back depth chart that has lost Jabari Greer, although they may look to trade out to a team perhaps looking to come back into the First Round to pick a Quarter Back.

28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin WR
The clearest need for the Carolina Panthers in the Draft is to fix the Wide Receiver position where they are seemingly out of options thanks to Free Agency and cuts to the team.

They will take the best player on the board if there are no Receivers or Offensive Linemen, but Kelvin Benjamin fits the profile and could prove to be a big target for Cam Newton in the coming years. His size and strength makes Benjamin a real threat in the NFC against the tough Defenses that the Panthers will need to beat if they are to win the Super Bowl.

29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman DT
This is the kind of player with a lot of upside and one who will benefit from being with a team like the New England Patriots who have the veterans that can help a player develop both as a player and as a man.

That will be very good for Ra'Shede Hageman and he could eventually replace Vince Wilfork in the middle of the Patriots Defense.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars Mock Trade w/ San Francisco 49ers: Teddy Bridgewater QB
The San Francisco 49ers are very keen to move up the Draft to pick Odell Beckham Jr by all accounts, but they may miss out and decide to get out of the First Round for a team that is keen on bringing in a Quarter Back that has slipped down the Draft board.

That may give the 49ers the chance to Draft a Defensive Tackle like Timmy Jernigan or a Wide Receiver like Donte Moncrief at the top of the Second Round, while also giving Jacksonville the opportunity to take a Quarter Back that has slipped far below his potential.

Teddy Bridgewater was the consensus Number 1 Quarter Back before the Pro Day and I still think he is a better prospect than some think and Jacksonville may jump a team like Houston who are also keen on a Quarter Back.

31. Denver Broncos: Demarcus Lawrence DE
The Denver Broncos have been improving their Defense since the Super Bowl, but other positions of need are not available and you can never have enough potential pass rushers in the team.

Demarcus Lawrence could be learning alongside his namesake Demarcus Ware and could thrive with players like Von Miller also able to rush the passer in clear passing situations.

Denver may trade out of the First Round too, but if they stick at Number 31, I wouldn't be surprised if they take Lawrence.

32. Oakland Raiders Mock Trade w/ Seattle Seahawks: Derek Carr QB
The rumour suggests Oakland are very keen on Derek Carr and if he still available in the First Round, I can see the Raiders perhaps moving back in to pick him up with the final pick of the Round.

There is even a chance that Oakland take Carr after trading down the Draft table, although I have them picking the best Offensive Lineman in that case and being able to get back into the First Round here.

Seattle will be happy to drop a few places and save some First Round money after spending big to sign Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas to contract extensions and the Raiders can get the Quarter Back that owner Mark Davis is said to be 'infatuated' by.

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