2014 NFL Draft: First Round Mock Draft

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Feb 24, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks Jadeveon Clowney looks on during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1. Houston Texans: DE Jadaveon Clowney (South Carolina)

The Texans take the very best player on the board, simple as that. Clowney is a special kind of talent, and you don’t pass up on someone like him because you have a couple other needs here and there. The teams that decide that a specific need is bigger than just akin the best talent, often aren’t very good. Clowney is going number one, regardless of who gets this pick.

2. St. Louis Rams: OT Greg Robinson (Auburn)

Greg Robinson is the number two player on my board, and is a All-Pro left tackle waiting to happen. The Rams have a number of options here, and could go with Watkins, Mack and also trade back, but Robinson is the pick here. It doesn’t fit a specific need for them, but he provides them an excellent anchor for the next decade, and protects whoever plays quarterback for the Rams next year.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)

The Jaguars need a franchise altering player, and who better to pick than the most polarizing and maybe one of the most talented players in the draft, in Johnny Football? Or soon to be called Johnny Jacksonville. I’ve been saying for months now, that the talent and special “it” factor that Manziel, easily outweighs his supposed attitude problems. The man can go out and do some incredible things, and the Jaguars just need someone to give them hope. Manziel does that, and he does that in a big way. People will actually care about Jaguars football.

4. Cleveland Browns: WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)

Sammy Watkins is the best receiver in the draft on my board, and the Browns would do well to grab him, and pair him up with Josh Gordon. Watkins is a do it all player, capable of going underneath, over the middle, in the flats and over the top of a defense, and those traits should be a good balance compared to Gordon deadly deep play ability. Whoever ends up quarterbacking this team (more on that in 22 picks) needs weapons, and now they have them in Gordon, Cameron and Watkins.

5. Oakland Raiders: WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)

Mike Evans is the second best receiver  in the draft, but I have been more and more into him as a top five pick for the last week or so. The more I watched of him, the more I fell in love, and I think this is a good spot for him. The Raiders need a true deep threat, and number one receiver, and Evans is that kind of guy. He is a freak waiting to happen, and that sounds kind of like an Al Davis pick.

6. Atlanta Falcons: OLB Khalil Mack (Buffalo)

Khalil Mack is easily the top rated player on my board after the top five, and the Falcons can’t afford not to take a player with his immense skill, in a big position of need. The Falcons might be in love with moving up to get Clowney, but Mack at #6 would be a huge boon for them. He will immediately bring life to that stagnant defense, with his electrifying pass rushing abilities.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)

Mike Evans is obviously the best fit here, considering you’ve probably seen it mocked 10,000 times already, but with Evans going to the Raiders at #5, the Bucs settle for the best player left on my board in Jake Matthews. Matthews is the third Texas A&M player selected in the top seven, and he is a justifiable pick. He should be a top offensive tackle in this league shortly, and lock down that turbulent Bucs offensive line, along with Carl Nicks.

8. Minnesota Vikings: DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)

Aaron Donald is one of those special kind of players in talent and work ethic, but he’s just not gifted with great physical traits. He’s a bit short, but if he was an inch or two taller, he’s going top five in my opinion. This is another best player on the board pick, and the Vikings aren’t exactly thrilled with the prospects of taking a quarterback here in the top 10 again, considering it didn’t work out to well last time. Donald instantly upgrades that defense.

9. Buffalo Bills: TE Eric Ebron (North Carolina)

EJ Manuel did well with Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson last season, but he could use another big time playmaker. Enter Ebron. Ebron is one of the freakiest players in the draft, with wide receiver like explosiveness, but obviously the power and size of a tight end. He will punish you whether you put a cornerback or linebacker on him. Ebron types like Jimmy Graham are all the rage, and Ebron will help make the Bills offense a growing concern in the AFC East.

10. Detroit Lions: CB Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma)

The Lions have numerous options here, but Gilbert is the player on my board, and cornerback could use some upgrading. Justin Gilbert has the looks of a shutdown #1 cornerback on a team, and the Lions could desperately use someone like him, to lock up their back end. Hopefully the addition of a top notch cornerback will help free things up again for the Lions vaunted front four.

11. Tennessee Titans: C.J. Mosely (Alabama)

The Titans could use a smart, powerful, athletic and hard working player in the middle of their defense, and CJ Mosely is one of the best players in the draft, and best inside linebacker in the draft. Mosely isn’t going to be putting up big sack numbers, but he’s a great talent capable of doing everything well on the field. The Titans need a leader in the middle of their defense, and Mosely is their guy.

12. New York Giants: OT Taylor Lewan (Michigan)

Taylor Lewan falls a little too far here, but is an absolute steal for the Giants, helping to solidify that offensive line. I’m not a big fan of Will Beaty, so Lewan can instantly come in a lock down the left tackle position. This one is pretty simple, Lewan is a great talent, he fell a little too far, the Giants have a need for a left tackle, and they scoop him up.

13. St. Louis Rams: Marqise Lee (USC)

Marqise Lee is a little further down other analysts boards, but he’s somewhat higher on mine, and he’s the pick here. The Rams need another playmaker in order to make Sam Bradford look like a good quarterback, and Lee can be that guy to do so. He’s like a lesser man’s Sammy Watkins in my opinion, which is by no means a bad thing. This pick could also easily be Odell Beckham Jr. or a number of other wide receivers.

14. Chicago Bears: Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix (Alabama)

HaHa Clinton-Dix falls a little ways down the board, but the Bears snap him up with delight. I have Clinton-Dix as my 10th rated prospect, and the Bears defense would benefit greatly from adding him. They already loaded up on the defensive line, and now they’re adding the best safety in the draft, to secure their secondary, which was a problem giving up too many big plays last season.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State)

The Steelers are in great need of making that entire defense younger, and they could go a number of ways including Calvin Pryor, Anthony Barr or even Ryan Shazier, but I’ll give them Dennard because their biggest need is definitely at cornerback. Dennard is the other corner in this draft, who I think will be that #1 shutdown kind of player. The physicality that he plays with is built to play in Pittsburgh.

16. Dallas Cowboys: OLB Anthony Barr (UCLA)

This is a pick that we’ve seen numerous times, mostly because it just makes a lot of sense. The Cowboys lost DeMarcus Ware to the Broncos this offseason, and Barr would be the chief replacement for him. Barr is a bit raw still, and will need to be coached up a bit, but he’s got tremendous upside, and could be a steal at the midway point of round one.