Here is my Post Scouting Combine 2014 NFL Mock Draft. It will be followed by regular updates after the NFL Scouting Combine up until the NFL Draft on May 8th.
My mock draft has been linked by The Football Fan Spot, Sports Jabber, DC Pro Sports Report, Walter Football, FF Toolbox, hailRedskins.com, The Football Expert, Fantasy Football Help Desk, The Huddle Report, Niners Nation, EDS Football, NFL Mock Draft Central and NFL Pro Zach in their Mock Draft Databases.
This is not a mock draft where I attempt play general manager and substitute my own judgment for the 32 NFL teams.
I do my best to research what particular players or positions each team may be targeting based upon the opinions of reliable beat writers, scouts and insiders in order to provide links and then my analysis as to why a team may be focusing on a particular player.
1. Houston Texans – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A and M: The Texans have a new coach, who in turn needs a new quarterback. Houston seems to be focusing on local product Johnny Manziel, while "Johnny Football" has made it very clear that he wants the Texans to select him with the number one pick. Watch for Cleveland as a potential partner for Houston to trade down with in the even that they are not sold on any of the available QB's.
2. St. Louis Rams – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: I look for the Rams to try and trade down and still have the opportunity to select a top rated tackle or the go-to WR that Sam Bradford desperately needs. If the Rams can't make a move, not only does Sammy Watkins seem to be a hot commodity following the Scouting Combine, but Jeff Fisher has a history of avoiding offensive linemen with his first round picks. So while a LT is still a huge need, an elite WR seems like the more likely option for their first pick in the first round.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Much like the Browns, Jacksonville owner Shad Khan has already disclosed that he intends on finding a new quarterback for the Jaguars. The Jaguars will face perhaps the toughest question in the draft in deciding whether or not to draft that QB at #3, or address another huge need at DE with Jadeveon Clowney, who is by far the most talented player coming out of college this year.
I find it funny how some scouts and Steve Spurrier have questioned Clowney's motivation and work ethic. Think about it for just a second. This kid was supposed to be the clear cut #1 pick heading into this year's draft after his Sophomore season, and he made no attempt to hide the fact that he did not want to remain in college for another year. Clowney clearly played last season not to get hurt, which explains his perceived lack of effort and production, especially against lesser opponents. He then showed up at the Combine and blew everyone away with his 40 time just to remind everyone how talented he truly is. Jacksonville would be foolish to pass Clowney up now that he's ready to move to on to the big stage that he's been seeking.
4. Cleveland Browns - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Is there a more dysfunctional franchise in all of pro sports right now than the Cleveland Browns? Having blown through two head coaches and two GM's in just over a year, it's been rumored that the Browns offered to trade their entire 2014 draft for San Francisco 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh. Regardless of who their coach is, the fact of matter is that the Browns won't be going anywhere until they find a franchise quarterback. They have the ammunition to go get one, now the question is whether or not those calling the shots will be able to make the right call and find one.
5. Oakland Raiders - Jake Mathews, T, Texas A and M: Oakland has huge needs at key positions like QB, WR and DE. If Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Jadeveon Clowney and Sammy Watkins are all off the board by the time Oakland picks at #5 it would be the worst case scenario for the Raiders. Look for Oakland to either trade down, or stay put and take an OT like Jake Mathews with Jared Veldheer currently unsigned and set to hit free agency. In that event, the Raiders could look to add a veteran QB like Josh Freeman or Michael Vick free agency.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson, T, Auburn: Whether it's Jake Mathews or Greg Robinson, the Falcons desperately need help at OT. Robinson would be an immediate and much needed upgrade over current LT Sam Baker.
7. Tampa Bay Bucanneers – Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA: The Buccaneers are going back to a "Tampa Two" defense under new head coach Lovie Smith, which means they will put a premium on getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks from their front four without the benefit of many blitzes. Anthony Barr of UCLA is probably a better fit as a LB in a 3-4 scheme, but there are too many 4-3 teams in need of a pass rusher from the DE position who are drafting in the top ten to let a player of Barr's skill-set slide. Tampa Bay is one of those teams, and they already have larger run stopping DE's to allow Barr serve as a pass rush specialist while he bulks up into a 3-down player at DE.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortels, QB, Central Florida: Unless they really see something they like in Blake Bortels or Derek Carr, the Vikings could find themselves on the ass end of the QB lottery. As of right now there's enough hype around Bortels to support him being a top ten pick. With Matt Cassel voiding his option for the 2014 season, I don't think the Vikings have any other choice. Then again, there's no guarantee that Bortels will even be available when Minnesota picks at #8.
9. Buffalo Bills – Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo: Buffalo could go for an OT in the first round, or they could target an OLB, TE or a WR. If local product Khalil Mack is available when the Bills pick at #9 he could be too tempting to pass up. And while new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has never placed much value in OLB's, Mack also has considerable value on passing downs, potentially playing with his hand on the ground.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: The biggest needs for the Lions are an elite CB and a WR to play opposite Calvin Johnson. Because this is a deep WR draft, the Lions would be wise to get a lock down corner while one is still available in Round 1, and then fill their need for a #2 receiver with someone like Jordan Mathews on the second day of the draft. While local product Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State is also an option at CB, the Lions have expressed an interest in bigger corners, making Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State the more likely target, especially in light of the fantastic 4.37 40-yard dash that he ran at the Scouting Combine.
11. Tennessee Titans – C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama: With a huge need at pass rusher and OLB, C.J. Mosley would provide the Titans with the hybrid OLB that they need as they transition into more of a 3-4 defense.
12. New York Giants – Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan: The Giants offensive line is a complete mess, and tackle is the best place to start to address that problem. Drafting a true LT would have a positive cascade effect, allowing Will Beatty to move to RT and Justin Pugh to G. While Taylor Lewan never quite lived up to his hype at Michigan either on or off the field, he seems to have cemented his status as the #3 LT at the Scouting Combine.
13. St Louis Rams - Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: In this scenario the Rams have already landed a #1 WR in Sammy Watkins, so they can look to solidify their offensive line with their second pick in the first round. Alternatively, they could target Jake Mathews with their first pick and a WR like Mike Evans or Marqise Lee with their second, but going WR first and LT second plays out as the better value with Sammy Watkins as the clear cut top WR in this year's draft.
14. Chicago Bears – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: The Bears aging defense has finally caught up to them, and they now must address major holes at CB, S, LB, and DT...And that's before a salary cap decision has even been made on Julius Peppers. A DT will have to be a consideration should Henry Melton leave in free agency, as would a playmaker at S like Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the event that Melton returns. Timmy Jernigan of Florida State or Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh would seem to be a perfect fits for the Bears as disruptive and penetrating DT's who can play the "3-Technique."
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame: The Steel Curtain is broken with holes at key positions like NT, S and OLB. Louis Nix III would have to be a strong consideration at NT given Steve McLendon's inability to stop the run last season in a failed bid to replace Casey Hampton. With age and injuries limiting Troy Polamalu's playing time and effectiveness in recent years, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama could also be an intriguing option at S.
16. Dallas Cowboys - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: Dallas finally realized the deficiencies in Monte Kiffin's "Tampa Two" defense given their existing personnel, so they replaced him with....wait for it....Monte Kiffin...I mean Rod Marinelli, who's an even more stubborn version of Kiffin when it comes to not modifying his defensive schemes. With that said, the three most essential pieces in the "Tampa Two" defense are a disruptive DT, a "Will" LB, and athletic safeties who can patrol the deep zone. With the Cowboys in need of help at both DT and S, Dallas would love to add either Aaron Donald, Timmy Jernigan or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A and M: Baltimore still seems to have some interest in re-signing free agent LT Eugene Monroe. However, Monroe hasn't graded out well enough over the past few seasons to justify a big contract, so Baltimore may want to start from scratch with a young LT that new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak can develop in his zone blocking scheme. However, if Taylor Lewan of Michigan and Zack Martin of Notre Dame are both off the board when the Ravens pick at #17, they could be in the market for a WR like Mike Evans or Marqise Lee, who would represent better values under Ozzie Newsome's BPA philosophy.
18. New York Jets – Marqise Lee, WR, USC: The Jets desperately need to improve their passing game, and with the team committed to Geno Smith at QB, they need to find him some legitimate receiving targets. The question remains as to whether or not one of the top three WR's will still be on the board when the Jets select at #18. In this case the Jets have their choice of either WR Marqise Lee or the draft's top TE in Eric Ebron, which is also a position of need.
19. Miami Dolphins – Morgan Moses, T, Virginia: With Miami potentially losing the entire left side of their offensive line to the Ritchie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal, and needing two offensive linemen on the right side, the Dolphins have little choice but to address LT with their 1st Round pick. While Zack Martin and Morgan Moses could both be considerations, I can't see Taylor Lewan of Michigan being an option even if he's still on the board considering the police reports alleging that he tried to intimidate the victim in connection with teammate Brandon Gibbon's rape investigation.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: At #20 Arizona can either reach for a LT or take the best playmaker available at another position of need. Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State is the type of CB that you can place on an island, which would give the Cardinals the best pair of press corners in the NFL once paired with Patrick Peterson. Arizona could then address their need for a LT in either free agency or the second round.
21. Green Bay Packers - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: Green Bay has needs across the board on defense, and their first round selection will ultimately be determined by which of their own free agents they are able to re-sign. Finding an impact player on the defensive side of the ball is a must, and S was arguably their biggest void last season. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama would give Green Bay some much needed range and ball-skills in the back end of their secondary.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: Philadelphia's finished 32nd in the league in passing defense last season, and their biggest hole was at S. Calvin Pryor of Louisville would be an instant upgrade, especially if the Eagles can re-sign and team him with Nate Allen.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Kansas City could go in several different directions in this year's draft such as S, CB, WR, TE or DL. With Alex Smith in need of another receiving target, WR could be an option. However, the Chiefs could satisfy the same need at better value should TE Eric Ebron of North Carolina fall to them at #23 in the draft. In fact, a TE with receiving skills may even be a better fit than a WR for Alex Smith considering the more conservative west coast passing scheme that the Chiefs employ.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State: On paper the Bengals look good at CB, but they are aging and injury prone. Leon Hall is coming off his second Achilles injury, and pro athletes aren't always lucky enough to come back from one Achilles injury, let alone two. Lamarcus Joyner is undersized, but he was a little stick of hate in the secondary for the National Champion Florida State Seminoles last season. Better yet, Joyner has the ability to play both CB and S, which could give the Bengals expanded range in pass coverage in their base defense at S, as well as at nickle on passing downs.
25. San Diego Chargers - Kony Ealy, OLB/DE, Missouri: With the versatility to excel at either DE in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4, Kony Ealy would give the Chargers another much needed edge rusher. CB and T could also be considerations depending on who might fall to the later part of the first round.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis) - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: This is not necessarily where I would go if I was Cleveland, but Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Tony Grossi all agree on the position, if not the player. Kelvin Benjamin's route running, hands, effort and blocking all raise red-flags, but there's no mistaking his raw physical talent as possibly the most gifted WR in this year's draft from a physical standpoint. CB also has to be a strong consideration for the Browns at #26.
27. New Orleans Saints - Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida: With Patrick Robinson coming off of an injury, the Saints could use depth, if not a starter at CB. Marcus Roberson of Florida is a big corner with man-to-man cover skills.
28. Carolina Panthers - Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU: The Panthers need more explosion on offense, and Odell Beckham, Jr. of LSU would provide them just that, especially when paired opposite of veteran Steve Smith. Should Carolina elect to let Greg Hardy depart as a salary cap casualty instead of electing to use the franchise tag on him, DE could also be a consideration, although there should still be depth at that position in the second round.
29. New England Patriots - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: With Vince Wilfork aging and injury prone, New England can use a disruptive DT to either play along side or ultimately replace him. Ra'Shede Hageman's size and versatility make him an ideal fit in a Bill Belichick defense. In fact, after playing in relative anonymity at Minnesota, he could end up being the steal of the draft.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: The 49ers biggest obstacle to returning to the Super Bowl are their division rivals, the Seahawks. The best way to counteract Seattle's super-sized secondary is with quickness, and that's where an explosive player like Brandin Cooks at slot receiver could help not only negate the size advantage in Seattle's secondary, but possibly even turn it into a liability.
31. Denver Broncos - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame: Denver has plenty of needs on the defensive side of the ball. With Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers set to test the free agent market and Derek Wolfe coming off of an injury, the Broncos could start with a solid 3-4 defensive end like Stephon Truitt of Notre Dame. CB and S could also be considerations, but may not be positions of value when Denver picks at #31.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Xavier Su'a-Filo, G/T, UCLA: The Seahawks have very few weaknesses after winning the Super Bowl, although they will still be facing a few decisions involving the salary cap. The interior of their offensive line is an area that could be upgraded with Xavier Su'a-Filo of UCLA who projects as a G in the NFL, but also has the ability to play either tackle position.
33. Houston Texans - Will Sutton, DE/DT, Arizona State: With Antonio Smith set to test free agency, the Texans will be looking for another disruptive end to pair opposite of J.J. Watt.
34. Washington Redskins - Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: The Pigskins have no legitimate WR aside from Pierre Garcon. Allen Robinson of Penn State would give RGIII another viable target and take some pressure off of their running game.
35. Cleveland Browns - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: After addressing QB and WR in the first round, the Browns can sure up their secondary in the second. RB Carlos Hyde could also be a consideration, but as of right now I have him lasting to when Cleveland picks at the top of round three.
36. Oakland Raiders - Scott Cricton, DE, Oregon State: Once again, the Raiders need impact players at nearly every skilled position. DE is one of those, and Scott Crichton of Oregon State dominated in the Pac-12 the past few seasons.
37. Atlanta Falcons - Dominique Easley, DE, Florida: The Falcons had two major needs heading into the draft at LT and DE. After nabbing an elite T in the first round, Atlanta will look to one of the second tier DE's in the second round. Dominique Easley of Florida would have been 1st round prospect but for a knee injury that cut his season short. Not only does Easley have the explosion to get to the passer, but he's a desirable high motor guy as well.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida: With the Bucs moving back to a "Tampa-2" defense under new defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, they will need to modify their secondary to better fit that system. Johnthan Banks struggled with his tackling as a rookie last season, and the "Tampa-2" places even more of a premium on CB's who can play the run. Local product Loucheiz Purifoy of Florida is an aggressive player who will be a physical upgrade over Banks, who could be relegated to more of a nickel role.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: Finding it too difficult to pass Jadeveon Clowney with the third pick in the draft, the Jags must then find their QB of the future. Derek Carr is the only other signal caller who fits that bill, although Jacksonville may have to trade up back to the end of the first round to make sure that they get him.
40. Minnesota Vikings - Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor: While Baylor offensive linemen have not fared well in the NFL in recent years, Cyril Richardson would give the Vikings another road grading blocker to pair alongside Phil Loadholt, which would be a terrifying thought for opposing defenses as they pave the way for all world RB Adrian Peterson.
41. Buffalo Bills - Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee: While the Bills have finally found a competent LT in Cordy Glenn, RT was still a liability for them last season. Antonio Richardson could help stabilize that position and potentially compete for a starting spot at LT in the future, which would allow Glenn to move to a position like RG or RT where he could put his big frame to better use.
42. Tennessee Titans - Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama: Cyrus Kouandjio's performance at the Scouting Combine may have dropped him out of the first round due to concerns about his quickness and ability to play LT, but Tennessee needs help on the right side, where Kouandjio would vastly improve their running game.
43. New York Giants - David Yankey, G/T, Stanford: As the Giants try to rebuild their offensive line to take some pressure off of Eli Manning, David Yankey of Stanford would give them another versatile player would could either excel at G, or fill-in for the time being at T.
44. St. Louis Rams - Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU: The Rams also have glaring needs in their secondary, but can find better value at OLB in Kyle Van Noy of BYU, who can not only rush the passer, but drop into coverage as well.
45. Detroit Lions - Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: Jordan Matthews may not be the fastest WR in the draft, but he might be the most polished. With route running and film study often outweighing speed when it comes to transitioning to the NFL, Matthews might not only be one of the safer picks at WR, but he would be an ideal compliment to Calvin Johnson as someone who can get open in single coverage and reliably catch the ball.
46. Pittsburgh Steelers - Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State: The Steelers are looking for a big receiver to play opposite of Antonio Brown, and if they pass on Mike Evans in the first round in favor of some much needed help on defense, Davante Adams of Fresno State could fill that role.
47. Dallas Cowboys - Dion Bailey, S, USC: After grabbing a 4-3 DT like Aaron Donald, Dallas would be ecstatic to land a S with excellent coverage skills like Dion Bailey, which is also a necessity in the "Tampa-2."
48. Baltimore Ravens - Joe Bitonio, T, Nevada: Nobody saw their stock improve more at the Scouting Combine than Joe Bitonio of Nevada, who moved extremely well and backed up his performances on film against top opponents like UCLA and Florida State. With Eugene Monroe set to hit free agency, Bitonio would be a cheaper fit at LT for the Ravens.
49. New York Jets - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: After addressing WR in the first round, the Jets could overhaul their receiving corps by selecting an elite TE like Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Jace Amaro in the second.
50. Miami Dolphins - Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State: Miami needs as many offensive linemen as they can find, and Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State would give them an elite G to pair alongside C Mike Pouncey.
51. Chicago Bears - Craig Loston, S, LSU: After addressing DT in the first round, a S with cover skills like Craig Loston of LSU would go a long way in re-stocking the Bears defense with talent heading into 2014.
52. Arizona Cardinals - Jack Mewhort, G/T, Ohio State: Jack Mewhort of Ohio State would give the Cardinals much needed versatility on their offensive line, as well as a much needed option at LT in the short term. Should they address LT in free agency, the Cardinals could also look at a speedy WR at this spot.
53. Green Bay Packers - Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn: After unsuccessfully trying to convert several college DE's to play OLB in their 3-4 defense, it's time for Green Bay to go in the other direction and find a more athletic college LB to play opposite Clay Mathews. Auburn's Dee Ford showed the skills to rush the passer, drop in coverage, and contain the edge in BCS Title Game and at the Senior Bowl, which were traits that Green Bay's OLB's noticeably lacked in their Divisional Playoff game loss against Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers.
54. Philadelphia Eagles - Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU: With Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant all set to test the free agency market, the Eagles will need a WR even in the event that they can re-sign one of those players. With his willingness to go over the middle and block, Jarvis Landry of LSU would be an ideal fit in the slot for the Eagles.
55. Cincinnati Bengals - Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville: Michael Johnson was a disappointment at DE in his contract year, so Cincinnati would be better off finding a replacement and letting him walk than overpaying him. Marcus Smith of Louisville was not only the heart and soul of one of the nation's top defenses, but also one of college football's best pass rushers.
56. San Francisco 49ers - Jason Verrett, CB, Texas Christian: With Tarell Brown scheduled to hit free agency, the 49ers need to find a potential replacement at CB in the draft. Even in the event that Brown returns, Jason Verrett of Texas Christian could see plenty of action as the 49ers nickel back.
57. San Diego Chargers - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: After a strong Junior season, Bradley Roby not only had off the field issues, but he flat out played himself out of the first round of the draft. Nonetheless, his past performance, size and 40-yard dash time at the Combine make him an intriguing prospect with high upside.
58. New Orleans Saints - Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford: Despite some who say otherwise, I think the Saints are fairly set at WR in terms of playmakers and depth barring any salary cap casualties. Trent Murphy would give New Orleans a much needed pass rusher from the edge in Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense.
59. Indianapolis Colts - Dakota Dozier, G/T, Furman: The Colts would be wise to bolster the interior of their offensive line with at least two of their picks in this year's draft. While Dakota Dozier may seem like a reach in the second round based upon his early draft projections, his strong showings at the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine have alleviated some of his "small school" concerns and make him an intriguing prospect as an athletic G who can pull in the running game.
60. Carolina Panthers - Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina: With Greg Hardy destined to either earn the "Franchise Tag" or leave in free agency, the Panthers need to look to the future and draft an impact 4-3 DE. Kareem Martin of North Carolina has the size and production to step in sooner than later if needed.
61. San Francisco 49ers - Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State: From a strict best player available approach, Ryan Shazier of Ohio State may be the best option for the 49ers if they've addressed their needs at WR and CB by the time they pick at #61. This pick could also be used as ammunition to trade up from either pick #30 or #57 if there is a player that they really like at WR or CB.
62. New England Patriots - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: With his size and receiving ability, Jace Amaro seems to be New England's prime target to replace Aaron Hernandez at TE.
63. Denver Broncos - Deone Buchanon, S, Washington State: With Rahim Moore coming off of an injury and Mike Adams hitting free agency, Denver has a need at S. Deone Buchanon of Washington State was not only a playmaker in coverage, but he was strong against the run as well.
64. Seattle Seahawks - Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska: Stanley Jean-Baptiste is not the fastest CB, but he has incredible size. There's probably no better mutual fit between team and player than Jean-Baptiste and the Seahawks, where he can spell and then ultimately replace Brandon Browner as one of the super-sized DB's that they prefer.