With the 2014 NFL Draft taking place today it seems an appropriate time for a last minute prediction on who’s going to be selected by which team in the first round. We’ve had the first wave of free agency therefore most teams biggest needs are well known going into the draft. On the other hand no draft expert, of which I am far from, can confidently predict every first round pick as many teams will throw logic out the window and draft a completely different player come draft night. Also it’s inevitable the current draft order will not play out on draft night as some teams will be moving around to select the must have player they need. Whilst this is not a definitive mock draft and will be far from accurate this is simply my prediction on who all 32 NFL teams should draft come next Thursday.
1st Pick: Houston Texans – The Houston Texans have been through a lot of turmoil this off-season with their appointment of new head coach Bill O’Brien and their current search for a new Quarterback after Matt Schaub was traded to the Oakland Raiders after a poor season. With such a glaring need at Quarterback many thought initially the Texans would draft a QB with this pick. However, the recent crop of QB’s appear to be sliding down the draft boards I predict they’ll use the first pick to select once in a decade prospect DE Jadeveon Clowney. A defensive line with Clowney and J.J Watt will strike fear into every NFL team for years to come.
2nd Pick: St Louis Rams (From Washington Redskins) – The St Louis Rams have two first round selections, which is handy for them as they have a lot of needs going into the 2014 season. First of all they will want to protect Quarterback Sam Bradford, especially as they have recently given him a bumper new contract. Therefore the best upgrade through the draft to protect Bradford will be to select Offensive tackle Greg Robinson from Auburn. His talent is significant and he can easily develop into a Pro Bowl Offensive tackle in the next few seasons.
3rd Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of significant needs going into the 2014 draft, with their biggest needs being a pass rusher, a quarterback and at running back. With the third pick I predict they will fill their biggest need at pass rusher and select standout Outside linebacker Khalil Mack from Buffalo. Although he’s a relatively small school guy he’s proved he can be a dominant NFL player during a standout college career.
4th Pick: Cleveland Browns – Much like the Jaguars the Cleveland Browns are perennial under-achievers. Yet unlike the Jaguars the Browns are making a resurgence behind Wide Receiver Josh Gordon and Tight end Jordon Cameron. Similarly to a lot of teams near the top of the draft order however the Browns need a Quarterback. Therefore I predict they’ll pull the trigger and take the first QB off the board in the much hyped Texas A&M man Johnny Manziel. He’s the kind of talent that could either be the next Colin Kaepernick or the next Tim Tebow.
5th Pick: Oakland Raiders – The storied Oakland Raiders franchise are a tough team to predict in terms of their draft strategy this year. After the Matt Schaub trade they no longer need a QB however they do need some weapons to help him out which is why I feel they will be unable to pass on Clemson Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins. He’s the consensus No1 receiver in this draft and if the Raiders select him will feel like they got a steal at No5.
6th Pick: Atlanta Falcons – The Atlanta Falcons suffered a strange 2013 season as they went from a heavily tipped play-off team to one who finished 3rd in the NFC South. Therefore the team does not have that many needs going into the draft. Their biggest need is at Offensive tackle and this is where I see them going with their 6th pick. I sense they’ll select the second best Offensive tackle prospect in Texas A&M man Jake Matthews. He’s a plug and play starting tackle in the NFL for the next 5-10 years with Pro bowl potential.
7th Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Buccaneers are coming off a turbulent off season which has seen them lose a head coach and their star Cornerback yet gain a new Quarterback in Josh McCown. The Buccaneers could use with giving McCown some weapons to throw too and I sense they’ll add a Wide Receiver with this pick. With top receiver Watkins already off the board they’ll go for the next best receiver Mike Evans. He’s a athletically strong receiver with a big future in the NFL.
8th Pick: Minnesota Vikings – For the Vikings it’s clear by far their biggest off-season need is to dramatically improve their passing game. On the other hand I feel it would be a major reach for them to grab a QB at this spot in the 1st round. Therefore I feel they’ll upgrade their defence with this pick. Specifically I see them going with UCLA Outside Linebacker Anthony Barr. He’s the second best outside linebacker on most boards and would instantly improve a defence in need of significant improvement.
9th Pick: Buffalo Bills – For the Bills this year’s biggest need to address at the No9 pick has to be on their Offensive line. More specifically they need help at their Right tackle position therefore I predict they’ll select Notre Dame Offensive tackle Zack Martin. Whilst Taylor Lewan ranks above him his off-field issues mean his stock is falling which is why I see them picking Martin instead.
10th Pick: Detroit Lions – Detroit wilted as the 2013 season went on therefore the draft is the perfect place for the organisation to rectify this going into the 2014 regular season. It appears the Lions which select a defensive player at No10 with their defensive secondary receiving particular attention with this pick. In my opinion they’ll add a Cornerback in Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. His impressive speed and ball hawking skills may him well in line for a hugely productive career in the NFL.
11th Pick: Tennessee Titans – The Titans are another team re-building going into the 2014 season with a new head coach in Ken Whisenhunt. It seems fairly apparent the team are looking to improve their defensive unit with this first round pick. Their biggest defensive need is at Outside Linebacker however it would be a major reach for them to select the best available player at this position in Ryan Shazier. Therefore I see back to back Cornerback being picked as they select standout Michigan State Corner Darqueze Dennard, someone rated by many to be the top Cornerback in this draft class.
12th Pick: New York Giants – For a long time this off-season the Giants have been pencilled in to pick dynamic Tight End Eric Ebron as it appeared such a glaring need for them in this draft. On the other hand recently the momentum is building that the Giants will instead draft an Offensive Linemen, another area they need to improve on. Therefore I’m going to follow the momentum and predict they’ll take a chance on selecting Lineman Taylor Lewan. Although he has legal issues off the field his production is undoubted and will immediately energise the Offensive line .
13th Pick: St Louis Rams – With their second pick in the 1st round I suspect that considering who is likely to still be available with the 13th pick that the Rams will use this pick to upgrade their Safety position in the Defensive backfield. With free reign over the Safety class I suspect they’ll select No1 ranked Safety Ha-Ha Clinton Dix from Alabama with the 13th pick. He’s had a stellar college career which looks set to continue in the pro’s.
14th Pick: Chicago Bears – After their defensive unit let down the Bears in 2013 it seems likely they’ll want to improve the unit early on in the draft. Therefore expect Chicago to select a Defensive back with the most likely occurrence being that they go with No2 ranked Safety Calvin Pryor of Louisville. He’s an intelligent Safety who has the potential to be a superstar in the NFL over the next few seasons.
15th Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers – The Pittsburgh Steelers go into the draft with a lot of needs for their team. It seems their most important area for improvement is on the defensive side of the ball which is where I believe they’ll go after drafting an offensive player last year. Specifically I see them continuing the run on Defensive Back’s by selecting Cornerback Kyle Fuller out of Virginia Tech. Mike Mayock has him as his top rated Corner and he would be by far the best corner left on the board at No15.
16th Pick: Dallas Cowboys – After winning a coin toss at the scouting combine the Cowboys are on the clock at 16. After a season where the Cowboys defence let them down therefore it seems they’ll continue the current run on defensive picks by improving the Defensive tackle position with this pick. With free reign over Defensive tackle’s I predict they’ll select Aaron Donald from Pitt. He seems to be the consensus top Defensive tackle in this draft and would vastly improve the woeful Cowboys Defensive tackle position.