2014 NFL Mock Draft: Manziel still on top?

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Manziel still on top?
March 7, 2014, 10:30 am
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Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) throws prior to the game against the Oklahoma Sooners during the 2013 Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium.

(USA Today Sports Images)

1. Houston Texans: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M**

Does anyone really know which way the Texans are leaning right now? They'll have a lot of tough decisions to make before making this pick in May. Ultimately, the Texans are going to leave this draft with their quarterback of the future, whether they make a move, stand pat or draft him later, that remains to be seen.

If they stay at the top of the draft, it might just be too hard of a choice to pass up on Johnny Manziel. He had an impressive outing at the combine, and his local roots make him the obvious choice for Houston with the first pick. There's more than a chance they decide to draft Jadeveon Clowney, but after all the rumblings about drafting a top-tier quarterback, it may prove a hard sell a fan base that seems overly enticed at the chance to call Johnny Football a Houston Texan.


2. St. Louis Rams (f/ WSH): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn*

Down goes Matthews, down goes Matthews. The combine was cruel to Jake Matthews, he didn't do anything to hurt his stock, and by all accounts should still be one of the top players taken... but man, how great did Greg Robinson look? His showcase of quickness, strength and athleticism have cleared the way for him to be the top tackle drafted. Acquiring Robinson gives the Rams an anchor on the left-side of the line, and they can opt to move Jake Long to the right tackle position, which many believe he is better suited for at this point. 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina*

"And the quarterback... is toast." Expect to hear variations of that early and often in Jadeveon Clowney's NFL career. His freak athleticism and speed is giving scouts Julius Peppers-esque flashbacks. This would be a dream scenario for the Jacksonville Jaguars. They've been in desperate need of a franchise quarterback for close to a decade now, but Clowney gives them exactly what they need on defense. A game-changer, a force that can't be stopped in many one-on-one situations. 

4. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville*

Cleveland has two first round picks in this year's draft. They will likely take a quarterback with one of them. Teddy Bridgewater's stock has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride. Some pundits called his leadership and personality would adjust to an NFL locker room, but when Blake Bortles had a less than stellar combine, his status as one of the top QBs in this class shot back up the charts.

He excelled at Louisville, but didn't perform at his best when they played some of their tougher opponents. Despite all the questions, he may have the most accurate arm in the draft, and that's something you can't argue with any combine numbers.

5. Oakland Raiders: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida*

Blake Bortles looks like the perfect prototype for an NFL quarterback. He's tall, has a big arm and just looks like a guy you'd see in a huddle on Sunday's. His throwing was erratic at the combine, and it looks like he's going to need a bit of refinement on his accuracy and footwork. However, the need for young arms early in the draft should keep him in the top ten in this draft. The Raiders have been searching for a franchise signal-caller since Rich Gannon hung 'em up and Bortles gives them the best shot at that.

6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo

Atlanta expected to be a Super Bowl contender this season. Their lack of success has been partially due to injuries, but the Falcons defense has also fallen flat. Khalil Mack quieted all the non-believers with a stellar combine showing. He has the size, the speed, the agility and most importantly the tape. Mack now stands out as the hands down top linebacker in this class and would instantly help one of the NFL's worst ranked defenses.


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

Jake Matthews had been my top tackle on the board. And on ability, maybe he still is the best tackle... unfortunately for him, Robinson destroyed the combine. A lot of options for Tampa Bay, addressing their offensive line is a must at some point, adding new weapons for Mike Glennon or some playmakers on defense. I'd imagine that Matthews at No. 7 would be just too much to pass up. At one point considered the safest pick in the draft, Matthews will make an instant impact for a line in need of a new leader.


8. Minnesota Vikings select: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
*

If Sammy Watkins fell to the eighth pick in the draft, it'd be a crime. He's the best receiver prospect to come out since Julio Jones, and he just had an awesome combine. Speed, size, athleticism, leaping ability, this kid's got it all. Wide receiver might not be Minnesota's top need, but you can't pass up an opportunity to add a weapon of his caliber. Cordarrelle Patterson had a good rookie season, and adding Watkins to the mix could turn their receiving corps into one of the best in the league.


9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, MIchigan

Another stock on the rise, thanks to a great showing at the NFL combine. Lewan would've been a stand-out last season, but his decision to stay another year at Michigan should net him a top ten selection. Adding protection for E.J. Manuel moving forward will be important for his growth. The Bills have been making a lot of strides the past two seasons, and adding another anchor on their line could put them over the top.


10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Detroit's been looking to upgrade their secondary for a few seasons now, but it hasn't been a complete success. The addition of Glover Quin hasn't been as successful as they'd hoped, and they relied heavily on Rashean Mathis and Chris Houston, both of which underperformed this season. After an impressive showing at the combine, Gilbert should be considered the top corner in this class and could develop into a true shut-down corner.


11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA

This would be an ideal scenario for the Titans. After hiring Ken Whisenhunt, they quickly brought Ray Horton on board to helm the defense. The thought is they'll be switching to a 3-4 defense, and the opportunity to draft Anthony Barr would be perfect for them this offseason. Barr is the top rushing linebacker in this class and he's dynamic enough to be the staple of a defense undergoing an overhaul.

12. New York Giants: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

It's been a while since the Giants have had a solid linebacking group. They took a shot at acquiring Jon Beason for peanuts during the season, but they have other spots to fill. Mosley has been a leader for Alabama since his freshman season, he could help add some stability and a level of accountability to their group of linebackers.


13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama*

If there's been one weakness on the Rams defense the past few seasons, it's been the secondary. Their defense has actually become one of the most talented groups in the league, and success shouldn't be too far off if they can address a few key spots. Clinton-Dix is the best safety in this draft. He's a ballhawk, and a leader amongst defensive backs.


14. Chicago Bears: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesot
a*

Chicago has been banged up in the middle for the past few seasons. They need to add more interior defenders, and Hageman is a big guy that should plug up holes early in his career. He is a monster in the middle, and should be able to have an immediate impact for the Bears.


15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M**

Statistically, Ben Roethlisberger had one of his most impressive seasons in his career last season. However, it wasn't much of a secret that the Steelers were desperately seeking another big, red zone target. Mike Evans has one of the most impressive skill-sets for a possession receiver. He's big, physical, deceivingly quick for his size and could be a star at the next level.


16. Dallas Cowboys: Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame*

The Cowboys defense was hurting by the end of2013 and with Jason Hatcher on the way out, Dallas needs some life on the defensive line. A real impact player inside, Nix is a space-eater with top level quickness for a big guy. A new anchor up front would be a good first step toward revitalizing their front seven. 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee, WR, USC*

Big money invested in quarterback Joe Flacco, they have about 20 million reasons a season to get him some help on offense. The Ravens did recently bring in Gary Kubiak as their new offensive coordinator, and their focus will likely be on bringing more options to their offensive attack. Lee is a speedster with good hands, adding a few pounds could make him a potentially elite option. 


18. New York Jets: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State**

The New York Jets have been in transition for several seasons now. They've done well, adding several nice pieces on the defensive side, and taking Geno as their potential QB for the future. What they really lack is offensive weapons right now. Davante Adams had one of the best campaigns you'll ever see from a receiver last season, racking up 1,718 yards and 24 touchdowns. He followed suit after the season, having a very impressive combine outing and should be able to have an impact very early in his NFL career.


19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

The Dolphins need better bookends on their offensive line, and should be searching for a future anchor, especially after losing Jake Long last offseason. Martin is a quick and powerful lineman, his versatility would prove very useful for any quarterback. His experience and leadership should help him translate to being a starter in the NFL early in his career. He's another player who's Senior Bowl performance will help elevate his status come draft day. 


20. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina*

Tight end is never truly a top-need for most teams in the draft, but Eric Ebron is a rare commodity. He is a huge target, a freak athlete, and  may very well be the most dangerous receiving threat in the draft. Adding another big target for Carson Palmer, should help put them over the top offensively.


21. Green Bay Packers: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame*

The Packers need help a lot of help on defense, they were ranked 24th against the pass, and 25th against the run this season. Adding a player like Stephon Tuitt, who many scouts say reminds them of Richard Seymour, could go a long way towards revitalizing their defensive line.


22. Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville*

Philadelphia, like a lot of other teams, needs help in their secondary. They made the postseason for the first time in a few seasons, but they still have a lot of question marks on their defense. Chip Kelly has worked wonders with the offense, and while adding another receiver might be also be an option, I'm not sure they can enter another season with the group of safeties they have right now. After Clinton-Dix the safety pool runs pretty thin, but Pryor had a stellar season at Louisville and could find himself in the first round.


23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

It was a great comeback season for newly-acquired starter Alex Smith. Highly efficient, even if his receiving options weren't very diverse. Jace Amaro has a unique combination of size and ability to catch in traffic. His skill-set unique enough that he's drawn comparison to Rob Gronkowski. Smith only threw 23 touchdowns last season, and adding a weapon like Amaro would only help boost those numbers.


24. Cincinnati Bengals: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Terrence Newman and Adam Jones get to see a lot of playing time for the Bengals, and for them, it hasn't necessarily been a good thing. They need a long-term solution in the secondary, someone who can tandem with Dre Kirkpatrick moving forward. Dennard like several other players drafted at this point had a very impressive combine. He is a complete corner, has speed, can play in any scheme, and should be able to start quickly into his NFL career.


25. San Diego Chargers: Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State

Desperately in need of some new blood on defense, the Chargers actually did a lot last season to bandaid their true issues. Their lack of pass rush ultimately left their lack of depth in their secondary exposed. While adding an outside backer to help provide pressure would be a great option, their lack of quality corners can't be broomed over anymore. Despite his size, Joyner is an active player in run support and is constantly around the football at the second level. He'd likely have to start early in his career, and would be an upgrade for a shallow San Diego team.

26. Cleveland Browns (f/ IND): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State*

Many scouts and pundits already had Brandin Cooks in the first round range after a great season at Oregon State. After a great showing at the combine, no one is going to overlook Cooks again when it comes to the draft. He ran a 4.33 which led all receivers at the showcase in Indy. His ability to combine speed and sharp route running ability would make him a lethal deep threat for any team in need of more weapons.

27. New Orleans Saints: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State*

The Saints will be looking to add help inside, it's been one of the weaker spots on the defense. On talent alone, Jernigan could be the top defense tackle in the draft, but he doesn't have a great combine and that raises questions about his motor and drive. A team like New Orleans would be a great place for Jernigan to land, allowing him to fit right in to a team ready to go on defense and putting him around players that will constantly challenge him to show up.


28. Carolina Panthers select: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State*

Steve Smith's future with the Panthers is in flux, and if they end up moving/losing him, who exactly will pro bowler Cam Newton be throwing to? To Newton's credit, he has been able to utilize Brandon LaFell more than any hurler before him, but it's time for Carolina to add some talent around their franchise quarterback. Benjamin is a big target, he uses his size well, and brings some speed and leaping ability to along with it. 

29. New England Patriots: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

Talk about doing a lot with a little. Tom Brady led his Patriots to another successful season, but if you would've said last year that it'd be possible without Welker, Gronkowski and Hernandez, most would've called you crazy. The Pats will definitely look to give him a better and more consistent option in the offseason. Matthews has been one of the most consistent WRs in college over the past few seasons and he had a great combine effort. He should be a hot commodity come draft day.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State*

San Francisco is rock solid all around the board. They have a great balance of veteran leadership and youth on their roster at a lot of positions. One of the few positions they don't have much depth at, is at cornerback. Roby improved his already rising stock, by running a great 40-time at the combine. An aggressive corner, that will be able to play many different roles is the sort of physical style player the Niners lack in their current secondary.


31. Denver Broncos: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Denver's once vaunted secondary is old and have been injury-riddled. They need to address the cornerback position at some point soon, it's been the only true weakness on their team this season.


32. Seattle Seahawks: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State*

What's left for the team that seemingly has it all figured out? They have the league's top defense, and have a young, dynamic group of players on offense. All that said, you always look to add new playmakers to make your team even more threatening. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin had great seasons, and with a returning Percy Harvin should only help their efforts. But cutting Sidney Rice opens up an opportunity for a player like Robinson to play some different roles for an already loaded Seattle team.

 

SECOND ROUND

33. Houston Texans: Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford

34. Washington Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson*

35. Cleveland Browns: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

36. Oakland Raiders: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU*

37. Atlanta Falcons: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri*

39. Jacksonville Jaguars: A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

40. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

41. Buffalo Bills: Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi*

42. Tennessee Titans: Tre Mason, RB, Auburn*

43. New York Giants: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State

44. St. Louis Rams: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida*

45. Detroit Lions: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama*

46. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida*

47. Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU 

48. Dallas Cowboys: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee

49. New York Jets: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington*

50. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State*

51. Chicago Bears: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

52. Arizona Cardinals: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

53. Green Bay Packers: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin

54. Philadelphia Eagles: Demarcus Lawrence, LB, Boise State* 

55. Cincinnati Bengals: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State*

56. San Francisco 49ers (f/KC): Daquan Jones, NT, Penn State

57. San Diego Chargers: Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State

58. New Orleans Saints: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State 

59. Indianapolis Colts: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado*

60. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama

61. New England Patriots: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State

62. Carolina Panthers: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

63. Denver Broncos: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

64. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA*

*Non-Senior, **Redshirt Sophomore