2014 NFL mock draft: Version 7.0

2014 NFL mock draft: Version 7.0
January 17, 2014, 11:45 am
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Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates defeating the Duke Blue Devils during the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome.

(USA Today Sports Images)

1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina*

Texans owner Bob McNair stated that Clowney is a "once in every 10 years" sort of defensive prospect. He's a game-changer, that can't be stopped in many one-on-one situations. As Houston has the opportunity to look further into each athlete prior to the draft, I think they'll see too much potential in Clowney to take anyone else. Regardless of whoever the defensive coordinator is, they'll be able to find a hundred uses for a player like him.

Moving forward with a new coaching regime, you need to draft a sure-fire hit. Bringing a force like Clowney on board would help re-establish the Texans as a power at getting at opposing QBs. Possessing a duo of J.J. Watt and Clowney might just be too tempting to pass up.

2. St. Louis Rams (f/ WSH): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

I've had St. Louis taking Matthews for two months now. The Rams added Jake Long in the offseason, and he performed pretty well, but the other side of the offensive line is still a liability. Jeff Fisher had his team playing good football toward the end of the season. If they could add another top lineman to anchor the right side and get Sam Bradford back, healthy with a final season to prove himself... STL could be in prime position to challenge for the postseason. 

They could also look at adding a quarterback or Sammy Watkins, but Jake Matthews may be the safest pick in the draft. It wouldn't be crazy to see the Texans drafting him with the first overall pick.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville*

Jacksonville has been looking for a new franchise quarterback since Mark Brunell. Bridgewater has all the tools you look for in a QB. Some questions remain as he's only had to subpar competition to play but the key is that he's found ways to win. He's the highest touted quarterback in this class, and could look to start early in his career. If the Jags draft him, he would instantly become the new face of the team.

4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M**

Cleveland has two first-round picks in this year's draft. They will likely take a quarterback with one of them. Johnny Manziel's draft stock is impossible to project at this point. On talent, he's a top-10 pick, I believe that he may have the highest potential ceiling of all the quarterbacks in this class but there's a lot that goes along with drafting Manziel. He comes with a lot of baggage that some franchises may shy away from, call it "Tebow-syndrome."

The rumor out there is that the Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is a big Johnny Football fan. Does that mean he'd be willing to take him with the fourth overall pick? It's definitely become a possibility, but it'll be interesting to find out more as we get closer to the draft.

5. Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn** 

Despite Auburn's huge success this season, I'm not sure many expected Greg Robinson to actually declare for the draft. Robinson's stock has been soaring this season alongside Auburn's return to prominence. His addition to the draft only deepens what is one of the best years for offensive lineman in recent memory.

I've been bouncing around with the Raiders pick for weeks. In my defense, the Raiders have been one of the hardest teams to project in recent years. With a lot of needs on both sides of the football, they could go a lot of different ways. With not a lot of depth for the top-tier quarterbacks, they might elect to let somebody fall to them in the second round to get their signal-caller of the future. 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA

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. Anthony Barr is far and away the best linebacker in this draft class, and would instantly help one of the NFL's worst ranked defenses.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson*

The verdict is still out on whether Mike Glennon is the QB of the future for the Bucs but if they want to find out for sure, giving him weapons will be vital. Tampa could also look into drafting one of the offensive tackles, but Watkins possesses elite ability. Alongside Vincent Jackson, they could be a very effective duo.

8. Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

It's no secret that the Vikings defense has fallen off in recent seasons. They're in need more leadership at the linebacker spot. 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.

9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

A strong year for offensive tackles, 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: Marqise Lee, WR, USC*

Calvin Johnson is the most dynamic offensive threat in football today. Beyond him however, the Lions didn't have another receiver on the roster compile 500 receiving yards. Lee is a speedster with good hands, adding a few pounds could make him a potentially elite option. Adding his agility with a play-maker like Calvin, could make Megatron even better. And if Johnson were to ever get injured, insure them another capable player so it wouldn't be a season-ender for the entire team.

11. Tennessee Titans: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame*

A real impact player inside, Nix is a space-eater with top level quickness for a big guy. The Titans could use a lot of different positions to try and infuse new energy into their team. However, the staple for them has always been defense, and rushing the passer. Bringing someone like Nix to the table could really help get their pass rush back to what it used to be, and as we all know, a strong pass rush can hide a lot of other weaknesses.

12. New York Giants: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama*

Kouandjio may have the most physical gifts of the offensive linemen in this class. The Giants need to buy Eli Manning more time to work, and while infusing youth into the defense would be a nice luxury... enhancing the offensive line is a necessity after this season.

13. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.

The Rams have had one of the more underrated defenses in the NFL this season. They have a ton of talent up front, but their secondary still has some glaring holes that opposing teams have been able to expose. Gilbert could potentially be the top corner in this class and has the ability to develop into a true shut-down corner.

14. Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida St.*

On talent alone, Jernigan should be a top ten pick. Unfortunately, defensive tackles have had a trend of falling later in drafts, as it's not the sexiest pick to make. Chicago needs to add more interior defenders, and Jernigan is a big guy that should plug up holes early in his career.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.

Secondary is a real need for the Steelers. Keeping mostly the same unit together for a lot of years and without the infusion of youth and speed, they've become slow and vulnerable. Dennard is a complete corner, he can play in any scheme, and should be able to start quickly into his NFL career.

16. Dallas Cowboys: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Has their been an area on this Cowboys team as disappointing as their secondary? Dallas has a lot invested in Morris Claiborne, and there's still hope he could tap into his potential moving forward. However, the safety position has been an Achilles' heel for the squad all season. Clinton-Dix is the best safety in this draft. He's a ballhawk, and a leader amongst defensive backs.

17. Baltimore Ravens: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo

Rebuilding isn't something the Ravens have had to do in a long time, but they've lost a lot of the defense over the past few seasons. Thankfully, the addition of Dumervil has worked thus far for the unit, but if they hope to contend moving forward, bringing youth to the table will be key. Khalil Mack might be the most complete defender in this draft. He can cover in space, tackle at the line, and possesses good athleticism. 

18. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M**

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. Evans is big, versatile, and would be a good possession receiving option. 

19. Miami Dolphins: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa*

The Dolphins need better bookends on their offensive line, and should be searching for a future anchor, especially after losing Jake Long last offseason. Scherff is big, consistent and has everything you look for in a franchise offensive tackle.

20. Arizona Cardinals: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida*

Carson Palmer has been bouncing from team to team the past few seasons, but seems to have finally found a good spot in Arizona. Despite their success, they did miss the playoffs, and Palmer is already 34 years old. The Cardinals might not be able to pass up a chance to grab a signal-caller for the future if one falls to them in the 20s. Bortles has all the tools you look for in a franchise quarterback. His stock has been on the rise all season, and recently he's been targeted by a lot of draft experts as a fringe first rounder. 

21. Green Bay Packers: Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson*

Beasley has been a defensive end for Clemson, in the NFL his best position would likely be a pass-rushing OLB in a 3-4 defense. He has an special ability to infiltrate opposing offensive lines at will.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame*

Chip Kelly has implemented a 3-4 defense for the Eagles this season, but in doing so, also pieced a lot of players in positions they've never played before. While the experiment has mostly worked, beginning to add guys that really fit the system will be a big part of this offseason. Tuitt has drawn comparisons to a young Richard Seymour. Praise like that is hard to overlook, and another impact defender up front could set their defense up to take the next step towards elite.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina*

Ebron is a freak athlete and has been on the rise all season. His skill-set would create a lot more versatility in the Chiefs pass attack. He'd be the best tight end they've had since Tony Gonzalez. 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor 

The Bengals defense has been stellar, but opposing teams have found the holes on their offense. Disrupting Andy Dalton proving an effective strategy. If Cincinnati hopes to continue their offensive success, protecting Dalton by adding quality pass-blocker on the inside should be a big consideration. Richardson is the best interior lineman in this class and would fit their offense perfectly.

25. San Diego Chargers: Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford

San Diego has lost a lot of playmakers in their defense the past few seasons. A lot of scouts are in love with Trent Murphy. A very intelligent player, with good intangibles that just seems to be involved in every defensive play at Stanford. 

26. Cleveland Browns (f/ IND): Tre Mason, RB, Auburn*

Cleveland pulled off one of the more clever trades in recent memory by shipping off Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first round pick. While Richardson has been mostly a bust, his departure still leaves a hole for the Browns at running back. Mason declaring for the draft makes him the top running back on my draft board. He's an every down back that has so many dynamic abilities, he could be everything the Browns thought they were getting in Richardson.

27. New Orleans Saints: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

The Saints defense had a remarkable turn around this season. They may still elect to find more play-makers on that side of the football, but there's no doubt their offensive line has been banged up. Terron Armstead stepped up in the postseason, but they may lose right tackle Zach Strief in the offseason. Moses is one of the biggest linemen in the draft and could fill in on the right side from the get go.

28. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

Steve Smith gets older every season, and the Panthers have still to find an heir apparent at receiver. LaFell has improved and is a solid number two, but Jordan Matthews has been one of the most consistent WR's in college over the past few seasons. He should be a hot commodity come draft day.

29. New England Patriots: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida St.*

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 true consistent option in the offseason. 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida*

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. Roberson has a good combination of size and speed, he has all the physical tools you look for in a starting corner in the NFL.

31. Denver Broncos: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida*

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: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech*

The Seahawks don't have too many needs. On defense, they're loaded all around, and have a ton of versatility. On offense, one area that they could look to improve on is consistency... particularly from their receiving options. Amaro has really been rocketing up the charts in the last few weeks. When all is said and done, there's an outside shot he's the first tight end drafted in May.

33. Houston Texans: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

With the Texans taking Clowney first overall, the Texans will need to look elsewhere to find their quarterback for the future. Mettenberger tearing his ACL should prevent him from rocketing up the charts. He has elite arm strength, depending on how his interviews with teams go and if he can get healthy in time for pro days... he could still find himself as one of the top QB's drafted. After everything we've seen from a lot of the college quarterbacks this season, I think Mettenberger's skill-set may end up translating best to the NFL.

34. Washington Redskins: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville*

Washington's first pick of the draft, and they don't have the luxury to draft anything other than need. 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.

35. Cleveland Browns: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Addressing the offense with their first two picks in the first round, Cleveland can look to build up the defensive line in the second. Hageman is a monster in the middle, and could play multiple roles for the Browns up front.

36. Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St.

Derek, the younger brother of David, has been sky-rocketing up the charts with elite play in his senior season. He's versatile, works hard, possesses an accurate arm, and he can make all the throws.

37. Atlanta Falcons: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee*

"Tiny" Richardson, at times, looks like one of the most dominant players in NCAA. If he can improve his motor, and keep his focus level high, he could be dominant in the NFL too.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon St.*

Lovie Smith will use one of his first two picks on improving the defense. The Bucs had one of the worst pass attacks in the NFL last season. Bringing in new blood at defensive end will be one of Tampa Bay's top priorities.

39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio St.*

The Jaguars should find themselves really tempted to take Anthony Barr in the first round, but if they end up with Ryan Shazier, it could definitely be worse. A tackling machine, Shazier would help stabilize a defense in desperate need of new blood.

40. Minnesota Vikings:  A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

During his time at 'Bama, McCarron has elevated himself into one of the top leaders on the field. His desire to push himself and those around him is infectious and would benefit a lockerroom in need of some direction. Whoever the Vikings next coach is, finding a quarterback that can help re-envigorate the rest of the team will be important.

*Non-Senior, **Redshirt Sophomore