We have arrived. The time has come to publish FRG Scouting’s FINAL Mock Draft of the 2014 NFL Draft season. And while the previous four mocks have been fun, this is the one that I really care about.
This Mock Draft will be submitted to TheHuddleReport.com’s official contest for accuracy, so with that in mind, some housekeeping.
1. This Mock Draft is based on what I think will happen, or, better said, what I think the teams are actually going to do in the 2014 NFL Draft.
2. In addition to this Mock Draft being what I think teams will do, it also projects players into the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft that I might not have valued that highly. In fact, there will be players in my top-32 that don’t make the final Mock. Don’t confuse where I slot a guy with my grade for him. You can always refer to the positional rankings to get a better idea of what I think of the player, or download our Draft Guide to read their evaluation.
3. This is all about having fun, and while I’m making my best effort to be as accurate as possible, mock drafting is as inexact a science as you’ll find. Please leave a comment in the comments section to let your thoughts be heard.
So, without further delay, FRG SCOUTING’s MOCK DRAFT: FINAL EDITION:
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
-Clowney has been the pick (for whoever was sitting at the top of the 2014 NFL Draft) since August. Simply put, he’s the best defensive prospect to enter the NFL in the last 10 years. You don’t pass that up. Rumors are beginning to swirl that the Texans aren’t as hot as I am on Clowney, so a trade down scenario is very, very likely.
2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
-Robinson combines freakish athleticism with super-human strength. He needs work in pass protection and is not yet a finished product. But once he maxes out, there won’t be many tackles in the game better than him. The wildcard here is Johnny Manziel. It wouldn’t shock me if he ends up being the pick, but Robinson is the logical choice.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
-The Jaguars will likely hold off on a quarterback until round two, and Mack combines elite talent with production and consistency. He’s a safe pick and an impact defender that projects as a 10 year starter. Another option is Sammy Watkins, with the recent reports that the Jags aren’t counting on Justin Blackmon being available much this upcoming season. That said, receivers can be had in rounds 2 and beyond.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
-The Browns will consider Sammy Watkins here, too, but there’s no chance that Manziel will reach No. 26 and he has the most upside of all the quarterbacks in the class. While there’s an obvious bust risk, Manziel’s upside is worth it. The Browns appear to be very high on Mike Evans, and some suggest that he is their highest-rated receiver in the class. Could he be the shocking 4th overall pick? I can’t see it.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
-Sammy Watkins is a premier talent in this class and he will be a top-5 pick, even if it’s not to the Raiders. The Raiders need some youth and explosion on offense, and there’s no better player to add that to your team in this year than Watkins.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
-The Falcons need help at offensive tackle, and Matthews falling to No.6 will be a gift. Rumors are swirling that Atlanta wants to move up in round one, so don’t expect them to stay put. If they do, and Matthews is on the board, he’s a no-brainer.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
-Josh McCown knows first-hand what it’s like to throw to big, athletic receivers (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery). Tampa is receiver-needy right now, and pairing Evans with Vincent Jackson will give the Bucs a natural mismatch on the outside. The recent reports of Mike Glennon being on the trade block has led to the speculation that Tampa could be in play for a quarterback. If the Browns go with Evans at 4, then could this be where Johnny Football calls home?
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
-The Vikings need to select a quarterback in this Draft, and there are a few that could be considered here (including Bortles and Carr.) But at the end of the day, Bridgewater goes in his rightful place among the top 10 and the Vikings get a quality starter for the foreseeable future.
9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
-One of the most gifted athletes in the entire draft who is just starting to scratch the surface of his long-term potential as an all-around edge defender. He’s already a threat as a pass rush specialist, and assuming he continues to evolve his game, he has the tools to be a long-time Pro Bowler.
10. Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
-While the Lions might give strong consideration to Aaron Donald here, they will opt for the athletic pass-catching tight end. They already added Golden Tate to complement Calvin Johnson in the wide receiver group, and Ebron will provide a legitimate threat up the seam to take pressure off megatron and maximize Stafford’s upside.
11. Tennessee Titans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
-Blake Bortles was a name that was in play as the No.1 overall pick around and shortly after the NFL’s Scouting Combine. And while he was never quite worthy of that distinction, he will be first-half of the first round pick. The Titans are ready to bail on the Locker era. With Bortles on the board, it will be an easy choice.
12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
-The Giants tend to lean toward the “best player available” philosophy, and at this point in the Draft, that player is clearly Aaron Donald. The Giants need help along their defensive front, and Donald will make it two years in a row that New York has welcomed a premier talent at defensive tackle (’13, Jets, Sheldon Richardson.)
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
-The Rams addressed one need at No.2 with the selection of Greg Robinson, and they address another here with Clinton-Dix, arguably the best safety in the class. The Rams need to upgrade the position group to maximize the young, evolving talent they have at corner. With the selection of Clinton-Dix, they will have nabbed two starters in the ’14 first round.
14. Chicago Bears: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
-Emery and company didn’t expect Lewan to land in their laps, but if this scenario occurs, expect the Bears to act quickly and add the perfect right tackle to stick next to Kyle Long. Lewan is nasty, athletic and experienced and will provide a significant upgrade over Jordan Mills, who graded out as one of the worst starting tackles in the NFL in 2013. Most Bears fans expect Chicago to go defense, and it’s very, very likely that they do. But Lewan would be the best player available on the board and hard to pass on.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
-The Steelers will look to get the most out of the remaining years with Ben Roehtlisberger, and in order to do so, they’ll have to invest in some size at the receiver position. Antonio Brown is one of the best “small” receivers in the game, but Ben needs a target he can chuck it up to in a time of need. Much like Plaxico from days gone by, Benjamin will give Big Ben a big-bodied redzone target with the ability to make catches even when “covered.” Benjamin has been experiencing a downward-trending stock, so this selection could surprise. But his best football is ahead, and he’s a guy that would serve a big need in Pittsburgh.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
-The Cowboys can go in a bunch of different directions here, and I have a hunch that come Draft Day, they won’t be sitting still in the 16th position. But assuming they can’t trade up or back, they’ll address one of their bigger needs with solid value in Calvin Pryor. The Cowboys haven’t had a physical presence in the backend of their secondary since the days of Roy Williams, and they’ll get a real enforcer who plays with a true hitter’s mentality in Pryor.
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