If you ever want a good laugh, then go back and look at my 2013 NFL mock draft from last year. It's hilarious in how stupid I was in making my draft picks. That's probably my worst mock ever. Since I've convinced you to read this year's mock draft by pointing out how clueless I am, how about reading this year's 2014 NFL mock draft? So stick around and read it after I mock myself for last year's mock draft. I put Ryan Nassib at #8 in the first round. I had the #6 overall pick go at #20 (though I said I think logically and Rob Chudzinski thinks "Chud-like" so maybe that should have been my tip-off to not use logic). I put Jesse Williams in the first round. I put D.J. Hayden at #31 and Justin Hunter at #32.
Interestingly, (or maybe not interestingly) I got more picks AFTER the Top-15 correct then I did in the Top-15. It takes a special sort of semi-informed stupidity to do that. I got one pick right in the Top-15 and three picks right in spots #16-#32. So maybe there is hope for me. I always promise I'm going to predict trades next year, but it's hard enough to predict which players will go in which spot, much less guess which of the NFL teams will trade up. I'm not even sure I can get one pick right in this year's draft. Trades are going to happen and it's nearly impossible to predict them. As Peter King would say, THIS IS THE MOST UNPREDICTABLE NFL DRAFT SINCE LAST YEAR'S DRAFT!
So hopefully I will do better than last year, and remember, every draft pick is brilliant until the time comes to prove that brilliance on the field. I have to say that the draft being pushed back two weeks was a bad idea. I understand the NFL will still get great ratings and so they will further push the draft back or keep it where it is in early May, but it's just too much draft talk. I want the draft to occur in late April again, but we all know the NFL will probably push it back again next year.
Since you aren't probably tired of mock drafts at this point...
1. Houston Texans- Jadeveon Clowney, DE
I know there are rumors Khalil Mack could be taken in this spot. I think it's going to be and should be Clowney. At worst Clowney is going to be a really good defensive lineman and at his best he will be an All-Pro six or seven times. I just don't think he has a really low floor and his ceiling is high. Combining him with J.J. Watt seems like a really, really good idea. Plus, the Texans are on the same division as Andrew Luck and it's always a good idea to have two great pass rushers to throw at a really good quarterback. Clowney took plays off in college. So did Julius Peppers and so do most college football players. The Texans shouldn't overthink this one.
2. St. Louis Rams- Greg Robinson, T
I don't think the Rams keep this pick. They are open for business, as Peter King has told us on a weekly basis. I'm notoriously a big fan of offensive linemen in the draft. I think the best way to build a winning team is to build up the offensive/defensive lines. Protect your quarterback and rush the opposing quarterback. Robinson seems to be the best linemen in this draft and whoever is the quarterback for the Rams next year, plus he's a monster in the running game. If the Rams keep this pick, then Robinson should be the pick. If Bradford is the Rams quarterback then keeping him healthy is going to be very important.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Johnny Manziel, QB
I know, I know...there is no buzz for this pick. The Jaguars GM has said Manziel was the most pro-ready of all the quarterbacks in this draft and this really is a need for the Jaguars. Supposedly the Browns aren't taking Manziel, so maybe the Rams/Jaguars are starting those rumors in order to get trade offers at the #2/#3 spot, but I think the Jaguars need for a quarterback leads them to Manziel. Gus Bradley is a defensive guy, but his experience in Seattle would not stop him from taking a shorter quarterback if that's the guy he likes. I'm not a huge Manziel fan, but he would sell tickets and an argument can easily be made that he's the best quarterback in this draft (I think it's Teddy Bridgewater, but what do I know?). I think the Jaguars go quarterback because they understand they will have to possibly trade up back into the first round to get the quarterback they want, so why not take the one they consider most pro-ready and creates excitement?
4. Cleveland Browns- Sammy Watkins, WR
Well, the last time the Browns were at #4 with two first round picks they took a skill position player and tried to get a quarterback later in the first round. That didn't work out so well. So fuck it, maybe they should try it again. What could it hurt? I don't think Watkins will end up being the best wide receiver in this draft, but having him and Gordon across from each other is a good way to put a scare into opposing teams. Throw in Jordan Cameron and whoever the quarterback is next year for the Browns has the weapons to work with. The Browns obviously have other positions of need and Mike Evans could be in play here too, but I think they take the guy considered the best receiver in the draft to pair up with Josh Gordon. Quarterback is a need, but I'm not convinced any of the quarterbacks (outside of Bridgewater, who I love) is a better option at this spot. Don't reach.
5. Oakland Raiders- Mike Evans, WR
I feel this way about Mike Evans for the same reason I mocked Darrius Heyward-Bey to the Raiders a few years ago. It just feels like a Raiders pick. Evans is younger, raw, talented, and has all the physical characteristics a team wants in a wide receiver. I'm tempted to put Manziel here because that would cause the Internet to explode with Raiders fans cheering for the polarizing Manziel on a weekly basis, but I'm not that fortunate for that to occur. Of course if the Browns are really down on Manziel and the Jags take Khalil Mack or Blake Bortles, Manziel could be a Raider. The Raiders receivers weren't terrible last year, but there wasn't a #1 receiver on the roster, so Evans could end up being that guy. Maybe Matt Schaub can call back some magic from his and Andre Johnson's earlier playing days together with Evans. At worst, Evans will stay in great shape chasing after cornerbacks who have intercepted a pass from Schaub, trying to help prevent Schaub from throwing another pick-six.
6. Atlanta Falcons- Jake Matthews, T
I can see the Falcons going offensive line here with visions still fresh of the beating Ryan took during games against NFC South opponents last year. Matthews would be a great choice in this spot and it never hurts to have more protection for Matt Ryan. Mack could also be the choice, but I think the need to protect Ryan slightly outweighs the need for another playmaker on defense. Matthews is a ten-year starter at tackle. Not a bad choice.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Khalil Mack, LB
This annoys me. I don't want the Buccaneers to get Mack. I don't want Chris
Berman to potentially say "Return of the Mack" and I don't want the Buccaneers to get Mack. At that point, they will have an absolutely stellar group of linebackers with Foster, David and Mack. Considering the Buccaneers head coach is Lovie Smith who has had success in the past with an elite linebacking unit, I can easily see the Buccaneers making this pick over a quarterback. I don't think the Bucs would draft a quarterback after Lovie announced Josh McCown as the starter and Mike Glennon is still on the roster (for now).
8. Minnesota Vikings- Aaron Donald, DT
I must admit, this is a purely gut feeling I have. I don't think Rick Spielman is going to feel good about taking any quarterbacks at this point in the draft and he will want to rebuild the "Williams Wall" with Donald and Floyd. I think too many quarterbacks are going to go in the first round than probably deserve to go in the first round, but I also think there will be a good QB available in the second round for the Vikings to take as well. The best way to help a shaky QB situation is to give that QB a great defense and the Vikings are in a position to do that. I wouldn't be so dramatic as to say Spielman is on the hot seat, but I don't think he'll take a quarterback in this spot unless he's certain he has the right guy. Plus, the Vikings just hired a defensive coach.
9. Buffalo Bills- Odell Beckham, WR
I'm probably making a mistake here, but there is a lot of chatter among the Bills fans on Twitter that the team loves Beckham. Yes, I'm sort of basing this pick on what I'm hearing from sources who don't possibly know jackshit. Either way, the pick makes sense. E.J. Manuel needs another receiver and if the Bills don't go with Lewan there are worse picks to make than a receiver for Manuel. Beckham also has the dreaded "late riser" label, which ultimately means he will probably go in the 3rd round. Also, if Chris Berman uses any form of "Bend it Like Beckham" when this pick is made I'm going to poison my coffee with anti-freeze tomorrow. I can't live in a world like that.
10. Detroit Lions- Justin Gilbert, CB
I feel like I have mocked a corner to the Lions for all of eternity. Maybe I should realize either (a) it's not a need or (b) they aren't drafting a corner every year in the first round. Either way, with new coach Jim Caldwell (insert passive-aggressive comment about his coaching record here) I don't know what to expect with this pick. I will say I think drafting a wide receiver is a mistake. It's Matt Millen-esque when there are plenty of other choices that would be better in this spot. The corners right now are Chris Houston and Rashean Mathis. You can't tell me a ball-hawk like Gilbert shouldn't be taken here. In fact, take an offensive tackle here or take a safety like Pryor, Ward, or Clinton-Dix. Don't take another receiver. It would be fun to watch, but it's also needless. It shouldn't come as a shock that Caldwell wants a strong offense since he's an offensive coach. His teams at Wake Forest were notorious for putting up points but not playing any defense. So he'll probably go there again.
11. Tennessee Titans- Kyle Fuller, CB
I feel like the Titans lose a corner in free agency every single year. I know Whisenhunt is an offensive coach and the Titans may be a dark horse candidate to take a QB here, but they need assistance in the secondary and I actually like Fuller more than I like Gilbert. I can't help but wonder if Whisenhunt may end up going with a tight end in this spot, though it seems REALLY early for Ebron. Of course Anthony Barr would probably also fit, but when looking at the Titans roster and seeing their needs, I think a cornerback is the pick.
12. New York Giants- Taylor Lewan, T
This makes sense, right? Lewan has off-the-field troubles and the Giants probably could use another pass-rusher to replace Justin Tuck (though they do have Moore and signed Robert Ayers), but I think Lewan will still be the pick. Tight end is a need here as well, but after a season where Eli Manning struggled and threw quite a few interceptions there is nothing wrong with giving him some more protection. The Giants did draft a tackle last year too, so maybe I'm way off, but I think the best way to help Eli bounce back this year is to shore up his offensive line.
13. St. Louis Rams- Bradley Roby, CB
A troubled but talented cornerback (Adam Jones, Janoris Jenkins) could be drafted by Jeff Fisher? No way. Jeff Fisher thinks he could take any player and provide him the environment to succeed and even though Roby getting lit up by Abbrederis is constantly brought up, the talent certainly seems to be here. The Rams would be very talented at the corner position if Roby is the pick, though I'm sure it's tempting to maybe pick a safety or offensive linemen in this spot. Either way it ends up, we know Peter King will tell us it was a great pick and Jeff "8-8" Fisher will be on track for another season of his friends in the media telling us how the Rams are a team on the rise.
14. Chicago Bears- Ra'Shede Hageman, DT
The Bears current defensive tackles are Tracy Robertson and Jay Ratliff. I got the chance to see Hageman shut down quite a few really good running teams in college (obviously not by himself) and I think he will fit what the Bears seem to want out of a defensive tackle, which is to take up space and get penetration (fine, every team wants that). This seems like a really good pick. Hageman helps the Bears get a little younger on defense and will help create pressure from the middle in a division with Stafford and Rodgers.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers- Zack Martin, G/T
Martin can supposedly play nearly every position on the offensive line. This will really come in handy for a team who has had problems injuries at interior line positions and as well as difficulty with offensive tackles getting stabbed on occasion. Roethlisberger seems to enjoy running for his life, but it wouldn't hurt the Steelers to draft an offensive lineman who can play multiple positions in case they need that flexibility as the season goes on and injuries inevitably occur. The Steelers do seem to catch a falling star every year in the draft, so if they grab a guy whose fallen then I could see Blake Bor---I'm just kidding---Anthony Barr in this spot.
16. Dallas Cowboys- Eric Ebron, TE
This pick is probably wrong. It just seems to fit for me though. The Cowboys aren't taking a quarterback, but they do need some help on defense, so that very well could be the direction they go in. Still, I have this feeling...Tony Romo was throwing to Cole Beasley for a while last year due to injuries in the receiving group and Witten is not getting any younger. Ebron has his negatives, but he also can be lined up as a receiver like other elite tight ends in the NFL. So he's not necessarily going to struggle for playing time behind Witten if he can be split-wide. This pick probably won't happen, but knowing Jerry Jones this seems like a big upside pick that he would make to avoid Cole Beasley being on the field too much.
17. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Pryor, S
The Ravens other safety with Matt Elam is Anthony Levine. That is all. I know it's tempting to mock a tight end or another spot here, but the Ravens would really have a set of good safeties with Pryor and Elam. This is a typical Ravens pick. They get a guy who fits a need and also will contribute early in his career. Also, on a personal note I saw Steve Smith on the Ravens depth chart and did a double take. Doesn't seem right quite yet. My dark horse in this spot is Blake Bor---I'm kidding again---C.J. Mosley in case the Ravens want to go the whole "leadership and college production" route at the linebacker spot.
18. New York Jets- Darqueze Dennard, CB
The Jets could really use some help on offense to give Geno Smith or Mike Vick a fighting chance, but Rex Ryan does like his defensive players and he really likes his cornerbacks. It doesn't hurt the Jets could use another corner. I don't think it's a bad move necessarily because defense has been Ryan's calling card and he's certainly won playoff games with a mediocre quarterback and a great defense. It would be funny for comedy's sake if the Jets took a quarterback here. Those idiot Jets fans at the draft would go ballistic.
19. Miami Dolphins- Morgan Moses, T
I've gone back and forth on this pick. Tannehill needs to be protected but are the Dolphins really going to reach for a tackle at this point in the draft? I feel like any tackle drafted here is a reach, but the Dolphins really, really, really need offensive line help. It's either take an OL here and reach or wait and possibly try to trade up for a lineman. I think the Dolphins just take the lineman they need here. I did have Anthony Barr mocked at this spot, for no other reason than if the Dolphins are going to be passing over an offensive lineman I can see them taking the most talented defensive player available. I re-thought this because they really, really need to protect Tannehill.
20. Arizona Cardinals- Blake Bortles, QB
He's going in the first round. I do not like Bortles at all, but he looks like a QB and played well in the BCS bowl game. That's enough to get him a first round slot. The Cardinals have been looking for a quarterback since Kurt Warner retired and they now have Carson Palmer. What could be better than having Palmer and knowing they already have Palmer's replacement on the roster? They don't have to throw Bortles in immediately and can him bring him along slower as will probably be required. It's a good situation for Bortles and the Cardinals. They have other needs, but the chance to get a franchise quarterback can not be overlooked in this spot.
21. Green Bay Packers- Ha Ha Clinton Dix, S
The Packers do have Sean Richardson so Clinton Dix is a luxury (laughs to himself). The Packers need to get better at the safety position and they most likely want to get faster since they have been shown up by Colin Kaepernick quite a few times. Clinton Dix (or is it just Dix?) helps to make the Packers faster on defense and also serves as the ball-hawk they need in the secondary. I think this pick makes sense, which means it won't happen.
22. Philadelphia Eagles- Ryan Shazier, OLB
The Eagles need to improve on defense and Shazier is another dreaded "late riser" who looks like he'll be a really good NFL player. Of course looks can be deceiving. The Eagles have to improve their defense so I think the need for a receiver like Cooks can be pushed back another round. I am always a little nervous about guys who rise late in the draft like Shazier has done, but I think he makes more sense for the Eagles needs than a receiver would at this point in the draft.
23. Kansas City Chiefs- Brandin Cooks, WR
The playoff game against the Colts aside, let's not get confused. The Chiefs needed another receiver for the majority of last season. I don't believe the Chiefs will draft a QB in this spot because they can't sign Alex Smith to an extension, though that seems like something that would happen to Alex Smith. He can't seem to be good enough to where he isn't getting replaced. There's always something that causes him to be replaced, whether it be an injury or his wanting to be paid like he believes he deserves to be paid. Cooks would give the Chiefs a slot receiver that Dexter McCluster never turned into and helps them get more explosive on offense. I think drafting a guard like Sua' Filo or Marcus Martin is probably an outside possibility here too.
24. Cincinnati Bengals- Kony Ealy, DE
The Bengals lost Michael Johnson in free agency and Ealy seems to be a good replacement for him. I guess cornerback is a possibility here, though I'm not sure there is a corner worth taking outside of Jason Verrett, who is really good, but I'm not sure that's the Bengals biggest need. They could use another pass rusher and Ealy is the defensive lineman from Missouri who hasn't gotten as much press of late, but is more talented than Michael Sam. There are other needs but I think the Bengals go with the best available pass rusher.
25. San Diego Chargers- Kelvin Benjamin, WR
It seems Louis Nix is the popular choice in this spot. It makes sense because he's a nose tackle and the Chargers could use a fatty up front to occupy blockers. Benjamin seems almost like a luxury pick considering the Chargers don't have a terrible receiving group, but for some reason I think the Chargers are going to give Rivers another offensive guy in this draft. Benjamin would be a big red zone target and has the much-coveted "upside," so I think the Chargers needs at nose tackle could wait until another round in favor of making sure Rivers has another blue chip receiver to complement Keenan Allen. It's another gut feeling I have, so I completely expect the Chargers to draft Teddy Bridgewater or trade the pick and make me look stupid.
26. Cleveland Browns (The "Trent Richardson was totally worth it to the Colts" pick)- C.J. Mosley, LB
I had Bridgewater here, but I'm a fool who actually believes the Browns aren't interested in him. The Browns took care of the opposite receiver spot from Josh Gordon with the last pick and I think they will replace Craig Robertson with Mosley. Mike Pettine is a defensive coach so I don't doubt the Browns are going to get a defensive player with one of these picks, should they keep both first round draft picks. This is the area where trades often happen so I fully expect picks #26-#32 to have at least one (possibly two) trade occur within those picks. So I would not be surprised to see any of those picks traded. If the Browns keep this then I see them going with Mosley who I am not sure will fall even this far in the draft. I would feel pretty good about this pick if I were a Browns fan.
27. New Orleans Saints- Marcus Martin, C/G
The Saints are pretty set at guard, but they could use a center. I'm not sure Tim Lelito is the answer at the center position. Martin can play both guard and center and it's very important to keep internal pressure from being in Drew Brees' face. His height isn't an issue necessarily, but the best way to beat a quarterback is to get pressure in his face and that goes double for a quarterback who is six-feet tall. It's not a sexy pick or the pass rusher/wide receiver that I know will make waves and lead the talking heads to say, "Drew Brees/Rob Ryan got another weapon" and then wax hyperbolic for a few minutes. Martin projects to be a good offensive lineman and the Saints have a need at the center position. If they don't trade back, then I think Martin is the guy.
28. Carolina Panthers- Marqise Lee, WR (Xavier Su'a Filo, G)
It's my favorite team, I can cheat if I want to. In this mock draft, I have the Panthers taking Marqise Lee, but I put Su'a Filo's name in there too. The Panthers GM is dedicated to taking the best player available. If this means best player available on the team's draft board at a position of need, then that's Marqise Lee, if that means the best player on the team's draft board then I think that will be Su'a Filo. The consensus seems to be the Panthers don't need help at the guard position, but I think that could change if the best guard in the draft is still out there. I have beaten the drum for a while that wide receiver is much, much smaller need than offensive line. There is a real chance Cam Newton will be murdered by a pass rusher next year. It's problem #1 for the team, but all the great tackles are gone, so I have no idea if the team will go with a "blue goose" (it's a weird team the GM uses) wide receiver or a "blue goose" offensive lineman at a position of lesser need. I say it's a receiver if Lee fails this far, though I hate myself for mocking a wide receiver in this spot. It's just how my mock fell. What does "best player available" really mean anyway?
29. New England Patriots- Jace Amaro, TE
This pick gives me an ulcer. It feels like a cop-out. I believe the Patriots will be one of those teams heavy in the trade market to move back, but Tom Brady needs receivers. Gronkowski is injury-prone, Aaron Hernandez isn't leaving jail anytime soon and there were too many games last year where the Brady didn't have reliable targets. The Patriots have run double tight end sets before with Hernandez and Gronkowski, so Amaro would work fine if Gronk stays healthy. He will give Brady a consistent weapon in the middle of the field or that can split wide to create room for receivers over the middle. The Patriots could take Dominique Easley here. Easley has an injury history but has Top-15 potential, while the Patriots could him a year to recover and stay healthy if necessary. I just think they need to work on giving Brady more offensive guys so he isn't throwing to unreliable receivers and Austin Collie doesn't play a big role at the end of games.
30. San Francisco 49ers- Jason Verrett, CB
If they keep this pick I think this is the pick. San Francisco doesn't have a ton of needs, but one of their big needs is a corner who can cover the slot. They also could use another receiver and I could see Dominique Easley being taken here as well, but I think the value for Verrett and what he will provide the 49ers is why he'll be the pick. If Verrett were taller then I think he would be considered to be the top corner in the draft, but alas, he is not tall enough. I know it's tempting to mock a taller corner here, but Verrett fits what the 49ers currently need (and he isn't afraid to tackle) and from what I've seen from him at TCU he plays taller than 5'9".
31. Denver Broncos- Joel Bitonio, OL
I know. Boring. Wouldn't the Broncos like to go defense since they struggled defensively in the Super Bowl? Well, I know a little bit about John Fox and I know he likes his offensive linemen as much as he likes his defensive players. Bitonio can play multiple offensive line positions and while it seems drafting him goes against the "win-now" mentality of the Broncos, I think it fits in perfectly with that mentality. As we saw in the Super Bowl, Manning can't do it all if he doesn't have protection, so the Broncos draft a versatile, athletic offensive lineman who can shore up the Broncos protection and fill in at various spots on the line in case of injuries.
32. Seattle Seahawks- Gabe Jackson, G
If the Seahawks keep this pick (repeat after me...), then I think guard is a glaring need for them. They already didn't pick up James Carpenter's fifth year option. This may mean nothing, but the Seahawks a run-based team and I can completely see Jackson opening up holes for Marshawn Lynch. Jackson isn't the highest-rated player on the board at this point, but the Seahawks have a history of drafting guys who fit their needs and not worrying too much about what others may think. Jackson is an absolute mauler when he wants to be and I think he fits the Seahawks needs well. Of course this pick makes too much sense so I don't think it will happen.
Feel free to tell me how smart or dumb I am in the comments. I realize there will be 10 quarterbacks drafted in the first round because teams are going to panic and try to get their "franchise guy" by reaching for a quarterback, but I'm not confident enough to pick out where these quarterbacks will end up. I hate trades. Trades mess up a mock draft.