We have now reached Version 2.0 of the 2014 NFL mock Draft season. If you missed it, here is my first mock draft.
In my first mock I tried to go with players who fit the scheme best. This one will be a blend of scheme, need and some of the rumors floating around the league. Mock drafts can't take into account all of the off-the-field aspects of a player and injury history that is not public. Some teams are going to value players differently in their scheme. A player could be projected to a team in countless mock drafts and not actually be on a team's board. There is no right or wrong mock draft, just different vantage points.
No, Johnny Manziel is not in this mock. There is no denying his play-making ability but the concern stems from his fundamentals. Manziel needs a system and coaching staff that will be patient fixing bad habits he's formed over the years. There is no disputing his abilities outside of the pocket either. Manziel is a very competitive player but a GM will potentially be risking their job on him. The owner and fans may not have the patience to let him grow.
Let's get started.
1. Texans: QB- Blake Bortles, UCF
Many have Jadeveon Clowney, a once-in-a-lifetime prospect, going No. 1 to the Texans. Personally, I don't feel Clowney fits Romeo Crennel's scheme. Yes, Clowney has all the athletic ability but I think the Texans go in another direction. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who struggles to read a defense, and Case Keenum are the quarterbacks on the roster. If the Texans have any off-the-field doubts, they need to go in a different direction than Clowney.
2. Rams: OT- Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Matthews provides the Rams a more polished prospect than Greg Robinson and the versatility to play multiple positions on the line. If Jake Long has issues in his recovery, Matthews can step in at left tackle. If not, he is capable of playing at right tackle like he did at Texas A&M when 2013 No. 2 pick Luke Joeckel was there. Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and quarterback Sam Bradford would be helped tremendously with this addition to the line. They need to protect their quarterback from the likes of Seattle and San Francisco.
3. Jaguars: DE- Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Clowney fits the scheme that Gus Bradley runs in Jacksonville. I'll be curious to see if a team trades up to No. 1 or 2 for Clowney but until then, I him slotted to the Jaguars. Clowney has spent more time with his hand in the dirt compared to Khalil Mack. The biggest concern I have with Clowney is his mental toughness. If he doesn't win a battle, does he keep pushing himself to get better? He is going to go against some talented tackles in the league. How he responds when faced with the challenges of the NFL will decide his career but there is no questioning his athletic capability.
4. Browns: WR- Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Many are convinced that Sammy Watkins will go No. 4. Is it possible? Yes. But I'm big on match-ups. Evans gives you the mismatch on jump balls that Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron cannot provide at the moment. The Browns won't find a player of Evans' caliber with their 26th pick. You may be able to find something similar to Watkins later in the first round from a speed perspective. Evans gives you a threat in the red zone and knows how to track a ball, come back for it and out-leap the defenders.
5. Raiders: WR- Sammy Watkins, Clemson
The Raiders have rebuilt their offensive line for the most part. They have made additions to their pass rush on the defensive line. Now that they've brought Matt Schaub and Rashad Jennings on board, it's time to select a speed receiver to complement both of them. Watkins would provide the Raiders with that speed. I also see the Raiders being another prime trading spot.
6. Falcons: DE/LB- Khalil Mack, Buffalo
The Falcons claim they aren't going to a 3-4 defense, yet a lot of investments this offseason were players that fit the 3-4 scheme, which Mike Nolan has experience running. Mack provides the Falcons a pass rusher off the edge that can make plays. He gives them a much-needed jolt in his ability to attack the tackle with speed or power. He can also turn an interception or a forced fumble into six points. Once the Falcons trade rumors for Clowney became public, I began to sense a smoke screen for who they really value.
7. Buccaneers: WR- Odell Beckham, LSU
Some will feel this is high for Beckham. From those I've asked around the league, he could be special player. Again I go back to mismatches. They have the size with Vincent Jackson. Go get the speed to help your offensive become multi-dimensional. Josh McCown could have Jackson and Beckham at the receiver spots with Doug Martin coming out of the backfield. It gives you multiple ways to attack in the NFC South.
8. Vikings: OT- Greg Robinson, Auburn
Robinson drops a bit unless the Rams take him at No. 2 or a team trades up. The Vikings already have a first rounder in Matt Kalil but they could use Robinson's athletic ability for Adrian Peterson.
Norv Turner has an offense that is going to take time to digest. The quarterback is going to need time in the pocket. I'm interested in Turner's opinion on which quarterback in the draft fits his system. I could also see Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr at this spot.
9. Bills: TE- Eric Ebron, North Carolina
The Bills have their wide receivers in place. They invested a great deal of their 2013 draft to allow the position to grow with the quarterback. Ebron gives Doug Marrone his own version of Jimmy Graham. He could help this team immensely over the middle and down the seam, which would make an offense with a ton of speed even faster. This move would also eliminate their needs at the skill position. It could allow them to focus on building overall depth for years to come.
10. Lions: S- Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
The Lions could use a presence over the middle. Detroit has reduced their need for a corner higher in the draft. They can still tackle the position later on and find good value. The Lions need to find a safety with range. James Ihedigbo provides them the thumper for run support and Clinton-Dix gives them the range over top to cover in the NFC North.
11. Titans: CB- Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
An athletic coverage corner has been a constant wherever Ray Horton ends up. Horton was able to work with Patrick Peterson and Joe Haden in Cleveland. Gilbert would help fill a void from the loss of Alterraun Verner. He will have some hiccups in the NFL but the long-term promise is there. Akeem Ayers and Shaun Phillips are capable of helping keep the pass rush respectable in this system.
12. Giants: DE- Anthony Barr, UCLA
I'm keeping Barr at this spot because Ebron is off the board. The Giants attacked the offensive line position aggressively in free agency and they need to reload on their pass rush. The Giants had a solid rotation during their Super Bowl runs being able to bring guys in and out without a drop off at the key positions but injuries and age caught up with their defensive line. This is the time to attack the position and get the Giants back on track.
13. Rams: CB- Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Fuller fits the Rams personality on defense. He is a physical corner who can help in run support because he is aggressive and not afraid to lay a hit. He reminds me a great deal of Brandon Flowers when I watch his film. The Rams could use a safety or a wide receiver but this is a guy that fits their mold.
14. Bears: DT- Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Donald would provide another disruptive force on the defensive line. LaMarr Houston and Jared Allen need a presence inside that can create havoc with their speed. Donald would provide his rush mates an opportunity to stop seeing double teams. He has a quick first step and solid pass rush moves.
15. Steelers: DE- Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
The Steelers have a way of ignoring some of their bigger needs and drafting for their front seven on defense. Hageman has a size that fits in the steel city. He would give Pittsburgh a guy who can bull rush his defender into the backfield and disrupt plays. He has a good blend of size and strength.
16. Cowboys: DT- Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
America's team needs a pass rush. The cover two system cannot work if your defensive line cannot disrupt the passing game before the quarterback finds the weaknesses in the defense. Jernigan could help Dallas in shutting down running lanes and collapsing the pocket. Lions defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli could use both attributes for the scheme to be successful.
17. Ravens: OG- Xavier Sua-Filo, UCLA
Sua-Filo fits a huge need of the Ravens. Baltimore struggled to move the ball on the ground, losing its ability to be effective in the red zone. Sua-Filo could help bring back the power run game that the Ravens miss a great deal. Baltimore lost in the trenches this past season and it kept them out of the playoffs. This selection brings versatility to their offensive line with power and athletic ability.
18. Jets: WR- Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Some Chiefs fans just got very sad. Cooks came off the board because the Jets need speed on their offense. Cooks fits the West Coast scheme that Marty Mornhinweg runs. Eric Decker provides the possession wide receiver. Cooks gives them the speed on the other side. With Beckham off the board, the Jets get the best speed left on the board.
19. Dolphins: OT- Zack Martin, Notre Dame
I originally had Taylor Lewan going at this spot but a couple of people around the league pointed out something obvious. The Dolphins just dealt with some toxic chemistry in their locker room. Now is probably not a good time to test those waters. Martin provides the Dolphins a lineman that is a very smart football player. He has good hand placement. He would provide the passing offense a solid player that can move into guard if needed.
20. Cardinals: S- Calvin Pryor, Louisville
The Cardinals have many directions they could go. Arians loves quarterbacks who test the deep ball and go for the explosive play. They could use help at the right tackle position and in their pass rush. I settled on Pryor because Patrick Peterson and the Honey Badger could use an enforcer over the middle. Pryor would provide on the back-end a player who will sacrifice himself for the play and move all over the field.
21. Packers: S- Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
Two players I've heard linked to the Packers on a consistent basis are Ward and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. I leaned towards Ward because of their need on defense for him. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers could use his versatility on their back-end. Ward takes good pursuit angles and could cover in slot for them if needed. He could help them limit big plays.
22. Eagles: CB- Bradley Roby, Ohio State
With the pace Philly runs on the defense, they need a secondary and pass rush to match it. Roby gives the Eagles a physical corner opposite Cary Williams. Chip Kelly would have two physical corners that combine speed and attitude. Roby knows how to close on a route and he will stay in the receiver's hip pocket if needed. The philosophy on offense would also fit Roby's risk-taking mentality.
23. Chiefs: TE- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
You probably just got disappointed with me for the second time. Marqise Lee is still on the board and I don't take him. Not many tight ends can run a wheel route like Seferian-Jenkins at his size and with his speed. The three tight end sets the Chiefs ran in training camp were fun to watch because they created so many options and mismatches in the red zone. I want you to think back to Jamaal Charles' receiving touchdowns in the Giants and Cowboy games. You have three to four different options a team must honor going on at the same time. That was how effective these play designs were.
Seferian-Jenkins would give Alex Smith a receiver with a reliable catch radius. He also gives him a consistent route runner. When I looked at his tape again, I saw the No. 1 thing in an Andy Reid system: he understood the holes in a defense and sat down in them.
Seferian-Jenkins had a DUI in 2013 but he responded very well to those questions at the Combine by taking ownership of his actions. He didn't blame anyone else. His interview reminded me a lot of Kyle Long the previous year.
24. Bengals: CB- Justin Verrett, TCU
I see a lot of Pacman Jones in Verrett in both size and ability. I was impressed with his ball tracking skills and ability to diagnose a play and react very quickly. He understands his responsibilities on a play and is in good position to make the play. Verrett fits this scheme very well.
25. Chargers: NT- Louis Nix, Notre Dame
The Chargers have a lot of needs on defense but they need to start on the interior. Nix would give San Diego a player with good size and quick feet to go with it. There are not a lot of players his size who can get a solid pursuit angle on the play. You can see the promise in his combination of size and speed. The challenge will be putting it all together on a consistent basis.
26. Browns: QB- Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Bridgewater deserves to go much earlier in the draft. He has the talent you want in a franchise quarterback. He can diagnose a defense. He's comfortable with his drops from under center and knows how to manipulate a defense with his fakes and eyes.
Bridgewater also stands tall in the pocket when pressure is coming at him, takes the hit and pops right back up. The Browns get a good quarterback that fits Kyle Shanahan's scheme.
27. Saints: LB- Kony Ealy, Missouri
The Saints need to find a pass rush at the backer spot for Rob Ryan. Drew Brees has been able to make it work at the receiver position. The pass rush needs to get better on defense for the Saints to make noise come playoff time. Ealy can hit the corner without any wasted motion. He can hit a tackle with the spin move and close on the quarterback in a hurry. Ealy is a good fit for Ryan's system because he has one setting and that is to attack.
28. Panthers: OT- Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Lewan fills a need and attitude on the Panthers offense. The Panthers played with swagger in their playoff game against the 49ers. Lewan embodies that attitude. He also has the athletic ability to provide some unique opportunities for the offense in their screen game. Lewan can pull and he can get out into space on screens and get to the second level. If Cam needs a lead blocker to pull on a read option, Lewan has the athletic ability to be that guy.
29. Patriots: TE- Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
The Patriots are going to need to find some insurance at tight end. Regardless of whether the team signs Dustin Keller, they need to find another tight end. The questions surrounding Rob Gronkowski's recovery may force the issue. I believe the Patriots would prefer Seferian-Jenkins but the Chiefs took him off the board and forced them to go to the next best thing. Amaro could help them as a mismatch in the slot position. He would also give Tom Brady a guy over the middle or down the seam that can provide yards after the catch opportunities.
30. 49ers: CB- Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
The 49ers could use help at the receiver position but secondary should be a higher priority. Dennard is a physical corner who fits their style. He will fight through the blocks and lay the hit on a defender. He won't put himself in a compromising position with fear. Dennard believes in his a technique and continues to execute it regardless of the situation.
31. Broncos: LB- CJ Mosley, Alabama
I kept Mosley at this position because he fits in Jack Del Rio's scheme. He is a smart player, attacks the ball well and does a solid job getting off blocks. I like his fundamental breakdown on tackles and think he can be a nice presence on run defense.
32. Seahawks: WR- Marqise Lee, USC
The Super Bowl champions don't need to take a wide receiver but he is one of the better players on the board. The Seahawks are going to need to push the bar on offense. They need to stay ahead of the curve before the defense falls from its peak. Lee would give Russell Wilson a receiver who is fearless over the middle and very good with the football in his hands after the catch. Lee can find the football, knows how to grab it and take it the distance. Seattle has given themselves a luxury with their defense. So now is the time to build up the offense before they need to restock on defense.