2014 NFL Mock Draft (Weekly Top 8)
1. Houston Texans; Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – The past 2 teams to pick first in the NFL draft (Colts in 2012, Chiefs in 2013) both bounced back in a big way to make the playoffs the following season. This years Texans are an absolute mess, but 2014 looks bright already. If they can keep losing (interim head coach Wade Philips will make sure of that whether he wants to or not) then they will be in a great position to succeed next year. This is a team that was talented enough to make the playoffs 2 years in a row, and after taking a sabbatical in 2013, Teddy Bridgewater will certainly put them back into the mix of contenders. The kid has amazing arm strength and superb pocket presence, both of which are needed to succeed in the pros. He is a mobile QB however more comparable to Andrew Luck rather than RGIII in that regard . NFL Comparison: a more mobile/faster version of Matthew Stafford.
2. St. Louis Rams (Via Washington); Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – Rams GM Les Snead may just be the Masai Ujiri of football; I wouldn’t flinch if someone told me he had the ability to see the future. St. Louis owns this pick as part of the RGIII trade a while back, but this isn’t all that particular trade netted the Rams. They also received Washington’s 1st round pick in 2012, 1st rounder in 2013, and 2nd round pick in 2013. With the way Robert Griffin is performing this season, that trade could be considered a heist from the Rams perspective. The team has several holes to fill, so trading down might make more sense at this spot. However, Matthews’ is a blue chipper in every sense of the word and St. Louis would certainly not be disappointed with a potential perennial pro-bowl tackle stepping in to help improve a makeshift offensive line. NFL Comparison: Jake Long.
3. Atlanta Falcons; Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – By now you’ve seen this hit which somewhat prematurely launched Clowney into being crowned the unquestioned king of the football world. But being king also comes with impossibly high expectations, and that’s what Jadeveon suffered from this year. By no means did he have a poor season, it’s just hard to excel when team are triple teaming you and everyone is watching your every step. Totally understandable. I can’t imagine what kind of pressure Clowney felt this season and it seems like he just wants to get the draft started already. No Jadeveon, driving fast wont actually speed up time. However, from the Falcons perspective, this dreadful season might be a blessing in disguise. Their injury woes are well documented, and if they can pick up a talent like Clowney to help their despicable pass rush, a turnaround season could be in store for Atlanta. NFL comparison: Uncomparable.
4. Minnesota Vikings; Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State – Let’s Ponder the current Vikings QB situation: … aaaand we’re done. You know the old saying that if you have 2 quarterbacks you don’t even have one? Well what does it mean if you have 3 of them? It means that you pick a potential franchise altering stud the next chance you get. Derek Carr is exactly that. During the 2013 season, Carr threw for 4866 yards and 48 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions. Those numbers look good in a video game and almost cartoonish in real life. But it’s not a typo, just a fact. Carr should be a solid NFL quarterback for a long time… as long as he doesn’t get tips from his brother, David. NFL comparison: Phillip Rivers.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars; Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – A month ago, the Jaguars were the laughingstock of the league. Now they are 4-1 in their last 5 games and are playing themselves out of position to draft Teddy Bridgewater. However, that might not be such a bad thing. Chad Henne has looked frighteningly confident over the past 5 games and could very well enter next season as Jacksonville’s starting QB once again. The Jags have so many holes and such a vast need for a talent infusion so they might as well pick the best player left on the board: UCLA’s Anthony Barr. A converted running back, Barr fits the outside linebacker mold perfectly with his 6’4, 245 lb frame that happens to run a 4.47 40 yard dash. This guy is a freak of nature and will wreak havoc on the rest of the league for years to come. NFL comparison: Von Miller.
6. Cleveland Browns; Blake Bortles, QB, UCF – This may be the first time you are ever hearing the name “Blake Bortles” but I can guarantee that it wont be the last. He is shooting up draft boards right now and the high praise will only continue. He has a very large frame (6’4, 230 lbs) yet still moves extremely quick and has the ability to scramble for the first down when needed. His arm may as well be replaced with a cannon and his toughness is evident whenever you watch him play. The Brandon Weeden experiment has gone on far too long in Cleveland and it’s time to usher in a new era to the Factory of Sadness. NFL comparison: Ben Roethlisberger.
7. Oakland Raiders; Khalil Mack, DE/LB, Buffalo – When your team has drafted just 1 pro-bowl player since 2004, you know something is wrong. Khalil Mack is probably the best player available at this point and value always trumps need during the draft. The Raiders have so many holes to fill that it would be impossible to address them all during one draft, but trading down would at least give them a head start which is why I think a deal at this position is very much in play. Whatever team gets Mack will have found an extremely versatile player who no doubt can work wonders for a defense. NFL comparison: Brian Orakpo.
8. Buffalo Bills; Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – EJ Manuel has showed promise this season when he has been able to stay on the field, but the Bills offense seems to be lacking the one extra weapon to put them over the top. Could you imagine an offense with the core of Manuel, CJ Spiller, and Sammy Watkins to go along with complementary pieces like Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson? Sounds incredibly dynamic to me. And that’s exactly what Watkins provides to a team: a level a dynamic play that is impossible for opposing defenses to account for.