With the Super Bowl behind us, the NFL Draft is the highlight of most football fans off-season. Yes, the NBA playoffs are upon us and baseball season is in full swing (pun intended), but for NFL news, there's no such thing as an "off-season." The Draft is only a week away and I don't know about you, but I can't wait!
No, my name is not Todd McShay or Mel Kiper, Jr, but as your resident pseudo-expert I feel as if I would be doing you, and this great country, a disservice if I didn't offer up my thoughts on who will go where in this year's draft. This preview is not the picks that I would necessarily make, but what I think will happen. If you're unfamiliar with any of these players, just click on their name to view their highlight film.
With that being said, we welcome in Blake Mills to be the Mel Kiper to my Todd McShay (because I'm better looking, obviously). We will list each selection, showing you Blake's pick and my pick. According to an Adam Schefter tweet, no one can possibly accurately predict the first round of the draft. Well Mr. Schefter, prepare to have your pants blown off… for ten picks.
"With the Number 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select…"
No. 1 – Houston Texans:
Blake: Jadeveon Clowney (DE – South Carolina)
The Texans will have a nasty front with Clowney pairing up with JJ Watt. Clowney has the skills the NFL hasn’t seen, since some say, Reggie White. If, and I mean, IF, Clowney puts forth the effort, he will be a bad man for years to come. No one will run against Houston for a long while. No brainer pick, to me.
Caleb: Jadeveon Clowney (DE – South Carolina)
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. If the Texans hold on to their Number 1 overall pick I think the clear option here is Clowney. The Texans have a glaring need at QB, everyone knows that, but the problem is there just isn't a QB in the draft worth taking with the first pick. Because of this, I think there is a very real possibility they could shop this pick around and sell it to the highest bidder only to select another QB later in the first round. But if the Texans hold on to this pick they'll end up with an elite-level talent in Jadeveon Clowney. Come on, think about it. Clowney on one end of the D-Line, J.J. Watt on the other! Watch out Andrew Luck, your life in the AFC South might be getting rather scary if this pick happens.
No. 2 – St. Louis Rams:
Blake: Greg Robinson (OT – Auburn)
I hear rumors that the Rams may, in fact, trade this pick away. I can see it happening, but for mock draft’s sake, let’s say they stay put. The signing of Jake Long last offseason has backfired. With a torn ACL and MCL, the Rams will have to find a Left Tackle again. Roger Saffold is a free agent, so they actually need two. Robinson is the best in the draft, easily.
Caleb: Greg Robinson (OT – Auburn)
This is a very interesting position for the Rams to be in. With Sam Bradford going into his final year of his rookie contract and being plagued with injuries, it's paramount that St. Louis gets him some help. Their two biggest area's of need to help Sam? Offensive line and wide receiver. Sitting in the 2 spot the Rams will have the option to draft two potentially elite athletes at both of those positions, Greg Robinson or Sammy Watkins. Do you try and protect Bradford? Or give him an elite target on the outside? I think the Rams ought to choose to protect him in hopes to keep Sam healthy. When Bradford's been healthy in the past, he's shown signs of being really good. This could be a make-or-break pick for the Rams season.
No. 3 – Jacksonville Jaguars:
Blake: Khalil Mack (LB – Buffalo)
Intriguing pick here, for me. Mack is a small school superstar. This isn’t the sexy pick that Jaguars fans want. BUT, Mack is the type of linebacker a franchise needs to solidify the entire defense. They need a captain. They need a guy who is young, hungry, and has something to prove. Mack, to me, can end up like a Derrick Brooks-esque player. A 12-14 year franchise guy who resurrects an entire city.
Caleb: Khalil Mack (LB – Buffalo)
Jacksonville obviously needs a QB here, but in my mind Khalil Mack is an elite level prospect. I know the guy played for Buffalo and may not have faced the top level talent week after week, but when he did (see Ohio State game) he still dominated. He's got all of the physical attributes you need to succeed at the professional level as well as the instincts that will ensure his success at the next level. I could see the Jags stretching here for a QB, but I think it would behoove them to not take Mack at this spot. The guys a lock to have an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball, something that can't be said for any QB in the draft for the offensive side. In my opinion, Khalil Mack is just too good to pass up.
No. 4 – Cleveland Browns:
Blake: Sammy Watkins (WR – Clemson)
Again, this pick intrigues me. Josh Gordon has proved he’s an NFL Superstar. The Browns need a TON of help, elsewhere. Again, Watkins iseasily the best receiver in this class. He’s got a chance to be a top 5 player in the game in a few years. He possesses it all. Size, speed, athleticism, and hands. Now the browns must pray a quarterback falls to them in the second round, or they trade back up into the first.
Caleb: Sammy Watkins (WR – Clemson)
Browns fans will go nuts if this pick comes in and it's anyone other than Johnny Manziel, but I don't think the Browns are going to spend another top pick on a QB after they've already whiffed on Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden in years past. Without an elite QB prospect I think the Browns go with Watkins here, setting the stage for a fairly decent QB to be able to come in and have success. Think about it, you put Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and Sammy Watkins on the field and you could make almost any QB look pretty decent. This won't fix Cleveland's offensive woes, but it should help!
No. 5 – Oakland Raiders:
Blake: Johnny Manziel (QB – Texas A&M)
I know, Al Davis has passed away, but Johnny Football is the biggest name in the draft this year. Not necessarily the best player, but the biggest name. It just seems right to me. Raiders take the sexiest name of the entire class and sit back and watch the rest take place. (Look for a trade here, possibly)
Caleb: Johnny Manziel (QB – Texas A&M)
If Johnny Manziel is still on the board when Oakland picks at No. 5, I think the idea of bringing the "Raider swag" back to Oakland would be too much for them to pass up. Johnny Football is a big enough personality, and a potentially good enough athlete, to put Oakland back on the map. The Raiders just dumped Terrell Pryor because I think they're making room for Johnny Manziel to be the immediate starter. Do I personally think this is a smart move? No, but you can read my last article for my full opinion. However, I do think that the Raiders are just crazy enough to pull the trigger on Johnny Football.
No. 6 – Atlanta Falcons:
Blake: Jake Matthews (OL – Texas A&M)
What in the world happened to the Falcons this year? I think the injury bug finally hit them in the face. They are fine at skill positions, especially when Jones and White come back healthy in 2014. I think it starts up front on offense. With Greg Robinson gone, the Falcons take the next best lineman, and a guy who can dominate the man in front of him. Matthews will be very good, for a very long time.
Caleb: Jake Matthews (OL – Texas A&M)
I really think that Atlanta will try to move out of the six spot, whether that be moving up to get Clowney or moving down if that's not possible. But for the sake of this mock draft, let's say they stay at six, they're most likely going to take an offensive tackle with this pick. Last season the Falcons couldn't protect Matt Ryan nor could they open any holes for Steven Jackson, when he was healthy. This addition would vastly improve the Falcons offensive efficiency and could put them back on track to be a contender again in 2014.
No. 7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Blake: Anthony Barr (LB – UCLA)
Lovie Smith takes over the Buccaneers, and everyone knows he’s all about the defensive side of the ball. Personally, I think Barr can be the Rookie of the Year. He’s fast, he’s mean and he can cover. He’s the perfect fit for what Lovie Smith will want to do in Tampa. He can play man, zone or blitz. Barr is a great player, who may deserve to go higher than this.
Caleb: Mike Evans (WR – Texas A&M)
Has there ever been a time in the Draft that three players from the same school are chosen in succession? I don't think so. At least not until now! This pick just makes sense, when I watched Evans at A&M he reminded me of current Buccaneers star WR, Vincent Jackson. And with the new signing of Josh McCown at QB the Bucs could really use another big target for Josh, and Evans fills that role perfectly. With his enormous size and great hands I think Evans would be a nice compliment to this offense as we've already seen McCown have great success with two large targets at WR in Chicago.
No. 8 – Minnesota Vikings:
Blake: Teddy Bridgewater (QB – Louisville)
This is a panic pick for the Vikings. I honestly don’t know what to expect from them at this point. They may be praying for Manziel to fall, they may be praying for Sammy Watkins. Who knows? I do know that if I’m the Vikings, I’m going away from QB this round, but it’s their highest area of need. I’m not as high on Bortles as everyone else is, but heck, I’ve been wrong more than I’ve been right. I’ll stick with Bridgewater…a guy who may be a complete bust.
Caleb: Blake Bortles (QB – UCF)
Here is where I disagree with my own projection. Remember, this is not what I would do if I were making the pick, but what I think will happen. The Vikings desperately need a QB. Case and point, the signing of Josh Freeman last year. If they can learn from past mistakes in reaching for Christian Ponder in the 2011 Draft and then starting him way too soon, I think they will be alright with choosing Bortles. But if they try to force him into a starting role in his first season I think they will be right back in this same situation two years from now, needing another franchise QB.
No. 9 – Buffalo Bills:
Blake: Marquise Lee (WR – USC)
Lee reunited with Robert Woods and all the sudden, the Bills have a great wide receivers core. A lot has been invested in EJ Manuel and now it’s time to put some pieces around him. This is just nearly a perfect fit, adding to a young, dangerous Bills team.
Caleb: Eric Ebron (TE – UNC)
While the Bills would love to have either Watkins or Evans with this pick, they will both likely be gone. Given the depth of the rest of the WR class I think the Bills go with an elite level TE here. Ebron reminds me of a Jimmy Graham type player, he's tall, slender and fast. He's a match up nightmare in the middle of the field and I think he could play a big role in the Bills offense, potentially developing into a safety net for E.J. Manuel. Sure there are needs on the defensive side of the ball for the Bills, particularly at DE, but if Ebron is sitting here at the ninth spot, I like this pick.
No. 10 – Detroit Lions:
Blake: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S – Alabama)
The Lions can go 3-4 different ways here. Safety, Corner, LB, WR. Yes, WR. I think the loss of Louis Delmas this offseason created a MAJOR hole in the safety core for the Lions. Enter, Ha Ha. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s rangy and he’s got a chip on his shoulder. I think this is the perfect scenario for the Lions. He’ll be a pro bowler in a few years.
Caleb: Darqueze Dennard (CB – Michigan State)
This is a purely need selection for the Lions. There are certainly players left at this point with better draft grades, ie Clinton-Dix or C.J. Mosley, but the need for a solid corner back in Detroit at this point out would be enough for the Lions to reach a little here. I wouldn't be surprised if the Lions tried to move down as well.
And there you have it, your first 10 picks of the draft. Deal with that Adam Schefter!