Wally Spurlin
2014 Mock Draft 1.0

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This is the second annual “I’m not doing a mock draft this year” mock draft. OK, OK it could also be titled “All the cool kids are doing it so you should, too” mock draft.

For the record, I have not watched thousands of hours of game tape on this year’s draft class. I write about fantasy football and spend most of my waking hours in that realm.

Putting together articles dealing with both standard leagues as well as Individual Defensive Player (IDP) formats tend to take up quite a bit of my mind's time. I generally begin to concern myself with rookies once I know what NFL team they are on and then begin my evaluations from a fantasy standpoint.

That being said, I do enjoy the draft and look forward to it as both a huge NFL fan as well as a fantasy football writer. So throwing my hat into the ring with the myriad of ‘draft experts’ out there while daunting is always a lot of fun.

Without further ado…

1. HOUSTON TEXANS

Ideally, the Texans would like to trade out of this spot as their top need is quarterback and I don’t believe they are enamored enough with any of this year’s quarterbacks to take one with the first overall selection. There is talk they may put together an Eli Manning / Philip Rivers draft and trade scenario by selecting and then trading defensive end/outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney to a predetermined team that drafts quarterback Johnny Manziel a few picks later. With that in mind, we’ll have them taking the kid out of South Carolina.

Selection: Jadeveon Clowney, OLB/DE, South Carolina

2. ST. LOUIS RAMS

The Rams will look long and hard at wide receiver Sammy Watkins here to provide quarterback Sam Bradford another receiving option as he returns from his ACL injury. Ultimately, though, they will look to get Bradford some protection and their running game a much-needed boost. Greg Robinson may need some refining in his pass protection but can plow the road as a run blocker. Head coach Jeff Fisher and company buck the trend of not drafting offensive linemen in the first round and go for the best tackle in the draft. Fisher loves to run the ball and this draft is ripe with talented wide receiver options that can be had later.

Selection: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

With multiple needs to fill, including offensive line as well as the long-term answer at quarterback (sorry Chad Henne ), the Jaguars also need to address the wide receiver position. While it’s conceivable that Justin Blackmon could return there is no timetable (or guarantee) for that and Cecil Shorts needs a running mate. Hello, Sammy Watkins ! Already considered a pro level route runner, Watkins has the speed and explosiveness to be an immediate impact force on the offense.

Selection: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

4. CLEVELAND BROWNS

The common theory is that Cleveland will address the quarterback situation here, but I’m not buying the hype. I don’t believe they are in love with any of the top quarterbacks enough to pull the trigger this high in the draft. There is a much more obvious way to improve their passing game. With the Jaguars selecting Watkins the Browns can get the player they may have rated higher than him at the position and not face any criticism for passing on the kid from Clemson. A big strong wide receiver with deceptively good YAC (yards after the catch) skills and a ‘my ball’ mentality is just what Cleveland could use opposite the talented Josh Gordon .

Selection: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

5. OAKLAND RAIDERS

Despite having needs at multiple positions, including wide receiver and offensive line, the Raiders are happy to see perhaps the best overall defensive player still on the board. A versatile three down outside linebacker that specializes in getting after the quarterback will help energize a defense that signed quite a few veteran stop gaps during free agency. With all of the top quarterback prospects still available Oakland would ideally like to get a call from a team looking to move up and gather more picks.

Selection: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

6. ATLANTA FALCONS

This is one of the teams that would love to move up in the draft as they are in dire need of an edge-rushing player. If they can’t get up high enough to select either Clowney or Mack, look for the Falcons to address an offensive line that struggled in 2013. Protecting quarterback Matt Ryan and opening holes for the aging Steven Jackson will be a priority to get their offense back on track. There is an NFL-ready offensive tackle with an outstanding pedigree sitting out there.

Selection: Jake Matthews , OT, Texas A&M

7. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Losing out on selecting wide receiver Mike Evans here is a disappointment for Tampa Bay but affords the Buccaneers the chance to secure their quarterback of the future. While Josh McCown is a nice stop-gap option and Mike Glennon is reportedly on the trade block, why not get the most exciting player in this year’s draft? Come on down! Manziel can sit and learn the offense from an older and slower version of himself in the mobile McCown. New offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford is the perfect man to undertake getting the gun-slinging Manziel ready for the NFL.

Selection: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

8. MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Recent reports are that Minnesota will avoid the quarterback position here and look for help at the position later in the draft. It’s Matt Cassel ’s job for now and that allows the team to address the defensive side of the ball. New head coach Mike Zimmer loves a stout interior defensive line that can create pressure. Adding a high-motor defensive tackle to a defensive line that already features Linval Joseph and Sharrif Floyd makes for an impressive unit.

Selection: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

9. BUFFALO BILLS

A pass rushing presence off the edge would be nice here as new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz employs a Wide-9 technique and the Bills are thin after Mario Williams and the resurgent Jerry Hughes . Unfortunately, this slot feels too high for Anthony Barr , as he will strictly be a situational player in his rookie campaign. This affords Buffalo the chance to shore up another position of need by securing a pro-ready offensive tackle that can step right in and start. Taylor Lewan will help plow the road in the running game while protecting quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Selection: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

10. DETROIT LIONS

The Lions like their young cornerbacks enough to buck the consensus feeling that they need to draft one here. That being said, I feel they will still address the secondary. Detroit signed strong safety James Ihedigbo and has converted cornerback Glover Quin at free safety but the unit still needs help. Having two players at safety with coverage abilities (albeit limited in Quin’s case) will be a nice step towards shoring up the Lions secondary woes. This team needs leaders and it won’t take this kid long to earn a role as one on the defense.

Selection: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, ALABAMA

11. TENNESSEE TITANS

Running back is a big need, as the posse of Shonn Greene , Dexter McCluster , Jackie Battle and Leon Washington will not get it done. There just isn’t a running back that is worth this pick and another offensive skill position needs to be addressed. I’m not buying that new coach Ken Whisenhunt is going to enter the season with the injury prone (I’m being kind here) Jake Locker as his main quarterback option. Look for the Titans to secure their quarterback of the future with this pick and address the cornerback position later in the draft. Also, don’t be surprised if that quarterback of the future starts Week 1.

Selection: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

12. NEW YORK GIANTS

The Giants have addressed the defense nicely during free agency by adding defensive end Robert Ayers along with linebacker Jameel McClain and a pair of above-average corners in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond III. Getting Eli Manning more weapons will be a priority and more precisely a big talented tight end that creates mismatches and has excellent yards after the catch skills. It just so happens that there is a very nice option available.

Selection: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

13. ST LOUIS RAMS

Having addressed keeping franchise quarterback Sam Bradford protected with their first pick, it’s time to get him some more weapons. Safety could be an option here as well but St. Louis must upgrade its receiving corps. After water bug types Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey , the pickings get very thin at wide receiver (Sorry Kenny Britt but I’m not buying it). There is no point in paying Bradford all that money while setting him up to fail. Getting a receiver that some pundits believe has top-10 talent that can stretch the field as well as be reliable underneath makes a lot of sense here.

Selection: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU

14. CHICAGO BEARS

The Bears would love to see defensive tackle Aaron Donald fall to them here but I don’t see that happening. Addressing the lack of talent at the safety position is a must as the addition of Ryan Mundy simply isn’t enough. Chris Conte is serviceable at best, and in a division that features a lot of talent at wide receiver, a hard-hitting game-changing type of safety is needed. With Clinton-Dix off the board the Bears will look to add a youngster who struggles a bit in coverage but brings the wood when he hits and has big play abilities.

Selection: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS

There is help needed at both the defensive line and cornerback positions in the Pittsburgh. In my estimation, the need is more pressing in the secondary as an aging Ike Taylor alongside an unproven Cortez Allen and the inconsistent William Gay need an upgrade. With all of the top cornerback selections still available the Steelers will be able to secure a player that can start from Day 1 if necessary. Look for the pick to be a physical presence that can play some press coverage as well as play effectively in zone schemes.

Selection: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

16. DALLAS COWBOYS

Playing fast and loose with the salary cap has left the Cowboys in need of help at numerous positions, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Especially concerning is the pass rush capabilities (or lack thereof) of this unit heading into 2014. They did re-sign defensive end Anthony Spencer but he is still recovering from microfracture surgery. Look for Dallas to grab the best pass rushing option available here and that is a converted running back from out west.

Selection: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA



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