2014 NFL Draft: First Round Instant Analysis

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1. Houston Texans - DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina. The Texans didn't outthink themselves here. Clowney is the most talented player in this class, and Houston will draft him now and figure out the best way to use him later. With JJ Watt, Clowney, Brian Cushing and others, the defense should be very good next year. If Clowney shows true passion for the game, he has a chance to be a Hall of Famer. The man is that talented. It will be interesting to see who they land at quarterback. Houston could be right back in the playoffs next season.

2. St. Louis Rams - OT Greg Robinson, Auburn. I know Sammy Watkins had to be awfully tempting, but Robinson was a pick the Rams just had to make. He is a road grater on the offensive line, a superb run blocker who should help Zac Stacy take the next step as a top ten running back. Joe Barksdale played well at right tackle, so Robinson might start his career at guard. Once Jake Long moves on in a year or two, Robinson will move to left tackle. His skills and potential are off the charts.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Blake Bortles, UCF. This is why mock drafts are so pointless. Everyone had quarterbacks falling, and Bortles goes at number three overall. He definitely passes the eyeball test. 6'5, 240 with a cannon arm. He was not that impressive at Central Florida to me, and there is a good chance Jacksonville just drafted another Blaine Gabbert. I hope he succeeds though. He has a chance to be a good quarterback with proper coaching, and he should be able to sit and learn for a while behind Chad Henne.

4. Buffalo Bills - WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson. The Bills gave up a TON to move up and select Watkins, but they get the most talented play maker in this draft. Watkins has it all. Speed, strength, good hands, solid route running. With Watkins and CJ Spiller, the Bills have some real talent on offense. The Bills better hope EJ Manuel develops, because Cleveland now gets their 2015 first round pick.

5. Oakland Raiders - LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo. GM Reggie McKenzie threw money at washed up veterans, but wisely drafted the best player available. Mack played against weak competition, but he showed against Ohio State that he was still one of the best, if not the best, players on the field. He is a better pass rusher than most defensive lineman in this draft, and can run down ball carriers. I have been on the Khalil Mack bandwagon for the past year. The Raiders just got a very good player.

6. Atlanta Falcons - OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M. Once Clowney and Mack came off the board, it was easy to predict an offensive tackle. Matthews should immediately move to right tackle, and give you solid production right away. Matthews has a ton of experience, is a very smart football players and has the bloodlines. He may never be a Pro Bowler, but is a pretty safe bet to man the right side for the next ten years. A very safe pick for a team that expects to be back in the playoffs next year.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M. Mike Evans to the Buccaneers was the most popular mock draft choice, and that comes to fruition here. Evans and Vincent Jackson will give Josh McCown two targets who were bigger than he had last year with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Evans has great range and will out reach pretty much any cornerback that tries to cover him. Evans also has better speed than you would think from a man his size. He is a physical freak that needs to fine tune his route running.

8. Cleveland Browns - CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State. Cornerbacks always rise during the draft process. Gilbert has everything you look for in a number one cornerback. He has good size and is very quick. Gilbert rebounded from a poor junior season to put up an excellent senior campaign. He is the most physically talented cornerback in this class, though he also has higher bust potential than someone like Kyle Fuller. Cleveland has a ton of picks and added even more tonight, so they could afford the slight "reach" to fill a huge hole.

9. DE/OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA. Early in the college season some thought Barr was a better prospect than Jadeveon Clowney. Barr piled up the sacks while still "learning" the position after moving from running back. The Vikings are definitely hoping to develop a strong defense under new head coach Mike Zimmer. Barr will be similar to the Barkevious Mingo pick from a year ago. Do not expect a ton of immediate production from Barr as he continues to learn how to be a pass rusher.

10. Detroit Lions - TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina. Knowing Detroit will only go as far as the arm of Matthew Stafford takes them, the Lions add more pass catching help. Ebron is a great athlete who still needs to refine his technique and improve on drops. He oozes talent and can line up on the outside and run like a receiver. He will definitely help take some pressure off of Calvin Johnson.

11. Tennessee Titans - OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan. The Titans went with the best available player here. Lewan has prototypical left tackle size and strength. He has a mean streak. Tennessee signed Michael Oher to play right tackle and David Stewart will be around for one more year at least, so Lewan will start his career out as a backup swing tackle before most likely taking over for Stewart in 2015.

12. New York Giants - WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU. This is a surprise pick to me with Zack Martin and Aaron Donald still on the board. New York must not be sold on Rueben Randle. Beckham is lightning quick and a very solid route runner. New York desperately needed to add more weapons for Eli Manning. I think Beckham will end up a better pro than Mike Evans.

13. St. Louis Rams - DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh. Kendall Langford has been a disappoint at tackle for the Rams, so they add the best interior pass rushing prospect to come along in a few years. Donald can definitely get to the quarterback, as can fellow defensive lineman Chris Long and Robert Quinn. With all of these top picks, the Rams are really running out of excuses.

14. Chicago Bears - CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech. Like I said in my mock, where I slotted Fuller to the Bears, scouts are saying he is a safe bet to be a very solid cornerback. He does not have Pro Bowl talent, but Chicago hopes to return to the playoffs in 2014, and Fuller should be able to step in right away and provide immediate production. Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman are aging quickly.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State. Shazier was a late riser who I had mocked to number 13 earlier today. Shazier has great speed and should be a great fit at middle linebacker in Pittsburgh's 3-4. The Steelers need youth all along the defense, and this is a good start.

16. Dallas Cowboys - OG/OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame. Everyone expected the Cowboys to go defense, but the interior of the offensive line is almost as bad as the defense. Dallas solved their center woes last year and Martin should slide into one of the guard positions. Not a sexy pick, but improves this team.

17. Baltimore Ravens - LB CJ Mosley, Alabama. Mosley would have been a first round pick as a junior, but returned and put forth a tremendous senior season. Mosley is not a pass rusher but would be a great fit as a 3-4 middle linebacker. The Ravens have been looking to replace Ray Lewis and Dannelle Ellerbe, and hopefully have found their man. I would have preferred Ha Ha Clinton-Dix here, but Ozzie Newsome is a little bit better at this than I am.

18. New York Jets - S Calvin Pryor, Louisville. Rex Ryan loves drafting defensive backs. Pryor is a hard hitting safety who plays like another linebacker. As bad as New York needed offense, the draft board fell in a way that defense provided better value. The Jets defense continues to improve.

19. Miami Dolphins - OT Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee. James is someone Miami targeted in the second round, but it was unlikely that he would fall to them. Miami needs offensive lineman in the worst way, so the reach made sense. James was better than Antonio Richardson last year for a bad Tennessee team. He played on the right side in Knoxville and will be an immediate starter on that side for the Dolphins, who should draft a few more offensive lineman in this draft. Unlike Jeff Ireland, the new GM is actually addressing needs.

20. New Orleans Saints - WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State. The Saints know that the offense is what is going to get them back to the Super Bowl, so they find a replacement for Lance Moore. Cooks should be a great fit on that New Orleans turf. He put up absolutely monster numbers in college and is a true deep threat.

21. Green Bay Packers - S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama. Ted Thompson never drafts defensive backs early, but Clinton-Dix fell into his lap, and fills a huge need. Clinton-Dix is a great coverage safety and comes from one of the best programs at producing NFL talents, especially at safety. If Morgan Burnett can bounce back from a poor 2013, the secondary will be a strength.

22. Cleveland Browns - QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. Cleveland has come a long way from the Mike Holmgren years. Cleveland has moved up and down the board, added a new starting cornerback, a 2015 first round pick and still land their quarterback of the future. Manziel is a polarizing prospect but this is a good spot for them to select him.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - DE/OLB Dee Ford, Auburn. I do not like this pick. Two of Kansas City's best players are outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Ford will strictly be a backup, as he is very undersized for defensive end. With such a huge need at receiver and Marqise Lee sitting there, and no second round pick, this is a luxury pick. Makes little sense to me.

24. Cincinnati Bengals - CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State. Dennard is not nearly as good as the NFL Network people have been saying all night, but he should be a solid starter. Corner has been the biggest area mocked to the Bengals, and for good reason. Three of their corners are aging and Dre Kirkpatrick has not developed as quickly as Cincinnati has hoped. Dennard is not the biggest or most athletic, but is a physical corner with a lot of experience and good technique.

25. San Diego Chargers - CB Jason Verrett, TCU. The Chargers were linked to defensive backs in most mocks. I had Verrett going to the Chargers in my mock. He is undersized, but is tough and is a long time starter for the Horned Frogs. With the Broncos in the division, a slot corner is a huge need. Verrett has the talent to grow into a starter.

26. Philadelphia Eagles - DE/OLB Marcus Smith, Louisville. There are several mid tier pass rushers who will go off the board in the late first/early second. Marcus Smith is compact and strong, but quick enough to hold his own at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. I like him better than Dee Ford, who went a few picks prior.

27. Arizona Cardinals - S Deone Bucannon, Washington State. The Cardinals have issues in the secondary. Bucannon is a very big, strong safety and would be a nice contrast opposite Tyrann Mathieu. Bucannon is at his best in the box knocking ball carriers on their tail.
28. Carolina Panthers - WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State. Wide receiver and offensive tackles were easily Carolina's biggest needs. They should draft two of each. Cam Newton has not had a receiver the size of Benjamin to throw to before. Benjamin might be too big for a receiver, but he is a huge target and has the talent to be a pretty good receiver. He will have all the chances in the world in Carolina.

29. New England Patriots - DT Dominique Easley, Florida. On talent alone, Easley would have been a top ten pick. Of course, Easley has suffered a couple of devastating injuries. He might not play at all in 2014, but the Patriots have always drafted outside the box. They can afford to redshirt him, and if his legs can hold up, he could be a major contributor in 2015.

30. San Francisco 49ers - S Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois. The fourth safety goes off the board. The Niners used a first round pick on a safety last year with Eric Reid and go that direction again here. He is a different type of player. Ward is more of a coverage safety, who isn't as big as Reid. The two should work well together.

31. Denver Broncos - CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State. The Broncos signed Aqib Talib but lost several cornerbacks in the off season. Roby might be buried on the depth chart to start his career, but the talent is there to be a solid starter. He is very talented but had an inconsistent junior season for Ohio State.

32. Minnesota Vikings - QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville. The Vikings got the best quarterback in the draft. A terrible pro day killed his stock, but he had a very solid college career. Bridgewater is thin, but has a nice arm and could be a good fit for Norv Turner's vertical offense. He might not play as a rookie, but should bulk up now that he is on an NFL team. A complete steal here for Minnesota.

Jonathan Carrano

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1 comment:

Arnold said...

You already know I'm disgusted with the Rams draft. Nothing to do with whether I think the players are talented or not, it's just that they decided to address the LT position a year removed from spending a ton of money on the LT of the future. So now you waste an extremely high pick on a kid you'll end up using as a Guard or RT.

Then follow that up by drafting at the ONLY position of strength on the team, D-line.

Two picks completely wasted. Now we get to likely see them use a high pick on a QB (idiotic since if Bradford still sucks you draft a solid QB next year), 2nd rate DB, or whatever other nonsense they come up with. I hate being a fan of this franchise.