By: Thomas Frank Carr
ESPN Radio 1450 Draft Analyst
THOMAS FRANK CARR'S 2014 NFL MOCK DRAFT
Before we Get Started:
NFL Mock Drafts are an exercise in psych profiling, mysticism and weather broadcasting. My point? There's no way to get them right. But they sure are fun! My draft is part what I've learned listening to reports about teams, current rumors, and my belief in certain players. Now that we've got that squared away, let's go!
Click on your players name to view his profile and breakdown.
...also follow me on twitter @thomasfrankjcar for my reactions to picks Thursday during the first round of the NFL Draft.
OK! Let's get started!
1. Houston Texans: Kahlil Mack OLB Buffalo – In any year where the team picking in the top spot knows who they want and plan to pick him, we already know by now. This year we have no idea who the Texans are going to pick. The Texans want to trade out of this spot and will try very hard to make that happen. Either way, I think that Houston ends up with Mack, the most complete player in this draft.
2. St. Louis Rams: Sammy Watkins WR Clemson - What’s more important? Getting a protector for Sam Bradford or getting him weapons? Tavon Austin is not a player who can carry a team. Watkins changes their fortunes at WR.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina – Shocked Clowney falls this far in the draft? The Jaguars are thrilled that they get to plug him into an already improved and impressive front seven.
4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles QB UCF – Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine says that he would like to draft with this pick is a skill position player. But who? Mike Evans? If Pettine is smart he will draft a signal caller to throw the ball for the Browns. Receiver is deep in this draft and they can pick one up later. In my estimation there is only one franchise QB in this draft and its Bortles.
5. Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson OT Auburn – Height, weight, speed. What else do you need in an Oakland Raider pick? Al Davis would be pleased. Robinson is by no means a finished product. He has some bust potential but at the very least he will be a dominant run blocker for Jones-Drew and McFadden.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M – The Falcons can breathe a sigh of relief that Matthews falls to them. Forget trading up, the Falcons aren’t one player away from being good again. They need help on the defensive side of the ball too. Matthews goes a long way to protecting their 100 million dollar investment in Matt Ryan.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans WR Texas A&M – I’m not sold that Lovie Smith, a defensive coach, will spend such a high pick on a wide out but the team has such a need at the position. Evans is overrated and needs to refine his route running skills and overall game before he’s a true no. 1 receiver but I’m sure Vincent Jackson can show him a thing or two.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M – The Vikings need a QB. If you’re sold on Matt Cassel then you probably shouldn’t be making the purchasing decisions for your family (I’ve got a great 2004 Subaru I can sell you for a reasonable price). Manziel reminds me of Mike Vick without the speed. He’s got the tools to be a good QB but it will take time and patience for him to mature.
9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan OT Michigan – This pick will change a lot of fortunes down the line. If the Bills go with Lewan, the Lions can pounce on Ebron. If not, then the best player of need left on the board for Detroit is Justin Gilbert. The Steelers then will have to settle for Darqueze Dennard or Bradley Robey then. Robey was just arrested for a DUI so I don’t think an organization like the Steelers is interested in Robey. By selecting Lewan the Bills settle a huge need at right tackle. They can address either pass rusher or tight end at the top of round two. Lewan is a bit finesse for what the Bills are looking for but he is a great pass blocker and will help keep Manuel upright next year.
10. Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron TE North Carolina – Gilbert is a consideration here but Ebron is the more alluring talent. Brandon Pettigrew has only ever been a decent tight end. Ebron can be a matchup nightmare and will make an unstoppable offense in Detroit…at least on paper.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr OLB UCLA – Corner is also a consideration here but the best way to stop a passing offense is to knock the QB out of the game. Barr has a history of doing that. He’s been compared to a poor man’s Aldon Smith. He might not be as talented as Smith but he doesn’t have the character concerns that Smith does. He’s still learning the position but the Titans signed veteran Shaun Phillips this offseason.
12. New York Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. LSU – Beckham is the best player left on the board and he fits a need for the Giants. Outside linebacker is also a need but I don’t think the Giants value weakside linebacker as much as they value giving Eli Manning as many targets as he can get. Beckham reminds me of Derek Mason. He’s going to be a great pro.
13. St. Louis Rams: Zach Martin OT Notre Dame – The Rams get their receiver and now they get their offensive lineman. Martin has been gaining steam recently and is now viewed again as an offensive tackle again. That’s the draft for you. He’s a smooth technician who is NFL ready to step in at either tackle position.
14. Chicago Bears: Calvin Pryor S Louisville – Pryor is the best safety in this draft class. He’s not a ball-hawk but he’s got range, smarts and he’s a hammer. He’ll help shore up Chicago’s secondary and running game both.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State – After much sweating and worrying, Steelers fans get their man as Gilbert falls to them. Gilbert is the best overall talent in the corner class. There are questions about his work ethic and his fundamentals. Do you really think the veterans on that defense will let him get away with loafing? If Dick Lebeau will bring the best out in him. Gilbert will flourish in Pittsburgh.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Demarcus Lawrence DE/OLB Boise St. – Good luck predicting what Jerry Jones will do. Lawrence has the speed, explosive first step and natural talent to get to the quarterback that Demarcus Ware once had. Lawrence isn’t the physical talent that Ware is but he’s got the potential to be a dominant pass rusher.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Aaron Donald DT Pitt – Best player left on the board and very much an Ozzie Newsome pick. Donald isn’t a great run defender but next to Terrence Cody and Haloti Ngata he doesn’t have to be. He can be a disruptive force as a five technique and draw attention away from Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs
18. New York Jets: Darqueze Dennard CB MSU – Rex Ryan gets his press man corner to go opposite (or supplant) Dee Millner.
19. Miami Dolphins: Joel Bitonio OT Nevada – Miami will be a major player to trade up and grab on offensive tackle high in the draft. If they stay put they get a very good player in Bitonio. Many see him as a guard but he’s got the skills to be a very good right tackle.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix S Alabama – There isn’t a tackle left on the board worthy of this pick. The Cardinals need a pass rusher but with Dix they can create a foursome in the secondary that is very formidable. Dix isn’t Pryor but he’s active in the running game and has the size that Mathieu doesn’t. Pass rush is much deeper in this draft than safety.
21. Green Bay Packers: Marqise Lee WR USC – The Packers reload on talented wide receivers with Lee. He will add a dynamic element to the Packers offense that they haven’t had without Greg Jennings.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Stephon Tuitt DE/DT Notre Dame – If the Eagles want to take a chance on Bradley Robey he will probably be available here but adding a talented 3-4 defensive end who can shore up the front seven is the better option here.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandin Cooks WR Oregon State – I have no faith in Andy Reid the general manager but this pick is too easy. Reid gets a receiver here that reminds many people of DeSean Jackson. Cooks is a good receiver and one of the best route runners in this class. He will be an immediate impact player next year.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Bradley Robey CB OSU – The Bengals have shown time and time again the willingness to take a chance on character projects. Robey has to explain a lot of the mistakes he’s made the past year but the Bengals are too tempted by his talent.
25. San Diego Chargers: Gabe Jackson OG Mississippi State – The Chargers get a left guard to shore up the interior of their line. He’s not a great athlete but he’s a power blocker who’s a patient stout pass rusher.
26. Cleveland Browns: Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt - Matthews is a highly underrated prospect with great size, good hand and sneaky speed. He's the SEC's all-time leading receiver. He's got all the skills to be a No. 1 receiver. With Josh Gordon, Matthews and Jordan Cameron, rookie QB Blake Bortles now leads a deadly offensive attack. All they need now is a running back. Good luck in this draft class though. The pickings are slim.
27. New Orleans Saints: C.J. Mosley ILB Alabama – Smart, fluid and tough but lacking top end athleticism, Mosley will be a good pro but won’t be exceptional. He’s surrounded by good players in New Orleans and won’t be asked to carry the squad.
28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin WR FSU – I think that Benjamin is a bust of a pick but Carolina is desperate for a receiver. Putting a 6’5”, 240lb receiver on the field with Cam Newton will just be too tempting to pass up. He’s got a long way to go, but Benjamin has major upside.
29. New England Patriots: Ryan Shazier OLB OSU – The Patriots will probably trade down because that is what they do. Shazier is the best player on the board and the Pats need a linebacker. Shazier has unique speed and athleticism. Bill Belichick will find a use for him. He’s a good player but just a bit undersized.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Timmy Jernigan DT FSU – Don’t believe the hype about San Fran trading up. They have an old front seven and they need to add depth to their defense. Jernigan is the best run stuffing prospect on the board. He’s not a great pass rusher but he can eventually take over for Justin Smith as the team’s designated tough guy.
31. Denver Broncos: Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech – He doesn’t have elite athleticism but he’s got good long speed and he’s smart, tough and starter ready. He can contribute right away in the Broncos closing window.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Xaveir Su’a-Filo OG UCLA – Always expect the unexpected with Seattle. Su’a-Filo is a project player but he’s got a high ceiling. He’s a mauler and he’s got quick feet to pass block. He even saw time at left tackle last year in emergency duty. He’s upgrade a surprisingly poor offensive line in Seattle.