By: Nick Trist
Our newest contributor Nick has been working hard in the lab, and has yet another piece to add to our IES Draft database. Here he begins the first half of the first full 2014 NFL mock draft to be posted on IES this year. I gotta tell you guys I like it, and I’m sure you all will too. So without further speaking here it is.
|1. Houston Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina – 2013’s woeful season was most likely a blessing in disguise for the Texans and its fan base. There is a very solid and talented foundation in Houston, but since they bottomed out they put themselves in the best position possible for April’s Draft. The need for an upgrade at the QB position is obvious for Houston, so not projecting a QB with this pick seems impractical. However, I believe (and at this point I think HOU does too) that Clowney is too solid of a prospect at a highly coveted position for Houston to pass on at #1 overall. Pairing Clowney with the 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt will give the Texans one of the league’s most feared pass-rush for the next 10+ years. In my eyes Clowney is as can’t miss as NFL prospects get. The concerns about his motor are invalid to me for one simple reason: If someone told you “Hey 8 months from now, all you have to do is be alive and not injured, and you’ll be a multi-millionaire” would you give 100% in games against Kentucky and Vanderbilt? The Texans would be smart to grab they best-overall player available, and possibly address QB with the 33rd overall selection.|
|2. St. Louis (from Washington) Gregg Robinson – OT – Auburn – Yikes! It’s starting to look like Jeff Fisher definitely got the better of last year’s RGIII trade. Depending what they do with this pick, that trade could start to look like highway-robbery. Robinson has seen his stock soar since Auburn’s heartbreaking BCS Championship Game loss. At 6’5 ½ 320lbs. He possesses prototypical OT size, but what has shot his name up NFL Draft boards is the athleticism that accompanies his massive frame. He has tremendous footwork, and plays with terrific pad-level. He would be a Week 1 starter at RT for St. Louis.|
Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Gus Bradley and the Jags would probably be ecstatic to see this year’s consensus #1 QB fall in their lap. Jacksonville has as many holes to fill as anyone in the NFL, but is also in dire need of help at the QB position. I have my doubts about how Bridgewater translates to the pro game, but Jacksonville desperately needs to rejuvenate their fan base and taking Bridgewater here would be a nice jump-start to that process.
|4. Cleveland Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M – Manziel is unquestionably my favorite QB in this year’s class. I think he will be a star in this league for a long time. That is why it pains me greatly to project him here, because as we all know, God hates Cleveland. Their consistent futility would be the only thing I could foresee as a stumbling block for Johnny Pro-Football. That said, I think Manziel would be a great fit for the Browns considering what Josh Gordon was able to accomplish with a revolving door of pitiful QBs this season, and because they have solid O-line play which I feel is a critical aspect to Manziel’s success.|
|5. Oakland Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson – Here is another example of a projection I’ve hesitated to make because of what it would mean for the player’s career. Watkins is this year’s premier playmaker and possesses All-Pro type talent. Football fans everywhere could really miss out on how special a player Watkins is, if he lands in Oakland and the Raiders continue to be umm well the Raiders. If Watkins is on the board, and no team blows Oakland away with a trade offer, there is no way Watkins slips past this pick. We can only hope it doesn’t amount to the kiss-of-death for Sammy.|
|6. Atlanta Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M – It was a very disappointing season for the Atlanta Falcons following a year in which they were a few plays away from a trip to the Super Bowl. Atlanta is as talented at the skill positions as any team in the NFL but they must get better at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. UCLA’s Anthony Barr could be in play here for the Falcons, but if they adhere to the “best player available” strategy then I think they will go with Matthews to help sure-up what was one of the league’s most suspect offensive lines. Matthews is a plug-and-play type of player whom would be welcomed with open arms by Matty Ice and Steven Jackson.|
|7. Tampa Bay Anthony Barr – OLB/DE – UCLA – With Lovie Smith now at the helm, I’d expect Tampa to look to improve the defensive side of the ball in round 1. Barr is an explosive and versatile athlete who could really improve the Bucs’ pass rush. What I like most about Barr’s game is that he showed consistent improvement during his time at UCLA, and that he’s a high football-IQ guy with a really good feel for the game.|
|8. Minnesota Blake Bortles – QB – UCF – The Vikings will most likely put a much-needed end to the Christian Ponder era this offseason. Bortles definitely has the build to be successful at the next level, has above-average arm strength, showed a decent ability at reading coverage’s and making good decisions with the football. There are questions about the level of the competition he faced during his college career, but many weak conference QBs have been successful in the NFL. I think #8 is a more appropriate landing spot for Bortles than in the top 5, which is where some people are projecting he’ll go.|
|9. Buffalo Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo – The possibility of the Bills adding a playmaking WR to help out E.J. Manuel is for sure in play with this pick. There is good WR depth in this class however, so I think the Bills will attempt to add another impact rookie linebacker and hope they find lightening in a bottle like they did with last year’s selection of Kiko Alonso. Mack has the athleticism to be an impact player, capable of boosting his team’s run defense and being useful in coverage against TEs and HBs.|
10. Detroit Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
When you think about the type of production we’ve seen from Calvin Johnson’s career, one can only wonder what those numbers would be if Johnson had a legitimate #2 WR to help ease the coverage he faces each week. Mike Evans would be a great addition to an already stellar passing attack for the Lions. Though Detroit has other, possibly more pressing, holes in their roster I think the opportunity to pair another freakish athlete alongside Calvin Johnson will be too much to turn down. Evans is outstanding at going up and making plays when the ball is in the air and could be very useful to Matthew Stafford in the red-zone especially considering the attention Johnson draws in that area of the field. My main concern for Evans’ NFL is how he adjusts to the bigger, more physical CBs he’ll face. In the SEC Evans was able to out-physical and out-muscle nearly every corner he faced, that will not be the case in the NFL.
|11. Tennessee C.J. Mosley – ILB – Alabama – C.J. Mosley reminds me a lot of former Titan great Keith Bullock so, to me, Tennessee seems like a natural fit for this Nick Saban product. Mosley is a guy with a wealth of experience in big-time environments. Drafting a player from Alabama generally means that a team will know they are getting a guy who is as well-prepared as any for the next level. Mosley could be a week 1 starter for the Titans and will significantly help there below-average run defense.|
|12. NY Giants Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State – The NY Giants gave up way too many big plays in the passing game last season. Justin Gilbert is the best candidate in this year’s class for helping the Giants solve those coverage issues. Gilbert has great size, good speed, and a knack for making big plays. He would fit nicely into the Giants defensive scheme, because he excels at press-man coverage.|
|13. St. Louis Marqise Lee – WR – Southern California – Being the 3rd receiver taken and 13th overall player taken may be a bit of a disappointment for Marqise Lee, considering the expectations he began the year with for the Trojans. An injury-plagued year, coaching turmoil, an inexperienced QB, as well as the evolution of Watkins and Evans, have all played a factor in Lee’s draft stock taking a slide. He would be a good fit for the Rams to pair along with last year’s 1st rounder, Tavon Austin. Lee has good quickness, but isn’t a guy who relies on pure speed to beat defenders. Lee’s strongest attribute is sure-handedness. Austin and Lee’s games would complement one another’s nicely, and would equate to Sam Bradford being out of excuses and starring down a put-up or shut-up season.|
|14. Chicago Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State – This would fill arguably the biggest need for the Bears (DT). Jernigan is my highest rated DT in this class, and at #14 it is always a value-pick if you can get the best available help for your defensive line.|
|15. Pittsburgh Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan – The Steelers could go a long way towards solving the O-line instability that has plagued the franchise for the past few seasons. Lewan has a very impressive collection of game-film. He also possesses a “mean-streak” so many offensive-line coaches look for when evaluating talent. Lewan will need to improve his effectiveness in the running game, if he wants to reach his full NFL potential.|
Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Benjamin is a physical specimen, who has un-teachable natural athleticism. I’m looking for the Ravens to add a playmaker to help out an offense that struggled to connect on big-plays this season. Benjamin could open up the field for Torrey Smith, and could develop into a match-up nightmare in Baltimore.
As always, we enjoy the reads and feedback. We also look forward to hearing your opinions via the comment section below. Also, feel free to give Nick your feedback and follow him via Twitter as you can find him under the handle of @Nickrawtrist .