Here is my Post Scouting Combine 2014 NFL Mock Draft. It will be followed by regular updates after the NFL Scouting Combine up until the NFL Draft on May 8th.
My mock draft has been linked by The Football Fan Spot, Sports Jabber, DC Pro Sports Report, Walter Football, FF Toolbox, hailRedskins.com, The Football Expert, Fantasy Football Help Desk, The Huddle Report, Niners Nation, EDS Football, NFL Mock Draft Central and NFL Pro Zach in their Mock Draft Databases.
This is not a mock draft where I attempt play general manager and substitute my own judgment for the 32 NFL teams.
I do my best to research what particular players or positions each team may be targeting based upon the opinions of reliable beat writers, scouts and insiders in order to provide links and then my analysis as to why a team may be focusing on a particular player.
1. Houston Texans – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A and M: Houston is doing a stellar job of masking their target for the #1 overall pick, having been linked to nearly all of the top players in this year's draft. While the current flavor of the month is Jadeveon Clowney, like Mario Williams, he's not an ideal fit for a 3-4 defense. On the other hand, the Texans desperately need a franchise QB who can help them win immediately, and Johnny Manziel is probably the player most likely to immediately impact games in this year's QB class due to his dynamic scrambling ability.
2. Atlanta Falcons (via projected trade with St. Louis) – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: With needs at LT and DE, Atlanta can either stay put at #6 and select the best available offensive lineman, or be proactive and trade up for the draft's best player in South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney. I'd discount concerns about Clowney's effort given that he made little attempt to hide the fact that he was playing last season not to get hurt in light of his displeasure with the NCAA rule that requires players to remain in school for three years before declaring for the NFL Draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: Much like the Browns, Jacksonville owner Shad Khan has already disclosed that he intends on finding a new quarterback for the Jaguars somewhere in this draft. The Jaguars will face perhaps the toughest question in the draft in deciding whether or not to draft that QB at #3, or selecting a higher rated impact player at another position like DE or WR. I'm thinking that if Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel are both off the board, Sammy Watkins will be the pick for the Jaguars.
4. Cleveland Browns - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: Is there a more dysfunctional franchise in all of pro sports right now than the Cleveland Browns? Regardless of who their coach is, the Browns won't be going anywhere until they find a franchise quarterback. While they have the ammunition to go get one, it seems like Cleveland is leaning towards waiting until pick #26 or even #35 before they select one. In fact, new head coach Mike Pettine seems to be sizing up Khalil Mack as his version of Mario Williams with the Browns.
5. Oakland Raiders - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: If there's a front office that can rival the Cleveland Browns for ineptness, it's the Oakland Raiders, who apparently think they are only six or seven aging veterans away from contending for the Super Bowl. I'd like to think that the reports that the Raiders are not seriously considering a QB in the 1st Round are just a smoke screen, but then again, it's the Raiders. While Greg Robinson would be a solid pick, Reggie McKenzie is clearly looking to win a few games now in order to save his job instead of finding a long term QB and rebuilding like he should.
6. St. Louis Rams (via projected trade with Atlanta) – Jake Mathews, OT, Texas A and M: With St. Louis set at DE, and with WR's like Sammy Watkins historically devalued by Jeff Fisher, the Rams can afford to trade back and still address their primary need at LT. That would be especially true if Fisher prefers Jake Mathews over Greg Robinson, which would make sense given his relationship with Jake's father, former NFL All-Pro OL Bruce Mathews.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A and M: After having addressed many of their needs in a very aggressive start to the free agency period, the Buccaneers could still use another WR. While it initially looked like they simply needed a speedy receiver to play in the slot, Mike Williams finally wore out his welcome in Tampa Bay after getting stabbed in the thigh by his brother, making either Mike Evans or Plaxico Burress his ideal replacement.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortels, QB, Central Florida: While Minnesota may be content to wait until the 2nd Round to select a QB, if Blake Bortels were to fall to #9 he may be too good of a prospect for the Vikings to pass up.
9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: Buffalo could go for an OT in the first round, or they could target an OLB, TE or WR. If a legitimate LT like Taylor Lewan is still available, the Bills could move Cordy Glenn to a more natural position like RT or even G where he could put his physicality to better use.
10. Detroit Lions - Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA: Don't mistake the Lions doing their due diligence on Sammy Watkins for an interest in trading up to the #2 spot to select him, because that's not going to happen. If Mike Evans is off the board, I'm starting to think that Detroit will pass on a CB even if they have their choice of Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard. The Lions would really like to improve their pass rush, and OLB Anthony Barr may be the three down "flamethrower" that new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is looking for at the SAM position.
11. Tennessee Titans – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: With Alterraun Verner leaving in free agency, the Titans have a huge hole at CB. An OLB with proven pass rush skills like Anthony Barr would also be a consideration to fill a need in their new 3-4 defense depending on what Detroit does at #10.
12. New York Giants – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: The Giants still have needs across the board, but an athletic TE like Eric Ebron might represent the best value at #11 if the top three OT's are off the board. DT Aaron Donald of Pitt could also be a strong consideration.
13. St Louis Rams - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: St. Louis could stand to upgrade their secondary at both CB and S. With Darqueze Dennard grading out higher than any of the safeties on the board, CB would be the most logical pick for the Rams with their second selection in the 1st Round.
14. Chicago Bears – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: Timmy Jernigan of Florida State or Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh would seem to be a perfect fits for the Bears as the type of disruptive and penetrating DT who could replace Henry Melton at the "3-Technique."
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Aaron Donald, DT/DE, Pittsburgh: The "Steel Curtain" is broken, and local product Aaron Donald would be the first step in restoring it to its former glory with his non-stop motor as a DE in Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme.
16. Dallas Cowboys - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: The Dallas Cowboys are officially rebuilding, Jerry Jones just doesn't realize it yet. The four most important positions in the "Tampa-Two" are DE, DT, WLB and S. Unfortunately, the Cowboys have huge needs at three of those four positions. While Kony Ealy may be a bit of a reach at #16, DE is a position of such importance in Rod Marinelli's system that the Cowboys can't afford to ignore it if Jerry Jones expects to win many games this year. While re-signing DE Anthony Spencer wouldn't hurt, it wouldn't be a solution by itself either.
17. Baltimore Ravens - C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: Daryl Smith adequately filled the shoes of Ray Lewis last season, but Baltimore lost another MLB in Jameel McClain this offseason. With the addition of Steve Smith at WR filling one need, ILB C.J. Mosley could help bring the Ravens defense back to being an elite unit. While T could also be an option, the Ravens need is at RT, which is a position that could just as easily be found in the 2nd Round.
18. New York Jets – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: The Jets instantly improved their offense by signing Michael Vick, now they need to find him another legitimate receiving target to go along with Eric Decker, who's been more of a #2 receiver throughout his career. Kelvin Benjamin fits the bill of a bigger receiver who can develop into a true #1 target over the next year or two.
19. Miami Dolphins – Zach Martin, T, Notre Dame: The Dolphins addressed the left side of their offensive line in free agency, but still could stand to add another piece or two to the puzzle on the right side via the draft. Zack Martin has the ability to play either RT or RG, giving Miami some much needed flexibility. Even if Taylor Lewan of Michigan happens to be on the board, I can't see him being a consideration for Miami given that he has been charged with battery and is being questioned in connection with allegedly intimidating the victim in a teammate's rape investigation in two separate incidents.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: The Cardinals can either address a need like S or RT, or go with the best player available with their pick at #20. A tall S like Calvin Pryor would not only fill one of their needs, but provide the Cardinals with better value than any of the remaining OL candidates. They could also consider the explosive Brandin Cooks to play slot receiver and draw some coverage away from Larry Fitzgerald.
21. Green Bay Packers - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: The lack of a playmaker at S was a huge problem for Green Bay last season. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama would give the Packers some much needed range and ball-skills in the back end of their defense.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: Philadelphia could use a S to take over starting duties from Nate Allen, but they also created a need at WR by releasing their best big play threat, DeSean Jackson. If Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are both off the board, the Eagles could turn to Brandin Cooks as an explosive threat at WR to compensate for the loss of Jackson.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - Marqise Lee, WR, USC: The Chiefs could go in several different directions in this year's draft, whether it's S, CB, WR or TE. WR Marqise Lee of USC is a safer option than other options like Kelvin Benjamin and Odell Beckham, Jr. of LSU.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Bradley Roby CB, Ohio State: On paper the Bengals look good at CB, but they are aging and injury prone. Leon Hall is coming off his second Achilles injury, and pro athletes aren't always lucky enough to come back after one Achilles injury, let alone two. Bradley Roby of Ohio State struggled at times last season, but he has the size and speed at CB that NFL teams covet.
25. San Diego Chargers - Dee Ford, OLB/DE, Auburn: With the versatility to excel at either DE in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4, Dee Ford would give the Chargers a much needed edge pass rusher. CB and T could also be considerations depending on who might fall to the later part of the first round, but in this scenario, a pass rusher like Ford represents the best value of any remaining player.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: The Browns could be gambling if they wait until their second pick in the 1st Round to try and find their new franchise QB. Their ideal situation would have one of the top QB's like Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr falling to pick #26, but Cleveland also needs to be aware of other QB needy teams trading back into the 1st Round and taking a signal caller in front of them, which could leave the Browns standing empty handed with a pocket full of draft picks when it comes to the QB position.
27. New Orleans Saints - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: With Patrick Robinson coming off of an injury, the Saints could really use some depth at CB, if not a starter. While Kyle Fuller is not of the caliber of a Justin Gilbert or a Darqueze Dennard, he is a big corner with the man-to-man cover skills that NFL teams value too much for him to slide into the 2nd Round.
28. Carolina Panthers - Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU: Not only do the Panthers still need a #2 WR, but now they need to find a #1 WR to replace Steve Smith after his pissing match with Dave Gettleman lead to his release. While a WR like Odell Beckham Jr. can replace Smith's explosiveness, there's practically no way Carolina can replicate Smith's heart or toughness on the field.
29. New England Patriots - Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame: Vince Wilfork is aging and injury prone. While he recently signed a three year contract, Wilfork is 32, and it was structured so that it is essentially just a one year deal. It would therefore make sense for New England to draft a NT to ultimately replace Wilfork in the event that he's released after this season, and Louis Nix III of Notre Dame is essentially as close to a clone to Wilfork as you can get.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Jason Verrett, CB, Texas Christian: With Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown both signing with the Raiders in free agency, the 49ers need to find one or two starting caliber CB's in the draft. Jason Verrett of Texas Christian has excellent cover and ball skills, but could drop due to concerns about his size. At the very least, Verrett would make an ideal nickel back at the NFL level.
31. Denver Broncos - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota: The Broncos did a great job of beefing up their defense in free agency, but with Derek Wolfe coming off of a spinal injury, they could still stand to add a versatile DE/DT like Ra'Shede Hageman to their rotation. Hageman could end up being the steal of the draft considering that he played at Minnesota with very little fanfare or exposure.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame: The Seahawks have relatively few weaknesses after winning the Super Bowl, although they did suffer some losses at DE with Red Bryant and Chris Clemmons departing via free agency. A base DE like Stephon Tuitt could help alleviate those losses and help maintain Seattle's stout run defense.
33. Houston Texans - Kyle Van Noy, OLB: The Texans will be looking for another disruptive OLB. Kyle Van Noy was a playmaker in college, who could fit perfectly in the Houston's 3-4 scheme.
34. Washington Redskins - Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama: Cyrus Kouandjio would not only provide additional protection for RG3 at RT, but a lineman of his size would open holes in the running game, making him an ideal fit with the Redskins.
Speaking of which, let's get the Redskins to change their name to the "Pigskins." It's not racist, it's a football reference that pay homage to Washington's fan base of the 1980's, they could still call themselves "The Skins," and a new hog related logo could help the team sell a boatload of merchandise...Seems like a win-win situation if you ask me.
35. Cleveland Browns - Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi: A speedster like Donte Moncrief opposite Josh Gordon would make the Cleveland offense downright scary, that is, unless they don't find a QB who can throw them the ball.
36. Oakland Raiders - Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State: Once again, the Raiders need impact players at nearly every skilled position. DE is one of those, and Scott Crichton of Oregon State simply dominated in the Pac-12 the past few seasons.
37. Atlanta Falcons - Morgan Moses, T, Virginia: Assuming Atlanta holds on to their 2nd Round pick, a LT to potentially replace Sam Baker would be the logical pick assuming they elect to go with a DE in the 1st Round.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida: With the Bucs moving back to a "Tampa-2" defense under new defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, they will need to modify their secondary to better fit that system. Local product Marcus Roberson of Florida would provide Tampa Bay with depth at CB, and be a better fit than Johnthan Banks, who struggled in his first year.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: Finding it too difficult to pass on Sammy Watkins with the third pick in the draft, the Jags must then find their QB of the future. Derek Carr is the only other signal caller who fits that bill, although Jacksonville may have to trade up back to the end of the first round to be assured that they can still get him.
40. Minnesota Vikings - Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State: Minnesota has a hole at OLB, and Ryan Shazier is a beast who can immediately slide into a starting role and make an impact.
41. Buffalo Bills - Dominique Easley, DE, Florida: New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves his DE's, and Dominique Easley would have been a high first round pick but for a knee injury last season.
42. Tennessee Titans - Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina: After beefing up their secondary, Tennessee should look to bolster their pass rush. With OLB's Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown more traditional 4-3 LB's, Kareem Martin of North Carolina could fit in as a pass rush specialist for the Titans.
43. New York Giants - Xavier Su'a Filo, G/T, UCLA: As the Giants try to rebuild their offensive line to take some pressure off of Eli Manning, either Xavier Su'a Filo of UCLA or David Yankey of Stanford would give them a versatile player could either excel at either G or OT. If Su'a Filo makes it to pick #43, he's the higher rated option of the two.
44. St. Louis Rams - Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State: If the Rams can address LT, CB and S with their first three picks, I think they'd be pretty happy. On top of that, if they can successfully trade down from pick #2, they could even land another 2nd Round pick where there will still be many top notch WR's available.
45. Detroit Lions - Jordan Mathews, WR, Vanderbilt: The Lions would be well served passing on Mike Evans in the 1st Round and targeting a more reliable WR like Jordan Mathews in the 2nd. Matthews may not be the fastest WR in the draft, but he might be the most polished. With route running and film study often outweighing speed when it comes to transitioning to the NFL, Matthews might not only be one of the safer picks at WR, but he would be an ideal compliment to Calvin Johnson as someone who can get open in single coverage and reliably catch the ball.
46. Pittsburgh Steelers - Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State: The Steelers are looking for a big receiver to play opposite of Antonio Brown, and if they address defense instead of WR in the 1st Round, Davante Adams of Fresno State could fill that role.
47. Dallas Cowboys - Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State: Dallas could go for a S, a WLB, or address their OL in the 2nd Round. LaMarcus Joyner of Florida State is a hybrid CB/S, which would make him a perfect fit for the Cowboys at S in their "Two-Deep" defense, where safeties are taught to be interchangeable, and also need to be able to keep up with WR's in deep zone coverage.
48. Baltimore Ravens - Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee: With Michael Oher leaving via free agency the Ravens have a need at RT, and if Antonio Richardson ultimately develops into a starter at LT, even better.
49. New York Jets - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: After addressing WR in the 1st Round, the Jets could finish overhauling their receiving corps by selecting an elite pass catching TE like Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Jace Amaro in the 2nd.
50. Miami Dolphins - Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State: By taking a RT in the 1st Round and a top G like Gabe Jackson in the 2nd Round of the draft, the Dolphins could finish transforming an offensive line that was a huge problem last year into an asset this season.
51. Chicago Bears - Jimmy Ward, S, LSU: After addressing DT in the first round, a hybrid S with ball hawking skills like Jimmy Ward of Northern Illinois would go a long way towards checking off most of the defensive needs of the Bears heading into the 2014 season.
52. Arizona Cardinals - David Yankey, G/T, Stanford: Arizona could look to address the interior of their OL or even RT with the versatile David Yankey of Stanford.
53. Green Bay Packers - Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLG, Georgia Tech: After unsuccessfully trying to convert several college DE's to play OLB in their 3-4 defense, it's time for Green Bay to go in the other direction and find a more athletic college LB to play opposite Clay Mathews. Jeremiah Attaochu of Georgia Tech has the skills to rush the passer, drop in coverage, and contain the edge against the run, all of which were all traits that Green Bay's OLB's noticeably lacked in their Divisional Playoff Game loss to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers last January.
54. Philadelphia Eagles - Dion Bailey, S, USC: Philadelphia finished 32nd in the league in passing defense last season, and their biggest hole was at S. Dion Bailey of USC should be able to overtake Nate Allen and Earl Wolff as the other starting S opposite Malcolm Jenkins.
55. Cincinnati Bengals - Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville: Michael Johnson was a disappointment at DE in his contract year, so Cincinnati was smart to let him walk rather than overpaying him. Marcus Smith of Louisville was not only the heart and soul of one of the nation's top defenses, but he was also one of college football's best pass rushers.
56. San Francisco 49ers - Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado: The 49ers biggest obstacle to returning to the Super Bowl are their division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks. The best way to counteract Seattle's super-sized secondary is with quickness, and that's where an explosive player like Paul Richardson in the slot could help not only negate the size advantage in the Seahawks' secondary, but possibly even turn it into a liability.
57. San Diego Chargers - Will Sutton, DT/DE, Arizona State: Will Sutton's draft stock fell some after he gained nearly 50 pounds and saw his production significantly drop from his junior to his senior seasons. The good news is that his weight gain appears to have been premeditated, so if Sutton can prove to front offices that he has lost that weight and that his explosiveness has returned, he could be the answer to San Diego's need on the interior of their defensive line.
58. New Orleans Saints - Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU: The locals are clamoring for New Orleans to address their need at WR with Jarvis Landry of LSU.
59. Indianapolis Colts - Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor: The Colts would be wise to bolster the interior of their offensive line with at least two of their picks in this year's draft. Cyril Richardson of Baylor is a monster of a man who could clog interior pass rushing lanes and open up holes for the Colts' running game.
60. Carolina Panthers - Joe Bitonio, T, Nevada: Having lost LT Jordan Gross to retirement, the Panthers need to find a replacement early in this year's draft. Joe Bitonio is a smaller school option who more than held his own when Nevada played against big time opponents like Anthony Barr of UCLA.
61. San Francisco 49ers - Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida: Loucheiz Purifoy of Florida is an aggressive and physical CB who would make for an excellent pair with Jason Verrett if the 49ers were to take him in the 1st Rd.
62. New England Patriots - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: With Aaron Hernandez's career over and Rob Gronkowski heading back to see Dr. James Andrews, Jace Amaro of Texas A&M seems to be New England's prime target to replace Hernandez at TE given his size and pass catching ability.
63. Denver Broncos - Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin: Chris Borland of Wisconsin is an instinctive player who can fill a hole at ILB for the Broncos, which is one of their final needs on defensive after a busy free agency period.
64. Seattle Seahawks - Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska: Stanley Jean-Baptiste is not the fastest CB, but he has great size. There's probably no better mutual fit between team and player than Jean-Baptiste and the Seahawks, where he can ultimately replace Brandon Browner as one of the super-sized DB's that Seattle prefers.
Detroit Lions Potential Picks, Rounds 3 - 7
Here's how the rest of the 2014 Draft could work out in terms of projected value and need for the Detroit Lions:
Round 3, Pick No. 12 - Craig Loston, S, LSU: While strong safety Glover Quinn is solid, he lacks the speed to be a true free safety, while recent free agent signee James Ihedigbo is more of a one year bridge/backup at strong safety. Craig Loston is someone who can contribute immediately on special teams and ultimately work his way into a starting role.
Round 4, Pick No. 11 - Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: The Lions are going to regret not freeing up enough money to re-sign Shawn Hill, who may have been the best backup QB in the league. Jim Caldwell should know that Dan Orlovsky is not the answer, as his inability to adequately replace Peyton Manning helped cost him his job in Indianapolis three years ago.
Round 4, Compensatory Pick - Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State: Not only is Weston Richburg one of the top three centers in this year's draft, but he seems to be very interested in playing for the Lions. The feeling should be mutual. With Dominic Raiola nearing the final years of his career, Richburg could serve as an understudy and even help the Lions out as a backup G. Gabe Ikard could also be a later round option at C.
Round 4, Compensatory Pick - C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa: Even after the Lions retained the much maligned Brandon Pettigrew in free agency, they should be looking for a hybrid TE who can block and serve as a weapon in the passing game in order to keep second year player Mike Williams on the practice squad. At 6-5 and 260 pounds, C.J. Fiedorowicz fits that bill, having been known as a solid blocker and being more athletic as a receiver than many think.
Round 6, Pick No. 13 - Denicos Allen, OLB, Michigan State: While the Lions haven't placed much emphasis on strong side LB in recent years, new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has expressed a willingness to blitz more than the Jim Schwartz regime. That would make a lighter and athletic OLB like Denicos Allen as an ideal late round pick as a developmental project who can both drop back into coverage and rush the passer, allowing Ashley Palmer to serve primarily as a backup at the "Mike" and "Will" LB positions.
Round 7 - Pick No. 12 - Cody Parkey, K, Auburn: Prior to the David Akers debacle last season, the Lions only had two PK's from 1980 through 2012 in Eddie Murray in Jason Hanson, either of whom the Lions would have probably signed last season had they been interested.