All NFL..All The Time..And Then Some
With the 2014 NFL Draft just 24 days away, analysts and fans alike are cramming in their latest Mock Drafts Picks for their respected place of employment and couch quarterback dominance. But, “From The Mind of Brian” and Strictly NFL..here is the NFL Draft as I see it unfolding this May 8th in New York City, New York. So without further ado, let’s get it started.
The Houston Texans Select: Jadeveon Clowney/Defensive End/ South Carolina
Work ethic aside, there’s no player in this draft with more potential than Clowney. A 6’6″, 266 lb defensive end with remarkable athleticism for his size, Clowney can physically overwhelm his opponents and could line up in many different spots on Atlanta’s hybrid defensive front.
The St. Louis Rams Select: Sammy Watkins/Wide Receiver/Clemson
There’s no offensive weapon in this year’s draft with more playmaking potential than Watkins. His combination of explosive speed, open-field agility and route-running skill make it possible that he could immediately emerge as a star in an NFL offense.
The Jacksonville Jaguars Select: Blake Bortles/Quarterback/Central Florida
Predicted to stay in Florida, Bortles might not be an immediate answer. He has issues with his touch on downfield passes and with his footwork in the pocket. That said, he has been projected to go as high as the No. 1 overall pick in some mock drafts and would be considered the best quarterback value at this slot.
The Cleveland Browns Select: Johnny Maziel/Quarterback/Texas A&M
One team whose draft plan is difficult to figure out is that of the Cleveland Browns. There’s no obvious selection for them at the No. 4 overall pick, but there is an obvious need in Northeast Ohio for a quarterback. Taking a chance on one still seems like the most logical plan of action with this pick, and Manziel could be the guy.
The Oakland Raiders Select: Greg Robinson/Tackle/Auburn
6’5″, 322 lbs, need I say more? Valued as a top-five pick by many, it would come as a surprise if Auburn’s Greg Robinson fell any further than the No. 5 overall selection, where the Oakland Raiders who have no “TRUE” set quarterback have a need to upgrade at right tackle to protect whomever earns that starting QB position.
The Atlanta Falcons Select: Khalil Mack/Outside Linebacker/Buffalo
A very well-rounded player who is both an explosive pass-rusher and a strong run defender, Mack could be an immediate starter at outside linebacker for the Falcons. He is a terrific athlete who can make plays all over the field, but he also has the length and strength to remain disruptive at the line of scrimmage.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select: Mike Evans/Wide Receiver/Texas A&M
At 6’5″, 231 lbs, with 35.125” arms and great leaping ability, Evans is known best for his catch radius and ability to make plays over defensive backs. That said, he is an impressive all-around athlete for his size. Should fit in nicely with Lovie Smith’s offense.
The Minnesota Vikings Select: Derek Carr/Quarterback/Fresno State
Younger brother of David Carr, the No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Texans in 2002. First quarterback at Fresno State with three consecutive 3,000-yard seasons, Carr may not be the starter right off the bat, but has a good chance of surpassing Christian Ponder for the starting position soon.
The Buffalo Bills Select: Jake Matthews/Tackle/Texas A&M
Projected to go as high as #2, the Bills much like the Raiders need protection for the uncertainty at the QB position. Matthews’ draft stock seemingly hasn’t been on the rise. Many draft prognosticators are now predicting that Auburn’s Greg Robinson, a relative unknown going into his redshirt sophomore season, will be picked ahead of Matthews, who has been considered by many to be a top prospect all year. And I agree.
The Detroit Lions Select: Justin Gilbert/Cornerback/Oklahoma State
In drafting Gilbert at this spot, the Lions would reel in the best player available and address one of their greatest positions of need. He’d add a playmaker to the secondary and also give the team another explosive option for kickoff returns.
The Tennessee Titans Select: Anthony Barr/Linebacker/UCLA
A natural fit to play OLB in 3-4 defensive fronts, Barr is raw but has huge upside. Having played just two years on defense at UCLA after starting his Bruins career on offense, he might only be scratching the surface of how good he could be.
The New York Giants Select:Eric Ebron/Tight End/North Carolina
Having lost wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and tight end Brandon Myers as free agents this offseason, the Giants offense is short on playmakers. In Ebron, they could land the draft’s top tight end and one of its most dynamic offensive skill-position players.
The St. Louis Rams Select: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix/Free Safety/Alabama
Clinton-Dix is both a skilled cover safety who can handle deep and single-high coverage responsibilities, and he’s also a strong in-the-box tackler. His well-rounded skill set gives him the ability to play both safety spots and thrive in a variety of roles.
The Chicago Bears Select: Aaron Donald/Defensive Tackle/Pittsburgh
Donald would be one of the best players available in this scenario, and he would also address a massive need for the Chicago Bears at defensive tackle. Needing a new 3-technique interior penetrator to replace Henry Melton, they could get that from Donald, who combines explosive quickness with terrific hand skills and very good strength and power.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Select: Darqueze Dennard/Cornerback/Michigan State
Projected to trade the #15th pick to the San Francisco 49ers, the Steelers will keep the pick to select Dennard to fill the much needed cornerback position. With an aging Ike Taylor and uncertain play of counterpart William Gay, Dennard should fit in nicely in Dick LeBeau’s defensive scheme. Not known as a fast CB, but more NFL ready than many may think.
The Dallas Cowboys Select: Timmy Jernigan/Nose Tackle/Florida State
Strong for his size and clogs the middle. Has disruptive ability. Bends his knees and plays with leverage. Able to stack, locate and shed. Wraps and rips down ball carriers. Coordinated hands and feet. Is difficult to engage & has quick, active hands. Much needed protection for Tony Romo’s erratic play.
So there you have the first half of Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft as I see it unfolding. Check back tomorrow to see the second half, and who will grab some of the most talented players still left on the board.