NFL Guru William Elam’s 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney DE, South Carolina – The Texans are envisioning a front seven featuring future hall of famer J.J. Watt, Clowney and his 4.5 wheels, Brian Cushing and emerging pass rusher Whitney Mercilus. Some experts believe the Texans will select a QB the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, I disagree. New Head Coach Bill O’Brien will develop Case Keenum, sign a veteran free agent (I.E. Mark Sanchez) and select a developmental QB in the third or fourth round.
Pro Comparison: Aldon Smith
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson OT, Auburn – The Rams need to evaluate if Sam Bradford is the long term answer at QB. The best way to assess Bradford is to provide him with maximum protection. Robinson could be the next Orlando Pace in St. Louis or he could be the next Jason Smith (2009 Draft bust, #2 overall). In my opinion, Robinson will be a Pro Bowl talent and should assist Bradford in taking the Rams O to the next level.
Pro Comparison: Orlando Pace
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater QB, Louisville – At number three this pick will be a no brainer for the Jags. The Florida native has a lot of similarities to Russell Wilson and Donovan McNabb. The struggling franchise cannot afford another year of the Henne-Gabbert musical chairs of 2012-2013. Bridgewater will start immediately and will be a steady QB for the Jags organization for 6-8 years.
Pro Comparison: Russell Wilson
4. Cleveland Browns – Blake Bortles QB, UCF – Trading down to improve multiple positions would be the best option here. However, a Big Ben clone such as Bortles will accelerate the Browns long awaited resurgence to the playoffs.
Pro Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger
5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins WR-KR, Clemson – The Raiders have many needs on both sides of the ball. The Raiders will use this pick to gain a dynamic number one weapon alongside an emerging offensive line. Watkins gives the Raiders a speed threat with elite return capabilities alongside an above average possession receiver, Denarius Moore
Pro Comparison: Andre Johnson
6. Atlanta Falcons – Taylor Lewan OT, University of Michigan – 2013 was obviously a major disappointment for “Dirty- Bird” fans. Lewan would be the most intelligent draft pick for the Falcons due to his ability to provide time for Matt Ryan to locate his elite target Julio Jones.
Pro Comparison: Jake Long
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anthony Barr OLB/DE, UCLA – The Bucs defense is full of talent. A premier outside pass rusher appears to be the only missing piece. I also see Khalil Mack and DT Aaron Donald as strong possibilities as well. Trading down for more picks would be a serious option. If the Bucs do decide to keep the number seven pick, Barr will provide the Buccaneers with much needed pass rush assistance.
Pro Comparison: Jason Pierre-Paul
8. Minnesota Vikings – Khalil Mack DE/OLB, University of Buffalo – With the anticipated departure of Jared Allen in Minnesota, the Vikings will look to replace their most accomplished DL since John Randle retired. Mack provides a defensive tool for the Vikings for the next decade with pro bowl potential.
Pro Comparison: Terrell Suggs
9. Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron TE, UNC – The Bills need to provide young QB EJ Manuel with a dynamic weapon to help him progress. Ebron is a poor man’s version of Jimmy Graham. I expect 7-9 touchdowns as a rookie for Ebron.
Pro Comparison: Jermichael Finley
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert CB, Oklahoma State- In a division featuring star receivers such as Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson, Alshon Jeffrey, Randall Cobb and emerging Cordarrelle Patterson, the Lions will need to compete in the secondary. With a front seven featuring Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Ziggy Ansah and DeAndre Levy, a skilled corner like Gilbert could be the piece the Lions have been coveting.
Pro Comparison: Joe Haden
11. Tennessee Titans – Jake Matthews OT, Texas A&M – How beautiful would it be if Matthews can join the original organization in which his father Bruce Matthews played his Hall of Fame career. Matthews fits a need for the Titans, as well being the best player still available at 11. Matthews will anchor the Titans offensive line for the foreseeable future.
Pro Comparison: Joe Thomas
12. New York Giants – Mike Evans WR, Texas A&M – It appears to be almost a guarantee Hakeem Nicks’ tenure with the Giants is coming to an end. Evans is a great option here and gives Eli a huge target within the red zone. Evans will have an opportunity to become offensive rookie of the year, if he finds himself in Giant blue on draft day.
Pro Comparison: Plaxico Burress
13. St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix S, Alabama – Dix is a rangy safety and will be the final piece to an emerging elite defense. With talents such as Robert Quinn, James Laurinaitis and Janoris Jenkins, the Rams are building a Top 5 defense. Nix will provide a physical presence and intelligence to what will be an improved Rams secondary.
Pro Comparison: Michael Griffin
14. Chicago Bears – Louis Nix III DT, Notre Dame – The Bears run defense was pitiful in 2013 to say the least. Nix will help the middle of the Bears D-line stand strong against the run and provides additional pass rush for the aging Bears defense.
Pro Comparison: Kevin Williams
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard CB, Michigan State – Quite frankly, the Steelers secondary is old and slow. The time has come for younger replacements. Dennard will learn from the veterans for a year or two before becoming the Steelers next great shut down corner.
Pro Comparison: Ike Taylor
16. Dallas Cowboys – Calvin Pryor S, Louisville – After passing on Pro Bowl Rookie Safety Eric Reid a year ago, the Cowboys can begin to right the wrongs amidst their secondary. Pryor is a heavy hitter with good hands and range. He’ll provide a presence in the middle of the field that Dallas has lacked since the days of Darren Woodson.
Pro Comparison: Earl Thomas
17. Baltimore Ravens – CJ Mosley LB, Alabama – Mosley is a smart and instinctive linebacker who will be making plays in B-More for many years to come. I would love for the Ravens to select a big WR, however with Evans off the board, FSU Kelvin Benjamin wouldn’t be a value selection at this position.
Pro Comparison: Sean Weatherspoon
18. New York Jets – Brandin Cooks WR, Oregon State – This guy is amazing, lost in the college ranks within the Pacific Northwest. Cooks is a Steve Smith clone, who will be extremely productive. The Jets need playmakers for an offense, which was quite offensive to 2013 Jets fans. Adding Cooks along with a free agent wide out such as Jeremy Maclin or Eric Decker will pay major dividends.
Pro Comparison: Steve Smith
19. Miami Dolpihins – Zach Martin OG/OT, Notre Dame – The Dolphins simply don’t have enough bodies on the offensive front. Martin can play all positions on the O- Line and helps Miami pick up the pieces on the heels of the Jonathan Martin bullying case.
Pro Comparison: Bryan Bulaga
20. Arizona Cardinals – Johnny Manziel QB, Texas A&M – Despite many experts believing Johnny Football to be a top pick, a lack of size and questionable decision making will ultimately harm his draft stock. However, Manziel will be immediately given the keys to the Cardinals offense and relied upon to be the future. Head Coach Bruce Arians will slowly develop Manziel and look for O- Linemen in the 2nd and 3rd round.
Pro Comparison: Post-prison Michael Vick
21. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Donald DT, Pittsburgh – Donald really helped himself at the combine. Donald won all the major defensive linemen awards in 2013 and is extremely productive. Some teams see him as undersized, but his speed and strength are elite for his position.
Pro Comparison: Jurrell Casey
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Marquise Lee WR, USC – Lee is an all-around receiver which the Eagles can utilize in 2014. With D- Jax asking for more money, Riley Cooper being an upcoming free agent, and Jeremy Maclin coming off season ending knee surgery, Lee would be the best option here. Expect a productive rookie season for the USC product who Chip Kelly had a first-hand look during his time in the Pac-10/Pac-12.
Pro Comparison: Torrey Smith
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Tim Jernigan DT/DE, Florida State – Jernigan is a top 10 talent who fits perfectly into the Chiefs 3-4 scheme as a DE. Teaming Jernigan with Pro Bowl Nose Tackle Dontari Poe can be a scary combination for the years to come.
Pro Comparison: Sheldon Richardson
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Bradley Roby CB, Ohio State – Roby is a talented young man with good speed. He will need time to develop however I can see him being a starter by season’s end. The Bengals should consider themselves lucky to get Roby this late in the draft.
Pro Comparison: Tim Jennings
25. San Diego Chargers – Scott Crichton DE, Oregon State – The Chargers struggled against the run in between the tackles in 2013. Crichton provides a tough presence in the trenches for a finesse defensive team.
Pro Comparison: Justin Smith
26. Cleveland Browns – Ra’Shede Hageman DT/DE, Minnesota – Hageman adds much needed beef upfront for the Browns. He will be a serviceable DE in the 3-4 for an underrated Browns defensive unit.
Pro Comparison: Muhammad Wilkerson
27. New Orleans Saints – Kony Ealy DE, Missouri – Ealy is a serviceable DE whom I expect to produce 8-11 sacks for a long time. Not an elite prospect at DE, however he will be a valuable piece to what the Saints do defensively for years to come. Look for him to fill the void that recently cut Will Smith has left in New Orleans.
Pro Comparison: Trent Cole
28. Carolina Panthers – Lamarcus Joyner CB/S, Florida State – Joyner is a versatile DB whom I envision playing the slot as well as lining up at free safety. He will help the Panthers defense immediately.
Pro Comparison: Tyrann Mathieu
29. New England Patriots – Stephon Tuitt DE, Notre Dame – Tuitt is perfect for the Patriots 3-4 scheme and will be an effective DE for years down the line. Tuitt will add much needed strength upfront to help Chandler Jones sack the opposing QBs.
Pro Comparison: Darnell Dockett
30. San Francisco 49ers – Jason Verrett CB, TCU – Verrett is a gifted all-around corner who will become Carlos Rogers’ replacement. Verrett will succeed in the 49ers system due to the elite pass rush from the front 7.
Pro Comparison: Brandon Browner
31. Denver Broncos – Odell Beckham Jr. WR, LSU – Meet Eric Decker’s replacement. Fantasy gurus be alerted that 900 yards and 11 touchdowns is within reach in a potent Broncos attack. Beckham fits the mold of what Peyton Manning likes at receiver and will be productive for as long as Manning is at the helm.
Pro Comparison: Dwayne Bowe
32. Seattle Seahawks – Austin Seferian- Jenkins TE, Washington – The two elements currently missing from Seattle’s offense are big red zone WRs and athletic TEs to keep the defense honest. The 12th man gets the TE needed to help Russell Wilson put up more points than last year.
Pro Comparison: Julius Thomas