Jan 1, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) talks on the bench as the South Carolina Gamecocks beat the Wisconsin Badgers 34-24 in the Capital One Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
1. Houston Texans – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Houston needs a quarterback, but is any signal caller in this draft really worth the top pick? Look for the Texans to add Clowney, who – as a prospect – compares strangely well to Mario Williams, and grab a quarterback in the second or third round. My money is on Garoppolo.
2. St. Louis Rams – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Many people believe that this season is make-or-break for Sam Bradford. Thus, the Rams will want to give him a solid chance to prove himself. While a Tackle might make sense in this spot, Wide Receiver is actually the bigger need.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Blake Bortles, South Florida
Sure, the Jags need to sell tickets. More than anything, though, this franchise needs legitimacy. Blake Bortles may not be a guaranteed success, but he looks like the most all-around QB prospect in the draft.
4. Cleveland Browns – QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Somehow, someway, it has been my belief that Johnny Manziel would end up a Cleveland Brown. His persona seems to fit the franchise, the ownership appears to be head-over-heels with him, and more importantly: his style of play should go well with speedy WR Josh Gordon and the incredibly athletic TE Jordan Cameron.
5. Oakland Raiders – OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
The Raiders will also look to draft a quarterback, but Teddy Bridgewater no longer appears to be a solid selection at #5. This, along with the recent departure of LT Jason Veldheer make Robinson the perfect pick for Oakland. Plus, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see them land Bridgewater in the 2nd round or with a trade to get back into the 1st.
6. Atlanta Falcons – LB Kahlil Mack, Buffalo
Atlanta desperately needs to protect Matt Ryan, but equal to that is their need for some intensity on Defense. Since the departure of Brent Grimes, the unit has been rather unexcitable. Mack could be a leader for that group early on, and there should still be some solid options left at Tackle in the 2nd round, such as Morgan Moses, “Tiny” Richardson, and Cyrus Kouandjio.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
The Bucs are probably the most unpredictable team in the draft. Despite a solid rookie campaign from Mike Glennon, word on in the street is they’re looking for a quarterback. Under Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier, though, expect a defensive re-vamp before anything else.
8. Minnesota Vikings – CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma
Like the Texans and Raiders, Minnesota probably wants to add a solid piece before taking a chance with one of this draft’s quarterbacks, especially since not many teams after them need one. Gilbert would be an excellent pairing with emerging talent Xavier Rhodes, helping the team with the likes of Chicago, Green Bay and Detroit for years to come.
9. Buffalo Bills – S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Buffalo has tried very hard to re-build their Linebacker core during the off-season but has only had moderate success. Thus, Mosley or Shazier could make sense here, but while both are very talented, each does present a lot of risk for a top 10 pick. Instead, look for the Bills to surprise some by replacing Pro Bowl Jairus Byrd with their top pick. Pryor’s fast, hard-hitting style of play makes him very similar.
10. Detroit Lions – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
While the Lions need Secondary help in a major way, there are enough intriguing 2nd round prospects to allow them to wait. With Mike Evans on the board and the desire for a strong compliment to Calvin Johnson (especially with the departure of Nate Burleson), there is no way Detroit would pass on Mike Evans.
11. Tennessee Titans – OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Much like the Jaguars, the Titans need to fix their foundation before addressing flashy positions. Arguably the best talent in the draft, Jake Matthews will be irresistible at Pick 11.
12. New York Giants – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Enough offensive talent in the later rounds and defensive additions via free agency allow the Giants to focus on their o-line with the #12 pick. Protecting Eli Manning, anyway, is priority numero uno.
13. St. Louis Rams – S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Dix may not be the exciting Safety talent there has been in recent years, but he is probably the best all-around player at the position. Playing in the NFC West demands a solid secondary, and Dix would be an instant upgrade.
14. Chicago Bears – DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Following the departure of Henry Melton, the Bears need a three-technique Defensive Tackle. Though undersized, Donald is probably the best such player available in the 2014 draft.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St.
With this pick, the Steelers employ the same strategy as the Detroit Lions, but in reverse: fix the secondary now and look for a wide receiver next. In other drafts, Dennard might be a top 10 pick. He’s a gift for Pittsburgh at #15, and will learn a great deal from Ike Taylor.