NFL Mock Draft: Projecting the First Round

The 2014 NFL Draft is right around the corner, and teams are figuring out their big boards. We at the UC Irvine Sports Analysis Collective thought we would try our hand at predicting all the action.

1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina 

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Jadeveon Clowney

Houston could take a quarterback, but doesn’t miss the chance to take the most gifted pass rushers in years.

2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

St. Louis has committed to Bradford for another year, and improving the offensive line is key to ensuring Bradford’s success.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Jacksonville is getting Seattle’s former coordinator and will emphasize defense.

4. Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

This gives Cleveland an extra weapon opposite of Josh Gordon, who is battling personal issues and will be serving a suspension. 

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Teddy Bridgewater

5. Oakland Raiders – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville 

The Raiders need a franchise QB and they cannot afford to pass one up again. 

6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, OL, Texas A&M

With an offense loaded with weapons, all Matt Ryan needs is time to pick apart a defense.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Tampa Bay has committed to QB Josh McCown for two years, so adding an offensive weapon across Vincent Jackson is key. 

8. Minnesota Vikings – Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Minnesota does not have enough firepower at WR to take pressure off Adrian Peterson.

9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Despite the legal issues in the off-season, it seems like it won’t trouble him at all. He was once exalted as the top OT, there’s still something there and Buffalo needs help for EJ Manuel.

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Ha-Ha Dix

10. Detroit Lions – Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, S, Alabama 

Lions biggest issue is in the secondary. They go with it here and Dix is probably the highest rated safety.

 11. Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Tennessee needs some edge rushers, and Barr can do it all as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

12. New York Giants – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

With the loss of one of their WRs and the overall mess of a passing game, Giants need a legit TE like Ebron.

13. St. Louis Rams – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

With the key departure of Finnegan in the secondary, this fills a a key need for the Rams.

14. Chicago Bears – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

The Bear’s secondary was sloppy this season, so they fill a key hole in the 30th ranked defense last season.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

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Johnny Football.

The Steelers need to consolidate their defense, especially the secondary after a slip in production last year.

16. Dallas Cowboys – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Texas. Johnny Football. Enough said.

17. Baltimore Ravens – Darqueeze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

The Ravens need a cornerback who step in right away and provide depth in the nickel package.

18. New York Jets –  Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Regards of whether Vick or Smith start QB, this offense is sorely lacking at WR and needs to improve from being the 31st ranking passing offense last season.

19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame

Offensive line is the biggest weakness for the Dolphins, and Martin could fill a spot with no proven veterans.

20. Arizona Cardinals – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Arizona has its offense solidified,  so they go defense with this one.

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Jimmie Ward

21. Green Bay Packers – Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois 

After getting torched by opposing wide receivers, Green Bay needs to make a splash in the secondary.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama

Philly gets a steal by getting its top target late in the first round.

23. Kansas City Chiefs – Odell Beckam Jr, WR, LSU

KC finally gets more help for Alex Smith to put pressure off of Jamaal Charles and add another dimension to their offense.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Cincinnati adds a potential franchise QB to either compete with or learn behind Dalton.

25. San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

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Bortles on left, Carr on right.

Cornerback is the biggest need for this team after losing two in free agency.

26.  Cleveland Browns – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Cleveland talked to Bortles extensively during his visit, and they take the QB with the biggest upside in this draft.

27. New Orleans Saints – Kony Early, DE, Missouri

With Rob Ryan’s defensive style, adding another pass rusher will be key. The Saints will look to add a WR and Safety later in the draft.

28. Carolina Panthers – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

With the run on wide receivers already taking place, the Panthers cannot fill their biggest need with their first round pick. So they take the best player available and improve upon an already stout run defense.

29. New England Patriots – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

The Patriots have missed the on field presence of Aaron Hernandez. Amaro, just like Hernandez, is a tight end who is big, but plays like a wide receiver, exactly what the Patriots need. Plus, with Gronk’s injury woes, they take the safe route and have another tight end ready.

30. San Francisco 49ers – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

The corners the 49ers would target are gone and Matthews has what it takes to be a solid contributing WR on this roster.

31. Denver Broncos – Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State

After losing two centers in free agency, the Broncos need to shuffle their offensive line and add depth.

32. Seattle Seahawks – Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson

The loss of Tate means Seattle needs to reload at the WR position.

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