Sunday, December 22, 2013

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Bowl Game Edition

1. Houston Texans: QB Teddy Bridgewater: Despite his many talents, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was not even in contention for the Heisman Trophy. But even though Bridgewater is coming from a weak football school, as well as the fact that his team was not involved in the BCS Championship discussion, NFL teams are eager to draft Bridgewater first overall. Bridgewater is absolutely incredible in the pocket, and his ability to throw on the run makes it difficult for defenses to contain him even when they bring the blitz.

2. St. Louis (via Washington): OT Jake Matthews: Jake Matthews, by far the best lineman in this year's draft, would be be a great new addition to the Rams' offensive line. With Jake Matthews on one side of the offensive line, and Jake Long on the other, the St Louis Rams might be able to have the most talented O-Line in the National Football League. Apart from improving the offensive line, St. Louis may be tempted to draft a quarterback with the second pick in the draft; however, assuming that Sam Bradford can return from his injury by the start of next season, the offensive line must be upgraded as soon as possible.

3. Oakland Raiders: DE Jadeveon Clowney: The Oakland Raiders' defensive line has definitely improved since last season, but it will be extremely difficult to pass on the highly talented defensive end out of South Carolina, Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney's skill set will earn him extroidanary numbers at the NFL combine, so his draft stock will sky rocket upwards despite his sub-par play in 2013.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Derek Carr: This quarterback out of Fresno State flew under the radar throughout the 2013 regular season, and by the end of the year, Carr led the entire nation in both passing yards (4,866) and passing touchdowns (48). Similarly to Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr is coming from a relatively small football school, Fresno State, which may hurt his draft stock slightly.

5. Atlanta Falcons: LB Anthony Barr: After losing to San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game in 2012, many injuries in 2013 caused the Falcons to go 4-10 as of Week 15. Atlanta's defense, ranking 29th in total yards allowed, needs help with both their run and pass defense, and an athletic linebacker/defensive end like Anthony Barr will surely benefit this struggling team.

6. Cleveland Browns: QB Blake Bortles: After Marcus Mariota announced to the football world that he would be staying at Oregon for his senior year, Blake Bortles has rocketed upwards in the draft boards. Bortles, standing at 6'3" and 240 pounds, has been compared to the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, where both of them are similar in size yet very athletic quarterbacks. It is time for Cleveland to give up on second year quarterback Brandon Weeden.

7. New York Giants: OLB Khalil Mack: Not many players from the University at Buffalo are drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, but Khalil Mack is an extraordinary talent. This season, Mack posted 100 tackles and 10.5 sacks, where 2.5 of those sacks came against Ohio State in the season opener. The New York Giants ranked 26th overall in defensive sacks, so Khalil Mack would be a great addition to this team.

8. Buffalo Bills: WR Samy Watkins: If the Buffalo Bills wish to build their offense around EJ Manuel, then a new wide receiver should be the first new addition in the offseason. Sammy Watkins from Clemson caught 83 passes for 1,237 yards and 10 scores in 2013, and he is clearly the best wide receiver in this year's draft. The Bills are still one or two years away from making the playoffs, and in order to turn around their game immediately, they must make a huge splash in free agency.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Johnny Manziel: There is no disputing that Johnny Manziel is an incredibly talented quarterbacks, but his lack of size and off the field troubles may cause several teams to pass. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team that will be willing to take the risk, hoping that Manziel can rescue their franchise.

10. Minnesota Vikings: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: As of Week 16, the Minnesota Vikings rank dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed with 294.4 yards per game. The Vikings were hoping that rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes could fix the problem with their pass defense in 2012, but obviously, there was no improvement. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is one of the best defenders in this draft class, and hopefully, he can team up with Xavier Rhodes to form one of the best pass defenses in the league.

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