McShay: 2014 NFL Mock Draft 2.0
Clowney goes No. 1, three QBs go early in 2014 first-round projection
Updated: February 6, 2014, 1:08 PM ET
By Todd McShay | ESPN Insider
Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay reveal their No. 1 pick in their latest mock drafts.
We're still three months away from the 2014 NFL draft, but there are plenty of intriguing draft questions already beginning to emerge. Who will go No. 1? How many quarterbacks will go in the first round? How will the Rams and Browns use their extra first-round picks?
We set out to answer those questions and plenty more with our second mock draft of the season, projecting all 32 first-round picks. Here's our latest prediction of how the draft could play out, based on team needs and how we currently rate the top prospects in the 2014 draft class.
As usual, draft-eligible nonseniors are denoted with an asterisk.
^ Indicates that Baltimore and Dallas will flip a coin to determine which team picks first.
1Jadeveon Clowney*Houston Texans (2-14)
COLLEGE: South CarolinaAGE: 20HT: 6-5WT: 258POS: DE
Analysis: Passing up on a quarterback here, particularly in-state product Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, might be a public relations nightmare, but that would pale in comparison to the nightmares the combination of Clowney and J.J. Watt would create for opposing offenses. Clowney's production dipped this season and his motor ran hot and cold as the season went on, but he is the most talented player in this class and possesses a rare blend of size, strength and athleticism, and Watt could help him develop his technique and discipline.
If the Texans do end up taking a QB, don't be surprised if it's UCF's Blake Bortles over Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. For starters, while Manziel is more dynamic and Bridgewater is more polished, Bortles has the sturdiest frame, outstanding mental makeup, good accuracy -- both in the pocket and on the move -- and the proven ability to deliver in the clutch. Plus, Bill O'Brien was an assistant under Bortles' college coach, George O'Leary, at Georgia Tech, so that could provide O'Brien with the confidence to take Bortles if O'Leary gives him the full stamp of approval.
2Greg RobinsonSt. Louis Rams (7-9) (From WAS)
COLLEGE: AuburnAGE: 21HT: 6-5WT: 320POS: OT
Analysis: The Rams could use a tackle, with Rodger Saffold and Chris Williams scheduled to become unrestricted free agents and Jake Long suffering a torn ACL and MCL toward the end of the 2013 season, and Robinson is the top one on our board (he's No. 2 overall behind Clowney). Robinson has the size and strength of a road-grading right tackle, but the athleticism, length and agility to develop into a star at left tackle. He was dominant at the point of attack for Auburn this season.
3Teddy Bridgewater*Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)
COLLEGE: LouisvilleAGE: 21HT: 6-2WT: 198POS: QB
Analysis: This draft feels like the right time for the Jaguars to get their franchise quarterback, and in this scenario they'd have their pick of every QB on the board. Bridgewater continues to be the No. 1 quarterback in our rankings, because while there are some concerns about his long-term durability in the NFL due to his lean frame, he is the most naturally accurate passer in this class with great anticipation, toughness and command of the offense.
4Blake Bortles*Cleveland Browns (4-12)
COLLEGE: UCFAGE: 21HT: 6-4WT: 228POS: QB
Analysis: The Browns need a quarterback, and Bortles has the physical tools and mental makeup to develop into a good NFL starter. He will not wow scouts with a big-time arm, and, like most young quarterbacks, he can become more consistent with his decision-making. However, Bortles does have enough arm strength to make all the NFL throws, and unlike many college QBs I study on tape, Bortles sees the entire field, stands strong in the pocket and shows the ability to go through NFL-type progressions. He also has the prototypical size, accuracy, pocket presence and mobility to make plays with his legs. One thing to keep in mind: New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan coached a narrow-framed mobile QB in Robert Griffin III in Washington who dealt with injury issues, so he might appreciate having a mobile QB with a bigger, sturdier frame.
5Johnny Manziel*Oakland Raiders (4-12)
COLLEGE: Texas A&MAGE: 21HT: 6-0WT: 200POS: QB
Analysis: The Raiders have 18 unrestricted free agents and finally have some salary cap room to add some key pieces to their team, so we're likely to see a lot of turnover on this roster this offseason. They also need to find an upgrade at quarterback over Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, which is why Manziel could be a fit here even though we have a late-first-round grade on him. The NFL evaluators who have concerns about Manziel focus on his on- and off-field decision-making and lack of size (not his height, but whether his small frame can hold up over 16-game seasons, given his style of play), but the ones who love him focus on his special improvisational skills, creativity and running ability. I also thought he showed improvement with his velocity, ball placement and patience within the pocket this season.
6Jake MatthewsAtlanta Falcons (4-12)
COLLEGE: Texas A&MAGE: 21HT: 6-5WT: 309POS: OT
Analysis: Defensive end, offensive tackle and tight end are the Falcons' top needs in this draft, and Matthews is a guy who fills a need and is also a top-five talent in this class. He brings versatility, having played both right tackle and left tackle for the Aggies, and he has good bloodlines (Bruce Matthews is his dad), commitment to the game and an understanding of what it takes to succeed. This feels like a good, safe pick for a team that needs to better protect QB Matt Ryan in 2014 and beyond.
7Khalil MackTampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
COLLEGE: BuffaloAGE: 22HT: 6-2WT: 245POS: OLB
Analysis: Mack was very productive at Buffalo (he's the NCAA's all-time career leader in tackles for loss and forced fumbles), and he has the potential to develop into a versatile playmaker in the NFL. He'd be a "Sam" linebacker in the Bucs' scheme, but they'd be able to move him around because he is a highly disruptive run defender in addition to being very effective as a pass-rusher and able to hold up in zone and man-to-man coverage against tight ends.
8C.J. MosleyMinnesota Vikings (5-10-1)
COLLEGE: AlabamaAGE: 21HT: 6-2WT: 228POS: OLB
Analysis: If there's anything that keeps Mosley out of the first half of the first round, my guess is it would be concerns about his durability (he's had significant shoulder, hip and elbow injuries in the past), but it's hard not to fall in love with his performance on tape. He was highly productive at Alabama, and set the tone for that defense with his motor and aggressive play. In addition to his outstanding cover skills, he's very disruptive when turned loose as a pass-rusher. He'd be a good fit in Minnesota as the Vikings' weakside linebacker.
9Sammy Watkins*Buffalo Bills (6-10)
COLLEGE: ClemsonAGE: 20HT: 6-0WT: 205POS: WR
Analysis: The Bills have more pressing needs than wide receiver, including offensive line (specifically guard and right tackle), tight end (if Scott Chandler is not re-signed) and safety (if Jairus Byrd is not re-signed), but pairing young and developing QB EJ Manuel with the top receiver in this year's class might be too tempting to pass up. Watkins is a physical receiver with a big-time second gear who is very competitive when the ball is in the air. Texas A&M's Mike Evans would also make a lot of sense, as his size would provide a good complement to the smaller, faster receivers on Buffalo's roster.
10Mike Evans*Detroit Lions (7-9)
COLLEGE: Texas A&MAGE: 20HT: 6-4WT: 220POS: WR
Analysis: Evans still has some developing to do as a route runner, and yes, he has some immaturity issues and a tendency to get overly emotional. But he is an absolute pit bull on the field, and there is no receiver in this draft who is more dangerous when the ball is in the air. Both the tape and the advanced metrics make the case that he is the most proven down-the-field pass-catcher in the 2014 class. The Lions need a difference-maker opposite Calvin Johnson, and Johnson's leadership and experience could be just what Evans needs to avoid early-career pitfalls.
11Anthony BarrTennessee Titans (7-9)
COLLEGE: UCLAAGE: 21HT: 6-4WT: 244POS: DE/OLB
Analysis: Even if Tennessee decides to move on from Jake Locker at QB, it's hard to imagine the team liking one enough to draft him at No. 11 in this scenario. Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would also fill needs here, but I think Barr would be a fit for new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's hybrid scheme, given Barr's experience working on the line and standing up as a 3-4 outside linebacker. I've been a little underwhelmed by what I've seen from him on tape so far, which is why I have him sliding a bit, but I still have more to study and he's a naturally gifted player with a unique combination of athleticism and size. He should continue to improve, as a converted H-back who has had limited experience playing defense.
12Taylor LewanNew York Giants (7-9)
COLLEGE: MichiganAGE: 22HT: 6-7WT: 314POS: OT
Analysis: Lewan could develop into an upgrade at left tackle over Will Beatty, or he could fit in at right tackle, as some believe that Justin Pugh would be a better fit at guard even after his outstanding rookie season at RT. But regardless of where Lewan would play, the Giants need to upgrade their offensive line, and Lewan is the top O-lineman available in this scenario. Top cornerback prospect Justin Gilbert would also be an option, and adding a pass-catching weapon for Eli Manning like USC WR Marqise Lee or UNC TE Eric Ebron could likewise be tempting.
13Marqise Lee*St. Louis Rams (7-9)
COLLEGE: USCAGE: 22HT: 6-0WT: 195POS: WR
Analysis: This would make for a terrific start to the Rams' 2014 draft class -- landing the top offensive lineman in the draft at No. 2 in Auburn's Greg Robinson, and then having one of the top two or three receiver prospects fall to them at No. 13. Lee dropped too many passes this season and his lean frame and durability will be a concern as well, but he has outstanding speed and is a big-play weapon both as a vertical route runner and after the catch (and his ball skills were not a problem when he had Matt Barkley throwing to him). The Rams can afford to wait until Day 2 to address their needs on defense (safety and linebacker).
14Timmy JerniganChicago Bears (8-
COLLEGE: Florida StateAGE: 20HT: 6-2WT: 298POS: DT
Analysis: The Bears have a lot of uncertainty along their defensive line: defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins were both placed on the injured reserve last season and are free agents this offseason; DT Jay Ratliff and DE Corey Wootton are also scheduled to become free agents; and DT Stephen Paea's contract expires after the 2014 season. Enter Jernigan, who won't wow anybody with his physique at the combine and doesn't always look pretty out on the field, but is a stout, quick and powerful football player who would be a great fit in the Bears' one-gap scheme.
15Louis Nix IIIPittsburgh Steelers (8-
COLLEGE: Notre DameAGE: 22HT: 6-3WT: 340POS: DT
Analysis: Nix performed better in 2012 than he did in 2013, and he'll be coming off a knee injury, but you simply don't find many players with his enormous size who can move like he does. Nix has the potential to develop into the Steelers' next Casey Hampton and serve as the centerpiece of their 3-4 defensive scheme. He wouldn't be Pittsburgh's only option in this scenario, however; Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert, Notre Dame OT Zack Martin and Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio would all be good fits. The Steelers might be able to get a bigger WR like Fresno State's Davante Adams or Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin on Day 2.
16Eric Ebron*Baltimore Ravens (8-
COLLEGE: UNCAGE: 20HT: 6-4WT: 231POS: TE
Analysis: The Ravens would probably jump on one of the top three WR prospects if one falls to them here at No. 16 (or No. 17, if they lose their coin flip with the Cowboys at the combine), and they could also consider a tackle like Notre Dame's Zack Martin or consider trading back and drafting a tackle a little later. But Ebron would be a good fit, with Dennis Pitta (coming off an injury) and Ed Dickson (who has been disappointing) both set to become free agents, along with veteran Dallas Clark, and he would provide a legit vertical threat down the middle of the field for Joe Flacco. Ebron is the top TE prospect in this class.
17Ha Ha Clinton-Dix*Dallas Cowboys (8-
COLLEGE: AlabamaAGE: 20HT: 6-1WT: 208POS: S
Analysis: The Cowboys' biggest need area is their pass rush (they ranked last in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt), but it might be reaching at this point to draft a D-lineman like Missouri's Kony Ealy or Pitt's Aaron Donald. But safety is also a clear position of weakness -- particularly in coverage -- and the best one in this class is Clinton-Dix. He doesn't have elite man-to-man coverage skills but has good range in zone and is an aggressive, efficient run supporter. Safety is becoming a more important position in the NFL with the increased usage of spread formations, bigger wide receivers and athletic "F" tight ends.
18Brandin Cooks*New York Jets (8-
COLLEGE: Oregon StateAGE: 20HT: 5-10WT: 185POS: WR
Analysis: Drafting any of the available receivers here is a reach with Watkins, Lee and Evans off the board, but we could see an early run on receivers in this draft, and despite his lack of ideal size, Cooks is a proven playmaker with great burst, good top-end speed and very strong route-running instincts. Davante Adams, Odell Beckham Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin are other WRs who could be drafted in this range, although I'm not as quite as high on Benjamin as some others after studying him on tape. Ebron would have been a good fit here, and Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert would have been a good value pick, but wide receiver is the Jets' top need.
19Zack MartinMiami Dolphins (8-
COLLEGE: Notre DameAGE: 23HT: 6-4WT: 308POS: OT
Analysis: The Dolphins' offensive line issues -- both on and off the field -- have been well-documented, and the end result was an offense that finished ranked 26th in the league in rushing and set a team record for sacks allowed (58). Martin is a plug-and-play starter at either tackle or guard. The knock on him is that he has short arms, which has some projecting him as a guard (where he'd be great), but we think he has a chance to develop into a good starter at tackle because he was an outstanding OT throughout his career at Notre Dame, stood out as the top talent at this year's Senior Bowl and has good feet, good technique and a nasty disposition on the field.
20Cyrus Kouandjio*Arizona Cardinals (10-6)
COLLEGE: AlabamaAGE: 20HT: 6-5WT: 310POS: OT
Analysis: Arizona's offensive line played better in 2013, but the Cardinals need to find an upgrade over the physically limited Bradley Sowell at left tackle. Kouandjio is still a work in progress (he needs to improve his balance and hand placement) and would have benefited from another year at school, but he's supremely gifted at 6-5, 310 pounds with natural mobility. He likely would be projected to go higher were it not for his disappointing start and finish to the season.
21Justin GilbertGreen Bay Packers (8-7-1)
COLLEGE: Oklahoma StateAGE: 22HT: 6-0WT: 200POS: CB
Analysis: Cornerback is a need position for the Packers, but not as much of a need position as tight end, safety, D-line and linebacker. So this is more of a value pick than anything else. Gilbert is the top cornerback prospect in a class loaded with them, and he is an absolute ball hawk with good size and the ability to press or sit back in coverage. Other options: Clinton-Dix, if he fell here, or Louisville's Calvin Pryor would fit at safety, and Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt and Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman would fit as 5-technique D-linemen. I think UNC TE Eric Ebron is the only offensive prospect the Packers would take over a defender.
22Darqueze DennardPhiladelphia Eagles (10-6)
COLLEGE: Michigan StateAGE: 22HT: 5-11WT: 189POS: CB
Analysis: Defense should be the Eagles' priority if the right player is available, in particular looking for an edge rusher and improving the athleticism and depth in the secondary. Dennard is a proven commodity with adequate size, good top-end speed and very good instincts and fluidity in coverage, and he was a legit shutdown corner against several opponents' top targets this season. Louisville's Pryor could also be worth a look here, and other cornerback options include Florida's Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner, Ohio State's Bradley Roby and TCU's Jason Verrett.
23Odell Beckham, Jr.*Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
COLLEGE: LSUAGE: 21HT: 6-0WT: 193POS: WR
Analysis: The Chiefs are in need of more offensive weapons, and Beckham seems like a good fit in Kansas City. He played his best football in 2013, and in particular his ball skills and overall focus improved late in the season. He isn't as consistent as teammate Jarvis Landry, but he's more explosive, a playmaker who is a threat to stretch the field and even more dangerous after the catch and on punt returns. Notre Dame DL Stephon Tuitt would make a lot of sense here as well, as would Fresno State WR Davante Adams, but Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin is too much of a risk-reward prospect for the Chiefs to select at No. 23.
24Lamarcus JoynerCincinnati Bengals (11-5)
COLLEGE: Florida StateAGE: 23HT: 5-8WT: 187POS: CB
Analysis: Defensive end is one of Cincinnati's top needs, but the only available prospect worth drafting in this scenario is Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt, who is a better fit as a 5-technique in a 3-4 defense. But cornerback is also among the team's top three needs, and Joyner is one of the best defensive playmakers in this class (plus, he fits the Bengals' M.O. of drafting big-name players from traditional powerhouse schools). Joyner lacks elite size but he is a quick, fast, instinctive defensive back who plays bigger than his size, and could play a Tyrann Mathieu role for this defense. If Cincy passes on a corner at No. 24, it could find a very good one in Round 2.
25Loucheiz Purifoy*San Diego Chargers (9-7)
COLLEGE: FloridaAGE: 20HT: 6-0WT: 185POS: CB
Analysis: The Chargers need to upgrade at cornerback and in the return game, and Purifoy could help in both areas. He is raw with his technique but has the potential to develop into a playmaker at corner because of his very good ball skills, and because he's one of the most naturally talented defensive backs in this draft. If the Chargers pass on Purifoy, they could go with a smaller but equally skilled and more polished cover corner in TCU's Jason Verrett. If they take a CB here, they could target a pass-rusher like Auburn's Dee Ford in Round 2 and a guard like Baylor's Cyril Richardson in Round 3.
26Davante Adams*Cleveland Browns (4-12) (from IND)
COLLEGE: Fresno StateAGE: 21HT: 6-2WT: 212POS: WR
Analysis: In this scenario the Browns got their quarterback at No. 4 overall in UCF's Blake Bortles, and their other top needs are guard, running back, wide receiver and cornerback. TCU CB Jason Verrett would be a good value pick, but adding a reliable No. 2 WR to complement Josh Gordon wouldn't be a bad idea at all. Adams is a good-sized WR who had exceptional college production. While he can improve his route-running efficiency, he shows good burst out of his cuts to separate and effectively uses his bigger frame to shield defenders. I also have yet to see him drop a pass in five games I've studied on tape.
27Morgan MosesNew Orleans Saints (11-5)
COLLEGE: VirginiaAGE: 22HT: 6-6WT: 332POS: OT
Analysis: Notre Dame D-lineman Stephon Tuitt would be tough to pass on this late, even though the team is thrilled with the play of Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks. But offensive tackle is one of the Saints' top needs (others include OLB, CB, WR, C, DE and potentially TE if they can't re-sign Jimmy Graham), and Moses has the size, natural athleticism and strength to develop into a good starter at left tackle. He'd be tough to pass up this late, and he looked much more comfortable at left tackle in 2013 than he did at right tackle previously. Look for the Saints to try to find a center later in the draft, possibly USC's Marcus Martin or UNC's Russell Bodine.
28Kelvin Benjamin*Carolina Panthers (12-4)
COLLEGE: Florida StateAGE: 23HT: 6-4WT: 233POS: WR
Analysis: Benjamin is a boom-or-bust WR prospect at this point. He needs to learn how to run better routes, and I've seen him drop too many passes when watching him on tape. But you simply can't coach size, body control and proven ability to come down with 50-50 balls. He had eight touchdown catches in Florida State's final four games, including the game-winning grab in the BCS title game. He is a big play waiting to happen, and would give Cam Newton a big-time weapon to target downfield, especially in "scramble drill" situations when the initial play breaks down.
29Stephon Tuitt*New England Patriots (12-4)
COLLEGE: Notre DameAGE: 20HT: 6-6WT: 303POS: DE
Analysis: Tuitt has the versatility and body type that the Patriots covet, and he'd allow them to be more flexible up front. He could wind up going significantly earlier if teams are comfortable with his self-motivation, as he is big and strong enough to two-gap and also has very good mobility for his size. He needs to learn how to use his hands better and play with more consistent leverage, but he has the physical tools to be very successful. New England's other needs include interior offensive line, tight end and cornerback (if Aqib Talib departs).
30Ra'Shede HagemanSan Francisco 49ers (12-4)
COLLEGE: MinnesotaAGE: 23HT: 6-5WT: 307POS: DT
Analysis: The Niners would like to add a receiver with the ability to take the top off of a defense, but there isn't one available here worthy of a first-round pick. But while the 49ers' defensive front seven is outstanding, now is a great time to bring in another young D-lineman to develop, with Justin Smith turning 35 in September. Hageman has some boom-or-bust qualities (he needs to improve his consistency and technique), but he showed improvement last season, is tall, well-proportioned and naturally strong, and not many guys his size move like he does. Landing with a defense like San Francisco's could be exactly what he needs.
31Jason VerrettDenver Broncos (13-3)
COLLEGE: TCUAGE: 22HT: 5-9WT: 174POS: CB
Analysis: The Broncos' top need is offensive tackle, but in this scenario, with six already off the board in the first 27 picks, there isn't one worth taking at No. 31. They'll also need to address wide receiver and tight end at some point this offseason with Eric Decker a free agent and Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas set to become FAs after next season. But the best player available at a position of need in this scenario is Verrett. He lacks size, but he's the quickest man-to-man cover corner in this class and plays really tough. He reminds me a bit of Antoine Winfield.
32Jace Amaro*Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
COLLEGE: Texas TechAGE: 21HT: 6-5WT: 255POS: TE
Analysis: The Super Bowl champs have needs at wide receiver, offensive tackle, tight end, guard and cornerback, and while receiver and tackle are two of the deeper positions at the top of this year's draft, in this scenario -- with seven WRs and six OTs already off the board -- the well dries up before the Seahawks pick. But Amaro still fills a position of need, as the Seahawks could use a weapon down the middle of the field for Russell Wilson. Amaro is very productive, has great size to box out defenders, and he runs well. He has too many drops and needs to improve his route-running, but he has the tools to develop.