Look for the mouth guard
I did this for two reasons:
1. People like mock drafts
2. We can have a good laugh at it in a few months time
I determined the order by splitting the 32 teams into three groups.
Group 1 – the ‘is it April yet?’ collection
Oakland, Jacksonville, San Diego, New York Jets, Detroit, Arizona, Cleveland, Buffalo, Tennessee, Carolina
Group 2 – The ‘oh dear, you’re really average’ section
Dallas, Miami, Kansas City, Washington, Chicago, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia
Group 3 – The big guns, like Seattle etc
New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, Denver, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Green Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle
I put the three groups into a random organiser and the results were fairly acceptable. Oakland were given the #1 pick, which is apt given they’re already planning what to spend it on next April. New England face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl (again). And although the Seahawks only picked at #24, at least there’s the satisfaction of seeing San Francisco at #21 — meaning a first round playoff exit for Jim Harbaugh. Shame.
#1 Oakland Raiders – Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
I see the argument that says quarterback here — and the Raiders desperately need a quarterback. But how do you pass on Clowney? The simple answer is, you can’t.
#2 Arizona Cardinals – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
If the Cardinals are picking this early in 2014, Carson Palmer clearly didn’t work out. Bridgewater is exactly the type of quarterback the league is looking for — capable of running all the new wrinkles such as the read option but also a formidable pocket passer.
#3 San Diego Chargers – Cyrus Kouandijo (T, Alabama)
The Chargers have holes all over the roster but own a competent veteran quarterback. They started to try and rebuild their offensive line last year and that might continue in 2014. Kouandijo would theoretically replace King Dunlap and he looks like a future franchise left tackle.
#4 Cleveland Browns – Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
I’m not a huge Brandon Weeden fan, but Norv Turner’s offense actually really suits him. Is he the future? Maybe not. But he can be a nice transition player for that franchise. He’ll need help at receiver and Marqise Lee is a phenomenal talent.
#5 Carolina Panthers – Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
Jordan Gross is flirting with retirement and is a free agent next year after restructuring his deal. It’ll create a big hole when he leaves. Matthews has to show he can transition to the left side but there are things about his game that suggest he could be a better player than Luke Joeckel.
#6 New York Jets – Kyle Van Noy (DE, BYU)
The Jets don’t have an outside rusher who can make plays. Kyle Van Noy is undersized but he makes things happen. If he keeps churning out sacks and performs well at the combine, there’s no reason why he can’t be a high pick.
#7 Buffalo Bills – Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
The Bills are switching to a hybrid defense and will be looking for a flexible pass rusher to help Mario Williams. Barr has the look of a future star and can play at the line or in space.
#8 Tennessee Titans – Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
Big nose tackle prospect who really turned up in Notre Dame’s Championship run last year. Nix will interest the 3-4 teams too and could be a very early pick.
#9 Detroit Lions – Antonio Richardson (T, Tennessee)
I was a big Dallas Thomas fan in Tennessee and the fact he had to move to guard to accommodate Richardson speaks volumes. I only realised a few weeks ago he was eligible for the 2014 draft. The Lions have Riley Reiff slated to start at left tackle but he could easily move over to the right.
#10 Jacksonville Jaguars – Aaron Lynch (DE, USF)
Lynch is a monster who could go higher than this. The Jaguars are in a talent accumulating transitional stage. If he gets backs up to his Notre Dame weight, Lynch would make a great 5-tech for Gus Bradley’s four man front.
#11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
I think he’ll end up finding a home at right tackle. The Buccs have a decent roster and much will depend on the form of Josh Freeman this year. Assuming he earns a new contract, a player like Lewan could further bolster Tampa Bay’s offensive line.
#12 Kansas City Chiefs – Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Andy Reid drafted fast, playmaking receivers in Philadelphia. While he’s already re-signed Dwayne Bowe and now traded for 49ers bust A.J. Jenkins, he might still be looking for a receiver next year. Watkins is electric but needs to show renewed focus.
#13 Chicago Bears – Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
A player who just gets better and better at Ohio State. Roby is a fantastic football player and could be a top ten pick. Chicago’s two starting corners are aged 32 and 29.
#14 Pittsburgh Steelers – Loucheiz Purifoy (CB, Florida)
Purifoy isn’t too far behind Bradley Roby and despite a disappointing Sugar Bowl performance last season, SEC teams generally kept away from him in the passing game.
#15 Philadelphia Eagles – Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame)
Philly’s defense has been terrible in pre-season. While it was tempting to put a quarterback in this slot (Manziel? Mariota?) it’s hard to see anything but an all-out assault on the defense coming up. It’s just not good enough at the moment. Tuitt has great size and flashed as a pass rusher in 2012. He also looked decidedly average in the BCS Championship against Alabama.
#16 Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin (T, Notre Dame)
It’s still a mystery why the Dolphins threw good money at average free agents, yet allowed Jake Long to join the Rams. Jonathan Martin looked surprisingly poor as a rookie and getting a new left tackle might be priority #1 next year for Miami.
#17 Minnesota Vikings – Tajh Boyd (QB, Clemson)
I’m not sure who will be the #2 quarterback to leave the board behind Bridgewater, but I know Minnesota will probably have to consider getting him next year. Christian Ponder’s 90-yard games won’t cut it. Boyd’s display against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was tremendous. He’s lost DeAndre Hopkins but retains Sammy Watkins.
#18 St. Louis Rams (from Washington) – Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Unless Brian Quick really turns it on this year it’s not unrealistic that the Rams go in search of another big receiver. Coleman makes unreal plays for a guy his size and his inconsistencies can be levelled at the fact he plays with one of the most erratic quarterbacks in college football.
#19 Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan (DT, Florida State)
Prototype three-technique that’d probably interest Monte Kiffin. Jernigan has all the physical potential in the world but needs to put together a more consistent season. That’ll be tough without Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner.
#20 St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton Dix (S, Alabama)
A safety prospect with a ton of potential, he could be the next Nick Saban protege to make it into the first round.
#21 San Francisco 49ers – De’Anthony Thomas (WR, Oregon)
With Tavon Austin going in the top ten this year, could Thomas also secure a high grade? He’d look good in the read option for San Francisco. Plus the NFC West is quickly becoming a copy-cat division. The Rams have Austin, Seattle has Percy Harvin. Will the Niners go for their version?
#22 New Orleans Saints – Denzel Perryman (LB, Miami)
The Saints have gone to a 3-4 and might have some teething problems this year. Up front they need a nose tackle, while they lack a top outside rusher at linebacker. Even so, I’m giving them an inside guy in Perryman here purely as a long-term cornerstone and defensive leader. He’s been compared to Ray Lewis by Tony Pauline.
#23 Atlanta Falcons – Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington)
Tony Gonzalez can’t go on forever and already appears semi retired (he’s been allowed time off during camp). Seferian-Jenkins would be a natural successor to Gonzalez. You never want to compare college players to first-ballot Hall of Famers, but ASJ could be special.
#24 Seattle Seahawks – Colt Lyerla (TE, Oregon)
Whether he becomes more of a feature for Oregon this year or not, Lyerla is destined to blow up the combine in 2014. You have to believe the Seahawks would enjoy moving Lyerla all over the field to create mismatches. He’s 6-5 and 250lbs, but takes snaps at running back, blocks, lines up as a receiver. He’s a great chess piece for a creative offense.
#25 Baltimore Ravens – Adrian Hubbard (LB, Alabama)
The Ravens always make some kind of intelligent move and this would be another one. Hubbard is more of a pass rusher than C.J. Mosley and would fit nicely into Baltimore’s defense.
#26 Denver Broncos – Jackson Jeffcoat (DE, Texas)
Needs to bring it this year. There are too many underwhelming players at Texas these days. Jeffcoat has flattered to deceive but a big year in 2013 and he has first round potential. Let’s see it.
#27 Houston Texans – Daniel McCullers (DT, Tennessee)
At the moment McCullers is more about potential than production. However, at 6-8 and around 350lbs, he’ll turn some heads this season. He won’t be helped by a Tennessee team that is transitioning (again) to a new coaching staff. But he could shine in the post season and be a quick riser.
#28 Indianapolis Colts – Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt)
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more consistent, reliable receiver in college football than Matthews. He took major strides in 2012 and just looks like the kind of guy you can imagine Andrew Luck throwing to.
#29 Green Bay – Ed Reynolds (S, Stanford)
Just a flat out playmaker and interception machine. Might not have the athletic qualities to warrant an earlier pick but has every chance of making it into the first frame.
#30 Cincinnati Bengals – Scott Crichton (DE, Oregon State)
I can see the Bengals looking at quarterbacks if Andy Dalton continues to hold back the plethora of weapons Cincy has on offense. Dalton is average. The guys he’s throwing to are world class. The extension for Carlos Dunlap makes keeping Michael Johnson difficult. Although they did draft Margus Hunt.
#31 New York Giants – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon)
There’s every chance New York goes cornerback next year. Ekpre-Olomu has great athletic qualities and would fill a need for the Giants.
#32 New England Patriots – Damian Swann (CB, Georgia)
I spent a lot of time watching the Bulldogs last year and this guy constantly kept jumping out. Georgia’s lost a lot of defensive talent to the NFL so it’ll be interesting to see if Swann continues to shine in 2013.
- Only two quarterbacks are listed in the first round. I can only give Teddy Bridgewater a sure-fire first round grade going into the new college season.
- Don’t sleep on Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech) making a comeback. He had a lousy 2012 season but has all the physical tools. If he can rebound this year and put together a strong season — he could be back in contention as an early pick. A game against Alabama early in the year is the perfect platform to get back on track.
- I resisted the temptation to flood the mock with read-option quarterbacks. I’m not convinced Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Stephen Morris (Miami) and Brett Hundley (UCLA) will declare. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) just has too much baggage right now to put in round one.
- A.J. McCarron (Alabama) might start in the league for a team that features an orthodox passing game and likes to run the ball. But he isn’t a first round talent. And for me, neither is David Fales (San Diego State).
- The two players I really wanted to include here but couldn’t? Boston College defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey. He’s had too many injury issues but nobody can deny his talent. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley. Terrific player but other talented linebackers have struggled to crack the first round.
- If I had to include a running back in this mock it probably would’ve been Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona) or Lache Seastrunk (Baylor) but I can’t see the first round runner for 2014. It’ll be interesting to see how Michael Dyer gets on in Louisville.