I'm going to do a follow-up Mock Draft where I'll throw in trades that I deem most likely, although as always there's no guarantees who trades where and for what player. It's why this draft is trade-free, that teams will sit pat and wait for players to drop to them (which is unlikely in some cases).
In the meantime, you are all allowed to mock my mock.
There are rules. There are ALWAYS rules:
1) I have teams drafting not BPA overall, but drafting for Best Player At High Need.
2) When in doubt, draft offensive line.
3) When in doubt and the O-line is solid, draft defensive line.
4) No PUNTERS in the First Round. Seriously. Even though I wouldn't mind if Carolina DOES waste a FIrstie on a Punter bwhahahahahahaha.
5) I will always make a huge mistake drafting someone out of their actual drafting place, because I'm going by how players rank on various scouting boards, and the damn scouts keep mixing DEs to OLBs and OTs to OGs to Centers. It's not fair...
Anyhoo: ON TO THE MOCK!
NFL draft 2014
Houston (needs DE, OT, QB) – I don't envy Houston this year. This draft is top-heavy with decent talent BUT there's not a one-name, sure-fire, guy-will-single-handedly-win-the-Super-Bowl player to draft here. Considering their moves in Free Agency so far, they can jump one of three ways: DE or QB above all for impact player... except that getting an OT like Matthews ready to pass-block like a mofo would be pretty tempting as well. Any way they go, nobody would knock them for it. But the smartest move for a team as pocked with talent gaps as the Texans would be to trade down. In this day and age now that rookie salaries aren't stacked with guaranteed money, they could pull it off too. Thing is, I can't see who can trade up right now, so they gotta take a pick. Smart money would be for them to get DE Clowney as the most-lusted-for talent... except the glamour pick for a new coach is usually getting a QB like Bortles, Manziel or Bridgewater. Hurting Clowney is the fact that Houston needs more offensive help than defensive. With Bridgewater sliding due to a weak off-season, the pick here is either the pro-looking Bortles or the scramble-type local-hero Johnny Football.
Pick: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
St. Louis (from Wash) (needs WR, OL, CB) – I DO envy the Rams: that trade with the 'Skins is the gift that kept on giving, and this year they've got two pick in the first 15 spots. They can indulge with a glamour pick here that can still fit a need, and then get a need pick later. While the Rams run a traditional offense, they need more weapons to their passing game. They luck out this year with a WR with exceptional talent, speed, and drive that can open up the entire field. And this is the biggest reason why I envy the Rams right now: Watkins is a guy the Bucs clearly need and want... and the only way he slides to us is the Rams looking elsewhere at this pick... which ain't gonna happen.
Pick: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Jacksonville (everything, QB above all) – There is no way Clowney slides past here. Jaguars have been trying to fix their defensive line for ages with mixed results, and while QB may be a need they can't afford to let the best-possible pass-rusher slip past. While Clowney's work ethic is a serious question mark, Jacksonville has to take the gamble on him.
Pick: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Cleveland (everything, esp. offense) – The Browns remain the unluckiest, unhappiest team in pro football. And while they've got two good First Rounder picks to use, they're in a spot where they're not exactly fixing themselves with all the problems they've got on-field on both sides of the ball. Starting over again with a new coach in one year doesn't help. Considering they are starting over from scratch, odds lean towards the team banking on a new QB to build around. That means Manziel or Bridgewater. Manziel is having a solid off-season whereas Bridgewater hasn't: but Manziel's QB style may not mesh with the incoming head coach's system while Bridgewater has been coached for pro-style NFL schemes better than any QB on the board. This all depends on what the head coach wants out of his QB.
Pick: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Oakland (everything, even Punter) – The wild card of any draft, the Raiders rarely draft smart or expected, which shows in the uneven level of talent they fail to develop 9 years out of 10. While they've got some decent signings in Free Agency, there's still a lot of shaking going on with their existing roster, so Oakland can jump in any direction here. Trading for QB Schaub may bring in a veteran starter, but he's no Peyton. Odds are they'll avoid drafting a QB and go with getting a defensive pick, considering there's still some great LB / DE talent on the board they could use.
Pick: OLB/DE Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Atlanta (LB, OT, DE, TE) – Injuries brought the Falcons down in a big way last season. The offensive line in particular developed way too many holes. Atlanta lucks out this draft by having two coveted Left Tackes – Robinson and Matthews slide all the way down to here. Matthews is the most talented when it comes to pass-protection, but Robinson brings the most upside and room to develop. Flipping a coin is most likely scenario, but Falcons may go for the sexy pick here.
Pick: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Tampa Bay (WR, TE, QB) – This mock draft would look more sensible with trades going on, but until the actual draft day there's no certainty a trade will happen. This is the Buccaneers' woe: the player they WANT – Watkins – is long gone, and the players at best value – LB Barr, OT Matthews, QB Bridgewater – are not exactly NEEDS at this point. Tampa's best move is to trade down to a team hungry for either of those three trade-baits, and get into a position where a value pick for WR or TE makes more sense (it'd also garner more picks this year, as the Bucs are running scarce). If they're forced to stay at 7 to make a pick, they'll reach (just a little) for the next big name of the WR list. I'll plan out a trade-down version for a later mock.
Pick: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Minnesota (CB, S, QB, OL) – As far as team needs go, Vikings have some question marks about QB but they really need to look at bolstering their secondary. Nobody's made a move yet to snag a Corner, so this is a good time and spot for them do so. It's just... Bridgewater is still sitting there. While Teddy has been having a bad off-season, failing to impress the scouts, can't imagine him sliding this far down.
Pick: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Buffalo (WR, OT, DE) – The Bills tried answering defensive needs this Free Agency, but there's still a lot of tempting talent for OLB/DE convert type players on the board. Of the teams hoping for WR's and OT's to slip down the draft, Buffalo's going to miss out on WR but will have Matthews sitting there. Bit of a coin flip at this point.
Pick: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Detroit (CB, S, WR) – Everything about Detroit points to them fixing their secondary, and yes best available Corners are still on the board.
Pick: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St.
Tennessee (LB, RB, QB) – I have Tampa Bay as a team desperate to trade down, Titans here are a team desperate to trade up to get to either Mack or Barr for their OLB need. But they just recently cut RB Chris Johnson, mostly for his weighted contract, so RB is now a major question mark as well. The RB draft pool is unusually deep with solid, just not spectacular, running backs. The marquee name this year is Tre Mason: small-sized but powerful, with excellent receiving skills and able to shake off tackles.
Pick: RB Tre Mason, Auburn
New York Giants (WR, OL, DL) – Giants would like to address WR need but the defensive line had issues last season and they lost a key DT to free agency. It's hard to establish which need is going to be greater, and what the quality of talent might be here. Nobody's taken best-available Tackle yet – Nix – so I'm leaning that way.
Pick: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
St. Louis (same) – Rams got the home-run hitter they wanted with Watkins, now they need to get a guy to help man the trenches. What's horrifying is how I've got this draft shaking out with OT Matthews – a top 10 caliber lineman – sliding all the way down here. In a draft with trades going on, I guarantee Pittsburgh would have jumped ahead of here to draft him...
Pick: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Chicago (LB, DL) – Getting to the point in the draft where I'm starting to lose interest, but what the heck. Bears have been very active in FA, which has shored up their depth but starting talent could still use a boost. The defensive line has signed some big names and good talent, but Tackle may need a look-see (but don't be surprised if DE gets tabbed... just saying).
Pick: DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida St.
Pittsburgh (OT, CB, DE) – I've got the Steelers as the team most likely to trade up – for Robinson or Matthews – so it's telling that OT is the biggest need for these guys. Third-best Tackle is still a decent pick-up here.
Pick: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Dallas (S, DE, LB) – Hate the Cowboys, I'd have them drafting Punter if not for my distaste of drafting punters well before the Fifth Round. But I've been told I have to play fair, so I gotta consider the team's need for a smarter owner, uh defensive help. Defensive end looks like a higher need at the moment than secondary help, so we'll go with that.
Pick: DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
Baltimore (WR, S, TE) – The Ravens have made some serious moves in Free Agency, but it's a question of whether all talent needs were served. There's a chance Baltimore jumps at next best WR on the board, but I have their needs with the secondary higher, and with decent Safeties sitting there for the taking.
Pick: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
New York Jets (G, S, TE, WR) – Everyone, and I'm not exaggerating, was expecting the Jets to tank last season... but didn't. Talent was better than expected and it's possible the coach might know what he's doing. They went after some WR help in FA but it's possible they'll try to add more talent here. It's possible drafting a TE is in the cards: best one on the boards – Ebron – is still available. Higher needs with the secondary – Safety – and offensive line are here as well.
Pick: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Miami (OL, CB, DT) – With the distractions behind them, the Dolphins still need to fix a shaky team. They went after Offensive line help in FA but they may still go with getting a Guard here. But I'm concerned with the secondary: they cut enough Corners to make their backfield look empty.
Pick: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma St.
Arizona (LB, OL, CB, TE) – Team finished strong but still needs a lot of help at key positions. Offensive line could get a boost from getting someone to work Guard, but they'll be tempted to get Tackle Zack Martin who scouts feel would work well inside. But the Cards have lost a couple of Corners to FA, so I'm thinking getting someone here will help them out.
Pick: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Green Bay (OL, S, WR, TE) – Packers still did well but the numbers and overall performance didn't survive closer examination. Help against the passing game is a top priority, but getting help WITH the passing game is a deal-maker as well.
Pick: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama. (Seriously, where do they get these names?!)
Philadelphia (LB, WR, DE) – Under other circumstances, cutting a WR like DeSean Jackson would be like cutting off their collective foot, but the Eagles look okay with their passing game. The need now seems to be the defensive edge spot, either OLB or DE, where a pass-rusher is top priority.
Pick: OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio St.
Kansas City (WR, DE, LB) – Chiefs overperformed last season, even with a good coach in Reid coming in. Free Agency has seen some mixing of guys coming and going, so determining top need is hard. Possibly WR, possibly their linebacking corps. Kansas has more need to boost their defense than anything at the moment. Best-available inside linebacker is still on the boards, and they just lost an ILB to FA...
Pick: MLB CJ Mosley, Alabama
Cincinnati (CB, OL) – There's always something off about the Bengals, even though the team seems loaded with talent most of the time. They lost both a DE AND OT to the Bucs in FA, and still DE doesn't seem like a major need and they could shrug off the loss of OT Collins by signing a replacement OT in Newhouse. If I were the Bengals, though, I'd wonder about their injury-prone secondary.
Pick: CB Jason Verrett, TCU
San Diego (CB, WR, LB) – The Chargers are much like the Bengals: talented but questionable, they just happen to have bigger question marks with their secondary than anything else. There's been a well-valued Corner on the board in Bradley Roby, but I've been avoiding drafting him because he's got knee injury woes. I'm thinking San Diego gambles on getting him here.
Pick: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio St.
Cleveland (from Indy) (same) – Whatever need the Browns didn't resolve higher up the draft board gets taken care of here. They went with QB in Manziel: help with the offensive line would be the next smart move.
Pick: G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
New Orleans (LB, DL, OT) – The Saints lost some talent along the offensive line but the players they lost weren't performing too well. Depth is a more pressing concern, although protecting their best player Drew Brees remains high consideration. Team had some gap issues with their defensive front, which could be addressed with going for an OLB or DE. They could consider going after Dee Ford, a DE built more like an OLB, but they might go with a bulkier OLB/DE like Murphy.
Pick: OLB Trent Murphy, Stanford
Carolina (WR, OT) – Hate them. HATE THEM. It felt good to laugh at the Panthers when they cut WR Smith, because their FA signings for receiver include guys like Tiquan Underwood. This makes getting a receiver a near-certainty in the draft. But with any luck they'll blow this pick on a Punter. Yes, this IS how much I hate the team...
Pick: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St.
New England (LB, OL, DT) – The Hooded One will draft a player who will sign the contract in blood and have an underperforming but consistent few years before his soul gets claimed. ...what? You're thinking the same thing, people. Anyway, the Pats had some woes on the defensive side of the ball, partially addressed by upgrading their CB corps but still with issues on the front lines. Either a DT or an OLB is going here in the First.
Pick: OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
San Francisco (CB, DT, WR, QB) – The Quarterback draft need is partially for depth, but the off-field legal issue involving Kaepernick has to be considered. Team lost some CB depth to FA and could reload, but there's no decent First Round value Corners left. Boosting the receiving corps is the next best thing.
Pick: WR Marquis Lee, USC
Denver (God) – The window to win is closing fast: Peyton will not last forever, there are a ton of free agents on the roster, and they're pretty much at the point where they need divine intervention to win it all for certain. They may go with drafting for their OL but most likely the best available defensive star at this point.
Pick: DE DeMarcus Lawrence, Boise St.
Seattle (S, DE, OL) – when you're the Super Bowl winner, you pick late but basically can indulge (unless you've lost a key player to Free Agency). The losses in FA fall mostly on the secondary, so getting a decent Safety would be a smart move here.
Pick: S Deone Bucannon, Washington St.
What do you think, sirs?