The 2013 NFL season ended on Sunday, with a lot of excitement in a few cities and despair in others. Black Monday has already claimed its share of coaches:
- Washington fired Mike Shanahan
- Cleveland fired Rob Chudzinski
- Detroit fired Jim Schwartz
- Tampa Bay fired Greg Schiano (and General Manager Mark Dominik)
- Minnesota fired Leslie Frazier
This list doesn't include the Houston Texans, who will also be looking for a head coach after letting Gary Kubiak go during the final weeks of the season. With nearly one-fourth of the NFL looking for a new head coach, there will be plenty of personnel decisions made between now and the NFL Draft this spring. Free agency could have some big names on the list once teams start cutting veterans (Julius Peppers?), while late-season injuries could have other teams looking to add depth as well.
The biggest name carrying intrigue from a prospect perspective right now is UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. He's trending up in many scout circles, and could be a mid-first round pick if he decides to come out. But that's where the question exists: will he come out? With other quarterbacks pushing for top-10 picks, he might follow the lead of Oregon's Marcus Mariota and go back to school. However, with both Mariota and Jameis Winston likely to be part of next year's class, his odds of being a first round pick are as good now as they will be in 12 months.
With those thoughts in mind, let's look ahead at the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
1. Houston Texans - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
After starting the season as Super Bowl hopefuls, the wheels came off quickly and in dramatic fashion for the Texans. They benched Matt Schaub, got nothing out of Arian Foster, and wasted a couple good receivers in Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins along the way. Now, with a new coach coming in, they'll look to start over. If they believe their core isn't that far away from making a run, getting a good young signal caller is their biggest need. Bridgewater's the best in this year's class.
2. St. Louis Rams (from WSH) - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Rams hold this pick from the trade that sent RGIII to Washington, and also have their own pick in the top 15 overall. Protecting whomever is under center next year is a need, so while making a splash on defense is possible here, taking the best tackle in this year's class (and maybe last year's class) makes sense here. Their defense is talented... their offense is awful.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
The Jags desperately need a quarterback, and Bortles is flying up most draft boards lately. He's a big kid with a strong arm who reminds some of Ben Roethlisberger. Jacksonville resisted the pressure of signing in-state hero Tim Tebow for a couple years. Will they pass on another in-state player - this one who can actually play quarterback? They shouldn't.
4. Cleveland Browns - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Cleveland fired their head coach after one season, which is ridiculous. Whomever is the new head coach, given the track record of the team's new ownership, should insist on having a better quarterback on the roster than Jason Campbell. Manziel isn't the biggest quarterback in the draft, but he'll sell tickets and he's a winner. Put him on the field with some talented weapons and Cleveland could make some noise. The Browns also hold the first round pick of the Colts from the Trent Richardson trade.
5. Oakland Raiders - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
This almost seems too good to be true. The top prospect in the draft, who was accused of taking plays (games) off this year, who has picked up a couple speeding tickets since the season ended for South Carolina, falling into the lap of... the Raiders. Oakland will lie to the fans - and themselves - that Terrelle Pryor and/or Matt McGloin can be their starting quarterback of the future and will use a top-five pick on a top-one talent.
6. Atlanta Falcons - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Falcons, like the Texans, were a debacle this year. Their offense couldn't stay healthy, and their defense couldn't stop anything. They failed to generate a pass rush with any consistency, and teams ran all over them. Barr is an elite outside linebacker that would be an impact player at an area of significant need immediately.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
New coach and new general manager likely means a number of changes in Tampa. If they hire Lovie Smith, which is rumored to be possible, then this pick will almost certainly be used on a defensive player; as Chicago fans know, Lovie doesn't care about offense. But taking a good, big tackle here is a safe pick, which is why it makes sense for a team with a young quarterback, young running back (coming off injury) and a couple other good weapons on offense.
8. Minnesota Vikings - CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Vikings need a new coach, and they need a quarterback. This might be a spot for an offensive lineman, or they might reach for a quarterback. Odds are, if Matthews and Lewan are gone, they Vikings will be looking to move down. But if they do select here, it's worth noting that the Vikings are looking at a division that includes running backs Matt Forte, Reggie Bush and Eddie Lacy. Taking a stud inside linebacker also makes sense.
9. Buffalo Bills - Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida St
The Bills need help all over the place, and might be in position to take an offensive lineman here to protect their running backs and EJ Manuel moving forward. But Jernigan is an elite defensive tackle that would help an already-improved defensive front. Buffalo can address their other needs later if they decide to take Jernigan here.
10. Detroit Lions - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The theory here is simple: when Calvin Johnson started to hurt, the Lions stopped winning. Picking the best receiver in this year's class to play opposite the best receiver in the NFL would help Matthew Stafford and whomever is calling the plays in Detroit next year.
11. Tennessee Titans - Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Nix and Jernigan are the top defensive tackles in this year's draft class, and both will likely be gone in the top 12 picks. For Tennessee, there are needs at receiver and offensive line as well, but taking an anchor defensive tackle here makes sense for a team that allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL in 2013 (21).
12. New York Giants - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Giants need to protect Eli Manning, they need receivers to run consistent routes, and they need to run the ball. But their defense didn't stop - or pressure - anyone this year. Mack reminds me of DeMarcus Ware, who Giants fans know too-well as the pass rushing stud on the Cowboys' defensive line. Mack would make an immediate impact on their front seven, which they desperately need.
13. St. Louis Rams - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
This pick is fascinating with the Rams having already made the second overall selection. Will they replace Sam Bradford? Would they reach for a quarterback here to do that? Or will they take an enormous defensive tackle to help an already-good defensive line? Hageman's a beast with a big motor who would make their defensive front scary for opponents to gameplan for each week.
14. Chicago Bears - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St
The Bears obviously need to address their defense early and often during the coming offseason. Considering the play of Chris Conte, taking safety HaSean Clinton-Dix from Alabama is possible here, but taking an elite shut-down corner is just as much of a need. With the potential for Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and Charles Tillman to be gone, selecting the best defensive player available makes sense here. Dennard's a stud who would fit well in the Bears "defense."
15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St
Gilbert and Dennard are the top two corners in this year's class, and Pittsburgh's secondary could use either one. Gilbert's a little bigger than Dennard, and he's a very good return man as well. The Steelers might look to address the depth of their defensive front, but taking an elite corner is hard to pass on.
16. Dallas Cowboys - Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon St
The Cowboys struggled to consistently rush the quarterback this year, and it cost them in a number of big games late in the season. This is a bit of a reach for Crichton, who's a solid defensive end but not likely worth being selected this high. But their biggest need is their defensive front, and with the top three defensive tackles gone they'll look for the best available defensive lineman.
17. Baltimore Ravens - HaSean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
I've had this pick circled for a few weeks now. The Ravens need to replace Ed Reed, and Clinton-Dix fits that mold. He's a big-play safety that fits a need, which is why the selection makes sense. If he's off the board (to Chicago at 14 perhaps), the Ravens may look to add a receiver or another offensive lineman here.
18. New York Jets - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Rex Ryan will be back, but his offense needs to improve quickly for him to stay around past 2014. The Jets' leading receiver in 2013 was Jeremy Kerley - with 43 catches and 523 yards. Picking a big-time receiver here makes too much sense for even the Jets to mess it up.
19. Miami Dolphins - Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The Dolphins will likely address their offensive line more than once during the draft after losing 40 percent of their starting unit in the Jonathan Martin debacle. Kouandjio is the best lineman available here, and would be a good fit at tackle for Miami.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Arizona could be in the mix for a quarterback here with Carson Palmer not getting any younger, but protecting whomever is under center in 2014 and beyond is a bigger need. Their defense is legit, but they need to protect their quarterback and run the ball effectively to make waves in the tough-as-nails NFC West.
21. Green Bay Packers - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The future of Jermichael Finley makes this pick both a luxury and a necessity. Ebron has emerged as a bona fide NFL-caliber weapon at tight end this season for UNC, and he would give Aaron Rodgers a big target in a passing game that already has good pieces.
22. San Diego Chargers - Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida
The Chargers are in a division with Peyton Manning and his ridiculous group of receivers. Adding secondary depth here makes sense, but they might look to address their defensive front as well.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Eagles have been exciting this year without Jeremy Maclin, who will likely walk as a free agent after another injury. And while their defense has left much to be desired, they might want/need to replace Riley Cooper as well. Chip Kelly's offense requires speed and precision, and Lee was the best receiver in the Pac 12 that Kelly coached in only 12 months ago. This would be a scary pick for the rest of the NFC East.
24. Kansas City Chiefs - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The Chiefs got off to a great start, and their offense has been great with Andy Reid calling plays to Alex Smith. But their defense has, at times, been an issue. As noted earlier, every team in Peyton's division needs to add depth in their secondary. Ekpre-Olomu is as good as any corner in this draft class, but his size might cost him a few picks.
25. Cincinnati Bengals - Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Andy Dalton needs to stop throwing bad interceptions, which might lead to the Bengals adding a receiver and/or tight end here. But protecting Dalton is equally important, and Martin is the best available lineman here.
26. Cleveland Browns (from IND) - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Miami
The Browns already have Josh Gordon, and we have them picking Johnny Football earlier in the first round. While adding a running back here also makes sense, picking up another big-play receiver gives Manziel options and they can come back early in the second round to address their running game.
27. New Orleans Saints - Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio St
The Saints defense needs to be better while they have Drew Brees in his prime. Shazier is as fast as any linebacker in this year's class and he can hit, which makes him a good fit for a defense that allowed 4.6 yards per carry this year - 4th worst in the NFL.
28. New England Patriots - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
With the future of Gronk being uncertain, and the clear correlation between tight end production and Tom Brady producing being shown this year, the Pats might actually look to move up to get Ebron. But taking Seferian-Jenkins here is a good fit and would be good value for a team that desperately needs someone healthy at the position.
29. Carolina Panthers - Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The Panthers are division champions, led by one of the best defenses in the NFL. Steve Smith isn't getting younger, and there will be times in the future that they'll need to be able to score even with an elite defense. Matthews is a big receiver who makes plays.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Dominique Easley, DE, Florida
Easley is a fascinating player to watch heading into this year's draft. His college career was plagued with injuries, but he's a guy that can play defensive end in a 3-4 well and has shown the ability to be elite. The Niners will have some decisions with their defensive front this offseason (Aldon Smith suspension coming?), so taking a talented player like Easley makes sense. The Niners have two picks late in the second round; they get Kansas City's second rounder from the Alex Smith trade.
31. Denver Broncos - Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford
Von Miller has gone from defensive MVP candidate to suspended and, now, a bad knee injury ended his brief 2013 season. The Broncos need to address their secondary, but they also need someone to rush the quarterback. Between those two areas of need, the best available player is Stanford's Murphy, who would be a good fit in Denver.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Seattle also needs to address their defensive front and secondary, and taking a defensive tackle might make more sense than a corner here. But with multiple suspensions in their secondary this year - Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner - the Seahawks might look to add another good secondary piece to clean the slate. Verrett isn't very big, but he can play.
33. Houston Texans - Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
34. Washington Redskins - Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
35. Jacksonville Jaguars - Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio St
36. Cleveland Browns - Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
37. Oakland Raiders - De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
38. Atlanta Falcons - Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Daquan Jones, DT, Penn St
40. Minnesota Vikings - Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
41. Buffalo Bills - Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida St
42. Detroit Lions - Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
43. Tennessee Titans - Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
44. New York Giants - Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
45. St. Louis Rams - Devante Parker, WR, Louisville
46. Chicago Bears - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
47. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
48. Dallas Cowboys - Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
49. Baltimore Ravens - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
50. New York Jets - Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
51. Miami Dolphins - Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi St
52. Arizona Cardinals - AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
53. Green Bay Packers - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St
54. San Diego Chargers - Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
55. Philadelphia Eagles - Will Sutton, DT, Arizona St
56. San Francisco 49ers (from KC) - David Yankey, OG, Stanford
57. Cincinnati Bengals - Dan McCullers, DT, Tennessee
58. Indianapolis Colts - Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
59. New Orleans Saints - Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
60. New England Patrios - Christian Jones, OLB, Florida St
61. Carolina Panthers - Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
62. San Francisco 49ers - Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
63. Denver Broncos - Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
64. Seattle Seahawks - Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Filed under: NFL Mock Draft
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Blake Bortles, CJ Mosley, Darqueze Dennard, Eric Ebron, Greg Schiano, Hasean Clinton-Dix, Jadeveon Clowney, Jake Matthews, Jim Schwartz, Kelvin Benjamin, Khalil Mack, Leslie Frazier, Louis Nix III, Marqise Lee, Mike Evans, Mike Shanahan, mock draft, NFL, Ra'Shede Hageman, Rob Chudzinski, Ryan Shazier, Sammy Watkins, Taylor Lewan, Teddy Bridgewater