2014 NFL Mock Draft (Feb. 1st update): Bridgewater still going No. 1
Based (at least in part) on the (un)availability of Radio City Music Hall in New York City next April, the 2014 NFL Draft will be held from May 8-10. This mock draft will be updated from now until draft day with changes, as needed, and additional rounds will be added as we get closer to the draft.
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Here is my 2014 NFL Mock Draft:
Loaded with much more talent than their record suggests, the Texans were a popular pick to win the division and possibly get to (or even win) the Super Bowl. Instead, the Texans have set a franchise record for their longest losing streak (14 games), fired their head coach and benched starting quarterback Matt Schaub.
Neither Schaub nor Case Keenum is the long-term answer at quarterback, but the good news is Bill O'Brien and the new Texans coaching staff own the top pick to help start the next era with their guy.
When asked who the Texans will select with the first overall pick, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle recently tweeted: "Each day I get asked multiple times: Who are Texans drafting? I tell them 1 of the 3 top QBs. Forget about any other position."
While some may question his frame and/or his level of competition, Bridgewater is a highly accurate passer with the ability to make all of the throws and possesses all of the intangibles and leadership you'd want in a franchise quarterback.
Not only was Clowney's motivation and effort questioned this season, but his production dropped significantly — 23.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks in 2012; only 10.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks this year. With that said, Clowney, the top prospect on our consensus big board, is a physical freak and arguably the best defensive line prospect in a decade.
After an 0-8 start before the bye, the Jaguars went .500 in their final eight games and have a few reasons to be optimistic about the direction of the team. One of the reasons for optimism, however, is not their quarterback play. Whether or not Blaine Gabbert is back in 2014, he is not the long-term answer and he is scheduled to become a free agent in 2015.
With prototypical size for the position, Bortles threw for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season and led the Knights to a win in the Fiesta Bowl over Baylor by throwing for 301 yards and rushing for 93 yards as he accounted for four total touchdowns.
The Browns have several young talented players, but it's been a long time since they've had a franchise quarterback. Even though they selected Brandon Weeden in the first round in 2012, he was the choice of the previous regime's and is not in the team's long-term plans. Collectively, Browns signal-callers have thrown for more than 3,000 yards in only four seasons since 1990. All four of those 3,000-yard seasons were by different quarterbacks.
One of the most exciting and polarizing players in college football, Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, threw for 3,732 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and ran for another 686 yards and eight touchdowns this year.
Left tackle Jared Veldheer is currently set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Although the Raiders drafted Menelik Watson in the second round last year, Matthews (or Auburn's Greg Robinson) could be the pick if the team doesn't re-sign Veldheer.
Matthews, the son of Hall-of-Famer Bruce, was a first-team AP All-American in 2013 one year after sliding over from right tackle to protect Johnny Football.
Tied with the Raiders, Vikings and Seahawks, the Falcons allowed the 10th-most sacks in the NFL last season. While Matthews is most pro-ready tackle in the draft, none have more upside than Robinson.
One of the biggest (literally) reasons that Auburn led the nation in rushing offense was Robinson. Teammate Avery Young, brother of Lions DL Willie Young, said (via al.com): "Greg's a beast. He's so strong. At the same time, he's so athletic. The only person I know who can do backflips at his size."
A converted running back, Barr could very well be the first defensive player off the board in the draft, but that honor will likely go to Clowney. For a second consecutive season, Barr had at least 20 TFL and double-digit sacks.
It's been a phenomenal season for Carr, the brother of former No. 1 overall pick David Carr, as he led the nation in both passing yards (5,082) and passing touchdowns (50) with only eight interceptions. Helped by the style of his offense, Carr threw for 400-plus yards eight times and 500-plus yards twice this season.
Despite the gaudy stats, Carr has the physical tools to potentially be the top quarterback in this year's draft class, but there are also concerns about the level of competition he has faced as well. Against the toughest competition he faced, however, Carr had his worst performance of the season in his last collegiate game: 53.7 completion percentage, 216 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
One of college football's most productive players ever, Mack is the all-time leader in forced fumbles (16) and is tied for the most tackles for loss (75) in NCAA history.
Even if Mack hasn't played against top-level competition on a weekly basis, one college scouting director tells NFL.com's Albert Breer: "He played his best games against the biggest opponents, and can be an (outside linebacker) in a 3-4 or a Sam (linebacker) in a 4-3. ... He's proven (what kind of player) he is."
While Calvin Johnson has the ability to dominate any game, the Lions have struggled to find a No. 2 receiver to step up opposite him for various reasons. With Watkins, they get a guy that has the potential to develop into a second No. 1 type of receiver.
Bouncing back from a disappointing sophomore campaign, Watkins had 101 catches for 1,464 and 12 touchdowns and closed out his collegiate career with a record-setting performance (16-227-2) in the Orange Bowl.