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July 03, 2014

Ex-Mizzou WR Dorial Green-Beckham is now a Sooner

After a number of off-the-field issues, the Mizzou Tigers had dismissed junior wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham from their program this past April.

Although it's unclear if he will ever play a snap for the University of Oklahoma, the school has announced today that DGB will be transferring to the school and joining the Sooners program.

While he is ineligible to play in 2014, the school is seeking a waiver that would allow him to play in the 2014 season. That waiver appears unlikely to be granted, however.

The former top-ranked high school recruit from the 2012 class, Green-Beckham will be eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft. Although he could play for Oklahoma in 2015 (and 2016), it's perhaps more likely that he opts for the NFL instead.

Green-Beckham had 59 receptions for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns last season as a sophomore. With great size (6-6, 225), Green-Beckham is tied with Texas A&M's Mike Evans for the most touchdown receptions (17) in the SEC over the past two seasons.

May 20, 2014

Packers sign ex-Oregon TE Colt Lyerla

The only thing that may rival the physical gifts of former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla is his off-the-field baggage.

Projected as a possible first-round pick in this year's draft a year ago, Lyerla went undrafted due to his character concerns. Not only did he "quit" the Oregon football team in October following a suspension for a game, but he was arrested for cocaine possession in October and had his driver's license suspended as well.

With loads of upside, the Packers signed the undrafted rookie after he tried out with the team at their rookie mini-camp.

Lyerla (6-4, 242) ran an official 4.61 forty at the NFL Scouting Combine and led all tight ends in vertical jump (39 inches) and broad jump (tied with A.C. Leonard, 128 inches).

The low cost and tremendous amount of upside make this a low-risk, high-upside signing for the Packers, who also have a need at tight end. With Jermichael Finley's uncertain future with the team, Lyerla will compete with Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and fellow rookie Richard Rodgers for targets (provided he makes the team).

If Lyerla gets his head on straight, he has the potential to become a perennial Pro Bowler, especially catching passes from Aaron Rodgers.

May 08, 2014

The Panthers select Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th overall pick

With the 28th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Panthers selected Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

Heading into tonight's draft, no team had a weaker receiver corps than the Panthers so it makes sense that they add Benjamin here. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they use another early pick on a receiver as well.

At 6-foot-5 and with 35-inch arms, Benjamin should thrive in the red zone as a rookie. Although he has had some issues with drops, Benjamin should see plenty of targets given the team's otherwise depleted wide receiver corps.

Before tonight, their top two receivers were Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant.

For the Seminoles last year, Benjamin finished with 54 receptions for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The Saints trade up, select Brandin Cooks with the 20th overall pick

With the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Saints traded up to select Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

In order to move up, the Saints and Cardinals swap first-round picks and Cardinals will receive the Saints third-round pick as well.

While he's far from the biggest of receivers (5-9 3/4, 189 pounds), Cooks possesses game-breaking speed (4.33 forty). Even though he is a smaller receiver, Cooks put up 16 bench press reps at 225 pounds at the combine.

Cooks, the Biletnikoff winner in 2013, caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns in addition to 32 carries for 217 yards and two touchdowns last year.

With Drew Brees under center and Sean Payton calling the plays, Cooks lands in a great spot but his selection will likely disappoint fantasy owners hoping for a major breakout from Kenny Stills.

The Giants select Odell Beckham, Jr. with the 12th overall pick

With the 12th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Giants selected LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.

Not only did OBJ's father play running back for LSU, but his mother was an All-American track athlete and his speed is a big part of his game.

Dangerous with the ball in the open field, Beckham Jr. finished with 59 receptions for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns and averaged 19.5 yards per reception. Beckham broke LSU's single-season record with 2,222 all-purpose yards in 2013.

Considering how badly Eli Manning struggled last season, it made sense for the Giants to use this pick for either someone to help protect Manning, who was sacked a career-high 39 times, or add a weapon to join Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, etc.

On a related note, one of my favorite players in this draft is OBJ's teammate Jarvis Landry, who led the team in receiving with 77/1,193/10. While he doesn't possess Beckham's physical gifts, specifically the speed, Landry has outstanding hands and toughness with the ability to make contested grabs in traffic.

Both Beckham Jr. and Landry should have outstanding careers.

The Buccaneers select Texas A&M WR Mike Evans with the seventh overall pick

With the seventh pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bucs selected Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans.

Possessing the one thing that can't be taught, Evans is just a tad shy of 6-foot-5 with 35-inch arms. While most rookie receivers struggle a bit with the adjustment to the professional game, Evans has the physical tools to make an immediate impact as a red-zone threat with his height and catch radius.

For a receiver his size, Evans has excellent speed (4.51 forty at combine) and has excellent body control and hands.

Often compared to his new teammate, Vincent Jackson, Evans had 65 receptions for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns last season as a redshirt sophomore.

The Bills trade up, select Sammy Watkins with the fourth overall pick

With the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bills traded up to select Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

The Bills gave up their first-round pick this year as well as their first- and fourth-round picks next season to the Browns in order to make the move up.

As a junior, the ex-Clemson Tiger racked up 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns and put an exclamation point on the season with a 16/227/2 performance in the Orange Bowl.

Regarded by most as the top wide receiver prospect in this year's draft class, Watkins (6-1, 211) ran a 4.43 40-yard at the combine and is a fluid athlete with excellent hands and plays even faster than his timed speed.

The addition of Watkins to the Bills receiving corps helps the fantasy value of E.J. Manuel.

The Jaguars select UCF QB Blake Bortles with the third overall pick

With the third pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected UCF quarterback Blake Bortles.

It was a bit of a surprise pick as both Khalil Mack and Sammy Watkins were on the board, but the Jags finally get a franchise quarterback.

Bortles has the prototypical size (6-5, 235), arm strength and mobility that teams covet. The American Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Year, Bortles threw for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for 272 yards and six touchdowns last year.

It's possible that Bortles begins the season sitting behind Chad Henne. Another concern for Bortles' 2014 fantasy perspective is that Justin Blackmon, who is currently suspended, may not play this season.

2014 NFL Mock Draft - Jadeveon Clowney still No. 1 Pick

Pushed back due to the (un)availability of Radio City Music Hall in April, the 2014 NFL Draft will get started a couple of weeks later compared to recent drafts.

While the extra two weeks may allow teams an opportunity to better evaluate a talented and deep draft class with an unprecented amount of underclassmen, many are frustrated by the delay and are even more eager for the draft to start.

The good news is the wait is down to hours and we will soon know which prospects will be headed to which NFL franchises.

Like usual, the draft will take place over the course of three days: Thursday (Round 1), Friday (Rounds 2 and 3) and Saturday (Rounds 4 through 7).

Without further ado, here is my updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Houston Texans (draft history): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

A popular pick to win the AFC South last year and possibly get to (or even win) Super Bowl XLVIII, the Texans began the season with two straight wins before losing a franchise-record 14 games to close the season. In addition to firing head coach Gary Kubiak this offseason, the Texans traded last year's starting quarterback Matt Schaub to the Raiders.

While the Texans have a major need at quarterback and there has been some recent speculation that the pick could be Buffalo's Khalil Mack, the Texans will most likely go with South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, the top prospect on our consensus big board if they don't trade down.

Viewed as a once-in-a-decade type of defensive line prospect, Clowney is a physical freak who ran an official 4.53 (unofficial 4.47) 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

Clowney's motivation and effort was questioned by some last season and his on-field production dropped significantly — 23.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks in 2012; only 10.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks in 2013. That said, opposing defenses schemed to slow down Clowney with double and triple teams.

Joining forces with J.J. Watt, the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, Clowney should help the Texans get to the quarterback more consistently this year. Only the Bears and Jags had fewer sacks than the Texans last season.

2. St. Louis Rams (via WAS)(draft history): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

As inaccurate as draft predictions can be, there is one thing that is a virtual lock: St. Louis will attempt to trade down from this slot to acquire additional picks.

If Clowney is off the board, as he is in my mock, the choice will likely come down to Clemson's Sammy Watkins, the top receiver in the draft, and Robinson, the top offensive tackle in the draft, if the Rams are unable to find suitable trade partners.

Not only is receiver extremely deep, but the Rams have used numerous early picks on receivers over the past few seasons. In fact, they have five top-100 selections at the position on their roster from their past three draft classes including Tavon Austin, who was selected eighth overall last season. I think they add another receiver with a top-100 pick, but I don't think it will be the second overall pick.

Meanwhile, Robinson has the upside to be a dominant left (or right) tackle for the next decade. While Jake Long is recovering from a torn ACL, the team re-signed Rodger Saffold only after he failed a physical with the Raiders. Either way, the Rams can move Saffold inside to guard. (Or they could move Robinson inside as a rookie.)

Although the Tigers did not throw often, Robinson has all of the physical tools to develop as an elite pass blocker: great size (6-5, 332 pounds), arm length (35 inches) and athleticism (4.92 40-yard dash). And he's one of the biggest (literally) reasons that Auburn led the nation in rushing offense.

His college teammate Avery 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."

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3. Jacksonville Jaguars (draft history): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

While the new regime in Jacksonville has the franchise heading in the right direction, they still have a major need at the sport's most important position. With Clowney and Robinson going No. 1 and 2 in my mock, however, the Jags would have their choice of quarterback in this year's draft if they so choose to go in that direction.

Going with Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles wouldn't be a shock based on need, but I think the Jags are thinking they will take Clowney, Mack or Watkins (in that order) based on who is still on the board at No. 3. If the Falcons, or another team, is interested in moving up to No. 3, I can see the Jags going with a quarterback at No. 6, as an example.

That said, the Jaguars have a defensive-minded head coach and are in dire need of a difference-making pass-rusher. No team recorded fewer sacks than the Jaguars (31) last season. If the Jags select Mack, they get 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.

4. Cleveland Browns (draft history): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

This could be the spot where the first quarterback is selected; but it's not, based on my projection.

Watkins is the clear-cut top receiver prospect in this year's draft class. 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.

With Josh Gordon on one side and Sammy Watkins on the other, the team's quarterback will have one of the league's best wide receiver duos at his disposal. Even though Gordon led the NFL in receiving last season despite being suspended for the first two games, there is the potential for a full-season suspension if he has another misstep. Watkins is not just a great complement to Gordon but also insurance for him.

5. Oakland Raiders (draft history): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

The Raiders could go in a few directions here as I also considered Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M's Mike Evans. While the team's need at quarterback remains high despite the acquisition of Matt Schaub, it appears unlikely that the Raiders will use their first-rounder on a signal-caller.

Although he may bit a bit undersized (6-0 3/4, 285 pounds), Donald appears to be a lock to be a top-10 selection on Thursday night. Extremely quick and explosive off the ball, Donald was highly productive for Pitt and the recipient of multiple offseason awards. He led the nation in tackles for loss (28.5) and had 11.0 sacks, which ranked 11th in the country. Over the past three seasons combined, Donald had 63.0 TFL and 27.5 sacks.

6. Atlanta Falcons (draft history): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

While it wouldn't surprise me if the Falcons trade up to address their need to add a pass-rusher, they need to make improvements in slowing down opposing pass-rushers as well. Last season, only Miami's Ryan Tannehill (58) and Baltimore's Joe Flacco (48) were sacked more often than Matt Ryan (44).

Technically sound and with a strong pedigree (son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews), Matthews has the versatility to play various spots on the offensive line. Last season, he moved to the left side to protect Manziel's blind side, but he excelled at right tackle before that.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (draft history): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Considering the Bucs have traded away Mike Williams to the Bills, Evans makes sense here. Even though Vincent Jackson has been highly productive (2,608 yards in his two seasons), he turned 31 years old last month. Interestingly enough, the NFL comparison that Evans most often gets is Jackson.

In his sophomore campaign, Evans had 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns with a ton of production against Alabama and Auburn. In those two games combined, Evans had 18 catches for 566 yards and five touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Evans would give new quarterback Josh McCown another big target.

8. Minnesota Vikings (draft history): Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

There are reports that the Vikes won't take a quarterback at No. 8 ... so, naturally, I have them taking the first quarterback in the draft. Ideally, I believe the Vikings would like to trade down from here to gather additional picks and still get a quarterback, but I think the pick makes sense if they don't move back.

Despite drafting Christian Ponder in the first round a few years ago and re-signing Matt Cassel to a two-year contract, the Vikings long-term answer at quarterback is (probably) not yet on the roster.

Bortles has the prototypical size (6-5, 235), arm strength and mobility that teams covet in a franchise quarterback. The American Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Year, Bortles threw for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for 272 yards and six touchdowns last year.

9. Buffalo Bills (draft history): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

In my previous update, I had the Bills going with UNC tight end Eric Ebron. While that is still a possibility, Buffalo still takes a step toward helping their young quarterback in his second season. Bills starting left tackle Cordy Glenn has developed into one of the better young tackles in the league, but the Bills could consider someone like Lewan as an upgrade to Erik Pears on the right side.

A four-year starter for the Wolverines, Lewan (6-7, 309) was highly impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine as he ran the fastest 40-yard dash (4.87) among offensive linemen. In fact, only four offensive linemen have posted faster times since 2006. In addition to his athleticism, Lewan possesses the size (6-foot-7, 309 pounds), length (33 7/8-inch arms) and demeanor to excel.

10. Detroit Lions (draft history): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Even with two Day 2 picks at corner over the past couple of years, the Lions still ranked 23rd in the NFL in passing defense. Especially considering the Lions have to face the elite passing attacks of Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, etc.) and Chicago (Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, etc.) at least four times per year, you can never have too many cornerbacks.

With excellent size (6-0 1/8, 202 pounds) and speed (4.37 forty), Gilbert has the cover skills and ball skills to make big plays and he also had five kick returns for touchdowns in college as well.

> Continue to picks 11-20 here
> Continue to picks 21-32 here
> Continue to Round 2 here
> Continue to Round 3 here
> Continue to Round 4 here
> Continue to Round 5

> Mock Draft Databases: 2014 NFL Mock Draft Database | 2014 NBA Mock Draft Database

> Check out my 2014 NBA mock draft

> Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - Running Backs - Wide Receivers - Tight Ends

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May 02, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board Update: Clowney, Robinson, Mack still 1-2-3

With the 2014 NFL Draft less than a week away (or perhaps stillllll a week away), Brendan Donahue and I have updated our Consensus NFL Draft Big Board.

Like with our last update, Brendan and I agree in unanimous fashion with picks 1-3.

From there, we differ and here are the top 10 players with average rank:

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: 1.0 (Kevin: 1, Brendan: 1)
2. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: 2.0 (Kevin: 2, Brendan: 2)
3. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: 3.0 (Kevin: 3, Brendan: 3)
T4. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: 4.5 (Kevin: 4, Brendan: 5)
T4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: 4.5 (Kevin: 5, Brendan: 4)
6. C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama: 7.0 (Kevin: 7, Brendan: 7)
7. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: 8.0 (Kevin: 10, Brendan: 6)
8. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: 8.5 (Kevin: 6, Brendan: 11)
9. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: 9.0 (Kevin: 9, Brendan: 9)
10. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: 9.5 (Kevin: 11, Brendan: 8)

Here are the QBs that ranked inside our Consensus Top 50:

14. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: 14.5 (Kevin: 8, Brendan: 21)
T16. Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida: 16.0 (Kevin: 15, Brendan: 17)
19. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: 17.5 (Kevin: 16, Brendan: 19)
40. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: 41.5 (Kevin: 32, Brendan: NR)

- View our full 2014 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board

More Draft content:

April 23, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football One-Man Mock Draft: Round 5

Continuing my one-man 2014 fantasy football mock draft, here is how Round 5 of a fantasy football draft would unfold if I were drafting for each team:

5.01 - Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Playing only 10 regular-season games over the past two seasons, the concern with Harvin is his durability. When he's on the field, however, Harvin is one of the most electric receivers in the NFL.

With LeSean McCoy and Reggie Bush as this team's RB1 and RB2, it also has Alshon Jeffery, Vincent Jackson and now Harvin is WR1-WR3. I'd certainly be pleased with that start for my fantasy team.

5.02 - Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

By adding Golden Tate in free agency, Stafford has a significantly better option at the team's second wide receiver position than he had last year. In addition, both Bush and Joique Bell are talented receivers out of the backfield. If the Lions trade up for Sammy Watkins (as some project they will try to do), Stafford could be in store for his best season yet.

5.03 - DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins

Even though Jackson is only 27 years old and had a career-best season (82/1,332/9) in 2013, the Eagles released him outright without receiving any compensation in turn. While there may be some concerns off the field and in the locker room, Jackson is a difference maker on the football field.

One of the benefits about signing with Washington, Robert Griffin III throws an accurate deep ball and D-Jax has the explosiveness to take the top off a defense. With last year's NFL leader in receptions on the other side, however, Jackson could/should see a modest reduction in targets in 2014.

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5.04 - Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants

As disappointing of a season as it was for the Giants, their offense and Cruz, Cruz still managed to finish with 73 receptions for 998 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games. In fact, he averaged more yards per game in 2013 (71.3 YPG) than he did in 2012 (68.3). Of course, the big difference was touchdowns as Cruz had a total of 19 touchdowns in 2011 and 2012 combined and only four last year. Even worse, he had three of those touchdowns against the Cowboys in Week 1 and only one other touchdown (Week 4) in his final 13 games.

5.05 - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Patterson tops the list of receivers with the potential to breakout in 2014. After watching Josh Gordon have a huge sophomore campaign with Norv Turner last year, it would be unrealistic to expect Gordon's league-leading numbers for Patterson but perfectly reasonable to expect a big year-over-year jump for Patterson in Turner's offense.

One of the league's most dangerous players in the open field, Patterson led the NFL in kickoff return average (32.4 Y/R). In the final eight games of the season, Patterson had 29 receptions for 323 yards, 10 carries for 156 yards and a total of seven touchdowns.

5.06 - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Miami Dolphins

As the featured back in Denver's high-powered offense, Moreno ranked fifth in fantasy points among running backs last season. Transitioning from Denver to Miami, it's unlikely that Moreno produces anywhere close to the numbers he had last year, but I expect him to enter the season as the Phins' first-team back.

5.07 - Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers

Davis finished with 52 receptions for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. It was the second time that he finished with double-digit touchdowns and he tied his previous career high of 16.3 yards per reception. If there is a frustrating part of owning Davis, however, it is that Davis doesn't get the amount of targets on a weekly basis that I'd expect considering how much of an athletic mismatch he is.

5.08 - Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos

In 13 games with the Broncos last season, Welker finished with 73 receptions on 110 targets for 778 yards, all of which were seven-year lows, and a career-high 10 touchdowns. With Eric Decker out and Emmanuel Sanders in, Welker should see an increase in targets per game in 2014.

5.09 - Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Barring a few big games, Luck mostly had modest production on a weekly basis. In the final half of the season, Luck had more than 15 fantasy points only twice, but he was missing Reggie Wayne (torn ACL). Even so, Luck finished fourth in fantasy points among quarterbacks last season.

Not only did T.Y. Hilton have some monster games after the bye last year, but the Colts will have Wayne back from his ACL injury. In addition, I wouldn't be surprised if Hakeem Nicks outperforms the expectations most have for him as he plays out his one-year contract for his next deal.

5.10 - Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Last season was a year to forget for the Falcons. Not only were Julio Jones, Roddy White and Steven Jackson sidelined or slowed by injury for significant parts of the season, but Ryan was sacked a career-worst 44 times in 2013. Throwing a career-high 651 times, Ryan threw for 4,515 yards, which is the second-highest total of his career, but he posted a four-year low in touchdowns (26) and a career high in interceptions (17).

While Tony Gonzalez has retired (and will stay retired, I think), Jones was having a career-best season before the injury. In the five games he played to start the season, Jones averaged 116.0 receiving yards per game. On the other hand, White finished the season strong with 502 yards in his final five games.

Provided Jones and White can stay healthy and the Falcons address their offensive line issues via the NFL Draft next month, Ryan should have a bounce-back season in 2014 and he's currently the QB6 in my fantasy rankings.

5.11 - Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

Finishing 10th in the league in targets (151), Edelman's full-year numbers were 105 receptions, which was fourth-most in the NFL, for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. That's more than he had in his first four NFL seasons combined (69/714/4).

In Edelman's final eight games counting both playoff games, he had a minimum of six receptions and 64 yards in every game. During that span, he racked up a stat line of 69/729/5. Purely to illustrate how productive he was over the past half-season, maintaining that pace for a full 16-game season would equate to a stat line of 138/1,458/10!

5.12 - Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens

One of the league's faster receivers, Smith set career highs in receptions (65) and yards (1,128) but a career low in touchdowns (four) last season. In addition, Smith was nearly as productive in his first five games (27/556/1 — 20.49 Y/R) as he was in the final 11 games (38/572/3 — 15.05 Y/R).

Meanwhile, Joe Flacco had a career-worst season: 19-to-22 TD-to-INT ratio, 73.1 rating, 6.4 yards per attempt and 48 sacks. All of those numbers were the worst of his career. Provided the Ravens are able to improve their protection of Flacco, he should bounce back some, which could help Smith sustain stronger production throughout the entire season.

- Go back to Round 1
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Our early 2014 Fantasy Football rankings:

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April 21, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft (Beazley/Hanson), 2.0

Earlier this offseason, Sean Beazley and I completed a collaborative first-round 2014 NFL mock draft.

Like in our first collaborative mock, Sean picked for all AFC teams in this mock while I picked for all NFC teams. In addition, both added comments for their picks.

For more mocks, check out my 2014 NFL mock and/or our 2014 NFL mock draft database.

To keep track of our updates, follow @EDSFootball on Twitter.

Here is our updated 2014 NFL collaborative mock draft:

1. (Sean) Houston Texans (draft history) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

[SB] I had Clowney as the No. 1 pick before the combine, and his pro day. I think those events cemented himself as the pick here for the Texans. There is so much depth at quarterback that the Texans could draft Clowney at No. 1, and then move back into the end of Round 1 to draft their future signal-caller.

2. (Kevin) St. Louis Rams (draft history) - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

[KH] Without question, the Rams will look to trade down from this spot to accumulate additional picks. If they are unable to find a willing trade partner, the choice would likely come down to Auburn's Greg Robinson and Clemson's Sammy Watkins.

As I noted in my 2014 NFL mock, the Rams have used five top-100 selections on receiver in the past three drafts. With receiver being the deepest position in this year's draft class, I'd expect the pick to be Robinson here.

Robinson has the upside to be a dominant left (or right) tackle for the next decade. While Jake Long is recovering from a torn ACL, the team re-signed Rodger Saffold only after he failed a physical with the Raiders. Either way, the Rams can move Saffold inside to guard.

Although the Tigers did not throw often, Robinson has all of the physical tools to develop as an elite pass blocker: great size (6-5, 332 pounds), arm length (35 inches) and athleticism (4.92 40-yard dash). And he's one of the biggest (literally) reasons that Auburn led the nation in rushing offense.

3. (Sean) Jacksonville Jaguars (draft history) - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

[SB] I think the Jaguars pass on QB as well especially after what Mack did at the combine and his pro day. There are some out there who believe that Mack is as equal to Clowney in talent, which absolutely sells this pick to me. The Jaguars pass rush last year was horrible as they ranked dead last in the NFL in sacks. The road to the playoffs still goes through Indianapolis in the South, and pressuring Andrew Luck will be vital to that path.

4. (Sean) Cleveland Browns (draft history) - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

[SB] Manziel is not my top-rated QB, that goes to UCF's Blake Bortles, but I think Manziel's game is more fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense. Johnny Football also has that star power where he could revitalize the city just like Peyton Manning did in Indianapolis. I wouldn't be shocked to see Derek Carr go here either. Every year, a QB sneaks out of nowhere and is drafted ahead of everyone else (Christian Ponder are E.J. Manuel being recent examples).

5. (Sean) Oakland Raiders (draft history) - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

[SB] The Matt Schaub move clearly tipped the Raiders hand. You don't go out and get Schaub for him to sit on the bench this season. You also don't spend the fifth overall pick on someone who is deemed "not ready" for snaps on opening day. The move tells me that the Raiders will be drafting another position in Round 1, and taking a flyer later in the draft on a Aaron Murray or A.J. McCarron. If things don't work out with them, they are in line next year for when the QB class is much better.

Watkins is one of the highest-rated WRs to enter the NFL since Calvin Johnson. While I hate to call someone a sure thing in the NFL, Watkins is as close to that as anyone in this year's draft. The Raiders have lacked an elite WR since Tim Brown retired. Long overdue, Silver & Black fans.

6. (Kevin) Atlanta Falcons (draft history) - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

[KH] While it wouldn't surprise me if the Falcons trade up to address their need to add a pass-rusher, they need to make improvements in slowing down opposing pass-rushers. Last season, only Miami's Ryan Tannehill (58) and Baltimore's Joe Flacco (48) were sacked more often than Matt Ryan (44).

Technically sound and the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, Matthews has the versatility to play various spots on the line. Last season, he moved to the left side to protect Manziel's blind side, but he excelled at right tackle before that.

7. (Kevin) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (draft history) - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

[KH] Considering the Bucs have recently traded away Mike Williams to the Bills, Watkins would be a slam-dunk selection if he slips to the Bucs. Even if he doesn't (and likely won't), however, it wouldn't be too surprising to see the Bucs go with Evans here.

Even though Vincent Jackson has been highly productive (2,608 yards in his two seasons), he turned 31 years old last month. Interestingly enough, the NFL comparison that Evans most often gets is Jackson. In his sophomore campaign, Evans had 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Evans would give new quarterback Josh McCown another big target.

8. (Kevin) Minnesota Vikings (draft history) - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

[KH] Despite drafting Christian Ponder in the first round a few years ago and re-signing Matt Cassel to a two-year contract, the Vikings long-term answer at quarterback is not yet on the roster.

Bortles has the prototypical size (6-5, 235), arm strength and mobility that teams covet in a franchise quarterback. The American Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Year, Bortles threw for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for 272 yards and six touchdowns last year.

9. (Sean) Buffalo Bills (draft history) - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

[SB] The Bills have made a number of moves to surround second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel with weapons. They re-signed Scott Chandler at TE, and traded a sixth-rounder away to the Bucs for Mike Williams. I don't think they are done.

There are two rules when building around a new quarterback: protect him and give him weapons. Either route is in play with this pick, but I think they go playmaker. Ebron is the best tight end prospect coming up this year. I'd compare Ebron to a TE like Jared Cook due to his size, speed and hands.

10. (Kevin) Detroit Lions (draft history) - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

[KH] Even with two Day 2 picks at corner over the past couple of years, the Lions still ranked 23rd in the NFL in passing defense. Especially considering the Lions have to face the elite passing attacks of Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, etc.) and Chicago (Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, etc.) at least four times per year, you can never have too many cornerbacks.

With excellent size (6-0 1/8, 202 pounds) and speed (4.37 forty), Gilbert has the cover skills and ball skills to make big plays and he also had five kick returns for touchdowns in college as well.

>> Continue to picks 11-20 here
>> Continue to picks 21-32 here

>> More NFL Mocks: 2014 NFL Mock Draft (Hanson) | NFL Mock Draft Database

>> NBA Mocks: 2014 NBA Mock Draft | NBA Mock Draft Database

>> Fantasy football rankings: Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.

April 13, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft (April 13th Update): Clowney Goes First Overall

Based (at least in part) on the (un)availability of Radio City Music Hall in New York City in April, the 2014 NFL Draft will be held a few weeks later than usual (May 8-10) this year.

From now until May 8th, I will make (at least) weekly updates to this mock and include additional rounds as we get closer. Ultimately, the goal will be to make this a full seven-round mock draft.

Follow me on Twitter (@EDSFootball) to keep track of my mock (and all other site) updates.

For a second opinion, check out our 2014 NFL Mock Draft Database for other mocks around the internet.

Without further ado, here is my updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Houston Texans (draft history): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Possessing much more talent than last year's record suggests, the Texans were a popular pick to win the division and possibly get to (or even win) Super Bowl XLVIII. Instead, the Texans closed the season with a franchise-worst 14-game losing streak, fired their head coach and benched starting quarterback Matt Schaub, who was traded to the Raiders this offseason.

When asked who the Texans will select with the first overall pick, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle previously 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."

Prior to this update, I've had the Texans selecting a signal-caller with the first overall pick. While quarterback clearly remains a position of need for the Texans, it's difficult to ignore the fact that Clowney, the top prospect on our consensus big board, is a much more talented prospect than any quarterback in this year's draft class as well.

So, would it make more sense to take someone like UCF's Blake Bortles at No. 1 and then the best available prospect at No. 33? Or would it make more sense to take the best player in the draft at No. 1 and then the best available quarterback at No. 33?

Viewed as a once-in-a-decade type of defensive line prospect, Clowney is a physical freak who ran an official 4.53 (unofficial 4.47) 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

Clowney's motivation and effort was questioned by many last season and his on-field production dropped significantly — 23.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks in 2012; only 10.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks in 2013. That said, opposing defenses schemed to slow down Clowney with double and triple teams.

Paired with J.J. Watt, the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, Clowney should help the Texans get to the quarterback more consistently this year. Only the Bears and Jags had fewer sacks than the Texans last season.

[Related Poll: Vote here on which player the Texans will draft with the first overall pick.]

2. St. Louis Rams (via WAS)(draft history): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

With the draft one month away, there is one thing that is certain: St. Louis will attempt to trade down from this slot to acquire additional picks.

If Clowney is off the board, as he is in this edition of my mock, the choice will likely come down to Clemson's Sammy Watkins, the top receiver in the draft, and Robinson, the top offensive tackle in the draft.

Not only is receiver extremely deep, the Rams have used numerous early picks on receivers over the past few seasons. In fact, they have five top-100 selections at the position in their past three drafts including Tavon Austin at No. 8 overall last season.

Meanwhile, Robinson has the upside to be a dominant left (or right) tackle for the next decade. While Jake Long is recovering from a torn ACL, the team re-signed Rodger Saffold only after he failed a physical with the Raiders. Either way, the Rams can move Saffold inside to guard.

Although the Tigers did not throw often, Robinson has all of the physical tools to develop as an elite pass blocker: great size (6-5, 332 pounds), arm length (35 inches) and athleticism (4.92 40-yard dash). And he's one of the biggest (literally) reasons that Auburn led the nation in rushing offense.

His college teammate Avery 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."

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3. Jacksonville Jaguars (draft history): Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

While the new regime in Jacksonville has the franchise heading in the right direction, they still have a major need at the sport's most important position. With Clowney and Robinson going No. 1 and 2, however, the Jags have their choice of quarterbacks in this year's draft.

Bortles has the prototypical size (6-5, 235), arm strength and mobility that teams covet in a franchise quarterback. The American Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Year, Bortles threw for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for 272 yards and six touchdowns last year.

4. Cleveland Browns (draft history): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Browns have several young talented players, but it's been a long time since they've had a franchise quarterback. Since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have had a league-leading (or really a league-worst) 20 starting quarterbacks.

Before an ACL injury sidelined him last season, Brian Hoyer played well and he has a shot to be the team's starter in Week 1 even if they draft a quarterback like I'm projecting here.

One of the most exciting, improvisational and polarizing players in college football, Manziel, the first-ever freshman Heisman Trophy winner (in 2012), threw for 3,732 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and ran for another 686 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013.

With the ability to avoid pressure and make plays on the run, Manziel also improved quite a bit as a passer from the pocket in 2013. In addition, Alabama coach Nick Saban called him one of the most competitive players he has ever faced. That said, Manziel will need to learn (a la Russell Wilson) to better avoid hits instead of seeking that extra yard or two.

5. Oakland Raiders (draft history): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Possessing numerous needs on their roster, the Raiders could go in a variety of directions including quarterback with this pick. In previous updates, I've had the Raiders selecting Buffalo's Khalil Mack or A&M's Jake Matthews and both of those picks would also make sense here.

With Watkins, however, the Raiders get the clear-cut top receiver prospect in this year's draft class. 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.

6. Atlanta Falcons (draft history): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Perhaps the Falcons will be the team that moves up in a trade with the Rams in order to secure a prospect like Clowney. In fact, Clowney is hoping for it.

Whether they do or don't trade up for Clowney, it's clear they need to improve their pass rush. Only two teams — the Bears and Jaguars (31 each) — had fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (32), who were tied with the Texans. The only player on the roster with more than five sacks in 2013 was Osi Umenyiora (7.5 sacks), who will be a free agent after the upcoming season.

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. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah compared Mack to Green Bay's Clay Matthews.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (draft history): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Considering the Bucs have just traded away Mike Williams, Watkins would be a slam-dunk selection if he slips to the Bucs. Even if he doesn't, however, it wouldn't be too surprising to see the Bucs go with another receiver like Evans here.

Even though Vincent Jackson has been highly productive (2,608 yards in his two seasons), he turned 31 years old last month. Interestingly enough, the NFL comparison that Evans most often gets is Jackson.

In his sophomore campaign, Evans had 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns with a ton of production against Alabama and Auburn. In those two games combined, Evans had 18 catches for 566 yards and five touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Evans would give new quarterback Josh McCown another big target.

8. Minnesota Vikings (draft history): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Despite drafting Christian Ponder in the first round a few years ago and re-signing Matt Cassel to a two-year contract, the Vikings long-term answer at quarterback is not yet on the roster.

Some may question his frame and/or his level of competition while his disappointing Pro Day performance did himself no favors. In addition, ESPN's Chris Mortensen has reported that his private workouts haven't gone so well either. I've seen Bridgewater slipping to the very end of the first round in some mock drafts, and even into the top of the second round. While anything can happen on draft day, it's hard for me seeing that happening.

Not only is Bridgewater a highly accurate passer with the ability to make all of the throws, but he possesses the intelligence, intangibles and leadership you'd want in a franchise quarterback. The most polished quarterback in this year's draft class, Bridgewater remains my top-ranked quarterback prospect even if he isn't the first one off the board in this mock.

9. Buffalo Bills (draft history): Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

A first team All-ACC selection, Ebron set the conference record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end this year. In fact, he has been compared to San Francisco's Vernon Davis, who previously held the record, due to his size and athleticism.

10. Detroit Lions (draft history): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Even with two Day 2 picks at corner over the past couple of years, the Lions still ranked 23rd in the NFL in passing defense. Especially considering the Lions have to face the elite passing attacks of Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, etc.) and Chicago (Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, etc.) at least four times per year, you can never have too many cornerbacks.

With excellent size (6-0 1/8, 202 pounds) and speed (4.37 forty), Gilbert has the cover skills and ball skills to make big plays and he also had five kick returns for touchdowns in college as well.

> Continue to picks 11-20 here
> Continue to picks 21-32 here
> Continue to Round 2 here

> Mock Draft Databases: 2014 NFL Mock Draft Database | 2014 NBA Mock Draft Database

> Check out my 2014 NBA mock draft

> Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - Running Backs - Wide Receivers - Tight Ends

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.

April 08, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft: The One-Month-To-Go Update

Based (at least in part) on the (un)availability of Radio City Music Hall in New York City in April, the 2014 NFL Draft will be held a few weeks later than usual (May 8-10) this year.

From now until May 8th, I will make (at least) weekly updates to this mock and include additional rounds as we get closer. In fact, the plan is to add both Rounds 2 and 3 later this week. Ultimately, the goal will be a full seven-round mock draft.

Follow me on Twitter (@EDSFootball) to keep track of my mock (and all other site) updates.

For a second opinion, check out our 2014 NFL Mock Draft Database for other mocks around the internet.

Without further ado, here is my updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Houston Texans (draft history): Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

Possessing much more talent than last year's record suggests, the Texans were a popular pick to win the division and possibly get to (or even win) Super Bowl XLVIII. Instead, the Texans closed the season with a franchise-worst 14-game losing streak, fired their head coach and benched starting quarterback Matt Schaub, who was traded to the Raiders this offseason.

When asked who the Texans will select with the first overall pick, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle previously 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."

If they so choose, the new coaching staff will have their choice of quarterbacks with whom to begin the next era with the first overall pick in this year's draft.

As tempting as it may be to pair one physical freak, J.J. Watt, with another, Jadeveon Clowney, I agree with McClain that quarterback is going to be the pick. The question remains, however: Which one of the three?

Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is the most polished quarterback in this class even if his Pro Day did not show it. That said, Bridgewater's slender frame has led to concerns about his ability to hold up to the pounding a quarterback can take.

On the other hand, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel had a stellar Pro Day performance and his improvisational style made him one of the most exciting players to watch in college football. From a marketing standpoint, Manziel is an in-state kid that would generate large appeal from the team's fan base. With that said, Johnny Football has his own share of concerns: his celebrity persona (although he has said the right things), his ability to win within structure of offense as opposed to relying on athleticism and improvisional skills, etc.

Last but not least, Bortles has the prototypical size (6-5, 235), arm strength and mobility that teams covet in a franchise quarterback. Not only did Bill O'Brien get a firsthand view of Bortles as he led UCF to a win over O'Brien's Penn State team last year, but O'Brien was once part of George O'Leary's staff and that may lead to additional comfort and confidence in selecting Bortles to be the future face of the franchise.

[Related Poll: Vote here on which player the Texans will draft with the first overall pick.]

2. St. Louis Rams (via WAS)(draft history): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

With the draft one month away, there is one thing that is certain: St. Louis will attempt to trade down from this slot to acquire additional picks. If the Texans don't select Clowney with the first pick (and he's still available here), that should improve the Rams' chances of moving down to acquire additional picks.

If they are unable to move down, however, it could be a difficult choice between Clowney, the top prospect on our consensus big board, or a prospect like Clemson's Sammy Watkins and Auburn's Greg Robinson, both of whom would fill a greater need for the Rams.

Although Clowney is a once-in-a-decade type of prospect, the Rams had 53 sacks (third in NFL) last year and already have a dynamic duo of Robert Quinn and Chris Long at defensive end.

Not only is receiver extremely deep in this year's draft class, the Rams have used numerous early picks on receivers over the past few seasons. In fact, they have five top-100 selections at the position in their past three drafts including Tavon Austin at No. 8 overall last season.

Meanwhile, Robinson has the upside to be a dominant left (or right) tackle for the next decade. While Jake Long is recovering from a torn ACL, the team re-signed Rodger Saffold only after he failed a physical with the Raiders. Either way, the Rams can move Saffold inside to guard.

Although the Tigers did not throw often, Robinson has all of the physical tools to develop as an elite pass blocker: great size (6-5, 332 pounds), arm length (35 inches) and athleticism (4.92 40-yard dash). And he's one of the biggest (literally) reasons that Auburn led the nation in rushing offense.

His college teammate Avery 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."

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3. Jacksonville Jaguars (draft history): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

If Clowney is still on the board at this spot, the Jags could be doing some backflips on their way to handing in their draft card.

Perhaps there would be some debate here for the Jaguars as they really need a franchise quarterback, but I can't see them passing up a talent like Clowney. If so, they could look for someone like Derek Carr or Jimmy Garropolo with their early second-round pick.

Clowney's motivation and effort was questioned by many last season and his on-field production dropped significantly — 23.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks in 2012; only 10.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks in 2013. That said, opposing defenses schemed to slow down Clowney with double and triple teams.

As noted earlier, Clowney is viewed as a once-in-a-decade type of defensive line prospect that is a physical freak who ran an official 4.53 (unofficial 4.47) 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

The Jags were tied with the Bears for last in the league in sacks (31). Not only did the Jags make some solid moves via free agency, but Clowney would be a major step towards significantly upgrading Gus Bradley's pass rush.

4. Cleveland Browns (draft history): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Browns have several young talented players, but it's been a long time since they've had a franchise quarterback. Since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have had a league-leading (or really a league-worst) 20 starting quarterbacks.

Before an ACL injury sidelined him last season, Brian Hoyer played well and he has a shot to be the team's starter in Week 1 even if they draft a quarterback like I'm projecting here.

One of the most exciting, improvisational and polarizing players in college football, Manziel, the first-ever freshman Heisman Trophy winner (in 2012), threw for 3,732 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and ran for another 686 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013.

With the ability to avoid pressure and make plays on the run, Manziel also improved quite a bit as a passer from the pocket in 2013. In addition, Alabama coach Nick Saban called him one of the most competitive players he has ever faced. That said, Manziel will need to learn (a la Russell Wilson) to better avoid hits instead of seeking that extra yard or two.

5. Oakland Raiders (draft history): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Possessing numerous needs on their roster, the Raiders could go in a variety of directions including quarterback with this pick. In previous updates, I've had the Raiders selecting Buffalo's Khalil Mack or A&M's Jake Matthews and both of those picks would also make sense here.

With Watkins, however, the Raiders get the clear-cut top receiver prospect in this year's draft class. 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.

6. Atlanta Falcons (draft history): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Perhaps the Falcons will be the team that moves up in a trade with the Rams in order to secure a prospect like Clowney. In fact, Clowney is hoping for it.

Whether they do or don't trade up for Clowney, it's clear they need to improve their pass rush. Only two teams — the Bears and Jaguars (31 each) — had fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (32), who were tied with the Texans. The only player on the roster with more than five sacks in 2013 was Osi Umenyiora (7.5 sacks), who will be a free agent after the upcoming season.

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. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah compared Mack to Green Bay's Clay Matthews.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (draft history): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

In my previous update, Watkins slid to the Bucs at No. 7. Considering the Bucs have just traded away Mike Williams, Watkins would be a slam-dunk selection if he does slip to the Bucs. Even if he doesn't, it wouldn't be too surprising to see the Bucs go with another receiver like Evans here.

Even though Vincent Jackson has been highly productive (2,608 yards in his two seasons), he turned 31 years old last month. Interestingly enough, the NFL comparison that Evans most often gets is Jackson.

In his sophomore campaign, Evans had 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns with a ton of production against Alabama and Auburn. In those two games combined, Evans had 18 catches for 566 yards and five touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Evans would give new quarterback Josh McCown another big target.

8. Minnesota Vikings (draft history): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Despite drafting Christian Ponder in the first round a few years ago and re-signing Matt Cassell to a two-year contract, the Vikings long-term answer at quarterback is not yet on the roster.

Some may question his frame and/or his level of competition while his disappointing Pro Day performance did himself no favors. In some (other) mock drafts, I've seen Bridgewater slipping to the very end of the first round and even into the top of the second round. While anything can happen on draft day, it's hard for me to see that happening.

Not only is Bridgewater a highly accurate passer with the ability to make all of the throws, but he possesses the intelligence, intangibles and leadership you'd want in a franchise quarterback. The most polished quarterback in this year's draft class, Bridgewater remains my top-ranked quarterback prospect even if he isn't the first one off the board in this mock.

9. Buffalo Bills (draft history): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Although I had the Bills selecting UNC tight end Eric Ebron in my previous update, Matthews would be a bigger value for the Bills if he were to slip to this spot. (In my last update, he was off the board before this point.)

Even though Cordy Glenn played extremely well last season, Matthews has the versatility to play either left or right tackle. Technically sound and the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, he is also an extremely safe pick.

10. Detroit Lions (draft history): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Even with two Day 2 picks at corner over the past couple of years, the Lions still ranked 23rd in the NFL in passing defense. Especially considering the Lions have to face the elite passing attacks of Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, etc.) and Chicago (Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, etc.) at least four times per year, you can never have too many cornerbacks.

With excellent size (6-0 1/8, 202 pounds) and speed (4.37 forty), Gilbert has the cover skills and ball skills to make big plays and he also had five kick returns for touchdowns in college as well.

- Continue to picks 11-20 here
- Continue to picks 21-32 here

- Mock Draft Databases: 2014 NFL Mock Draft Database | 2014 NBA Mock Draft Database

- Check out my 2014 NBA mock draft

- Fantasy football rankings: Quarterbacks - Running Backs - Wide Receivers - Tight Ends

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.

March 29, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency Update

Based (at least in part) on the (un)availability of Radio City Music Hall in New York City in April, the 2014 NFL Draft will be held a few weeks later than usual (May 8-10) this year.

From now until May 8th, I will make weekly updates to this mock and include additional rounds as we get closer. Ultimately, the goal will be a full seven-round mock draft.

Follow me on Twitter (@EDSFootball) to keep track of my mock (and all other site) updates.

For a second opinion, check out our 2014 NFL Mock Draft Database for other mocks around the internet.

Without further ado, here is my updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Houston Texans (draft history): Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

Possessing much more talent than last year's 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 closed the season with a franchise-record 14-game losing streak, fired their head coach and benched starting quarterback Matt Schaub, who was recently traded to the Raiders.

With the first overall pick in this year's draft, the new coaching staff has their choice of quarterbacks with whom to begin the next era if they so choose.

When asked who the Texans will select with the first overall pick, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle previously 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."

As tempting as it may be to pair one physical freak, J.J. Watt, with another, Jadeveon Clowney, I agree with McClain that quarterback is going to be the pick. The question remains, however: Which one of the three?

Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is the most polished quarterback in this class even if his Pro Day did not show it. That said, there are concerns about Bridgewater's slender frame and ability to hold up to the pounding a quarterback can take.

On the other hand, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel had a stellar Pro Day performance on Thursday and his improvisational style makes him one of the most exciting players to watch. Plus, being an in-state prospect is another positive from a non-football (i.e., marketing) standpoint. With that said, Johnny Football has his own share of concerns: his celebrity persona (although he's saying the right things this offseason), ability to win within structure of offense as opposed to relying on athleticism, lack of height, etc.

Last but not least, Bortles has the prototypical size (6-5, 235), arm strength and mobility that teams covet in a franchise quarterback. Not only did Bill O'Brien get a firsthand view of Bortles as he led UCF to a win over O'Brien's Penn State team last year, but O'Brien was once part of George O'Leary's staff and that may lead to additional comfort and confidence in selecting Bortles to be the future face of the franchise.

[Related Poll: Vote here on which player the Texans will draft with the first overall pick.]

2. St. Louis Rams (via WAS)(draft history): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

With the draft more than a month away, there is one thing that is certain: St. Louis will attempt to trade down from this slot to acquire additional picks. In an ideal world, the Rams, who own two top-13 picks, would like to move down a few spots to acquire additional draft picks.

If they are unable to move down, it could be a different choice between Jadeveon Clowney, the top prospect on our consensus big board, Clemson's Sammy Watkins and an offensive tackle like Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews.

Although Clowney is a once-in-a-decade type of prospect, the Rams had 53 sacks (third in NFL) last year and already have a dynamic duo of Robert Quinn and Chris Long at defensive end. Meanwhile, the Rams have used numerous early picks on receivers over the past few seasons. In fact, they have five top-100 selections at the position in their past three drafts including Tavon Austin at No. 8 overall last season.

Meanwhile, Robinson has the upside to be a dominant left (or right) tackle for the next decade. While Jake Long is recovering from a torn ACL, the team re-signed Rodger Saffold only after he failed a physical with the Raiders. Either way, the Rams can move Saffold inside to guard.

Although the Tigers did not throw often, Robinson has all of the physical tools to develop as a pass blocker: elite size (6-5, 332 pounds), arm length (35 inches) and athleticism (4.92 40-yard dash). And one of the biggest (literally) reasons that Auburn led the nation in rushing offense was Robinson.

His college teammate Avery 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."

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (draft history): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

If Clowney is still on the board at this spot, the Jags could be doing some backflips themselves.

Perhaps there would be some debate here for the Jaguars as they really need a franchise quarterback, but I can't see them passing up a talent like Clowney. If so, they could look for someone like Jimmy Garropolo with their early second-round pick.

Clowney's motivation and effort was questioned by many last season and his on-field production dropped significantly — 23.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks in 2012; only 10.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks in 2013. That said, opposing defenses schemed to slow down Clowney with double and triple teams.

Viewed as a once-in-a-decade type of defensive line prospect, Clowney is a physical freak that ran an official 4.53 (unofficial 4.47) 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine last month.

The Jags were tied with the Bears for last in the league in sacks (31), but Clowney is a major step towards significantly upgrading Gus Bradley's pass rush to go along with some solid moves via free agency.

4. Cleveland Browns (draft history): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Browns have several young talented players, but it's been a long time since they've had a franchise quarterback. Since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have had a league-leading (or really a league-worst) 20 starting quarterbacks.

Before an ACL injury sidelined him last season, Brian Hoyer played well and he has a shot to be the team's starter in Week 1 even if they draft a quarterback like I'm projecting here.

One of the most exciting, improvisational and polarizing players in college football, Manziel, the first-ever freshman Heisman Trophy winner (in 2012), threw for 3,732 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and ran for another 686 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013.

With the ability to avoid pressure and make plays on the run, Manziel also improved quite a bit as a passer in 2013. In addition, Alabama coach Nick Saban called him one of the most competitive players he has ever faced. That said, Manziel will need to learn (a la Russell Wilson) to better avoid hits instead of seeking that extra yard or two.

5. Oakland Raiders (draft history): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

In my pre-free agency update (and most mock updates prior to that), I had the Raiders selecting an offensive tackle. And there certainly is the possibility that they still do so. After losing Jared Veldheer in free agency, they signed Saffold, who then failed his physical. After that, they added tackles Donald Penn and Austin Howard.

Aside from losing Veldheer, the Raiders also lost Lamarr Houston, their leading pass-rusher (6.0 sacks) last season.

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. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah recently compared Mack to Green Bay's Clay Matthews.

6. Atlanta Falcons (draft history): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Perhaps the Falcons will be the team to move up in a trade with the Rams in order to secure a prospect like Clowney. In fact, Clowney is hoping for it.

In previous updates of my mock, I had the Falcons using this pick on Mack, but he's now off the board. The Falcons were tied with the Texans for 29th in the league in sacks so they will look to bolster their pass rush in the draft.

If Clowney and Mack are off the board, Matthews is a tremendous consolation prize. The Falcons are a pass-first team as they ranked third in the league in pass attempts so improving their protection of Matt Ryan should be another top priority for the team.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (draft history): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

While character concerns dropped Mike Williams in the draft three years ago, there was a report that Williams racked up more than $200,000 in fines for being late to meetings or missing rehab days last year. In addition, Williams was recently stabbed in the leg by his brother.

Even though Vincent Jackson has been highly productive (2,608 yards in his two seasons), he turned 31 years old last month.

With Watkins, the Bucs get the clear-cut top receiver prospect in this year's draft and he's an excellent value at seventh overall. 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.

8. Minnesota Vikings (draft history): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Despite drafting Christian Ponder in the first round a few years ago and re-signing Matt Cassell on Saturday to a two-year contract, the Vikings long-term answer at quarterback is most likely not yet on the roster.

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. The most polished quarterback in this year's draft class, Bridgewater remains my top-ranked quarterback prospect even if he isn't the first one off the board in this mock.

9. Buffalo Bills (draft history): Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

I debated Ebron here with wide receiver Mike Evans, who was my previous choice for the Bills. Ultimately, I expect them to add a big red-zone target for E.J. Manuel.

A first team All-ACC selection, Ebron set the conference record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end this year. In fact, he has been compared to San Francisco's Vernon Davis, who previously held the record, due to his size and athleticism.

10. Detroit Lions (draft history): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

One of the bigger winners at the Scouting Combine, Lewan (6-7, 309) ran the fastest 40-yard dash (4.87) among offensive linemen. In fact, only four offensive linemen have posted faster times since 2006. In addition to his athleticism, Lewan possesses the size (6-foot-7, 309 pounds), length (33 7/8-inch arms) and demeanor to excel as he stays in state to continue his professional career.

- Continue to picks 11-20 here
- Continue to picks 21-32 here

- Mock Draft Databases: 2014 NFL Mock Draft Database | 2014 NBA Mock Draft Database

- Check out my 2014 NBA mock draft

- Fantasy football rankings: Quarterbacks - Running Backs - Wide Receivers - Tight Ends

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Previous 15 Entries

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Free Agency Update Mar 9, 2014
2014 NFL Mock Draft: (March 3rd update) Mar 3, 2014
2014 NFL Scouting Combine: Fastest DB 40-yard dash times Feb 25, 2014
2014 NFL Scouting Combine: Fastest LB 40-yard dash times Feb 24, 2014
2014 NFL Scouting Combine: Jadeveon Clowney runs 4.53 40-yard dash Feb 24, 2014
2014 NFL Scouting Combine: Fastest 40-yard dash times for WRs Feb 23, 2014
2014 NFL Scouting Combine: Fastest 40-yard dash times for RBs Feb 23, 2014
2014 NFL Scouting Combine: 40-yard dash times for QBs Feb 23, 2014
2014 NFL Draft Big Board (Pre-Combine Update): Clowney still unanimous No. 1 Feb 20, 2014
NFL Draft Poll: Who will the Texans select with the No. 1 pick? Feb 16, 2014
2014 NFL Mock Draft (Feb. 14th update) Feb 14, 2014
2014 NFL Mock Draft: Collaboration, 1.0 Feb 10, 2014
2014 NFL Mock Draft (Feb. 1st update): Bridgewater still going No. 1 Feb 1, 2014
UPDATED: 2014 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board Jan 26, 2014
2014 NFL Mock Draft: 1/7/14 Update Jan 7, 2014