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2014 Neon Tommy NFL Mock Draft

Sports Staff |
May 8, 2014 | 10:16 a.m. PDT

Buffalo's Khalil Mack rises all the way to No. 2 overall (Twitter/@UBAthletics)
Buffalo's Khalil Mack rises all the way to No. 2 overall (Twitter/@UBAthletics)
The NFL Draft begins tonight, and Neon Tommy's resident NFL gurus got together to predict who falls where in the first round. 

1. Houston Texans - DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

Andrew McKagan: The Texans get the most talented player available at a position of need with their top overall pick. After losing both Antonio Smith and Earl Mitchell in free agency, Clowney provides a pass-rushing fiend who can play both inside and outside to pair with the best non-quarterback in the NFL, J.J. Watt. Clowney won’t be doing much dropping into coverage under defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, and that’s perfectly okay—Andrew Luck is a whole lot easier to beat when he’s on his back.

2. St. Louis Rams - DE Khalil Mack, Buffalo

Max Meyer: The Rams could go several different directions with this pick, including the very realistic possibility of trading down. If they keep it, however, I think they'll go with the most talented player on the board. Mack has had a meteoric rise up the draft rankings, and is an outstanding pass rusher. Greg Robinson is also intriguing, but the last time the Rams selected an offensive lineman at 2nd overall, Jason Smith, it turned out to be a disaster.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

McKagan: With the team not planning for Justin Blackmon to return anytime soon, wide receiver has gone from a position of relative strength to one of need. Sammy Watkins gives them an Anquan Boldin-type player but who can run, and he’s one of the few elite talents in this draft who is as good a bet as there is for success at the next level. Put him across from Cecil Shorts III with Ace Sanders in the slot, and the Jaguars will have an excellent support system for whomever takes the helm at quarterback.

4. Cleveland Browns - OT Greg Robinson, Auburn

Law Murray: First of all, I don't trust using a first-round pick on any of these QBs. Not saying these guys aren't good. But chances are, they'd all be better if they were slept on for a round. For Cleveland, and their horrible history drafting QBs in the first round, they would be better served building a foundation, setting up a young prospect for success. Let's face it, coming out of Auburn, no one really knows what kind of pass blocker Robinson is on an island. With Joe Thomas locking down left tackle, Robinson would bump incumbent right tackle Mitchell Schwartz to guard, next to Pro Bowler Alex Mack. Cleveland would then have arguably the best offensive line in the division for whoever is supposed to play QB there.

5. Oakland Raiders - CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

Matt Tufts: This one may come as a surprise to a lot of people this early in the draft, but before you start comparing Dennard with the Raiders' past draft busts, look at it in context. Yes, the Raiders drafted a corner in the first round last year (D.J. Hayden), but their other two corners aren't supposed to be permanent solutions and Dennard is the best there is in this year's draft. The Thorpe Award winner has the tools and physicality to be a shut down corner. He may not be the fastest defensive back out there, but he won't be afraid to get physical with wideouts. He's a cross between Darrelle Revis and Aqib Talib.

6. Atlanta Falcons - OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

Jordan Schuchmann: Several factors caused the Falcons' 2013 woes, but protecting the man with the NFL’s second-most lucrative contract should be top priority. Matt Ryan was sacked the third-most in the NFL last season, and led the league in dropbacks while under pressure. The Falcons are in dire need of a franchise tackle, and Matthews brings the size and athleticism Ryan needs protecting him, and the strength to turn around their last-in-the-league run game.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

Jacob Freedman: Lewan is a specimen, at 6-foot-7, and has the capacity to be the Bucs' cornerstone on the line for the next decade. He needs to work on his technique, and even though Anthony Collins just got a $30 million deal to be Tampa Bay's left tackle, Lewan could slide to right and hone his skills until he's ready to protect a quarterback's blind side. Tampa hasn't used their first pick on an offensive player in five years; time to break the streak.

Johnny Manziel in purple? We think so. (Twitter/@NFL)
Johnny Manziel in purple? We think so. (Twitter/@NFL)
8. Minnesota Vikings - QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Ben Albert: With projected defense studs Clowney, Mack, and even Dennard off the board already by the time Minnesota picks, look for the Vikings to address their biggest need. Ultimately, this selection comes down to Manziel and Blake Bortles, as both would be great fits in different ways for Minnesota. However, the prospect of pairing the dynamic Manziel with Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson will be too enticing to turn down. Look for the Vikings to draft Johnny Football at 8 to form one of the most dangerous offensive packages in the NFL.

9. Buffalo Bills - WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

McKagan: Stevie Johnson is on one side, and Robert Woods mans the slot. Who else is there who has proven anything in the NFL? The Bills need more targets to help their raw, young quarterback E.J. Manuel, and Mike Evans gives him a target with a large catch radius who can make things happen after the catch. And with surprisingly few needs on defense, Evans is the way to go here.

10. Detroit Lions - CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

Meyer: The Lions actually have some solid young players in their secondary, but they don't have a cornerback with true shutdown potential. That's a problem when you're in a division with Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings amongst others. Enter Gilbert, the top-ranked cornerback in this year's class. He has great coverage and ball skills, and also will help out quite a bit in the return game.

11. Tennessee Titans - DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

McKagan: No team can have too many pass rushers. And with elite interior defensive linemen especially hard to find, Donald is too good to pass up here for Tennessee. Sure, the Titans will technically be switching to a 3-4 this season under Ray Horton, and Donald is best suited to be a 4-3 defensive tackle, but Horton knows how to put his players in the best possible positions to succeed. Put Donald on the interior with Jurrell Casey, and getting that consistent pressure up the middle is the best way to disrupt any quarterback.

12. New York Giants - TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Tufts: After the departure of Brandon Myers (who was a pretty poor replacement anyways) the Giants are left with a gaping hole at tight end. The offense was, to be frank, abysmal last season, ranking 28th in both yards per game and points per game. A standout tight end will move the Giants in the right direction. Ebron is a born pass-catcher with great hands and lanky frame. He may not have the size or blocking ability yet, but he's a venerable threat downfield.

13. St. Louis Rams - S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama

Murray: The Rams have a ferocious pass rush that apparently just got even stronger with the earlier selection of Mack. It would be nice if the Rams could take advantage of that pass rush somehow by forcing some turnovers. Enter Clinton-Dix, who would pair with 2013 3rd-round pick T.J. McDonald at safety for Jeff Fisher. Clinton-Dix isn't the perfect center fielder, but his ball skills covering for that front seven could make him a Day One impact player. And the Rams are probably a safety away from making all four NFC West defenses a certified nightmare to play against.

Alabama linebacker CJ Mosley would fill a void in Chicago. (Twitter/@TreyDeuce32RTR)
Alabama linebacker CJ Mosley would fill a void in Chicago. (Twitter/@TreyDeuce32RTR)
14. Chicago Bears - ILB CJ Mosley, Alabama

Schuchmann: The Bears have plenty of bodies at the linebacker position, but besides the aging veteran Lance Briggs, they don’t have an impact player. Mosley could be that guy. Mosley’s versatility makes him a good fit for a Bears linebacking core that has uncertainty surrounding it, and a Pro-Bowler at the end of his career. If the Bears have the opportunity, don’t be surprised to see them pick the future of their defense at 14.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame

Freedman: The Steelers are drafting for need here, as the Marcus Gilbert-Kelvin Beachum duo at tackle is not deterring any defensive coordinators from unleashing the pass rush. Martin is quick off the line and has the agility to move in space to protect an aging Ben Roethlisberger in the pocket. He's a low-risk prospect, and in an environment like Pittsburgh, he'll be given all the tools to succeed and become a fixture on what has been a leaky cauldron of an O-line in recent years. 

16. Dallas Cowboys - OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA

Albert: The Cowboys will be licking their chops if Barr falls to them at 16. While Dallas is a team with multiple areas of need, with the exit of DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys’ front seven could use a real boost. As a pass-rushing LB, Barr would provide some much-needed versatility up front. He may even see more time at defensive end than linebacker. Regardless, it is hard to see Dallas hesitating or trading down if Barr is on the board at 16.

17. Baltimore Ravens - S Calvin Pryor, Louisville

McKagan: They drafted safety Matt Elam with their first pick last year after losing Ed Reed, but after losing a serviceable starter at the other safety position in James Ihedigbo to free agency, this position is a need once again. Calvin Pryor is a versatile, rangy player who will plug a gaping hole at the safety position for Baltimore.

18. New York Jets - WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Meyer: After a brutal offensive season, the Jets made a major splash by signing wide receiver Eric Decker in the offseason. Now, they need to find a speed threat to compliment him. Beckham not only has great speed, but also very good hands and a knack to gain yards after the catch. His versatility is a plus too, as not only can he burn corners from the outside, he can be effective in the slot too.

19. Miami Dolphins - WR Marqise Lee, USC

Freedman: The Trojan great goes in the Top 20 to a Miami team needing a reliable threat alongside Mike Wallace. Wallace is a deep threat, but Lee would give quarterback Ryan Tannehill a safety blanket across the field, and would allow Brian Hartline to move into the slot. Lee has injury concerns after his 2013 season, but has the work ethic and laser-driven focus needed for a Dolphins team that had to deal with last season's locker-room drama. 

Ryan Shazier gives the Cardinals some much-needed versatility. (Twitter/@RyanShazier)
Ryan Shazier gives the Cardinals some much-needed versatility. (Twitter/@RyanShazier)
20. Arizona Cardinals - OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

Tufts: Shazier has the skills and athleticism to play inside or outside linebacker, both of which the Cardinals need help at. He's not huge, but he has the speed to get off the edge on blitzing opportunities when he's positioned outside. Throw in some mentorship from John Abraham, and he has the ability to become a game-changing force in Arizona's defensive scheme.

21. Green Bay Packers - DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota

Schuchmann: The Packers have B.J. Raji at nose tackle and newly signed free agent Julius Peppers at defensive end. So why would they use their first-round pick on another defensive lineman? Hageman is a 6’6”, 318-pound J.J. Watt-resembling animal that they could steal at 21. The former tight end had an offer to play basketball for the Gophers, proving his freakish athletic ability if his combine numbers don’t speak loud enough for themselves. 

22. Philadelphia Eagles - WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

Murray: Cooks after the Eagles cut DeSean Jackson: "Maybe Chip Kelly is looking to take another speedy receiver in that first round, and that could be me. Who knows? And if that's the case, a lot of people will wonder, 'Can he do it like DeSean Jackson?' In my opinion, I can do it like him and do it better."

Well, then! It's not like Kelly hasn't seen Cooks up close, as Cooks played at Oregon State while Kelly was at Oregon. Obviously the Eagles could use some healthy speed in the receiving corps. While Cooks isn't the "blow the top off the defense" threat that Jackson was, he has a little more versatility to his game. And he'd fit the culture, which isn't to be taken lightly.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Freedman: It would be one thing if the Chiefs' contract talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck had stalled. It's another thing when they're stalled with Alex Smith. Smith is probably the Chiefs' best quarterback since Trent Green, but he's not elite to the level that the team shouldn't snap up the player once considered the first overall pick. Bridgewater is ready for an NFL system, and Andy Reid is an ideal mentor who enjoys working with quarterbacks. The Chiefs could use another wideout, but with Cooks going a pick before, taking a little bit of a risk and going signal-caller isn't the worst idea. 

24. Cincinnati Bengals - CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State

Meyer: Cincinnati is essentially a lock to go the cornerback route in the first round, as they relied on the likes of Pacman Jones and Terence Newman late last season. Roby has had trouble off the field, but his skills on it make the baggage worth it. Also, a few red flags haven't stopped the Bengals before from taking a guy with high upside. 

25. San Diego Chargers - CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

Albert: Coming off a season in which they ranked 29th in pass defense and playing in a division with Peyton Manning, the Chargers are in desperate need of a secondary upgrade. Although cornerbacks Dennard, Gilbert and Roby are off the board already, the Chargers will still find themselves with a viable CB option in Fuller. Fuller comes in at 6', 190 lbs, with versatility, as he can play both zone and off man coverage. He has good ball skills and would likely make an immediate impact in a lackluster secondary.

UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo can play almost anywhere along the offensive line. (Twitter/@_XRA1)
UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo can play almost anywhere along the offensive line. (Twitter/@_XRA1)
26. Cleveland Browns - OL Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA

McKagan: Sure, they have Joe Thomas, but the Browns could use an upgrade at the interior of the offensive line. Su’a-Filo is a potential starter and scheme-versatile lineman who could start for the next ten years. The Browns need to protect whomever their quarterback is from disruptive in-division defensive tackles like Haloti Ngata and Geno Atkins, and Su’a-Filo is the perfect type of player to bring their offensive line to the next level.

27. New Orleans Saints - DE Dee Ford, Auburn

Schuchmann: In 2013, the New Orleans defense was fourth in the league in sacks. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his 3-4 scheme did wonders last season. Though 49.0 sacks gives the appearance their defensive line is secure, production only came from one player: Cameron Jordan. Jordan (12.5 sacks) was the only Saints lineman in the top 50. Help on the opposite of Jordan could be deadly, and that help will come in the form of Dee Ford.

28. Carolina Panthers - WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

Murray: I don't like a lot of what I've been hearing about Benjamin. I don't like receivers who "could be" tight ends (see: Big Mike Williams), it took Benjamin awhile to figure things out as a route runner, and then there are the whispers about work ethic and conditioning. But have you seen Carolina's WR depth chart?! Benjamin obviously isn't a scrub (see: National Championship Game) and he's been productive with a big, mobile Heisman-winning QB already. The Panthers are one of two teams that haven't drafted a WR in Round 1 in the 21st century. Carolina better hope Benjamin works out better than Rae Carruth.

29. New England Patriots - TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

Tufts: Back in the days of the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez-centered offense, the two tight ends were nearly unstoppable. Now, with Hernandez gone and Gronk frequently battling injuries, the Patriots have seen a hole at the position. Amaro is a BIG tight end with wide receiver capability, similar to what Gronk (and previously Hernandez) offered. He owns the NCAA (Division I) record for most yards in a season by a tight end, and is expected to be used in the NFL similar to a wide receiver. He's got the size and spread to give Tom Brady another big target downfield.

Kelvin Benjamin is a risk, but Carolina needs wideouts desperately. (Twitter/@NFL)
Kelvin Benjamin is a risk, but Carolina needs wideouts desperately. (Twitter/@NFL)
30. San Francisco 49ers - DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State

McKagan: Justin Smith is getting older, and Jernigan provides the same type of versatile player who can be plugged in and be disruptive from anywhere. The 49ers have been known for their unwillingness to rotate their defensive starters, and Jernigan gives them quality depth in the short term they can use to spell members along the defensive line. 

31. Denver Broncos - CB Jason Verrett, TCU

Albert: Although the Super Bowl runner-up Broncos are pretty solid throughout both their offense and defense, they could use an help at the CB position. Although the Broncos signed Aqib Talib in the offseason, their other starting CB, Chris Harris, tore his ACL in January, casting doubt over his readiness. The other members of the secondary are young, and even Talib is not a sure thing, as he has missed 3+ games in each of the past 4 seasons. As a good tackler with great speed and excellent skills in both man-to-man and zone coverage, Verrett would be a great choice at this point in the draft. The only issue is his height (5’9”) and short arms, which might make covering big WRs in the league difficult for him. 

32. Seattle Seahawks - DE Kony Ealy, Missouri

McKagan: Ealy provides Seattle with a long, athletic, and versatile pass rusher they have been known to covet in the past. They can plug him in at 4-3 strong-side defensive end to help replace Red Bryant, or they can have him play on the interior of the defensive line in both base and sub-package defenses. After losing both Bryant and Chris Clemons as salary cap casualties, Pete Carroll will want to replenish that depth on the defensive line that Seattle aspires to have, and Ealy is a perfect pick for this purpose.



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