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May 8, 2014

2014 SCO NFL mock draft

by Abel Chanyalew, Online Sports Editor, Samuel Popper, Sports Editor and Michael Gerbasi, Online Sports Editor
The NFL is seemingly always in the sports news cycle, but one of the biggest days on its calendar is finally here. The draft is where hope springs eternal for all teams in the league. It's the time and place where fans rejoice and front offices revel in getting "their guy," young adults who haven't played a single professional snap. Every team has a chance to "win" the offseason (or at least the next three days) and provide (unreasonable?) optimism for the upcoming season.

Here at SCO, we've created our (one and only) official mock draft for the 2014 NFL draft. Our picks were based on team needs, how we believe teams should fill those needs and what we would do if we were each team's GM. A live draft was held with each draft expert picking for 10 teams, and the following ensuedÖ

1. Sam: Houston Texans: DE Jadeveon Clowney, University of South Carolina
Although there is lots of questions about the direction the Texans will go with this first overall pick, to me it is simple. Go with the physical specimen that is Clowney with the highest potential by far in this draft and put him under the wing of one of the best D-lineman and best leaders in the NFL, JJ Watt.

2. Abel - St. Louis Rams: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M University
The Rams have several options with the luxury of having two picks in the top 15, but one of their top priorities is protecting an oft-injured Sam Bradford. The consensus top left tackle in the draft is Auburn's Greg Robinson, but A&Mís Matthews is said to be the better pass protector, and thatís what the Rams (and Bradford) really need.

3. Abel - Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson University
With such a dearth of offensive weapons on this team, thereís just no way the Jags should pass up on the best wide receiver in the draft. There are holes all over this roster, and really Jacksonville could go in several different directions with the third pick (QB, OT, Khalil Mack), but Watkins fills the biggest need based on value in this spot.

Wherever Johnny goes, he'll inject lots of fun and energy to one of several downtrodden teams. Courtesy of dallasnews.com
Wherever Johnny goes, he'll inject lots of fun and energy to one of several downtrodden teams.
4. Mikey - Cleveland Browns: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M University
Right now the Brownsí biggest team need is at QB. Jason Campbell is not a long term answer and neither is Brian Hoyer. So why not draft the best quarterback in the draft in Manziel? However, if Sammy Watkins is still on the board for this pick, I wouldnít be surprised if Cleveland took him instead.

5. Mikey - Oakland Raiders: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn University
If Robinson is still available at the fifth pick, which he might not be, Oakland cannot pass on him. The Raiders do have somewhat of a need for a quarterback as well but they did sign Matt Schaub and also have Terrelle Pryor in their back pocket. I think Oakland just goes best available player with this pick, and in this case thatís Robinson.

6. Sam - Atlanta Falcons: OT Taylor Lewan, University of Michigan
If the Falcons stay in their spot at sixth overall, they will be more than overjoyed to get either of these three great tackles with that pick.

7. Sam - Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OLB Khalil Mack, University of Buffalo
With clear defensive needs addressed in free agency, I believe the Buccaneers will simply pick their best player on the board with this pick which is clearly Khalil Mack who most sportswriters an NFL scouts agree is a top five prospect.

8. Mikey - Minnesota Vikings: QB Blake Bortles, University of Central Florida
There is not much doubt that the Vikings are another one of those teams that needs a long term quarterback. Christian Ponder has been their guy, but he hasnít performed as well as the front office has hoped. Blake Bortles seems to be the best option at this pick, but Minnesota could also go with Bridgewater or Manziel if he is still on the board.

9. Abel - Buffalo Bills: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M University
With the top three offensive tackles off the board, the Bills could definitely just take the best player available. They donít have many pressing needs, and after drafting QB EJ Manuel with the 16th overall pick last year, it would be a good idea to get a playmaker for the young signal caller. Evans is a physical receiver with elite size and leaping ability. Heís got good hands and the ability to gain significant yards after the catch.

10. Abel - Detroit Lions: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State University
This is almost a no-brainer for the Lions. They have serious needs in the secondary, and while Gilbert may not be the most technical cornerback, heís the best athlete in this yearís class of corners and brings great return skills.

11. Abel - Tennessee Titans: QB Teddy Bridgewater, University of Louisville
Now this pick may be a little surprising with the presence of Jake Locker at the helm, but with new head coach Ken Whisenhunt taking over in Tennessee, heíll probably be looking to bring in his own franchise quarterback to begin his regime. And like the Bills, the Titans donít have many major needs, which allows them to fill the most important position on the field.

The star Alabama LB is projected to go as high as the top 10 or as low as the bottom of the first round. Courtesy of baltimoresportsandlife.com
The star Alabama LB is projected to go as high as the top 10 or as low as the bottom of the first round.
12. Sam - New York Giants: ILB C.J. Mosley, University of Alabama
Both the Giants desperate needs for an inside linebacker and the lack of depth at that position in this yearís draft class will be enough to persuade the Giants to wrap up Mosely, probably the only ILB taken in the first 45 picks, up a huge gap.

13. Abel - St. Louis Rams: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, University of Alabama
With the first pick devoted to offense, the Rams should look to shore up the defensive side of the ball, specifically the back end. Clinton-Dix is a rangy safety with ball-hawking skills that can play centerfield. The Alabama product would be a Day One starter and help out a very good front seven in St. Louis.

14. Abel - Chicago Bears: DT Aaron Donald, University of Pittsburgh
The Bears have issues all over the defense, but with likely the best safety on the board already gone, the next best fit for their need is Pittís Aaron Donald. Though a bit undersized for an interior defensive lineman, Donald is a better pass rusher than fellow top-DT Timmy Jernigan.

15. Mikey - Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State University
The Steelers definitely need some help in the secondary. Ike Taylor underperformed last year for a number one cornerback, so grabbing the best available corner here would make sense. There is a slight possibility that the Steelers go with a defensive end here, but there is a significant drop off in talent after Clowney. The best value would be at corner.

16. Mikey - Dallas Cowboys: DT Tim Jernigan, Florida State University
The Cowboys could very well grab offensive lineman Zack Martin with this pick, but they also could use some help on the defensive line. The situation on the line last year was subpar and now with Jason Hatcher departing Dallas will likely need to spend a draft pick on a defensive lineman.

17. Abel - Baltimore Ravens: OT Zack Martin, University of Notre Dame
The Ravens could definitely go with former Louisville safety Calvin Pryor, who is widely seen as Clinton-Dixís equal in this class of safeties. But considering the fact that Joe Flacco has yet to play up to his massive contract and the Ravensí run game was pathetic last season, I think Baltimore would like to address issues along the offensive line. Martin is versatile enough where he can play guard or kick out to right tackle, filling the void left by the departure of Michael Oher.

18. Mikey - New York Jets: WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State University
The Jets just need more offensive weapons around quarterback Geno Smith. Some might say that Odell Beckham jr would be the smarter pick and itís feasible that the Jets pick him here but Cooks is also a viable option. Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award as the nationís top receiver and had over 1,700 receiving yards. You canít argue with results.

19. Abel - Miami Dolphins: OT Xavier Suía-Filo, UCLA
Following the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin fiasco in Miami, an unintended consequence the casual fan may not know about is that the Dolphins now have serious issues along the offensive line. They lost their cornerstone left tackle and 2008 first overall pick Jake Long last season and now Incognito and Martin are both gone, leaving more holes on an offensive line that gave up a league-high 58 sacks last season. With all the consensus first round tackles gone, there's no need to reach for a Cyrus Kouandijo or Morgan Moses at 19. Su'a-Filo is a solid insertion into the interior of the line.

Barr (11) is one of the premier pass rushers in this year's draft, and could easily go in the top 12. Courtesy of dailybruin.com
Barr (11) is one of the premier pass rushers in this year's draft, and could easily go in the top 12.
20. Sam - Arizona Cardinals: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
With this huge position of need for the Cardinals, they are likely to be debating whether to go with Barr or Ryan Shazier of Ohio State (picked 31st in our mock). I believe they will choose Barr over Shazier due to his better speed and higher potential.

21. Sam - Green Bay Packers: TE Eric Ebron, University of North Carolina
The Packers will be overjoyed if Ebron is still available this late in the first round. When looking at the Packers offense with QB Aaron Rodgers over the years, the teamís best offenses, including their superbowl championship season, included a great target for Rodgers at Tight End. With the spinal injury to Jermichael Finley and the ineffectiveness of Andrew Quarless, the Packers will be looking for another tight end to help boost their offense.

22. Sam - Philadelphia Eagles: S Calvin Pryor, University of Louisville
With a great safety like Pryor still available, the Eagles should add him, along with Malcolm Jenkins, they could help bolster their secondary to be one of the most improved NFL units in 2014. If Pryor is gone, expect the Eagles to pick a talented wide receiver to replace the ghost of Desean Jackson.

23. Sam - Kansas City Chiefs: WR Marquise Lee, University of Southern California
If the Chiefs reach an agreement with QB Alex Smith in their contract negotiations, they will immediately look to the wide receiver position to finally give Dwayne Bowe a partner in crime on the outside.

24. Mikey - Cincinnati Bengals: DE Dee Ford, Auburn University
This is a tough pick to project because the Bengals really donít have very many team needs. They return most of their starters from last season and could likely just take the best available player at 24. However, if Cincinnati does have one glaring need itís at defensive end. Defensive Michael Johnson and linebacker/defensive end James Harrison are both gone meaning the Bengals could use some extra help rushing the passer.

25. Abel - San Diego Chargers: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Considering you have to defend the Broncosí high powered offense twice a year, it would be wise for the Chargers to target a cornerback in the draft, especially when their secondary isn't very good to begin with. Fuller is physical and has good size to play press coverage. He's versatile with the ability to play outside on the boundary or slide in and cover a slot receiver, and he's also a good run defender.

26. Mikey - Cleveland Browns: WR Odell Beckham Jr., Louisiana State University
The Browns will likely use their second pick in the first round on another offensive weapon. If there was a running back worthy of a first round pick Cleveland would probably take advantage but there really isnít. So the next best option is another talented wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Gordon, which is exactly what they will get with Beckham.

27. Mikey - New Orleans Saints: CB Bradley Roby, The Ohio State University
The Saints will either go cornerback or safety with this pick. However, going with a cornerback makes slightly more sense because New Orleans signed safety Jairus Byrd and although Champ Bailey will be joining the team, I question his durability. Nonetheless, donít be surprised if a safety is called off the board at 27, especially if Calvin Pryor is still available.

Benjamin (1) is a physical freak but character and work ethic concerns have affected his draft stock. Courtesy of cbssports.com
Benjamin (1) is a physical freak but character and work ethic concerns have affected his draft stock.
28. Sam - Carolina Panthers: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State University
For the Panthers to pick anything except a wide receiver in the first round would be a horrible idea as their whole wide receiving corps had a combined 17 touchdowns catches with 10 of them coming from veteran Jerricho Cotchery. If the Panthers do not take a WR in the first round, thy will take many of them later in the draft. If not, it will be a huge shocker.

29. Abel - New England Patriots: DT Louis Nix III, University of Notre Dame
The Patriots seem to be fairly well built without a ton of major holes (or maybe it's just been Tom Brady and Bill Belichick masking their flaws). Regardless, theyíre solid enough that they can draft for value or select the best player available. Nix would be a talented and youthful injection into the defensive front and a very good replacement in the near future for the aging Vince Wilfork.

30. Mikey - San Francisco 49ers: CB Jason Verrett, Texas Christian University
San Franciscoís defense was one of the best in the league last year, but the secondary has considerable room for improvement. Itís also an even bigger concern following the loss of cornerback Carlos Rogers. Expect the 49ers to go either with the best corner available or potentially the best receiver available.

31. Mikey - Denver Broncos: OLB Ryan Shazier, The Ohio State University
Denver could go with the best available player or also a cornerback. However, there is a good chance that there wonít be many good corners left, so Denver can address its other main defensive issue: linebacker.


32. Sam - Seattle Seahawks: OT Morgan Moses, University of Virginia
Look for the defending champs to help out their biggest weakness by bolstering the offensive line, there will be some early reaches for o-linemen early in the draft but the sound Seahawks will just take the best guy on the board.



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