By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
How will the 2014 draft shake out? One thing we know is the top half of the draft will be loaded with more star power than this past April. Here is an early look into what could happen.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Teddy Bridgewater Louisville
There is already a lively debate as to who should be taken with the first overall pick. The options are a stud defensive end with potential All-Pro ability or an athletic quarterback with all the tools to be a franchise signal caller. Normally the quarterback position’s importance trumps any other position, but many scouts feel Clowney is so good that he might deserve the selection. If it’s the Jags picking then Bridgewater would be the long term answer at QB and a welcomed change from the underachieving Gabbert.
2. Oakland Raiders – DE Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina
The Raiders will think long and hard about a quarterback but Clowney’s freakish athleticism and pass rushing potential will prove to be too tempting to pass up. After dominating the college game that speed, strength combination that wowed scouts will make the transition to the pro game relatively easy.
3. New York Jets – WR Marquise Lee USC
Unfortunately it looks like a long year ahead for a Jets squad with very little to be excited about. We will likely see Geno Smith at some point but the surrounding offensive pieces are average at best. Adding Lee would give Gang Green an explosive reviever with the speed to take the top off a defense. That addition would certainly help loosen up a defense and make it much easier for a very anemic offensive unit to score points. A 3-4 OLB is always a possibility as well and if the Jets pick ends up being #1 or #2 Clowney could be in the picture as well.
4. San Diego Chargers – OT Jake Matthews Texas A&M
DJ Fluker was chosen as much out of the necessity for an offensive tackle as he was for his actual skill-set. With a massive Fluker manning the right side, the Chargers still need a franchise left tackle to keep the quarterback (Rivers or someone new) upright. Matthews’ quick feet and athleticism would be a prefect compliment to Fluker and turn the weakness of the offensive line to a strength.
5. Cleveland Browns – QB Tajh Boyd Clemson
Brandon Weeden will get his chance to prove he deserves to be the long term answer in Cleveland. My guess is he will play reasonably well, but that the quickly improving defensive unit and running back Trent Richardson’s workhorse ability will prompt the front office to try and acquire a franchise worthy quarterback to lead them into the future. Boyd’s arm strength, bulk and athleticism make him a very intriguing, and also risky, selection for a quarterback needy team.
6. Arizona Cardinals – OT Tyler Lewan Michigan
Larry Fitzgerald’s happiness and therefore likelihood of staying in the desert long term will depend on the quarterback play. Carson Palmer is a major upgrade, albeit a temporary solution, but adding a franchise left tackle to make sure his long drops and arms strength are properly utilized is vital as well. Lewan held his own against the aforementioned Clowney and looks to have the measurables to develop into a top five prospect.
7. Tennessee Titans – CB Bradley Roby Ohio St.
This is a make or break year for Jake Locker so depending on his play a quarterback is very likely to be a consideration here. If not they can’t make a better selection than Roby who is a truly complete corner prospect with size and tackling ability to go along with cover skills and the ability to read and react quickly to routes.
8. Kansas City Chiefs – OLB Anthony Barr UCLA
The Chiefs might have been one of the most talented 2-14 teams ever. The major problem was the ineptitude of the quarterback rotation, which Andy Reid quickly put a stop gap to with the veteran Alex Smith. Using Smith as a temporary solution Kansas City can continue to build a very talented roster. Barr is raw but also blessed with explosive upside and could develop into a star with the proper tutelage.
9. Buffalo Bills – DT Louis Nix III Notre Dame
Nix is one of my favorite prospects in this early stage and would be a tremendous addition to the Bills defense. The 330 pound beast could open things up for Mario Williams and the rest of the defense.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins Washington
Ever since his breakout freshman season Seferain-Jenkins has earned praise as one of the best tight ends in the country. The former basketball star has converted that power forward skill set to the football field and offers a quarterback a massive red zone threat with a wide catch radius. That would surely help Josh Freeman to take the next step or give Mike Glennon a security blanket while he develops.
11. Minnesota Vikings – DE Stephon Tuitt Notre Dame
As you can tell from there draft position I’m not sold on the Vikings current roster, well actually I am just not the guy playing quarterback. Not to trash Christian Ponder but his ceiling is very low and he demands the rest of the team to lift him up, see Adrian Peterson. That doesn’t mean the Vikings will automatically go quarterback in round one if he struggles but that is certainly in play as well. Tuitt would help give the Vikes a truly elite defensive line loaded with young talent after picking up Kawann Short and Sharrif Floyd at very attractive valuations.
12. Carolina Panthers – WR Sammy Watkins Clemson
Cam Newton is talented, very talented. But he needs some help to take the next step and make Carolina a true contender. Watkins is a bit of a risk given his injury and off-field issues, but would provide the Panthers a true #1 receiver to help ease the loss of Steve Smith to retirement. Based on his recent performance that might not happen for a while, but nonetheless a game breaking talent like Watkins would do wonders for both Smith and Newton.
13. Miami Dolphins – OT Cyrus Kouandjio Alabama
Miami now has a solid core of talent on both sides of the ball, but we all know Ryan Tannehill’s success holds the key for the rest of the team’s success. One way to ensure he reaches his potential is to add a 6’6 310 lb tackle from a recent offensive linemen powerhouse to keep him from having to scramble for his life on every play.
14. St. Louis Rams – LB CJ Mosley Alabama
With a bevy of recent draft picks to build a contender the Rams can continue to assemble a young and talented roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Mosley has the change of direction skills of a corner and can read and react to plays quickly making him an ideal line-backing prospect.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – WR Mike Evans Texas A&M
Everyone is anxious to see what kind of offense Chip Kelly is going to run in Philly. Evans seems to be the perfect receiver for his system as he has the strength and size to block and open holes for the read option as well as function as a possession receiver and outlet to a quarterback who may play a lot outside of the pocket.
16. Baltimore Ravens – DE Aaron Lynch South Florida
The Ravens lost much of the talent that led them to the promise land in 2013. However, Ozzie Newsome is one of the most respected player personnel evaluators in the business and adding an athletic and active rusher like Lynch would seem to be right in line with that opinion.