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2014 NFL Mock Draft 

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We continue a long-standing tradition here at The Rebel Yell: College journalists putting their draft analyst hats on and seeing if they know more than the experts.

The NFL Draft is a little under two weeks away. Mock drafts are being created every day, and everyone has different opinions on who will go where. It’s a headache, really.

That’s where we come in. For the next week and a half, we will give you our thoughts on who goes where in the first round on May 8.

Without further ado, here are our picks.

 

DANNY WEBSTER, SPORTS EDITOR

1) Houston Texans:
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

It’s a lock that Clowney will go No. 1. The question is, which team will he go to? Houston’s situation is enticing: The Texans can trade down, or put someone opposite of J.J. Watt. That front seven would be scary.

2) St. Louis Rams:
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

This is a make-or-break year for Sam Bradford. He also hasn’t had the luxury of having two top receivers. Can you imagine Watkins on the other side of Tavon Austin? The Rams have talent on defense, but they need more on offense.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars:
Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo

Whomever the Rams don’t take, the Jags will. But Khalil Mack in Gus Bradley’s young defense is a match made in heaven; a game-changing outside pass rusher.

4) Cleveland Browns:
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

God help the Browns. They’ve done everything in free agency to revamp that defense. Last piece of the puzzle? A quarterback to throw to Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Johnny Football is the savior in Cleveland.

5) Oakland Raiders:
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

The Raiders need just about everything. But the two logical picks — Manziel and Watkins — are off the board. Evans, Manziel’s favorite target at A&M, at No. 5 is a stretch, but that’s what Oakland needs: Someone that stretches the field.

6) Atlanta Falcons:
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Robinson is a big, big man. He’s got tree trunks for arms and has the quickness to go with it. The Falcons need someone to keep Matt Ryan upright, so go with the best offensive lineman, arguably, in this draft class.

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Tampa Bay is a team that no one really knows what they need. At this point, you take the best available player on Tampa’s board, and that’s the mauler Matthews. Give either Mike Glennon or Josh McCown some help.

8) Minnesota Vikings:
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

I’m not as big a fan of Bortles as the Vikings are. Teddy Bridgewater has the higher ceiling, but Minnesota appears to like Bortles’ presence in the pocket. He’s also a big signal caller, resembling Ben Roethlisberger.

9) Buffalo Bills:
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Donald has been rising on many mock drafts, going as high as No. 12 to the Giants. If you’re the Bills, you have everything you need offensively. Donald will be a star in that already-stacked front seven.

10) Detroit Lions:
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

The Lions always struggle against the pass. They made strides last year by drafting Darius Slay, so adding the athletic Gilbert on the other side could solidify Detroit’s defense.

 

JESSE GRANGER, SENIOR STAFF WRITER

1) Houston Texans:
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Texans need a quarterback, but Clowney is the best player in the draft and it isn’t close. He ran a 40-yard-dash than 20 running backs in the class. Pairing Clowney with J.J. Watt will have quarterbacks dreading a trip to Houston.

2) St. Louis Rams:
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

It’s tempting to put Sammy Watkins here, but this is the deepest wide receiver class in history, and the Rams can wait to get one. Robinson is the best lineman in the draft, and will give the Rams elite tackles on each side of Sam Bradford.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars:
Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo

The Jaguars’ defense is strong, but Gus Bradley won’t pass up an elite linebacker like Mack. He is an outstanding edge-rusher, but has coverage skills most hybrid players lack.

4) Cleveland Browns:
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Tim Couch, Ty Detmer, Spergon Wynn, Doug Pederson, Kelly Holcomb, Luke McCown, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Thad Lewis, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. That’s all you need to know.

5) Oakland Raiders:
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Oakland has the short-term answer at quarterback with Matt Schaub, and Watkins can make an immediate impact. The Clemson standout has the speed to stretch the defense, and has demonstrated amazing body control.

6) Atlanta Falcons:
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times in 2013. With weapons like Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas, Ryan needs time to get them the ball. Matthews isn’t quick, but he is a more physical blocker.

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

The Buccaneers have Vincent Jackson, but he’s 31 and there is a big drop off after him. Evans, at 6-foot-4, has great hands and is a scary redzone threat.

8) Minnesota Vikings:
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

The Christian Ponder experiment has run its course, and the Vikings are a legitimate quarterback away from contending for the playoffs. I don’t necessarily like Bortles this high, but I think the Vikings do.

9) Buffalo Bills:
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Tight end isn’t a glaring need for the Bills and Ebron isn’t rated in the top-10 on most draft sites, but my gut tells me Ebron to Buffalo. Or maybe that’s the extra-spicy Buffalo wings I ate earlier.

10) Detroit Lions:
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

The Lions have nothing after Calvin Johnson. Benjamin gives Detroit a second option for Matthew Stafford, and is a big-bodied receiver with elite run-after-the-catch ability.

 

RANDY FAEHNRICH, SENIOR STAFF WRITER

1) Houston Texans:
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Clowney is the total package, with size, skill and athleticism that’s rarely found in guys six inches smaller and 40 pounds lighter. Give him a helmet and pads and watch him go to work.

2) St. Louis Rams:
Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo

Although St. Louis has two monsters on the end with Chris Long and Robert Quinn, adding skill like Mack’s can’t hurt. In a division where defense reigns supreme, the Rams’ front four would make St. Louis’ defense among the elite.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars:
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Gus Bradley’s known for building defenses. But offense is a need, and Watkins is the guy. With Cecil Shorts on one side and Justin Blackmon (tentatively) on the other, that’s a nice receiving core to have in a weak defensive division.

4) Cleveland Browns:
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

The list of failed quarterback for the Browns is longer than the United States is wide, but Cleveland may take Mike Evans here. He makes plays. Put him with Josh Gordon and tight-end Jordan Cameron, and that offense is formidable

5) Oakland Raiders:
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Can you think of a better match? The Raiders, with their smug attitudes and “Just Win Baby” slogan, with Manziel, flashing his patented “show me the money” hand gesture. Oakland needs help, and Johnny Football is the answer.

6) Atlanta Falcons:
Greg Robinson, OT, Aubrun

Robinson is big. I’m talking bigger than a Ford F-150-Super-Duty-truck big. The offensive tackle from Auburn is just what the Falcons need. Matt Ryan was sacked a ton last season. He needs time in the pocket.

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Tampa Bay is a team without an identity. They need a lot of help on each side of the football. But a good foundation starts with keeping a quarterback upright, and Matthews provides that. Matthews will give them just enough time to make a play.

8) Minnesota Vikings:
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

I suppose two quarterbacks have to go in the top-10 seeing as how so many teams are desperate for one. Although Bortles hasn’t proven much, no team is more desperate at quarterback than the Vikings. Bortles would be a good fit.

9) Buffalo Bills:
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

The departure of Jairus Byrd hurts. He’s one of the top safeties in the league and New Orleans broke the bank for him. Buffalo has a good nucleus, and rebuilding parts of their secondary is a must.

10) Detroit Lions:
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

The Lions need help badly on defense. But Ebron makes Calvin Johnson’s life easier. He’s not only the best tight-end in this class, but one of the better receivers as well.

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