SB Nation's Mocking the Draft updated their projection of the 2014 NFL Draft on Monday, trying to predict who could be heading to which team when May rolls around. The talent level of the Draft is starting to increase as a near-record number of underclassmen have already declared, with more expected.
Of course, quarterback is the defining position in this Draft, just as it is in nearly every Draft. Where players like Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, and Johnny Manziel get selected will set up the rest of the selection process. How does SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn see the Draft playing out? Where will the quarterbacks go? And who will the Miami Dolphins select with the 19th overall pick?
Fairburn's top pick is not at all a surprise at this point: Bridgewater to the Houston Texans. With Houston bringing in a new coaching staff, the team will be looking for a fresh start, and with the number one overall pick, they get to do exactly that. Selecting the Louisville quarterback will give the fan base some excitement, will ensure the team can move away from Matt Schaub, and will give them the top option at signal caller this year.
The second pick, however, is somewhat a surprise. The St. Louis Rams come into this Draft with the second overall pick, thanks to the trade two years ago giving the Washington Redskins the second overall pick, which was used for Robert Griffin III. Now, they can do just about anything they want with the pick. Fairburn sees them using it on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, despite already having Robert Quinn and Chris Long at the position. It's clearly a best-player available selection, and, with the extra first round pick, and a second overall pick at that, maybe selecting Clowney simply because they can is the right move for St. Louis.
Fairburn makes another surprising move with the third overall selection, with the Jacksonville Jaguars skipping the obvious need at quarterback, instead turning to Khalil Mack, the linebacker/defensive end from Buffalo. Adding a pass rusher does make sense for Jacksonville, but could they ignore the fact that both Bortles and Manziel are sitting on the board waiting for them? Or, to put it another way, could they settle for Blaine Gabbert for another year?
The second quarterback comes off the board with the Cleveland Browns' fourth overall selection. Manziel heads to Cleveland, under this projection, and he could find himself heading to Ohio when the real draft rolls around. However, the coaching staff has yet to be picked in Cleveland, and the temptation of Bortles over the polarizing Manziel could lead to Cleveland to look to UCF instead of Texas A&M in May.
The fifth pick in Fairburn's mock has a second straight Texas A&M player coming off the board, with the Oakland Raiders selecting tackle Jake Matthews. The top rated tackle in the 2014 Draft could shore up a waek Oakland offensive line, and he could play either left or right tackle, depending on what the Raiders do with Jared Veldheer, who is set to become a free agent.
Jumping to the eighth pick, Fairburn has Bortles landing with the Minnesota Vikings, who will be hiring a new coaching staff this year, and could be looking to move away from the Christian Ponder era. Bortles led UCF to their first BCS Bowl win this year, and could turn that into a top ten draft pick.
As for the Miami pick, Fairburn sees the Dolphins addressing their consensus number one need, offensive tackle. In this case, Miami ends up with Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandijo. The Crimson Tide big man is falling on some draft boards right now, but could be sitting nicely for the Dolphins with the 19th pick. The Dolphins have to find a way to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and adding Kouandijo could be exactly how to do it.
What do you think of Fairburn's latest slate of picks? Would you be happy with the Kouandijo selection? Let us know in the comments below.