This week will change everything about the 2014 NFL Mock Draft season. Players begin reporting for the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, meaning we are to that time of year when players running around in their underwear suddenly changes when and where they will be selected in the NFL Draft. Although everything will change this week, that doesn't mean we can't still take a look at a Pre-Combine NFL Mock Draft. Luckily for us, it's Monday, which means Mocking the Draft has published their latest projection.
Matthew Fairburn's look at the Draft starts in familiar territory, with the Houston Texans selecting quarterback Blake Bortles from UCF. The Texans have three options at this point, selecting Bortles, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, or South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. As Fairburn puts it, Clowney would be "somewhat of a luxury pick" for Houston, who desperately needs a new quarterback, so it will come down to the big bodied quarterback who seems to fit head coach Bill O'Brien's ideal, or the smaller, Texas based quarterback who could be the ideal pick for the team owner and fan base. In this case, O'Brien wins out and Bortles moves from Orlando to Houston.
Clowney does not have to wait long, however, to hear his name called. With the second pick, the St. Louis Rams use the pick they received from the Washington Redskins for the Robert Griffin III trade to snatch Clowney. Adding Clowney to an already stacked defensive line would make St. Louis' front seven ridiculously deep and dangerous, and the Rams can afford to pick Clowney here, knowing they come right back up on the clock 11 picks later.
The Jacksonville Jaguars come up with the third overall selection and probably could not be happier with the way the board has fallen. With Teddy Bridgewater not being selected with the top overall pick, the Jaguars land, as Fairburn writes, the "most pro-ready quarterback in the draft."
If Fairburn's projection of the first three picks holds true, the consensus seems to be the Cleveland Browns selecting Manziel with the fourth pick. Fairburn sees it going a different way, though, now that Michael Lombardi is out as the General Manager for Cleveland. Instead, the Browns grab Sammy Watkins, Clemson wide receiver, to pair with Josh Gordon, giving them a dynamic one-two receiving threat.
Manziel, after being considered for the number one overall selection, slides to the fifth position, according to Fairburn's latest. Johnny Football trades in his maroon and white for silver and black as he heads to the Oakland Raiders.
Jumping down to the Miami Dolphins' 19th pick, Fairburn shocks everyone with an offensive tackle pick for the Dolphins. Well, maybe not so much on the shocking people part, but at least it is a little different on the player front from what we are usually seeing. Instead of Zach Martin, Fairburn sees the Dolphins able to select Tennessee tackle Antonio Richardson. Of the pick, he writes:
As Miami reshapes its offensive line, left tackle will obviously be the most critical piece. After the top four offensive tackles are off the board, the quality of players drops considerably. If Richardson is available with the 19th pick, the Dolphins should strike. He's a high-upside left tackle with unique athleticism for the position.
But, the mock draft is not done. Fairburn actually runs his projection through the second round in this instance, meaning we get to take a look at the Dolphins' 50th overall selection as well. After selecting a tackle in the first round, Fairburn sees Miami moving to the inside the line, picking Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson. He explains:
Using one draft pick on the offensive line isn't enough for the Miami Dolphins. If they want to protect the investment they made in Ryan Tannehill, it's time to take the offensive line issue seriously.
What are your thoughts on the back-to-back offensive linemen picks? Is it the way the Dolphins, who clearly have to upgrade an offensive line that allowed 58 sacks and will now be shaken up by the Ted Wells report, have to go in May's Draft?
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