The draft order is far from set, dozens of college football players still need to decide whether or not they will enter the 2014 NFL Draft, and a bunch of free agent moves will determine team needs. Sounds like the perfect time to do a mock draft, right?
Of course, what follows will not be an accurate depiction of what unfolds in May. Heck, we have a hard time predicting the draft the week before. Instead, use this mock draft as a means of gauging how we feel about certain players and the directions each team could head in.
There will be plenty more mock drafts in the coming months, but don't let that stop you from ripping this one to shreds in the comments. Draft season is almost in full swing after all.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville: It's been a long year in Jacksonville. New general manager David Caldwell stripped the roster down before the season, starting the rebuilding process from scratch. An 0-8 start to the season was part of the growing process for a team in complete rebuilding mode. Even with a win against the Titans in Week 10 and a more competitive effort against the Cardinals in Week 11, the Jaguars are the favorites to land the No. 1 overall pick.
This is an easy pick for the Jaguars to make. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the most complete prospect at the position eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. Bridgewater is skilled at moving throughout the pocket and avoiding pressure while keeping his eyes downfield. He also has a quick release and strong enough arm to make all of the throws. He's the quarterback Jacksonville has been waiting for.
There is one flaw in his game, though. He needs to learn how to slide. Get down, Teddy!
2. Minnesota Vikings - Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon: Marcus Mariota is imperfect. He doesn't make as many pre-snap reads as Bridgewater and isn't quite as accurate of a passer. He has tons of room to grow, though. The lean, strong-armed passer has the speed and arm strength to develop into a premier NFL player. Mariota is no lock to declare for the draft. The Vikings are in dire need of a quarterback, and Mariota is the best one on the board.
With Mariota at quarterback, the Vikings can finally move Christian Ponder to his most natural position.
3. Houston Texans - Anthony Barr, Outside Linebacker, UCLA: What is Houston doing picking No. 3 overall? A team with preseason Super Bowl aspirations, the Texans are on an eight-game losing streak and seem destined to be picking in the top 10. If things go poorly enough in the final six games for the Texans to be picking No. 3, a quarterback could certainly be in play. With the top two options off the board, Houston turns to the pass rush, because a team can never have enough pass rushers.
4. Atlanta Falcons - Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina: Not many people expected the Atlanta Falcons to be this low in the standings in November, but here they are. The silver lining to Atlanta's disastrous 2013 season is the chance to land South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Falcons' struggles have come from poor play on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Clowney, despite all the criticism he's taken this season, is still the top prospect in this class and would provide an instant jolt to a dormant Falcons pass rush.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Derek Carr, Quarterback, Fresno State: The Buccaneers may play themselves out of a high enough draft position to acquire a top-end quarterback prospect. If Tampa ends up doing so, Mike Glennon has probably performed well enough to get one more season as the Buccaneers quarterback. As it stands in this mock draft, Tampa is sitting at No. 5, and Derek Carr is on the board. Considering the strides Carr has made from his junior to his senior season, his physical tools should excite teams picking in the top 10. Depending on the new coaching staff, a certain firecracker quarterback from Texas A&M could be in play here as well.
6. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) - Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M: Jake Matthews would be a gift for the St. Louis Rams if available with the No. 6 pick. Matthews is in a tier of his own at offensive tackle, demonstrating the ability to play left and right tackle without losing much in the way of technique. He's even developed quite the mean streak as a senior. He should step in and be a quality NFL starter from day one.
7. Buffalo Bills - Khalil Mack, Linebacker, Buffalo: The Bills' defense has taken a big step forward in 2013, and the pieces are in place for the unit to continue to improve in the coming years. Buffalo could have a chance to add yet another dynamic talent to its front seven in the 2014 NFL Draft, though. Khalil Mack of Buffalo is a strong bet to wind up in the top 10, and there may not be a better fit than the NFL team which resides in the same city as his college team. Mack would complement Bills standout rookie Kiko Alonso nicely.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers - Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle, Alabama: The Steelers have failed to address the offensive line in recent years, and the lack of protection has compounded into a tough couple of years for Ben Roethlisberger. Alabama offensive Cyrus Kouandjio is far from perfect but has plenty of room to grow as a blocker. At the moment, he's our No. 2 offensive tackle in the 2014 class and he fits well with the Steelers.
9. Cleveland Browns - Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan: The Browns have been much better than most expected in 2013, despite going through three different quarterbacks already this season. Brandon Weeden is on his last legs in Cleveland, but the team may not be in a position to get a signal caller who fits its system with this pick. Addressing the offensive tackle spot opposite Joe Thomas makes the most sense in terms of need.
10. Baltimore Ravens - Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson: Torrey Smith has become a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens this season. Joe Flacco doesn't have any other weapons to work with, though. After losing Anquan Boldin to free agency and tight end Dennis Pitta to injury, the Ravens' offense has taken a big step back. Adding a dynamic player like Sammy Watkins, who is physical at the catch point and has the speed to burn the defense deep, would do wonders for this offense.
11. Tennessee Titans - C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama: It's tough to imagine C.J. Mosley falling too far on draft day considering he has the versatility to play inside and outside linebacker in any defensive alignment. Due to need, he slips just out of the top 10, but the Titans would be happy to add Mosley. He's comfortable in coverage but has the burst and first step to impact the game as a pass rusher as well.
12. Oakland Raiders - Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M: The Raiders still have a lot of building to do, despite what a string of early-season wins led some to believe. Terrelle Pryor's success was short-lived. While he still has a chance to grow into a starting quarterback, his 2013 season was still mostly inconsistent. Enter another mobile quarterback, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, to give the Raiders a new direction at the position. If and when he declares for the 2014 draft, Manziel is going to have a chance to be drafted high. He's improved his mechanics as a passer, isn't throwing from his back foot as often, and his arm strength has gotten better as a result. Manziel will be one of the biggest question marks in the draft, but his talent is tough to ignore for quarterback-needy teams. Plus, who doesn't want to see him celebrate on stage?
13. St. Louis Rams - Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama: The Rams luck into the second half of a dream draft scenario. Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, the top safety eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, would be an outstanding fit with the Rams, who could use a rangy, hard-hitting player in the secondary.
14. San Diego Chargers - Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU: D.J. Fluker has turned out to be a nice find for the Chargers, solidifying the offensive line for the time being. In fact, San Diego would be a more competitive team if the defense could hold up a bit better against the pass. Jason Verrett has moved into the No. 1 spot on our cornerback rankings, so he slides into this spot.
15. New York Giants - Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State: The Giants are on a bit of a roll, playing their way out of the premier draft position. One of the biggest positional needs for New York is linebacker, which has been a sore spot on the defense all season. Ryan Shazier of Ohio State has cooled off a bit this season, but if he runs as fast as he claims he will at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Shazier could see his draft position begin to climb again. He looks like a mid first-round pick.
16. Green Bay Packers - Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech: Jermichael Finley suffered a scary injury against the Browns earlier this season and may never play in the NFL again. If he does return, there is no guarantee he will be the same player. Plus, the Packers could use an upgrade regardless. Jace Amaro has emerged as one of the top draft-eligible tight ends in the class. He's fast down the seam and has plus body control for his size. Adding more weapons for Aaron Rodgers is never a bad thing.
17. Miami Dolphins - Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee: For the love of Ryan Tannehill, the Miami Dolphins need to upgrade the offensive tackle spot in the 2014 NFL Draft. They need to do it early, too. Antonio Richardson is a quality prospect who could go higher than this by the time May rolls around. The Dolphins' offense has a chance to come together if Tannehill stays upright.
18. Dallas Cowboys - Ra'Shede Hageman, Defensive lineman, Minnesota: Ra'Shede Hageman will be a potential pick for a handful of teams picking in the top 15 if he continues playing at the level he's reached in 2013. The Cowboys would be ecstatic to have him fall to No. 18. An aggressive and powerful defensive lineman would bolster the interior of Dallas' front.
19. Chicago Bears - Louis Nix, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame: Concern over Louis Nix's knees have a chance to hurt his draft position this spring. He's a big-time talent, but he's struggled to stay on the field in 2013 and impact the game in the same way Notre Dame is used to seeing from him. A player as talented as Nix can only fall so far, and the Bears could use depth at defensive tackle.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Cedric Ogbuehi, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M: The Cardinals caught a tough break with Jonathan Cooper going down for the season before it even started. The offensive line has struggled in 2013, and even with Cooper back, the offensive tackle position will need to be addressed. Playing opposite Jake Matthews, Cedric Ogbuehi often gets overlooked, but he's performed well at right tackle since Luke Joeckel moved on to the NFL. Once they address the offensive line, the Cardinals can deal with the whole Carson Palmer problem they have.
21. San Francisco 49ers - Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M: Colin Kaepernick has shown a liking for bigger targets. He's a much better quarterback when Vernon Davis is on the field and could certainly use Michael Crabtree back in the lineup. Anquan Boldin has been a fine addition for San Francisco, but a long-term fixture at wide receiver is needed across from Crabtree. Mike Evans, if he declares, will be an interesting case study. He may not run the fastest time in the 40-yard dash, but he's downright dominant in the vertical passing game because of his ability to win at the catch point. Kaepernick would love throwing the ball to this young wide receiver.
22. New York Jets - Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina: Geno Smith isn't going to develop into a franchise quarterback without a little bit of help. He has a limited number of receivers to work with, so adding talented pass catchers should be a priority for New York on draft weekend. With the depth of this wide receiver class and New York's needs at both tight end and wide receiver, the Jets can afford to select Eric Ebron here.
23. Carolina Panthers - Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC: It seems like every year, the Carolina Panthers need to add a wide receiver, because every year, they ignore the position for too long on draft day. Carolina hasn't had the best luck with USC wide receivers, but Marqise Lee is a nice value pick here. If not for injuries bringing down his level of play, Lee may be a top-15 lock. Instead, the Panthers get him in the 20s.
24. Kansas City Chiefs - Brett Hundley, Quarterback, UCLA: Since we're assuming the redshirt sophomore will declare for the draft, UCLA's Brett Hundley deserves consideration in the first round. Despite an inconsistent season, Hundley's physical ability is obvious. He can make all of the throws with the zip and anticipation to be a franchise passer. He needs to become more consistent in his reads, decision-making and accuracy to put it all together, but Kansas City may be the perfect place for him. The Chiefs could let him sit until he's ready while Alex Smith plays out the final season of his contract.
25. Philadelphia Eagles - Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State: 2013 has not been kind to Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby. He ran into trouble with the law in the offseason and he seems to have regressed a bit on the field as a junior. Still, the talent flashes at times, and at this point, it would still be a surprise for him to drop out of the first round. The Eagles have a big hole to fill at cornerback, and Roby would be a nice pickup.
26. Cincinnati Bengals - Christian Jones, Linebacker, Florida State: There aren't many holes on the Bengals' roster, which is why a quarterback almost makes sense at this spot. Andy Dalton doesn't look like the long-term answer at quarterback, but there's also a chance he plays just well enough to leave a glimmer of hope. Cincinnati's defense is solid on all three levels, but depth at linebacker is needed. Christian Jones of Florida State comes in just ahead of Kyle Van Noy in our rankings and gets the nod at this pick.
27. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts) - Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback, LSU: After missing out on Derek Carr with their first pick, the Cleveland Browns land the next best strong-armed passer in the 2014 NFL Draft. Zach Mettenberger has made tremendous strides at LSU as a senior and earned consideration in the first round. He fits the mold of what the Browns are building on offense perfectly. Unlike the last quarterback they drafted.
28. Detroit Lions - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Cornerback, Oregon: The Detroit Lions have the third-worst passing defense in the entire NFL in terms of yards per game, so something has to change. Detroit lacks talent at cornerback, and luckily one of the top players at the position is still available late in the first round.
29. New Orleans Saints - Kony Ealy, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Missouri: Michael Sam has stolen the headlines at Missouri, but Kony Ealy has more potential at the next level. Ealy is as strong as an ox but is comfortable moving around in space. Don't be surprised if NFL teams want to experiment with Ealy at outside linebacker in pre-draft workouts. He would fit in nicely with New Orleans.
30. New England Patriots - Kyle Van Noy, Linebacker, BYU: Kyle Van Noy has dropped off a bit since his incredible bowl game to end his junior season. What remains intriguing about Van Noy is his ability to fit into a few different defensive alignments. Bill Belichick will certainly value Van Noy's versatility and could use some extra depth at linebacker given Jamie Collins' struggles this season.
31. Denver Broncos - Vic Beasley, Defensive End, Clemson: Since losing Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos have been missing something up front. While Von Miller provides a threat off the edge, Denver needs another impact player to play with his hand in the dirt. Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley may fit the mold and he also fits into this draft range.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Shawn Oakman, Defensive End, Baylor: While he's only a redshirt sophomore, Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman has already started turning heads. At 6'9, Oakman has the length Seattle loves in its defensive ends. If he declares, expect Oakman to work his way into the first round.