At this point, 2013 mock drafts are a distant memory. That's so last week. Don't look for these on a weekly basis, but below is my first 2014 NFL mock draft. Save this link and slap me in the face with it next April when half these guys aren't first-round picks.
But that's the fun of mock drafts. They're easy to put down. They're never accurate and a complete exercise in guess work. But you're reading this, so there must be some interest there. To cut out some of that guess work, redshirt sophomores weren't included. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Marcus Mariota of Oregon have only started a season each. Even I'm not crazy enough to project them as NFL talents at this point.
The immediate snap judgement about next year's draft class is that it's going to be better than this year's. Of course, that's what you'd expect an NFL Draft fanboy to say. Regardless, there was no Jadeveon Clowney or Teddy Bridgewater in the draft this year. Not even close.
Before anyone complains too much about the order, it was based on the initial SB Nation power rankings. The only change made was picks 30 and 31 to reflect a possible Super Bowl. Sorry Seahawks. You're welcome, sort of, Broncos.
As always, share your own mock draft in the comments.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
If the Jaguars happen to finish with the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, it means Blaine Gabbert was an utter failure. Undrafted free agents Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers are nice stories, but Bridgewater looks like the next great quarterback prospect.
2. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
What Andrew Luck was to quarterbacks in 2012, Clowney is to defensive ends in 2014. He's a once-a-decade talent and the slam-dunk top-prospect in the next draft. He is not No. 1 here only because of how good Bridewater can be. In the Raiders' front four, they need a pass rusher anyway.
3. New York Jets: Marquise Lee, WR, Southern California
Whether it's Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez taking the snaps this year for the Jets, they'll quickly realize Jeremy Kerley is not a No. 1 wide receiver. Although Lee doesn't have incredible size, his hands are peerless and he's a stellar route runner.
4. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Although I'm much higher than most on Cordy Glenn as a left tackle, Lewan would have been a top-ten pick this year. He's a big, athletic tackle capable of sticking on the left side in the NFL.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
One of the strange moves of the draft this year is the Cardinals not taking an offensive tackle. They'll soon find this year that relying on Levi Brown, Nate Potter or Bobby Massie at tackle isn't wise. Some contend that Matthews is a better prospect than former teammate Luke Joeckel.
6. Tennessee Titans: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Jake Locker, in the final year of his rookie deal, is in a make-or-break season. If the Titans are drafting sixth, chances are Locker broke. Boyd is a somewhat similar player but he has better passing skills.
7. Cleveland Browns: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
When the Browns opted out of the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft this year, it meant the team was stuck with Jordan Cameron or Kellen Davis as their starting tight end. Rob Chudzinkski loves tight ends and the Browns don't have a good one. Seferian-Jenkins has had some off-field troubles but on the field he's a superstar. He's Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham wrapped into one.
8. Kansas City Chiefs: Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame
Don't get too over-excited here Chiefs fans, but it's hard to find a top need for the Chiefs. Nor do I think this is where they'll be drafting. The roster is too talented and Andy Reid is too good of a coach. But sticking with the power rankings, here are the Chiefs again in the top ten. Mike Devito was a solid addition to the defensive line, but Tuitt was a star for Notre Dame last season.
9. Philadelphia Eagles: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Eagles signed Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher this offseason, but neither is a top-end corner. Roby was good enough to come out this season as a redshirt sophomore. He has size, instincts and hands.
10. San Diego Chargers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
It would be strange to take offensive tackles in the first round two consecutive years, let alone from the same school. But Kouandjio was good enough to keep Fluker on the right side and kick All-American Barrett Jones to center. By this time next year, we could even be talking about Kouandjio as the No. 1 pick in the draft.
11. Carolina Panthers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins has been a star at Clemson since his freshman year and is a legit No. 1 wide out. At the start of the 2014 season, Steve Smith will be 35. Just how productive can he be at that age?
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr is a pass-rushing dynamo of an outside linebacker. Jonathan Casillas was signed by the Buccaneers to a one-year deal and he's currently slated to start at the strong side.
13. Detroit Lions: David Yankey, OT, Stanford
One of the real shocks of the draft this year was Detroit not maneuvering to take an offensive tackle. They desperately need one and Yankey is good. He started as a left guard as a freshman before taking over tackle last season. He's athletic and powerful on the edge and can drive defenders backward.
14. Miami Dolphins: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Paul Soliai and Randy Starks are both free agents after this season. If either one is not brought back, defensive tackle could be in play for the Dolphins in the first round. Nix is Notre Dame's nose tackle and at 326 pounds is an imposing player up front.
15. St. Louis Rams: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Shelley Smith is entering the final year of his contract and Jackson is currently the highest rated guard in next year's draft.
16. Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama
The Vikings curiously didn't take a middle linebacker in the draft this year and could use an upgrade at the position. Mosley came close to entering the draft this year and would have been taken in the first three rounds. Look for him to come along as the leader of Alabama's vaunted defense.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Hasean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Will Allen signed just a one-year contract with the Cowboys, and Clinton-Dix looks to be a similar caliber of player as Mark Barron. Clinton-Dix is a playmaker in the back four and can play the run and pass.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
Colvin is a big, physical cornerback who actually started the entire 2011 season for Oklahoma at strong safety. Ike Taylor, who has slowed some in recent years, will be 34 by the start of the 2014 season.
19. Chicago Bears: David Fales, QB, San Jose State
Jay Cutler is entering the final year of his contract and the Bears could find their quarterback of the future in next year's draft. Fales is a favorite among the draft analyst community because he puts good zip on the ball and throws with accuracy.
20. New Orleans Saints: Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
The Saints didn't take a pass rusher early in the draft this year and may need one in their new 3-4 defense. Hubbard really came on late last season and has impressive size at 6'5, 260 pounds.
21. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Charles Sims, RB, Houston
Despite loving the choice of Zac Stacy and no running backs being picked in the first round this year, I like this fit. Sims is a strong runner who can break big runs. He doesn't get a lot of attention, but only because he doesn't play for a BCS school.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Reggie Wayne is nearing the end of his career and Darius Heyward-Bey inspires little as a free agent signing. Matthews has good size and has produced at a routinely bad school.
23. New York Giants: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
This pretty much writes itself. Jeffcoat is a high-upside pass rusher with athleticism. He has been productive at a high-level school and has good size. Really, for the Giants, the only negative is that he's the son of a Dallas Cowboy.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
James Harrison isn't the long-term solution at linebacker for the Bengals. Van Noy would give them a pass-rushing presence at linebacker.
25. Houston Texans: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
If Kareem Jackson struggles, the Texans shouldn't hesitate to take a cornerback in the first round next season. Gilbert considered entering this year's draft. He can play man and zone and is a special teams star.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
The Ravens didn't take an offensive tackle until the fifth round this year, and it's hard to see a scenario where Ricky Wagner is the future at right tackle. Jah Reid is decent, but he shouldn't stop Baltimore from taking a power blocker like Richardson. He can play the left or right side.
27. Green Bay Packers: Trey Depriest, MLB, Alabama
The Packers are shopping Desmond Bishop, which is odd because of the lack of talent at the position for the Packers. Depriest is expected to be the next great Alabama linebacker prospect, and yes, three could go in the first round next year.
28. Atlanta Falcons: Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
Osi Umenyiora isn't the long-term answer at defensive end for the Falcons. Martin is poised to have a breakout season for the Tar Heels and has the length and quickness to play right end in the NFL.
29. New England Patriots: De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
The thought of how Tom Brady would use a weapon player like Thomas will keep AFC East head coaches up at night.
30. Seattle Seahawks: Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor
The Seahawks are impossible to find a player for a year out because the roster looks so good. So how about an offensive lineman like Richardson who can play tackle and guard?
31. Denver Broncos: James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
The Broncos will probably be able to get a long-term deal with Ryan Clady, but Hurst would be good insurance. He's a lengthy left tackle who should be able to play the right side as well.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma
Starting center Jonathan Goodwin is in the final year of his contract and Ikard enters this season as the top snapper in college football. Simple enough for a team with no holes.