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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins rise in pre-combine prediction

Here's one final guess at the 2014 NFL Draft before the NFL Scouting Combine.

Get ready for everything to change.

The evolution of a mock draft is somewhat complex in nature. It goes from a series of random guesses on team needs and player value early in the process only to become more exact as the NFL Scouting Combine and free agency provide a bit more clarity. Then the rumors swirl for months, causing the final product to be just as much of a guess as it was before the whole mess started.

This week, Dan Kadar and I did our first collaborative mock draft. He had the odd picks, I had the even picks. When alternating picks, the mock draft always ends up looking a bit different. By the end of the week, we'll have even more information on a lot of these players after doing interviews and getting workout results at the NFL Scouting Combine.

For now, here's another shot in the dark at the first two rounds. You can listen to us defend our picks on last week's podcast.

1. Houston Texans - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

At this point, all indications are that Bortles, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and quarterback Johnny Manziel are in play for the Texans. Clowney's fit in Houston may not jibe with Romeo Crennel's two-gap defense. For a team that needs a franchise quarterback, Clowney is somewhat of a luxury pick. If the Texans are choosing between the two quarterbacks, Bortles is more in line with the type of quarterbacks new head coach Bill O'Brien has had in the past. This pick could sway considerably depending on what O'Brien or general manager Rick Smith have to say at the combine.

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

St. Louis is in an ideal spot early in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Rams once again could be in a position to trade down if they don't like the value with this pick. If St. Louis is forced to sit and pick at this spot, Jadeveon Clowney is a real possibility. Yes, the Rams are already stacked along the defensive line. But that doesn't mean they should pass on a transcendent talent like Clowney. He could play inside and on the edge in the Rams' 4-3 front and give them one of the most dangerous defensive lines in football.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

There is no greater benefactor than the Jaguars if projections hold true and Bridgewater isn't the first pick. He's the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft and is very good in every trait. The concerns are about his size and ability to hold up getting hit in the NFL. But what if he comes into the combine bigger than most expect? Or really, how often was he hurt at Louisville? Even when he is banged up, Bridgewater is the type of quarterback who will play through injury. The Jaguars are more than a quarterback away from playoff contention, but if Bridgewater is there, they'll get much closer to it than if they take anyone else.

4. Cleveland Browns - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

With a new general manager in place, figuring out what the Browns are going to do on draft day has now become a guessing game. Michael Lombardi was the team's strongest link to Johnny Manziel, so with Lombardi out, Cleveland could go in a different direction. With the top two quarterbacks off the board, Sammy Watkins is the pick. Not only is he one of the top players on the board, but the Browns could use another wide receiver across from Josh Gordon for whoever they decide to go with under center.

5. Oakland Raiders - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

In a scenario where the Browns don't take a quarterback in the first round, the Raiders should strike. Whether it's Manziel, Bortles or Bridgewater, the Raiders need to upgrade the position in this draft. Manziel seems like he'd be a fun pick for Oakland, doesn't he? If the Raiders take Manziel, or any other quarterback in the first round, offensive linemen and receivers would need to comprise the rest of the draft.

6. Atlanta Falcons - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

The Falcons may have played themselves out of position to draft Jadeveon Clowney, but they are still in a good spot to address either the offensive or defensive line, which are the team's two biggest needs. Defensive end is the more pressing need, and after the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy may be more widely considered a top-10 prospect. He's a versatile lineman who is still learning how to play with consistency. Ealy is the No. 2 defensive end in this class.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

In this mock draft, the choice was down to Evans or an offensive tackle because Clowney and Ealy are off the board. Evans is often compared to current Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson, but that's largely due to size and on-field speed. Despite entering his 10th season, Jackson is still a viable No. 1 option. But look for Evans to be one of the stars of the combine and rise into the top 10 picks. Evans would be the future No. 1 for the Bucs and a better option than Mike Williams straight away.

8. Minnesota Vikings - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

It's starting to look as if Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack could take a bit of a fall on draft day. He's not going to fit into every scheme, and the top of the draft is littered with 4-3 teams. The Vikings need a defensive end, and while Mack isn't a prototype for the 4-3, he could move around the formation and provide Minnesota with a pass rush.

9. Buffalo Bills - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

No team ran the ball more last season than the Bills. With that in mind, Buffalo may be lucky if Robinson is on the board with the ninth pick. Cordy Glenn is set on the left side. Robinson could be a stalwart on the right side and a considerable upgrade over Erik Pears.

10. Detroit Lions - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

It seems like the Detroit Lions have been trying to fix their secondary since the start of the new millennium. With the No. 10 pick, Detroit has its choice of cornerbacks. Last year, the Lions showed they weren't afraid to take a chance on a talented player who hadn't quite scratched the surface of his potential when they used the No. 5 pick on Ziggy Ansah. Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby also has tons of room to grow and may have the highest ceiling of any defensive back in this draft.

11. Tennessee Titans - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

A player like Matthews would be an easy choice for the Titans to make. He's arguably the best offensive tackle in the draft this year. At A&M, Matthews excelled on the right and left sides, making him an intriguing choice for the Titans. He can replace Dave Stewart immediately on the right side and eventually shift to the left when Michael Roos retires.

12. New York Giants - Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA

Xavier Su'a-Filo is built in the mold of the guards who were drafted high in the first round a year ago. He has plenty of functional strength at the point of attack, gets to the second level of the defense in a hurry and is coordinated enough on the move to make blocks in space. The Giants need offensive line help, and while Su'a-Filo isn't a sexy pick, he would be a good one.

13. St. Louis Rams - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Not many have the hard-hitting Pryor getting picked ahead of Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Expect that to change as the draft approaches. Pryor gets the bump above Clinton-Dix because he can play free or strong safety, and he is just as good in coverage as he is in run defense.

14. Chicago Bears - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

If Jason Verrett were a few inches taller and a bit stronger, he would be the first cornerback taken and a likely top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He's smooth in his back pedal, has great feet and is aggressive with the ball in the air.  If they are willing to overlook his size, the Bears might find Verrett to be just the type of player they need in the secondary.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Dennard just looks like a classic Steelers cornerback. He's physical at the line of scrimmage, can quickly break on the ball and is a sound tackler. By drafting a cornerback like Dennard in the first round, the Steelers could move Ike Taylor to safety, boosting two positions with one move.

16 or 17. Baltimore Ravens - Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

The 2013 season was a wake-up call for the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco came crashing down to earth, and Baltimore took a step back as a team. The offense needs more playmakers and may need some help in the trenches once free agency hits. With the top wide receivers off the board, offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio makes sense. Ozzie Newsome is never shy about drafting Alabama players. Kouandjio isn't perfect, but he still displays quality movement skills for his size.

16 or 17. Dallas Cowboys - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Barry Church can be decent at one safety spot, but the Cowboys will be in trouble if they have to continue relying on the likes of Jeff Heath. While they spent a fairly high pick last season on J.J. Wilcox, Clinton-Dix is an undeniably better player. The Cowboys can wait on the depth of the defensive line until the second or third round of the draft.

18. New York Jets - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Send help. Geno Smith's career is in jeopardy of taking a bad turn if he doesn't get some help. The Jets are completely devoid of offensive playmakers, and should commit to drafting at least one in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. Smith's future could depend on it.

19. Miami Dolphins - Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee

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.

20. Arizona Cardinals - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Here is where the fall of Anthony Barr ends. Yes, Barr is long and fast, two nice qualities for a pass rusher to have. He was also a productive player in college. He doesn't make sense for most teams between picks 10 and 20, and he's a bit of a flawed player. He doesn't have many pass-rush moves and tends to miss tackles in space. There is some room to grow, but is he developed enough to warrant a top-10 pick? Maybe not. Barr does make sense for the Cardinals at 20, though. They need pass rushers for their 3-4 defense, and Barr is worth the risk at this point.

21. Green Bay Packers - C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama

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Green Bay has to be hoping one of the top two safeties slips in the first round. If not, the Packers should turn their attention to Mosley, the draft's best middle linebacker. He would pair nicely with A.J. Hawk because of his ability to play sideline-to-sideline. Mosley flows freely to the ball and is a sound tackler. When the Packers use just three linebackers, Mosley can play on the weak side as well.

22. Philadelphia Eagles - Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California

If Jeremy Maclin leaves in free agency, the Eagles will need to find a receiver early in the draft. Marqise Lee wasn't great in 2013, but he battled injuries and still flashed playmaking ability, on deep routes and after the catch. He's worth a late first-round pick.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

In most of our mock drafts, we've had a variety of wide receiver targets for the Chiefs. The flavor of the week is Beckham, who has arguably the best hands in the draft this year. He may drop to this spot in the draft because he's not the biggest or a supreme athlete. What he should be at the next level is a reliable option capable of running crisp routes and making tough catches.

24. Cincinnati Bengals - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

One of the few areas of need for the Cincinnati Bengals is at cornerback. While the team invested in Dre Kirkpatrick a few years ago, it's not too soon to go back to the well at cornerback. Justin Gilbert isn't too refined in his technique, but he does have a combination of size and speed which could make him dominant on the boundary. At the very least, he'll contribute on special teams early in his career.

25. San Diego Chargers - Zack Martin, G, Notre Dame

Despite being a left tackle for Notre Dame, some consider Martin to be the top guard in the draft. He certainly looked like it at the Senior Bowl. Martin could plug in next to D.J. Fluker on the right side of the line to give the Chargers an incredible pair for a decade.

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts) - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

The Browns need an upgrade at right tackle, and Taylor Lewan is too good a value to pass on at this spot. Yes, quarterback needs to be addressed at some point, but there's no sense reaching for one with this pick. With Watkins and Lewan, the Browns will be building a respectable offense for their quarterback.

27. New Orleans Saints - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Fuller in the first round is one of the stranger turns this mock draft has taken. But the Saints have shown in the past that they're willing to find the guy they like and take him. Fuller had a rocky final season at Virginia Tech, but when he's healthy he's a first-round pick. Corey White is better in the slot and Jabari Greer is getting up there.

28. Carolina Panthers - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Steve Smith has been on a steady decline over the last few seasons, and the Carolina Panthers need to find another wide receiver to eventually replace him as the team's No. 1 option. For Cam Newton to take the next step in his development, he needs better receivers than Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. Enter Kelvin Benjamin, who drops a few too many passes and needs to refine his route running, but has the physicality and speed to be a difference-maker in the red zone.

29. New England Patriots - Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

Most consider tight end to be New England's biggest area of need in the first round, but talent in the middle of the defense is nearly as important. Vince Wilfork, 32, was injured last season. Tommy Kelly is a year older and was injured as well. That left Chris Jones and Joe Vellano to combine for more than 1,400 snaps last season. Some consider Nix the best defensive tackle in the draft this year. He combines a massive frame with good enough athleticism.

30. San Francisco 49ers - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

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Justin Smith isn't getting any younger, and the 49ers always recognize the need to add depth on both lines of scrimmage. Ra'Shede Hageman is a player with technique and motor questions, but he has a unique build and excellent strength. He could probably move around San Francisco's 3-4 front a bit, too.

31. Denver Broncos - Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

There is some uncertainty in Denver's secondary. The team has a few restricted free agents in Chris Harris and Duke Ihenacho and several older veterans in Mike Adams and Champ Bailey. Ward is a do-it-all secondary player who could work as a cornerback or safety in the pros.

32. Seattle Seahawks - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Well, this doesn't exactly seem fair. The Seahawks' offense is missing a tight end, and one of the best tight ends in the draft falls into their lap with the No. 32 pick. Russell Wilson has been accused of being a game manager early in his career, but part of that may have to do with the lack of receiving talent the team has had. A tight end like Jace Amaro would do wonders for this offense.


33. Houston Texans - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington

One of the best ways to ease a rookie quarterback into the NFL is by having a good tight end. Don't forget that before the season, Seferian-Jenkins was widely considered the best tight end in the 2014 draft. The quarterback play and system at Washington did him few favors. He's a capable all-around tight end with athleticism and size.

34. Washington Redskins - Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame

The Redskins are starting to feel the effects of the Robert Griffin III trade. Without those draft picks, Washington has had some trouble adding depth in the draft. Both lines need help, and Stephon Tuitt is one of the top players left on the board.

35. Cleveland Browns - Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

Not getting a quarterback in the first round would be a doomsday scenario for the Browns. But, that's where we're at with this mock draft. So why Mettenberger over Derek Carr? At LSU last season, Mettenberger showed he's capable of stepping up into the pocket and has a frame that can take a hit. The same can't be said for Carr, who can be tentative in the face of pressure. Mettenberger has one of the best arms in the draft this year, and he's one of the few who could take full advantage of budding star receiver Josh Gordon.

36. Oakland Raiders - Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

Oakland is one of the teams in this draft that could go a number of different directions in the early rounds. With so many needs to fill, going with value is the safest bet. Some have questioned whether or not Jordan Matthews can develop into a No. 1 receiver. Either way, he's a high-floor player who should be a reliable No. 2 at the very least.

37. Atlanta Falcons - Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Both of Atlanta's starting defensive tackles from last season, Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry, are free agents. Jernigan is capable of playing either tackle spot. He could be an immediate contributor on a team looking to quickly get back into playoff contention.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Tampa Bay is building a dominant defense, and one of the only remaining missing pieces is a quality edge rusher. Dee Ford may be a bit undersized, but he has plenty of strength and the first step to make up for his lack of length. Ford likely made himself quite a bit of money with his strong performance at the Senior Bowl.

39. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech

Jeremiah Attaochu is a tough player to peg, but he could fit the LEO role in the Jaguars' defense. He's at his best when he's able to come off the edge and get after the passer.

40. Minnesota Vikings - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

If a player of Carr's caliber is available for the Vikings in the second round, they have to pull the trigger and hope it works. This isn't quite the risk the Vikings took by using a first-round pick on Christian Ponder either. Carr's issues are due to pressure only. If that's something he can get past, he could be a good quarterback in the NFL.

41. Buffalo Bills - Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame

Scott Chandler is entering free agency, and Niklas is a cut above him in every area. Underused at Notre Dame, Niklas is a solid pass catcher and can really get up to the ball at the high point.

42. Tennessee Titans - Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona

Chris Johnson's future with the Titans is very much up in the air, and Tennessee doesn't have a ton of depth behind him. Ka'Deem Carey is an explosive running back who can bring to the table a lot of what Johnson has for Tennessee.

43. New York Giants - Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida

Justin Tuck is a free agent, and Jason Pierre-Paul hasn't played up to his potential the past few seasons for various reasons. While the Giants did draft Damontre Moore, Lynch is another super athlete with high upside.

44. St. Louis Rams - Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor

Value forced the Rams to use both first-round picks on the defense, but St. Louis has multiple needs on offense as well. The interior of the offensive line is a bit of a mess. Cyril Richardson didn't have the best Senior Bowl, but he's a mobile guard who has the size and strength to contribute right away.

45. Detroit Lions - Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

If Detroit addresses the defense in the first round of the draft, there should be plenty of quality wide receivers available in the second. Robinson is an athletic pass catcher who can go up and high-point the ball.

46. Pittsburgh Steelers - Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers

With Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, the Steelers have plenty of speed at wide receiver. Finding a bigger target for Ben Roethlisberger would help this offense a ton. Brandon Coleman is raw, but he never had a chance to show what he could do at Rutgers with a revolving door of mediocrity at quarterback.

47. Dallas Cowboys - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

To get a player of Donald's ability at this point in the second round would be a coup for the Cowboys. Donald fits perfectly in a four-man front that asks him to shoot gaps and get in the backfield.

48. Baltimore Ravens - Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss

Baltimore needs to find another weapon for Joe Flacco, who struggled last season without Anquan Boldin. Donte Moncrief is an interesting option. He's not overly fast, but he does know how to use his body to shield off defenders and make plays in traffic.

49. New York Jets - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Doubling up on offensive skill position players is something the Jets should consider. At the least, Cooks projects as a superstar playing the slot. He's one of the fastest players in the draft and a dangerous downfield threat.

50. Miami Dolphins - Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State

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.

51. Chicago Bears - Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State

The Bears experimented last season with Chris Conte and Major Wright as the team's safeties. Neither played particularly well, again making it a key area of improvement for the team in the offseason. Bucannon is at his best when he can run and hit. He's also underrated as a coverage safety. In other words, he's a good all-around safety and just a step below the top two safeties in the draft this year.

52. Arizona Cardinals - Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma

Between Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, the Arizona Cardinals have the foundation for a formidable secondary. They need to continue adding to it, though. Aaron Colvin tore his ACL at the Senior Bowl, but he may still have a shot to get drafted on the second day due to his versatility and size.

53. Green Bay Packers - Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor

If Green Bay misses out on the top two safeties in the first round, adding one in the second is imperative. In this scenario, the hard-hitting Dixon is the best safety on the board. This is slightly early for him, but he would add physicality to the defense.

54. Philadelphia Eagles - Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU

Kyle Van Noy is a player who could play multiple positions across different schemes. The Eagles could certainly use some help on the edge, and while Van Noy has the ability to get after the passer, he can also be relied upon in coverage. He's too good a value to pass up here.

55. Cincinnati Bengals - Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State

If Cincinnati addresses its secondary in the first round, the roster is stacked enough that the team can pick the best available player for the rest of the draft. An argument could be made for Crichton as a top-40 player. He's a physical rusher, capable of stopping the run or shedding blocks to get after the quarterback.

56. San Francisco 49ers - Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State

Once Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree were in the lineup together, wide receiver didn't seem like a huge issue for the 49ers. Boldin is a free agent, and isn't getting any younger. Finding a receiver who can play opposite Crabtree long term should be on San Francisco's offseason to-do list. Davante Adams is a smooth route runner who consistently gets separation. Colin Kaepernick will appreciate his ability to win 50-50 balls as well.

57. San Diego Chargers - Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

The Chargers barely used Derek Cox over the final seven games of the 2013 season. Richard Marshall is a free agent. Shareece Wright is more of a backup or a nickel player. Finding secondary talent is key for San Diego this offseason, and a player like Desir could get thrust into the lineup quickly.

58. New Orleans Saints - Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU

Drew Brees relies on Jimmy Graham more than any other player on the Saints' offense, but it wouldn't hurt to add another pass catcher to the fold. Jarvis Landry would be drafted a lot sooner if not for the depth of this wide receiver class. New Orleans takes advantage of the value here.

59. Indianapolis Colts - Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt

The Colts' top cornerback, Vontae Davis, is approaching free agency. Even if he's brought back, the Colts need to add talent in the secondary. In his postseason press conference, general manager Ryan Grigson stressed the importance of cornerback play. Hal may not be a No. 1 shutdown player, but settling is the consequence of trading away a first-round pick.

60. Carolina Panthers - Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State

Finding Cam Newton a new wide receiver is the clear-cut top priority in Carolina this offseason, but adding talent to the secondary isn't far behind. Lamarcus Joyner is a player who the Panthers can move around a bit until they find the right spot for him. He could be a nickel cornerback or a safety, depending on where the Panthers need him to play.

61. San Francisco 49ers - Dion Bailey, S, Southern California

The 49ers need a good safety to pair with Eric Reid, last year's first-round pick. Bailey, a converted linebacker, is the best available at the position in this scenario. Keep an eye out for interior offensive linemen at this point and later for the 49ers as they try to address needs cheaply this offseason.

62. New England Patriots - Dominique Easley, DT, Florida

The Patriots get a nose tackle in the first round and continue to add to the talent level up front with Dominique Easley. Easley was looking like a top-10 prospect before tearing his ACL this fall. He's a great value pick at this spot.

63. Denver Broncos - Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

This is a choice that's been made for Denver in the first round of several mock drafts. If he's available at the end of the second round, the Broncos will set a new record for fastest pick submitted. Shazier fits in the NFL as either a weak-side linebacker or a middle linebacker.

64. Seattle Seahawks - Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

The Seahawks had a few issues along the offensive line in 2013. They could use a new right tackle and some help on the interior. Ja'Wuan James is a decent value at this spot and may have the ability to be a better pro than his teammate Antonio Richardson.

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