Welcome to the ITI’s final 2014 Mock Draft: No trades, no babbling. Just predictions and concise analysis.
In less than a week some of the mystery will be solved. Round one will be in the books and the speculations and dreams will begin. Who will the Eagles take in round one? Will they trade up? Will they trade down? The Eagles’ front office is playing it pretty close to the vest as they should. Below are who we think the Eagles will draft. Or who we think they should draft.
1. Houston Texans
DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Houston Texans take the safe route and decide to wait before addressing quarterback. No defender comes close to Clowney, and it’s a safe bet that there will be a talented signal caller available at the 33rd pick.
The Texans’ best bet is to trade down and grab a quarterback later in the first round. We decided to stay away from trade scenarios, so Clowney made the most sense as an only-one-in-a-decade prospect. Adding Clowney to a front seven that already features J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing will give Houston a fearsone defense.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)
I wouldn’t have seen this pick coming a few weeks ago, but Khalil Mack’s stock has risen considerably due to his versatility. This pick shores up their front seven, but the Rams would be smart to shop this pick to a team in the quarterback market.
Greg Robinson has been the popular pick for the Rams, in the case they do not trade down, but the Rams do not need an OT that much. Mack is the safest pick among the top prospects and provides St. Louis an extremely talented linebacker who can tackle, cover and rush the passer.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Head coach Gus Bradley is a defensive mind at heart, but even he can’t deny that Jacksonville is “Ready for Teddy”. The Jaguars make Bridgewater the face of their franchise and turn their focus to surrounding him with playmakers.
The Jaguars signed Chris Clemons and Red Bryant in free agency and re-signed Jason Babin. They do not need to go after another pass rusher, at least not so early. They got their left tackle last year, when they picked Luke Joeckel. It’s time to get their quarterback and Teddy Bridgewater is the best of the bunch.
4. Cleveland Browns
QB, Texas A&M
This offseason has seen the Cleveland Browns make solid moves to build a positive future, and they’ve come too far to risk losing out on a top quarterback prospect by waiting until 26th overall. Welcome to Cleveland, Johnny Football.
The Browns have turned the page this offseason by firing the previous front office regime and bringing Mike Pettine in as their head coach. After the release of quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer is the only legit signal caller on the roster. Manziel is a risky pick, but can be the next big thing at the quarterback position.
5. Oakland Raiders
Trading for Matt Schaub doesn’t completely remove Oakland from the QB market, but Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie may not have time to see a top pick be groomed if the team continues to falter. Oakland opts for the top luxury of the draft at wide receiver in order to maximize Schaub’s potential success.
The Oakland Raiders need playmakers at wide receiver and Sammy Watkins is the top wideout prospect since 2011. What else do I need to say?
6. Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta immediately considers upgrading their TE corps by adding Eric Ebron, but when an offensive lineman with the highest ceiling in this year’s class is still available you take him without a second thought. Matt Ryan doesn’t stop smiling all summer.
Adding one of the top two pass rushers is the best scenario for the Falcons, but they will have to trade up to do that. Staying put at number six, though is not a bad idea. Atlanta has offensive line issues, especially at the tackle position. Greg Robinson will allow them to move Sam Baker to the right side and instantly upgrade in the trenches.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WR, Texas A&M
Even though Bucs coach Lovie Smith wasn’t on the sidelines for Chicago last season, he was part of the regime that brought the Bears wideouts Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Tampa just traded Mike Williams to Buffalo, and Evans is a huge upgrade.
Free agency was nice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but unless they add a premium wide receiver, their offense is not going to do much in 2014. You need more than one good wideout in this league and Vincent Jackson is already 31 years old. Mike Evans is tall and fast and can be a day-one starter in Tampa.
8. Minnesota Vikings
The first stunner of the draft sees the Minnesota Vikings locking up their inside linebacker spot early. First-year head coach Mike Zimmer has spent the offseason beefing up the defensive line, and Mosley is a nice catalyst for the front seven.
C.J. Mosley is by far the best inside linebacker of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Vikings might choose to draft a quarterback in the first round, but they can use upgrades in most position. Mosley is an instictive defender and coach Mike Zimmer wants to build a solid defense in Minnesota.