Mock Draft 0.5: Four More
Four more slots in the 2014 NFL Draft are clarified, and still the second quarterback has yet to come off the board in our first Mock of draft season.
Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, Zach Mettenberger and maybe even Johnny Manziel are likely to be gone by the 40th pick. But none of the next four have an immediate need at quarterback (not with Cleveland having taken Teddy Bridgewater with the fourth pick of our mock). In fact, of these four picks, it would be least surprising to see New Orleans take a quarterback at some point in this draft. Brees turns 35 today, and perhaps it's time for the Saints to start grooming his eventual heir.
But not here. Not in the first round, the next four picks of which are:
25. Chargers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
San Diego could go a couple of different directions here. Baylor guard Cyril Richardson might be the highest-rated prospect at a position the Chargers need to fill. But I can see San Diego taking several defensive backs here, to shore up the position that appears to need the most help. While Gilbert isn't the highest-ranked corner left on my board, he is long, rangy prospect with good ball skills, who is going to be a factor in run support as well.
26. Browns (from COLTS): Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
I was tempted to break the first-round moratorium on running backs and give Cleveland Jeremy Hill, the boomerang back torn between staying or going who eventually landed in the draft pool. He'd be a great fit here, but perhaps a position more important to upgrade is guard. Richardson (6-foot-5, 340) is exactly the kind of raw power Cleveland could slide next to Joe Thomas and wind up with one of the toughest left sides of any offensive line in the game. Not immediately, perhaps, as Richardson will take a little time to adjust to playing in a pro-style offense. No matter who winds up coaching this team, they won't be running the spread system Richardson ran at Baylor. Still, he's a potentially dominant run blocker already and has the agility to be just as much a force in pass protection. The fact that he has a season at tackle under his belt only enhances his appeal.
27. Saints: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
There are tackles to be found on Day Two, as New Orleans learned last year with Terrance Armstead. And it might be slightly early to take the next best safety on the board. I don't think wide receiver is out of the question here either. But in Roberson, the Saints would get a potential lockdown corner. He was the most technically sound of Florida's three NFL-bound cornerbacks, and his stock will slip in the wake of a season in which he was nursing an ankle injury.
28. Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Carolina easily could decide to keep building one of the game's best defenses, probably by adding some depth to the secondary. Still, the one thing lacking has been an option in the passing game beyond Steve Smith, whose stellar career appears to be in decline. Drafting a big-bodied receiver like Benjamin gives Newton an option in the red zone and on third down, and takes pressure of Smith to continue to perform at an elite level. My question about Benjamin is his consistency, both in terms of getting separation and making all catchable catches. He's leaving school as a redshirt sophomore, and it often takes receivers two or three years to develop at the next level. If he's mature and patient enough to handle the transition, it's realistic to think that Benjamin will blossom into Cam Newton's top target when Smith is done.
Here are the first 24 picks, as released over the past two weeks, with one exception. I originally had Kansas City taking Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi at No. 23. Ogbuehi has since announced his intention to return to College Station, so I've replaced him there with Auburn tackle Greg Robinson.
1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Rams (via Redskins): Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M
3. Jaguars: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
4. Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
5. Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
6. Falcons: Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama
7. Bucs: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
8. Vikings: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
9. Bills: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
10. Lions: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
11. Titans: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
12. Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
13. Rams: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
14. Bears: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
15. Steelers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
16. Cowboys: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
17. Ravens: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
18. Jets: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
19. Dolphins: David Yankey, G, Stanford
20. Cardinals: Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee
21. Packers; Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
22. Eagles: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
23. Chiefs: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn
24. Bengals: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State