Sherman's 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

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Sherman's 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

1. Houston Texans - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel might not be the best pure passer in the draft, but his leadership, ability to keep plays alive with his feet and marketability in Texas will all be too hard to pass on for new head man Bill O'Brien.

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Left tackle Jake Long's 2013 season ended with a torn ACL and MCL. Combine that with former right tackle/right guard Rodger Saffold being a free agent, and the Rams need to find an anchor for their offensive line.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Yes, the Jags need a QB, but a player as talented as Clowney doesn't fall into your lap every day. Forget the nonsense about Clowney dogging it this year -- he should have been in the NFL already. Gus Bradley is getting the best defensive end prospect to come out since Mario Williams in 2006.

4. Cleveland Browns - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Perhaps my favorite player in the draft, Watkins, along with Josh Gordon, would give the Browns arguably the most explosive receiving duo in the AFC. Yes, the Browns probably need a QB here, but Cleveland really seems to like Brian Hoyer (one of the reasons they parted ways with head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who didn't share that fondness), and they might feel they just need to surround him with weapons.

5. Oakland Raiders - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
At a point last season, Terrelle Pryor looked like a possible long-term starter in Oakland. But things seemed to deteriorate as the season slogged on, and I don't see him sticking around much longer. Bridgewater isn't a flashy guy. He doesn't have Matt Stafford's arm, Michael Vick's legs, or Ben Roethlisberger's size. He just makes good reads, throws a great ball, and leads his team like a QB should.

6. Atlanta Falcons - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Falcons need help both protecting and rushing the QB. With Clowney off the board, the best option still available is Auburn's redshirt sophomore. Robinson is huge (6-5, 320), mobile, and nasty. He's not the technician Matthews is yet, but he's more talented physically.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo
The Bucs would love to upgrade the talent around Mike Glennon, but Mack is too talented to pass on here. Mack can play OLB or put his hand in the dirt as a pass-rushing defensive end. The Bucs got very little production out of Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (go figure) and would welcome the heat Mack could bring on passing downs.

8. Minnesota Vikings - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
The Christian Ponder Era in Minnesota is coming to a close. Backup Matt Cassel generally outplayed the former first-round pick, and the fans are clamoring for an upgrade. While I'm not very high on Bortles because of his arm strength and poor performances against some tougher teams this season, he does have a good pocket presence and the size and speed to be a problem once he breaks contain.

9. Buffalo Bills - Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Bills invested a first-round pick in QB E.J. Manuel last season and need to continue to give him some tools to work with. Lee is an elusive receiver who can take the top off a defense. Dangerous in the open field, Lee would complement the bigger Stevie Johnson well.

10. Detroit Lions - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The secondary continues to be the Achilles heel of a very talented (if undisciplined) defense in Detroit. Gilbert is a tall (6-1/200) corner with sprinter's speed, great hands and quick hips. And while Eagles fans know the Lions have a pretty good kick returner in Jeremy Ross, Gilbert was also a dangerous returner for Oklahoma State, scoring six kickoff return touchdowns during his career in Stillwater.

11. Tennessee Titans - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
With new head coach Ken Whisenhunt installing the 3-4 defense in Tennessee, outside pass rushers are now a priority. Barr, a converted offensive player, is still learning to play outside linebacker, but his physical size (6-5, 245), speed, and athletic ability are hard to match. Barr will need to become more consistent, as he disappears at times, but the 26 sacks he's recorded in the past two years prove he shows up more often than not.

12. New York Giants - Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Giants are looking at two of their key defensive linemen -- Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph -- possibly leaving as free agents. While that still leaves Jason Pierre-Paul in blue, restocking may be necessary. Jernigan isn't a massive run-stopper (6-2, 298) but is thickly built, strong as an ox, and lightning quick off the snap. It is a lot of fun watching him play. Jernigan would provide more of a pass rush element to the interior of the line, and I'm stumped to find a defensive tackle better at using his hands and quickness to get into the backfield.

13. St. Louis Rams - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Even though safety might be a bigger priority in the Rams' secondary, Dennard is a better player than either of the two top safety prospects (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor). St. Louis has two good starting corners in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson and could possibly restructure Cortland Finnegan's contract to keep him around. But in the pass-happy NFL, you just can't have enough cover guys, and Dennard is one of the smartest in the draft.

14. Chicago Bears - C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Bears' defense was among the worst in the NFL in 2013, and they have needs at every position. Mosley could be this year's Luke Kuechly -- a player whose physical skills might not leap off game tape but who just seems to be in the right place on every snap. Mosley is athletic enough to man the strong side, but I see him supplanting Jon Bostic inside and becoming the Bears' next great MLB.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The emergence of Antonio Brown was a nice surprise for the Steelers in 2013, and they'll look to give him a complementary receiver with the impending free agency of Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. Evans (6-4, 220) is a big target and should be a nice red-zone weapon. He's not a speedster, but he uses his big body and good hands to out-muscle defensive backs.

16. Baltimore Ravens - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
All three of Baltimore's top tight ends -- Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, and Dallas Clark -- are unrestricted free agents this offseason. Chances are Pitta is franchised, but Baltimore needs to find depth and additional weapons for a very mediocre offense. Ebron (6-4/245) is a dynamic pass catcher with speed, size and great hands.

17. Dallas Cowboys - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
I'm sure Cowboys fans grew tired of watching undrafted rookie safety Jeff Heath get torched time and again in 2013, but with little depth or talent at the position, Dallas doesn't look to be in much better shape even if safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox are healthy. Clinton-Dix (6-1/208) excels in coverage (he had seven career interceptions), using his size and speed to cause havoc in the secondary.

18. New York Jets - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
While the Jets' QB situation continues to be a mess, reaching for Derek Carr here isn't the solution. Geno Smith certainly struggled as a rookie, but when your best receiver is Kellen Winslow, Jr. you don't have much of a chance to succeed. Benjamin (6-5, 234) isn't exactly a slam dunk here either, as the redshirt sophomore isn't polished as a receiver, but his physical tools and size are too tantalizing to pass up.

19. Miami Dolphins - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito kerfuffle is now in the past and the Dolphins need to start rebuilding their offensive line. Lewan (6-7, 314) isn't an elite athlete like Robinson or Matthews, but with his size and strength, he could start at right tackle immediately.

20. Arizona Cardinals - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The Cardinals haven't had a Pro Bowl tight end since Jackie Smith in 1970. How is that possible? With Larry Fitzgerald slowing a bit, Arizona needs to continue to find offensive weapons. Amaro is an elite pass catcher who will give linebackers and safeties fits.

21. Green Bay Packers - Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Packers' defense wasn't quite as bad in 2013 as it was in 2012, but with three of their DTs heading into free agency -- Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji -- finding a plug in the middle is vital. Nix III (6-2, 350) tore his meniscus near the end of the season but should be ready to roll by the time workouts begin. He played nose tackle at Notre Dame, using his size and quickness to be a disruptive force against the run. He'll probably need to lose some weight to stay on the field for longer stretches.

22. Philadelphia Eagles - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Like a broken record, the Eagles continue to look for an answer at safety. With four of their safeties -- Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen, Patrick Chung and Colt Anderson -- heading for free agency, and 2013 draft pick Earl Wolff unproven, talent and depth at the position is sorely needed. Pryor (6-2/208) is a big safety who played in the box quite a bit for the Cardinals. Against the run he diagnoses plays quickly and arrives at the ball carrier in a foul mood. You can find a couple of his knockout (and legal) hits on YouTube. In coverage, Pryor hasn't played a lot of man-to-man, but watching him change directions in zone and track the ball leads me to believe he's more than capable of taking on tight ends and slot receivers.

Side note: If Pryor was gone here I would have had a hard time selecting between LSU WR Odell Beckham, Jr. and Notre Dame OL Zack Martin.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
The Chiefs rose from the ashes in 2013 under new coach Andy Reid but face some challenges going into 2014. Starting guard Jon Asamoah and tackles Geoff Schwartz and Branden Albert are free agents. Albert is most likely gone with 2013 first-overall pick Eric Fisher sliding from right to left tackle. Depending on how much Asamoah is asking for, he could be gone, too. Martin played both right and left tackle for the Irish, and despite having shorter-than-ideal arms, he flourished. He is powerful, moves very well and has a nasty demeanor. Martin could slide into the starting guard or right tackle spot depending on what the Chiefs decide to do in free agency.

24. Cincinnati Bengals - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Chances are the Bengals will re-sign DE Michael Johnson, but their defensive line, wracked by injuries in 2013, could use some reinforcements. Ealy is a versatile end who can shift inside on passing downs. His pass rush repertoire is a bit light but his power and quickness off the ball will get him by in the short-term.

25. San Diego Chargers - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Chargers need to address a porous secondary, but with no one on the board worth this high a pick, they should address their thin defensive line instead. Hageman (6-6, 300) is a physical specimen with an explosive burst and brute strength to match. There are some technique issues that need to be ironed out, but the Bolts could be getting a disruptive force in the middle of an improving, young defense.

26. Cleveland Browns - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
I really like Derek Carr's physical abilities and have him ranked as high as any QB except Manziel. The issue he'll have to work out is his pocket presence and his ability to stay in it without getting happy feet. As I stated above, the Browns seem to really like Hoyer, but I cannot imagine they really think he's a long-term play. Carr is a guy they can stash for a season and work with before he takes over in 2015.

27. New Orleans Saints - Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
After years of upgrading a terrible defense, the Saints are finally in a position to focus on reworking an aging offense. With both of last season's starting tackles, Charles Brown and Zach Strief, hitting free agency, New Orleans needs to find some protection for Drew Brees. Moses (6-6, 325) played both right and left tackle for the Cavaliers during his career, but with Terron Armstead most likely staying put on the left side, Moses will fit nicely on the right.

28. Carolina Panthers - Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
The Panthers have all but sucked star wide receiver Steve Smith dry at this point and desperately need to find a complementary receiver to take some stress off his soon-to-be 35-year-old body. Beckham, Jr. (5-11/208) is a dynamic playmaker who can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. While not tall, he is solidly built and can jump out of the stadium. It also helps that Beckham Jr. has some of the best hands in the draft. Plus, he can do this.

29. New England Patriots - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Despite all the injuries the defense suffered in 2013, it was the offense that ultimately failed the Patriots in the playoffs. Without tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the New England passing game wasn't as dynamic or scary as it used to be, making Tom Brady look almost human at times. Seferian-Jenkins (6-6, 266) is a huge target with fluid moves and good hands. The Pats will have to do some investigating, though -- he was arrested prior to the 2013 season for a DUI after wrecking his car.

30. San Francisco 49ers - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
According to Richard Sherman's post-NFC Championship Game rant, the Niners need to upgrade their receiving corps. I tend to agree with him, but the position is pretty deep in this draft, and a talent like Tuitt is too hard to pass up at this juncture. Tuitt is a perfect fit for San Fran's 3-4 alignment, and with Justin Smith on the wrong side of 30, Tuitt should be able to contribute early.

31. Denver Broncos - Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
The Broncos' defense surprised a lot of people in its run to the Super Bowl, and with multiple linebackers heading into free agency after the season, Denver needs to restock. Shazier is a versatile player capable of playing inside or out. His speed is outstanding and he makes his home in opposing backfields. In coverage, Shazier (6-2, 226) uses his speed and quick feet to mirror would-be pass catchers. The only knock on him is his size, but the Broncos aren't afraid of playing with smaller LBs (see Wesley Woodyard).

32. Seattle Seahawks - Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Seahawks have some nice offensive pieces in receivers Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, and some big health concerns with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, but what they ultimately lack is a true No. 1 receiver. Robinson (6-3, 210) is a big target and is dangerous anywhere on the field. He has deep speed as well as the quickness and open-field ability to be dangerous on bubble screens.

Best of NFL: Steelers halt Giants' win streak at 6 games

Best of NFL: Steelers halt Giants' win streak at 6 games

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the New York Giants' winning streak with a familiar formula.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh's resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes in a dominant 24-14 win on Sunday.

Antonio Brown edged good buddy Odell Beckham Jr. in their personal showdown, catching six passes for 54 yards and an acrobatic scoring grab at the back of the end zone. Tight end Ladarius Green added six receptions for 110 yards, both career highs, and a touchdown as the Steelers (7-5) won their third straight to keep pace with Baltimore atop the AFC North.

Manning completed just 24 of 39 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns and two picks in the red zone for the Giants (8-4), whose six-game run ended with a thud. Beckham was largely a non-factor despite a game-high 10 receptions for 100 yards.

New York managed just 56 yards rushing and couldn't convert on it few opportunities. Both of Manning's interceptions came near the Pittsburgh goal line and the Giants missed on all three of their fourth-down attempts.

The Steelers have reinvented themselves on the fly following a four-game midseason slide. Rather than try to overwhelm opponents with the firepower they showed during a 4-1 start, Pittsburgh has relied heavily on Bell and the defense to get back in the playoff picture.

Bell touched the ball 35 times -- 29 rushes and six receptions -- and went over 100 yards rushing for the third straight game by churning for 118. He did so against a defense that hadn't allowed an opponent to reach the century mark since Adrian Peterson in Week 16 of the 2015 season.

Pittsburgh methodically built a 14-0 halftime lead in unorthodox fashion. Points came on a safety for New York holding in the end zone; a pair of field goals by substitute kicker Randy Bullock; and a pretty grab at the back on the end zone by Brown, who leapt high in the air then secured the ball while landing with his right shoulder barely in bounds.

Brown's score was set up by a 58-yard interception return by linebacker Lawrence Timmons, the first of three fruitless trips into the red zone by the Giants.

New York briefly got back into it in the third quarter when Bell fumbled at the Pittsburgh 17 and Manning flipped a short pass to Rashad Jennings for a 13-yard score. Pittsburgh responded immediately.

Green, who signed a lucrative four-year contract in the offseason but missed the first eight weeks while recovering from various health issues, played a pivotal role. His 33-yard reception moved the Steelers to midfield. Six plays later, Roethlisberger found Green streaking down the slot from 20 yards to make it 21-7.

New York's next two possessions ended with Manning throwing a fourth-down pick to end one drive, then ending up underneath Pittsburgh's Ricardo Mathews on fourth down on another (see full recap).

Palmer, Cardinals hold off Redskins
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carson Palmer threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, David Johnson scored twice and the Arizona Cardinals held on to beat the Washington Redskins 31-23 on Sunday.

The loss by the Redskins (6-5-1) clinched a playoff spot for the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys.

Palmer's 25-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 11:09 to play put Arizona ahead 24-20, the fourth lead change of the second half.

After a Washington field goal, Palmer's 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson with 1:56 padded gave the Cardinals (5-6-1) a 31-23 lead.

Washington drove to the Arizona 28-yard line before Patrick Peterson's interception of Kirk Cousins' pass with 41 seconds left sealed the victory.

Johnson, who also scored on a 1-yard run, became the second player in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in the first 12 games of a season. Edgerrin James was the other.

Johnson carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards and caught nine passes for another 91.

Larry Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 78 yards, moving past Cris Carter into third on the NFL career receptions list.

Cousins completed 21 of 37 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. His 59-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on the first series of the second half set up his 1-yard touchdown sneak.

In the third quarter, Cousins was stripped of the ball by Calais Campbell, and Markus Golden returned the fumble 20 yards to set up Palmer's six-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd.

That gave Arizona a 17-13 lead. The Redskins came right back. Cousins threw to a wide-open Jamison Crowder on a 26-yard touchdown play to put Washington back on top, 20-17, with 1:06 left in the third quarter.

The Cardinals avoided what would have been the team's first three-game losing streak since coach Bruce Arians came to the desert four seasons ago (see full recap).

Seahawks crush Panthers, but lose Thomas
SEATTLE -- Thomas Rawls ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Tyler Lockett took a reverse 75 yards for a score to open the second half and the Seattle Seahawks routed the Carolina Panthers 40-7 on Sunday night.

Another prime-time game in Seattle was clouded with odd story lines right from the outset when Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was benched for the first play, only to watch backup Derek Anderson throw an interception . It was the start of miserable night for Carolina and a laugher that moved Seattle one step closer to the NFC West title.

Rawls and the run game set the tone for Seattle, gashing the second-best run defense in the NFL for 240 yards. Carolina entered the week giving up less than 80 yards per game on the ground.

Rawls finished with 106 yards on 15 carries, quiet in the second half after briefly being checked for a concussion. He was just the second 100-yard rusher for a run game that has lagged most of the season. Rawls' 8-yard run gave Seattle an early 10-0 lead and his 45-yard sprint early in the second quarter pushed it to 17-7.

Russell Wilson was 26 of 36 for 277 yards and a 1-yard scoring pass to Jimmy Graham in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks rolled up a season-high 534 yards and kept a three-game lead over Arizona in the division with four remaining.

Seattle safety Earl Thomas broke a bone in his lower left leg during a first-half collision with teammate Kam Chancellor while trying to intercept Newton's pass. Thomas hobbled off the field putting no weight on the leg and X-rays revealed a "cracked tibia," coach Pete Carroll told Seattle's radio broadcast.

On the play after Thomas' injury, Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a 55-yard touchdown pass to pull the Panthers to 10-7. It would be the only highlight for Carolina.

Rawls immediately answered, darting through the Carolina defense for the 45-yard touchdown run and a 17-7 lead. Steven Hauschka added two more field goals before halftime and Lockett raced 75 yards on a reverse on the first play of the second half. In less than 10 minutes of game time, Seattle extended the lead to 30-7.

Newton's benching was for a dress code violation, according to the NBC broadcast and the single play he missed could not have gone worse. Anderson rolled out to throw a pass to Mike Tolbert. It bounced off Tolbert's hands and into the arms of Mike Morgan, a disastrous result for that only added to questions about coach Ron Rivera's intention with the punishment.

Newton finished 14 of 32 for 182 yards (see full recap).

Brady sets NFL wins record as Pats stomp Rams
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady became the NFL's career leader in victories by a quarterback, earning his 201st by throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown to lead the New England Patriots past the struggling Los Angeles Rams 26-10 on Sunday.

Brady, who was 33 of 46, had tied Peyton Manning last week in a win over the New York Jets.

His lone touchdown pass came on a 14-yard pass to Chris Hogan in the first quarter. LeGarrette Blount scored the game's first touchdown , rumbling for a 43-yard, ankle-breaking score in the first quarter while spinning around safety Maurice Alexander in the process. He finished with 88 yards on 18 carries.

The Patriots (10-2) have won seven of their last eight as they prepare for a tough stretch against three teams with winning records over their final four regular-season games.

On the same day that Los Angeles coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead were given contract extensions, the recently relocated Rams (4-8) proved they still have a long way to go after losing for the seventh time in eight outings.

The Rams entered the game ranked 31st in total offense, averaging just 295 yards per game. Those struggles continued Sunday. They managed just 25 yards in the first half, the fewest by a team in a game this season.

Los Angeles was outgained 402-162 for the game.

In his third career start, rookie Jared Goff was picked off twice, completing 14 of 32 passes for 161 yards (see full recap).

Chiefs beat Falcons on 2-point conversion pick-six
ATLANTA -- Eric Berry returned an interception for a touchdown, and then brought back another pick for a 2-point conversion that gave the Kansas City Chiefs an improbable 29-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The Falcons, rallying from a 27-16 deficit, went ahead 28-27 on Matt Ryan's 5-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson with 4:32 remaining.

Atlanta decided to go for 2, looking to stretch the margin to a field goal. But Berry stepped in front of Ryan's pass and ran 99 yards the other way to give the Chiefs (9-3) their winning margin. It came after Denver won a game in similar fashion last month, returning a blocked PAT for the winning points at New Orleans.

Berry had another huge play with less than a minute to go in the first half, picking off Ryan's pass over the middle and bringing it back 37 yards for a touchdown. After reaching the end zone, the suburban Atlanta native handed the ball to his mother sitting in the stands at the Georgia Dome.

Those weren't the only big plays for the Chiefs. On fourth-and-2 from their own 45, Kansas City faked a punt and snapped the ball directly to Albert Wilson , who played his college ball in the same stadium for Georgia State. Wilson burst up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown that extended Kansas City's lead in the third quarter.

Alex Smith completed 21 of 25 passes for 270 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown to Spencer Ware. Travis Kelce was Kansas City's top receiver, hauling in eight passes for 140 yards.

Ryan was 22 of 34 for 297 yards, but his two huge mistakes cost the Falcons (7-5). Julio Jones hauled in seven passes for 113 yards, while Devonta Freeman had a couple of 1-yard touchdown runs (see full recap).

Jordan Howard rushes for 3 TDs, sending 49ers to 11th straight loss
CHICAGO -- Jordan Howard ran for 117 yards and a career-high three touchdowns and the Chicago Bears handed San Francisco its 11th straight loss, beating the 49ers 26-6 on a snowy Sunday.

The 49ers (1-11) extended their franchise-record losing streak and set a club low with 6 yards net passing on a day when Colin Kaepernick got lifted for Blaine Gabbert.

The Bears (3-9) finished with a season high in points and picked up a rare win in a matchup between two of the NFL's worst teams.

Matt Barkley, making his second start with Jay Cutler sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury, went nearly the entire first half without a completion.

But he led a touchdown drive near the end of the second quarter and finished 11 of 18 for 192 yards.

Howard, who came in with two rushing touchdowns, scored on a 1-yard run near the end of the first half.

A fifth-round draft pick from Indiana, he added a 2-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third and a 5-yard run midway through the quarter (see full recap).

Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson disagree on mechanical issues

Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson disagree on mechanical issues

CINCINNATI – Normally upbeat and positive, Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz gave a terse answer, at least by his standards.

After the Eagles’ 32-14 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium (see Instant Replay), a game that was probably the worst of his young career, Wentz was asked about his proclivity for overthrowing his targets.

“Bad throw,” Wentz said blankly. “Just like last week.”

Those bad throws have been coming more and more frequently in recent weeks for the second-overall pick. After throwing one interception in his first five games, he’s thrown 10 in his last seven, including his first three-interception day on Sunday. A common thread has been overthrows.

When head coach and former QBs coach Doug Pederson was asked about those high throws from his prized quarterback, he said, “It’s strictly mechanics.” Pederson elaborated, saying they need to get Wentz off his back foot and stepping into throws. And then there were batted passes too.

“There were opportunities, obviously,” Pederson said. “Again, he's a young quarterback who missed a lot of time in the preseason, but now we just need to keep cleaning those things up.”

There might be a problem, though.

Wentz doesn’t seem to think there’s anything to clean up.

After Sunday’s embarrassing loss, the rookie said his mechanics feel the same now as they did when the Eagles started the season with three consecutive wins, before he had ever thrown a pick in the NFL.

“I don't think it's the mechanics,” Wentz said. “You make mistakes. Things happen, and that's just the bottom line.”

Is there anything that could be affecting his mechanics?

“I don't think so,” Wentz said. “You throw the ball 60 times, you're going to miss some. That kind of happens.”

Wentz seemed hesitant to take blame for his shaky play on Sunday (see breakdown of Wentz's performance), but he is right. Sixty passing attempts is an awful lot. In fact, it’s a record for an Eagles rookie and it’s the second most passing attempts a rookie quarterback has ever thrown in a game (Chris Weinke threw 63 in 2001).  

The reason for that, at least partially, on Sunday was the Eagles’ never got going offensively and their defense was porous at best, which led to the Bengals’ taking a 19-0 lead into halftime (see 10 observations from the loss). They had to try to throw their way back into the game.

“You never want your quarterback to throw 60 times, coming from behind,” Pederson said. “We put ourselves in a bind early in the football game. It’s going to be a learning lesson for him, obviously. We have to take a hard look at it. But by no means, the fact that he stood in there and still led the football team. He took some shots, but still stood in there and just shows you the kind of character and the toughness we have.”

For Wentz, who was once though to be the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, the last couple months have been understandably difficult.

In the first four games of the season, he had a passer rating over 100 three times. He hasn't broken 100 since then and his 58.2 rating on Sunday was the second-worst of the season, behind his 52.4 in a winning effort against the Vikings.

“You just can't get down,” Wentz said. “You've got to stay optimistic. Obviously, the results are tough as of late. We're kind of on a skid. Like I've been saying, this is a good group of guys, a good locker room. Guys are in it until the end.”

It’s important to remember that, initially, Wentz wasn’t drafted to play this season. The original plan was to have him sit this season, but he was thrust into action after the Eagles traded away Sam Bradford.

Ultimately, Wentz will be judged for his play in years to come. For now, though, he and the Eagles have to try to find a way to fix this.

How do they do it?

“Obviously, we're on a skid,” Wentz said. “There's nothing really to change. We've just got to lock in and we've got to be more disciplined. At the same time, you don't get down. That's what I've been saying. This locker room, guys aren't going to get down. We've just got to be better with our discipline and just keep attacking. Obviously, we're in a tough spot, but we've just got to take it one game at a time.”