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.

Eagles mailbag: Pederson as a coach; running backs; Spikes

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Eagles mailbag: Pederson as a coach; running backs; Spikes

The Eagles are in the middle of Phase 3 of the NFL's offseason program in the CBA. That means they're well into OTAs, with another round set to start Tuesday and run through Friday. 

After that, the team will have a mandatory minicamp June 7-9, followed by a long break before training camp. 

There's plenty to talk about on this Memorial Day Weekend, so let's hop into your questions: 

This question is referring to the yearly USA Today list of the best coaches in the NFL. The list ranked Pederson at No. 30 in a group with the other first-year coaches. Adam Gase is 28, Ben McAdoo 29, Pederson 30 and Dirk Koetter 31.

"We’re lumping all of the first-year coaches together, because no one really knows how they’ll fare as head coaches," Steven Ruiz writes. 

OK, sure. 

Really, this isn't saying Pederson is a bad coach, just an unknown, which is true. I guess for the purpose of the list, he has to go somewhere. Actually, I'm surprised he's higher than Koetter, who has more experience. 

We're not sure how Pederson will be as a coach. Shortly after he was hired, I penned this column, which still holds true. Just because the Pederson hire wasn't very popular, it doesn't mean he won't be a good head coach.

Really, we won't know for a while. 

I've been asked this a few times over the last few weeks, and I understand why. The Eagles are certainly weak at the running back spot, with Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner. But I still don't see them adding anyone. 

The team drafted Smallwood and he's the key to this. They should see how he looks in training camp and even in preseason games before trying to pick anyone else up. If he can be a decent contributor this year, they can start to bring him along and groom him to be the starter. If he isn't going to be a contributor, then maybe it's time to look around a little bit. 

Another thing: there's not a ton of talent out there right now. And if anyone is still on the street, there's probably a reason for that. 

Q: Dave, you think Brandon Spikes should get a chance? He has played for Jim Schwartz before. - Joey (@MrJoey98)

Interesting name. Yes, Spikes did play for Jim Schwartz in Buffalo in 2014 and the Eagles already have three players on that team with these Eagles. 

But the team would have to weigh the positives and negatives of bringing him in. Spikes was released by the Patriots last season — he didn't take a snap in 2015 — after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a car crash. 

The Eagles have nearly no depth at linebacker, but would Spikes, now 28, be worth it? Not sure. Probably not, though. 

NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

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NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

NEW YORK -- A person familiar with the negotiations says the New York Jets made a three-year offer to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in March that includes $12 million guaranteed in the first year.

That offer has remained on the table for Fitzpatrick, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side is commenting publicly on the negotiations.

The New York Post first reported the terms of the offer Friday.

Fitzpatrick and the Jets have been locked in a contract stalemate. The 33-year-old quarterback is a free agent and coming off a season in which he threw a Jets-record 31 touchdown passes and led New York within a victory of the playoffs.

Both the Jets and Fitzpatrick have said they would like a reunion, but have unable to agree on a deal.

Bears: First-round pick Leonard Floyd agrees to deal
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears and first-round draft pick Leonard Floyd have agreed to a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year.

The Bears drafted the outside linebacker from Georgia with the ninth pick after trading up two spots in a deal with Tampa Bay. Chicago hopes he will add some athleticism to a team trying to build on a 6-10 season. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Floyd led the Bulldogs in sacks for the third straight year with 4 , and tied for the team lead with 10 1/2 tackles for loss last season.

With the announcement Friday, the Bears have agreed to contracts with eight of their nine picks. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard, a third-rounder, is the exception.

NFL: Navy's Reynolds, Carter can defer military service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Keenan Reynolds will get his chance to play in the NFL this season.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Friday that the record-setting Navy quarterback Reynolds and fullback Chris Swain can defer their military service to play in the NFL.

Carter made the announcement during his graduation speech to the academy in Annapolis. As students cheered the news about their graduating classmates, Carter said: "Go get 'em."

Reynolds was drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens. He is the NCAA's career leader in touchdowns with 88. He had 31 touchdown passes while leading Navy's triple-option offense. The Ravens plan to use him as a running back, receiver and kick returner.

Swain has signed with the San Diego Chargers (see full story).

Redskins: Activists criticize poll on team name
WASHINGTON -- Native American leaders and activists have criticized a recent US national poll that found nine of 10 Native Americans aren't offended by the Washington Redskins' name.

On a conference call held Friday by the National Congress of American Indians and "Change the Mascot" campaign, panelists voiced opposition to a Washington Post poll that surveyed 504 Native Americans, 90 percent of whom said the name doesn't bother them.

James Fenelon, a California State San Bernardino sociology professor, called the poll "immoral," adding it was not representative of Native American communities. Amanda Blackhorse, lead plaintiff in the trademark case against the Redskins, said the "misguided" poll will not affect attempts to change the name.

National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata said: "This issue is not about polling. This issue is about human rights."

D.C. council member David Grosso said he hadn't been swayed and that the government would not support the team moving back into the District unless the name was changed.

The team currently plays its home games in Maryland, with its headquarters and training facility in Virginia.

Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

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Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

Another day, another mailbag. 

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend. If you're reading this on the beach or at a BBQ, well done. 

Yesterday, I answered the first round of your questions about Doug Pederson, Brandon Spikes and the possibility of adding another running back. 

Today, I'll answer some more: 

At times, Jordan Matthews will still be in the slot this season. But he won't be there all the time. 

In Doug Pederson's offense, the receivers will move around quite a bit, which means we'll see Matthews lining up out wide on both sides and in the slot. He has the ability to do both. Either way, he's going to be on the field. He's clearly the Eagles best receiver and they're not going to take him off the field. 

I think there's a good chance we'll see some Josh Huff in the slot this year, which would make a ton of sense to me. Huff is at his best when he gets the ball in his hands and can make something happen. He's shifty enough to play in the middle. 

The idea that slot receivers are just small, shifty guys is outdated. It's all about matchups and Pederson won't be afraid to move his receivers around to find the best ones. 

Good question. I'll give you two names. One on offense and one on defense. 

Now, I didn't just pick the best players, I picked the best players with the biggest drop off to their backups. So on offense, it's Jason Peters and on defense it's Jordan Hicks. 

The scary thing: it wouldn't be shocking if either of these two go down in 2016. 

If Peters goes down, the Eagles will be fine at left tackle, because Lane Johnson will shift over. But that means either Dennis Kelly or Halapoulivaati Vaitai will come in. We all know what's happened in the past when Kelly comes in, and Vaitai is just a rookie. Not a ton of great depth at tackle. 

As for Hicks, we saw what happened to the defense when he went out last season. And this year, the team has virtually no depth at linebacker. If Hicks went down, either veteran special teams player Najee Goode or rookie Joe Walker would need to fill in. Yikes. 

I understand it's kind of a cop-out to just pick the top running back on the depth chart, but that's what I'm doing. I know Ryan Mathews has a lengthy injury history, but I can't see Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood or Kenjon Barner being the team's leading rusher. 

And when healthy, Mathews was the team's best running back in 2015, going for 539 yards on 106 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. If he manages to play 12 games this year, I think he'll be the team's leading rusher.