Sherman's 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Sherman's 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
February 4, 2014, 10:00 am

Louisville safety Calvin Pryor was second on the team in tackles last season with 75 and added three interceptions and two forced fumbles. (USA Today Images)

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.