Steuber's 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

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Steuber's 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

*Denotes juniors
**Denotes redshirt sophomores

1. Houston Texans – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Obviously, the Texans need to find a quarterback to build around, but there isn’t a quarterback worthy of the top selection, and I don’t see Bill O’Brien settling for someone he’s not completely sold on. With that said, the Texans should identify another area of need and build up front with Matthews, who is the safest and most complete prospect in the draft.

2. St. Louis Rams (from Redskins) – *Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Every year it seems the Rams are in need of a wide receiver. This year’s draft is loaded at the position, and there shouldn’t be an urgency to select one with this pick since they also hold the 13th overall selection. The best move for the Rams would be to stick to their board and select the best player available. Clowney is too good to pass up.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – **Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
As I typed the name Johnny Manziel this high in the draft, it made me cringe. There are so many reasons why this is the wrong selection, and there is just one reason why it’s the right selection for the Jaguars -- marketing. Manziel is a polarizing figure, and he will generate more interest in the Jaguars than what Tim Tebow would have brought to the table. Now, how Manziel translates to the NFL is a different story, and this pick -- as rewarding as it will likely be in the beginning with media attention, merchandising and ticket sales -- is destined to be a complete disaster.

4. Cleveland Browns – *Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Browns are loaded with picks and have the ability to do what they please. But, like it or not, this is a desperate team and they desperately need a quarterback. If the reports are true and Manziel is their focus, they’ll probably have to trade up to secure his services, believe it or not. If they decide to stay put, Bridgewater will be the pick, and the Browns will hope they finally found the answer behind center.

5. Oakland Raiders – *Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Like the Jaguars and Browns, the Raiders are also desperate for a young quarterback to groom. But, with Manziel and Bridgewater off the board, the Raiders should look to upgrade at wide receiver. From a skill set standpoint, there are similarities between Watkins and former Raiders first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey. However, Watkins is more polished than Heyward-Bey was as a prospect, and the Raiders hope he will have more success.

6. Atlanta Falcons - **Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Falcons have a tough decision to make with this selection, as they have a glaring need on both sides of the ball. Selecting a disruptive pass rusher in Anthony Barr would do wonders for a defense that registered only 32 sacks this past season, but protecting Matt Ryan is paramount, and the selection of Robinson will benefit the team more now and in the future.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
If the first six picks in the draft play out the way they have in this scenario, Lovie Smith will be ecstatic to welcome another explosive piece to the Bucs' defensive puzzle. Barr is not the ideal scheme fit; he would be best suited in a 3-4 defense, but since he’s still developing as a defender, adapting shouldn’t be an issue. 

8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
When it comes to being desperate for a quarterback, there isn’t a team more in need than the Vikings. Currently housing a stable of mediocre quarterbacks, the Vikings are in a familiar situation of hoping to find their guy, and with the names on the board to choose from, Carr gives them the best opportunity to finally fill the position.

9. Buffalo Bills – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Bills are usually a wild card in the opening round -- they are notorious for selecting players higher than they are projected. There’s nothing wrong with that philosophy if the player pans out, but the Bills have had a sketchy history. The selection of Mack would go against the grain a bit, but it would be a popular move around town. And, with Mack’s ability, it could finally change their first-round futility.

10. Detroit Lions – **Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
There was a time when it seemed like the Lions drafted a wide receiver in the first-round every year, and it was a joke. But the selection of Evans -- another imposing receiver to complement Calvin Johnson -- would give the Lions one of the most intimidating offenses in the NFL.

11. Tennessee Titans – *Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Titans are another team that could entertain drafting a quarterback in the first round, since the Jake Locker experiment hasn’t worked. But taking one at this point would be a mistake. Turning their attention to the defensive side of the ball would be the right move, and Clinton-Dix would shore up their secondary. 

12. New York Giants – C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
It’s no secret that the Giants need to upgrade at the linebacker position. The acquisition of Jon Beason this past season helped out in the middle, but they still need a playmaker on the outside that can make a difference. Mosley could be the answer.

13. St. Louis Rams – *Marqise Lee, WR, Southern Cal
Earlier in the draft, the Rams decided to go with the best player available and strengthened their defense with Clowney, and now they can get the playmaking receiver they need in Lee to pair with last year’s first-round pick, Tavon Austin.

14. Chicago Bears – *Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Defense has to be a priority for the Bears with this selection. Whether it’s upgrading their front four or secondary, finding a difference maker is important. Nix would have a huge impact up front and would make others around him better.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Adding youth to the secondary is important for the Steelers, and it’s possible they decide to go for one of the top corners available. But Lewan would be a huge upgrade at tackle, and he brings the kind of nasty demeanor the Steelers covet.

16. Baltimore Ravens (pending coin flip) – **Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
The Ravens missed the physical aspect that Anquan Boldin brought to their passing attack this past season, and they need to find an imposing playmaker that will threaten the opposition. Benjamin is still developing as a receiver, but his size and potential are too much to pass up.

17. Dallas Cowboys (pending coin flip) – *Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The Cowboys' draft philosophy should be a no-brainer -- select the best defensive talent on the board. As a defense, the Cowboys amassed just 34 sacks this past season, and adding Tuitt, a scheme-diverse defensive lineman who has the potential to be a very good pass rusher at the next level, will help their production instantly. 

18. New York Jets –*Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Jets haven’t drafted an offensive player in the first round since they selected Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick in 2009. And with Rex Ryan signing an extension, it wouldn’t be a shock if they decided to go defense once again in the first round. But a big-play tight end who can stretch the field would do wonders for an offense starved for playmakers.

19. Miami Dolphins – *Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Dolphins' offensive line. With all that went on this past season between Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito, the Dolphins are in desperate need for stability and a player they can build around. Kouandjio has an elite skill set and in time could be a dominant force up front.

20. Arizona Cardinals – *Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
The Cardinals could use help at offensive tackle, but with the top prospects off the board, they turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball. There are some quality corners still available, but adding a disruptive edge rusher like Shazier makes this already dangerous defense even scarier.

21. Green Bay Packers – *Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The playing future of Jermichael Finley is unknown at this point after he suffered a serious neck injury this past season. So finding a young, pass catching tight end that Aaron Rodgers can rely on is a major priority. Amaro is the perfect fit.   

22. Philadelphia Eagles – **Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Drafting a defensive difference maker with this selection would seem to be the right choice, but the Eagles have to make some decisions at wide receiver. It’s possible that the Eagles could move on from two of their top four receivers, and the need for another perimeter playmaker becomes a major focus. Adams (6-2, 212) has good size, speed and a knack for the big play -- his skill set and what he was asked to do at Fresno State fits well with what Chip Kelly wants in a receiver.

23. Kansas City Chiefs – *Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Chiefs had a great first season under Andy Reid, and they have a promising future with the young talent on their roster. But as good as their defense is, the offense needs to add another receiver to help out the passing game. Robinson (6-3, 210) has great size, deceptive speed and is dangerous after the catch; he should form a nice tandem with Dwayne Bowe.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Bengals are loaded with young talent, but unfortunately inconsistency at the quarterback position has held them back. While it’s possible the Bengals move on from Andy Dalton in the near future, it won’t be with a quarterback at this selection. Instead, they add to their defense and bring in another playmaking defender in Gilbert.

25. San Diego Chargers – Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
Over the years, the Chargers haven’t been shy when it comes to selecting pass rushing outside linebackers. Despite using their 2012 first-round pick on Melvin Ingram, the search for an edge terror continues, and Murphy, who is a hard-working, max-effort defender, could be the solution.

26. Cleveland Browns – Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
Earlier in the draft, the Browns believed they found their franchise quarterback in Bridgewater, and now it’s time to build around the new face of their franchise. Selecting an offensive weapon, whether it’s a wide receiver or running back, is possible, but Martin’s stock is on the rise, and his physical style is needed on the Browns' offensive line.

27. New Orleans Saints - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Saints could use an upgrade at right tackle, but with a number of top cornerbacks falling to them, they will opt to address their defensive secondary. Dennard is a tough corner who accepts all challenges and embraces the role of being the stopper. He will be a favorite of Rob Ryan.

28. Carolina Panthers – *Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The Panthers got a taste of playoff football with Cam Newton leading the way, and for them to progress even further they have to continue to build around their franchise quarterback. Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger and appears to be on the decline, so selecting a dynamic deep threat like Cooks would provide Newton with a speedy, reliable receiver to grow with.

29. New England Patriots – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Patriots always have a plan when it comes to the draft, and they do a great job of identifying players that fit their system. One area where they’ve tried to add depth but haven’t had great success is at defensive tackle. With Vince Wilfork having season-ending Achilles surgery this past season, there are concerns about how he will be when he returns. Hageman (6-6, 311) has great size and incredible potential and could be the interior force to eventually replace Wilfork.

30. San Francisco 49ers – *Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The 49ers are in a great spot -- they don’t have many glaring needs, and most of what they could use is depth, which puts them in a position of drafting the best player available. One of the strengths of this year’s draft is the cornerback position, and with Roby still on the board, he’s a tremendous value selection for the Niners, who not only adds depth to a great defense but also could develop into a lockdown defender.

31. Denver Broncos – Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
The Broncos are hoping Peyton Manning decides to return for the 2014 season and not retire. Regardless of his decision, they have to keep their field general upright, whoever it may be. The versatile and durable Swanson is the best center in this year’s draft and possesses the athleticism and strength to play guard.

32. Seattle Seahawks – *Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Seahawks have the best defense in the NFL and are set for years to come, but offensively they have to continue to enhance their passing game and give Russell Wilson more weapons to work with. Drafting local product Seferian-Jenkins, who is an imposing playmaker at 6-foot-6 and 276 pounds, provides Wilson with a big target over the middle that will help his progression.

Steuber’s next top 15 best available:

1. *De’Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
2. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
3. *Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
4. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young
5. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
6. *David Yankey, OG, Stanford
7. *Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
8. *Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
9. *Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
10. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
11. Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
12. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
13. *Scott Crichton, DE/OLB, Oregon State
14. *Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
15. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

He’s already lost more games as an NFL quarterback than as a college quarterback, and Carson Wentz says he’ll never get used to all the losing.
 
Wentz, who went 20-3 as a college starter, is 5-7 a dozen games into his rookie year.
 
The Eagles have lost five of their last six games and are 2-7 in their last nine.
 
From Seattle through Cincinnati, Wentz lost as many games in a 15-day span as he lost in his entire career as a starter at North Dakota State.
 
“It’s frustrating,” Wentz said Wednesday. “No one likes losing, especially in this business as a quarterback. 
 
“I’m wired to be a winner. I hate losing. But at the same time it doesn’t affect us going forward. I know it doesn’t affect me and I can probably say the same thing for the guys in that locker room. 
 
“We’re going to come in and prepare and be the same win or lose, because I think that’s what it takes to be great and you can’t waver. You can’t change how you approach things. You can’t change how you go about your business, win, lose or draw. 
 
“But at the same time, yeah, without a doubt. We don’t like losing around here.”
 
The Eagles have the third-worst record in the NFL since Week 4, ahead of only the hapless Browns and 49ers. 

They haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention yet, but it sure seems like only a matter of time.
 
Since building a 3-0 record, the Eagles’ only wins have come on Oct. 23 over the Viking and Nov. 13 over the Falcons, both at the Linc.
 
No NFL quarterback has lost more games than Wentz since Week 4. Wentz and Blake Bortles are both 2-7 during that stretch and Sam Bradford is 3-6.
 
North Dakota State went 71-5 with five national championships during Wentz’s five years in Bismarck, North Dakota. As a starter, he was 15-1 as a junior, including the postseason, then went 5-2 during an injury-marred senior year, although for a second straight year he led the Bison to the FCS national title.
 
So he’s not used to losing. Not at all. Not like this.
 
“You get in the locker room and it’s kind of a down feeling,” he said. “A lot of you guys are in the locker room after the game. They’re tough. You don’t like losing, no one does. Especially on the road having to get on the plane or the bus or whatever and come back home. 
 
“But you get over it. You turn on the tape and you learn from it. But right after you watch that tape, it’s on to the next. That’s kind of the nature of this league and that’s how you have to approach it.”

Fortunately, the Eagles have an expert on just this subject in the NovaCare Complex. 
 
Doug Pederson pointed out Wednesday he was a part of some really bad teams, and he said that gives him an ability to relate to Wentz on how to endure all the losing.
 
“In Cleveland we were 3-and-13 (in 2000), and then Philadelphia, my first year, being 5-and-11,” said Pederson, who was also an assistant coach on a 4-12 Eagles team in 2012. 
 
“Just kind of leaning back on those experiences and how we fought through. How we fought through adversity. How people try to divide the team or say negative things about players or whatever. We just kind of kept that thing nice and tight. 
 
“So those are things that I can lean back, when you talk about the experience factor. I lean back on those experiences to relay to Carson how we went about our business during those following weeks to come and kept that team together. 
 
“We had great leadership on the team, like we do now. With him, it's just a matter of keeping him grounded, keeping him level headed. He's a leader of this football team, and he doesn't have to do it all himself. That's the beauty of it. There are 10 other guys on offense, and 11 on defense, and special teams that have a big part in this whole process.”
 
Wentz has been going non-stop for almost a year now. From the FCS title game to combine prep to draft prep to OTAs and minicamps to training camp and now heading into Week 14 of the regular season.
 
But he said he doesn’t feel any signs of burn-out or fatigue. Although his numbers have dipped over the past couple months, he said he feels fresh and upbeat going into the final quarter of the season, which begins with the Redskins at the Linc on Sunday.
 
“I feel good,” he said. “I think it comes down to: Do you love it enough? I think if you love the game and you’re around it, you enjoy the grind. You attack it and it’s part of the process. 
 
“For me, there’s no more school to go to during the day. It’s just football all day every day and I love that. It’s been a lot of fun and by no means is it wearing on me in a negative way.”
 
What about his numbers? The stats are not pretty. 
 
Games 1 through 4: 67 percent completion, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 103.5 passer rating, 3-1 record.
 
Games 5 through 8: 61 percent completion, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 72.4 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Games 9 through 12: 61 percent completion, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 68.3 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Wentz shrugs it all off. 
 
“We’re all a work in progress. every quarterback in this league I think would say that,” Wentz said.
 
“You’re never a finished product, myself included. So you’re always analyzing different things you can do, from pocket movement to footwork. You’re always analyzing those things. So we talk about those things but we don’t harp on it. 
 
“Myself and really just everybody, we’ve just got to be better disciplined to things. Whether that’s alignment or pre-snap things, from recognition, from reads, you name it. We just all have to be disciplined. Really just execute better. It starts with me. Control our mistakes and that goes for everybody, myself first and foremost.
 
“We now what we’re capable of, I think everyone in the building does. We just have to get over the hump a little bit here.”

Zach Ertz, Rodney McLeod respond to criticism, defend effort after loss to Bengals

Zach Ertz, Rodney McLeod respond to criticism, defend effort after loss to Bengals

During a game after which Eagles head coach Doug Pederson eventually admitted “not everybody” played hard, two individual plays have been scrutinized more than any others this week. 
 
More than anything, two plays from the first quarter have stood out the most from the 32-14 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday. 
 
First, there was Zach Ertz’s non-block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, then there was Jeremy Hill’s short touchdown run where it looks like Rodney McLeod simply let him score.

“I understand all the criticism and stuff,” Ertz said by his locker on Wednesday. “I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play. I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past. 

"I understand how it looks on the film, but I’m not going to get into the minute details of what I saw on the play and what I didn’t see on the play and how it impacted the play and vice versa. I’m focused on getting better. I know I’m far from a finished product as a tight end. I’m looking forward to this week against the Redskins.”
 
On the play, Carson Wentz scrambled for a gain of 10 yards and with Burfict sprinting toward the play, Ertz side-stepped to let him through. Head coach Doug Pederson and Wentz have both said a block from Ertz wouldn’t have been a factor on the play because Wentz was going out of bounds. 
 
But it certainly didn’t look good and fans aren’t happy about the perceived lack of effort, which Ertz said he understands. 
 
So does Ertz think he did anything wrong on the play? 
 
“I think I could have maybe got in his way, impeded his progress a little more to ensure that he didn’t get near Carson by any means,” he said. “But like I said, there were a thousand things going through my mind on that play and there’s a million reasons why I do stuff on each and every play and I’m focused on getting better.”
 
While offensive coordinator Frank Reich suggested on Tuesday that he was OK with the non-block from Ertz because it will keep his best tight end healthy for the last quarter of the season, Ertz said the coaching staff hasn’t told him to pick his spots to be physical and claimed his past injuries aren’t affecting the way he’s been playing. 
 
And aside from that one play on Sunday, Ertz thinks he showed his toughness and effort throughout the afternoon. 
 
“If you look at that game, I did give my all,” he said. “That one play has come under a lot of scrutiny, obviously, but if you watch that game for all four quarters, I mean, I’m cramping up, I’m still going out there and battling each and every play. All I care is what my teammates and my coaches think about me. That’s all I’m focused on.”
 
This isn’t the first time Ertz’s effort and toughness have been questioned this season. The lack of yards after the catch and after contact has become a major talking point among fans this season. 
 
But for Rodney McLeod, having his effort questioned is an entirely new experience. McLeod wasn’t a second-round pick like Ertz; McLeod entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012. He worked his way to becoming a starter and eventually earning a free-agent deal with the Eagles this offseason. 
 
Hard work and effort are what got him here. 
 
“It definitely hurts,” McLeod said about the criticism. “I know what type of player I am. I’m going to take pride in that. I feel like effort, hard work are the things that got me where I am today. That’s what my game is built on. So when somebody questions or has doubt in that, it does hurt. But nothing I can do. Just continue to put good stuff on tape, which I feel like I have done and continue to ride for my teammates and others.”
 
McLeod’s explanation for what happened on the first-quarter touchdown run echoed what his defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on Tuesday. Basically, he thought the play was going somewhere else and by the time he was able to react, he was flat-footed. 
 
He then said he didn’t hit Hill because he thought the running back had already crossed the plane of the goal line and he didn’t want to get flagged. 
 
When fans watch the play, they might see a player who didn’t give it his all on that play. Not McLeod. 
 
“I really don’t see it,” he said. “If you look at any play before then, any game, any practice film, I’m probably one of the guys that’s giving it his all out there for this team and for my teammates. Like I said, I’m a prideful guy. I take pride in effort, hard work — all those things, I think, describe who I am as a player. Looking at that play, I thought it would hit somewhere else. It kind of came through leaky, guy was low, felt like by the time I got over there, it could possibly be a late hit. It’s a tough situation for me to be in.”