Steuber's 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0


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

After 'soul searching,' Jaylen Watkins in line for major role with Eagles

After 'soul searching,' Jaylen Watkins in line for major role with Eagles

Every morning on his way to work, Jaylen Watkins drives down Broad Street toward the NovaCare Complex and thinks back to his three months on the Bills' practice squad.

The former fourth-round pick out of Florida in 2014 joined the Bills' practice squad after the Eagles cut him last Sept. 5 in what he has previously referred to as a “humbling” experience.

“I try to never forget that moment because it was definitely a soul-searching moment,” Watkins said on Wednesday. “Anyone who is released or fired from their job, you have to do some soul-searching.

“Every day that I drive down Broad Street, I think about Buffalo and how far I’ve come and just not wanting to be on a practice squad again. Nothing’s wrong with the practice squad, but my goal is to be on the 53 and making contributions to the team.”

Watkins isn’t just on the Eagles’ 53 after rejoining them late in 2015. For the rest of the 2016 season, he’s also expected to have a major role.

After Ron Brooks was lost for the season when he tore his quad tendon against the Vikings, Malcolm Jenkins is the Eagles’ new slot cornerback. That means that Watkins, 23, will be the second safety on the field in the team’s nickel package.

That meant that he played 46 snaps against the Vikings after Brooks went out. And with how much teams pass in the current NFL, he’ll probably play a considerable amount the rest of the season.

“It’s something that I’ve been waiting for and I’ve just been patient,” Watkins said. “I’ve been waiting for this experience, so I’m just excited. This week was amazing for me. ... It was good for me this past week to be in the game plan and putting yourself in position that this could possibly be me on the first play of the game.”

Jenkins has said multiple times that he enjoys playing as the slot corner, but until Brooks went down, the team thought it was better off with him staying at safety.

With the secondary shuffle, what’s different with Watkins at safety instead of Jenkins?

“Nothing really man,” the Eagles’ other starting safety, Rodney McLeod, said. “It’s been a next-man-up mentality this whole year. ... Guys have a lot of experience back there. I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat. It’s obviously an unfortunate situation with Ron playing great. But Jenkins is ready and so is (Jalen) Mills and Watkins.”

Watkins was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round in 2014 and played just four games as a rookie before he was cut at the start of his sophomore season. He spent three months in Buffalo, where his younger brother Sammy is a star receiver.

When Jim Schwartz became the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Watkins was moved to safety. He quickly asserted himself as the first option off the bench at that position.

And just like McLeod and Jenkins, he’s a safety with a history and knowledge of every position in the secondary.

“He’s kind of our Tyrann Mathieu a little bit as far as being able to play safety, being able to play nickel, being able to play corner, being able to play all those positions,” cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “A swiss-army knife if you want to call it that. For him, it’s just about continuing to get reps, continuing to be confident.”

Jenkins, McLeod and Watkins are so interchangeable, Watkins joked that sometimes they get confused because they forget which position they’re playing. According to McLeod, there haven’t been any communication issues between him at Watkins when Jenkins moves down into his role as the nickel corner.

Watkins still thinks about his time in Buffalo, but he also thinks he’s a much better player now than he was before he went there.

“Just more confident player, I would say,” Watkins said. “My coaches believe in me. My teammates believe in me. Now, I’m just confident and relaxed when I go out and play, making plays, doing what I did in college. I think I’m a much better player than before.”

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz's Rookie of the Year odds took a hit, the Eagles' Super Bowl odds shortened and the Vikings' lengthened after Sunday's 21-10 win.

The Eagles are 33/1 to win it all, a week after being listed by Bovada at 50/1. The Vikings, meanwhile, went from 7/1 to 9/1. They still have the third-shortest Super Bowl odds in the NFL and are two spots ahead of the Cowboys (14/1). 

Wentz, who had his worst statistical game against Minnesota, is now 9/1 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, according to Bovada. Last Wednesday, he was 6/1.

Wentz trails Cowboys studs Ezekiel Elliott (2/5) and Dak Prescott (11/5) on that leaderboard.

As far as this week, Wentz is favored to throw for more yards than Prescott. Wentz is 5/7 to outgain Prescott through the air in Week 8, while Prescott is 1/1 to outgain Wentz.

Elliott's over/under rushing total against the Eagles is 99.5. He's rushed for 130-plus yards in each of his last four games, and the odds are 3/1 that he'll reach that number again this week. 

The Eagles have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season, Washington's Matt Jones (16 for 135).

Elliott is also now on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Dickerson had 1,808 in 1983; Elliott is on pace for 1,875. Will Elliott break that 33-year-old mark? A "yes" bet pays 2/1; a "no" bet pays 1/3.