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

Stay or Go Part 9: Jalen Mills to Wendell Smallwood

Stay or Go Part 9: Jalen Mills to Wendell Smallwood

In the ninth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — part 9 is Mills to Smallwood.

Jalen Mills
Cap hit: $559K

Roob: Mills has all the tools to be a capable cornerback except world-class speed. He’s fearless, he’s cocky, he’s smart, he’s a hard worker. He just doesn’t have that make-up speed you want your top outside corners to have. I’ve seen enough positives from Mills that I definitely want him on my team. I’m not sure he’ll ever be a starter, but I definitely want him around.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Mills really got thrown into the fire as a seventh-round rookie, didn’t he? It wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either. It’s pretty obvious defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s loves Mills’ competitiveness. He doesn’t have top-end speed and that’s probably going to prevent him from ever becoming a top-of-the-line corner in the league. But there’s no reason he can’t stick around for a long time. He certainly has the right mindset to be a corner in the NFL and that’s a part of the battle. The Eagles really need to upgrade the corner position, which could greatly reduce Mills’ role, but he should still have one. 

Verdict: STAYS

Aaron Neary

Roob: Neary is a guard who spent the year on the Eagles’ practice squad.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: I’d say there’s a fair to good chance most of you have never heard of Aaron Neary. He’s an undrafted O-lineman out of Eastern Washington who was on the practice squad in 2016. I’d be lying if I told you I knew a lot about him. 

Verdict: GOES

Jason Peters
Cap hit: $11.7M

Roob: Cut Jason Peters at your own risk. You want the $9.2 million cap savings that the Eagles would gain by releasing the perennial Pro Bowler? Find it somewhere else. Because some guys simply should never be released. Peters is an all-time great Eagle and unless his level of play drops off dramatically, he should be allowed to decide when it’s time to go. Only Chuck Bednarik has been picked to more Pro Bowls than Peters in Eagles history. Peters rebounded from a subpar 2015 with a vintage Peters season this past year. Considering that the Eagles have a promising young quarterback who has to be protected and considering that Lane Johnson is one more positive test from a two-year suspension, Peters has to stay. I don’t care what the cap savings would be by getting rid of him. He’s too good and means too much to cut him. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Sure, the Eagles could save over $9 million in cap room if they cut Peters, but who would they get to play? While they’d be fine moving Lane Johnson to left tackle, they’d then be relying on Halapoulivaati Vaitai to play right tackle. And while that might be the plan in coming years, it would weaken the team in 2017. Peters might not be the dominant force he once was, but he had a very good season and he was able to play 97 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, which is huge. He gets paid a lot, but he’s still worth it. 

Verdict: STAYS

Isaac Seumalo
Cap hit: $764K

Roob: I asked Jason Kelce about Seumalo back in training camp and Kelce said he thinks the third-round pick will one day be a Pro Bowl center. Pretty clear Seumalo is the heir apparent to Kelce, it’s just a matter of when the transition occurs. Kelce wasn’t as awful as some people seem to think. He actually finished the season strong. But I think Kelce goes this offseason and Seumalo is your opening-day center in 2017. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Seumalo’s rookie year was a really interesting one. It started with a pec strain in training camp that slowed him down, but eventually ended with his getting some real experience. In all, Seumalo played six different positions in 2016: right tackle, right guard, left guard, left tackle, fullback and tight end. He didn’t even play center, which might be his most natural spot. I think he’ll have a real shot to be the team’s opening-day starter at left guard. 

Verdict: STAYS

Aziz Shittu

Roob: Rookie defensive tackle spent the year on the practice squad. Depending on what happens with Bennie Logan in free agency, the Eagles could be on the prowl for defensive tackle depth this offseason, and Shittu is an interesting guy. He had a good training camp last year coming off a solid career at Stanford and it’s fair to say he has a chance, depending on what the Eagles do in the draft and free agency. Going with my instincts on this one.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I actually really liked Shittu coming out of Stanford and not just because I giggle like a schoolgirl every time I hear his name. For an interior defensive lineman, he has some real pass rushing potential. I think he would have been the undrafted guy to make the team over Destiny Vaeao had he not missed the spring because of the silly college graduation/quarters rule. I’d like to see him get a legitimate shot to stick here. It’s a longshot, but I’m going to take a chance with this one. I think he can make the roster. 

Verdict: STAYS

Wendell Smallwood
Cap hit: $601K

Roob: We spend so much time talking about the Eagles’ desperate needs at cornerback and wide receiver that it’s easy to forget they're just as desperate at running back. Assuming Ryan Mathews isn’t back, the Eagles will have a real need for a No. 1 back. You can’t draft or sign every position. So Smallwood could get a real shot at the lead back role. Can he handle the role or is he best suited to be a No. 2? Not sure yet. I like how Smallwood responded when he got double-digit carries against the Steelers, Falcons and Seahawks. Averaged 4.2 yards in those three games. And he had nine runs of 10 yards or more out of just 77 carries. I know Smallwood is a player. I’m just not sure where he’ll fit in. Maybe it’s the No. 28 jersey, but at worst I see him as a Correll Buckhalter-type, a solid No. 2 back who can fill in once in a while as a lead guy. At best? We’ll see. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Smallwood might not be the true answer at the running back position, but he proved enough to earn a roster spot next year and a role in the offense. I’m not sure if his ceiling is very high, but he got better throughout the year, specifically as a blocker. He’ll be back for Year 2. 

Verdict: STAYS

Senior Bowl: Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon ready to put himself, Wildcats on NFL map

Senior Bowl: Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon ready to put himself, Wildcats on NFL map

MOBILE, Ala. — A couple days ago, Tanoh Kpassagnon received a text message from one of his school’s most famous alumni, Brian Westbrook.

On Tuesday morning, as he readied himself for the week of Senior Bowl practices leading up to Saturday’s game, Kpassagnon kept Westbrook’s message at the forefront of his mind.

“Just embrace the moment,” Kpassagnon said, relaying Westbrook’s message. “Don’t take anything for granted, and I belong here.”

Kpassagnon, 22, has a chance to join an elite group in April. There haven’t been many Villanova football players taken in the NFL draft, especially recently, but the big defensive lineman has a good chance to join the list.

In addition to Westbrook, Kpassagnon has also received some advice to help him through the pre-draft process from Hall of Famer Howie Long, the most famous Wildcat to make it in the NFL.

“It would be really cool to represent my school like that,” Kpassagnon said.

The last Villanova football player to be drafted was OL Ben Ijalana in the second round of the 2011 draft. Ijalana is one of just three Wildcats drafted since the early '80s. Kpassagnon is listed as a third-round prospect by CBS Sports.

Despite the Wildcats’ recent success on the football field at the FCS level, Villanova is, of course, known for its basketball program. Kpassagnon wants to do his small part to help the football team gain some recognition.

Coming out of Ambler's Wissahickon High School, the interest in Kpassagnon was lukewarm at best. But once Villanova showed interest, some other CAA schools followed. Ultimately, Kpassagnon settled on going to Villanova, which made his mother happy because he would be staying close. And ultimately, he thinks going to a small school was best for him.

“Definitely,” he said. “I know some other programs, they kind of pass by guys if you’re not ready yet. And definitely coming in as a freshman, I wasn’t ready. Villanova really took the time to develop me. My coaches really believed in me, saw what I could do. I think going to Villanova was a blessing.”

A blessing can sometimes be a curse, though. While Kpassagnon tore up his level of competition, being named the CAA Defensive Player of the Year, he’ll have to shake off the small school and FCS stigma.

That starts this week, which Kpassagnon said is probably one of the most important weeks of his life.

What does he need to show NFL teams?

“I can hang with the big boys,” said Kpassagnon, who was stuck on the South team as an FCS player. “... Villanova has kind of a reputation for basketball, not football, even though our football program is awesome. I kind of have to show that I can hang with the SEC guys, bigger schools.”

This season, Kpassagnon played against Pitt tackle Adam Bisnowaty, who is also at the Senior Bowl. Kpassagnon is looking forward to facing him and some other top tackles this week.

Physically, hanging with the big guys won’t be a problem. Kpassagnon is one of the biggest. At Senior Bowl weigh-in on Tuesday morning, he came in just shy of 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds. He was listed at 290 all season but said the 280 wasn’t a surprise and that he played at that weight all season. NFL teams want him to bulk up some more, so maybe he’ll be able to do it before the combine in early March.

But for now, Kpassagnon's focus is on showing NFL teams that he belongs. That starts with a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

“One of my best friend’s dads told me this going into college,” Kpassagnon said. “You want the coach to say your name at least once or twice per practice, for something good. I sort of took that with me to college and I’m trying to bring that here. I’m going to try to make a play or two each practice.”

When asked if the coaches will pronounce his name correctly, Kpassagnon smiled and said he’s heard it every way imaginable.

tawn-o pass-N-yo

This week, he has a chance to put his name and Villanova football’s on the map.