DETROIT - On Thursday night, the 32 NFL teams will gather at Radio City Music Hall in New York City with one goal in mind: find the next All-Pro.
Whether it is on offense or defense, teams use the NFL Draft to add that extra something special to their roster to take the next step.
The Detroit Lions hold the No. 10 pick in this year's draft, and with a plethora of talent on the defensive side of the ball, the Lions should have their choice from a slew of game changers.
Here is how I see the 2014 NFL Draft playing out:
Note: There will obviously be many trades on Thursday, however it is nearly impossible to project them, therefore this Mock Draft is done with each team staying put in their draft slot.
1.Houston Texans – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
Jadeveon Clowney may be the top overall talent in this years draft, but he does not fit Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defense. Mack is a proven pass rusher at the college level, and his skill set should transition nicely to the pro level. Explosive pass rushers are at a premium in today's game, Mack is the best stand up pass rushing outside linebacker in this years class.
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
The Rams are able to pass on the talent of Clowney because they already have two book ends with Chris Long and Robert Quinn, therefore they are able to address other needs. Franchise QB Sam Bradford was having the best year of his career before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. The Rams need to protect him better, this years top Offensive lineman is Texas A&M Left Tackle Jake Matthews. Jake is the son of long time NFLer Bruce Matthews who Rams head coach Jeff Fisher knows a thing or two about.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Finally the number one guy on everyone's big board gets selected. Clowney can step right in and have a Julius Peppers type effect for the Jaguars. Clowney possesses the ability to beat tackles with both speed and power moves. He will be an immediate impact player in the NFL, and has the skill set to go down as one of the all time greats.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
"Johnny Football" going this high might surprise a few people as he may not look like the most pro-ready QB in this years draft, however Manziel is a playmaker, and in today's game that is the most important attribute a QB can have.
5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
The Raiders have made a lot of moves in the offseason, bringing in veterans and virtually every position, most notably at the QB spot with former Texans Pro-Bowler Matt Schaub. By bringing in a quality veteran like Schaub the Raiders are telling the league they are in win now mode, which means they must go after an impact player. Sammy Watkins has all the skills to be a top receiver in the NFL. Think Julio Jones from a few years back.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
Atlanta would love to see one of the top edge rushers fall to them at 6, however they will have no problem selecting a player that will protect the blind side of their franchise quarterback Matt Ryan.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Aaron Donald – DT – Pittsburgh
With Lovie Smith taking over as head coach of the Bucs, he will want to get straight to work on his defense. Aaron Donald will be his Tommy Harris from those great Bears defenses that he coached.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles – QB – USF
The NFC North is home to Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Matthew Stafford, the Vikings need to find their franchise QB. It didn't work out with Christian Ponder a few years back, so its back to the drawing board with Blake Bortles.
9. Buffalo Bills – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
The Bills got their man to play quarterback in last years draft with E.J. Mannuel, they already had a dynamic rushing attack with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, now they can help out their receiving core. Evans is big and fast, and can step right into the number one role allowing Stevie Johnson to move into the slot.
10. Detroit Lions – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
New Head Coach Jim Caldwell hasn't been shy when it comes to discussing the need for the Lions to get a pass rusher from the line backer position, Anthony Barr fits that role perfectly. Barr may be the best pure athlete in this years class, and athleticism and explosiveness is what makes a great edge rusher. Many fans will be hoping the Lions make a move in the draft to get Sammy Watkins. However, Watkins would be a luxury pick. With the addition of Golden Tate, the Lions can look to add a receiver later in the draft. Barr fills a need, and that is why the Lions must take him.
11. Tennessee Titans – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
Jernigan is the top defensive player left, and can anchor a D-line for a long time.
12. New York Giants – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
Eli Manning had one of the worst years of his career this past season due in large part to the fact that he was running for his life on almost every drop back. Lewan is a big mean mauling lineman that can step in and protect manning.
13. St. Louis Rams – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
The Rams, along with the Browns hold two picks in this years draft, that allows them to opportunity to help both the offense and defense in the first round. Dennard can pair up with Janoris Jenkins to form one of the leagues top tandems in the secondary.
14. Chicago Bears – HaHa Clinton-Dix – S – Alabama
Bears fans will remember the Aaron Rodgers to Randle Cobb 4th down conversion, Clinton-Dix will help make sure the bears don't get beat deep as often next year.
15. Pittsburg Steelers – Odell Beckham Jr. - WR – LSU
Loosing top receivers in back to back years, Beckham Jr. can quickly become and favorite target for Ben Roethlisberger.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Calvin Pryor – S – Louisville
The Cowboys fielded one of the worst defensive units in recent history last year. Pryor is a heavy hitter who will work hard both in the secondary and up in the box.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State
Speed kills in the NFL, and with the huge are Joe Flacco has, Cooks can be and impact player week one.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
The Jets had the defense last year, but couldn't score points. They have already added Eric Decker and Chris Johnson, Ebron is this years top pass catching Tight End.
19. Miami Dolphins – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Gilbert has a chance to become the steal of the draft. Top flight speed and better than average ball skills will help him on his way to being a shut down corner.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Kyle Van Noy – OLB – BYU
Van Noy has the versatility that the Cardinals love from the front seven players.
21. Green Bay Packers – Marquise Lee – WR – USC
Aaron Rodgers lost James Jones in free agency, Lee can step in and snag 50 or so balls.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
The Eagles will be targeting corners and receivers throughout the entire draft, Verrett is the best available at this spot.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Xavier Su'a-Filo – OG – UCLA
Kansas City is a tough, hard nosed football team, Su'a Filo will only make them tougher.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
Martin is a big, nasty lineman that can play tackle or move inside and anchor at the guard position.
25. San Diego Chargers – Kyle Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech
The Chargers surprised a lot of people last by making it to the playoffs, they didn't possess the strongest secondary last year, Fuller can go a long way in helping out.
26. Cleveland Browns – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Josh Gordon is one of the leagues best deep threats, and poses a threat to take it to the end zone every time he has the ball in the open field. In the red-zone, he tends to get lost in the shuffle, Kelvin Benjamin wont, his size makes him a true red-zone target.
27. New Orleans Saints – Louis Nix – DT – Notre Dame
Nix has top-ten talent, however injuries hamper his draft stock. The Saints love athletic lineman that can get to the quarterback, when healthy, Nix can do that.
28. Carolina Panthers – Jordan Matthews – WR – Vanderbilt
The Panthers are desperate for receiver help, Matthews is the best available, look for them to revisit this position later in the draft.
29. New England Patriots – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
The Patriots love high IQ football players for their defense. Mosley ran a dominate defense in Alabama, New England will expect him to do the same on Sunday's.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Cody Latimer – WR – Indiana
Latimer has the top end speed that will fit in perfectly in San Francisco's wide open passing offense.
31. Denver Broncos – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
Ealy is the best available pass-rusher, Denver knows their offense is great, but found out on Super Bowl Sunday that it's a great Defense that will win you the championship.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Cyrus Kouandijo – OT – Alabama
Seattle has the most complete roster in the NFL, and because of that, they can simply draft the best available player. Cyrus can play all over the offensive line, and will not be asked much early on in Seattle.
Detroit Lions 7 round projection:
1st round – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
2nd round – Stephon Tuitt – DE/DT – Notre Dame
3rd round – Jaylen Watkins – CB – Florida
4th round – Allen Robinson – WR – Penn State
4th round – Travis Swanson – C – Arkansas
4th round – Dontae Johnson – CB/S – N.C. State
6th round – David Fales – QB – San Jose State
7th round – Denicos Allen – OLB – Michigan State
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