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Mel Kiper Jr's first mock draft 1/15/2014

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Johnny Manziel 
*Houston Texans (2-14)

Analysis: I spoke to a number of high-ranking NFL evaluators this week, and this is the one QB anyone felt certain was a top-5 pick. So consider this an early bet, with one major caveat: Bill O'Brien just arrived, is still putting his staff together, knows a good QB when he sees one, and hasn't had enough time (if any) to study the draft class. But we know quarterback is a major need here. O'Brien likes a QB with presence, a leader and a guy who will out-prepare the competition. And while Manziel has gotten his share of bad press, he's a dynamic talent, and I feel he can lead at the next level; I'm not alone in that opinion. While Manziel is currently ranked No. 11 on my Big Board, this reflects the draft.

Manziel doesn't fit the old prototypes of a QB drafted No. 1, and I have concerns about how well he can protect himself given his smaller frame, but he is a magician on the field, and is made for the current NFL. This league protects and welcomes QBs who can improvise, run and make plays beyond the playbook. It's early, but Manziel is a special player and has the draft process to prove it further.

Jake Matthews 
St. Louis Rams (7-9) (From WAS)

Analysis: Rams general manager Les Snead has already said that he'll take calls on this draft slot, which makes plenty of sense given the fact that the three teams drafting directly after St. Louis need a quarterback. So if you want a certain QB, you might be trying to work out a deal with the Rams to assure you get him. That said, I can't project a trade, and Matthews would be a tremendous fit for the Rams, who need to bring in an upgrade at left tackle this offseason given the uncertainty regarding Jake Long's health. Matthews has proved capable of dominating on both the left and right side, in fact, and comes with more assurances in that regard than the tackles drafted at the top of the board last season. At tackle, I also think Greg Robinson could compete with Matthews to be the first one taken, and I don't think it's out of the question that St. Louis takes a QB or top defensive lineman.

Jadeveon Clowney *
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)
COLLEGE: South Carolina

Analysis: There is no question that the Jags need a QB. It is questionable whether they will take one at this draft slot unless they believe that QB will make them better at that position in 2014. So consider this an early bet on a front office that will look to hit what is still a major need (the pass rush) by drafting the best available player in the draft. Clowney got questioned on his motor in his final college season, but that has more to do with stats than the tape. And any evaluator who saw a tentative player could also imagine what Clowney had on the line. Clowney is physically prepared to come in and make a major impact, and I think there's a good chance the Jags draft for upside and angle for a QB later. Don't forget: Free agency and trades can still shift the QB market in the draft. Think of Kansas City last year at this time. As well, I recall when the Texans took Mario Williams at a time when QB was a question, and their GM told us it wasn't just about needing a QB, it was about the QBs they had to beat. Peyton Manning was in the division. Indy still has a good QB the Jags have to face.

Blake Bortles *
Cleveland Browns (4-12)

Analysis: While there's plenty of debate in NFL circles regarding which QB in this class has the most upside in terms of overall ability, from a physical standpoint Bortles is at the top of the list. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, with not elite but good arm strength, and the ability to move both in the pocket and to make plays down the field as a runner, he has a chance to add value and eliminate negative plays with his mobility as he develops as a passer. It goes without saying that Cleveland will look to address its QB situation through the draft or via a trade, and this is potentially a good fit for Bortles. He's still somewhat limited as a progression passer and struggles with ball placement, and can also be rigid with his mechanics, but the presence of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron gives any new QB here matchup threats to exploit. Cleveland is, for the first time in a while, a really attractive environment for a young QB to grow and succeed.

Sammy Watkins *
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
COLLEGE: Clemson
AGE: 20
HT: 6-1
WT: 205

Analysis: I count Oakland among the teams that could use a talent upgrade at QB, but the Raiders need to take really good football players who can help the team right away -- and I believe their front office knows it. Watkins qualifies as an experienced and explosive combination of a pass-catcher and dynamic runner after the catch. And while he lacks elite size for the position, Watkins brings an elite level of explosiveness before and after the catch and is a significant threat and can beat defenses over the top. Unless you count a healthy Darren McFadden (who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason), Oakland has lacked a player who is a constant threat to create big plays. Watkins can fill that void.

Anthony Barr
Atlanta Falcons (4-12)

Analysis: Three years ago the Broncos drafted Von Miller, a move that caused many to ask whether Miller would fit in John Fox's scheme. Fox was known as a 4-3 guy, and Miller seemed well-equipped physically to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. I could hear some saying the same about this pick, but (A) great players make great systems more often than the other way around, so don't get too caught up in the whole 3-4 vs. 4-3 thing, and ( B) the Falcons really need a pass-rusher. Barr gives them that, as an explosive matchup problem on the edge who does more than disrupt the passing game. And he can certainly add weight.

Khalil Mack
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
COLLEGE: Buffalo

Analysis: The Bucs are another team that must create more pressure to take advantage of the fact that they have a good defensive core in place to stop the run and make plays in the secondary. Mack gives Tampa a three-down linebacker who can rush the quarterback and drop and make plays in space. He could be plugged in across the formation from Lavonte David and won't need to come off the field. This could be a really good defense in 2014 for Lovie Smith.

Teddy Bridgewater *
Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1)
COLLEGE: Louisville

Analysis: In terms of his ability as a passer, Bridgewater could go higher. But while I currently have him rated as the top QB on my Big Board, Bridgewater will need to prove to teams that he can command an NFL huddle and be the face of a franchise. I think he has the necessary physical tools to succeed, and shows an advanced approach with his footwork, anticipation, pre-snap command and ability to improvise. He's a very good value here for a team with a huge need at the position. Whether he can start right away is a question we'll need more time to answer.

Greg Robinson *
Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Analysis: Cordy Glenn has been an adequate and at times above-average NFL left tackle, but the Bills definitely need a right tackle. That could be Robinson as a rookie, or he could come in and Glenn could move to the right side. Robinson has the physical tools and proven level of performance against SEC competition of a potential star at the next level, and the Bills must protect the investment they have in EJ Manuel, who has had issues staying healthy.

Justin Gilbert
Detroit Lions (7-9)
COLLEGE: Oklahoma St.

Analysis: With continued improvement from Ezekiel Ansah to go with the dominance of the interior of that defensive line, the Lions could create a ton of pressure on opposing QBs next season. The problem is if they can't do a better job of covering, it might not make a difference. Gilbert would help the cause coming off a season where you could argue that no cornerback in college football performed better. He has the size to compete with bigger wide receivers and the agility and speed to run with anybody. He also brings strong return skills.

Taylor Lewan
Tennessee Titans (7-9)
COLLEGE: Michigan

Analysis: The Titans have some decisions to make at tackle in the short term, withDavid Stewart likely not to return at right tackle and Michael Roos a free agent after the 2014 season. If they want this offense to take another step forward, adding talent and continuity on the offensive line will be pivotal. Lewan comes off a fine career at Michigan where he started since his freshman season, and added power as a run-blocker to his already ideal frame for a tackle. He could start at right tackle as a rookie and transition to the left side.

C.J. Mosley
New York Giants (7-9)
COLLEGE: Alabama

Analysis: The Giants never draft linebackers in the first round, but if a player of Mosley's caliber is on the board, I think that streak could end. If not for the signing ofJon Beason, this linebacking corps would have been even more of a mess in 2013, and Beason isn't yet a lock for 2014. I'm not sure any team in the NFL has a greater need at the position. Mosley is instinctive and fast, deft in coverage and a physical tackler even if he's not big for the position. He offers immediate help.

Mike Evans *
St. Louis Rams (7-9)

Analysis: Last year the Rams added Tavon Austin, a player who is explosive in space and hard to cover due to his quickness and straight-line speed. In Evans, they get a mammoth wide receiver who can't be covered capably because he can simply box out defenders for passes and get to the ball at a point higher than anybody around him.Johnny Manziel benefited greatly from his presence; so can Sam Bradford. We've seen basketball players like Julius Thomas, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham transition well to the NFL after doing very little in college football. Well, Evans was a basketball player and was dominant in college football. Speed is a concern, but it can't ruin the value of his size advantage.

Timmy Jernigan *
Chicago Bears (8-8)
COLLEGE: Florida St.

Analysis: This would be a dream scenario for the Bears, who were repeatedly gashed by the run down the stretch in 2013 due to a lack of interior defenders. They even had to move undersized 4-3 defensive ends inside. Jernigan is an active run-stuffer, a player who disrupts the run game with penetration due to unusual quickness for his size, and with leverage and violent hands that make him hard to move. He'd come in and help Chicago rebuild that interior rotation.

Louis Nix III *
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
COLLEGE: Notre Dame

Analysis: Nix is one of those rare players, a two-gap nose tackle with the feet and quickness to be useful within any scheme. He can hold up at the point of attack and handle double-teams, but also will occasionally use his hands and ability to get off blocks, find a gap and make a play in the backfield. A versatile but huge defender like this will pay dividends in any system, but certainly the Steelers need a player like him, without a true nose tackle on the roster and with Brett Keisel now 35.

Eric Ebron *
Baltimore Ravens (8-8)^
COLLEGE: North Carolina

Analysis: The Ravens desperately need a matchup problem for Joe Flacco, and tight end is a position of uncertainty headed into 2014 as both Ed Dickson and Dennis Pittaare at the end of their contracts. Ebron has the size, speed, hands and catch radius you want out of a new-breed tight end who can be split out, but he also has the frame to add some size and not get totally pushed around as an inline blocker. I have him rated higher than this slot on my Big Board.

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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix *
Dallas Cowboys (8-8)^
COLLEGE: Alabama

Analysis: I don't see a decent free safety solution on the Cowboys' roster, and good ones typically don't make it to free agency, so this pick lines up need and board value pretty effectively. Clinton-Dix has the range to handle the deep role in man-free coverage as he did for Nick Saban. He has good instincts, is generally strong with his routes and angles to the ball, and does a good job of not letting quarterbacks get him going in the wrong direction with their eyes.

Marqise Lee *
New York Jets (8-8)

Analysis: It almost goes without saying that New York lacks anything resembling a No. 1 receiver, and a healthy Lee certainly resembles that as a prospect, making him a great fit here. Lee had a balky knee for a portion of 2013, but he looked close to 100 percent toward the end of the season, and we again saw that trademark explosiveness. Lee is a receiver who competes for the ball, runs good routes and can beat corners and safeties deep, but also has exceptional quickness and fluidity as a runner with the ball. He can change direction with so little noticeable loss of speed, it's a treat to watch.

Cyrus Kouandjio *
Miami Dolphins (8-8)
COLLEGE: Alabama

Analysis: The offensive line was a source of chaos for Miami in 2013, for all kinds of reasons. Bryant McKinnie, whom the Dolphins acquired from Baltimore midseason and isn't signed into 2014, won't be the answer at left tackle. While Kouandjio had his inconsistencies at the position for Alabama in 2013, he also has the physical tools of a potentially dominant NFL starter at left tackle, which says plenty. He has length, a wide base, long arms and easy feet to absorb power and mirror quickness. Miami should come away from the draft with a potential starter and some depth on the O-line.

Zack Martin
Arizona Cardinals (10-6)
COLLEGE: Notre Dame

Analysis: The Cardinals will get a boost from the addition of a healthy Jonathan Cooper at guard next season after he lost his rookie year to injury. But the situation at both tackle positions is pretty unsettled in terms of both contracts and performance going forward, and a versatile offensive lineman with a lot of experience at left tackle and the ability to move elsewhere makes a lot of sense. If you can't block in the NFC West, you're going to be in a lot of trouble.

Calvin Pryor *
Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)
COLLEGE: Louisville

Analysis: The Packers have a good strong safety in Morgan Burnett, but they need more reliability and versatility at the free safety position. Pryor is a rising talent with the speed and instincts to cover a ton of ground in coverage, but also the willingness to fly downhill and make tackles at the line of scrimmage. The onetime high school running back (and safety) was pretty dominant as a junior and enters the draft with a lot of momentum in terms of his tape. Charlie Strong told me this is one of the best players he's ever coached.

Kelvin Benjamin *
Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
COLLEGE: Florida St.

Analysis: I'd consider this more of a "best player available" pick than an outright need, but Benjamin would fill a distinctive role for the Eagles. Riley Cooper has decent size, but doesn't create separation with speed (and is a free agent), and DeSean Jackson is exceptionally quick still, but lacks a physical presence. Benjamin combines some of both, with a huge frame for a wide receiver at near 6-5 and a lean 230-plus pounds. He possesses not just speed, but a lot of change-of-direction burst. He can simply overwhelm defenders and make plays, and would be a nice weapon for Chip Kelly.

Stephon Tuitt *
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
COLLEGE: Notre Dame

Analysis: The Chiefs got exposed some along the defensive line as the season progressed. A 9-0 start for the Chiefs masked the fact that Dontari Poe's play tailed off considerably, and there really isn't an above-average 3-4 DE on the roster. Tuitt has a rare combination of size and quickness, a player who will play at 300-plus pounds and drive blockers with power but can also turn, rip, bend and get around defenders with agility. He's not a "perfect fit for this scheme" as much as he's a great fit in any scheme. He sometimes reminds me a young Richard Seymour.

Darqueze Dennard
Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
COLLEGE: Michigan St.

Analysis: The Cincinnati secondary was better in performance than I thought it'd be on paper this season, but there are some concerns going forward at a couple of spots, with both age (Adam Jones and Terence Newman are north of 30) and health (Leon Hall ended the season on injured reserve), so the Bengals don't just need depth, they could use a player capable of starting. Dennard is the most complete corner in the draft in terms of the overall skill profile to work in any kind of coverage, and he brings a great work ethic and competitive temperament to the field. Three words: Ready to play.

Bradley Roby *
San Diego Chargers (9-7)

Analysis: Roby isn't yet a complete package at cornerback, but he has top-end speed and quickness, with fluid hips that allow him to turn and run with any kind of receiver. Where he needs to improve is in his ball skills and in not grabbing too much, which will cause him to draw too many flags at the NFL level. But with refinement he can be really good. San Diego was leaky in the secondary all season and could use a talent upgrade.

Carlos Hyde *
Cleveland Browns (4-12) (From IND)

Analysis: A couple things about this pick. For one, I think this is a good spot for the Browns to move down and allow a team that really wants a QB to move up and grab one. This is a good spot to go and get a player like Derek Carr. So while it might seem crazy that Cleveland would trade a running back for a first-round pick, then go out and take one with the pick it got in return, it also reflects the fact that this becomes a pretty mobile spot on the board for the Browns, and they do need to get a starting-level RB at some point, perhaps in Round 2. It's also important to realize that tradingTrent Richardson reflects how the organization feels about the player. Hyde is certainly no lock here, but this does reflect where I think the league will value him.

Antonio Richardson *
New Orleans Saints (11-5)
COLLEGE: Tennessee

Analysis: Drew Brees will turn 36 on the day this mock draft is published, and his blind side was protected at the end of the season by rookie 2013 third-round pick Terron Armstead. I think Armstead can be a pretty good player, but I'm not coming away from this offseason without a player I think can be an effective NFL left tackle if I'm the Saints. "Tiny" Richardson can be. While he can struggle with speed rushers, Richardson is an athlete at this size, and can absorb power and simply overwhelm big or small defensive ends in the run game. He's a solid fit here.

Brandin Cooks *
Carolina Panthers (12-4)
COLLEGE: Oregon St.

Analysis: Wide receiver is obviously a huge need for the Panthers, and while it's popular to look for matchup threats in today's game, the matchup threat of a receiver who is really hard to cover is a constant, and Cooks has a great ability to free himself. He's explosive both before and after the catch, with quick feet and the ability to change direction without a loss of speed or wasted motion, and he's got great ball awareness and hands. A player whom some will probably compare to Steve Smithbased just on size could certainly learn from the master and help the Panthers in the immediate term.

Jace Amaro *
New England Patriots (12-4)
COLLEGE: Texas Tech

Analysis: It's a credit to the Patriots the way they've battled through a decimated group of tight ends compared to what they had going into the summer, but Amaro can offer immediate help for 2014. Amaro has great size but far more quickness than you'd expect from a player with this frame, and worked out of the slot for Tech. He catches the ball with ease, away from his body, and will get you yards after the catch. The fit seems clear given the uncertainty at the position for the Patriots, but I'm also sure the phone lines will be open as the Patriots look for options to move down and pile up picks.

Odell Beckham Jr. *
San Francisco 49ers (12-4)

Analysis: The 49ers have been a different team with a healthy Michael Crabtree, but I don't think they should be in the position again of having only one wide receiver with a really dynamic skill set on the roster given how much Crabtree not being healthy limited the offense. Beckham's top trait is great acceleration, which can force cornerbacks to give him space or risk press coverage, where he also has quick feet and does a decent job of clearing without too much route disruption. He has good hands, which also helps in the return game, where he's been good.

Scott Crichton *
Denver Broncos (13-3)
COLLEGE: Oregon St.

Analysis: The loss of Von Miller to injury left the Broncos pretty thin there, and ifPeyton Manning is back and healthy again in 2014, the Broncos need to add some help in that department to help them play with leads. Crichton is a relentless 4-3 defensive end who has had consistent production and does a good job of using good leverage to drive blockers backward. The question with Crichton is whether he can develop more as a pass-rusher and not rely on simply energy and leverage, because NFL blockers won't be as susceptible.

Allen Robinson *
Seattle Seahawks (13-3)

Analysis: The Seahawks are sure to look at the offensive line, but the wide receiving corps has all kinds of uncertainty next season. Is Sidney Rice retained with his constant health issues? Is Percy Harvin healthy? Is Golden Tate worth a big-time raise? How much do you shell out for Doug Baldwin? Turnover seems inevitable, and the lack of size on the perimeter is obvious. Robinson is a big player with room to grow, accelerates quickly and has solid top-end speed. He does a nice job of helping his QB by finding space when the play is extended -- which happens a lot in Seattle -- and will make contested catches. Good fit.



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ok this is impossible to read......any team that drafts Bortles or manziel over bridgewater deserves to suck

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Bucky Brooks mocked Cooks to us in the first too.

Daniel Jeremiah mocked Jarvis Landry to us in the first.

With the guys that were left on the board I wouldn't be impressed if we took these guys over the others.

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wooo racial bias shows up again!


can't wait for bridgewater to show he can "comprehend a huddle."  thanks for that, kiper!


fuging dumbass.

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I wouldn't be mad at all.  It seems there will be hesitation no matter what with any prospect under 6'2.  


Cooks catches in traffic arguably the best out of the potential WR prospects and that's just as important (maybe more so) than getting a "jump ball" guy.  





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Takes very little research to figure out Carolina goes line unless something crazy happens.

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