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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Upgrade the Pass Rush in Round 1

We are through five weeks of this NFL season and can already see some heavy needs for many teams. There is still a long way to go, but here is a look at how the 2014 NFL Draft could play out.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB – Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville

This is a clear no brainer. The Jaguars are in need of a franchise quarterback, and Bridgewater is just that. He has all the tools to be an elite player at the next level.

Aug 29, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) walks off the field following their win over the North Carolina Tar Heels at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE – Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina

The situation in Tampa this season is an interesting one. The current regime is all about defense, so I believe they go defense with their first pick. The quarterback class this year is a deep one, so they can still find an answer to that problem later on. Jadeveon Clowney is hands down the best defensive player in the draft. He has garnered a lot of criticism this year due to his work ethic, but he is still the dominant player he was last season. He is a monster on the line and could have been an NFL player straight out of high school. The Bucs will shore up that defensive line for years to come with this selection.

3. Buffalo Bills – OLB – Anthony Barr – UCLA

Kiko Alonso is having a terrific year for the Bills, but they are still thin at outside linebacker. Barr has great speed, and has proven he can be a threat all over the field. He had a very solid 2012 season, and has kept his play on a high level so far this season. He is solidifying himself as a top tier defensive player.

4. Oakland Raiders – QB – Tajh Boyd – Clemson

Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders have been playing better than many people anticipated going into the season. If Pryor can keep moving forward, Oakland will not need to pick a quarterback early. But, as of right now, the quarterback situation is still up for grabs. If they do end up picking this high, they will need to look at other options. Boyd has made large strides this year. He is tough in the pocket and can step up and make big time throws. He also has the ability to make plays with his legs. Boyd is the clear number two QB in this draft.

5. St. Louis Rams – OT – Jake Matthews – Texas A&M

This pick would give the Rams the best offensive lineman in the draft. Matthews is a very intelligent football player, and can play on either end of the line. He is a great pass-protector, and a very physical run-blocker. This 6-foot-5, 300 lb lineman is very quick for his size and overpowers his opponents with ease.

6. New York Jets – WR – Sammy Watkins – Clemson

There are many areas of need for the Jets. The two biggest are at wide receiver and running back. There are no clear cut top running backs in this draft, so the Jets will take the best wide receiver prospect on the board. Sammy Watkins is a big physical receiver. He reminds me a lot of Dez Bryant. He has great ball skills and fights for yards after the catch. This pick would give Geno Smith a clear-cut number one target.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers – OT – Taylor Lewan – Michigan

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in rough shape right now. They have many holes that need to be filled, but their biggest issue is the offensive line. If they want Ben Roethlisberger to stay healthy and make plays, they need to take action soon. Taylor Lewan has had his struggles this season, but he has experience at left tackle and has a lot of potential to be a force in the NFL. Lewan is a great run-blocker, and has the athleticism to be an outstanding pass-protector. He is a mauler, and plays with a ton of attitude, and that with alone make him fit in on this Steelers team.

August 31, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers offensive linesman Antonio Richardson (74) celebrates in the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Georgia Dome. Tennessee beat NC State 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

8. New York Giants – OT – Antonio Richardson – Tennessee

Part of the problem with Eli Manning this season is the fact that he is constantly running for his life. Antonio Richardson will help fix that problem. Richardson is one of the only guys that has been able to completely shut down Jadeveon Clowney. Playing in the SEC as a left tackle is not easy, and Richardson has done a great job. At 6-foot-6, 330lbs, he has a size advantage over many defensive lineman. He will easily step in as a starter for the Giants.

9. Minnesota Vikings – QB – Brett Hundley – UCLA

Josh Freeman is only a temporary fix for the Vikings. Unless he can step in and turn this team around, Minnesota will be looking for a new quarterback. Brett Hundley, in my opinion, is the most intriguing prospect in this draft. He has all the tools to be great at the next level. He has both the pocket presence and mobility to be a play-maker. He was blessed with a top notch coaching staff at UCLA who have groomed him into a very good NFL prospect. Hundley will only get better as the season goes on.

10. Carolina Panthers – WR – Marqise Lee – USC

The front office has done a poor job providing Cam Newton with weapons up to this point. With an aging Steve Smith, the Panthers have no choice but to select a top WR with this pick. Lee has the speed to open up the field for this offense. He is a threat to score any time you put the ball in his hands. He will be a top-notch receiver in this league and would turn Carolina into an offensive threat on Sundays.

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

11. Tennessee Titans – WR – Mike Evans – Texas A&M

Kenny Britt has proven to be useless and will be out of Tennessee at the end of the season. The Titans have a good receiver in Kendall Wright, but two is always better than one. Evan’s stock skyrocketed after the Alabama game. He made great catches and put up huge numbers against the nations best defense. This 6-foot-5, 225 lb receiver is an instant size mismatch against cornerbacks. He fights for the ball on every play and have great athletic ability. If he can keep his play on a high level, there is no doubt that his stock will keep rising.

12. San Diego Chargers – CB – Bradley Roby – Ohio State

Roby is a very talented player. He has had a rough start to this season, but is still the best cornerback option in this class. He has both the size and speed to keep up with the best wide receivers in the league. The Chargers need to improve their secondary if they hope to beat Peyton Manning and the rest of the AFC West.

13. Arizona Cardinals – OLB – Kyle Van Noy – BYU

Kyle Van Noy is a great football player. On defense he can do everything. He can drop into coverage with the best of them, as well as finding holes on the rush. He was one of the nation’s leaders in sacks a season ago, and has not cooled off. Stopping the run is his best quality. He is a high-powered attacker, and can stuff the ball-carrier with ease. The Cardinals would be getting a very good player in Van Noy.

14. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) – DT – Louis Nix – Notre Dame

This pick would make the Rams D-Line go from good to great. Nix is a very disruptive defender. He is great against the run, and is great against the pass. He would instantly be the most athletic man on that line. He was a key reason Manti Te’o had the type of year he did. He creates room for his teammates to step up and make plays.

Oct 5, 2013; Boulder, CO, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) scores a touchdown in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

15. Philadelphia Eagles – QB – Marcus Mariota – Oregon

If Mariota lasts this long, this pick would make way too much sense. Chip Kelly was his head coach at Oregon, and he knows the system. With an aging injury prone Michael Vick under center, it is time for an upgrade. So far this season, Mariota has developed in the pocket. He chooses to step up and make difficult throws instead of abandoning ship and scrambling. While he does have great mobility, Mariota has matured into a great passer.

16. Miami Dolphins – OT – Cyrus Kouandjio – Alabama

If the Miami Dolphins want to be successful, they need to provide protection for their guy, Ryan Tannehill. Selecting Kouandjio would give Miami two franchise tackles on either side of their line. He will be able to step on the field on the first day of training camp and make an impact. He has a lot of upside, and can develop into a brick wall within just a couple years.

17. Cleveland Browns – CB – Jason Varrett – TCU

Ultimately, I believe the Browns will move up to select a quarterback. If that doesn’t happen, they will need to address a hole on the defense. They need a guy to pair up with Joe Haden in the secondary. While Buster Skrine has had a decent season to this point, he is not the answer. Jason Varrett is very physical for his size. He is a playmaker on defense and has a nose for the football. This would be a big move for an already good defense.

18. Detroit Lions – ILB – C.J. Mosley – Alabama

Mosley has been a very productive player throughout his college career. He is great in pass coverage, which is something the Lions need help with. He is a big, tough, and intimidating football player, which fits into what Detroit is building. He is a very versatile player and can play in any defensive scheme.

19. Houston Texans – CB – Marcus Roberson – Florida

The Texans may be inclined to find a replacement for Schaub as of late, but I don’t have them pulling the trigger just yet. Instead I have them selecting a potential franchise corner. Roberson has done a fantastic job in man-coverage and opposing teams rarely throw to his side. He has a rare combination of size and speed and It looks as though he will live up to the expectations of former Florida cornerbacks, Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins.

20. Chicago Bears – CB – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – Oregon

With Jennings and Tillman both having expiring contracts, the Bears will need to add cornerback depth to their team. Ekpre-Olomu has had a very solid season so far for the Ducks and is proving he can play at NFL speed. He is quick, smart, and tough enough to keep up with the physical receivers of the NFC North.

Sep 5, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive tackle Will Sutton on the sidelines in the second half against the Sacramento State Hornets at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

21. Dallas Cowboys – DT – Will Sutton – Arizona State

Defensive tackle is still a need for this team, even though they chose not to draft one last year. Sutton is undersized for his position and that may cause his to drop in the draft. If that happens to be the case, then the Cowboys will really luck out. Even though he doesn’t have the size, he is still a force to be reckoned with. He has great speed and can get to the quarterback, which is what you need in the NFC East.

22. Baltimore Ravens – WR – Jordan Matthews – Vanderbilt

The Ravens are really missing Anquan Boldin this season. Aside from Torrey Smith, Joe Flacco doesn’t have another solid target. Jordan Matthews is a perfect fit for the Baltimore offense. He has good size and concentration, which is what you need when Flacco decides to heave one into the air. He also has great quickness after the catch and can create plays from nothing. Matthews could be a great number two guy in Baltimore for a long time.

23. Atlanta Falcons – OLB – Ryan Shazier – Ohio State

Atlanta has arguably the worst linebacking corps in the league. This pick would be a huge upgrade for them. Shazier would bring some speed to a defense that is lacking just that. He has great instincts off the snap and is great against the run. While sometimes he can be a bit too aggressive, he has a knack for being in on every play. Once Shazier improves his technique, he could be a top of the line guy for this defense.

24. Kansas City Chiefs – DE – Stephon Tuitt – Notre Dame

Kansas City could use another big body on the line. Tuitt seems to get into the backfield on every play, and was a big reason Notre Dame was so successful last season. He brings versatility and can play anywhere on the defensive line. He is one of those guys who will produce no matter where you plug him in.

25. Cincinnati Bengals – DE – Trent Murphy – Stanford

Murphy has the explosiveness to be a very good edge-rusher in this league. He has rare power mixed with great technique, which helps him beat his opponents and get into the backfield. He has a very effective spin move, which helps him disengage from key blocks. The Bengals would be improving an already solid defense with a player like Murphy.

Oct 5, 2013; Boulder, CO, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Thomas Tyner (24) carries the football in the second quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis)- OW – De’Anthony Thomas – Oregon

The Browns are in need of a play-maker. Thomas is this seasons’ Tavon Austin. He is too undersized to be an every down back, but can be utilized like Darren Sproles is down in New Orleans. He is the fastest guy in college football, and will make a play when given the ball. He could be a very productive slot receiver, as well as a dangerous return man. Cleveland would give their fans something to be excited about with this pick.

27. Green Bay Packers – G – Cyril Richardson – Baylor

A big problem for Green Bay this season has been pass protection. When you have Aaron Rodgers, you need to make sure nothing will happen to him. Richardson would be a tremendous addition to this offensive line and would help in the efforts to protect Rodgers.

28. New England Patriots – WR – Brandon Coleman – Rutgers

If you haven’t noticed, there isn’t anyone in New England who can catch a football. Edelman has done a good job stepping up, but he is not a number one receiver. With Amendola always hurt, the Patriots need help at receiver. Brandon Coleman is a big dude. He has rare speed for a guy standing a 6-foot-6. He can be the vertical threat that this offense hasn’t seen since Randy Moss left.

29. San Francisco 49ers – CB – Aaron Colvin – Oklahoma

The 49ers haven’t had a big need on their team in the past couple years, but with injuries mounting and aging talent, they finally have something to upgrade. Colvin is a great man-coverage player and would add good depth to a depleting secondary. He has had a productive year for Oklahoma and is quickly becoming a solid NFL prospect.

30. New Orleans Saints – OLB – Khalil Mack – Buffalo

The Saints have improved vastly this year on defense thanks to the addition of Rob Ryan. They are still a pass rusher or two away from being a dominant defense. Khalil Mack would help them achieve that goal. Mack is a very fun player to watch. He is very fast and is a very hard-hitter. He has the ability to make the tackle on every play. He completely dominated against Ohio State earlier this season and has proved he can play on the big stage. He will continue to climb up draft boards as the season continues.

31. Seattle Seahawks – DE – Aaron Lynch – South Florida

The Seahawks will need to pick up a defensive end if Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett move on after this season. Aaron Lynch fits into the Seattle defense very well. They have the tendency to draft players for their potential, and that has paid off greatly so far. So with this pick they go after another raw player. Lynch has great natural talent and athleticism. If he has a solid, productive season, he could be the big surprise in this draft.

32. Denver Broncos – G – Gabe Jackson – Mississippi State

If you give Peyton Manning any more time to throw, he will be unstoppable. That is exactly what Denver plans to do. They have weak links in their offensive line, and can fix that with the acquisition of Gabe Jackson. Jackson is great one-on-one, and can beat any opponent straight up. He has the size to hold his own against the top defenders in the league. The Broncos would be getting a great pick at the tail end of the first round.

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