Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies offensive linesman Jake Matthews (75) on the bench against the Duke Blue Devils during the first quarter in the 2013 Chick-fil-a Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Highlights from the First Round of the #TPPMock

Mock drafts take on many different forms this time of year, as every media outlet and analyst shares their thoughts on the NFL Draft and how things could unfold. Here at the Pewter Plank, we wanted to attempt to get a more realistic look at how the NFL Draft could unfold, so we put together TPPMock.

TPPMock is a community mock draft, something that’s been done quite a bit around the internet lately. The concept is to get 32 “general managers” and allow them to draft for their teams. Everything else is the same as your average mock draft, but it takes away from the possible biases one person may have toward a team or a player.

TPPMock is being held on Twitter, and you can follow along by searching the hashtag #TPPMock. The first round (plus a few picks) are in the books, so let’s take a look at some of the highs and lows so far.

Buccaneers’ Selections

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, under my management, kicked off the draft with Jake Matthews. Khalil Mack, Blake Bortles, Greg Robinson and Teddy Bridgewater were off the board, so Matthews was the choice as the best player available at the time.

Matthews would be an upgrade over Donald Penn, and projects as a franchise left tackle. Moving on from Penn would free up salary cap space, and set the offensive line up for the long haul.

The offensive line upgrades didn’t stop there, as the second round brought an opportunity to further upgrade the front five on offense. David Yankey of Stanford was the pick, and he would ideally take over for Davin Jospeh or Carl Nicks, depending on the health of Nicks. Joseph is paid too much to perform as poorly as he did last season, and a replacement is needed this offseason. Should Nicks return, Yankey and Nicks would be an ideal duo at guard with the solid Jeremy Zuttah at center.

Pair them with Matthews and Demar Dotson at tackle, and you have the makings of a dominant offensive line.

Highlights from the First Round

The Houston Texans didn’t surprise anyone by taking Teddy Bridgewater first overall. Despite plenty of discussion about other players in this spot, Bridgewater is clearly the most NFL-ready QB in this draft, and that’s what Houston needs under new head coach Bill O’Brien.

The first real surprise of the draft came with the picks in the teens, as four defensive line prospects came off the board in surprising order. With Anthony Barr off the board at 10, the Titans went with Kony Ealy at 11. Ealy is a decent pass rusher, but not a special player, and doesn’t seem worth a pick this early in a draft. That said, there are no other first-round options at 4-3 defensive end, so without the ability to trade, taking Ealy isn’t an awful decision if defensive end is the position a GM wants to fill.

Picks 14-16 were all interior defensive linemen, as RaShede Hageman, Louis Nix and Aaron Donald all came off the board. Of the three, I like Donald the most, but that’s because he’s the most explosive and exciting player. Hageman is a prospect that not many drat analysts agree on, so it’s no surprise to see him going higher in this mock, while you may see him as a low-end first rounder in other mocks.

Overall, I think Donald is the best player of the bunch, but all four prospects have different skillsets, and GMs in this mock were picking for need within their schemes, which was encouraging.

The Cardinals had to be thrilled to see Darqueze Dennard fall to the 20th pick, as the Michigan State product figures to go higher in the draft this summer. It must have also been frustrating to see Dennard go with the 20th pick for the Bengals and Chargers, who both picked corners just a handful of picks later.

The order of the wide receivers was the only other surprise in the mock thus far, as Sammy Watkins was followed by Marqise Lee, with Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. following behind. Personally, I think Evans is a better prospect than Lee, but Lee’s injury this past season may be impacting my opinion of him.

You can view the entire draft board in real time by clicking here.

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