2014 Mock Draft: Bortles apple of Houston’s eye

The Sports Xchange

February 11, 2014 at 6:19 pm.

Blake Bortles could be the surprise No. 1 pick of the Texans. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl champions. And with that, the order of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft is set (besides the coin flip between the Ravens and Cowboys to determine picks 16 and 17).

Blake Bortles still at No. 1? Yes. And why not? I will be completely shocked if the Texans don’t draft a quarterback first overall and Bortles has the tools, both physical and mental, that makes him an appealing candidate. Like Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel, Bortles has his warts, but right now I’ll stick with the Central Florida product to be the first name called by Commissioner Roger Goodell on May 8.

1. Houston Texans (2-14) Blake Bortles, QB, UCF: Losing the final 14 games of last season, the Texans deserve this top spot. But despite the forgettable season, Houston isn’t a complete re-build and new head coach Bill O’Brien inherits a roster that only needs a few tweaks. If the Texans keep this pick, it would be a surprise if they went in any other direction but quarterback and while Teddy Bridgewater seems to be the favorite, don’t count out Bortles here.

2. St. Louis Rams (7/9) (from Washington): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: This will be a tough pill to swallow for the Redskins, who earned a top-five pick but traded this selection to the Rams two years ago in the Robert Griffin deal. Expect the Rams to offer up this spot for ransom, similar to two years ago, but if they keep it, GM Les Snead and his staff have the luxury of going best player available, which is the Clowney.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: The Jaguars played themselves out of the first overall pick by winning a few games down the stretch, but imagine their luck if Bridgewater is still on the board when they pick at three. This new regime needs to identify who the quarterback of the future will be to lead Jacksonville out of mediocrity.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: The Cleveland front office situation took a sharp turn with CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi out and Ray Farmer named the new general manager and head decision-maker. What does that mean for the draft? Time will tell, but the quarterback need is still there and Manziel remains an intriguing option.

5. Oakland Raiders: (4-12) Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: The Raiders need upgrades at several positions, most importantly quarterback. But they might be left in a spot where they guy they want isn’t left on the board. If that’s the case, Watkins would be a nice consolation prize.

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: The Falcons have more than a few needs, but one of them is at left tackle where Atlanta needs to find a long-term replacement for Sam Baker. Robinson is a devastating run blocker and while he needs time to develop in pass protection, he has a very high ceiling.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (4-12) Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: With a new regime in Tampa, a quarterback is a real option in the first round for the Buccaneers, but not a priority with Mike Glennon doing enough to keep his starting job for another season. The Bucs also have a need on the other side of the ball at pass rusher and Mack might be the guy Lovie Smith targets.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1) Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: Minnesota is stuck in quarterback mediocrity with Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and newly acquired Josh Freeman. Even with a coaching search underway, quarterback has to be No. 1 on the off-season priority list and Carr has the arm talent that Christian Ponder never showed.

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10) Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: The Bills need to add a big, physical presence in the receiving game, whether at wide receiver or tight end. Ebron is a freak athlete who will instantly help the Bills offense and second-year quarterback EJ Manuel.

10. Detroit Lions (7-9) Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: The Lions expected more out of their secondary this season, but the results haven’t been quite what they expected. Dennard isn’t the fastest and needs to control his aggressive nature downfield, but he works hard to gain positioning and blankets receivers with his physicality.

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9) Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: With 31-year old David Stewart a candidate to be released this offseason, the Titans could be looking at offensive tackle in the draft. Matthews could step in and start at right tackle as a rookie before eventually taking over for Michael Roos on the left side in a year or two.

12. NY Giants (7-9) Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: The Giants need to address their pass rush this off-season, the bread and butter of the teams that won the Super Bowl two of the last six years. Barr is ideally suited to stand up as a 3-4 rusher, but his talent gives the Giants options on where to use him in the front seven.

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9) Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: St. Louis added Jake Long in free agency last offseason, but he suffered a torn ACL last week and Lewan would be an upgrade over Rodger Saffold and Joseph Barksdale on the other side. Lewan has the mean streak and athletic base made for the pros.

14. Chicago Bears (8-8) Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: The Bears need to add depth in the secondary and the interior defensive line in the offseason. When Jernigan is explosive off the ball and uses his combination of athleticism and natural strength, he’s a tough player to block in the middle.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama: Playmaking safeties are in high demand in the NFL right now so don’t expect Clinton-Dix to last long on draft day. The Steelers need to find the long-term replacement for free agent Ryan Clark at free safety and Clinton-Dix fits the bill.

16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: The Ravens have deep threats at receiver with Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown, but could use a larger, more physical talent for Joe Flacco to target. Evans won’t run a blazing 40-yard dash but he’s fast enough with the aggressive nature to win contested throws and be a threat after the catch.

17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: The Cowboys almost have to go defensive line with this pick, addressing either end or tackle. Ealy isn’t a “big name” but he’s a talented pass rusher who has the tools to garner first-round attention.

18. NY Jets (8-8) Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California: Although he’s been a turnover machine, Geno Smith will likely hold onto the starting gig for another year. And the Jets need to add more weapons to the offensive arsenal and Lee will be one of the targets New York will consider.

19. Miami Dolphins (8-8) Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: The Dolphins might be able to get by with their patchwork offensive line for now, but no question an upgrade is needed. Kouandjio is still developing and needs to improve his technique, but the size and athleticism combo is enough to earn him a spot in the top 20.

20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: With Darnell Dockett’s future in Arizona a question mark due to his large contract, it won’t be a surprise to see them address the defensive line here. Hageman is a well-built athlete who might be best suited in a five-technique role, but can do a lot of things up front.

21. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame: Green Bay loses a lot of their beef up front on the defensive side of the ball to free agency this year, but Nix could give the Packers a replacement for BJ Raji if the nose tackle chooses big money over returning to Green Bay.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville: Chip Kelly wants to get faster and tougher on defense and adding an impact safety would help. Pryor is a physical presence who can also cover with his rangy athleticism.

23. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: Besides Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs are lacking for impact targets in the passing game downfield. Beckham is a dynamic athlete who will find ways to get open and create after the catch, giving Kansas City a pair of former LSU tigers for Alex Smith to throw to.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: The Bengals have some talented players on the depth chart at cornerback, but need to continue to build depth there. Gilbert has the size, body control and overall speed to hold up on an island at the NFL level.

25. San Diego Chargers (9-7) Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: The Chargers addressed the offensive line in the first round last April with D.J. Fluker, but San Diego still needs help in the trenches, specifically at left tackle. Martin is the type of player who teams will look to keep at tackle, but he might end up being a much better player inside at guard.

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis) (4-12) C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: If the Browns go quarterback at No. 4 overall, their second first round pick is a wildcard with several need areas on the Cleveland roster. And while linebacker isn’t tops on that list, if a player like Mosley is still available, he makes sense inside next to D’Qwell Jackson.

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5) Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: With the Saints are missing a big-play receiver on the outside who could potentially be a No. 1 threat for Drew Brees. Benjamin needs refinement in several areas, but you can’t coach his size/speed combination that is a mismatch for many NFL defenders.

28. Carolina Panthers (12-4) Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU: The Panthers will likely look to help Cam Newton with this pick, either at receiver or an offensive tackle. Landry isn’t overly explosive or fast, but he has large hands and is reliable catching the football, using his route-running polish and quickness to get open and make plays.

29. New England Patriots (12-4) Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: The Patriots are hopeful that Rob Gronkowski will be healthy by the start of the 2014 regular season, but regardless, New England needs to add another tight end to the mix. Amaro is a versatile pass catcher who would fill the void from Aaron Hernandez.

30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida: San Francisco went secondary in the first round last year and it wouldn’t be a shock if they do so again, addressing the cornerback position. Roberson isn’t talked about much, but if he is healthy, he is arguably the top cornerback prospect in the entire draft.

31. Denver Broncos (13-3) Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: The Broncos have battled numerous injuries to their pass rushers this season and need to continue and develop depth to their front seven. Ford had a stand out week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and has played himself into the first round discussion.

32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3) Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA: The starting offensive guards in Seattle have produced inconsistent results so far this season. Su’a-Filo has experience at tackle and guard, but projects best inside and will be the top guard in this class for several teams.

(Dane Brugler is an analyst for, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with

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