As the NFL Draft season approaches, you are beginning to see more and more mock drafts begin to surface as we look towards the 2014 NFL Draft. With the mocks coming out in full force, the top experts from around the draft community are coming out with their latest projections and ESPN’s Todd McShay has just released his first mock draft of the season.
Here is a look at the top three picks in McShay’s first mock draft:
(You can view the entire mock draft here)
1. Houston Texans — Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Analysis: This is a tough call right off the bat. I have Bridgewater ranked as the top quarterback prospect in this class, but just ninth overall. The question for the Texans is going to be this: Do you have a player at another position who grades out considerably higher? (Possibilities include Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews or South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.) Because if not, given their need at QB and the importance of that position, my guess is that they’d talk themselves into taking Bridgewater — or whichever QB ranks highest on their board in May.
Bridgewater has great football intelligence, is mentally and physically tough, and has proved he can beat opponents from inside the pocket; he can read defenses, has a quick release and is very accurate. If he isn’t the top overall pick, it’ll be because of questions about his durability. He’ll also need to hold off UCF quarterback Blake Bortles during the draft process. Bortles isn’t as polished as Bridgewater but does have a higher ceiling.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) — Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Analysis: St. Louis owns this pick as part of the trade that brought Robert Griffin III to Washington during the 2012 draft. If this year’s QB draft class were on the same level as that one, which had two elite prospects in RG III and Andrew Luck, then perhaps the Rams would consider taking a quarterback here. But I think that Sam Bradford can be the guy for them at QB when he’s healthy, which is why they have to place a huge priority on keeping Bradford upright.
Enter Matthews, who has the pedigree, work ethic, durability and skills as both a run- and pass-blocker to be a very good player for St. Louis. He has the versatility to be plugged in at right tackle on day one opposite Jake Long, and to eventually replace Long at left tackle. With a healthy Bradford and improved offensive line, the Rams could be really good next season.
3. Oakland Raiders — Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Analysis: The Raiders need to upgrade at the QB position, and even though he isn’t the most well-known prospect, Bortles has the potential to be a top-10 pick. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if he ends up going ahead of Bridgewater.
Bortles has good size, arm strength and accuracy, and has proved he can win from inside the pocket. He also possesses good character and a strong football IQ. A nice bonus is that he’s built to last in the NFL because he’s big and mobile enough to move around. He isn’t Cam Newton, but more of a cross between Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger.