ESPN and Scouts Inc’s Todd McShay has released his updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft, as we prepare for draft season to go into full swing. The top pick in McShay’s latest mock is South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, with three quarterbacks gracing the top five.
Who does McShay have currently slotted for your favorite team and what is his reasoning?
Here are the top five picks from McShay’s updated mock draft (you can view the full first-round on ESPN Insider):
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina
Passing up on a quarterback here, particularly in-state product Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, might be a public relations nightmare, but that would pale in comparison to the nightmares the combination of Clowney and J.J. Watt would create for opposing offenses. Clowney’s production dipped this season and his motor ran hot and cold as the season went on, but he is the most talented player in this class and possesses a rare blend of size, strength and athleticism, and Watt could help him develop his technique and discipline.
The Rams could use a tackle, with Rodger Saffold and Chris Williams scheduled to become unrestricted free agents and Jake Long suffering a torn ACL and MCL toward the end of the 2013 season, and Robinson is the top one on our board (he’s No. 2 overall behind Clowney). Robinson has the size and strength of a road-grading right tackle, but the athleticism, length and agility to develop into a star at left tackle. He was dominant at the point of attack for Auburn this season.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville
This draft feels like the right time for the Jaguars to get their franchise quarterback, and in this scenario they’d have their pick of every QB on the board. Bridgewater continues to be the No. 1 quarterback in our rankings, because while there are some concerns about his long-term durability in the NFL due to his lean frame, he is the most naturally accurate passer in this class with great anticipation, toughness and command of the offense.
4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, quarterback, UCF
The Browns need a quarterback, and Bortles has the physical tools and mental makeup to develop into a good NFL starter. He will not wow scouts with a big-time arm, and, like most young quarterbacks, he can become more consistent with his decision-making. However, Bortles does have enough arm strength to make all the NFL throws, and unlike many college QBs I study on tape, Bortles sees the entire field, stands strong in the pocket and shows the ability to go through NFL-type progressions. He also has the prototypical size, accuracy, pocket presence and mobility to make plays with his legs. One thing to keep in mind: New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan coached a narrow-framed mobile QB in Robert Griffin III in Washington who dealt with injury issues, so he might appreciate having a mobile QB with a bigger, sturdier frame.
5. Oakland Raiders: Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M
The Raiders have 18 unrestricted free agents and finally have some salary cap room to add some key pieces to their team, so we’re likely to see a lot of turnover on this roster this offseason. They also need to find an upgrade at quarterback over Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, which is why Manziel could be a fit here even though we have a late-first-round grade on him. The NFL evaluators who have concerns about Manziel focus on his on- and off-field decision-making and lack of size (not his height, but whether his small frame can hold up over 16-game seasons, given his style of play), but the ones who love him focus on his special improvisational skills, creativity and running ability. I also thought he showed improvement with his velocity, ball placement and patience within the pocket this season.
What are your thoughts on McShay’s top five picks? Sound off in the comments section below.