Too early to talk NFL Draft? Never. The college football season kicks off Thursday, so it also kicks off a season of draft coverage on Behind The Steel Curtain.
Among several features we'll be running this season, we'll have player breakdowns, analysis and commentary throughout the year, so check out our 2014 NFL Draft hub for updates. - nc
1. Oakland Raiders - Jadeveon Clowney DE, South Carolina
2014 team needs: QB/DE/DT/WR/OG/RB
None of the quarterbacks on Oakland's roster project to be quality starters going forward. If they are drafting number one overall in 2014 the conventional wisdom would suggest that the Raiders would be locks to take Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater right? Oakland has shown time and time again that they are anything but conventional when it comes to the draft, even after the passing of mercurial owner Al Davis. Plus Oakland will be a likely destination for 2014 free agent Josh Freeman should the Bucs decide to move on from him. Jadeveon Clowney is a one-in-a-generation Andrew Luck-type of player who would make it hard for any team to pass up if given the chance to draft him, especially a team like Oakland who places a lot of stock in measurables.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Teddy Bridgewater QB, Louisville
2014 team needs: QB/DE/OT/LB/LG/DT/OC
Oakland's loss is Jacksonville's gain. New GM David Caldwell has stated that he plans on building around Blaine Gabbert but it's unlikely he will feel the same way at the conclusion of the 2013 season when they are drafting so high. Blaine Gabbert helped to sink Gene Smiths career in Jacksonville and I doubt that Caldwell will want to go the same route. Teddy Bridgewater is the complete package at QB and would go a long way in turning around this destitute franchise. Gabbert has looked good in the preseason but he'll have to show true strides in the regular season to keep his job.
3. Buffalo Bills - Anthony Barr OLB/DE, UCLA
2014 team needs: OG/TE/WLB/S/RDE
The Bills released Mark Anderson because he was a disappointment but now that means they'll go into the 2013 season with a hole at the RDE position. Anthony Barr is too undersized to be a full time DE but he can play a tweener role similar to Von Miller's in Denver. After starting his career as a fullback head coach Jim Mora switched Barr to OLB and he flourished in his first season getting 13 sacks and 21 tackles for loss. If he can come close to the close numbers again in 2013 there's no reason he can't solidify himself as a top draft pick.
4. New York Jets - Marqise Lee WR, USC
2014 team needs: WR/OLB/S/RT/TE
The 2013 season should be Mark Sanchez's last for the Jets, with 2014 beginning the era of Geno Smith and he'll need some weapons going forward. They lost Dustin Keller to free agency, Santonio Holmes has an injury history and is getting long in the tooth, and Stephen Hill hasn't developed yet. The Jets were going to draft Tavon Austin had he been available in the draft. Another option would be Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
5. Cleveland Browns - Tajh Boyd QB, Clemson
2014 team needs: QB/CB/ILB/TE
The Browns are a team on the rise, unfortunately they are also stuck in a division with the Ravens, Bengals, and Steelers and until they can find a franchise QB they will be stuck in the AFC North cellar. Cleveland tried to trade for Ryan Mallett so the new regime can't be too sold on Brandon Weeden.
6. Arizona Cardinals - Taylor Lewan OT, Michigan
2014 team needs: QB/OT/S
The offensive line has been the Achilles heel of the Arizona offense for some time now. They've taken some measures recently with the additions of Jonathan Cooper and Bob Massie but still need an upgrade over Levi Brown. The battle for the top OT in 2014 should be between Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews but Arizona should be fine taking either. They could also look for a longtime successor to Carson Palmer but given Johnny Manziel's recent indiscretions with autograph signings he may fall in the draft.
7. Tennessee Titans - Jake Matthews OT, Texas A&M
2014 team needs: OT/QB/S/CB/DE
Unless the Titans want to draft Johnny Manziel here they aren't likely to move on from Jake Locker just yet. Tennessee should have a much improved offensive line in 2013 with the additions of Chance Warmack and Andy Levitre but may possibly have issues at tackle with David Stewart being a free agent in 2014 and Michael Roos in 2015. Jake Matthews is the son of former Oilers/Titans great Bruce Matthews and would be a very popular pick with the fan base.
8. Philadelphia Eagles - Loucheiz Purifoy CB, Florida
2014 team needs: CB/NT/OC/S/WR
Philly's biggest issues in 2014 should be at cornerback as they will go into the 2013 season with Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, and Brandon Boykin as the starters. Purifoy has the size, speed, and skill to be an elite cornerback at the next level. Given all of the issues the Eagles have had at wide receiver, namely Riley Cooper's racism and Jeremy Macklin's ACL tear in the final year of his contract, they could definitely be in the market for Sammy Watkins.
9. San Diego Chargers - Cyrus Kouandjio OT, Alabama
2014 team needs: OT/WR/OG/RB/TE/LOLB/SS
The Chargers have two big issues offensively at tackle and at wide receiver. D.J. Fluker was a nice addition but he doesn't have the lateral quickness to protect a QB's blind side and Max Starks is simply a stop-gap at this point in his career. Danario Alexander is just the kind of WR the Chargers love but he tore his ACL in camp and has had serious injury issues throughout his short career. This pick should come down to Cyrus Kouandjio and Sammy Watkins.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE, Washington
2014 team needs: DE/TE/SLB/DT/OT
Tampa Bay really wanted to upgrade their tight end position and were rumored to have been interested in Tyler Eifert had they not traded away their first round pick for Darrelle Revis. Luke Stocker has been a big disappointment and 2014 starting QB Mike Glennon could really use a release valve like ASJ going forward.
11. Detroit Lions- Stephen Tuitt DE, Notre Dame
2014 team needs: OT/RDE/SLB/WR/RB
As usual one of the biggest issues the Lions will face is on the offensive line but as we've seen time and time again they've eschewed those issues in favor continuing to beef up the defensive line. Even though they signed Jason Jones to replace Cliff Avril that will not stop them from taking a top talent like Stephen Tuitt.
12. Kansas City Chiefs - Johnny Manziel QB, Texas A&M
2014 team needs: QB/OG/DE
Alex Smith is not the answer at quarterback and Andy Reid will want to draft "his guy", someone who can run his offense. Manziel will come with some red flags but based on his talent alone may be worth the risk here. If he's available Stephen Tuitt would make a good replacement for free agent to be Tyson Jackson.
13. Dallas Cowboys - Aaron Lynch DE, South Florida
2014 team needs: RT/DE/OG/S/DT
When the next free agency rolls around Jerry Jones will have to try and hammer out a deal with Anthony Spencer yet again, or he could try and sign Jared Allen. If he can't do either he'll have to draft a defensive end because Spencer's backup Tyrone Crawford will be coming back from an Achilles tear.
14. Carolina Panthers - Bradley Roby CB, Ohio State
2014 team needs: CB/S/RT/RG/WR
Carolina needs loads of help in the secondary as well as receiving weapons for Cam Newton so this pick should come down to Sammy Watkins and Bradley Roby. Wide receivers can be found more easily in the later rounds and cheaper in free agency than top tier cornerbacks. They also need to upgrade the offensive line and plan for the future at left tackle beyond Jordan Gross and could take Justin Hurst or Antonio Richardson.
15. St. Louis Rams - Anthony Johnson DT, LSU
2014 team needs: S/OT/RG/DT/#3CB
The Rams have a pretty solid roster up and down except at safety and may take a safety with one of their first two picks. At defensive tackle they signed Kendall Langford to a big 4-year deal last offseason but has thus far been a huge disappointment. With another bad season he'll likely be shown the door, so whey not draft 2012 first round pick Micheal Brockers replacement at LSU to play along side of him in St. Louis and solidify what could be the best young defensive line in the NFL with Chris Long and Robert Quinn.
16. Minnesota Vikings - Trent Murphy DE, Stanford
2014 team needs: QB/OG/SS/DE
If Christian Ponder has another sub-par year will the Vikings pull the plug given the depth at QB in the 2014 draft? Even if they do it'll be unlikely that they would draft competition for Ponder in the first round. Their second biggest issue is Jared Allen's pending free agency. It's likely that he will command top dollar on the market and because the Vikings have Everson Griffen behind him they will not likely resign Allen which will leave their pass rushing depth depleted. Minnesota has an affinity for Notre Dame products so it wouldn't surprise me to see them trade up for Stephen Tuitt or even former ND product Aaron Lynch but here they will have to "settle" for Trent Murphy.
17. Miami Dolphins - Louis Nix DT, Notre Dame
2014 team needs: DT/LT/TE/CB/FS
Based on what's been seen in the preseason so far Jonathan Martin doesn't look like he's going to be able to handle the left tackle duties, although he did fill in for Jake Long in his rookie season and performed admirably so maybe he can turn things around. If not it's back to the right side for him and the Dolphins could take James Hurst who would be a good fit for their blocking scheme. A big issue they will face is that both starting defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Randy Starks will be free agents in 2014. It's unlikely that they will be able to resign both and will need a replacement.
18. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) - Antonio Richardson OT, Tennessee
2014 team needs: S/OT/RG/DT/CB3
With their second first round pick the Rams should be taking either a safety or possibly an offensive tackle. They signed Jake Long from Miami but he's an injury risk while Roger Saffold has been very inconsistent. Antonio Richardson was good enough that the Volunteers moved Dallas Thomas from left tackle to guard even though he was all-SEC the year before to make room for Richardson on the offensive line.
19. Chicago Bears - Marcus Roberson CB, Florida
2014 team needs: CB1/CB2
Chicago is going to have a lot of issues at cornerback in 2014 as both Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings will be free agents. They are both on the wrong side of 30 and the Bears were rumored to have almost taken Desmond Trufant in the first round of the 2013 draft so in 2014 they should draft a CB early.
20. Baltimore Ravens - Sammy Watkins WR, Clemson
2014 team needs: LT/CB/OLB
As usual the Ravens will simply draft the best player available. Sammy Watkins falls because of off-the-field issues but that won't stop Baltimore from taking him to replace traded Anquan Boldin and give Joe Flacco another toy to play with. Of course they'll also give a lot of thought to Kyle Van Noy and C.J. Mosley to potentially replace Terrell Suggs who is a free agent in 2015 or in case Courtney Upshaw doesn't develop. And they could take James Hurst to replace an aging Bryant McKinnie at left tackle.
21. Indianapolis Colts - Aaron Colvin CB, Oklahoma
2014 team needs: CB/WR/NT
Indy's biggest issue will be at the number two cornerback spot opposite of Vontae Davis. With a cornerback rich draft they can sit back and take the best available one in the first round. With an aging Reggie Wayne and one year signing of DHB they would definitely take Sammy Watkins should he fall here.
22. New York Giants - C.J. Mosley LB, Alabama
2014 team needs: LG/LB/CB/S
The Giants love spending early picks on pass-rushers so with Justin Tuck's pending free agency they could take any numbers of options like Jackson Jeffcoat, Kyle Van Noy, Scott Crichton, or Will Sutton. Or perhaps they will finally address their lack of talent at linebacker and invest an early round pick on one. Mosley would be a good fit for their defense and can play any linebacker position.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix S, Alabama
2014 team needs: DE/CB/S/OT
Everyone here on BTSC knows the Steelers weaknesses and needs. The offensive line seems to be the biggest as missed assignments and penalties have marred their performance in the preseason. Part of that could be blamed on the new zone blocking scheme but if it's an issue during the regular season perhaps it may be time for some changes upfront. As we saw in 2012, as Ben Roethlisberger goes so does the Steelers hopes for the post season so the offensive line should be priority number one. In typical fashion Mike Adams has been stellar in drive blocking but absolutely dreadful in pass-blocking. He would be better served at right tackle or in a backup capacity. This draft class is top-heavy but talent rich at the tackle position. If the Steelers were so inclined to take him James Hurst would be an excellent fit for their zone blocking scheme.
The rest of the offense appears fairly set. Yes Heath Miller's injury and age may be of concern but the Steelers will be confident enough in some combination of Matt Spaeth, David Johnson, and David Paulson that they won't think of taking a tight end in the early rounds, not even if Austin Seferian-Jenkins were available. They'll have to deal with Emanuel Sanders pending free agency but even if he isn't retained they can trust Markus Wheaton to step into his starting position and use a mid-round pick on another WR to develop which has worked well for them in the last few years.
This pick will most likely be used somewhere on the defense. There's a lot of uncertainty with age and injury issues as well as free agency issues. At defensive end both stalwart Brett Keisel will be a free agent as well as underachiever Ziggy Hood. "The Beard" will be a 35 year old free agent but he's still playing at a high level and will almost assuredly be resigned to a modest two or three year deal. On the other hand Ziggy Hood has been a frustrating disappointment and much like Rashard Mendenhall he won't be offered a deal at the end of his rookie contract. If the Steelers were to use a first round pick on a replacement defensive end the only one of value would be Notre Dame's Stephen Tuitt.
Elsewhere the Steelers could look at ILB's given Larry Foote's age and 2012 third round pick Sean Spence's knee injury but I think the front office is content with the slew of young UDFA's like Marshall McFadden and Brian Rolle, as well as 2013 sixth round pick Vince Williams that they won't need to draft one here.
The future of the safety position has the potential to be a big issue going forward. Stalwarts Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu will be 34 and 33 years old respectively when the 2014 draft rolls around, and Clark will be a free agent. The Steelers drafted fourth round gem Shamarko Thomas who is already becoming a fan favorite for his hard hits and ability to cover WR's in the slot, and he'll certainly man one safety position, but the other is up for grabs. If Ryan Clark is resigned it'll only be to a probable one-year deal. The front office, and Steelers Nation, likes 2012 UDFA Robert Golden but at this point he is still a project and cannot be counted on as a projected starter going forward.
Ha'Sean "HaHa" Clinton-Dix is the total package and finally got his time to shine after Mark Barron moved on to the NFL. He can cover deep, has good hands with six interceptions in his first year starting, but can also defend the run. Given his experience in Alabama's version of the 3-4 defense he should come into the draft more NFL-ready than most safeties, and regardless of whether or not Clark is resigned "HaHa" won't be pressed into a starting role quickly with Troy and "Shark" (who will have a year in the system) ahead of him.
24. New Orleans Saints - Adrian Hubbard OLB, Alabama
2014 team needs: OLB/S/OT
The 2013 season will be the Saints first in their new 3-4 defense. There's going to be some growing pains especially with Will Smith and Victor Butler both out for the season. They have Martez Wilson, Chase Thomas, and Junior Galette all vying for the OLB spots. If none of them make an impact, and the Saints decide to part ways with an aging Will Smith after the 2013 season, then New Orleans should be looking to take an OLB prospect early in 2014. Hubbard has experience playing in a 3-4 at Alabama and has the versatility to play ILB as well if needed.
25. Cincinnati Bengals - Kyle Van Noy DE/OLB, BYU
2014 team needs: SLB/MLB/RDE/OC
On paper the Bengals have one of the most loaded teams in the league and as the 2013 draft showed they are in a position to simply take the best player available. Michael Johnson is a pending free agent and after signing Carlos Dunlap to an extension and still needing to resign Geno Atkins the Bengals will probably let him walk. Van Noy is undersized but would excel at playing a hybrid LB/DE role similar to Von Miller's in Denver. At OLB James Harrison is just a short-term solution.
26. Atlanta Falcons - Colt Lyerla TE, Oregon
2014 team needs: RT/TE/DT/ILB
The Falcons will live and die by how well Matt Ryan plays as this team is definitely offensive centric. It's been a "will he or won't he" in regards to Tony Gonzalez' pending retirement the last few years. He'll turn 38 years old shortly after the end of the 2013 season and whether or not he comes back, it's time for the Falcons to draft his replacement. They drafted Levine Toilolo but he doesn't have even half of the speed or athleticism that Tony Gonzalez has even now. Colt Lyerla is just scratching the surface of his talents at Oregon and when paired with a QB like Matt Ryan he could be absolutely devastating to opposing defenses.
27. Houston Texans - A.J. Johnson ILB, Tennessee
2014 team needs: ILB/NT/RT/FS
Tennessee's only issue seems to be at inside linebacker. They were rumored to really like Arthur Brown but the Ravens traded in front of them in the second round of the 2013 draft to steal him away. Their only other issue seems to be at right tackle. Derek Newton is slated as the starter and they drafted Brennen Williams but if neither of them works out James Hurst would be a perfect fit for their zone blocking scheme.
28. San Francisco 49ers - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu CB, Oregon
2014 team needs: WR/NT/CB/OC
The 49ers only glaring need is for a WR, they've already traded the underachieving A.J. Jenkins for K.C. underachiever Jonathan Baldwin, but they have a solid enough team to draft the best player available. The only thing holding IEO from going higher is his lack of height. He's generously listed at 5'10" but if he measures shorter than that at the combine he may slip into the second round.
29. Green Bay Packers - James Hurst OT, North Carolina
2014 team needs: ILB/OT/OC/SS
With Bryan Bulaga's ACL tear Green Bay shows why they spend so many picks on offensive linemen, because as the line goes so does Aaron Rodgers and the Packers season. Hopefully Bulaga makes a full recovery but fellow first round pick Derek Sherrod has had plenty of injury issues himself. James Hurst is just the sort of athletic, versatile lineman that Ted Thompson loves and getting him this late in the first round would be a steal.
30. New England Patriots - Deshazor Everett CB, Texas A&M
2014 team needs: TE2/DT/S/CB
If he were available I believe the Patriots would draft Colt Lyerla to replace the disgraced Aaron Hernandez and as insurance for the oft-injured Rob Gronkowski. Bill Belechick loves drafting cornerbacks early and often and with Aqib Talib working on a one-year deal he will probably take one early in 2014. Everett is currently suspended indefinitely from Texas A&M for an offseason arrest and depending on if/when he comes back to the program it will definitely have an affect on his draft stock.
31. Denver Broncos - Ed Reynolds S, Stanford
2014 team needs: RDE/DT/WLB/ILB/SS
Denver will definitely need to replace Elvis "Dumervil after "Faxgate", and they've needed to upgrade at defensive tackle for years now but don't seem interested in upgrading there. Anyone who watched Denver's playoff loss to Baltimore knows that the really need to upgrade the secondary, particularly at safety. Ed Reynolds is a ballhawk that would be a massive upgrade over Mike Adams at strong safety.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Brandon Coleman WR, Rutgers
2014 team needs: RT/WR/TE/LDE
On offense the Seahawks need upgrades at right tackle, tight end, and at wide receiver. They traded for Percy Harvin but he has injury issues and this will probably be Sidney Rice's last season in Seattle. Defensively they may need to replace Michael Bennett if they fail to resign him. Brandon Coleman is a monster wide receiver who would be a mismatch for any cornerback.
33. Oakland Raiders - Lache Seastrunk RB, Baylor
The Raiders will be moving on from injury-prone Darren McFadden in 2014.
34. Jacksonville Jaguars - Brian Stork OC, Florida State
35. Buffalo Bills - Gabe Jackson OG, Mississippi State
The Bills are going to have a huge hole on their offensive line after losing Andy Levitre to free agency.
36. New York Jets - Eric Ebron TE, North Carolina
The Jets will need multiple weapons for Geno Smith going forward.
37. Cleveland Browns - Cyril Richardson OG, Baylor
The Browns are so desperate at OG they traded for John Moffitt.
38. Arizona Cardinals - David Fales QB, San Jose State
Even if Carson Palmer makes them a better team he will still be 35 years old in 2014.
39. Tennessee Titans - Jackson Jeffcoat DE, Texas
The Titans need to improve their pass rush.
40. Philadelphia Eagles - Jeremiah Attaochu DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
41. San Diego Chargers - Ka'Deem Carey RB, Arizona
It's time to call Ryan Mathews a bust and move on.
42. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Scott Crichton DE, Oregon State
43. Detroit Lions - Ryan Shazier OLB, Ohio State
All three linebacker positions could be upgraded, especially SLB because Ashlee Palmer is terrible.
44. Kansas City Chiefs - Ra'shede Hageman DT/DE, Minnesota
This will be Tyson Jackson's last year in K.C.
45. Dallas Cowboys - Timmy Jernigan DT, Florida State
Dallas needs to upgrade their pass rush from the tackle spot.
46. Carolina Panthers - Jordan Matthews WR, Vanderbilt
They simply have to get more weapons for Cam Newton.
47. St. Louis Rams - Christian Jones LB, Florida State
Replacing Jo-Lonn Dunbar at SLB would put the finishing touches on their linebacker corps.
48. Minnesota Vikings - David Yankey OG, Stanford
The Vikings need multiple upgrades along the interior of their offensive line.
49. Miami Dolphins - Cameron Erving OT, Florida State
Even if Jonathan Martin makes it as a left tackle, Tyson Clabo is a short-term solution on the right side.
50. Washington Redskins - Justin Gilbert CB, Oklahoma State
David Amerson is the only CB on the roster guaranteed a spot in 2014.
51. Chicago Bears - Jason Verrett CB, TCU
Cornerback will be a big enough issue for Chicago that they will need to double-dip at the position.
52. Baltimore Ravens - Damian Swann CB, Georgia
53. Indianapolis Colts - Donte Moncrief WR, Ole Miss
Indy needs someone who can step into the #2 role, so they can keep T.Y. Hilton in the slot, and eventually take over for Reggie Wayne.
54. New York Giants - Will Sutton DT/DE, Arizona State
The Giants love to collect pass-rushers. If Sutton were a little bigger, he's listed at 6'1" and 288 pounds, he would be a surefire first round pick. He's an effective and relentless pass rusher but in the NFL he probably won't be anything more than a situational player.
55. Pittsburgh Steelers - Henry Anderson DE, Stanford
Given the pending free agency of Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood it's likely that the Steelers will invest a pick at some point at defensive end. Keisel may be old but he's still playing at a high level and will likely be resigned over Ziggy Hood who was never really suited to play the 5-technique. Pittsburgh will most likely be able to have their pick of either of the Stanford guys, Henry Anderson and Ben Gardner. At this point Gardner is the proven commodity while Anderson has the higher upside but should be able to prove himself with another solid season.
If the Steelers chose to go the defensive end route they should keep an eye out of Minnesota tackle Ra'shede Hageman. He was named CBS's number two physical freak to watch for, rated behind only South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney. Hageman is a converted tight end who uses his big, long frame to beat up on opposing linemen which has him being compared to J.J. Watt.
56. New Orleans Saints - Craig Loston S, LSU
57. Cincinnati Bengals - Travis Swanson OC, Arkansas
The one weak link on the Bengals line is at center.
58. Atlanta Falcons - Dominique Easley DE, Florida
59. Houston Texans - Zach Martin OG/OT, Notre Dame
Martin is a good fit for their zone blocking scheme.
60. San Fransisco 49ers - De'Anthony Thomas RB/WR, Oregon
San Fran takes the best player available. They have so many injury issues at WR. Thomas is an explosive athlete who will have to switch from RB to slot WR in the NFL due to his lack of size.
61. Green Bay Packers - Khalil Mack OLB, Buffalo
If Nick Perry doesn't make some major strides this season G.B. will have to look for other options.
62. New England Patriots - Daniel McCullers DT, Tennessee
New England needs to get younger at DT. McCullers is a monster at 6'8", 360 lbs and would be a great long-term replacement for Vince Wilfork.
63. Denver Broncos - Ben Gardner DE, Stanford
Denver needs to replace Elvis Dumervil.
64. Seattle Seahawks - Morgan Breslin DE, USC
Michael Bennett only signed a one-year deal.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers vs. Panthers game day stream: News and updates
- 2014 NFL Mock Draft
- Steelers Film Room: Redman should start
- 5 Questions with Cat Scratch Reader
- Mike Adams sounds off on Johnny Manziel
- A fan's third preseason game dress rehearsal
- Kent State to retire James Harrison's number
- Steelers on Madden 25
- Steelers vs. Panthers: Last-ditch effort for several Steelers first-year players
- Steelers Film Room: The boom or bust running back
- Matt Spaeth looks to go IR-Designation after making roster
- Steelers vs. Panthers: A tradition like no other
- Ryan Clark sounds off on low hits
- Coach Tomlin says Landry Jones will play majority of Steelers preseason finale vs Panthers
- Steelers 53-man roster projection: Derek Moye over Justin Brown in most recent prediction