2014 NFL Mock Draft: Halfway through the misery

Gregory Shamus

We're at the mid-season point and the Steelers needs are definitely clear. While praying for this season to be mercifully over also pray for the prospects to be available to fix what ails us.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Teddy Bridgewater QB, Louisville

2014 team needs: QB/DE/OT/LB/LG/DT/OC

Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne are the answer at quarterback for Jacksonville. They might be tempted to go for Jadeveon Clowney but they simply have to take Teddy Bridgewater or else Gabbert will sink GM David Caldwell's career much like he did for Gene Smith.

The 2014 draft is shaping up to be a good one for quarterback prospects, headlined by Bridgewater, but we may see a flood of red-shirt sophomores like UCLA's Brett Hundley, Oregon's Marcus Mariota, and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel which if they all declare could make this the best QB draft class in a decade.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jadeveon Clowney DE, South Carolina

2014 team needs: DE/TE/SLB/DT/OT

This pick may hinge on whether or not head coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik are around in 2014. If they are both gone a new regime may want to draft their guy at quarterback but Mike Glennon is starting to play better. Tampa Bay must also upgrade their pass rush especially after whiffing with the likes of Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers.

Jadeveon Clowney has taken some flack this season for his poor conditioning plus rumors that have him checking himself out of practices simply because he's a superstar and he can but he is a once-in-a-decade type of talent that is going to make it hard for any team to pass up.

3. Minnesota Vikings - Marcus Mariota QB, Oregon

2014 team needs: QB/OG/SS/DE

QB is the big issue on this offense. They brought in Josh Freeman because they have just about lost faith in Christian Ponder but if they are picking this high in the draft it will almost definitely be a QB taken here. 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. If Clowney were available it might make their decision harder but they should definitely take the best quarterback prospect available.

While at this point UCLA's Brett Hundley is the most polished of the QB prospects behind Teddy Bridgewater it is Marcus Mariota who has the higher ceiling.

4. New York Giants - Jake Matthews OT, Texas A&M

2014 team needs: LG/LB/CB/S/DE/DT

The Giants love spending early picks on pass-rushers so with Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph's pending free agency they could take any numbers of options especially if Clowney were available but if they are drafting this high it would almost certainly have to be an offensive lineman. Or perhaps they will finally address their lack of talent at linebacker and take Anthony Barr.

5. Atlanta Falcons - Anthony Barr OLB/DE, UCLA

2014 team needs: RT/TE/DT/ILB

The Falcons have perhaps the worst linebacking corps in the NFL right now, and their defense as a whole is pretty brutal as well. Getting Sean Weatherspoon back from injury next season will help but someone like Anthony Barr would go a long way to replacing John Abraham. They also have an atrocious offensive line and could take either Jake Matthews if he's available or Taylor Lewan.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers - Taylor Lewan OT, Michigan

2014 team needs: DE/CB/S/OT

There are no long speeches or descriptions needed, simply put the Steelers need offensive tackle help. If they are picking the top 10, and so far all signs point to them doing just that, everyone in Steelers Nation needs to keep their fingers crossed and collectively hope and pray that either Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan are available. And while you're doing all that hoping and praying make sure to start rooting for the Giants, Falcons, and Rams to start winning because those are the teams who are a threat to draft a tackle before the Steelers get the chance.

Dreaming of adding a pass-rusher of the likes of Clowney or even Anthony Barr might be enticing, as is the thought of adding a wide receiver with size like Mike Evans, but none of that means anything if the Steelers can't protect Big Ben or get the running game going because of poor tackle play.

Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan are the cream of the crop when it comes to tackle prospects in 2014. Both of them are complete prospects with virtually no holes in their game and are both on a tier above the likes of Cyrus Kouandjio, Antonio Richardson, and James Hurst. Trading back to collect more picks while hoping to draft one of the latter would be a poor game plan as would be waiting until another round to address the issue.

7. Houston Texans - Mike Evans WR, Texas A&M

2014 team needs: ILB/NT/RT/FS

Given Matt Schaub's struggles the Texans could definitely look for his replacement here, either Tajh Boyd or Brett Hundley, but they also need to start planning for life after Andre Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins is a good playmaker but the Texans need someone like Mike Evans to be that downfield beast that Johnson has been for so many years.

8. St. Louis Rams - Louis Nix DT, Notre Dame

2014 team needs: S/OT/RG/DT/#3CB

St. Louis should be taking the top player available at safety, offensive tackle, or defensive tackle. If Taylor Lewan or Jake Matthews are available it would be an easy pick, otherwise it'll come down to Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix or Louis Nix. The Rams have spent early picks fortifying their defensive line and the only weak link is Kendall Langford. Drafting Nix, who will command constant double-teams in the NFL, will free up Micheal Brockers, Robert Quinn, and Chris Long to do what they do best and rush the passer.

9. Oakland Raiders - Sammy Watkins WR, Clemson

2014 team needs: QB/DE/DT/WR/OG/RB

Terrelle Pryor looks like he's going to be the quarterback of the future in Oakland. If they stay here they should definitely try to add some weapons for Pryor. Watch for Oakland to trade back in 2014 like they did in 2013. They were seriously considering Sharrif Floyd then and will definitely be interested in Louis Nix and Ra'shede Hageman.

10. Buffalo Bills - Khalil Mack DE/OLB, Buffalo

2014 team needs: OG/TE/WLB/S/CB3/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. On offense they could use another receiving weapon, especially at TE. Khalil Mack should be a fan favorite in Buffalo.

11. Baltimore Ravens - Marqise Lee WR, USC

2014 team needs: LT/CB/WR/OLB

As usual the Ravens will simply draft the best player available. Their biggest needs are at wide receiver and in the secondary. They could go with any number of options but as long as one of the top three wide receivers are on the board one of them should be the pick.

12. San Diego Chargers - Vic Beasley DE/OLB, Clemson

2014 team needs: OT/WR/OG/RB/TE/LOLB/SS

The Chargers really need to upgrade their cornerbacks but there aren't any worth picking this high. Another is at OLB here Melvin Ingram will be coming back from an ACL tear and Jarrett Johnson hasn't quite lived up to his contract thus far.

13. Tennessee Titans - C.J. Mosley ILB, Alabama

2014 team needs: OT/QB/ILB/S/CB/DE

Tennessee may possibly have issues at offensive tackle with David Stewart being a free agent in 2014 and Michael Roos in 2015. Another big free agency issue they face is with Alterraun Verner. Provided that they resign those players the Titans should be looking to make an upgrade at ILB.

14. Arizona Cardinals - Brett Hundley QB, UCLA

2014 team needs: QB/OT/OLB/S

The offensive line has been the Achilles heel of the Arizona offense for some time now and the Cards could take Antonio Richardson or Cyrus Kouandjio. On the other side the Cards could definitely use an upgrade at OLB. Arizona need to plan for the future and invest an early pick on a QB to succeed 35 year old Carson Palmer.

15. Cleveland Browns - Johnny Manziel QB, Texas A&M

2014 team needs: QB/RB/CB/WR/ILB

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. The front office doesn't seem sold on Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer was playing like Joe Montana before going down with a torn ACL. Manziel has some maturity problems but would be a good fit for Rod Chudzinki and Norv Turner's offense.

16. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) - Antonio Richardson OT, Tennessee

2014 team needs: S/OT/RG/DT/CB3

At this point the Rams needs to address either safety or offensive tackle. Given how brittle Sam Bradford is they need to protect him. Roger Saffold will be a free agent and Jake Long is a sub-par temp solution.

17. Philadelphia Eagles - Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix S, Alabama

2014 team needs: CB/NT/OC/S/WR

Jeremy Macklin is an injury-plagued free agent so if any of the top three wide receivers were to fall this far they would probably be the pick. Most of Philly's pass-rushers are holdovers from their 4-3 defense and don't really fit in a 3-4. A big issue has been the back end of their defense. Nate Allen has been a bust and needs to be replaced.

18. Carolina Panthers - Loucheiz Purifoy CB, Florida

2014 team needs: CB/S/RT/RG/WR/WLB

Carolina needs loads of help in the secondary as well as receiving weapons for Cam Newton. 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.

19. Miami Dolphins - Cyrus Kouandjio OT, Alabama

2014 team needs: DT/LT/TE/CB/FS

Jonathan Martin is starting to look like he isn't going to cut it in the NFL while Bryant McKinnie is a temp solution and Tyson Clabo was a bust signing. 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. Right now it's a tossup between Cyrus Kouandjio and Ra'shede Hageman but the top priority is to protect Ryan Tannehill.

20. Chicago Bears - Ra'shede Hageman DT, Minnesota

2014 team needs: CB1/CB2/DT

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 could draft a CB early. They also have to deal with Henry Melton who is a pending free agent coming off of an ACL tear.

21. New York Jets - Kyle Van Noy DE/OLB, BYU

2014 team needs: WR/ROLB/S/RT/TE

It's now the Geno Smith era in NY 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. They could pick Lache Seastrunk or Eric Ebron to help Geno Smith but the Jets and Rex Ryan are a defensive-minded team and Kyle Van Noy should be the top player on their draft board and a perfect replacement for Calvin Pace at ROLB.

22. Dallas Cowboys - Timmy Jernigan DT, Florida State

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. They also have a big need at tackle as well after cutting Jay Ratliff.

23. Detroit Lions - Trent Murphy DE/OLB, Stanford

2014 team needs: OT/CB/RDE/SLB/WR

Detroit likes using first round picks on defensive linemen and with a hole at RDE it wouldn't surprise anyone if they take a DE if one of the top players is still on the board. Their offensive line is much improved but they still need a long-term replacement for 35 year old Dominic Raiola. And at some point they'll probably spend a pick on a WR to compliment Megatron.

24. Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Johnson ILB, Tennessee

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. They could take a defensive end with Michael Johnson's pending free agency but they also need upgrades at the strong side and middle linebacking spots.

25. Green Bay Packers - Eric Ebron TE, North Carolina

2014 team needs: TE/ILB/OT/OC/SS

Jermichael Finley is an injury-plagued free agent and it may be time to move on from him. Eric Ebron has moved pass Austin Seferian-Jenkins as the top rated tight end prospect.

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts) - Lache Seastrunk RB, Baylor

2014 team needs: QB/RB/CB/WR/ILB

Why not use the pick Cleveland received in the trade for Trent Richardson on someone to replace him? While I have no idea what the Browns were thinking when they traded arguably their best offensive weapon, other than intentionally tanking the season to draft a new QB, Seastrunk has the potential to be a much better fit for their offense than was Richardson. If they sign Ben Tate in the offseason, whom they are rumored to be looking at, the Browns could look for an upgrade at ILB or a replacement for troubled WR Josh Gordon.

27. New Orleans Saints - Aaron Colvin CB, Oklahoma

2014 team needs: OLB/CB/S/OT

The Saints should continue to build up their new 3-4 defense. They need to improve their pass-rush and need a replacement for bust Patrick Robinson. The highest rated players available for either position at this point are CB's Jason Verrett and Aaron Colvin.

28. Denver Broncos - Cyril Richardson OG, Baylor

2014 team needs: RDE/DT/WLB/ILB/SS

This is clearly Peyton Manning's team and as such Denver should be using the draft to build around him. The one weak link on the offensive line is Zane Beadles and he'll be a free agent. Richardson can play both guard and tackle in case Ryan Clady takes a while to come back from his Lisfranc injury.

29. San Francisco 49ers - Jason Verrett CB, TCU

2014 team needs: WR/NT/CB/OC

San Fran has a very solid all-around team and even in the first round can afford to draft for the future. What they really need is a cornerback to groom behind Carlos Rogers. They also need a center to groom behind Jonathan Goodwin and a defensive end behind Justin Smith.

30. New England Patriots - Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE, Washington

2014 team needs: TE2/DT/S/CB

The Patriots biggest need will be at CB. Aqib Talib will be a free agent expected to command a lot of money. Belechick has been known to use early round picks on DB's before so they could take a number of players from the second tier of CB prospects. But given the headache of Aaron Hernandez and Gronk's injury history the Patriots may be looking for a pass-catching TE early in the draft. ASJ has Gronk-like abilities and could be a potential steal for New England at the end of the first round.

31. Seattle Seahawks - James Hurst OT, North Carolina

2014 team needs: RT/RG/WR/TE/LDE

On offense the Seahawks need upgrades on the right side of the line, 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. The defense is pretty dynamic but the offense is hindered by that right side of the line. James Hurst needs to improve his functional strength but he plays with very good technique and is versatile enough to play either guard or tackle.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Brandon Coleman WR, Rutgers

2014 team needs: QB/OT/DE/WR

K.C. could go in a number of directions with this pick. They will probably lose Brandon Albert in free agency and could spend a consecutive first round pick on an offensive tackle. They could also take a QB to groom for the long-term because Alex Smith is a game manager. Dwayne Bowe has largely been a disappointment since signing his extension so the Chiefs could take Jordan Matthews or Brandon Coleman. Defensively they will need a replacement for pending free agent Tyson Jackson and could take Stephen Tuitt.

Round 2:

33. Jacksonville Jaguars - Marcus Roberson CB, Florida

Jacksonville is so devoid of talent they should simply take the best player available. Their secondary is atrocious.

34. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Cameron Erving OT, Florida State

If Mike Glennon had a better left tackle it might help his development. Donald Penn is a fat slob.

35. Minnesota Vikings - Stephen Tuitt DE, Notre Dame

The Vikings may lose Jared Allen in free agency and the Vikings have an affinity for Notre Dame players.

36. New York Giants - Anthony Johnson DT, LSU

Even if Linval Joseph is resigned the Giants could use some more youth at the position.

37. Atlanta Falcons - Ryan Shazier OLB, Ohio State

Atlanta double-dipped at CB when they needed to in the 2013 draft, now they need to do the same thing at linebacker. Plus Anthony Barr can also line up as a DE if the Falcons want to keep Ryan Shazier at OLB.

38. Pittsburgh Steelers - Odell Beckham Jr. WR, LSU

Given the fact that the Steelers do not have a third round pick, unless you count the likely third round comp pick for Mike Wallace which will still be at the end of the round and untradeable, it seems likely that they would trade back to recoup the third rounder traded in 2013 when they moved up for Shamarko Thomas.

During the Kevin Colbert era in Pittsburgh which began in 2000 the Steelers have spent at least one and in most cases two of their top two picks on offensive linemen and front seven defensive players. There have been a couple of exceptions, most notoriously (or should I say dubiously) of which is in 2008 with Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed.

Having drafted an offensive tackle in the first round it's unlikely they would take another offensive lineman here because they would essentially be drafting for depth purposes, of which the Steelers would still need a lineman versatile enough to play both guard and center.

It's also unlikely that the Steelers would take a DE unless they fail to resign both Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel, although if they do let Hood walk and resign Keisel it would be a short-term deal and the Steelers may want to draft an heir to groom for a year or two. At ILB the Steelers may still be confident that Sean Spence will fully recover from a serious knee injury while late-round rookie Vince Williams has shown some promise this season.

So we may actually see the Steelers deviate from the norm in the early rounds of the 2014 draft. Both Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum have the length that the Steelers prefer in their CB's and would replace Ike Taylor who is still solid but not quite the player he once was. At WR the Steelers will most likely not be able to afford to resign Emanuel Sanders. Odell Beckham has the frame and speed that the Steelers have seemed to prefer recently while Jordan Matthews or Donte Moncrief have the size and physicality that the Steelers Nation has been clamoring for.

With Emanuel Sanders likely to sign elsewhere, probably with New England after all, and Jerricho Cotchery solid but getting older the Steelers would very likely spend this pick on a wide receiver whether they stay here or trade back. As previously stated Odell Beckham fits the mold of the type of wide receiver the Steelers seem to prefer drafting in recent years. He has the speed to stretch the field and is a very good return man as well. He may not be quite Mike Wallace-like fast but would be very effective in the slot blowing the top off of defenses while Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton work the underneath.

39. Houston Texans - Tajh Boyd QB, Clemson

Because of a QB class loaded with quality underclassmen Tajh Boyd slips to the top of the second round. He's a perfect fit for Houston's offense and would have an instant rapport with DeAndre Hopkins.

40. St. Louis Rams - Bradley Roby CB, Ohio State

The Rams could use depth at CB and Jeff Fisher has taken a chance on a troubled CB in the second round before.

41. Oakland Raiders - Bishop Sankey RB, Washington

The Raiders will be moving on from injury-prone Darren McFadden in 2014.

42. Buffalo Bills - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu CB, Oregon

The Bills need an upgrade at nickel CB. If IEO were a little bigger he would be a guaranteed first round pick.

43. Baltimore Ravens - Christian Jones ILB, Florida State

Daryl Smith was only signed to a one-year deal.

44. San Diego Chargers - Deshazor Everett CB, Texas A&M

Aside from improving their pass-rush the Chargers need upgrades at CB and at safety next to Eric Weddle.

45. Tennessee Titans - Corey Robinson OT, South Carolina

If the Titans resign David Stewart they may not have the money to resign Michael Roos or vice versa.

46. Arizona Cardinals - Scott Crichton DE/OLB, Oregon State

Arizona could use an upgrade over Matt Shaughnessy, plus John Abraham is a short-term solution.

47. Cleveland Browns - Gabe Jackson OG, Mississippi State

The Browns are so desperate at OG they traded for John Moffitt.

48. Washington Redskins - Kyle Fuller CB, Virginia Tech

David Amerson is the only CB on the roster guaranteed a spot in 2014.

49. Philadelphia Eagles - De'Anthony Thomas RB/WR, Oregon

Jeremy Macklin is an injury-plagued free agent and no one in this draft class will fit Chip Kelly's offense better than De'Anthony Thomas.

50. Carolina Panthers - Jordan Matthews WR, Vanderbilt

The Panthers must get more weapons for Cam Newton. They should go WR and CB in the first two rounds.

51. Miami Dolphins - Ego Ferguson DT, LSU

Paul Soliai and Randy Starks will be free agents in 2014 so Miami could take Ferguson or the mammoth Daniel McCullers.

52. Chicago Bears - Justin Gilbert CB, Oklahoma State

Cornerback will be a big enough issue for Chicago that they will need to double-dip at the position in the early rounds.

53. New York Jets - Ka'Deem Carey RB, Arizona

The Jets will need multiple weapons for Geno Smith going forward.

54. Dallas Cowboys - Taylor Hart DE, Oregon

If Dallas can't sign Anthony Spencer long-term they'll need depth behind George Selvie.

55. Detroit Lions - Jared Abbrederis WR, Wisconsin

Detroit is always looking for a number two opposite of Megatron.

56. Cincinnati Bengals - Brian Stork OC, Florida State

The one weak link on the Bengals line is at center.

57. Green Bay Packers - Yawin Smallwood ILB, Connecticut

G.B. needs an upgrade at ILB over Desmond Bishop and an aging A.J. Hawk.

58. Indianapolis Colts - Daniel McCullers DT, Tennessee

McCullers is a monster at 6'8", 360 lbs and would be a great long-term solution at NT

59. New Orleans Saints - Morgan Breslin DE/OLB, USC

N.O. continues to build their 3-4 defense.

60. Denver Broncos - Denzel Perryman ILB, Miami

Denver needs to upgrade at WLB and ILB.

61. San Fransisco 49ers - Dominique Easley DE, Florida

San Fran takes the best player available. Just like with Marcus Lattimore, they have the depth to let Easley sit and heal.

62. New England Patriots - Darqueze Dennard CB, Michigan State

Aqib Talib is a free agent expected to sign with Washington.

63. Seattle Seahawks - David Yankey OG, Stanford

Seattle needs upgrade at RG and RT.

64. San Fransisco 49ers (via Kansas City Chiefs) - Dion Bailey S, USC

Donte "Hitner" will be a free agent.

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