Some may think it is a little early for these kinds of things, but that is the sports media world that we live in! We are 3 weeks out from the men’s basketball team winning the National Championship, and there are already polls for next season. Such is the case with the NFL Draft. This year’s draft just ended this past weekend, and there are already mock drafts for next year. In short, go out and see Teddy Bridgewater play in person this season!
2. Arizona Cardinals — Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: We’re still four months from the college football season, but Bridgewater is the clear top QB prospect for 2014. That’s not to say that the QB crop is weak — several could justify first-round picks (assuming they don’t flop in 2013) and the class could have several players off the board on Day 1 or 2. But there is very little not to like about Bridgewater’s game, and the Cardinals would love to have him.
26. Cincinnati Bengals — DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville: Another potential underclassman, I’m guessing Parker would declare for the draft if he and Bridgewater dominated again. Parker stepped up as Louisville’s top option in 2012 (40 catches, 10 TDs) and brings a tantalizing mix of speed and size to the table.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
If the Jaguars happen to finish with the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, it means Blaine Gabbert was an utter failure. Undrafted free agents Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers are nice stories, but Bridgewater looks like the next great quarterback prospect.
2. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
What Andrew Luck was to quarterbacks in 2012, Clowney is to defensive ends in 2014. He’s a once-a-decade talent and the slam-dunk top-prospect in the next draft. He is not No. 1 here only because of how good Bridewater can be. In the Raiders’ front four, they need a pass rusher anyway.
3. New York Jets: Marquise Lee, WR, Southern California
Whether it’s Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez taking the snaps this year for the Jets, they’ll quickly realize Jeremy Kerley is not a No. 1 wide receiver. Although Lee doesn’t have incredible size, his hands are peerless and he’s a stellar route runner.
4. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Although I’m much higher than most on Cordy Glenn as a left tackle, Lewan would have been a top-ten pick this year. He’s a big, athletic tackle capable of sticking on the left side in the NFL.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
One of the strange moves of the draft this year is the Cardinals not taking an offensive tackle. They’ll soon find this year that relying on Levi Brown, Nate Potter or Bobby Massie at tackle isn’t wise. Some contend that Matthews is a better prospect than former teammate Luke Joeckel.
Here is their top 5. Full list here.
- Oakland Raiders: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Raiders are terrible for many reasons, and it all starts at the quarterback position. They have nothing there. Matt Flynn is not a starting-caliber player because of his physical limitations, while fourth-round rookie Tyler Wilson is nothing more than a career backup for similar reasons.
Teddy Bridgewater definitely doesn’t have those restrictions. He’s capable of being chosen No. 1 overall despite Jadeveon Clowney’s presence, given how important it is to find a franchise quarterback.
- New York Jets: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I slotted a quarterback to the Jets in my 2014 NFL Mock Drafts prior to the 2013 NFL Draft, but they definitely won’t go in that direction now that Geno Smith is on the roster. Instead, they’ll go with the top defensive prospect in an incredibly long time.
Jadeveon Clowney is the obvious pick with quarterback not being a need. The Jets have a nice interior pass rush with Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. Drafting Clowney would give them a nice bookend on the exterior with Quinton Coples. New York would suddenly go from being somewhat mediocre in terms of getting to the quarterback to being one of the best teams in the NFL in that regard.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Anyone who thinks Johnny Manziel is too small to be chosen in the top five is completely mistaken. Manziel currently stands at 6-foot-1, 200. That’s taller than Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Robert Griffin (6-2, 220) is pretty much the same size as Manziel will be following next season. Manziel also boasts a very good arm and great accuracy. There’s no reason why he can’t be a top-five selection if he continues to play as he did in his Heisman campaign.
The Jaguars easily have the worst quarterback situation in the NFL. New general manager David Caldwell said that he believes in building around Blaine Gabbert. This means one of two things: He’s either completely clueless or he’s cunning enough to tank the 2013 season in order to land one of the stud quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft. For Jacksonville’s sake, I hope it’s the latter.
- Tennessee Titans: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
It’s no surprise that Jake Matthews returned to school, given that his father, Hall-of-Famer Bruce Matthews, wanted his son to earn his degree. Plus, it’s not like Jake needed the money.
The Titans are fine at offensive tackle right now, but Michael Roos and David Stewart will be free agents in 2015 and 2014, respectively (the latter has a voidable year after this upcoming season). They’ll need to retool at the position if they don’t re-sign either of the two.
Quarterback will be a big need if the Titans are drafting fourth overall, but someone has to sign Josh Freeman. Perhaps it’ll be the Raiders and Freeman’s former offensive coordinator, Greg Olson, but Tennessee will also be in the mix.
- San Diego Chargers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The Chargers go back to Alabama for another offensive tackle. This time, they nab a prospect capable of protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side.
It’s a shame for Rivers that the Chargers couldn’t obtain a left tackle. Rivers has been in rapid decline partly because of poor protection, so San Diego better hope that he’s not completely ruined by the 2014 NFL Draft.
1. Oakland Raiders, Teddy Bridgewater (QB Louisville)
Bridgewater isn’t the top prospect in the 2014 NFL draft, but he’s close, and he’s a quarterback. That’s more than enough to go No. 1 for a team that needs a long-term answer at quarterback.
Yes, I know that Matt Flynn is on the roster, but Flynn doesn’t have any of the physical tools that Bridgewater has, and unless the Oakland Raiders plan on getting all of the receivers from the 2011 Green Bay Packers and playing each game against the banged up 2011 Detroit Lions, he’s not going to be as great as fans want.
At 6’3″, 220 pounds, Bridgewater has the size and arm strength NFL teams crave. He’s got great intangibles and has shown he can step up and win big games. If he’d been able to come out in the 2013 NFL draft, he’d be a Kansas City Chief today as the top overall pick.
In this scenario, he’s helping the Raiders get themselves back to a Super Bowl.