Deseret News 2014 NFL Mock Draft: Where are the quarterbacks going to go? (33 items)
Soon, the speculating of who's going where and the breakdown of players' strengths, weaknesses and combine numbers will be over when the NFL Draft commences on May 8.
Until then, though, there will be plenty of prognosticating about how the draft will shake out.
In honor of when the NFL traditionally holds its draft, the Deseret News sports staff broke down how it thinks the first round will play out in late April. Here's a look at what the staff had to say then, and it still applies now.
Will BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy come off the board on Day 1? Could former Timpview lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo find himself taken in the first round?
This year, unlike last year with BYU's Ezekiel Ansah and Utah's Star Lotulelei, there are no surefire first-round prospects from Utah, adding intrigue for the Beehive State.
The NFL's eight divisions were divided up with each writer taking a division. We drafted over the course of two days using email. Here's how it went down and why. Did we make the right picks? Let us know in the comments section.
1 of 33. 1. Houston Texans — Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina
However, the thought of having Clowney playing next to J.J. Watt is just too good to pass up. Even though Clowney didn't have a great junior season with the Gamecocks, he still managed 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks while consistently being double-teamed because Clowney is an athletic freak who can really pressure the quarterback.
When you factor in that none of the quarterbacks in the draft are considered a sure thing, you can see why Clowney is the only real choice for the Texans if they decide to keep the pick.
— Jay Yeomans
2 of 33. 2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) — Greg Robinson, offensive tackle, Auburn
The Rams are in a prime spot with the second overall pick, acquired from Washington in the R.G. III trade in 2012. Still, there are questions whether St. Louis will hold on to this pick come draft day. They have needs in the offensive line, safety, linebacker and receiver areas, and the Rams also have the 13th pick in their arsenal. The Rams could trade down for more picks to fill those needs. If they keep the pick, they could go with Jadeveon Clowney (if available), Sammy Watkins or even Khalil Mack, but Robinson is probably the safest route with this pick.
— Carter Williams
3 of 33. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Khalil Mack, outside linebacker, Buffalo
Mack was as dominant a defensive player as the MAC conference has ever seen. As a senior, Mack recorded 100 tackles, including 19 for loss, 10.5 sacks and scored touchdowns on two of his three interceptions. He finished his career at Buffalo as the NCAA's all-time leader in tackles for loss (75) and forced fumbles (16) while totaling 28 sacks and four interceptions. With his speed and knack for finding the football, Mack's skill set should easily translate to the speed of the NFL which will allow him to be an effective pass-rusher for the Jaguars.
— Jay Yeomans
4 of 33. 4. Cleveland Browns — Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Clemson
Watkins is one of the most dynamic talents in this year's draft — the wideout showed his versatility by averaging a whooping 7.13 yards per carry on more than 40 carries his first two years at Clemson — and he is too hard to pass up at the No. 4 spot. He can make plays almost anywhere on the field.
Yes, the Browns need to draft a quarterback somewhere in the top part of the draft. But by teaming Watkins with Josh Gordon — who broke out with a 1,646-yard, nine-touchdown receiving season in 2013 — and tight end Jordan Cameron, the Browns would take giant strides towards forming the best receiving group in the AFC North.
Last season showed just how much potential Watkins has. Despite being the main focus of defenses after fellow Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins headed to the NFL — he's with the Texans now — Watkins caught 101 passes for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns.
— Brandon Judd
5 of 33. 5. Oakland Raiders — Blake Bortles, quarterback, Central Florida
Enter Blake Bortles.
Bortles has the ideal size at 6-foot-5, and in many ways resembles the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger. He’s big, mobile and has great touch on his passes. He’s great at extending the play with his legs while keeping his eyes downfield looking for a receiver to get open.
Yes, the Raiders picked up veteran quarterback Matt Schaub from the Texans, and he’ll likely get the start for the Raiders in 2014. Still, he’s a quarterback headed downhill as his 14 interceptions to just 10 touchdowns last season attest. It would be unwise for Oakland to count on Schaub as a long-term solution.
While the Raiders’ can’t expect Bortles to emulate “Big Ben” right away, he can spend some time as Schaub’s understudy and improve his game. The potential is there for Oakland to build an offense around Bortles. This pick will pay off for years to come.
— Lafe Peavler