After a short time away, I'll be starting what will (hopefully) be a bi-weekly, or weekly series of Mock Drafts leading up to the 2014 Draft. I'll be including team needs with each team, but for this draft I'll only include descriptions for the top 16 picks, and as we get closer to the draft I'll add descriptions for the back half of the draft.
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Team Needs: QB, OT, OLB
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Conventional wisdom says that new regimes mean new quarterbacks, and Bill O'Brien will surely want to bring in his own franchise quarterback. Now, many are quick to point to the 2006 draft when the Texans took Mario Williams instead of Reggie Bush, but, this is a completely different situation. The Texans' defense already has many quality pieces in place with super-star defensive end JJ Watt, linebacker Brian Cushing, and cornerback Jonathan Joseph.
It's apparent that Matt Schaub is not a franchise quarterback given his struggles this season and in the postseason when playing any team that isn't the Cincinnati Bengals. Teddy Bridgewater has the makings of a franchise quarterback with a good accuracy and velocity. He needs to put some weight on his 6-3, 200 lb frame but that shouldn't be an issue in an NFL strength program.
Team Needs: OT, WR, S
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Given Les Snead's desire to build around Sam Bradford, it only makes sense that he get a top-tier left tackle to protect Bradford's blindside. This pick makes sense given Jake Long's injury history and the fact that right tackle Roger Saffold is an impending free agent.
Matthews has experience playing both tackle positions and will transition easily to the pros. He has the agility to mirror speed rushers, and the power to anchor against the bull rush and in the run game.
This pick may be up for grabs to whoever the highest bidder is given the presence of Jadeveon Clowney, but to keep things simple I'll leave out trades from this mock.
Team Needs: QB, OT, WR
Surprise! Not many people are mocking Bortles, or any quarterback for that matter, to the Jaguars and I think its crazy. General Manager David Caldwell has said he wants to build around Blaine Gabbert, but, the issue is that Gabbert is scared in the pocket and is a serious project. Without a competent quarterback, it won't matter how good the Jaguars' defense is. The truth is, quarterbacks are the most important players on the field, and no franchise will get better without a solid signal-caller under center.
Bortles looks the part at 6-4 230 lbs, and was very impressive in the Knights' shootout victory over the Baylor Bears in the Fiesta Bowl. He will need to continue to impress scouts at his pro day and at the Combine, but I think the Jaguars get their franchise QB in Bortles.