This is our sixth-annual backward mock draft. It's what it sounds like: What would the 2014 NFL Draft look like if the order were reversed? Whom would the Seahawks take with the first pick? My annual Backward NFL Mock Draft is listed below.
Seattle Seahawks: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
We're still not sure whom the Texans will pick at No. 1 - they themselves are still deciding between Jadeveon Clowney and Blake Bortles - but any team that didn't need a quarterback would automatically make Clowney its first-overall selection. Seattle actually has a need for a pass-rusher in the wake of losing Chris Clemons, so this is even more of a no-brainer.
Denver Broncos: Khalil Mack, DE, Buffalo
This was a very tough choice, as not much made sense here. The Broncos are currently set at receiver (Sammy Watkins) and probably wouldn't go with a right tackle at No. 2 (Greg Robinson), so both of those prospects are out. I doubt a quarterback would be in play either, as John Elway has done everything this offseason to win now.
The player who would help him win now would be Khalil Mack. Could you imagine Mack, Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware on the field at the same time? Opposing quarterbacks wouldn't have a chance. Besides, if the Rams can select Mack at No. 2 with Chris Long and Robert Quinn on the roster - Charlie Campbell reported that the Rams are "falling in love" with Khalil Mack - then Denver could definitely pick him.
San Francisco 49ers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
If the 49ers move up, they may target Mike Evans. They certainly have the ammunition to make such a move. Unfortunately, they likely don't have a shot at Sammy Watkins because the Clemon product is almost definitely going in the top five.
Well, that's the beauty of a backward mock. The 49ers would choose Watkins in a heartbeat, giving Colin Kaepernick a lethal quartet of targets.
New England Patriots: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
This was another tough choice, as nothing really made sense. The Patriots have no use for a tackle or a quarterback, so that crosses off a bunch of players. It's too early for Eric Ebron and Justin Gilbert. That leaves Mike Evans.
Evans isn't a bad consolation prize. It's not ideal for the Patriots to add yet another young wideout, but Evans would automatically bolster an underwhelming receiving corps.
Carolina Panthers: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Panthers have to be sick that both Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are off the board, but they can fill a slightly lesser need by selecting a left tackle. Greg Robinson is the best player available and would be able to succeed Jordan Gross, who announced his retirement this offseason.
New Orleans Saints: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Anthony Barr is the top player available who makes sense for the Saints. I actually have New Orleans drafting a rush linebacker in my real 2014 NFL Mock Draft, so I imagine they'd be happy to land a better prospect at that position.
Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
There's a good chance the Browns pass on a quarterback at No. 4 overall because they'll be able to land an elite prospect like Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson or Khalil Mack. Well, all three of those players are off the board in this backward version, so Cleveland would have to settle for a signal-caller after all.
San Diego Chargers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Chargers have a very bleak cornerback situation, so they would love to land the top player at the position in the 2014 NFL Draft. Unfortunately for them, there is zero chance that Justin Gilbert makes it to their selection in the real version.
Cincinnati Bengals: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Bengals won't be able to obtain any of the top tackles at No. 24 overall, but they'd have a great shot at Jake Matthews if the order were reversed. Cincinnati will definitely be interested in a new left tackle in the wake of losing Anthony Collins to Tampa Bay.
Kansas City Chiefs: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Chiefs used a first-round pick on a tackle last April, but remember who's calling the shots. Andy Reid loves to bolster the trenches, and with Branden Albert gone, there's an opening at the right tackle position, as Eric Fisher is shifting over to the blind side.
Philadelphia Eagles: HaHa Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Eagles had to address the safety position twice this offseason. They managed to sign Malcolm Jenkins, but that was pretty much it. They did re-sign Nate Allen, but they could stand to upgrade him. I doubt they'd pass on the top safety in the 2014 class if they had a chance to nab him.
Green Bay Packers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Ted Thompson probably wouldn't be too thrilled about spending his first-round pick on a tight end, but Eric Ebron happens to be the top player available at a position of need. There's no doubt that Ebron would bolster an offense that just lost Jermichael Finley.
Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The Cardinals may spend a first-round pick on a quarterback if one who fits Bruce Arians' system falls to them. Derek Carr definitely applies, and he would be the second quarterback chosen in this format in addition to the real version.
Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OG/OT, Notre Dame
My apologies, but these next three selections will be boring. The Dolphins, Jets and Ravens are drafting in the same area in both versions, so it would make sense that the picks are the same. Zack Martin and Miami are just a great match.
New York Jets: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Once again, a boring choice. But Brandin Cooks appears to be the Jets' receiver of choice, so I'll mock him here.
@jsemmens I've been to the Big Board in the past, but it's still an inefficient way of going about a mock. Not to mention, reports and the people writing them change, no? I come to Walt's site because I used to like his insight on every player. Now, it's simply team needs and a very limited amount of actual analysis. You definitely need SOME amount of explanation behind a pick with regards to team need, but you need much more of the player evaluation angle. Any dummy can write why a particular team "needs" a specific position; it takes a pretty good eye to understand what player needs to fill it. Again, just my 2 cents.
@dawg66 I see where you're coming from. I really do. But I'm sure as a Browns fan you can understand, they have needs EVERYWHERE. You aren't gonna win a super bowl unless you have a QB. Case in point pretty much every super bowl winning quarterback ever. Second, yes you have Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman. Terrelle Pryor is a slot receiver which is gonna get you nowhere unless you play for New England. Corey Coleman has yet to prove a damn thing. Mike Williams, however, just took down Alabama pretty much BY HIMSELF. It's the right range for him and I'm positive Huge Jackson wouldn't pass over him at this point, meaning pre-combine and interviews.
Here's my mock based on team need, prospect value and prevailing opinion as well as some ideas of my own. Please let me know about the team(s) that you follow more closely, and any picks that you agree or disagree with. Please comment, and feel free to rate.