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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 11:40 PM

IT’S OUR JIM SEZ NFL MOCK DRAFT 2014 –

WE FORECAST THE PICK-BY-PICK MOVES IN THURSDAY’S FIRST ROUND

By Jim Hurley

It’s finally here …

The National Football League Draft – normally held during the last week of April but bounced back two weeks because of other commitments at New York City’s Radio Hall – finally takes to the stage on Thursday night at 8 p.m. (ESPN, NFL Network) and gotta admit this has been the juiciest pre-Draft build-up in memory.

After all, there’s four or five quarterbacks that very well could be Round I draftees, plus one of the most freakish athletes in recent memory tops everyone’s prospect board, but will he be the apple of the Houston Texans’ eye with that numero uno pick?

Throw into the mix the rumor mill suggests some of last year’s heavy-hitter squads – that’s Super Bowl champ Seattle, NFC Championship Game loser San Francisco and even AFC playoff club Indianapolis -- all are said to be eyeballing a major leap up the draft boards to “get their man” and so there’s a whole lot on our plate here as we post our Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft 2014 … enjoy:

THE NFL MOCK DRAFT

#1. HOUSTON – JADEVEON CLOWNEY, DE, South Carolina: Gut feeling is the Texans will resist any/all urges to deal away this top pick and make this pass-rushing fiend a neat bookend to DE J.J. Watt. Okay, you can’t ignore the pre-Draft negatives that floated all around Clowney, but he still rates as the best prospect in this draft and this 6-foot-5, 266-pound force should be instant impact guy especially when he’s not being double-teamed.

#2. ST. LOUIS – GREG ROBINSON, OT, Auburn: There’s been some buzz that the Rams might drop down a few picks and still hope to land this behemoth (333 pounds) blocker, but it’s too risky to think this former War Eagle star will be on the board come pick #6 or #7, and so Jeff Fisher’s crew sits tight and gets their man.

#3. JACKSONVILLE -- KHALIL MACK, OLB, Buffalo: If you’ve been watching ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper’s reports, he believes this tackling machine goes somewhere in the top five, and no doubt the need-everything Jaguars believe he’s an excellent fit once Clowney’s been yanked off the board. The fact of the matter is Jacksonville rates Mack higher on its board than any of those highly-touted quarterbacks.

#4. OAKLAND (trade with Cleveland) – JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, Texas A&M: The Raiders will “pay through the nose” with the QB-needy Browns here and make the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner their selection while handing off to Cleveland the fifth pick in this draft plus three or four more premium picks both here and in 2015. Wow, “Johnny Football” in the silver-and-black … maybe he can be the one to revive this rotten franchise!

#5. CLEVELAND (trade with Oakland) – BLAKE BORTLES, QB, UCF: No doubt a few of these big-shot quarterbacks have seen their draft status fall the past few days but the Browns believe this 6-foot-5 slinger has a bigger “up-side” on the pro level than Manziel and so crafted a neat trade that imported those aforementioned extra picks … wait, do the Browns suddenly know what they’re doing these days?

#6. NEW YORK JETS (trade with Atlanta) – SAMMY WATKINS, WR, Clemson: The cynical J-E-T-S fan out there wants to see conservative GM John Idzik take a shot, and so here’s a really splashy move as NYJ deals away its first-round pick (#18) plus two or three more future draft selections for the right to gobble up this draft’s top pass-catcher. Watkins will now team with free-agent pick-up Eric Decker to give the Jets some jazz while the Falcons slide down in Round One after they couldn’t land either Clowney or Mack.

#7. TAMPA BAY – MIKE EVANS, WR, Texas A&M: The Bucs aren’t crushed, but they thought Watkins would fall into their laps here after not going to Jacksonville at #3, and so this former hot-headed Aggies star is their “fallback” pick. The 6-foot-5 receiver has great hands and better-than-you-think speed, but Bucs may have to give ‘em an attitude adjustment check first.

#8. MINNESOTA – ANTHONY BARR, OLB, UCLA: Most draft boards don’t have this former Bruins star going till the mid-portion of Round I but the Vikings need a whole lot on “D” and pro scouts project this 6-foot-5, 255-pounder to be a dominant player within two-to-three years. Solid pick even if it feels like a bit of a “reach”.

#9. BUFFALO – C.J. MOSLEY, ILB, Alabama: Gotta admit we’re going against the flow here as every mock draft we’ve seen has the Bills snagging either a tight end or an offensive lineman but once this fundamentally sound tackler dropped past Minny, the Bills wisely pounce on him.

#10. DETROIT – RYAN SHAZIER, OLB, Ohio State: The run on linebackers continues here as the Lions decide against a cornerback or O-lineman and make this former Big 10 star with explosive closing speed their pick even though most draft boards have ‘em going in the 18-to-22 pick range.

#11. SEATTLE (trade with Tennessee) – JAKE MATTHEWS, OT, Texas A&M: Call it a case of the rich getting richer here as Super Bowl champs swing deal here and land the best available offensive lineman as the 6-foot-6, 309-pounder was Manziel’s personal protector the past two years in College Station and his long arms now will look to keep San Fran pass rushers off QB Russell Wilson for years to come. Very smart move.

#12. NEW YORK GIANTS – TAYLOR LEWAN, OT, Michigan: That boom sound you just heard was Giants’ GM Jerry Reese falling out of his office chair after the Seahawks “stole” his guy. Okay, so Lewan generally is ranked as a top 10 prospect in this draft but Reese had heart set on Matthews and was confident Tennessee wouldn’t take ‘em … oh, well.

#13. ST. LOUIS – HASEAN CLINTON-DIX, FS, Alabama: Better known as "Ha-Ha", this former Crimson Tide star gets the nod here over fellow FS Calvin Pryor (Louisville) and some other offensive needs. Clinton-Dix has great ball skills and won’t be beaten in those “jump balls” thrown down in the red zone.

#14. CHICAGO – AARON DONALD, DT, Pittsburgh: Count us among the folks that believe his height issues (he’s a squatty 6-feert-1, 285 pounds) could be a problem at this next level but all reports say he’s the best interior D-lineman on the board and Bears have a glaring need to fix up the defensive front even after having added DE Jared Allen to the lineup.

#15. PITTSBURGH – JUSTIN GILBERT, CB, Oklahoma State: The Steelers will really wrestle with this decision because there are other needs and they could use a dynamic pass-catching wide receiver but the fact that Mike Tomlin’s club has Gilbert rated as a top 10 prospect slams the lid on this pick.

#16. DALLAS – DARQUEZE DENNARD, CB, Michigan State: The ‘Boys are bummed that all the top LBs are off the board as they had their hearts set on either Barr or Shazier and so the plan of attack now is to shore up the back line of the defense. Dennard is the Jim Thorpe Award winner who blankets foes at every turn and we rate it rock-solid pick for this NFC East squad.

#17. BALTIMORE – KYLE FULLER, CB, Virginia Tech: Live it to brainy GM Ozzie Newsome to snag a top 10 talent way down here in the middle of Round I. Note that Fuller is a Baltimore native who plays with a real toughness (he needs to add a few lbs to his 190 pound-frame) and he could be a perfect fit in defending enemy slot receivers.

#18. ATLANTA (trade with New York Jets) – ERIC EBRON, TE, North Carolina: The Falcons had a few guys on their “wish list” after trading out from the sixth overall pick and they’re ecstatic that this top 10 talent was still on the board as the post-Tony Gonzalez Era begins in Hot-lanta.

#19. MIAMI – ZACK MARTIN, G, Notre Dame: Hate to be part of the crowd as most mock drafts have this top-notch blocker (who’s 6-foot-4, 310 pounds) heading to South Beach with this pick but it makes plenty of sense after the destruction of last year’s offensive line caused by the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin fiasco.

#20. ARIZONA – XAVIER SU’A-FILO, G, UCLA: Are y’all on board with these per-draft rumors that the Cardinals are gonna grab QB Derek Carr (Fresno State) with this pick? Neither are we! The fact is Redbirds believe QB Carson Palmer will be there for another four or five years, and so giving him some up-in-the-trenches help is critical here and this 6-foot-4, 308-pounder is a real physical presence who was being eyeballed by San Fran and New England later in Round I.

#21. GREEN BAY – CYRUS KOUANDJIO, OT, Alabama: The Packers often think “outside the box” come these mid-to-late first-round picks and some folks may feel that Green Bay’s reaching here but it’s the reach of 6-foot-7 Kouandjio that has Pack brain trust intrigued and better believe QB Aaron Rodgers is on board with this selection.

#22. PHILADELPHIA – ODELL BECKHAM, JR., WR, LSU: TChip Kellyhere’s rampant reports that the Eagles are looking to trade up in Round I to latch onto a high-quality receiver but no need to make a deal as ’s club gets its guy here and so the DeSean Jackson Era officially has been put in the rear-view mirror.

#23. KANSAS CITY – DEREK CARR, QB, Fresno State: Must believe there’s some truth to the fact that Alex Smith may not be part of KayCee’s plans beyond 2014 and so Andy Reid and Company draw a deep breath and land this ultra-accurate passer and eschew a shot at grabbing Louisville slinger Teddy Bridgewater … hmmm.

#24. CINCINNATI – JASON VERRETT, CB, TCU: All signs point to the Bengals grabbing a corner here and they’ll pass over in-state star Bradley Roby of Ohio State to make this aggressive ball-hawk their guy. Verrett is just 5-foot-10 but his leaping skills are key here and Marvin Lewis’ crew needs a third-down stopper to get over the hump.

#25. SAN DIEGO – LOUIS NIX, DT, Notre Dame: One year after the Bolts made LB Manti Te’o of Fighting Irish fame their second-round draft pick, they go back to South Bend for this 333-pound run stopper. Only problem is some in-the-know folks believe Nix needs to be motivated, but maybe Te’o proves to be a good influence on ‘em.

#26. CLEVELAND – BRADLEY ROBY, CB, Ohio State: So, this former Buckeyes star will stay in the great state of Ohio as Bengals pass ‘em by but the Browns don’t. Roby has world-class speed and plays with an edge and he makes this one of the best secondaries in the league.

#27. NEW ORLEANS – DEE FORD, DE, Auburn: There’s a long list of needs for the Saints who here opt for an undersized (6-feet-2) pass rusher over a defensive back. Note Ford collected 8 ½ quarterback sacks last year and will be more effective on the field turf surface in N’Orleans. Just sayin’!

#28. CAROLINA – MORGAN MOSES, OT, Virginia: In case you lost track this is the fifth offensive tackle we have going in Round I of this NFL Draft but someone’s gotta block for QB Cam Newton following the retirement of popular OT Jordan Gross.

#29. SAN FRANCISCO (trade with New England) – BRANDIN COOKS, WR, Oregon State: Note that the Patriots didn’t love anyone on the board here and so make deal with Niners who now will have back-to-back picks here in Round One. The smallish Cooks (he’s no 5-foot-10, folks) was last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner after compiling some 1,670 receiving yards.

#30. SAN FRANCISCO – DEMARCUS LAWRENCE, DE, Boise State: Who knows what is Aldon Smith’s future in San Fran (or as an NFL player at all, at this point) and so Niners take no chances and gobble up this 6-foot-3, 255-pounder who has a big up-side.

#31. DENVER – JAWUAN JAMES, OT, TENNESSEE: Mark this down as the sixth offensive tackle nabbed in Round I as last year’s O-line breakdowns were masked till that dreadful Super Bowl loss, and QB Peyton Manning long ago gave his blessing to grabbing a quality blocker and this 6-foot-6, 312-pounder did start 37 games for the Vols at right tackle.

#32. TENNESSEE (trade with Seattle) – TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, QB, Louisville: What do you know … there will be four quarterbacks drafted in the first round come Thursday night as Titans trade down with the Seahawks and keep fingers crossed for two-plus hours before making this former Redbird slinger their “QB of the future”. Bridgewater’s stock has plummeted in recent days but this is good place for ‘em and we see him as Tennessee’s starter come 2015.

And now hear this …

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been bashing the books right from the start of this year’s NBA Playoffs and nothing’s gonna change here as we’ve entered Round II.

We’ll continue to rock-n-roll our way through the NBA post-season – and so just go online right here at www.vegassportsmasters.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 each/every day and be sure that we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.

Plus, there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring.

Note: Catch our NBA Playoff Previews/Recaps in the next edition of Jim Sez plus all the latest on the NFL Draft.

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