2014 mock draft: Picks I'd make
McShay projects the first round based on the players he likes at each spot
The mock drafts I've put together over the past five months have been projections of the picks I think each team would make at that particular draft position. For this one, we're mixing things up a bit. The picks you see below are the players I would choose if making the picks for each team, not what I'm necessarily expecting to happen on draft night.
My colleague Mel Kiper started this concept a few years back with his "Grade A draft" and now I'm stuck doing the same -- but it's actually a beneficial exercise because it's no longer about fitting pieces into a puzzle, but instead 32 independent and challenging decisions based purely on my own prospect and NFL roster evaluations. And it also reveals some interesting potential scenarios for the draft's first round.
One important note: There are no trades allowed in this exercise. In the situations in which I'm not crazy about any of the options available to that team, I still have to come up with a pick.
With all of that out of the way, here are my choices for the 32 first-round picks.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I've felt like I've been taking crazy pills lately in having to defend Clowney as the potential No. 1 overall pick. I understand the concerns over his effort, but I feel those have largely been overblown, and you simply don't get many opportunities to draft a player this good; he's the most naturally talented defensive lineman I've ever evaluated. The Texans need a quarterback, but even though I think Blake Bortles should develop into a good NFL starter -- and I think coach Bill O'Brien would be great for Bortles' development -- I can't justify passing on Clowney (or any of the top four elite prospects in this draft, for that matter) to take him.
To read Todd McShay's picks for the entire first round of the 2014 NFL draft, you must be an ESPN Insider.