A closer look at NFL Media analyst Charles Davis' first 2014 mock draft:
If things break the way Davis sees it, the Cleveland Browns would fill two needs with two star players without having to use the fourth overall pick to fill a need at quarterback. Davis has Cleveland snapping up South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney at No. 4, and grabbing Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr with the No. 26 overall pick.
The notion that Carr (or a similarly rated quarterback) will be available at No. 26 is entirely plausible. Clowney slipping to No. 4 might be less likely, so suggest the mock drafts of NFL media analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah. While Clowney would be judged largely on pass-rush production, as all defensive ends are, Browns fans would make a career-long comparison between Carr and Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson. It was the midseason trade of the former first-round pick to the Colts that netted the No. 26 pick from Indianapolis, so like it or not, the two will be forever linked relative to which club ultimately "wins" that trade.
A quality NFL quarterback would certainly qualify.
On the clock for Johnny Football
Among the clubs with high picks in the first round, none have been publicly attached to a prospect quite like the Browns have been linked to Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel. And while Jeremiah and Brooks mocked Manziel straight to Cleveland, Davis doesn't think the Browns will even get the chance. He likes the Jaguars, who are even more starved for some electricity on offense than Cleveland, to make Gus Bradley's bed with Johnny Football.
If Manziel proved to be a playmaker on Sundays in Jacksonville, the Jags would have some much-needed curb appeal.
Davis sees two of the five NFL clubs who allowed the most sacks in the regular season addressing pass protection with a first-round offensive tackle. The worst offenders, the Miami Dolphins (58 sacks) nab Notre Dame's Zack Martin at No. 19, while the Buffalo Bills, who allowed the fifth-highest total of 48 sacks, grab Michigan's Taylor Lewan at No. 9. Meanwhile, Davis has the Jacksonville Jaguars (50 sacks allowed) instead picking the draft's least sackable quarterback in Manziel, while the Browns (49 sacks) and Ravens (48) would address pass protection later in the draft.
So how about the clubs in dire need of a pass rusher? The Bears, Jaguars, Falcons, Texans and Lions defenses ranked at the bottom of the NFL in sacks, each with 33 or fewer. Davis has none of those teams drafting a defensive end, although UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr could certainly bring some pass-rush help to Atlanta, and Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III could push the pocket from the middle in Chicago.
Four positions have established themselves as the premier properties on draft day: Quarterback, left tackle, defensive end and cornerback. Strictly because quality players at those positions are the hardest to find, they tend to dominate the draft, particularly in the early rounds.
Among 32 prospects in Davis' first-round mock, 16 play one of those four spots, including the top four picks and seven of the first 10. Jeremiah and Brooks mocked nearly as many first-rounders from those positions, 14 each.
Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson has arguably been the fastest-rising prospect in the entire draft over the past couple of months, and Brooks and Jeremiah both have the massive third-year sophomore as the first left tackle off the board. Not so fast, Davis says. His mock has three left tackles being taken ahead of Robinson -- Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, Michigan's Lewan and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio -- before the New York Giants grab Robinson at No. 12. ... Davis has only one running back being chosen in the first round, Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, to the Carolina Panthers at No. 28. If Hyde slides to Round Two and no other back is chosen on Day One, that will make two consecutive drafts in which the first round will pass without a running back getting the call. ... Hard to imagine the San Francisco 49ers' defensive front getting much better, but Davis has them grabbing Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan with the No. 30 pick. Jernigan could play inside or defensive end in the 49ers' defense and add a little more mortar to what is already a brick wall against the run. ... Davis' prediction of TCU cornerback Jason Verrett going to the Denver Broncos makes plenty of sense. With veteran Champ Bailey playing just five regular-season games in 2013 at age 35, the club has to think about the future of that position.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.