Finally, the NFL draft is almost here. We have endured countless months of speculation on who will be the top pick. We have heard countless questions over a player’s potential or ceilings. Can Clowney live up to his physical tools? Is Johnny Manziel worth taking with the number one pick? Which Marqise Lee will show up in the NFL? These are just a few of the hotly debated issues. With nearly all workouts and tests done, it is time to reveal my final mock draft (pending any draft-day trades).
- 1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The position the Texans are in most need of is a quarterback, but I just don’t feel any are worth the top pick. Clowney is a ‘freak’ athlete and they will look to add a signal-caller in a later round.
- 2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Rams primarily need someone to keep Sam Bradford from getting hit too many times. Robinson is capable of this and can develop into a steady Pro-Bowl tackle.
- 3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The top wide receiver goes to a team in need of a lot. While Manziel is enticing here, the Jaguars need some playmakers with Justin Blackmon’s off-the-field problems.
- 4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
And one of the most-talked about players goes off the board. Johnny Football is arguably one of the most dynamic players in the last couple of years and will have some decent weapons in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron to throw to.
- 5. Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
I am not entirely sure Mack will fall this low, as he has been projected all the way up to the top pick, but I think Mack can continue to grow and develop as a player. He will be a huge addition to a Raiders’ team that struggles on the defensive side.
- 6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
For a team that already has a franchise quarterback (Matt Ryan) and plenty of elite weapons (Julio Jones), the Falcons need to focus on protecting Ryan.
- 7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The slew of A&M players continue. Another difference-making receiver, Evans can help relieve some of the pressure from Vincent Jackson, especially with Mike Williams gone.
- 8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The Vikings are desperate for a solid quarterback after numerous failed trials with Christian Ponder. Bortles could be the top one in this class, so he is worth the selection here.
- 9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Finding solid line play can be a valuable commodity in the NFL. Lewan is one of the top tackles in this class and will be a great fit to protect E.J. Manuel.
- 10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
I think it’s either going to be Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard here, but I like the athleticism of Gilbert to give him the edge here.
- 11. Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
One of my favorite players in the draft, Barr possesses unique upside that could pay significant dividends in Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense.
- 12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald could easily sneak into the top ten with his talent level as an interior lineman. He can do wonders for the Giants’ defensive front.
- 13. St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Depending on who you talk to, it’s either Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor as the top safety in the draft. Clinton-Dix is an immediate starter and will be a good fit for the Rams’ second pick.
- 14. Chicago Bears – Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
Just as I mentioned above, these two safeties seem to be interchangeable. There can easily be a case to be made for Pryor being the top safety in the class.
- 15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Physicality defines the young Spartan corner. Dennard will be an excellent fit for the Steelers with his impressive ability to play man-coverage.
- 16. Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The big fella from Florida State is surprisingly athletic for his size. He makes sense here for “America’s Team,” although there is a good chance they trade down.
- 17. Baltimore Ravens – Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois
In my eyes, one of the more underrated players, Ward was able to get some TV time the last couple of years with the rise of Northern Illinois. He has a unique ability to make big-time plays and would be a good safety to pair with Matt Elam.
- 18. New York Jets – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
I like what the Jets are doing with the signings of Eric Decker and Mike Vick, but they could still use a deep threat. The explosive Beckham Jr. can fill this void.
- 19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame
There is no doubt the Dolphins are wanting to add some help up front. I like him best at guard rather than tackle though at the NFL level.
- 20. Arizona Cardinals – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Ebron could easily go higher in the draft, but I think the Cardinals get a steal with the dynamic tight-end at pick number 20. He will be a great asset in Bruce Arians’ passing offense.
- 21. Green Bay Packers – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier is a possibility here, but despite some injury issues, Mosley has proven what he can add to a defense. With his versatility, Dom Capers will have no problem finding ways to utilize him.
- 22. Philadelphia Eagles – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Cooks just seems like the perfect fit for a Chip Kelly offense. He can easily evolve into a Desean Jackson-type player.
- 23. Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee, WR, Southern Cal
With the three top safeties off the board, the Chiefs will be forced to look to fill their wide receiver problem. Lee is a great-value pick that can potentially outplay receivers drafted before him.
- 24. Cincinnati Bengals – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
At 5’10”, Verrett will not get drafted as high as some of the top cornerbacks, but he could be the best one in the class. Verrett will be needed in case Dre Kirkpatrick doesn’t pan out.
- 25. San Diego Chargers – Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
He wasn’t as dominant this past season as he had been in 2012, which raises some red flags. However, nose tackle is definitely a problem for San Diego and Nix is likely the best one available.
- 26. Cleveland Browns – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
A lot of this pick depends on who they take with their first pick, but predicting they take Johnny Football, then I like Fuller here. The younger brother of two former-Hokies football players, he will be able to learn under All-Pro corner Joe Haden.
- 27. New Orleans Saints – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
In today’s game, you can never have enough pass rushers. Ford will be an excellent fit in Rob Ryan’s defense.
- 28. Carolina Panthers – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Having made a huge jump last season, the Panthers will look to replace the great tackle Jordan Gross. Moses fits that bill and has good size to succeed at the next level.
- 29. New England Patriots – RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Great physical tools, but seems to have a low motor. I think Bill Belichick will able to get this guy going and help out Vince Wilfork.
- 30. San Francisco 49ers – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Some red flags were definitely raised with his recent off-the-field issue, but talent is not a question. He should be able to fit in with the stout San Francisco defense.
- 31. Denver Broncos – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Back-to-back Buckeyes go with the talented outside linebacker. Shazier possesses great speed for his position and size. The Broncos will be able to find a way to utilize his talents.
- 32. Seattle Seahawks – Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Fixing some patches on the offensive line will be vital for the Super Bowl champs. Su’a-Filo will be a great fit that is capable of holding his own at the next level.
Stay tuned for coverage starting May 8th.