The first thing you are probably thinking is “A mock draft already? Really?…”. First, if you’re thinking that then why did you click on the article/link? Second, I know you secretly love it. Finally, I will not be giving you all a weekly mock. I’ll do a post-regular season, post-Super Bowl, post-Combine, one midway through Pro Days, and finally a three round mock the day before the draft. This is more of a preview for those NFL fans that do not follow college football closely and whose teams have been eliminated for the playoffs.
This draft has all the makings at the quarterback position to be reminiscent of the 2011 draft class. The first overall pick then was Cam Newton and this year’s should be another franchise guy in Teddy Bridgewater. The rest of the quarterback class looks promising, but could just as easily flop like the other first rounders in the 2011 class.
This is a very solid offensive line class in this draft. I didn’t add Greg Robinson because he is only a sophomore, but he is eligible to declare. His decision will come following the BCS National Championship game. If Robinson declares he will be my second rated tackle behind Matthew of Texas A&M.
If you haven’t seen my top 50 you can reference it here.
* Draft order is based on the current top 20 picks, plus playoff seedings.
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – New head coach usually means new quarterback. When life hands you an NFL coaching job and the first overall pick you should do what the universe wants and select that franchise quarterback. Just ask Jeff Ireland of the Miami Dolphins about that (Jake Long over Matt Ryan in 2008).
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – I do not expect the Rams to pick here come May. Another team will want to trade up in front of the Jaguars to take Clowney or whoever the second best quarterback in the class becomes. Saying at this point the Rams sit pat, get Bradford a go to receiver. Tavon Austin is great, but someone more reliable would benefit Bradford.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF – Gus Bradley is really going to want to take Clowney here because of his defensive background, and he very well could, but you need a quarterback to keep your job in the NFL. I’m not totally sold on anyone after Bridgewater yet, but Bortles showed up big to beat Bridgewater earlier in the season, and had a very good day against Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – The Browns bite on Manziel and his athleticism, and who can blame them? The same new head coach, new quarterback theory comes into play here for the Browns. Manziel at the very least will make the Browns a little more exciting to watch. He has the best elusiveness for a quarterback that I have ever seen, but his size and potential translation leave much to be desired in the eyes of the prototypical NFL quarterback.
5. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – HOW DOES CLOWNEY MAKE IT TO FIVE??? He doesn’t, but there are no trades in my drafts. Realistically someone will trade up to two overall for Clowney. Clowney statistically had a down year this past season, but he is still a force as seen in the Florida Citrus Bowl. Clowney is a freak in way more than the usual draft freak.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – A franchise quarterback loves nothing more than his team drafting a young stud offensive tackle. Matt Ryan suffered a rough year because the team fell apart around him. A healthy offensive line with and upgrade in ability and youth will put the Falcons back on track
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – In my personal opinion Mack is a sure thing. He is a beast in the run game and is not a complete liability on passing downs. He does a great job rushing the quarterback when he is asked to. Best case he is an All-Pro, worst case he is a serviceable strong side backer who you can also use to rush on obvious passing downs.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State – Carr has a great arm, reads coverages well, and can scoot out of the pocket if he needs to. The problem with Carr is he is very timid when rushed. If he can get over that the Vikings will have a franchise quarterback. New head coach, new quarterback blah blah blah. You know the deal.
9. Buffalo Bills: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri – Ealy is going to shoot up boards during his Combine workout. Pairing him with Mario Williams will make this front seven scary. Ealy is extremely athletic and had great production this season. He needs some work playing the run, but he will get it done.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State – The Lions really need a shutdown guy on the outskirts of their defense, and Dennard has the ability to be just that. Smooth hips and fluid body control allow Dennard to make plays on the football while keeping receivers out of the game.
11. Tennessee Titans: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama – David Stewart may not be returning in 2014 and Michael Roos may have the same fate in 2015. The Titans get a left tackle that ends up playing on the right side for his rookie season. Kouandjio struggled against the speed rush in the Sugar Bowl, but he has the ability to be a franchise tackle on either side.
12. New York Giants: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – Barr shouldn’t fall this far, but there are a lot of 4-3 teams at the top of this order. I don’t believe Barr can play DE in a 4-3 and will be a little out of place at OLB in a 4-3, but this comes down to BPA and that the Giants need linebacker help. Some will claim he can be just like Dion Jordan, but I believe Barr would prosper the most in a 3-4 rush role.
13. St. Louis Rams: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – The Rams like Jake Long so much the draft his younger (hopefully healthier) clone. Having Long and Lewan as bookend tackles would be a dream come true for Bradford. He would now have time to get the ball to Austin and newly drafted Sammy Watkins.
14. Chicago Bears: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – The Bears get a plug and play athletic defensive tackle in Ra’Shede Hageman. They have a couple options here, but Hageman’s athletic ability and tenacity make him the right choice in Chicago. Safety is another option for the Bears, but “Haha” Clinton-Dix I don’t believe is worth it here.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M – Mike Adams was supposed to be the solution at tackle for the Steelers, but that didn’t pan out. Ogbuehi played right tackle in 2013, but he is athletic enough and has the footwork to play wherever the Steelers see fit.
16 or 17. Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee – Michael Oher is good, but not good enough to retain him in free agency. He gets a positive reputation as a mauler from his Hollywood portrayal, but leaves much to be desired. Richardson on the other hand is just plain mean at the point of attack. He played left tackle in 2013, but would be better suited at right tackle. Assuming the Ravens keep Monroe, that is where Richardson will line up.
16 or 17. Dallas Cowboys: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson – No matter what front the Cowboys run next season (4-3 or 3-4) they need more pass rush besides Ware. Beasley may need to work on anchoring the edge in the run game a little, but will be a sure upgrade across for Ware.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – Ebron is very Vernon Davis like. He is a threat from all over the field due to his wide receiver like abilities. He can stretch the seams and be a reliable underneath receiver as well. It will be nice for Geno Smith to have a consistent receiver besides Jeremy Kerley to go to.
19. Miami Dolphins: David Yankey, OG, Stanford – The Dolphins need to improve their offensive line desperately. David Yankey has played everywhere up and down the offensive line at Stanford. He’s nasty at the point of attack and is the best pulling guard in the class. Who knows maybe by drafting a fellow Cardinal in place of Richie Incognito former Dolphins Jonathan Martin may return.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State – Arizona is another team that needs help upfront. Bradley Sowell was one of the worst tackles in the league this year. Erving is a good athlete with a solid anchor that can step in day one an be an improvement over Sowell.
21. San Diego Chargers: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame – Nix is a big boy. The kind of big boy that can occupy multiple blockers and still cause problems up the middle in a 3-4 defense. Cam Thomas didn’t play well this season in the middle, but Nix would open up the Chargers linebackers to do their jobs more effectively.
22. New Orleans Saints: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama – Mosley is the leader of a highly regarded Alabama defense. He can play the weak side or middle linebacker positions. The 3-4 did the Saints defense a world of difference in 2013 and Mosley will fit in perfectly.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech – Alex Smith sometime struggles with intermediate throws, and the tight end position for the Chiefs could be upgraded anyway. Amaro can play in line, in the slot, or even out wide like Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert.
24. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State – Gilbert is a physical corner that can make an impact from day one. Tarell Brown is a free agent after this season and Carlos Rogers didm’t have a great year. Roby’s youth along with his skill will be welcomed in San Francisco.
25. Green Bay Packers: Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame – B.J. Raji has struggled this year and his contract is voidable so he may be on the way out of Green Bay. Tuitt is sneaky athletic for his 303 pound frame, and brings versatility to the table as well. Tuitt over Raji at this point is an easy upgrade.
26. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – Verrett is a little small, but his hips and his ability to play the ball make up for that. The Bengals have been inconsistent at corner due to injury and age, so Verrett comes in to stabilize that problem. At worst he plays as the nickel corner in his rookie season.
27. Philadelphia Eagles: Marqise Lee, WR, USC – Lee is an extremely easy choice here due to BPA and that Jeremy Maclin’s contract is up. Lee is pretty much the same player as Maclin, but a little faster. The could be a fair argument for Mike Evans here as well, but Lee is the better player as of now.
28. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – The smart thing to do here is to get your newly drafted franchise quarterback Johnny Manziel a compliment receiver. What better compliment than his go to guy in college. Mike Evans was Manziel’s favorite target at Texas A&M and will continue to be on the Browns.
29. Carolina Panthers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State – Giving the Panthers a receiver may be the easy way out here, but it is a need for them. Especially one like Allen Robinson that uses his 6’3” frame to out jump defenders. Cam Newton would love to have that as an option.
30. New England Patriots: Ha’Sean “HaHa” Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – The safety position isn’t as highly regarded as it used to be along with this class not being so great at this position. Clinton-Dix is a very good safety, but not good enough to pass up some of the other names preceding him. The Patriots need over the top help and Clinton-Dix can provide that along with solid run support.
31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State – After losing Elvis Dumervil, Wesley Woodyard will be a free agent this year. Shazier is a little undersized, but cost efficiency and ability makes him a great replacement for Woodyard.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State – Sutton is another player that didn’t have the season he expected, but he’s a very good player. He is extremely physical in the run game, and can be a factor in the passing game. The Seahawks could use him over aging Tony McDaniel.
About the Author: Zachary Cintron
Zachary Cintron is a sports blogger who has spent the past two years covering the National Football League (NFL), NCAA football, NCAA lacrosse, and Major League Lacrosse (MLL) for Sports Unbiased and The Sports Complex (Drexel University’s Sport Management Blog). Zach is expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sport management from Drexel in June of 2016. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.