Well that was probably the most disappointing Super Bowl in the past decade. Good news is for all of you that are not Seahawks fans is that everyone is now in offseason mode. The 2014 NFL Draft order is now set (minus coin flips and compensatory picks), and the first big event of the offseason is right around the corner.
Everyone is excited about the NFL Scouting Combine, or “Underwear Olympics,” in Indianapolis from February 22nd to the 25th. Prospect stock can both skyrocket and free fall during the Combine, and we usually see a little of both on a year to year basis. The best part of the Combine is finding players that were not in the mix prior to the Combine.
Before we get all of the numbers on players’ forty times, bench presses and more here is my mock 2.0 which includes performances in the East West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.
1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: I’ve been swinging towards Blake Bortles here because of the “Bill O’Brien likes big quarterbacks” rumor that is going around. Doing some quick research on that rumor, I found that is not necessarily true. I looked at all of his offensive coordinator (01-02 GT, 05-06 Duke and 07-11 NE Patriots), quarterbacks coach (01-02 GT, 05-06 Duke and 07-11 NE Patriots), and head coaching jobs (12-13 Penn State) to see what kind of quarterbacks he worked with. His biggest quarterback at the college level was Zack Asack at Duke (6’4”, 205lbs). So I don’t see what the problem with Bridgewater would be for O’Brien.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: You might not have put money on the first play of the Super Bowl being a safety, but if you can put some on this pick being traded you should. I don’t do trades so I’m going BPA and need here for the Rams. Watkins is the surest #1 receiver since A.J. Green, and he’s pretty good. Unless the Rams go quarterback here they are riding it out with Sam Bradford. A legitimate receiver would do wonders for Bradford.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Jaguars fans might be upset about passing on Clowney here, but Shad Kahn said the Jaguars will be drafting a quarterback, maybe even two. I don’t think Gus Bradley will pass on Johnny Football after seeing Russell Wilson win a Super Bowl. Bradley was in Seattle when Wilson was in 2012 so he’s seen his ability and could use Manziel the same.
4. Cleveland Browns – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF: There are players available here with better value, but Cleveland can not continue on without a quarterback. The most impressive feature about Bortles is his composure. Watch the game-winning drive versus Louisville again if you haven’t in a while. He also has sneaky athleticism. I would put him somewhere between Big Ben and Andrew Luck in terms of his athleticism. The Browns need someone that can stay calm and use his feet when he needs to.
5. Oakland Raiders – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Clowney is a pretty intimidating guy, but he will look even more intimidating in silver and black. I think the Raiders will ride out their quarterback situation with the guys they have and snatch up Clowney before someone else does. If Clowney can string together his production instead of it being so patchy he will be a Hall of Fame player. This is a simple pick.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Besides receiver selections these are the types of picks where your quarterback gets really excited. The Falcons awful season this year wasn’t as much Matt Ryan’s fault as the team breaking around him. With the top offensive tackle selection in 2014 their line will be solidified and the Falcons can get back to work if they stay healthy in 2014.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: Jason Licht will be battling Thomas Dimitroff for the right to trade up to the second overall pick for Clowney, but again no trades here. So they pick the player in my mind that is the closest sure thing in this class. Mack can either be an annual All-Pro or just a really good Pro Bowler due to his versatile skill set. He played either 3-4 outside backer at Buffalo, but his nose for the ball will allow him to do the same in a 4-3 backer setting. Who knows Lovie Smith may add some 3-4 or let Mack rush as a stand up end.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: I don’t like giving Barr to a 4-3 team, but realistically he could solve two problems at once for the Vikings. Barr reminds me of Dion Jordan of the Miami Dolphins, but doesn’t project at a 4-3 end like Jordan has the potential. Both are freaky athletes and were originally offensive players for their colleges, but like Jordan, Barr will have trouble setting the edge in the NFL. Mike Zimmer is a great defensive NFL coach and can use Barr to fill the Vikings linebacker and end needs.
9. Buffalo Bills – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: Glenn has played well for the Bills at left tackle, but sometimes misfires. Greg Robinson could come in and play left or right tackle from day one. He is a nasty blocker with surprising athleticism. For how much E.J. Manuel was hurt this season the Bills need to keep their franchise guy protected.
10. Detroit Lions – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Some Lions fans may prefer Gilbert from Oklahoma State more then Dennard, but either way the Lions need a reliable corner. Every team in the NFC North has good if not great receivers, and in this passing league today you need at least a good secondary. The Lions do not have that. What saves the Lions is their great defensive line.
11. Tennessee Titans – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: Mosley is a day one starter, and next to Gooden and Brown this could be a very good linebacking corps. Mosley can play inside or outside and will be a very consistent tackler for any team.
12. New York Giant s- Ha’Sean “HaHa” Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: The Giants could use some secondary help. Some may see corner as the bigger need, but two really good safeties over the top can help lesser corners. Also the depth at corner is deeper in this draft. Clinton-Dix can support in the run and has the range to cover the field. He won’t be a thumper like former Alabama teammate Mark Barron, but he can make some big hits.
13. St. Louis Rams – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: This draft thus far for the Rams is better than any Christmas morning Sam Bradford has experienced. If Jake Long can stay healthy, he and Kouandjio could be great bookend tackles to protect Bradford.
14. Chicago Bears – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: Hageman had an up and down Senior Bowl, but what is going to keep him as a mid first round pick will be his athletic ability and upside. The Bears first round picks of the past two year have been very athletic as well (Long and McClellen).
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: The Steelers have no big body receivers for Big Ben to throw to. I’m sure Steelers fans wouldn’t mind bringing a big bodied wide out. After the damage Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall did in Chicago last season all NFL teams will covet these bigger receivers.
16 or 17. Baltimore Ravens – Marqise Lee, WR, USC: The Ravens receivers are good, they just aren’t what they were when they won the Super Bowl. Lee would make a great one two punch with Smith along with Jones in the slot. Joe Flacco will also have a more reliable number two than Jones. Lee isn’t really a burner, but he can make some big plays with the ball in his hand.
16 or 17. Dallas Cowboys – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: Ealy is an intriguing prospect. He reminds me of Aldon Smith, but beefier and can set the edge better. He is a hand in the dirt Aldon Smith. DeMarcus Ware can’t do it all by himself, so to fix that Ealy comes in on the other side.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Geno Smith needs someone to throw the ball to or he’ll never progress. Ebron is a vertical threat and pass catcher. He is a lot like Vernon Davis when he first came out of Maryland. If he runs well at the Combine he may even crack the top-15.
19. Miami Dolphins – Zach Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame: The first thing everyone will hear about Zach Martin is his measurables don’t fit those of a starting left tackle at the NFL level. If you watched the Senior Bowl Martin dominated, and he did so all of 2013 against some great rushing talents. Another perk of Martin is he could play anywhere on the offensive line, even center. That’s good news for the Dolphins because they could upgrade on their line everywhere besides center.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: Teams don’t do that well without a good offensive line even if they have a good amount of offensive talent. This is why Miami is picking 19th and the Cardinals are 20th. Lewan and Martin seem interchangeable at 19 and 20 depending on free agency, but regardless the Cardinals need tackles. I considered Derek Carr here because of value, but the Cardinals will probably take a development guy for now.