At first I was going to make this mock as serious as possible seeing as it is my final for this year, but then I realized that trying to predict a serious mock for the NFL draft is like trying to pick the winner of the Day At The Races mini-game in Mario Party. If you have never played Mario Party it is a game where you pick a race contestant and the computer selects the winner at random, but the whole time you’re rooting and cheering for your selected player to win. In other words it is random. That’s how the NFL draft works too. I could avoid trades and pray this is the first time the draft has never seen a first round trade, or have fun with it.
-> Denotes trade prior to the beginning of the draft.
* Denotes 2013 playoff team.
1. Houston Texans (2-14): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – I have worries about Clowney’s work ethic, but he is a once in a lifetime prospect. Pairing him with J.J Watt will be a nightmare for the AFC South and the rest of the league. This is a tough spot for Houston because they are not as bad as their pick number. If they could pick up a stud rookie quarterback they might end up right back in the playoff mix, but that isn’t the case this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Khalil Mack selected here either.
2. St. Louis Rams – from Washington Redskins (3-13): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – The Sam Bradford era in St. Louis looks like it is coming to an end, but they will try and give him one more season to right the Rams ship. Protecting Bradford will be a top priority this season. Robinson is an extremely gifted tackle with a high ceiling. Jake Long has battled injuries his whole career, but getting a player that could send him to right tackle or even just pick up his slack when he goes down is a great idea for the Rams.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – It will be tempting for the Jaguars not to take a flashy quarterback prospect like Manziel here, but Gus Bradley will be pounding the table for a defensive stud like Mack. I believe Mack is the safest prospect in this draft and can play multiple positions in multiple fronts. The only real knock on Mack is the level of competition he faced. In my eyes he silenced that concern this past season with a standout game verses Ohio State.
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – The Browns are in the same situation as the Jaguars, they need a quarterback. I find it hard to believe that the Browns will pass up a chance to have two stud receivers for whoever their quarterback will be in 2014. Watkins has an elite mix of speed and catching ability that makes him the top receiver prospect in this class. Any young quarterback would love to have Watkins and Gordon to throw to.
5. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – Oakland doesn’t need a quarterback because they just traded for Matt Schaub! Really, do you truly believe that Matt Schaub is the future at quarterback? I don’t love what Manziel brings to the table, but I do believe he is a unique talent that in the right offense could successfully pilot a NFL offense. The Raiders would be wise to add some pass catching talent for him.
6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – Atlanta will be thrilled to grab the trench technician out of College Station. Matthews may not have as high of a ceiling as Greg Robinson, but he is more technically sound and ready to go. That’s what the Falcons need to get back to the playoffs. They are also a team that isn’t as bad as their first pick would indicate. Don’t be surprised if the Texans are willing to deal and the Falcons trade up for Clowney.
7. Tampa Bay (4-12) TRADE TO NEW YORK JETS: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Here is the first exciting pick of this mock. It’s is a little unconventional for what the Jets may actually be planning, but boy would it turn that offense around. Evans is a rare mix of size and ability that will bring a unique receiving weapon to whatever team drafts him. Eric Decker is not a legitimate number one receiver.
8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh – I will admit this pick may have been fueled by the recent speculation of this selection, but it makes sense. The Vikings defense has benefited from a strong front four in the past and they will look to keep that alive by bringing in Donald to pair with Floyd.
9. Buffalo Bills (6-10): HaSean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – Will Clinton-Dix become Byrd? Probably not, but he is a much better run supporter than Byrd. Clinton-Dix has the range to be an asset in coverage over the top to assist in a division that features one of the top quarterbacks to play the game.
10. Detroit Lions (7-9): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State – I have caught some flak from mocking corners to the Lions, but I will not back away from that position. The only reason the Lions secondary hasn’t been torched annually is due to their fantastic pressure upfront. Dennard is a hard-nosed corner that won’t be afraid to mix it up with the receivers of the NFC North.
11. Tennessee Titans (7-9): Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – You won’t see this pick too often, but Tennessee will give Jake Locker one more shot. Even if Locker flops and they select a new quarterback this year or next year a pass catching tight end will be extremely beneficial. Ebron will be an improvement over current tight end Delanie Walker.
12. New York Giants (7-9): Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame – Zack Martin’s stock is following that of Lane Johnson’s in 2013. Martin is more versatile than any offensive lineman in this class and that adds value to him. He can play anywhere on the offensive line, but will probably step into the left tackle role if selected by the Giants.
13. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville – Janoris Jenkins is the most reliable member of the Rams secondary at the moment. Pryor would add a physical run stuffing presence and a solid coverage man behind the corners.
14. Chicago Bears (8-8) TRADE TO PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – Chip Kelly hops up to grab the athletic pass rusher he wanted in Dion Jordan last year (and maybe even this off- season). In my eyes Barr is strictly a pass rusher that will need to add strength to help his run stopping ability. He’s at least going to a system that is right for him.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State – Gilbert has a lot of potential as a corner in the NFL, but needs to refine his technique. He can easily start day one for an aging Steelers defense. He would also benefit from experienced secondary players like Polamalu and Ike Taylor.
16. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri – Ealy has been a polarizing prospect throughout the draft process. He was at this point in most mocks early on, but now is falling out of the first round in most mocks. He has the ideal size at 6’5” and 276 pounds, but only has one year of production to back that up. The edge rusher needy Cowboys would love to add an end that can bolster their pass rush while also being competent in the run stopping game as well.
17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – Keeping Flacco on his feet will help lead the Ravens to a winning record. Lewan will keep the rush off of Flacco. Lewan was the most impressive lineman at the Combine this year, and he will fit on either end of the Ravens offensive line. Monroe and Lewan looks like a great tandem in Baltimore.
18. New York Jets (8-8) TRADE TO TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – This is perfect value for Bridgewater. I don’t believe any of this Bridgewater in the second round garbage. Bridgewater was an elite college quarterback and has the ability to become at least a solid NFL starter. Lovie Smith doesn’t seem to like Glennon very much.
19. Miami Dolphins (8-8) TRADE TO CLEVELAND BROWNS: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF – The Browns don’t want to wait until 26 to select their quarterback, especially with Bortles still available. Bortles best feature is his composure. His game winning drive against Louisville in 2013 was a thing of beauty. Cleveland only has to give up 26 and 71 to move up for their potential franchise guy in this situation.
20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State – Arizona fans may groan at this pick because it doesn’t help their playoff push, but you’ll be thankful in two years when they have built a perennial playoff team and Carr steps in ready to go. Carr could have easily pushed for the top quarterback in this class if he had better pocket presence and didn’t share lineage with a failed number one overall pick.
21. Green Bay Packers* (8-7-1): C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama – Mosley has the talent to be a top fifteen pick, but he’s been banged up and the whole stigma of Alabama player’s ceilings drop him to Green Bay. The Packers have been riding the A.J. Hawk train as their main inside backer for too long. Mosley is a three down backer that will improve the Packers defense from day one.
22. Philadelphia Eagles* (10-6) TRADE TO CHICAGO BEARS: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – Chicago really wanted Clinton-Dix, Pryor, or Donald at 14 but that didn’t happen. They trade down and pick up an extra third, and they find themselves in a good area for value. Hageman is the biggest boom or bust pick in this draft, but if he booms watch out. It’s a good spot for Hageman’s value.
23. Kansas City Chiefs* (11-5): Odell Beckham, WR, LSU – I don’t love Beckham like the majority of the analyst do, but the Chiefs needs a speed threat after losing McCluster. Beckham has the ability to stretch a defense which is enough of a reason to take him. He also adds special teams value.
24. Cincinnati Bengals* (11-5): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech – The Bengals corners are old and hurt, so they need to find an upgrade now. Kirkpatrick has been a bust thus far, but could turn it around. Fuller has fantastic off coverage skills and could very easily be selected higher than this pick.
25. San Diego Chargers* (9-7): Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – First, Verrett is personally my favorite corner in this class. He reminds me of Brent Grimes who’s speed and ball skills allows him to play bigger than he is. Second, the Chargers are in desperate need of corners. They can’t leave this draft without taking two corners.
26. Cleveland Browns – from Indianapolis Colts* (11-5) TRADE TO MIAMI DOLPHINS: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA – If the board falls poorly for Miami they would love to trade down into this scenario. The Dolphins would like a tackle, which is available here, but the draft’s best guard in Su’a-Filo is too much to pass up. Su’a-Filo has played both guard and tackle at UCLA so Miami could play him as they see fit.
27. New Orleans Saints* (11-5): Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State – Shazier is probably the most complete linebacker in this class. The only problem is that he isn’t spectacular at any one thing. Rob Ryan and the Saints would love to have a do-it-all linebacker like Shazier. He tackles, he blitzes, and he covers well.
28. Carolina Panthers* (12-4): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State – Somehow after an award winning season at Oregon State, Cooks is continuously left in the dust. Cooks is a speedster that also displays very good hands and route running ability. His best assets are his run after the catch and special teams abilities. Cam Newton will be happy to have at least one receiver.
29. New England Patriots* (12-4): Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame – Wilfork is getting old, so why not draft a young Wilfork in Nix? The Patriots could use some instant upgrades, but the value for Nix here is too good to pass up. It’s hard for teams to go BPA instead of taking a need. Most likely the Patriots will trade out of this pick anyway.
30. San Francisco 49ers* (12-4): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State – The 49ers have made a lot of changes to their secondary this offseason. They are running thin on corner talent and will take a shot on Roby. If they can get Roby on track he could be a star. The 49ers also have a plethora of picks to spend. They are a candidate to trade up, but it will be hard to find someone willing to trade all the way down to thirty.
31. Denver Broncos* (13-3): Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama – Orlando Franklin has been moved inside to guard so this would be the perfect time for the Broncos to upgrade at right tackle. Kouandjio could go as high as nineteen if Miami stays pat, so his value at thirty-one is good for the Broncos. Peyton Manning had trouble against Seattle’s pass rush in the Super Bowl, which leads this to be a good upgrade to protect the Broncos aging star.
32. Seattle Seahawks* (13-3): Marqise Lee, WR, USC – The Seahawks could use a right tackle here, but Lee is too good to pass up. At the beginning of the 2013 college football season analysts were talking about Lee in the same breath as Sammy Watkins, but Lee’s production fell off due to poor offensive play at USC. He’s a steal at thirty-two.
Indianapolis -> Cleveland: Trent Richardson
Washington -> St. Louis: Robert Griffin
Up Next: Round 2 and 3