The NFL draft is less than a week away, so its time to start gearing up! I’ve updated my first round with the latest rumors, risers, and my general feelings and a second round will be coming soon. Hope you enjoy.
Last update- 5/3/14
- Houston Texans- Jadeveon Clowney- DE/OLB- South Carolina
The Texans have apparently decided that they will take Jadeveon Clowney barring a RGIII like offer from another team desperate to move up. I think that’s a very smart decision. Pairing Clowney with JJ Watt will give offensive coordinators headaches for years, and if Clowney lives up to his tremendous potential, he can have just as big of an impact on the Texans as a franchise QB would.
- Buffalo Bills (via St Louis Rams)- Sammy Watkins- WR- Clemson
The Rams would love to trade down and accumulate more picks, and they may have found a willing partner in the Bills. The Bills apparently love Watkins, and would give EJ Manuel a true number one option. Watkins may not have the elite size for a top receiver, but he’s got elite explosiveness and route running ability to separate at the NFL level. He’s about as safe a pick as they come.
- Jacksonville Jaguars- Khalil Mack- DE/OLB- Buffalo
If Mack is on the board when the Jags pick, I don’t expect them to wait to long to hand in their draft card. Mack is an elite prospect that some have rated higher than Jadeveon Clowney, and would be a great fit in Gus Bradley’s scheme. Upgrading the Jags pass rush has to be priority #1 in the draft.
- Cleveland Browns- Johnny Manziel- QB- Texas A&M
Manziel is one of the most controversial draft prospects of the last few years, and could go as early as #1 or as late as #26. Personally, I think Manziel winds up with the team originally rumored to love him, the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland needs a franchise QB, but more importantly, they need something to energize the fan base. After another offseason filled with coaching and front office changes, the fans need something to get excited about, and Manziel may be the most exciting QB prospect since Mike Vick. He’s also got NFL caliber intangibles, and if he can stay healthy and handle the beating of the NFL, he could eventually lead the Browns back to the playoffs.
- Oakland Raiders- Greg Robinson- OT- Auburn
The Raiders could go in a few different directions with this pick, but ultimately Greg Robinson should win out. The Raiders have a big hole at tackle after losing Jared Veldheer, and with the free agent signings the Raiders have made the pressure is clearly on the team to win now. Robinson also has tremendous upside, and is my #2 overall player in the class.
- Minnesota Vikings (via Atlanta Falcons)- Blake Bortles- QB- Central Florida
The Vikings are big fans of Bortles, and need to trade in front of Tampa Bay to ensure that they land him. They’ve been searching for a franchise QB since Daunte Culpepper, and Bortles my top rated player in the class at the position. Bortles has elite size, an arm capable of making all the throws, and underrated athleticism to make something happen when the pocket collapses.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mike Evans- WR- Texas A&M
After trading Mike Williams, the Bucs have a huge hole at WR that they’ll be looking to fill. Taking a guy like Mike Evans, who has a great combination of size and speed, will give new QB Josh McCown a similar combination to the one he succeed with in Chicago.
- Atlanta Falcons (via Minnesota Vikings)- Jake Matthews- OT- Texas A&M
For the Falcons to get back to the playoffs, Matt Ryan needs more time in the pocket next year. Taking a guy like Matthews, who was once in the conversation for best player in the draft, will pay dividends immediately. He can start from day 1 at right tackle before eventually replacing Sam Baker on the blindside.
- St Louis Rams (via Buffalo Bills)- Taylor Lewan- OT- Michigan
Despite his recent off the field issues, some people are starting to like Taylor Lewan more than Jake Matthews. The reason is because he is down right nasty, something that a lot of coaches like in an offensive lineman. The Rams need an insurance plan incase Jake Long isn’t ready for the start of the season. Either way, his play his deteriorated over the past few years, so an eventual replacement should be found.
10. Detroit Lions- Anthony Barr- DE/OLB- UCLA
Outside of Suh and Fairley, the Lions have struggled to find a pass rusher. Barr is still learning the position, being a converted fullback, but he has a very high ceiling at the NFL level. He’s had double-digit sacks in both years as a starter for the Bruins.
11. Tennessee Titans- Justin Gilbert- CB- Oklahoma State
The Titans lost a top cornerback in the offseason in Alterraun Verner. Justin Gilbert is the top player on the board. The Titans could trade down, but ultimately I think the fit makes too much sense.
12. New York Giants- Aaron Donald- DT- Pittsburgh
With the top 3 offensive lineman off the board, I think the Giants opt to go with combine superstar Aaron Donald. No interior defensive lineman in the class possess his pass rushing ability, and the Giants have to replace the hole left by the Linval Joseph departure. Zack Martin would also be an option here.
13. St Louis Rams- Odell Beckham Jr- WR- LSU
I think Beckham is a special player, and he’s been gaining a lot of draft steam as of late. The 49ers could trade ahead of the Rams and snag him, but if he’s on the board I don’t think St Louis will hesitate to snag him. Outside of Sammy Watkins, I don’t think there’s a more complete receiver in the draft. He’s got 4.3 speed, great hands, and good route running ability.
14. Chicago Bears- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix- Safety- Alabama
Chicago needs help all over their defense, and Clinton-Dix is the best defender on the board. He’ll help the Bears in the run and pass game, similarly to what Kenny Vaccaro did last year for New Orleans.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers- Eric Ebron- TE- North Carolina
The Steelers are a strictly best player available team, and in this case that could be Ebron. Despite the fact that he lacks truly elite size or speed, many think he could be a special player in the NFL. The Steelers can use him split out or in the slot, while Heath Miller would be the more traditional in-line tight end.
16. Dallas Cowboys- CJ Mosley- ILB/OLB- Alabama
The way this draft has played out would leave Dallas disappointed. Still, they can take a guy like Mosley to help sure up their run defense. Outside of Sean Lee, the Cowboys starting linebackers are pretty atrocious.
17. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Pryor- Safety- Louisville
The Ravens need a playmaking free safety to fill the void left by Ed Reed. Pryor fits that mold. He’ll form a good combo with Matt Elam, who’s more of an in the box, hard-hitting safety.
18. New York Jets- Darqueze Dennard- CB- Michigan State
Unfortunately for the Jets, their efforts to sign a top corner in free agency were a failure. Now, instead of taking one of the top offensive playmakers on the board, they have to settle for a potentially lesser prospect in Dennard. Still, he’s a physical, man-to-man style corner that Rex Ryan loves, and will hopefully pair with Milliner to give the Jets their starting corners of the future. The draft is very deep with receivers and the Jets can address that position later.
19. Miami Dolphins- Zack Martin- OT/G- Notre Dame
This may the only pick that hasn’t changed in any of my mock updates. It just makes too much sense. The Dolphins obviously have a huge need along the offensive line after the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito scandal, and Martin is the top lineman available. That fact that he’s a high character guy only adds to the fit.
20. Arizona Cardinals- Derek Carr- QB- Fresno State
The Cardinals are definitely in “win-now” mode, but if a guy like Carr falls to them they should hop all over it. Carson Palmer doesn’t have much left in the tank, and Carr fits Bruce Arian’s vertical passing scheme perfectly. Grooming him for a year before handing him the reins could pay huge dividends in the future.
21. Green Bay Packers- Ryan Shazier- ILB/OLB- Ohio State
The Packers need more speed on their defense to try and deal with read option quarterbacks. In particular Colin Kaepernick has killed them in the playoffs the last 2 years. Shazier has incredible athleticism for the position, and can go sideline-to-sideline better than anyone Green Bay currently has on their roster.
22. Philadelphia Eagles- Brandin Cooks- WR- Oregon State
To replace DeSean Jackson, the Eagles draft a guy who Anthony believes is a “plus version” of DeSean. He blazed a 4.3 at the combine and fits the mold of a Chip Kelly kind of player.
23. Kansas City Chiefs- Xavier Su’a-Filo- Guard- UCLA
The Chiefs have to replace Geoff Schwartz, and Su’a-Filo is the top guard in the class. The Chiefs rely on their running game, and if their offense doesn’t want to take a step back they need to fill the holes on their O-line.
24. Cincinnati Bengals- Bradley Roby- CB- Ohio State
Roby has been a riser over the past few months and would have been a top 15 pick if he was in the draft last year. Adam Jones and Terrence Newman are both aging and will need to be replaced eventually.
25. San Diego Chargers- Jason Verrett- CB- TCU
San Diego’s secondary was atrocious last year, and multiple picks should be spent addressing it in the draft. Verrett had a good combine and is definitely in play for the first round.
26. Cleveland Browns- Marqise Lee- WR- USC
With their franchise QB now in tact, the Browns can add the last piece to their offensive puzzle with Lee. He would be a great compliment to Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, and could make the Browns unit one of the best in the league.
27. New Orleans Saints- Dee Ford- OLB- Auburn
The Saints are slowly improving their defense, but could still use another pass rusher. Dee Ford had a quality season and great offseason, and is a fringe 1st rounder. I think one team will fall in love with his pass rushing ability, similarly to Bruce Irvin, and pull the trigger a littler earlier than he probably deserves to go.
28. Carolina Panthers- Cody Latimer- WR- Indiana
The Panthers need to come away with at least one receiver in the draft, and Latimer is a late riser. He’s got good size and speed, and should help fill the void left by Steve Smith.
29. New England Patriots- Ra’Shede Hageman- DE/DT- Minnesota
Hageman is one of my favorite sleeper prospects in the class, and he’d be an ideal fit as a 3-4 defensive end. He’s got good strength and should be a plus run defender at the next level.
30. San Francisco 49ers- Kony Ealy- DE- Missouri
San Fran is always looking to bolster their depth along the defensive line, and Ealy is one of the best players on the board. He’s more of a fit in the 4-3, but he can succeed in a 3-4 scheme as well.
31. Denver Broncos- Kyle Fuller- CB- Virginia Tech
Denver’s secondary was weak last year, and now Champ Bailey is in New Orleans. They need to address the position and Fuller has good man-to-man skills.
32. Seattle Seahawks- Joel Bitonio- OT/G- Nevada
Seattle has holes at right tackle and guard, and Bitonio may appeal to them because of his versatility.
-Matt LaMarca (follow @jamsportz)