There have been many questions buzzing around regarding this years NFL Draft. Who is the top quarterback? Who will go number one? Who will rise? Who will fall? Will the Raiders draft a player people have heard of? I will answer all of these questions for you in my first mock draft of the year.
1:Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Yes, I am well aware of the needs at quarterback for the Texans, but I don’t think you can pass on the best player in this draft. Clowney has the potential to be one of the best pass rushers of the decade, and when you throw in the fact he would be paired up with JJ Watt, former sack leader and defensive player of the year, it would be an absolute nightmare for opposing offensive lines. With this draft loaded with great quarterbacks the Texans can still grab a good one with the first pick in the 2nd round. If the Texans were to look at quarterback with this pick Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, or Teddy Bridgewater would be the pick; all three would be able to come in and start right away.
2: St. Louis Rams (from Wash.): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
There has been a lot of talk about a team like Detroit or Atlanta trying to move up to this spot to grab either Watkins or Clowney if he were to fall to this spot. Despite this the best interest for the Rams would be to draft Watkins here. After the Rams were able to retain OT, Roger Saffold, the need for offensive linemen was diminished, which eliminates Greg Robinson from this pick. Watkins would be added to an arsenal of a very young receiving core, consisting of Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Stedman Bailey, and Austin Pettis. The Rams also desperately need a safety but this need would be better satisfied at pick 13.
3: Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Let’s face it, the Jaguars need a player at literally every position. I was honestly shocked they won a game last year, based on their roster that consisted of many players that would not be high up on any other NFL roster. I really don’t think they can pass on the top quarterback in the draft at this spot. Khalil Mack is a tempting offer for a team that ranked in the bottom 5 in opponents points per game, opponents rushing yards per game, and total yardage allowed. This is also a team that ranked 31st in total yardage offensively and dead last in points. Bortles would definently help on the offensive side of the ball, especially the best position on this roster is at the WR position. Cecil Shorts III, Justin Blackmon, and Ace Sanders are by far not the best receiving core in the league, but also by far not the worst. The Jags could also go pick Mack here and then are high enough in the 2nd round to grab a quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr.
4: Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Fun Fact: Since 2000 the Browns have started 20, yes 20, different players at quarterback, with only one starting an entire season. Manziel is the player that is going to change that stat. Manziel was the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy, and despite not winning the award last season we still saw a rise in Manziel’s performance. He has been criticized for his size, demeanor, and decision making, but those are things that obviously did not impact his play at A&M all that much, although it may have seemed that way with all of the media attacking him everywhere he went. He would be coming into Cleveland with the league leader in receiving yardage, Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron leading the charge for his main targets. He has a good offensive line with Alex Mack, who was just recently resigned, and Joe Thomas. I like the pick of Manziel here but if somehow it doesn’t work out like the past 15 years, Browns fans can still have hope for the return of Brian Hoyer.
5: Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Based on history the Raiders will probably end up drafting someone supposed to go in the 2nd or 3rd round but I am looking at what they should do with this pick. Robinson is the best offensive lineman in the draft and that is really what the Raiders need most despite the struggles at quarterback. Robinson was the heart and sole of an Auburn offensive line that allowed Tre Mason to be a Heisman contender. The Raiders were terrible last year with allowing other teams to get to their quarterback and then failed to resign their best OL in Jared Veldheer. With the additions of Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, the Raiders don’t have an immediate need for an OLB or DE, or at least should not grab one this early in the draft.
6: Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Mack is the best player left on the board here, and OLB is the biggest need for the Falcons. If Mack is available at this pick then I don’t see how Atlanta could pick anyone else. The only other possibility I could think of would be for the Falcons to trade up to the number 2 spot to grab Clowney if he were to make it past the Texans. Either way it is a win for Atlanta. If both players are off the board at this pick and Atlanta failed to move up then Jake Matthews would be a nice addition to a terrible offensive line, who allowed 9 sacks in the final game of the season to the Carolina Panthers.
7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
This offseason the Bucs lost their number 2 and 3 receivers, creating a huge gap in the depth chart after Vincent Jackson, who happens to be on the wrong side of 30. Evans is a mismatch problem for any corner, standing at 6’5 Evans has the ability to go up high for jump balls which makes him a huge redzone threat. This would give newly signed QB, Josh McCown, a very talented duo of receivers and could help Tampa Bay’s offense immensely. After the signing of Michael Johnson this offseason, the Bucs don’t have to worry too much anymore about finding a pass rusher early.
8: Minnesota Vikings: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
This is my big shocker of the mock draft. It would be ideal if Minnesota could move down in the draft to make this move or grab Mettenberger with their 2nd round pick, but if he is their guy then they can’t risk him slipping from their grasp. Mettenberger fits extremely well in Norv Turner’s offense, he has a strong arm and good down field accuracy which makes him a better candidate for this particular team than Bridgewater or some of the other more publicized quarterbacks in the draft. I think that Derek Carr also fits the criteria that Turner is looking for at quarterback but Teddy Bridgewater also isn’t out of the question considering his elite skill set at the quarterback position.
9: Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Matthews would be the best player on the board at this spot and the Bills would have to be crazy not to get him here. This is a steal for the Bills who desperately need to be able to keep EJ Manuel healthy this season, especially after having to start a quarterback off of their practice squad this past season. If Matthews is off the board at this pick then I think that the Bills would go with Taylor Lewan or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, especially after the loss of Jarius Byrd. Despite the loss of Byrd I think Buffalo’s top priority should be to beef up their offensive line, they will have opportunities later to grab a safety in the 2nd or 3rd round. If they happened to look somewhere else Eric Ebron would also be a good fit. This is a hard pick because the Bills have many good players to choose from to fill their many needs.
10: Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Aaron Rodgers, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery are all pro bowl players and they all happen to be lucky enough to play one of the worst secondary’s in football twice. Being in the same conference as two of the leagues most pass heavy teams, Detroit needs to beef up their pass defense to stand a chance at winning the conference this year. Gilbert is one of if not the best corner in the draft and would be a boost for the Lion’s mediocre secondary. There have been talks about Detroit moving up to the Rams’ spot at number 2 to get Sammy Watkins. I am opposed to this idea for 2 reasons 1) I think that they would have to give up too much and 2) the need for corner is much greater than the need for receiver, especially after the addition of Golden Tate. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Darqueze Dennard would also work in this spot.
11: Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Titans need help at almost every position along the front seven, and Anthony Barr could be the start to end their woes. Barr started out as a halfback at UCLA before switching to OLB his junior season. He is a physical specimen, with extraordinary speed, a massive frame, and a great motor, he is a great fit for a team in need of a LB. There has been talk about looking to replace Jake Locker in the draft and Teddy Bridgewater is still available here but the Titans don’t seem to show tons of interest. They could always draft a guy like Tom Savage or Aaron Murray late in the draft.
12: New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Last season was an absolute nightmare for Eli Manning. He was under pressure every single down and also didn’t have a run game to help compensate it. This was a large part of why Big Blue was feeling a little blue last year. Lewan is a player that can come in and start immediately. The 6’7”, 307lb lineman is a nightmare for opposing defensive ends. He is tremendous in the run block game, which will help newly added Rashad Jennings get going in his new home. The Giants desperately need to bring back the run to New York… because we all know the Jets aren’t going to.
13: St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
With the Rams 2nd pick in the first round I now have them addressing their needs in the secondary. They kept getting beat deep play after play last season and this was a large part because of their weakness at safety. Clinton-Dix is a very good all-around safety; he has great play recognition skills and also help out with stopping the run. Clinton-Dix was a large part of one of the best defenses in the NCAA last year at Alabama, with 78 tackles and 3 interceptions. If they pass at Watkins at 2 then Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, or Marqise Lee are all very good options.
14: Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburg
Donald has risen more than any other prospect since the end of the college season, similar to Ezekial Ansah last year. After the loss of Julius Peppers the Bears attempted to cope by signing Jared Allen, Lamaar Houston, and Willie Young, but still need big help inside after the loss of Henry Melton. Donald recorded 10 sacks last year at Pittsburg and is a tremendous athlete. He has a knack for getting after the quarterback and could even be taken earlier than this pick. The Bears sure would like to see him here at 14 but if he isn’t available then Timmy Jernigan would be another good option for them.
15: Pittsburg Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
While both receiver and corner are needed in Pittsburg I feel like the Steelers get a better value here from the CB position. Dennard helped the Spartans last year become the top defensive team in the nation, and helped Sparty end up number 2 in the final rankings. He won numerous awards at Michigan State including the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back in the nation. I think that getting Dennard here would really help out the Steelers secondary by adding both leadership and a corner with fantastic ball skills.
16: Dallas Cowboys: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Last year Jernigan was the centerpiece of the defense that helped Florida State go on to capture the national title; now he has the chance to help a struggling Cowboy defense. With the loss of DeMarcus Ware the Cowboys would love to get a more disruptive player like Aaron Donald, but with Donald off the board Jernigan is a nice fall back plan. Henry Melton was a key acquisition for the Cowboys this offseason, but with Melton coming off a knee injury from last season Jernigan will help relieve some of the stress on Melton. Not to mention that Jernigan and Melton would be playing side by side in the Cowboys’ 4-3 defense.
17: Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Pryor was overshadowed at Louisville quite a bit with Teddy Bridgewater becoming such a star, but in the end he is the one to be drafted first. The Ravens have been struggling at safety ever since the departure of Ed Reed, and are in need of one more after drafting Matt Elam last year. Some say that Pryor is a better safety than Clinton-Dix, and I would not be surprised if he were drafted higher. If Pryor were off the board I don’t think there are any other safeties worth taking here at 17 so I think that they would be wise to take Zach Martin and fill their need at RT.
18: New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
This would require Ebron to slip in the draft but I feel like the need at other positions is greater for the first 17 teams in the draft. Obviously the Jets have other needs to fill as well but Ebron at this spot is just too good to pass up. He is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses; he is gigantic and very fast for his size, running a 4.6 40 yard dash while weighing in at 6’5”, 250. He is a big redzone target and should be a main target for several teams in the draft. If he were off the board at this spot I think the Jets should look at either corner or receiver, both which represent a big need to the team. Bradley Roby and Brandin Cooks are two other good options here.
19: Miami Dolphins: Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Miami had arguably the worst offensive line in all of football last year. I heard one comment about the Alabama and Stanford o-lines being better than the Dolphins was after the loss of Pouncy to injury. Coming in to this year I think that all that has changed. By drafting Martin the Dolphins would have two very good tackles, the other being recently acquired Brandon Albert from the Chiefs. Martin lacks an ideal build for his position but this is no matter as long as he can continue blocking at the rate he did. Virginia’s Morgan Moses is another good fit here.
20: Arizona Cardinals: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
With this pick I am sending Bridgewater back to the Cardinals. Although the pass rush is a significant need for the Cardinals I don’t think that you can pass on Bridgewater who has the potential to be a top 5 pick. It would be a nice development for him behind Carson Palmer for a year or two and he would learn how to become a more complete player from an experienced quarterback. It would kind of be like the whole Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre duo out in Green Bay a few years ago, that seemed to work out pretty well, wouldn’t you say. If they did decide that pass rush was too significant of a need then Kony Ealy or Dee Ford would suffice at this pick.
21: Green Bay Packers: CJ Mosely, ILB, Alabama
After the draft the Packers may have one of the most feared defenses in the league after being notorious for their dominance in the passing game the past few years. They fixed problems along the defensive line by signing veteran Julius Peppers, and resigning big BJ Raji. By drafting Mosely they would have one of the better front sevens in football, along with a good secondary to back it up. Mosely was the heart and soul of a very good Alabama defense last season. It seemed like he made almost every single tackle for the team, and when he had you locked up there was no getting away. He falls a little bit in the draft purely based on the lacking need for inside line backers, but he is a tremendous grab here at 21 for the Packers.
22: Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
I really like the fit of this pick. Cooks should be able to help bring back the play making abilities of DeSean Jackson, after the Eagles parted ways with him last month. Cooks has phenomenal speed (posted the fastest 40 time in the combine for receivers) and is a threat to go deep every single play. Sound like Jackson? I’d say so. If one of the top 2 safeties falls here then I think that should be the Eagles’ top priority but I don’t see that happening. Odell Beckham Jr. or Bradley Roby are also good picks here.
23: Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
After the recent loss of Dexter McCluster the need of the Chiefs is just a solid playmaker. Other than Sammy Watkins, I think Beckham Jr. is the best playmaker in this class. He has good speed and can get change speed or direction at any moment, leaving defenders clueless. He is good at making catches in traffic and catches away from his body. Also he will be mentored by former LSU Tiger, Dwayne Bowe. What’s not to love here?
24: Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Bengals are a tricky team due to the fact that they aren’t a team with many weak spots. At cornerback, with the exception of Dre Kirkpatrick, the Bengals have 3 of their top 4 corners at or over the age of 29. Fuller is a solid corner but lacks plays on the ball that elite corners have. With the experience the Bengals have Fuller will be able to develop well and prove to be a very good corner in the future. WR is also a place of interest and so if one of the top receivers were to fall here that would also be a good pick for Cincy.
25: San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Shareece Wright, Crezdon Butler; ever heard of them? Didn’t think so. Well these are the starting corners for the San Diego Chargers. Roby would be a step up from either one, and he brings a lot to the table. He has superb athleticism but could use some fine tuning on his ball skills and he could turn up to be one of the best players coming out of this draft. Roby had a junior season that didn’t live up to expectations, which makes him a very risky pick. But where there is risk there is also reward and Roby has plenty of both, San Diego just better hope for the better of the two.
26: Cleveland Browns (From Indy.): Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Cleveland already has, in my opinion, the best corner in the NFL in Joe Haden, but after Haden it is a large drop off on the depth chart. Verrett is one of the best corners in this draft in terms of pure ability, but there is only one problem with him… he is only 5’9”. He has elite speed and plays bigger than his size, but still he is very injury prone because of his size. With emphasis being placed on larger corners, it makes it even harder for Verrett. Overall I think that Verrett is an extremely tough and talented guy, I think his size won’t pose as big of a problem. If the Browns happened to pass on a quarterback with their 1st pick then a quarterback here might also be a possibility.
27: New Orleans Saints: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
There is nothing the Saints love more than equipping Drew Brees with more weapons. While last season receiver didn’t seem to be an issue, with the immergence of Kenny Stills and the production of Jimmy Graham, the Saints top receiver, Marques Colston, is aging and so Benjamin would add talent and youth to this receiving core. Benjamin is a monster of a receiver, at 6’5”, 240lb, he can power his way up for any ball coming his way. He still drops a number of simple passes but will learn well from the experienced receivers already on this roster. They could also use an OLB but I think that it’s best to wait around and grab a guy like Kyle Van Noy or Demarcus Lawerence.
28: Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
The Panthers are struggling at a few key positions, specifically WR, OL, and CB. I feel like the greatest need for them at the moment is on the offensive line though. This O-line was not great last year by any measures, and with the departure of star left tackle, Jordan Gross, things got even worse. Morgan Moses has ideal size for his position and was very productive at Virginia. He lacks some ability with the run block but he will develop these skills over time in the league. If one of the top receivers was to slip here then that would be another smart option for the Panthers.
29: New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Last season was a nightmare for Tom Brady. He had no receiving core and his star tight end, Rob Gronkowski, was injured all the time. Hmmmm this sounds exactly like this upcoming season. With the addition of Amaro here this will give depth to the tight end position for the 12-14 games that Gronkowski is usually injured for. He is a huge threat in the receiving game, receiving for over 1,350 yards last season and 7 touchdowns at Texas Tech. I have heard a lot about them getting a defensive lineman here but I see a greater need at tight end or receiver. Davante Adams or Marqise Lee are other good options here.
30: San Francisco 49ers: Demarcus Lawerence, OLB, Boise State
Honestly I think the 49ers should and will trade up to get a corner of their choice after the departures of Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers. But here with the top tier of corners already taken I would pick Lawerence. Considering Aldon Smith, their star outside linebacker, has just as many pending trials as syllables in his name, it is hard to count him as a definite go for this upcoming season. Lawerence is a very good outside linebacker, recording 10.5 sacks last year at Boise State. He also is a good fit in the niners 3-4 defensive set. But once again I would think that San Fran would try to trade up for a corner, Lawerence is just a very good consolation prize if they can’t pull it off.
31: Denver Broncos: Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
Denver is another team that is suffering from all of the early corner picks. Even though they added Aqib Talib they lost Champ Bailey and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, leaving a big gap after Talib. There is also a big need at inside linebacker and Chris Borland can fill that need also, since no corners at this point are worth this pick more than Borland. Borland is a guy that can come in and start right away for the Broncos, he will also learn a lot from the experienced players like DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. If one of the top corners was to fall to this spot that would also be a good option for Denver.
32: Seattle Seahawks: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
With this pick I think that Seattle should move down in the draft. There will be several teams wanting to get this pick so they can get a quarterback before the start of the 2nd round, or if you are the Texans you may be willing to trade up to solidify your quarterback pick. If they don’t trade however (which is what I am basing my mock off of) then I think that Lee is a good fit here. He had a lack luster junior year compared to his freshman and sophomore year, but a lot of this was contributed to the fact that he had a change in quarterback. He caught for over 1,700 yards his sophomore season, showing that he has superb potential and is a very good receiver. He would be slipping in the draft if the Seahawks nab him here, but it is a steal if he does.
Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, NCAA, NCAA Football, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFL Draft, NFL news, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins