Free agency is all but in the books with a handful of starters still out there. With rosters firmed up it’s a pretty good time to begin getting serious with our mock drafts. I’ll be attempting to release a weekly mock leading up to May 8th’s draft day.
Don’t expect things to get cleared up at the top of this draft as I expect Houston to take this pick right down to the wire. Deciding to pass on a talent like Jadeveon Clowney can’t be an easy one, so don’t expect them to start announcing their pick prior to the final seconds running down on them on May 8th. In the second spot, things only get murkier with the Rams as Les Snead has shown he’s not afraid to wheel and deal his picks. If Clowney makes it past Houston, the second spot could become a major hot spot with the Rams phones ringing off the hook.
I have no doubts that we could see a bunch of movement in this draft with a handful of impact skill guys waiting to be had. It’s early to release a mock draft with trades included but it’s safe to say that picks will be moved on draft day.
1. Houston Texans – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Let me preface by saying I don’t against John McClain when it comes to the Texans ever. McClain has been adamant the Texans are going QB, so I’m going with him. As much as I think it’s a bad move, Bortles appears to be the odds-on-favorite to land atop the draft.
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
I’ve flip flopped between Robinson and Sammy Watkins for the Rams. I’m still in between on this one and think this pick could wind up being swapped. Robinson is my number one rated player in this class and I can’t see the Rams passing on adding him with Jake Long’s age/health and Rodger Saffold’s health issues.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jadeveon Clowney, LEO, South Carolina
In this scenario, Gus Bradley and Co. have a choice between Manziel/Bridgewater and Clowney/Mack. Not a bad spot to be in if you’re the Jags. Clowney could be the piece that puts Gus’ defense over the hump with his ability to get after the quarterback and force game changing turnovers.
4. Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Like the Jags, the Browns pass on their pick of QB’s to address the hole opposite Josh Gordon. A receiving trio of Gordon, Watkins, and Andrew Hawkins could make any QB look good. Thankfully, they have a more serviceable Brian Hoyer already in place – allowing them to wait until later to nab their guy at QB. I know I’m a homer, but this could be the Browns year to compete in the AFC North.
5. Oakland Raiders – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Raiders could (and should) be all in on a quarterback at this spot. When the 2013 version of Matt Schaub becomes an attractive piece for your franchise it signals time to put all your chips in on the best available QB. In this scenario they get their pick and take the best QB in the draft in Teddy Bridgewater.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Atlanta has to do a better job in protection this year (ATL fans are saying no sh** right now). But the defense was equally as awful. This pick comes down to Jake Matthews and Mack in my book. Matthews is going to be a very good one but I think Mack has some elite tools that make him a steal at this pick.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Buccaneers have freed themselves up to take anyone at this spot. They could go with Johnny Football here and I wouldn’t bat an eye. That said, even with the additions on the offensive line, they are still in need of a steady tackle prospect. Matthews gives them a guy to plug in immediately at LT and keep Anthony Collins on the right side. Whoever the QB is in TB, they should be excited about this pick.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Who will be the team to pull the trigger on Manziel? That is going to be one of the most hotly debated topics leading up to May’s draft. Minnesota and Norv Turner’s offense may not be a perfect fit but I just can’t see Manziel falling much further.
9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Can Taylor Lewan step in immediately at LT? I don’t know the answer to that one but I tend to think no. Either way the Bills have Cordy Glenn, who is a more than serviceable LT. Ideally the Bills would move Glenn back to RT and Lewan is a franchise LT. I don’t see it but I’m one of the few remaining with that thought.
10. Detroit Lions – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Mike Evans or Justin Gilbert makes a ton of sense here but I think Mayhew rolls the dice on the upside of Barr. Barr can get after the quarterback and could be a major boom pick for the Lions. There is some downside to this pick but I would bet Barr fares well in this defense.
11. Tennessee Titans – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Titans would love for an impact pass rusher to land in their laps but in this scenario they just miss out on one of the top three. I think they would look for a trade partner in this scenario but if they stay put they would be wise to add a solid cover corner.
12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Giants need some interior pass rush and Donald can give them plenty of it. Despite his smallish size he is a stout run defender and gives you the explosive interior rush that so many teams are craving. If he makes it down this far (yeah, I think it’s possible he could go higher) the Giants should sprint to the podium to turn this card in.
13. St. Louis Rams – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Rams passed on Sammy Watkins with the second pick for Greg Robinson and they are rewarded with a nice addition at the WR position at No. 13. Mike Evans gives Sam Bradford some much needed size and talent on the outside. With Evans and Robinson in the fold, this should be the put up or get out year for Bradford in St. Louis.
14. Chicago Bears – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Bears will be looking hard for a replacement for Henry Melton, who signed with the Cowboys. Jernigan gives them a guy that can play multiple spots, including the 0, 1, or 3-technique. His ability to push the pocket and stout, physical play at the point of attack should have him a prime target at 14.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The Steelers have some holes to fill. Where do they begin? I could have went in a ton of directions on this one. Zack Martin makes some sense, as do Eric Ebron, one of the corners, or C.J. Mosley. I kept landing on WR and I think Odell Beckham gives them the juice they need opposite Antonio Brown.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Cowboys were able to nab Henry Melton, which should be a help on the inside. They still need ends and help in the backend. In this scenario, they grab a FS that should make an impact on day one and serves as a significant upgrade over Barry Church.
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