Blake Bortles or Jadeveon Clowney. Jadeveon Clowney or Blake Bortles. This will be one of the most hotly debated items leading up the May 8th draft. I’ve stood pat on a quarterback atop the draft but this week some clarity came to me with Houston. Needless to say we have a new No. 1.
The intrigue in this draft is remarkable – maybe more than in any draft that I’ve covered. From Clowney to Manziel to where all these QB’s go we may no very little heading into Thursday. Combine that with the fact that this is as talented and deep as any draft in recent memory and the sparks begin to fly. Buckle up because the next month is going to be filled with unknowns and a whole lot of smoke.
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I broke my rule and no it’s not because of his Pro Day. I’m just not sure how the B.O.B. and the Texans brass could be sold on taking Blake Bortles with guys of the ilk of Clowney out there. Houston could be aggressive trading back into the first round for Carr or Bridgewater.
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2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
With Jadeveon Clowney off the board, the Rams could find themselves with little market for the second pick. If they stay put they would be wise to snatch Robinson off the board. The sleeper here is Khalil Mack – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he is the card they turn in at 2.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
I was 50-50 on this one between Mack and Johnny Manziel. It could go any direction and I wouldn’t be surprised. Mack is as disruptive as any defender in this draft, including Clowney so Gus Bradley may push David Caldwell for an impact defender.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Browns are positioned to take or not take a quarterback at No. 4 with Brian Hoyer at the helm. Hoyer’s recovery from an ACL is ahead of schedule and he’ll be ready to compete this spring. With Manziel, the Browns get someone that fits what Kyle Shanahan wants to do on offense. Additionally, he provides a splash for an organization in need of a major boost.
5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Matt Schaub is going to need all the help he can get. Watkins is a dynamic, explosive playmaker that brings a much needed competitor to this receiving corps.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Falcons miss out on Clowney and Mack so they look to firm up their offensive line. As much as they need a Clowney-type on defense, I could argue that an OT capable of keeping Matt Ryan upright is equally if not more important.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Three A&M players off the board in the first seven selections. Mike Williams may not be long for the new Bucs regime. His latest transgression could have him wearing out his welcome fairly quickly. Pairing Evans with Vincent Jackson gives the Bucs a monster pair of receivers for Josh McCown – similar to what he had in Chicago.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Norv Turner gets a guy that fits what he likes to do. Bortles has the stuff to be effective, eventually, in this system. The question will be will this regime be around long enough to see him grow into being a solid starter. Hopefully Matt Cassel is ready to play stopgap for a season or two while Bortles grows into an NFL starter – because he’s not at that point yet.
9. Buffalo Bills – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Bills may look to get out of this spot but I’m not sure they will have suitors with the top shelf of players off the board. If they stay here I think it comes down to a tackle (Taylor Lewan or Zack Martin) or Ha Ha. In this scenario the Bills find their Jairus Byrd replacement and hope to score a RT later in the draft.
10. Detroit Lions – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Lions fans’ will be bored with my mock drafts if Barr and Davante Adams (in the second) continue to be available for the taking. They both fill big needs for the Lions with great value with where they are picking.
11. Tennessee Titans – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
I know they picked up Michael Oher in free agency but this selection is two-fold. One I’m not confident that Oher is anything more than a serviceable swing tackle and the other being Michael Roos will be 32-years old next season and will be in the final year of his deal.
12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
I badly wanted to slot Donald into an earlier slot. I think he winds up going higher than anyone anticipates – as high as No. 5. If he lands with the Giants it’s a great value addition for a defense in need.
13. St. Louis Rams – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Rams would love for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to fall into their laps here but he could start coming into play with the Vikings at No. 8 and you could make an argument the four selections ahead of them could use Ha Ha. With that in mind, the Rams go for a long corner to match up with the Michael Crabtree’s and Larry Fitzgerald’s of their division.
14. Chicago Bears – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Bears would love for Aaron Donald to make it down their way. This pick should come down to a corner, safety, or defensive tackle. With Dennard still on the board they jump at the opportunity to match up this physical corner with the NFC North WR’s.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
As much as I wanted to slot a receiver or tight end in here I just can’t get by the fact that C.J. Mosley screams Steelers to me. This selection is on my gut, not my brain. I badly wanted to say it would be Eric Ebron or Odell Beckham but Mosley is the direction I think they go in May.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
End is the bigger need along the defensive line but Kony Ealy is a stretch for me at this point. Jernigan could pair with Henry Melton to give the ‘Boys a dynamic duo in the middle of their defense.
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