Let me kick this one off by saying mock drafts are hard enough without factoring trades into them. With them it’s a crapshoot. I’m not going to pretend to have some insider intel that led me to these deals but they made sense to me, so I pulled the trigger.
1. Atlanta Falcons – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Thomas Dimitroff hasn’t been shy about going up and getting the guy they covet. This year is no different as the Falcons send pick No. 6, No. 37, and a 2015 No. 1 to Houston to take the passing rushing freak from down the road. Houston moves down but most importantly picks up another high second and snags Atlanta’s 2015 1st. I’m just not sold on Houston taking anyone in this slot, so it makes sense for them to move out.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
We all know Les Sneed would love to move down a couple of spots and pick up extra picks. The Bucs have filled a ton of needs in free agency so they get aggressive and get a difference maker to team with Vincent Jackson. In order to do, so they give up their 2nd round pick and a mid-to-late rounder to keep the likes of Detroit away from their coveted prospect.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
One of the QB’s or Mack? That’s the question this one could and should come down to. If it’s one of the QB’s I’d lean toward Johnny at this spot. But I think these teams at the top are gun shy about snagging a QB and leaving some of these potential stud difference makers for someone else.
4. Cleveland Browns – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Browns faithful may blow a gasket with this pick. They need weapons and Robinson doesn’t exactly scream weapon. That said, this move strengthens their OL in a major way and allows them to take a QB later. Robinson is a perfect fit for what Kyle Shanahan wants to do and with Clowney/Watkins/Mack off the board it becomes fairly simple. I don’t think you can simply say plug Robinson in at RT and move Mitchell Schwartz inside. Who knows if Schwartz can make that transition but I do know that Robinson would be one hell of a guard while he buys his time to take over at tackle.
5. Oakland Raiders – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
With the Matt Schaub acquisition the Raiders can afford to take a shot on Bortles. Bortles needs some time to develop and this situation should allow him to do just that. It worries me a bit that the Raiders brass isn’t on solid ground and could feel the pressure to rush him in if Schaub struggles in the least.
6. Houston Texans – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I think this works out perfectly for the Texans. They move down and still get the guy they so badly want to take with the top pick. With Clowney and Bortles off the board, they are free to take a shot on the home-state kid. Manziel isn’t your prototypical B.O.B. QB but his talent is off the charts and O’Brien could do wonders for him early.
7. St. Louis Rams – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Rams would have to feel pretty good about moving down the draft board and have Mike Evans and Jake Matthews waiting for them. This would be a tough call for Sneed but he needs to see what he has in Sam Bradford. Teaming Evans up with their receiving crew takes all the excuses out for Bradford as this will be a make or break year for the former No. 1 overall pick.
8. New York Giants – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Giants need to find a LT out of this draft. Eli Manning played fairly miserably last year, partially due to his lack of protection. Jerry Reese has to find a solution on the left side and can’t afford to sit idly at No. 12 and wait for Taylor Lewan to slide down his way. He opts to get aggressive and Minnesota could move down the board for a QB – makes sense.
9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Taylor Lewan? RT is a bigger need and Lewan could be an easy transition to the right side after playing LT for four years. While many assume is an easy transition to switch sides, it’s more difficult than you think. Lewan is a good candidate to make that early transition and should start on the right side at the opening of camp.
10. Detroit Lions – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Teaming Anthony Barr with DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch is too enticing for the Lions brass to pass on. Barr is an elite athlete that gives the Lions some much needed pass rush outside of the front four.
11. Tennessee Titans – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
Ray Horton has been blessed with elite man cover corners at his last two stops. Jason McCourty is solid and Blidi Wreh-Wilson has potential but the Titans may be looking for a true stopper in the secondary. Gilbert’s ability to shadow the Andre Johnson’s of the division could play a huge part in making this a fairly easy pick although I badly wanted to put Teddy Bridgewater here.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St.
This one should surprise many with Carr coming off the board before Bridgewater but I think some of the buzz is real on this. Carr fits Norv Turner’s offense and could play right away if Cassel stumbles at all.
13. St. Louis Rams – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
I have to say this was one of the toughest decisions of the mock. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Zack Martin fill major needs but Les Sneed looks for the value that Donald brings to the table. Donald isn’t a need filler but he’s an instant impact interior rusher that could set this team up for well into the future on the defensive side of ball. With Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Donald, and Michael Brockers this may be the best, young DL in all of football.
14. Chicago Bears – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
The Bears have to replenish this defense. It starts in the secondary as they need corners and safeties that can fit their system. Dennard is a physical corner that should be an early contributor. Timmy Jernigan will get a long look here but I think corner is a spot they need to look at with the 14th pick.
15. Green Bay Packers – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Packers sorely need help in the backend. With Clinton-Dix sliding down to 15, Ted Thompson gets aggressive and gets his answer to their problems defending the back half. HCD has some interchangeable qualities about his game although I think he’s a little tight hipped to cover the slot against quicker Wes Welker-types.
16. Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Browns have plenty of picks to wheel and deal – a third may a get this one done. Bridgewater gets the ball out quickly, accurately, and has the smarts to excel for Shanahan. If Teddy falls down this far, I could see the next three or four picks heating up with teams looking to fill their QB need.
Follow me on Twitter: Follow @nflfuture