For this Mock Draft I will not be making any trades, but I will indicate which teams are most likely to trade with three stars. I’m also going to be picking as if I was the GM for each team and then will indicate in italics the player that I think they’ll actually pick, aka covering my ass when they don’t do what I think they should. The videos I’ve inserted are highlights for the players that I would choose for the team, with the players in italics following. Just remember, there is no such thing as a “safe” draft pick and this is all a crap shoot at this point. Most of the italics picks are based off of things that I’ve heard or read, but most of it could be a smokescreen. In the end, no one really knows what’s going to happen on Draft Day and that’s why it’s the best.
1. Houston Texans(***)- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The best player in this draft. Put Clowney at 3-4 DE and move J.J. Watt inside, or better yet, have Clowney stand up as a 3-4 OLB and have him and Watt on the same side. This would be an absolutely lethal combo no matter how you slice it. Watt will keep a guy like Clowney constantly motivated and working, so any questions about his motor can be ignored.
Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The quarterback with the highest ceiling of this draft would be tough to overlook. It’s been discussed that the Texans GM loves Khalil Mack, but this team also has a major need at quarterback. I’m going to guess that the Texans take Bortles, but I would not rule out trading down or taking Mack. Mack is a great fit for the Texans defense.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins)(***) – Greg Robinson, LT, Auburn
Greg Robinson fills a major need at tackle, with Jake Long coming off of injury. A guy like Robinson wouldn’t have to play right away, and he has the highest ceiling of any of the tackles in this draft. I really think that the Rams will end up trading down, especially if Clowney is still available. If they stay here though, Robinson is the pick, with a slight chance of Sammy Watkins.
Greg Robinson, LT, Auburn
3. Jacksonville Jaguars– Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I said years ago that Blaine Gabbert wasn’t going to cut it and Chad Henne isn’t going to cut it now. Henne could be a great fill-in or a backup, but you need a franchise player. Jacksonville struggles to get fans to games, having to show NFL Red Zone on their screen at all times and essentially giving away beer to get people to come is embarrassing. Picking Johnny Manziel solves this problem instantly. The guy is a rock star and even if you don’t think he’s a great quarterback, he’ll put people in the seats. I personally think he’ll be the best quarterback to come out of this draft, provided he stays out of trouble. Regardless of what you think of his height, he has a live wire arm and just flat out makes plays.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I don’t see Clowney lasting to #3. If Houston passes on him, there will be a race to the phones to get ahold of St. Louis, who doesn’t need Clowney with Chris Long and Robert Quinn. On the off-chance that Clowney does last this long, then the Jaguars won’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Sure they need a QB, but there aren’t many Clowney’s walking around.
4. Cleveland Browns– Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
How about giving a healthy Brian Hoyer, Josh Gordon and Sammy Watkins to throw to? This would be an absolutely deadly combo for the aging secondaries in the AFC North, not to mention they could snag a quarterback like Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater in the late first, or at least try to. Sammy Watkins may not be 6’3″, but the guy is a gamer and is going to make major plays at the next level.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Browns are in need of a quarterback. I don’t see Brian Hoyer as being the guy of the future and Manziel will put people in the seats. Give him Josh Gordon to throw to and who knows what could happen.
5. Oakland Raiders– Jake Matthews, LT, Texas A&M
With Sammy Watkins off the board and plenty of offensive line troubles, taking Jake Matthews here is a great fit. I still wouldn’t take Bortles here if I’m the GM, though I could understand why they would and let Matt Schaub take the licks while he learns. Matthews is a franchise left tackle, and the Raiders have too many holes to worry about quarterback at this point. Better to stock pile premium players this year and go after Marcus Mariota next year.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Sammy Watkins gives the wide receiver group an instant boost and gives Schaub another weapon. The Raiders are still many pieces away from being a contender, so they would be smart to take the playmaker and wait for a quarterback until next year. Plus it’s the Raiders, how could they pass up Watkins if he falls to them?
6. Atlanta Falcons(***)- Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Atlanta Falcons catch a major break here with Khalil Mack falling into their lap. Mack is a phenomenal pass rusher and fills a major need for the Falcons. Thomas Dimitroff would literally run to get his card in as soon as this happened.
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers– Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
I don’t think Mike Glennon is a great quarterback and neither is Josh McCown, but why not take Mike Evans and let them throw to Evans and Vincent Jackson? This would be a nasty combination that would instantly add juice to their offense. Taylor Lewan would also be a possibility here, but I think you take Evans while you can and get that massive playmaker at wide receiver.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Minnesota Vikings– Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
I’m not a fan of the quarterbacks in this draft other than Johnny Manziel. If the Vikings take Bortles, which they probably should, they need to let him sit for a year and continue to develop. Bortles definitely has the highest ceiling of the quarterbacks in the draft, but I don’t think he’s ready to play right now.
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
With Bortles and Manziel off the board, the Vikings quarterback need has to be solved. Carr could be a good quarterback, but unfortunately I don’t see his system quarterback style evolving to the next level. I see too much Blaine Gabbert in Derek Carr and it’s nerve-wracking. Other people are a fan and Carr would definitely solve a need here.
9. Buffalo Bills– Taylor Lewan, LT, Michigan
With Mike Evans off the board, the Bills should look to target their offensive line. The Bills need some help at the tackle position and taking Lewan gives them a plug-and-play starter at right or left tackle; it all depends on where they want to move Cordy Glenn to. Lewan is a mauler and the Bills need to be able to protect EJ Manuel as well as open holes up for CJ Spiller.
Jake Matthews, LT, Texas A&M
With the slide of Clowney, the whole board becomes a mess and some really good players start to slide. Matthews deserves to go Top 5, but slides back to #9 with the shuffle of QBs.
10. Detroit Lions(***)- Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
If the NFL Draft plays out like this, I’d prefer for the Lions to trade down. That being said, there are about 8 guys that I would be okay with the Lions “reaching” on and taking in this spot. I’ll expand more on those players in a separate post. For now though, I’d take Anthony Barr or Aaron Donald. Anthony Barr fills an immediate need and if you take Donald, then you can trade Fairley. The media has cooled on Anthony Barr lately and I’m not sure why. He’s very clearly the second-best pass rushing outside linebacker in this draft behind Khalil Mack. 6’4″ 255 lbs and running a 4.6 40 is exactly the type of linebacker/pass rusher the Lions need to replace Ashlee Palmer.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Yes, this is a reach here, but this is assuming the draft plays out like this and the Lions can’t trade down. The Lions are truly the wild card of the Top 10, and they could pick anyone. It wouldn’t shock me to see them take Justin Gilbert here, because the team is apparently worried that Chris Houston’s foot injury is career threatening. They could also target Aaron Donald and look to move Nick Fairley. That being said, OBJ is dangerous with the ball in his hands and has some great acceleration. He may only be 5’11”, but that 38.5″ vertical jump will allow him to go up and get the ball. He would be an instant impact player with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.
11. Tennessee Titans– Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Titans are in dire need of a cornerback and Justin Gilbert fills this need immediately. Gilbert is a taller corner with fantastic athleticism. He’ll be able to battle against the taller receivers and on top of that, he can return kicks and punts.
Darqueze Dennard, CB, MSU
Most people have Dennard rated higher than Gilbert and that’s why I’m guessing the Titans will take Dennard. I think Gilbert is a better corner, especially when you compare athleticism, but Dennard is a classic shutdown corner. Regardless, if one of these two are on the board, the Titans should jump at them to help combat the loss of Alterraun Verner.
12. New York Giants– Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Aaron Donald is one of the best physical specimen in this draft. He blew the doors off the Combine and I’ll be a bit surprised if he lasts this long. Eric Ebron could be a good fit for the Giants, who need some help on offense, but Donald adds youth and explosiveness to the defensive line. 35 reps on the bench with a 32″ vertical and a 4.67 40 is ridiculous for a defensive tackle, and he is clearly the best one in the draft.
Taylor Lewan, LT, Michigan
There won’t be too many Giants fans that would be happy with this pick, but Lewan fills a big need at tackle and he falls right into their lap.
13. St. Louis Rams– HaHa Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Rams secondary could use some help, and pairing HaHa with T.J. McDonald would be a nice young duo. They could also use a wide receiver here, like many other teams, but with the depth in this draft, they’re better off waiting. HaHa is good at attacking the ball and coming down to make tackles, as well as being effective in coverage.
HaHa Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
14. Chicago Bears– Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
The Chicago Bears are in dire need of help in the secondary and Calvin Pryor is just the man to give it to them. It wouldn’t shock me to see them go cornerback here so that they could ease one of the young guys into the position and have him learn from Charles Tillman, but Pryor will be able to start from Day 1. The Bears two best safeties are probably M.D. Jennings and Ryan Mundy, you can’t tell me that’s not a major need.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The best defensive tackle in the draft is tough to pass up, even with the need in the secondary. Donald lined up next to Jared Allen is a scary combination.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers– Darqueze Dennard, CB, MSU
The Steelers need to get younger at many positions, but based on who is left on the board, cornerback makes the most sense. Darqueze Dennard will be an instant starter and while he may have trouble with the faster guys like Torrey Smith and AJ Green, he’s an aggressive cornerback that won’t be intimidated.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr would be an instant impact guy to replace Lamarr Woodley. Last year they drafted Jarvis Jones to replace James Harrison, this year taking Barr to replace Woodley would complete the youth movement at outside linebacker. Barr and Jones would be a lethal combination and would help take pressure off of their secondary.
16. Dallas Cowboys(***)- Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Martin has the ability to play anywhere on the offensive line, and with the need at guard, I see the Cowboys picking Martin and sliding him inside so that he can start right away. The Cowboys do need help at safety, but 16 is too early for Jimmie Ward. If Calvin Pryor or HaHa were to slip to them, then they would clearly take one of them. Martin gives the Cowboys a filler on the offensive line and a guy that can be their future right tackle with Tyron Smith on the left side.
Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
Calvin Pryor fills an instant need and immediately upgrades their secondary. The Cowboys are solid at cornerback, but have some trouble over the middle of the field. Pryor is a fluid athlete that is solid in run support and can cover with the best of them. He won’t be Earl Thomas or Kenny Vaccaro, but a solid starter is nothing to turn your nose up at.
17. Baltimore Ravens– Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Eric Ebron would be a huge difference maker in the passing game for the Ravens. With Torrey Smith and Steve Smith outside, Ebron would be a secondary wrecker over the middle of the field. You can’t teach the type of athleticism that Ebron has and the explosiveness he would add to the Ravens offense. The Ravens were 29th in total offense, it’s time to give them a boost.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
If Zack Martin is still on the board, it could make things interesting for the Ravens, who also have a major need at tackle.
18. New York Jets– Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The New York Jets have had a solid offseason adding Eric Decker and Chris Johnson. Adding a guy like OBJ would do wonders for their offense. It would give Geno Smith or Michael Vick another weapon, and take the immediate pressure off of Decker.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
If OBJ is already gone, expect them to still target a wide receiver. Brandin Cooks may only be 5’9″ but he’s an explosive athlete that can eat up space. Taking Cooks would also allow Stephen Hill to continue to develop on the outside, while Cooks lines up in the slot. Either of these receivers would be a major boost to the Jets offense.
19. Miami Dolphins– Morgan Moses, LT, Virginia
With the turmoil of the Dolphins season and the fact that their offensive line is in shambles, drafting a guy like Morgan Moses would be huge. Moses may be a bit of a reach at this point, but at 6’6″ 314 lbs, it’s tough to pass on him. He’s got great balance and is a versatile starter, having more than 12 starts at each right and left tackle. Some may prefer Cyrus Kouandjio here, but I think Moses has better upside for the future.
Zack Martin, LT, Notre Dame
Zack Martin is a perfect fit for the Dolphins, who have multiple holes on the offensive line. He can fill any number of needs that they have and would start immediately.
20. Arizona Cardinals(***)- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
If the NFL Draft plays out like this, the Cardinals would be smart to drop back and get more picks. In this scenario though, they pick a quarterback for the future to get ready to replace the 35 year old Carson Palmer, and they don’t have to rush Bridgewater into game action. I’m not a big fan of Bridgewater, but he could be an effective starter in the NFL. I just don’t see him having the same type of potential that Manziel or Bortles have.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
21. Green Bay Packers– C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
C.J. Mosley is the best inside linebacker in this draft and he is relentless. Mosley played in a 3-4 at Alabama and would slide in nicely right next to AJ Hawk. He is great at stopping the run and is arguably the best linebacker at dropping into coverage. Couple him with Hawk, Nick Perry and Clay Matthews and that is one scary linebacking core.
C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
22. Philadelphia Eagles– Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Marqise Lee falls right into the Eagles laps and he is a perfect fit. Wide receiver is a need position and Lee is the best blocking wide receiver in the draft. He’d slide in nicely to Chip Kelly’s offense and won’t cause problems. His 40-time may not have been what everyone wanted, but I still think Lee is the second or third-best wide receiver in this draft. The bottom line is Lee is a playmaker that will go to work for you, what’s not to like?
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
23. Kansas City Chiefs(***)- Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The Kansas City Chiefs would likely move down in this scenario, but wide receiver is a big need. Jamaal Charles led the team in receptions and yardage and outside of Dwayne Bowe, no one strikes fear into a defense. Cooks would give the team an outstanding number two.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
With all the top receivers off the board, and my inability to make trades for this Mock Draft, the Chiefs go for the raw and talented Kelvin Benjamin. He’s not the most-athletic guy, but 6’5″ 240 lbs has matchup problem written all over it. He’s a physical receiver with a nose for the end zone, which is exactly what the Chiefs need.
24. Cincinnati Bengals– Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Cincinnati Bengals have an aging secondary and Verrett would provide some much needed youth. If Verrett wasn’t 5’9″, he would probably be considered the best cornerback in this draft. He’s a fierce competitor and didn’t get his torn labrum repaired until after his Pro Day. He put up 19 reps on the bench with a torn labrum, just to give you an idea of how strong and determined he is.
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
There’s no way that Gilbert lasts this long, but the way things played out in this Mock, he fell right into the Bengals lap.
25. San Diego Chargers– Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Kyle Fuller is a physical corner with great instincts. The Chargers have a need for cornerback and are probably hoping Verrett falls to them. Fuller is by no means a consolation prize though, and his ball skills should make him a turnover machine.
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Third-best corner fills a major need, self-explanatory. I love Verrett and I truly believe that if he was 6′ tall he would be the first corner off the board.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts)– Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
After opting for Sammy Watkins, the Browns can now take Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater if they’re available. This would allow them to start Brian Hoyer and ease their new quarterback into the NFL. Watkins and Gordon would be a lethal combo for a guy like Carr. He has an above-average arm with solid accuracy and could be a productive starter. I’m not exactly sold on him and think he’s destined to be a bust, but given the time to develop, who knows.
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Fuller and Joe Haden would make for a nasty combination in the secondary. Fuller is solid athletically and his route recognition would make him a huge asset for the Browns. With an early pick in the second round, they could target a wide receiver like Cody Latimer, Allen Robinson or Jordan Matthews if they last that long. It wouldn’t shock me to see them go wide receiver here either.
27. New Orleans Saints– Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
This would leave the Saints in a tough spot, who need an outside linebacker, cornerback and wide receiver. Bradley Roby would be a nice fit, but Cody Latimer is a raw talent that would give Drew Brees another weapon. He’s the type of reliable pass catcher that Brees likes and his 6’2″ 214 lbs frame makes him an attractive option.
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
28. Carolina Panthers– Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
One of my favorite wide receivers in the Draft and with a serious, desperate need at wide receiver, this is a no-brainer. Robinson may not be the guy they take, but there is almost no way the Panthers take anything but a wide receiver with a limited number of picks. They have a huge need at tackle too, so if a guy like Morgan Moses falls, they could take him. Another option would be to take Joel Bitonio, a tackle that is shooting up draft boards right now. Robinson would give Cam Newton a legit #1 target, and at 6’2″ 220 lbs, he looks the part.
Morgan Moses, LT, Virginia
Moses may not last this long, but if he does, the Panthers will ignore their wide receiver need for the moment. Moses would start immediately at right tackle and help to ease the loss of Jordan Gross. Cam Newton may not have anyone to throw to, but you have to keep your franchise player healthy.
29. New England Patriots(***)- Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
I really wanted to give the Patriots Jace Amaro, the athletic tight end out of Texas Tech here, but it was too much of a reach. With their aging defensive line and the fact that Vince Wilfork almost didn’t come back, it’s time to get some youth in there. Louis Nix is a pure 3-4 nose tackle and would do wonders learning from Wilfork.
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
30. San Francisco 49ers– Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
Even though they picked up Aldon Smith’s fifth-year option, there are still some question marks about his future. Dee Ford would give the 49ers a guy who can stand up and be a 3-4 OLB to rush the passer. Ryan Shazier is another option for the 49ers, particularly because he is more versatile, but the 49ers strong linebacking core allows them to reach a bit and take Ford here. At 6’2″ 251 lbs with a 1.67 10-yard split, he’s got great burst to get off the line and get after the quarterback.
Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
31. Denver Broncos– Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
I like Ealy more than most, mainly because he’s huge and athletic. Ealy has a big frame at 6’4″ 273 lbs and is very versatile. He could play 3-4 DE or 4-3 DE and his long arms allow him to get leverage on offensive linemen. He’s a physical guy and with the right outside linebacker rushing off his side, could provide an instant impact.
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
32. Seattle Seahawks– Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
The best guard in the draft in my opinion. Su’a-Filo would help the Seahawks upgrade their offensive line and make sure that Russell Wilson is protected. He’s 6’4″ 307 lbs and is great at engaging at the point of attack. He’s had 19 starts at left tackle and 21 at left guard, so his versatility is quite evident. He has very unique athleticism and excels at pass blocking and run blocking.
Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
Guys left off of one of these two Mock Draft that you should keep an eye on:
Ryan Shazier, OLB, OSU
I’d personally be shocked if Shazier makes it out of the first round. Teams love his athleticism and he can fit in nicely in a 4-3 or in a 3-4 defense.
Bradey Roby, CB, OSU
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Joel Bitonio, OT/OG, Nevada
Cyrus Kouandjio, LT, Alabama
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
All highlight videos from YouTube are courtesy of Draft Breakdown, Draft Analysis, HFX HD Highlights and Harris Highlights.
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