Number 1: Houston Texans – Blake Bortles | QB | Central Florida
For the longest time I had Teddy Bridgewater mocked as the first pick in the draft. While I still believe that Bridgewater is still the best quarterback in this year’s class; however, his recent Pro-Day might have turned off the Texans. Insert Blake Bortles. Bortles is a heck of a lot bigger than Bridgewater and is very athletic. Although he is somewhat raw, Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien was very impressed with Bortles during his private workouts. O’Brien, who loves working with quarterbacks said the team will select one in the draft. They didn’t say when, but Bortles has a tremendous upside and is someone who O’Brien would love to build.
Number 2: St. Louis Rams (from Wash) – Sammy Watkins | WR | Clemson
If you watch any tape on Sammy Watkins , you would realize that he is an absolute stud. He would be Sam Bradford’s best receiver that he has ever had. Watkins, Austin, Cook and Stacy would give St. Louis one of the better group at the skilled positions in the league. At first, I believed that St. Louis will go with an offensive lineman; however, the Rams also have the thirteenth pick in the draft. There should be a quality tackle that they can select at thirteen, and I expect them to do just that.
Number 3: Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater | QB | Louisville
With Bridgewater being available at the third pick, I believe the Jacksonville Jaguars will pull the trigger. Blaine Gabbert was a bust and although the team re-signed Chad Henne; he is not the future at that position. Teddy has more upside than Johnny Manziel and is more NFL ready, in my opinion. If Justin Blackmon can figure out his life outside of football and is reinstated for the 2014 season, the group of Blackmon, Lewis and Shorts along with Bridgewater can be a pretty adequate for the future.
Number 4: Cleveland Browns – Jadeveon Clowney | DE | South Carolina
Ever since the last 90’s the Cleveland Browns have been on the lookout for their next franchise quarterback. They have had little to no success in their search, so the likelihood of them drafting a top quarterback in this draft would make sense, right? Well, the Cleveland Browns have expressed their minuscule confidence in the quarterbacks in this draft and it should surprise no one if they decide to pass on a quarterback. If Jadeveon Clowney is available with the fourth pick, the Browns must take him. Cleveland already has a pretty decent defense and adding Clowney would drastically improve the unit, particularly their pass rush. They also have a late first round draft pick that they could use to select a quarterback.
Number 5: Oakland Raiders – Greg Robinson | OT | Auburn
I originally had the Raiders selecting a quarterback for this Mock; in fact, I had them selecting Johnny Manziel. Then, the team decided to trade for quarterback Matt Schuab. This means their quarterbacks are Schuab, Pryor, and McGloin; making the likelihood of the team drafting a quarterback highly unlikely. They were unable to keep Jared Veldheer and Roger Saffold was unable to sign due to a failed physical. With the quarterback position locked up for the season, it is imperative that the Raiders fill the hole left by Veldheer. Greg Robinson’s stock rose tremendously towards the end of the season and is now projected to be the top tackle selected in this year’s draft.
Number 6: Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack | LB | Buffalo
During free agency, the Atlanta Falcons were able to bulk up their defensive line. They signed former Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai and former Chief Tyson Jackson. The Falcons could still use another edge rusher, and with Khalil Mack still on the board, it would be foolish not to select him.
Number 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Johnny Manziel | QB | Texas A&M
Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought in Josh McCown during free agency, he is 34 years old and is not the future in Tampa. The team also doesn’t exactly view Mike Glennon as their long-term option either. While Johnny Manziel might not be the Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles that the Buccaneers were hoping for, he would still give them a viable option at the quarterback position. With Manziel under center (or in shotgun), the Buccaneers would have a very fast offense. At times, they struggled last season with putting up points on the boards. Adding Manziel can hopefully change that for them.
Number 8: Minnesota Vikings – Justin Gilbert | CB | Oklahoma State
Heading into free agency one of the Vikings biggest need was the cornerback position. They went out and addressed the position by signing Captain Munnerlyn. They also have Xavier Rhodes, who was a real bright spot on the defense last season. With that being said, I still think they go cornerback at the eighth pick. Justin Gilbert is the top rated cornerback heading into this year’s draft and it is simple to see why. He is by far the most athletic cornerback in the draft and his ability to cover the deep ball is exceptional. In a division that features Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson in Green Bay, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in Detroit and Jay Cutler with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in Chicago, Minnesota needs to have a good rotating group of cornerbacks. With a little more coaching, Gilbert has the potential to turn into a Pro-Bowl cornerback at the next level.
Number 9: Buffalo Bills – Mike Evans | WR | Texas A&M
Outside of maybe Robert Woods and Scott Chandler, there are no real weapons for E.J. Manuel to throw to. Stevie Johnson isn’t the same receiver he was in the past. Not only did he miss four games last season, but he led the team in targets (100) and finished the season with just fifty-two catches. That’s almost a fifty percent failure rate. To go with his NFL body, Mike Evans has excellent control of his body and catches nearly everything thrown to him. Drafting Evans would give Manuel a big bodied and consistent receiver to throw to.
Number 10: Detroit Lions – Darqueze Dennard | CB | Michigan State
The Detroit Lions brought in Golden Tate on a five-year deal, so drafting a receiver at the tenth spot will most likely not happen. With the departure of Louis Delmas, Detroit’s already weak secondary became even weaker. As a result, the Detroit Lions must improve their secondary; particularly the cornerback position. With Justin Gilbert off of the board, the Detroit Lions will take the next best option – Darqueze Dennard. Dennard is a very physical cornerback that excels in man-to-man coverage.
Number 11: Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr | LB | UCLA
One of the biggest positions of need that the Tennessee Titans were unable to upgrade during free agency was the need for a pass rusher. Jurrell Casey was the Titans most consistent pass rusher last season, as he led the team with ten and a half sacks. Outside of Casey, the Titans pass rush was just average. With the chance of the Texans drafting a quarterback with the first pick being likely, the quarterback position could be the strength of the AFC South. The best way to counter a division that has multiple capable quarterbacks in it (one great), is by rushing the quarterback. Anthony Barr is a very athletic outside linebacker who is at his best when he is rushing the quarterback. Along with his freakish athleticism, Barr also has very good size and should turn into a very solid pass rusher in the National Football League.
Number 12: New York Giants – Aaron Donald | DT | Pittsburgh
The New York Giants need to get bigger and stronger up front. They lost Linval Joseph to the Minnesota Vikings and it is very important that they fill the hole that was left. When the Giants were winning Super Bowl’s their biggest strength was their defensive line. Excluding Jason Pierre-Paul, there are some nice pieces on the line; however; no one really jumps out towards you. Due to his incredible speed, Donald has the great ability to penetrate the backfield. In his last season at Pittsburgh, Donald led the entire country in sacks per game with 1.6.
Number 13: St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews | OT | Texas A&M
Here is the pick that I was talking about earlier. Last season, the St. Louis Rams brought in Jake Long with the hopes of dramatically improving their offensive line. Unfortunately, Long had trouble remaining healthy throughout last season and failed to live up to the contract that he received. If Jake Matthews can get past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then the St. Louis Rams would gladly select him. Matthews was a great pass blocker at Texas A&M and his great play will surely transfer over into the NFL. The Rams need to do something with their offensive line to protect their brittle quarterback. Drafting Matthews would be a great step moving forward to
Number 14: Chicago Bears – Calvin Pryor | S | Louisville
I met get some heat for this pick. Before you guys all let me know, I know that the Chicago Bears signed five safeties this offseason, however, Major Wright is a free agent and will most likely not be back next year. It would make sense for the Bears to bring in a young safety to come in and fill the void left by Wright. Calvin Pryor has the prototypical body to play the safety position, and combined with his good closing speed and ball skills, he has the potential to be a very good safety in the league.
Number 15: Pittsburgh Steelers – Taylor Lewan | OT | Michigan
This might be the last piece that the Pittsburgh Steelers need to finish off the rebuilding of their offensive line. They already have Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert. The one thing they are missing is a quality left tackle. With Lewan available at the fifteenth spot, it would make perfect sense for Pittsburgh to select him.
Number 16: Dallas Cowboys – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix | S | Alabama
To the surprise of many, Tony Romo wasn’t the problem in Dallas last season. In fact, Romo played fairly well throughout the season, finishing off with thirty-one touchdowns and just ten interceptions. The biggest problem that Dallas was faced with last season was their awful defense. They had a historically bad season and particularly struggled in the secondary. They have a huge need at the safety position and with Clinton-Dix still on the board, the Cowboys must pull the trigger. Clinton-Dix has a very rare combination of size, speed, and instincts have the potential to make him a perennial Pro Bowler at the next level.