Every year, we agonize over which players we would love our team to have, as well as coming up with a list of draft prospects we never want to see our favorite team take. In the spirit of this with the 2014 NFL Draft just a month away, I decided to pick a “dream prospect” for each team. The dream has to be a realistic one, so I’m not going to sit here and list Sammy Watkins as the dream pick for the New York Jets, because it’s pretty much impossible for him to fall outside the top 15 and into the Jets waiting arms at 18.
New England Patriots: Louis Nix
The New England Patriots have needs at safety, defensive tackle, and tight end, and Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro is still usually the Patriots pick at pick No. 29. While keeping Vince Wilfork has mitigated the team’s need for a defensive tackle, they could still use a guy like Louis Nix. I don’t think he’ll fall far enough for the Patriots to take him, but that’s why he’s a dream pick for them. He’d be the perfect heir to Wilfork, and he’s an excellent 4-3 DT who excels at swallowing up blockers in run defense with enough burst to disrupt plays in the backfield on occasion. Amaro isn’t a “dream pick” here, because he’ll realistically be there for the Patriots. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t qualify, because I can’t see him falling that far due to the emphasis on the safety position.
New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr.
Justin Gilbert could have worked here, but I still think the New York Jets have more of a need for a wide receiver. Moreover, I also view OBJ as a better prospect than Gilbert, and the Jets would likely be able to draft a better CB in Jason Verrett at pick No. 18. DB and WR/TE help are the biggest needs for the Jets, and thus I could also see Eric Ebron as an excellent “dream” choice here. That said, I also have OBJ ranked higher than Ebron, because Beckham Jr. has better hands and is a more polished route-runner. He’s arguably the second-best wide receiver in the class, and he, Eric Decker, and Jeremy Kerley would form an excellent wide receiver trio for Geno Smith. If OBJ falls to the 18th pick, then the Jets have to snap him up and go into the 2014 season with massive upgrades at their biggest position of need going into the offseason.
Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan
I would have picked Zack Martin here if the Dolphins were worried about Lewan’s character concerns, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Lewan has major off-field concerns, but he’s also an incredibly gifted draft prospect. He isn’t far off from Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews in terms of ability, and he would be a huge upgrade for the Dolphins at right tackle. He and Branden Albert would form an excellent offensive tackle duo, and I’ve fallen in love with Lewan’s ability to pass protect and run block. Lewan is agile, possesses great technique, doesn’t get beat by speed easily in pass pro, and he is a punishing run blocker. This is a guy who can play at either tackle spot, and the Dolphins will hope that he falls enough for them to take him. If Martin is available, then he would also be an excellent pick for a team that still has huge needs on the offensive line.
Buffalo Bills: Greg Robinson
Ebron looks like the most likely pick for the Buffalo Bills, but I think Greg Robinson would be too good to pass up on. They could use an upgrade at right tackle, especially as far as run blocking goes. Robinson is the best run blocking tackle, and his blend of strength and athleticism has a lot of people drooling at his upside. He and Cordy Glenn would form a ridiculously good bookend of young tackles for second-year pro E.J. Manuel, who now has Mike Williams to throw it to.
Tennessee Titans: Khalil Mack
This isn’t realistic at all, but I was having a difficult time coming up with a “dream” pick for the Titans. I don’t think Anthony Barr is going to be a top-ten pick, because he’s too raw to warrant a top-ten selection. The Minnesota Vikings are the only team that make sense as a serious suitor for Barr prior to the Titans pick, and I think they need to take a QB or go in a different direction. I would be beyond shocked if Mack falls outside of the top ten, so chalk this one up as a pipe dream. But could you imagine Khalil Mack as a centerpiece in Ray Horton’s new hybrid 3-4 scheme? Mack is almost the definition of a hybrid, because he can play as a 4-3 OLB, 3-4 OLB, 4-3 DE, or even a 3-4 OLB. His versatility and athletic ability are a joy for a defensive coordinator, because someone like Horton would be free to mold him. Not only is he effective rushing the passer, but he also has a great motor in run defense.
Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney and then getting a franchise QB in Round 2
It’s too difficult to tab a “dream pick” for the Houston Texans, because they can pick whoever they want with the first choice overall. I feel like Bridgewater is their best option with the first pick, and I can’t see them passing up on a quarterback in the first round. If they do, then they are gambling on there being a QB in the second round. If the gamble pays off, though, it is a huge help for the Texans, because they will be able to get a high-impact, blue-chip prospect in Clowney, who is the best player in the class, and still find a franchise quarterback. The Texans absolute dream of a draft would be Clowney first overall and then Bridgewater at 33.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater is going to be my dream pick for a number of teams, but I could have easily gone with Clowney here. While Clowney is the better prospect, the Jaguars have a much bigger need at quarterback than at defensive end after signing Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, as well as re-signing Jason Babin. At this point, I think Khalil Mack is a better fit for the Jaguars, because he can be a 4-3 OLB for them as well. Anyway, the Jaguars biggest need is at quarterback, and I think they would love to get their hands on Bridgewater with the third overall pick if the Texans don’t take him first. Clowney would make sense for the Jags due to his supreme talent alone, but I wouldn’t want to pass up on Bridgewater if he is available, especially since it likely means another year of Chad Henne starting. Also, I wouldn’t put all my eggs in the baskets of the quarterbacks heading to the draft next year.