I’ve gone for a concurrent mock this time around. On the left is the pick I’d make and on the right in bold is the pick I think is the one the team makes. Occasionally the board matches up so some picks I’ve put in alternative ideas instead.
My Pick Their Pick
1. Houston Texans Teddy Bridgewater, QB Jadeveon Clowney, DE
The Texans might need a little more work than is made out (you don’t end up with the #1 pick for no good reason), but they are pretty plug and play on O, so I’m going with Teddy here. Smart, solid QB that will have a good supporting cast around him as a rookie.
It seems though that the Texans are going to take the best player in the draft, Jadeveon Clowney, to pair with JJ Watt. A fearsome prospect. Word is that O’Brien likes more prototypical QBs, and with Clowney here, #1 is too high for someone like Blake Bortles.
2. St. Louis Rams Greg Robinson, OT Jake Matthews, OT
Auburn Texas A&M
Greg Robinson has probably the most potential of any player in this draft and the Rams desperately need O-line help. He’ll likely start on the right side where he’ll be a mean run blocker from day 1. An insane athlete for his size. I was sorely tempted to Clowney here, but Robinson may well be the same level of prospect plus is in a position of need.
This is splitting hairs, but I suspect very much this pick is going on the trenches. Where it differs here is in the player. Jake Matthews hasn’t got the publicity that Robinson has, but is a very good player (and athlete) himself, plus he comes with the pedigree Jeff Fisher may prefer. He coached Jake’s dad, Bruce, in Tennessee.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars Jadeveon Clowney, DE Khalil Mack, OLB
Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell are doing backflips if it shakes out this way and they land Clowney. They are building a mini-Seahawks in Jacksonville and that means getting fearsome on D. They are a blur as they race to the podium to select the UGA rusher.
Again, a similar player, but I feel very sure that Jacksonville want a pass-rusher. They get a good consolation prize in Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. A very good rusher with the ability to play inside and outside ‘backer, he gives Coach Bradley a moveable piece to play with.
4. Cleveland Browns Johnny Manziel, QB Greg Robinson, OT
Texas A&M Auburn
Colour me a believer in the Manziel experience. Underneath the college freestyling is a mature passer with the ability to win from the pocket. He surveys the field well and displays a good understanding of touch on his passes. Kyle Shanahan will surround him with the structure to succeed.
The Browns have been a tight ship and I really have no firm grip on what they want to do. Overall the noise seems to be that they aren’t sold on a QB at #4, and sounds like they may be making Oline a priority here. Robinson projects at RT day 1, with the ability to take over from Joe Thomas when the day comes.
5. Oakland Raiders Jake Matthews, OT Sammy Watkins, WR
Texas A&M Clemson
Oakland are just devoid of talent, especially young talent. They need help everywhere so grab the best player available in Jake Matthews. Starting LT Jared Veldheer left an already poor line for Arizona. The Raiders can plug in Matthews and leave him to it.
I think this Watkins’ ceiling (I don’t buy the top 2 talk). Oakland really don’t have much on offense, and new QB Matt Schaub needs a strong supporting cast around him. Watkins will give them a potential star on O.
6. Atlanta Falcons Khalil Mack, OLB Taylor Lewan, OT
The Falcons were dreadful getting after the QB last year, which is a bad look with the litany of quality QBs in the NFC. Khalil Mack falls a little to them here and they are very glad to have him. They loaded up against the run in FA, so Mack should get something going against the pass.
A lot of people have Lewan as good or better than the top two OT prospects Robinson and Matthews, with only his off-field flags keeping him out the discussion. The NFL seems less concerned though. The Falcons need to get better on the O-line so with the pass rushers gone, they take Lewan to start day 1 at LT.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Anthony Barr, OLB Mike Evans, WR
UCLA Texas A&M
Lovie Smith is the boss now, so I’m picking pass-rusher. The Buccs WR depth chart doesn’t look all that pretty, but I’m not a big proponent of loading up at WR and they already have their #1 in VJax. Barr will give them a long speed-rusher that Lovie will make good use of on the edge.
Like I said, it does not look pretty behind VJax and it does seem like this is the pick they might make. Mike Evans maybe doesn’t quite have Watkins hype, but is much more advanced at winning in man coverage down the field and has a FU attitude when going for the ball. He’s also a long strider so has sneaky speed for his size.
8. Minnesota Vikings Aaron Donald, DT Teddy Bridgewater, QB
Mike Zimmer is getting the keys here and getting his own little Geno Atkins. Aaron Donald is a perfect fit in Zimmer’s 4-3. He’s a little undersized, but causes constant disruption up the middle, which is the name of the game now.
I don’t know if Rick Spielman does this, but I can’t bring myself to have Teddy slide much. Spielman’s ass is in the fire right now, having somehow outlived Leslie Frazier and Christian Ponder. He won’t survive another QB bust and Teddy is about as safe as you’re gonna get as a prospect.
9. Buffalo Bills Mike Evans, WR Eric Ebron, TE
Texas A&M UNC
The Bills are actually a pretty solid unit. They could go FS here having lost Byrd, but I like Evans a lot here. The Bills have a lot of smaller, shifty guys and Evans will complement them well. EJ Manuel is a questionable decision-maker, and Evans will give him one that is always good.
They do seem to want a big, athletic target for Manuel so they go with the big name at TE in Eric Ebron. He’s had his issues, but has also been compared to Vernon Davis for his mixture of size and athleticism. He’ll fit well alongside the more tradional TE Scott Chandler.
10. Detroit Lions HaHa Clinton-Dix, S Justin Gilbert, CB
Alabama Oklahoma State
The Detroit Lions’ secondary has been a farce for, well, as long as I’ve known it so if Clinton-Dix is here it’s a no brainer. I’ve seen some pick a WR here, or D-line, but I cannot get on board with that. They’ve loaded up year on year on the D-line, and yeah, that secondary isn’t better for it. A top 10 pick on a WR opposite Megatron is luxury in its purest sense.
As well as being my pick, I think the Lions do actually finally address their secondary. They just signed Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo though so I think they’ll probably go for a corner. Gilbert adds fluidity and ball skills to a below average set of corners.
11. Tennessee Titans Sammy Watkins, WR Anthony Barr, OLB
In reality, Watkins is probably gone at this point but he’s slid here and I think the Titans jump on him. They spent high picks on Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter but they’re short a primary option, and Watkins is too good to pass up. Being able to throw short to him *might* save Locker, plus Watkins is already used to adjusting to spotty ball placement playing with Tajh Boyd.
If Barr is here, this is one of the picks I feel pretty good about. The Titans just hired former Browns DC Ray Horton, so will be playing his multiple 3-4 system on D. Much like Zimmer, he’s getting the keys here and Barr gives him speed and length on the edge, plus a high-character guy.
12. New York Giants Eric Ebron, TE Aaron Donald, DT
This pick is for Eli. It’s quite a while since he’s had a top talent at TE and Ebron will give him a mismatch to exploit all over the field. It’s not a very “Giants” pick, as they’ve usually relied on late round projects coached up by Mike Pope, but the veteran TE coach has left so I’m giving them a top-flight talent here.
If Aaron Donald is here, the Giants are picking him. They really weren’t very good rushing the passer last year, and their once-heralded set of D-lineman have regressed or moved on. Umenyiora, Tuck and Canty are no longer Giants and Kiwanuka is 31. Donald would put an engine back in the NASCAR.
13. St. Louis Rams Calvin Pryor, S Darqueze Dennard, CB
Louisville Michigan State
I think this is the pick that the Rams are more likely to flip, specifically back into the top 10 to pick up Watkins/Evans, but here I’m giving them a top for their D. Pryor is a very physical safety with range and I think Gregg Williams would be very happy to have him back there.
I do think if the Rams don’t move here then it will be a DB, and I think they probably will take a safety, but in the interest of keeping it… interesting, they go with Dennard. They just released Cortland Finnegan and Dennard gives them a bit of attitude back and experience in press coverage.
14. Chicago Bears Justin Gilbert, CB HaHa Clinton-Dix, S
Oklahoma State Alabama
The once-vaunted Bears D was pretty terrible last year. They went all-in on the defensive front in FA and I’m shoring up the back end here. Justin Gilbert is rated as one of the top corners for his playmaking abilities and I’m adding his sticky hands to the Bears’ backfield.
Basically I think what the Bears do is decided by what the Rams do. If a top flight safety is there, I’m betting they’re taking him. They’re ecstatic to get Clinton-Dix here, who should help tighten things up in the secondary.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers Louis Nix III, NT Bradley Roby, CB
Notre Dame Ohio State
I resisted giving them a punter and went with the top NT in the draft. The Steelers’ roster is shot to crap and really they could take pretty much the best player anywhere and it’d help, but I’m taking Nix here to replace what they’ve been missing since Casey Hampton left.
Roethlisberger has agitated for a WR, but they have far bigger needs, like at corner where they are really pretty horrible. I have no idea why they didn’t just cut Ike Taylor loose, but for some reason they’ve extended him. Roby had a worse year this year than last, but he’s fast, long-armed and aggressive and is not afraid to take on bigger players. Plus the Steelers love Buckeyes.
16. Dallas Cowboys Dee Ford, DE Cyrus Kouandjio, OT
Dallas was historically awful on D last year under Monte Kiffin, so I’m helping them out on that end. Kiffin’s been promoted out of harm’s way and I’m giving new guy Rod Marinelli some speed on the edge. DeMarcus Ware is gone, and hopefully Ford can replace some of what he did.
I think probably they go D, but again to keep this interesting they’re taking someone else here. Travis Frederick beefed up the line in the middle, but Doug Free is still there so they still suck on the right side. Kouandjio’s failed medical has been refuted and is a day 1 starter at RT, plus Jerrah has probably seen him play on TV.
17. Baltimore Ravens Zack Martin, OT Louis Nix III, NT
Notre Dame Notre Dame
Again, I managed to resist taking a punter here and went O-line instead. The Ravens’ line last year was hot garbage, pass-blocking and run-blocking. Martin is a versatile lineman that will initially get a shot on the edge, but should be a very good guard if he doesn’t quite make it on the edge in the NFL.
This is another pick where I think they’ll go the same position I did, so again using this spot to suggest an alternative. This is a little more of an unexpected one, but I don’t think unbelievable. Ozzie knows to build a D from the inside out and Ngata had visibly slowed last year. They take Nix here to understudy and then take over next year when Ngata’s contract is more expendable.
18. New York Jets Odell Beckham Jr., WR Calvin Pryor, S
I love Odell Beckham and I’m taking him here for whoever plays QB for the Jets next year. He has huge hands that engulf the football and highpoints the football better than anyone after Mike Evans. He’s also a playmaker, reminding me a little of Patrick Peterson when he has the ball in his hands.
I think it’s probably a receiver, maybe Cooks or Ebron if he is still on the board, but I think safety could be an alternative. They started Ed Reed there last year, so yeah, it’s a need. Pryor would add a hitter with some range to the back end for the Jets.
19. Miami Dolphins Cyrus Kouandjio, OT Eric Ebron, TE
Aside from playcalling, Ryan Tannehill’s biggest obstacle at the Dolphins has been the horrible line in front of him, now missing the starting guard and right tackle. Kouandjio slots in on the right side to bookend big-name FA signing Branden Albert to hopefully give Tannehill some more time in the pocket.
The pick really has to be O-line, but as an alternative they could go TE and get Tannehill more help. Ebron has slipped a little here and gives the Dolphins an athletic receiver to add to the offense and hopefully aid Tannehill in taking the next step.
20. Arizona Cardinals Ryan Shazier, LB Jimmie Ward, S
Ohio State Northern Illinois
The Browns stole Karlos Dansby off the Cards by giving him a big contract, so I’m taking his replacement here. Shazier is a very similar player athletically to Dansby, very long and mobile. He was an OLB at Ohio State, but played inside often and that’s where he projects in Todd Bowles’ 3-4. His athleticism gets him drafted over Mosley here.
Shazier is another pick that I feel pretty confident about, so again this is a different option rather than what I think they’ll do. Jimmie Ward is slightly undersized, but very versatile for a safety. He can play strong, free or even slot corner for the Cards and adds to their talented secondary.
21. Green Bay Packers Jimmie Ward, S CJ Mosley, LB
Northern Illinois Alabama
The Packers have been bad on D, and especially at safety for a couple of seasons. They aren’t getting out the NFC without improving it and Ward will slot in at safety, but with the ability to be used in different places as well, a little like they used Charles Woodson towards the end of his time in Wisconsin.
They really should go safety, and I think they do, but Mosley is another possibility so with Ward off the board the pick before they take the ‘Bama ILB here. The Packers are soft in the middle and Mosley will give them a sure-tackling sideline-to-sideline presence in the centre of their D.
22. Philadelphia Eagles Kyle Fuller, CB Dee Ford, DE
Virginia Tech Missouri
I’m taking Fuller here for the Eagles as they’re straight bad at corner. A lot of people see Fuller as possibly the best CB in the draft. His physical attributes and ability to mirror WRs has led to comparisons to Joe Haden.
This is a bit of a split decision, as I do think they may well go CB, but if the board falls right then I think they will go after a pass-rusher. Chip Kelly likes to do everything fast, not only on O, and Ford will give him some speed to add to a pedestrian pass rush.
23. Kansas City Chiefs Darqueze Dennard, CB Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG
Michigan State UCLA
The Chiefs are a D-first team and when their pass rush slowed down as the year went on their secondary was shown up. Dennard adds a physical, press corner to a unit that likes to take the game to its opponent.
I was very temped to go WR here, and I think they’ll probably be as split, but I’m going with a guard. Andy Reid is known to love picking in the trenches and last time his team was picking at #23, they went with Danny Watkins. The Chiefs are weak at guard and Su’a-Filo will slip in and shore up the interior.
24. Cincinnati Bengals Blake Bortles, QB Kyle Fuller, CB
USF Virginia Tech
This is my one wow pick. I don’t really like Bortles as a prospect, but his upside is better than Dalton’s. The Bengals are umming and ahhing over extending a QB that has failed to get them anywhere in the playoffs and Bortles lights a fire under his ass with the possibility of being a much better player.
The noise definitely seems to be that the Bengals want to re-sign Dalton though so I think they’ll take a CB. Leon Hall is coming off a second torn Achilles so Fuller gives the Bengals insurance for him and Kirkpatrick if he continues to struggle with injuries too.
25. San Diego Chargers Bradley Roby, CB Ra’Shede Hageman, DT
Ohio State Minnesota
The Chargers have a bunch of JAGs at CB after losing both starters last off-season. Bradley Roby adds some young, athletic talent to their secondary. They face Peyton Manning twice a year so need to get better in the secondary.
They have a few talented players in the front 7 in San Diego, but need an anchor on the D-line. Hageman gives them someone that can play the nose, or move along the line to get the best use of his power and athleticism.
26. Cleveland Browns Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG Ryan Shazier, LB
UCLA Ohio State
The Browns desperately need help on the right side of the line, especially at RG. Lauvao and Cousins thankfully are gone, but they’ve left a gap at the position. Su’a-Filo is another quality player to add to the line, alongside Joe Thomas and the newly re-signed Alex Mack. An instant upgrade.
I think in reality with the QBs still on the board here they take one, so this is another alternate pick. They are definitely looking to upgrade alongside Karlos Dansby. They tendered Craig Robertson, but after his poor play last year he’s an insurance/upside signing. Shazier is reminiscent of Dansby’s old teammate Daryl Washington and would fit very well here.
27. New Orleans Saints Marqise Lee, WR Marcus Martin, C
The window is closing on the Saints with Drew Brees approaching the end of his career. They went big in FA signing Jairus Byrd and Champ Bailey, and now I’m giving Brees a new option. Lee had his issues in 2013, but was a quality player in 2012. He gives the Saints a good underneath option to go with Graham and deep threat Kenny Stills.
Brian de la Puente left in free agency so there’s a gap in the middle of New Orleans’ line. Martin is tabbed as the best center prospect in the draft and will add some more talented youth in the trenches after they drafted Terron Armstead last year. I feel pretty good about them going WR here, but I can see them making this move too.
28. Carolina Panthers Taylor Lewan, OT Odell Beckham Jr., WR
Lewan slides down my mock for off-field issues, but the mixture of need and talent is too great for Carolina. Their entire line pretty much spontaneously retired this off-season so they need help here. Lewan should protect Cam’s blindside long-term.
O-line is #1 for Carolina, but WR is #2 so this is an alternate. Their WR corps was looking pretty shakey but David Gettleman again rebuilt it with discards. Beckham adds a lot more talent and gives Cam back a lot of what Steve Smith used to do. Undersized for a #1, but is tough at the catch point just like Smith.
29. New England Patriots Allen Robinson, WR Timmy Jernigan, DT
Penn State FSU
Time to stop relying on Tom Brady and give him some help. I know Pats fans have a lot of faith in their young WRs, but Robinson would be a perfect fit. A very good route runner with great hands, he reminds me of Roddy White. Brady would love him.
A lot of people have had the Pats taking a TE here, but I think they are taking a D-lineman if they keep this pick. Vince Wilfork is 32 and coming off a torn Achilles, as well as having made noises about leaving. Jernigan is the best D-lineman on the board.
30. San Francisco 49ers Jason Verrett, CB Cody Latimer, WR
The 9ers are lacking in talent at cornerback so I’m taking Verrett, who if he was taller would probably be the consensus #1 CB. He is undersized, but is a ball hawk and is tough enough to survive on the outside, as well as offering the ability to play the slot too.
Cody Latimer missed the Combine with an injured foot, so has flown under the radar somewhat. He’s gotten a lot of buzz among scouts though and is viewed by some as a top 5 WR in this class. He reminds me of Marvin Jones with his ability to box out in the endzone and the 49ers will also value his ability as a blocker.
31. Denver Broncos CJ Mosley, LB Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB
Alabama Georgia Tech
Mosley slips a little due to fit, positional value and injury concerns, but is a great fit here for the Broncos and I think they’d be very happy to get him. Mosley adds a lot of talent to the middle of the Broncos front 7 and is an upgrade at the position for Denver, who played former XFLer Paris Lenon here late in the season.
Both the top ILBs are off the board here, which I think will be Denver’s top priority, so they’re going with pass rush. Attaochu is a bit of a sleeper since he was miscast as an inside ‘backer at the Senior Bowl, but is a fluid rusher on the edge.
32. Seattle Seahawks Jace Amaro, TE Joel Bitonio, OT
Texas Tech Nevada
I’m letting Wilson rip here and taking Amaro. They won a Super Bowl with Wilson not making mistakes and hitting occasional shot plays, but he’s capable of more. Amaro didn’t test off the charts but he’s very smooth and very reliable and will give the Seahawks a top-flight TE.
Probably the one real weakness the Seahawks have is on the O-line. Okung and Unger are very good players, but the rest of the line is not as strong. Bitonio will fit at OT with the ability to play OG at a high level if he can’t stay on the edge, plus he has that “I haven’t really heard of that guy” factor the Seahawks love.
- Obviously the players aren’t going to be exact, but I’ve mostly aimed to hit on the position that I think that team will take, or where it makes sense to invest. Some picks are a little different, partly because there has been overlap between what I’d do and what I think they’ll do, so I’ve provided alternatives and tried to make them a little more interesting.
- There’s a lot of samey picks at the top of the mock, but it’s a little difficult to have much alternative between my picks and the team picks there as it really shapes the draft. Everything is a lot more fluid in the middle.
- The QBs kinda just… slid in the team mock. It seems that outside the top 5-10 there aren’t a lot of spots for them. In a rigid mock, really #26 to Cleveland is the one spot you’d definitely put one, but in reality there’ll be a lot of trading around at the back end of the draft if it works out like that. It’s going to be interesting for teams like New Orleans, New England and Denver that have old QBs and might be able to grab one of these prospects. Do they try to ensure their future or pick for the present?
- In my mock Evans went before Watkins and I’m prepared to bang the table for Evans being an equally valuable prospect. Evans has more NFL skills right now, if a lower ceiling.
- Doing this mock, this draft is definitely seems better than last year’s. However I think it’s also going to be quite “pick your poison”. I think there’s probably a lot of variation in top prospects on teams’ boards. For example, all the top corners have very individual skills so they could probably go in any order.
- The NFL has got to be thankful for the O-line talent in this draft, which seems plentiful. It’s an exception to have a strong O-line these days, and Ds are constantly getting better at scheming pressure.
- I feel very unsure as to the Browns’ intentions. I think their aim is O-line at #4 and QB at #26, maybe with a little movement from that pick. Or at least I think I think that. Basically, only a RB would surprise me in the 1st.
- As for the rest of the AFC North, pretty sure it’s O-line for the Ravens, cornerback for the Steelers and cornerback for the Bengals.