I’ve finally buckled. I’m giving in. All of the Jadeveon Clowny to the Houston Texans chatter is too much to ignore, while the hatred so many have for Johnny Manziel can’t be pushed to the side anymore, either. The Texans don’t really need a pass rusher and they do need a franchise passer, but who am I to go against the masses?
If for no other reason than to simply switch it up a bit, I’m finally going away from my “Manziel to Houston” mock design, and starting from scratch as we start the countdown to May 8th’s NFL Draft. We still have over a month to work our way through all the smokescreens and looming trades, but for now we’ll get it started in predictable fashion – with Clowney going to the Texans:
1. Houston Texans - Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Texans do need a quarterback, but they could still get their man in round two or even trade back into the first. Clowney, though, is a once in a decade player. It’s true that he has to be overrated to an extent and he has serious questions when it comes to in game motor and work ethic, but it’s tough to discount the freak in him. I’ll be hoping it’s Manziel, but it’s starting to feel like Clowney will go #1.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins) – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Rams might trade down from this spot, but if they don’t get what they want they can just sit here and grab a stud offensive tackle or Sammy Watkins. Considering they have a second pick inside the top-15, I think they grab the high upside Robinson here and hope a receiver they like slides down.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
Some think Mack could go #1, while I don’t think he’ll last outside of the top-five. He’s a pure football player who can get after the passer and will simply makes plays. Jacksonville has made some solid moves so far, but they need a freak to rule their defense. Mack is that freak. A quarterback will have to wait.
4. Cleveland Browns - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Cleveland will wait on their passer, too, as the writing seems to be on the wall that Watkins is destined to be a Brown unless something different happens with the top three picks. The Browns can just go after their passer with their second first round pick.
5. Oakland Raiders - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Bortles could easily go number one, while it’s hard to imagine him sliding outside of the top-five. The Raiders do have Matt Schaub and also have tons of holes, but they need to look to the future here.
6. Atlanta Falcons - Anthony Barr, DE, UCLA
Atlanta has made some solid moves in free agency, but they still need help in the pass rushing department. An offensive tackle is something to consider here, too, but Barr is a top-shelf pass-rusher. He has to be the pick here.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
There has been talk about the Bucs looking at receiver or even making a splash at quarterback. I don’t think either will happen. Brandon Myers isn’t the answer and Luke Stocker and Tim Wright both are incomplete tight ends. Ebron is an athletic freak who can make plays in his sleep and also seems to enjoy blocking. He’s going to be a stud on an already very talented Tampa offense.
8. Minnesota Vikings - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Vikes don’t seem to be high on Johnny Football, but they might pull the trigger if Teddy Bridgewater is still hanging around. A so-so pro day has his stock dipping a bit, so he could fall just far enough for Minny to get their man.
9. Buffalo Bills - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Buffalo could make a splash at wide receiver here, but they have issues at guard and tackle and Matthews is too good to fall much further.
10. Detroit Lions - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Calvin Johnson is alone, no more. Evans is a brute in his own right and finally gives the Lions two legit outside threats who can also be terrors in the red-zone.
11. Tennessee Titans – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Tennessee lost cornerback Alterraun Verner in free agency, so they badly need a new one. Gilbert is explosive and has a very high ceiling, so he makes a lot of sense for Ray Horton’s new 3-4 scheme.
12. New York Giants - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Giants lost Linval Joseph in free agency and now have no one worth talking about on the inside of their defensive line. They could use a lot of pieces but defensive tackle might take the cake.
13. St. Louis Rams - Marqise Lee, WR, Detroit Lions
The Rams waited and still got a burner with the ability to move the chains in Lee. He packs on the speed, but he’s actually also a guy who can be a go-to target at the next level. You didn’t think signing Kenny Britt took care of receiver for the Rams, did you?
14. Chicago Bears – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Chicago added some safety depth but still could use an upgrade in the back of their defense. With that said, it all starts up top and they don’t have much now that Henry Melton is in Dallas. They need to add a talented defensive tackle pretty badly.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Troy Polomalu isn’t getting any younger and Ryan Clark left in free agency. It’s time for the Steelers to add an elite talent at safety to protect themselves from any further regression.
16. Dallas Cowboys - Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Dallas brought in Henry Melton to improve their awful run defense, but why stop there? Nix is a stud who could be a force right away for the ‘Boys.
17. Baltimore Ravens - Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Baltimore might like a safety or big-play receiver here, but they lost Arthur Jones to the Colts and will absolutely need to beef up their defensive line. Hageman has the size and pass-rushing ability to step in and take over from day one.
18. New York Jets - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
New York has already been tied to Benjamin, so if he’s here it looks like a fit. Eric Decker has one side locked up, and his size and speed could nail down the other side for the Jets as they try to make their offense less repulsive.
19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
Miami addressed their 0-line in free agency but they still need more bodies. Martin is versatile and can play inside or out, so he’ll be an attractive candidate.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I’m not buying that Manziel actually falls this far, and I damn sure won’t buy that he’s not a first round pick. Bruce Arians will chuckle when he plucks Johnny Football off the board to be the immobile Carson Palmer’s successor in the desert.
21. Green Bay Packers - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Green Bay did a good job adding talent on the defensive line, while it’ll be very interesting to see how they use Julius Peppers and just what they can get out of him. None of the progress will mean a thing if they can’t improve their safety play, though. Pryor is a big hitter who will help crack down on the opposing run games and hopefully will continue to improve as a play-maker.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
A lot of mocks have been headed in the direction of a big fall for Mosley, and I’m finally catching onto it. There just isn’t an insane need for a top-end inside linebacker when you factor in all the other pressing needs. At least for now, the free fall makes sense, while Philly does need to re-think their inside linebackers going forward.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Branden Albert is a Dolphin, so the Chiefs need to grab a new right tackle with Eric Fisher sliding to the left. Wide receiver is the sexy pick, but they need to keep Alex Smith on his feet first.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Cincy has issues in the secondary. They have some young guys that could step up, but they also have aging and ailing bodies, as well. They need more talent for the secondary.
25. San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
San Diego’s main weakness in 2013 was their shaky pass defense. They added some depth but they still need a spark. Verrett could be a stud corner if he can put it all together.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Colts) – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
It’s probably down to Carr or Zach Mettenberger for the Browns at this spot, while they could probably even wait until round two to get the LSU kid. I think they pull the trigger here, though, because Carr is very talented and shouldn’t have dropped this far.
27. New Orleans Saints – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
New Orleans could do a number of things but now that they have two really good safeties, adding an elite pass-rusher could be all they need to push their defense over the top. Ealy is just that.
28. Carolina Panthers - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Carolina has nothing at wide receiver. They absolutely need to get one with this pick. Cooks is still a little rough around the edges but he’s very explosive and should slide into Steve Smith’s old role pretty effortlessly.
29. New England Patriots – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
New England went through hell last year. They could use a new body on the defensive line, but why not grab a stud tight end? Amaro should be especially attractive given Gronk’s knee injury.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The 49ers reached for a wide receiver a few years ago and got a bust in A.J. Jenkins. They won’t make that mistake again. Instead, they wait on a new receiver and add to a strength here with an awesome defensive end in Tuitt.
31. Denver Broncos – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Denver signed DeMarcus Ware and still have Von Miller, so they may bypass more pass-rushing help in the first and grab a linebacker. Wesley Woodyard jetted for Tennessee, so they’ll be looking for a new ‘backer.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
Seattle lost some talent on the defensive line, so they could look to stock up here. Ford is explosive off the line and probably is best suited for a 4-3. Wide receiver is a no brainer possibility here, as well.
*Photo Credit – vagabond79 via Flickr