We just got done with the Shrine game and the Senior Bowl is coming up this weekend. Naturally, even with the actual 2014 NFL Draft still months away (which is light years during an NFL off-season), doing a mock is at least still somewhat relevant.
And hey, you’re here reading what we’re spinning, so you can’t blame us too much. Mostly, though, I’ve simply changed my mind on a few picks. That’s bound to happen 114 times from now until draft day, but the fun is in the variations.
Chalk it up, folks. Here’s another mock for Senior Bowl week, and keep your eyes out for the one surely to follow the game, itself:
1. Houston Texans – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I’m starting to think Manziel goes first, but not to the Texans. I don’t mock trades, though, so for now I’ll just stick to my guns and say Manziel goes number one, regardless. In my opinion he’s the top quarterback prospect and the Texans need a quarterback. I can see them trading down with the Browns and possibly still nabbing Jadeveon Clowney, or simply taking Clowney here, instead. But for now I like Manziel staying in Texas.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins) – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Rams don’t really need Clowney. They recorded over 50 sacks as a team for the second year in a row and have no issues with their pass-rush. However, getting Clowney could give them flexibility on their roster at defensive end moving forward and this guy is just too talented to slip very far. That, and there’s a very good chance St. Louis trades down and someone else takes Clowney at this spot.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
This is a case of natural ability and rising stock. The Jaguars might consider Clowney if he somehow drops to this spot, but otherwise they’re going quarterback, all the way. I think they’re going to be fine with any of the top three passers, but I see Bortles rising and Bridgewater falling a bit, which should put Bortles in Jacksonville. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s a hometown product, either.
4. Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
There’s been talk that the Manziel to Cleveland whispers are a smokescreen. Maybe, maybe not. But I do think the Browns will end up having to trade up if Manziel is in fact the guy they covet. If they stand pat, they could do a number of things. However, waiting on a quarterback is a dangerous game when Bridgewater is still on the board.
5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Oakland obviously needs a quarterback, but with the top three gone, they’re either reaching for Derek Carr or they have to wait. There are still 3-4 sleeper quarterbacks to be had in this draft, so I think they’ll wait. That means improving their offense one way or another with this pick and Watkins is the best pure talent available.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
I still can’t decide who is the safer pick at tackle – Robinson or Jake Matthews. I tend to prefer Matthews, but Robinson is rising so I’ll mock him here for now. One thing is for certain, the Falcons badly need help on both of their lines. As much as an elite pass-rusher would help their defense, they really need to protect Matt Ryan better. Robinson makes a lot of sense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anthony Barr, DE, UCLA
I’m starting to think Barr is the better pure talent between him and Khalil Mack. He also seems to be more versatile. Tampa Bay really needs a youth and talent injection to their pass-rush and with Lovie Smith being a defensive mind, this pick works.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
I still think Carr in the top-10 is a bit of a reach, but there’s no denying his talent, pedigree and upside. He’s a fine athlete with a cannon arm, and he could be magical with some solid talent already in place in Minnesota.
9. Buffalo Bills – Khalil Mack, DE, Buffalo
Mack stays in Buffalo to play with the Bills, as they need help with their pass-rush and he’s the top specialist on the board. He’s probably a better fit for the 4-3, so he fits in nicely here.
10. Detroit Lions – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Dennard has some questions about his timed speed and that will all be worked out, but he’s a natural talent and is shaping up to be the draft’s top corner prospect. Detroit needs to finally address their average secondary. However, if Sammy Watkins somehow free falls, they could take the plunge by getting Calvin Johnson a legit running mate at wide receiver.
11. Tennessee Titans – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Tennessee doesn’t have a legit presence in the middle of their defense. They could bolster either line, too, but Mosley is an exceptional inside ‘backer and it addresses a need.
12. New York Giants – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I personally don’t see how Matthews falls this far, but I mock a lot based off of need and this is how it worked out. He’s a fantastic tackle with terrific upside, and the Giants really need to shore up a shaky o-line. He’d be a major steal.
13. St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Is Clinton-Dix even the best safety in this draft? Based off of the level of competition he faced, I tend to think so, but it’s turning out to be a closer debate than many had thought. The Rams badly need help at safety, though, so they should take a safety, one way or another. If they don’t, Mike Evans would give them a chance at landing a legit go-to #1 receiver.
14. Chicago Bears – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Chicago felt the absence of Henry Melton last year and their run defense turned to mush. They need to make sure that never happens again. Jernigan will slide right into the rotation in the middle of the defensive line.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
It’s time to finally protect Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers brought in o-line guru Mike Munchak to fix their offensive line and now they’ll get him an elite talent to work with. Lewan’s stock could quickly rise, but if he falls this far Pittsburgh has to be smart and snatch him up.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Baltimore waded in mediocrity on offense all season in 2013, thanks largely to being without Dennis Pitta (hip) and Anquan Boldin (trade). With Jacoby Jones a failed experiment and likely leaving, the Ravens need to get more talented in the passing game. Evans can be a legit #1 target.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
I’ll confess I don’t know a lot about Pryor. I do know he’s a good athlete with solid instincts, though, and his stock is rapidly on the rise. Dallas needs a safety who can do something in coverage – or just anything positive in general – so he’d be worth a shot here.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
With Mike Evans gone, the Jets can opt for Marqise Lee or make sure the days of Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow are no more. Lee is fast but he’s on the smaller side, so I like the Jets to get a big, athletic target that will have no problem contributing right away. Ebron could be that guy.
19. Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
I don’t think it’s any secret after everything that happened last year on Miami’s offensive line. They badly need talent to help pass and run block better. Look for them to start with pass protection if a talented tackle like Kouandjio can fall to them.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Trent Murhpy, OLB, Stanford
Arizona is aging on the outside of their 3-4 and they need to make sure they don’t have a major drop-off in production. Murphy isn’t as fast as you’d like, but he’s been productive and he is fantastic in pursuit.
21. Green Bay Packers – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Jermichael Finley’s career could be over and he’s almost certainly done in Green Bay. With no one else stepping up, the Packers need to search for a new starting tight end. Amaro is a smooth receiver who would be a perfect fit in Green Bay’s system.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin are both free agents, and regardless of their futures in Philly, the Eagles need to start thinking about their receiving corps in the long-term. Lee is an explosive athlete who fits Chip Kelly’s up-tempo system perfectly.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
It’s hard not to be a Van Noy fan. He’s extremely intense and seems to be in on every play. Kansas City was exposed in their depth on defense down the stretch and they could really use more depth at OLB in their 3-4. His stock isn’t higher because he’s not an amazing athlete, but as a pure football player, there aren’t many better in this year’s class.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Cincy is solid across the board but they really are lacking elite speed and athleticism at linebacker. James Harrison is old and a situational player, too, so it may be time to upgrade on the weak side. Shazier is on the smaller side but if he can bulk up and retain his speed he’ll be a dynamite addition.
25. San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
I tend to think this year’s crop of corners is very good, but there is little to separate them. I like Verrett’s ability to make plays, though, and think he’s just what the doctor ordered in San Diego.
26. Cleveland Browns – Ka’Reem Carey, RB, Arizona
Running back in the first round? This year it could happen. I’m back and forth between who is the best overall runner between Carey and Tre Mason, but for what the Browns need, I think Carey fits better. He’s the more complete back and he’s far more explosive, as well.
27. New Orleans Saints – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
I would be okay with Bradley Roby here, too, and there’s not a whole lot separating him and Gilbert. Gilbert has good make-up speed and is excellent at making plays on the ball. The Saints need to keep re-tooling their defense, and while they could really use more talent in their secondary, I could definitely see them adding more 3-4 talent to their d-line and line-backing corps, as well.
28. Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
I still think Benjamin is a little too raw for the first round, but I don’t know if that will stop him from being drafted there. The reality is, he’s a special athlete with uncapped upside. Carolina is aging at receiver and doesn’t have anything beyond Steve Smith. In fact, their next two best wideouts are entering free agency. They need to add some talent to the passing game.
29. New England Patriots – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
ASJ is a freak. He has the size and athleticism GMs crave, and he’s that new-age tight end that defenses hate. He lacks consistency but his potential is through the roof. The Pats just found out what it’s like to not have elite talent at the tight end position. With Rob Gronkowski in doubt to start 2014 (ACL) and Aaron Hernandez gone for good (murder chargers), look for New England to get more tight end talent.
30. San Francisco 49ers – RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
San Francisco’s main strength is their defensive line. They are a stout run defense and are also very effective at getting to the quarterback. They need to keep adding talented big bodies to make sure that never changes.
31. Denver Broncos – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Champ Bailey has shown his age finally and he could retire if the Broncos win it all. Either way, Denver needs to add more talent to their secondary. Roby should probably go a lot higher, but even if he’s not here corner is a good way to start the draft.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Seattle’s defense is awesome but they could still stand to add more talent to their pass-rush. Ealy is potentially a top-15 talent so there’s no guarantee he slides this far. If he does, however, it will be awfully hard to Pete Carroll and co. to pass him up.
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