Kinda silly to be calling this my “final” mock draft of the year considering it’s also my first, but final is final, right, America?
The NFL thinking they would increase their dominance of the calendar year by pushing the draft back to May probably backfired, so hopefully they put the thing back in April for next year. Prettay, prettay ready for this to be over with by now.
Also, doing a mock without trades is a bit of a fruitless practice, considering there is a 100% chance that some trade somewhere renders every “original order” mock moot instantly. Then again, trying to predict a trade is also pretty dumb, considering nobody has a clue who’s going to be trading with whom. But whatever. Here we are.
Let’s start with a trade at the top!
1. Atlanta Falcons (from Houston) – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Whoa! Trade! The Falcons have made no secrets about their desire to upgrade their pass-rush with the draft’s best pass-rusher, and Clowney has expressed interest in playing in Atlanta, as well. So, with the Texans eager to move out of the top spot and accumulate more picks (for Rick Smith to inevitably blow), the Falcons swoop in (see what I did there?) and swap pick No. 6 and some other trash for the No. 1 choice.
There are questions everywhere about Clowney’s motor and willingness to be great and blah, blah, blah. He’s a once-in-a-generation type of talent that teams would be foolish to pass-up on.
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, T, Auburn
The Rams are making a bunch of noise lately that seems to be leading people to believe they’re strongly considering Johnny Football here, but bah humbug. They nabbed Sam Bradford with the top pick like four years ago, and only now are they actually surrounding him with capable talent. To bail on Bradford without having given him any help after such a short period of time would be ridiculous. Other than his injury issues, he’s looked decent. So, they get him a big beefer to protect him on the O-line.
St. Louis really isn’t all that far away from being a pretty formidable team, which should make the already-boffo NFC West even more boffo. They can LOL and thank the Redskins for their generosity and ineptitude for having this pick as a part of the RGIII deal a few years back.
Robinson is widely considered the best tackle in this class, so this could be a “best player available” type selection. The Rams reportedly would like to get out from under the contract of the oft-injured Jake Long, though they are expecting him to be back and healthy in time for Week One. So, take that confusing sentence for what it’s worth. They like their current right tackle, the young Joseph Barksdale.
Another possibility here is for them to add another weapon to Bradford’s arsenal, like Sammy Watkins. Speaking of Sammy Watkins…
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
No, the Jags aren’t taking Sammy Watkins here. Or are they!? Twist! Considering Justin Blackmon can’t stop drivin’ around all drunk, it’s looking as though they’re going to have a gaping hole at wide-out yet again. Poor Jags. Watkins will be tantalizing, but they also have a pretty major need for an exterior rusher.
The conjecture about Houston taking Mack No. 1 overall is complete crap, so disregard anyone that seems to think that’s a possibility. It isn’t. However, Mack is a distinct possibility for Jacksonville at No. 3. Former Seahawks DC Gus Bradley is the head man for the Jaguars, so one would imagine he’s going to try and build himself a big, mean defense like the one he had in Seattle. Mack is a very nice way to start.
Jacksonville has a hilarious history of completely whiffing on high draft picks, specifically defensive linemen, so here’s hoping a selection of Mack wouldn’t doom him to NFL unemployment within like three years.
4. Cleveland Browns – Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M
FOX’s Jay Glazer says that the Browns aren’t planning on taking Johnny Manziel with this pick, as many seemed to have thought they might leading up to this point. Classic Browns to leak their draft plans to the public more than 48 hours ahead of the actual draft. Instead, they get themselves a right tackle.
Having Matthews, Joe Thomas and Alex Mack together should make for a pretty solid frontline for the Browns. They still need to find themselves a quarterback and another receiver, but they do have Indy’s first-rounder later on to potentially address those needs. Remember when we thought the Browns were idiots for trading Trent Richardson? Haha, whoops! Luckily, we have countless other pieces of evidence confirming that the Browns are, indeed, idiots.
5. San Francisco 49ers – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Whoa another trade! This one is a Bay Area special, with the Niners trading-up 25 spots to snag Watkins. San Francisco has more picks than they need, while the Raiders have just four in the top-200 and should be looking to pick up some more. It’s no secret that the 49ers could use some more playmakers on offense, and they make quite the splash here.
Will the 49ers trade up 25 spots in real life? Probably not, especially considering there are tons of good receivers in this class, and they can probably just stay where they are and get one. But this is more fun.
6. Houston Texans (from Atlanta) – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
First QB off-the-board! Atlanta wanted Clowney and was willing to dump a few extra picks Houston’s way in order to make it happen. The Texans, meanwhile, have a glaring need at QB and a well-known desire to trade down and gobble-up a few more picks. They didn’t feel sold enough on any of the passers to take them No. 1, but they’re happy to snag Johnny here at 6.
Houston has had a boring, run-first offense for the last half-decade that got them nowhere. Now, mercifully, Gary Kubiak has taken his bland play-calling talents to Baltimore, freeing Houston up to make a few changes. New head coach Bill O’Brien would have to be sold enough on Manziel’s potential to pull the trigger on him here, but what’s really not to like?
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Awful lotta Aggies here. Tampa would love Watkins, but the Niners whipped the Raiders with enough picks to move ahead of the Buccos and take him. Evans is a fine consolation prize, and there are plenty out there that feel he’s the better prospect, anyway.
Mike Williams (and his parties) were unceremoniously shipped to Buffalo, so Tampa needs another guy to complement the great Vincent Jackson. They could also go QB here, but they did sign the overrated Josh McCown, and they reportedly like what they’ve seen out of Mike Glennon.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
When’s the last time the Vikings had a good, young quarterback? Never? Well, I’m not sure that changes by adding Bortles, but he can’t be any worse than Christian Ponder.
9. Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
This could be a spot for Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan, but the opportunity to grab a tight end of Ebron’s caliber may be tough for them to ignore. They’re committed to E.J. Manuel after shocking all of Earth by taking him in the first round last year, so may as well get him some help.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Lions are never going to be good enough to matter, so this pick isn’t really consequential, but Detroit does the right thing here and plucks the best corner off the board.
They need some serious help in the secondary, and Gilbert isn’t a bad way to kick things off.
11. Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
There’s some talk regarding Tennessee’s interest in some of the quarterbacks here with Jake Locker’s future uncertainty, but the fine pass-rusher from UCLA will do for now. Pressuring the opposing quarterback is the name of the game, and the Titans weren’t very good in that area last season.
12. New York Giants – Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
Lewan is a guy that could go higher, but he falls right into the Giants’ laps here. Remember how awful Eli Manning was last year? A lot of that had to do with the fact that he was getting his face planted into the dirt repeatedly, so New York has to take some steps to ensure that isn’t happening again. Fortifying that OL has to be priority No. 1.
13. St. Louis Rams – Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Rams have some holes in the secondary, and they could opt for a corner here, too. But Clinton-Dix is the best safety on the board, and that’s probably a more dire need than a corner for this team.
Perhaps they should give the Redskins a call just in case Washington is interest in handing over a king’s random of future picks again.
14. Chicago Bears – Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota
Let’s go with the curveball here. Some say Pitt’s DL Aaron Donald could be making a quick rise into the top-10, so Chicago may be getting a steal with him here at 14. But that’s boring. Hageman is bigger than Donald, which could be a deciding factor for the Bears.
Or maybe not.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Steelers need some help in the defensive backfield, and Dennard is probably the second-best CB in the class behind Gilbert. They’ll happily settle for the Spartan.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Aaron Donald, DL, Pittsburgh
Dallas needs tons of help on the defensive line. I’m pretty sure Dave from your local Home Depot actually started 10 games for the Cowboys at right end last year. Adding a playmaker of Donald’s caliber could do wonders for them as they hurtle helplessly towards an 8-8 season.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Someone like Ebron would probably be preferred here, but he gone! This is probably too soon for Jace Amaro, meaning the Ravens will be looking elsewhere. Pryor’s stock has been on the rise of late, and he’d help fill a position of need here.
18. New York Jets – Marquise Lee, WR, USC
The Jets haphazardly threw approximately one billion dollars at Eric Decker in free agency, and while that’s juuuust fine, they still need more pass-catchers. Lee is as dynamic as they come, and adding him could help transform the Jets’ offense from atrociously unwatchable to something slightly more watchable.
19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
Whoa, lucky! Remember the Dolphins’ offensive line from last season? Not only did it suck at football, but a bunch of those dudes pretty much sucked at life, too. Having Martin drop all the way to 19 is a gift for them, considering Ryan Tannehill nearly died from being sacked so often. Considering he’s the franchise quarterback, perhaps they should try to keep him alive.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger, which is probably a good thing. That’d be weird if he randomly started to get younger. While he’s not bad, the Cardinals should probably look to the future a bit here, and Carr seems to be a pretty solid fit with what Bruce Arians wants to do offensively. I’d assume Bruce Arians likes to score touchdowns offensively. Maybe Carr will be good at that.
21. Green Bay Packers – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
You’d think the Packers would spend a healthy number of picks trying to fix a defense that wasn’t very good at all a year ago. They’ve had some troubles stopping running QBs in recent years, of course, so a lean, mean tacklin’ machine may be just what the doctor ordered. Not sure why there’s a doctor ordering the Packers who to pick, but whatever works, Green Bay.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Chip Kelly is a wheelin’-and-dealin’ type, so Philly could be looking to trade up and perhaps nab a DeSean Jackson replacement. But let’s not forget how horrendous their defense was last year, so perhaps the best course of action would be to tread lightly. And also to take a defensive player.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
You get a wide receiver! You get a wide receiver!
No Chiefs offensive player scared anyone last season, save for Jamaal Charles. Dwayne Bowe has his moments, but he’s not really able to do much when he’s the only downfield threat worth a damn. KC would like to address that situation, one would think, and Cooks is probably the best WR left on the board here.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
A few of the Bengals’ CBs are starting to get a little long-in-the-tooth, which is a pretty weird expression.
Andy Dalton takes a lot of crap for throwing poorly-timed picks, but it’s tough to imagine the Bengals selecting his replacement already, especially with a first-round pick. They’ve got plenty of solid talent already on the roster, and just need a few upgrades here-and-there.
25. San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
San Diego completely whiffed on the Derek Cox signing last year, and he’s already gone. They need some help at the secondary, and Verrett would be perfect. He was a shutdown corner for the Horned Frogs, and would help give Eric Weddle some breathers in between having to tackle every single player on the opposing offense.
26. Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
If CLE isn’t taking Manziel at No. 4, they would seem confident that another passer they like may fall to them with the Colts’ pick, and here it is. Bridgewater was the presumptive No. 1 overall pick heading into last season, but there are lots of concerns over whether or not he’ll be able to hold-up physically with his slight frame.
The Browns, believe it or not, have a lot of pieces in place that lead you to believe they can compete sooner rather than later. If they’re a QB away, they may be able to make some noise next season.
(pause for laughter)
27. New Orleans Saints – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
If any of those receivers falls a bit, the Saints may pounce. Lance Moore is gone and Marques Colston’s best days are probably behind him. That sounds depressing. Alllll downhill from here, Marques.
However, if none of those guys are there at 27, New Orleans should be looking defense.
28. Carolina Panthers – Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
The Panthers don’t have any receivers. This is a problem, considering you need receivers. They’re certainly a candidate to trade-up if they see some of their targets start to fly off the board, but they strike-out on that opportunity here.
Latimer isn’t a bad fit for Analytical Ron and the Panthers. Although, honestly, pretty much anyone they draft is probably better than the guys they currently have on the roster.
29. New England Patriots – Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Vince Wilfork’s getting up there, and I don’t only mean his weight! Ha. Ha.
Nix could go somewhere in the mid-teens, but slips to the Pats here at 29. He’s a run-clogging, backfield havoc-wreaker, that’s for sure.
30. Oakland Raiders (from San Francisco) – Timmy Jernigan, DL, Florida State
The Raiders need everything, so the “best player available” philosophy is probably what they should be employing. Jernigan would be a nice addition to their defensive line. Probably.
31. Denver Broncos – Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State
The Broncos were absolutely obliterated in the Super Bowl, and their glaring needs are primarily on the defensive side of the ball.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
Regardless of whom the Seahawks pick here, odds are he’ll turn out to be some kind of awesome steal.