1. Houston TexansÂ â€“ Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
I have questions about Bortles, and he’s not my top rated prospect, but this selection is gaining traction around the league. Bill O’Brien needs a franchise QB and Bortles could very well be that guy. Pass rush is also a need in Houston, so Jadeveon Clowney might be hard to pass up, but can Houston wait to take a QB?
2. Trade: Atlanta Falcons (from St. Louis via Washington)Â â€“ Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina This makes sense on a lot of levels. St. Louis is in a great position to move down a few spots and still get a player they want. While pairing Clowney with Chris Long and Robert Quinn could be an incredible trio for the Rams, I see Atlanta making an effort to add a dynamic presence to their defense. Thomas Dimitroff isn’t afraid to go for a top prospect — look at what they gave up for Julio Jones a few years ago — it would be a good fit all around.
3. Jacksonville JaguarsÂ â€“ Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Jaguars could go in several different directions with this selection. Clowney makes sense if he’s available, as they desperately need help rushing the passer, but Jacksonville needs a face of their franchise. Bridgewater gives them a legitimateÂ QB and would be their best option here.
4. Cleveland BrownsÂ â€“Â Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M The Browns change of front office regime does not minimize their need for a quarterback. If any of the top three signal-callers are here, look for Cleveland to jump on the opportunity to grab one. There are plenty of questions surrounding Manziel, but his playmaking ability and “it” factor would add some much needed excitement to Cleveland.
5. Oakland RaidersÂ - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins is a dynamic, play-making receiver that can boost an anemic offense. The biggest question for Oakland — who will throw him the ball? The Raiders could potentially move up for one of the top QB prospects, but Watkins would be a nice consolation prize as they look to build on the offensive side of the ball.
6. Trade: St. Louis RamsÂ - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
After moving down four spots to collect some more draft pick, General Manager Les Snead and the Rams still get Robinson to help their offensive line. They have Jake Long, who is recovering from an ACL injury suffered last season,Â Â but the Auburn tackle has incredible upside and would be a great addition for the team. They’ve been committed to QB Sam Bradford, so it’s a must they do everything in their power to protect him.
7. Tampa Bay BuccaneersÂ â€“Â Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Head Coach Lovie Smith loves defensive playmakers and Mack fits the mold.Â A versatile, aggressive player that could be an impact starter from day one. Getting after the quarterback is key in today’s NFL and the Bucs would love to add Mack for 2014.
8. Minnesota VikingsÂ â€“ Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
With Mike Zimmer leading the team now, he could go with a defensive player to fit his scheme. But with Norv Turner brought in to run the team’s offense for 2014 and Carr available at the no. 8 spot, it could be a great fit. His big arm and pre-snap reads are everything Turner loves in his quarterbacks. Do I think this is a reach? Yes. But in today’s NFL if you don’t have a QB you can kiss seriously contending for a championship goodbye.
9. Buffalo BillsÂ â€“ Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Even with Cordy Glenn already on the line, if Matthews falls to this spot it would be tough to mass on him. I could see the Bills adding a defensive prospect to their defense, but like the Rams, they’ve committed to a QB and need to protect him. A strong line could really benefit E.J. Manuel as he continues to develop going into his second season.
10. Detroit LionsÂ â€“Â Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Lions need help on defense, specifically in their secondary. Gilbert brings a tremendous skill-set and high upside to a team with a strong front seven in place. He’s not a perfect prospect, but he fills a big need in Detroit.
11. Tennessee TitansÂ â€“ Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Michael Roos only has a few years left and at 31, David Stewart could be released. Tennessee needs to get younger on the offensive line and they could groom Lewan to be a franchise left tackle down the line.
12. New York GiantsÂ â€“ Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Giants would be doing cartwheels if Barr fell to them here. Seems like offensive tackle could be a big need as well, but with the top prospects off the board, Barr would add some much needed speed to their linebacking corps.Â As an explosive pass rusher, the UCLA linebacker has a high ceiling and could be a fun prospect to add to the front seven.
13. St Louis RamsÂ â€“Â Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
St. Louis could go in several different directions here, but adding a downfield threat like Evans to the dynamic Tavon Austin would have franchise QB Sam Bradford licking his lips. They acquire picks by moving from no. 2 to no. 6, get a highly rated offensive tackle prospect and then land the second best wide receiver in the draft. Big win for the Rams.
14. Chicago BearsÂ - Timmy Jernigan, NT, Florida State
The Bears need to rebuild their defensive line. Julius Pepper could be a cap-casualty; Henry Melton is recovering from ACL surgery, so adding a player with Jernigan’s ability makes sense. He’s still a bit raw, but the upside is very appealing. Look for them to target help in the front seven.
15. Pittsburgh SteelersÂ - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Watching the Steelers last season, the defense looked old, especially in the secondary. Troy Polomalu, Ike Taylor, they’re just not the same caliber of players as they were a few years ago. Dennard would be a step in the right direction and could thrive in Dick LeBeau’s defense.
16. Baltimore RavensÂ - Marquise Lee, WR, USC
Dennis Pitta was just re-signed for a new deal, so tight end is no longer a need. Lee, who had a disappointing year last season, comes into an offense thirsty for another weapon. Adding the USC wide out to Torrey Smith, Pitta and Ray Rice would make Joe Flacco’s job a whole lot easier.
17. Dallas CowboysÂ - Aaron Donald, DL, Pittsburgh
The Cowboys need help on defense and Donald seems like a solid fit. He’s been rising after strong performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. It will be hard to pass on the versatile, disruptive lineman for a team that lacks quality players up front.
18. New York JetsÂ -Â Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Jets and head coach Rex Ryan know what a great tight end can do for a team. Heck, they’ve seen the Patriots roll out some serious talent at the position the past few seasons. With Geno Smith at QB, and little weapons on the offense, New York gets the best prospect available and one that fills a tremendous need.
19. Miami DolphinsÂ - Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The Dolphins need help on the offensive line and Martin is rising quickly after his awesome Senior Bowl performance. Martin has four years of experience at left tackle, but can kick inside and play OG if necessary. On top of that heâ€™s a high character player.
20. Arizona CardinalsÂ â€“ Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota
The Cardinals barely miss out on one of the top offensive tackles, but get one of the best defensive lineman instead. Darnell Dockett is getting older and Hageman is a physical specimen that offers high upside. Missouri’s Kony Ealy and Auburn’s Dee Ford are both also under consideration here. Nevertheless, front seven is the target for Arizona.
21. Green Bay PackersÂ â€“Â CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Packers have serious needs on defense, and for two year’s in a row let San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick run all over them. The Packers could address their defensive line, but Mosley would be a solid addition at this spot.Â While some Alabama players have not lived up to the hype in recent years, Mosley is the whole package.
22. Philadelphia EaglesÂ â€“Â Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Eagles badly need to add a safety to their defense and Clinton-Dix is the best all-around player at the position in this class. He makes an impact in the run and the pass. His presence could go a long way in stabilizing the back end of the Philadelphia defense.
23. Kansas City ChiefsÂ â€“ Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The Chiefs need another playmaker on offense. Adding Beckham to Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe would make Kansas City’s offense harder to defend. It was clear Alex Smith needed some more weapons after 2013, so this pick would be a step in the right direction.
24. Cincinnati BengalsÂ â€“ Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Michael Johnson’s future is uncertain, so to replace him Cincinnati lands one of the most dangerous pass rushers in this year’s class. Not only is Ealy a long, lean defensive end, but his athleticism is off the charts. I could also see cornerback being a target, potentially in round two.
25. San Diego ChargersÂ â€“ Louis Nix III, DL, Notre Dame
I see the Chargers targeting their offensive or defensive line here. With Nix still on the board, this seems like a good fit for San Diego. By adding an interior defensive lineman, they take some of the pressure off of their younger front seven players and Nix will command attention from day one. They can address guard or cornerback in round two.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Colts)Â â€“ Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
With Manziel now on the team, the Browns add Benjamin to wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron. Cleveland has a stout defense in place, so piecing together some talent on the offensive side of the ball will certainly make them more dangerous in 2014.
27. New Orleans SaintsÂ â€“ Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
Rob Ryan loves to attack and Ford is a guy he would love to have in his front seven. The Auburn prospect is a disruptive force and his high motor could bring some heat to a division possessing strong quarterbacks.
28. Carolina PanthersÂ â€“ CyrusÂ Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
My only reservation about selectingÂ Kouandjio for Panthers is his health questions. If he checks out, the Alabama tackle could easily go here or even higher depending on his physicals with NFL teams. With left tackle Jordan Gross retiring, there is a big hole protecting QB Cam Newton’s blindside. If that need isn’t filled in free agency, look for Carolina to take a tackle early in the draft.
Despite some questions on offense, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick will most likely continue to build on defense this offseason.
(USA TODAY Images)
29. New England PatriotsÂ â€“ Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
I see the Patriots biggest needs (in no specific order) as WR, TE, OL, DL and DB. Cornerback jumps to an immediate need if Aqib Talib is not re-signed, but I believe he will be retained. A tight end is a possibility here, but would the team allocate another high pick to a position that has a lot of money already on the payroll for 2014?
There are some solid interior lineman as possibilities in round two, plus the team could target a veteran wide receiver and defensive end in free agency. While T.J. Ward, Jarius Byrd and Donte Whitner could all be targets in free agency, it will certainly be an expensive acquisition. With all that being said, Pryor makes sense if he falls to no. 29.
Pryor is a fun player to watch on tape. His athletic ability, instinctive play and physical nature would go a long way for New England’s defense. Putting Pryor next to Devin McCourty, with Duron Harmon in a nickel role could be a nice rotation on the back end. The Louisville product plays the run and the pass very well, which is hard to find.
I love how Pryor attacks opposing ball carriers; he’s always around the ball, delivering big hits while also wrapping up. I question his angles at times and — very scary thought — I see comparisons to former Pats defensive back Brandon Meriweather. At the same time, a presence like Pryor could be the missing link to help take New England’s defense to the top ten range next season. The comparison could scare fans away, but the need is still strong nevertheless.
30. San Francisco 49ersÂ â€“ Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Cooks is flying up draft boards after a great performance at the NFL Combine. The Oregon State prospect could come into an offense behind, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin and add some speed to the 49ers offense. San Francisco could use some help at receiver.
31. Denver BroncosÂ - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Broncos biggest weakness is in the secondary, specifically cornerback. This may be a slight reach, but Verrett could come in and contribute right away. Champ Bailey is coming to the end of his career, Chris Harris is recovering from ACL surgery and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie is a free agent.
32. Seattle SeahawksÂ â€“ Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Tuitt is a big-bodied defensive end that could fill a similar type of role as the recently released Red Bryant. With so few needs on their current roster, Seattle could afford to go in a number of different directions. The rich get richer.
- I normally don’t do trades n mock drafts, but the I do feel the Falcons could be aggressive, which is why I have the moving up this year. I don’t believe there will be only one trade, but I decided to not mock any others for this first addition.
Piggybacking off my previous thought, I could easily envision a scenario where Fresno State QB Derek Carr falls to the mid-twenties and a team in the top of the draft, which passed on a signal-caller, could jump back in for him.
- A lot of the selections made are based on current standings, which could all change after free agency and the new league year starts. The second edition most likely will look much different.
- How players perform at their respective pro days from now until the draft could move them up or down the boards. Usually there is some strong movement in the final weeks before the draft, medical news can be a huge factor.
- My second edition will be posted about a month from now. Stay tuned.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think!Â Do you have a Twitter account?Â Be sure to follow me:Â @PatriotsHaven!