NFL Mock Draft, Take 3: As dust settles in wake of free agency, landscape changes
|03.30.14 at 11:37 pm ET|
With the initial wave of free agency now complete — and a couple of notable trades and releases in the books — here’s our first post-free agency mock.
1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina — There’s still talk about the Texans taking a quarterback — talk continues to persist that Houston will trade out of the top spot — but the chance to land a potentially transformative defensive presence like Clowney is likely too great to pass up. If the Texans stick at No. 1 and go with Clowney, there will be a few intriguing quarterbacking possibilities for Houston at the start of the second round.
2. Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn — The best offensive tackle in the draft — in a landmark year for tackles — goes off the board early.
3. Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida — The Jags take the closest thing to a hometown boy and top-shelf QB they can find. At the same time, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see them chase after Johnny Manziel at No. 3.
5. Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson — With the Raiders landing Matt Schaub — and Bortles and Bridgewater off the board — that presumably takes them out of the quarterback sweepstakes, at least for this year. Besides, the speed of Watkins likely will be too great for the Raiders to resist.
6. Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo — No moves here, as the best defensive player available goes to Atlanta.
7. Buccaneers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan — Some red flags because of a recent off-field incident, but the Bucs roll the dice and go with Lewan ahead of Jake Matthews.
8. Vikings: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — Manziel drops a bit because of the recent AFC quarterback shuffle, but if he isn’t taken No. 3 by the Jags, he won’t get past Minnesota.
9. Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M — Buffalo is going to make it back-to-back Aggies — the only question is whether it’s Evans or Matthews. We’re going with Evans at this spot.
10. Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State — As we said with our second mock draft, the best corner in the draft goes to a team in need of help in the secondary.
11. Titans: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M — You get an Aggie, and you get an Aggie, and you get an Aggie! The Titans do have some options here — they could grab a quarterback if one of them falls, or maybe chase after David Carr. But the safe play here is Matthews.
12. Giants: Aaron Donald, DL, Pitt — To this point, we’ve mocked a series of offensive linemen to the Giants with the No. 12 pick, but the recent loss of Justin Tuck, Donald’s terrific performance in the pre-draft process and some other personnel moves (including the fact that they could probably get a pretty good offensive lineman in the second round) caused us to go in another direction here.
13. Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama — Provided the Rams land wide receiver Kenny Britt, the next logical move here is to beef up the secondary with an elite defensive back like Dix who could serve as a good complementary presence to someone like T.J. McDonald.
14. Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DL, Florida State — Jernigan has a fairly raw skill set but figures to have a colossal upside.
15. Steelers: Louis Nix III, DL, Notre Dame — Pittsburgh could use some help at other spots, but Nix is too big a talent to pass up at this spot.
16. Cowboys: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA — Dallas lost DeMarcus Ware, and while Barr doesn’t bring the same kind of heat, he could develop into a pretty good pass rusher. The Cowboys also could go after Jernigan or Donald if either one are still there at No. 17.
17. Ravens: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina — So many possibilities here for the Ravens, who could also use some help up front defensively. But Ebron is too good to pass on here.
18. Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC — Some of this depends on how the DeSean Jackson situation shakes out. If the Jets are able to land Jackson, they’ll likely be more inclined to go for a tight end — maybe Ebron, if he’s still around. Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin also is a possibility.
20. Cardinals: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri — We’ve gone back and forth at this spot, and there are a few possibilities for the Cards here, but Ealy makes too much sense. Arizona also could go for a cornerback at this spot (maybe Michigan State‘s Darqueze Dennard or TCU’s Jason Verrett), or another pass catcher to complement Larry Fitzgerald.
21. Packers: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech — Green Bay needs a tight end, and Amaro is the best of the bunch at this point.
22. Eagles: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville — It’s all about secondary help for the Eagles, who are going to go after the best defensive back available. Look for them to get Pryor or Dennard.
23. Chiefs: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU — Kansas City needs a field-stretcher, and Beckham makes the most sense at this point, especially because it looks like the Chiefs are out of the DeSean Jackson sweepstakes.
24. Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU — The Bengals could ponder the possibility of Auburn’s Dee Ford as a potential replacement for Michael Johnson, but Verrett’s presence means a mini-run on defensive backs continues.
25. Chargers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State — San Diego needs to bolster the secondary, and Dennard is the best remaining corner on the board.
26. Browns (from Colts): Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State — If there’s a team that might be inclined to go for a running back, it’s the Browns. Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde probably is the only RB worthy of a first-round pick this year, but instead they’ll go for his college teammate at No. 26.
27. Saints: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn — Best available defensive end for a team that needs to fill that position.
28. Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State — Carolina will be looking for the best available pass catcher, and in this scenario, it’s Benjamin, who appears to have massive boom/bust potential.
29. Patriots: Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota — Even with some resolution to the Vince Wilfork contract flap, we’ve been consistent in our belief that Hageman is the best fit for the Patriots if they end up sticking at No. 29, and we’re going to stick with him here. However, keep two names in mind: UCLA offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin also are possibilities. (Again, provided the Patriots stick at 29. New England is one of the leading contenders to trade down, and this year is no exception.)
30. 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State — San Francisco needs another target in the passing game for Colin Kaepernick, and Cooks is the best available pass catcher on the board.
31. Broncos: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA — Denver could go a few different ways, including another receiver to replace Eric Decker, who left as a free agent. (Cooks is a possibility if he’s still available, or Jarvis Landry of LSU.) But Su’a-Filo, a versatile presence who has been climbing draft boards for much of the post-combine process, could step in and replace Zane Beadles.
32. Seahawks: Morgan Moses, T, Virginia — The Seahawks need to address a few spots, including tackle (with the departure of Breno Giacomini) and wide receiver (for depth). Moses has been mentioned by many as a possible Day 1 starter at right tackle for the defending Super Bowl champs. (Seattle could be a trade candidate for a team looking to get one of the available quarterbacks at the end of the first round.)