Sunday NFL Notes: With draft weekend looming, one final chance to mock
|05.04.14 at 6:00 am ET|
In lieu of this week’s Sunday NFL Notebook — and with the draft finally looming on Thursday — here’s our fourth and final mock draft.
1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina — There’s a terrific chance that the Texans end up trading down — there’s more and more talk that they swing a deal with the Falcons at No. 6 — but if they stick at No. 1, Clowney is the smart choice. They should also be able to chase after a quarterback at the end of the first round (if they want to try to swing a trade), or with the first pick of the second round.
2. Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn — St. Louis could also end up trading down, as Handsome Les Snead has hinted throughout the pre-draft process. But if the Rams stick at No. 2, Robinson should be the play.
3. Jaguars: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson — Watkins started as one of the best of a really good group of receivers, but has really emerged throughout the pre-draft process as a potentially special player.
4. Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — Cleveland has finally acknowledged its interest in Manziel, and while he’s been up-and-down boards (and mocks) throughout the pre-draft process the marriage of the Browns and Johnny Football instantly make them one of the most compelling teams in the league.
5. Raiders: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo — Like Watkins, Mack has really emerged as a potential game-changer throughout the pre-draft process, going from being one of the best players at his position to someone who has catapulted into the top five.
6. Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M — It’s a good year to be in the market for a really good tackle, and Matthews is one of the best in this draft. (That being said, it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if Atlanta pushed all of its chips to the middle of the table and went after Clowney.)
7. Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M — Tampa could try to land one of the elite tackles, but the lure of Evans at No. 7 proves to be too great. Teaming him with Vincent Jackson gives a jolt to the Tampa passing game.
8. Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida — With the two potentially transformative defensive players off the board in Clowney and Mack, the belief is that Minnesota goes after a quarterback, and Bortles figures to be the best fit with Norv Turner‘s offensive system. Bortles won’t have to be the starter from Day 1 — the Vikings figure to have a temporary placeholder in Matt Cassel — but Bortles will be the future.
9. Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina — Really, the choice here for the Bills comes down to the flashy offensive pickup or the sturdy tackle in someone like Taylor Lewan. Ebron is a dynamic offensive presence, one who could give Buffalo an interesting pair of tight ends (Ebron and Scott Chandler).
10. Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State — The Lions need help in the secondary, and so they could go after a few different bodies at this point. But our pick is Gilbert, who has impressed throughout the pre-draft process.
11. Titans: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State — There are a few different ways Tennessee could go here — one of the elite offensive tackles, or a defensive back. But the lure of Carr is too great. (For what it’s worth, the No. 11 overall pick represents the edge of the quarterback cliff. If a quarterback hasn’t gone by this pick, chances are good that they could fall all the way to possibly No. 20 or 26.)
12. Giants: Aaron Donald, DL, Pitt — After mocking some offensive linemen to the Giants at the start of the pre-draft process, we’ve changed direction here and gone with Donald, who has been impressive at every stage of the pre-draft process. (But they still need offensive line help.)
13. Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama — St. Louis breaks up a run on defensive linemen to beef up its secondary with the best safety — and best name — available.
14. Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DL, Florida State — Chicago needs a lot of defensive help, and while Jernigan has a fairly raw skill set — he only started a handful of games for the national champs — he 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. The Steelers could also try and go after a wide receiver.
16. Cowboys: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA — With the departure of DeMarcus Ware in free agency, the Cowboys could use a boost when it comes to rushing the passer. (Dee Ford is also a possibility at this spot.) Dallas could also try and land a safety, maybe Calvin Pryor.
17. Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan — Baltimore gets some help up front with the best available tackle. The Ravens could also be in the market for a safety here.
18. Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC — The Jets couldn’t get DeSean Jackson, and so they remain in the market for a receiver. Lee — the Biletnikoff Award winner — is an intriguing prospect for New York.
19. Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame — Good year to be in the market for a tackle, as the Dolphins try and rebuild their offensive line with the best available guy on the board. Martin also has a versatile skill set and body type that might allow him to move to guard if needed.
20. Cardinals: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri — Arizona’s a bit of a wild card at No. 20. 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, or even a quarterback.
21. Packers: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE, Washington — Green Bay needs a tight end, and the only question here is whether it zeroes in on Sefarian-Jenkins or Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro.
22. Eagles: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State — There have been some issues with consistency over the course of his career with the Seminoles, but Benjamin is a tremendous physical presence who could be a matchup nightmare at the next level. He won’t make Philly fans completely forget about DeSean Jackson, but could instantly provide another threat for Nick Foles and the Eagles passing game.
23. Chiefs: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU — Kansas City needs a field-stretcher, and Beckham makes the most sense.
24. Bengals: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State — Cincinnati needs help at corner because of age, injury and occasional inconsistency, as well as some help up front defensively (following the departure of Michael Johnson and last year’s season-ending injury to Geno Atkins). Roby’s the best of the lot.
25. Chargers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State — San Diego needs to bolster its pass defense, 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: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama — New Orleans needs more help at outside linebacker than inside, but the 2013 Butkus Award winner would add immediate depth across the board. New Orleans could also go after some help at cornerback.
28. Panthers: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana — It’s either the best available wide receiver or best available tackle for the Panthers here. If Carolina believes it could find receiving depth (or a better match) in the second round, it’ll be more inclined to go after someone like Virginia offensive lineman Morgan Moses at No. 28.
29. Patriots: Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota — Provided the Patriots stick at No. 29 (and that’s a whole different story) we’ve advocated Hageman throughout the pre-draft process, and so we’ll stay consistent with our final mock. (One school of thought? New England targets one of the quarterback-needy teams who haven’t taken a signal caller at the top of the draft with this pick, and it bails out of No. 29 for an early pick at the start of the second, plus another high-value pick later on next year. Then, that team takes someone like Teddy Bridgewater with this selection.)
30. 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State — San Francisco needs another target 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 wide receiver. But it’s hard to deny Su’a-Filo, who has had an excellent pre-draft season. In a perfect world for Denver, he’d step in and replace Zane Beadles.
32. Seahawks: Morgan Moses, T, Virginia — With the departure of starting tackle Breno Giacomini in free agency, there’s a need to shore up the offensive line. The defending champs could also use depth at receiver and tight end.