The NFL draft is this coming Thursday and the additional two weeks has given the teams and the media extra time to put their spin on the outcome. The draft boards are finalized, and barring an incident such as Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby’s citation for operating a motor vehicle while impaired, are unlikely to change at this point in the process. Some viewed Roby as a first round talent, but his poor judgment, combined with the abysmal timing of this incident will result a drop, potentially into the third day, and will cost him millions of dollars.
Another player dropping precipitously in the past few weeks is Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was projected in my first mock draft to go to the Vikings seventh overall. Questions about his leadership and release have seen him plunge in draft boards, often landing out of the first round. Can he lead a team? He did at Louisville and graduated in three years, however, some NFL teams have legitimate questions based on their interviews with him, and it must therefore be taken into consideration in this revision.
Mock draft, the second generation takes into account the ever changing landscape of the NFL talent market. In a draft this deep, extra picks are extremely valuable and creating a market in an attempt to acquire more is a common practice.
Pick 1 – Texans: Clowney, Jadeveon, DE/OLB, South Carolina (unchanged)
There has been a lot of chatter about Houston taking Khalil Mack in this slot. He fits their scheme better, he has a better work ethic, he has a higher floor as a player, however, Clowney is more talented and is the better choice. He will be the top overall pick. The rumblings about Mack are an attempt to stir interest in a trading partner, but the price to get the first pick is too steep and here Houston remains.
Pick 2 – Rams: Robinson, Greg, OT, Auburn (unchanged)
The debate in the Rams war room will be whether to take Robinson, or Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. Their roster is replete with young talent at wide receiver that needs a chance to develop, but not huge road grading left tackles to protect Sam Bradford. Robinson is their pick.
Pick 3 – Jaguars: Bortles, Blake, QB, Central Florida (unchanged)
Head Coach Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator in Seattle and will follow their model in building a team. Buffalo University defender Khalil Mack is often linked with Jacksonville, however, both Bradley and General Manager Dave Caldwell attended Bortles pro day workout and neither attended Mack’s. That was the tiebraker.
Pick 4 – Browns: Watkins, Sammy, WR, Clemson (unchanged)
Watkins is a game changer who has been compared to Calvin Johnson in his ability to take over a game. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a young player. Just as the the league has been looking for the next Lawrence Taylor since LT retired in 1993 and still hasn’t found one, the search for another Johnson will be an annual event. But, Watkins talent in undeniable and if the Rams and Jaguars pass on him, the Browns will take him and look for pair him with a quarterback using their second first round selection.
Pick 5 – Raiders: Matthews, Jake, OT, Texas A&M (Formerly, Johnny Manziel)
Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen need to win now or the Raiders will have another General Manager and Head Coach next season. McKenzie traded for Matt Schaub and will take Matthews to protect him. This may be Bridgewater’s landing spot in round two if he slides that far.
Pick 6 – Falcons: Mack, Khalil, OLB/DE/ILB, Buffalo (Formerly Matthews)
The Falcons primarily need help in two areas, offensive line and pass rush. With Robinson and Matthews already selected, Mack will be too great a talent to pass up here. They will consider Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan, but Mack’s talent wins out.
Pick 7 – Buccaneers: Donald, Aaron, DT/DE, Pittsburgh (Formerly Mack)
The Giants first round pick in Mock Draft One, Donald’s is a player on the rise and is a perfect fit for the Tampa Two defense that Lovey Smith utilizes. It relies on linemen getting quick penetration and that’s what Donald does. He would step into the Warren Sapp role for Lovey Smith.
Pick 8 – Vikings: Manziel, Johnny, QB, Texas A&M (Formerly Bridgewater)
The Vikings are building a new stadium and will need to sell seat licenses to pay for it. While they will be tempted to draft UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr or Alabama Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, what better way to excite fans and get them to spring for thousands of dollars for the right to purchase a seat than to draft the most polarizing player in football. A boom or bust prospect, Manziel will sit for at least part of the season while Matt Cassel runs Norv Turner’s offense and Turner works his unique brand of magic on him. If anyone can turn him into a legitimate NFL passer, it’s quarterback whisperer Turner.
Pick 9 – Bills: Evans, Mike, WR, Texas A&M (unchanged)
A collective exhale can be heard in the Bills war room when Roger Goodell reads the Vikings selection at the podium Manziel’s soft handed teammate slides into the Bill’s waiting arms. Pairing him with Stevie Johnson gives Buffalo a dynamic pair of receivers and will allow Doug Marrone to determine in short order if EJ Manuel is his long term quarterback.
Pick 10 – Lions: Clinton-Dix, Ha Ha, FS, Alabama (Formerly CB Justin Gilbert)
Detroit needs secondary help, and the cornerback depth in this draft is vastly superior to the safety depth. With both positions untapped thus far, the Lions take the top safety available, in the Cimson Tide’s Clinton-Dix. A cornerback will undoubtedly be taken in the later rounds, perhaps as early as round two.
Pick 11 – Titans: Barr, Anthony, OLB/DE, UCLA (unchanged)
The Titans most glaring needs are a running back and a pass rusher. No running backs will be taken in the first round for the second straight draft and the Titans take the speedy Barr to bolster their pass rush. The Giants are now on the clock.
Pick 12 – Giants: Lewan, Taylor, OT, Michigan (Formerly Donald)
Will Beatty is recovering from a severe fracture of his right tibia that required surgery in order to repair. Lewan is as talented as Robinson and Matthews, but comes with character concerns as he has misdemeanor assault charges pending from an incident following the Spartans 42-41 loss to Ohio State on December 1, 2013. Lewan insists he was attempting to break up rather than instigate the fight, and the Giants brought him in for a visit, and surely investigated this incident at length. The team does not historically draft players brought in for a visit, but given their need and Lewan’s talent, it’s hard to see them passing him up. Jerry Reese mentioned Notre Dame offensive tackle/guard Zack Martin by name in his pre draft
deception press conference this week, which likely takes him out of the running.
Pick 13 – Rams: Pryor, Calvin, FS, Louisville (Formerly Clinton-Dix)
It’s highly unusual to see two safeties taken before a cornerback is taken, but supply and demand trumps position and St. Louis snags Pryor, the only other highly ranked safety available in this year’s draft. He is a big hitter, will provide top run support, and has the ability to start as a rookie.
Pick 14 – Bears: Mosley, CJ, ILB, Alabama (Unchanged)
Chicago’s run defense gave up 161 yards per game last season, far and away the worst in the league, and among the worst in the NFL in the past decade. Mosley will step in and upgrade their run defense immediately, and while not making fans forget future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, will begin a new chapter in the rich middle linebacker history of the Bears. Phil Emery must regret not negotiating in good faith with Urlacher in 2013 and keeping him around for one more season as he was likely the difference in the Bears making or missing the playoffs.
Pick 15 – Steelers: Dennard, Darqueze, CB, Michigan State (Unchanged)
Infusing young talent into their aging defense is the Steelers main objective in the 2014 draft. Dennard is intense and has the size to match up with the big receivers prominent in the current NFL. Expect the Steelers draft to be defense heavy as they aim to get back in the playoffs after a two year absence.
Pick 16 – Cowboys: Jernigan, Timmy, DT, Florida State (Unchanged)
Dallas has a lot of needs, but none more pressing than upgrading their defensive line. The Cowboys were gashed on the ground last season to the tune of 4.7 yards per carry and Jernigan will begin to stabilize their porous run defense. Among the most amusing rumor floating around in recent weeks has the Cowboys drafting Manziel. In the light of Tony Romo’s 2013 contract, he can’t be cut until 2017 at the earliest without devastating their salary cap. Moving up to take Manziel would create a Texas sized mess that Jerry Jones wouldn’t dare get Cowboys in. Would he?
Pick 17 – Ravens: Beckham, Jr, Odell, WR, LSU (Formerly Lewan)
With the top three offensive tackles already drafted, Baltimore addresses their second biggest need and draft Beckham. The extremely speedy receiver also adds value as a kick returner.
Pick 18 – Jets: Ebron, Eric, TE, North Carolina (Unchanged)
Those bad words you heard as NFL Network was going to commercial were coming from the Jets war room. New Jersey’s junior varsity team coveted Beckham and was devastated when the Ravens drafted him one slot before them. Ebron is a fine consolation prize and will give Geno Smith a big weapon down the middle of the field.
Pick 19 – Dolphins: Martin, Zack, OT/G/C, Notre Dame (Unchanged)
Offensive line is the Dolphins greatest need by far as the fallout from the Jonathan Martin bullying incident prevented the team from making the playoffs in 2013. Zack Martin is the first of several offensive linemen that Miami will add in the 2014 draft and once their new line gels, they will find themselves in position to challenge New England for the AFC East.
Pick 20 – Cardinals: Kouandjio, Cyrus, OT, Alabama (Formerly Pryor)
Arizona had targeting one of the safeties, but with none available here, continue the first round run on offensive tackles by selecting the long armed Kouandjio. He’s thought to best fit as a right tackle in the NFL, but has the raw potential and skills to develop into a highly coveted left tackle.
Pick 21 – Packers: Shazier, Ryan, OLB, Ohio State (Unchanged)
Green Bay must upgrade their speed on defense to chase down the new breed of quarterback entering the league. Manziel is projected to join the Vikings, and Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton will be fixtures in the playoffs for the foreseeable future. If running quarterbacks continue to cut through the Packers defense like a hot knife through butter, Green Bay will continue to be an early out every post season. Shazier will provide the speed to shadow these pesky running threats. Wide receivers are plentiful in this draft and the Packers can draft James Jones’ replacement in the later rounds.
Pick 22 – Eagles: Cooks, Brandon, WR, Oregon State (formerly Beckham)
Several internet sources have reported that Chip Kelly is enamored with speed demon Cooks. He struggles to get open at times, but Kelly’s spread offense will help mitigate this issue. His talent will have Eagles fans forgetting about DeSean Jackson early in the season. Until the Redskins come to town, that is.
Pick 23 – Chiefs: Bitonio, Joel, OT/G, Nevada (Formerly Cooks)
Bitonio is my projected second round pick for the Giants, however, his stock has been steadily rising, and Kansas City will continue the what George Young called “The Dance of the Baby Elephants” in the first round of the 2014 draft. The versatile lineman can play any position on the line and will give Andy Reid the ability to shuffle his line and replace free agent losses Brandon Albert (Dolphins) and Geoff Schwartz (Giants)
Pick 24 – Bengals: Ealy, Kony, DE/DT, Missouri (Unchanged)
The Bengals have become experts at valuing their talent and replacing veterans who price themselves above what the Mike Brown thinks they are worth. Ealy replaces Michael Johnson, who signed with the Buccaneers. The other position the Bengals need to fill in the draft is cornerback, and they will undoubtedly take one in round two or three.
Pick 25 – Chargers: Nix III, Louis, DT, Notre Dame (Unchanged)
The Changes need to improve their run defense and Nix will clog up the running lanes in the middle of their defense. Their other needs include cornerback and wide receiver, both of which should be filled with their Friday selections.
Pick 26 – Browns: Carr, Derek, QB, Fresno State (Unchanged)
Teddy Bridgewater will be a consideration, but the Browns are rumored to want Carr and will sign his older brother David to serve as a backup and mentor. Derek will have several things David never has during his time with the Texans: An offensive line, wide receivers, and a tight end. All of which should translate into NFL success for the younger Carr brother.
Pick 27 – Saints: Fuller, Kyle, CB, Virginia Tech (Formerly Dee Ford)
New Orleans will continue to beef up their defense which dramatically turned around under first year coordinator Rob Ryan in 2013. The big and speedy Fuller excels at man coverage and will give Ryan the flexibility to run the blitz packages he favors.
Pick 28 – Panthers: Benjamin, Kelvin, WR, Florida State (Unchanged)
Far and away the Panthers biggest remaining need, Benjamin will join the Panthers as their number one receiver. Given the deep talent pool available and the lack of it on the Panthers roster, he will not be the only wide receiver taken.
Pick 29 – Patriots: Hageman, Ra’Shede, DT/DE, Minnesota (Unchanged)
Vince Wilfork made a fatal error – he told Bill Belichick “No” when asked to take a pay cut. Enter Hageman, who will train side by side with Wilfork in 2014 and replace him in 2015. It’s the Patriot way. Just ask Deon Branch or Adam Vinatieri. If Hageman plays well, Wilfork could be traded midseason.
Pick 30 – Forty-Niners: Verrett, Jason, CB, TCU (Unchanged)
The Forty-Niners picked up Aldon Smith’s fifth year option, meaning they are willing to overlook his transgressions given his talent. It’s still expected that they will draft an outside linebacker in case Roger Goodell is not as forgiving. But in the first round, they fill a glaring need with Verrett, a small, but speedy corner that excels in coverage.
Pick 31 – Broncos: Su’a-Filo, Xavier, G, UCLA (Unchanged)
If Denver hopes to give Peyton Manning another Lombardi Trophy to carry off into the sunset, they will need to keep him upright in the pocket. Seattle provided the league with a blueprint for taking the senior Manning down in the Super Bowl, and John Fox must adjust or risk another post season heartbreak. Several offensive linemen will be added to the fold in this draft.
Pick 32 – Seahawks: Lee, Marqise, WR, USC (Unchanged)
The fifth year option, a key component of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, is another tool gained by the owners to keep first round talent locked up at reasonable salaries for as long as possible. If executed, the player is tendered, at the club’s option, for the average of the top 15 players at his position for his fifth year in the league. This factor makes picks at the end of the first round much more valuable than early second round picks. The Seahawks will therefore stand pat and draft Lee to replace Golden Tate who signed as a free agent with the Lions.
Twelve of the Thirty-Two picks changed in version two of my mock draft. It mostly consists of players shuffling between teams and the assertion that correctly placing 75% of the players correctly in the round and 10 with the right team is a successful maiden mock.
As for the Giants, the pick shifted from Defense to Offense as Aaron Donald was already taken when their turn came up in this version. The controversial, but extremely talented Taylor Lewan would be an immediate starter, assuming he’s not incarcerated, and allow Will Beatty to move to the right side and Justin Pugh to move inside where he should excel. If you want to see some options available to Big Blue in the later rounds, click here.
Keep your eye on Giants360.com during the NFL Draft as I will be posting information on each Giants pick and thoughts on the second and third day of the draft once the actual picks are in. It’s been a long wait this year and I’m ready for the 79th annual selection meeting to commence
Disagree with my pick? Comment below or on my twitter @hyprcaffeinated