1. Atlanta Falcons -- South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney (Via Trade Up)
I believe the Texans badly want to trade out, and will ultimately settle for less than the reported Robert Griffin III haul they initially demanded from Atlanta. The Falcons have ten picks -- including four in the top 105 -- so GM Thomas Dimitroff does not lack ammunition if Houston's price tag comes down. The Texans don't seem sold on Jadeveon Clowney, either from a "football character" standpoint or off the field. I think they love Blake Bortles and can get him at No. 6.
2. St. Louis Rams -- Auburn OT Greg Robinson
The Rams did a nice job of smokescreening interest in Johnny Manziel leading up to the draft. At a Wednesday night pre-draft party with season-ticket holders, coach Jeff Fisher promised Sam Bradford would remain St. Louis' 2014 starter. As Bradford returns from his ACL tear, expect the Rams to support him with a run-based offense. Robinson is the best run blocker in the draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Buffalo OLB Khalil Mack
I expect Jacksonville to sit tight at No. 3 and draft either Mack or Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. Most media members expect it will be Watkins. I think Mack makes more sense. The two most valuable commodities in football are franchise quarterbacks and franchise pass rushers. Currently, Jacksonville has neither. If the Jaguars drafted Watkins, they would still have neither.
4. Cleveland Browns -- Texas A&M WR Mike Evans
There's been buzz that the Browns grade Evans higher than Watkins since early in the pre-draft process. I expect Cleveland to take Evans here and use its 26th or 35th pick on a quarterback. Even with limited QB play, Evans, Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron would score touchdowns.
5. Detroit Lions -- Clemson WR Sammy Watkins (Via Trade Up)
A lot of folks seem to believe the Lions finished adding receiver help when they signed Golden Tate. They didn't. This is a team that will play frequent three-wide packages under first-year coordinator Joe Lombardi, and currently has only two snap-worthy wideouts. The Lions also love Watkins. With GM Martin Mayhew likely feeling pressure after another underachieving season, I think he'll be aggressive in this draft. And it is no secret the Raiders want to trade out to get more picks. For the second straight year, I bet they'll be willing to do it for below-market compensation.
6. Houston Texans -- UCF QB Blake Bortles (Via Trade Down)
(See No. 1.)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
The Bucs quickly turned the page on Mike Glennon under rookie GM Jason Licht, and 35-year-old journeyman Josh McCown currently sits atop the depth chart. McCown is very clearly best suited for a backup role. With a defense I expect to be stout under Lovie Smith and a high-volume running game featuring a deep backfield, Tampa Bay looks to be building in Seattle and San Francisco's likeness. Manziel would be the Bucs' version of Russell Wilson/Colin Kaepernick.
8. Minnesota Vikings -- Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
The Vikings' free agent pursuit of Henry Melton shows they aren't satisfied on the defensive line, and there isn't a better interior player than Donald in this draft. The Vikings may maintain high hopes for 2013 first-round pick Sharrif Floyd, but his rookie-year performance suggests Floyd isn't ready to be an NFL difference maker. Donald is. He'd be new coach Mike Zimmer's next Geno Atkins.
9. Buffalo Bills -- North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
The Bills have a good defense, one of the top run games in football, a receiver corps loaded with young talent, and an above-average offensive line. Even with Jake Matthews still on the board here, I think Buffalo can fill its right tackle need in a later round. What the Bills do not have is stable quarterback play. In an effort to support second-year signal caller E.J. Manuel, I expect Buffalo GM Doug Whaley to use the No. 9 overall selection on the best offensive playmaker left.
10. Oakland Raiders -- Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
(See No. 5.)
11. Tennessee Titans -- Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert
Even though his tape isn't stellar, I fully expect Gilbert to be the first cornerback drafted. Teams are more concerned with attributes than college performance, and Gilbert combines 4.37 wheels with 33 1/8-inch arms at 6-foot, 202. New Titans DC Ray Horton may envision Gilbert as a poor man's version of Patrick Peterson. Horton coached Peterson for two seasons with the Cardinals.
12. New York Giants -- Michigan OT Taylor Lewan
I have the tackles falling further than expected, mostly because there are so many playmakers worth grabbing in the top ten. Lewan would be a no-brainer pick for the Giants, who can't count on injured LT Will Beatty and may have to move RT Justin Pugh to the left side. Lewan is also athletic enough to protect the blind side, though I'd expect him to man right tackle in New York.
13. St. Louis Rams -- Alabama FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Clinton-Dix lacks special athleticism, but he's a B+ in every area and would shore up a longtime trouble spot in St. Louis. The Rams' biggest need on defense is free safety. Coach Jeff Fisher has used first-rounders on safeties before (see Michael Griffin), and "HHCD" would be a big upgrade on incumbent Rodney McLeod, bookending T.J. McDonald behind Chris Long and Robert Quinn.
14. Chicago Bears -- Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Darqueze Dennard should also be on GM Phil Emery's radar at No. 14, but with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings re-signed, safety is a more pressing need. The Bears are weak at both positions after FS Chris Conte's April shoulder surgery. Though limited in coverage, Pryor is an enforcing, downhill thumper who profiles similarly to Denver's T.J. Ward.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Pittsburgh at 15 has become such a popular mock destination for Fuller that it probably won't happen, but it's also too sensible a match for me to ignore. Fuller excels in zone coverage, which is the foundation of Steelers DC Dick LeBeau's scheme in the secondary. Fuller can also play man and cover the slot where needed. He'd unseat Ike Taylor to start opposite Cortez Allen.
16. Dallas Cowboys -- UCLA DE/OLB Anthony Barr
Connections between Barr and the Cowboys have been numerous over the last few days. It's believed they have a top-ten grade on the polarizing pass rusher, perhaps even somewhere in their top five. Barr isn't a favorite of most draftniks, but offers a boatload of edge speed, and new DC Rod Marinelli would know how to use him. Dallas is desperate for defensive line upgrades.
17. San Francisco 49ers -- LSU WR Odell Beckham (Via Trade Up)
TFY Draft Insider's Tony Pauline produces arguably the most on-point pre-draft information on the internet. He wrote on his blog Wednesday that Beckham is the apple of San Francisco's eye. To get "ODB," GM Trent Baalke would have to trade up. I project here that he'll swap with the Ravens to secure Beckham, a deep threat wideout who compares favorably to an in-prime Greg Jennings.
18. New York Jets -- Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
In this scenario, the 49ers leap ahead of the Jets to snag Beckham, who is known to be on GM John Idzik's radar. Idzik's style is to remain cool and collected, and stick to his board. I think the Jets will have a good grade on Dennard, who excels in press-man coverage as Rex Ryan prefers.
19. Miami Dolphins -- Notre Dame G/T Zack Martin
I'm not confident this pick will be made at this draft slot, but I do believe Martin ends up in Miami, perhaps after a trade. Arguably this year's most pro-ready offensive lineman behind only Jake Matthews, Martin could solidify one of the guard jobs or right tackle on the Dolphins' weak line.
20. Arizona Cardinals -- Auburn DE/OLB Dee Ford
The Cardinals need edge speed. Their top returning pass rusher is John Abraham, who turned 36 on Tuesday. The rest of their outside linebacker depth chart is weak. For as good as this draft is, it's light on edge rushers. Ford is one of the few, and would add juice to Todd Bowles' defense.
21. Green Bay Packers -- Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier
Shazier would play inside linebacker next to A.J. Hawk in Green Bay, upgrading on Brad Jones. The Packers return one of the NFL's top offenses. Dom Capers' defense is a work in progress. Shazier is a sensational athlete who could run sideline to sideline playing behind NT B.J. Raji.
22. Philadelphia Eagles -- Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks
I think Cooks' sweet spot is 18-23. Although he isn't quite DeSean Jackson, Cooks is a great fit for Chip Kelly's "multiple" offense as a movable receiver who can play in the slot and stretch the defense on occasion. In this scenario, I'd expect Philly to also seriously consider Bradley Roby.
23. Kansas City Chiefs -- USC WR Marqise Lee
I expect five wide receivers to be selected in the first round, with Lee as No. 5. Chiefs coach Andy Reid deserves a lot of credit for "expanding" Alex Smith over the course of last season, as Smith noticeably showed more willingness to pull the trigger on intermediate and vertical throws. In order to maximize Smith, the Chiefs need more weapons. Lee would be a big upgrade on Donnie Avery.
24. Cincinnati Bengals -- Ohio State CB Bradley Roby
Leon Hall is coming off his second Achilles' tendon tear in three years, and Terence Newman is going on age 36. Roby is something of a lightning rod in the draft community, but has elite, No. 1-caliber cornerback traits. I actually think he could wind up going much earlier than this. But in this particular mock scenario, I'd expect Cincinnati to pull the trigger on Roby and start him in Week 1.
25. San Diego Chargers -- Notre Dame NT Louis Nix
San Diego's biggest defensive needs are cornerback and nose tackle. With Roby off the board, Nix comes into play as the two-gap anchor for DC John Pagano's defense. Nix draws Vince Wilfork comparisons for his ability to reset the line of scrimmage, swallow up blockers, and clog running lanes. Wilfork was the 21st overall pick in the 2004 draft. Here, Nix goes 25th overall.
26. Cleveland Browns -- Fresno State QB Derek Carr
The Browns have the fourth, 26th, and 35th picks in the draft. I expect them to take Mike Evans at No. 4, and a quarterback at either 26 or 35. They're known to be high on Carr, despite rumors linking Cleveland to Teddy Bridgewater. I think they'd snap up Carr quickly if he's available here.
27. New Orleans Saints -- Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste
Jean-Baptiste has drawn Nnamdi Asomugha comparisons from NFL scouts. It just so happens that Saints DC Rob Ryan coached Asomugha during his prime years in Oakland. I realize Jean-Baptiste isn't commonly "mocked" in the first round, but I think he's a sleeper to be taken there based his upside in press-man coverage. He's 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds with 32 3/8-inch arms.
28. Carolina Panthers -- Nevada G/T Joel Bitonio
The Panthers have two glaring needs on offense: O-Line and wide receiver. They can afford to wait on the latter in an incredibly deep wideout draft. They need to grab a blocker here. Bitonio is a great athlete at 6-foot-4 and 302 pounds, with length (34-inch arms) and versatility. The Panthers could figure out Bitonio's position on the practice field, but regardless he's a plug-and-play starter.
29. New England Patriots -- Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
I don't think it would be the Patriots making this pick, but I do believe Bridgewater will ultimately go in the first round, likely to a team that trades into the back end. Bridgewater's smallish stature and hand size are concerns, but he commands the pocket with composure and delivers the football with precise accuracy in game settings. Some team will view Bridgewater as a potential starter.
30. Baltimore Ravens -- Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Via Trade Down)
Word on the street is the Ravens badly want Eric Ebron. In this scenario, Ebron goes in the top ten and isn't available with Baltimore initially on the clock. I previously "mocked" a trade down with San Francisco, so Baltimore now drafts at 30. Here, the Ravens target "ASJ" as their fallback tight end option, giving OC Gary Kubiak an ideal in-line complement to flex tight end Dennis Pitta.
31. Denver Broncos -- Alabama ILB C.J. Mosley
Mosley is a really, really good football player, but his medical history is a known concern for teams. During his three-year stay at Alabama, Mosley tore the labrum in his right shoulder, dislocated his right elbow, and dislocated his hip. So I think he'll be drafted lower than people expect. He'd be a great fit in Denver, where DC Jack Del Rio needs middle linebacker help.
32. Seattle Seahawks -- Minnesota DL Ra'Shede Hageman
Hageman draws the ire of evaluators for his snap-to-snap effort, which was inconsistent in the Big Ten. In Seattle, he wouldn't have to be an every-down player, giving the Seahawks 20-30 downs per game in the old Red Bryant "five technique" role. Hageman offers more disruptive upside than Bryant due to vastly superior athletic tools. He'd be an outstanding fit on the Super Bowl champs.
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