Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchan, Published May 06 2014
Mock draft: Clowney first, then Donald to the VikingsWe're finally here, it's draft week and within hours, the NFL commissioner will walk to the podium and start announcing the picks.
While the first pick will probably be Jadeveon Clowney if the Texans stick at No. 1, there is still much uncertainty in the top-10. And honestly, that's what makes the NFL Draft so much fun. Even NFL teams (who also do mock drafts, by the way) will miss horribly on their guesses. But again, that's what makes this annual even must-see television.
Much can change in the final days before the draft, but this is how I see the first round playing out.
1. HOUSTON TEXANS -- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Since Bill O'Brien was hired in Houston, I've penciled Blake Bortles into this spot for the Texans at No. 1. But Clowney might be too talented to pass up here and from what I'm hearing, he is the favorite at No. 1 if Houston keeps this pick.
2. ST. LOUIS RAMS (from WAS) -- Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Yes, the Rams brought back Rodger Saffold, but with his injury history and Jake Long coming off a serious injury himself, Robinson is still a strong possibility here. At the end of the day, I think St. Louis trades out of his pick, but if they stay at No. 2, I like the Auburn tackle here.
3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -- Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
With zero quarterbacks off the board here, do any of them intrigue Jacksonville enough to be the future of the franchise? Manziel is very tempting, but I'm leaning no, making Mack a natural fit as the Jaguars upgrade the defense, specifically the pass rush.
4. CLEVELAND BROWNS -- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Browns will give Brian Hoyer a shot, but is he the long-term option? No, Ray Farmer and his staff weren't at Manziel's pro day, but if you think that means they're not interested, you'd be wrong.
5. OAKLAND RAIDERS -- Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Raiders need upgrades at several positions, most importantly quarterback. But they might be left in a spot where they guy they want isn't left on the board. If that's the case, Watkins would be a nice consolation prize.
6. ATLANTA FALCONS -- Jake Matthews, OT, Auburn
The two favorites for this pick is either pass rusher or offensive tackle and with Clowney, Mack and Robinson off the board, Matthews, Barr and Lewan are the main candidates. I'll lean Matthews right now, giving Atlanta a rock on the offensive line to help keep Matt Ryan on his feet.
7. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS -- Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Could Lovie Smith and Co. really draft a quarterback with the first pick of the new regime in Tampa? It's certainly possible as the Buccaneers are doing their due diligence on all the quarterbacks, including in-state product Blake Bortles.
8. MINNESOTA VIKINGS -- Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Best player on the board or quarterback? The Vikings desperately need an identity at quarterback, something Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater could bring to Minnesota. But more of a "sure thing" might be the direction here and Aaron Donald would be Mike Zimmer's new Geno Atkins.
9. BUFFALO BILLS -- Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
A former offensive lineman and offensive line coach, Doug Marrone will have a tough time passing on the toughness and grit that Lewan brings to the field.
10. DETROIT LIONS -- Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Lions have the best wide receiver in football and a top-10 pick with several holes on the roster, could they really draft a wideout here? Yes, if a talent like Evans is still available. Detroit's top priority should be improving the depth chart and Evans does that.
11. TENNESSEE TITANS -- Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Titans lost Alteraun Verner to free agency and despite feeling comfortable with some of the young cornerback talent on the roster, Gilbert's long, fast skill-set might be too enticing with this pick.
12. NEW YORK GIANTS -- Zach Martin, OL, Notre Dame
The Giants drafted a versatile tackle/guard last year in the first round (Justin Pugh), could they do it again this season? If that player is Martin, then yes, the top offensive lineman on the board here.
13. ST. LOUIS RAMS -- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
After going offense with the No. 2 pick, the Rams need to look at the defense with their second first rounder, specifically the backend. Clinton-Dix is a ballhawking safety with the skills needed to be a force vs. the pass and the run.
14. CHICAGO BEARS -- Calvin Pryor, SS, Louisville
The Bears addressed the defensive line in free agency and if Aaron Donald is gone, Chicago will mostly likely look to upgrade the secondary. Cornerback is a possibility, but Pryor gives the Bears a quick fix at strong safety.
15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS -- Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Steelers current cornerback talent isn't going to scare any opposing offense and in a division with Josh Gordon and A.J. Green, a physical, aggressive cornerback like Dennard could change that.
16. DALLAS COWBOYS -- Anthony Barr, DE, UCLA
The Cowboys have done their due diligence on Barr in the scenario that he falls to them. Well in this mock, Barr is still around and I don't think Dallas will pass.
17. BALTIMORE ORIOLES -- Jimmie Ward, FS, Northern Illinois
Could the Ravens go safety in back-to-back years? Why not, that's one possibility with James Ihedigbo gone. Pryor and Clinon-Dix are off the board, but Ward belongs in that same conversation and would give the Ravens an impressive safety pair, along with last year's first rounder Matt Elam.
18. NEW YORK JETS -- Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
The Jets took out the check book for Eric Decker in free agency, but chances are they aren't done addressing the wide receiver position, especially if a talent like Beckham is still on the board.
19. MIAMI DOLPHINS -- Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Miami has some solid options at tight end, including Charles Clay who emerged last year as a reliable receiving threat. But no tight end on the Dolphins' roster can match the ability of Ebron and what he brings to the offense.
20. ARIZONA CARDINALS -- Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Carson Palmer is the Cardinals starting quarterback in 2014, but beyond that is a question mark and Arizona might be tempted to secure that long-term answer in this draft with Carr.
21. GREEN BAY PACKERS -- C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Packers need help on defense and could benefit from Mosley slipping down draft boards due to injury issues.
22. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -- Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Latimer is more than just the flavor of the month, he is drawing legitimate first round interest from several teams and the Eagles have shown a great deal of interest in the former basketball star.
23. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -- Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Andy Reid and John Dorsey will be looking to add explosive weapons on offense and Lee would give Alex Smith another target starting in week one.
24. CINCINNATI BENGALS -- Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Although shoulder surgery will likely keep Verrett shelved until training camp, he is an outstanding cover man who will be able to help the Bengals' banged up secondary.
25. SAN DIEGO PADRES -- Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Despite his off-field activities in the news, Roby is still likely to land in round one and the Chargers have the need and have shown the interest.
26. CLEVELAND BROWNS (from IND) -- Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
As the Browns begin talks to lock up Joe Haden long-term, they'll also be looking to draft a worthy counterpart for the No. 2 cornerback spot in Cleveland. Fuller has the instincts and natural athleticism to be an impact performer on the inside or outside.
27. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -- Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
The Saints ranked top-five in the NFL last season in team sacks, but it's tough to pass up playmaking pass rushers. Ford used the Senior Bowl as a spring board into the first round.
28. CAROLINA PANTHERS -- Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
This pick will most likely be to help surround Cam Newton with help, either a left tackle or a wide receiver. James is a name that hasn't appeared in many first round mock drafts, but he's highly thought of by many in the league.
29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Not sure the Patriots expect the space-eating nose tackle to be here when they draft, but if Nix is still on the board, he makes a ton of sense in New England with Vince Wilfork's new contract basically a one-year deal.
30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS -- Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The last time the 49ers drafted a fast, undersized slot receiver in the late first round, it didn't work out so well (A.J. Jenkins). But Cooks is a different story with his combination of athleticism and polish to start at the "Y" from day one. The Aldon Smith situation is worth watching and could change this pick.
31. DENVER BRONCOS -- Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Shazier is simply a fun player to watch with his athleticism and ability to diagnose on the move and the Broncos could use his speed on defense.
32. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -- Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
The starting offensive guards in Seattle have produced inconsistent results so far this season. Su'a-Filo has experience at tackle and guard, but projects best inside and will be the top guard in this class for several teams.
33. HOU -- Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
If the Texans go with Clowney at No. 1 overall, quarterback becomes a possibility here and Savage is the hot name on the rise.
34. WAS -- Ra'Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota
The physically gifted Hageman has the tools to line up as a full-time five-technique while also taking some snaps at the nose.
35. CLE -- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
If the Browns signed Andrew Hawkins to cover the slot duties, but are still searching for a reliable No. 2 opposite Josh Gordon.
36. OAK -- Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Donald Penn isn't the long-term tackle option Oakland wants, Moses could be that player.
37. ATL -- Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
If the Falcons don't address the pass rush in the first round, look for them to do so here and Atlanta has shown interest in Ealy.
38. TB -- Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The Buccaneers found their quarterback to groom in the first round, now it's time to add a long-term option at tackle.
39. JAC -- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Could the Jaguars really land Bridgewater here? At this point, who really knows. But if they do, what a draft with Mack and Bridgewater.
40. MIN -- Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
The Vikings went defensive line in the first round and might do so again here, looking to target a quarterback like Mettenberger in the third round.
41. BUF -- Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Buffalo will likely add a cornerback at some point in the draft and Gaines will end up going higher than most think.
42. TEN -- Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, EIU
The Titans have been doing their homework on this quarterback class and Garoppolo could be an intriguing developmental option.
43. NYG -- Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
If the Giants don't land Aaron Donald in the first round, Jernigan in the second would be a nice consolation prize.
44. STL -- Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
St. Louis plays Tyrann Mathieu twice a year so they understand the value of versatile defensive back who can cover and hit.
45. DET -- Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
The Lions lost several defensive ends to free agency, including Willie Young and Crichton would help them rebuild the depth at the position.
46. PIT -- Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
Pittsburgh needs to revamp their front-three and Tuitt was made to play the 5-technique spot in a 3-4 scheme.
47. DAL -- Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
The knee durability is certainly a red flag, but when healthy, Easley is a dominating interior presence who can live in the backfield.
48. BAL -- Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
The Ravens have shown interest in the versatile BYU linebacker, who could be a jack-of-all-trades type in Baltimore's scheme.
49. NYJ -- Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
Although still a little rough around the edges, Breeland has the upside that has drawn a ton of interest his way.
50. MIA -- Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
The Dolphins need to revamp the offensive line and took a big step with the signing of Branden Albert, but Bitonio could be the new right tackle.
51. CHI -- Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
The Bears cornerback tandem of Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are both over 30 and some youth is needed at the position.
52. ARI -- Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
The Cardinals had a private workout with Ellington and he could be the slot option that opens up the middle of the field for Arizona.
53. GB -- Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State
It's defense, defense, defense for Ted Thompson and the Packers in the early rounds and Brooks is a day one starter at safety.
54. PHI -- Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
Chip Kelly wants to upgrade the pass rush position and Attaochu is a very talented rush linebacker who would be a steal this late.
55. CIN -- Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
With Anthony Collins moving on, the Bengals could use added depth on the offensive line, at both guard and tackle.
56. SF -- Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville
With the Aldon Smith situation in flux, a pass rusher like Marcus Smith will be strongly considered in the early rounds.
57. SD -- Marcus Martin, C, USC
Nick Hardwick will be 32 years old this season and Martin adds value at either center or guard.
58. NO -- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Asking defenses to cover tall trees like Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Benjamin would be almost unfair.
59. IND -- Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State
The Colts need to replace Antoine Bethea in the secondary and Bucannon is the top safety on the board.
60. CAR -- Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Carolina needs to add targets and Adams isn't a bad option at this point in the draft.
61. SF -- Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
San Francisco needs help on the outside on defense and are expected to add youth at cornerback in the early rounds.
62. NE -- Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The Patriots are expected to add a tight end at some point in the first few rounds and might be pleasantly surprised if Amaro is still around here.
63. DEN -- Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
With Eric Decker no longer in Denver, the Broncos could add some young talent to the wide receiver position.
64. SEA -- Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
The Seahawks are always looking for tall, long cornerbacks who fit their scheme and Jean-Baptiste could be that prospect.