Time for the first mock draft of the year.
I wanted to mix things up a little bit compared to some of the mocks out there, but here’s a few pointers…
– Whichever team gets the #1 pick, I still think they’re going to find it very difficult to pass on Jadeveon Clowney. When you pick that early, you want a special player. Or at least a player with the potential to be special. Clowney and J.J. Watt could be a partnership for the ages, and something Houston simply has to consider even if they feel Case Keenum isn’t the guy. If I’d done a second round projection, I would’ve had the Texans selecting A.J. McCarron at #33.
– Sam Bradford has had a tough time in St. Louis. Multiple offensive coordinators. Very little consistency. A dearth of weapons. And his huge pre-CBA contract has severely limited the Rams’ ability to really attack free agency. At the same time, he has one year left on his contract. And because he’s been earning so much these last four seasons — any extension will need to be massive. I don’t see how you can make that commitment. The Rams have the luxury of two picks and could even end up with the #1 choice. They need to consider taking Teddy Bridgewater.
– The two positions of strength in this class are offensive tackle and receiver. That’s my take. But a ton of league sources are raving about the cornerbacks. I’ve tried to represent that in this mock.
– I’m not a Washington Huskies fan. I’m not a fan of any college team. The reason Bishop Sankey is in the first round of this mock is down to one thing and one thing only. He’s a hell of a football player.
– Cincinnati needs to find a quarterback. Andy Dalton teases the Bengals fans with 4-5 games every year where he looks the part. The rest of the time he wastes all that talent on the Cincy roster. That’s not to say Johnny Manziel is necessarily the answer. But surely the Bengals have to weigh up their options here? They’ll have to pay Dalton in a year. Do you really want to make that long term commitment?
– Keep an eye on UCF’s Blake Bortles. He’s a very modern NFL quarterback — a big, mobile presence with an arm. I can see Cleveland going down that road with one of their two first round picks ahead of someone like Derek Carr. And I like Carr, just not necessarily in round one.
– For the Seahawks I took a tackle. Brandon Scherff is a punishing run blocker and looks like a Tom Cable prospect. I sincerely hope the Seahawks find a way to keep Breno Giacomini, but it’s going to be tough to pay him and the likes of Richard Sherman, Golden Tate, Earl Thomas and Michael Bennett. You can see some Scherff tape at the top of this piece.
All thoughts welcome in the comments section.
|#1 Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Jadeveon Clowney next to J.J. Watt makes it acceptable to wait until round two for a quarterback.
|#2 Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
The Rams are coming to a crossroads with Sam Bradford. Either they pay him mega bucks, or they move on. I’d move on.
|#3 Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
Gus Bradley’s new athletic LEO. Their defense needs a guy with his speed off the edge.
|#4 Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
With the top two DE’s gone, this is the other big need in Atlanta.
|#5 Cyrus Kouandjio (T, Alabama)
The best tackle in this class for me. Superb talent. Not sure why he has so many critics.
|#6 Re’Shede Hageman (DE, Minnesota)
Athletic specimen. Why else have they stashed Josh Freeman? He must be the plan for 2014. Surely?
|#7 Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Who wouldn’t want a Vincent Jackson clone?
|#8 Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
He’d be a great compliment to Josh Gordon in Cleveland.
|#9 Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
Robinson’s a fast rising prospect who looks the part of a NFL left tackle.
|#10 Antonio Richardson (T, Tennessee)
Athletic ‘beast’ of a player with limitless potential. His play has been inconsistent this year, however.
|#11 Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Looks like a difference maker at tight end. Ebron’s production hasn’t dipped despite the change of quarterback at UNC.
|#12 Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
Keep an eye on this guy against Ohio State. He could be the top corner for 2014.
|#13 Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson)
Elite speed off the edge, 12 sacks this year. Welcome to the modern day pass rusher.
|#14 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
The Rams defense is perhaps a great safety (or corner) away from being very scary.
|#15 Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
Solid, if unspectacular, offensive lineman. New York needs to rebuild in the trenches.
|#16 Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
He’s making plays and getting good reviews all year.
|#17 Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
He’s not been dominant in 2013 and it’s a concern. Has he added too much bad weight?
|#18 Cameron Erving (T, Florida State)
Converted defensive lineman. Big upside. Would test well at the combine.
|#19 Zack Martin (T, Notre Dame)
A lot of people want to convert him to guard. I like him where he is — at left tackle.
|#20 Kyle Van Noy (DE, BYU)
Philly desperately needs talent on defense. Van Noy is a playmaker.
|#21 Odell Beckham Jr (WR, LSU)
Terrific, polished, explosive receiver. He could go earlier than this.
|#22 Loucheiz Purifoy (CB, Florida)
Inconsistent corner but plays the run well and a decent athlete.
|#23 Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
Criminally underrated because he lacks elite physical tools. He could be a star.
|#24 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon)
Solid all-round corner prospect who can play outside or in the slot.
|#25 Bishop Sankey (RB, Washington)
Dallas reached for a center last year, so why not a running back? Sankey is a stud.
|#26 Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Average 2013 season could prove costly. Still, the talent is there.
|#27 Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
Andy Dalton has had more than enough time to prove he’s the guy. Someone is going to roll the dice on Manziel.
|#28 Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
Big, mobile quarterback who can get the ball downfield. Could begin a quick rise up the boards. Having a great season.
|#29 Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
Small but highly competitive corner.
|#30 Xavier Su’a-Filo (G, UCLA)
Athletic freak who can play tackle or guard. He has a ton of upside.
|#31 Marcus Roberson (CB, Florida)
They need to add talent to that secondary. Roberson has character red flags.
|#32 Brandon Scherff (T, Iowa)
Punishing run blocker with attitude. Looks like a Tom Cable type player.