What’s one of the toughest things to do when putting a mock together?
Accepting your opinion on a player might not be universally recognised.
In this projection I’ve included a handful of guys I don’t rate all that highly.
Stephon Tuitt is in there, even though I’d only take him in round three. Somebody else might take him in round one based on the upside — so that’s why he’s in.
Khalil Mack is projected in the top ten. There are some character issues to be looked into. He’s a playmaker — no doubt about it. But is he quite the athlete some people believe? For me his greatest move is a bull rush, not speed off the edge. We’ll see how he tests.
People like Tony Pauline, who were sceptical of Mack going into the season, are now calling him a lock for round one. That’s difficult to ignore. And I’m choosing not to ignore it today.
I like C.J. Mosley a lot. Is he a top-20 pick? I wouldn’t take him that early, purely because he isn’t going to be a pass rushing linebacker at the next level. He isn’t Luke Kuechly either. But in a class without a lot of obvious elite players, he’d provide a solid addition to any 3-4 defense looking for a bit of mettle inside.
Jackson Jeffcoat exploded in the second half of the season for Texas. Whenever I’ve watched him, he’s been pretty inconsistent. I’m eager to see some recent tape and watch their Bowl game. A lot of reports say he’s really improved his effort and intensity. So he’s in too… for now.
There are other picks I like a lot more.
Jadeveon Clowney is still the top player in this draft for me. I’ll take a generational physical talent over whoever happens to be the top quarterback by default. However badly you need a quarterback. If Clowney works out at the combine, watch out.
Sammy Watkins will surprise people. Watch the tape and you see an extreme playmaker who got back to his best in 2013. What people don’t realise is he’s a smart receiver who picked up some good habits from DeAndre Hopkins. He will go early.
Marqise Lee is a top-ten talent. So why not put him in the top ten?
The clear strength of this class will be the offensive tackle and wide receiver positions. So I’ve no issue including so many in the first round of this mock.
And then there’s Seattle’s pick, which is at #31 today.
Ra’Shede Hageman is a really interesting case.
Last time I had him in the top ten, and that could happen.
He could go to the Senior Bowl and dominate. He could go to the combine and be one of the stars in Indianapolis.
If that happens, it’s unlikely he lasts until #31.
But there’s a catch.
There are some character question marks. Hageman had a difficult upbringing. Minnesota Jerry Kill kind of sums it up…
“He’s got a tremendous future… He’s a guy a lot of people will want to get their hands on as long as he stays on track”
How easy will it be for Hageman to stay on track? He’s had further issues in college, including being suspended for three games in 2010 for academic reasons.
Then there’s this report from Albert Breer, with quotes from an unnamed executive…
“[Hageman] is big, athletic — he flashes top-10 talent… He’s just inconsistent with his motor and his overall play style”
In terms of what he offers, he has the kind of length (6-6) and size (approximately 305lbs) Seattle looks for. They might have to replace Tony McDaniel in the off-season, or even Michael Bennett.
He has a great burst off the line. I like his hand use, his bull rush and the ability to move outside to the edge. There are some technical issues he needs to address. There’s also plenty to work with if he’s willing to learn.
Making projections late in the first round is a thankless task this early in the process. I set out with the intention of placing a receiver with the Seahawks, but too many were off the board. And I think they need a true #1, not an extension of what they already have.
So here is my Christmas Eve mock draft. Enjoy… and debate away.
|#1 Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Take Clowney at #1, put him next to J.J. Watt and enjoy. Yeah they need a QB, but who’s worth the top pick?
|#2 Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
Jake Long’s knee injury in week 16 makes this even more likely.
|#3 Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
Gus Bradley could use a defense-defining LEO.
|#4 Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Oakland needs something — anything — to build around.
|#5 Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
He could shoot up boards by the combine. And he’d look great next to Josh Gordan and Jordan Cameron.
|#6 Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
Really good run blocker. Has everything you look for physically in a franchise tackle.
|#7 Cyrus Kouandjio (T, Alabama)
He deserves more credit. Really, really good tackle prospect.
|#8 Khalil Mack (OLB, Buffalo)
I’m not a huge fan, but other people are. Minnesota will probably lose Jared Allen and needs a pass rusher.
|#9 Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
Who wouldn’t want to see Marqise Lee and Robert Woods reunited?
|#10 Antonio Richardson (T, Tennessee)
Athletic ‘beast’ of a player with limitless potential. His play has been inconsistent this year, however.
|#11 Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
Solid, if unspectacular, offensive lineman. New York needs to rebuild in the trenches.
|#12 Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Imagine Vincent Jackson and Calvin Johnson on the same roster. That’s what this would look like.
|#13 Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Athletic tight end with an engaging personality. Playmaker.
|#14 Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
The Jets and Johnny Football are made for each other.
|#15 Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
The best corner in this class.
|#16 C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Green Bay really needs to improve that defense.
|#17 Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
He’s not dominated in 2013 and it’s a concern. Has he added too much bad weight?
|#18 Odell Beckham Jr (WR, LSU)
Incredibly polished, makes plays. Terrific return man too and massive hands.
|#19 Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame)
I’m not a fan. I’d take him in round three. But I suspect someone’s going to fall for the upside.
|#20 Zack Martin (T, Notre Dame)
I’m a big Zack Martin fan. Tremendous all-round lineman with impeccable character. Underrated.
|#21 Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M)
He could be a big time riser if he declares.
|#22 Brent Urban (DE, Virginia)
Chip Kelly likes defenders with length and speed.
|#23 Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
He’s had a productive year. I’ve seen one of his games and came away impressed.
|#24 Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
I’m not convinced he’ll make a huge move into the top ten, but I can see why he’d go before some of the other QB’s in this class.
|#25 Cameron Erving (T, Florida State)
The combine will be Erving’s friend. Former defensive lineman.
|#26 Jackson Jeffcoat (DE, Texas)
Might end up rising a little during the off-season. Has 12 sacks in 2013 going into Bowl season.
|#27 Xavier Su’a-Filo (G, UCLA)
Big upside prospect with his best years ahead.
|#28 Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington)
Big, orthodox tight end. Could go in round one, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he fell.
|#29 Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
I think he’ll go earlier than people expect. Belichick hearts Rutgers.
|#30 Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Not had the year everybody expected, but still a good prospect.
|#31 Ra-Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
Character flags and a lack of production are the issue. Size, burst and upside are the big positives.
|#32 La’el Collins (G, LSU)
I think he’ll end up at guard in the NFL, despite playing tackle this year.