Time permitting, I’m going to put out another mock tomorrow. And it’s starting to look like an interesting top ten this year.
More than one team is going to be pining for Johnny Manziel. Some will prefer the ‘safer’ bet of Teddy Bridgewater — while others will find some appeal in Blake Bortles’ physical upside.
Manziel is the real playmaker. The exciting prodigy who defies convention and may just have enough magic to lift a perennial struggler.
It’s going to be tough to work out which might see him that way. Some of the potential buyers are in the midst of appointing new coaches. The hires in Cleveland, Minnesota and Tennessee will give us a better indication of who might be willing to think outside of the box.
Bill O’Brien in Houston has roots within an orthodox passing offense and might prefer a more traditional pocket passer. Lovie Smith going to Tampa Bay should put the focus on defense and prove good news for Mike Glennon (who really deserves a shot to keep his starting role).
Cleveland is the one to monitor the closest. Their reported interest in Josh McDaniel is interesting. He has the same roots as O’Brien — yet when given the opportunity to draft his guy in Denver, he chose Tim Tebow.
Clearly he isn’t afraid of a challenge.
You can kind of see him embracing the idea of Manziel. The Browns — like the Raiders — need a lift. Whether that’s by taking a gamble on a talented yet flawed player remains to be seen.
They both need something — or someone — to believe in.
And it’s so enticing to consider the possibility of Manziel scrambling around and throwing downfield to Josh Gordon.
I’m almost certain he’ll go in the top ten — probably even the top five. Cleveland is just one possible home.
How the other two QB’s fit in will also be of some interest. Bridgewater will have his admirers — but is he more Sam Bradford than Andrew Luck or Cam Newton?
Teams who have suffered through poor quarterback play recently might appreciate a steady eddie, even if others favour the X-Factor of Manziel.
I think Bridgewater, more than Manziel or Bortles, needs to land on a team with a structure. He isn’t necessarily the type of guy to lift a franchise on his own — but like Alex Smith in Kansas City — he might be the glue that brings everything together.
That could appeal to the Texans, who have plenty of talent on offense (Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, DeAndre Hopkins).
I need to spend more time on Bortles (it’s not a big priority right now — Seattle has a QB). It’s hard not to admire his physical upside — the height, arm and mobility. But he also shows some of the same mental errors we see with Ryan Tannehill — limited reads, throwing blind, poor decisions and forcing too many throws.
Tannehill is a bit overrated for me. Mike Sherman — his former college coach and recently fired offensive coordinator — has taken a lot of the blame. It hasn’t helped playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
Yet the thought of Tannehill leading a team into a deep playoff run still seems fanciful.
He went #8 overall in 2012 and that seems like the kind of range Bortles will go. Teams are willing to invest in potential and Bortles passes the eye test. He’ll no doubt have a great off-season. And working in his favour will be the lack of options after he’s off the board.
I know a lot of people want to force Derek Carr into the first round, but I just don’t see it.
If the top three QB’s go in the top ten, that might be it for round one. Bortles might be seen as a last chance for some teams to come away with a quarterback they can build around.
Auburn’s brilliant offensive tackle Greg Robinson declared today. He’s better than all three of the offensive tackles who went in the top five a year ago. This year he could go as high as #2. He’s a stud — pure and simple. And a better overall prospect than Jake Matthews — who also seems assured of a place in the top ten.
It’s a deep year for offensive tackles and while it remains a premium position, we’re likely to see plenty going off the board early. Don’t rule out Cyrus Kouandjio as a top ten pick, even if he struggled in the Sugar Bowl. Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson is another player who could rise quickly.
We all know about Jadeveon Clowney — and he could be an option to go #1 overall if Houston finds a quarterback elsewhere.
Anthony Barr gets a lot of praise — he’s a great athlete but needs to make several technical improvements to warrant such a high investment. It still seems likely he’ll go early — there are some similarities to Dion Jordan, who was the #3 pick last year.
Then you have the top-tier receivers — and this is a great class as we’ve discussed. We’ll have to see if Mike Evans and Marqise Lee can crack the top-ten — but Sammy Watkins looks like a lock to go that early.
Possible top-ten players in the 2014 draft: