Scroll to the bottom for a few notes on this week’s projection…
|#1 Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
He’s elusive for a 4.93 runner. He extends plays. Bortles is a creative quarterback who can be productive at the next level. Houston’s offense is set up for a big rebound year.
|#2 Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
Hang your hat on this guy. He’s the most exciting offensive tackle prospect to enter the league in years.
|#3 Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
When the Jaguars met with Manziel at the combine, he needed to prove he was the ultimate competitor. I bet he succeeded in doing that.
|#4 Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
With the top two quarterbacks off the board and this insane talent still hanging around, they make the pick and wait on a signal caller.
|#5 Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
The best receiver prospect to enter the league since A.J. Green and Julio Jones. You can build around a talent like this. Get a quarterback later.
|#6 Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
If the Falcons can grab a pass rusher in free agency, this looks like a great match. They need to protect Matt Ryan.
|#7 Khalil Mack (DE, Buffalo)
The Buccs need an edge rusher. Mack is versatile and can line up in multiple positions. This is a vital need.
|#8 Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
Teddy Bridgewater isn’t a Norv Turner quarterback and Aaron Donald will remind Mike Zimmer of Geno Atkins. He deserves to go this high.
|#9 Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
Some believe he’s a bit of a phony tough guy. Others really like him. It’s worth a shot here.
|#10 Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
People are down on Lee because of a 4.5 forty. Don’t sleep on this guy. He’s immensely talented and would be the perfect, fiery compliment to Calvin Johnson.
|#11 Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Ken Whisenhunt is not endorsing Jake Locker. He’s keeping all of his options open. In this projection they put their faith in Teddy.
|#12 Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Really talented, ideal big man who will compete for the ball in the air. Eli Manning needs a target like this — especially after last seasons pick-fest.
|#13 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
The Rams will keep adding talent where they can. A rangy safety at the back-end makes a lot of sense here. Some people think he’s the real deal.
|#14 Ra’Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
Chicago’s defense was a shambles at times last season. It all starts up front, especially if they lose Henry Melton. Hageman has unreal upside.
|#15 Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida State)
The Steelers don’t have a big man on the outside who can be a threat in the red zone. It’s not their only hole, but it’s a viable option here.
|#16 Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri)
His three cone drill at the combine was among the best in recent history. He can play inside and out. Dallas needs to rebuild its defensive front.
|#17 Odell Beckham Jr (WR, LSU)
He does everything well. Flawless character. Insane competitor. HUGE hands. He absolutely deserves to go this early, if not earlier.
|#18 Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
A 4.3 forty and massive 2013 production puts him in the top-20 range. Some of the Steve Smith comparisons a bit odd. He’s more of an all-round playmaker.
|#19 Zack Martin (G, Notre Dame)
An absolutely superb tackle in college, but expected to move to guard in the NFL. Could play left guard next to prospective free agent signing Brandon Albert.
|#20 Anthony Barr (OLB, UCLA)
There are 2-3 logical left tackle options in free agency they can go after. Presuming they sign one, Barr comes into play as an outside rusher. Possible bust.
|#21 Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Perhaps not quite ‘can’t miss’ enough to go in the top-15. He’d excel in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers. Very athletic but not out of this world.
|#22 Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
Physical corner who plays with an edge. Good blitzer. Philly wants tough football players on defense.
|#23 Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
Andy Reid made sure he got a good look at the top two safety’s at the combine, putting his big sandwich down to sit in the stands.
|#24 Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)
Shazier’s vertical and broad jump were off the charts last week. Stunning athlete with insane potential. Needs to direct traffic better to make more plays.
|#25 Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame)
They need more size up front. Tuitt can play end in a 3-4. Running a 4.8 at his pro-day this week helps his cause. Strong as an ox.
|#26 C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Two picks on defense and no QB? Perhaps. They have the third pick on day two with Houston (Bortles) and Washington (RGIII) ahead of them. It’s entirely possible they stand pat and keep building that D.
|#27 Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
He had an outstanding work out last week, but that’s not the whole story with Gilbert. There are a few concerns here. Reports say he was nearly benched by OKST last season.
|#28 Xavier Su’a-Filo (G, UCLA)
They’re about to undergo a forced major rebuild on the offensive line. It wouldn’t be a shock to see one of their first two picks go on a tackle or guard.
|#29 Brent Urban (DT, Virginia)
Missed the combine but we’re talking about major upside here. He could be J.J. Watt-lite. Belichick loves versatility up front.
|#30 Jimmie Ward (S, Northern Illinois)
Aggressive, wiry safety. Would fill a need for the Niners. Didn’t work out at the combine due to injury.
|#31 Chris Borland (LB, Wisconsin)
Denver needs a tone setter. A leader. A guy who flies around. This would be a smart move. You want this guy on your team.
|#32 Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada)
Underrated, incredibly athletic tackle or guard. Versatile. Outstanding character. Tom Cable would love this guy. Can either replace Breno Giacomini or play left guard.
Seahawks take Joel Bitonio at #32
The options on the defensive line weren’t great in this projection. But they aren’t great anyway once the likes of Aaron Donald leave the board.
At receiver, six players go in the first frame here. I suspect we’ll see a rush like this, then a pause, before a further rush in round two. The six players I’ve listed seem almost certain to be gone before Seattle’s pick.
Overall Bitonio just seemed to be the best fit. He ticks all the boxes.
I wrote this article last week detailing my thoughts on Bitonio, but plenty of people are sleeping on this guy.
From a physical stand point he’s right up there with Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews. Check the combine numbers. Then go look at his tape against UCLA (Anthony Barr) and Florida State (BCS Champs).
We’re talking about a seriously underrated, versatile lineman who could play left tackle for some teams.
In Seattle, he either replaces Breno Giacomini or starts at left guard.
I’ve not been a major advocate for taking an offensive lineman in round one this year. With Bitonio, he’s just too good to pass up.
He looks and sounds like a Tom Cable protégé.
If teams genuinely see him as a guard convert only — as Tony Pauline reported — he’ll continue to fly under the radar.
He’s a classic Carroll/Schneider pick. Gritty, competitive, insane athletic ability, under-appreciated and he’s a finisher.
Round two for half the league maybe, but round one for the Seahawks.
Justin Gilbert at #27?
After a combine, it’s easy to assume those who performed well will fly up the boards.
That’s not always the case.
There’s so much to like about Justin Gilbert’s length and speed. I can see why he’s gaining momentum as a prospective top-15 pick.
But there are other things to consider too.
Bob McGinn’s scouting notebook provides some of the best insider information you can get pre-draft. Here’s what he reported about Gilbert:
“He’s very perplexing to me,” said one scout. “Big knock on him is ball skills. He’s a big, long athlete that can run. He didn’t play real well last year. They were even going to bench him because of inconsistent play. I just don’t think he sees the ball real well. He has first-round talent but he’s just up and down.” The track record of Oklahoma State CBs in the NFL isn’t stellar. “Gilbert gets beat all the time,” a second scout said. “He’s got some interception production, but when you see the picks they’re not really legitimate ones.”
He has a ton of athletic potential, but he’s someone I want (and need) to do more work on.
Running well and having ideal length is not a precursor to going early in the draft.
Not if scouts think you’re a liability who’s going to get beat frequently at the next level.
And it’s worth remembering — for all of Seattle’s length and speed at corner — they’re also well coached, incredibly prepared and among the most technically gifted corners in the league.
It’s not just about running fast and having long arms.
Marqise Lee the #2 receiver
The knee-jerk reaction to make after the combine is — “Lee ran a 4.5? He’ll sink like a stone.”
He’s not big. He’s not tall. He’s not an elite speed guy.
But you know what? Nobody competes like Marqise Lee. He’s relentless. He makes impossible grabs look easy. He’s a stunning playmaker. He has special teams value.
Not every team is going to feel this way, but a lot of people will LOVE his tape. And it’s easy to forget just how dominant he was when completely healthy.
There’s no reason at all why he won’t be a top-15 pick.
Either way, he’s one of six receivers who won’t last long.
Sammy Watkins, Lee, Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Odell Beckham Jr and Brandin Cooks will almost certainly not make it to #32, severely limiting (and possibly ending) any hopes Seattle has of taking a receiver in round one.