Top ten shaping up nicely

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:

Jadeveon Clowney
Johnny Manziel
Greg Robinson
Sammy Watkins
Anthony Barr
Jake Matthews
Teddy Bridgewater
Blake Bortles
Mike Evans
Marqise Lee


  1. Justin M

    Have 3 wr’s ever gone in the top 10 before? I do not remember such a time. I’m not saying it won’t happen because all three have very special talents; I just wasn’t sure if it has ever happened.

    • JS

      2004 had Larry Fitzgerald at #3, Roy Williams at #7, and Reggie Williams at #9. Also, Kellen Winslow went #6, and 2 more receivers in the top 15.

      • Ben2

        Is that you, John Schneider?

      • Justin M

        Thanks for the info.

      • el80ne

        Ah yeah I remember that. It would have been 6 wide receivers in the first round too if Mike Williams didn’t get screwed after he declared for the draft after the court ruling had provided the green light, then wasn’t allowed to return to school after it got overturned. He very likely would have gone to Jax at #9 instead of Williams.

    • troy

      Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin top 20(Percy Harvin#22) in 2009

      *Braylon Edwards, Troy Williamson and Mike Williams top 10 in 2005

      *Larry Fitzgerald, Roy Williams and Reggie Williams top 10 (Lee Evans#13 and Michael Clayton#15) in 2004

      Charles Rogers and Andre Johnson top 10(Bryant Johnson#17) in 2003

      David Terrell and Koren Robinson(Rod Gardner#15, Santana Moss#16 and Reggie Wayne#30) in 2001

      *Peter Warrick, Plaxico Burress and Travis Taylor top 10 in 2000

      Torry Holt and David Boston top 10 (Troy Edwards#13) in 1999

      Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn top 10 (Marvin Harrison#19) in 1996

      *Michael Westbrook, Joey Galloway and J.J. Stokes top 10 in 1995

      *Tim Brown, Sterling Sharpe top 10 (Michael Irvin#11) in 1988

      Al Toon#10, Eddie Brown#13 and Jerry Rice#16 in 1985

      Irving Fryar and Kenny Jackson top 10 (Clyde Duncan#17) in 1984

      Wes Chandler and James Lofton top 10 (John Jefferson#14) in 1978

      *Dave Parks, Paul Martha top 10 (Paul Warfield#11) in 1964

      • Eli

        This list makes me feel uncomfortable drafting a receiver so high. Lots of recent busts. It shows how much we undervalue the mental aspect of WR and the hard work it takes. All these guys are athletes but not many put it all together

        • AlaskaHawk

          Sammy Watkins is clearly more talented then other receivers. He stepped forward in the big game with eye popping stats.

          Evens and Lee have the talent but haven’t always been game changers. Evans didn’t do that much in their bowl game, and he had only 8 receptions in the previous two games. Defenses have learned to jam him at the line, apparently he isn’t quick enough to get through the jam.

          Lee has been playing hurt most of the season, he had oinly 2 touchdowns during regular season. I have questions about his durability.

          I wouldn’t pass either up because they do catch the ball well, especially in the Seahawks #32 spot. But you can see from college days that they have a 50/50 chance of making it in the NFL.

  2. Stuart

    Rob, with Manziel at #2, do you think it’s St Louis or a trade?

    • troy

      Manziel @ #2 and Mike Evans @#13? Could be smart, honestly though, passing on Clowney @#2 IMO might be a mistake that you kick yourself in the ass for years after unless it was for OT Jake Matthews or OT Greg Robinson. If I was STL I’d stick with Bradford, focus on drafting a QB day 2 or 3. Bradford’s got 2yrs remaining on his rookie contract still. @ #2 take Clowney or one of those top OT if you are unable to trade back and acquire more picks then @#13 you do the same thing BPA(WR Mike Evans, WR Marqise Lee, OT Cedric Ogbueh) unless of course theyre able to trade back and stock up on future picks. RD2 S Calvin Pryor or S Deone Bucannon, gotta fix that secondary. First 3 picks touch on the biggest areas of weakness, OT/WR/S

    • Rob Staton

      Trade if he goes that early for me.

  3. AndrewP

    Manziel & Clowney 1/2… I just can’t envision any other scenario.

    I know, I know, I know… It’s four months until the draft, and soooooo much can happen. But for me, it’s simple: These two can do things few other humans can. And at the end of the day, that will make all of the difference.

    Johnny Football has tremendous physical ability and the pizzazz of a franchise face, and he plays the most important position in sports. I can’t see a team, desperate for said ability and face, not falling in love with him to the point of HAVING to trade up to #1 to get him, whatever the cost.

    As for Clowney, he is a defensive Adrian Peterson or Randy Moss: When he cares, he can’t be stopped. Contained, maybe. But stopped… nope. After Manziel goes, someone will look at his ability to control the game from the defensive perspective (a true rarity, if you think about it) and again, have to have him.

    Just my $.02

  4. Attyla the Hawk

    Barring trades, I would put Dennard as a dead on lock at #10 to Detroit. Their needs are clear and he’s the best of this class and grades out close to where they pick. They will not pass on him.

    Also, I would put Khalil Mack in there to Buffalo. They may seek to trade a few spots down and still get him. Their needs are pretty known and I agree that Robinson and Matthews should be gone by 9 which is their other need. I actually could see Buffalo being aggressive and moving up to get one of those two. Edge pass rusher is a significant need for them. Mack and Barr seem to be fairly interchangeable. Barr expected to test better and go higher as a result. If Dion Jordan can go #3 overall, Barr would have to be considered in that same range.

    So many of the 3 to 8 range teams are in serious need of QB. It just feels like this is a year where a lot of those teams seek to move back in the round to get a QB. Spending a top 10 for most of these QB prospects may not be required. Bortles and Manziel both look like QBs who would fall through the top 10 if it weren’t so littered with QB hungry teams. Of course, that’s the nature of the position isn’t it?

    • seahawks509

      I don’t get the Mack to BUF. They were one of the best pass rushing teams. I think getting help for Manuel should be priority 1.

  5. House

    I’m still very un-convinced HOU takes a QB #1. Sure, it is a BIG need for them, but if it doesn’t work out, they’re in deep trouble. I could see them still taking Clowney or trading down and getting O’Brien’s system in place.

    What happens at #2 will be very interesting…

    • el80ne

      If their #1 pick in the draft doesn’t work out they’re in deep trouble anyway, regardless of what position that player plays. What happens when Manziel takes the league by storm next year after Houston passes on the local wunderkind to instead select the next Alex Smith? Or take Clowney to improve an already decent defense while taking a project QB in later rounds? If they can’t score points they’re back at square one … or rather they never left.

      • AlaskaHawk

        After watching both of Houston’s quarterbacls fail multiple times this season – they need to take advantage of their draft position and get a quarterback. Any of the top three QBs will do. As far as trading back – the top three QBs will be gone by #10.

        I get it that Clowney is the greatest defensive player to come out of college – but he won’t change Houston’s fate.

  6. seahawks509

    I watched Greg Robinson vs Missouri and was completely blown away. His movement is phenominal. He has very good footwork and anticipates the defenders move. Very powerful and agile which is hard to find. He blows lineman into the LBs and make piles on those outside sweeps. Then right after that play he will go down field and block a LB or S. This guy is unbelievable. Saban said Tre Mason was the heart and sole of Auburn’s team, but i’m not sure he is. When Robinson get’s going this team get’s going. Doesn’t matter if the run it the opposite side. It will be interesting to see how well he does in pass protection. From what I saw it doesn’t seem like a problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if STL passes on trading down and grabs Robinson at pick #2.

    Also I watched a bit of Tajh Boyd. I might be crazy but he reminds me of Donovan Mcnabb.

    • Michael (CLT)

      Great post. I love Boyd. He would be my #2 QB. Robinson could be Walter.

  7. Kenny Sloth

    Whoooa. Best pass protector in this draft? Billy Turner from SDSU. He’s played against some lesser comp. but is so natural and fluid. drops his head and leans sometimes. isn’t the most agile at pulling, but that’s not Seattle’s MO with their tackles. REALLY NASTY SECOND LEVEL BLOCKER> Seems soft spoken and intelligence. Might need a stronger base to excel at driving folks off the line.

    • bigDhawk

      WooHoo!! Another convert. Let the good news of Billy Turner spread throughout Hawk’dom! Best pass protector? How about best offensive lineman, period. Isn’t the most agile at puiling? Don’t know what game tape you’re watching but on my screen he is frequently the first (sometimes only) lineman in the second level laying smack down on fools…on the RIGHT side of the field opposite his position at LT. Soft spoken, intelligent type? That’s pure Seahawks/PC confidence-moxy-shoulder chip-mojo. Needs a stronger base? I dare say that right now, he is probably the strongest guy on just about any football field he cares to step. Wherever he is at – LOS, second level – defenders find themselves asking for their butts back after he hands it to them.

      Billy Turner…Warren Sapp at LT, best offfensive lineman in this draft, Seattle Seahawk. Let’s make it happen.

      • Kenny Sloth

        Geez. I know you’re excited, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. He’s playing against Northern Iowa and Delaware State. He was great against Kansas State, but that was one game against a fringe bowl team.

        I’m not sure where the disconnect is happening on the pulling, but he wastes a lot of steps and doesn’t get behind other blockers very quickly. I’m quite sure I said he was filthy getting to the second level, but it is rarely because of a successful pull.

        I don’t get a whole lot of shoulder chip aura from him soooo…… that’s ok.

        His bubble is a little small. Looks like he has a Jesse Williams type body. That’s what I was saying about his base. NFL condition program should straighten him out.

        • bigDhawk

          When Warren Sapp was drafted he had that same Jesse Williams, chicken-legged body type you mention. To the eyeball test, Sapp’s physique didn’t suggest the kind of freakish athleticism he possessed, and I see the same thing with Turner. Like Sapp, Turner just has that athletic “It” for a big man. He moves as fast or faster than defensive ends fifty pounds lighter than himself and is never a step behind on his footwork. In all the video I’ve watched I have yet to see him get solidly beat around the edge by a pure speed rusher. And to that you might counter with the your stated argument about weak competition, but I’m not concerned about that. There have been plenty of players that came from small programs where they dominated as men among boys and continued right on dominating after making the huge leap to the NFL – Demarcus Ware, Randy Moss, Vincent Jackson, Robert Mathis, Brandon Jacobs, etc. They all have some measure of that freakish “It” factor, as does Turner. Honestly I would be careful about changing too much about his physique because he has something really special going right now just like he is.

          As for this supposed pulling issue, I guess I would ask how much is a LT really asked to pull in most schemes? Isn’t that usually the job of guards to wham and trap and all that stuff? To my understanding a tackle’s main job is to secure the edge, which Turner does with authority. Anyway, its fun to split hairs about this kind of stuff, but at the end of the day in May it is very likely that Turner will be the most talented and skilled player left on the board by a long shot when we draft in the low 30s and nothing would make me happier if he became a Seahawk right there.

          • Kenny Sloth

            You’re right. I mean. Tackles seldom pull. esp. in our scheme. It was just a measure of his agility. I still have concerns about his frame, but I never saw him get beat around the edge either.

            I also didn’t see anyone put a move on him. I’m just saying there isn’t much to go on because the competition was just so awful. He wasn’t challenged technically.

            But he has definitely got the athleticism to succeed in the league.

    • bigDhawk

      Oh…and it’s NDSU, not SDSU.

      • Kenny Sloth

        You’re right, my bad.

    • Attyla the Hawk

      Color me very unimpressed with Mr. Turner. When I looked at him late in the season, I was hoping to see a good player who warranted such enthusiasm as I’d regularly seen.

      He looked really awful to me. Even against lesser competition, he didn’t demonstrate any willingness to improve his technique. Fundamentally very poor. Relied on athleticism which at his level is significant. But looked like a guy who spent the last 4 years not learning a thing. Beyond raw, he showed awful technique and balance.

      I know draftniks want to be on the ground floor of the obscure prospects — it’s an ever present hazard to our preoccupation. But Turner doesn’t look like even half the prospect Terron Armstead looked like out of AR Pine Bluff. Armstead actually showed promise and looked like he was trying to play the position correctly.

      If someone has some footage of him playing well, feel free to post it. I can’t find any.

  8. Emperor_MA

    I somehow just can’t see all the QBs going as high as all the draft pundits think. I don’t really see a bona-fide, #1, can’t miss franchise QB in this class, let alone the four that the national mocks have going in the top 10 picks…..

    I cant’ see Houston taking a QB at #1. They did it before and it didn’t work out (not entirely the QB’s fault) and I think it will be too bitter a pill to swallow for them to try it again.

    I don’t think the Rams will find a suitor for the #2 pick. They fleeced the Redskins to badly last time and no GM will want his name attached to a similar fleecing.

    Gus Bradley will go defense.

    Cleveland will probably take Manziel. I would if I were after a franchise QB. The kid just has too much talent and makes too much happen to ignore.

    Oakland is the wild card. Hard to say what they’ll do. My guess is they take a defender.

    Minnesota won’t take a QB in round one. Admitting the mistake that was Ponder will be too hard to do, even though there are new coaches in place. See Houston, above.

    I think you’ll end up with the normal run of OTs, DLs and a CB or two and only two QBs come off the board in round one. It will be Manziel and Bridgewater, in that order.

    • el80ne

      So Houston instead takes a project QB in later rounds and instead watches as that QB struggles and eventually doesn’t work out while the local star Manziel electrifies the league next year? That’s a painful and undesirable outcome too, maybe more so seeing as how unlike last time, the team has all the tools in place for a talented signal caller to thrive now and QB is their position of greatest need. They are built to win now, and if they’ve got a shot at a playmaker and future superstar to help them do that I think they’ve got to take that shot. I could see them deciding Bridgewater as that guy too, but they have to commit to getting that position problem resolved.

      The Rams could find a suitor but it probably won’t be the king’s ransom he got out of Snyder. But what if it were Cleveland wanting to leapfrog Jacksonville to get Manziel? If I’m Cleveland I’d be willing to swap firsts and throw in a later round to secure the pick. But if Fisher demanded I give up the extra first I nabbed from Indy for Richardson I’d probably tell him to go F himself. Not sure what other team would be willing to trade for Manziel in that spot that Fisher could use for leverage. Though if Gus wants Manziel too, that’s the kind of dynamic that drive a ransom.

      • Emperor_MA

        I absolutely agree with you. I would be all over Manziel if I were the Texans. But I just can’t see O’Brien making such a splashy first move. I think he can swap with Cleveland and get a much safer pick (like Bridgewater) that will still help him “win now” without having to endure all the scrutiny that goes with drafting a QB with the overall #1 pick. And let’s not forget that young Derek Carr is in this draft, making doubly sure that Houston fans remember quite clearly the last time the Texans had the #1 overall pick.

        I think once Manziel is off the board, the Rams’ chances of getting a meaningful offer at #2 go way, way down. I don’t see anyone wanting to give away a ransom for Bridgewater and Bortles looks to me much more like Tannehill or Locker or Gabbert than Luck, Foles or Wilson.

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