The draft order is updated as of 12/6, which includes the win by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football.
I’ve extended out to three rounds for this edition. Keep in mind that beyond the first 20 or so picks I’m much more interested in matching player to draft slot than team to specific player. All the comments in this version will be nothing but positive remarks on the player. I’ve been accused of being too negative at times, so in the spirit of self-improvement I’m going to be deliberately nice. Imagine REM’s Shiny Happy People playing in the background, even though that song makes me want to decapitate penguins.
As always, these picks represent what I think the given team might do in the given situation. They do not necessarily reflect the choices I personally would make in the same scenario.
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville. Where Teddy really stands out is with his pre-snap evaluations and quick reads. His intermediate accuracy is exceptional as well. The Texans have to take a quarterback.
2. St. Louis Rams (from WAS): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State. Carr has the big arm and the confidence in it that makes him very dangerous. I see his lineage as a positive; he can draw upon his brother David’s struggles for strength and perspective. The prize for the RGIII trade gets the Rams their own franchise QB.
3. Atlanta Falcons: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina. Clowney remains a generational type of talent, with his blend of size, speed, power and instinctiveness. He’s perfect for the Falcons, an impact pass rusher for a team poised to rebound quickly.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M. They’re in a good spot to trade (hello Cleveland!), but they can also secure the offensive tackle with the best feet of any lineman in recent times. His ability to play either side gives the building Bucs precious options.
5. Minnesota Vikings: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA. Should he declare, Hundley offers very strong long-term potential. The Vikings have a bridge QB in place in Matt Cassel while Hundley hones his craft and learns to focus his powerful arm and intriguing athleticism.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. Mr. Football improved so much from 2012 to ’13 in terms of his field vision as a passer and his ability to read a defense. He’s got a great arm and the improvisational flair that drives defenses nuts. With Jacksonville’s young weapons around him, it’s a great fit.
7. Cleveland Browns: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon. IEO is naturally sticky in coverage and is very aggressive against the run. He and Joe Haden would provide the Browns with a very talented CB tandem, in lieu of landing yet another first-round QB. They do have the ammo to move up as high as they feel they need to if they do choose to chase a quarterback.
8. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. He’s a big-play receiver with strong hands and an exceptional catch radius. I love that he plays big in clutch situations, and he can create for himself after the catch. The Raiders need a dynamic presence to help Terrelle Pryor or his eventual successor.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. Players who improve at the technical aspects of their position tend to spike in the draft, and Ebron has done that. Paired with his very impressive physical attributes, he’s going to go very high. Ebron would help E.J. Manuel ascend.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo. The versatile, polished linebacker is a perfect fit for the Steelers and their creative zone-blitz scheme. He can play inside or outside with his elite closing burst and nose for the ball.
11. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M. The success of similar bodies like Alshon Jeffery and Vincent Jackson will help Evans’ stock, as will his excellent body of work in prominent games. He might be the best red zone weapon in this draft, and the Jets can sorely use his ability to win contested catches.
12. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. He’s still learning the intricacies of being an all-around linebacker, but Barr is already a very effective edge rusher. His ability to flatten around the corner is truly exceptional. The Titans can deploy him in rushing situations as he develops on the fly. His high ceiling could push him way up in the draft.
13. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU. Verrett isn’t the tallest guy but he plays a lot bigger than his listed size. He possesses a real innate stickiness in man coverage, and his ball skills are very strong. The Chargers can certainly use him either in the slot or outside.
14. New York Giants: Brandon Scherff, T, Iowa. The Giants would have to count a lot of lucky stars if they wind up with Scherff. One of the qualities I cherish in offensive tackles is the ability to sustain blocks, and nobody in this class--not even Jake Matthews--does that better than the naturally powerful Hawkeye.
Editor Note: Scherff announced he will return to Iowa after this mock was created.
15. St. Louis Rams: Cameron Erving, T, Florida State. When I watched Erving early in the season I wondered what some advocates saw. He was clearly athletic but raw like sushi. When I watched him against Clemson and Florida, I saw what others were saying. He’s got a significantly higher ceiling than the man he replaced at FSU, Menelik Watson. Has some Jason Peters to him. The Rams can certainly work with that.
16. Green Bay Packers: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame. Even in a down season for him personally, Nix’s talent is easy to see. Get him back healthy and in prime condition and the Packers have a versatile all-around cog for their amorphous front for the foreseeable future. I love the concept of him and Raji as a two-man line.
17. Chicago Bears: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. No team needs a safety more than the Bears, and Ha Ha brings loads of NFL-ready experience and savvy. I like his ability to range from a double-high look to the sideline in over-the-top coverage, and so will Bears fans.
18. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan. The Dolphins were dissatisfied with Jonathan Martin’s passivity. They wouldn’t have that issue with Lewan, who brings feistiness and run blocking grit to the table. His improved play down the stretch is a good sign going forward.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State. Already an elite return man, Gilbert rediscovered his inner ball hawk in 2013 after a strangely unproductive 2012. Long corners with ball skills and closing burst like Gilbert don’t last long in the draft, and the Eagles can insert him right into the starting lineup.
20. Arizona Cardinals: C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama. There isn’t much that Mosley doesn’t do very well. Some worry that his lack of a single great trait will limit him, but the athletic potential is there for growth at the next level. Cardinals fans likely want more OL help, but bolstering the defense makes them that much tougher to outscore.
21. Baltimore Ravens: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. Dennard is my top-rated corner in this draft, and he’s ideal for an aggressive scheme like Baltimore. He has a chance to be a legit lockdown island corner, and there’s not many of those to go around. His run defense is a nice insurance bonus.
22. Detroit Lions: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State. Adams has the length, speed and strength to make the jump from the Mountain West to the NFL. Detroit would be an ideal destination, as the Lions need him to be a complementary piece and not a featured performer, which is his best role in his early career.
23. Dallas Cowboys: Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU. Even though linemate Anthony Johnson gets more attention, Ferguson’s more consistent effort and propensity for timely impact plays. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli would love Ego.
24. Cleveland Browns (from IND): Blake Bortles, QB, UCF. They might have to use their earlier pick to secure Bortles’ services, but here the Browns get rewarded for their patience. Some will have the strong-armed UCF signal caller as the top QB in the draft.
25. Cincinnati Bengals: David Yankey, G, Stanford. The Bengals are in the enviable position of being able to take the best talent available, and in this case that would be Yankey. He is a polished, NFL-ready guard from a strong, pro-style college offense.
26. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt. Matthews wins not just by being bigger than the men covering him. He has a good feel for setting up moves and possessed quick feet for a tall receiver. The Niners have to keep bolstering the wideout ranks, as Anquan Boldin cannot play forever.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. There is a very real Tony Gonzalez vibe to Amaro as a receiver. He is sneaky explosive off the line, but the physical Amaro is at his best flexed out and breaking across the middle on intermediate routes and up the seam. He’d make a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s offense in KC.
28. Carolina Panthers: Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee. “Tiny” has proven he can wall off one side of the line in pass protection. If he can develop consistency at it, the Panthers would have themselves a building block for a line that needs some stability on the right side.
29. New England Patriots: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State. Even though he’s had a tough season, Roby still has all the physical tools that NFL coaches want in corners. He’s long, he’s quick, he’s got a short memory on mistakes and he has exceptional long speed down the field. The Patriots love to draw from Urban Meyer programs.
30. New Orleans Saints: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson. Adding pass rushing depth would strengthen Rob Ryan’s aggressive defense. Beasley can contribute right away as a situational rusher while he develops his overall game. I like him better as an outside linebacker than a 4-3 end.
31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State. One of the traits that scouts look for in a linebacker is the ability to sift thru traffic and explode to the ball. Ryan Shazier does that exceptionally well, keeping his feet clean to pursue the play. He can also blitz and cover pretty well, which gives a coach like John Fox freedom to get creative on defense.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State. Benjamin’s appearance here might surprise you, but I’ll tell you what a NFC South regional scout told me last week: don’t be surprised if the giant target winds up being the first wideout taken, should he declare.
33. Houston Texans: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
34. Washington Ethnic Slurs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
35. Atlanta Falcons: Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama
37. Minnesota Vikings: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
39. Cleveland Browns: Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
40. Oakland Raiders: Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
41. Buffalo Bills: Cedric Ogbuehi, T, Texas A&M
42. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
43. New York Jets: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
44. Tennessee Titans: Dominique Easley, DE, Florida
45. San Diego Chargers: A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
46. New York Giants: Travis Frederick, C, Arkansas
47. St. Louis Rams: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
48. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
49. Chicago Bears: Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina
50. Miami Dolphins: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
51. Philadelphia Eagles: Jack Mewhort, T, Ohio State
52. Arizona Cardinals: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
53. Baltimore Ravens: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
54. Detroit Lions: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
55. Dallas Cowboys: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
56. Cincinnati Bengals: Trevor Reilly, OLB/DE, Utah
57. Indianapolis Colts: Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri
58. San Francisco 49ers: Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State
59. San Francisco 49ers (from KC): Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
60. Carolina Panthers: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
61. New England Patriots: Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
62. New Orleans Saints: James Hurst, T, North Carolina
63. Denver Broncos: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
64. Seattle Seahawks: Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
65. Houston Texans: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
66. Washington Ethnic Slurs: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
67. Atlanta Falcons: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
68. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
69. Minnesota Vikings: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
70. Jacksonville Jaguars: Zack Martin, G/T, Notre Dame
71. Cleveland Browns: Juwan James, T, Tennessee
72. Oakland Raiders: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
73. Buffalo Bills: Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB, Texas
74. Cleveland Browns (from PIT): Craig Loston, S, LSU
75. New York Jets: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
76. San Francisco 49ers (from TEN): Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State
77. San Diego Chargers: Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami FL
78. New York Giants: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
79. St. Louis Rams: Odell Backham Jr., WR, LSU
80. Green Bay Packers: Dion Bailey, S, USC
81. Chicago Bears: Keith McGill, CB, Utah
82. Miami Dolphins: Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
83. Philadelphia Eagles: Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
84. Arizona Cardinals: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
85. Baltimore Ravens: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
86. Detroit Lions: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
87. Dallas Cowboys: Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State
88. Cincinnati Bengals: David Fales, QB, San Jose State
89. Indianapolis Colts: Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
90. San Francisco 49ers: La’El Collins, T, LSU
91. Kansas City Chiefs: Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida
92. Carolina Panthers: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
93. New England Patriots: De’Anthony Thomas, OW, Oregon
94. New Orleans Saints: Shaquil Barrett, OLB, Colorado State
95. Denver Broncos: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
96. Minnesota Vikings (from SEA): Calvin Barnett, DT, Oklahoma State