By Jeff Risdon
As version 1.0 wound up a nightmarish cluster of double picks and poor choices on my part, the initial mock draft is v1.1. Unlike Microsoft, I refuse to release products to the public that need immediate fixes.
For those unfamiliar with how I do mock drafts, my goal is to project what I think might happen in May. These do not necessarily represent the choices I would make in the given situations, nor is it indicative of my personal player rankings.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville--It’s hard to pass on a rare talent like Jadeveon Clowney, but the Jaguars have a bigger fish to fry at quarterback. Bridgewater could be very good right out of the gate. I still strongly believe Bridgewater and Clowney are locks as the top two picks, barring injuries.
2. New York Giants: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina--Don’t let all the negativity directed at Clowney fool you; he remains the most complete pass rushing prospect since at least Bruce Smith. Should he wind up with the Giants, you can cue the Lawrence Taylor comparisons.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA--Adding an edge rusher with such incredible burst and closing speed would dramatically impact the Bucs’ young defense. Barr has a chance to be very special in the NFL as he continues to learn the nuances of playing defense.
4. Minnesota Vikings: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon--He’s precocious and often shows it with rudimentary passing skills, but Mariota has sky-high potential and exceptional athleticism. The Vikings must end their ride on the plug-in QB carousel, though Matt Cassel would make a nice bridge until Mariota is ready to shine.
5. Oakland Raiders: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M--Terrelle Pryor has shown enough to merit a longer look at QB, and the best way to help him develop is to bolster the supporting cast. Mathews is a rock-solid technician with experience at both tackle positions playing in front of a similarly frantic QB for the Aggies.
6. St. Louis Rams (from WAS): C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama--The booty for the RG3 trade is the most NFL-ready LB in the draft. Mosley is an instinctive thumper with better range than you’d think for a guy with his build.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M--A lot of people will project offensive line help here, but the Steelers have devoted so many draft resources to that gaping hole that I don’t believe they try again. They could certainly use youth on defense, but a legit No. 1 wideout with Evans’ size and speed is too tempting to bypass.
8. Buffalo Bills: Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee--“Tiny” is a prospect whose stock I believe will rise as the scouting process advances. He has the chance to be a very strong bookend tackle. The Bills continue to build a young offensive nucleus around EJ Manuel. A defensive end or linebacker would not surprise me for Buffalo.
9. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo--The Mack of the MAC is one of the most natural pass rushers in this draft. He can win with speed or power, though I worry a bit that he’s a DE/OLB tweener. The Falcons desperately need pass rushing juice, and Mack can squeeze the quarterback.
10. Cleveland Browns: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA--Cleveland has painted itself into the “we must take a QB” corner with the Trent Richardson trade and the underwhelming play of Brandon Weeden. Hundley bears some stylistic resemblance to current Browns backup Jason Campbell, but has a much higher ceiling.
11. New York Jets: Sammy Watkins, WR, South Carolina--New York’s top priority much be to surround Geno Smith with more dynamic weapons. Watkins is a soft-handed speedster with game-breaking moves in the open field. They desperately need a safety too, but that will come later.
12. Carolina Panthers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama--He might slide off the radar a bit while he’s suspended by Bama, but Ha Ha remains the top safety prospect in the draft. He has a playmaking knack and is seasoned in different coverage schemes. The Panthers have a bigger hole at safety than most folks realize.
13. Houston Texans: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU--If he continues to play well, Mettenberger won’t be around for the Texans to select at this slot. When they get a new coach--and they will--the bizarre loyalty to Matt Schaub will end. Ironically, Mettenberer would be perfect for Gary Kubiak’s offense.
14. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama--This is probably Kouandjio’s draft ceiling, as he has not impressed with his footwork or technique in 2013. There is still a lot of potential here, and the Cardinals remain desperate for offensive line talent.
15. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU--Verrett is a plucky playmaker with excellent instincts, and I like that he can play outside or inside in coverage. San Diego needs depth badly at corner, and Verrett is NFL-ready out of the box.
16. St. Louis Rams: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State--This is not their biggest need, but Shazier is such a perfect schematic fit for Jeff Fisher’s defense that it’s hard to see him bypassing such a talent. Shazier’s range and cover skills would allow them to keep their base personnel on the field against three wideout sets, mitigating their need for safety help.
17. Philadelphia Eagles: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon--I hate when mock drafts get too convenient in matching players from a certain college to a NFL team with a coach or strong ties to said college. But in this case IEO (it’s much easier to type) is a great fit for primary need, and he happens to be a Duck recruited by Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Why not?
18. Tennessee Titans: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina--A rising talent with a great frame to present a big target, Ebron looks like a top tight end prospect. He and Delanie Walker would give the Titans a great 1-2 punch and the ability to go heavy on two tight end sets. That would be a fantastic red zone combo.
19. Chicago Bears: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame--Nix has gained some bad weight in 2013 and it shows in his play, but the lither ’12 version is easily the top DT prospect in this draft. His ability to shoot gaps and make impact plays is precisely what the Bears need up front. Put him with a healthy Henry Melton and that’s a potent front.
20. Miami Dolphins: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor--Seastrunk is a big play waiting to happen, akin to Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy as my colleague at DetroitLionsDraft.com Darren Page points out here. Adding him to the Dolphins provides a home run threat out of the backfield to help ease the pressure on Ryan Tannehill. Miami also desperately need a left tackle.
21. Detroit Lions: Marqise Lee, WR, USC--Lee could very well be gone by this point, as polished route runners with his burst off the line typically go quickly. He is an absolute perfect fit to play opposite Calvin Johnson in Detroit’s pass-happy offense. I know it’s early, but I will be very surprised if the Lions do not take a wideout and a defensive tackle before the end of the third round.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State--Roby’s stock appears to be falling, the result of lackluster effort and downright awful play in recent games. Yet the Buckeye has proven in the past that he is instinctive and naturally sticky in coverage, and he likes to play aggressively. That Roby is a great fit for the Ravens, though the team must also prominently address wide receiver.
23. Dallas Cowboys: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State--Dallas desperately needs to upgrade the defensive tackle spot, and Jones is an under-the-radar talent with excellent strength and great field awareness. He’s a great fit as the 3-technique in the new-look Cowboys 4-3 defense.
24. Green Bay Packers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State--With James Jones hitting free agency and the WR depth chart thin for a team that uses three WR sets a lot, it makes sense for Green Bay to address the position. Robinson fits the Packers mentality and scheme, and he tends to play better in key situations.
25. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State--This pick is made under the premise that Andy Dalton once again lays a giant egg in the playoffs and the Bengals realize he cannot be the QB they need to get over the proverbial hump. Carr has arm strength that Dalton can only dream about, and his mental toughness is a plus too.
26. San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers--The online draft community has begun a “Free Brandon Coleman” movement, as Rutgers appears to have no idea what a talent they’ve got in the physical Coleman. If this organization saw fit to use a first round pick on AJ Jenkins, Coleman is a no-brainer to help fill their chasm at wideout.
27. Cleveland Browns (from IND): Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin--The Browns use the pick they acquired for Trent Richardson on his replacement. Gordon is a smooth runner with gazelle-like open field ability akin to Cleveland native Robert Smith. He’s a better fit for the offense than Richardson.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida--The Chiefs defense would be even better with the talented Purifoy, an aggressive player with unflappable confidence. A quarterback like Tajh Boyd or Derek Carr, if they’re available, makes some sense. This is the range of picks where trades often happen.
29. New Orleans Saints: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU--With Rob Ryan’s nonstop attacking style of defense, having as many edge rushers as possible is a paramount virtue. Van Noy is a crafty rusher with good closing burst and a nose for the ball.
30. New England Patriots: Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor--The player to whom I would most closely compare Richardson is current Patriot Logan Mankins. New England desperately needs competent guard play on the other side, and Richardson can fit the bill. As is their custom, expect the Patriots to move out of this spot.
31. Seattle Seahawks: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State--Jackson and Richardson are going to engender a lot of debate as to which is the better NFL prospect. My personal take is that you cannot go wrong with either talent. Seattle gets a needed boost of depth and pass protection with the big Bulldog.
32. Denver Broncos: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan--Another player not meeting the preseason hype, Lewan’s play-thru-the-whistle mentality and brute strength are still apt to tantalize NFL coaches. Keeping Peyton Manning safe and sound for as long as possible needs to be Denver’s top offseason strategy.
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