All the postseason contests are done, and the underclassmen declaration date has passed. That means it’s time to update the mock draft!
I included a couple of trades in this one to make it a little more realistic. The Rams are not shy about putting the No. 2 pick up for sale. I also believe the 49ers use their bevy of picks to move up and selectively target a player or two.
As always, these picks represent what I think the given team might do in the given situation. It does not necessarily indicate the decisions I would make in the same situations.
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida--The surprise ascendant has a lot of buzz around going No. 1 overall. Notable among those is the fact that new Texans coach Bill O’Brien raved about Bortles earlier this fall. My colleague Dane Brugler of CBS Sports was ahead of the curve last year with Eric Fisher as a surprise #1 pick, and he could be poised to repeat his prescience with Bortles.
2. *Atlanta Falcons, trade with St. Louis Rams (from WAS): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina--The Falcons go all-in on another premium pick, trading the sixth pick and next year’s first round pick to move up four spots to take the best defensive end prospect since Bruce Smith.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville--That sound you hear is the city of Jacksonville exploding in glorious delight. With the third pick in the draft they get the player who has a very good chance to go No. 1.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M--Cleveland is in a position to roll the dice on the variable that is Johnny Football. It will either be a stroke of brilliance or the most spectacular in a dubious line of failures for the Browns revolving door of management.
5. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo--He’s a do-it-all defender with enough bulk to play end but enough litheness to play well in space. Mack gives the Raiders an impact presence that can force turnovers and create mismatches.
6. *St. Louis Rams, trade with Atlanta: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn--The Rams pick up an extra first round pick and still get the man many believe is atop their draft board anyways. Robinson has rare power for a tackle and showed great movement skills in Auburn’s option-based offense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M--Forget the nonsense about moving him to center; Matthews is the most technically sound tackle prospect since Joe Thomas, blessed with truly awesome feet. His ability to play either side helps in Tampa, where the OL could be shuffling quite a bit in the next couple of years.
8. Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama--Two reasons why I slotted Mosley here. First, new coach Mike Zimmer knows what he needs more than anyone else, a do-it-all linebacking presence to shore up a lot of weaknesses and depth issues. Second, it’s just too early for a quarterback the likes of Derek Carr.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina--One of the most tired clichés in football is that every good young quarterback needs a good young tight end as a security blanket. Giving E.J. Manuel a wide-bodied target with seam-stretching speed like Ebron fits the cliché, which keeps getting spouted for good reason; it’s a darn sound idea. I could see them going after Ha Ha Clinton-Dix here too.
10. Detroit Lions: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson--If you think Jaguars fans were happy when they got Bridgewater earlier, wait until you hear the roar from Lions fans when Sammy Watkins falls here to Detroit. There might not be a better marriage of need and skills fit in this entire draft than Watkins and the Lions. If he’s gone, Kyle Van Noy is definitely in play.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA--He’s fairly limited as a player right now, offering little else than speed rushing around the edge. But he’s exceptionally good at that one thing. The new coaching staff can use him situationally until he develops more of an all-around game. An offensive tackle would not surprise here.
12. New York Giants: Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame--The beauty with Martin is that while he’s an elite guard prospect, he’s also talented enough to handle playing tackle in the NFL pretty well. Seeing as how the Giants need both, it’s a match made in heaven. I know they’ve scouted him extensively.
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama--Adding the rangy Clinton-Dix helps mitigate the downside of having riverboat gamblers at cornerback. He’s a proven backside cog with a high football IQ. That will appeal to Jeff Fisher, a former safety himself.
14. Chicago Bears: RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota--General Manager Phil Emery has to prominently address the massive holes all over his team’s defense, and here it starts up front with Hageman. He’s a hit-or-miss type of player who can play too tall at times, but he’s proven he can dominate for prolonged stretches too. Ask Northwestern, a game at least two Bears staffers were spotted at.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kony Ealy, DL, Missouri--Ealy brings great versatility to the Pittsburgh front. He has the physical tools to play either the 3- or 5-technique, a hand-in-the-dirt end in a four-man front, or even standing up across the formation as an attack dog linebacker. The Steelers need that type of diverse skill set as they continue to remake the defense.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State--He brings a similar style to current Ravens corner Jimmy Smith, a physical press corner who does not back down from anyone. He has the highest ceiling of any corner in this draft even though he’s not the biggest. Marqise Lee or another wideout makes sense too.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State--Big beef in the middle. It’s what the Cowboys need and it’s what Jernigan offers. His base strength and nose for the ball are a great fit for a Dallas defense that desperately needs help up the gut. If Clinton-Dix is somehow still on the board I have a hard time seeing Dallas pass on him, though.
18. New York Jets: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech--Getting Geno Smith some better weapons is paramount for the Jets. Amaro is a massive target but also a smooth route runner. His bull-like ability after the catch makes him more of a threat than most flexed tight ends. He’s not a great blocker, but you don’t take a tight end in the first round to have him block.
19. Miami Dolphins: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State--Many believe Gilbert will go higher than this, but I suspect there is enough bad game tape to make teams a little gun-shy. The Dolphins pull the trigger and get an athletic beast who also offers exceptional return-man ability. They’ll work on the offensive line a little later.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State--This is more of a reflection on Carson Palmer’s age than his performance, which was better than you might think. Palmer gets to serve as a mentor for one year while Carr sits and learns, hopefully straightening out his awkward mechanics along the way. Offensive line is always a need too.
21. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida--He has the requisite size and killer closing burst that the Packers look for in their corners. He’s also got something to prove after being overshadowed by the vastly inferior Louchiez Purifoy in the Gator secondary. Ted Thompson loves guys with shoulder chips, and Roberson has enough talent to justify it. I don’t see the Calvin Pryor hype at all, and I don’t think the Packers will either.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State--Shazier is an interesting prospect for a linebacker. He’s smallish for the position but has very good skills at both blitzing and coverage. He can take over a nickel LB role right away but has enough stoutness to make a three-down backer down the road.
23. *New Orleans Saints, trade with Kansas City: Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA--The Saints trade the 27th overall pick and their third and sixth round picks to move up and take the massive Bruin. He can play right tackle, but Su’a-Filo is hands down the best guard prospect in this draft. The Saints sorely need reinforcements inside.
24. *San Francisco 49ers, trade with Cincinnati: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M--The 49ers trade the 30th overall pick and the 55th overall pick, previously acquired from Kansas City for Alex Smith, to the Bengals for the right to move up and select the giant wideout from Texas A&M. His experience with an improvisational QB and massive catch radius are too much to resist for the Niners, and they are unsure if he would fall to them.
25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU--According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Chargers’ most effective corner in 2013 was Johnny Patrick. He ranked 94th among all corners in the NFL. Getting warm bodies with any sort of cover skills are a huge imperative for the Chargers. Verrett is smallish but naturally sticky and tough in man coverage.
26. Cleveland Browns (from IND): Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama--He could wind up lasting on the board a lot longer than expected, but Kouandjio offers enough potential as a right tackle to merit selection here. With Joe Thomas entrenched at left tackle, the Browns won’t need to watch him flounder there.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, OLB/DE, Auburn--The New Orleans defense was surprisingly successful in 2013, but adding Ford’s pass rushing prowess would help ensure that it was no fluke. His ability to dip and weave between lanes is outstanding, just what a creative coordinator like Rob Ryan wants.
28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC--The depth at wideout pushes down Lee, a potential top 10 pick. The Panthers don’t mind, inserting him with Steve Smith to invigorate the passing attack. Sleeper pick: Calvin Pryor.
29. New England Patriots: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh--Fresh off an outstanding Senior Bowl, Donald vaults himself into the first round as a dynamic interior pass rusher. He’s undersized, but Team Belichick values football players and Donald is a straight baller.
30. *Cincinnati Bengals (from SF): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State--Roby is one of those prospects who failed to meet lofty expectations in 2013. It’s caused some folks to forget just how good he was in 2012, and his Combine numbers will help remind folks of his potential. Cincy moving down in this scenario makes him less of a reach.
31. Denver Broncos: Dominique Easley, DT, Florida--Had he not torn his ACL--for the second time--Easley would likely have been a top 10 talent. The Broncos take the risk that he will be even 90% of his old disruptive self. Easley’s experience playing both tackle and end help his value.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan--The pugnacious Wolverine barely hold on to first-round status, as the Seahawks add him to the fold. He has a chance to be a very good right tackle, but he needs technical refinement and maturity.
33. Houston Texans: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
34. Washington Redskins: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
35. Cleveland Browns: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
36. Oakland Raiders: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
37. Atlanta Falcons: David Yankey, G, Stanford
38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
40. Minnesota Vikings: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
41. Buffalo Bills: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
42. Tennessee Titans: A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
43. New York Giants: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
44. St. Louis Rams: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
45. Detroit Lions: Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
46. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
47. Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee
48. Dallas Cowboys: Dion Bailey, S, USC
49. New York Jets: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
50. Miami Dolphins: Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
51. Chicago Bears: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
52. Arizona Cardinals: Jerry Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
53. Green Bay Packers: Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
54. Philadelphia Eagles: Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
55. San Francisco 49ers (from KC): Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
56. Cincinnati Bengals: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
57. San Diego Chargers: Morgan Moses, T, Virginia
58. New Orleans Saints: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
59. Indianapolis Colts: Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
60. Carolina Panthers: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
61. San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
62. New England Patriots: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
63. Denver Broncos: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
64. Seattle Seahawks: Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State
65. Houston Texans: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
66. Washington Redskins: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
67. Oakland Raiders: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
68. Atlanta Falcons: Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
69. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
70. Jacksonville Jaguars: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
71. Cleveland Browns: KaDeem Carey, RB, Arizona State
72. Minnesota Vikings: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
73. Buffalo Bills: Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
74. New York Giants: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
75. St. Louis Rams: Jack Mewhort, G/T, Ohio State
76. Detroit Lions: Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State
77. San Francisco 49ers (from TEN): Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
78. Dallas Cowboys: Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
79. Baltimore Ravens: Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane
80. New York Jets: Keith McGill, CB, Utah
81. Miami Dolphins: Billy Turner, T/G, North Dakota State
82. Chicago Bears: Terrance Brooks, S, Florida State
83. Cleveland Browns (from PIT): E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
84. Arizona Cardinals: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
85. Green Bay Packers: Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
86. Philadelphia Eagles: Taylor Hart, DE, Utah
87. Kansas City Chiefs: Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
88. Cincinnati Bengals: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
89. San Diego Chargers: Jordan Zumwalt, LB, UCLA
90. Indianapolis Colts: Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
91. *Kansas City (from NO): Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
92. Carolina Panthers: Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina
93. New England Patriots: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
94. San Francisco 49ers: Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
95. Denver Broncos: Jon Halapio, G, Florida
96. Minnesota Vikings (from SEA): Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State