1/15 Mock Draft Pick Analysis

Working from this mock draft, I’ll explain the picks I made in as much or little detail as they warrant…

Round 1

  1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – I think Bridgewater’s the real deal and a tremendous prospect. He’s demonstrated complete command of a complex offense, has top-notch pocket presence and footwork, is athletic and agile, can make all the throws, and is astoundingly accurate doing so. He seems to have no maturity concerns or mental issues whatsoever. Blake Bortles may have a more impressive arm, and Johnny Manziel may be more mobile, so technically, their “ceiling” is higher, but Bridgewater is so much more likely to reach his ceiling than those two are to reach their hypothetical ceilings, that I think his range of outcomes as a QB prospect is significantly higher than theirs. I think he has the potential to be an Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees-like offensive surgeon.
  2. St. Louis Rams – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – Clowney is a once-a-decade pass rushing prospect. Enough said. I didn’t project trades in this mock, but even so, I think trading down here because defensive end isn’t a “need” position is dumb. Clowney is too good for the Rams to get cute.
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF – With Clowney off the board, I think the Jaguars will go with one of the two remaining QB prospects, as they are good enough to justify the selection. Right now I think they’ll go with local-ish product Bortles over Manziel, but that could change. Bortles is a developmental prospect, and the Jaguars are at least another year away from competing anyway, so pressure won’t be too high on him.
  4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – The Browns front office reportedly loves Manziel, and a team with five Pro Bowlers is much more likely to want the quarterback who’s better prepared to play right away anyway. Manziel’s accuracy is a little shaky at times and his arm isn’t quite as strong as you’d like to see, but it’s good enough to make NFL throws, his athleticism is a big plus, and I think he’s got the mental makeup necessary for a quarterback (I’d rather have a guy who was too confident than a guy who was too deferential).
  5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – They need just about everything, and Watkins gives them a true #1 wide receiver. I think he’s a tremendous and complete receiver whose frequent use in Clemson’s screen game belies the fact that he runs good routes and has incredible hands and instincts for the ball.
  6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – The Falcons most badly need help on the lines, although they are a thin team all-around. Matthews is the best prospect remaining and should start right away; he may eventually enable the team to save lots of money by letting Sam Baker go.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – Tampa’s outside pass rush stinks. Gerald McCoy is the front four’s only consistently productive player. It remains to be seen if they’ll use him as a defensive end or a Von-Miller type LB who rushes on passing downs, but either way Barr will upgrade the Bucs’ edge rush significantly.
  8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St. – Minnesota also needs a quarterback badly. I’m not as high on Carr as most draftniks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings take a chance on him here. Carr has a big arm, although he mostly used it to throw screen passes at Fresno State, and he did not look good in the bowl game against USC. On the other hand, screen passes to Cordarrelle Patterson might be all the passing offense the Vikings need.
  9. Buffalo Bills – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Buffalo has a nice collection of complementary receivers but no real #1 stud. Evans would change all that; he’s a big guy with downfield speed and great body control and feel for the ball. The Vincent Jackson comparisons are legit. This would be the fastest way for Buffalo to upgrade its offense both short- and long-term.
  10. Detroit Lions – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St. – This may be a little high for Dennard, but he was the best player on one of the best defenses in the country and is generally regarded as the best cornerback prospect. The Lions cornerback situation is still rather dire despite using a second-round pick on Darius Slay last year.
  11. Tennessee Titans – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – Mack is a steal here. Again, it remains to be seen what his role in this defense would be, but his athleticism off the edge means he will upgrade a defense that doesn’t have much in the way of outside pass rush, mostly relying on Jurrell Casey.
  12. New York Giants – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – It might seem strange for the Giants to go offensive line in back-to-back years, but they take the best player available, and right now, Robinson is that. The line was shaky last year and may have contributed to the team’s offensive disaster. Robinson would be a strong fix for that.
  13. St. Louis Rams – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – Jake Long costs a lot of money and has some injury issues. Rodger Saffold is a free agent and may slide inside to guard even if the Rams keep him. Joe Barksdale played capably last year but is still an unknown. Lewan provides an immediate upgrade to the line and the flexibility for the team to let a more expensive option go.
  14. Chicago Bears – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh – This is higher than most mock drafts have him, but as vixticator covered in his first Senior Bowl report, Donald is a tremendous interior playmaker with NFL athleticism. It makes no sense that his projections are so low. Chicago needs pass rush badly, and there’s no guarantee Henry Melton returns to his old form coming off a torn ACL.
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marqise Lee, WR, USC – Lee’s drops are a concern, but he is still a great playmaker on offense, and Pittsburgh’s wide receiver unit is somewhat thin, as Emmanuel Sanders did not adequately replace Mike Wallace’s production and Markus Wheaton didn’t really do anything.
  16. Baltimore Ravens – Cyrus Kouandijo, OT, Alabama – Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher are both free agents. The team may let one walk and try to upgrade the other. Kouandijo is a solid tackle prospect whose stock has moved up and down a bit this season but is a fine choice here.
  17. Dallas Cowboys – Rashede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – Well, Jerry Jones decided he wanted an offensive draft last season, and now his defense sucks. Hageman could go a long way to fixing that as an interior penetrator, especially since Jason Hatcher is likely to leave in free agency.
  18. New York Jets – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech – This team absolutely has no legitimate receiving threats. Santonio Holmes doesn’t give a damn, Stephen Hill stinks, Jeremy Kerley is dependable but a #3 WR at best, and Jeff Cumberland isn’t reminding anyone of Kellen Winslow (and neither is Kellen Winslow II, whose soldiering days are long past). Amaro gives the team a legit seam option who could potentially become a Jimmy Graham-type offensive focal point.
  19. Miami Dolphins – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – Ebron is this draft’s other athletic, receiving tight end. Charles Clay played well last season, but he’s more of an H-back and possession receiver type. Ebron would give Miami another field-stretching weapon, and could potentially help with the blocking (or allow Clay to stay in to block). Miami is desperate for an offensive line upgrade, but the value just isn’t there.
  20. Arizona Cardinals – Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech – Again, I have Attaochu higher than most based on the word of our scouts. Arizona got lucky that John Abraham still had something in the tank, but he won’t forever, and Attaochu’s burst off the line makes him a natural edge rusher.
  21. Green Bay Packers – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama – Green Bay still needs defensive help and Mosley is the best player available.
  22. Philadelphia Eagles – Hasean “HaHa” Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – It’s not much of a secret how weak the Eagles’ safeties were this last season. They should sprint to the podium if Clinton-Dix is available.
  23. Cincinnati Bengals – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri – Again, another case of a team that likes to take the best player available regardless of need. They may not be able to afford Michael Johnson, so Ealy would have a shot at starting straight from his rookie season.
  24. Kansas City Chiefs – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt – This team badly needs upgraded receiving options. Dwayne Bowe doesn’t quite look like his former self, and everyone else is outmatched. Matthews could give Alex Smith a reliable receiver.
  25. San Diego Chargers – Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame – On talent, Nix should go higher, but nose tackles just aren’t as highly valued as they used to be. San Diego could use him, though, given that their defense is very shaky outside of Corey Liuget, Eric Weddle, and Melvin Ingram.
  26. Cleveland Browns – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida St. – The team only had one legit NFL wide receiver. Now they have two. A Gordon-Cameron-Benjamin trio has the potential to be a devastating offensive attack.
  27. New Orleans Saints – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – Jabari Greer’s career might be over after tearing his ACL– he’ll be 32 next season and was already showing signs of decline. Patrick Robinson never really panned out, but Verrett has the talent and showed skills on film to step in as the starter opposite Keenan Lewis.
  28. Carolina Panthers – David Yankey, OT/G, Stanford – The Panthers are very, very good at about ten positions and below-average everywhere else. The offensive line has three of those positions. David Yankey would be an upgrade wherever he filled in, and if he was able to take over at left tackle once Jordan Gross called it a day, he’d be a steal here.
  29. New England Patriots – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington – The two-tight-end seam-busting offense of the Patriots now seems like a distant memory. Seferian-Jenkins could help rebuild it by filling in where Aaron Hernandez was supposed to be. As a bonus, he’s a better blocker than Amaro or Ebron.
  30. San Francisco 49ers – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St. – San Francisco is a little shaky at cornerback and Gilbert would be a big help there.
  31. Denver Broncos – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State – Denver will likely just take the best player available here. Jernigan will fit into their defensive line rotation and could be one of its most productive players down the road.
  32. Seattle Seahawks – Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor – Russell Okung and Max Unger are great, but the rest of Seattle’s line is iffy. Richardson would be an immediate upgrade at one of the team’s only weak spots.

Round 2

  1. Houston Texans – Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU – The Texans need a pass-rushing OLB. Brooks Reed is simply not getting it done. Van Noy is good value here.
  2. Washington Potatoes – Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State – Washington needs help everywhere, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden decide another legitimate weapon for Robert Griffin III is the best way to get the team back on track. Robinson is a bit like Cordarrelle Patterson lite, in that his fluidity and moves after the catch are his biggest asset.
  3. Cleveland Browns – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State – The team is weak here behind Joe Haden, and although Roby’s stock fell this season, he’s a talented player who would still represent a good upgrade for the secondary.
  4. Oakland Raiders – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame – Tuitt could play either DE or DT depending on the defense. The Raiders used Lamarr Houston as an over-300 pound defensive end, and he’s a free agent, so Tuitt might step right into his slot on the roster.
  5. Atlanta Falcons – Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State – The Falcons badly need pass-rushing help.
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee – The Bucs have one above average guard and one premier-when-healthy guard, but their tackles are lacking. Wherever Richardson ends up playing, he’ll be an important upgrade for the line.
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State – Shazier projects as a 4-3 OLB who can also rush the passer, which may make him the Bruce Irvin-type in Gus Bradley’s Jacksonville defense.
  8. Minnesota Vikings – Trevor Reilly, DE, Utah – Minnesota badly needs defensive help, especially since Jared Allen is a free agent and the Vikings aren’t likely to keep him in the midst of rebuilding.
  9. Buffalo Bills – Zack Martin, OT/G, Notre Dame – The Bills never adequately replaced Andy Levitre. Martin will allow them to do so, either by moving someone else inside from tackle or by playing guard himself.
  10. Tennessee Titans – Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Ken Whisenhunt might like Jake Locker, but then, he might not. Boyd is not a premier QB prospect, but with the number of weapons surrounding him on this teams, I think he can perform capably enough to beat out Locker and be a solid starter for some years.
  11. New York Giants – Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville – Again, likely taking the best player available, and so much the better that it’s at a position of need.
  12. St. Louis Rams – Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford – The Rams seem to like targeting specific players or positions. T.J. McDonald had a promising rookie year at strong safety, but the team still has nothing at free safety.
  13. Detroit Lions – Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU – The Lions need a legitimate complementary receiving threat to Calvin Johnson. Nate Burleson is aging, Ryan Broyles can’t stay healthy, and Kris Durham is Kris Durham. I loved what I saw from Beckham in college, and I think he projects to be a solid starting wide receiver.
  14. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida – Letting Keenan Lewis go and spending on Ike Taylor was a mistake. The Steelers need a cornerback.
  15. Baltimore Ravens – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State – The Ravens’ WR options behind Torrey Smith are weak, and the team never recovered from letting Anquan Boldin go. Cooks could step in right away as the #2.
  16. Dallas Cowboys – Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi St. – Travis Frederick may have filled the weakness at center, but the Cowboys were still bad at guard. Jackson would be a big help there.
  17. New York Jets – Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA – The Jets never adequately replaced Brandon Moore or Matt Slauson. Su’a-Filo is a start.
  18. Miami Dolphins – Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona – The Dolphins obviously don’t think Lamar Miller can handle a full-time load. Carey is a potential three-down back and would give Ryan Tannehill yet another receiving option.
  19. Chicago Bears – Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU – The Bears have plenty of defensive needs, but doubling up on defensive tackles wouldn’t be a surprise here.
  20. Arizona Cardinals – Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU – Carson Palmer can continue to start in 2014 while Mettenberger makes a complete recovery from his torn ACL. Mettenberger came along tremendously his senior season, he has a big arm Bruce Arians will love for his vertical offense, and the team already has a bit of an LSU-West vibe going, having drafted Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, and Kevin Minter recently.
  21. Green Bay Packers – Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State – Casey Hayward is best in the slot, and Tramon Williams can’t continue to avoid pass-interference flags forever.
  22. Philadelphia Eagles – Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU – Jeremy Maclin is a free agent coming off a serious injury. Even with Riley Cooper’s emergence, the Eagles only have two reliable receivers on the roster. Landry would give Chip Kelly’s offense a greater array of options.
  23. Cincinnati Bengals – Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State – Cincinnati loves drafting defensive linemen who produced in college. Geno Atkins may not quite be back to form after an ACL injury, and Sutton could help offset that.
  24. San Francisco 49ers – Davante Adams, WR, Fresno St. – The 49ers need more than three receiving options on the roster. Adams has a good size-speed combination.
  25. San Diego Chargers – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech – Fuller is very good value for the Chargers here, who badly need the upgrade at cornerback.
  26. New Orleans Saints – James Hurst, OT, North Carolina – Hurst was a potential first-round pick until breaking his leg. With both Zach Strief and Charles Brown set to be free agents, the right tackle job in New Orleans may be wide open. Hurst could start there once he’s well, and potentially even move to left tackle if Terron Armstead doesn’t work out long-term.
  27. Indianapolis Colts – Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas – The interior offensive line is one of the Colts’ more conspicuous messes.
  28. Carolina Panthers – Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado – Carolina has to come up with more and better receiving options apart from Steve Smith and Greg Olsen.
  29. San Francisco 49ers – Dion Bailey, SS, USC – Donte Whitner is a free agent, and it makes sense the team would go ahead and try to get younger there, with a Reid-Bailey duo set to man the position long-term.
  30. New England Patriots – Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri – Sam’s speed makes him a legitimate outside rusher, and if the team does let Brandon Spikes walk in free agency, they could theoretically shift back to more of a 3-4 look, with Sam and the emerging Jamie Collins at outside linebacker, and Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower inside.
  31. Seattle Seahawks – Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers – Percy Harvin represented a big upgrade at wide receiver for Seattle, but Coleman is a different type of player: a big (6’5″) wide receiver who can win jump balls and be a red zone threat.
  32. Denver Broncos – E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri – Champ Bailey is getting pretty old, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a free agent, and Tony Carter and Chris Harris Jr. are pretty good in their roles, but they’re only two guys, and they may not be able to handle bigger roles.

and the bonus Round 3 pick:

  1. Houston Texans – Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford – The Texans supposedly wanted Arthur Brown last year but were sniped on the pick by Baltimore. Skov will give them someone besides Brian Cushing who can play inside linebacker, as the lack of talent there was badly exposed this season when Cushing went down.

That’s all for now. The next major draft event is the Senior Bowl, so we probably won’t have another mock until we’ve seen that and heard the reports from practice. In the meantime, be on the lookout for some playoff preview podcasts, and some continued film analysis of this season’s draft prospects.

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