If you saw the 2013 draft that ran a few days ago, you’ll know how this works.
This mock isn’t necessarily tied to that one. It operates on the same rules, though. One thing you’ll find different is that, since we are only into the second year of these players’ careers, I had less hard data on how they would perform in the NFL, and so had to weigh predictions of future performance more heavily.
1. Houston Texans
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
A no-brainer here, in my eyes. As much as they need a quarterback, and as much as they really could use a top-flight edge prospect like Clowney or Khalil Mack, Beckham is a passing offense all by himself, and a Beckham-DeAndre Hopkins combination at wide receiver would be absolutely devastating for years to come.
2. St. Louis Rams
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald has been an impact player from day one, with the kind of rare burst and agility required to penetrate the interior line that makes the concerns about his size seem silly in retrospect. Already one of the most fearsome interior rushers in the league.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
After a rough rookie season, Bortles is showing signs of growing into the quarterback the Jaguars believed he could become. I see no reason to change the pick.
4. Cleveland Browns
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
It’s time to put an end to the ridiculous trades, the drafting of players who don’t give a crap, and the complete disregard of your paid analytics study in favor of polling the homeless. The Browns have a quarterback, at last.
5. Oakland Raiders
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
He seems to be every bit the surefire hit he was considered as a prospect. No change, although Derek Carr was certainly considered.
6. Atlanta Falcons
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Roddy White has finally gone over the hill. The offense has struggled this year in part because of Matt Ryan, but it’s also true that he only has had Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman as reliable, consistent targets. Lining up Watkins opposite Jones will really open up what the offense can do.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
I see no reason to change this pick.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Since they won’t be getting Teddy Bridgewater, it’s imperative that they find another quarterback. Carr has proven capable of the job in Oakland, and the Vikings can’t risk missing out on him.
9. Buffalo Bills
Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina
This is where you can see the role of projection coming into play. Whether you consider that Clowney would lose his rookie season to microfracture surgery they way he did in Houston or not, the fact is, his ceiling is still incredibly high, particularly as a 4-3 defensive end (which is the defense the Bills were playing in 2014), and Mario Williams is starting to get up there in age (or alternately, Jerry Hughes will want too much money in free agency).
10. Detroit Lions
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Mosley has been legit for Baltimore, and Detroit has needed a middle linebacker for some time.
11. Tennessee Titans
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
From what I can tell, Matthews is settling into the left tackle position just fine (unlike his college teammate Luke Joeckel).
12. New York Giants
Zack Martin, G/T, Notre Dame
Their persistent need for an offensive lineman leads them to one who played at a Pro Bowl level his rookie year.
13. St. Louis Rams
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Been disappointing so far, but I believe the Rams would still take him on potential. They probably shouldn’t, but then, I made that argument at the time.
14. Chicago Bears
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
There’s another receiver who’s arguably a better pick, but I think Landry is a better fit for Chicago’s personnel, whether you’re looking at this as the Brandon Marshall – Alshon Jeffery Bears, or the Jeffery – Kevin White Bears. Landry fills a slot role nicely on a team that has very good (and big) outside receivers. If Jay Cutler likes Eddie Royal, he’ll love Jarvis Landry.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
I actually don’t think Barr should necessarily slide here; this was more a matter of fit for other teams ahead of Pittsburgh. Obviously he’s a great fit here and should thrive as a 3-4 OLB.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Lewan probably can’t be moved around the line like Zack Martin could, but he should thrive at right tackle (and can play left tackle, should something ever happen to Tyron Smith).
17. Baltimore Ravens
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson could easily go higher than this. Baltimore is thrilled to get a true #1 wide receiver at this point in the draft, something they tried to acquire this year with Breshad Perriman (which hasn’t worked out so far, but we were skeptical it would even before the draft).
18. New York Jets
Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
He’s been better than Calvin Pryor so far, and a true free safety would made things a lot easier for the Jets’ cornerbacks.
19. Miami Dolphins
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
He’s been arguably the top corner from this draft class, as his film indicated he well might be. He only fell because of concerns over his size, but size does not in itself a good cornerback make. (Any New Orleans Saints fan will know this, after the team’s biggest whiff of each of the last two offseasons was on a large cornerback.)
20. Arizona Cardinals
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
At his best, Hill is the sort of powerful-yet-agile back that can be the perfect complement for Andre Ellington. He’s been a bit disappointing in 2015, but he’s a perfect fit for this team, so they’ll take a chance he can play up to potential.
21. Green Bay Packers
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Fuller’s career got off to a promising start, but has been up and down since. The Packers will be willing to take a chance on his talent; in a redraft with such a short time frame, potential and projection still factors in here.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
A disappointing sophomore year (fueled in part by disappointing quarterback play) probably hasn’t made the Eagles unhappy with the selection. They certainly need wide receiver talent, so I saw it fit to draft the same player here. (Marcus Smith seems like a total bust, so they won’t go that route again.)
23. Kansas City Chiefs
Joel Bitonio, G/T, Nevada
They’re permanently in need of offensive line help; Bitonio has been solid for Cleveland, and could play guard or right tackle for Kansas City.
24. Cincinnati Bengals
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
I wasn’t a fan of Shazier coming out, but he seems to have performed better than I expected (although his weakness are still there). I’m particularly interested in him for Cincinnati, whose linebackers seem to suffer from a lack of athleticism (which, for whatever Shazier’s faults are, he certainly does have those).
25. San Diego Chargers
Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
Another team always in need of offensive line help. James slides in nicely at right tackle here, which I’m sure the team would appreciate, given that they decided to move D.J. Fluker to guard after two seasons.
26. Cleveland Browns
Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Jackson has been one of the better players on one of the league’s most surprisingly good offensive lines. Cleveland will need a guard with Bitonio already drafted.
27. New Orleans Saints
John Brown, WR, Pittsburg St. (KS)
This could be controversial. I think Brown has arguably been better than Brandin Cooks, though– he may not run quite as fast in the 40, but he has better route-running and ball skills. The Saints clearly wanted to add some speed to their offense; Brown may be the best option for that.
28. Carolina Panthers
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Despite missing 2015 with a torn ACL, Benjamin showed enough production as a rookie that Carolina is still happy with the pick, I feel.
29. New England Patriots
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
He’s been a revelation in 2015, taking on an incredible workload and being extremely productive doing so. New England takes him here with the intent of getting the kind of production he provided for Atlanta this year (and that they were getting from Dion Lewis).
30. San Francisco 49ers
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Big, talented, big-play receiver. Arguably could go even higher than this. Adds some serious talent to a receiver crew that could use it.
31. Denver Broncos
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Not sure how well he has played so far, but his regard as a prospect alone is good enough to land him here.
32. Seattle Seahawks
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Hasn’t been everything Detroit hoped for when they drafted him in the top ten, but he’s started to come along his second season. The talent alone is enough for Seattle to take a chance; with Ebron, they don’t need to make a major move for Jimmy Graham.