*pending playoff results
**pending coin flip
1. Houston Texans - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
While I would not be surprised if the Texans went with Jadeveon Clowney or a tackle with their first pick, I do ultimately think they will go quarterback, and Bridgewater is an excellet quarterback prospect. Sure, he may not be as "hot" as Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, Bridgewater is in my opinion the top quarterback in the draft, and ready for the NFL right now.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I do ultimately expect the Rams, who scored with Washington's collapse to get this pick, to trade down to somebody either looking to move up for Clowney or for a quarterback. But if they hold at two, I think they'll make an excellent pass rush combo of Chris Long and Robert Quinn even more potent. Even with the effort questions (fair or unfair), Clowney is a special talent.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
So Blaine Gabbert ultimately did not work out after all, color me shocked. We knew the Jaguars were going to find an answer at quarterback at some point and while it may be intriguing for an excellent defensive coach like Gus Bradley to grab a versatile defensive talent, they would be making a mistake to pass up a quarterback. Bortles has seen his stock rise as the Knights got to the Fiesta Bowl and won, and he just may have the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this draft.
4. Cleveland Browns - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I am not one of the skeptics of Manziel at the next level, as I think he can be great in the pros. Sure, he may be a little small, his instincts are amazing, his playmaking ability is excellent and his passing skills are pretty good as well. The biggest questions with him are his maturity, but he is absolutely worth the shot for a team that has not had a franchise quarterback since Bernie Kosar. And we already know that Cleveland is smitten with Manziel.
5. Oakland Raiders - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Without the top quarterbacks on the board (unless they were to reach for Derek Carr), Oakland is in an interesting spot here and I would not be surprised if Reggie McKenzie would want to move down to stockpile picks. If they stay at five, don't be surprised if they add the number one wideout that they have lacked in the very explosive Watkins.
6. Atlanta Falcons - Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M
A lot of folks think that Atlanta may just move up to take Clowney given their needs to upgrade their pitiful pass rush in 2013, but it should not be forgotten that their pass protection was subpar as Sam Baker was a mess on the blindside. The Falcons are an offensive team built around Matt Ryan and the passing game, and protection for him is vital. Plus, Matthews just may be the top prospect available.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
Lovie Smith is headed to Tampa and while he is a great defensive coach, he needs more playmakers on that side of the ball, particularly in the pass rush which has been a problem spot for the club for years. So I think this pick will come down to Mack and Anthony Barr, with the more-polished Mack getting the nod and he looks like an excellent fit for the defense.
8. Minnesota Vikings - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Would I take Carr with a top ten pick? Probably not, I think he's a talented quarterback with an excellent arm but a little too inconsistent for my taste. But for the Vikings, who are desperate for a franchise quarterback after getting little from the trio of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman in 2013, may just be willing to roll the dice.
9. Buffalo Bills - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
E.J. Manuel struggled to stay healthy as a rookie but when he was on the field, he showed some flashes that he can be a good quarterback in the NFL. Therefore, the Bills should upgrade his supporting cast by bolstering his receiving corps by taking Evans, who will give a small group some much-needed size. He had a brilliant 2013 and would give Manuel a big target in the red zone and elsewhere.
10. Detroit Lions - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Lions have a talented (and expensive) defensive line, but with a cornerback crop that was brutal at times in 2013 that was brutal at times, a talented cover corner like Dennard would be much appreciated to fully unleash the line. Dennard was awesome in 2013 and played a key role for an excellent Michigan State defense that led the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory and he is a physical and fluid corner with the instincts to make plays on the ball even with decent speed.
11. Tennessee Titans - Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
Tennessee would be ecstatic if a talent like Barr were to fall to 11 as I project here because they could use some added juice to their disappointing pass rush. Barr is the kind of versatile pass rusher that teams love to employ these days but with his slight frame, he will have to bulk up to play defensive end so he appears to be best fitting in a 3-4 or a 4-3 outside linebacker.
12. New York Giants - Greg Robinson, T, Auburn
There were many reasons why Eli Manning was a turnover machine in 2013, and thus why the Giants were a disappointing 7-9, but one of the chief ones had to be a mediocre offensive line that seldom gave Manning time to make a good decision. Robinson has to develop as a pass blocker but he has all the tools, and his excellence in run blocking could help spark a garbage New York rushing game.
13. St. Louis Rams - Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
The Rams have given Sam Bradford a vote of confidence in that they still believe in him as their quarterback, so I think they will look to upgrade their offensive line with a talented tackle like Lewan who is rock solid with both pass and run blocking, and is coming off a good 2013 campaign. St. Louis needs more depth at tackle as Jake Long has injury issues and Rodger Saffold will be a free agent.
14. Chicago Bears - Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Bears are going to need help defensively and a lot of it as their unit took several steps backward in 2013. It was a key reason why the club missed the playoffs when given a good opportunity to win the NFC North as several players declined at once across the board. The defensive line could use some work and specifically at defensive tackle as Henry Melton, who was not great this past season, is a free agent. Jernigan was excellent for the national champions in Tallahassee and was very strong in the national championship, even as he got winded late in the second half. He's a versatile and disruptive presence that applies good pressure from the interior of the defensive line.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
The Steelers enjoy many a season with the massive Casey Hampton plugging up holes and running lanes at nose tackle and after they released him after the 2012 season, they did not get consistent play from his replacement Steve McClendon. Plus, McClendon may be a better fit at end and taking an excellent run stuffer in Nix would allow them to shore up the nose and the five technique at the same time.
16. Baltimore Ravens** - Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee
Both of Baltimore's tackles, Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher, are free agents this offseason and while they could theoretically bring back both tackles, I think at least Oher will not be brought back. Therefore, the Ravens could use a new right tackle and Richardson is one of the better tackle prospects remaining on the board. Richardson has the skill-set to play left tackle and he is a seasoned and talented tackle. He is big but also athletic and is good with the pass and the run.
17. Dallas Cowboys** - Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Cowboys were a disaster against the pass in 2013, easily finishing with the worst marks in the league with a whopping 415.3 yards-per-game allowed. Obviously, they need help so they can afford to take one of the top players remaining on the board in this talented safety from Alabama who can help upgrade their secondary. Dix is the kind of playmaker that teams love at free safety in that he is a good cover guy while also being able to attack in the running game as well.
18. New York Jets - Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Geno Smith was a mess in his rookie season and while it is too easy to ignore him and put the blame on his awful supporting cast, his supporting cast was awful and it is a necessity if the Jets think Smith could be the guy that they upgrade the talent around him. I had them going Eric Ebron before but I do think if one of the top wideouts is on the board, the Jetropolitans will look to snatch him up. Lee had an inconsistent season by his standards and expectations but he is a burner on the perimeter that routes very good routes and catches the ball well.
19. Miami Dolphins - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Brent Grimes was tremendous in his return from tearing his Achilles this past season, but he is also a free agent this offseason. Losing him would be a big loss to this Miami defense, and even if they keep him in town, we know in this day and age that you can never have too many corners. Gilbert is the kind of athlete you crave to have at cornerback and he has excellent ball skills to boot plus he is an above-average sized player for his position. He was a hell of a player in Stillwater, and can contribute big time in the return game.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Cyrus Kouandijo, T, Alabama
21. Green Bay Packers - C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama
Mosley would be a steal at 21 for the Packers in my opinion as there are a number of teams that could take him in May. He is the kind of tackler and leader you love to have in the middle of your defense and he is very good at multiple aspects of the position while possessing few weakness. Green Bay needs some pop at inside linebacker in their 3-4 and Mosley would be a solid fit.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri
23. Kansas City Chiefs - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Alex Smith is not a great quarterback but with a talented supporting cast can get the job done and then some and with his decent arm, it is key for him to have quality options in the middle of the field. We saw what he could do under Jim Harbaugh with Vernon Davis at tight end and if Ebron is available, I think Kansas City would take him quickly.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Roberson may not be much of a player against the run, and he is on the skinnier side for a six-feet corner, but he showed some natural man coverage talent in Gainesville and has the size and speed to be a real weapon against the pass. Cincinnati is stout defensively but they could use some more youth and depth at corner.
25. San Diego Chargers - Zack Martin, G/T, Notre Dame
Philip Rivers has an excellent rebound campaign for the Chargers and was a major reason why San Diego made the playoffs and won in Cincinnati. That said, it was even more impressive considering that his offensive line was not great, and the interior of the line was substandard at times. Therefore, Martin is a good fit. Martin had a fine season at left tackle for the Fighting Irish but he projects to be more of a guard in the NFL due to his inconsistency with dealing with speedy pass rushers as well as his excellent run blocking skills.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis) - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
27. New Orleans Saints - Scott Crichton, DE/OLB, Oregon State
28. Carolina Panthers - Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Cam Newton took a big step forward in 2013 but to take another step forward, he will need improved play from his receiving corps as Steve Smith struggled to stay healthy late and Brandon Lafell was decent at best. Robinson may not wow you athletically but he is a natural wideout that can get separation and runs well after the catch. He has the experience of playing in a pro-style attack as he excelled under Bill O'Brien and he will help whatever quarterback the Browns take with their first selection. Benjamin was the big-play threat for the Seminoles this year and he has the size and speed to be a serious playmaker in the vertical passing game.
29. New England Patriots - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
30. San Francisco 49ers - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
31. Denver Broncos* - Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
Opposite Von Miller, Shaun Philips provided ten sacks but he is on the wrong side of 30 and not a long-term option for the team, plus Robert Ayers is a free agent. For a team that puts up a lot of points, having a strong pass rush is key and thus Denver would be wise to bring in a physical and long end like Murphy who can move around the defense and is versatile.
32. Seattle Seahawks* - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Russell Wilson has been tremendous during his young NFL career, but he has not had the big-time playmakers in the passing game that could take the Seattle offense to another level. And while the team does have a fine tight end in Zach Miller, he is not a guy you really have to gameplan for plus we see more and more teams moving to the multiple tight end looks offensively. Now the questions for Seferian-Jenkins are not with his talent, he is a matchup nightmare plus a good blocker, but with off-the-field issues due to a DUI arrest. However, Pete Carroll has shown he is not afraid to take chances in the draft.
For even more mocks, check out the mock draft database from Walter Football.
Cover photo via AP Photo