Black Monday. Playoffs. NFL Draft.
This is a very intriguing time for NFL fans, no matter if your team made the playoffs or not. For those who didn’t, here’s a look at how the NFL Draft could go come time for your teams to pick in May.
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Texans have hired Bill O’Brien as their new head coach. The former Patriots offensive coordinator and Penn State head coach will want a new QB with which to build this team. I think Bridgewater can help Houston contend for the playoffs next season.
2. St. Louis Rams (f/WSH): Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
The Rams could take an OT or trade this pick, but I think the prospect of adding Barr to Chris Long and rising superstar Robert Quinn is too awesome to ignore. Barr can move around the defensive formation and give the Rams another dangerous weapon in the pass rush department.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel’s hype is crazy right now, and it may well die down before the draft. I won’t compare Manziel to Russell Wilson because they are a bit different, but Gus Bradley knows exactly what shorter QBs with heart and playmaking ability are capable of. Plus, I don’t think Manziel’s height is an issue because he has big hands. The Jags need a new QB.
4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The Browns, not unlike the teams in front of them, need answers at the QB position. Bortles went to UCF and took that program to heights even probably he never imagined. Bortles has the mental toughness and grit to help lead this Cleveland team back into the playoff picture.
5. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Raiders have so many needs, and I don’t think they have a quarterback either. They might need to try and trade up with the Rams to jump in front of some other QB needy teams in order to satisfy that need, because it’s probably the most unclear position on the roster. That said, they missed out on what I feel are the top tier of QBs in this mock, so they take the best player on my board. Clowney is a big time talent who would give the Raiders a force off the edge.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Falcons would love to get their hands on Clowney, but taking Jake Matthews isn’t a bad consolation. As they retool for 2014, they need to make sure Matt Ryan is well protected and that they invest in their most prized asset.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Bucs aren’t far away from contending for a division title, and I think adding a big play receiver like Sammy Watkins could be just what the doctor ordered. We know Mike Glennon can sling it, and you already have Vincent Jackson opening things up for the Bucs’ #2 receiver. I would love to see Watkins’ big play ability in that Tampa offense.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The Vikings need to start over at QB, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they reach for one. Derek Carr had a huge season but stumbled in the bowl game against USC. It was a tough game for his draft stock, but fortunately for him, the demand for QBs is very high.
9. Buffalo Bills: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The Bills upgrade their protection for E.J. Manuel by taking one of the most athletic and physically gifted tackles in the draft. Kouandjio is an absolute beast in the running game, and improving considerably in his pass protection. He’d be a great pickup for Buffalo’s front.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Lock-down corner coming from the best defense in college football. The Lions need to force more turnovers and get Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson on the field more often than not. The Lions’ collapse cost Jim Schwartz his job, and I think adding some playmaking ability on the back end of the defense can really help.
11. Tennessee Titans: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
The Titans need to upgrade their pass rush, and Mack is capable of doing that. He can play DE or LB and move around the defense, wreaking havoc on opposing QBs.
12. New York Giants: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Giants have been looking for solutions at the LB position, and Mosley is a rangy kid who can take over games. He might be one of the safest prospects in the entire draft and would be a huge upgrade for the NYG D.
13. St. Louis Rams: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
This is a deep draft for tackles, which is why I mocked the Rams an elite defender first. Getting Ogbuehi is a great pickup for St. Louis after taking Anthony Barr, getting a very talented guy that can step in and start at right tackle.
14. Chicago Bears: Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
The Bears just need to upgrade their defensive front. Stephon Tuitt played on one of the most dominant defenses we’ve seen in college football two years ago, and could be a huge (literally) addition for them.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Steelers get a steal here in Lewan, who was at one point projected as a top five pick. He’s a big, powerful offensive tackle that fits the mold of what the Steelers love in offensive linemen.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Big possession receiver who is a beast in the red zone and after the catch. The Ravens already have Torrey Smith to stretch the field, and here they get Mike Evans to add more size and playmaking ability.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Cowboys’ defense was a mess this year, mainly due to a horrid scheme for their personnel fit. I think adding a playmaker up front like Timmy Jernigan would be a great way to retool from the inside out.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Jets need offensive playmakers, and getting an ultra-athletic tight end prospect like Eric Ebron would be huge for them.
19. Miami Dolphins: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Dolphins’ woes at offensive tackle are well documented. Greg Robinson has a chance to cement an even higher draft stock with the national title game on deck.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
The Cardinals would love to see even more improved play from their offensive line, and adding a guy like Cameron Erving to play tackle and getting Jonathan Cooper back will be huge.
21. Green Bay Packers: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas A&M
Jace Amaro is one of the top playmaking tight ends in college football, and is exactly what the Packers’ doctor ordered. Jermichael Finley sadly may not play football again, and even if he does, this is an area the Packers could upgrade.
22. San Diego Chargers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Justin Gilbert is a playmaker at all levels. He can score on kick returns, he can take picks back for six, and he just flat out makes plays on the ball. The Chargers would love to add him to the back end of their defense.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Beasley had a monster year rushing the quarterback. He is a bit small for a defensive end, but he could play OLB in a 3-4 defense and move around to upgrade a pass rush.
24. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
No matter what way you slice it, I think the Chiefs’ top need is at wide receiver. Marqise Lee is a versatile wideout with big play ability.
25. Cincinnati Bengals: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
If there’s one weak area or area that could be upgraded for the Bengals’ defense it’s the safety position. I think Clinton-Dix is the top player at his position in this draft, so this is a smart way to go.
26. Cleveland Browns: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson made known his intentions to declare for this year’s draft, and I think it was a smart choice. After taking Blake Bortles earlier, the Browns add another playmaker to their offense in Robinson, who gives them even more size to go along with Josh Gordon.
27. New Orleans Saints: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
Murphy can play in multiple fronts and the Saints’ defense was much improved this year. If they continue to build that side of the ball you could see even more improvement next year. I really like what Murphy brings to the table and he could go even higher than this.
28. New England Patriots: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Patriots need another tight end, or at least another viable target in my opinion. They were so dominant with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and that has been seriously missed this year. ASJ is a big tight end who can be a matchup nightmare.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Hageman is steadily rising after a great finish to his 2013 campaign, and he could be a great pickup for the 49ers’ defense, which is already capable of being dominant.
30. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The Panthers get one of the most productive receivers coming out this year in Cooks. He is on the smaller side but plays with great toughness and grit, and has a very pro-ready game.
31. Denver Broncos: Trevor Reilly, DE, Utah
The Broncos add to their pass rush with the versatile Reilly, who can play DE or some LB if needed. Denver needs to continue to add talent to their defensive front seven.
32. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, OG, Stanford
The Seahawks get a highly graded interior lineman to help protect Russell Wilson and keep that power running game churning. Not a bad pick here at all.
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