The last two extra weeks of smokescreen and misinformation make any talk of moving the draft back further positively insane. In any even, Draft Day 2014 is finally here, and here’s one more stab at mocking what will go down at Radio City Music Hall tonight.
1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
If the asking price for this pick is as high as rumored, Houston will say hello to Clowney—and hope J.J. Watt can keep his motor running.
2. Rams (from Redskins): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
The Rams have options, but the OT with the highest ceiling in this class still projects to be the pick.
3. Jaguars: LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
This is where things could get really interesting. Jacksonville is a great landing spot for Johnny Football, but Gus Bradley would love a playmaker on defense. In this scenario, Gus wins.
4. Browns: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
It’s the perfect draft for Cleveland to add another dynamic playmaker opposite Josh Gordon, then land a guy to throw to them later in Round 1. Thanks, Trent Richardson!
5. Raiders: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
With quarterbacks sliding down the board and Matt Schaub on the roster, no reason to rush here. Watkins or Mack would be preferable, but they’re gone so the choice boils down to another receiver (Mike Evans) or some desperately-needed line help.
6. Falcons: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
With a trade up for Clowney looking less likely, Atlanta should still be able to snag an elite offensive tackle. If they have a preference between Matthews and Lewan, they could shimmy up the board a bit to secure their guy.
7. Buccaneers: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
The Johnny Manziel talk feels like smokescreen, as Mike Glennon was solid and Josh McCown could recreate his Chicago twin towers days with Vincent Jackson and Evans.
8. Vikings: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
The QB-desperate Vikings with all options still on the board… and they go defense? If the board plays out this way Rick Spielman trades down; if forced to make the pick, pairing Gilbert with Xavier Rhodes makes sense in the QB-heavy NFC North.
9. Bills: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Not a hugh fan of this pick, feels aggressive for Ebron. But other options (Evans, Matthews, Lewan, Mack) are all off the board. Barring a trade out, even though it may be a bit early it’s not necessarily a bad selection as Ebron presents myriad mismatch issues for opposing defenses.
10. Lions: DT Aaron Donald, Pitt
There are needs in the secondary, but Donald is the best player on the board and the Lions have had a reasonable amount of success loading up on the defensive front line.
11. Titans: LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
It’s been a linebacker to Tennessee in all three mocks, Barr in the last two. After the top two, this is perhaps one of the few remaining consensus picks amongst the draftnik community.
12. Giants: OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
If we learned anything from the 2013 Draft, it’s that offensive linemen are a hot draft-day commodity. The versatile Martin is a fit at several areas of need for the Giants.
13. Rams: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Clinton-Dix holds through all three mocks at this spot, though don’t be surprised if the Rams wheel and deal with this pick—especially with nary a QB off the board yet.
14. Bears: LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
With Aaron Donald unlikely to fall this far, the Bears’ pick boils down to Mosley vs. Timmy Jernigan. This being Chicago, you have to think middle linebacker will be the priority.
15. Steelers: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
With Jerry Jones’ professed love for Johnny Football you have to think the Steelers will be fielding phone calls for all 10 minutes of their selection. No deal struck, they stick with a prototypical Steelers corner in Dennard.
16. Cowboys: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Will it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? Sure, why not? Johnny Football stays in Texas. The Internet will break. Or Jerry Jones holds the pick hostage and fleeces a QB-needy team trading back up.
17. Ravens: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ozzie Newsome trade up to get the offensive lineman Baltimore needs… or trade down and still get one of the next tier of tackles. Locked to this spot, Pryor is more likely to be the pick.
18. Jets: WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
The Jets could definitely go cornerback here, with fast-rising Kyle Fuller a possibility. But we’ll stick with a wideout, as we’ve given the Jets each of the previous mocks, and stick with Beckham as in Mock 2.0.
19. Dolphins: OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
There’s no question Miami needs o-line help, and it doesn’t look as if Zack Martin will make it this far down the board. Few draft stocks have yo-yoed as much as Kouandijo’s, but if he’s cleared medically he makes sense for the Dolphins here.
20. Cardinals: OLB/DE Dee Ford, Auburn
An obvious candidate for trading up to take a quarterback—assuming Bruce Arians doesn’t want to groom Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater (or even David Carr) himself. In lieu of that, Arizona adds a pass rusher.
21. Packers: DE Ra’shede Hageman, Minnesota
Still a trade-down option for the quarterbacks, but with plenty of solid defensive options on the board the Packers may hold on to the pick. Hageman is enigmatic but has all the physical tools to upgrade Green Bay’s defensive line in a big way.
22. Eagles: WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Bradley Roby, the pick here in Mock 2.0, makes sense; so does fellow corner Kyle Fuller. But ultimately Chip Kelly can’t resist the siren song of speed in replacing DeSean Jackson with a guy from the other Oregon school.
23. Chiefs: WR Marqise Lee, USC
It’ll be tough for Andy Reid to pass on an opportunity to develop Bortles or Bridgewater, and the Chiefs could most certainly deal out of this pick to a QB-needy team that wants to jump ahead of the Browns. We’ll stick with receiver for the Chiefs, though through three mocks they’ve cycled through Odell Beckham to Brandin Cooks and now to Lee.
24. Bengals: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Cincy stays in the secondary, as they have through all three mocks, this time tabbing the fast-rising Fuller over Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby.
25. Chargers: DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
One more chance for teams to trade ahead of the Browns, who have to be salivating with only one QB taken thus far. Like its two predecessors, this mock gives the Chargers defensive line help and like in Mock 2.0 it’s Jernigan.
26. Browns (from Colts): QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
The Browns may have to tweak up the board a couple spots to get their guy, unless they’re perfectly happy with a QB falling into their laps. The way this scenario plays out, Bridgewater does just that.
27. Saints: OC Marcus Martin, USC
A ton of late steam for Martin to move up and fill a need for the Saints. We had them taking defensive players (LB Ryan Shazier, CB Kyle Fuller) in the first two mocks, but the mocks from those who tend to have well-placed sources are going with Martin here; who are we to argue?
28. Panthers: OT Morgan Moses, Virgina
As we saw last year, offensive linemen tend to get bumped up value-wise on draft day. The Panthers have a hugh need with multiple retirements along their line, and they can fill a similarly desperate need at receiver later on given the deep draft class, so the minor reach for Moses is warranted.
29. Patriots: LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Back and forth on this pick as the guys we had New England taking in Mock 1.0 (Eric Ebron) and Mock 2.0 (Ra’shede Hageman) are both gone. CB Jason Verrett is a distinct option, but the best player on the board is Shazier so we’ll have Bill Belichick go that route.
30. 49ers: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Benjamin might be too much like Anquan Boldin to be the pick, but he’s the highest receiver on the board so we’ll slot him here. Would it be too much pressure on Jerry Rice’s nephew, Jordan Matthews, to go to San Francisco?
31. Broncos: DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Ealy sticks from Mock 2.0 as the Broncos load up on pass rushers. Another interior guy like Louis Nix would be an option as well.
32. Seahawks: OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
Seattle closes out the first round—and the run on offensive linemen—with the top pure guard in the draft. That’s the perfect pick for a run-heavy offense like the Seahawks.