After what seems like an eternity, the first round of the NFL draft kicks off tonight! To celebrate, us here at JAM sports have put together a mock draft that touches on the the most recent rumors, team needs, and more. For this mock, we didn’t allow any trades, but did mention them if we thought they were possible.
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Hope you enjoy!
1. Houston Texans (John)- Jadeveon Clowney- DE/OLB- South Carolina
As much as the Texans might like to trade out of the number 1 slot, they aren’t going to get the offer that they are looking for. They ultimately end up taking Clowney here, who might be a once in a decade talent as a pass rusher.
2. St Louis Rams (Matt)- Greg Robinson –OT- Auburn
The Rams have a lot of options with this pick, and trading down is definitely something they’re interested in. If the choose to stay put though, I think the ceiling of Greg Robinson should ultimately win out. He’s a dominant run blocker, and has been compared favorably to Larry Allen.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Anthony)- Khalil Mack- OLB- Buffalo
Mack is the last of the “big three” prospects available, and fits a need as a pass rusher for Jacksonville. The Jaguars have finished last in the league in sacks each of the past two seasons. If they have fallen in love with one of the quarterback options, it is possible he comes off the board here, but Mack’s overall grade should make him the selection here.
4. Cleveland Browns (J)- Sammy Watkins- WR- Clemson
All the recent reports have said that the Browns are looking to draft a QB later in the draft, so they choose to pass on Johnny Manziel here. That leaves them with Sammy Watkins, one of the last of the elite prospects in the draft class. They can line him up opposite Josh Gordon for a scary Bears type offense with two great receivers. Don’t be surprised though if Mike Evans ends up going here instead.
5. Oakland Raiders (M)- Mike Evans- WR- Texas A&M
With the offseason moves the Raiders have made and Reggie McKenzie’s job on the line, the Raiders are clearly in “win-now” mode. With the fifth pick they try to get something that they currently lack in a true #1 receiver. Evans has a great size/speed combination, and the fact that he’s only played organized football for 3 years leaves plenty of room for improvement.
6. Atlanta Falcons (A)- Jake Matthews- OT- Texas A&M
Atlanta is another team that could really use some help on the offensive line. They would have loved for Greg Robinson to have fallen to six, but will gladly settle for the second best tackle in the draft. Matthews will be able to man the right side for the Falcons until left tackle Sam Baker gets hurt or proves to be ineffective.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (J)- Johnny Manziel- QB- Texas A&M
The Bucs ownership really loves Johnny football, and it sounds like they’re ready to hand him the keys to the franchise. I think teams want to try and build around the San Fran/Seattle model, which requires a strong defense and a mobile, playmaking QB. There are reports that Lovie Smith wants the team to go in a different direction, but ultimately I think ownership wins out here.
8. Minnesota Vikings (M)- Blake Bortles- QB- Central Florida
Minnesota has said they wont take a QB at 8, but I think that’s just a smokescreen to avoid another team trading in front of them. The truth is that Minnesota has been looking for a young franchise QB since Dante Culpepper, and Bortles fits Norv Turner’s system perfectly. I still believe he’s the best QB in the draft.
9. Buffalo Bills (A)- Taylor Lewan- OT- Michigan
Lewan is regarded by some as the second best tackle in the draft and would instantly improve Buffalo’s offensive line. Right tackle was a major weak point for the Bills last season and Lewan should slide right in opposite promising young left tackle Cordy Glenn. This should give the talented Bills’ runners better rushing lanes and keep second year quarterback E.J. Manuel on his feet more often.
10. Detroit Lions (J)- Odell Beckham Jr- WR- LSU
Many rumors suggest the Lions want to try and trade up for Sammy Watkins, and the Lions are clearly trying to add more weapons for Matt Stafford despite the addition of Golden Tate. Beckham has been a riser as of late, and is the clear-cut #3 WR in the draft and a likely top 15 pick. Eric Ebron is also in contention with this pick, but I think he ultimately falls on draft day.
11. Tennessee Titans (M)- Justin Gilbert- CB- Oklahoma State
This pick came down to 2 guys here- Justin Gilbert and Anthony Barr, but I think the Titans will ultimately go with Gilbert to replace the recently departed Alterraun Verner. Gilbert is the best corner in the draft, and profiles well as a man-to-man defender.
12. New York Giants (A)- Zack Martin- OT/G- Notre Dame
The Giants have a clear need at offensive tackle and Martin is the last first round talent left in our version of this mock. He can play both tackle and guard, and would give the Giants a solid group up front. Assuming he would man the right side for Big Blue, the pick would allow last year’s first rounder, Justin Pugh to move to his more natural position of guard, and would give them a much better chance at keeping Eli Manning upright.
13. St Louis Rams (J)- HaHa Clinton-Dix- Safety
The Rams have a glaring hole at the safety position, and they address it by selecting the best safety in the draft. They could also address the cornerback position here, but I believe Clinton-Dix is their guy.
14. Chicago Bears (M)- Aaron Donald- DT- Pittsburgh
If there’s one guy that I felt should go earlier in this mock, its Donald. He’s been reported as a top 10 pick as of late, and if he does fall this far I could see someone trading up to grab him. He’s the best interior pass rusher in the draft and would fill the hole left by Henry Melton.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (A)- Darqueze Dennard- CB- Michigan State
Pittsburgh is in a nice spot where talent meets need here at 15. Cornerback is a huge sore spot for the Steelers on defense, and Dennard would fit the bill as an upgrade there. He can play physical man coverage and is an asset in defending the run game. Although other corners are said to be rising, I think that Dennard ultimately is the best fit for what Pittsburgh does on defense.
16. Dallas Cowboys (J)- Anthony Barr- DE/OLB- UCLA
If Barr falls to them, this should be an easy selection for the Cowboys. Barr was a very successful pass rusher in college, and with DeMarcus Ware leaving via free agency, there’s an obvious hole to fill. Barr can fit in a 3-4 or a 4-3, which is nice since Dallas seems to change defense coordinators every year.
17. Baltimore Ravens (M)- Calvin Pryor- Safety- Louisville
The Ravens take an Ed Reed type player here to play center field for their defense. Pryor’s skill set compliments last years first round pick Matt Elam’s perfectly.
18. New York Jets (A)- Eric Ebron- TE- North Carolina
The Jets upgraded their receiving corps by bringing in free agent Eric Decker, but are still currently looking at Jeff Cumberland as their starting tight end. Ebron would be a decent value for the Jets at 18, and would give them another weapon in the pass offense. They have other needs at corner and receiver, but can address those positions later in the draft due to the depth they possess.
19. Miami Dolphins (J)- JaWuan James- OT- Tennessee
Everyone knows the biggest area of need for the Dolphins is the offensive line. Unfortunately, at this point all the top tier offensive linemen have already been taken (Robinson, Lewan, Matthews, Martin,) so it’ll be interesting to see if they try to trade down. Miami has apparently given JaWuan James a first round grade, so if they stay put he could be their guy.
20. Arizona Cardinals (M)- Derek Carr- QB- Fresno State
The Cardinals make a pick for the future here with Carr, who could potentially go in the top 5. He’s a good fit in Bruce Arian’s vertical passing game, and can study for a year behind Carson Palmer before eventually taking the reins.
21. Green Bay Packers (A)- CJ Mosley- ILB- Alabama
The Packers tend to take the best player available and that very well may be C.J. Mosley at this juncture. He was a leader of the Alabama defense, and would immediately strengthen the Packers in the interior of their defense.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (J)- Brandin Cooks- WR- Oregon State
If Brandin Cooks is available at this point, it’s going to be hard for Chip Kelly and the Eagles to pass on him. His game breaking speed has drawn comparisons to DeSean Jackson, and the Eagles could use Cooks in a similar way. They do love Kyle Fuller though and have a more pressing need on defense, so he would be an option here too.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (M)- Xavier Su’a-Filo- G- UCLA
The Chiefs bread and butter is the run game, and they need to make sure they can do that effectively next year despite losing Brandon Albert and Geoff Schwartz. This may be a bit of a reach, but Su’a-Filo would be a day 1 starter and should open up some holes for Jamaal Charles.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (A)- Kyle Fuller- CB- Virginia Tech
Kyle Fuller has gotten a lot of positive buzz recently, and is a very impressive man corner. Since the Bengals best cornerback, Leon Hall, is currently recovering from an Achilles injury, it would make sense to invest their in the first round.
25. San Diego Chargers (J)- Bradley Roby- CB- Ohio State
Roby has been a recent riser on draft boards and definitely fills a need for the Chargers here. They also are very thin at DT, but I think it’s too early to take a Louie Nix/Timmy Jernigan type at this point.
26. Cleveland Browns (M)- Teddy Bridgewater- QB- Louisville
If the rumors about Cleveland passing on Manziel at 4 are true, then the ones about them loving Bridgewater probably are too. He’s had an awful offseason between the combine and his pro day, but he came into the draft as a potential #1 pick and still may have the best arm in the whole class.
27. New Orleans Saints (A)- Ryan Shazier- ILB/OLB- Ohio State
Shazier is a versatile player and explosive athlete, running a sub 4.4 at his pro day. He would be a tremendous fit in Rob Ryan’s defense and could fill multiple roles.
28. Carolina Panthers (J)- Marqise Lee- WR- USC
If the season started today, the Panther’s starting receivers would be Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood, and Marvin McNutt. Clearly they need a receiver desperately, and if the draft played out the way this one has, they’d be foolish to not take one here. They may wind up taking late riser Cody Latimer, but I believe Marquise Lee is ultimately the pick.
29. New England Patriots (M)- Ra’Shede Hageman- DE/DT- Minnesota
The Patriots defense has deteriorated over the last few years, and they need to upgrade their defensive line. Playing guys like Kyle Love just isn’t going to cut it. Hageman is a strong guy, and should be a plus run defender at the next level. Of course, the Patriots could always trade down again and continue to sabotage the remaining Brady years.
30. San Francisco 49ers (A)- Kony Ealy- DE- Missouri
The 49ers seem to have been in the market for a receiver all offseason, but I think that they would take the value in Ealy over any receiver available to them at 30. Ealy is scheme versatile, and could help the Niners fill multiple roles on their defense. He could also be a potential Aldon Smith replacement down the road.
31. Denver Broncos (J)- DeMarcus Lawrence- DE/OLB- Boise State
Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers are now gone, and even with the addition of DeMarcus Ware the Broncos should still look to upgrade their pass rush. Lawrence can do that if they believe he can fit their system. The Broncos have made it clear all offseason that they’re all in to fix their defense and make another run at Peyton’s second Super Bowl win.
32. Seattle Seahawks (M)- Austin Seferian-Jenkins- TE- Washington
With the last pick of the first round, the Seahawks take a local kid who’s got a shot to be a truly special player. He’s got the size of a Rob Gronkowski/Jimmy Graham type tight end, and he should be an immediate weapon in the red zone. If he lives up to his full potential, he can be one of the best tight ends in the league.
-Matt LaMarca (follow @jamsportz)