The draft being pushed back two weeks made it surprisingly more difficult to nail down any specific picks this year. Teams across the league seem to either be questioning what they originally thought or are throwing smokescreens all over.
Deciding what’s real has been a tall task this year. I updated this mock draft daily based on what I thought was real and what should be done. I’m sure something crazy will happen at the top that throws away everything here, but here is my semi-educated guess as to what happens tonight at Radio City Music Hall.
1. Houston Texans – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Throughout the entire process I’ve thought it was a lock that Clowney was going to end up here, but Houston sees Mack as a better fit.
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Rams need to protect Sam Bradford if they want him to have any type of success. They may be tempted to go with Jadeveon Clowney or Sammy Watkins instead.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
There is no way Clowney should still be here, but I think the asking price will prove to be far too high to land a pick from the stubborn top two. Gus Bradley jumps for joy.
4. Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins, WR, Texas A&M
The popular pick here would be Johnny Manziel, but it doesn’t seem like that will end up happening. Regardless of the QB, Sammy Watkins and Josh Gordon make a terrific 1-2 wide receiver combination.
5. Oakland Raiders – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Raiders aren’t interested in quarterbacks at this point, so I think they’ll try to help out the one they already have. They’d prefer Watkins, but if he’s gone look for Evans.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Falcons may be tempted to jump up, but their biggest need is to protect their franchise quarterback, Matt Ryan.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Neither of the top two wide receivers fall to them, so the Buccaneers take the guy who may get a chance to learn from the sidelines in year one.
8. Dallas Cowboys – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh (TRADE W/ MIN)
Minnesota trades 8 to Dallas for 16 and 47
Dallas really needs help on defense, and Donald would be the best option in this trade up. They’ll be convincing Minnesota not to take him while also jumping Detroit.
9. Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
Eric Ebron would provide Buffalo with much needed size in the passing game (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
I was EXTREMELY close to having Buffalo make the shocking move up to grab Clowney as he falls beyond one here, but I just don’t see it happening if it requires a 2015 first round pick. If they can get away with Clowney while keeping next year’s first then it’s a no-brainer.
Tight ends generally aren’t taken this high unless they’re special talents, and Ebron might be that. He’s an elite playmaker, but it’s a bit naive to call him a “tight end.” He’s a huge wide receiver. Ebron is average in terms of blocking, but it’s likely due to lack of desire to do it. That’s okay, though. You don’t take a tight end here to keep him in to block all the time. He’ll give EJ Manuel another weapon all over the field — especially the red zone.
10. Detroit Lions – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
I’ve always been very high on Fuller, and if he can stay healthy he’ll end up being the best corner from this draft class. Detroit will take that chance here.
11. New York Jets – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU (TRADE W/ TEN)
Tennessee trades 11 to New York for picks 18, 71 and 127
New York will want to jump up if they really want Beckham. Once he passes Detroit then other teams will start picking up the phone. Best offer wins Beckham.
12. New York Giants – Zack Martin, OT/G, Notre Dame
The Giants seem to covet the versatility that Martin brings to the offensive line, so he’s a perfect pick at 12.
13. St. Louis Rams – Hasean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
They need to take either a corner or safety here. The secondary has been awful, and they’ll need to tame Kaepernick and Russell Wilson for a while.
14. Chicago Bears – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Chicago could go with Ryan Shazier or C.J. Mosley, but Pryor fills a bigger need and provides similar “thump.”
15. Miami Dolphins – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan (TRADE W/ PIT)
Pittsburgh trades 15 to Miami for 19 and 81
They won’t be jumping anybody in particular with this pick, but they’ll likely want to make this move to secure the last of this draft’s top-tier tackles.
16. Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA (TRADE W/ DAL)
This would be the second straight year a team traded down from 8 to 16. This year the team moving down goes with a raw pass-rusher who has great value here.
17. Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (TRADE W/ BAL)
Baltimore trades pick 16 to Cleveland for picks 26 and 71
A rare inter-division trade lands GM Ray Farmer a player he is enamored with. If that’s the case, then they could definitely use some of their ten picks to lock him up.
18. Tennessee Titans – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF (TRADE W/ NYJ)
I think Tennessee would go with whichever player Minnesota doesn’t take: Bortles or Barr. Here they pickup a less injury-prone version of Jake Locker.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State (TRADE W/ MIA)
Moving back and landing Gilbert, who would be considered at 15, would be a great move for a team that needs youth in the secondary.
20. Denver Broncos – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama (TRADE W/ ARI)
Arizona trades 20 to Denver for 31 and 63
The Broncos will need to move up if they want Mosley, and rumor has it that they do. Mosley would be an upgrade over former Bronco Wesley Woodyard.
21. Green Bay Packers – Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State
Shazier will be an absolute steal at this point. I believe he’s one of the ten best players in this draft, but this is where he’s expected to go. Future Pro Bowler.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Philadelphia will consider moving up to get an even better wide receiver, but Lee is a solid option that allows them to keep their other picks.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Kansas City needs to get another weapon for Alex Smith. Cooks would be a great compliment to Dwayne Bowe. One brings size, the other brings speed.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Cincinnati would probably like to get Ryan Shazier here, but if they can’t then a corner makes sense. They have health and talent issues in the secondary.
25. San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
San Diego has tried to patch up the secondary, but it’s time to get a real difference maker at the position. Verrett would likely go higher if it weren’t for injuries.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois (TRADE W/ CLE)
It seems like Baltimore is prepared to take a safety in the first no matter where they end up. If they stay at 17 it’ll be Pryor/Clinton-Dix. If they move down it will be Ward.
27. New Orleans Saints – Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
They could go with a wide receiver here, but the draft is extremely deep there. They’ll target one later and go with the pass rusher at pick 27.
28. Carolina Panthers – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
It’ll be a wide receiver or a tackle here. Either way, Cam Newton needs some help after losing Jordan Gross, Brandon LaFell and Steve Smith.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (TRADE W/ NE)
New England trades 29 and 93 to Jacksonville for 39 and 70
Jacksonville works with a team known for moving down to make sure Arizona or Houston can’t snag Carr ahead of them.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
They would probably like to move up and get one of the receivers close to the top, but other teams jumped first. Latimer’s 4.4 40-time really helped him move up draft boards.
31. Arizona Cardinals – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri (TRADE W/ DEN)
Ealy would learn under Darnell Dockett before taking over the position in a year or two when he’s got more ideal size to fit into Arizona’s defense.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
The Seahawks don’t have many needs considering they just won the Super Bowl, but they could use a little help on the interior offensive line.
52. Buffalo Bills – Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State (TRADE W/ ARI)
Buffalo trades 41 to Arizona for 52, 120 and a 2015 fifth round pick
Mewhort hasn’t really been talked about much as an option for Buffalo, but they could move down a few picks in the second round and get a guy who projects very well to right tackle at the next level. He doesn’t have the athleticism to be a left tackle, which also means he won’t end up demanding big money in the future.
73. Buffalo Bills – Kareem Martin, DE, UNC
This is about the exact spot that Martin should come off the board. The only reason he isn’t higher on draft boards is because of the way today’s NFL quarterbacks play. He’ll have no trouble racking up sacks against pocket passers, but it’ll be mobile QBs that he’ll need to improve against. If he can become more flexible when rushing the passer he’ll get close to double-digit sacks most years.
109. Buffalo Bills – Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
If the Bills are able to pick up another pick in the fourth as they did earlier with Arizona, then taking one of the two Jordans (Tripp or Zumwalt) here would be a great value pick. They can sit back for a year while beefing up a bit and then possibly play the strongside to complete a very good linebacking corps. I like Tripp a little better, because I think he has more room to grow after playing small-time football at Montana.
120. Buffalo Bills – Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern (TRADE W/ ARI)
This is the other part of the Arizona trade earlier. I think the Bills really want to go with a running back early. It may be because they need a plan in case CJ Spiller leaves, or it could be because Fred Jackson is getting up there in age. Either way, McKinnon would be a solid pick in the fourth. He could end up being Maurice Jones-Drew 2.0.
149. Buffalo Bills – Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
They brought in six corners for pre-draft visits, and Cockrell is the only one that will likely be left at this stage. He played for a Duke team that really rose to relevance during his time there, and he’ll be a depth guy in case Schwartz moves newcomer Corey Graham to safety.
Round 6 – No Pick (Traded to Tampa Bay)
224. Buffalo Bills – Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
This pick is ridiculous considering I believe that Boyd is a better prospect coming out than EJ Manuel was last year. I don’t really understand why it’s now an assumption that Boyd will still be around with this pick, but Buffalo should move fast if he is. He’s a seventh-round pick, sure, but he’ll push Manuel and Thaddeus Lewis to be better than they were last year. Boyd may never get a real shot in the NFL, but it’d be smart for Doug Marrone to be more prepared for multiple quarterback injuries this year.