Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
It’s Friday, March 28th. Most of the significant pro days are done, and private workouts are in full swing. I’ve got a full pot of coffee, a Spotify playlist devoted exclusively to Coheed & Cambria, and about six hours until my kids are done with school…
It’s go time. Man your battle stations!
This one goes four full rounds, including the recently awarded compensatory picks. Limited commentary, and some of the comments will not make a lot of sense to those who are not Children of the Fence.
I did sprinkle in a handful of trades. They are marked with an asterisk (*).
As always, these picks represent what decisions I think the teams might make in the given situation. It does not necessarily reflect the decisions I would make in the same situation.
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF–I’m sticking with this one until compelling evidence suggests otherwise. They hired a QB guru as head coach, he’s got a positive history with Bortles and it’s a great stylistic fit.
2. *Atlanta Falcons: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina–Atlanta trades the #6 pick, #68 pick and a 2015 2nd rounder to move up four spots to select Clowney. Mother Superior nods approvingly. Opposing left tackles, not so much.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo–As their new LEO, the Jaguars hope he brings The Suffering to opposing quarterbacks as the cornerstone of the defense.
4. Cleveland Browns: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M–Gravemakers and Gunslingers unite as the Browns pull the trigger on the big playmaker, opting to go for the weapon before the trigger- man. Many reports are now out that some teams have Evans as the top WR, and weeks ago a little birdie told me Cleveland is one of those.
5. Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State–Surprise! The Raiders stay local, while embattled GM Reggie MCKenzie continues to befuddle and bewilder the rest of the football world. Carr has the chance to ride the Black Rainbow into legend, but it’s a huge risk here.
6. *St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn–After moving back and picking up a major chip for later, the Rams take the tackle with the highest ceiling in this draft class.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OL, Texas A&M–The technically awesome, well- pedigreed Matthews has the ability to play all over the line. With Tampa’s front still in flux, adding a versatile stud makes a lot of sense.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame–If the Louis Nix of 2012, the lighter, healthier, disruptive one shows up, Vikings fans will like this pick a lot more than if the lethargic, hefty 2013 version shows up. Rick Speilman gambles on the Juggernaut version.
9. Buffalo Bills: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson–My friend and Buffalo Bills Draft colleague Joe Marino consistently hammers the point that this draft is all about helping E.J. Manuel. By adding the dynamic Watkins, they hope it’s the Ring in Return.
10. *Philadelphia Eagles: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. Chip Kelly makes the bold move to add the player that might be the best pure pass rusher in this class, though he’s limited at this point. They send picks #22, #86 and their 2015 first-rounder along with QB Matt Barkley to the Lions for the pick. But the Lions are not done moving…
11. Tennessee Titans: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State–While they have some promising young corners, none project to be the Afterman to Alterraun Verner. Gilbert has that potential with his outstanding athleticism.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina–Ebron falls a little in this scenario, and a prayer is answered for Giants fans looking for a dynamic receiving tight end.
13. *Detroit Lions: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama–Detroit packages the previously acquired #22 overall pick and #45 overall for this pick and #75 overall, moving back up to snag the top safety on the board. He gives them the ability to play Glover Quin as the heavy nickel in a three-safety set, which mitigates the questions at corner.
14. Chicago Bears: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State–The physical Dennard is a God Send Conspirator to learn under/succeed Peanut Tillman in Chicago’s aggressively rebuilt defense.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan–Pittsburgh keeps trying to get it right at tackle, and Lewan offers tantalizing athleticism and grit to play on either side. Al the Killer likes this pick.
16. *St. Louis Rams: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois–St. Louis packages #22 (yes, it’s the third time it’s been dealt!) and #44 overall to Dallas to snare the skilled Ward, hopefully shoring up the back end to Jeff Fisher’s satisfaction.
17. *Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville–The Jaguars part with #39 overall and their 2015 first-rounder to stop Bridgewater’s fall and prove other teams burn in the Flame of Error for passing him over. If they don’t, someone else will right in this range. Baltimore willingly departs the first round, knowing they will get a quality player at 39 and a major bargaining chip for next year if they need it.
18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU–OBJ would be a real Devil in Jersey for opposing defenses, and a way to help Geno Smith (or Mike Vick) open up the offense.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, T, Notre Dame–With the current offensive line Made Out of Nothing, adding a premium, polished talent like Martin is a great value. He can play guard or tackle, and the Dolphins still need help at both.
20. Arizona Cardinals: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama–Mosley projects as a glue guy, a strong player who makes everyone around him that much better. He can also make plays on his own, and the Cardinals happily add him to an already stout defense.
21. *San Francisco 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State–the 49ers trade #30, #61 and #77 to Green Bay to move up and snare the premier slot receiver in this draft class in Cooks, an ideal foil to the Legion of Boom that is Jim Harbaugh’s Backend of Forever torment.
22. *Dallas Cowboys: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh–Dallas’ patience is rewarded with the preeminent interior rusher in the draft, who falls somewhat unexpectedly due to concerns over his lack of height. I suspect they’d take him at 16 no matter who else is on the board, so here Jerry Jones wins.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech–One of the worst-kept secrets is how quickly teams took a shine to Fuller in the draft process. The Chiefs enjoy the Reaping impact the former Hokie offers when he’s healthy.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State–His speed and explosion scores are through the roof, and that speaks to the Bengals. Lining him up next to Burfict and behind their talented line frees him to unleash his inner playmaker.
25. San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State–Like Louis Nix, the team drafting Roby is praying they’re getting the 2012 version and not the inferior ’13 guy. The ’12 Roby is a perfect fit for the San Diego defense, and his closing speed remained outstanding.
26. Cleveland Browns (from IND): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M–Welcome Home, Johnny Football! Cleveland reunites JFF with his favorite target in Mike Evans, but in the opposite order most people expect. Their gamble that Manziel falls pays off here.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn–Pressure off the edge is what Ford offers and more of what the Saints need, that ability to bring waves of pressure. It could be Number City for sacks in NOLA.
28. Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses, T, Virginia–To no one’s surprise, the Panthers take an offensive lineman. To some surprise, it’s the long-limbed, country strong Moses.
29. New England Patriots: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA–Mocking for the Patriots is always difficult, so I looked to some New England colleagues. Two of four told me that in this case, Belichick would pick Su’a-Filo. I’ll go with that.
30. *Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville–The Packers trade back and still land their man. It helps that Pryor’s stock dropped when he measured a full three inches shorter than expected, but the cliché “he plays big” really does apply here.
31. Denver Broncos: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State–I can see the beefy Jernigan going up to 15 spots earlier, so this is more of a value/player pick than necessarily a team/player projection. It happens in real life too, folks…
32. Seattle Seahawks: Joel Bitonio, T, Nevada–This Seahawks regime has never been shy about sticking to their own rhythm in the draft. Some might see this as a huge reach, but Bitonio offers tantalizing athleticism and shined when pressured the most. Pete Carroll loves those traits.