This version goes four full rounds. In the interest of time, I kept the commentary brief.
There are a handful of trades projected here. That’s what they are–projections. This is for edutainment, offering one idea as to how a completely unpredictable draft is going to play out.
The final mock draft will be seven full rounds and I will release that in two parts. The first three rounds will publish Wed. May 7th at 11 PM Eastern. The next four rounds will follow on Thurs. May 8th at 9 AM.
I will also do a “teamless” mock draft of the first 100 picks that will come out either that Wed. morning or possibly even Tuesday night. That one tends to be the most accurate projection of player to draft slot, which is always my overriding goal in any mock draft.
The final Top 200 prospects will be completed this Wed., April 30. Final position rankings for all the ones not currently completed will be finished by the end of the week. Both Darren Page and I have already completed the ordination; I just have to type it all up in a presentable fashion. We’ll also have a few more scouting reports, centered on players that one or the other of us have heard the Lions have some interest in drafting.
1. *Atlanta Falcons (trade with Houston): Jadeveon Clowney, Edge, South Carolina. The Falcons, no strangers to dramatic draft-day moves, offer Houston the most appealing package to move up and snag the best defensive prospect of the decade. It costs them #5 overall, #68 overall, #147 overall and the Falcons’ 2nd rounder in 2015.
2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn. After failing to find a trade partner willing to pay their price here, the Rams opt for the offensive tackle with the highest ceiling of any in this draft. With Jake Long’s future iffy and going all-in with Sam Bradford, it makes sense to try and maximize the offense here.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, Edge, Buffalo. Coach Gus Bradley gets the LEO for his defense in Mack, a dynamic all-around football player who happens to rush the passer extremely effectively. Quarterback waits a round.
4. Cleveland Browns: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M. In a surprise move, the Browns make Johnny Football’s primary target the first wideout taken in the draft. They know he won’t last as long as Manziel, and they do rate him higher than Sammy Watkins.
5. Oakland Raiders: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M. Oakland has a bevy of options here, but in this scenario they go with the NFL-ready Matthews. He steps right in and locks down the critical left tackle spot at a very high level. I think they wait on QB with Matt Schaub in the fold.
6. *Houston Texans (trade with Atlanta): Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida. The Texans slide back and land Bortles, who was linked to them with the #1 pick in many a mock draft this season. That’s value, folks. I just cannot see them taking Johnny Manziel.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. While I can see the Bucs pulling the trigger on Manziel, the offense must get another playmaker opposite Vincent Jackson. Watkins would fit perfectly in that role.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State. GM Rick Speilman takes yet another chance on a quarterback a little higher than most teams would be comfortable taking him. I do strongly believe Carr is either the 1st or 2nd QB taken, whether you (or I) like it or not.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. The flashy receiving specialist brings a little sizzle to the Buffalo passing game. He’s a nightmare for linebackers in coverage and could help E.J. Manuel live up to his first-round billing.
10. *Dallas Cowboys (trade with Detroit): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh. Jerry Jones puts on his wheeler-dealer face and sends picks #16 and 47 overall to Detroit to move up and get the preeminent interior presence in this class.
11. *San Francisco 49ers (trade with Tennessee): Anthony Barr, Edge, UCLA. San Francisco trades its first-round pick (#30) and both its second-round picks (#56 & #61) to Tennessee to move way up and select dynamic but raw edge rusher Anthony Barr. It helps insure against further Aldon Smith antics and injects young juice and speed to their strong defense.
12. New York Giants: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota. The Giants pull a surprise and take the massive man with the massive potential. Hageman has the ability to do things on the interior that no one else in this class can, but he’s a big risk with his inconsistent play. A self-confident team like the Giants will roll the dice on being able to coax his potential to its maximum.
13. *Cleveland Browns (trade with St. Louis): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. The Browns package picks #26, 71, 145 and a 2015 2nd rounder to the Rams to move up and reunite Johnny Football with his favorite Aggie target, Mike Evans. The Browns are in a uniquely favorable position to roll the dice on Manziel.
14. Chicago Bears: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. Because Chicago’s safeties are a cruel joke on football. Because Ha Ha’s cover skills are a necessity in the NFC North. Because Donald is off the board. Could very easily be Justin Gilbert or Kyle Fuller here too.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State. Corners with Gilbert’s length and speed are in high demand, including in the Three River city. His marked improvement in 2013 offers hope of a shutdown corner, though his aversion to tackling is among many issues that still need to be worked out.
16. *Detroit Lions (trade with Dallas): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU. If the Lions trade back, their list of desired targets likely starts with Justin Gilbert and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. So in this situation, they lose out and “settle” for the third wideout. OBJ is NFL-ready as the third wideout opposite Megatron and Golden Tate.