Not many changes were made in this 2nd edition of the mock draft, but will be updated every week. Since most of the draft spots have already been set, the majority of my early picks will remain the same until combine time.
1) Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney DE – South Carolina
Despite Houston’s apparent QB issues, this is one of the deepest QB drafts in years and the same can’t be said for the defensive end position. There should still be a few decent QBs on the draft board by Houston’s second pick and they could always trade up if they think their guy is in danger of being drafted. Imagine a team with J.J. Watt and Clowney rushing the passer. Now imagine playing against said team. It’s not fun to even think about. Some Houston fans will hate this pick but in just a few years, they’ll understand why the pick was made.
2) St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews OT – Texas A&M
Currently, the Rams have a pretty solid offensive line but with Saffold entering free agency and Jake Long’s extensive injury history, adding some elite depth and/or a replacement when the time comes would be the most prudent pick. I don’t believe the Rams have given up on Bradford yet but I do believe this is his last year to prove his worth. What better way to give him all the protection he needs than draft the best offensive tackle in the draft. If Saffold was to return, Matthews could play guard until it’s his time at tackle.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater QB – Louisville
Gabbert is finally out of the picture. We all watched it happen. Gabbert slowly but surely became increasingly terrified of contact and played as if he was seeing ghosts. It’s time for Jacksonville to obtain and potentially destroy another prospect. Bridgewater has been the consensus top overall QB since the start of the year and will remain so pending some kind of combine disaster.
4) Cleveland Browns – Derek Carr QB – Fresno State
It’s an absolute need for the Browns to go QB with at least one of their first round picks and Carr is the safe bet. Bortles has been flying up the draft boards but someone always does late in the year and I don’t think that a Louisville win and Ben Rothlesberger comparisons is enough to break the top five. Carr has been fantastic this year and takes care of the football, a quality Cleveland lacks desperately.
5) Oakland Raiders – Anthony Barr OLB – UCLA
Barr has the skills and potential to be the best player to come out of this draft, which is why I hate mocking him to the Raiders. I really do not look forward to facing this kid twice a year but hopefully, they do what the Raiders do and draft a terminally ill guard or something. For the purpose of this exercise, they are smart and go with an incredibly elite athletic prospect with a very high ceiling and virtually no off the field concerns.
6) Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack OLB – Buffalo
I know Atlanta fans were hoping that Barr would fall here but let me assure you, Mack is no consolation prize. For the last two plus years, Mack has been terrorizing offenses and should continue to do so in the NFL. Mack reminds me of Brian Orakpo with his build and array of moves. Atlanta desperately needs some pass rush outside of Umenyiora and Mack will help tremendously.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vic Beasley DE/OLB – Clemson
With three dominant pass rushers off of the board, you may think that settling for Beasley is a bad idea. You’d be wrong. Beasley may be smaller than most players at his position but what he lacks in size, he makes up for with technique and motor. Tampa Bay can’t continue to improve when their only decent pass rusher is Gerald McCoy. Too many people are sleeping on Beasley who is drawing comparisions to Robert Mathis.
8) Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles QB – UCF
Bortles makes it into the top ten after all! I may not think that Bortles is the best QB on the board but he’s by no means a bad prospect. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Tannehill and I think he will be drafted around the same spot on the board. I honestly don’t know why Minnesota bothered to waste three million dollars on Josh Freeman. As much as I loathe Matt Cassell, he was obviously the best way to go until the draft and I thought it was fairly clear. Hopefully for Vikings fans, Bortles will be able to improve the team before Adrian Peterson’s prime is wasted.