The NFL Draft is just a few days away, so it’s time for our final Mock Draft. After months of evaluation here is what I expect teams to do on Thursday Night. I’ve predicted trades for several teams and have provided the insight behind every pick. Let us know your opinion of your team’s pick via Twitter
1. Houston (2-14) – Jadaveon Clowney DE SCar – The Texans may still trade out of this pick but if they stay they’ll select Clowney at #1. The pair of Clowney and Watt is mind boggling. Romeo Crennel has always been able to scheme his 3-4 defensive ends into pass rush situations and he really elevated the levels of edge rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston in Kansas City. It’ll be a good environment for Clowney to learn how to be a professional. Keep in mind that Clowney has never been the 2nd most dangerous pass rusher on a team; that’ll be the case in Houston.
2. St. Louis – from Washington (3-13) – Jake Matthews OT TA&M – The Fisher and Matthews family connection leads me to lean towards them passing on Sammy Watkins for the seasoned Jake Matthews. Matthews can play both left tackle and right tackle at a high level and gives St. Louis what they need most… Protection for Sam Bradford.
3. Jacksonville (4-12) – Khalil Mack OLB Buf – Jacksonville has been searching for an elite pass rusher for over a decade now. They’ve made some horrible selections in the past but finally they land a pass rusher with a high motor. Head Coach Gus Bradley built the Seattle defense that just won the Super Bowl. When he was defensive coordinator in Seattle people once thought the selection of Bruce Irvin was a reach because he didn’t fit their scheme. Well Bradley made him a versatile pass rusher and maximized his talents, he’ll do the same with the ultra-talented Mack.
4. Cleveland (4-12) – Johnny Manziel QB TA&M – The Cleveland Browns instantly boost interest in their team with the selection of the eccentric Manziel. It’ll be the biggest media storm to hit Cleveland since LeBron left. Celebs such as Drake will begin wearing Browns jerseys and attending games. On the field the Browns offense becomes dynamic with the addition of Manziel. Mike Evans is a good prospect at WR but Josh Gordon will give Manziel a target that he’s never had before. Manziel’s best throws a re his deep sideline passes, which will make him and Gordon the most feared deep threat tandem in that division (Yes surpassing Flacco & Smith).
5. Detroit (7-9) (Trade W/ Oak) – Sammy Watkins WR Clem – Detroit trades up to get the player they’ve targeted all along. Oakland could sure use a weapon like Watkins but what they need is an influx of talent and depth. They pick up added draft picks from Detroit and are content sliding back 5 slots. Detroit now completely abandons the run and positions themselves as the most dynamic passing offense in the NFL. Their lineup would project as WR Johnson, WR Watkins, WR Tate, HB Bush, TE Pettigrew; pretty scary for teams visiting Detroit.
6. Atlanta (4-12) – Greg Robinson OT Aub – Atlanta would love to trade up for a difference maker in the top 5 but they refuse to give up the necessary picks to get Clowney or Mack. Here they select the best run blocking offensive lineman to come out in a decade. Robinson powered the Auburn offense to a national title berth. HE dominated teams like Auburn and Texas A&M with ease. He can start day 1 at RT for Atlanta and possibly rejuvenate the career of Steven Jackson.
7. Tampa Bay (4-12) – Blake Bortles QB UCF – Word has it that Tampa is shopping Mike Glennon and the recently signed Josh McCown wont have Marshall & Jeffery to bail him out on this season. He’ll be a nice starter for a season but they’ll need a QB of the future. Lovie Smith remembers what it was like when he had Rex Grossman and how easy stuff became when he obtained Cutler (and when he remained healthy). Smith would love to add a defensive weapon but the ability to keep Bortles in Florida and give the Bucs a face of the franchise will be too much to pass up.
8. St. Louis (7-9) (Trade W/ Min) – Mike Evans WR TA&M – St. Louis went with the safe pick of Jake Matthews at #2 and now they trade up to make the splash pick in Mike Evans. They didn’t anticipate Tampa Bay passing on the dynamic wide out but they’ll glad give Bradford another target. Tavon Austin proved to be a good weapon in the slot and out of the backfield but they need a wideout that commands a double team on the outside. With a refocused Kenny Britt the Rams look to have their best receiving corps of the Bradford era.
9. Buffalo (6-10) – HaHa Clinton Dix FS ALA – The Bills are in a position to add the best player available to their team. Their defense lost Jairus Byrd to New Orleans so they draft his immediate replacement. Clinton-Dix provides instant leadership in the secondary. Until the Bills offense finds an identity (what happened to Spiller’s 300 carries last season?) I can’t mock them an offensive weapon. Stevie Johnson has been their #1 but he had an off year with the QB issues. Robert Woods proved to be a good rookie WR, the backfield is still crowded, and it’s way to0 early to draft an offensive guard in this draft. The defense gets a leader for the next decade.
10. Oakland (4-12) (Trade W/ Det) – Taylor Lewan OT Mich – The Raiders traded back and still get a player to fill their largest position of need. Taylor Lewan can plug in at Left Tackle day one for the Raiders and last year’s second round pick Watson can step into Right Tackle giving them a huge presence on the edges of their line. Regardless of what QB ends up winning the job they’ll have book end tackles for the next 5 years. It’ll also provide MJD and McFadden with an opportunity to stay healthy & contribute… Or Nah.
11. New York Jets (8-8) (Trade W/ Ten) – Eric Ebron TE UNC – Ebron is a one trick pony but it’s one helluva trick. He has the size and speed to be the next Jimmy Graham and lets be honest the Jets don’t have any dynamic weapons for Vick or Smith. Rex Ryan could select the best corner or safety available but he spent both of last year’s 1st round picks on defense. Its time to show the offense some love and give the team a chance to put up some points. They trade up to keep Ebron away from the Giants.