With draft day less than a week away, it’s time for my final update. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @thepigskinguy.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina – It’s looking like Clowney will be the first overall selection, regardless of whether or not the Texans keep the No. 1 pick. A trade down is still a likely scenario for Houston but Clowney sounds like the selection if the Texans don’t make a move.
Previous Pick: QB Blake Bortles
2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT Auburn – The Rams would probably like to trade out of this spot but if they stay, offensive tackle is the position they’ll target. Then it comes down to which player St. Louis likes more between Robinson and Jake Matthews.
Previous Pick: OT Greg Robinson
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, DE Buffalo – Gus Bradley is a defensive minded coach and unless the Jaguars absolutely love one of the quarterbacks in this draft, it will be hard for them to pass up on Mack. He will instantly upgrade Jacksonville’s pass rush.
Previous Pick: DE Jadeveon Clowney
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M – Everyone on the planet appears to love Brian Hoyer but an organization needs more than just him at quarterback if it wants to end decades of losing. The franchise needs a quarterback and a player to excite its fanbase. The drafting of Manziel will take care of both of those problems.
Previous Pick: QB Johnny Manziel
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR Clemson – I actually have Watkins as the top overall player in this draft. I think he is the one can’t-miss prospect given all the physical attributes Watkins brings to the receiver position. That theory will be tested if he goes to Oakland but Watkins certainly fills a need for the Raiders. Oakland has some decent receivers but no one close to being in Watkins’ class. He will be a game-changer from Day 1.
Previous Pick: WR Sammy Watkins
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M – The Falcons are in a great spot because they could move up, or just sit at six and grab either a pass rusher or best offensive tackle available. In my final mock that player is Matthews.
Previous Pick: DE Khalil Mack
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR Texas A&M – The Bucs parted ways with Mike Williams and they really have few options beyond Vincent Jackson. After signing Josh McCown, it would be nice to give him a 6’5 receiver like Evans to throw the ball to in the red zone. Depending on how the draft shakes out early, Evans could very well end up in Tampa Bay.
Previous Pick: WR Mike Evans
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB Central Florida – The Vikings re-signed Matt Cassel but will also add a young quarterback in the draft. Minnesota is reportedly high on Zach Mettenberger and so am I, so he is a possible target in Round 2 if they don’t select a quarterback here. Minnesota really holds the key to the rest of the draft with this pick and because of that; the Vikings are one of the toughest team to mock. My gut says they want to trade down but I don’t complicate mocks with trades, so for my purposes I have them taking Bortles. However, I see this being the hot spot in the draft for teams trying to trade up into the Top 10.
Previous Pick: QB Teddy Bridgewater
9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan – Some have the Bills taking Eric Ebron but I don’t mock tight ends in the Top 10 because they rarely go that high. Buffalo also has a weakness at a much more valued position than tight end – offensive tackle – so Lewan would make sense for them.
Previous Pick: OT Jake Matthews
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB Michigan State – A lot of people like Justin Gilbert as the top corner because of his speed and other measurables but I disagree. Dennard was the best cover corner in college football last year. Denard is tough, smart and he would make a great addition to Detroit’s secondary. I am probably wrong that he will go this high but I have heard from some people I know in the NFL that they are also high on Dennard, so I will take a shot with him in the Top 10.
Previous Pick: CB Darqueze Dennard
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, LB UCLA – Barr could easily be a Top 10 selection given his ability and production in college. However, if Barr slips to 11, the Titans will have to strongly consider him. Tennessee can go in a lot of different directions but the Titans are in need of an explosive pass rusher and Barr fits the bill.
Previous Pick: LB Anthony Barr
12. New York Giants: Zach Martin, OT Notre Dame – Martin was excellent during his career at Notre Dame. He dominated as a left tackle and Martin has the versatility to play multiple positions on the line early in his career, which has to be appealing to New York. The Giants had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season and protecting Eli Manning is the team’s top priority.
Previous Pick: OT Taylor Lewan
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton Dix, S Alabama – When your name is “Ha Ha” you should be drafted in the Top 15 by law. Dix is all over the field. I actually think he is one of the 10 best players in the draft at any position. The Rams safeties are dreadful. Dix would come in and be a huge upgrade to a defense that already has a nasty front seven.
Previous Pick: S Ha Ha Clinton Dix
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT Pittsburgh – How bad was the Bears’ rush defense last year? Ray Rice gained 131 yards on them. Chicago is one of the easiest teams to project. They badly need a defensive tackle or safety. If the talented Donald is on the board, he will be a strong possibility for the Bears. They need more than just Lamarr Houston.
Previous Pick: DT Aaron Donald
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, CB Oklahoma State – Pittsburgh is a tough team to peg because they can go in many different directions like CB, TE, WR, OT or DL. I am going with Gilbert here if he is still on the board. Others are higher on Gilbert than I am but he has great speed and playmaking ability. I think Eric Ebron is another strong possibility for the Steelers.
Previous Pick: CB Justin Gilbert
16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S Louisville – The Cowboys signed Henry Melton but they still need a lot of help along their defensive front. However, safety has been a major weakness in Dallas’ defense for too long and a player with Pryor’s skill-set can finally put an end to that. If the Cowboys want to play the Tampa-2 scheme, they need better production out of the safety position. Pryor would be an excellent addition to their defense.
Previous Pick: S Calvin Pryor
17. Baltimore Ravens: Odell Beckham, WR LSU – The Ravens added Steve Smith but I don’t believe they are done adding weapons for Joe Flacco. Beckham is a tough receiver that can go inside similar to Anquan Boldin, only with more speed. He has all the skills to be a star NFL receiver.
Previous Pick: WR Odell Beckham
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE North Carolina – Geno Smith took a lot of criticism in his first season and much of it was deserved. Still, the Jets had the worst group of receivers and tight ends in the NFL. New York added Eric Decker in free agency but the Jets still have to upgrade at tight end. Ebron is the top tight end prospect available and would represent great value if he were still on the board at 18. Just a word of warning: Tight ends always get mocked too high. Ebron could certainly go in the Top 15 but I doubt he gets selected in the Top 10. Teams simply value other positions more than they do tight end.
Previous Pick: TE Eric Ebron
19. Miami Dolphins: C.J. Mosley, LB Alabama – I can see Mosley going as high as No. 9 to Buffalo but with the way my last mock played out, this is where he fell. Miami will obviously be looking offensive tackle first with this pick but I don’t see one worth taking over Mosley, and the Dolphins need help at linebacker too. Miami would be getting a steal if Mosley dropped to them here.
Previous Pick: OT Zach Martin
20. Arizona Cardinals: Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville – I still don’t know if I buy the hype about Bridgewater falling this far but there is a lot of smoke, so I suppose it could happen. If Bridgewater gets to the Cardinals, Arizona will have to strongly consider him with Carson Palmer probably only having one year left as an NFL starter.
Previous Pick: C.J. Mosley
21. Green Bay Packers: Kyle Fuller, CB Virginia Tech – The Packers two biggest needs are safety and tight end. Green Bay could go in one of those directions but Fuller would give the Packers another quality player at a valued position. Fuller is a smart, tough, versatile corner who should be able to help the Packers right away.
Previous Pick: DT Timmy Jernigan
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR Oregon State – Cooks is the kind of explosive playmaking threat Chip Kelly will love. He can do the same things for the Eagles offense that DeSean Jackson did, while also returning kicks. Plus, Kelly is familiar with Cooks from his time in the Pac 12.
Previous Pick: WR Donte Moncrief
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR USC – The Chiefs need more gamebreakers on offense and Lee would be a bargain this low for Kansas City. Lee is slipping in some circles but you have to look at his college situation. When a guy still puts up good numbers despite playing for the worst coach on the planet, it says a lot. Lee would be a nice fit in Andy Reid’s offense.
Previous Pick: WR Marqise Leee
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, LB Ohio State – A couple of years ago I really liked Lavonte David coming out of Nebraska and Shazier reminds me a lot of him. He is always around the ball making plays. Whichever team selects Shazier is going to get a future stud and it could be the Bengals. Cincinnati needs more athleticism at linebacker and Shazier would be just what the doctor ordered.
Previous Pick: DE Kony Ealy
25. San Diego Chargers: Louis Nix, DT Notre Dame – Nix is the top pure nose tackle in this draft and he would be a great fit in San Diego’s 3-4 defense. Nose tackle aren’t easy to find, so getting a dominant run stuffer like Nix at this point would be a great pick for the Chargers.
Previous Pick: DT Louis Nix
26. Cleveland Browns: Donte Moncrief, WR Ole Miss – I actually expect this pick to be traded to a team trying to get back into Round 1 for a quarterback. However, I put Moncrief here because I have a hunch he could be a surprise first-round pick Thursday. I thought Moncrief was one of the top receivers in college football last season but he didn’t play with an elite quarterback. I also believe NFL people think much more highly of him than draftniks on the Internet. Whichever round Moncrief goes in, I see him having a bright NFL future. If a team trades up in Round 1, this will be either Derek Carr or Zach Mettenberger.
Previous Pick: WR Brandin Cooks
27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, DE Auburn – Ford dominated last year in the SEC and if he goes to the right team like the Saints, he has a chance to be a stud in the NFL. I will not be surprised if someone like the Steelers grab him higher in the draft but if Ford lasts this long, Rob Ryan will love him.
Previous Pick: DE Dee Ford
28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR Florida State – If a top receiver is on the board at 28, I have to think the Panthers will pull the trigger. Right now, I think I am projected to be Carolina’s fourth receiver. The 6’5 Benjamin would give Cam Newton a huge target, especially in the red zone. Benjamin is slipping because of some off-the-field concerns but his physical skills still make him a possibility for the Panthers at 28.
Previous Pick: WR Kelvin Benjamin
29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE Texas Tech – This is the popular pick for the Patriots and I am going with Amaro as well. Rob Gronkowski is coming back from his second major injury and there is little behind him at tight end. The versatile Amaro would give Tom Brady another dangerous weapon in the passing game.
Previous Pick: TE Jace Amaro
30. San Francisco 49ers: Bradley Roby, CB Ohio State – The 49ers don’t have many weaknesses but one area where they could stand to upgrade is at cornerback, especially after losing Carlos Rogers. Roby’s off-the-field problems will scare away some teams but Jim Harbaugh could be one of the coaches who take a chance on his talent.
Previous Pick: CB Kyle Fuller
31. Denver Broncos: Timmy Jernigan, DT Florida State – The Broncos could grab an OT here to protect Peyton Manning but with Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips both gone, defensive line is an area of need as well. Also, I have Jernigan slipping in my final mock and if he lasts this long, the versatile lineman will be one of the top players left on the board.
Previous Pick: DL Ra’Shede Hageman
32. Seattle Seahawks: Kony Ealy, DE Missouri – Ealy is a quick edge rusher who is also strong against the run. By this time in the draft no one knows what will happen but the Seahawks like to take guys who are the best players ranked on their board. If Ealy were still around at 32, he would be one of those players on my board.
Previous Pick: LB Ryan Shazier