Only four days have passed since our first mock, but the tides have already shifted in several areas. Likely top-20 pick Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA) and probable first-round pick Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon) decided to return to school, while top offensive tackle prospect Greg Robinson of Auburn appears likely to declare, probably landing in the first 15 picks as a result.
And of course, Andrew Luck’s shenanigans pushed Kansas City a bit higher in the projected draft order. The Bengals also find themselves drafting sooner as a result of their upset at the hands of San Diego.
Note: Two trades. San Francisco trades up with Kansas City in the first, and Oakland trades from the second round into the first with Cincinnati.
1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater*, QB, Louisville (6-3, 205)
Reports continue to argue that coach Bill O’Brien will prefer Central Florida’s Blake Bortles over Bridgewater with the first pick, but we remain skeptical. Other than weight and maybe speed, Bortles can’t match Bridgewater, especially as a passer.
2. St. Louis Rams (from WAS) – Jadeveon Clowney*, DE, South Carolina (6-5, 275)
The Rams publicly stand by Sam Bradford, even after his ACL tear. If they’re not interested in a quarterback, it’s difficult to imagine how anyone but Clowney could be the target here.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Johnny Manziel*, QB, Texas A&M (6-0, 210)
Look for the impressiveness of Manziel’s drive and high-stakes production to overtake the doubt surrounding his judgment and reliability. A stagnant franchise would find real reason for excitement if they added him.
4. Cleveland Browns – Blake Bortles*, QB, Central Florida (6-3, 230)
Bortles’ huge upset over a heavily-favored Baylor squad in a BCS bowl has his already valuable stock soaring to new heights. His mobility advantage over Derek Carr could make Cleveland’s choice easier.
5. Oakland Raiders – Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA (6-4, 248)
If the Raiders add Barr and re-sign Lamarr Houston, there just might be reason for optimism with their 2014 defense.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson*, OT, Auburn (6-5, 320)
Robinson is about six months younger than Jake Matthews but very comparable in terms of present productivity. There’s reason to believe he can take a lead within the next couple years.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins*, WR, Clemson (6-1, 205)
Pairing Watkins with Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin would give the Buccaneers a very frightening nucleus among its skill players. Mike Glennon would have no excuse for failure, or even mediocrity.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (6-3, 220)
Carr would probably present an upgrade over the likes of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman even as a rookie. The Vikings needs to add a quarterback if they at all hope to get their money’s worth out of Greg Jennings.
9. Buffalo Bills – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (6-5, 305)
As last year’s draft showed, teams value the right tackle position quite a bit these days. Matthews would present a major upgrade there.
10. Detroit Lions – Jace Amaro*, TE, Texas Tech (6-5, 260)
Take the targets allocated toward Brandon Pettigrew over the years and give them to Amaro instead, and you’re probably looking at around five more touchdowns per season.
11. Tennessee Titans – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix*, S, Alabama (6-1, 210)
Clinton-Dix just might have the athleticism to make a Mark Barron-like ascent in the draft order. Any team that wants an elite safety will probably make him a top target.
12. New York Giants – Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo (6-3, 250)
The Giants could use Mack at either defensive end or as a Von Miller-like outside linebacker. They’d probably use him as both.
13. St. Louis Rams – Marqise Lee*, WR, USC (6-0, 195)
If the Rams choose to stand by Sam Bradford, then they need to give him more to work with, because he obviously can’t stand out with his 2013 cast. Lee would present major RAC upside at the least.
14. Chicago Bears – Louis Nix*, DT, Notre Dame (6-2, 350)
Nix would offer a potential upgrade over Stephen Paea and Jay Ratliff from Day 1 for the Bears. Adding him alone would go a long way toward fixing their atrocious 2013 run defense.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cedric Ogbuehi*, OT, Texas A&M (6-5, 300)
Ogbuehi transitioned well from guard to right tackle for A&M this year, so he might be able to transition from right tackle to left for the Steelers. They could use him at any of the three spots, though.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans*, WR, Texas A&M (6-5, 225)
(Pick will be assigned to Baltimore or Dallas based on coin flip). Evans’ rare size and ability to catch the ball in traffic would be a very useful complement to Torrey Smith’s game as a separation wideout.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota (6-6, 310)
Defensive tackle is Dallas’ biggest need, and Hageman should test very well in workouts and timed drills.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron*, TE, North Carolina (6-4, 245)
With Santonio Holmes probably headed out of town and Stephen Hill a major disappointment, a wide receiver like Odell Beckham would make tons of sense here. As a tight end, though, Ebron might present more of a checkdown option and therefore more security in general for Geno Smith.
19. Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio*, OT, Alabama (6-5, 310)
No one could fault Kouandjio for returning to school after collapsing in Alabama’s pitiful loss to Oklahoma, but he still seems like a decent bet to declare. The Dolphins need help at tackle and would probably make the gamble here.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan (6-7, 315)
The Cardinals just barely missed the playoffs in 2013 despite playing Carson Palmer at quarterback. That will probably lead them to build around Palmer rather than attempt to replace him heading into 2014.
21. Green Bay Packers – C.J. Mosley, (3-4) ILB, Alabama (6-2, 235)
The Packers probably think they can get by with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones at inside linebacker, but Mosley is too good to pass on here. He’d probably be better than both within the first month of the season.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State (6-0, 200)
Gilbert looks a bit more athletic than Darqueze Dennard, but with plenty of press experience despite that fact. The Eagles need help at outside corner, because Brandon Boykin is the team’s only non-liability at the position, but he usually plays in the slot.
23. San Francisco 49ers (from KC) – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State (5-11, 200)
Dennard’s lack of experience with traditional man-to-man coverage means he might go lower than most draft observers expect. In San Francisco’s press-heavy scheme, though, Dennard’s skill set translates smoothly.
24. Oakland Raiders (from CIN) – Brett Smith*, QB, Wyoming (6-2, 210)
Smith is very underrated due to playing for a poor Wyoming team, but he has all the athletic traits necessary to become a starter in the NFL.
25. San Diego Chargers – Kelvin Benjamin*, WR, Florida State (6-5, 235)
Benjamin has the physical gifts to go significantly higher than this. He’s also more raw and inconsistent than the players slotted ahead of him.
26. Cleveland Browns (from IND) – Odell Beckham*, WR, LSU (5-11, 195)
Beckham is an explosive, acrobatic receiver who could probably go a fair amount higher than this. If the depth at other positions pushes him this far, the Browns shouldn’t hesitate to reel him in.
27. New Orleans Saints – Vic Beasley*, (3-4) OLB, Clemson (6-2, 235)
Junior Galette seems to be a keeper for the Saints, but it’s doubtful that any of the other OLBs on the Saints roster are worth anything more than off-the-bench roles.
28. Carolina Panthers – Jarvis Landry*, WR, LSU (5-11, 195)
Landry would be the sort of receiver help the Panthers should have given Cam Newton three years ago.
29. New England Patriots – Austin Seferian-Jenkins*, TE, Washington (6-6, 275)
Seferian-Jenkins has the size and athleticism to easily outpace this draft slot in terms of the value he provides in the NFL. For a team that needs insurance in the face of Rob Gronkowski’s injury issues, ASJ would be a reassuring catch.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (from SF) – Stephon Tuitt*, (3-4) DE, Notre Dame (6-6, 310)
End Tyson Jackson is both a free agent and a player who is easily upgraded over. Tuitt would be a great bet to provide such an upgrade.
31. Denver Broncos – Kyle Van Noy, OLB/MLB, BYU (6-3, 245)
Von Miller’s ACL injury leaves his early season effectiveness up in the air, and the same might be true of his availability altogether. Van Noy has the pass-rushing skills to fill that void while Miller shakes off the rust, and he projects as a fine traditional starting linebacker once Miller is back in shape.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Cameron Erving*, OT, Florida State (6-5, 320)
Breno Giacomini is a free agent, so snagging Erving here, should he declare, would both save Seattle money and provide a plausible talent upgrade.
33. Houston Texans – Ryan Shazier*, OLB/(3-4) ILB, Ohio State (6-2, 230)
Be it as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 or an inside ’backer in a 3-4, Shazier’s speed and playmaking would be a nice addition next to Brian Cushing.
34. Washington Redskins – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (6-3, 205)
Matthews never gets much love for some reason, but he’s a big wideout who was utterly dominant for 2.5 years in the SEC. He’d aid Robert Griffin’s odds of success.
35. Cleveland Browns – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (6-0, 195)
Buster Skrine is a major weakness in an otherwise formidable Cleveland defense. Fuller has the size and athleticism to project as a starter opposite Joe Haden while Leon McFadden tries to make his way into the slot role.
36. Cincinnati Bengals (from OAK) – Bradley Roby*, CB, Ohio State (5-11, 195)
The Bengals really need some talent at cornerback. In this scenario, Roby would be a reasonable upside gamble despite his poor junior season. The in-state connection wouldn’t hurt.
37. Atlanta Falcons – Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford (6-6, 260)
Murphy’s background as an OLB/DE tweener is something that will presumably appeal to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who has alternated between three- and four-man fronts in the past.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Xavier Su’a-Filo*, G, UCLA (6-3, 305)
Carl Nicks might not be able to play again due to complications from his catastrophic MRSA infection. Su’a-Filo would give the Buccaneers a fine long-term replacement.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars – Tre Mason*, RB, Auburn (5-9, 205)
Re-signing free agent Maurice Jones-Drew seems like a poor use of resources, especially when they can get a probable upgrade like Mason or Lache Seastrunk in this spot. Mason, to be clear, had not declared for the draft as of the publication of this article.
40. Minnesota Vikings – Timmy Jernigan*, DT, Florida State (6-2, 300)
Kevin Williams has only so many snaps left, and the rest of the Vikings tackle rotation – 2013 first-round pick Sharrif Floyd included – has not shown much promise so far.
41. Buffalo Bills – Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State (6-1, 215)
You can probably disregard this projection if the Bills end up paying Jairus Byrd. If they don’t, though, Bucannon would make a fine (and cheap) replacement.
42. Tennessee Titans – Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU (6-5, 235)
A Nov. 29 ACL tear has Mettenberger’s stock in a flux, but any team who graded him as a first-round prospect can’t knock him much lower than this given the long-term nature of quarterback investments. Recent instances of ACL tears indicate he might be ready to play after beginning the year on the PUP list.
43. New York Giants – Zack Martin, G, Notre Dame (6-4, 310)
The Giants offensive line needs help at pretty much every position but left tackle, where 2013 first-round pick Justin Pugh is penciled in. They’d hope Martin would be their next Chris Snee.
44. St. Louis Rams – Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State (5-11, 305)
Backup tackles Jermelle Cudjo and Matt Conrath combined for 347 snaps behind heavily-worked starters Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford, but totaled just 18 tackles and one sack. Sutton would allow STL to keep Brockers and Langford fresher by lowering their play count, and he’d be a candidate to double the combined production of Conrath and Cudjo.
45. Detroit Lions – Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor (6-0, 205)
TCU corner Jason Verrett is another tempting target for the Lions in this scenario. There’s probably a bit more depth at corner than safety, however, and Detroit needs to replace Louis Delmas.