NFL Mock Draft 1.0
This is my first pass at a mock draft this off-season and I’m sure it will look much different by May. The combine (2/22 – 2/25) will change draft projections considerably, free agent signings will change team needs, and I’m sure there will be at least a few trades before and during the draft. I’m ignoring trades for now and listing my best prediction as things stand today. Feel free to rip my picks in the comment section.
1.) Texans – QB Teddy Bridgewater, Lousiville (6’3, 205): Clowney is an option as the most talented player in the draft, but the Texans are in desperate need of a QB. As a franchise, missing on the #1 pick is a disaster, so if the talent level is close (and it is) I think they will go with Bridgewater because he is the safest choice. He’s got all the tools to be a good NFL QB, but what sets him apart is his accuracy and his ability to throw receivers open. That’s one of the innate abilities that separates good from great. Really the only knock on Teddy B is his slight frame which is fixable with time and an NFL training regimen.
2.) Rams – OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (6’5, 305): Clowney will be tempting, but with Robert Quinn and Chris Long, DE is already the strength of the Rams team. QB Sam Bradford is coming off an ACL injury and the Rams seem to think he is the guy, so they might as well invest in protecting him. Matthews is the most polished LT prospect in the draft and can step in and start on day 1. The Rams current LT, Jake Long, is coming off a serious ACL/MCL injury and it’s not a sure thing that he will be ready for training camp. Even if he is, a team can never have enough good tackles.
3.) Jaguars – QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida (6’4, 240): The Jags can’t start another season with the Henne / Gabbert combo at QB or the few fans they have left will revolt. Bortles is a home state kid (Oviedo , FL) and has the size (6’4, 230) and physical tools to eventually be a stud NFL QB. He is probably the farthest away from the Pro Bowl of the three top QB prospects considering he played in weak conferences (CUSA /American). That being said, he has the best combination of size, arm strength, and speed of the top three and could be special with a little patience and the right coaching staff.
4.) Browns – QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (6’1, 200): He’s short, his decision-making is suspect, and he seems like a bit of a prima-donna, but Manziel is fun to watch and can put a team on his back for long stretches. After a few seasons of Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden, a little fun is badly needed in Cleveland. Manziel has better arm strength then advertised, great wheels, and intangibles that can’t be taught. He’s reminds me a lot of Jim McMahon both on and off the field, albeit a more mobile version. Drafting Manziel 4th is risky, but the Browns need a QB and he is clearly the best option on the board at this point of the draft.
5.) Raiders – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (6’6, 272): If Clowney falls to 5, it will be the first lucky break for the Raiders in what seems like forever. Sammy Watkins will be tempting, since they haven’t had a #1 WR since Jerry Rice in 2001, but they can’t pass up a game changing pass rusher in Clowney. His 2013 college season was a disappointment, but his combination of size, explosiveness, and speed only comes around every ten years or so. With some technique improvement, Clowney could be a perennial double-digit sack guy.
6.) Falcons – OT Greg Robinson, Auburn (6’5, 320): An absolute mauler in the run game, Robinson could be a dominant RT on day 1 and eventually move over to LT once his pass protection technique improves.
7.) Buccaneers – OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo (6’3, 245): Lovie Smith built his Bears defenses around LBs Urlacher & Briggs, and the Mack / Lavonte David combo has that type of potential. Mack didn’t face much competition at Buffalo but he dominated (28.5 sacks, 75 TFLs) during his career there and could be a force right away for the Bucs.
8.) Vikings – QB Derek Carr, Fresno St (6’3, 205): The Vikings QB situation was so dire last season that they gave Josh Freeman 3 million for 1 start. Carr is a bit of a reach at 8 overall, but the Vikings need a QB and he is the best one left at this point in the draft. Carr has good mobility and can make all the throws, but his footwork and decision-making are inconsistent. He actually reminds me a lot of a young Jay Cutler.