For those of you who missed any of my round-by-round mock draft, I decided to consolidate them into one comprehensive and extremely long post. If you can make it to the end, I’ve included an analysis of the Bears picks and a list of undrafted free agents that the Bears should target. With the NFL Combine starting today and free agency starting in early March, these picks will undoubtedly change and I will be posting version 2.0 sometime in the next few weeks. For now, feel free to rip my picks in the comments or give me some suggestions for my next mock.
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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.
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9.) Bills – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson (6’1, 200): In a tier by himself at the wide receiver position, Watkins can do it all and has the potential to be a true #1 WR. The Bills should be ecstatic to have him fall to the 9th slot, since they haven’t had a #1 WR since Eric Moulds.
10.) Lions – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M (6’5, 225): Matthew Stafford had no reliable receiving options last year other than Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. Evans has great size, good hands, and adjusts very well to the ball. Evans should be able to take advantage of the single coverage match-ups he will see opposite Megatron and at worst will be an asset in the red zone.
11.) Titans – Anthony Barr, UCLA (6’4, 248): DT Jurrell Casey led a strong inside pass rush for the Titans (11 sacks), but they had no one generating pressure off the edge. Barr only played OLB for 2 seasons so he is a little raw, but so quick and explosive off the edge that he will rack up some sacks on athleticism alone. With some experience, Barr could be an elite pass rushing OLB.
12.) Giants – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan (6’8, 302): He doesn’t have the upside of Robinson or Matthews, but he’s solid and polished enough that he should be ready to step in and start as a rookie.The Giants O-line was a mess last year.
13.) Rams – S HaHa Clinton Dix, Alabama (6’1, 209): The Rams’ safeties were almost as bad as the Bears last season and Dix is the best safety on the board.
14.) Bears – DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida St (6’2, 298): When motivated Jernigan was a beast inside for FSU. He has the tools to be an all-pro DT if he can maintain a consistent effort level.
15.) Steelers – DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame (6’3, 340): The Steelers need help on both sides of the line, but with the top OTs off the board, Nix is the next best lineman available. They could move current NT McLendon to DE to fill a hole there and make room for Nix who has a world of potential if he can stay healthy and keep his weight under control.
16.) Cowboys – LB CJ Mosley, Alabama (6’2, 234): With holes everywhere, plenty of salary cap cuts coming, and Jerry Jones calling the shots… this pick is a crap shoot. I’m going to give the Cowboys the best player still on the board that just so happens to meet a need for the Cowboys. Last season’s OLBs, Bruce Carter and DeVonte Holloman, had the worst combined grade (-22.8) from PFF of any OLB duo in the league and Mosley would be an immediate upgrade over either.
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17.) Ravens – WR Marquis Lee, USC (6’0, 190): The Ravens missed Anquan Boldin last season as they had no reliable options across from deep threat Torrey Smith. Lee struggled in 2013 due to a combination of injuries and bad QB play, but was dominant in both 2011 (73, 1143, 11) and 2012 (118!, 1721, 14). Lee is a little smaller than teams would like for a classic #1, but he has all the tools to be one.
18.) Jets – TE Eric Ebron, UNC (6’4, 245): The Jets have the worst group of receivers in the league and they need to give QB Geno Smith some legitimate weapons if he is going to have any chance for success. Ebron has tight end size but the speed and acceleration of a wide receiver. His hands need to be more consistent, he made some highlight reel grabs, but also dropped some easy ones. Ebron has the talent to be a poor man’s Jimmy Graham, if Smith can get him the ball.
19.) Dolphins – OL Zach Martin, Notre Dame (6’4, 304): The Dolphins need as many O-lineman as they can get after a complete meltdown both on and off the field by their O-line. Martin had a great Senior Bowl, but might be a little small for tackle. If he has to move to guard, that fills a need for the Dolphins as well.
20.) Cardinals – OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (6’6, 310): The Cardinals line was a little better last year, but they still need plenty of help protecting Carson Palmer who at this stage of his career is a statue in the pocket. Kouandjio is very mobile for his size and despite some inconsistent play last year, has the tools to be a dominant tackle down the road. Pairing Kouandjio with last year’s 1st round pick G Jonathon Cooper will give the Cards two potential studs to rebuild their line around.
21.) Packers – DT Ra’shede Hageman, Minnesota (6’6, 318): He wasn’t as productive as he should have been in college considering his elite strength and athleticism, but he is a converted TE and is still learning the nuances of the DT position. Hageman is a workout warrior and should put up impressive numbers at the combine which will secure his first round draft slot. The Packers have needs at every level on defense, but D-lineman with Hageman’s measurables don’t come around very often.
22.) Eagles – CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma St (6’0, 194): The Eagles secondary is a mess. They could go with a safety here as well, but shut-down corners are harder to find and Gilbert has that kind of potential. He will also be a weapon as a kick/punt returner. Good value this late in the draft.
23.) Chiefs – WR Odell Beckham, LSU (6’0, 187): The Chiefs need to give Alex Smith some weapons besides Charles and D-Bowe. Beckham is very elusive after the catch and should thrive in KC’s short passing game.
24.) Bengals – DE Kony Ealy, Missouri (6’5, 275): With no glaring needs on either side of the ball (depending on how you feel about Andy Dalton), the Bengals can take the best player on the board. Ealy happens to fill a need as well with last season’s starting DE Michael Johnson expected to leave via free agency.
25.) Chargers – CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St (5’11, 188): He could go higher, but his lack of top-end speed will be exposed at the combine and teams still overvalue measurables. Dennard will have an adjustment period as he figures out how much of his physical coverage tactics will be allowed at the NFL level, but he should become a solid starting corner eventually.
26.) Browns – WR Allen Robinson, Penn St (6’3, 204): It’s amazing how good Josh Gordon was considering his sub-par QBs and the lack of a reliable #2 WR. The Browns need someone else who can at least catch the ball consistently and that happens to be Robinson’s strength. He has great size for the position and despite a lack of deep speed has enough acceleration and quicks to get open consistently. Robinson is an ideal possession receiver and could be a perfect compliment to Josh Gordon.
27.) Saints – OLB Dee Ford, Auburn (6’2, 243): A tweener, but Ford is one of the most explosive pass rushers in the draft. Saints DC Rob Ryan will find the right way to utilize Ford, turning him loose on opposing QBs while minimizing his coverage responsibilities.
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28.) Panthers – WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St (6’5, 234): Has elite size/speed ratio to give the Panthers the deep threat they have lacked the last few seasons. Benjamin’s route-running and hands needs work, but potential is there for a down-field weapon.
29.) Patriots – TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech (6’5, 260): Another draft breaks perfectly for the Pats as they get an ideal fit for the “move” TE position that is crucial to their offense.
30.) 49ers – CB Marcus Roberson, Florida (6’0, 184): Roberson has a good combination of size and speed and the potential to be a lock-down corner. Not great against the run, but with the 49ers dominant front 7, he won’t need to be.
31.) Broncos – DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (6’6, 320): With Shaun Phillips a free agent and too expensive for the Broncos to retain, they need some help at DE. It might be the thinnest position in the draft, so the Broncos need to strike quick and take Tuitt in the first round. His stock slipped due to a disappointing 2013, but he has ideal size, strong pass rush moves, and as much upside as any DE in the draft outside of Clowney.
32.) Seahawks – WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (6’3, 205): Besides maybe Cleveland, I don’t think any group of receivers dropped more balls than the Seahawks. A full season of Percy Harvin will help and so will a big possession receiver like Matthews on the other side of the field. Matthews lacks elite speed, but is a sharp route-runner with good size and excellent hands.