With “Draft Day” hitting theaters this week, I figured now would be a good time to roll out my first official “Red Beans & Life mock draft.” It seems like these things change everyday, so I should have one more right before draft weekend.
With that, let’s get to it.
1. Houston Texans: Jadaveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
There are so many conflicting reports on what the Texans plan to do with the first pick. For now, I’m playing it safe and slotting them the draft’s consensus top player. Personally, I hope they take Clowney just so the Falcons can’t get him.
2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
If the Texans pass on Clowney, I think the Rams will trade this pick. But with Clowney off the board in this scenario, they go with the top offensive lineman to protect Sam Bradford…and whoever steps in after Bradford gets hurt anyway.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has stated the team will be drafting a quarterback, possibly even two. They go with Bortles, whose stock has skyrocketed after being largely unknown at the start of the season. He possesses the prototypical combination of size, arm strength and accuracy teams like in a franchise signal caller.
4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Browns are thin at receiver after Josh Gordon. Watkins has all the skills to be a dynamic playmaker despite lacking the ideal size for a featured wide out.
5. Oakland Raiders: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Matt Schaub currently sits atop Oakland’s quarterback depth chart, so they need a change. That’s almost self-explanatory. And arguably the draft’s most controversial player landing with one of the league’s most dysfunctional franchises creates a perfect match.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Kahlil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Atlanta misses their chance to trade up for Clowney, but they get a nice consolation prize in Mack. Mack would provide a huge boost for a defense that ranked 29th in the NFL in sacks last season.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Bridgewater was once considered a lock to be the draft’s top pick, or at least the first quarterback taken. But his stock has fallen for reasons that don’t make any sense to me. The Vikings will take it, as their long search for a franchise quarterback finally ends.
9. Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Bills desperately need more offensive weapons to help out second year quarterback E.J. Manuel and take pressure of the running game. Mike Evans should provide a solid fit.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Detroit’s secondary is a mess, so a tough, physical corner like Dennard would be a welcome addition.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Titans have to face Andrew Luck twice a year, so it would be logical to choose someone who can get after opposing quarterbacks. Barr has played linebacker for only two seasons, but the talent is definitely there.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Eli Manning took a pounding last season and is now coming off ankle surgery. The Giants need to take steps to protect him. Lewan would probably go earlier if he didn’t have so much off-field baggage, but the reward outweighs the risk at this point.
13. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Rams address their defense with their second pick, but that doesn’t mean they should stop there. Gilbert was once considered the top corner in the draft, but recent reports have him falling. I’m not inclined to believe that at this time, so I’m keeping him in the top-15.
14. Chicago Bears: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Bears safeties were quite possibly the worst in the league last season while Clinton-Dix may be the best one in this draft class. It’s a logical fit. Also, anyone who drafts a player named Ha Ha should get some attention from ESPN, which makes The Bears even more attractive.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald is a bit undersized for a defensive tackle (well, as undersized as one can be at over 6’ and 285 pounds). But that did not hinder him at all in college as he racked up 11 sacks and 28 tackles for loss in his senior year. The Steelers need to rebuild their aging defense, so why not start inside?
16. Dallas Cowboys: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Cowboys defense was dead last in yards allowed in 2013. In fact, if you just look at yards allowed, they had the worst defense of all-time last year. Jernigan has the skills to be a great run defender and an above average pass rusher. It’s a sensible choice, but with Dallas, you never know.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR LSU
Joe Flacco missed Anquan Boldin last season. Badly. The Ravens need to find help for their $120 million quarterback. Beckham is the best receiver available. He’s a great route runner with blazing speed and hauls in nearly everything thrown his way.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
In the surprise of the first round, the Jets select on offensive player. Ebron is just too good to pass at this point, even for Rex Ryan’s team.
19. Miami Dolphins: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Ryan Tannehil was sacked 58 times last season. Even after signing Brandon Albert, the Dolphins still need to take steps to protect their QB.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
Jonathan Abraham led the Cardinals in sacks last season, but he’ll be 36 at the start of the season. Ford was 2nd in the SEC in sacks in 2013 and displayed some ability to drop into coverage, so he’s not entirely one-dimensional.
21. Green Bay Packers: C. J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Mosley has the talent to be a top-10 pick, but he will likely fall due to positional value. He gets scooped up by the Packers, who have a huge hole at inside linebacker.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Even with the Eagles signing Malcolm Jenkins, I think the Eagles address their secondary here. It’s possible they take a receiver to replace Desean Jackson, but Jeremy Maclin’s return from injury could lessen that need.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Jamaal Charles led the Chiefs in receiving yards last year. They need to upgrade their receiving corps in order to compete with the more high-powered offensive teams.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Bengals don’t have any glaring needs, but adding secondary depth is always a good idea, especially in a passing league.
25. San Diego Chargers: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Chargers ranked 27th in the league in opponents’ yards per carry, and the departure of Cam Thomas has left them without a starting nose tackle. I think they go defense here.
26. Cleveland Browns: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The Browns strategy pays off in a big way as they land what they hope will be a franchise QB to pair with Watkins.
27. New Orleans Saints: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Saints receivers struggled to get open whenever Jimmy Graham was shut down. They need a receiver with great breakaway speed or separation skills. Lee has both. If Beckham somehow falls to 27, though, look for the Saints to snatch him up.
28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Can anyone name the Panthers starting receivers without looking it up? Nuff said.
29. New England Patriots: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
It would make the most sense for the Patriots to find a corner to replace Aqib Talib. But, given their history, they’ll probably trade down to acquire more picks and use them on players who will be out of the league after 3 years. And they’ll still win 11-12 games a season.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
San Francisco goes with the best safety on the board to replace Donte Whitner.
31. Denver Broncos: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The Broncos addressed most of their needs in free agency. If they’re smart they choose to fortify their offensive line and protect their aging (but still awesome) quarterback.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Super Bowl champs don’t have any glaring needs to fill, so they go with a pass rusher to push 2012 first round pick Bruce Irvin.
So there you have it. Picks 1-32. If we know anything, it’s that this is about as solid as the Falcons O-Line from last year. Let me know what you think about these picks in the comments below!