Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mock Draft 2.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part I)

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina - Nothing's changed here. Clowney has the most talent of anyone in this draft, and I’m not a huge believer in any of the quarterbacks in this class (although I did consider Johnny Football here since he already dominates the state of Texas). Only two teams in football finished the 2013 season with fewer sacks than Houston which is especially amazing considering they had JJ Watt playing for them. The Texans are also about to lose DE Antonio Smith, who finished third on the team in sacks last season. I think Watt will keep Clowney plenty motivated (something that scouts are worried about right now), and they will be among the league leaders in sacks next season. He makes the entire defense better including the secondary which finished with a league-worst seven interceptions last year.

2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – Trade this pick. Trade this pick. Trade this pick. Okay, if that doesn’t work take Greg Robinson. As mentioned in the previous mock, he is the best tackle in the class for a line that has more than a few question marks.  The Rams finished 30th in the league in total offense and have needs all over, but the quickest way to compete in the NFC West is to bolster the line and protect Sam Bradford.  There is temptation to take Sammy Watkins here, however a franchise tackle is too good to pass up.

3. Jaguars (Rick): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo - Some consider Mack the safest pick this year. Each year that picks falls because it may not be the sexy or popular pick, but Mack has the tools to be a perennial Pro-Bowler. The Jags need pass rushers, dead last in the NFL in sacks with 31, Jason Babin isn't the answer. It will be hard to pass on Sammy Watkins considering Justin Blackmon is a J-Walking ticket away from a year long suspension but Mack will be a consistent game changing player for them and they have none of those on defense.

4. Browns (Coop): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – There are no sure fire lock quarterback picks in this year’s draft. So rather than rolling the dice on another potential bust signal caller with this pick, the Browns can select another dynamic wide receiver. Teaming Watkins with Josh Gordon, Ben Tate, and Jordan Cameron gives them arguably the best set of weapons in the AFC.  With the luxury of a 2nd pick in the first round, the Browns can afford to put off addressing their QB situation for another 22 picks and still find a long term solution.

5. Raiders (TSB): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M - "Nah, we're all good here. Matt Schaub is our QB." Wait, no one has actually said that except maybe the Texans last year which is a pretty god reason they are picking at the top of the draft this year. Oakland needs a franchise player. Manziel is boom or bust but at least he has boom potential which can't be said for most of the rest of this organization especially the aforementioned Schaub. As I wrote in the last mock, the QB situation has been the black hole of the Black Hole since Rich Gannon left. Just listen to some of these names that have lined up under center since 2004: Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell, Jamarcus Russell, Dante Culpepper, Andrew Walter, Kerry Collins. And it’s not like these guys were backups. Each of them led the Raiders in passing at least once in the last decade. Yikes. Manziel can change all of that and sell some jerseys.

6. Falcons (Rick): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - Despite assault charges against him stemming from a ruckus in December, the Falcons need to take Lewan here. They need major help at OT and you can't go wrong protecting your prized QB. They had woeful O-Line play last year and as his rap sheet indicates he has a real mean streak that the Falcons could use up front.

7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - I am pretty sure I was the first time one to come up with the Evans-to-the-Bucs idea so I'm sticking with it. He is V-Jax 2.0. Is it crazy to have two of the identical players on a team? I can't think of a great reason why that would be a bad thing if that player is incredibly gifted and creates all types of mismatches. V-Jax 1.0 is 31 years old. He's not playing in the Not For Long forever. This will be a passing of the torch eventually, but for now, gimme both of them.

8. Vikings (Coop): Blake Bortles, QB, UCF – Bortles is a prototypical NFL QB who immediately cleans up the mess at QB in Minnesota. He walks into an ideal situation where he can rely on Adrian Peterson and the running game very much like Mark Sanchez did in his first few years in New York. The difference here is that Bortles should be able to get more out of his tools with the talented trio of Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph lining up around him.

9. Bills (Rick): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M - The Bills gave up 48 sacks and 108 QB hits last season. That combination ranked 29th in the NFL last season. That's with two mobile and athletic QB's that started for them last year. Their offensive line is in shambles, Matthews would be a great value and need pick at #9.

10. Lions (TSB): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State - Three of my four picks have been repeats proving once again the NFL needs to move the draft back to its normal time in April. At this point teams will be guilty of paralysis by analysis. From last mock: Dennard paired with 2013 second round CB Darius Slay could give some stability to a secondary unit in desperate need of it. The Golden Tate signing alleviates the need to address the wide receiver position, not to mention that offense isn't the problem in Motown. This makes too much sense not to happen.

11. Titans (Coop): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St. – Gilbert is a long, fast corner who can hold his own in press coverage against some of the bigger NFL wide receivers. There is no issue with his production either, he led the Big 12 in interceptions in 2013 and returned 2 of them for touchdowns. The point where he stands out above the rest is his return ability. In his 3 years at Oklahoma State, Gilbert returned 6 kicks for touchdowns which is just 1 shy of the NCAA record shared by CJ Spiller. If everything lines up properly, his game is very close to that of Patrick Peterson.

12. Giants (Rick): Zach Martin, OG/OT, Notre Dame - I've heard nothing but immense praise for Martin since the "silly season" started and that's hard to do. Scouts are calling him by far the safest pick in the draft. The Giants treasure versatility and Martin is dripping with it. He plays inside and outside at above average levels and is expected to be a stud interior lineman in the NFL. With depth questions along with an aging Chris Snee coming off hip surgery and openly contemplating retirement, this is a big pick for the Giants. Paired with last years first rounder Justin Pugh, the Giants have a young and impressive core along the line for the first time in years.

13. Rams (Coop) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – This is a kid who earned playing time at Alabama as a true freshman in 2011, won 2 national championships, and most importantly has the best name in the draft. The only blemish on his resume is a two-game suspension for violating team rules, but he returned to top form after his brief absence. Ha ha has great range and should be an immediate help a St. Louis unit that finished in the middle of the pack in 2013.

14. Bears (TSB): Aaron Donald, DL, Pitt - Chances of this happening on Draft Day are very remote because I think he'll be long gone, but if it does happen, this is a nice fit and a big win for Chicago. Donald just makes plays, repeatedly.

15. Steelers (Rick): Kyle Fuller, CB, VT - Physical corner that Mike Tomlin covets. Pittsburgh has had a deep roster for a long time but have neglected it for too long and it's caught up. The secondary was once the strength of this team but they need an overhaul of youth. This is a good start.

16. Cowboys (Rick): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - I'm not as high on Barr as some people, but Dallas needs to replace Demarcus Ware so the one dimensional Barr isn't a bad fit. He's fast off the edge and should fit into a situational speed rushing role immediately.

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