Editor’s note: After spending time in Mobile, Alabama during the Senior Bowl scouting players, Kyle gives us his latest NFL mock draft picks. -SG
1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
A lot has changed since my first mock draft a month ago, but not this pick. Many have argued that new head coach Bill O’Brien only likes “bigger QBs” but if you look at his history of QBs outside of Christan Hackenberg(6’4, 220), O’Brien’s last 5 QBs in college on average were 6’2, 205. No brainer, Teddy is the pick here. His pocket presence alone will give him a chance to be successful in the NFL.
2. TRADE Atlanta Falcons – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, USCe
This was slotted to be the Rams pick, but I think there’s about a 5% chance they keep this. General Manager Thomas Dimitroff has proven to be aggressive. Knowing they need an edge rusher, it gets no better than Clowney, who might be the best defensive prospect in 10 years.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
I just can’t see Gus Bradley taking a QB here. He’s been on successful teams throughout his career without a stud QB. The future is cloudy for Justin Blackmon, and Cecil Shorts missed the last 3 games, so the Jags were trotting out Kerry Taylor & Mike Brown, that’s not ideal. Watkins skills would be maximized & would be an instant upgrade.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The jump that Manziel made from last year to this year has been incredible. I think people ignore the fact that he’s only going to get better. You can see the work ethic, see the strides he’s made. Manziel behind an above average offensive line with an elite receiver as well as a good receiving tight end. I think Manziel will be a very successful QB in the NFL.
5. Oakland Raiders – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
The Raiders have holes all over the roster, but there’s a clear need at QB. They’re in no mans land here, with the top QBs, Clowney & Watkins off the board. This is the worst case scenario for Oakland but I believe they’ll “reach” for Bortles, who has the NFL tools, and shows flashes, but leaves a lot to be desired for a top 5 pick.
6. St. Louis Rams (Falcons previous pick) – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jake Long tearing his ACL & Rodger Saffold being a free agent makes this a no brainer for the Rams. Matthews seems like the safe pick, but he’s also the best player on the board that fits a need. A win-win for the Rams as they get a player at a premium position.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Bucs need to get better at stopping the run, and need an edge rusher to compliment Gerald McCoy. The hate that Barr gets on Draft Twitter is something that I just don’t understand. The draft is about upside, and Barr oozes upside. Barr is very good at setting the edge, will be an instant upgrade in the run game, and he’ll be able to add a dimension the Bucs don’t have, speed.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Vikings have been burned by reaching for a QB, & even though it’s a big need, I think they pass up for a safer, yet instant impact player. Jared Allen is a free agent, and the Vikings could use an upgrade at the Sam LB position. Mack is an impact player who could play traditional LB and put his hand in the dirt on obvious passing downs.
9. Buffalo Bills – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Bills could go a number of ways here, but there defense was excellent a year ago. Knowing they want to run the ball, Robinson makes too much sense here, especially considering they were dreadful at run blocking last year. Robinson puts defenders on skates and will make life much easier for Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller.
10. Detroit Lions – Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
The Lions need someone to take pressure off Calvin Johnson. Corner is a popular mock here, but they just signed Chris Houston to a long term deal and drafted Darius Slay last year in the 2nd, you’re not drafting a CB at 10 to be your nickel corner. Ebron is a ridiculous athlete that will be able to stretch the field down the middle and be able to exploit 1-on-1 match-ups, even as a rookie.
11. Tennesee Titans – C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama
With both of the top tackles off the board, the Titans don’t reach for a QB and simply go best player available. Mosley would be a giant upgrade at the middle linebacker position. He has some of the best instincts I’ve seen and would continue to add the speed dynamic to the Titans defense.
12. New York Giants – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
You can’t hide from the fact that the offensive line was a complete disaster. Justin Pugh got better as the year went on, and Beatty is on a big deal. A guard would be a reach when you can likely get the player in the 2nd round. Dennard projects to be the best CB in the NFL, and fits what the Giants want to do on defense.
13. St. Louis Rams – HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
I really think this could be a corner here, but that could also be addressed in free agency. The Rams secondary wasn’t great last year, Clinton-Dix would allow last years 3rd rounder T.J. McDonald to play primarily in the box. HaHa can do anything asked from a safety and would also be able to match up well against tight ends.
14. Chicago Bears – Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida State
I’ve noted that there’s no doubt the Bears have the worst starting safeties in the NFL. That said, they need help at every level of their defense. Jernigan would help their porous run defense. He’s as strong as they come and just doesn’t get moved out at the point of attack.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Though his tape is inconsistent, Hageman has the size, arm length & upside that leave scouts drooling. He should be a very disruptive player once he learns how to use his arm length, but should improve the Steelers interior pass rush. They should be able to get a receiver in the next round.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Ravens failed to replace Anquan Boldin, and though Ozzie Newsome has drafted a WR once in the 1st round since 2005, Evans is a guy that will be able to bail out Joe Flacco late in plays as he owns the catch point.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Cowboys need help everyone on defense, they were a mess last year. Donald is similar to defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, but I believe he is so disruptive that he’s just too hard to pass up. Donald has proven everywhere that he gets the job done, and see no reason that this will stop in the NFL.
18. New York Jets – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The skill position for the Jets on the perimeter is really disgusting. Geno Smith should fare much better when he has someone he can depend on. Enter Amaro. Who would be excellent lined up in the slot and is just as good after the catch.
19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Martin dominated the Senior Bowl. He proved that he’s an offensive tackle at the next level. The Dolphins line has major issues, and Martin is able to plug a big need. There’s no risk in selecting Martin here.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Kouandjio was exposed a little this year with some speed rushers, but he still has talent, and quick enough feet to fix this issue. One of the worst lines in the NFL, it doesn’t matter who’s playing QB, the line needs fixing.
21. Green Bay Packers – Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame
The Packers DL didn’t get the job done this year, they were 26th in adjusted line yards and have quite a few defensive lineman scheduled to hit free agency after next year. Nix helps solidify the middle of the Packers defense and should really help the run defense in it’s entirety.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby is a guy that I expect to blow up the combine. He’s nowhere near as bad as he’s made out to be based on the Wisconsin tape. He’s capable of being a top notch man cover guy that is very good at run fits in defense. He is an immediate upgrade in the Eagles secondary.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Verrett is my 2nd highest rated CB, but because of his size, 5’9 sub 180, he’ll likely be overlooked. There is a lot to like about his game, however. He’s incredibly quick, shows the ability to lock down receivers, has incredible instincts, and doesn’t mind sticking his nose in to make a tackle. The Chiefs could upgrade at safety, too, but I believe that’ll be addressed in free agency. This allows Flowers to move back to the outside full time.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
I’m not nearly as high on Ealy as most, but I can see where people would fall in love with him. He reminds me somewhat of the current Bengal Michael Johnson, as he wins with power mainly. I’m not sure Johnson will be extended and Ealy is the perfect replacement.
25. San Diego Chargers – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Quite frankly, the Chargers CB situation is terrible. Gilbert would probably be the best cover guy on the team the minute he walks on the field. He has above average ball skills, has proven that he can transition well, and can flat out cover. He also brings an added dimension on special teams as a kick returner that San Diego desperately needs.
26. Cleveland Browns – Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
The Browns would be lucky to have OBJ fall to their laps. I believe he’ll be the best WR in this class 5 years from now. He has no real weaknesses, plays like a low 4.4 guy, and owns the catch point. Factor that in with his ability after the catch and the Browns just got a real steal.
27. New Orleans Saints – Lamarcus Joyner, S, FSU
Went back and forth on this between Joyner, an edge rusher, and a wide receiver. Settled on Joyner because Malcom Jenkins is set to be a free agent and gives Rob Ryan 2 versatile safeties. Joyner can play any role, and is an excellent blitzer off the edge.
28. Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU
Thought about going offensive line or corner here, but Benjamin makes too much sense. He’s very good at underneath routes and when Cam extends plays, Benjamin can be the threat down-field as he’s another WR who wins the catch point seemingly every time. It would be a great pairing for the offense.
29. TRADE Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The Vikings trade back into the 1st with the Patriots to select their QB. This keeps the Jags from getting him in the 2nd round. Carr comes with questions(pocket presence) but at this point is considered good value. Carr has a plus arm and is surrounded by a good offensive line, the best RB in the NFL, and good perimeter receiving targets.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
This makes too much sense as the 49ers draft Anquan Boldin’s replacement. Landry is in the similar mold that he catches everything thrown his way, and can make the spectacular catch. He’s truly a security blanket for QB and should be an immediate contributor as a rookie. 3 WR sets with Landry, Patton & Crabtree moving forward have a productive feel to it.
31. Seattle Seahawks – Xavier Su’a Filo, OG, UCLA
Receiver may be an option here as Seattle may lose Baldwin/Tate. But the interior line just hasn’t been very good and you have to win in this league inside out. Su’a Filo fits what the Seahawks want to do as he is a very good run blocker and has no issues when asked to pull.
32. Denver Broncos – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Denver could use an upgrade at safety. I don’t expect Pryor to test well; as I’ve stated before, I think his speed isn’t at an elite level, but his instincts and ball skills usually leave him making plays. He would come in and become a natural play maker in the Broncos secondary.