NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
With another week in the books, it’s time to check in with an updated mock draft; read on to find out who’s currently projected to go where in April.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville*
Bridgewater remains the most polished quarterback prospect in the class, although at this point he is clinging to an increasingly small lead over Marcus Mariota.
2. Minnesota Vikings – QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon**
With Christian Ponder now competing with the likes of Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman, it’s time for Minnesota to find a new quarterback of the future.
3. Houston Texans – QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M*
Case Keenum flashed early as Matt Schaub’s replacement, but there’s no way they could resist a local legend such as Manziel given their current situation.
4. Atlanta Falcons – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina*
Osi Umenyiora turned out to be a solid investment, but he turns 32 tomorrow and would hardly prevent the Falcons from drafting Jadeveon Clowney here.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Tampa Bay hasn’t employed a third linebacker too often this season, but they would have an excellent opportunity to upgrade their defense by drafting one.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Redskins) – OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M*
Opposite Jake Long, Joseph Barksdale has played well, but probably not well enough to prevent the Rams from drafting the top tackle in the class.
7. Buffalo Bills – LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Mack remains in Buffalo, replacing Manny Lawson and providing defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with a dangerous, versatile edge rushing option.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Recent acquisition Levi Brown should be an offseason cap casualty, and former second-round pick Mike Adams has done nothing to inspire confidence.
9. Baltimore Ravens – DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame*
The offensive line is a mess, but it may prove hard for Baltimore to resist pairing Nix with Haloti Ngata, who would be allowed to slide back outside to end.
10. Cleveland Browns – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson*
Legitimate #1 wide receiver Josh Gordon shouldn’t be traded, but the team could stand to provide him with a better compliment than the inconsistent Greg Little.
11. Tennessee Titans – LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Middle linebacker has been a glaring weakness for the Titans this season, so they should jump at the opportunity to draft one of this year’s most polished prospects.
12. Oakland Raiders – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M**
Denarius Moore is a long-term starter, but he lacks the size to challenge opponents as a vertical option, opening the door for a player such as Evans here.
13. St. Louis Rams – FS Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama*
T.J. McDonald is promising, but the Rams could stand to add another safety; Clinton-Dix should benefit from the league’s recent emphasis on the position.
14. San Diego Chargers – OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama*
The offensive line has been a problem in San Diego for some time, but they could stabilize the tackle positions by reuniting Kouandjio with D.J. Fluker.
15. New York Giants – DE Vic Beasley, Clemson*
Mathias Kiwanuka has had a disappointing season; although the Giants drafted Damontre Moore in the third round last year, they shouldn’t resist Beasley.
16. Green Bay Packers – TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina*
It wouldn’t be surprising if Ebron ended up going even higher than this given his elite athletic ability; he remains ahead of Jace Amaro at this point in the season.
17. Miami Dolphins – OT Cameron Erving, Florida St.*
Erving has the size and athletic ability to potentially man the blindside tackle position in the NFL, something that Jonathan Martin was originally drafted for.
18. Dallas Cowboys – DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
The Cowboys’ transition to a four-man defensive front hasn’t worked this season, making it imperative for them to prioritize adding additional talent this offseason.
19. Chicago Bears – OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee*
Although the Bears have made some strides recently along the offensive line, they still need to find a long-term right tackle, as Jordan Mills isn’t the answer.
20. Arizona Cardinals – OG Zack Martin, Notre Dame
Arizona drafted a left guard in the first round last season, but they still need help almost everywhere else; Martin could potentially play either inside or outside.
21. New York Jets – WR Marqise Lee, Southern California*
Santonio Holmes is on the way out in New York, and Stephen Hill has also failed to develop into what the Jets were expecting when they drafted him.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon*
Chip Kelly would be wise to target Ekpre-Olomu at this point given his previous familiarity with him as well as Philadelphia’s need for defensive help.
23. Detroit Lions – CB Jason Verrett, Texas Christian
Bradley Roby may be the flashier pick due to his physical gifts, but Jason Verrett is the more well-rounded, consistent of the top cornerbacks remaining.
24. San Francisco 49ers – CB Bradley Roby, Ohio St.*
As has been the case in recent years, the 49ers have been playing quality defense but could still stand to draft with an eye on their long-term secondary stability.
25. Cincinnati Bengals – LB Kyle Van Noy, Brigham Young
While James Harrison has continued to play well despite his age, the Bengals still need to find a viable strongside linebacker of the future to eventually replace him.
26. New England Patriots – TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech*
Bill Belichick has historically favored drafting tight ends with high picks, a decision made easier here by the lack of low-risk alternative options elsewhere.
27. Carolina Panthers – LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio St.*
Thomas Davis is somehow still playing well, but given his age and extensive injury history, drafting an athletic linebacker such as Shazier still makes sense.
28. Cleveland Browns (from Colts) – OG David Yankey, Stanford*
At right guard, the Browns have been working with a disastrous combination of Shawn Lauvo and Oniel Cousins that has created a desperate need to upgrade.
29. New Orleans Saints – CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Keenan Lewis should be able to maintain one of the outside roles, but fellow starter Jabari Greer is undersized and may be better suited to the inside long-term.
30. Kansas City Chiefs – DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame*
An impending free agent, defensive end Tyson Jackson may have played his way out of Kansas City, creating the need for another five-technique defensive end.
31. Denver Broncos – DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida St.*
Denver’s foremost need at this point is probably for either a replacement at left end or a future complement to 2013 first-round nose tackle Sylvester Williams.
32. Seattle Seahawks – OG Cyril Richardson Baylor
The Seahawks have been starting James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy at guard, neither of whom has been effective enough to prevent additional competition.