By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
It’s that time of year again. Draft season is heating up. The nation’s focus may still primarily be on the playoffs, but for scouts and draftniks things are about to The draft landscape is fluid and some of the landmark events like the combine and Senior Bowl will play a role but let’s do our best job guessing what could happen. (Draft order used is prior to the first round of the playoffs)
1. Houston Texans QB Teddy Bridgewater Louisville
The Texans are an atypical last place team with talent on both sides of the ball. Of course they’re in last place for a reason and that reason is a lack a franchise quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater has all the tools to become one with time showing leadership, poise, mobility and tremendous accuracy this year as a Cardinal.
2. St. Louis Rams OT Jake Matthews Texas A&M
(from Redskins) The Rams are a prime candidate to trade down but selecting a polished, experienced and mature left tackle with #1 overall talent isn’t a bad option either. St. Louis needs to figure out if Sam Bradford is a true franchise signal caller. To this point he’s been underwhelming besides a nice rookie campaign, but lack of protection has been a major issue. Bringing in Matthews to sure up the line would leave him with no more excuses.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars DE Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina
Gus Bradley led the Jags to a furious finish and will look to keep that momentum building into next year. Jadaveon Clowney is somewhat of a risky prospect because you don’t know what you get in terms of everyday effort. You do know that he is oozing with potential everyday he walks onto the field and that outrageous talent might be enough to make it worth the risk.
4. Cleveland Browns QB Blake Bortles UCF
The Browns will have a new coach after just one year with Rob Chudzinski and will need to add a quarterback, even if the new coaching staff wants to give Brian Hoyer another look. Blake Bortles is surging up draft boards and has the size and arm strength scouts love. Derek Carr is also an option and might have even been a better fit skill wise with the now old staff’s vertical passing scheme. At this point Bortles is the prospect with more respect in the scouting community, but its close and could very well change.
5. Oakland Raiders QB Johnny Manziel Texas A&M
After a terrific Chick-Fil-A Bowl where Johnny Football was once again the improvisational and dare I say magical Johnny Football that won him the Heisman, teams will be hard pressed to not fall in love with him on the field. Durability concerns coupled with maturity question marks will give teams pause, but the talent is there.
6. Atlanta Falcons OLB Anthony Barr UCLA
Despite being on the door step of the Super Bowl a year earlier, the Falcons looked like a helpless team this season. Most of the incompetence was on the defensive side of the ball. Barr is a game changing edge rusher that will instantly help juice up the dormant pass rush.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Sammy Watkins Clemson
Mike Glennon did enough to warrant a second look, but with the support of Schiano gone the Bucs could look in another direction. Either way Glennon allows them to address the QB position later and take a legitimate #2 threat opposite Vincent Jackson. Watkins would be the missing deep threat Vincent Jackson needs to get more space to work.
8. Minnesota Vikings QB Derek Carr Fresno State
Christian Ponder didn’t cut it. Matt Cassell didn’t cut it. Josh Freeman…well never mind. Derek Carr has a cannon with a quick release and underrated mobility. Plus he’s a great leader and very mature, which is something his Fresno St. staff always brings up to scouts who ask about former #1 overall pick David Carr’s brother.
9. Buffalo Bills OT Greg Robinson Auburn
The Bills are building a nice young core on both sides of the ball, but what would allow Buffalo to take the next step towards contention would be the development of EJ Manuel. Adding Robinson, who has rocketed up boards, would immediately upgrade Erik Pears at right tackle and also help Nate Hackett to control the line of scrimmage in the round game, potentially opening up the flood gates for a talent running back duo of CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson.
10. Detroit Lions LB C.J. Mosley Alabama
Safe picks are not typically the MO of the Lions draft philosophy but a new regime has the chance to change the culture. Mosley is a sideline to sideline linebacker with a complete skill set and would solidify the position for the next four to five years.
11. Tennessee Titans OLB Khalil Mack Buffalo
The Titans could use a defensive end arguably more than an outside linebacker, but Mack would give them a unique talent that could be plugged into the strong side linebacker role, similar to how the Broncos used Von Miller. Much like Braford in St. Louis Jake Locker will likely have one last shot to prove himself before the organization moves on.
12. New York Giants CB Darqueze Dennard Michigan State
Dennard considers the space around him a “No Fly Zone” but the Giants secondary has been an open air zone for a number of years now. The Spartans corner is scheme diverse and has fluid hips, great athleticism and a nose for the bal.
13. St. Louis Rams S Haha Clinton-Dix Alabama
The Rams will likely consider a receiver, tight end or corner at this spot and while Clinton-Dix might be more of a late first, early second round type prospect he’s a very talented guy who fills a need and would give the Rams a dynamic centerfielder to make balls on the back end. One of the Rams two first round selections will be a tackle, so depending on what happens at #2 we could see a Cam Erving here as well.
14. Chicago Bears DL Stephon Tuitt Notre Dame
The Bears defense is no longer the feared unit it was in the heyday of Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman. Stephon Tuitt is an All-Bus teamer who is as physically intimidating a guy as who’ll see and offers the size, strength, athleticism blend to be a versatile defender on the front line.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers OT Cedric Ogbuehi Texas A&M
Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M has been overshadowed by other stud Aggies prospects Jake Matthews, Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans but is a solid tackle prospect in his own right. At this point in Big Ben’s career limiting the hits he takes has to be priority number one. Other prospects like Cyrus Kjouandjio might offer more in the run game but Ogbuechi has incredibly quick feet and the better pure pass protector.
16. Dallas Cowboys DT Louis Nix III Notre Dame
The Cowboys will miss out on the postseason yet again, but there are patches of talent throughout the roster. One place they could improve upon is any position on the defense besides DeMarcus Ware. Nix is a beast up front who is massive, strong and also surprisingly quick. He would really shore up the defensive line regardless of whether or not Monte Kiffin’s Cover 2 scheme is retained.
17. Baltimore Ravens WR Mike Evans Texas A&M
The Ravens missed Anquan Boldin more than I think they know, or at least expected as Joe Flacco struggled without a true playmaker outside of Torrey Smith. With Dennis Pitta healthy and another big hybrid receiver like Evans outside teams will have to respect Flacco’s arm once again.
18. New York Jets TE Eric Ebron North Carolina
This pick fills two needs for the Jets who needed an NFL starting caliber tight end (something they were without in 2013, sorry Jeff Cumberland) and also an actual offensive threat for Geno Smith. Well, that needs to be addressed for whoever plays quarterback. Ebron is scarily close to a Stephon Hill type because his talent is only clouded by ups and downs, but unlike Hill, Ebron flashed consistently at the ACC level.
19. Miami Dolphins OT Cameron Erving Florida State
The Dolphins lost two starting linemen to the Incognito-Martin saga so they could pluck a few offensive line prospects in May. Erving was a defensive lineman not too long ago but instantly flashed as a first round type talent on the offensive side of the line showing smooth athleticism and also the strength to drive defenders in the run game.
20. Arizona Cardinals OT Cyrus Kouandjio Alabama
The Cardinals could take a signal caller like Brett Hundley as Carson Palmer’s years are numbered, but if not Cyrus Kouandjio improves a line in desperate need of an upgrade.
21. Green Bay Packers TE Jace Amaro Texas Tech
Matt Flynn was able to hold down the fort as the Packers somehow overcame an injury to Aaron Rodgers and sneaked into the playoffs. Jace Amaro is just too good to pass up and pairing him with Rodgers would be borderline unfair.
22. San Diego Chargers CB Justin Gilbert Oklahoma State
Philip Rivers and Ryan Matthews have both looked rejuvenated with the guidance of Mike McCoy but the defense is still a work in progress. Justin Gilbert is a special athlete with tremendous value in the return game as well as the ball skills, speed and physicality to be a potential shutdown corner with time.
23. Philadelphia Eagles DT RaShede Hageman Minnesota
Like the Chargers the offense is clearly in good hands with Chip Kelly who is helping Nick Foles look like an All-Pro. The 3-4 defense really seems to succeed when the front line has versatile and athletic guys capable of playing multiple spots. Ra’Shede Hageman is an athletic freak with size, strength and explosive potential that could help push that unit over the top.
24. Kansas City Chiefs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkin Washington
Alex Smith has proven he’s a starter in this league. That being said he’s still a low level starter with limited upside. Why not take a chance on a guy that will be an instant red zone monster and that has the physical skills to be a dominant two way tight end?
25. Cincinnati Bengals Ryan Shazier Ohio State
Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga are both very good players but athleticism is not something either is known for. Ryan Shazier is known for just that however. He’s also undersized but would seem like a natural complement to the previously mentioned starters, giving Cincy one of the most complete linebacking groups in the NFL.
26. Cleveland Browns WR Marqise Lee USC
(from Colts) The Browns drafted a new quarterback and pairing him with another rookie target is something that happens all the time and for good reason. Lee is a steal who might last this long because of a combination of injuries and poor quarterback play, neither are his fault. That Trent Richardson trade looks pretty darn good now huh?
27. New Orleans Saints Edge Rusher Vic Beasley Clemson
Rob Ryan helped orchestrate an impressive turnaround as the Saints D became a feared group. In his attacking 3-4 scheme an explosive OLB off the edge would bolster the entire unit even further. Enter Clemson’s pass rushing phenom Vic Beasley.
28. New England Patriots OG Cyril Richardson Baylor
Belichik is known for making savvy personnel moves that are usually based on a healthy mix of need and maximizing talent. While drafting a guard won’t excite a fan base, “The Hoodie” doesn’t care (and frankly shouldn’t). The interior line could certainly use an elite guard prospect like Richardson who was athletic enough to be RGIII’s blindside protector and also has the physical strength to dominate inside.
29. San Francisco 49ers WR Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt
Colin Kaepernick has looked like a different player with Michael Crabtree back from injury but he still needs more weapons. Matthews, who is related to the former Niners and NFL great Jerry Rice, is a hard worker, great route runner and with nice size and soft hands.
30. Carolina Panthers WR Allen Robinson Penn State
Steve Smith is somehow still playing like a Pro Bowler but as Cam continues to grow as a passer he’ll need more options out wide. Robinson has size at 6’3 and is also a very good athlete who can stretch the defense vertically.
31. Denver Broncos C Travis Swanson Arkansas
When you have an undisputed future Hall of Fame quarterback like Peyton Manning, the offense is pretty much covered. One area that could certainly use an upgrade would be at the center position. Swanson is a brilliant pass protector and should help Peyton avoid sacks and unnecessary hits.
32. Seattle Seahawks OG David Yankey Stanford
Seattle is the odds on favorite to take home the hardware in February but there are a few holes on the otherwise stacked roster. One is on the offensive line, where due to injuries the Seahawks have been playing without offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini and center Max Unger for parts of the season. The guard play has been awful, well in comparison to the rest of the squad, and Pete Carroll will look to secure an athletic and technically sound Yankey who he has experience against playing in the Pac 12.
33 Houston Texans – Trent Murphy
34 Washington Redskins – Lamarcus Joyner
35 Cleveland Browns – Odell Beckham Jr.
36 Oakland Raiders – DaVante Adams
37 Atlanta Falcons – Antonio Richardson
38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Taylor Lewan
39 Jacksonville Jaguars – Brett Hundley
40 Minnesota Vikings – Aaron Donald
41 Buffalo Bills – Kelvin Benjamin
42 Tennessee Titans – Jason Verrett
43 New York Giants – Kyle Van Noy
44 St. Louis Rams – Jarvis Landry
45 Detroit Lions – Brandin Cooks
46 Pittsburgh Steelers – Kyle Fuller
47 Baltimore Ravens – Kony Ealy
48 Dallas Cowboys – Will Sutton
49 New York Jets – Adrian Hubbard
50 Miami Dolphins – Zach Martin
51 Chicago Bears – Bradley Roby
52 Arizona Cardinals – Trevor Reilly
53 Green Bay Packers – La’el Collins
54 San Diego Chargers – Xavier Su’a-Filo
55 Philadelphia Eagles – Jeremiah Attaochu
56 San Francisco 49ers – Brandon Coleman
57 Cincinnati Bengals – Louchiez Purifoy
58 Indianapolis Colts – Lache Seastrunk
59 New Orleans Saints – Ed Stinson
60 New England Patriots – DaQuan Jones
61 San Francisco 49ers – Carl Bradford
62 Carolina Panthers – Marcus Roberson
63 Denver Broncos – Victor Hampton
64 Seattle Seahawks – Ego Ferguson
65 Houston Texans – Paul Richardson
66 Washington Redskins – Deone Bucannon
67 Oakland Raiders -Timmy Jernigan
68 Atlanta Falcons – Scott Crichton
69 New York Jets – Zach Mettenberger
70 Jacksonville Jaguars – Bishop Sankey
71 Cleveland Browns – Carlos Hyde
72 Minnesota Vikings – Antony Steen
73 Buffalo Bills – AJ McCarron
74 NY Giants – Gabe Jackson
75 St. Louis Rams – Keith McGill
76 Detroit Lions – Tyler Larson
77 San Francisco 49ers – Dion Bailey
78 Baltimore Ravens – Michael Sam
79 Dallas Cowboys – Aaron Colvin
80 New York Jets – Craig Loston
81 Miami Dolphins – EJ Gaines
82 Chicago Bears – Ahmad Dixon
83 Cleveland Browns – Chris Davis
84 Arizona Cardinals – Tajh Boyd
85 Green Bay Packers – Yawin Smallwood
86 San Diego Chargers – Donte Moncrief
87 Philadelphia Eagles – Aaron Lynch
88 Kansas City Chiefs – DeVante Parker
89 Cincinnati Bengals – Shayne Skov
90 Indianapolis Colts – Dominique Easley
91 New Orleans Saints – Pierre Desir
92 New England Patriots – Denzel Perryman
93 San Francisco 49ers – Ryan Groy
94 Carolina Panthers – JaJwuan James
95 Denver Broncos – James Hurst
96 Minnesota Vikings – DeAnthony Thomas