By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
It’s finally here! After doing this another year you start to realize just how much of a crap shoot the whole mock draft thing is. You also realize that the speculation, prediction, rumors and smoke screens are loads of fun.
1. Houston Texans – DE Jadaveon Clowney, South Carolina
Clowney is simply too talented to pass up. The only other option is to trade down, which is something that could absolutely happen.
2. St. Louis Rams – OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
In a draft with premium prospects at the top its a little surprising to see such interest in trading down. Then again, it takes two to tango and there are plenty of teams more than willing to add a talent like Clowney, Mack, Robinson or Watkins. The Rams are undoubtedly in discussion with numerous teams about swapping picks and capitalize on the value in such a deep draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Justin Blackmon’s future with the team is in question but there is no questioning Sammy Watkins dynamic play making ability. Khalil Mack is another dynamite prospect who would be awfully tough to pass up.
4. Cleveland Browns – OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
The need might not be there, but if the Browns chose the best player available approach Mack will hear his name called here.
5. Oakland Raiders – QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Johnny Football will galvanize a fan base quickly and there is no fan base quite like the members of the infamous Black Hole.
6. Atlanta Falcons – OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Sure Atlanta could trade up for Clowney, but the talk of doing so for Robinson would require a massively different grade for Matthews than Robinson. Why not stay put and grab arguably the safest player in this draft.
7. Tampa Bay Bucs – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Vincent Jackson will see a lot more single coverage with another big target like Evans lined up on the opposite side of the field.
8. Minnesota Vikings – QB Blake Bortles, UCF
Despite not getting much of a look from college coaches while in high school Bortles has the prototypical frame of a NFL starting quarterback.
9. Buffalo Bills – TE Eric Ebron, UNC
EJ Manuel will have a nice young core of weapons at his disposal after adding the mismatch monster Eric Ebron.
10. Detroit Lions – WR Odell Beckham, LSU
One of my favorite prospects throughout the process has solidified his spot as the #3 WR and could sneak into the top ten.
11. Tennessee Titans – CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma St.
12. New York Giants – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
13. St. Louis Rams – S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
14. Chicago Bears – DT Aaron Donald, Pitt
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St.
16. Dallas Cowboys – S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
17. Baltimore Ravens – WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St.
18. New York Jets – WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon St.
19. Miami Dolphins – OT/OG Zack Martin, Notre Dame
20. Arizona Cardinals – QB Derek Carr, Fresno St.
21. Packers – ILB CJ Mosley, Alabama
22. Eagles – WR Marqise Lee, USC
23. Chiefs – OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
24. Bengals – OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio St.
25. Chargers – NT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
26. Browns – CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
27. Saints – OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
28. Panthers – OT Morgan Moses, Virginia
29. Patriots – DT RaShede Hageman, Minnesota
The Pats have a variety of options but if someone is going to get the massive potential out of Hageman why not Bill? The 6’6 defensive tackles freakish athleticism and versatility are a perfect fit for the hybrid defense currently run in New England.
30. 49ers – CB Jason Verrett, TCU
31. Broncos – CB Bradley Roby, Ohio St.
32. Seahawks – OT/OG Joel Bitonio, Nevada
Rest of Patriots Picks:
62. TE Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
93. DT Justin Ellis, LA Tech
130. OL Billy Turner, North Dakota St.
140. OL David Yankey, Stanford
198. WR Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest
206. OLB Ronald Powell, Florida
244. QB Jeff Matthews, Cornell
Boom or Bust Options for New England
DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Late 1st to 2nd
Boom/Bust Factor: 9.5
Boom: Hageman is a true physical specimen whose brings enormous talent to the table. Everything from his dimensions (6’6, 34 1/4” arms, 10 1/4”) to his explosiveness (35 1/2” vertical, burst shown on tape) to his strength (32 reps at 225 lb) to his evident body control and coordination standout almost instantly. He has the potential to be a complete mismatch inside with the ability to excel against the run and pass.
Bust: The word that comes to mind is inconsistent. When he stays low and utilizes proper hand placement he tosses aside blockers like dummies. Unfortunately he’ll also lose his leverage with poor technique and gets driven back against opponents he should dominate physically.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St.
Bust Factor: 8.5
Boom: Benjamin has the body of a tight end and the athleticism of a receiver who can utilize a massive catch radius (34 7/8” arms) and size advantage to box out defenders and pluck the ball out of the air. Strong hands and excellent hand eye coordination make this former Seminole a red zone monster.
Bust: The concern with Mr. Benjamin is that his thick frame could ultimately work against him if his weight is not held in check. There simply aren’t many successful NFL receivers weighing over 240 pounds. His work ethic and passion for the game are also question marks for many scouts. Lastly while he has the huge hands to pluck the ball away from his frame he suffers from concentration drops more often than you’d like.
OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Bust Factor: 7.5
Boom: The Michigan product has some very intriguing characteristics that could land him in the top 10. Lewan has the prototypical frame of a left tackle and tested as one of the most athletic linemen at the combine . His quick feet, agility and length make him ideally suited to protect a quarterback’s blind side.
Bust: What could ultimately hold him back is his transgressions after the whistle. He’s been susceptible to getting caught up in the moment and faces misdemeanor charges for an altercation with Ohio State fans.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Bust Factor: 7.3
Boom: Another enormous tackle who can engulf defenders with a towering frame and long arms. When healthy he shows just enough foot speed to get by against speed rushers checking off the only major question in his game.
Bust: Coming off a major knee injury always clouds a prospects future and it may have cost Kouandjio a first round selection.
Edge Rusher Aaron Lynch, South Florida
Bust Factor: 8.8
Boom: His first step quickness and relentless motor was lost between his freshman and sophomore years but teams will hope to rekindle the fire he once played with. If so he does have great length and a natural feel for pass rushing.
Bust: Glimpses of first round talent while a freshman at Notre Dame seem quite distant now. Since then Lynch has transferred back home to USF and shed almost 30 pounds and become a much different player. His workout numbers were surprisingly unimpressive. His play and overall effort have been inconsistent and teams will also look into his maturity level to gauge whether or not a gamble on his natural talent is worth a draft pick in the mid rounds.
QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Bust Factor: 8.0
Boom: Everything. Well, almost. His height, huge hands, athleticism, arm strength and leadership skills are all exemplary and indicative of a future superstar.
Bust: Accuracy issues and flat out inconsistent performances muddy even the most talented QB prospects.
OT Seantrel Henderson, Miami
Bust Factor: 10
Boom: Henderson is a monster tackle with flat out unique height, arm length (34 5/8”) and hand size (10 1/2”) but is also a natural athlete who rarely looks uncomfortable or stressed even reaching the second level or kicking out to protect the edge against speed rushers. If he can put it all together there is so much talent to work with that he could be a franchise right tackle.
Bust: The one concern with Henderson, and its a glaring one, is his work ethic and attitude. There have been numerous instances where his behavior have given coaches pause. The pre-draft process can be vital for prospects looking to repair their image and Henderson certainly failed.