by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Super Bowl has come and gone, so now our attention officially moves towards free agency and the NFL draft. How will teams address their needs? Some teams will dip deeper into free agency, but we all know the draft will play a major role for all franchises. We’ll be updating this throughout the offseason, so let’s take a look at our second NFL mock draft of the year:
1) Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Matt Schaub will likely be released this offseason (given the reported $4 million cap savings by doing so) and Case Keenum simply isn’t the answer. The Texans are going to select who they believe their franchise QB is going to be.
2) St. Louis Rams – Jadaveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
The truth of the matter is that it would make the most sense for the Rams to ship this pick off to a team that is either in desperate for a QB, though more likely to someone who is thirsting to get one of the best defensive football prospects in recent memory. There are going to be concerns about Clowney, after he seemed to take virtually the entire season off and had off the field issues, but the talent is just too great. I wouldn’t expect him to go to St. Louis, but look for Clowney to go #2.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
QBs are going to be a hot commodity in this draft and the Jaguars should be one of many teams trying to fill a void under center. It will be interesting to see how draft boards form as things draw closer (with Blake Bortles name garnering a lot of attention). For now we are going to slot Manziel in this spot, but it easily could change.
4) Cleveland Browns – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
Do the Browns see Brian Hoyer as their quarterback of the future? While he probably isn’t the best fit for the job, he did look good in his first two games (before getting injured). This is a deep QB draft, so the Browns can look at grabbing a QB with their second first round pick, or even in the second or third round, but first it will make sense to sure up an offensive line that allowed 49 sacks (third most in ’13).
5) Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Oakland needs help everywhere, so they are in position to take the best available player here and worry about the quarterback spot later on. Granted, Matt McGloin and/or Terrelle Pryor aren’t long-term solutions, but it’s a deep quarterback draft and there will be options later on. Instead, while they have receivers who have shown potential, they land a game changer on the outside.
Previous Pick – Blake Bortles – QB – Central Florida
6) Atlanta Falcons – Anthony Barr – DE/LB – UCLA
The Falcons tied for the second fewest sacks in the league in 2013 (32), so they need to upgrade their defensive line. It actually makes sense for them to move up and grab Clowney, though we’ll have to wait and see if that happens.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Khalil Mack – DE/LB – Buffalo
With Lovie Smith stepping in as coach, it makes sense for the team to upgrade their defense. Tampa Bay managed just 34 sacks this past year, so look for them to target a player who can get to the QB.
8) Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles – QB – Central Florida
This could be a bit of a stretch (depending on who you believe), but we all know the Vikings need serious help under center. Is Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel really the answer? Bortles could go earlier, but if he slides past the first five picks he is going to be there for Minnesota to scoop up without hesitation.
Previous Pick – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
9) Buffalo Bills – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
The Bills need to improve the skill players around E.J. Manuel, but WR is a deep position and they could look to address that need later on. Instead, after watching their QB get sacked 48 times in 2013 (tied for the fourth most in the league), the Bills grab the top lineman available.
10) Detroit Lions – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
It’s clear that the Lions need to address their WR2 spot, after the likes of Titus Young and Ryan Broyles have failed. While they’d love for Sammy Watkins to fall to them, Evans is surely a nice consolation prize.
Previous Pick – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
11) Tennessee Titans – Louis Nix – DT – Notre Dame
The team’s biggest need will likely be at RB (with Chris Johnson potentially being released), though they aren’t going to address that here. They also could address the offensive line, but they registered only 36 sacks in ’13 and also allowed 21 rushing TD. With Ray Horton instituting an aggressive defensive approach, Nix makes a ton of sense in their new 3-4 defense.
Previous Pick – Ra’Shede Hageman – DE/DT – Minnesota
12) New York Giants – Ra’Shede Hageman – DE/DT – Minnesota
We all know what the Giants’ biggest need is, but is there an obvious match at this point for an offensive lineman? Probably not, and the Giants’ GM has long shown that he’s willing to take a risk and always wants to add to his pass rush. Remember when everyone second guessed his selection of Jason Pierre-Paul? Well, the Giants could easily make a similar selection this time around. Hageman has the athleticism to be a disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line, and he certainly has the size (6’6”, 311 lbs.). This may be a bit early for him to go, but expect his name to start climbing up draft boards over the next few weeks.
Previous Pick – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
13) St. Louis Rams – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
Depending on what they do with their first pick the Rams may have already filled their need on the outside. Unfortunately, in this scenario both Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are already off the board and there isn’t an obvious player to select in his place. Instead, look for them to look to do a better job in protecting Sam Bradford.
Previous Pick – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
14) Chicago Bears – HaHa Clinton Dix – S – Alabama
Filling a spot on the defensive line could also make sense, but the Bears need help at safety (with Major Wright being a free agent). Dix is certainly the best player available at that position and if he’s there I wouldn’t expect Chicago to hesitate.
15) Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
The secondary was not a major issue for the Steelers in 2013, but Ike Taylor simply is no longer the player that he once was. Dennard, one of the top corner back available in the draft, makes plenty of sense if he’s still on the board.
16) Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
Jason Hatcher is a free agent and, given their salary cap situation, will probably be out of their price range. As it is the Cowboys allowed 128.5 rushing yards per game (sixth most in the league) and 17 TD.
Previous Pick - Louis Nix – DT – Notre Dame
17) Baltimore Ravens – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
The Ravens need to add more weapons and, while Marqise Lee may have more talent he isn’t the best fit for the team. The Ravens need a player who is going to replace Anquan Boldin, and Benjamin provides a big body at 6’5” and is a definite play maker.
18) New York Jets – Jace Amaro – TE – Texas Tech
The Jets need to add skill players to their offense. In desperate need for a tight end anyways, so they will draft Amaro or Eric Ebron (whichever one they rate highest at this point).
19) Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin – G/OT – Notre Dame
After last season’s debacle, the Dolphins need to fix their offensive line. While there could be a few different options, there is no doubt that one will be selected here. Martin’s stock is quickly rising, so don’t be surprised if he continues to climb up draft boards.
Previous Pick – Cyrus Kouandijo – OT – Alabama
20) Arizona Cardinals – Cyrus Kouandijo – OT – Alabama
Arizona actually has one of the better defenses in the league and their offense has potential. It makes sense for them to strengthen the group up front, helping to solidify things. Originally we had Cameron Erving going in this spot, but he instead opted to go back to school.
Previous – Cameron Erving – OT – Florida State
21) Green Bay Packers – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
The Packers need help stopping the run and both B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett are primed to be free agents as it is. They have to hope that Louis Nix or Ra’Shede Hageman fall to them, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen. They could go with a linebacker like C.J. Mosley, which could also make sense, but that depends on what they do in free agency. Since Mosley is on the board and can help stop the run, he’s going to get the nod for now but this pick could easily change.
22) Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
The Eagles need to address their defense with this pick, one way or another, as they allowed the fourth most yards per game (394.0). The secondary is likely the bigger need (league worst 289.8 passing yards per game) and you could easily argue that Gilbert is the best cornerback available in the draft this season.
23) Kansas City Chiefs – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
The Chiefs have an electric running back and a good defense that registered 47 sacks and 21 interceptions in 2013. This offense is never going to be “explosive” in the passing game, so adding a viable safety net at tight end makes sense for Alex Smith. Ebron could quickly become a target monster in this short/intermediate passing game.
24) Cincinnati Bengals – Kony Early – DE/LB – Missouri
Michael Johnson is a free agent and, if the team opts not to resign him, it will make sense to try and get a replacement in the draft. While help in the secondary may make more sense, with both Gilbert and Dennard off the board there doesn’t seem to be a fit. Early is great value and should slide into the void nicely.
25) San Diego Chargers – Trent Murphy – DE/LB – Stanford
The Chargers need help stopping the pass and rushing the QB. Whether that comes from a linebacker or a defensive lineman, it simply needs to be addressed (though an outside linebacker is more likely). Maybe this is a bit of a reach? You can argue that, but Murphy could either slide in as a linebacker in their 3-4 defense or as a defensive end. Murphy led the nation with 15.0 sacks in 2013, a year after posting 10 as a junior. He should be a good fit for their defense, though his lack of speed could cause him to drop to the second round.
26) Cleveland Browns – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
After landing an offensive tackle with their first selection, Cleveland will look to nab their QB of the future with their second selection. While they could wait for the first pick of the second round to grab this player, they would run the risk of someone trading up and nabbing their guy. Carr could be a Top 10 pick, depending on what other QB needy teams decide to do, though it’s a bit of a stretch. At this point, however, he’s a slam dunk for Cleveland.
Previous Pick – Tajh Boyd – QB – Clemson
27) New Orleans Saints – Antonio Richardson – OT – Tennessee
If a pass rusher drops to them like Kony Early or Trent Murphy, I think the Saints would go in that direction. Since that doesn’t happen in this circumstance, with starting RT Zach Strief a free agent I could see the Saints trying to find a long-term solution for that spot.
28) Carolina Panthers – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
The Panthers need to bolster their receiving corps, and if Lee is actually still on the board at this stage of the first round the Panthers will not have to think twice before making the selection. A knee injury and a poor season could cause this to happen, which would be a home run for Carolina.
29) New England Patriots – Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Washington
The Patriots need help on the interior of their offensive line, with both of their starting guards already being 31-years old. However, they also need serious help on offense both at tight end and wide receiver. With injuries again plaguing Rob Gronkowski and the whole Aaron Hernandez debacle, it makes sense for the team to try to retool there.
Previous Pick – Zack Martin – G/OT – Notre Dame
30) San Francisco 49ers – Stephon Tuitt – DE – Notre Dame
A healthy Michael Crabtree helps, but the 49ers could use an explosive receiver who can stretch field but there isn’t an ideal option at this spot. Instead they are eventually going to need a replacement Justin Smith, who is 34-years old, and we all know how San Francisco loves to have a strong defense.
31) Denver Broncos – Marcus Roberson – CB – Florida
The Broncos were embarrassed in the Super Bowl. While turnovers were part of the issue, there’s no excuse in allowing the Seahawks to post 43 points. Retooling the defense is going to be the team’s top priority at this point, specifically in the secondary.
Previous Pick – Cyril Richardson – G/OT – Baylor
32) Seattle Seahawks – Cyril Richardson – G/OT – Baylor
The Seahawks actually allowed 44 sacks in 2013 and starting RT Breno Giacomini is an unrestricted free agent, so maybe they fill that spot. The Super Bowl Champions will definitely have options, but at this point this makes sense.
Previous Pick – Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Washington
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