Draft order is taken from this page with the playoff order determined by rules used for seeding procedures in playoffs, except for the Seahawks and Broncos, because, as we all know (or really really really hope anyway), the Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl (knocks on all wooden things in his carpentry classroom).
1.1) Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, SCAR
Don’t let the sack numbers fool you, Clowney is going to go very high despite his lack of numerical production this year. He was a constant force this season, giving offenses all that they could handle, forcing opponents to gameplan for this fearsome freak-of-nature. Speaking of which, remember what happened to Ziggy Ansah last year leading up to the draft, and especially at the Scouting Combine? He shot up draft boards like the rocket-propelled cougar that he is, the only real knock on him was that he was raw and might not have the best conditioning. See where I’m going with this? Clowney is an athlete that blows Ansah out of the water. He’s bigger, faster, presumably stronger, and doesn’t have the drawback of being raw. He’s got an arsenal of pass rush moves that will make it very hard for Houston to pass on him. I’m just glad we wouldn’t be slated to play them next year. How great will it be for Texans fans if they get all these guys back from injury, and THEN manage to do what they haven’t before, win more than one playoff game?
1.2) St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Jake Matthews, OT, TA&M
First, a rant: FREAKING DAMN REDSLURS! WHY’D YOU HAVE TO SUCK SO HARD THIS SEASON THEN THE RAMS WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO PULL A FAST ONE ON ANOTHER TEAM AND GET FIRST ROUNDERS FOR LIFE! Ok…I think I’m done now…whew.
Well, I’m not going to mock trades, then it gets really freaking weird and I’d have to take into account what other teams might trade for this player or that player and it’d get really hard really fast. This is what the rams might want at this point in the draft, because they have another pick not much later mumble-mumble-redskins-mumble-mumble. Matthews is a better prospects than his teammate last year, he’s more athletic, has unreal get-off at the snap, and uses his hands really well. He’s also got the pedigree for the NFL, but I’ve never really bought into the fact that if a player’s parents were good that they would be too. This would help to satisfy the need that they have at the RT position, and also gives them a good alternate if Jake Long keeps getting injured like he has these past few years.
1.3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Jaguars need a QB. Bad. There are lots of other things that need to be addressed too, but QB comes first. It’s a QB that is allowing Indy to do what they’ve always done, it’s a QB that has kept New England in the direction of 8 straight 10 win season, it’s a QB that took the Seahawks from a very good 7-9 two years ago, to the best team in the league the next two (we love Football Outsiders here, and they love the Seahawks). This is the best that the draft has to offer. Some would disagree with me, saying that Johnny Football is better, and yes, he’s a better college player, and he’s a better improviser, but give me the guy that doesn’t seem to NEED to do this, and CAN still do this, and I’ll take him.
Ok, those picks took a long time to get done…so now I’m going to take a lot less time with each pick, I’m still a student after all, and I don’t have that much to say about the picks following.
1.4) Cleveland Browns: …sigh… Johnny Manziel, QB/crazy person, TA&M
I admit it. I really like what Manziel brings to the table, and I think he’ll be a good pro, just not as good as Bridgewater. He’s shown a lot more zip in his throws and better ball placement than he displayed last year. He’s got the talent to make use of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, and the ability to make plays on his own if those two can’t make them for him. The Brass at Cleveland also seems to like him.
1.5) Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins is a rare talent at WR, or rather he would be if we didn’t seem to be getting at least one of these guys in the draft every year. He’s kind of a larger Tavon Austin with a little less speed and a lot more size. That kind of sums up the whole thing, he’s a dynamic threat on offense, something that the Raiders desperately need outside of Terrell Pryor, who really should only be in for sub packagaes.
1.6) Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
Remember about a year ago? There were two undefeated teams in the NFL around midseason, one is picking first this year, the other is picking sixth. That sucks for them, like a lot (remember how FO didn’t have the Falcons in the playoffs even before the Julio Jones injury?) What’s one of the big differences? They lost John Abraham, who is now at the end of an 11 sack season with the Arizona Cardinals. Damn. Well they get their pass rusher back here, Mack has some character issues, but those pale in comparison to his natural talents.
1.7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
This dude can be a beast. Tampa has a couple of really good backs in Doug Martin and Mike James, as we found out the hard way, and this can give them a really good RT if they keep Penn, or a really good LT if the trade him. Pretty simple really.
1.8) Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
They need a QB. I could end it there really, but I won’t. The Vikings are wasting the best running back in the league with a bad passing game, and it’s not like the don’t have the weapons, Patterson’s a playmaker, Rudolph can be good, they just need someone competent to throw the ball.
1.9) Buffalo Bills: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Bills actually have a pretty good setup. They probably need a new workhorse with Fred Jackson not getting any younger and CJ Spiller only being a role player (though a very good one when healthy). There aren’t any back that merit being taken this high, so since I’m not going to be doing trades, they’ll take an athletic tackle that can do everything asked if him. This guy could end up being the best tackle in this class, but he’s not as safe a pick as Matthews or Lewan.
1.10) Detroit Lions: Marquise Lee, WR, USC
Yeah he’s had a bad year that’s been marred by injury, but that doesn’t change his talent. This also fits what the Lions like to do in the draft. Lee isn’t like some of the other WRs that Detroit has drafted, he’s got good hands and understands the game better than any other receiver, TE or WR, in this draft. With Megatron on the other side of the field, lots of the attention can be taken off of Lee, this could be one of the best picks in the draft if this past year and the injury isn’t indicative of things to come.
1.11) Tennessee Titans: Mike Evans, WR, TA&M
This guy is going to be a beast. Evans is a master of the scramble drill, and with Jake Locker doing much better before his injury, and this being his last year under contract, the titans are going to be surrounding him with all the weapons they can. Evans is huge, though he doesn’t have game-breaking speed, it doesn’t matter, because he’s got great hands, and is a master at high-pointing the ball and owning the redline. If there was a single player that I could pick for the Seahawks, this is him.
1.12) New York Giants: Cameron Erving, OT, FSU
We all saw that the Giants offensive line needs work when we faced them this season. It was the pressure that we got up the middle mostly, but they need players on the edges to keep Manning clean. Erving is a great athlete that, even though he missed his freshman year from a back injury, he’s had a great couple of years where he’s held off some of the best pass rushers in the NCAA, including Vic Beasley, a LEO candidate that I’m very high on.
1.13) St. Louis Rams: Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, S, Alabama
This is a reach. But the Rams need a safety. Golden Tate doesn’t single-handedly beat the Rams if they have one. Dix had a good year, and he is a first round pick, but not this high. This is a place where need trumps value, the Rams would have loved to have Evans or Watkins, and I was very tempted to give them Watkins at #2, but the value wasn’t good enough.
1.14) Chigago Bears: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
This is what happens when you fire your defensively minded head coach and have personnel for a VERY specific defense that just lost its cornerstone. The Bears have the last ranked run defense in the league, and they need a new DT to plug up the middle while Henry Melton is rushing the passer.
1.15) Pittsburgh Steelers: Cyrus Kouandjo, OT, Alabama
I know that he didn’t have the best game against Oklahoma, but he’s a great athlete (notice a trend here?) who has done well in a run-heavy, pro-style blocking scheme. Big Ben needs more protection, and there are plenty of playmakers on offense, they just need more offensive linemen.
1.16) Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
The run blocking for the Ravens sucked this year. Straight up. Richardson’s upside is somewhere in the neighborhood of Jadevon Clowney’s. The only reason that he’s not higher is that he’s rawer than a lot of the other OL prospects. He could be a great offensive tackle in this league, but it could take some time. They also need a replacement for Michael Oher, who, though a great story, hasn’t been that good in the NFL.
1.17) Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Barr
Dallas needs a new pass rusher. They have Demarcus Ware, they have Anthony Spencer, but one is injured and in a contract year, and the other is injured and old. Barr gives them fresh blood rushing the passer.
1.18) New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
Geno Smith was not good this year. That said, neither was Peyton Manning in his first year. Smith had some games where he looked fantastic, in others he was pulled from the game and replaced with an UFDA. Oofda (I’m Scandinavian). One thing that likely didn’t help, is that he’s got one of the worst sets of skill position players around him. Ebron is one of the most athletic TEs in the NCAA. Though one of the trends in the NFL is lower round, HUGELY athletic TEs taking over (in our case, Luke Willson). I think Ebron will be really good, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not the best from this class when all is said and done.
1.19) Miami Dolphins: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
I know that I said that there was going to be a TE in later rounds that was going to be better than these guys, but that won’t stop teams from trying. The concern about Amaro is the offense that he works in. Will he be able to adjust to a pro-style attack? I don’t know. But he’s athletic, and he knows how to catch the ball. The Dolphins would have liked to add to the O-line, but no guards are worth a first round pick, and all the best tackles are gone. A safely valve for Tannehill is the next best thing.
1.20) Arizona Cardinals: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
I actually think that the Texans will trade into this spot and take Hundley, but if they don’t, there’s no reason for the Cardinals not to take him here. He’s athletic, got a great arm, and this is one of the few teams not in the playoffs that can afford to make this pick. They’ve got everything else covered, but Palmer isn’t getting any younger. This gives them a viable option for when he retires.
1.21) Green Bay Packers: CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The Packers need a new general on defense. Charles Woodson was it, but he left for Oakland, Clay Matthews has had injury troubles over the past few years. Mosley is good in coverage and decent against the run, well, better than decent, he did lead one of the best run "D"s in the NCAA this year.
1.22) San Diego Chargers: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Beasley is everything you want in a pass rusher. He’s quick off the line, he’s got great speed to chase down anyone that he meets, he’s got enough power to bull rush offensive linemen, and he’s got a great understanding of when teams are running and passing. He’s missing size though, that’s the only knock on him.
1.23) Philadelphia Eagles: Darqueze Dennard, CB, MSU
The Eagles were the worst pass defense in the league this season. They need cornerbacks that can cover in man to man, and in zone, Dennard is the best corner in this thin class, he should do just fine.
1.24) Kansas City Chiefs: Stephon Tuitt, DE, ND
The Chiefs need more people that can stop the run. For all the talk of how they are great on defense, throughout all that they had a run defense ranked in the 20s. That can’t continue if they want to have the same success next year when they play the NFC West.
1.25) Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
The Bengals have a really good defense, but they need more and better corners. The lack of a pass rush in the absence of Geno Atkins has not been good for them. They’ve been inconsistent across the board. Corner is a great way for them to get the ball more and have more chances to get the ball into AJ Green’s hands.
1.26) Cleveland Browns (Indianapolis): Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
The Browns need an offensive guard to help Manziel. Richardson has experience with scrambling QBs and, if needed, can play tackle. He’ll give time for Manziel to get the ball to Gordon, Cameron, and Little.
1.27) New Orleans Saints: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
When I was looking for prospects on ESPN (Mel Kiper is like the weatherman, we never recognize the 80% of the time when he’s right, and when he’s finding little known prospects like Greg Robinson, who wasn’t widely known before Mel mentioned him, but we sure as hell remember the 20% of the time that he’s wrong) so when I saw this guy I had no idea who he was, I watched some tape and I liked what he brings to the table. Mostly he’s raw, but he’s very athletic (again), and he doesn’t have many bad habits, or good ones for that matter, but like Petra Arkanian (shout out to the sci-fi community!) said, "I give you those".
1.28) San Francisco 49ers: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
The 9ers need corners. They’ve had so many injuries at this position, and they’ve let so many corners go from the PS that they’ve got almost none left. Both Florida corners show good technique and have good size, so getting chosen this close isn’t much of a surprise.
1.29) New England Patriots: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Rob Gronkowski has had season-ending injuries in two straight years. He had so many surgeries in the last offseason that I lost track. He’s great when he’s on the field, but he’s not on the field enough. Jenkins may not be THAT good, but he’ll provide a great target in the red zone.
1.30) Carolina Panthers: Justin Gilbert, CB, OSU
I admit, I was fudging a little bit before this so that Gilbert would be here. I didn’t do much, just make it so that if a team would take a corner they wouldn’t take Gilbert. It was all positional, I didn’t make anyone draft a guard if they would have taken him instead. I really like the Panthers, something I’m sure I’m not alone in. Gilbert is the most physical corner in this first round. He can also return kicks, though he doesn’t need to with Ted Ginn in the lineup.
1.31) Denver Broncos: Zach Martin, OT, ND
Martin isn’t the best player here. But Ryan Clady has been injured, and the RT hasn’t been that good this year. Martin gives Manning more time to do what he does best, make good decisions.
1.32) Seattle Seahawks: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU
For those of you that read Seahawksdraftblog, you know who this guy is (if you don’t, here’s a link). He’s inconsistent, he tends to drop passes sometimes. But you also know what he can do. In the environment at the VMAC I really think that this guy could be the best WR in this draft. The only thing holding him back is his own mind. He makes fantastic catches, he has the speed to get down field, he can run after the catch, oh, and did I mention that he’s 6’5" and 235 pounds? He’s the kind of WR that he haven’t had since Big Mike Williams. A true #1. But he’s risky. He could end up being a total bust. I don’t think he will though.
That’s my mock. If you disagree, feel free to destroy me in the comments, but I’d prefer if you just left suggestions. I also know that there’s tons of analysis to do with the upcoming playoffs, but I don’t have the patience (or GameRewind) to do that. I leave that to the best collection of football analysts that I’ve seen on the internet.