The NFL draft is coming up fast as scouts and coaches look to find the best talent with there teams allotted picks, here's how I think the first round will turn out.
- Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida - The Houston Texans have finally given up on Matt Schaub and decide to take a stab at Blake Bortles out of UCF. Bortles at 6'5'' has a very good arm and has shown that he can make all the throws necessary to succeed in the NFL. Throw in the recent buzz around him and pressure from the fans and the Texans will take a small stretch and pick the QB with the most projected upside. If the Texans didn't already have J.J. Watt than Jadeveon Clowney would make sense, but Bortles fits the immediate need and helps upgrade a truly anemic offense
- St. Louis Rams: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina - With the second pick in the NFL draft the Rams are in a tough position, they are comfortable with Bradford at QB, already have a dominant defensive end, and have an elite left tackle. However if the past several Superbowls have shown us anything it's that you can never have too much pass rush. Work ethic aside,Clowney looks to be the real deal as a pass rusher and will have the luxury of being plugged in opposite Robert Quinn. This pick should provide the Rams with a formidable pass rush for years to come.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - The Jaguars have made seemingly no progress with Blaine Gabbert since drafting him and are attempting to rebuild again. Although Manziel will be an interesting possibility the Jaguars will choose to go with the safer option. This selection gives the Jaguars the opportunity to give Gabbert one more shot at running the team while developing Bridgewater, or to plug in Bridgewater day one and hope he develops into an adequate QB.
- Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - With Bridgewater off the board just before the Browns pick at number four Cleveland decides to go away from the quarterback position. Watkins provides a formidable weapon for the Browns to line up opposite Josh Gordon, and more importantly replace Greg Little. The Browns may not have had the most consistent quarterback play last season but I have a feeling they liked what they saw out of Brian Hoyer enough to not reach for a quarterback.
- Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo - On the simplest of terms Khalil Mack is a freak athlete, making him an extremely stereotypical pick for the Raiders, luckily for them this pick actually makes sense. Not only will Mack provide an upgrade at the OLB position, but he provides an instant boost as an edge rusher and adds scheme versatility while also providing the speed and athleticism that the Raiders organization loves.
- Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - With the weaknesses exposed on defense this past season one would expect the Falcons to have a heavy defensive focus in the Draft, but with Mack and Clowney off the board the Falcons will look to start their rebound season by protecting Matt Ryan. Already loaded with offensive skill players the Falcons will look to reform the offensive line that was one of the worst this past season. Greg Robinson just wins out here due to his tremendous athleticism, strength, and elite level of competition in the SEC.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers:Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M - The man they call "Johnny Fotball" has been shooting up draft boards as the draft nears, and eventually land with the Bucs. Mike Glennon was a nice surprise last season but his ceiling appears to be far too low. Manziel will bring a shot of energy into a team that is really trying to find its identity, plus Manziel's ability to sustain plays will work well with a Buccaneer receiving core that is possession based and can struggle to get open.
- Minnesota Vikings: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State - Last season the Vikings ranked bottom of the league in pass defense and really need a high quality player to tag team with Xavier Rhodes. Perhaps a stretch at pick eight, Gilbert fills the most prominent need that the Vikings have other that quarterback. Cornerbacks are a premium in the NFL and the Vikings are going to attempt to stock pile a few as the team moves forward unwilling to draft a new QB.
- Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina - Although probably another reach at number nine, Ebron is a perfect piece to put with a growing offense. With a new quarterback in EJ Manuel the Bills will look to put together solid weapons on offense around him. Adding an over the middle big play maker like Ebron the Bills will have a balanced and dynamic offense set to create mismatch problems.
- Detroit Lions: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama - With the top coverage corner off the board the Lions will be forced to look at their number two need. C.J. Moseley can provide a youthful pop to a linebacker core that can sometimes be lackluster behind Suh and company. Mosley may not be the most prominent player on the board for pick ten but the Lions are set along the offensive line and are too far up the board to reasonably pick a wide out with Watkins already drafted.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - The Tennessee Titans have had a tough couple of seasons and with Kamerion Wimbley only recording three sacks this season the Titans need pass rush. Barr can be the athletic edge presence that the titans desire. With premier size (6'5'' 255lb) to play on the edge Barr could bring some instant pass rush and play making ability to a team with very little.
12.New York Giants: Jake Mathews OT, Texas A&M - After a season that started horribly, was almost good in the middle, then ended almost as bad as it started the Giants need help at a hand full of positions, but like most struggling teams their main priority beginning a rebuild will be protecting their QB. Mathews is a prototypical left tackle prospect and very well may be the best athlete as his position. Mathews will help keep Eli upright and lead the way on the left side of the line.
13.St. Louis Rams Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - Yet another season with Sam Bradford at QB means the Rams will need loads of offensive talent around him. Evans has an NFL ready body, adequate speed, and premium height to be a number one wide out. Evans would be a perfect big possession wide receiver to make the tough catches in traffic that Tavon Austin doesn't.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh - With a slight logjam at interior line in the mid-first round its tough to predict who the Bears will be looking at with the 14th pick. Nevertheless I think the Bears decide to go with the top penetrating interior linemen on the board. Donald (285lb) won't be a space eater inside for the Bears, but his ability to collapse the pocket and get in the quarterbacks face will help the defense greatly on passing downs.
15.Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State- The Steelers enter the offseason needing upgrades at almost every position, but one of the positions that was least effective last season was cornerback. With Ike Taylor far past his prime Dennard can provide Pittsburgh with a legitimate raplacement for years to come. Dennard looks to be solid in all areas of coverage and physically while showing the potential to shutdown top talent on the outside.
16. Dallas Cowboys:Ra'Shede Hageman, DE/DT, Minnesota - With Damarcus Ware Being cut to clear cap space the re-build of the front 7 is officially under way.Dallas will decide to start their rebuild of the front seven from the inside with Ra'Shede Hageman. With dominant size at 6'6'' 320 Hageman is a terrific option to solidify the run defense and provide versatility along the defensive front.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee, WR, USC - Marqise Lee isn't the biggest or strongest wide out in the draft, but the Ravens are in desperate need of passing weapons. Lee is a solid route runner with above average speed and quickness. Lee reminds me a lot of Torey Smith with his style of play and as we have all seen, Joe Flacco has no problem throwing to the quick midsized receiver.
18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU - The New York Jets have been putting far too much pressure on their defense the past few season and are in desperate need of offensive weapons. Many scouts have raved about Brandin Cooks superb combine, but speed doesn't always mean quality in the NFL (just ask Stephen Hill) so the Jets decide to go with the slightly less athletic but safer option at receiver in Beckham. Although not a premier number one receiver option Beckham will immediately contribute and relieve some pressure off Geno Smith.
19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - Everyone has heard about the Incognito scandal last season, but after you sift through all the media coverage and players statements the important problem for the Dolphins is their extreme problems along the offensive. line. Lewan is the perfect player to build a good pass protection around, he has prototypical size at 6'7'' 310 and is an impressive athlete leading all tackles in the 40 yard dash, cone drill, broad jump, and vertical leap. With some solid coaching Lewan can be the tackle for the next 10+ years. He will keep Tannehill upright against edge rushers, but doesn't fix the interior O-line problems.
20. Arizona Cardinals : Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State - The Cardinals defense was impressive in the second half of last season so they don't have too many needs on that side of the football, but Arizona pick Jernigan because of his ability to create pressure off the snap and also his ability to line up all over the line. Jernigan shows potential both outmaneuvering, and overpowering guards which should translate to making an already good Cardinals defense that much better.
21. Green Bay Packers : Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame - The Packers inability to play defense has been highlighted heavily over the past several years. In order to fix this they will bring in Nix III who is an absolute block eater inside. Weighing in at 330+ and showing impressive athleticism at the combine Nix III will be an immediate help in the run game, and has also shown the ability to collapse the pocket right up the middle.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama - Clinton - Dix suffers a bit of a fall in the draft but it ends at 22 with the Eagles. Brandon Boykins looks to be reaching his potential on the outside, but the eagles pass defense still needs a rangy play maker to play over the middle. Clinton - Dix will bring a solid mix of playmaking ability,toughness, and coverage ability to a pass defense looking to step it up in 2014.
23.Kansas City Chiefs: Brandon Cooks, Wr, Oregon State - With top slot receiver/athlete extraordinaire Dexter Mccluster gone to Tennessee, the Chiefs will be looking to replace him with a similar player. Cooks is built like Mccluster and ran a blazing 4.33 second 40 time at the combine. Cooks will be the perfect replacement as an explosive option for Kansas City if he can learn the offense.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri - Another player I am projecting to fall, Ealy was a force at Missouri. The Bengls do not have the biggest need a defensive end, but they did lose Michael Johnson, and I think the Bengals simply decide to draft the best player on the board with the 24th pick. Ealy will provide good spark off the edge and heighten the competition level across the defensive line.
25. San Diego Chargers:Jason Verrett - The Chargers showed promise this past season and almost made a run in the playoffs, but against Peyton Manning an company San Diego could not stop the pass when needed. Verrett is undersized at 5'9'' but is an elite athlete with great speed. Verrett will help to solidify the pass defense and take pressure off of Weddle.
26.Cleveland Browns: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State - The Browns drafted an undersized pass rusher in Mingo last year, so whats to stop them from drafting an undersized linebacker this year. Shazier can be seen as a bit of a gamble weighing only 235lbs, but he has a tremendous nose for the ball and can provide nearly unparalleled athleticism at the linebacker position. If Dansby can handle the tough plays up the middle it could free Shazier to be a play maker for the Browns defense.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn - The Saints have had trouble getting after the quarterback with consistency since the days of Will Smith, Dee Ford out of Auburn has the tools to be a solid edge rusher for the Saints. Undersized at 255lb Ford might play a stand up role occasionally, but he certainly is at his best when rushing the quarterback. If he can fine tune his technique and moves on the edge he could develop into a disruptive defensive end/pass rushing linebacker.
28. Carolina Panthers: Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame - The Panthers have some inefficiencies on the defensive side of the football, but with Cam Newton attempting to take the final step into stardom he will need time in the pocket. Martin provides versatility to play virtually any spot on the line and will likely be plugged in as the day one starter for whichever veteran under performs in training camp.
29. New England Patriots: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA - The New England Patriots top priority is always to protect Tom Brady. In the 2013 season the interior offensive line simply was not getting it done, consistently allowing pressure right in Brady's face. Su'a-Filo is a big strong guard that can pave the way for Ridley and the running game, and also will not be overpowered by defensive tackles in the passing game.
30. San Fransisco 49ers: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville - Pryor the hard hitting playmaker out of Louisville reminds me a lot of one NFL player.... Donte Whitner, so with Whitner leaving for Cleveland it makes perfect sense to sign a similar menacing safety. Pryor doesn't quite have the field awareness yet that Whitner does, but he has flashed ability in coverage and his toughness fits perfectly with the 49ers defense.
31.Denver Broncos: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame - The Broncos organization was extremely happy with Terrence Knighton's performance this past season, but he needs help along side him. Stephon Tuitt has the size (310lbs) to play run stopping defensive end, or be a penetrating force as a defensive tackle. The versatility along the line will help the defensive front as a whole and Tuitt's extra beef will help the run defense to be better than it already was.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State - The last pick of the first round is particularly difficult because the Seahawks are loaded at every position. I think Seattle will eventually settle on Benjamin because of his big play possibility. The Seahawks have an open spot at receiver with Rice gon, and with Wilson's tendency to scramble and throw up the occasional wild pass, Benjamin fits in as the perfect big receiver to go up and win the 50-50 ball.
Do you agree with your teams pick? Am I spot on or crazy? Leave a comment below with your thoughts,