After researching and evaluating the talent in this years NFL draft, I have put together many resources for you to get ready for May. Check out my individual player evaluations for top prospects at each position as well as my top 50 big board. A link to picks 17-32 is at the bottom of the page. If you want to stay updated on new articles, mock drafts, breaking NFL news and insight, follow me on twitter @Gohlmeyer.
NFL Draft Prospects – Positional Evaluations:
See my big board of top 50 prospects here
1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Texans have a few different options, but I feel like they will go quarterback. It’s not every year a team has the first overall pick and I feel they go with a quarterback. I don’t see them targeting Manziel (though it is still possible) because Bill O’Brien won’t want to deal with his off the field issues. Bridgewater is the most NFL ready quarterback in this year’s draft class who can make every throw. Bortles is also a possibility though. Bortles is best categorized as a winner who has made some incredible comebacks and has a lot of upside. Clowney is obviously also an option if they don’t see any of the three quarterbacks being the face of the franchise.
2. St Louis Rams – Jadaveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
If Clowney is not picked up for Houston and St. Louis decides to hang on to this pick, it should be Clowney right here, not Greg Robinson or Sammy Watkins. Jeff Fisher won’t pass up an opportunity to get such a special player on the defensive line. He also historically does not like drafting offensive lineman in the first round. A coach who values front seven so much can’t have enough d-lineman. If this pick is traded, someone will be moving up for one of the two quarterbacks or Clowney. Possible suitors are Cleveland, Oakland, Atlanta, Minnesota or Tampa Bay.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
I’m not buying the rumors that Jacksonville will pass on a quarterback in the first round. They traded Gabbert to San Fransisco and Chad Henne is not the answer. If they like one the quarterbacks available at this point they will pull the trigger. Bortles is a proven winner at UCF. For a team that hasn’t won in years, someone that has the ability to win comeback games will be sought after in Jacksonville. Bortles may not be the most NFL ready quarterback, but the Jaguars aren’t really ready to compete immediately anyways. Manziel is an option here if they decide to go with the play maker.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I don’t care if Cleveland didn’t meet with Manziel at the Combine and I don’t believe they really think Derek Carr is better than Manziel. Cleveland is trying really hard to hide the fact that they want Manziel to fall to them at number four.
5. Oakland Raiders – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
SURPRISE! Sammy Watkins may not be the first receiver taken. I’m not saying Evans is the better receiver but Oakland already has speed on the outside. They need a big body target that can jump up and make the catch. The draft never turns out the way mock drafts think they will so I will go ahead and make a surprise selection here. Watkins could very well be the pick here if they think he is too talented and versatile to pass up. Oakland seems to not have the same views on top talent as other teams do (see 2009 when they picked Darrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree for one instance).
6. Atlanta Falcons – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
It was hard for me not to pick an offensive tackle here and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went with Greg Robinson. With Baker’s season ending injury last season they may very well pick Robinson. However, I went with Ebron here because of a couple different reasons. Atlanta made a huge splash moving up about 20 picks in the 2011 draft to select receiver Julio Jones. They also made a big push for Tony Gonzalez when he left Kansas City. This team wants their offensive fire power and with Gonzalez, I think they upgrade the tight end position to help fill his shoes as best as possible. Ebron is an unbelievable talent and a great receiver. He could prove to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL very soon.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Wide Receiver isn’t a huge need in Tampa Bay but Watkins is a steal at number seven. The Buccaneers have been active in free agency filling multiple needs so I think they go best player available. Bringing in Watkins could bring an extra dynamic to Tampa Bay’s offense. If Watkins is here I feel they will opt to give McCown (or whomever the quarterback may be) another weapon to play with. Greg Robinson is also an option here.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
You can never have enough cornerbacks, especially in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Brandon Marshal/Alshon Jeffery, and Calvin Johnson. Gilbert is one of the best players available, fills a need, and helps to win in a pass oriented division. Even with Captain Munnerlyn signed, the Vikings could use some more help.
9. Buffalo Bills – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
It’s hard to imagine no offensive tackle taken until the 9th pick. There are so many teams with a need at offensive tackle but if somehow Robinson falls to the Bills, I don’t see them letting him go. The Bills struggled at right tackle this past season and Robinson would immediately make it a position of strength. While Khalil Mack could be the pick I feel they will use this pick to help EJ Manuel, whether it be with another weapon to throw to, or protection. In this case, the two top receivers are gone, and the two top offensive tackles are available.
10. Detroit Lions – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Mack is another surprise fall in my mock draft. If Mack falls this far, I don’t see him getting past Detroit. While the Lions would love to get a cornerback here, I don’t think there is a corner worth picking at number 10 other than Gilbert. They wouldn’t be too upset to see Mack fall to them though.
11. Tennessee Titans – CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Mosley is the best inside linebacker in the draft and a position of need for the Titans. With Matthews falling, I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to pick him since offensive tackle Michael Roos is 31 years old and depth at tackle could definitely benefit them, but they took a guard last year in the first round so I’ll pick the top inside linebacker here. Anthony Barr is another option though I feel he is too raw of a prospect to reach for at this pick with Mosley still on the board.
12. New York Giants – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr is a very raw prospect but fits a need at linebacker for the Giants with the departure of Justin Tuck. Barr has the speed and potential to be great player. Unfortunately for the Giants there is not an interior lineman or wide receiver worth taking here unless they want to reach for someone like Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee, or Zach Martin. I think the Giants will decide to go with Barr’s upside here while still filling a position of need.
13. St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
It would be a miracle if Matthews falls to the Rams second pick, someone they may consider taking with their 2nd overall pick. If the Rams trade down from their second overall pick they could take an offensive tackle or receiver there depending on who is available. In a mock draft where I don’t predict trades, it is a possibility that Matthews falls to number 13. Taylor Lewan is a viable option here if Matthews is gone.
14. Chicago Bears - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Bears fill a position of need with Aaron Donald. You can never have enough defensive lineman and Aaron Donald is one of the top defensive tackles available. Odds are the Bears will use this pick to sure up their defense and Donald is one of the best players available. Many mock drafts have Timmy Jernigan going to Chicago here but I feel Aaron Donald is a significantly better prospect.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
I’m personally not a huge fan on Dennard. I think he can get exposed when not in press coverage. That being said, most people are higher on Dennard than I am, and he fits a need with the Steelers. Dennard’s physicality fits very well with what the Steelers look for in a defensive back. With Taylor Lewan still on the board though, they could decide to help out their offensive line.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Cowboys horrid defense last season tells me they will spend this pick to upgrade their defense. While they have so many routes they could go, Clinton-Dix fills a gaping hole on the Dallas Cowboys defense. With the recent failures of Alabama defensive backs, Dallas may opt to go with Pryor instead here.