Spring is on the horizon, we are post-Combine, and draft season is officially in full swing. All that stands between us and the 2014 draft is a few weeks of pro days, lots more wild speculation, rumors, and smokescreens, and 66 grueling days of anticipation. In my last mock, I went pretty insane with the trades, and while I do think the Rams will trade at least once and probably multiple times, this mock is more about synthesizing new draft stocks post-Combine and refining the buzz and rumors surrounding each team. Things will inevitably change quite a bit more before May 8th, but in this mock I will try to project as best as I can the way things are currently looking to be shaping up.
1. Texans: Blake Bortles/QB (UCF)
While many people are still calling for Clowney in the #1 spot, all signs are pointing towards Houston taking a new franchise QB with the first overall pick. The big question right now is which of the top 3 they'll go for between Bortles, Johnathan Q. Football, and Teddy Birdgewater. I actually still have Bridgewater rated first then Bortles and Manziel on basically even footing depending on what type of QB you want. However, the latest buzz is that Bortles is in the lead. Look for the area hero Manziel to make a strong campaign to be taken that could very well succeed, but if the draft was to happen today, Bortles would probably be the guy, so that's who I'll go with. Houston, despite being as terrible as they were last year, still has a roster with quite a bit of talent capable of winning in the relatively short-term, so the safest QB option will likely appeal to them. The opinion of a lot of scouts is that Bortles is the top QB who fits that category best.
TRADE: Rams trade pick #2 to Atlanta for pick #6, pick #37, their 7th round pick, and their 2015 3rd round pick.
Looking back at my last mock, I think I had teams trading up paying too much. I used the draft value chart, but a lot of teams actually underpay a bit because they use different versions of the chart. Since pick 6 isn't that far down, I don't think Atlanta will have to pay just an absolute fortune for the pick. An extra 2nd rounder this year and next year's 3rd rounder plus a 7th rounder for good measure should suffice. Besides, that's still a pretty decent haul to move down 4 spots. There are a few contenders for this trade up: the Vikings and Raiders could be strong candidates looking for whatever QB doesn't get taken first, but I think ultimately a team looking for Clowney will be the most willing to pull the trigger. A few teams could make that move, but right now I think Atlanta is the most likely suitor. Like Houston, Atlanta has a considerable amount of talent on their team for being as crappy as they were last season. One of their biggest needs is somebody to put pressure on the QB, especially in a division with Drew Brees and Cam Newton. Clowney is a rare physical force capable of wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. Not only can he put up monster sack numbers, but he is strong against the run, which will keep Doug Martin from running all over them. Some worry about Clowney's work ethic, but word is that his combine interviews were satisfactory. It's not something I worry about too much once he gets to the NFL level.
3. Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater/QB (Louisville)
If somebody jumps up to #2 to take a QB instead of Clowney, I think the Jaguars may entertain trades for this pick. However, if Clowney goes instead, as is the case here, I think the Jaguars will hold on to the pick and take their new franchise quarterback. The recent buzz has been that they're a little higher on Bridgewater than Manziel because he fits their offense better. Blaine Gabbert has been a monstrous failure in the NFL and Chad Henne is no long-term solution either. Bridgewater has a big arm, which is a trait the Jags supposedly value highly. He has some elements of his game that need refined, but that Jags should be happy to wait since they're a few years removed from being capable of contending anyway. In my current opinion, Bridgewater has the highest ceiling of any QB prospect this year, and could help return the Jaguars franchise to winning.
4. Browns: Johnny Manziel/QB (Texas A&M)
It's hard to know what the Browns want anymore. They remind of this girl who used to live with my girlfriend. Every week she would break up with her boyfriend, then the next week they'd get back together, then they'd get engaged, then break up again, and so on and so forth. You just never know what the plan is with this organization, or if there even is one. A couple months ago, I know they were smitten with Johnny Manziel, so much so it contributed to Rob Chudzinski's firing, which led me to believe they'd trade up two spots to ensure they could take him. Then, they canned Michael Lombardi, so who knows. I read a rumor saying the Browns would rather go a different way here and take Derek Carr at 26, but I also read they probably won't take Sammy Watkins, so unless they want Khalil Mack or a tackle, I'm not sure there's a better option. They already have a bounty of picks this year, so trading down wouldn't be hugely appealing. Besides, Cleveland needs to make sure fans still feel like going to the games, and Manziel, whose game is starkly similar to that of Fran Tarkenton in my evaluation, would bring intrigue and excitement to the franchise. Cleveland has a decent developing crop of receivers, which would help Manziel develop more smoothly.
5. Raiders: Sammy Watkins/WR (Clemson)
A brief trip to any comment section on this site the past few weeks shows that a lot of Rams fans are growing dangerously attached to Sammy Watkins, but trust me, the universe isn't going to implode if he winds up with somebody else. In other words, don't name the pet if you don't know if you're actually going to get to keep it. Ideally, the Raiders might like one of those 3 QBs to drop to 5, but if they don't, I don't expect them to reach all the way for Derek Carr. They'll probably pick their favorite of Watkins, Khalil Mack, Jake Matthews, and Greg Robinson. Here, I have them being too tempted by the dynamic playmaker Watkins to pass him up. Watkins had a fantastic bounceback year in 2013 after a disappointing sophomore campaign at Clemson. He can provide a spark of offense in a number of ways, and with the Raiders still searching for their offensive identity, Watkins could be a valuable asset.
6. Rams (from Falcons): Jake Matthews/OT (Texas A&M)
This is why trading down from pick 2 is a smart idea. This draft has so much talent that inevitably no matter how far down you move back somebody will be there that you won't expect. In this case, Matthews slips to 6, and the Rams benefit. Greg Robinson has been sneaking his way near the top, but I still have Matthews rated more highly. The son of legendary Oilers tackle Bruce Matthews and the cousin of Clay and Casey Matthews, Jake displayed his pedigree during a long, productive career at A&M. The Rams might be in the market for an immediate new starting right tackle, specifically one who could eventually take over for Jake Long on the left side. It just so happens that Matthews is capable of playing both, having followed s similar career arc for the Aggies in regards to playing opposite Luke Joeckel. The Rams need to continue to build a solid foundation along their offensive line if they want Sam Bradford to succeed, and drafting Matthews would be a good way to continue that plan.
7. Buccaneers: Khalil Mack/OLB (Buffalo)
I think the Buccaneers might give Mike Glennon another year to prove himself and possibly look into one of the top QB prospects next year. If this is the case, pass rusher might be the position they look to upgrade with pick #7. It just so happens that Khalil Mack might be the BPA in this scenario. On my board, Mack has surpassed Anthony Barr as the second best pass rusher. He tore his conference up at Buffalo and played up to greater competition, as evidenced by his stellar outing against Ohio State. Mack isn't a great fit for Tampa's defense, but his talent alone makes it worth a shot to find a fit. The Bucs play in a division with Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan, so putting pressure on those three is obviously essential.
8. Vikings: Anthony Barr/OLB (UCLA)
The Vikings are a bit of a mystery right now because they seem like a team who could do a number of different things and possibly move either way. If they do happen to stay put, like the Bucs, I see them aiming to upgrade their pass rush with Jared Allen poised to leave town. Anthony Barr started as a running back at UCLA, but carved out a niche later in his career as a super-athletic pass rusher for the Bruins. Like Mack, he isn't just a a perfect fit for what the Vikings run on defense and his skill set is still a bit raw, but his immense ceiling should and probably will tempt some team to take a shot on him in the top 10.
9. Bills: Greg Robinson/OT (Auburn)
There isn't just an excellent fit for the Bills here, and with no obvious trade partner, they'll probably just go BPA. In this case, that player is Robinson, who could go as high as second overall. He could be plugged in as an immediate fixture for the Bills' line, replacing Erik Pears on the right side or starting on the blind side with Cordy Glenn flipping to the right. To develop, the Bills need to protect E.J. Manuel. Robinson would be a steal at 9 and his addition could help ensure a safe, consistent pocket for the Bills' young quarterback.
10. Lions: Justin Gilbert/CB (Oklahoma St.)
This pick seems pretty obvious unless something unexpected happens within the top 10. The Lions have a big need at corner and Gilbert fits the value perfectly at #10. Before the Combine, Gilbert was locked in a battle with Darqueze Dennard for the top corner spot, but Gilbert shined last weekend and firmly cemented his place as the top guy at the position this year. Aside from looking good in workouts, Gilbert put together some spectacular game tape while at OSU, showing the speed to run with the fastest receivers and the the hops to not get beat on jump balls, plus fluid, natural hips and quick feet. The addition of Gilbert would make life for Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers instantly more difficult.
11. Titans: Taylor Lewan/OT (Michigan)
With Michael Roos nearing the end of his contract and David Stewart not expected back (via Jim Wyatt), The Titans could stand to look into a long-term solution at tackle. It just so happens that Lewan is probably the best player available here. Lewan had an outstanding career as a Wolverine, holding his own against plenty of NFL-caliber players. In the 2013 Outback Bowl, Lewan did very well against Jadeveon Clowney, with the one infamous hit coming on a play where Clowney was another lineman's assignment. He probably would have been the #1 pick had he entered last year. This year, Greg Robinson has overtaken him for the #2 tackle spot, but Lewan, after a strong Combine performance, has shown he still deserves to go in the top half of the first round.
12. 49ers (from Giants): Mike Evans/WR (Texas A&M)
I saw ESPN's Bill Williamson propose this trade awhile back and I've grown to like it since. Jerry Reese has said the Giants will entertain the idea of trading down, which is sensible because there aren't really any needs to address here they couldn't at the end of the first and they could stand to gain extra picks to help rebuild the defense. The Niners are an obvious trade-up candidate since they have a ton of early picks and not a huge amount of needs. They could swap first rounders with the Giants, give up a second rounder and a fourth rounder, and be left with that first round pick, a second rounder, and two third rounders. They'd also gain a bonus 7th rounder, which would give them about 5 in that round alone. As for the player side of this, even though Anquan Boldin seems like a certainty to be re-signed, Mario Manningham will be hitting the market and the Niners could stand to build their receiving corps further. Mike Evans seems to fit their mold of strong, physical targets with surprising athleticism. At the very least, he would become a dangerous red zone weapon.
13. Rams: HaHa Clinton-Dix/S (Alabama)
I know this pick has been made in mock drafts a million times, but I'll keep using it until it stops making sense. The Rams' secondary continued to be the weakness of an otherwise strong defense last year, particularly at safety. One spot seems covered with a healthy T.J. McDonald going forward, but while Rodney McCleod is a fine special teamer, they could stand to do a lot better at starter. Some have called for Calvin Pryor in this spot, but Clinton-Dix would be the guy here for a couple reasons. For one thing, Pryor's draft stock sits firmly in the late first right now, with his early-first buzz having died down quite a bit after he measured in way smaller than expected at the Combine. The more obvious reason is that Pryor is a tough, in-the-box thumper type, which is the type of safety the Rams already have in McDonald. The Rams will be more in the market for a rangy, center field type who i better at covering large areas in the middle of the field, which is what Clinton-Dix would give them. Clinton-Dix isn't quite as good as an Eric Berry or Earl Thomas, but could definitely live up to his first-round billing if taken at 13, especially after some Chuck Cecil coaching helps him refine his game.
14. Bears: Louis Nix III/DT (Notre Dame)
The Bears have a big need in the interior of their defensive line, especially with Henry Melton probably moving on. I've heard they like Aaron Donald, but if Nix is here, I have him rated higher. Nix was an absolute terror with the Fighting Irish. His size and strength are his obvious strong suits, but for being as big as he is, he shows surprising agility and technique. Players of his size are always assets in stopping the run game, but he has shown the ability to get to the quarterback as well. His 2013/2014 season ended with a knee injury, but he went to Dr. James Andrews and starting working towards the draft immediately, so he should be fine. Nix could be a big-time anchor for the Bears line in the future, and I think his style of play and personality would fit in well in Chicago.
15. Steelers: Aaron Donald/DE (Pitt)
I think Pittsburgh would really like to take Mike Evans in the first, but with him going at 12 in this mock, they're probably going to look at a different position. Cameron Heyward came around this year, but I don't think Ziggy Hood will ever live up to his first-round status. In my last mock I had Ra'Shede Hageman going here, but Donald has absolutely owned the pre-draft process. He's undersized, but everything else he brings to the table shows that it doesn't slow him down. Donald would provide a spark to the Steelers' front 7 and would be a popular pick having played his college ball at Pitt. This move would make a lot of sense to me.
16. Cowboys: Kony Ealy/DE (Missouri)
The Cowboys will probably take the top defensive lineman available in the first, and here that player is Mizzou's Ealy. Anthony Spencer won't be back and DeMarcus Ware has struggled in the 4-3. Ealy, however, is the perfect fit for a 4-3 end. He has the size and strength to battle the run, but shows good pass rushing technique to get around tackles. He was consistently good all year for the Tigers against SEC competition, finishing strong with a big outing against Oklahoma State. He seems like a pretty safe pick at end, and the Cowboys should be happy to have him available at 16.
17. Ravens: Marquise Lee/WR (USC)
There were a number of reasons the Ravens offense had problems last year, one of which was that Joe Flacco didn't have a ton of competent targets to throw to. Dennis Pitta was re-signed and will return healthy, which will fix part of the problem, but the receiving corps struggled without Anquan Boldin. Marqise Lee is one of the most complete receivers in the draft. He brings track speed, good route-running, and solid hands to the table. He struggled early in the year while USC's program went through turmoil, but later in the year returned to form and became a big-time weapon for the Trojans.
18. Jets: Eric Ebron/TE (UNC)
This would be an outstanding pick for the Jets. Bottom line, if they want Geno Smith to be successful, they need better receiving options, especially with the impending release of Santonio Holmes. The top 3 receivers are all off the board, but the Jets might have an even bigger score here with Ebron. Many scouts see Ebron as the best tight end prospect since Vernon Davis. He has elite receiving skills and will be a matchup nightmare for linebackers and strong safeties all over the NFL. He could go even higher than this, there just hasn't been a great fit. As bad as the Jets receiving corps has been, the tight end position similarly struggled without Dustin Keller. This pick would surely make Geno Smith very happy.
19. Broncos (from Dolphins): C.J. Mosley/LB (Alabama)
This would be the type of trade that comes as the draft develops. Mosley is considered by many to be a top 15 talent, so him slipping down to around 20 could entice a team to move up from the bottom of the first for him. The Dolphins might look for a team to trade down with since most of the logical picks here for them have been taken. The Broncos could be a reasonable candidate. They don't have a ton of needs and appear to be poised to solve some of them via free agency. They also seem committed to improve the middle of their defense. Mosley has the versatility to play any 4-3 linebacker spot, so the Broncos could continue to shuffle around their linebackers until they get the right combination.
20. Cardinals: Calvin Pryor/S (Louisville)
The Cardinals could go a number of ways here. I was tempted to give them Zack Martin, but I've read recently that they probably won't go tackle in the first. They could also take a 3-4 end like Ra'Shede Hageman or a starting tight end like Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Ultimately I have them going with the tough safety Pryor. The Cardinals need to replace the free agent Yeremiah Bell, and could use a physical safety to help keep the mobile quarterbacks in the division in line. I'm normally the nonviolent type, but the thought of Colin Kaepernick taking off downfield only to have his clock cleaned by Pryor makes me thirsty.
21. Packers: Ra'Shede Hageman/DE (Minnesota)
The Packers may lose both B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett in free agency, but that might be ok since there are rumblings that they want to get smaller and more athletic on the defensive line anyway. A player like Hageman seems to fit what they want. Hageman is a versatile force coming from the rejuvenated Golden Gophers program. Not only does he play tough and make frightening physical plays like the one shown above, but his solid athleticism gives him the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the line. To me, his best fit seems to be as a 3-4 end. There are some questions as to why he dominated some games then vanished in others, but I've heard no complaints coming out of his Combine interviews and the Packers coaching staff would be able to get the most out of him. It's also noteworthy that playing at college in Minnesota, Hageman would be used to playing in the extreme cold of Green Bay.
22. Eagles: Darqueze Dennard/CB (Michigan St.)
The new Eagles regime got off to a good start, but they need to improve their secondary. With Clinton-Dix and Pryor off the board, Dennard easily provides the best value at 22. Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams are decent, but Philly could stand a true, lockdown, #1 corner, which Dennard can provide. Dennard alleviated concerns about his speed with a solid time at the Combine. His coverage skills seem top-notch, and I can't find any fault with his hips or feet. Dennard seems like a safe pick for a first-round corner and would be a huge benefit to an Eagles team looking to play better defensively.
23. Chiefs: Odell Beckham, Jr./WR (LSU)
In my last version, this pick was Kelvin Benjamin, but after a great Combine performance, Beckham has vaulted Benjamin on most boards. Beckham was a productive part of the LSU receiver tandem alongside Jarvis Landry. At 6'0", 187, he has average size for a receiver, but shows the ability to stretch the field and make explosive plays. He's the type of receiver who can provide a big spark to an offense at any point of the game. The Chiefs don't have a whole lot at receiver outside of Dwayne Bowe, and this other LSU receiver would form a good receiving pair with him.
24. Bengals: Zack Martin/OT (Notre Dame)
I went back and forth a few times on this pick. Ultimately, I settled on Martin because I think he best fits the Bengals' line situation. Last season, injuries hurt the Bengals line resulting in Andrew Whitworth moving from LT to guard, where he played admirably. Thus, the Bengals could approach making additions to their line in a few ways. The benefit Martin serves is that he can play multiple spots. While his best spot is arguably RT, he can play either guard spot and some scouts think he can play LT as well. I'm somewhat skeptical about this, but if they try him there and he fails, they can move Martin to guard and Whitworth back out to LT for the time being. Either way, the Bengals line can stand to improve, since Andy Dalton needs all the help he can get.
25. Chargers: Trent Murphy/OLB (Stanford)
If there was a corner here who made sense, that's who I'd go with, but it's probably just a few picks too early for Kyle Fuller. Murphy, though, fits another need. The effort to replace the presence of Shaun Phillips has seen the Chargers go through several picks and free agent signings without getting much to stick. They could take another shot with the Stanford product Murphy. Murphy has had a good pre-draft process, cementing his place as a late first-round pick. He fits the 3-4 OLB spot perfectly, utilizing a good balance of strength and speed and possessing the ability to stuff the run and drop into coverage. He won't blow many people away with his tape, but without question has a natural skill set that could translate very well to the NFL.
26. Browns (from Colts): Kelvin Benjamin/WR (Florida St.)
Derek Carr is who the Browns supposedly want with this pick, but if they take a QB at 4 like they do in this mock, that obviously won't be a viable option. Instead, here they snag a weapon to help Johnny Cleveland succeed. Benjamin would improve a receiving corps for the Browns that is already a strong suit with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Having a lot of good targets will be helpful for any rookie QB. For Manziel in particular, a receiver like Benjamin could be a big benefit. As we saw in college, he loves to throw to to tall receivers like Mike Evans who can jump for the ball and win one-on-ones. Since Manziel's style is to scramble until he gets a good matchup and make creative, under-duress throws, a receiver who can simply out-muscle defenders is important. Mike Evans is gone by this point, but at 6'4", 235, Benjamin could be the next best thing.
27. Saints: Kyle Fuller/CB (Virginia Tech)
This may be a marginal reach, but it's not outrageous and makes the most sense for the Saints here. Jabari Greer is aging, due over $4 million next year, and is coming off a bad injury, so some insurance for now and a potential long-term solution for later would be smart. Fuller is a really underrated prospect in my opinion. All year, Fuller went up against teams' top receivers and was consistently great. His season started by absolutely shutting down Amari Cooper in a loss to Alabama. Fuller shows the ability to stick like glue to both speedsters and tall, possession types. The NFC South has a lot of different types of receivers, so Fuller could be a big-time asset to the Saints.
28. Panthers: Brandin Cooks/WR (Oregon St.)
It remains to be seen if Steve Smith will be back with Carolina or not, but even if he is a Panther next year, they could stand to get better at receiver. Cooks could provide an immediate spark on offense and be a suitable future replacement for the 35 year old Smith. I had Cooks rated as a late 2nd round prospect before, but after a shining performance at the Combine, many scouts view him as a late 1st-early 2nd rounder. Cooks ran the fastest time of any receiver and looked strikingly quick in the field drills. The Panthers defense is crazy good, but a boost on offense would help put the team over the hump, and Cooks could quite possibly give them just that.
29. Patriots: Austin Seferian-Jenkins/TE (Washington)
The Patriots love using tight ends in their offense. Rob Gronkowski is great when he's healthy, but that's not terribly often anymore. Aaron Hernandez, meanwhile, is too occupied trying to brew toilet wine in his cell to be an effective offensive weapon. This crop of tight ends is one of the best I've ever seen, so this seems to be a good year to rebuild at the position. With Eric Ebron off the board, the Pats will choose between Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro, and Troy Niklas. A disappointing Combine outing has dropped Amaro behind Seferian-Jenkins on my board while Niklas, while good, is just behind the other two. Seferian-Jenkins seems to be more in the mold of the type of tight end the Pats like more anyway. He's big and athletic with good hands to boot so his receiving ability there should be no question about, but he's also shown the ability to block well, which the Pats value. He'd be a nice, shiny new weapon for an offense that is always on the lookout for new ways to score.
30. Giants (from 49ers): Scott Crichton/DE (Oregon St.)
This is one of the picks the Giants get in my proposed trade with the 49ers, and it would make the deal look good immediately. Justin Tuck had an up-and-down year and is aging, so Crichton could be an immediate replacement if he signs as a free agent elsewhere. Even if Tuck re-signs, Crichton would be good as a rotational player since the Giants like to move their defensive front around, as well as insurance if Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul continue to be inconsistent. Crichton, described at one point as a "poor man's Chris Long," reminds me some of Justin Tuck as well in that he's a versatile 4-3 end who uses a good combination of strength and technique to get to the quarterback. I think he'd be a wonderful fit for the Giants' defensive scheme going forward.
31. Dolphins (from Broncos): Timmy Jernigan/DT (Florida St.)
So in this mock the Dolphins trade back 12 spots and still cover a need with a fantastic value pick. This would be a big win. Jernigan could go as high as #14 to the Bears, so landing him at 31 is a tremendous steal. Jernigan is still a bit raw, but has tons of potential. He collected 4.5 sacks and 11 TFL this past year, and his performance while sick in the National Championship Game against Auburn shows he can stuff the run efficiently as well. The impression I've gotten is that Miami may be content to let Paul Soliai walk and look for a replacement elsewhere. With a good first-round crop of defensive tackles, this may be a smart strategy, and if this scenario played out, it will make the Dolphins FO look pretty smart.
32. Seahawks: Jace Amaro/TE (Texas Tech)
I'm not entirely sure what Seattle will do with this pick. There have been some rumblings that they could take advantage of this great tight end class to upgrade the position. It isn't a glaring need, but without many big needs, taking a player like Amaro could help Russell Wilson get even better. Amaro let me down a bit at the combine, but his stats and tape speak for themselves. Amaro had 106 catches last year, including huge games against Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia, and the whale of them all, an outing against Oklahoma State where he caught a whopping 15 passes for 174 yards. His 40 time was not what it was expected to be at the Combine, but on tape he plays blazingly fast and routinely beats linebackers and safeties. He's the type of player a team like Seattle could take just because he's so good it's worth taking him to find a way to work him into their offense.
33. Texans: Antonio Richardson/OT (Tennessee)
When teams take a QB in the first, the next pick or two is often devoted to a player who could help them develop. Richardson could step in immediately at right tackle for Houston.
34. Redskins: Stephon Tuitt/DE (Notre Dame)
Tuitt could go much higher so this is a good value pick. The end spot was a liability for the 'Skins last year, so Tuitt would be an instant upgrade.
35. Browns: Carlos Hyde/RB (Ohio St.)
Hyde is ranked as the top running back on most boards right now. In this mock, he stays in state and improves a Browns running game that was almost non-existent last year. Adding Manziel, Benjamin, and now Hyde would definitely add a spark of excitement to the Browns offense.
36. Raiders: Derek Carr/QB (Fresno St.)
Quarterbacks seem to fall out of the first frequently just because the need this early isn't terribly common. The same happens to Carr here, which benefits the Raiders. They miss out on the chance to get one of the top 3 guys, but would be more than happy to get a playmaking receiver and still land their guy in the second.
37. Rams (from Falcons): Gabe Jackson/G (Mississippi St.)
There's a lot of uncertainty on the interior of the Rams line, with one spot being a need already and the two other spots possibly being opened due to cap concerns. The Rams could help fix this problem with their first bonus pick acquired from the Clowney trade by taking my top guard Gabe Jackson, a highly talented mauler who could open up mammoth running lanes for Zac Stacy and keep defensive tackles off of Bradford.
38. Buccaneers: Xavier Su'a-Filo/G (UCLA)
The Jackson pick could set off a run of guards. Su'a-Filo is a highly skilled guard with excellent technique. Carl Nicks could easily be cut because of his high salary coupled with injury problems.
39. Jaguars: Ka'Deem Carey/RB (Arizona)
If Maurice Jones-Drew walks, the Jags won't have much of a running game to speak of, as evidence by the games where he was hurt. Carey could take over right away as the #1 back to take some of the pressure off of Bridgewater. Besides, it seems like the Jags want their offense to be based on an established running game first.
40. Vikings: Zach Mettenberger/QB (LSU)
The Vikings QB situation is a mess. I'm actually not as high on Mettenberger as some, especially coming off a torn ACL, but the Vikings may feel compelled to take him here if they can't get a QB in the first. If he fails, the Vikings might be in position to take Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, or Bryce Petty next year, so it's not the worst gamble.
41. Bills: Troy Niklas/TE (Notre Dame)
Buffalo has to continue to build around E.J. Manuel if they want him to succeed. They haven't been able to generate much consistent tight end play, and Niklas would add both a new receiving threat but solid blocking to boost the run game.
42. Titans: Tre Mason/RB (Auburn)
Chris Johnson may be gone this offseason, and I don't think the Titans would feel good heading into next year with Shonne Greene and Jackie Battle as the guys. The Titans seem to like Mason, and he would help recapture some of the home run punch ability the Titans had with CJ2K before.
43. Giants: Ryan Shazier/OLB (Ohio St.)
Shazier could go in the first so this would be an amazing value pick. Shazier is one of the more athletic pure 4-3 outside linebacker prospects I've seen recently. He is excellent in coverage and looks perfectly capable of defending the run well. He'd be a big upgrade for a linebacking corps that had tons of problems last year.
44. Rams: Jason Verrett/CB (TCU)
Another good value pick on a guy who could sneak into the first. Verrett is a very skilled cover man who is somewhat limited by his short stature. At the NFL level, I think his best fit is as a slot corner. Corner will be an issue of concern for the Rams this offseason, especially if Cortland Finnegan is cut. I think Verrett would work really well in tandem with the skill sets of Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.
45. Lions: Jordan Matthews/WR (Vanderbilt)
The Lions will be tempted to take Mike Evans in the first, so landing another big possession receiver in the second would be a big win. Matthews has some of the best hands and route-running skills in the draft. His dependability would be a major asset for an offense that looked like a shell of its former self when Calvin Johnson went down last year.
46. Steelers: Davante Adams/WR (Fresno St.)
The Steelers have expressed intent to take a "big receiver" in the first, which probably means Mike Evans. In this mock, Evans was off the board. Adams isn't as big, but has decent size and an excellent skill set. Even if Emmanuel Sanders returns, Adams could provide another useful target for Big Ben.
47. Cowboys: Kyle Van Noy/OLB (BYU)
I really like Van Noy, so I think this is a steal for Dallas. He is athletic enough to be a defensive playmaker while also covering his basic responsibilities in coverage and against the run efficiently. He even brings some pass rushing ability to the table. Van Noy would be a huge upgrade over Ernie Sims and DeVonte Holloman.
48. Ravens: Cyrus Kouandjio/OT (Alabama)
I think the Ravens will end up re-signing Eugene Monroe, but they will probably look to replace Michael Oher. Kouandjio has damaged his draft stock pretty significantly over the last couple months, but still has the upside to make some team want him in the mid to late 2nd round range.
49. Jets: David Yankey/G/OT (Stanford)
Willie Colon is a free agent, but even if he's brought back, the Jets could use an upgrade over Brian Winters. Yankey is one of most versatile and naturally skilled guards in the draft. He could even potentially interest the Jets as an option at right tackle if Austin Howard can't be brought back.
50. Dolphins: Morgan Moses/OT (Virginia)
Miami's infamous and odious locker room problems last year were so bad, it's hard to say how many new linemen they'll be looking at. It seems inevitable that Jonathan Martin will be somewhere else, so tackle will be a position Miami will look into. Moses is an under-the-radar prospect who will likely be taken somewhere in the second round. He offers some flexibility since his skills seem to fit well on either side of the line, but if Miami wouldn't feel to bad starting him at LT immediately.
51. Bears: Dion Bailey/S (USC)
Safety has to be a big concern of the Bears this offseason. I'm from Illinois and go to college with a lot of Bears fans, and let me tell you, I've rarely seen a fan base despise one of its own players like Bears fans an Chris Conte. Sadly, I can totally see where they're coming from. He blows. Bailey will be the physical, playmaking presence they wished Conte was going to become.
52. Cardinals: Dee Ford/OLB (Auburn)
In a division where some of the biggest competition is led by mobile QBs, defenses need to have versatile defenders who can disrupt offenses in a number of different ways. Ford has good speed for his position which could help keep the likes of Kaepernick and Wilson in the pocket, and good block-shedding ability when they put somebody on him to keep that from happening. Ford has been a rising prospect, so this would be a good value.
53. Packers: Christian Jones/ILB (Florida St.)
Green Bay doesn't have much behind A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. Jones in the short-term would be a good depth and rotational player. Eventually, he could develop into a replacement for Hawk on the inside.
54. Eagles: Deone Bucannon/S (Washington St.)
Philly could also stand to make an upgrade at safety over Patrick Chung. If they don't sign T.J. Ward or Jairus Byrd, they will likely look to the draft for an answer. The rangy Bucannon has been rising up draft boards and fits the range here at pick 54.
55. Bengals: Marcus Roberson/CB (Florida)
The Bengals need to look for some youth at corner. Leon Hall has been hurt so much he may never come back to full strength, while Pacman Jones and Terrance Newman are on the downslope of their careers. Roberson and his teammate Loucheiz Purifoy have both done some damage to their draft stocks but Roberson's productivity and game tape will appeal to a team in this range that doesn't necessarily need an immediate #1 corner.
56. Giants: (from Chiefs via 49ers): Lache Seastrunk/RB (Baylor)
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the Giants' running back position. They need some consistently above all else, and with the extra picks acquired from their trade down, they could afford to gain some consistently with Seastrunk. Seastrunk is a fast, tough back who has the potential to bust almost any run if he gets out into space.
57. Chargers: Bradley Roby/CB (Ohio St.)
The Chargers have hinted that they want to upgrade the corner position. Roby had a bum year this year, but has some good game film from the year before and has performed well in the pre-draft process. The Chargers could take a flyer on him hoping he could cash in on his high ceiling and turn into a future #1 guy.
58. Saints: Cameron Fleming/OT (Stanford)
If Zach Strief isn't brought back, the Saints will be looking for a new right tackle. Fleming has generated some buzz around the scouting community as a tackle who could go in the second round. He is a developed talent who could step in right away at right tackle.
59. Colts: Cyril Richardson/G (Baylor)
Mike McGlynn was a weak spot on the Colts line at right guard last season. Richardson would be an immediate upgrade who could also backup the right tackle spot if need be.
60. Panthers: Joel Bitonio/OT (Nevada)
Even before Jordan Gross's retirement, the Panthers could have stood to draft a tackle as an upgrade over Byron Bell. Bitonio has been a rising prospect who could very easily go in the mid to late 2nd. If he doesn't translate well to the NFL at tackle, the Panthers could just bump him inside to guard.
61. 49ers: Loucheiz Purifoy/CB (Florida)
The Niners should use one of their many early picks on a new corner to replace Carlos Rogers. Purifoy has been disappointing in the pre-draft process, but has definite first-round potential and can be a big playmaker at times. If the Niners can give him some quality coaching, he could be a major high-upside defensive back.
62. Patriots: Travis Swanson/C (Arkansas)
The Pats should look for an upgrade over Ryan Wendell, who was torn apart all year by opposing defensive tackles. Swanson is considered by me and many others to be the top center in this year's draft. A new center would get some of the pressure off of Tom Brady, whose strong suit isn't pocket mobility.
63. Broncos: Lamarcus Joyner/CB/S (Florida St.)
Coverage issues have been part of the reason the Broncos haven't been able to win the title the last couple years. They can get away with it a lot of the time in the regular season because their offense is so good, but the flaw gets magnified in the playoffs. Joyner would be a good way to improve the issue. He is being evaluated as a corner where he played and played well last year, but if all fails he's proven to be a competent safety prospect too.
64. Seahawks: Donte Moncrief/WR (Ole Miss)
I expect Seattle to re-sign one of Doug Baldwin or Golden Tate, but probably not both. An addition via the draft would be a smart way to give Russell Wilson more to work with. Moncrief is a tall, athletic receiver who can both stretch the field an win one-on-one matchups. His great combine pushed him into consideration to be taken in the second round.
65. Texans: Shayne Skov/ILB (Stanford)
66. Redskins: Keith McGill/C B(Utah)
67. Raiders: Dominique Easley/DE (Florida)
68. Falcons: Ego Furguson/DT (LSU)
69. Jets (from Buccaneers): Allen Robinson/WR (Penn St.)
70. Jaguars: Kareem Martin/DE (UNC)
71. Browns: Craig Loston/S (LSU)
72. Vikings: Ed Reynolds/S (Stanford)
73. Bills: Jarvis Landry/WR (LSU)
74. Giants: Xavier Grimble/TE (USC)
75. Rams: Anthony Johnson/DT (LSU)
76. Lions: Ahmad Dixon/S (Baylor)
77. 49ers (from Titans): Weston Richburg/C (Colorado St.)
78. Cowboys: Brandon Thomas/G/OT (Clemson)
79. Ravens: Marcus Martin/C (USC)
80. Jets: Bishop Sankey/RB (Washington)
81. Dolphins: Jeremy Hill/RB (LSU)
82. Bears: E.J. Gaines/CB (Missouri)
83. Browns (from Steelers): Chris Borland/ILB (Wisconsin)
84. Cardinals: Jimmy Garoppolo/QB (Eastern Illinois)
85. Packers: Tre Boston/S/CB (UNC)
86. Eagles: Will Sutton/DL (Arizona St.)
87. Chiefs: Jimmie Ward/S (Northern Illinois)
88. Bengals: A.J. McCarron/QB (Alabama)
89. Chargers: Davonte Freeman/RB (Florida St.)
90. Colts: Jaylen Watkins/CB (Florida)
91. Saints: Yamin Smallwood/ILB (UConn)
92. Panthers: Stanley Jean-Baptiste/CB (Nebraska)
93. Patriots: DaQuan Jones/NT (Penn St.)
94. 49ers: Jackson Jeffcoat/OLB (Texas)
95. Dolphins (from Broncos): Terrance Brooks/S (Florida St.)
96. Vikings (from Seahawks): Walt Aikens/CB (Liberty)
97. Texans: Marcus Smith/OLB (Louisville)
98. Redskins: Lamin Barrow/ILB (LSU)
99. Falcons: Richard Rodgers/TE (Cal)
100. Buccaneers: Aaron Colvin/CB (Oklahoma)
101. Jaguars: Telvin Smith/OLB (Florida St.)
102. Browns: Tyler Larsen/C (Utah St.0
103. Raiders: Charles Sims/RB (West Virginia)
104. Vikings: Carl Bradford/OLB (Arizona St.)
105. Bills: Dakota Dozier/G (Furman)
106. Rams: Max Bullough/LB (Michigan St)
107. Lions: Tajh Boyd/QB (Clemson)
108. Titans: Jeremiah Attaochu/OLB (Georgia Tech)
109. Giants: Jack Mewhort/OT (Ohio St.)
110. Jaguars (from Ravens): Pierre Desir/CB (Lindenwood)
111. Jets: Trevor Reilly/OLB (Utah)
112. Dolphins: C.J. Fiedorowicz/TE (Iowa)
113. Bears: Morgan Breslin/DE (USC)
114. Steelers: Ross Cockrell/CB (Duke)
115. Cowboys: Hakeem Smith/S (Louisville)
116. Cardinals: Paul Richardson/WR (Colorado)
117. Packers: Arthur Lynch/TE (Georgia)
118. Eagles: Michael Sam/OLB (Missouri)
119. Bengals: Jared Abbrederis/WR (Wisconsin)
120. Chiefs: Terrance Mitchell/CB (Oregon)
121. Chargers: JuWuan James/OT (Tennessee)
122. Saints: Ty Zimmerman/S (Kansas St.)
123. Browns (from Colts): Anthony Steen/G (Alabama)
124. Panthers: Antone Exum/S/CB (Virginia Tech)
125. Giants (from 49ers): George Uko/DT (USC)
126. Patriots: Dri Archer/WR/KR (Kent St.)
127. Broncos: Josh Huff/WR (Oregon)
128. Seahawks: Billy Turner/OT (North Dakota St.)
129. Texans: Jerrick McKinnon/RB (Georgia Southern)
130. Redskins: Brandon Coleman/WR (Rutgers)
131. Buccaneers: Aaron Murray/QB (Georgia)
132. Jaguars: Trai Turner/G (LSU)
133. Browns: Andre Hal/CB (Venderbilt)
134. Seahawks (from Raiders): Demarcus Lawrence/DE/OLB (Boise St.)
135. Falcons: Seantrel Henderson/OT (Miami)
136. Vikings: Terrance West/RB (Towson)
137. Bills: Chris Smith/OLB (Arkansas)
138. Jaguars (from Lions): Bryan Stork/C (Florida St.)
139. Titans: David Fales/QB (San Jose St.)
140. Giants: Martavius Bryant/WR (Clemson)
141. Rams: Mike Davis/WR (Texas)
142. Jets: Victor Hampton/CB (South Carolina)
143. Dolphins: Jordan Zumwalt/LB (UCLA)
144. Bears: Ronald Powell/OLB (Florida)
145. Steelers: Adrian Hubbard/OLB (Alabama)
146. Cowboys: De'Anthony Thomas/RB/WR/KR (Oregon)
147. Jaguars (from Ravens): Vinnie Sunseri/S (Alabama)
148. Cardinals: Marion Grice/RB (Arizona St.)
149. Packers: Logan Thomas/QB (Virginia Tech)
150. Eagles: Khairi Fortt/ILB (Cal)
151. Chiefs: Joe Don Duncan/TE (Dixie St.)
152. Bengals: Caraun Reid/DT (Princeton)
153. Chargers: Damian Copeland/WR (Louisville)
154. Colts: Taylor Hart/DE (Oregon)
155. Saints: DeAndre Coleman/DE (Cal)
156. Panthers: Andrew Jackson/LB (Western Kentucky)
157. Eagles (from Patriots): Daniel McCullers/NT (Tennessee)
158. 49ers: Brent Urban/DE (Virginia)
159. Broncos: Cassius Marsh/DE (UCLA)
160. Seahawks: Dontae Johnson/CB (N.C. St.)
Well, there you have it. Five rounds of mock draft-y goodness. As always, I love feedback, so feel free to comment. And of course, the comment section is perfectly welcome for fans of all teams, not just the Rams.