The time is almost upon us. We're officially just a little more than 24 hours from the start of the most exciting day of the NFL offseason: the draft. I'm fully prepared to spend my first weekend of summer as a shut-in glued to the tv and computer nerding out over what team picks whom. It's something I've learned to find peace with.
Let me also say, this whole push back of the draft into early May has really gotten on my nerves. As a college student, any fun you would potentially have during finals time pretty much is assured to go bye-bye. While I breathed a massive sigh of relief when I found out the draft was a week after finals, the timing has still been annoying for me. Normally, I do about 5 or so versions of my mocks, each one adding another round or two, until eventually I publish one last version with 7 rounds on draft week. This was also my plan this year, but a full 7 round mock takes a couple days to draw up and write in article form. Since I just handed in my last project yesterday and I'm job shadowing tomorrow, I unfortunately don't have the time to do this, but I did find some time to write a couple rounds that are hopefully so good it compensates for not going deeper. In the sea of mock drafts written this week, hopefully you can find this one interesting and fun to swim through. Enjoy!
1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney/DE/OLB (South Carolina)
Don't believe all the media smokescreen about a trade down or Khalil Mack, this one looks pretty locked in. The only way the Texans don't take Clowney is if somebody offers them a bounty like we saw in the RG3 trade-up, but even though Clowney is the clear best prospect in this draft, the rest of the class is good enough I don't see anyone willing to make that investment. I had the Texans going with a QB for a long time because I thought they'd talk themselves into it, but with the souring of this year's QB class, it seems like somebody worth taking for the future of Houston will be around in the 2nd or maybe even the 3rd. With that in mind, there really would be no reason for them to pass on a rare talent like Clowney. This draft is going to be extremely fun because so little is actually known, but I'd bet money on this one.
The Rams have a few ways they could go if they keep the #2 pick (Mack, Robinson, Watkins), but I think their favorite option is still to move down. Les Snead has alluded himself to the fact that this is an excellent class with rare depth, and with Snead being as trade-happy as he is anyway, I'd be really surprised to see them stay put where they are. Fortunately, the market for this pick has picked up with another late surge in the draft stocks of Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack, Greg Robinson, and Johnny Manziel. Expect somebody within the top 10 to make the leap up to 2 for one of them.
2. Bills (from Redskins via Rams): Sammy Watkins/WR (Clemson)
There has been a lot of speculation about Buffalo moving up to this pick, but there is some level of disagreement over who it will be for. It could potentially be Greg Robinson or Khalil Mack, but I've also read reports of the Bills being enamored with Watkins. It's not hard to imagine why either. Watkins is one of the more dynamic playmakers we've seen in the draft in recent years and looks like the complete package. The Bills are apparently already putting a lot of pressure on E.J. Manuel, which I think is a bit unfair, but if they're going to do that, they at least need to surround him with a high level of top-tier talent. Watkins would really shape up their receiving corps.
3. Jaguars: Khalil Mack/OLB (Buffalo)
The Jaguars seem content to play it safe in this draft, meaning they'll take the BPA after the first two picks are done. In particular, one of Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins will have to be there, and they'll be smart and take whichever one that is. In this case, that player is Mack. Mack is a small-conference stud who can pretty much do it all at the outside linebacker position. Between rushing the passer excellently and playing well in coverage, he's one of the rare players you can truly call a defensive playmaker who also doesn't have to sacrifice any fundamental pats of this game. Gus Bradley comes from a Seahawks system that obviously knows how to use rushing outside backers in the 4-3, so Mack would be a good scheme fit and provide something to fear on a Jaguars roster that desperately needs some more top-level talent.
4. Browns: Blake Bortles/QB (UCF)
Cleveland's #4 pick is honestly the one I have the most trouble figuring out. Their FO went through a tumultuous period during the beginning of the offseason, and since then, if you name a top prospect, you can probably find reports saying they like him and that they don't like him. They could go a number of ways here: Robinson, Evans, Manziel, Bortles...here I have them going with Bortles, but I wouldn't put money on it at all. Bortles may have more trouble tomorrow night than many would expect, as a lot of the QB needy teams seems to have attached themselves to other players. Do I think he'll slip into the 2nd? No, somebody would trade up for him before that happened. But it is conceivable that he makes it out of the top 10. Here I have Cleveland taking him because while they also like Carr and Bridgewater quite a bit (allegedly), Bortles here would be more of a sure bet than getting either of the other two guys at 26. Besides, outside of a QB, there isn't just a great fit for Cleveland here.
There will be multiple trades in the top half of the first round, and I happen to think most if not all of them will be for receiving targets. This wide receiver class has progressively gotten hotter and hotter among scouts, not to mention Eric Ebron who is considered the top tight end prospect since Vernon Davis. However, most of the truly receiver-needy teams are set to pick after pick 8, so some jostling will need to be done. We've already seen Buffalo move up for Sammy Watkins, and here we see Detroit move up 5 spots for another top receiver prospect. The Raiders, meanwhile are prime candidates to move down 5-10 spots because they'd like to pick Derek Carr but 5 is obviously too high of a pick to spend on him.
5. Lions (from Raiders): Mike Evans/WR (Texas A&M)
Evans is a rare skill set at receiver who has seen his stock shoot up boards as of late. Despite his huge frame and leaping ability, he does not sacrifice speed or agility. He's now considered a prospect who fits right around 5 and could even go a pick earlier to Cleveland. Detroit seems ready to invest in another receiving prospect but 10 is a poor place to do so. It would taking a big gamble to assume Evans or Ebron is there, but it's a little too early to take Odell Beckham, Marqise Lee, or Brandin Cooks. For this reason, I think Detroit will do what they can to move up within the top 5 for Watkins or Evans. They need another starting-caliber receiver to take double and triple teams away from Calvin Johnson, and to provide insurance in case Megatron gets injured.
6. Falcons: Greg Robinson/OT (Auburn)
It's hard to believe Robinson was at one point such an under-the-radar prospect I could barely find a good picture of him for these mock drafts. Now, his stock has risen to the point where he's the consensus top lineman in the draft and could go as high as pick 2. The Falcons have been long seen as a prime candidate to trade up. My last mock, I had them moving up to 1 for Clowney, but they won't be willing to part with the type of bounty it would take now to do so. They could still trade up to 2 or 4, but unless they're convinced Robinson will get picked by then, I don't see it happening, unless they love Khalil Mack more than we think. The reason being that Robinson could slip to 6 purely out of circumstance, as has happened here.
7. Buccaneers: Johnny Manziel/QB (Texas A&M)
I think Tampa really is the top landing spot for Manziel. They seem to like him more than the other QB needy teams and may even be willing to trade up for him if necessary. It's conceivable that they could get him at 7 however, which is probably their best-case scenario. There aren't a ton of other players here who make sense, unless somebody like Mack or Evans falls. With the exciting Johnny Football (Johnny Tampa? Johnny Bucco?) at the helm, buts would instantly get put in seats and the new regime would have a vision for the future. On top of that, if they don't think he's ready to start week 1, they could always roll out Josh McCown until his time comes.
8. Vikings: Aaron Donald/DT (Pittsburgh)
I really wanted to have Minnesota trade up for Blake Bortles when I first started thinking about this mock, but since then all the info seems to suggest they want to go defense first then QB unless they can trade way back. They could still hypothetically trade up for Khalil Mack, but I don't think they'll make that type of investment when solid defensive players will still be around at pick 8. One name I've heard connected to the Vikings recently is the scrappy Aaron Donald. Despite being very undersized for his position, Donald is just so good he won't make it out of the first half of the first round and could quite easily make it into the top 10. The Vikings would like more talent in their front 7 with several players having moved on, and this would be a step in the right direction.
9. Rams (from Bills): Jake Matthews/OT (Texas A&M)
Let me say this first: I'm still very skeptical that the Rams will go OT in the first. It's something Jeff Fisher usually never does and they have other positions they could fill first. That being said, there has been enough information connecting the Rams to Robinson and Matthews that I think this year could buck the trend, but they'll probably only do it if they can trade down first. A trade down to 9 works great for this plan. The Rams have had a ton of contact with the son of Bruce Matthews throughout the entirety of the draft process. In the short-term, he could step in if Jake Long isn't ready to start the season or plug in at right tackle if he is (I know we all like Joe Barksdale, but even though he's good, he isn't so good that the team can't find an upgrade and use him as a super-depth player). In the long term, he could replace Jake Long on the blind side.
10. Raiders (from Lions): Derek Carr/QB (Fresno State)
I think 10 would be a great spot for Oakland to move down to. They really seem to want Carr, but don't want to reach outrageously for him. 10 would be high enough that they'd have a great shot at landing him, but low enough that it wouldn't be just a massive reach. The Raiders have an undeniable QB problem that won't be fixed by Matt Schaub or Matt McGloin. Carr appears to be the prospect they covet most, and he could take over at the helm from day 1.
The 49ers have basically built this draft to be able to make a move up. They have few needs and a ton of early picks, it's pretty obvious what's going to happen. The Titans meanwhile, are the opposite. they have several needs to address but not as many picks as they would like. They would be fine moving all the way down to 30 if it means picking up 2nd and 3rd rounders from San Fran (one of which, pick 77, actually belonged to them originally).
11. 49ers: Odell Beckham, Jr./WR (LSU)
The question isn't whether or not San Fran will move up, but rather, for whom? Right now, it looks like the answer is Beckham, the exciting receiver out of LSU. Beckham brings elements of all different types of receivers to his game. He has the speed, agility, hands, and route-running necessary to make it in the NFL. The Niners receiving corps needs a young boost with Mario Manningham moving on and Anquan Boldin probably not having many good years left. Beckham would provide them the spark they hoped they would get out of A.J. Jenkins a couple years ago.
Expect several trades to happen between picks 10 and 16. Several teams in that range will be willing to move back for extra picks, but several teams beyond 16 will see players they covet still on the board. That's just the nature of this draft. The Jets could stay back and possibly take Brandin Cooks or Marqise Lee, but they have some picks to spare and really seem to love Beckham and Ebron, so don't be shocked if they move up from 10-14 for one of them, especially a relatively cheap trade like this.
12. Jets (from Giants): Eric Ebron/TE (UNC)
If Ebron makes it to 12 somehow, somebody will probably move up for him. He's the best tight end prospect in years, and he would be the type of matchup nightmare NFL teams love to utilize right now. The Jets would be the most likely if they haven't already traded for Beckham. They need to surround Geno Smith with talent if they want him to succeed, and last year they really missed the presence of Dustin Keller. Jeff Cumberland isn't going to cut it if they want Geno Smith to develop into a solid starter of the future.
13. Rams: Anthony Barr/OLB (UCLA)
This pick may come as a bit of a surprise given the Rams haven't shown a ton of reported interest in Barr, but here me out on this one. The Rams have apparently really fallen for Khalil Mack and if they can't trade down he's pretty likely to be the pick. What does that prove? Nothing necessarily, but between that confirmed interest and the fact that Gregg Williams is in town, a pass rushing outside linebacker looks to be something the Rams prioritize to get the most out of the defense. There are a lot of those types in this draft all the way down, but there are also good safeties and corners later on, which would be the other obvious position of interest here. Clinton-Dix is still really likely here, but this wouldn't shock me. Barr is extremely talented and versatile, and is the type of outside linebacker Williams loves to employ. I make this pick because, if nothing else, I think the team, having picked up more early selections in the trade down with Buffalo, would be more willing to wait on corner and safety, whereas if they make this pick, they would probably rather do it near the top.
14. Bears: Justin Gilbert/CB (Oklahoma St.)
The Bears are another team in the 10-15 range who could trade down, but there isn't a good match here so instead they pick a falling prospect in Gilbert. Chicago needs help across the board in their defensive backfield, and there will without question be a defensive back worth taking here. They'd be thrilled to get Gilbert. The Cowboy corner's stock has taken a bit of a tumble recently with some worrying about his coverage technique, so he probably won't be a top 10 pick anymore, but a team with good defensive coaching should be able to tweak his technical issues and work with his talent to turn him into a stud corner.
If prospects slip, teams trade up for them, that's just basic draft mechanics. In this case, the trade up is all about Taylor Lewan. More on that in a minute. The Dolphins aren't just huge contenders for a trade up, but this is a pretty cheap move that would have a big impact. For the Steelers, there really isn't a need to address here they couldn't address at 19, so getting a 3rd rounder for almost no cost would be fantastic.
15. Dolphins (from Steelers): Taylor Lewan/OT (Michigan)
Even after signing Branden Albert, Miami desperately needs another cornerstone tackle. There are reports that they could take JuWuan James at 19, and even though James has experienced a nice little boost in draft stock recently, that's too high for him. Zack Martin is another possibility, but neither have the upside Taylor Lewan possesses. While he comes with some red flags, talent alone makes him still a solid value at 15. With Miami needing a tackle as badly as they do in wake of their locker room scandal, this would be a relatively cheap move with a potentially huge impact.
16. Cowboys: Kony Ealy/DE (Missouri)
I think Ealy is a great fit for Dallas at 16. They need a lot of help along the defensive line, and Ealy provides the versatility to lock down an end spot and even move inside sometimes. While people seem split on his stock, the 15-25 range seems to make the most sense for him. If no defensive lineman here makes sense, the Cowboys may go receiver, but Ealy provides good value and I think is a solid scheme fit. And no, ESPN, they aren't taking Manziel, so just stop it.
17. Ravens: HaHa Clinton-Dix/S (Alabama)
I think Baltimore would be thrilled if Clinton-Dix makes it this far. They have a void for a rangy center fielder type safety since Ed Reed moved on last year. Not only is HaHa excellent value, but he would fit that need to a T. The athletic Clinton-Dix has the range and athleticism from keeping receivers like Josh Gordon and A.J. Green from breaking free, but has also greatly improved his physicality and can cover the hybrid receiving tight ends that are popular in the NFL today as well.
18. Giants (from Jets): Zack Martin/OL (Notre Dame)
It's pretty likely the Giants take Martin if they stay put at #12, so if they can move down and still get him at 18 that would obviously be a sweet move. The Giants need some new blood on the offensive line, but with William Beatty's injury, they could afford someone with some versatility. Martin is believed to be capable of producing at both guard and tackle in the NFL, so Martin would provide them a lot of flexibility. I personally think pick 12 is too high for him, but getting him at 18 is a lot better value.
19. Steelers (from Dolphins): Kyle Fuller/CB (Virginia Tech)
I was torn between mocking Fuller and Bradley Roby here, but ultimately I went with Fuller because there could be a chance Roby's red flags will make teams prefer Fuller. Either way, part of the reason I made this trade-down with Pittsburgh is that they appear to be aiming for a corner, and at 19, either Fuller or Roby should be there, and even if they aren't, Darqueze Dennard would be fine value as well. Ike Taylor had an awful year last year and even he acknowledges the team needs some new talent at the position. Fuller has been a prospect I always thought was underrated, but recently he's flown up boards and is now in consideration to go top 20.
20. Cardinals: Calvin Pryor/S (Louisville)
Pick 20 is another one I have trouble with. Arizona has several needs, but none of them are really jut super glaring. I think they'll go QB in round 2 or 3, but I'm not convinced they'll take that plunge in the 1st. Here I have them taking Pryor, which seems to be a popular pick. Arizona hasn't had outstanding safety play recently, and a safety in the mold of Pryor specifically could be a valuable asset. The NFC West is currently dominated by two teams with quarterbacks who like to scramble or take it and run, so a safety like Pryor who loves to fly around and knock the socks off people would make those QBs think twice before making a break for it.
21. Packers: Ryan Shazier/ILB (Ohio State)
I'm convinced that this pick will probably be an inside linebacker unless something weird happens. Between Shazier and C.J. Mosley, I think Shazier is the pick. Mosley has some red flags that worry teams. Shazier is versatile and brings a high level of both intensity and finesse to the linebacker spot. The Packers could use a successor for A.J. Hawk, and Shazier would be a good investment in the long term.
22. Eagles: Brandin Cooks/WR (Oregon State)
There's some skepticism about whether or not Philly will actually take a receiver here at 22. I'm not entirely convinced one way or the other, but at this point it's quite possible Cooks would be the BPA anyway. The Eagles obviously need some extra receiving help with DeSean Jackson down in Washington. Cooks isn't the biggest receiver out there, but he's a shifty, super-productive slot man who has the potential to be similar to a heyday Wes Welker. Some Philly fans dislike the notion of going receiver in the 1st, but Cooks I think would be a great addition to their receiving corps and make Nick Foles a happy camper.
TRADE: Chiefs trade pick 23 to Vikings for picks 40, 72, and 184.
This would be an interesting trade. The Chiefs really want to get out of the 1st round, since there aren't many great fits for them here and this draft is so deep all GMs would like to stock up (the Chiefs are also missing a 2nd rounder at the moment). There are a few teams who could trade back into the first for a few different players, but a quarterback could be the key piece if Kansas City delivers a nice sales pitch. In this case....
23. Vikings (from Chiefs): Teddy Bridgewater/QB (Louisville)
....That's exactly what happens. The Vikings want to go defense first then quarterback, but don't assume that QB pick has to come in the second. They may view their chance to get a QB as jeopardized, especially with Houston at 33. A team wanting out of the first like KC could also aid their opinion in the matter. Bridgewater is the better prospect than guys like Mettenberger or Garoppolo anyway. Bridgewater is the classic case of a phenomenon I like to call quarterback fatigue: for whatever reason, the top QB prospects find themselves slipping down boards as the draft process comes along for really odd, unclear reasons while others rise. Bridgewater was once seen as a top 5 talent in the draft but could now easily make it into the second. Don't discount the possibility, though, of a team jumping over Houston back into the first to snag him as he falls. He's still a great talent and the draft heat seems to have cooled on some of the other 2nd round guys.
24. Bengals: Bradley Roby/CB (Ohio State)
Roby to the Bengals seems like a perfect fit if he makes it that far. The Bengals have a need at corner with Pacman Jones and Terence Newman over the hill and Leon Hall coming back from a serious injury. Roby comes with some red flags, but Marvin Lewis is well known for being willing to take risks with character. He also had a brutal year, but his track record beforehand and his workouts show he has the raw talent to be a stud. He plays way bigger and tougher than his size would indicate, but also has the top-flight speed and agility you would expect. At the very least, he should be a special teams ace.
25. Chargers: Louis Nix III/NT (Notre Dame)
This pick has been done a lot, but I still think it makes sense. The Chargers have a need at nose tackle, and Nix is one of the few really good nose tackle talents in the draft. A huge man who moves very well for his size, he can be plugged in from day one and be an anchor on a defensive line.
26. Browns (from Colts): Marqise Lee/WR (USC)
It feels like beating a dead horse, but it's common draft strategy that when you take a QB in the first, your next pick is spent on an offensive player to help him out. Here, after selecting Blake Bortles at 4, Cleveland gets a good helper in Marqise Lee. Lee is a blazing, dynamic receiver who has seen his stock slide just a bit, but a lot of that has to do with the rise of Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks. The Brown's receiving corps already has some good pieces, but adding another dynamic speedster certainly wouldn't hurt, and Cleveland has the picks to be able to afford to do so.
27. Saints: Cody Latimer/WR (Indiana):
In my first couple versions of this draft, I really didn't even know who Cody Latimer was. In the recent weeks, though, his stock has shot up boards and he's got the right buzz at the right time to be a possible first round pick. The Saints are reported to be considering taking a receiver at 27. I think they definitely will if Marqise Lee is there, but may even do so if Latimer is on the board. Sean Payton likes big receivers, and Latimer definitely fits that bill.
28. Panthers: Morgan Moses/OT (Virginia)
Carolina would have to be bummed if all the first round receivers are off the board by the time they pick, but this would be a fine pick too. Moses has long been an underrated prospect but is getting buzz to be a possibility at this pick now. With Jordan Gross ending his long career, a new left tackle is a necessity for the Panthers, and Moses is a pretty safe, low-downside type of player.
29. Patriots: Weston Richburg/C (Colorado State)
Pick 29 fascinates me because the Pats could go so many different ways with it. I think ultimately they'll like the value Richburg presents if he's still on the board. Interior blocking was a huge problem for New England last year. Frankly, they're lucky Tom Brady never got hurt because of it. Richburg is a good fit in the Pats' blocking scheme and would be a major upgrade at center.
30. Titans (from 49ers): Darqueze Dennard/CB (Michigan State)
With the first pick obtained in their trade with San Francisco, the Titans score a big bargain. Dennard has excellent man coverage skills, but there's some skepticism that he can thrive in any other schemes in the NFL. Still, somebody will probably pull the trigger on him in the first. The Titans need better talent at corner, especially with Alterraun Verner gone.
31. Broncos: Ra'Shede Hageman/DL (Minnesota)
The Broncos supposedly love Hageman and I wouldn't be shocked if they traded up for him. Here, though, they don't need to. It's not hard to understand why they like him, he's a tremendous talent and a good fit in their scheme. They need to keep building up. They had some front 7 players move on in the offseason and need to rebuild.
32. Seahawks: Joel Bitonio/OL (Nevada)
This is a popular pick that I agree with. The Seahawks need help on the offensive line opposite Russell Okung. Bitonio should be a fine right tackle, but at the least would be a serviceable guard. One of the few needs Seattle has is offensive lone, and Bitonio has the versatility to be plugged in all over the line to help keep the strong defsnive fronts in the NFC West away from Russell Wilson.
TRADE: Texans trade pick 33 to St. Louis for picks 41, 110, and 226.
The Texans want to pick up some extra picks and also don't see an obvious fit at 33. Any quarterback would be a bit of a reach, but moving down to the 40-45 range would help with that. Meanwhile, The Rams have picked up enough picks that they have the leverage do this, and see a prospect on the board they really like who could come off the board with the next pick, so they choose to act.
33. Rams (from Texans): Jason Verrett/CB (TCU)
The Rams will likely take a corner early in the draft. They already have two quality corners who will probably start, so it's not surprising they like Verrett, who looks the part of a fantastic slot-type corner. He's undersized, but plays big and is feisty enough to keep up with quick slot receivers. He's a better fit for the Rams than the other corners in the second round and it would be smart to move up in front of the Redskins to do so if this is the way the draft shapes out.
34. Redskins: Stanley Jean-Baptiste/CB (Nebraska)
Luckily for Washington, there is still a corner with a lot of buzz on the board for them. Stanley Jean-Baptiste has been a rising prospect. He fits the mold of the big, physical corner teams today covet. The Redskins have prioritized getting better at corner, something that Jean-Baptiste would definitely help out with.
35. Browns: C.J. Mosley/ILB (Alabama)
Don't be shocked if Mosley falls into the second. He has some medical red flags that will scare some teams off. Still, on sheer talent alone he's worthy of pick 35. Despite signing Karlos Dansby, inside linebacker is still a need. Mosley brings tremendous natural and physical skills to the position and should be a solid contributor at the next level if he can stay healthy.
36. Raiders: Timmy Jernigan/DT (Florida State)
Oakland needs to generate more pass rush from the interior of their defensive line. Not only would Jernigan provide that, he's an excellent value at this point. This draft class is so solid multiple first round talents like Jernigan are going to get pushed into the second.
37. Falcons: Dee Ford/OLB (Auburn)
And the Falcons plug in another major need with another Auburn prospect. Atlanta had a pretty pathetic pass rush last season. They'd trade up for Clowney but won't pay the huge bounty it would require. This works out pretty well, because while Ford is obviously no Clowney, he has some great pass rushing skills and fits the mold of the type of pass rushers the Falcons like.
38. Buccaneers: Xavier Su'a-Filo/G (UCLA)
Yet another great value at the top of the 1st. The Bucs follow the trend of using the next pick after a 1st round QB a player to help him out by snagging the consensus top guard in the draft. Su'a-Filo could go even higher, but I couldn't find a great spot for him.
39. Jaguars: Jimmy Garoppolo/QB (Eastern Illinois)
Surely the Jags won't leave the draft without a new QB. Blaine Gabbert was a total bust and has been traded, and Chad Henne is just a stopgap. Garoppolo isn't a sure thing but provides a high upside. Jacksonville isn't ready to compete next year anyway, so the coaches can take their time developing him.
40. Chiefs (from Vikings): Kelvin Benjamin/WR (Florida State)
In this scenario, trading down works out well for Kansas City as they snag a falling prospect. The Chiefs need help across from Dwayne Bowe and if they can get the most out of Benjamin he'll provide that and then some. Benjamin's size and leaping ability are unquestionably good, but NFL scouts recently have been concerned about his speed and route-running. Talent alone, though, makes him worthy of pick 40.
41. Texans (from Bills via Rams): Zach Mettenberger/QB (LSU)
The Texans are going to take a QB at some point in round 2 or 3, but where in this span that they'll get one is the bigger question. 33 would be too early for Mettenberger, but 41 is a better fit. What I think would draw Houston to Mettenberger over Garoppolo is that he will take less time to develop, and once Houston figures out its QB situation, should be able to get back to competing very soon. Even though Mettenberger has some red flags, he's a pro-ready pocket passer with a big arm, which will get someone to put some faith in him and give him a chance.
42. Titans: Scott Crichton/OLB (Oregon State)
Part of the reason Tennessee wants more picks is that they don't have a ton of personnel for their new 3-4 defense. They need pass rushers and defensive linemen who fit their system, and Chrichton fits the former need. Crichton is a very skilled pass rusher who is a bargain at this point.
43. Giants: Stephon Tuitt/DL (Notre Dame)
I really like this fit for the Giants. The Giants have needs on their defensive line, especially with Justin Tuck moving on to Oakland. Since Tuitt is a very similar player to Tuck, he could obviously be plugged in immediately, not to mention he could definitely go higher than this.
44. Rams: Dominique Easley/DL (Florida)
The Rams, as alluded to by the Barr pick, will make some picks based on fits for the Gregg Williams defense. Defensive tackle was already a need, but now they've shown interest in players like Aaron Donald, Stephon Tuitt, and Easley who are defensive tackles by trade but have the versatility to move around in different packages. Easley would bring an extra spark to an already solid defensive line.
45. Lions: Demarcus Lawrence/DE/OLB (Boise State)
The Lions are interested in a pass rushing hybrid end/linebacker type. If they can't trade up in the first, there's a pretty good chance they grab Anthony Barr. Here, they find a nice value pick in the second with Demarcus Lawrence, who is an underrated edge rusher prospect with high upside.
46. Steelers: Jordan Matthews/WR (Vanderbilt)
A lot of teams are going to score big in the 2nd round. The Steelers have made it known they want a big receiver for Ben Roethlisberger in the draft. Since Eric Ebron and Mike Evans won't be around in the 1st, Matthews is a good pick at 46. He has the hands and intangibles to go in the first in a lot of other drafts.
47. Cowboys: Jimmie Ward/S (Northern Illinois)
Yet another team scores big in the second. Ward has the skills at safety to go as high as late first, but gets pushed down out of circumstance. I've heard the Cowboys like him as a second round target.
48. Ravens: Ja/Wuan James/OT (Tennessee)
This would be an even better value pick. James has experienced a late rise in draft stock and is reportedly being considered at 19 by Miami. Here, he falls to 48 because of a lack of good fits. The Ravens locked up Eugene Monroe, but could use a right tackle after losing Michael Oher to Tennessee.
49. Jets: Keith McGill/CB (Utah)
The Jets need more help at corner, even after drafting Dee Milliner last year. McGill is another one of these tall, athletic corners teams today love to have to match up with big, physical receivers. The Utah prospect fits the range and the need for the Jets at 49.
50. Dolphins: Jace Amaro/TE (Texas Tech)
Seriously, this second round is loaded. Amaro is an outstanding tight end talent who would be the top guy in many classes that don't have a player like Eric Ebron at the top. Tight end isn't the biggest need for Miami, but here they make a bit of a luxury pick and gain a shiny new weapon for Ryan Tannehill.
51. Bears: Deone Bucannon/S (Washington State)
I've mentioned this before, but being from Illinois and going to college in Illinois, I have quite a few friends who are Bears fans. Let me tell you something, rarely have I seen a fan base despise one of its own players as much as Bears fans hate Chris Conte. That's perfectly understandable, though, because he sucks. If the Bears don't pick up at least one new safety in the draft, heads may roll in the Windy City. Bucannon would be a solid move for them in the 2nd.
52. Cardinals: A.J. McCarron/QB (Alabama)
Arizona has been heavily linked to McCarron. I think he's a good match and fits well at 52. He won't be depended on as a starter just yet, but can be looked at as an investment for the future. Carson Palmer seems to understand fully that his time is limited and would be happy would take McCarron under his wing.
53. Packers: Austin Seferian-Jenkins/TE (Washington)
Jermichael Finley is gone, and the Packers could stand a new tight end. Seferian-Jenkins has some red flags, but is a tremendous talent who both catches and blocks well. Aaron Rodgers would be happy to have him as a target.
54. Lamarcus Joyner/CB/S (Florida State)
The Eagles have needs both at safety and cornerback. It just so happens that the available Joyner has the ability to play either spot. He can shore up the cornerback position which right now is populated by some good-but-not-great players, and if that doesn't work out he can be plugged in at safety to replace Patrick Chung.
55. Bengals: Cyrus Kouandjio/OT (Alabama)
Andrew Whitworth played admirably for Cincinnati last year, but in the long term his best fit might be at guard. Thus, left tackle is a need. Kouandjio has seen his stock tumble after a brutal last game against Oklahoma where he got beat up by Erick Striker and then an even worse combine. However, his natural ability will make somebody take a shot on him, probably in the 2nd.
57. Titans (from Chiefs via 49ers): Carlos Hyde/RB (Ohio State)
The first running back off the board is likely going to be Hyde, but the bigger question is where he will go. Tennessee could be the team with their original 2nd rounder, so if they gain this pick and he's still there this would be an easy choice. Chris Johnson is a Jet now, leaving the Titans' backfield pretty well empty. the bruising but versatile Hyde would fill that void nicely.
57. Chargers: Marcus Roberson/CB (Florida)
The Chargers have a noticeable lack of talent at corner and will almost assuredly take one in the first two rounds. Roberson and his teammate, Loucheiz Purifoy, have seen some hits to their draft stock after rough combines. Roberson, though, still brings enough skill to the table as a cornerback for someone to take him in the 2nd.
58. Saints: Marcus Martin/C (USC)
The Saints lost Brian De La Puente to the Bears so they'll need a new center. Marcus Martin is widely seen as the second best center in the draft after Weston Richburg and a likely mid to late 2nd round pick. The Saints could go a few different ways with this pick, but of all of their realistic options, Martin is the BPA.
59. Colts: Phillip Gaines/CB (Rice)
Even after retaining Vontae Davis, the Colts need another cover corner. Their 2nd round pick will likely be used on one of the several corner prospects who fit in the mid to late 2nd. I've liked Phillip Gaines a lot as a prospect for a while now so I'm glad to see him getting second round consideration. In a conference where reaching the top means beating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, better coverage is a must, and Gaines is a step in the right direction for Indianapolis.
60. Panthers: Allen Robinson/WR (Penn State)
First and foremost, Carolina needs some more receivers who are actually NFL caliber players. If they roll out what they have now at the start of next season they're in trouble. I wouldn't be surprised if they doubled up in the first 4 rounds. Recently they've been linked to Allen Robinson, the versatile playmaker out of Penn State. If Robinson is on the board, he's probably getting picked here unless a receiver falls really far unexpectedly.
61. 49ers: Pierre Desir/CB (Lindenwod)
Even after trading 3 early picks, the 49ers can still put together a good draft class this year. Their top two needs are receiver and corner, so if they trade up for Beckham, expect the next pick to be a corner. Desir has been a sleeper prospect for quite awhile who could go in the late 2nd. He is the type of tall corner NFL teams have made trendy.
62. Patriots: Troy Niklas/TE (Notre Dame)
Expect New England to draft at least one tight end this year. They love to utilize multiple tight ends, and have a need at the moment. Rob Gronkowski is never healthy whereas Aaron Hernandez is currently using a rock hammer to bore into the wall behind the Tom Brady poster in his cell. Niklas is a good tight end who is hurt by the fact that there are three other really good tight ends this year. He'd provide solid value at 62.
63. Broncos: Christian Jones/LB (Florida State)
The Broncos will likely draft a linebacker early. Wesley Woodyard is now a Titan, but he needed upgraded anyway. Denver likes to move its linebackers around, so they'll be drawn to the versatility of Christian Jones, who has been undervalued in this draft process.
64. Seahawks: Davante Adams/WR (Fresno State)
I originally had Seattle going with Cody Latimer at 32 before I realized I made an error with one of my picks and had to move players around. With Golden Tate now a Detroit Lion, a receiver will probably be taken early by Seattle. Adams is a great value pick here at 64. As Derek Carr's go-to target, Adams has an excellent balance of size, speed, and intangibles, and lets it show on the field. He would instantly become a dependable target for Russell Wilson.
Well, there you have it. The last 2014 mock draft before the real thing. As always, I welcome feedback from fans of any teams. There's a ton of uncertainty leading into this draft, but what I can say for certain is that it's going to be fun. While the first pick is pretty well locked in, not much of anything is guaranteed beyond that. So buckle your seatbelts, grab some beers, and let the dog out for a walk beforehand. You won't want to miss this one.