Hey everybody, I've been lurking around on this site for a while and I've commented here and there, but this is my first post on the site. Draft is tomorrow, and I'm really excited, as I'm sure that you all are as well. Here's my last-second mock of the entire first round:
1. Atlanta Falcons (From Houston): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Falcons trade the following picks to the Texans: 6, 37, 103, 2015 1st, and 2015 4th
Thomas Dimitroff has made bold moves before on draft day, and the rounds and years of the picks that I have him giving up here is identical to what he gave up in 2011 to get Julio Jones, so he's done this before. Yes, this may be a bit less than the Texans want, but their asking price is a bit absurd, in my opinion (reported to be 3 first rounders), and this is still quite the haul.
The Falcons need a game-changer on defense, and while it may make more sense to wait and see who falls to them at 6, this is a team that is ready to win now, and Clowney just might be the player to resurrect their defense.
2. St. Louis Rams: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Sam Bradford is a good, solid young QB. For all of his injuries, he's still very talented, and more than capable of leading an NFL team. But unfortunately for him, the Rams play in the NFC West. And if they want to have any hope of beating out the Seahawks, 49ers, and Cardinals, they'll need outstanding QB play, which Manziel could provide in due time.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
This one has been written about plenty, and it just makes too much sense for me not to happen. Gus Bradley is trying to build Seahawks East in Jacksonville (or Vikings East, if you consider the Seahawks to be Vikings West), and he needs a dynamic edge rusher to get that done; Mack is that guy. This team isn't ready for a QB on offense, and while a player like Sammy Watkins is tempting, I think it's more logical that the defensive coach goes with the defensive player.
4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins fills a gaping hole for the Browns opposite Josh Gordon, and with this selection, the Browns build possibly the best group of skill position players in the league, sans the QB, of course. It's too high to take a QB, and the multitude of options late lets the Browns hold off on one for now.
5. New York Jets (from Oakland): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Jets trade the following picks to Oakland: 18, 49, 115
The Raiders need more picks to rebuild a roster that seriously lacks talent, and the Jets end up getting somewhat of a bargain to move up this much in the draft for the receiver that they want. This is the Raiders problem: the two elite players left on the board are OTs, Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson. So many mocks have had either of these two going to the Raiders, and it just boggles my mind that that's the case; the Raiders have been irrelevant for so long, and how is an offensive tackle supposed to help them get out of irrelevancy? Think about the 2007 Browns when they took Joe Thomas; an unbelievable player, no doubt, but he has not helped them improve win totals one bit since that time. I'd like to think that GM Reggie McKenzie is smart enough to trade back and not take one of the tackles
6. Houston Texans (from Atlanta): Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Bortles has to have been the guy that Bill O'Brien has coveted this entire time. Many mocks have had Clowney or Mack going to the Texans with the first pick, and while that is certainly a possibility, the Texans are in a situation similar to Oakland's: this is a good, talented team that was being held back by Matt Schaub's limitations. Most teams like this stay at the playoff-but-not-elite level (think the Bengals now) and are resigned to having that QB for his entire career, but Houston has been offered a way out by getting a high pick here. With the assumption that they won't pick nearly this high again, they'd be silly not to take a QB that could potentially get them over the hump.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald is a phenomenal player, and he's just what Lovie Smith needs to rebuild his defense. If Manziel were on the board, Smith may have been resigned to take him, but I think that Smith would really love to come out of the draft with Aaron Donald.
8. St. Louis Rams (from Minnesota): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Rams trade the following picks to Minnesota: 13, 75, 188
Despite passing on him with the second pick, the Rams get Johnny Football the blindside protector that he'll need. This makes a similar amount of sense.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The third Aggie to come off the board is the easiest pick for me to make in this mock. Given who's left on the board and who's been taken, this is really the best option the Bills have
10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
It's between receiver and the secondary for the Lions, and with the depth of this draft at receiver, the Lions can afford to pass on one for now and take the most versatile corner in the draft. He could make their defense quite strong.
11. Dallas Cowboys (from Tennessee): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Cowboys trade the following picks to Tennessee: 16, 78
Jerry Jones loves trading up in the draft, and his team needs to replace the pass rush that it lost in cutting DeMarcus Ware. Drafting a player with Aldon Smith-like upside makes a lot of sense for the Cowboys, who don't disappoint in their yearly tradition of making a big splash at the draft.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
A bit later than expected for Lewan, who makes a good amount of sense protecting Eli Manning's blindside. The Giants need an OT, and Lewan fits the bill, with some value as well.
13. Minnesota Vikings (from St. Louis): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Vikings are tempted to take someone like Darqueze Dennard or HaSean Clinton-Dix here, but they decline to do so and risk losing Bridgewater. Their interest in Teddy has been well-documented, and he is a good fit in the Norv Turner offense, though some may say Blake Bortles is a better one. I honestly don't buy the talk of Bridgewater falling into the second round; it just doesn't make sense to me how someone can drop that dramatically based on their performance on one Pro Day. So, the Vikings get their franchise QB, and, with a second round pick and three third rounders in hand, move on with the draft.
14. Chicago Bears: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Bears would love to get Donald here, but they settle on a player in Nix that is far from a consolation prize. Nix, combined with Jared Allen and Lamar Houston, give the Bears a vastly improved D-Line.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
Ike Taylor is 34 years old, and the Steelers will need to get considerably younger on defense if they intend to continue to compete. Dennard fits the bill, and he helps this team more than a receiver like Odell Beckham would.
16. Tennessee Titans (from Dallas): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St.
Carr's the real wild card in this draft; nobody really knows where he'll go. It's no secret that the Titans aren't happy with Jake Locker, and it is similarly not a secret that Ken Whisenhunt really likes Derek Carr, but the 11th pick is too high for him. At 16, some may consider him a reach, but if he winds up to be the franchise QB that the Titans think he'll be, nobody will really care.
17. San Francisco 49ers (from Baltimore): Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
49ers trade the following picks to Baltimore: 30, 56
The connection between the Ravens and 49ers as trade partners has emerged in recent days, and it makes a lot of sense. The Niners would love to take a game-changing receiver, and perhaps Beckham, Jr. can be the player that puts the 49ers' offense over the top.
18. Oakland Raiders (from NY Jets): C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
It's honestly tough to figure out where the Raiders should start, but they could do much worse than getting a player like Mosley to eventually transform their defense and give it the identity that it's lacked for so long.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The Dolphins will no doubt consider trading up to get the OT that they want, but in this mock, standing pat does the job well enough. After the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito fiasco, the Dolphins obviously need O-Line help, which Martin can provide.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
The Cardinals can go in a couple of directions here: perhaps getting younger on defense with a player like Ryan Shazier is an option, and maybe adding an offensive weapon is another route that they could take. Ebron may be the best player on their board, and he could finally give them the middle-of-the-field presence that they've lacked for so long.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio St.
The Packers have been desperately trying to find an OLB opposite Clay Matthews for so long, and they simply have not found success. Perhaps Shazier can solve that issue for them, but if he doesn't, it's not like this would be anything new.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St.
The Eagles replace DeSean Jackson with...DeSean Jackson 2.0. Cooks is an electrifying receiver on the field, with blazing speed, tons of playmaking potential, but somewhat lacking in height (sound familiar to the Eagles?). Unlike Jackson, Cooks does not come with the off-the-field concerns, so this is a fantastic pick for the Eagles.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The Cooks pick is a killer for the Chiefs. They greatly need some player to open up the field, and Cooks does that as well as any player in this draft. No receiver here presents good value in that skill; only Kelvin Benjamin is available, and he is quite similar to Dwayne Bowe in playing style. So, TE becomes the new focus, and Amaro does have that game-breaking potential that the Chiefs need on offense. Perhaps he is what the offense needs
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Bengals have to get younger at corner, and Fuller gives them a solid option long-term opposite Dre' Kirkpatrick. With this in hand, the Bengals can focus on other needs.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from San Diego): Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Jaguars trade the following picks to San Diego: 39, 105, 114
Concerned that the Browns will snatch up the QB that the Jaguars have been seeking throughout the entire draft process, they trade up one spot past them to get Garoppolo. With Khalil Mack and Garoppolo in hand, the Jaguars have successfully addressed their most pressing needs on both sides of the ball in the first round of the draft.
26. Carolina Panthers (from Indianapolis via Cleveland): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida St.
Panthers trade the following picks to Cleveland: 28, 128
The Panthers hop one spot ahead of the Saints to take the big-bodied target that they need to give Cam Newton in the red zone. Forced to choose between an OT like Morgan Moses or Benjamin, the Panthers elect to take the more dynamic Benjamin, thinking that they may be able to get a player like OT JaWaun James in the second round.
27. New Orleans Saints: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
After the Panthers take Benjamin, the Saints are able to grab the USC standout Lee, who figures to make their offense considerably better. Lee adds some of the playmaking ability that was lost in releasing Lance Moore and trading Darren Sproles, so he is likely a better fit than Benjamin anyways.
28. Cleveland Browns (from Carolina): Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
The Browns need a QB very badly, as we all know. Savage has had a meteoric rise up draft boards despite a huge lack of production at Pittsburgh, which I don't fully understand. But still, this is the range in which he'll go, and the Browns' need of a QB lands them this Pittsburgh product.
29. Minnesota Vikings (from New England): Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Vikings trade the following picks to New England: 40, 96
The Vikings trade back into the end of the first round, at pick number 29, with the Patriots. Sounds familiar, huh?
Rick Spielman loves trading into the back of the first round; it's a very Viking-like move, and it acquires a safety in Pryor that, in tandem with Harrison Smith, will give the Vikings one of the best young such tandems in the league. It's a home run first round for Spielman, who ends up with two solid first round picks, and still holds a pair of third rounders heading into the second day of the draft.
30. Baltimore Ravens (from San Francisco): Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
The Ravens' move down draft boards works like a charm, as they acquire extra picks while still getting a high-caliber OT that can help protect Joe Flacco's right side. Another strong move from Ozzie Newsome on draft day.
31. Denver Broncos: Xavier Su'a Filo, OG, UCLA
The departure of Chris Kuper to Jacksonville leaves a gaping hole on the Broncos' offensive line to fill; having filled most of their defensive needs in free agency, they are free to take a player in Su'a Filo that dramatically upgrades their line and is a dramatic upgrade himself from Kuper.
32. New York Giants (from Seattle): Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Giants trade the following picks to Seattle: 43, 113
The Seahawks would much rather pick in the second round than the first, with the cap benefits that would come their way in doing so. The Giants have seen numerous DEs depart in free agency, leaving behind just Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka. At their best, the Giants had numerous DEs coming at you in waves, and while Damontre Moore has potential, his development has been limited at best. Ealy gives them another pass rusher to throw into the equation that could help them make a playoff push this year.
There you have it. My first round mock draft. It's the culmination of a lot of mocks that I've done throughout the past couple months, and feel free to critique it below. It has some pretty exciting moves for the Vikings, which I'm sure will get some people talking. Let's see how accurate I am and what our favorite team does tomorrow night!