This is my first official mock draft of the season. Last year, I was only able to get three of 32 correct -- Eric Fisher to the Chiefs, Dee Milliner to the Jets and Jarvis Jones to the Steelers. I will try to improve upon that this season. Trades throw a mock out the window. The Dolphins and Raiders did that at the third spot on draft day in 2013. So I'm going to give you a mock with trades in them.
1. Atlanta Falcons (Trade w/ Texans): DE Jadevon Clowney, South Carolina
The Falcons front office is feeling the heat from this past season. They need to rebound or could soon be looking over their shoulders. Thomas Dimitroff is a GM willing to make a bold move. This would be that. Clowney would provide the Falcons an edge rusher they lack. There are some questions with Clowney that I heard from scouts at the Combine. I think the Falcons are the team bold enough to invest in this boom or bust player. There is no disputing Clowney's athletic ability. The question comes down to his desire mentally to match that athletic ability.
2. St. Louis Rams: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
The Rams need enhancements on their offensive line. With the heat the NFC West brings, the Rams have to win in the trenches. Matthews is a technically sound offensive lineman. He can move in space very well. He is a very good pass block and an athletic kick step. He keeps his body positioned correctly in pass protection sets. He shows good flexibility and bend in pass pro. There will be some hiccups with his run blocking but they can be fixed. This is a guy who has played both tackle spots and can do either effectively depending on Jake Long's knee.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Khalil Mack, Buffalo
If there is one thing Gus Bradley knows its pass rush. Mack would fit perfectly for their system. The first thing that stood out to me about Mack is his punch on bull rushes. Mack can stun an offensive lineman with his punch. You see the opponent get rocked back stunned. At that point Mack just keeps coming and collapses the pocket. Mack is a playmaker. He can has a high motor. He will jump routes. He will force a fumble coming around the corner. He will intercept a pass and have the speed to take it in for a touchdown. Mack fits this scheme.
4. Cleveland Browns: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
All the quarterbacks are on the board and Cleveland passes. Evans is the best player on the board at this point. The NFL is a game of matchups. The Browns have the speed in Josh Gordon. They have a tight end that can attack the safeties. Evans will give them the final piece of their passing attack. He is a big and physical wide receiver that has great ball tracking skills. Evans can create separation with his technique. He understands how to use his body correctly and will out leap any corner. Imagine the schemes defensive coordinators would have to come up with in stopping: Evans, Cameron and Gordon. They can get the QB later. You only have one shot at an offensive nightmare.
5. Oakland Raiders: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
The Raiders need to fix their offensive line. They have a veteran QB and now they need to keep him upright. Robinson would provide them an athletic offensive lineman. Robinson has good athletic ability for his size. He can run block and pass block. He could play guard or tackle for any team. The reason I didn't put Robinson at two is because I see some problems. Robinson can drive block but his head gets to far extend over his feet and he falls forward when the defender moves. That will happen a lot more at the NFL level. Robinson is also a big man. I see him continuing to get bigger and losing some of that athletic ability. That could also potentially affect his flexibility and bend. That's what I have him dropping to the fifth spot. The Raiders could use him now either way.
6. Houston Texans (Trade W/ATL): QB Blake Bortles, UCF
The Texans are still able to move back for the quarterback they want and pick up some high picks along the way. What impressed me about Bortles is his ability to stay calm in the pocket in clutch situations. I still remember a play against Penn State where the pocket was falling apart all around him. He calmly climbed up in the pocket, kept his eyes down field and made the throw. Bill O'Brien was the Head Coach on the other side of the field that day. I was impressed with his performance in that game. Now he has some mechanics to work on with his accuracy, footwork and touch. But the tools are all there for him to be a successful quarterback.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Donald fits the cover two system. He would be a very good three tech in this system. Donald has an explosive first step. He can get up the field quickly and he can be his man with speed. I was impressed with his pass rush moves and how much disrupting he caused in the running game. When he is able to get under a lineman with his bull rush and speed combination, it is a huge problem for teams in both aspects of their game.
8. Minnesota Vikings: FS Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
The Vikings could go for a quarterback here but Mike Zimmer chooses defense. Clinton-Dix could provide Zimmer a cornerstone for his defense. A safety who can cover ground. He is a smart player. What impressed me the most about Clinton-Dix is his decisiveness. When he recognizes the play, he is going to attack the ball. The Vikings could use his presence over the middle in the NFC North. Zimmer will need to scale back his aggressiveness or QBs and OCs will pick on him early.
9. Buffalo Bills: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
The Bills already have a great stable of wide receivers. I could see them taking Eric Ebron as well but the second best wide receiver is on the board. It is the job of Bills to give their QB EJ Manuel every tool he needs to succeed in the system. It is also way to early to give up on him.
10. Detroit Lions: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Dennard has an attitude that fits the city. He is a tough and physical defender. He is willing to come up in tackle against the run game. He is willing to fight through blocks to make the tackle. He is a solid press cover corner. He doesn't look stiff in the hips and can turn well to run with the receiver. He has solid ball tracking skills. What I love most about him is his lack of fear. He doesn't become fearful if he isn't in the right position. He doesn't reach out for unnecessary pass interference. He just finds a way to make play.
11. Tennessee Titans: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Ken Wisenhunt learned last season how important tight ends can be for an offensive attack. He got to experience play-calling with Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green. He was able to create multiple mismatches across the board. Eric Ebron is a very athletic gifted tight end. He has great speed to go with his size. The Titans already have a good wide receiving corp. Now they can build on their passing attack with Ebron and Delanie Walker in two tight end sets.
12. New York Giants: DE/LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
The Giants need to reload in the trenches. A lot of their issues last season where because their offensive line couldn't protect and their defensive line couldn't rush the passer. They addressed a ton on the offensive line through free agency. They now need to address their pass rush. Barr would provide the Giants an infusion in their pass rush. Barr is a fast defender around the corner. Once he gets the taste of his first sack, Barr takes it to the next level and you see an increased intensity in his rushes. Barr knows how to get off a block and will only get better which his pass rush repertoire.
13. St. Louis Rams: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
The Rams need to add a presence on their backend. Pryor would provide that authority over the middle. Pryor is a player you can move all over the field. He is a solid tackler. I love watching him take on a block. He will sacrifice his body if need be. Pryor has good speed. He has good play recognition. He fits Jeff Fisher's style of defense.
14. Chicago Bears: DT Tim Jernigan, Florida State
The Bears could put the final touches on their defensive line overhaul. Jared Allen, Lamaar Houston and Jernigan. What I liked about Jernigan is his ability to take on two defenders at once and hold his ground. The Bears could use that on this defense to take full advantage of their two free agent signings. Jernigan knows how to shut down a run lane and collapse a pocket up the middle. I liked his effort on plays and the speed his displayed in his rush.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
The reason Gilbert dropped to this point is because he will panic at times. He doesn't have the best technique and will allow a defender to beat him. At that point, he will cause the ref to throw a flag. There is not mistaking Gilbert's athletic ability. He has a smooth change of direction in his hips and knows how to make plays on the football. The work Gilbert puts in to his technique will decide how big of a star he can be in this league. The Steelers should take the gamble.
16. Dallas Cowboys: DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
The Cowboys need pass rushers. With the loss of Demarcus Ware, they are going to need to find the next wave for their cover two system to be effective. Ealy is one of the better rushers on the board at this point. Missouri utilized Ealy on the both sides of the line. You could potential see him as a standup rusher, LDE, and RDE in the same game. The Tigers were always trying to find matchups to exploit. Ealy's best trait right now is his ability to hit the corner without wasted movement when bending back in to close on the quarterback. Once he beats the tackle, he is going to get the angle and close on the ball. His spin move is one of the better ones in this class.
17. San Francisco 49ers (Trade W/BAL): WR Odell Beckham, LSU
The 49ers make a bold trade with the Ravens. The 49ers have the ammo to move up the board and a roster that allows them to gamble on a pick. They are going to need two things in this draft. Replace Aldon Smith long term if they go in a different direction or find the wide receiver they desperately need in their offense. I went with the wide receiver. Beckham would provide them a wide receiver who can threat deep. Beckham is fearless over the middle. He makes smart catches away from his body. He understands the nuances of how to get open. He has good vision in the open field and he runs solid routes.
18. New York Jets: WR Marqise Lee, USC
The Jets lose out on the speedy wide receiver when the 49ers leap frog them but find a nice consolation prize in Lee. Lee is a playmaker in the open field. He can take a routine catch the distance if given the space to work. What separates Lee is his ball tracking ability. The guy knows how to find a football, correctly grab it and get YAC.
19. Miami Dolphins: OT Tyler Lewan, Michigan
When I watched Lewan they first thing that stood out to me was his athleticism in open space. He could pull if needed. He could get to the second level quickly on screens if he needed to. I was impressed with how he maintains proper level on his kick steps. Lewan rarely gave up the edge in pass protection. He knew how to ride his defender out to allow his quarterback to step up in the pocket. I think he fits well with what the Dolphins need on their line. He has room to grow in his run blocking technique and some issues to clean up in pass protection. This situation and scheme would allow him to the time to learn those things.
20. Arizona Cardinals: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
The freefalling for Bridgewater stops here. Bruce Arians is happy to see his future quarterback on the board. It will allow him time to groom him into their system and learn behind Carson Palmer. Bridgewater is the QB prospect I'm comfortable with the most in this draft. He took enough snaps from under center and in shotgun. So the drops will be fluid for him. He knows how to manipulate a defense with his eyes and fakes. He shows a mental and physical toughness that you want in a QB. Bridgewater stands tall when the blitz is coming right in his face.
21. Green Bay Packers- S Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
I really debated on this pick. Should the Packers go for secondary, pass rush or tight end? I settled on Ward. I believe secondary is a strong need for Green Bay. I like Ward's versatility. I saw times where he was able to cover a slot receiver. He could line up on different parts of the field with little drop off. What impressed me about Ward is his pursuit angles. He took the proper route to limit the big play potential. He had good aggression in run support. The downside is he attempts to go for the kill shot on most plays. Ward really needs to break down with proper form tackles.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Johnny Football finds a home in the city of brotherly love. Yes, the Eagles do have Nick Foles. I feel like Chip Kelly's offense is a very good fit for Johnny Manziel. Manziel is a dynamic runner in the open field. With the weapons in Philly, he could have some wide-open space to make those plays or at least the threat. Manziel needs the right system to thrive in the NFL. Johnny Football needs to find a home that will allow him to work on his mechanics from a footwork standpoint. Learn to read a defense in the NFL and not rely on tall wide receivers to track the ball and out leap coverage. Manziel needs time to grow as a pocket passer. He would be fun to watch in Kelly's offense. I could also see the Eagles going Bradley Roby.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
With Ebron, Beckham and Lee off the board, the Chiefs have a couple of different routes they could go. Take Brandin Cooks who many are projecting or add some pieces to the defense. I'm going another direction. When you watch Su'a-Filo you see a physical offensive lineman. He can perform screens, trap blocks and getting to the second level off a combo block. Su'a Filo has good drive blocks and reach blocks. Donald Stephenson and Su'a-Filo would be a fun combination in the run game. Another thing that stood out to me was his understanding of angles. He knows how to cut off a defender quickly and be in the right position. He is going to need some work in his re-anchor on pass protection and get a little more violent in his punch to stun the defender. There is a lot of promise with this lineman though. He could make an immediate impact on this team. If the Chiefs go wide receiver, it will likely take two years to develop them in Andy Reid's system before you see a true impact. I could also see Su'a-Filo in Baltimore and Seattle. This is also a prime spot for a trade if a quarterback falls.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
The first thing that jumps out to you about Shazier is his speed. He can cover a lot of ground very quickly. He also provides versatility in different sub-packages. Shazier has to speed to drop into coverage effectively. He can rush the passer on a blitz or help in pass defense. Shazier reminded me a lot of Derrick Johnson coming out of college. He doesn't like to take on blocks. He tries to dodge them. When he does take on a block, he doesn't have the technique or strength to get off it. He will freelance at times based on his instincts rather than his run fit. He is a backer that can stay on the field for all three downs.
25. San Diego Chargers: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Roby provides the Chargers with something they need desperately -- speed on defense. The Chargers struggled with their pass rush and in the secondary. It became a glaring weakness for this football team. Roby is one of the fastest corners in this draft. He can close on a route very quickly. Roby likes to stay in a receiver's hip pocket and get physical with them. At times this allows him to get beat on double moves or cause a pass interference call because he gets physical with the receiver.
26. Cleveland Browns: QB Jimmy Garapolo, Eastern Illinois
Some will consider this a reach. I understand that but the lightening quick release of Garapolo can't be ignored. Garapolo has the ability to make the rollouts in Kyle Shanahan's system. In the Shrine Bowl, Garapolo showed touch, an ability to go through his progressions very quickly and a wicked release. The biggest thing he needs to work on is his awareness in the pocket. The timer in his head seems slower than it should. Manziel could be an interesting fit at this spot in Cleveland as well.
27. New Orleans Saints: LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
Van Noy would provide the Saints with a physical outside rusher for their scheme. I was impressed with Van Noy's ability to set the edge on run plays. It is crucial to force a running game back inside on perimeter runs. If a LB can take away that edge, it removes a lot of plays from a team's playbook. Van Noy is a very instinctive player and can close very quickly when he sees a lane. He can diagnosis and shuts down a play very quickly. The biggest knock on him is that he needs to develop more than his bull rush.
28. Carolina Panthers: OT- Zach Martin, Notre Dame
With the Ravens trade, Martin lasted longer than expected. If the Ravens didn't trade, I could see him going to them at 17. What stands out about Martin is his flexibility. Similar to Matthews, he keeps a good bend on his stance. His pads don't come up to high. His head isn't over his feet to get him off balance. He typically doesn't lean on a defender. I believe he will end up at guard in the NFL. He doesn't wow with his run or pass blocking but he does a solid job and doesn't make many mistakes.
29. New England Patriots: WR- Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
The Patriots need to find reliable wide receivers for their offense. I think Cooks will begin his career in the slot position. When I watched his tape, I didn't see a receiver that created the separation I was hoping for based off his speed. I was surprised at how many contested passes he had. Cooks needs to work on exploding out of his route to create that separation from the start. He will shy away from contact and doesn't like to be hit. I'm concerned about his ability against press coverage. In New England though he adds another weapon that Brady could have used last season.
30. Baltimore Ravens (Trade w/ SF): OT- Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
The Ravens need to find some offensive line help in the draft. The lack of ability to win at the line of scrimmage kept this team from making it back to the playoffs. Hand placement is a big part of Kouandjio's game. He uses correct placement to help create a run lane for his back and provide the jolt to knock a defender off balance. He has some athletic ability to get into space. The Ravens could use his aggressiveness on the OL.
31. Denver Broncos: LB- CJ Mosley, Alabama
The Broncos could use a backer like Mosley. He fits very well in Jack Del Rio's scheme and provides them with a smart player. He attacks the ball well and does a solid job getting off blocks. I like his fundamental breakdown on tackles and think he can be a nice presence on run defense.
32. Seattle Seahawks: TE- Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
The Seahawks need to continue to build on their offense. Amaro gives them another dimension they didn't have in their Super Bowl run last season, a mismatch at the tight end position. Amaro would provide Russell Wilson with a solid safety blanket. He has great size and a very good route runner. Once the ball is in his hands, he can cover a lot of ground very quickly. The issues he needs to improve upon is protecting the ball in open space and not losing concentration at times when making the catch. I could also see Amaro in Green Bay and New England.