1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville [Scouting Report]
The Texans showed that you can have the reigning defensive player of the year and it won’t matter unless you have a quarterback. Matt Schaub and Case Keenum aren’t the answer, and with new head coach Bill O’Brien having a history of working with quarterbacks, he may look to grab his own at #1.
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M [Scouting Report]
Matthews may be better than his former team mate Luke Joeckel, who went 2nd overall last year to the Jacksonville Jaguars. With picture perfect technique and outstanding pass and run blocking, Matthews can come in and start from day one in the NFL – possibly at left tackle, where Jake Long is nursing a torn ACL.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina [Scouting Report]
The Jags definitely need a quarterback. I like Blake Bortles but I don’t think Dave Caldwell would pass on a game changing pass rusher like Clowney in order to reach for a quarterback. The Jags ranked joint last in sacks in 2013, and need pressure as they would have to face Andrew Luck and Teddy Bridgewater twice a year in this scenario, and Clowney’s incredible athleticism and first step makes him a special prospect.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
There’s a certain amount of buzz surrounding the possibility of Manziel going to Cleveland, who are in desperate need of a spark from the quarterback position. He might be undersized – and something of a maverick – but Manziel is a playmaking quarterback who can beat you with his legs and now, after a marked improvement from the pocket, with his arm too.
5. Oakland Raiders – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Somebody is going to see the massive potential in Bortles, who has many of the traits you want in a quarterback. He still has to work on some of his mechanics and decision making, but Oakland need an improvement on Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor. Bortles has some Andrew Luck-like aspects to his game, but will be a work in progress.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Lamar Holmes was poor at left tackle and whilst Robinson is still raw in pass protection, he is a man mountain who can use his incredible run blocking to add some aggression to the Falcons’ line and inject their ground game with some talent. He has the potential to become a great left tackle, but there could be some growing pains early on in the NFL.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Khalil Mack, DE, Buffalo
The 2011 picks of Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers haven’t quite panned out, and Lovie Smith needs a pass rusher than can take some of the burden off Gerald McCoy’s shoulders. Mack is an aggressive pass rusher with violent hands, and can convert speed into power to get into the backfield.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
With Norv Turner set to become the new offensive co-ordinator for the Vikings, he will almost certainly be utilising a vertical offense, which Derek Carr would fit nicely in. He has a fantastic arm to push the ball down the field, and whilst he still has issues inside the pocket, he has a great offensive line and running game to help him out.
9. Buffalo Bills – Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
An athletic freak with outstanding closing speed, Barr hasn’t quite kicked on as a pass rusher, but with his ability to cover he would be a good piece to have in Mike Pettine’s defense. Barr will blow up the combine, and whilst raw as a pass rusher, he could have some success in that area if used correctly.
10. Detroit Lions – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Matthew Stafford had his fair share of problems in 2013, but the addition of an offensive head coach in Jim Caldwell could help him. Another aid would be another wide receiver, with Calvin Johnson their only legitimate WR. Watkins is a speed freak with amazing body control to haul in the most errant of passes, and would form a frightening tandem with Megatron.
11. Tennessee Titans – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Ealy is an athletic pass rusher who, when on his game, flashes the ability to be an edge rushing menace with speed and explosion. His inconsistency is a concern, but his potential is huge if he can develop as an every down player in the NFL. The Titans are in need of pass rushing help, having made just 36 sacks last season.
12. New York GIants – CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Giants seem to have had a bunch of unathletic linebackers in recent years, and whilst Jon Beason impressed in 2013, they could still stand to add a player who can contribute in all phases of defence – and that’s exactly what Mosley is. He’s a do-it-all linebacker who has been fantastic for Nick Saban’s team, and would reinvigorate the Giants defence.
13. St. Louis Rams – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Quick challenge: name a Rams safety. If you managed to, well done. The Rams need secondary help both at cornerback and safety, and Alabama’s Clinton-Dix offers an all round force. Able to play as a deep safety or up in the box, Clinton-Dix has a skill set suited to the NFL and should improve a promising Rams defense even more.
14. Chicago Bears – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota [Scouting Report]
The Bears need a defensive tackle to partner the returning Henry Melton, assuming he will sign an extension. Chicago were gashed in the run game and whilst Hageman is certainly raw in all aspects of the game, he has incredible athleticism and has shown explosion and burst to rush the passer. He also has a big frame, and should continue to develop against the run.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Steelers could go in a whole number of directions, but getting younger on defense still has to be a priority. Ike Taylor will be 34 in May, and they need to think about drafting someone to play alongside him and eventually replace him. Darqueze Dennard is a physical cornerback who wouldn’t look out of place in the Pittsburgh defense.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Ravens failed to replace Anquan Boldin’s production as a big, possession receiver on the outside. Torrey Smith is an excellent receiver, but Joe Flacco needs another weapon and at 6ft 5in/225lbs, Evans is a physical receiver who can win contested catches and even make plays after the catch.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Dallas need pieces for Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense after a tough transition year from the 3-4 scheme that they ran under Rob Ryan. Nix is a giant defensive tackle who can clog up running lanes but also has great athleticism as a pass rusher. Combining him with Jason Hatcher could be productive, but even he may be on his way out.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Jets certainly need to add weapons for Geno Smith, but whilst many might expect wide receiver, giving Smith an option over the middle may be more wise. Ebron has drawn comparisons to Vernon Davis and Jared Cook, and is a dangerous pass catching tight end with great speed to turn short plays into big plays.
19. Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Miami gave up a staggering 58 sacks in 2013 – the worst in the league – whilst also surrendering 99 quarterback hits (tied for sixth worst in the league). The loss of Jake Long was more damaging than many expected, and they simply have to give Ryan Tannehill better protection. Kouandjio is a great run blocker but slightly inconsistent in pass protection, but has great potential to become a starting left tackle.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan [Scouting Report]
Another team who struggled on the offensive line, Arizona gave up 41 sacks and 98 hits, as Bradley Sowell struggled at left tackle. Taylor Lewan is an inconsistent prospect but has shown the ability to at least be a decent right tackle in the NFL. He’d almost certainly be an upgrade on Sowell though.
21. Green Bay Packers – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Calvin Pryor is a scary man. He’s a ferocious hitter who can also cover and break on the ball with incredible closing speed. He’s slightly under the radar at the moment but could go even higher than this. The Packers desperately need safety help, and Pryor would certainly be an improvement.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Chip Kelly’s defense is predominantly a 3-4 zone blitz, and his defenses both with Oregon in college and with the Eagles in the NFL have been based upon takeaways – the Eagles ranked in the top 10 in interceptions in 2013, and adding a zone corner with great ball skills like Gilbert could make that even better.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Travis Kelce has some potential, but the Chiefs could certainly stand to improve on Anthony Fasano at the tight end position. Alex Smith needs more weapons and giving him a physical receiver like Amaro would make Smith more comfortable throwing over the middle of the field.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby’s stock has fallen somewhat, but he’s still a first round talent. The Bengals suffered injuries at the cornerback position with Leon Hall and Terrance Newman, whilst 2012 first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick has been inconsistent. Adding Roby from nearby Ohio State could improve this defence even more.
25. San Diego Chargers – Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
After the failed free agency addition of Derek Cox, the Chargers were left short at cornerback and had the fourth worst-ranked passing defense in the NFL. Roberson outshone Loucheiz Purifoy for the Gators this season, and his ability in man coverage would make him a good fit in John Pagano’s defense.
26. Cleveland Browns – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Browns receivers outside of Josh Gordon are…well…they suck. Having an offense with Gordon, Johnny Manziel and Marqise Lee would have great potential, with Lee working as a reliable short and intermediate receiver, whilst also having the speed to hurt teams deep.
27. New Orleans Saints – Zach Martin, OL, Notre Dame
Terron Armstead has flashed ability at left tackle since stepping in, but right tackle Zach Strief is a free agent and is unlikely to be brought back. Martin can play guard or tackle and would offer a versatile option on the offensive line, which struggled against Seattle in the playoffs.
28. Carolina Panthers – Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
They have to draft a WR high this time, right? Steve Smith is the only legitimate receiver Cam Newton has outside of tight end Greg Olsen, and Beckham would offer a threat from anywhere on the field with his ability to be a gamebreaker both in the passing game and as a return man.
29. New England Patriots – Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Aaron Hernandez is out of the league for his various…misdemeanours, and Rob Gronkowski had an injury hit season, leaving this formerly tight end-heavy offense with the likes of Michael Hoomanawanui to feature. Niklas is a shock declaration, but is an all round tight end who could be valuable in this offense.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
With Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin on the outside, the 49ers can add a speedy slot receiver in Cooks. Compared to Victor Cruz by some, Cooks could sneak into the first round in a strong wide receiver class, as the 49ers should look to add more weapons around Colin Kaepernick.
31. Denver Broncos – Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Paris Lenon and Wesley Woodyard are both free agents and the Broncos may look to bring in another linebacker. Shazier has outstanding sideline-to-sideline speed, and uses his athleticism to track down ball carriers, cover receivers and even rush the passer on blitzes.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
The giant receiver has bags of potential as what Mike Mayock would call a “HEIGHT/WEIGHT/SPEED FREAK”. He’s still pretty raw despite being 23 already, but it’s exactly the kind of pick the Seahawks would make. Sidney Rice is permanently injured, and Seattle could stand to add a big receiver for Russell Wilson to throw to.