Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Post Free Agency Mock Draft

by Justin Worsley

1. Houston Texans (2-14) - Blake Bortles (QB/UCF)

This is the first time in a while that there is essentially no idea what the team with the top draft pick is doing.  Houston always has the option to trade this selection away, but the team needs a franchise signal caller too much to move down too far.

Bortles has emerged as the top quarterback in the draft following a successful pro day both on the field as well as during team interviews.  Another link between Houston and Bortles is UCF head coach George O'Leary, who mentored Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien while the two worked together at Georgia Tech.

2. St. Louis Rams (7-9) - Jadeveon Clowney (DE/South Carolina)

Ultimately, the Rams will likely trade this draft pick away.  Atlanta has been the popular choice, but it is more than reasonable to expect that at least one dozen teams are kicking the tires to acquire Clowney.  If the Rams stand pat Clowney will be the selection.  Considered the best defensive player to be eligible in years, Clowney would bolster an already deep pass rush that includes Chris Long and Robert Quinn.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) - Johnny Manziel (QB/Texas A&M)

The Blaine Gabbert era is officially over in Jacksonville, but the team still needs a franchise quarterback since Chad Henne isn't the answer.  Manziel comes with baggage and really needs a year to sit on the bench and learn how to play quarterback at the NFL level, but there is no doubting his raw talent.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) - Khalil Mack (OLB/Buffalo)

Cleveland seems uninterested at quarterback at this juncture and will likely spend 2014 with Brian Hoyer as their signal caller.  They have skipped the pro days of both Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater and it is reportedly "unlikely" that they will draft Sammy Watkins.

Instead, the team will likely go with the top defensive player.  Mack had a strong senior season and has now emerged as a top five selection because of it.

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Sammy Watkins (WR/Clemson)

Oakland acquired Matt Schaub this offseason and will likely use him as a stop-gap solution at quarterback.  Teddy Bridgewater is an option, but I think in the end Oakland is more likely to go for a wide receiver rather than a signal caller.

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) - Anthony Barr (OLB/UCLA)

Atlanta has been linked as a suitor to trade up to acquire Clowney, but if they fail to move, Barr would be a fantastic consolation.  The Falcons struggled to establish a pass rush last year and will make fixing it a priority in the draft.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) - Mike Evans (WR/Texas A&M)

Tampa Bay traded Mike Williams to Buffalo, causing Evans' stock to rise.  I'm not a fan of Evans going to Tampa Bay, especially with Vincent Jackson on the roster, but new quarterback Josh McCown succeeded last season with two large receivers in Chicago in Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1) - Teddy Bridgewater (QB/Louisville)

A dream scenario for Minnesota, the Vikings acquire the most NFL-ready quarterback without having to move up and can avoid reaching for Derek Carr.  Bridgewater could become an immediate starter in the NFL for the Vikings.

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Greg Robinson (OT/Auburn)

The top player available, adding Robinson would allow Buffalo to move Cordy Glenn to the right side and give the Bills a more natural blind-side protector.

10. Detroit Lions (7-9) - Justin Gilbert (CB/Oklahoma State)

Detroit has shown in the past that they will draft the best overall player.  In this situation, Gilbert would help solidify an already young secondary.

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9) - Jake Matthews (OT/Texas A&M)

David Stewart was released and Michael Roos will be a free agent in 2015. Matthews, whose father also played for the organization, could step in as a right tackle for 2014 and slide over to the blind side afterwards.

12. New York Giants (7-9) - Eric Ebron (TE/North Carolina)

Currently, the only real pass catching threat on the Giants roster is Victor Cruz.  New York would love to be able to take Mike Evans at this juncture, but if he is unavailable, giving Eli Manning a new safety valve would work as well.

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9) - Taylor Lewan (OT/Michigan)

Jake Long can't be depended on to be a healthy left tackle and the team reportedly wants to move Roger Saffold to guard.  Lewan has a lot of red flags that seemingly hasn't affected his draft stock and he struggled last season, but teams still seem to be high on him.

14. Chicago Bears (8-8) - Aaron Donald (DT/Pittsburgh)

Chicago has done a lot to address their pass rush this offseason, but they seem to have forgotten just how horrendous their run defense was.  Adding a defensive tackle in the wake of losing Henry Melton will be necessary.  Rumors have circulated that the Bears may even move up to acquire Donald.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - HaHa Clinton-Dix (S/Alabama)

With Ryan Clark officially signed elsewhere, the Steelers will need to find an upgrade to their secondary.

16. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - Kony Ealy (DE/Missouri)

With DeMarcus Ware officially gone, the Cowboys are in desperate need for an upgrade to their pass rush.  Ealy is a bit of a reach here, but he's the top pass rusher who fits Dallas' scheme.

17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8) - Calvin Pryor (S/Louisville)

Matt Elam was drafted next year, but they have nobody of starting caliber at free safety.  Pryor is a bit of a reach here, but he fills  major need for the Ravens.

18. New York Jets (8-8) - Marqise Lee (WR/USC)

The Jets signed Eric Decker, but let's be honest, who really sees him as their top receiver?  Geno Smith needs playmakers in order to be successful.  Lee has been linked to the Jets for quite some time as well.

19. Miami Dolphins (8-8) - Zack Martin (OT/Notre Dame)

There is some concern about Martin's short arms which could prevent him from being a regular left tackle in the NFL, but he still profiles as a starting right tackle or guard, all areas that need help in Miami following the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito fiasco.

20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) - Dee Ford (DE/Auburn)

Arizona no longer needs a left tackle after signing Jared Veldheer, but their pass rush needs to be addressed.  Darnell Dockett is turning 33 and declining and John Abraham will be 36 this offseason.

21. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) - C.J. Mosley (MLB/Alabama)

Despite how talented Mosley is, don't be surprised to see him get selected a little lower mainly because inside linebacker is not a premium position in the NFL.  Regardless, he is the top player available and fills  need for Green Bay.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) - Brandin Cooks (WR/Oregon State)

With DeSean Jackson officially gone and Jeremy Maclin coming off an ACL tear, wide receiver has become a position of need in Philadelphia.  Cooks is a similar receiver to Jackson and could help fill the void.

23. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) - Jace Amaro (TE/Texas Tech)

Kansas City will likely not take a receiver at this spot of the draft unless someone like Evans or Watkins falls to them.  The Chiefs, however, are in need of a playmaker and Amaro could be that man.  Amaro can be Alex Smith's safety valve as well as serve as a pass-catching upgrade over Anthony Fasano.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) - Kyle Fuller (CB/Virginia Tech)

The team drafted Dre Kirkpatrick in 2012, but there is not enough depth in the team;s secondary due to aging and injured players.  Fuller and Kirkpatrick could become the future of the Bengals pass defense.

25. San Diego Chargers (9-7) - Louis Nix (DT/Notre Dame)

Undrafted free agents Byron Jerideau and Kwame Geathers are the only nose tackles currently on the Chargers roster.  If they expect to stop the run in 2014, they will need to upgrade this position.

26. Cleveland Browns (4-12) - Derek Carr (QB/Fresno State)

Uninterested in a quarterback with their no. 4 pick, they could be intrigued by Carr here.  He comes with a lot of upside and fits better at this spot over being taken within the top 15.

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Demarcus Lawrence (DE/Boise State)

New Orleans pass rush is terrible and if they expect to contend with Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, they will need to address this.

28. Carolina Panthers (12-4) - Odell Beckham (WR/LSU)

Carolina has a paper-thin roster at wide receiver.  As it stands, Jerricho Cotchery is the team's top receiver.  If they want Cam Newton to continue to progress, they will need to bring in reliable receivers.

29. New England Patriots (12-4) - Kelvin Benjamin (WR/Florida State)

New England's roster is filled with mediocre, inconsistent receivers.  Tom Brady will need someone to throw to in 2014.

30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) - Darqueze Dennard (CB/Michigan State)

Carlos Rogers was released due to a decline in production.  San Francisco will need to bolster their secondary in the draft.

31. Denver Broncos (13-3) - Ryan Shazier (MLB/Ohio State)

Denver received a wake-up call in the Super Bowl about just how poor their defense really was.  Wesley Woodyard was completely out of position in the middle last year and walked in free agency.  Shazier is fast for a middle linebacker and could be an upgrade for their defense.

32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3) - Xavier Su'a-Filo (G/UCLA)

The Seahawks biggest weakness last season was their interior protection, especially on the right side where Pat McQuistain was a liability.

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