With the NFL draft just a little more than three weeks away, our producer/reporter Robbie Rosenhaus (@robbierosenhaus) has released his two round mock draft including a couple of picks that fill some big needs for the hometown Falcons.
The first round, which will take place on Thursday May 8th, is complete with pick by pick analysis. Below that you’ll find each prediction for the second round, which will take place along with the third round on Friday, May 9th. Rounds four through seven will commence on Saturday afternoon at 11AM EST. It’s a big draft for the Falcons, and Robbie will be attending this year’s NFL Draft on behalf of 92.9 The Game and will have all the latest as we approach the big three day annual selection draft at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
1) Houston Texans – DE Jadeveon Clowney
May be a knucklehead but still the most talented player at any position in this draft. You don’t pass on a possible once in a generation player. Could be the next Bruce Smith. Yes, they need a quarterback, but they can wait till the second or third round to grab one. Clowney has rare traits and may be the best defensive player to enter the draft in the last five to 10 years.
2) St. Louis Rams – OT Greg Robinson
A trade down is a distinct possibility, but with Clowney off the board and the stock of the top quarterbacks taking a hit in recent weeks, I don’t see the value there may have once been with moving. Robinson is the most athletic offensive lineman in the class, and while his run blocking is exceptional, his pass blocking needs some refining. Remember, the offense Gus Malzahn ran at Auburn was run based and did not ask him to do much in passing game.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Sammy Watkins
I’m hearing the Jaguars aren’t in love with any of the top rated quarterbacks and want to wait for the second round to pick a developmental quarterback. Watkins makes a ton of sense here for a team without a true #1 wideout. Cecil Shorts is a nice two or a three and they can’t count on anything from Justin Blackmon with his off the field troubles. Watkins would give the Jaguars their best wide receiver since the days of Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. Saw him play Florida State live this year in Death Valley, and while his Tiger teammates got smacked around, Watkins still displayed rare traits including his ability to shift in the open field and separate from defenders. Special talent.
4) Cleveland Browns – QB Johnny Manziel
The fact Browns GM Ray Farmer didn’t attend his pro day shouldn’t sway the thought of him going in this spot. Manziel would re-energize that fan base and that organization from the day he puts on the jersey. He already has a placeholder in Brian Hoyer, a offensive line anchored by Pro Bowl LT Joe Thomas and a defense that finished top 10 in the league. Oh, and Josh Gordon is the kind of receiver that makes quarterbacks sleep well at night. Manziel is the ultimate wild card with his instinctive play, but I am a big believer in the kid, and you can’t teach the “it” factor that he possesses.
5) Oakland Raiders – QB Derek Carr
If the word I am hearing is true, then Derek Carr is going to go much higher than expected. What team in the last decade or two has taken the most surprising early round picks? That’s right, the Raiders. Carr has an elite arm, and while the Raiders can afford to wait a year or two with Schaub as a place holder, I think they’ll take a shot with Carr who looked the part at the Senior Bowl and completed almost 70 percent of his throws during his senior season. Yes, detractors can point to the awful bowl game he played against USC, but I think his entire body of work speaks for himself.
6) Atlanta Falcons – LB Khalil Mack
Everyone assumes the Falcons will go offensive line here, but the smart money is on the best available defensive player and that’s Mack. Yes, the offense didn’t click last year but Julio was injured for a lot of the year and Roddy was more hurt than the public was led to believe. He was never fully healthy that entire 2013 season. They need youth at the running back position and certainly need some secondary help, but there is enough depth in the middle rounds at those positions that they can afford to wait. Mack is an edge rusher who can play in a 4-3 or a 3-4 and with the news the Falcons will play a hybrid scheme, this is a match made in heaven.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OT Jake Matthews
With all the free agent additions the Bucs made, this pick makes perfect sense. Many will think they go wideout here with the departure of Mike Williams, but wideout is arguably the deepest position in this draft and they can certainly get value in the middle rounds if they choose to. Matthews has been called the safest pick in the draft, but to me it’s more than that. He’s not as athletic as Robinson, but his pass blocking and his run blocking are way above average and his bloodlines factor in as well. Lovie Smith never had a good offensive line while he was in Chicago, but he’s on his way to having a good one in Tampa with Matthews.
8) Minnesota Vikings – QB Blake Bortles
I think a trade down is a distinct possiblility with someone looking to come up and grab Mike Evans or Eric Ebron, but for now we’ll stick with the quarterback who fits Norv Turner’s offense to a tee. Play action passing, check. Deep shots downfield, check. Strong running game, check. Bortles looks the part and probably has the biggest upside of any QB in the draft, and I think if he’s there at eight the Vikings will jump at the chance to select him. With Adrian Peterson still in his prime for a few more years and Matt Cassel as a placeholder, Bortles should lead the Vikings into their new stadium with a playoff contending team.
9) Buffalo Bills – WR Mike Evans
The Bills lack a true #1 wide receiver and this pick absolutely fills that need. EJ Manuel did a few nice things last year but to truly gage his potential, you need to stock the offense with some more weapons. Evans was Manziel’s top target at Texas A&M last year and had a very solid junior season. He checks in at 6’4 and is not only is a great red zone target but can get down the field as well. His catch radius is phenomenal and his body control is second to none in this class. He would instantly become the top target of Manuel as the Bills try and improve in year two under Doug Marrone.
10) Detroit Lions – S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix
After letting Louis Delmas go in free agency, the Lions now have more than one hole to fill in their secondary and would be wise to grab the top ranked safety in the class. Clinton-Dix played a true free safety under Nick Saban down in Tuscaloosa, covering a lot of ground and really controlling the deep center of the field. In a division with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, the Lions really need to improve their back four and this pick would go a long way towards doing that.
11) Tennessee Titans – CB Justin Gilbert
The Titans did a lot of moving and shaking in free agency, and one position they lost a premier player at was corner. Alterraun Verner left for Tampa Bay and now they need a new starter opposite Jason McCourty. Justin Gilbert not only is a prototypical shutdown corner, but he is a heck of a kick returner as well. The best man to man corner in the draft, to me he is the best at his position and would fit the Titans extremely well.
12) New York Giants – DT Aaron Donald
The best player I saw at the Senior Bowl at any position, Donald may be undersized but is relentless from snap to whistle. He had 29.5 sacks during his collegiate career from the three technique and teams now more than ever value that pass rushing ability from the interior. With the losses the Giants have had on the defensive line, he makes perfect sense for a team looking to get younger on the defensive side of the ball.
13) St. Louis Rams – S Calvin Pryor
Clinton-Dix may be the top rated safety on most boards but I think Pryor will be the best safety to come out of this class. Pryor is a hard hitter also possessing the ability to play the ball when called upon. He had 75 tackles, three interceptions, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles this past season for Louisville. Playing behind a talented front seven, Pryor should thrive in the Rams system.
14) Chicago Bears – DT Rashede Hageman
Hageman is an athletic freak at 6’6 and would play nose tackle in the Bears 4-3 alignment. Dominant for stretches at the senior bowl, the former University of Minnesota tight end switched to defense after his freshman year and immediately became the best defender on the middling Gophers. Hageman has exceptional ability to rush the passer from the interior as well as bat down passes with his height. A true boom or bust player, I think he’ll be a good one in the windy city.
15) Pittsburgh Steelers – DT Louis Nix III
Needing upgrades on defense not only in the front seven but in the back four as well, the Steelers grab a nose tackle who is a true run stuffer and fits perfectly in their 3-4 scheme. The Steelers struggled mightily against the run last season allowing 18 rushing TD’s and finishing in the bottom third of the league in yards per game against. Nix was hurt last season but put together a decent combine showing and would be a day one starter in Pittsburgh.
16) Dallas Cowboys – DT Timmy Jernigan
Demarcus Ware isn’t there anymore, and neither is Jason Hatcher, and the Cowboys were basically signing guys off the street to play DL for them at one point last season so Jernigan fills a huge hole. The former Seminole was a one man wrecking crew in the National Championship game against Auburn, shedding blocks with ease and controlling the powerful Tigers run game for long stretches of the contest. He had four and a half sacks and 11 tackles for loss from the interior last season and should thrive under the tutelage of Rod Marinelli down in Dallas.
17) Baltimore Ravens – OT Taylor Lewan
The third “elite” tackle in this class falls to 17 with off the field concerns and becomes the first of two consecutive steals in the first round. Lewan was projected as a top 10 pick across the board all season long playing for the Wolverines, and I think he can shift seamlessly over to right tackle which is where Baltimore would play him on day one.
18) New York Jets – TE Eric Ebron
Projected to go higher in the draft in several NFL circles, Ebron falls to Rex Ryan and proves to be a draft day steal that excites Gang Green nation. The former Tar Heel has a skill set that has the makings of an elite tight end in the league. He is too big for defensive backs to cover and has the speed to beat linebackers down the middle of the field as well as many safeties. He should be an impact starter from day one and be a nice option for Michael Vick or Geno Smith, whoever wins the job in New York.
19) Miami Dolphins – OT/OG Zach Martin
Really impressive at the Senior Bowl, Martin showed the ability to line up in several positions along the offensive line. With Branden Albert now in the fold to protect Tannehill’s blind side, Martin can either play RT or shift inside. His speciality is pass protection, and last year the Dolphins were a disaster in that area. Martin is a great pick at this spot and should be a 10 year starter in Miami.
20) Arizona Cardinals – OLB Anthony Barr
Labeled as a finesse player by some, Barr falls to 20 after some thought he would go in the top 10. He’ll help the pass rush and can take over for John Abraham as the lead dog on defense once he is ready to depart. They do need some secondary help, but after wide receiver, secondary is probably the deepest position in this year’s draft.
21) Green Bay Packers – CB Darqueze Dennard
Ted Thompson loves to go best player available and certainly at this point Dennard would fit that mantra. A shutdown corner at Michigan State, Dennard did measure in smaller than some thought he would at the combine, but when you watch the game tape you cannot ignore his blanket cover ability, especially in the big games. As good a press man corner as you’ll find in this draft, he’ll line up next to Sam Shields and form a 1-2 punch in a division with some real good passing attacks.
22) Philadelphia Eagles – WR Marqise Lee
Chip Kelly saw what Lee can do first hand when he was at Oregon, and despite shoddy QB play at USC last year, Lee was impressive in spurts especially runs after the catch. He may not wow you with his measurables but if you watch him play you know why he is a legitimate first round prospect. He lands in a perfect spot where he doesn’t have to play a ton of snaps right away and can learn behind the likes of Maclin and Cooper while he adjusts to the transition from college to the pros. Smart kid and he’ll do just fine in Philadelphia.
23) Kansas City Chiefs – WR Odell Beckham Jr.
A perfect fit for Beckham is here in KC next to another LSU alum Dwayne Bowe. A deep threat wideout, Beckham isn’t the biggest receiver you’ll ever see but his speed and cuts in and out of breaks are exceptional. The Chiefs have been looking for a number two wideout for awhile now, whether it was signing a guy that didn’t work out or making a failed trade to try and acquire one. Beckham instantly becomes the solution.
24) Cincinnati Bengals – DE Dee Ford
Probably the second most impressive defender next to Aaron Donald at the Senior Bowl, Dee Ford was explosive off the edge all week and will prove to be a value at this spot to a Bengals team looking to replenish the defense. He may project as a stand up linebacker in a 4-3 defense or an edge rusher in a 3-4, but regardless of the defense the Bengals end up playing with a new defensive coordinator, they can find a spot for a player as talented as Ford.
25) San Diego Chargers – CB Bradley Roby
Roby entered this season as arguably the top rated cornerback entering the 2014 NFL Draft but due to concerns – both on and off the field – he is a borderline first round selection. Look for the Chargers to take a change on a kid who has some serious cover ability in a man to man scheme and looked the part at the Combine a few months back. He has a first round skill set and someone is going to take a chance on him. I think it’ll be San Diego.
26) Cleveland Browns – CB Kyle Fuller
I can’t get the opening game versus Alabama out of my head when he was the best Virginia Tech player on the field against one of the best teams in the land. Fuller would slide in next to Joe Haden to form a great 1-2 punch in the defensive backfield and give them two players capable of shutting down top opposition. The Browns have a decent defense and adding someone of Fuller’s quality could elevate them to that next level. Six foot corners who run that fast don’t grow on trees and this kid has all the tools to be a big star.
27) New Orleans Saints – CB Jason Verrett
Undersized but highly effective, Verrett could find a home in New Orleans in a revamped defensive backfield that now features pro bowl safety Jarius Byrd. In the season opener against LSU, the former Horned Frog Verrett broke up several passes and didn’t allow separation, recording seven tackles and a sack in the game. Yes, he’s only 5’9 but so was Antonie Winfield and he wound up being one heck of a player. I think Verrett is a value here and on that fast track in New Orleans, his sub 4.4 forty will be an even bigger asset.
28) Carolina Panthers – OT Morgan Moses
At the Senior Bowl, Moses showed his potential winning a ton of one on one drills and showing improved pass protection as the week went along. Trained by former Falcon Bob Whitfield in the offseason, Moses was told he needs to improve on his footwork and reports are he has come around in that aspect of his game considerably. The Panthers have lost wide receivers and offensive linemen left and right this offseason, and with the depth of wideout in this class, they can afford to wait before addressing that position. Moses will step in as a day one starter in Carolina.
29) New England Patriots – QB Teddy Bridgewater
One of two things happens at this spot – either the Patriots take Bridgewater and stash him or the more likely scenario is a team picking high in the second round (Texans? Jaguars?) who don’t grab a quarterback in round one trading back into the round with the Patriots a willing participant to gather more picks in what arguably is the deepest draft in over a decade. Bridgewater at this point would be a steal, and despite his critics still was one of the best if not the best quarterback in college football this past season. He may not look the part and may have had an awful pro Day, but the game tape doesn’t lie and his accuracy was the best of any draft eligible quarterback in this year’s class. Expect him to go in or near this spot.
30) San Francisco 49ers – WR Brandin Cooks
The Niners re-signed Anquan Boldin and have a lot of picks to make a move up for someone like an Evans or maybe even a Watkins but the smart, safe pick is staying put and taking Cooks. The former Oregon State wideout tore up the combine and has drawn comparisons to Steve Smith and Desean Jackson. He can start day one in the slot and eventually move to the outside in a year or two. This pick in a lot of ways would make up for AJ Jenkins disaster of a few years ago.
31) Denver Broncos – LB Ryan Shazier
A pass rusher to line up on the opposite of Von Miller? Sure, why not? The former Buckeye is one of my favorite players in the draft as the rich get richer in Denver. Shazier is one of the most athletic linebackers in the draft and is a true three down WILL linebacker who can step right in and play on day one. Not the biggest prospect in the world but is quick as lightning and plays the run almost as well as the pass. Denver gets a gem and a heck of a player.
32) Seattle Seahawks – WR Kelvin Benjamin
What they get in Benjamin, they thought they were getting in Sidney Rice when they signed him away from Minnesota to a big money deal a few years back. The big, tall wideout from Florida State probably could have benefited from another year in school but exits as one of the more intriguing wide receiver prospects to enter this year’s draft. Benjamin is just over 6’5, 240 and runs a 4.6. You can’t teach that size/speed combination, and with the departure of the aforementioned Rice as well as Golden Tate, this is a great spot for him to land. He would instantly be Russell Wilson’s favorite target.
33) Houston Texans – QB Zach Mettenberger
34) Washington Redskins – S Jimmie Ward
35) Cleveland Browns – OG Xavier Su’a-Filo
36) Oakland Raiders – DE Kony Ealy
37) Atlanta Falcons – OT Cyrus Kouandjio
38) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Jordan Matthews
39) Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Jimmy Garoppolo
40) Minnesota Vikings – LB CJ Mosley
41) Buffalo Bills – LB Kyle Van Noy
42) Tennessee Titans – RB Carlos Hyde
43) New York Giants – WR Allen Robinson
44) St. Louis Rams – CB Keith McGill
45) Detroit Lions – OT Joel Bitonio
46) Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Marcus Roberson
47) Dallas Cowboys – S Dion Bailey
48) Baltimore Ravens – TE Jace Amaro
49) New York Jets – OG David Yankey
50) Miami Dolphins – OG Gabe Jackson
51) Chicago Bears – CB Philip Gaines
52) Arizona Cardinals – QB AJ McCarron
53) Green Bay Packers – WR Jarvis Landry
54) Philadelphia Eagles – S Deone Bucannon
55) Cincinnati Bengals – OT Antonio “Tiny” Richardson
56) San Francisco 49ers – DE Stephon Tuitt
57) San Diego Chargers – WR Davante Adams
58) New Orleans Saints – OLB Jeremiah Attaochu
59) Indianapolis Colts – S Ed Reynolds
60) Carolina Panthers – WR Donte Moncrief
61) San Francisco 49ers – C Weston Richburg
62) New England Patriots – DE Dominque Easley
63) Denver Broncos – WR Paul Richardson
64) Seattle Seahawks – TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins