With the NFL draft just a little more than a week and a half away, our producer/reporter Robbie Rosenhaus (@robbierosenhaus) has released his third and final version of a two round mock draft including some big changes to versions one and two.
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) Atlanta Falcons (via trade with Houston Texans) – DE Jadeveon Clowney
Still have Clowney here as I did in versions one and two, but this time, the locals trade up and nab arguably the best defensive prospect to enter the draft in over a decade. The most talented player at any position in this draft, GM Thomas Dimitroff finds a middle ground with a team desperate to accumulate more picks to fix what was an awful team last year. Clowney could be the next Bruce Smith, and for a team lacking playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, Clowney brings instant credibility to a defensive line that was in the bottom five of the league in sacks last season.
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 that once may have been. 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. The upside of Robinson is the biggest of any player in the draft not named Clowney.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars – LB Khalil Mack
This is probably the pick I am most sure about in the first round, as I’m hearing the Jaguars aren’t in love with any of the top rated quarterbacks and want to wait for the middle rounds to pick a developmental one. Do not be surprised to see them target Aaron Murray or Jimmy Garoppolo in round two or three, as they have been linked to both in recent weeks. Mack would work perfect in the LEO spot on Gus Bradley’s defense, allowing Mack to play outside linebacker and rush in the mold of the Broncos Von Miller. A perfect fit on a ever improving defense in Jacksonville.
4) Cleveland Browns – QB Johnny Manziel
Flip flopping in both of my previous mock drafts, I have Manziel back in the four spot based on a few factors. First off, the Browns have a star wideout in Josh Gordon and can wait on selecting one till the middle rounds in a draft loaded with depth at the WR position. That rules out Sammy Watkins. This offense, so bad for so many years, now has some serious pieces in Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and Ben Tate, who was added in the offseason as a free agent. Their defense was ranked top 10 in the league at the conclusion of last season so they can tinker with that in the later rounds. Grabbing Manziel for a team lacking an identity would give them one and allow Brian Hoyer to start the year as the starter before transitioning to Manziel potentially as early as late this season. Their owner wants to make a splash, and there is no bigger splash to make than selecting Johnny Football.
5) Oakland Raiders – WR Sammy Watkins
For a team lacking above average talent at so many positions on both sides of the ball, it’s all about grabbing the best player available at this position and in my estimation it’s Watkins. The former Clemson Tiger’s explosiveness the past few years against not just inferior competition but against the likes of top programs such as Georgia and Florida State really stood out. He’s a big game player and should be a favorite target of Matt Schaub instantenously in the Black Hole.
6) Houston Texans (trade with Atlanta Falcons) – QB Blake Bortles
The Texans land in a perfect spot as they trade down, grab a second round pick from the Falcons plus a late round pick this year and a pick next year, and still get a franchise QB in Bortles. The former UCF signal caller looks the part and probably has the biggest upside of any QB in the draft, and while his arm strength isn’t where it should be yet, he won’t have to start right away and can wait until year two to start in what amounts to a rebuilding year in Houston under first year head coach Bill O’Brien.
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) New York Jets (trade with Minnesota Vikings) – WR Mike Evans
The Jets signed Eric Decker in the offseason but they aren’t done remodeling their wideout core. Knowing he needs to further improve the offense even after signing Michael Vick, Chris Johnson and Eric Decker, GM John Idzik makes the big move up from 18 to 8 and grabs arguably the second best wide receiver prospect in the draft. Evans was Johnny Manziel’s top target at Texas A&M and has the biggest catch radius of any WR in this draft. His height, weight, speed combo is extremely rare and despite a few too many drops his junior year, and with the Vikings wanting to move down to accumulate more picks and possibly select at a position of need on defense or even a quarterback, GM Rick Spielman finds a willing trade partner in Idzik and the crowd goes wild inside Radio City.
9) Buffalo Bills – TE Eric Ebron
The former Tar Heel has a skill set that has the makings of an elite tight end in the league and should immediately become EJ Manuel’s favorite target in Buffalo. 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 really help an offense that struggled at several points last season.
10) Detroit Lions – DT Aaron Donald
If the word I am hearing is true, then Donald is skyrocketing up draft boards more than any player on the defensive side of the ball. 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. Yes, the Lions have Suh and Fairley on the interior but with the rumors the Lions may trade Suh and Fairley’s contract up at the end of 2014, Donald makes a lot of sense in the Motor City.
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 – OT Taylor Lewan
Eli Manning is reaching the final few years of the prime of his career, and while the Giants could use help at linebacker and in the secondary, first and foremost they need to help their franchise QB stay upright. 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 New York would play him on day one.
13) St. Louis Rams – WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham would enter an offense with a slot dynamo in Tavon Austin and not much to speak about on the outside. Sam Bradford is in a tenuous situation in St. Louis and his GM would be wise in grabbing another weapon to maximize the quarterback’s options. A deep threat by trade, Beckham isn’t the biggest receiver you’ll ever see but his speed and cuts in and out of breaks are exceptional. He is a flat out playmaker and should form a deadly 1-2 combo with Austin for Bradford as the offense looks to take the next step forward in year three under Jeff Fisher.
14) Chicago Bears – CB Darqueze Dennard
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, they really need him in a division with two vertical offenses in Detroit and Green Bay plus a team in Minnesota that has some nice options in the passing game as well.
15) Pittsburgh Steelers – DE Stephon Tuitt
Needing upgrades on defense not only in the front seven but in the back four as well, the Steelers grab a defensive end who fits perfectly as a five technique 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. Tuitt was hurt for Notre Dame but is fully recovered as we approach draft day. He’s the prototypical Steeler in terms of playing style and aggressiveness and would be a fan favorite in no time in the Steel City.
16) Dallas Cowboys – S Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
The Cowboys 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 a few high powered passing games, the Cowboys really need to improve their back four and this pick would go a long way towards doing that.
17) Baltimore Ravens – OT/OG Zach Martin
Really impressive at the Senior Bowl, Martin showed the ability to line up in several positions along the offensive line. He can either play RT or shift inside and with the Ravens reshuffling their offensive line this offseason, Martin should be a starter on day one. His speciality is pass protection, and with Flacco needing the time to have his wideouts get down the field in that vertical offense, Martin fits what they want to do to a tee.
18) Minnesota Vikings (trade with New York Jets) – QB Teddy Bridgewater
Something tells me the Vikings aren’t comfortable taking a QB at eight, but moving down 10 spots and grabbing potentially a second round pick and more, Bridgewater at this point would be a home run. Despite his critics, Bridgewater was still one of, 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.
19) Miami Dolphins – LB CJ Mosley
Injury prone yet talented, the former thumper in the middle for the Crimson Tide would be a good fit for a Dolphins defense that had its linebackers struggle a season ago and could use an injection of youth. Mosley plays the run as well as any LB in this draft and could start right away on a defense that struggled at several points late last season in key games down the stretch.
20) Arizona Cardinals – 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 Cardinals system.
21) Green Bay Packers – 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 Sam Shields to form a great 1-2 punch in the defensive backfield and give them two players capable of shutting down top opposition. The Packers need help at several levels of their defense and adding someone of Fuller’s quality would help especially in the division they’re in. With the big receivers that are in this division (Marshall, Jeffrey and Calvin Johnson to name a few), you need big corners. Six foot corners who run that fast don’t grow on trees and this kid has all the tools to be a big star.
22) Philadelphia Eagles – OLB Anthony Barr
Thought of as a top 10 pick just a few months ago, Barr falls into the 20’s where the Eagles snap him up and plug him right in as a pass rushing weak side linebacker on day one. He may not be a player who’s going to smack you in the mouth, but his size, technique and upside all are too intriguing for a coach such as Chip Kelly to pass on. He knows he needs more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball and I think he takes a chance on Barr.
23) Kansas City Chiefs – WR Brandin Cooks
The Chiefs have been looking for a #2 wide receiver for a long time and finally find him in Cooks. Not really talked about till late in the year as a legit top prospect, Cooks dominated in his bowl game at Oregon State and has shown the ability to dominate not only on the outside but out of the slot as well. Playing alongside Dwayne Bowe, I expect Cooks to challenge for rookie of the year if he lands in Kansas City.
24) Cincinnati Bengals – S Jimmie Ward
The Bengals don’t have much at safety and this little known prospect from Northern Illinois really turned some heads down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, including yours truly. Smallish at only 5’11, he has man-coverage ability, above average ball skills and plays the game with a physical style that would fit the nature of the Bengals defense. Watch Ward go much higher than some experts have been suggesting.
25) San Diego Chargers – DT Louis Nix III
Nix is the prototypical run stuffing NT and can fit in seamlessly on a front seven that certainly needs help stopping the run. Hurt last year at Notre Dame, the big man known as Irish Chocolate could go as high as the early teens but falls into San Diego’s lap at 20 where he instantly becomes a plug and play starter for the Chargers.
26) Cleveland Browns – CB Bradley Roby
Roby entered this season at Ohio State 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 Browns to take a chance on a local 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 Cleveland.
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 – DT Rashede Hageman
Hageman is an athletic freak at 6’6 and could play at several positions in the Patriots 3-4 defensive 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 for the Gophers. Hageman has exceptional ability to rush the passer from the interior as well as bat down passes with his height. Vince Wilfork returns but comes off the field on third downs in certain situations, so Hageman would slide inside in that case. I think Belichick takes a shot with this talented yet mercurial kid from the Twin Cities.
30) San Francisco 49ers – WR Marqise Lee
The Niners resigned Anquan Boldin in the offseason and still have Michael Crabtree, but I don’t think they are set at the wide receiver position just yet. Despite shoddy QB play at USC last year, Lee was impressive in spurts especially with 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 can contribute instantly in the slot and eventually move to the outside if Crabtree leaves or Boldin retires.
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 – DE Dee Ford
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn loves his pass rushers, re-signing Michael Bennett, drafting Bruce Irvin and possessing one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. Dee Ford could play the outside linebacker role, asked to basically go in there and rush the quarterback. Stellar at the senior bowl and improving as the year when on at Auburn, Ford may not go in the 32 spot, but I’m hearing the Seahawks love him and may move up to grab him in the early 20’s. For now, we’ll leave them at 32 taking the former Auburn Tiger.
33) Houston Texans – OG Xavier Su’a-Filo
34) Washington Redskins – S Deone Bucannon
35) Cleveland Browns – WR Cody Latimer
36) Oakland Raiders – QB Derek Carr
37) Houston Texans – DE/OLB Demarcus Lawrence
38) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Davante Adams
39) Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Jimmy Garoppolo
40) Minnesota Vikings – LB Kyle Van Noy
41) Buffalo Bills – G David Yankey
42) Tennessee Titans – QB Zach Mettenberger
43) New York Giants – DE Scott Crichton
44) St. Louis Rams – CB Keith McGill
45) Detroit Lions – OT Joel Bitonio
46) Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Marcus Roberson
47) Dallas Cowboys – DT Timmy Jernigan
48) Baltimore Ravens – TE Jace Amaro
49) Minnesota Vikings – CB Philip Gaines
50) Miami Dolphins – RB Carlos Hyde
51) Chicago Bears – CB Pierre Desir
52) Arizona Cardinals – QB AJ McCarron
53) Green Bay Packers – TE Troy Niklas
54) Philadelphia Eagles – CB Lamarcus Joyner
55) Cincinnati Bengals – OT Cyrus Kouandijo
56) San Francisco 49ers – OLB Jeremiah Attaochu
57) San Diego Chargers – WR Allen Robinson
58) New Orleans Saints – OT Antonio “Tiny” Richardson
59) Indianapolis Colts – LB Chris Borland
60) Carolina Panthers – WR Donte Moncrief
61) San Francisco 49ers – C Weston Richburg
62) New England Patriots – S Terrence Brooks
63) Denver Broncos – WR Paul Richardson
64) Seattle Seahawks – WR Kelvin Benjamin