You didn’t think I would be writing six mock drafts did you? Considering I thought I might get to Mock Draft 10.0, six isn’t bad, especially with one final mock draft to come.
I can safely say though, that I wrote more mock drafts than Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay as neither of them have gotten past Mock Draft 4.0. I’ll be sure to put that one on my resume.
But with few remaining free agents unsigned, the NFL Draft is slowly taking shape. Teams are figuring out what needs they filled via free agency, and what needs they still have to fill in the draft.
Teams are finishing up prospect visits and solidifying their draft boards while my position rankings, on the other hand, will be out over the next two weeks (offense one week, defense the next).
NOTE: This Mock is part two of five in my NFL Draft series leading up to the draft on May 8. Each Wednesday I’ll post a new NFL Draft related post. In case you missed it, last week’s post way my NFL Mock Draft 5.0: Scenario Mock. Over the next three weeks I’ll be posting my offensive and defensive player rankings and my final NFL Mock Draft.
So without further ado, here is my NFL Mock Draft 6.0: The Penultimate Mock.
- Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF. 6 months ago, Bortles wasn’t even on most draft boards, but now he projected as a Top 10 and even the No. 1 overall pick by many. All signs point to the Texans taking a quarterback. They traded away Matt Schaub, and neither Ryan Fitzpatrick or Case Keenum are capable NFL starting quarterbacks. Bortles has NFL size and arm strength along with all the intangibles associated with being a starting quarterback in the NFL. He’s tough, confident and a leader, with a high football IQ and good mobility. Having only scratched the surface of his potential, Bortles has the potential to be a very talented NFL starting quarterback. In light of Jadeveon Clowney not doing any more private workouts, he could be the pick here as the Texans may have started contract negotiations with him, but I believe the Texans still haven’t decided whether to take Clowney or a quarterback.
- St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn. The Rams will look to trade this pick and could have a bevy of suitors, but with the quarterbacks in the draft class moving down draft boards, it’ll be hard for the Rams to move down for the right price. Therefore, they take the best offensive lineman in the draft in Robinson, who will solidify the Rams offensive line for years to come. Robinson has a rare combination of strength and body control in his NFL-ready body, and should be able to start at offensive tackle from day one.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina. The Jaguars are in need of a quarterback, but are still at least 1-2 years away from competing in the AFC South. The Jaguars can afford to wait on a quarterback, either until the second round and take Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr or wait till next year when Brett Hundley, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will headline an even better quarterback draft class. Therefore they take the best prospect in the draft in Clowney who the Jaguars management are rumored to be enamored with. While there are some question marks about Clowney’s conditioning, he is far and away the best prospect in the draft and will improve the Jaguars 26th ranked pass defense and 29th ranked rush defense from day one.
- Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville. The Browns need a quarterback. It’s been years since they’ve had even a serviceable quarterback, and after assembling many pieces via free agency, the Browns add another in Bridgewater. Bridgewater, once the projected No. 1 overall pick, has some concerns due to his poor pro day, however, he is the safest quarterback selection in the draft, having played a pro-style offense in college. Bridgewater should give Brian Hoyer some competition in training camp and finally give the Browns a legitimate NFL starting quarterback.
- Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. With the Raiders acquisition of Matt Schaub and Maurice Jones-Drew, Oakland is not trying to rebuild, rather they’re trying to win now. Whether or not that is possible, the Raiders need a No. 1 receiver to give Schaub weapons to work with on offense. Watkins is the best receiver in the class, with the speed and quickness the Raiders love, but is more than just a slot receiver. Watkins should step in from day one and be the Raiders No. 1 receiver, giving them a player that a defense has to account for every time he steps onto the field.
- Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo. The Falcons were second last in the NFL in sacks, with 32.0 and after filling their needs along the offensive line via free agency, the Falcons need to improve their pass rusher. Mack is a relentless pass rusher who was a four-year starter at Buffalo, setting FBS career records for forced fumbles (16) and tackles for a loss (75). Mack has the versatility to line up either at linebacker or defensive end, making him one of the best prospects in the entire draft.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. The Buccaneers were unable to create any outside pass rush this past year resulting in 35.0 total sacks, tied for No. 23 in the NFL. With Lovie Smith taking over as the Buccaneers’ head coach, Smith, a defensive coach, will look to upgrade the pass rush with this selection and take Barr, a monster off the edge who had 3.5 sacks and 41.5 tackles for a loss his past two years at UCLA.
- Minnesota Vikings: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. Ever since Brett Favre re-retired, the Vikings have been in need of a quarterback as Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman don’t cut it. Manziel will vastly improve the Vikings offense with his play making ability and proven production at the college level. While there are questions about Manziel’s ability to succeed in NFL, Manziel will prove doubters wrong. Being in a dome will especially help Manziel’s play making as he should start from day one for the Vikings.
- Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M. After drafting their quarterback of the future last year in E.J. Manuel they now need to give him weapons to throw the ball too. Stevie Johnson and Robert Wood aren’t No. 1 receivers, so the Bills select Evans, who finished his college career at Texas A&M with over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.
- Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. In a division with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, it is of the utmost importance to have a great secondary and pass defense. The Lions need to improve their No. 23 pass defense and do so by taking Dennard here. Dennard was the captain of the Spartans’ “no-fly zone,” one of the top defenses in Division I, and had three interceptions and 10 passes defended his senior year helping to lead the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory.
- Tennessee Titans: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State. With Alterraun Verner leaving via free agency, the Titans need to find a replacement in the secondary, especially in a division with Andrew Luck and the future Texans and Jaguars quarterbacks slinging the ball to great receivers in T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Justin Blackmon and Hakeem Nicks. Gilbert is an extremely athletic corner who totaled 6 interceptions and 6 passes defended as a senior at Oklahoma State.
- New York Giants: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh. Linval Joseph leaving the Giants via free agency, leaves a gaping hole on their defensive line. In each of their Super Bowl championships, the Giants have been solid up front and need to improve their front seven if they want to return to that level. Therefore they draft Donald here, winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player. Donald is the best defensive tackle in a solid class and has impressed scouts with his incredible burst off the line of scrimmage.
- St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton Dix, S, Alabama. While the Rams defense was stout up front, their pass defense was suspect, ranked No. 19 in the NFL, especially at the safety position. Safety Rodney McLeod needs to be replaced, so the Rams select Clinton Dix here. Hasean’s football instincts, along with his size and speed give him the potential to be a great safety in the NFL and vastly improve the Rams secondary.
- Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State. The Bears defense was atrocious last year and while Chicago has filled many of their holes via free agency, they still have a need at defensive tackle. Jernigan was a dominating force on the Seminoles defense, the best defense in division I college football and should help improve the Bears rush defense, which ranked last in the NFL.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State. The Steelers’ secondary is aging and with Josh Gordon, A.J. Green and Torrey Smith catching balls in the AFC North, the Steelers’ secondary could use an upgrade. Roby has the potential to be an elite corner in the NFL, even after struggling a bit this past year at Ohio State, leading to his selection.
- Dallas Cowboys: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota. Even though the Cowboys signed former Chicago Bear Henry Melton to shore up their defensive line, they could still use another tackle to fill out their 4-3 defense. With 2.0 sacks and 13.0 tackles for a loss his senior year at Minnesota, Hageman has been moving up draft boards recently as with his combination of size and strength, he is able to push pass blockers deep into the pocket. Along with Melton, Hageman should give the Cowboys a pair of formidable defensive tackles.
- Baltimore Ravens: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M. The Ravens need a lineman to shore up their offensive line after losing Michael Oher to free agency and gratefully select Matthews, once a projected top 10 pick, here. The selection of Matthews, a solid lineman with no major weaknesses, will heavily improve their rush and pass blocking.
- New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. After signing Eric Decker in free agency, the Jets add another big target for Geno Smith or Michael Vick to throw too. Ebron had a superb 2013 season catching 62 passes for over 900 yards and three touchdowns for the Tar Heels and should be the Jets starting tight end from day one.
- Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan. While Taylor Lewan is facing three assault charges, causing his stock to fall due to character concerns he was still a four-year starter at Michigan and an excellent offensive tackle worthy of a first round selection. And the Dolphins, in desperate need of offensive lineman, select Lewan to replace Jonathan Martin, and fully revamp their offensive line and its scandals last year.
- Arizona Cardinals: Kony Ealy, OLB/DE, Missouri. Arizona has little outside pass rush from the linebacker position besides John Abraham, and with Abraham turning 36, the Cardinals need to look for a replacement to improve their pass rush. Ealy had 4.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss with Missouri and is versatile enough to play both the 4-3 and the 3-4 due to his athleticism.
- Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville. The Packers had the N0. 24 pass defense in the NFL last year and suffered from multiple coverages at safety. The Packers needs an improvement at safety and select Pryor, a hard-hitting safety, who will help to improve the Packers’ pass defense, as he had 69 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and four passes defended with Louisville last year.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State. With the release of Desean Jackson, the Eagles are thin at wide receiver and need to find Jackson’s replacement. Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nations’ best receiver, is a stellar athlete, with 128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns this past year at Oregon State, and should fit right in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU. The Chiefs have only one reliable wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, and need to find Alex Smith more targets to throw too. Beckham Jr. is a speedy and explosive receiver with good hands who caught 59 receptions for 1152 yards and eight touchdowns his junior year with the Tigers. He should step in with the Chiefs and give them another dynamic target and playmaker in their offense.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech. After tearing his Achilles twice in three years Leon Hall may never return to form. The Bengals had an excellent defense in part due to their secondary and they will look to improve it with this selection. Fuller is an agile and quick athlete, with an aggressiveness that allows him to make plays against the pass and run. Fuller had two interceptions and 12 passes defended his senior year.
- San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU. The Chargers ranked No. 29 in pass defense this past season and could use an upgrade at cornerback. Verrett was a three-year starter at TCU, who had 43 passes defended and nine interceptions, and would immediately help a bad pass defense.
- Cleveland Browns: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama. With a deep receiving class, the Browns can afford to wait on a receiver, espeically after signing Nate Burleson. Kelvin Benjamin, Davante Adams and Jordan Matthews will all be available in the second round, so the Browns take the falling Mosley here to further improve an already good defense. The release of D’Qwell Jackson, and Craig Robertson’s subpar year created a need at inside linebacker , and after signing Karlos Dansby, the Browns pair him with Mosley, the leader of the Alabama defense this past year.
- New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State. With Victor Butler coming off a torn ACL, the Saints are in need of pass rushers off the edge . Shazier plays sideline to sideline, rushing the passer, but also can drop back in coverage as a middle linebacker. Shazier will improve the Saints defense as a productive and versatile linebacker at the next level.
- Carolina Panthers: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame. Even with a huge hole at wide receiver the Panthers pass on two wideouts, Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin, who have been falling in recent weeks due to health and character concerns. With the retirement of Jordan Gross, the Panthers need to find Cam Newton a new blind side protector and take Martin here. Martin compares to Patriots offensive tackle Logan Mankins and has the potential to be an All-Pro tackle, protecting Newton for years to come.
- New England Patriots: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame. With injuries to Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly last year, the Patriots had a huge weakness on their defensive line and it showed as they finished the season ranked No. 30 in the NFL in rush defense. Nix, 6’2” and 331 pounds, will fill the Patriots hole at nose tackle with his immense size and motor.
- San Francisco 49ers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC. The 49ers have two possession receivers in Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, but still don’t have a true No. 1 wideout capable of demanding corners attention on every play. Lee is an explosive wideout and a good route-runner, a natural playmaker similar to Victor Cruz, who finished his college career with over 3,000 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns. He will give Colin Kaepernick another weapon in his offensive arsenal.
- Denver Broncos: Xavier Su’a Filo, OG, UCLA. The Broncos filled many of their needs via free agency except for improving their offensive line. During the Super Bowl the Broncos had trouble protecting Peyton Manning and with Zane Beadles leaving via free agency, the Broncos have a hole at guard. Su’a Filo started 38 games for the Bruins and can step in for the Broncos and protect their most valuable asset.
- Seattle Seahawks: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia. Seahawks tackle Breno Giacomini signed with the Jets in free agency and struggled last season. The Seahawks need to find his replacement to protect Russell Wilson and take Moses here. Moses, 6’6” and 314 pounds, has great movement for his size, and while he needs to improve his power, he potentially could become an impressive blind side protector.