updated April 16
1. Houston Texans – Blake Bortles – QB – Central Florida – Scouting Report
Bortles has the media momentum in his favor, and while that doesn’t mean anything in real life, I do think he has established himself as the Texans’ choice here. Physically, Bortles appears to be everything that Bill O’Brien would want in a quarterback and he’s passed every offseason test.
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn – Scouting Report
In 11 years evaluating draft prospects, D’Brickashaw Ferguson is the only offensive tackle I’ve given a higher grade than Robinson. He is already a dominant run blocker. And while his pass-protection is a little raw, his natural tools will allow him to hold his own in an immediate starting role. He doesn’t get the hype Clowney does, but he’s every bit as special.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
I’ve seen some suggest that by signing Red Bryant and Chris Clemons the Jaguars have removed themselves from the race for Clowney. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Two 30-year-old defensive ends will have no impact on the draft plans of a rebuilding franchise. If they don’t want a quarterback, the’ll either go for Clowney or Mack.
4. Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson – Scouting Report
Just like Jacksonville, I don’t think the Browns are going to make the mistake of forcing a quarterback selection here. It’s certainly possible that they love Manziel or Bridgewater, but I think it’s much more likely that they grab someone who is closer to a sure thing here. I really believe they’re comfortable going with Brian Hoyer for the 2014 season if it comes to that.
5. Oakland Raiders – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M – Scouting Report
For unknown and completely ill-advised reasons the Raiders are going all in to win now. Based on all of their offseason moves, adding an instant-impact playermaker such as Watkins or Evans seems ot fit with their current strategy. Schaub can still be an adequate starting quarterback, but it’s not going to happen with Rod Streater, James Jones and Denarius Moore.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack – LB – Buffalo – Scouting Report
The Falcons desperately need to improve their pass-rush. Adding a linebacker isn’t the typical way to do that, but once Clowney’s off the board there isn’t an elite defensive end in this class. Mack is a special prospect, and has the potential to play a Von Miller type role in Atlanta’s defense. He won’t change their pass-rush on his own, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Aaron Donald – DT – Pittsburgh – Scouting Report
The Bucs are really hard to figure out. Sammy Watkins would make sense. Khalil Mack would be a decent fit. But with all of them off the board, where do they go? I’m not certain that Lovie Smith would like the combination of McCoy and Donald, but it would give them a potentially dangerous interior pass-rush. The Bucs would also be a strong candidate to trade down in this scenario.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A& – Scouting Report
I have no gut feeling as to who the Vikings prefer, but it’s a reasonably safe assume that either Manziel or Bridgewater would be the selection in this scenario. I’ll throw Manziel into this slot, but only because I think someone is going to fall in love with his playmaking ability and take him in the top 10. Maybe it’s the Vikings, maybe it’s someone else.
9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan - Scouting Report
The Bills don’t necessarily need to take an offensive tackle in the first round, but the way the draft appears to be shaping up it will probably provide them the best value. Lewan has some off-field issues that could potentially remove him from draft boards, but his on-field talent is too great to cause a dramatic fall. If the Bills don’t want Lewan, Jake Matthews would be an obvious fallback option.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
I know just about every Lions fans wants a wide receiver, but in this scenario Watkins and Evans are long gone. If Mayhew is dead set on landing a receiver, he’s going to need to trade up. If they stay put however, he’ll have his pick of the top cornerbacks. It’s tough to guess which guy might top the Lions’ board, but Gilbert seems to have become the consensus top corner in this class.
11. Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr – LB – UCLA – Scouting Report
This scenario gives the Titans some options, and it would depend on how confident they are with Michael Oher. Unless they want to further upgrade the offensive line, settling for the best available player is the smart option. Barr is still developing, but what he’s accomplished in just two years on defense is impressive. Ray Horton will find creative ways to make him effective.
12. New York Giants – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M – Scouting Report
The key to Eli Manning’s success is keeping him upright and comfortable in the pocket. So even though the Giants landed Justin Pugh a season ago, they would be smart to target another offensive line early in the draft. I think Matthews is a candidate to fall a little further than expected because he has very little upside. Basically, what you see is what you get, and he’s a notch below the elite potential of Robinson and Lewan.
13. St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – S – Alabama
This definitely isn’t the best case scenario for the Rams, who would love for a shot at one of the top two receivers, but it’s a solid fallback option. Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are both strong possibilities here, but the Rams would probably have a shot at either one if they traded back. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them trade back into the 20s and select a safety or receiver there.
14. Chicago Bears – Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota – Scouting Report
Hageman is still raw and inconsistent, but he has more upside than any interior defensive lineman in this class. He’ll be surrounded by some veteran talent in Chicago, which will allow him to make an immediate impact and help him develop his all-around game. Timmy Jernigan has also been a popular name in this slot, but Hageman’s potential as a true impact player on all three downs gives him a much higher ceiling.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kyle Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech
I’m pretty sure I’ve had a cornerback matched up with Pittsburgh at some point during the offseason every year since I started DraftAce in 2004. And I’ve been wrong every single time. Eventually they need to think about the future of the position,because Ike Taylor can’t play forever. This may finally be the year because Kevin Colbert has a long history of drafting to fill holes before they open up. Adding Fuller now would allow them to ease him into the defense.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Calvin Pryor – S – Louisville
It’s a tough call to not place a defensive lineman in this slot, but the entire defensive line class is vastly overrated and I’m expected some guys to fall. The Cowboys can get better value and still fill a glaring hole with Calvin Pryor. He’s a versatile safety who could probably player either position, but should fit nicely at free safety in Dallas.