updated February 9
1. Houston Texans – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
Playing a hunch here. I think Bill O’Brien is the type who wants to be sure that he’s picked the right guy for his system, meaning he won’t let the Texans just settle for anyone. If he has to wait until the second round, or even until next year, to find his franchise guy he just may do it. Clowney is obviously an option, but Robinson may actually be the smarter choice for a team that wants to turn things around quickly.
2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
I would be surprised if the Rams end up using the second pick, unless they decide to go after a quarterback to replace Bradford. Matthews is a safe selection who would immediately step into a starting role at right tackle opposite veteran Jake Long.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
The Jaguars are definitely in the market for a quarterback but it’s anyone’s guess as to who they’ll favor at this stage of the process. Bridgewater seems to still be the consensus top guy, but Bortles, Carr and Manziel are all legitimate possibilities.
4. Cleveland Browns – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Obviously the Browns also need a quarterback, but they do have the luxury of having Brian Hoyer as a somewhat reasonable fallback option if they don’t love any of the top prospects. The Browns defense is nearly a playoff caliber unit already and the addition of Clowney could put them over the top.
5. Oakland Raiders – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
I’m surprised there hasn’t been more talk of the Raiders targeting a quarterback, especially Manziel. Even though Al Davis is no longer around, this is the type of pick that just screams Oakland Raiders. Obviously the Raiders were interested in developing a mobile quarterback with Terrelle Pryor, so it would make sense if Manziel intrigues them.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Anthony Barr – DE/LB – UCLA
The Falcons interest in Barr would depend on whether or not they view him as a legitimate 4-3 end since Sean Weatherspoon remains a capable strong-side linebacker. Barr could dramatically improve the Falcons pass rush, which suffered considerably this season as they managed just 32 sacks.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
It’s to know what direction the Bucs will go with this selection. The current regime has no ties to Mike Glennon but he showed enough as a rookie to deserve a shot. Bringing in another weapon to work with Glennon would be the best move to help him succeed. But Lovie Smith is a defensive guy, so don’t rule out a player like Khalil Mack.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
A lot of teams would like to find a new quarterback this year, but the Vikings are one of the few that absolutely must find one. Their 2014 quarterback isn’t on the current roster, which may force their hand in the draft. Carr’s stock seems to have risen after a strong Senior Bowl helped answer some questions lingering fromthe season.
9. Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
This would sort of be a luxury pick for the Bills, but I think they need to give E.J. Manuel all the weapons they can find. The tight end was barely involved in the offense this year and adding a weapon like Ebron would completely change how defenses prepare for the Bills. Ebron could become the security blanket Manuel needs to fully develop.
10. Detroit Lions – Khalil Mack – LB – Buffalo
Many Lions fans are clamoring for another receiver to pair with Calvin Johnson, but the defense is a far more pressing concern. Linebacker and cornerback are obvious concerns, and Mack would tough to pass up here as a result. He would fit right in at strong-side linebacker, providing the new Lions coaching staff with a well balanced linebacker to lead the defense.
11. Tennessee Titans – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
This would be a dream scenario for the Titans, who desperately need a new leader in the middle of their defense. Moise Fokou was a failed experiment and it’s time to finally bring in a quality inside linebacker. That said, coaching changes could lead to other bigger changes and more pressing needs.
12. New York Giants – Zach Martin – OG – Notre Dame
Justin Pugh is already paying dividends for the Giants, but he’s just one piece of a puzzle. The Giants desperately need to fix the offensive line and Martin would be the next piece to fall into place. He’s probably best suited to play guard, but could play right tackle if the Giants put Pugh on the left side.
13. St. Louis Rams – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Tavon Austin showed glimpses this year, but he’s a luxury weapon, not someone to build around. Mike Evans can play the role the Rams had hoped either Brian Quick or Austin Pettis would grow into. Evans is an elite downfield threat who has the potential to develop into a Brandon Marshall type weapon. He’s fairly polished for a rookie and should be an immediate asset in St. Louis.
14. Chicago Bears – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
The Bears secondary was a mess this past season and it must be fixed if they hope to compete with the Lions and Packers. The Bears have a few options here if they wish to address the secondary and could target a corner or a safety. Dennard isn’t the typical shutdown corner, but his physical style may be more attractive to teams in today’s NFL.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – S – Alabama
This is the perfect opportunity for the Steelers to find their eventual replacement for Troy Polamalu. GM Kevin Colbert loves to fill holes before they open up, and this isn’t a position that’s easily filled. Even with other more glaring needs, this may be an opportunity they can’t pass up.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher are both free agents and it’s tough to imagine both players returning. Kouandjio may be too raw to insert at left tackle on a team hoping to make a playoff run in 2014, but he could take over for Oher at right tackle.