The champions may have been crowned and the 2013-2014 season may have come to a close, but things are just starting to pick up behind the scenes.in the NFL. General Managers, scouts, and personnel men are all working around the clock to prepare for free agency and the upcoming draft.
So, without further ado, Bull Run's Mock Draft 2.0...
1. Houston Texans: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Team Needs: QB, OLB, OT
Previous Pick: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Same position, different player. Johnny Football took the college football world by storm the past two seasons, and now, thaInks to Russell Wilson winning the Super Bowl, I believe Manziel will be the number one pick. He may not have the size or accuracy that some other QBs have, but, he more than makes up for it with his electric playmaking ability.
He would give defensive coordinators fits with his ability to scramble outside the pocket, and ability to extend plays far longer than they should last. With the combination of Manziel, running back Arian Foster, and receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson, Bill O'Brien will have plenty of firepower to work with his first year.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Team Needs: OT, WR, S
Previous Pick: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Again, same position, different player. After dominating throughout the BCS National Championship Game, Robinson has shot up many draft boards due to his freakish athleticism and agility. While Matthews may be a more complete player right now, Robinson has a much higher ceiling than Matthews does and has an All-Pro skill set.
With Jake Long's recent injury history, ending the last 3 seasons on IR; and, with Roger Saffold being an impending free agent, the tackle position is a need and the Rams need to protect Sam Bradford. However, this pick may be up for grabs to the highest bidder to select Jadeveon Clowney. But, to keep things simple I won't be predicting trades.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Team Needs: QB, OT, WR
It's a quarterback driven league, and the Jaguars have Chad Henne, and Blaine Gabbert; that should be reason enough for the Jags to draft a quarterback at this point. Heck, even owner Shad Khan has come out and said that the Jags will draft a quarterback.
I think Bortles is the pick here given his prototypical size, and excellent arm strength. The Jaguars need a franchise QB, and they need to look no further than Orlando, Florida to find their man.
4. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Team Needs: QB, WR, RB
Previous Pick: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Easy come, easy go I suppose. With the recent ousting of CEO Joe Banner, and GM Mike Lombardi, the Browns are once again in full rebuild mode. Rookie GM Ray Farmer will need to figure out the quarterback situation for his team first, and while Brian Hoyer played admirably before going down with an ACL injury, he is not a franchise quarterback.
Teddy Bridgewater is that quarterback. While he has fallen by the wayside with the hype over Bortles and Manziel growing, Bridgewater is still a solid quarterback worthy of this selection with his pinpoint accuracy and leadership traits that you look for in a franchise player.
5. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Team Needs: DE, QB, OL
The Raiders have no blue chip players on either side of the ball so they could go in any number of directions with this pick. Here, the obvious pick is Clowney; with his freakish size and athleticism, the likes of which haven't been seen since Mario Williams, he is the type of player who can take over a game on the defensive side of the ball.
Clowney would be a great pair with young linebacker Sio Moore to wreck havoc in the opposing backfield giving the Raiders a much needed boost on a very porous defense that was one of the league's worst this past season.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Team Needs: OLB, OL, DE
The Falcons found out the hard way that lacking a pass rush is a death sentence in the NFC South. Drew Brees, and Cam Newton shredded the Falcons D, as they limped to a 4-12 record, and UB's own Khalil Mack could be the man to shore up the Falcons' pass rush.
Mack set the NCAA record for forced fumbles, and tied Jason Babin's record for tackles for loss, so he is no stranger to being a disruptive force in the backfield, and forcing turnovers. Mack my have a knock on him for playing in the MAC, but his athleticism and power off the edge are undeniable and he is more than worthy to be chosen here.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Team Needs: DE, OL, OLB
Previous Pick: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
While the Bucs have obvious needs on the defensive side of the ball, they would be better served taking a blue chip offensive player like Watkins. The Bucs don't have much at the receiver position other than Vincent Jackson.
Watkins would provide firepower for an offense that lacked a spark nearly all season, until rookie quarterback Mike Glennon came on strong towards the end of the season. I'm sure Glennon would be happy to have Watkins to throw to.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Team Needs: QB, WR, DE
The Vikings experimented with Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman this season, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the experiment failed....miserably. The Vikings are wasting away Adrian Peterson's best years with subpar quarterback play, and he deserves much better than the mediocre bunch that he's been dealt ever since Brett Favre retired. Carr may be a bit of a reach at this point, but he has a much higher ceiling than any of the quarterbacks that the Vikings have on their roster at the moment. He comes with a cannon for an arm and a gunslinging attitude that the Vikings haven't seen since Favre last suited up in the Purple and gold.
9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Team Needs: OLB, TE, WR
Previous Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Buffalo Bills are an interesting pick here. They could go in any number of directions with their selection, they have some needs along the offensive line, and at the tight end position as well. But, I think they go with the lengthy, athletic edge rusher in Barr. He serves as an every down upgrade over Manny Lawson who has some weaknesses in pass coverage.
Barr, the converted running back has been a terror for offenses in the PAC-12 and with his burst and range of pass rush moves, behind Mario Williams, Barr could easily rack up double digits sacks in first year coordinator Jim Schwartz's attacking style defense.
10. Detroit Lions: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Team Needs: WR, C, CB
Previous Pick: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Lions were exposed at the end of the season without a reliable number 2 receiver when Calvin Johnson was out with a knee injury. Defenses didn't have to worry about bracket covering Johnson, so they focused their attention on QB Matthew Stafford and Stafford was abused the last few weeks of the season. Also, given the Nate Burelson was just released the need is even greater.
Who better to pair with a 6' 5" behemoth of a receiver, than another 6' 5" behemoth of a receiver? Evans is a mammoth of a man similar in stature an skill set to Megatron. Covering one Calvin Johnson is a nightmare, but covering what seems to be two of him is something straight from the bowels of hell.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Team Needs: S, OLB, QB
Previous Pick: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
This pick makes too much sense. Jake's dad, Bruce, was a Hall of Fame lineman for the Titans from 1983-2001, and was on the Titans' coaching staff from 2011-2013. Jake is about as polished as they come from an offensive tackle standpoint, and he can be plugged in on either side of the line. MIchael Roos is entering the last year of his deal and may want out of Tennessee, so drafting Matthews now makes sense, solidifying the right side of the line this year and moving Matthews to the left side next year if Roos leaves Nashville.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Team Needs: OT, OLB, OG
Previous Pick: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
If you watched a Giants game this past season, this pick is obvious. The Giants couldn't pass protect and as a result Eli Manning was pummeled on a weekly basis, and as such, his turnover rate went through the roof. Last year's first round pick Justin Pugh was the only bright spot along an otherwise leaky offensive line, and the Giants find a good bookend in Lewan. While his stock has fallen off a bit, he still possess the size, length, and nasty demeanor needed to play the tackle position in the NFL.
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Team Needs: See Above
The Rams are able to fill the second of two massive needs on their team before the halfway point of the first round. The Rams' defensive backfield was quite disappointing, and they need help at both corner and safety. With the likes of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick roaming the NFC West for the foreseeable future, the Rams will need all the help they can get in trying to contain them. Clinton-Dix is adept in coverage and can help plug a hole in the middle of the Rams' secondary.
14. Chicago Bears: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Team Needs: CB, S, DT
Charles Tillman is a free agent, and it seems more and more unlikely that he is resigned now that Tim Jennings has been resigned for the long term, so the Bears could use a new cornerback. Gilbert is a lockdown corner with great speed and hip fluidity. The Bears need as much help as they can get in the defensive backfield and Gilbert can be a big help to defensive coordinator Mel Tucker moving forward.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Team Needs: DT, OT, WR
The Steelers are getting older on defense and could use an infusion of young talent along their defensive line. Jernigan has shown that he can dominate at the point of attack at Florida State by bullying the interior of the Auburn offensive line at times during the BCS National Championship Game. The big knck against Jernigan is his conditioning, so he'll need to get in better shape, but he has the potential to dominate at the professional level.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Team Needs: DT, OLB, S
The Dallas Cowboys not only sported the worst defense in the NFL, but they were historically bad, and legendary defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin needs a big body in the middle of his defense to rush the passer and eat up blockers to free up pass rushers. Louis Nix can be the DT that Dallas so desperately needs; his ability to get under the pads of blockers and knock them back in both pass and run situations will help remedy some major issues that the Cowboys had this past season.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Team Needs: WR, ILB, TE
The Ravens lacked playmakers at the wide receiver position this past season, outside of Torrey Smith, coupled with the injury to Joe Flacco's favorite target Dennis Pitta, the Ravens could barely move the ball through the air. Lee could provide Flacco with another explosive receiving option helping open up the Ravens' passing game thus helping out the lackluster run game from this past season.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Team Needs: TE, WR, OG
Previous Pick: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
How many skill position players can you name that play for the Jets? Outside of the aging Santonio Holmes, the Jets are sorely lacking in offensive skill position players, and Ebron can be a great safety valve for Geno Smith going into year two. Ebron may not have the blocking ability that some of the other tight ends have, but he has great hands, and the speed of a wide receiver in a 6' 4" 250 lb frame which can be a matchup nightmare for defenses weak at the safety position.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT/G, Notre Dame
Team Needs: OT, OG, DT
The Dolphins have definite needs on the offensive line after the Richie Incongnito/Jonathan Martin bullying scandal. Martin dominated at the Senior Bowl and solidified his status as a first round pick despite his arms being relatively short by offensive tackle standards. Either way, the Dolphins get a player they can plug in at tackle or guard and not have to worry. Martin actually won the MVP award in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, you read that right, an offensive lineman was named MVP.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Team Needs: TE, OLB, OT
Previous Pick: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Head Coach Bruce Arians loves the Tight End position, and it just so happens that its one of the weakest positions on the Cardinals offense. Offensive Tackle would make sense here, but given the Cardinals are expected to go after Branden Albert in free agency, Amaro is the pick. Amaro has a great combination of size and speed to both burn defenses down the middle, and be a force as a blocker. Having Amaro on the field could really help open things up on the outside for Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
21. Green Bay Packers: CJ Mosely, LB, Alabama
Team Needs: LB, S, TE
The Packers could stand to upgrade AJ Hawk in the middle of their defense with the younger Mosely. Mosely has plenty of starting experience on an elite collegiate defense and would help bolster the run defense and pass rush for the Pack. A defensive tackle may also be in play here given that BJ Raji is an impending free agent and may not resign with the Packers.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Team Needs: OLB, CB, DE
While much of the hype leading up to the draft has been centered around Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr, Kyle Van Noy has slipped through the cracks. A powerful and quick rusher off the edge, Van Noy has the skills to be a disruptive force in the opposing backfield. Trent Cole will have a big hit against the cap in the next few seasons so he'll likely be cut loose, so a replacement will be needed.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Cyrus Kouandijo, OT, Alabama
Team Needs: WR, TE, OT
With Branden Albert most likely leaving in free agency, the Chiefs will flip Eric Fisher over to his more natural left tackle position, thus, leaving a gap at the right tackle position. Kouandijo is a bruiser in the run game and would fit perfectly in Andy Reid's scheme. He needs to work on his pass protection moves, but given the time he can develop into a solid starter.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Team Needs: CB, OT, QB
The Bengals don't have very many holes on their team, but they could stand to upgrade the cornerback position. Terence Newman and Pacman Jones are both aging and quickly declining, and former first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick has barely shown signs of life. Dennard played on one of the nation's best defenses and while he isn't the fastest or most skilled player, he is very savvy and intelligent and knows where to be at all times.
25. San Diego Chargers: Kony Ealy, OLB, Missouri
Team Needs: OLB, CB, OG
Previous Pick: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
The Chargers could definitely use a pass rush upgrade across from former first round pick Melvin Ingram. Ingram was lost for most of the year due to an Achilles injury and the Chargers lacked the quality depth to make up for Ingram's absence. A corner could be a possibility here, but, Ealy is too good of a value at this point to pass up to reach for a cornerback.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Team Needs: See Above
When franchises take a quarterback, they often pair him with a skill position player or a lineman, Cleveland does the same for Teddy Bridgewater, while also filling a need at receiver. Greg Little hasn't panned out, and he is notorious for his stone hands; Benjamin, on the other hand was a big-time playmaker for the National Champions, including catching the game winning touchdown pass at the end of the title game. His size and skill set will be a nice complement to Josh Gordon the league's leading receiver this past season.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
Team Needs: OLB, S, DE
Previous Pick: Kony Ealy, OLB, Missouri
Rob Ryan loves pass rushers, and Ford has seen his stock soar by dominating in the National Title game and having a solid outing at the Senior Bowl. The Saints need to keep themselves stocked with quality pass rushers in the NFC South facing the likes of Matt Ryan and Cam Newton twice a year. A safety may also be in play given the recent arrest of Roman Harper, and the lack of depth at safety other than Kenny Vaccaro.
28. Carolina Panthers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Team Needs: WR, CB, DE
Previous Pick: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Steve Smith is nearing the end of his career, and Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn are both heading to free agency leaving a big need at the receiver position. Robinson has been taught well by Bill O'Brien, and while he won't wow with his speed, he has great hands and run-after-the-catch ability that help him pick up big yardage.
29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Team Needs: DT, WR, C
Vince Wilfork is getting older, and coming back from an Achilles injury at his age and size will be very difficult. The Patriots will be looking for a successor, and Hageman at this point in the draft is a steal. Hageman was a terror for the Golden Gophers both in run support and in pass rushing. Hageman could be a rotational player for a season, or he could play immediately depending on Wilfork's status.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Team Needs: CB, S, C
Previous Pick: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Carlos Rogers is likely to be released as a cap casualty this offseason, and Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock cannot be trusted to start for the long term. The 49ers need a long term solution at corner and Verrett, while slightly undersized, had a great season for TCU and displayed a great skill set that will translate well to the NFL.
31. Denver Broncos: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Team Needs: C, CB, ILB
Previous Pick: Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
The Broncos have major issues at cornerback and at inside linebacker, and seeing as there isn't a 'backer worth taking at this juncture, the Broncos go cornerback. Dominique Rogers-Cromartie is set to be a free agent and Champ Bailey is on his last legs; in comes Roberson who has great man-coverage skills and can start immediately for the AFC Champion Broncos.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Team Needs: TE, DE, OL
The Super Bowl Champion Seahawks don't have a lot of holes, but the tight end position could use a big boost from in state product Seferian-Jenkins. With an NFL size body at 6'6" and 270 lbs, he has the size to be a dominating blocker up front and the hands and quickness to be a matchup nightmare in the seam. While character concerns are there with Seferian-Jenkins' recent DUI arrest, the Seahawks have the leadership in the locker room to keep Seferian-Jenkins on the straight and narrow and turn him into an extremely productive player.