Draft King Analysis|
May 7, 2014
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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This has been an especially difficult year for draft prognosticators for a number of reasons. Here's the best that I can make of it at this point. Props to Walter Football for doing an outstanding job of culling a wide variety of sources to find rumors and leaks and whispers.
One day out, here we go.
1. Houston: Jadeveon Clowney.
2. St. Louis: I suspect the talk about Johnny Manziel here is a bluff to see if they can get Cleveland to trade up. Because, as much as I like Khalil Mack, the only other player besides Clowney that I can envision a team trading up here to get is Manziel. In my estimation it will be either Sammy Watkins or Mack here, with Watkins the more likely of the two.
3. Jacksonville: Most indications are that the Jaguars won't take a quarterback here. I suspect, absent a trade, that if Watkins is available they'll take him and if not they'll take Mack. I wouldn't count out something seemingly outlandish like Pitt DT Aaron Donald, but that is a real long shot.
4. Cleveland: When there are headlines saying your owner has a "love affair" (figuratively, I presume) with a given player, as is the case with Jimmy Haslam and Manziel, it seems easy enough to slot Manziel here. The Browns certainly need a quarterback.
5. Oakland: From all indications the Raiders would love to trade down, and there might be interest from teams like Tampa Bay and Buffalo in moving up to get an elite offensive tackle prospect like Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews. Alternately, the Raiders might choose to go with Mike Evans or potentially take an offensive tackle themselves.
6. Atlanta: Sam Baker has a massive contract, but protecting Matt Ryan has to be a priority for Atlanta. Defensive end is a need, but unless they somehow can get Jadeveon Clowney (not going to happen), offensive tackle makes considerable sense here.
7. Tampa Bay: There is a certain line of thought prevalent in draft circles that there's Watkins, then Evans, then a notable drop-off to a group of several similarly talented wide receivers. So if it's not Watkins or Evans here, offensive tackle would make sense. Don't discount the possibility of a quarterback in this spot -- remember that Mike Glennon was drafted by the previous administration in Tampa.
8. Minnesota: Currently I have LB C.J. Mosley slated for the Vikings here, but there is some buzz that DT Aaron Donald could end up in this spot, even with the Vikings using a first rounder last year on DT. The prevailing thought seems to be that the Vikings will go front seven defense with this pick and widespread speculation that going quarterback here is not in play.
9. Buffalo: If any of the "big three" offensive tackle prospects (Robinson/Matthews/Taylor Lewan) are available here it seems entirely possible that the Bills will go in that direction. Also, don't count out TE Eric Ebron in this slot, even with the Bills having signed Scott Chandler to a new contract.
10. Detroit: Defense seems to be a popular thought for the Lions here, particularly a defensive back. It's possible the Lions could have their choice from the entire cornerback and safety pool here, which would be a nice position to be in at this spot.
11. Tennessee: There are plenty of options here for the Titans. I love the idea of the Titans taking Teddy Bridgewater here, but I'm not sure how much of that is wishful thinking as a fan of the team (and Bridgewater) versus a realistic outlook. Two years ago they lost Cortland Finnegan to free agency, and earlier this year Alterraun Verner signed as a free agent with the Bucs. There is no consensus top cornerback prospect, but between Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard and Kyle Fuller and others, the Titans could go with a corner here even if Detroit drafts one of them at #10 overall.
12. New York Giants: There are numerous directions that the Giants might take, though a linebacker like C.J. Mosley or Anthony Barr could make sense here. A dynamic offensive lineman like Zack Martin could also be a viable option. Wide receiver is a need but it would be a stretch to take any receiver beyond Watkins/Evans here.
13. St. Louis: Safety is a major need for the Rams and HaHa Clinton-Dix makes all kinds of sense here, even though this is approaching the range of teams being less likely to draft for need. Calvin Pryor is also a possibility here, though his stock seems to have slipped as the stretch run has approached.
14. Chicago: Defensive tackle makes all kinds of sense for the Bears, who were atrocious against the run last year. Aaron Donald would seem like an ideal fit but will he drop to #14? Ra'Shede Hageman and Timmy Jernigan are both possibilities for that as well. Safety is also a possibility, and if the Bears are high on Clinton-Dix I could see them trading up with the Giants to leapfrog the Rams and get him if he's on the board at that spot.
15. Pittsburgh: Several options are in play here for the Steelers, be it a 3-4 oriented defensive lineman or a cornerback or an offensive tackle. The Steelers have the luxury, if you want to look at it that way, of taking the best of what's around from that mix.
16. Dallas: As I've written repeatedly on here, one of the critical elements of the Tampa Two defense is having a defensive tackle who can pressure the quarterback. As the Cowboys continue their transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 (which doesn't happen overnight), adding a defensive tackle with strong pass rushing skills is critical to their success in 2014.
17. Baltimore: This figures to be a "stopper" spot for Eric Ebron, a tight end who would fit well here. Offensive tackle also makes sense in this spot for the Ravens depending on who is on the board.
18. New York Jets: This might be where you start to see the run on second-tier wide receivers begin with that being such a huge need for the Jets. Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee are all possibilities here, among others. I like Kelvin Benjamin but he might be a bit too raw for what the Jets need in 2014.
19. Miami: Offensive line is a clear need, though if the "big three" and Martin are gone here you might see the Dolphins go for a pass rusher. Cyrus Kouandjio, who was a wildly successful offensive tackle at Alabama, is also a possibility even if this might be a bit high for him to go. Wide receiver also makes sense here, which might prove vexing to teams a few spots below hoping that the run on receivers doesn't start in this range.
20. Arizona: If there is a slide with some of the top quarterbacks this year, it's possible that you will see one go here. How long can you trust Carson Palmer to hold up? I love the idea of them going for a 3-4 OLB; I don't think they'll go safety with Honey Badger on the mend at free safety and no true strong safety prospect in my estimation worthy of a first-round spot.
21. Green Bay: This might be a spot where the Packers fill a hole at safety, though at this point it's far enough away from the top that things become considerably more difficult to project.
22. Philadelphia: Wide receiver makes all kinds of sense with DeSean Jackson gone, but it's hardly a lock, particularly this far down the list.
23. Kansas City: Similar to Philly but even more so since they didn't lose their #1 wideout this off-season, though a dangerous slot receiver would be nice for the Chiefs. Elite interior offensive line is also a distinct possibility.
24. Cincinnati: I like the notion of a quality 4-3 defensive end here if they have one high enough on their board, also they could hop on the cornerback train since there will be some good talent still on the board here in all likelihood.
25. San Diego: Cornerback makes all kinds of sense here as well, and if there is one particular corner they want who is on the board after the top 20 I wonder if they might entertain the idea of trading up. Offensive line might also be a consideration, but again at this point need tends to drop off compared with the higher spots.
Alternately, this could be a spot from which San Diego would trade down with a QB-hungry team holding a high second-round pick. If Cleveland doesn't go QB at #4, that would seem to be a distinct possibility.
26. Cleveland: If it's not Manziel at #4, one would figure that quarterback would be the target here. Major crapshoot on who will fall and how closely the Browns have the "big three" QBs ranked along with Derek Carr. Wide receiver could also be in play if the right guy is on the board at this spot, though Cleveland can wait on that for round two considering the depth at the position in this draft.
27. New Orleans: As the Saints continue on the long-term path of reshaping their defense into a 3-4 scheme, you could see them go corner here or defensive line. They could also be looking to go interior offensive line depending on who is available.
28. Carolina: Wide receiver gets all the attention, and understandably so, but offensive tackle is a huge need. In addition, they could go with a defensive back here.
29. New England: The enigma of the NFL. Likely trade-down candidate for a QB-hungry team. If they keep the pick defensive line makes sense, ditto for wide receiver. In the copycat NFL, the Patriots have a quality that few other teams have been able to emulate: patience.
30. San Francisco: Wide receiver? A 3-4 defensive lineman? Another trade-down candidate (notice a trend here?) particularly with wide receiver as a need and the aforementioned depth at the position in this draft.
31. Denver: The clock is ticking on Peyton Manning. Either get him a dynamic wide receiver talent or help on the offensive line here. Alternately, strong moves in free agency have put them in a spot where they can go Best Player Available and be okay.
32. Seattle: 4-3 defensive linemen who can pressure the quarterback are as valuable as ever in the NFL, something that the Seahawks figured out ahead of the curve in my estimation. Tight end also makes sense here as an option.
I plan to lock in my final 2014 mock draft tonight before I head to work by 11 p.m. EDT. And, barring the unexpected, I'll have my usual running commentary on the first round written and posted either tomorrow night or when my weekend begins on Friday morning.