I tried to be a little unconventional with some of these picks. As with all mock drafts, this one is totally irrelevant and will prove to be pretty inaccurate, but it passes the time.
1. Atlanta Falcons (from Houston Texans) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I refuse to believe that the Texans will stand pat at #1 and take a QB. I think they'll be on the phones and end up making a trade with Atlanta, who has shown in the past they are not afraid to make a big trade up for a star player. According to the Harvard Chart, this trade should only cost Atlanta their second round pick. Houston will probably get a little more, but I don't think they'll take Atlanta to the cleaners the way St. Louis did to Washington a few years ago. As for the pick, Clowney would be the finishing touch on the d-line overhaul the Falcons have made this offseason and this move should put them back as the front-runner of the NFC South.
2. St. Louis Rams - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Rams will once again try to land a mega-deal that nets them a multiple picks in this draft and in future drafts. However, with the depth of this draft, they'll be unsuccessful and will need to make a pick. Greg Robinson is the top tackle on several boards because of his upside, but there's something to be said for a coaches comfort with certain players. Jeff Fisher was a teammate of Bruce Matthews at USC and also coached him for a time in the NFL. That familiarity and the fact that many consider Robinson a little "raw" in pass protection could sway Fisher to select Matthews.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I almost put Mack here, but the fact is, the Jags need a QB and they need a way to bring energy to this franchise. They need a player that will create buzz and get people talking about them. Whether you like him or not, there's no arguing that Meziel is just such a player. I understand teams should take the best player available, but that's simply not the case sometimes and that's especially true when your franchise is going into 2014 with Chad Henne at the helm. Manziel is a playmaker and he'll give this team a chance to win. He'll also fill seats like no one else in this draft.
4. Detroit Lions - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Megatron is mega-expensive and he's getting close to the big three-O. He's also been banged up the last few years. There have been rumblings that the Lions are thinking this is the year to push for a Super Bowl. They have Calvin Johnson and they have Golden Tate for the slot, but they need a #2 (and heir #1). They have focused a great deal of their offseason researching Watkins and at I think they'll surprise people and end up going all-in on him. Hey, not all draft picks make sense and I wouldn't agree with this move considering the state of their defense, but if they are infatuated with Watkins, I can see this happening....and boy would this offense become scary good!
5. Oakland Raiders - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Raiders are in a win-now mode. They've made several moves in free agency including trading for veteran QB Matt Schaub, which show they're trying to make a major push to keep up in the AFC West. I don't believe they acquired Schaub to have him sit on the bench behind a first round QB. Instead, they'll take the most impactful player available and that's Mack.
6. Houston Texans (from Atlanta Falcons) - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The Texans drop down to #6 and still get the guy they wanted all along. It would be a gamble of course, but not much of one. If Bortles is taken by the time they're on the clock, they could still get a blue chip player here and get their QB in the second or move up into the first again with the extra fire power they receive in the Falcons trade.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
For all those that believe Tampa will go wide receiver in the first because they recently jettisoned Mike Williams, I just have one question. Can you name one of Tampa Bay's offensive tackles? I'll help with one. They just signed Anthony Collins to play left tackle, but he isn't on the same level as Robinson or Matthews or Lewan. In this scenario, Robinson is available and would be scooped up quick.
8. Minnesota Vikings - C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
So many mocks have the Vikings drafted a QB here, but I can't see a defensive-minded HC like Mike Zimmer taking a QB, at least, not an offensive one. I think they use their second round pick on Zach Mettenberger to give OC Norv Turner the strong-armed pocket passer he covets, but the first pick will be a defender. The Vikings cut Erin Henderson and have a void at middle linebacker. Zimmer knows the value of a defensive signal caller and Mosley is the best in the draft.
9. Buffalo Bills - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Bills can go in several directions, but I think they make a move to fortify their o-line and pick Lewan. The best way to allow a young QB to grow is to give him weapons and protection. They picked up Mike Williams this offseason and have a couple young wide receivers who will be better this year. Now they need to give Manual protection and see how he develops. Lewan is at least as good as the three OTs taken in the top 10 last year and will prove to be a franchise left tackle as Cordy Glenn is moved to the right side.
10. Cleveland Browns - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Some team is going to surprise a lot of people and select Carr higher than most analysts are projecting. Carr has elite arm strength and throws a nice deep ball. That fits in with the conditions in Cleveland and the routes that Josh Gordon loves. In 2013, Carr amassed 50 TDs and only threw 7 INTs. Add in the fact that he's more athletic then is being talked about and he's going to go earlier than expected.
11. Tennessee Titans - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
My first instinct was to put Anthony Barr here, but looking at their OLBs, the Titans already had Zach Brown, Kamerion Wimbley, and have just signed Shaun Phillips, who is coming off a 10 sack season. With the loss of their #1 corner from last year, Alterraun Verner, they'll take the top corner in the draft. Gilbert has the highest upside of any corner in the draft and adds a dynamic presence to the Titans return game as well.
12. New York Giants - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
I could see the Giants going with Eric Ebron here or pulling off a surprise and taking Kony Ealy, who reminds me of Justin Tuck in the way he can play all over the line. But, with the loss of Hakeem Nicks and their apparent disappointment in Reuben Randle (according to recent reports), the G-men pounce all over Mike Evans.
13. St. Louis Rams - Hasean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
If the draft falls anything like this, the Rams will get on the phone at pick 13; but it won't be to talk trade, it will be to welcome Clinton-Dix to the team. I think the Rams are done trading down at this point and take the best safety in the draft. Fisher isn't about to take two offensive players in the first round and Clinton-Dix will give them another key piece to an already talent-laden defense.
14. Chicago Bears - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Bears have already brought in a truck-load of quality defensive ends in free agency, so it's obvious they're number one priority this offseason is to improve their pass rush. They have only resigned Ratliff to address the middle of the defense so I think the Bears fill the void left by Henry Melton's departure with Aaron Donald. They could go Pryor here and a player like Easley in the second, but Donald would be too perfect of a fit to pass up at this point.
15. San Francisco 49ers (from Pittsburgh Steelers) - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
There was a draft that happened before some of you were watching the Cowboys. They had their eye on a player and they watched him falling right into their grasp. At the last second, the Niners traded up and drafted WR Jerry Rice. Looks like they do it to the Cowboys again with this move. The Niners know Barr won't get past the Cowboys so they call up the Steelers and make a trade. They have a big unknown at OLB with the issues Aldon Smith is facing so they buy themselves some quality insurance by grabbing Barr.
16. New England Patriots (from Dallas Cowboys) - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
With Donald and Barr off the board, the Cowboys may take Zack Martin, but when the Patriots call, they decide to trade down and hopefully duplicate their successful 2013 trade down. The Patriots are not the same offense without quality tight ends and with the incarceration of Aaron Hernandez and the medical struggles of Gronkowski, they make a move to secure the top talent at tight end in the draft.
17. Baltimore Ravens - Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The Ravens need an upgrade at offensive tackle, but I can't see them going with Zack Martin here. He just doesn't seem to fit the Ravens mold. Cyrus Kouandjio had some questions raised about his knees, but he had a good showing at his pro day and his stock is back on the rise. Martin is a better player in my opinion, but Cyrus Kouandjio is a better pure tackle prospect and would give the Ravens power that Martin may lack. If he passes his medical evals, he should be a first round lock.
18. New York Jets - Odell Beckham Jr., WR LSU
The Jets have worked hard in the offseason to upgrade their offense. The additions of Eric Decker and Chris Johnson should really help, but they need another quality wide receiver. That's where Beckham comes in. He's one of the most dynamic players in the draft and will pair with Decker to give the Jets a massive upgrade from the 2013 group they had catching the ball.
19. Miami Dolphins - Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Everyone has the Dolphins selecting Martin and I'm right there with them. He's a quality player, with a very high floor, who has the versatility to play multiple positions. That flexibility will allow the Dolphins to continue to look at tackles or guards and take the best player and fit the pieces together. As a sleeper selection, keep an eye out for Nix if he's still there and Martin is gone. They lost Soliai in the offseason and Nix would be a great replacement.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
Last year, the Cards brought in John Abraham in free agency and he surprised many with his production. Unfortunately, Arizona didn't see similar production on the other side of the field. They look to rectify that by bringing in Ford, who has a tremendous burst and the athletecism to make the transition from defensive end to OLB.
21. Green Bay Packers - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The Packers had a lot of issues in their secondary last year and most of them came from the safety position. Pryor will bring an enforcer mentality that all defenses need. He'll form a nice safety tandem with Morgan Burnett.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
With the departure of DeSean Jackson, wide receiver is a legitimate target, but with the resigning of both Cooper and Maclin, I think the Eagles try to improve a dreadful secondary. Dennard is the top corner on some boards and I can't see the Eagles passing on him if he falls to this point.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
A typical Andy Reid draft consists of a first round lineman, whether it's on offense or defense. Looking at the players available, I'm not seeing an offensive lineman worthy of this spot and the only defensive lineman that could be considered really don't fit what KC does on defense. One of the few times Reid didn't take a lineman in the first round, he selected Jeremy Maclin. With the lack of line value, I think he snatches up the 2013 Biletnikoff winner. Cooks possesses excellent hands (128 catches in 2013) and is one of the fastest players in the draft. He'll bring some needed juice to this offense.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
When you draft in the 20's, the proverbial "best player available" becomes a bit more murky. Opinions of Ealy differ, but the fact is, he's the second best defensive end in this draft on most boards. The Bengals already have Carlos Dunlap and Margus Hunt, but both of those guys are more LDEs. Ealy has the potential to be a quality DE and with the other impact players on this line, he's more likely to see less attention from the offense, which should help him succeed.
25. San Diego Chargers - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Fuller wasn't listed in many early mock drafts, but he's been steadily rising since the combine. He's a physical corner with speed and decent size. As soon as he's drafted, he'll become the Chargers best corner.
26. Cleveland Browns - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The run on the cornerbacks is under way. The Browns will have a hard choice to make with this pick as they could go with a tackle like Morgan Moses, a WR like Marqise Lee, an OLB like Shazier or a corner. I think Verrett provides the biggest value at a position of need. The Browns should be able to get quality players at the other positions in rounds two and three. Verrett may be the best corner overall, but his size drops him to the late first. He'll be able to learn from Joe Haden and not have to step in as the number one. I think they go WR in the second and take Derek Carr's favorite target Devante Adams.
27. New Orlean Saints - Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Saints love having weapons at wide receiver and Lee just seems like the type of player they would take in the first round. They cut Lance Moore in the offseason to free themselves from his hefty contract and Lee reminds me of a faster version of Moore. This pick wouldn't be soley based on need though, Lee is one of the top players left on the board so it's a win-win for the Saints.
28. Carolina Panthers - Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
The Panthers would have a huge need at WR, but I think they'll use the first round on replacing Jordan Gross, who retired earlier this year. Moses has a lot of upside. Not only is he physically built to play the position, but he has a great deal of intelligence that should help him transition to the pro game. With the depth at receiver in this class, I could see them use their next two picks on pass catchers.
29. Dallas Cowboys - Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
The Cowboys could go in several directions with this pick, but with Bruce Carter under-performing last year and in the final year of his contract, Marinelli gets an upgrade at an essential position in his defense. In this defense, the weak-side linebacker play is essential for success and picking this late in the first, the Cowboys go with the best player available at a position of need. Putting Shazier at WILL next to Lee will give the Cowboys two studs and it could serve to light a fire inside Carter who will need to have a great year if he wants his second contract in the NFL to be big.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers - Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
The Steelers recently signed NT Cam Thomas, but that won't keep them from taking Nix at this point in the draft. Nix has drawn comparisons to Vince Wilfork and he turns in to that type of player, the Steelers would be set for the next 10 years at the crucial nose tackle position.
31. Denver Broncos - Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
If last year's Super Bowl taught us anything, it was that the Broncos need to improve the interior of their offensive line. Su'a-Filo may be the best guard in this class and will help both the running game and passing game improve. Manning will love it when he sees this selection.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
The Seahawks have a lot of strengths, but offensive line is now one of them. I almost put Joel Bitonio here, but Seattle is a power-run team and that's what Jackson is best at. When it's all said and done, Jackson may be seen as the best guard in this draft class. This pick would remind me of the James Carpenter pick the Hawks made a few years back.