For this year’s mock draft we switched it up, with sports reporter Marty Kauffman making the odd numbered picks, and sports editor Will Rossmiller making the even numbered picks.
The draft will be held from May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: The best player in this year’s draft is taken with the number one pick. Clowney will be the first player chosen as the “can’t miss” prospect, but do not be surprised if Houston trades back from this spot to someone who covets Clowney.
2. St. Louis Rams: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: If there is any team in the top ten picks that is likely to trade down, it is the Rams. If they stay at this pick, they will take the player with the most talent. While they drafted Tavon Austin last year, Watkins presents another element in the passing game that no current member on the Ram’s roster possesses: a mix of elite size and speed.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: With Gus Bradley as head coach, the Jaguars pass on a quarterback here and select a pass rusher. Mack is the second best defensive player in the draft and can make an immediate impact on day one.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: The Browns need some excitement from their offense and Manziel is one of, if not the most, exciting players in this draft. I am not sold on how well his game will translate to the NFL, but I think that the Browns need a franchise quarterback, and I think that they believe Manziel is that guy. He is a wild card off the field but if he performs, Browns fans will worship him.
5. Oakland Raiders: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: Oakland signed many free agents and acquired veteran quarterback Matt Schaub, which means they pass on a quarterback here and give Schaub a big target to work with in Mike Evans.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: This draft is filled with talented skill position players. When that happens, offensive linemen can start to fall on draft day. Robinson has the most potential out of the offensive linemen in this year’s draft. He could be taken in the first three picks. Atlanta would be ecstatic if he fell to them at this spot. He could step in and protect Matt Ryan’s blindside from day one.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Offensive tackle is a need for Tampa Bay and the selection of Matthews is a safe pick with great value. Matthews is one of the best linemen in the draft with the ability to start immediately.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF: There are some drafts where quarterbacks rise to the top of the board and others where they fall like a ton of bricks. Most experts have graded Bortles as the best QB prospect in the draft. Minnesota needs a QB, but they also had one of the worst defenses in the league last year. They could go for defense here, but it would be hard for them to pass up Bortles.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Drafting quarterback E.J. Manuel in the first round last year means you need to get him pieces to work with and drafting Ebron does that for the Bills. Ebron is the top tight end in the draft with great athleticism that can make him a force in the Bills offense.
10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.: The Lions need help in the secondary, giving up the fifth most passing yards per game in the NFC. The team did not add any long term fixes to the secondary this offseason and Gilbert is one of the best players available. The NFC North is a passing league. If you cannot stop the pass, you will not be successful. Gilbert can help the Lions there.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: Last season, the Titans finished tied for 21st in sacks and with a change to a 3-4 defensive scheme, the selection of Anthony Barr can give Tennessee the pass rush they need.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: It seems like the Giants always have problems with their offensive line. If Lewan does fall to them at this pick, it would go a long way toward fixing their perpetual mess on the offensive line. Lewan is a top ten prospect and an instant fix at either of the guard positions. The Giants need to commit to keeping Eli Manning in an upward position this season.
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: The Rams add to an already good defense with the top safety in the draft. With a solid pass rush, the Rams will have a ball hawk with Clinton-Dix roaming in the secondary alongside cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
14. Chicago Bears: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: Like the Lions, the Bears should try to improve their secondary. The NFL is becoming a predominantly pass-first league. If you do not have the personnel in place to stop the pass, you are going to have a bad time. Pryor is a talented safety that teams could look to trade up for. If the Bears do not go for a safety here, they may look to upgrade their defensive line.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Pittsburgh is in desperate need for a cornerback. The Steelers are a franchise that prides itself on defense and with star wide receivers A.J. Green and Josh Gordon in the division, Dennard can cover them and make a difference for the Steelers defense.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Aaron Donald, DE, Pittsburgh: Donald has been shooting up draft boards as of late. I had not heard of him until a couple of weeks ago, but it seems like most of the so-called draft experts have him going higher than this. He would fit into the defensive end position in the Cowboys 3-4 defense. He reminds me a lot of Sharrif Floyd from last year’s draft. He was hyped a lot pre-draft, but fell to the end of the first round.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: Last season, Baltimore struggled at the offensive tackle position and there is a need at that position. Martin was a two-year starter at Notre Dame, possesses the athleticism to play the tackle position with good footwork, and can be an improvement on the Ravens offensive line.
18. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: The Jets already added former Broncos wide out Eric Decker to their passing attack, but they could still use some help for whoever is playing quarterback for them come September. Beckham is one of the most dangerous players in space in this draft class. He is great at making people miss and could be a kick and punt return specialist for the Jets.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: After a season full of distractions in the locker room, the Dolphins move on by rebuilding the offensive line, specifically the tackle position with the selection of Kouandjio. The Dolphins believe they have a franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, and Kouandjio is capable of protecting Tannehill.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri: Ealy is a pass rusher that would instantly make the Cardinals defense more effective at getting to the passer. He would fit into the edge rushing outside linebacker position in Arizona’s 3-4 defense. Arizona already has a fierce defense and Ealy would contribute to an already top ten unit in the league.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: Green Bay gets a steal with Mosley at the 21st pick. The inside linebacker position is a need for the Packers this offseason. Mosley immediately upgrades the position with his speed and athleticism making him an immediate starter over Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St.: After releasing DeSean Jackson this offseason, the Eagles need to find another quick playmaker wide receiver that can make defenders miss. Cooks had the fastest forty time of all wide receivers at the combine with a 4.33. He would be great in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense and would be an excellent return specialist.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Wide receiver is a position the Chiefs need to address early in the draft as Dwayne Bowe is the only target for quarterback Alex Smith to throw to. Lee provides Smith with another weapon and allows the Chiefs offense to be more explosive to go along with a stout defense.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St.: It is as simple as this: the Bengals need some help in the secondary and Roby is the best available cornerback left on the board. Roby has had his troubles off the field, but the Bengals do not shy away from players with similar issues. The Bengals could also look to grab a pass rusher if one falls in the draft.
25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: Verrett is one of the top cornerbacks in this year’s draft and San Diego would take him immediately. Verrett’s size may not be ideal, but Verrett has great anticipation for the ball and can make a difference at the cornerback position for the Chargers.
26. Cleveland Browns: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida St.: The Browns will continue to look to improve their offense with the addition of a pass catcher. The Browns have one of the better and younger defenses in the AFC. The Browns like their wide receivers to be big and strong. Benjamin fits the build with a six-foot-five frame. He will match up well in the passing game with Josh Gordon and Cameron Jordan.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn: The Saints defense has always been about rushing the quarterback, finishing in the top five in team sacks. The selection of Ford improves that pass rush even more as Ford is a playmaking pass rusher that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is going to use a lot.
28. Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia: The Panthers have had one of the worst off-seasons of any team in the NFL. They have lost most of their receivers and have not added any impact players on offense or defense. Moses may not be an impact player, but he can be a steady player on an offensive line that has lost plenty of talent over the last year. The Panthers could also look to add a receiver at this spot.
29. New England Patriots: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: The Patriots defensive line is getting older, but the addition of Hageman can bring some youth to it. Hageman is being labeled as the boom or bust pick of the draft, but at 6-6 and 320 pounds he can be a presence on a good defense.
30. San Francisco 49’ers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: The 49’ers are always looking to improve their defense, and Fuller would be a great addition to their secondary. Their offense is all but set, so defense seems like a logical choice. They could look for a pass rusher with Aldon Smith’s future currently up in the air.
31. Denver Broncos: Xavier Su’a Filo, OG, UCLA: The Broncos are in to win now with Peyton Manning not getting any younger and with an injury history he needs to be protected for the Broncos to win. Su’a Filo is one of the top guards in the draft and should help the Broncos offensive line protect Manning.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana: It is a year of a lot of talented receivers, with six having a legit shot at being first round selections. The Seahawks do not really have a weakness on either side of the ball, but they did lose Golden Tate to free agency, so Latimer could be the pick here for Seattle.