Rounds 1-4 (5/1)
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, South Carolina
Just as it did when it selected Mario Williams over highly regarded quarterback prospects Vince Young and Matt Leinart, the team makes the right call and selects the best overall player in the draft. Quarterback will absolutely be a priority for the Texans, but the position can be addressed in the second round or a trade back up into the tail end of the first round.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Rams could go in a number of directions with this selection. A trade down could be initiated if a team wants to move up for Khalil Mack or one of the quarterbacks. If St. Louis stays at #2, I’d expect Watkins, Mack, or Greg Robinson to be the selection. All three are elite players. If the team moves down, I could see Mike Evans and Aaron Donald being targets.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, DE, Buffalo
The Jaguars fill their LEO role by drafting an elite pass rusher. One of the quarterbacks could, of course, also be in play here.
4. Cleveland Browns: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
I think this choice will come down to Evans, a quarterback, and Greg Robinson. Robinson is the best value, but he’d play right tackle or guard for the Browns since Joe Thomas is a mainstay on the blind side. Andrew Hawkins is a nice addition at receiver, but Evans can team with Josh Gordon to create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses for years to come. I’ll give the edge to Robinson because I feel that he is the better overall prospect. The Browns should have at least one solid option at quarterback available with their second pick in the opening frame.
5. Oakland Raiders: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Raiders are an interesting team because they are mediocre at almost every position. That isn’t an entirely bad thing either because it means the team could use upgrades all over the place, but it doesn’t have a major pressing area of need that absolutely has to be addressed. I expect that this choice would come down to Jake Matthews and Mike Evans. The team signed Donald Penn to play left tackle, but he’s simply a Band-Aid until a better option to replace Jared Veldheer emerges. Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan and former second round pick, Menelik Watson, could be a very reliable tandem for Oakland. However, the Raiders could also really use a true number one receiver and Mike Evans is certainly an answer in that regard. It’s a tough call.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Falcons are rumored to have interest in moving up for Clowney, Mack, or Robinson. With those three off the board, Jake Matthews is the next best option.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Josh McCown is a stopgap and the team’s new management isn’t (nor should it be) tied to 2013 third rounder, Mike Glennon. Bortles probably won’t get past the Buccaneers and Vikings. The team could also look to add one of the many talented first round receivers.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr, OLB-DE, UCLA
The Vikings could go in a number of different directions in the first round. The team could ultimately decide to take a quarterback. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is also a strong option and an immediate impact starter. It wouldn’t shock me to see Brandin Cooks come off the board to replace Percy Harvin, but the Vikings have shown little pre-draft interest in investing this selection in another receiver. For now, I’m going to project Minnesota to go with the upside of pass rusher Anthony Barr.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
There have been a number of reports that Buffalo is very interested in North Carolina tight end, Eric Ebron. Ebron would provide an immediate impact, even though I don’t really like the value here. I believe Ebron will go on to have a very productive career as a starter, and perhaps even pro-bowler, but I’m not taking a tight end in the top ten unless his name is Tony Gonzalez or Jimmy Graham. I don’t believe Ebron has that potential. I think Buffalo’s top choice is Jake Matthews.
10. Detroit Lions: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
A perfect storm of bad circumstances led to a poor junior campaign for Lee. He is still a slam dunk first round selection. I personally have Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham Jr. ranked slightly ahead of him, but the Lions seem to have more interest in Lee and I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
11. Tennessee Titans: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The Titans aren’t going to pick up the fifth-year option on Jake Locker’s contract and the writing is on the wall as a new coaching staff takes over in 2014. Of the first round signal-callers, the Titans have shown the most interest in Carr.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Giants have a lot of assets and salary tied up on the offensive line, but Will Beatty isn’t going to cut it at left tackle and the value here is too good to pass up. I think this is as low as Lewan will come off the board. The Giants could also opt to add talented receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. or Brandin Cooks.
13. St. Louis Rams: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
I absolutely love Aaron Donald and I can see him coming off the board much higher. John Randle Jr. would complete an elite defensive line in St. Louis by adding a dominating interior pass rush.
14. Chicago Bears: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Along with Lewan and Donald, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a potential top six or seven pick. The Bears are certainly going to choose to upgrade the defense with this selection and landing the draft’s top safety would be a dream scenario.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Steelers may trade down, but I’m not projecting trades so this could be any number of players. I thought about giving the Steelers Ryan Shazier to play inside linebacker, but I think the team might use this opportunity to draft whichever cornerback it views as being at the top of the draft class. Look for the team to draft a big receiver in the second round.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
DeMarcus Ware is gone and an attempt to bring in Jared Allen failed. The Cowboys clearly need help at defensive end. Kareem Martin can rush the passer, but he’s also very good against the run. I think he may be the most underrated player in the draft and I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands in the first round.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
At this point, it may be an upset if Beckham Jr. or Brandin Cooks are still there when the Ravens are placed on the clock. Baltimore gets a top-ten value at a position of need. The only difficult choice is deciding which of the two to choose.
18. New York Jets: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
I don’t care that the Jets have a greater need for a cornerback. Brandin Cooks is simply a better value than anyone else left on the board and the Jets should have plenty of interest. Think Desean Jackson without the inflated contract. Slam dunk for the J-E-T-S.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The Dolphins won’t take Cyrus Kouandjio in the first round. I didn’t believe that rumor for a second. Martin is a very strong option at right tackle.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Ra’Shede Hageman, DE, Minnesota
The Cardinals are not going to draft a quarterback in the first round. Again…the Cardinals are NOT going to draft a quarterback in the first round. The team already has a signal caller and is competitive in one of the league’s most competitive divisions. Expect Arizona to use this choice on a player that could step in and play right away.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State
The Packers need a safety badly and Calvin Pryor is still on the board, but I think the better value here is Shazier. He’s an explosive athlete and an immediate upgrade over Brad Jones. At this point, I fully expect Shazier to hear his name called before Alabama’s C.J. Mosley. The Packers can wait until the second round to address safety.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
The Eagles showed quite a bit of interest in the former Indiana receiver at his recent workout. The team wouldn’t have spent so many resources on him this close to the draft unless it was very interested. It is, however, possible that the team views him as a second round target.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson has been overshadowed a bit by the top five receivers in this draft class, but he has legit number one receiver potential. In many other years, Robinson would be one of the top couple prospects at the position.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
I think Cincinnati’s need for a cornerback is actually a little overblown. Yes, the position needs to be addressed at some point soon because age and injury is starting to catch up with the squad’s current group, but I struggled with this selection because I think there are many different avenues the team could explore. I could see Morgan Moses, Weston Richburg, Kony Ealy, Timmy Jernigan, and Dee Ford all being in play here as well.
25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Chargers have to rebuild their defense. Cornerback and outside linebacker are both major areas of concern. This selection will probably be the team’s highest rated player at one of those two positions.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
This is the spot in which the Browns will find their quarterback. Rumors have them high on Manziel.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
The Saints seem to have a lot of interest in Ford. There are a few players I’d prefer in his place, but this draft pick should solidify the team’s ability to generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
28. Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
There is depth at receiver in this draft, but Moses might represent the team’s last chance at finding a capable replacement for Jordan Gross at left tackle.
29. New England Patriots: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Patriots have to find another option for Tom Brady. It was ugly for a while when Rob Gronkowski was out last season. New England appears to hold the Washington tight end in high regards.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Aldon Smith is a great football player, but it’s pretty clear he can’t be counted on long-term because of his off-the-field issues. The team will have its choice of top pass rushers at the end of the first round. However, I think the team decides to hand in its card with the name of this year’s most intriguing prospects. Benjamin is a lethal red zone target.
31. Denver Broncos: C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama
The Broncos have heavy interest in Mosley and the team also has a very weak core of linebackers. This could be a perfect match and, despite contrary reports, I expect that there is a good chance Mosley will be available when it’s Denver’s turn in the first round.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
The Seahawks don’t exactly need another edge pass rusher, but they certainly understand the importance of having many of them. Kony Ealy could also be in consideration if the team decides to take a defensive end, but I gave the edge to Crichton since he was brought in for a visit.
33. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Imagine a Texans fan’s reaction a few months ago if you told him he’d get Clowney AND Bridgewater?
34. Washington Redskins: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Many will view this as a dramatic slide for Pryor. I don’t see it that way. This is about right for Pryor and I could even see the Redskins opting for a pass rusher here.
35. Cleveland Browns: Kyle Van Noy, ILB, Penn State
The Browns use a pick to help the other side of the ball. Jason Verrett could also be an option.
36. Oakland Raiders: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Raiders have Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers on one-year deals and D.J. Hayden needs to show progression in his second year as a pro.
37. Atlanta Falcons: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Here’s one of the main reasons the Falcons shouldn’t move up to #1. There will be a quality pass rusher available early in the second round.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
The Buccaneers get a first round value at a position that badly needs to be addressed.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
The Jaguars are rumored to have heavy interest in Garoppolo.
40. Minnesota Vikings: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
I expect the Vikings to draft a big strong-armed Norv Turner-type quarterback like Bortles, Carr, Mettenberger, Tom Savage, or Logan Thomas.
41. Buffalo Bills: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Kouandjio is a real strong fit at right tackle as long as he checks out medically.
42. Tennessee Titans: Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
The Titans need a running back. Expect this selection to be Mason or Carlos Hyde. The only question is whether or not Mason can hold up in pass protection.
43. New York Giants: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Giants are good at finding good values and landing Nix or Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan would be a great example.
44. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Gilbert has the athleticism to be a very good starter in the NFL. The Rams would love to land him this late.
45. Detroit Lions: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
The Lions signed James Ihedigbo and he’s not good. Deone Bucannon is a much better long-term option.
46. Pittsburgh Steelers: Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Insert tall red zone target here.
47. Dallas Cowboys: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Everything would have to align just right for the Cowboys to have a shot at Jernigan in the second round. This is a dream scenario for Dallas.
48. Baltimore Ravens: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
The Ravens could use another good young safety to pair with Matt Elam.
49. New York Jets: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The Jets have shown strong interest in Amaro and will look to upgrade at cornerback later in the draft.
50. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
The Dolphins continue to dramatically improve their offensive line with a great value pick.
51. Chicago Bears: Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Easley is a steal if he can return to form after his second ACL injury.
52. Arizona Cardinals: Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State
The Cardinals will have a choice between a few quality pass rushers late in the second round.
53. Green Bay Packers: Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
The Packers land a new starting safety in the second round. There’s no need to push the panic button in round one.
54. Philadelphia Eagles: Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
The Eagles land a pass rusher to upgrade the defense. I love the value here.
55. Cincinnati Bengals: Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
The Bengals might decide to take a look at a running back here, but Richburg is too good of a value to pass up.
56. San Francisco 49ers (from Kansas City): Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford
It’s well known that the 49ers need an edge rusher badly because of Aldon Smith’s situation.
57. San Diego Chargers: Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State
The Chargers might view Bradford as an inside linebacker, but he can also be used on the edge.
58. New Orleans Saints: Marcus Martin, C, USC
I can’t see Martin falling any further than this. In fact, the Saints may consider him in the first round.
59. Indianapolis Colts: Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville
The Colts have shown a lot of interest in Smith.
60. Carolina Panthers: Davonte Adams, WR, Fresno State
The Panthers desperately need a couple of receivers in this draft.
61. San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
This is a luxury pick for the 49ers. They have more pressing needs, but Hyde is a good value for a team with some uncertainty at the position long-term.
62. New England Patriots: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
I don’t particularly like Savage, but many teams (including New England) reportedly disagree. The Patriots appear to be in the market for a new backup and potential successor to Tom Brady.
63. Denver Broncos: Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State
Is it crazy to think that the Broncos will select two linebackers in consecutive picks? I don’t think so. The Broncos are going all out to get the defense up to par for another Super Bowl run.
64. Seattle Seahawks: Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
Bitonio is a versatile offensive lineman who is capable of starting right away for the defending champs.
65. Houston Texans: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
The Texans land their third immediate starter of the draft. Niklas is a well-rounded tight end with untapped potential as a receiver.
66. Washington Redskins: Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
The Redskins have heavy interest in Fleming.
67. Oakland Raiders: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Mychal Rivera had a solid year, but Nick Kasa and David Ausberry are both huge question marks.
68. Atlanta Falcons: Terrance West, RB, Towson
West’s stock is rising and I now view him as a lock for the top 100.
69. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Revis is gone and adding another cornerback is a priority.
70. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
There’s no reason to believe Toby Gerhart can carry the load by himself.
71. Cleveland Browns: Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
Joyner is a versatile defensive back who holds value at both cornerback and safety.
72. Minnesota Vikings: Chris Borland, MLB, Wisconsin
I haven’t heard Borland’s name tied to Minnesota, but this is the perfect blend of value and need.
73. Buffalo Bills: Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
I think the Bills are targeting a running back or cornerback in the third round. Buffalo has shown interest in Breeland.
74. New York Giants: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The Giants grab Matthews to replace Nicks.
75. St. Louis Rams: A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
The Rams have shown quite a bit of interest in the projected day 2 quarterback prospects.
76. Detroit Lions: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Stanford
The Lions are in a good spot to pick their favorite of Keith McGill, Jaylen Watkins, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste.
77. San Francisco 49ers (from Tennessee): Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Tuitt is a great fit at five-technique in the 3-4.
78. Dallas Cowboys: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
Billy Turner and Gabe Jackson both make sense here.
79. Baltimore Ravens: Logan Thomas, QB-TE, Virginia Tech
The Ravens showed a lot of interest in the former Virginia Tech standout. He has all of the physical tools to play quarterback, but is very raw and has a low likelihood of reaching his potential.
80. New York Jets: Keith McGill, CB, Utah
McGill is a big cornerback who is cut from the same mold as Antonio Cromartie.
81. Miami Dolphins: Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
The Dolphins spent a lot of time with Herron during the week before the draft.
82. Chicago Bears: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
The Bears double up on high risk high reward defensive tackles.
83. Cleveland Browns (from Pittsburgh): Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville
The Browns have shown a lot of interest in Brown. He may be a fourth round target, but there’s no guarantee he’ll still be there at that point.
84. Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
See what I did there?
85. Green Bay Packers: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
The Packers play in the NFC Wide Receiver Central so they can never have enough quality cornerbacks.
86. Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida
The Eagles have a lot of interest in the Florida pass rusher.
87. Kansas City Chiefs: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
I haven’t heard Desir linked to the Chiefs, but I like the value.
88. Cincinnati Bengals: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
The Bengals could use a real backup quarterback. Murray has potential to someday challenge Andy Dalton for the starting gig.
89. San Diego Chargers: Ethan Westbrooks, OLB, West Texas AM
Westbrooks annihilated his competition throughout the season and picked right up where he left off at the East-West Shrine Bowl.
90. Indianapolis Colts: Dri Archer, RB-WR-KR, Kent State
Archer appears likely to find his way into the top 100 picks as a gadget player.
91. New Orleans Saints: Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Sankey is a good fit in the team’s pass-heavy offense.
92. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana
Jarvis Landry and Paul Richardson are both tempting options, but Tripp is the best value.
93. New England Patriots: Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Freeman is the type of player the Patriots usually like at running back. He doesn’t stand out in any one area, but he does everything well.
94. San Francisco 49ers: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Richardson is a much different receiver than Kelvin Benjamin. The 49ers could also decide to draft a cornerback at this spot. The most likely scenario, however, involves the team moving some of these picks to move up in the draft.
95. Denver Broncos: Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
The Broncos continue to rebuild the defense.
96. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle): Billy Turner, OL, North Dakota State
Turner’s best fit is probably at guard in the NFL.
97. Pittsburgh Steelers (compensation): Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB, Texas
The Steelers appear to be targeting a pass rusher in the third round.
98. Green Bay Packers (compensation): Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
Lynch is a well-rounded tight end and is capable of contributing right away.
99. Baltimore Ravens (compensation): Kelcy Quarles, DE, South Carolina
The Ravens need some youth at the position and Quarles is a tremendous value.
100. San Francisco 49ers (compensation): Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
This is a value pick. James has become slightly overrated in the past couple weeks for some reason. He isn’t worth a first round pick, but he’s a great value in the third round.
101.Houston Texans: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
102.Washington Redskins: Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State
103.Atlanta Falcons: Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State
104.New York Jets (from Tampa Bay): Dez Southward, S, Wisconsin
105.Jacksonville Jaguars: Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota
106.Cleveland Browns: Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
107.Oakland Raiders: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
108.Minnesota Vikings: Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
109.Buffalo Bills: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern
110.St. Louis Rams: Brandon Thomas, OL, Clemson
111.Detroit Lions: Christian Kirksey, OLB, Iowa
112.Tennessee Titans: Chris Smith, OLB, Arkansas
113.New York Giants: Larry Webster, TE-DE, Bloomsburg
114.Jacksonville Jaguars (from Baltimore): Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
115.New York Jets: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
116.Miami Dolphins: Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
117.Chicago Bears: James White, RB, Wisconsin
118.Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
119.Dallas Cowboys: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
120.Arizona Cardinals: Howard Jones, OLB, Shepherd
121.Green Bay Packers: Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
122.Philadelphia Eagles: Spencer Long, OG, Nebraska
123.Cincinnati Bengals: Dion Bailey, S, USC
124.Kansas City Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill
125.San Diego Chargers: Marqueston Huff, S, Wyoming
126.New Orleans Saints: Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
127.Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis): Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State
128.Carolina Panthers: Chandler Jones, WR, San Jose State
129.San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
130.New England Patriots: Jordan Zumwalt, OLB, UCLA
131.Denver Broncos: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
132.Seattle Seahawks: Brock Coyle, OLB, Montana
133.Detroit Lions (compensation): Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College
134.Baltimore Ravens (compensation): Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
135.Houston Texans: Shane Skov, ILB, Stanford
136.Detroit Lions (compensation): Dexter McDougle, CB, Maryland
137.New York Jets (compensation): Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
138.Baltimore Ravens (compensation): Morgan Breslin, OLB, USC
139.Atlanta Falcons (compensation): Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
140.New England Patriots (compensation): Charles Leno Jr., OG, Boise State