(from the editor: The NFL Draft is a big deal. Perhaps you’ve heard. So for the first time, we here at The Chris Brockman Website will be publishing a 1st Round Mock Draft leading up to May 8th’s start to the 2014 NFL Draft. We expect this list to change more than Joan Rivers’ face in the coming months and maybe inspire healthy debate. Enjoy.)
By Shawn Bradley
Special to The Chris Brockman Website
LOS ANGELES — We’ve finally made it through our first football-free week since August – but the ache is deep. Trying to substitute college basketball for the NFL on Sunday felt weaker than Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” or a white guy dunk attempt. Luckily, we can all start looking forward to the NFL Scouting Combine later this month in Indianapolis. So before Mike Mayock starts drooling over who has “non-stop motors” and “freakish athletic ability,” lets take a look at our first Mock Draft of the NFL Non-Playing Season – which we’ll certainly be saving for ridicule in the early, drunken hours of May 9th.
1.) Houston Texans — Jadeveon Clowney, Jr., DE, South Carolina
Despite all of his on- and off-the-field BS, Clowney’s appetite for destruction makes him the safest pick in this draft. Teaming him with J.J. Watt should be terrifying for years to come and first-year head coach Bill O’Brien knows the fastest way to end his Houston honeymoon is to whiff on a quarterback here only to then watch Clowney wreck the league in a different jersey.
2.) St. Louis Rams — Jake Matthews, Sr., T, Texas A&M
Knowing he has to face two of the NFL’s nastiest defenses four times a year, Jeff Fisher chooses to protect Sam Bradford instead of replacing him. After Jake Long tore up both his MCL and ACL in Week 16, the Rams are in need of an immediate starter at tackle. General Manager Les Snead will most likely trade down with a QB-hungry team and still land Matthews later in the top 10.
3.) Jacksonville Jaguars — Blake Bortles, Jr., QB, Central Florida
After not giving hometown hero Tim Tebow a shot to resurrect his career, the Jaguars take a different beefcake signal caller from their own backyard. Bortles showed some of that Ben Roethlisberger game during the Fiesta Bowl and should only become more attractive during the pre-Draft process, especially if he brings this along with him.
4.) Cleveland Browns — Johnny Manziel, So., QB, Texas A&M
In what will be the ultimate test of his legend, Johnny must extinguish the dumpster fire that is the Browns. Mike Pettine, coaching for a job he just got, must pray that new Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan can help Johnny produce an RGIII-style Rookie of the Year campaign. Having All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon and Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron around should give Johnny a chance at becoming a Cleveland icon, just like his mentor was.
5.) Oakland Raiders — Teddy Bridgewater, Jr., QB, Louisville
Poor Teddy falls face first into the Black Hole where 1st Round picks get lost faster than inner city virginities. Bridgewater appears to have everything except ideal height but he won’t have any time to develop in Oakland and the Raiders should be picking in the top 5 again next year with a new coach and a new GM.
6.) Atlanta Falcons — Anthony Barr, Sr., LB, UCLA
Injuries ravaged the Falcons in 2013 but their defense would have likely been quite poor anyway. Barr repeatedly shows the type of edge-rushing ability in the tape below that makes you think he could have double-digit sacks in his rookie NFL year. After converting from running back, Barr racked up 23 sacks in just 2 defensive seasons with the Bruins.
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Sammy Watkins, Jr., WR, Clemson
New Bucs head coach Lovie Smith is fortunate if the most explosive receiver on the board falls to him at No. 6. Watkins solidified his top 10 status with a record-setting Orange Bowl and his versatility should help Tampa Bay’s offense instantly. If Smith has him return kicks, Watkins could have a Cordarrelle Patterson-type of impact in his rookie year.
8.) Minnesota Vikings — Derek Carr, Sr., QB, Fresno St.
Guessing Adrian Peterson stops whatever he’s doing on the night of May 8th so he can call his agent and demand a trade. Mike Zimmer would be trusting Norv Turner and a Fresno State product with the franchise’s immediate future. I’d would rather trust Woody Allen to … hold that thought… My guess is the Vikings have a new coach and quarterback by the time they open up that new stadium in two years.
9.) Buffalo Bills — Mike Evans, So., WR, Texas A&M
The Bills aren’t completely desperate at receiver but they can’t pass up a true No. 1 wideout to pair with E.J. Manuel. Evans was a consistently dominant for two straight seasons at Texas A&M and he put on a show for NFL scouts when he torched Alabama for 279 yards in Week 3. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Evans is a physical specimen who knows how to use his size downfield.
10.) Detroit Lions — Darqueze Dennard, Sr., CB, Michigan St.
When Rashean Mathis is at the top of your depth chart, it’s time to upgrade the position. The Lions stay local here and take the Spartans’ Dennard, the consensus top corner in the draft. The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner appears to have shut down ability on tape but his 40 time will likely help decide if he goes this high on draft night.
11.) Tennessee Titans — C.J. Mosley, Sr., LB, Alabama
With all the quarterback’s off the board, Ken Whisenhunt safely selects the best defensive player available. Mosley’s sideline-to-sideline speed has some scouts throwing around Luke Kuechly comparisons, which is high praise. Expect new defensive coordinator Ray Horton to push for this pick as the Titans will be switching to a 3-4, which Mosley has been playing in for years.
12.) New York Giants — Taylor Lewan, Sr., T, Michigan
Lack of protection, and Hakeem Nicks’ overall disinterest, are the two best explanations for Eli Manning’s horrifying 2013 season. The Giants address one of those issues by using their 1st Round pick on a tackle for the second straight year. Lewan, a four-year starter at Michigan, was projected to go top 5 just over a year ago before he opted to return for his senior season.
13.) St. Louis Rams — Justin Gilbert, Sr., CB, Oklahoma St.
After a rough season, and due to earn $9 million in 2014, Cortland Finnegan’s future in St. Louis is in doubt. The Rams gave up a league worst 8.1 yards per pass attempt in 2013, so improving their secondary is a must. Gilbert showed strong man coverage ability in the pass happy Big 12 and he might end up being the Rams top corner by opening day.
14.) Chicago Bears — Timmy Jernigan, Jr., DT, Florida St.
With most of Chicago’s defensive line ready to hit free agency, this pick makes too much sense for GM Phil Emery. Plus, when you’re in a division with Adrain Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Reggie Bush, you need to figure out how to stop getting run over. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Jernigan made his presence felt in the BCS Championship and he should be a good fit for the Bears defensive scheme.
15.) Pittsburgh Steelers — Greg Robinson, So., T, Auburn
The Steelers have some glaring defensive needs but here they can turn a perpetual weakness into a strength. Robinson could easily be gone by now but putting him with a healthy Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro would give Pittsburgh a formidable offensive line for years to come. Robinson was outstanding during Auburn’s miraculous 2013 run and he should instantly be able to step in and protect Big Ben’s bathroom breaks.
16.) Dallas Cowboys — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, So., DB, Alabama
Jerrah Jones is out to fix the worst daggum defense in Cowboys history, and since the 32nd ranked unit was such a joke last season, it’s fitting that they pick a kid named Ha Ha. Clinton-Dix is a rangy center fielder and the best of a bad safety crop. The Alabama prospect is overvalued here by a desperate team and I smell another bust in the secondary for Dallas.
17.) Baltimore Ravens — Marqise Lee, Jr., WR, Southern Cal
Following his monstrous sophomore season in 2012, no one thought Lee would be here for the Ravens. Injuries and overall program dysfunction led to a steep drop in production but Lee looked liked himself in the Sun Bowl catching a pair of touchdowns. Also, let’s not forget about the time he put up 345 yards on 16 catches against Arizona.
18.) New York Jets — Eric Ebron, Jr., TE, North Carolina
Absolutely vomit-inducing on offense for long stretches last season, look for the Jets to pick up a new option for Geno Smith. GM John Idzik will likely add receivers through both free agency and the Draft but in this spot he should select a three-down tight end who appears to be a major matchup problem – check out the one-handed catch in the video below.
19.) Miami Dolphins — Zack Martin, Sr., T, Notre Dame
Considering who he replaced, new general manager Dennis Hickey is probably looking for high character guys. With a pair of starters involved in the scandal of the 2013 season and another starter involved in the scandal of the 2013 offseason, it’s a fair assumption that Miami will look for O-line help. With the Buccaneers, Hickey scouted the Midwest for over a decade and he should fall in love with this mauler from Notre Dame.
20.) Arizona Cardinals — Cyrus Kouandjio, Jr., T, Alabama
After spending a Top 10 pick on a guard who never played last season, the Cardinals still proved to be a playoff caliber team in 2013. Kouandijo is just 20-years old and those who have scouted Alabama say he’s already better than Chargers standout D.J. Fluker (11th overall in 2013). This native of Cameroon would be plug-and-play at left tackle for an Arizona team hoping to take the next step in the NFL’s best division.
21.) Green Bay Packers — Trent Murphy, Sr., LB, Stanford
The Packers lack of depth at linebacker was painfully apparent after Clay Matthews and Nick Perry went down. Murphy is an absolute warrior goon who stands 6-foot-6 and recorded 10 sacks last season in Palo Alto. Murphy had a subpar Senior Bowl week because the Falcons staff had him playing end but he should be a perfect fit in Green Bay as an outside rush linebacker.
22.) Philadelphia Eagles — Khalil Mack, Sr., LB, Buffalo
Most Mock Drafts have Mack going in the top 10 and while he did have a record-setting career, it happened at Buffalo. Mack’s Scouting Combine performance will go a long way towards determining where he ends up, but the Eagles would be a good match. Chip Kelly’s defense needs a major pass rushing upgrade after finishing 20th in sacks and last in the league in passing yards allowed in 2013. Plus, this is likely Trent Cole’s last season in Philly.
23.) Kansas City Chiefs — Kelvin Benjamin, So., WR, Florida St.
The Chiefs gave Dwayne Bowe 5 years and $56 million only to see his numbers drop while he got high. By drafting Benjamin, an absolute pterodactyl at 6-foot-5, Andy Reid would be giving Alex Smith a pair of big-bodied receivers while also hopefully freeing up Bowe to find his 2011 form. Benjamin caught 15 touchdowns in 14 games this season including the game-winner in the BCS Championship game and should be an immediate red zone threat.
24.) Cincinnati Bengals — Kony Ealy, Jr., DE, Missouri
I can’t see penny-pinching Mike Brown keeping free agent Michael Johnson, so the Bengals will be thrilled if Ealy is still available. At 6-foot-5 275 pounds, Ealy is lightning quick off the snap and has shown a variety of pass rushing moves even though he played just two seasons for the Tigers. After totaling 9.5 sacks in 2013, Ealy appears primed to fallow former Missouri standouts Aldon Smith and Sheldon Richardson into NFL stardom.
25.) San Diego Chargers — Jace Amaro, Jr., TE, Texas Tech
Yes, the Chargers have Ledarious Green and Antonio Gates, but Amaro is too good to pass on. He often ilned up in the slot for Texas Tech and was a YAC machine last year while setting the single season FBS record for receiving yards by a tight end. Having the 6-foot-5 Amaro running down the seam with Keenan Allen on the outside should make it easy for Philip Rivers to build off his career year in 2013.
26.) Cleveland Browns — David Yankey, Sr., G, Stanford
The Browns have their new franchise quarterback, now protecting JFF becomes the next order of business. Yankey is a versatile lineman who can play tackle but his best position is guard. That’s good news for Cleveland, which suffered through atrocious guard play in 2013. Coming from Stanford, a program that has become synonymous with physical play in recent years, Yankey is a road grater who should be a 10-year NFL starter.
27.) New Orleans Saints — Kyle Van Noy, Sr., LB, BYU
With Victor Butler coming off ACL surgery, the Saints would love to have another option to rush the passer. Van Noy had an explosive year playing alongside Ziggy Ansah in 2012, notching 13 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. In 2013, he was exposed to constant double teams but still managed 17 TFL. Van Noy would certainly be a perfect fit at outside linebacker in Rob Ryan’s improving defense.
28.) Carolina Panthers — Davante Adams, So., WR, Fresno St.
The Panthers receiving corps isn’t scaring anyone and Cam Newton’s lack of options of blatantly obvious during the Divisional Round loss to San Francisco. Enter Adams, who displays Dez Bryant-ish physicality at times, albeit against inferior competition. But no matter who he was playing against, the dude still caught an eye-popping 24 touchdowns last season.
29.) New England Patriots — Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jr., TE, Washington
Would The Hoodie dare roll the dice again on a talented tight end who’s draped in red flags? I’m guessing Bill Belichick says “eff it, Tommy needs a new toy.” Seferian-Jenkins is a twoering 6-foot-7, 270-pound seam-splitting nightmare and when he wasn’t drunkenly smashing into trees on U-Dubb’s campus, he was breaking every major Huskies tight end receiving record.
30.) San Francisco 49ers — Stephon Tuitt, Jr., DE, Notre Dame
Slowed by preseason sports hernia surgery, Tuitt struggled to replicate his stellar 12-sack sophomore season in 2013. When healthy though, he is shockingly agile for being a 6-foot-7, 322-pound beast and he’ll surely benefit learning from Justin Smith, one of football’s premiere 3-4 defensive ends. Expect this hulking human mover to light up the Scouting Combine and cement himself as a 1st Round-worthy prospect.
31.) Denver Broncos — Jason Verrett, Sr., CB, TCU
Even if the Broncos bring back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, corner is still a sore spot for the AFC champs. The Super Bowl bummer will certainly force Denver to toughen up on D, and Verrett is exactly the kind of physical corner that would fit with the Seahawks secondary. Over the last two seasons, no FBS player had more passes defended than Verrett, who had almost as many breakups as Taylor Swift.
32.) Seattle Seahawks — Jordan Matthews, Sr., WR, Vanderbilt
Matthews is the perfect Seahawks receiver: underrated with a chip on his shoulder. Despite putting up record numbers in the NFL’s AAA affiliate, Matthews is garnering little 1st Round buzz. At 6-foot-3, he possesses desired size but his speed is being called into question. Still, anyone who averages 19 ypc in the SEC must be able to get down field quick enough.