Clowney is the most impressive and most talented athlete in the 2014 draft. He is a special player who could be a perennial Pro Bowler. He fits Houston at a position of need either as a hybrid OLB/DE. There is little downside with Clowney and, as fans have learned, a great D-line is the only thing that can stop the best passing attacks. J.J. Watt and Clowney would be as good as it gets and the Texans can get a great option at quarterback in the second or third round.
2. St. Louis: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn
Robinson might be the surest thing in the draft. He is an elite athlete with great feet, size and versatility. He can play in space if needed and will be a lock-down, bookend left tackle for a decade to come. Jeff Fisher knows he needs to protect his quarterback and Robinson is the best pure left tackle in the draft.
3. Jacksonville: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The bottom line is Jacksonville needs to inject some excitement into the franchise. Johnny Manziel is nothing but raw excitement on a football field — and more than likely the ticket office as well. He instantly makes Jaguars' football games must-see TV and this franchise is in desperate need of a renewed energy.
4. Cleveland: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins is a physical specimen. His burst, explosiveness and versatility make him one of the most dangerous offensive weapons to come out of college in quite some time. He is a four-inch taller, 30-pound heavier, more explosive version of Tavon Austin — and that might not even be doing Watkins justice. He instantly gives whichever quarterback Cleveland likely takes with its second pick a legit No. 1 target — unless of course Manziel falls to No. 4.
5. Oakland: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
There is just something about Bridgewater and the Raiders that just feels right. He is as tough as nails, a great leader, has adequate but underwhelming size, a big arm and simply gives it his all every time out there. Maybe the former Louisville star can salvage a position of need that Oakland hasn't been able to fill since Rich Gannon departed.
6. Atlanta: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
The Falcons would be ecstatic to get Mack at this spot. This defense needs a playmaker in its front seven and there were few better on the collegiate level than Mack. He is explosive, physical, productive and can play all over the field. He might have been the best player on the field when he starred against Ohio State last September.
7. Tampa Bay: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
This feels like a Tampa Bay thing to do. First, Evans has big-time NFL upside. Second, there are QB questions in Tampa and any of the options Lovie Smith has to go with could use a pure No. 1 threat on the outside. And Smith has proven his affection for oversized, jumbo wide receivers in the past (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery with the Bears).
8. Minnesota: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
It doesn't feel right for the Vikings to take another quarterback this high in the draft so quickly after taking Christian Ponder — a playoff QB I might add — just three years ago. However, Bortles has a huge frame, a big arm and put together a remarkable 2013 season. Aaron Donald is what I would do here if I had a choice, but the Vikes need as many options at QB as possible and Bortles could end up being the answer.
9. Buffalo: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M
He's not as good as Robinson or last year's No. 2 overall pick and former Aggie teammate Luke Joeckel. However, Matthews has elite pedigree and will fill an immediate need for the Bills. Protecting last year's first-round pick and (ideally) franchise quarterback EJ Manuel and giving him time to develop is a huge positive. Matthews has little downside and is almost assured to step in and play right away.
10. Detroit: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
This All-Big Ten cornerback won the Thorpe Award for a reason. He has big-play ability, total lock-down ability, leadership skills and is rarely out of position. He isn't an overly huge corner (ala Seattle's "Legion of Boom" members) but he has Antoine Winfield written all of over him. He rarely gets beat at his job in any capacity.
11. Tennessee: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
If Barr is sitting here for Tennessee the Titans would be thrilled. He is a great option to fill a position of need and appears to be a sure-fire superstar off of the edge. He make big plays in all aspects of the game and he is only playing defense for a couple of the years after coming to UCLA as an offensive prospect. He has a rare combination of elite size, speed, strength and explosiveness. He is almost a steal at No. 11.
12. NY Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Ebron is as good a tight end prospect as the draft has had in quite some time. And most mock drafts agree that Ebron is a very big possibility for the G-Men. They like their UNC products who catch passes, and rebuilding the play-making corps for Eli Manning could be fixed instantly with Ebron's rare size and speed combination. He can play anywhere on the field.
13. St. Louis: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Long considered to be the best safety in the college game, Clinton-Dix has nothing left to prove. He made clutch plays in huge games, as he stabilized the back end of the one of the nation's top defenses. With the Rams' needs to rebuild this part of their defense, few things in an NFL Draft are as reliable as first-round Nick Saban defense backs (See: Dre Kirkpatrick, Dee Milliner, Mark Barron).
14. Chicago: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Bears have been busy rebuilding their defensive front seven after massive defections and a rash of injuries over the past few seasons and Donald might be one of the best two or three players in this entire draft. He instantly starts from day one and will have a huge impact as just a rookie. He's physical, can play against both the run and pass and if he ends up in the Windy City he will more than likely become the next Monster of the Midway.
15. Pittsburgh: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
Lewan played every bit of his 6-8, 315-pound frame on the field and also possesses a personality equal to his size off of it. The fun-loving, personable two-time All-American was the best blocker in the Big Ten over the last few years and he has a chance to develop into a lock-down left tackle. He is massive, has a great resume and possesses that killer instinct that makes a good offensive lineman a great one. And if there is one area the Steelers have struggled with mightily of late, it's along their offensive line.
16. Dallas: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
How Jerry Jones would this move be? Tuitt is a freak of nature who tends to wow with his elite size, speed and upside. The Cowboys desperately need a physical edge presence and Tuitt is just enough of a "off-the-board" prospect that Jones would probably be fascinated by the selection. That isn't a knock on Tuitt, who is a fine player, but he might not even be the best DL prospect from Notre Dame (Louis Nix).
17. Baltimore: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
If the Lions, Giants, Bears or Steelers don't snag the top inside linebacker, there is little doubt the Ravens would pass. Mosley is one of the most successful and productive and decorated players in SEC history and he will undoubtedly continue the trend of excellent Alabama linebackers (DeMeco Ryans, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw).
18. NY Jets: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert seems to be falling on draft boards (rightly so), while Roby appears to be the guy best positioned to make a late upwards push. He is an elite, raw athlete who has competed against the league's best for years. He has all of the tools to be a complete lock-down corner and the Jets definitely need secondary help.
19. Miami: Zack Martin, T, Notre Dame
There is a drop off after Robinson and Matthews in the left tackle department but there are a lot of names to like who fall in the 20-30 range overall and Martin is one of them. He has all of the tools and has played a high-profile position known for producing solid NFL players. Miami has what it thinks is a franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill and protecting him should always be a primary concern.
20. Arizona: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Much like Roby, Shazier is a physical player who constantly makes big plays, disrupts offenses and drops jaws with his uncanny ability to destroy opposing ball-carriers. There is no doubting his raw NFL ability and as draft day closes in, scouts will fall in love with his game tape. Look for Arizona to find an edge playmaker that it has been missing for sometime.
21. Green Bay: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The Packers would love to see Mosley fall to them or reach on home state hero Chris Borland but safety might be a more pressing need. Pryor is No. 2 at his position behind Clinton-Dix and has long been an excellent player with size, speed and physicality. The Pack also need to avoid tight end and wide receiver with this pick as Ted Thompson has been masterful at finding those guys in the latter rounds (See: Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones).
22. Philadelphia: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
From a physical standpoint, no receiver in this class (which is a very deep WR group) can match the size and speed of Benjamin. He is a Calvin Johnson clone with his massive frame, elite ball skills (SEE BCS National Championship Game) and can run away from most linebackers and safeties. He will fly up draft boards as this process moves forward and Chip Kelly is probably salivating about using a weapon like this big fella.
23. Kansas City: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Beckham has a totally different style than Evans or Benjamin, as he is cut from the Watkins cloth of speed, elusiveness, explosiveness and versatility. He can play in the slot, go down field, be used in the running game, on trick plays and will be a dynamic return man. He can do everything and the Chiefs desperately need someone to make big plays on the outside.
24. Cincinnati: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Gilbert should still be on the board late in the first round and that might be worth the risk. He is a solid, all-around player but doesn't possess special ability at this point. He was very consistent and has excellent athletic ability. He is a high-risk, high-reward selection.
25. San Diego: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Fuller family is one of college football's most talented and, frankly, I'd take Fuller over Gilbert. Basically, his entire family played at Virginia Tech and he might be the best of the bunch thus far. He is a lock-down corner who fills a need hailing from a school known for developing great defensive backs.
26. Cleveland: Overvalued Quarterback
Who knows who it will be — AJ McCarron, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, Logan Thomas or Tom Savage — but chances are the Browns will take an overrated quarterback prospect with this pick, which they got when they traded to Trent Richardson to Indianapolis last September. McCarron is only player in that bunch that I think has a chance to be an NFL starter but 26th overall is overpaying even for him. Way to go Browns.
27. New Orleans: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Ealy is very consistent and he just feels like a great fit for the Saints. He is a no-nonsense worker that comes from a school known for producing big-time D-liners of late (Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Sheldon Richardson). This team needs to find someone to replace Will Smith and Ealy is the guy. Louis Nix and Dee Ford would be solid picks as well.
28. Carolina: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Lee had a special sophomore season. Injuries and quarterback issues resulted in a final campaign that left plenty to be desired. But never fear, His record-setting 2012 season is the real Marqise Lee. He will be able to step in and replace Steve Smith's production. The Panthers are in desperate need of a big-time playmaker and he or Brandon Cooks would be excellent options.
29. New England: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Hageman is a blue-collar interior workhorse who has helped rejuvenate Minnesota football. He was a massive force up the gut for the Gophers and replacing Vince Wolfork is going to have to be addressed at some point. This name won't be high profile and fans may have no idea who he is, but Hageman is a stud in the making.
30. San Francisco: Brandin Cooks, WR
Cooks was the best wide receiver in the nation last year and he broke all of Lee's Pac-12 receiving records. He is undersized but incredibly tough, hard-nosed, impossible to cover/tackle and made acrobatic catches on a regular basis. Cooks also boasts elite burst and explosiveness and the 49ers clearly need a playmaker on the outside.
31. Denver: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Someone has to replace departed future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year is a prime candidate. He won't back down from any challenge and could be the starter in short order.
32. Seattle: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The defending Super Bowl champions don't have many glaring needs, so this is more of a luxury pick than anything for them. However, with Golden Tate now in Detroit, the Seahawks will need some pass-catchers to develop to support Percy Harvin. Amaro is clearly the next best tight end prospect available behind Ebron and proved at Texas Tech that he's capable of lining up anywhere on the field and making a big play when the ball is thrown to him.
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