This could be a pretty interesting first round for many teams. We don’t know who will take a chance on Clowney, both the Texans and Falcons don’t have as many holes as the teams that normally pick 1st and 6th do. This year there are some serious feast or famine QBs out there, plus Johnny Football, Michael Sam, and the accompanying circuses circling them. So let’s take a look at my current predictions for round 1!
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
New defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has previously stated that he wants to run a multiple front defense, as opposed to his previously run 3-4 in years past. Clowney has the motor, the speed, and the talent to be the next Mario Williams for Houston. Let’s just hope this one sticks around.
The Rams have the quarterback,the receivers, and the backfield. They just need to keep Bradford protected. When Bradford is protected, St. Louis’ chance of winning increases unlike any of the other teams in the league. O-line help will be the most crucial need with this pick. As I see it, there is also a decent chance St. Louis will forfeit a lineman and take Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, or Kelvin Benjamin to give Bradford weapons other than Tavon Austin. For now, St. Louis makes the safe choice.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
This pick makes too much sense. Jacksonville needs a quarterback…why not pick the kid from Central Florida? Mr. Bortles comes back to his home state to pick up a lacking Jaguars team and save them from an inevitable move to Los Angeles. You can almost taste the headlines. Bortles has a real chance to be a hero for Jacksonville and give Miami and Tampa Bay some competition in the ongoing battle for Florida. It certainly cannot get any worse.
4. Cleveland Browns: C.J. Mosely, ILB, Alabama
If the Browns are smart, they will pass on all the quarterback hype present and patch up their defense. With another late first round draft pick coming, Cleveland would be smart to draft a quarterback with the 26th pick, and spend this pick on a player who is bound to succeed from a seamless Alabama linebacker university.
Whatever offensive lineman St. Louis doesn’t take, Oakland will.It’s no secret that Oakland needs help on the offensive line, ranking 27th in efficiency last year. Not only did Oakland have a banged up line in place, they were basically futile versus good defenses, leaving Terrell Pryor and Darren McFadden (when healthy) fending for themselves. Matthews will be welcomed with open arms, but he better be ready to work. If not Matthews, then Robinson will go in his place.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
If there was a team to trade their pick, it would be Atlanta. The Falcons could use this pick to bolster both sides of their line. While the lines weren’t terrible in 2013, there is always room for improvement. At this point, it seems rather unlikely Clowney will be available, or Matthews and Robinson. Should one of those previously mentioned picks still available at six, the Falcons will jump on it. Until then, I think Atlanta is looking for a huge hole to fill after the retirement of Tony Gonzalez. With no realisitic tight end threat on the payroll, add in Fred Davis’ future in the league muddied by off-field issues, the addition of Ebron would give Matt Ryan another weapon on offense. And if Atlanta does one thing, it’s getting Ryan the help he needs.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
A lot of people see Tampa boosting their linebacking core with Khalil Mack or Anthony Barr. Tampa has missed the boat on a lot of good talent over the past few years in hopes of gambling on certain defensive players. This needs to change. In this situation, Lovie puts his defensive hat on the table and gets more weapons to give sophomore quarterback Mike Glennon the best chance to succeed. Lovie has already got the popular vote of the fans, but now needs to keep that train rolling and get the (hopeful) franchise QB some guys to throw to. With little talent behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, Watkins would provide a deep threat to take the heat off the other two receivers.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
I can’t seem to get my mind wrapped around Minnesota taking anything but a quarterback at eight. Is Bridgewater the answer? At one point, Minnesota thought Ponder was the guy. Time will tell how Bridgewater does up north. It certainly can’t get any worse for the Vikes at quarterback.
9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Buffalo is in the same situation as Atlanta. They could get an offensive weapon or offensive line member, but only if they are available at nine. With that said, the next option would probably be Taylor Lewan, the proposed next best tackle out there. Lewan would be able to contribute right away in Buffalo, and would provide an excellent boost for E.J. Manuel and C.J. Spiller.
10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
This pick is a no-brainer for Detroit. Their secondary is a known dud around the league and has been for years. Gilbert will be able to step in right away and compete for the number one corner spot. Analysts are claiming Gilbert is the “real deal”, and possesses Darrell Revis-like qualities with a bigger frame and lankier physique.
11. Tennessee Titans: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Titans are in a dicey spot at number eleven. The lineman they want will most likely be off the market by now, but they don’t need a quarterback and they don’t things that are still available . I could see Khalil Mack going to Nashville for the purpose of finding a linebacker who will likely serve as Lavonte David is to Tampa Bay; a linebacker to follow the ball. At this point, Mack seems like the logical decision for the Titans to help charge a weak defense.
12. New York Giants: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
What can you say about the G-Men? They need help everywhere. With a lot of their talent headed elsewhere this off-season, The Giants need a spark on both sides of the ball. Barr would be like Tennessee and draft a solid player who can make a positive impact on defense by following the runner and making a stop. Should no viable lineman be available at twelve, the Giants would most likely bite at the potential of Anthony Barr.
13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
With St. Louis bolstering their offensive line at five, the next logical thing to do would be adding some depth at wide receiver. Tavon Austin had an intersting rookie year, with only occasional flashes of potential. Adding Evans would provide St. Louis with a cushy downfield threat to spread out the defense and potentially open up holes for Austin. Moves like this is a good way to keep Sam Bradford reasonably happy in Arch land.
14. Chicago Bears: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
With Julius Peppers coming off one of his worst seasons yet (and seems to be on the decline), Chicago was dreadful against the run. A young end rusher like Tuitt could provide Chicago with some options. Either let Peppers go and get Tuitt playing immedietely, have Tuitt mentor under Peppers for a few seasons, or move him to get some immediate help at defensive tackle. With a solid 2014 defensive end free agent party, look for Chicago to heavily contemplate moving Tuitt to tackle. After all, Tuitt is built more like a tackle with the comparable speed of an end. The only problem I can see is the missing of the combine due to a small fracture in his foot. Things like this have the capability to significantly lower someone’s draft stock. My better judgement says the Bears will still look heavily into Tuitt.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ra’ Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Here’s an interesting fact; in each of the past four drafts, the Steelers have drafted (at least) one former Ohio State player. While I have Pittsburgh needing to fill an obious hole at defensive tackle, I also reserve the right to say Pittsburgh adds Ryan Shazier to boost a questionable linebacking core. With Hageman’s size, Pittsburgh can’t seem to be able to pass up him up. Some experts have Pittsburgh going after Louis Nix, Notre Dame, I think Hageman comes off as a better fit for the Steelers, with Pittsburgh taking a chance Shazier will be on the board at pick 47.
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