Draft season is upon us once again and with the Super Bowl over, the draft order is finally set. For teams like Houston, Jacksonville and Cleveland, it’s a chance to add a franchise player to turn around their fortunes. For teams in the middle of the draft, it’s a chance to add a player that will put them over the top for playoff contention. Here’s the first version of our mock draft:
1. Houston Texans - Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
The Texans have floated the idea of trading this pick and could pair a talent like Jadaveon Clowney with JJ Watt to build a terrifying defensive front for new coach Bill O’Brien. However, when it comes down to it, it’s hard to project anything but the best quarterback in the draft to Houston. Bridgewater is the clear-cut No. 1 passer in this draft, and although he isn’t as polished as 2012 No. 1 pick Andrew Luck, he has all the tools to be a perennial Pro Bowler under a quarterback guru like O’Brien.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) - Auburn OT Greg Robinson
Although the Rams will more than likely trade out of this pick, Robinson would be a great addition to a St. Louis offensive line potentially missing both tackles at the start of next season, as 2013 free agent addition Jake Long tore his ACL late in the season and right tackle Rodger Saffold is headed to free agency. Although Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews is a more heralded prospect, Robinson has a mean streak and has a higher ceiling, setting the stage for a meteoric draft board rise like Eric Fisher last season.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - UCF QB Blake Bortles
The Blaine Gabbert experiment has been a disaster for the Jaguars, and Chad Henne isn’t much better. It’s time to pull the trigger on a new franchise face, making Bortles an ideal pick at this spot. He’s far less polished than Bridgewater, but he’s big-bodied and has skills similar to Ben Roethlisberger. After Bortles led the Knights to an upset over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, don’t be surprised if he’s a top-five pick.
4. Cleveland Browns - Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
There are few players more polarizing in college football than Johnny Manziel, but there are also few players as talented. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner has had a blistering two seasons in College Station, tossing 63 touchdown passes and rushing for 30 more. The Browns are in desperate need of an infusion of talent, confidence and a franchise passer after Brandon Weeden didn’t work out.
5. Oakland Raiders - South Carolina DE Jadaveon Clowney
Clowney is the best player in the draft, talent-wise, but struggled to stay motivated at points last season at South Carolina. However, he’s an all-world talent and drew consistent double- and triple-teams for the Gamecocks, and teams above could one day regret passing over him. Although the Raiders’ defense wasn’t horrible, Oakland finished with only 38 sacks last season and Clowney would provide an instant boost.Next Page >
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