We just wrapped up another mock draft, the second of our three-round series we affectionately named 3 for 3 Draft. Leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, PFF Fantasy has collaborated with writers and analysts from around the web and Twitterverse to create a unique mock draft involving 32 different general managers.
The first in the series took place just after the NFL Scouting Combine, with results fresh in the minds of the public. Now, a month later, the second draft began as free agency settled into a simmer. The idea was to see how team needs changed as free agents signed with new teams. As players moved to new teams — or stayed put, in some cases — the landscape of the draft changed dramatically.
Changes were drastic from the first mock draft to the second thanks to free agency. We also had a month of pro days to dissect as well as rumors about teams preferring certain players, for whatever they’re worth. Some of the differences had to do with a deeper understanding of the prospects as well.
Rumors and pro days affected quarterbacks in particular, and that is evidenced by the shuffling we saw in this second draft. All of them went in the top five, still, but all to different teams. Johnny Manziel was supplanted by Blake Bortles, whom the Texans appear to like, and the former Aggie wound up in Oakland instead. Fantasy-wise, this would be a boon for Oakland and a bust for Houston, who gets a bit of a project in Bortles. Teddy Bridgewater landed in Cleveland, a great spot for him with Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and Ben Tate as skill players around him. Bridgewater and Manziel would both be viable fliers as rookies in redraft leagues.
Receiver Sammy Watkins fell out of the top five again, but he moved up one spot and landed with the Buccaneers. This would be great news for Vincent Jackson, who doesn’t have a decent sidekick at wide receiver at the moment. Of course, both of them will still have Josh McCown throwing the ball to them, it seems, so it may not matter much.
Perhaps the most intriguing pick of the first round in terms of fantasy football was Odell Beckham, who went to the New York Jets with the No. 18 pick. That would give New York a 1-2 punch of Beckham and Eric Decker, who signed a big contract to come over from the Denver Broncos. Depending on who is quarterback — Michael Vick signed to compete with second-year man Geno Smith — this could make the Jets offense quite productive, a stark difference from a year ago.
From an IDP stand point, the biggest impact would likely come from C.J. Mosley, who was taken by the Minnesota Vikings. Mosley would likely step in for Erin Henderson, who was released because of two arrests despite a productive season. It’s tough to say whether any pass rushers would have a fantasy impact in their rookie season if the first round shakes out like this, though. Jadeveon Clowney would be in a timeshare with Robert Quinn and Chris Long, and Khalil Mack would step into a now-crowded situation at defensive line in Jacksonville. Anthony Barr and Kony Ealy might have bigger impacts as rookies if they start for the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, respectively.
Enough talk. Here are the full first-round results from the second 3 for 3 Draft:
1. Houston – Brendan Leister, DraftBrowns.com – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
If Bill O’Brien gets to choose his quarterback with the 1st overall pick, I expect Blake Bortles to be his guy. Based on my personal evaluation of Bortles, I would not personally be inclined to take him anywhere near 1st overall, but I chose to try to be more realistic this time around.
2. St. Louis (from Washington) – Tyson Langland, Bleacher Report – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Yes, the Rams have Robert Quinn and Chris Long, but I’m not about to pass up a once-in-a-decade player. Clowney will be a rotational player with Chris Long to start his career, but will move into the starting lineup in 2015. In 2015, Long carries a cap number of $11,500,000, which means he becomes expandable at 30 years of age. Head coach Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will undoubtebly keep Clowney motivated.
3. Jacksonville – Bear Heiser, NFL.com – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Mack is better at his position than any quarterback is in this draft. Given the recent free-agent additions, plugging Mack in the starting lineup will go a lot further toward helping this team win games than a rookie QB with very few talented offensive players. There will be solid QB options available later in the draft, so the next two picks likely will be used on offense.
4. Cleveland – Dane Brugler, CBS Sports – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Will the Browns draft Bridgewater in the actual 2014 NFL Draft? No, I don’t think they do. But if he’s on the board, I’m not letting him get by, I’ll draft him here and feel great about it. If the biggest concern is his 215 pound frame, I’ll take my chances because of his natural talent above the ears. His smaller hands, slim frame, and limited growth potential don’t fit the prototype, but if I’m going to gamble on any of the QBs in this draft, I’ll choose Teddy.
5. Oakland – Ryan Riddle, Bleacher Report – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I’m certainly not going to waste this pick on Greg Robinson because the Raiders need a superstar and they need it now. There will be no Derek Carr mishap going on here. With Clowney and Mack gone, Johnny Manziel is too intriguing to pass up here — even for Sammy Watkins.
6. Atlanta – Dan Kadar, SB Nation – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Clowney and Mack being off the board makes this the default pick for the Falcons. Robinson isn’t a fully developed offensive tackle, but his potential is limitless.
7. Tampa Bay – Darren Page, DraftLions.com – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Whoever throws passes for the Bucs in 2014 (and it sounds like Josh McCown) could really benefit from the addition of Sammy Watkins, a receiver who can win both underneath and over the top. He’s shown the ability to lift the play of his QB.
8. Minnesota – Ian Kenyon, Bleacher Report – C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Vikings desperately need linebacker help. Fortunately, they’re able to land the best inside linebacker in the draft here at #8.
9. Buffalo – Dan Hope, Bleacher Report – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
No change from the February mock here. Bills still have a need at right tackle, and Jake Matthews is still the best player available in this scenario (arguably, the best player in the entire draft). He’s too good to pass up here.
10. Detroit – Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Before everyone freaks out, here’s the thinking: The Lions’ pass rush is extremely thin with Willie Young in Chicago. And their weakest single spot on D arguably is at strong-side linebacker. Barr helps fix both of those problems as a Von Milleresque player. Is there work to be done here? Sure. The upside, though, is thrilling – an ultra-athletic force off the edge.
11. Tennessee – Eli Nachmany, PFF Fantasy – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
When the best player available happens to fill a need, it’s a beautiful thing. The Titans lost CB Alterraun Verner in free agency and will need to find a young defensive back to start immediately. Gilbert is an elite cornerback in off-man coverage and will blossom into a star at the next level.
12. New York Giants – Jake Ciely, Football.com – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Giants did well to fill needs through free agency, allowing them to do what they love and go “best player available.” The G-Men highly value their defensive line, and Donald can slide in alongside Hankins to reinforce that front four. Kony Ealy would be more of a reach than Donald at pick 12, and Donald can create push into the backfield, which was missed last year most games.
13. St. Louis – Tyson Langland, Bleacher Report – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Rams are set on building their offense around Sam Bradford, which means Mike Evans is a no-brainer at No. 13 overall. Evans is everything St. Louis wanted Brian Quick to be. The first-team All-SEC member will be inserted into the starting lineup immediately, and will give Brian Schottenheimer’s offense outstanding length and size.
14. Chicago – Eric Edholm, Yahoo Football – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Well, this certainly qualifies as a worst-case scenario for the Bears. Justin Gilbert — whom I believe would be their first choice here — is off the board, as are Aaron Donald, C.J. Mosley and Anthony Barr, the three most value-worthy impact defenders for this spot. Yes, dear friends, the Bears do need a safety, but not here. Cornerback might actually be the bigger long-term need, so we’ll go with Fuller over, say, Darqueze Dennard because of Fuller’s fit in the Bears’ zone scheme and his ability to play special teams. He also more fits the Phil Emery mold of athlete than Dennard.
15. Pittsburgh – Sigmund Bloom, Football Guys – Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
Heath Miller is getting up there in years, and in the meantime, Ebron and Miller could team up to create killer 2TE sets for a Steelers team that has bled off WR depth over the last two seasons. Ebron isn’t an athlete on the Vernon Davis level, but he’s still rare for the TE position, and he has the speed to rip the seam against LB/S and eat up the cushion against CBs if he lines up split out wide.
16. Dallas – Kevin Greenstein, PFF Fantasy – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Last time around, drafting Nix made perfect sense, as defensive tackle was without question the Cowboys’ biggest position of need and Nix was a strong value pick at #16. But now, even with Nix still on the board, the strategy changes, because the ‘Boys have lost DeMarcus Ware and gained Henry Melton. So instead, I go with an explosive defensive end in Kony Ealy, who is versatile enough to thrive as a 3-4 OLB should the Cowboys make another switch to their base defense. Ealy is a very talented pass rusher, and I went with him here over the similarly-capable Dee Ford because the latter is a bit undersized (especially given the rest of the personnel on the Cowboys’ front line).
17. Baltimore – Shane Hallam, DraftTV.com – HaHa Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Almost went Lewan again, but safety is still a giant concern for the Ravens and it falls off hard. Clinton-Dix allows Matt Elam to move toward a more natural SS and utilizes a rangy safety at FS like the Ravens have used in the past. Add in Ozzie Newsome’s alma mater being Alabama, and HaHa makes a lot of sense if he is still available. I don’t see Darian Stewart as a viable option, especially long term, so I’m sticking with HaHa.
18. New York Jets – Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus – Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Picked CB Darqueze Dennard the first time around, and considered him again, but went with the top playmaker on the board in Beckham. He’ll immediately become a chain-mover for Geno Smith and the offense.
19. Miami – Eric Galko, Sporting News – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
20. Arizona – Peter Bukowski, Sports Illustrated – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Darqueze Dennard falling made it tempting to snag him, but the Cardinals signed Antonio Cromartie in free agency and have decent depth at corner with him and Peterson. In Carr, the Cardinals get a quarterback ideally suited for Bruce Arians’ downfield system. Arizona has the luxury of few glaring holes, making a value pick for the future here a great bargain.
21. Green Bay – Nick Slegel, PFF Fantasy – Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Same as last time. GB handled some big needs in FA, but failed to land a safety. As before, ideally and realistically, Ted Thompson would trade down right here and select Ward later, but that’s now how this works. With safety being the biggest need, and HaHa off the board – the Packers cannot pass up on the natural pass-coverage and ballhawking ability that Ward brings to the table. He’s the “centerfielder” that Green Bay desperately needs and he slots in perfectly at FS ala Nick Collins and allows Morgan Burnett to slide back to his more natural position of SS.
22. Philadelphia – Ryan Lownes, Draftbreakdown.com – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Though the Eagles have shored up their secondary to an extent with the signings of Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll, a shutdown corner capable of matching up with their opponents’ top WR should still be a high priority. Dennard is a great value here as one of the most physical and technically advanced cornerbacks in this class.
23. Kansas City – Matt Miller, Bleacher Report – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
24. Cincinnati – Josh Katzowitz, CBS Sports – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Bengals so badly wanted to take a cornerback in the first round in the post-combine draft, but instead, we went with a defensive tackle last month. Cincinnati is in a good spot here, because most of its roster is so solid. The thinking here is that since DT Domata Peko has signed an extension, that position is somewhat solidified. So, we go with Roby here and let him learn in what is a veteran, but aging cornerback corps.
25. San Diego – Ethan Hammerman, DraftMecca.com – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Chargers need a big body to anchor the nose and let Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes one-gap. While Ra’Shede Hageman has awesome upside, Louis Nix is no slouch himself. Even though he was hampered by injuries in 2013, Nix still flashed the power going forward and the anchor to be a long-term NFL starter. He, Liuget, and Reyes should form a quite potent defensive line and allow the linebackers plenty of room to roam, shoot gaps, and make tackles.
26. Cleveland (from Indianapolis) – Dane Brugler, CBS Sports – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
27. New Orleans – Josh Collacchi, PFF Fantasy – Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
Ford will be an instant addition to the pass rush for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. With the signing of Jairus Byrd and cornerback not being a value at 27, Ford was the best available and for a position of need.
28. Carolina – Michael Schottey, Bleacher Report – Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
I’m more comfortable with Martin eventually playing guard, but wherever he ends up on the Panthers line, he’ll be a pretty big upgrade for a team built on the ground with very few ground-movers up front.
29. New England – John Sarmento, 2MugsFF.com – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Even with Wilfork signing a reworked extension, Hageman is the future and provides flexibility as a 3- & 5-technique. Baby Richard Seymour.
30. San Francisco – Michael Moore, PFF Fantasy – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
If any of the five previously drafted cornerbacks were available, I’d change my pick to address the 49ers suddenly thin depth at cornerback. However, Benjamin remains the pick with his fantastic size and ability. He’s still a work in progress, and probably drops more passes than he should, but his upside is too intriguing.
31. Denver – Benjamin Allbright – Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
Bitonio’s versatility along the offensive line allows for flexibility for the Broncos who have dealt with injuries and lineup adjustments for two seasons. He is a top flight talent who will go day 1 when the draft rolls around.
32. Seattle – Vincent Frank, PFF Fantasy – Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
My third-ranked WR in the draft class. Adams would be a huge down-field target and possesses nearly unmatched upside.