3 for 3 Mock Draft No. 1 - Post-Combine, Round 1
Leading up the 2014 NFL Entry Draft, PFF Fantasy will be conducting three three-round mock drafts. The first was just completed post-NFL Scouting Combine, and the results will be presented in three installments, one for each round. The second mock draft will take place at the end of March — after the dust settles from free agency — and the final mock draft will take place in late April.
Now, let’s dive into the first round of our post-combine mock draft.
Not surprisingly, there was a run on quarterbacks in the first iteration of our 3 for 3 mock draft, with Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles all going off the board within the first four picks. Derek Carr even went soon afterward at pick No. 20. And, while this draft doesn’t have a sure-fire running back star — none were selected in the first round, and the first one was taken at the end of the second — it’s clear that two wide receivers (Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans) and a tight end (Eric Ebron) are viewed as premium talents who should make an immediate fantasy impact. At pick No. 32, the Seahawks’ projected selection of Jace Amaro could pay huge dividends for both Russell Wilson and Seattle’s pass offense.
On the IDP side, Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack both offer elite-level pass-rushing ability for those in big-play leagues that reward sacks and forced fumbles, but there isn’t a certain tackling-machine interior linebacker to count upon. The best of the bunch (by far) is C.J. Mosley, but if he goes to Pittsburgh and plays alongside Lawrence Timmons (as projected here), his IDP upside will be significantly diminished. Of the defensive backs, Kyle Fuller and Jason Verrett offer up the most short-term value as inexperienced corners playing for solid teams, while the long-term upside lies more with Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert.
Without further ado, here’s a look at how Round 1 went in 3 for 3 Draft No. 1, each pick accompanied by a rationale written by the team’s “general manager”:
1. Houston – Brendan Leister, DraftBrowns.com – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel is my top player in the class. I believe he has a chance to be special. (No idea who Houston likes, so I took who I like best.)
2. St. Louis (from Washington) – Evan Silva, Rotoworld – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Freaky athlete. Perfect Jeff Fisher lineman. Fills huge need on weak, injury-riddled Rams line.
3. Jacksonville – Bear Heiser, NFL.com – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Good O-line options here, but if I don’t have a QB to protect, what’s the point. Bridgewater can step in next season and perform right away. My benchmark for Teddy is Year 1 of Geno Smith. Anything better is a bonus for me.
4. Cleveland – Dane Brugler, CBS Sports – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Bortles is a top-10 talent in this draft class and while there might be more talented players available (Clowney), the need to acquire a QB capable of leading the Browns to double-digit wins is paramount. And I think Bortles could be that guy for the Browns here.
5. Oakland – Ryan Riddle, Bleacher Report – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
He is the LeBron James of the NFL in terms of physical gifts alone. Despite criticism, he has a high motor and plays with passion.
6. Atlanta – Dan Kadar, SB Nation – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
It would be a blow for Thomas Dimitroff to see Jadeveon Clowney drafted a pick before the Falcons. If it happens, Mack should be the choice. He’s a dynamic athlete at linebacker capable of rushing the passer and dropping back in coverage.
7. Tampa Bay – Darren Page, DraftLions.com – Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
If the Bucs do commit to Mike Glennon, they must build around him. Ebron, Vincent Jackson, and Mike Williams give him every chance to succeed.
8. Minnesota – Ian Kenyon, Bleacher Report – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Really wanted a QB or pass rusher here, but with Manziel, Bridgewater, Bortles, Clowney, and Mack off the board, I don’t feel comfortable reaching for a player at a position of need this early. Watkins, a top-three player in this class, shouldn’t be available. Will pair with Patterson for the next decade. Vikings aren’t a band-aid, quick-fix team anyways. Need to simply start stocking talent.
9. Buffalo – Dan Hope, Bleacher Report – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
No-brainer selection to me. Matthews is a top-three talent in this year’s draft, and can be an immediate upgrade at right tackle. The Bills should continue to do as much as they can to surround E.J. Manuel with better talent, especially as far as protecting him up front, and Matthews’ value is too good to pass up. Paired with Cordy Glenn, the Bills could have one of the NFL’s best young offensive tackle combinations for years to come.
10. Detroit – Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Pretty tough choice here, because any number of guys – C.J. Mosley, Darqueze Dennard, HaHa Clinton-Dix – fit needs for the Lions. But the presence of Megatron really overshadowed just how horrible the rest of Detroit’s receivers were last season. Giving Matthew Stafford another weapon in the passing game, particularly one like Evans who can win in the red zone and snatch those high tosses, and this passing game might be unstoppable.
11. Tennessee – Eli Nachmany, PFF Fantasy – Dee Ford, DL, Auburn
I felt like I could grab a pass rusher with this pick and I lucked into the most explosive rusher in this class. Ford dominates offensive tackles with a combination of speed moves and quick hands. The Titans need to become a more opportunistic defense, so I’m happy to add a solid player in that regard.
12. New York Giants – Jake Ciely, Football.com – Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
*Sprinting to the podium* … I can’t believe Barr is available. Forget the fact that he “projects” better for a 3-4; the man has potential galore. He also fits the Von Miller 4-3 mold, and I’d take that any day. The Giants currently have Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich and ____ at LB. Fill in the blank with Barr and reap the rewards for the next decade. Screw GM Jerry Reese’s never-draft-a-LB-and-instead-take-15-DEs motto. I’m bringing sense back to the G-Men.
13. St. Louis – Evan Silva, Rotoworld – HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Rams need a safety and Clinton-Dix is the best one in this class. He’s also worth No. 13. Pretty simple.
14. Chicago – Eric Edholm, Yahoo Football – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
With the Bears announcing they are sticking with a 4-3 scheme, they should go after the best interior penetrator in the draft. I know there’s a thought that re-signing Henry Melton could accomplish filling that need, but Melton’s health and motivation are questions. Donald could be the next Geno Atkins or Jurrell Casey.
15. Pittsburgh – Sigmund Bloom, Football Guys – C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Long-term worries about Mosley being “Sabaned” and damaged goods upon arrival to the pros might discourage me from making this pick if I had access to his medicals, but without that info, I’ll be happy to select the best all-around inside linebacker in this draft by a large margin.
16. Dallas – Kevin Greenstein, PFF Fantasy – Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Last season, the Cowboys made what was considered a “reach” when they traded down and drafted Travis Frederick late in the first round. It worked out quite nicely, with Frederick outperforming draftniks’ expectations and the Cowboys’ O-line improving dramatically as a result. With this pick, the same thing happens on the other side of the ball, except here, Nix isn’t remotely a “reach.” With the potential to have a Vince Wilfork-like impact on the Cowboys’ defensive front, Nix will keep the Cowboys’ talented LBs “clean” to make plays.
17. Baltimore – Shane Hallam, DraftTV.com – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher are both not expected to re-sign, and getting a young, athletic option with a nasty demeanor like Taylor Lewan here is incredible for the Ravens. He also fits the general best-player-available (BPA) lean that GM Ozzie Newsome would go with at this point. Very happy Lewan fell here because without Clinton-Dix (a huge need and fit for the Ravens), ending up at this point and the WR depth being what it is, the decision would have become incredibly difficult. We’ve seen Lewan stonewall the first defensive player taken in this draft (Jadeveon Clowney), and show his athleticism on Saturdays (kick slide) and at the Combine. Slam dunk selection.
18. New York Jets – Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Wasn’t really in love with anyone at this point of the draft, so went with the best player at a position of value. Dennard fits the Jets’ aggressive defensive scheme and he’ll pair with last year’s first rounder Dee Milliner, who improved a lot in the second half of the season.
19. Miami – Eric Galko, Sporting News – Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
A bit of a reach based on my board, but even if Miami secures a top offensive tackle, they need right tackle/offensive guard help. Martin can provide a versatile, instant impact starter to the offensive line.
20. Arizona – Peter Bukowski, Sports Illustrated – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
There’s no offensive linemen here I like, and the top edge rushers are gone. To me, Carr is perfect for this offense under Bruce Arians, plus Arizona can void Carson Palmer’s contract after the 2014 season. Also, the mere presence of Palmer allows Carr the time to clean up his footwork and understudy for a season, which is probably what he needs.
21. Green Bay – Nick Slegel, PFF Fantasy – Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
With safety being the biggest need – and HaHa off the board – ideally the Packers would like to trade down to the 28-30 range to make this selection, but given the parameters of the mock, the Packers cannot pass up on the natural pass-coverage and ballhawking ability that Ward brings to the table. He slots in perfectly at free safety ala Nick Collins and allows Morgan Burnett to slide back to his more natural position of strong safety.
22. Philadelphia – Ryan Lownes, Draftbreakdown.com – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
After throwing together a patchwork secondary in his first year as head coach, Chip Kelly will look to address his defensive backfield early on draft day. Gilbert is a solid value here with the physical tools and ball skills to thrive in defensive coordinator Billy Davis’ system, hell-bent on creating turnovers. His special teams contributions are not to be overlooked. The Eagles averaged just 21.4 yards per kick return in 2013.
23. Kansas City – Matt Miller, Bleacher Report – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Chiefs face an offseason in which Tyson Jackson is expected to leave in free agency and the overall depth at defensive end is weak. With Kony Ealy on the board, we see a raw talent waiting to be molded. With his length, power and agility, Ealy can easily gain 10-15 pounds and become the dynamic, athletic force we want at 5-tech.
24. Cincinnati – Josh Katzowitz, CBS Sports – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Three picks ago, I was trying to decide between Justin Gilbert, Kony Ealy and Hageman. Looks like the Eagles and Chiefs made my pick easy. But I’ll take Hageman, who’s got strength, size, versatility and so much athleticism, and he can spend 2014 learning from Domata Peko – who is beginning to fade and is entering a contract year. Truth be told, I can’t wait to match up Hageman and Geno Atkins together on the defensive line, even if Hagemen is a little raw.
25. San Diego – Ethan Hammerman, DraftMecca.com – Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
The Chargers need help on their interior line, and Su’a-Filo is an athletic specimen from Southern California who can come right in and slot next to King Dunlap as a pulling guard and a second-level missile. He may look kind of like a pear, but his blocks hit defenders like a coconut on the dome, and his presence would immediately help the running back combination of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead get clearer initial holes to run through.
26. Cleveland (from Indianapolis) – Dane Brugler, CBS Sports – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Pair this speedster with Josh Gordon, and Hoyer/Bortles has more than enough weapons to lead a productive offense.
27. New Orleans – Josh Collacchi, PFF Fantasy – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Keenan Lewis is one of the best No. 2 corners in the NFL, and pairing him with Fuller will be an instant upgrade for the Saints. The former Hokie is a great value late in the first round anyway, but since corner is a big need for the Saints, Fuller is a gold mine.
28. Carolina – Michael Schottey, Bleacher Report – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Safety isn’t as glaring a need for the Panthers as some other positions, but Pryor is an impact player who fits in with the physicality of this tough, tenacious defense. There are more rounds to really hammer down on bigger need positions, but I couldn’t pass on the best player on my board here.
29. New England – John Sarmento, 2MugsFF.com – Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
BB would trade down here normally, but ODB is too good to pass up. Edelman could walk, so finding another dynamic target for Brady (and BPA in my opinion), is a good call.
30. San Francisco – Michael Moore, PFF Fantasy – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
The Seattle starting secondary lists players at 5’10”, 6’1″, 6’3″, and 6’3″. Benjamin and his 6’5″, 240-pound frame would neutralize that. Plus, think of Benjamin going up for that last fade against Sherman instead of Crabtree. He’ll also help a team that was the middle of the pack in red zone conversions.
31. Denver – Benjamin Allbright – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Champ Bailey is on his last legs, and some question Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s long-term commitment to the game. Verrett provides an athletic, youthful infusion where the Broncos most need it.
32. Seattle – Vincent Frank, PFF Fantasy – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
This physically gifted TE gives Russell Wilson a huge red-zone threat from between the hashes. With Benjamin, Beckham and Hageman gone, had to go BPA.