Like when you left and I was the last to know."
What it is football fans! We have finally reached Draft Day (thank you so much NYC for having to push this back another two weeks...as if this wasn't late enough to begin with). This is a special day for me not just because I may get the distinct honor of watching the draft for three and a half hours only to have the Pats trade down and get someone, and not because my Bruins hope kick a little Montreal ass tonight (actually they really need to do that), but because we may see a Gamecock go #1 overall tonight for the first time in almost 35 years, when the legendary, Heisman Trophy winning George Rogers was picked by the New Orleans Saints, or as they were referred to then, the Aints, in 1981.
Jadeveon Clowney for some reason does not have a contract right now despite being arguably the greatest defensive prospect to ever go through the draft process. That's right...EVER. This is irking me a little bit, not gonna lie. What else does he have to do really? I still think for Houston to either not take him, or for someone to not move into the top spot to take him, is completely insane, but that's just my incredibly partisan view of the whole situation.
So, with that being said, it's onto the mocking of the draft. Over the years, I had posted mock drafts in February and March and a few weeks before the draft, but suddenly it's donning on me that those are complete wastes of time. Instead, I'm just doing this one...on Draft Day, because really this is the only one that matters. The intel on most of the top prospects is in, so we have a much better sense of what teams think about players and who is sliding up/down draft boards. So, with out further ado, here's the 2014 Draft as predicted by moi, the best qualified superstar (that's an EPMD line for those who were unaware...if you ever have some free time, check out their catalog on Spotify or wherever...you'll be glad you did).
- Houston - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, THE USC: Again, it would be utter madness if anyone else went here. I certainly dig Khalil Mack's game, but Clowney was impressive against SEC opponents (and Clemson, where he terrified Tajh Boyd for three years), whereas Mack was impressive against Ohio State, and literally that is the only non-D1AA school (or whatever the abbreviation is for the league that is under Division 1 is now) that he played against. What may be even more perplexing is if Atlanta does not make the move up to get him. In no way are the Texans going to receive an RG3-like deal in return should they decide to move down, but I think the bounty will be something like trade spots, a 2nd, 4th, and a first next year. This is a win-win for both teams. Atlanta gets JC7, who wants to go there anyway, and least we forget the recent run of success Gamecock defenders have had there (most notably John Abraham and Dunta Robinson). Plus, the Texans will move down to #6, where Blake Bortles, who many speculate is the Texans' #1 QB, will likely still be available. In getting back to Houston, I think two things are perhaps getting overlooked: The owner is from USC, and they also have one of JD's teammates, D.J. Swearinger, already on defense, so in terms of comfort level, Houston and Atlanta would be the top 2.
- St. Louis - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: In what could be the lightning rod of the draft if the Rams decide to go Johnny Football here, I think ultimately, Sam Bradford remains the QB, and they sure up his blind side with Robinson, who has become the unanimous #1 offensive lineman in the draft.
- Jacksonville - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: This was brutal between Watkins and Mack. Ultimately, I think the Jags go with a receiver here. They just signed Chris Clemons, and the receiver situation is a mess with Blackmon likely done there, and Cecil Shorts being the only guy of note.
- Cleveland - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: Nope, no Johnny Manziel here either. The Browns will be between whoever is the #1 receiver on the board and Jake Matthews. Evans is finally getting the boost up draft boards that he deserves, and now will likely not make it by Oakland's pick at #5.
- Oakland - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: If ever there was going to be a steal at #5...
- Atlanta - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: The Falcons will likely stay put and snatch the best available tackle at #6...come on, where's your balls Atlanta? Trade up for Jadeveon!
- Tampa Bay - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: At this point, the Bucs will be seriously looking to trade down, especially with Watkins and Evans off the board. Lovie Smith really likes Donald, and that usually wins out in the War Room (unless the owner gets overzealous here and demands they take Manziel).
- Minnesota - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: There was a lot of speculation that the Vikes would go Blake Bortles here, but that doesn't seem to be the case (in fact, if the Rams take Manziel at #2, look out for Sam Bradford heading to Minny). Instead, the Vikings are likely to go with someone in the front 7, whether it be Barr or if Donald fell to them.
- Buffalo - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: Lewan rounds out the consensus OTs in the top 10. The Bills have been rumored to try and be moving up to take Clowney, but I expect they stay put and go tackle, a la Atlanta.
- Detroit - Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU: Beckham is perhaps the most fluid receiver in the draft in terms or route running and ability to operate in space. He has gone from borderline first round to absolute top 15 pick.
- Tennessee - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: Gilbert is believed to be the top corner, and the Titans have been starved for help in the secondary, as it seems to be a fluid changeover aside from Jason McCourty.
- New York Giants - Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: Martin represents the last of the "elite" linemen. Like 90% of the mocks I looked at had Eric Ebron going here, but there seems to be enough information out there to suggest the G-Men will not be looking to go after a tight end this high.
- St. Louis - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Let me first just say that I think it's going to be someone else besides the Rams who trade up to take Johnny either here or perhaps somewhere in the top 10. This would be a dream scenario for St. Louis though. They could either take Manziel here and trade the albatross known as Sam Bradford, or they could trade out and once again accumulate picks based on a team's glaring QB need.
- Chicago - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: Seems to be the thought that they will go DB, but they really can trade down and get a quality guy in the low 20s. I'm calling this the Manziel/Bortles territory...at some point, someone's going to make a move on these guys.
- Pittsburgh - Darquese Dennard, CB, Michigan State: If the Bears and Steelers for whatever reason stay put, I would be very surprised if it's not DB-DB, and setting off somewhat of a run on the secondary towards the end of the first round.
- Dallas - HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: Sure, taking Johnny Manziel as the heir apparent sounds like a good idea in theory, but Romo was actually great last year. It was their defense that was so atrocious, they missed the playoffs yet again. I mean their defense was historically bad, so as tempting as Manziel would be if he were around here, they need to scoop up someone to help them defensively. Dix is also a potential Pro Bowl caliber player, so it's not as though the consolation prize would be all that bad...HaHa!
- Baltimore - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: With the departure of Ed Dickson, Ebron could fill in right away and make for an exciting combination with Dennis Pitta to set Flacco up for the future.
- New York Jets - Marqise Lee, WR, Southern Cal: I think Lee has star potential, which is why I have him ranked ahead of Brandin Cooks and Cody Latimer. Really though, I'm hoping they botch this pick so they can add it to their choke picks (Kyle Bundy over Warren Sapp...smooth move ex-lax...that joke is time-related as well).
- Miami - JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee: Odds of Miami moving up after last year: One trillion to one...place your bets!
- Arizona - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida: Not saying he will go here necessarily, but this would probably be his floor I'm thinking.
- Green Bay - C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: They've addressed their need at pass rush by adding Julius Peppers, now they need help on the inside to go along with A.J. Hawk.
- Philadelphia - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oklahoma State: After losing DeSean Jackson to DC, I would have to believe they're going to be going in the way of a receiver sooner rather than later.
- Kansas City - Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA: In our annual "Logan Mankins/Must Have An Interior Lineman In The First Round" pick, Su'a Filo presents the Chiefs to load up along the left side of their line after taking Eric Fisher #1 last year. There has been talk of a QB just in case they can't ink Alex Smith to a deal.
- Cincinnati - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: The Bengals have a general need at CB and DE so I would think they go with either/or here. Kony Ealy from Mizzou is another guy to watch for here.
- San Diego - Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana: When Danario Alexander went down before the season started and without Malcom Floyd for most of the year, the Chargers' receiving depth was exposed (although Eddie Royal did have a nice resurgeance).
- Cleveland - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: Of all the QBs that I have being taken in the first round, this is the one I can see actually happening. I feel like the Browns know that they can stay put here at the tail end of the first round and still get the guy they want (the feeling is that they think drafting Carr at #4 is too high, which I tend to agree with).
- New Orleans - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: Seems like size is the only thing that is a con about Verrett, as many say he is the most talented of all the corners in the draft.
- Carolina - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: The Panthers have to be desperate to get a receiver after watching their two best from last year, Steve Smith (Ravens) and Brandon LaFell (Pats) skip town.
- Your New England Patriots - TRADE DOWN: I mean is it even worth thinking about who they would take here?...Is it? The only problem is I just don't know if the kind of buzz exists for teams wanting to move back into the first round (this is assuming that the top 3 QBs are gone), so having said that, I guess I'll make a pick against my own will...Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: It's about time we get Tom Terrific some weapons.
- San Francisco - Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska: The Niners have to be looking at Seattle and just say "okay so big dudes on the outside is the way to go." Jean-Baptiste's measurements: 6'3, 218lbs...yeah. I will say this though: SF has to be at least throwing out some kind of deal to move up because they really covet Odell Beckham, so I would not be surprised if they hatched out a deal if he were to slide out of the top 10.
- Denver - Ryan Shazler, LB, Ohio State: Gotta be defense...like 100% lock.
- Seattle - Joe Bitonio, G, Nevada: Seattle is in the sweet position of not only being the champs, but being loaded basically across the board. Now may be the time to start focusing in on the trenches. Bitonio is extremely versatile, and can play both tackle and guard at the NFL level.