1. Houston Texans- QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)
The Texans go to Jacksonville in two weeks for what will probably be the Teddy Bridgewater bowl, with the loser getting the top pick. If the Texans lose that game, I imagine they’d cut Matt Schaub, which they can actually do without much penalty and bring in a new quarterback, with Case Keenum kept as the backup. Schaub isn’t worth the 11 million he’s owed in 2014, while Keenum doesn’t appear to be a starting caliber quarterback. He can do some nice things, but he also has a lot of flaws that can be exploited. There’s a reason he went undrafted. Bridgewater would instantly upgrade the position and could make this team a contender again fairly easily. They have a strong supporting cast.
2. Minnesota Vikings- QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, does it even matter at this point? The Vikings will continue to rotate their quarterbacks trying to find some semblance of competency to get through this season, but it’s becoming pretty clear that they’ll be looking for a quarterback early in 2014. I’ve kept redshirt sophomores out of my mocks thus far, but once Mariota sees he’s projected to go in the top-5, he’ll probably declare. The Vikings take him here in an attempt to end their long pursuit of a franchise quarterback.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- QB Brett Hundley (UCLA)
The Jaguars have 2 wins, but they are still one of the worst teams of all time. They’ve lost their other 9 games all by double digits and they are the 4th worst team in DVOA through 11 games since Football Outsiders started keeping the stat in 1991. They have a lot of issues, obviously, but the quickest way to turn around a franchise is to bring in a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, they could miss out on Teddy Bridgewater, but this is a strong quarterback draft class so they could take someone like Brett Hundley even if they end up with the 3rd pick.
4. Atlanta Falcons- DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)
The Falcons completely bottomed out this season, but the good news is they’ll get to pick very early and a chance to add another blue chip player to their team. That’s exactly what Clowney can be and at a position of need. The Falcons have just 22 sacks through 11 games, which ranks 28th in the NFL, and they are ProFootballFocus’ 31st ranked team in terms of pass rush. Clowney could be one of the best defensive prospects of the decade, but he “falls” to 4 because the three teams ahead of the Falcons desperately need quarterbacks.
5. Oakland Raiders- QB Derek Carr (Fresno State)
Matt McGloin has been decent through 2 games, completing 44 of 75 for 544 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an interception, stealing the starting job away from a struggling Terrelle Pryor. However, Raiders fans anointing him a starting caliber quarterback need to remember that they did the same thing with Terrelle Pryor a few weeks ago. I’ll need a few more weeks to be sold on McGloin, especially since he’s 7 months removed from no one drafting him. The Raiders may once again find themselves in need of a quarterback this off-season and if that’s true, they might just go ahead and take one at the top of the draft. Derek Carr is a riser at the position and could easily be a top-10 pick.
6. St. Louis Rams- OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)
The Rams’ plan to fix the left tackle by signing Jake Long has worked out very well, but the Rams still have a problem at right tackle. Rodger Saffold is once again hurt and, while Joe Barksdale has done a good job in his absence, the Rams could still take a blue chip prospect and put him at right tackle in an effort to get Sam Bradford as much help as possible, especially with two first round picks. Jake Matthews only falls here because this is such a strong draft.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- OLB Anthony Barr (UCLA)
The Buccaneers really need to generate some pass rush outside of Gerald McCoy. They badly need defensive end help. They took defensive ends in the 1st and 2nd round in 2011, but Adrian Clayborn has struggled in his first year back from injury, while Da’Quan Bowers is coming off the bench behind Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, who has been awful. Barr can play defensive end on pass downs and would also fill a need at outside linebacker in base packages, a la Von Miller.
8. Cleveland Browns- WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
Josh Gordon has been awesome since returning from suspension, catching 54 passes for 988 yards and 5 touchdowns in 9 games. Jordan Cameron, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the best pass catching tight ends in the game in his first season as a starter, catching 59 passes for 661 yards and 6 touchdowns in 11 games, despite inconsistent quarterback play. They need another wide receiver though because Greg Little is incredibly inconsistent. After 3 years in the league, it’s time to give up on him as a starting caliber player.
9. St. Louis Rams- DT Louis Nix (Notre Dame)
Kendall Langford has not lived up to his 4-year, 24 million dollar deal, but the good news is they can cut him fairly penalty free this off-season and get out of the final 2 years and 11 million of his deal. They’d need a replacement at defensive tackle next to Michael Brockers in that scenario. Someone like Nix makes sense here anyway because they have no depth at the defensive tackle position.
10. New York Giants- OLB CJ Mosley (Alabama)
The Giants were so desperate for linebacker help that they traded for Jon Beason mid-season. That hasn’t really panned out, which is to be expected, considering he missed 28 of 32 games from 2011-2012 with injury and was demoted upon his return to Carolina earlier this season. They desperately need a difference maker in the linebacking corps as none of Beason, Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich, Keith Rivers, and Spencer Paysinger is providing that right now. Mosley is a talented three down linebacker that can also rush the passer a little bit if they want to use him in that manner occasionally.
11. Miami Dolphins- OT Trevor Lewan (Michigan)
The Dolphins have serious issues on the offensive line, in more ways than one. It’s unlikely either Jonathan Martin or Richie Incognito ever plays football for the Dolphins again. Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie have been the starters at offensive tackle in Martin’s absence, but they will be 35 and 33 respectively this off-season and both will be free agents. They desperately need offensive tackle help and will take one early in the draft if it makes sense, which it does here.
12. Buffalo Bills- TE Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)
Scott Chandler is a free agent this off-season and the Bills should use this opportunity to upgrade the tight end position and get EJ Manuel another weapon he needs to succeed. Jace Amaro isn’t much of a blocker, but he’s set the college football world on fire with his receiving ability as a tight end and currently ranks 7th in college football with 1157 receiving yards. No other tight end ranks in the top-50. Barring a disastrous draft process, he’ll be the top tight end off the board and probably a top-20 pick.
13. Tennessee Titans- DE Vic Beasley (Clemson)
Kamerion Wimbley is barely playing anymore, so he’ll probably be cut this off-season, rather than receiving a 6 million dollar salary from the Titans. Ropati Pitoitua is starting in his place and, while he does some good things against the run, he doesn’t generate any pass rush. Vic Beasley can be exactly what Wimbley was supposed to be, a high level pass rusher opposite Derrick Morgan.
14. New York Jets- WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
The Jets need to get Geno Smith a real #1 receiver. Guys like Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, and David Nelson aren’t getting it done. Holmes is the best of the bunch, but he won’t be back in 2014, owed 9.25 million. Mike Evans would instantly be the best receiver on the team and he’s easily the best available here in a loaded wide receiver class.
15. Dallas Cowboys- DT Timmy Jernigan (Florida State)
The Cowboys desperately need defensive tackle help. Jay Ratliff never made it on the field this season for the Cowboys. Nick Hayden, his replacement, has been horrible this season, showing why he played a total of 33 snaps from 2011-2012. Jason Hatcher has been a stud, as usual, but he’s a free agent this off-season and the Cowboys are in a terrible cap situation and probably won’t be able to bring him back.
16. San Diego Chargers- CB Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State)
The Chargers have one of the worst defenses in the NFL and their cornerback issues are a huge part of the reason why. Derek Cox and Shareece Wright might be the worst pair of starting cornerbacks in the NFL and their depth is equally bad. Cox will be back in 2014 because of the significant contract the Chargers gave him, but Wright can easily be replaced. That’s exactly what Justin Gilbert would do in this scenario.
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