Greg Nelson/SI/The MMQB :: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Greg Nelson/SI/The MMQB :: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The MMQB Mock Draft: Who Teams Should Select

Forget about trying to predict what teams are going to do Thursday night. It's an impossible task. Instead, let's focus on which players make the most sense for each first-round team—even though it won't come close to unfolding this way

By
Greg A. Bedard
· More from Greg·

I hate mock drafts, probably because I stink at them. Also, the whole exercise can be rendered moot with one early trade. So this year, taking a page from Jerry Seinfeld’s decision not to run, I chose not to mock. And luckily, the bosses obliged.

So what you will read below is, basically, “Who each NFL team should have picked, if their power brokers didn’t overvalue their own team’s talent, fail to see trends in the game and fear for their jobs and/or ego.” Every four years we look back on a draft and think, multiple times, “How did that team not draft that guy?”

In 2011, quarterbacks Jake Locker (Titans), Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars) and Christian Ponder (Vikings) went in a span of five picks (8-12) in the first round. Those quarterback-desperate teams pressed the issue instead of being patient and picking, say, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn or Nate Solder, who all went later in the draft.

With that draft still fresh in general managers’ minds four years later (some rose to power because of it), they could be overcorrecting when it comes to the quarterbacks. There’s a chance the top three: Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles, could be bypassed by needy teams and slip out of the top 15 altogether. That’s overthinking it. All three are capable, with the right plan, of being franchise quarterbacks. We’re trying to point that out ahead of time and predict how things will look three seasons out, after the results on this draft class are in. 

If you want a more traditional mock that takes a look at what predicting teams will do, bossman Peter King has you covered. But for now, I present The MMQB’s inaugural Who Teams Should Select Mock Draft:

1. Houston: Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, S. Carolina

The preferred option would be for the Texans to move down a little lower, draft Blake Bortles (who most fits what coach Bill O’Brien is looking for to trigger his pocket-based offense down the road) and pick up a few draft picks. But failing that, Clowney has to be the pick. Even though there are concerns about how much he wants it, Clowney is worth the risk because he’s a physical freak. Plus, between Texans OLB coach Mike Vrabel and end J.J. Watt, there’s enough help there to get the best out of Clowney.

2. St. Louis: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

There isn’t an immediate need for the Rams, who have Jake Long at left tackle and the improving Joseph Barksdale at right tackle and former left tackle (now guard) Roger Saffold all in the fold. However, the Rams can get out of Long’s deal after the 2014 season, and possibly Saffold’s as well.

3. Jacksonville:  Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Jaguars have a lot of needs (pass rusher, receiver), and a trade down would probably be the wisest course of action, but they need to find a way to end up with Manziel. From coach Gus Bradley’s familiarity with a shorter quarterback (Russell Wilson in Seattle), the outside-the-box thinking of offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and a needed injection of energy into the franchise (never mind that Chad Henne is the starter right now), Manziel in teal makes too much sense for it not to happen.

4. Cleveland:  Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Can’t take a quarterback with the rock solid Matthews on the board. General manager Ray Farmer would be well served by following the example set by Ozzie Newsome in 1996 when he had the same picks (4th and 26th) as a first-time personnel director of the Ravens after their move from Cleveland. Newsome took the best player on the board, Jonathan Ogden, and never looked back. Having LT Joe Thomas, C Alex Mack and Matthews at RT is a very solid base for a franchise.

5. Oakland: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

The Raiders have to show a lot of improvement this season for GM Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen to last another season. They need another option besides Matt Schaub at quarterback for that to happen, and Bridgewater can get up to speed fast.

6. Atlanta: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

If GM Thomas Dimitroff is eyeing another trade up, I would think it would be for Mack, who’s a better fit, and not Clowney. Falcons are desperate for pass rushers.

7. Tampa Bay: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Would be the perfect versatile compliment to Vincent Jackson. Bucs are better off at quarterback, with Josh McCown and Mike Glennon, than many think.

8. Minnesota: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Fla.

Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are not the long-term answers at quarterback, but their presence allows Bortles to be developed slowly, as he needs to be. It’s the perfect situation for him, and for the Vikings.

9. Buffalo: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Scott Chandler is a solid tight end, but the Bills can and need to do better at the position. Ebron’s ceiling is very high. This is not too early for him.

10. Detroit: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Detroit (still) needs a lot of help in the secondary, especially at free safety. It has become a premium position so this wouldn’t be a reach, especially in that division.

11. Tennessee: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

New Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton needs a versatile triggerman in the middle of his defense to make it work. Mosley is plug-and-play and an instant upgrade.

12. N.Y. Giants: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Not exactly a need, but with Ebron gone earlier, Evans is too good to pass up. He’ll give Eli Manning the kind of size matchup problem that Jerrell Jernigan hasn’t yet become.

13. St. Louis: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Mich. St.

You can never have enough good cornerbacks, and Dennard is the type of player who isn’t afraid to stick his nose in against the run, which is important in this division.

14. Chicago: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Put Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young out there with Donald in the middle and suddenly the Bears go from one of the worst pass rushes to one of the toughest to block.

15. Pittsburgh: Justin Gilbert, CB, Okla. State

The AARP secondary needs some talented new blood. Gilbert is the top-rated corner at this spot. Don’t overthink it.

16. Dallas: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

If UCLA edge rusher Anthony Barr is still available, Jerry Jones will run to take him, but that would be a mistake. Barr needs too much work as an end. Be smart, and get better up the middle.

17. Baltimore: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

If Baltimore learned anything from last season, it’s how important it is to be strong on the offensive line. None of the in-house options at right tackle are as good as Martin, who can play anywhere.

18. N.Y. Jets: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

If Barr is still available (and he could be if teams don’t outsmart themselves about the quarterbacks) then the Jets should sprint to take a desperately needed edge rusher.

19. Miami: Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

The Dolphins need to get a right tackle here so the debate is between James, who has flown under the radar, and Taylor Lewan. After Richie Incognito, the Dolphins can’t take a character risk, even a minor one like Lewan.

20. Arizona: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

He’s got swagger, speed and a love of physical football. In other words, he’s the perfect guy to drop into the Cardinals’ defense at a position of need.

21. Green Bay: Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota

For a 3-4 team, the Packers are extremely small up front, and that’s been a problem for them. It’s time to inject some girth in there, and Ted Thompson makes amends for the Justin Harrell pick in 2007.

22. Philadelphia: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

DeSean who? That will quickly be the sentiment of Eagles fans if they pick the more versatile Lee, who is also excellent with the ball in his hands.

23. Kansas City: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU

The Chiefs need a lot versatility and playmaking ability injected into their passing game. Beckham brings all of that and more.

24. Cincinnati: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

The position isn’t a major need for the Bengals, but they could use more talented youth in the back end. Love the versatility of Fuller, who is going to be an excellent pro.

25. San Diego: Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame

Perfect player and perfect scheme. Nix instantly upgrades the middle for the surging Chargers.

26. Cleveland: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

He’s not Manziel, and Matthews was too good to pass over for Bridgewater, but Ray Farmer gets his quarterback of the future. Brian Hoyer is a terrific mentor and short-term starter.

27. New Orleans: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St.

Drew Brees lost a valued, diminutive target in running back Darren Sproles, so give him the next best thing at receiver. Cooks would offset the Saints’ length at the position.

28. Carolina: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

In reality, because executives are overthinking the quarterback prospects, Lewan goes before this. But in five years, this will have been in range. He’s not in the same class as Robinson or Matthews.

29. New England: Xavier Su’a Filo, OL, UCLA

The Patriots need some size and youth on the interior of the OL, and with a possible contract issue with Logan Mankins coming next offseason, the Patriots always plan ahead.

30. San Francisco: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

With Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers both across the Bay with the Raiders, 49ers desperately need a corner. Verrett is the best slot corner with a higher upside.

31. Denver: Chris Borland, MLB, Wisconsin

The Broncos could really use a plug and play middle linebacker and Borland is the only viable option here. He’s small at 5-11, but Borland is smart, tough and ready to play.

32. Seattle: Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada

The Seahawks were brutal at points last season on the offensive line. Bitonio’s versatility all over the line gives Seattle the option of playing the best five.

Want more mock? Check out Peter King’s Who Teams Will Select

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37 comments
KenWells
KenWells

Most of the pressure is on the teams at the top but the Rams can afford to take a risk because they have two picks near the top. I think they will pick up a QB for insurance but it's not going to be in the first round. Atlanta is looking to move up but should not give up much in exchange for their sixth pick. Detroit on the other hand would be very foolish to deal with the Rams because it would be too expensive and at number ten, there's still a chance that their needs could be met and may fall right into their laps if they stay patient. One of these QB needy teams will take Manziel but there's not the obvious franchise QB in this group but there's always a chance that one of them taken in a later round becomes the steal in this draft.

Michael39
Michael39

So he is essentially calling for the GMs to go beyond the mistakes of the 2011 draft and take QBs that are possibly not first round talent and certainly not top 15 talent in the top 8?  Insane.

mikeb_17
mikeb_17

The fact that this is about who teams SHOULD draft and you don't have the Jets taking a WR is a joke. 

Folsom49er
Folsom49er

I like the Verrett pick for the 49ers. They need another CB, and Verrett has more value than any WR the 49ers could pick at Pick #30.


That's if Verrett is there at #30.

wlubake
wlubake

"[Evans will] give Eli Manning the kind of size matchup problem that Jerrell Jernigan hasn’t yet become."


You understand that Jernigan is little, right? Like 5'8". To even compare him to the Evans on the basis of size just makes you seem like you don't bother to even google-fact-check.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

The very best mock drafts hit on about 30% of their picks, most are waaaaaaaaay under that.  They are utterly non-predictive of reality.  

Ted & Jodie
Ted & Jodie

This a a bigger joke than CNN and the missing flight, who cares.

kabone
kabone

Certainly if Stephen Tuitt is available at #30 (which is unlikely, but I'll play along) the 9ers should draft him.  Not feeling the DL vibe?  Shazier is also available.  Looking maybe db? Ward and Bucannon are available.  Any of them should be picked over the 4th best CB.

steve cox
steve cox

it's always funny each year to read the MMQ mock draft, and then compare it to the actual draft a few days later. Rarely do any of the picks ever match. I think a monkey slinging his poop at a dart board would be more accurate.

Tiberius
Tiberius

If the Bears select Donald, it won't be a good thing...   He's got bust written all over him.

Mr.MurderMurphy
Mr.MurderMurphy

TeddyB two seasons ago was so good, teams started playing him safe and his stats took a hit?

BrownTrout
BrownTrout

Oakland and Bridgewater.....I stopped reading the article after that pronouncement. All credibility lost.

Jason1988
Jason1988

Bedard, that "AARP secondary" of the Steelers only has three players over the age of 30, and one of them is a backup. With the addition of two CB rookies (projected), that's only 27% of the entire secondary roster. Let's steer clear of the incorrect cliches next time, eh? 

BrianE.Wonders
BrianE.Wonders

Ok, I'm going to address a couple of the comments below... First, @Barry Alan  Bedard didn't say that the Packers WILL pick Hageman, he said this is what he believes they should do if (a, b, c, etc...)  Read the beginning instead of just jumping to your team.  He states that this mock won't really happen because of reaches, over thinking, etc...


Second @JohnBryant There is a HUGE difference between getting picked by the Cowboys and the Jets two spots later.  And Bedard addresses why.  The Cowboys run a 4-3, so Barr would most likely have to learn how to play DE and as a DE he needs a lot of work, like Bedard said.  HOWEVER the Jets run a 3-4.  So Barr would stay as a pass rushing OLB which is where he played in college so he is not as big of a project and is a better fit for their scheme. So the Jets SHOULD run to the podium.

Barry Alan
Barry Alan

Absolutely dumb believing Thompson would pick a questionable motor (Hageman) at 21.  Bedard used to cover the Packers at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He couldn't get it right there, either.

Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan
Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan

New England’s interior defensive line is, I think, far more in need of help than its interior offensive line.Defensive tackle, tight end and safety—in that order—seem to be their priorities based on need alone.As for realistic draft prospects, I like Louis Nix (DT) or Jace Amaro (TE) in the first round, and Dion Bailey (S) in the second.Of course, the Pats may instead elect to simply draft the best available player any time they’re on the clock.In that case, I could then see Xavier Su’a-Filo (OG) being in play for New England at No. 29.

LucilleBluth
LucilleBluth

Justin Houston is a Chief.


Lamarr Houston is a Bear.

JohnBryant
JohnBryant

So it would be a mistake for the Cowboys to take Barr at #16 because he needs too much work as an end, but two picks later at #18, the Jets should sprint to take a desperately needed edge rusher if Barr is still available.  Okay... I guess getting picked two slots later and not by the Cowboys makes Barr a drastically better prospect...

JoshSurgener
JoshSurgener

Oh bless your little heart...they actually pay you to give this kind of analysis?

maizenbluedoc
maizenbluedoc

@PhillyPenn  Draft picks are the writer's favorites, not exact science. This is the reason that individual mock drafts rarely replicate one another.

GaloofvonDorkmeister
GaloofvonDorkmeister

@steve cox  It's always funny to see comments of people who feel the need to vent about an article that they clearly didn't read.


Bedard states very clearly in the opening sentences that this is not a mock draft. It is a list of who he thinks the teams should draft. He's not trying to foresee the future, he's giving his opinion.

Ken32
Ken32

@BrownTrout  

Agreed...I was going to drop out when I saw Manziel to the Jags but I needed to see who he had going to the Giants at 12. Mack or Watkins won't get past the Jags...flip a coin.

crtjr64
crtjr64

@Jason1988  they like doing this when it comes to Pittsburgh. It eliminates the work required to do a proper analysis although the pick seems sound.  Only Ike is left as the aging CB so these guys of FOS. Polamalu is about to retire soon and we have his replacement that could have him on the bench sooner than later.These guys are self absorbed idiots though.

Barry Alan
Barry Alan

@BrianE.Wonders Really? Re-read my comment. I didn't say Bedard wrote that the Pack WILL pick Hageman. You have a reading comprehension problem here, Bubba.

OilCan
OilCan

@Barry Alan  if Greg hadn't got it right somewhere along the line he wouldn't be sitting next to Peter King.  Trust me Peter King isn't going to waste his time with someone who can't get it right.  and that's actually the point of the story..,- trying to get it right on the draft is a complete waste of time.  Greg is writing here on needs not predictions.  He's trying not to be the poofy haired alien looking guy who used to try to get it right until he was underly humbled by Jimmy Clausen, one of the worst draft day prognostications ever. Since then Mel has stopped making predictions. He now states clearly that your guess is as good as mine. Mel has been humbled but has hung on like Jamie Moyer,, if your old Pitch ain't working, then stop throwing it and come up with another bag baby. Got to give the Pioneer some credit though, he's still standing on that mound and pitching away. 

Greg is doing it the way of the smart sensible next generation, with humility.

Robert27
Robert27

I'm not certain the Patriots interior DL is as bad off as you think. Look, they lost their top 3 guys for the year last season (Wilfork, Kelly & Armstead) so from Week 6 forward, it was patchwork times infinity at Def. Tackle. They need to get younger so I wouldn't hate the Nix selection but really, with the return of the 3 Injured Reserve guys and the surprise development of Chris Jones and Silva Seliga, DT might actually be a somewhat deep position right now.

FredFunStuff
FredFunStuff

Well that, and running a completely different scheme and putting him at a different position with different responsibilities.

MichaelMischnick
MichaelMischnick

@JoshSurgener Yep... and no one will ever pay you for your "analysis."  And I bet that burns you up inside.  The rest of us can kind of see why things have worked out this way, however.

FredFunStuff
FredFunStuff

Oh you mean the DE who is built and plays nothing like him?

OilCan
OilCan

@Robert27  Armstead is the silent little 1st round pick that never happened.  He has first round size and talent.  now will anything be done with that size and talent?

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