Reverse Barometer’s Mock Draft
This Thursday’s NFL Draft will be anything but predictable. So many of the teams in the top 10 have either been quiet as a mouse (Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland) or have been sending out smokescreens as to what they really want (Houston, Atlanta, Minnesota), while others have the willingness and/or assets to trade (St. Louis, Cleveland again).
Add it all up and it equals possible intrigue and unknown that would rival the movie Draft Day for surprises on Thursday night. Bottom line – if you think the draft order is going to stay the same as it is today, you’re kidding yourself. The Reverse Barometer makes its mock draft for 2014 up to the Cowboys’ pick at No. 16, including two big trades that will kick off the first round.
Here’s how we see it going down:
1. Atlanta Falcons (trade with Houston Texans): Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina). The Falcons have made it no secret that they love Clowney, though latest media reports have them backing off that thought. Don’t buy it. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien wants Blake Bortles and trading down maximizes the value of the No. 1 pick while getting Houston the QB they want. The price – how about Atlanta’s No. 1 this year, next year and a No. 2. O’Brien jumps all over it. Falcons jump all over Clowney.
2. Minnesota Vikings (trade with the St. Louis Rams): Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M). I don’t believe Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer for one second with his criticism of Manziel’s method of operation and personality. The Vikes need a quarterback, and pronto. They have the best runner in the league in Adrian Petersen and a good O-line. They need an impact QB since Christian Ponder never made the grade. Johnny Football is the guy and Minnesota knows they must get in front of Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland to ensure they get him.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack (OLB, Buffalo). Trust me, there will be cursing in the Jacksonville board room when Minnesota jumps in front of them. But the Jags will stick to their draft board and take the third player on their list in impact linebacker Khalil Mack. Never heard of Mack? He’s pretty good, though you may never know it unless Jacksonville gets some talent around him on D. More cursing will follow.
4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson). If you think there were some upset folks in the Jacksonville war room when Minnesota traded up, you should have seen Cleveland’s (how do you clean pizza off the wall?). Anyhow, Watkins is quite the consolation prize. He gives the Browns a second impact receiver to go with Josh Gordon that will improve their offense tremendously.
5. Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn). Oakland has many holes, and they were in love with Watkins. They end up with the best offensive tackle in the draft instead. Too bad they’re the most disorganized franchise in the league. But they have with one of the best uniforms so at least they look good.
6. Houston Texans (from Atlanta): Blake Bortles (QB, UCF). O’Brien is smiling from ear to ear, as he ends up getting the guy he wants all along while picking up some valuable draft picks to help make the Texans a very good team during his tenure.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M). Evans has raw talent, having only played football since his junior year in high school, but he has speed, height and hands. Lovie Smith likes his chances to do something with this fabulous talent.
8. St. Louis Rams (from Minnesota): Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M). Think the Rams like the idea of protecting the newly-repaired Sam Bradford? And how. Matthews is one of the safest picks in the draft, and his bloodlines (father is Bruce Matthews; cousin is Green Bay’s Clay) don’t hurt.
9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan). A former offensive lineman and offensive line coach, Doug Marrone will have no problem taking Lewan, whose toughness and grit makes him a fantastic pick here.
10. Detroit Lions: Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh). The groan you hear is the Cowboys’ draft room, who really, really, really wanted Donald. Jerry will even try and trade up to get him, but there’s not much to really offer.
11. Tennessee Titans: Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State). The most underrated pick in the first round, Gilbert has length and speed, and is built like an NFL corner. Guess what? He is now.
12. NY Giants: Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina). What is it about tight ends and New York football teams? They go hand-in-hand, and the Giants need one. He has tremendous ability, including the threat to eat more in one sitting than Justin Tuck at Subway.
13. St. Louis Rams: Calvin Pryor (FS, Louisville). The Rams finally make a pick, and this one is actually their own. Pryor upgrades their safety position in a big way and is one of several young prospects coming to the Rams after the boon of the RGIII trade.
14. Chicago Bears: C.J. Mosley (ILB, Alabama). This might be a tad early for Mosley due to injury issues, but the Bears like him enough to take him. Chicago wants to upgrade the defense and Mosley is a good fit for a long time.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State). Pittsburgh’s corners need an upgrade, badly. Dennard is a perfect fit here, who is physical and aggressive.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Barr (OLB, UCLA). Jerry lucks out, as Barr easily could have been taken earlier. The Cowboys tried to trade up for Donald, but they will “settle” for Barr, and be very happy in the long run. For once.
That’s our take for a mock draft. If any of the above actually transpires, it will be a first. But that’s what makes the draft fun. What’s your pick? Does Houston stay at number one or do they trade down? Tune in Thursday night to find out.