As the NFL Draft is nearing us, every pick is becoming more and more clear. While no-one knows for certain who any team may pick, we can always sort it out in our minds and come up with a possible best-solution. I’m going to go through the top ten picks in this article and break down each one.
A pick-by-pick look into the top 10 teams:
The Texans hold the #1 overall pick in the draft, and therefore have the opportunity to add anyone they want to their franchise. They have been open to the idea of trading back, and a few teams have been fond of the idea of trading up.
Whether or not Houston trades back is a guessing game, but either way, they must have a big board.
QB | OLB (Pass-Rusher) | NT | OG | RT
First off, Houston WILL NOT trade out of the top ten. It won’t happen. They have this big opportunity to add someone special to their team, and they won’t give it up by trading out of the top ten, regardless of the picks/players they acquire later on. No team would be willing to give up that much to trade up to #1, and Houston won’t find it worth the trade, even if they get some good picks later on. So they’re very likely staying in the top 10, and they have needs to fill.
Okay, you can count off nose tackle, guard, and right tackle. The Texans won’t draft anyone from those positions in the top ten -- period. So their board comes down to pass-rusher and QB.
Now, just for clarity’s sake, Sammy Watkins isn’t an option. The Texans don’t NEED a WR, so why would they draft one so high if they don’t NEED one? They have other needs, and they can’t brush off that fact. They pretty much need to take a QB or a legit pass-rusher.
Before I get into my reasoning, here’s my stance, and I have good reason to believe it:
If Houston stays at #1, they’ll take Clowney.
If Houston trades back, they’ll take a QB.
There’s a market for Clowney. He’s the draft’s most-wanted player, and many teams could and may trade up for him. However, Houston may want him. The Texans could use a good pass-rusher, and although Clowney wouldn’t fill as big of a need as a QB would, he is the best player in this draft. He would help them, no doubt, and he has seemed to be high on their radar. Many and most people, including big-name draft personnel, have mocked Clowney to Houston, and it would just make sense.
If the Texans stay at #1, Clowney is their man. If they wanted a QB, trading back a few spots is their best option. They shouldn’t and won’t draft a QB at #1 for two reasons: (1) They could still get a good QB if they traded back a few spots, and (2) it’d be hard to turn down a trade offer for Clowney if they weren’t going to go his direction at #1.
It has become more and more clear that QB’s are sliding a little, and depending on how far Houston trades back, they could get the guy they want. Why not? If they want a QB, why would they take one at #1? Why wouldn’t they trade back a little? It just makes sense.
IF Houston wants Clowney, they’ll take him at #1.
IF Houston wants a QB, they’ll trade back a little.
It’s common sense, folks. It’s just common sense.
The Rams are in a unique position. They hold the 2nd, 13th, and 44th pick of the draft, and have a better team than it may seem. They really don’t have any HUGE needs that can be filled at #2, but they still have the 2nd pick of the draft.
S | OT | OLB | CB | WR | QB
The Rams should approach the 2nd pick differently than they normally would. What I mean is this -- the Rams wouldn’t have this pick if it wasn’t for that trade in 2012, and even if they didn’t have it, they’d be okay. So therefore, they should attack the pick from a position of want, not need.
The Rams’ only big needs lie in the secondary, and they won’t fulfill those needs at #2. The need list above shows that, other than secondary, St. Louis has needs at OT, OLB, WR, and QB. I’d count QB off immediately. That should be taken care of later on, if at all.
So you have three positions of need left, and none of them are BIG needs. In a moment I’m going to break down each need, but first let me say this: St. Louis’s #2 pick comes down to one three-syllable word -- BPA.
Breakdown of positions:
This is the position you see St. Louis addressing in almost every mock. Here’s the deal, though -- the Rams don’t NEED an offensive tackle.
In the 2012 offseason, St. Louis added Jake Long (former first-overall pick) to their O-Line. They signed him to a 4-year deal that would average to around $8.5 M per year, and played him at LT.
Long suffered an ACL and MCL tear during the season, and therefore made the Rams have to question whether or not they should take a LT early in the draft. Joe Barksdale is currently playing at RT, and adding an OT that early would force him inside, most likely.
If they do draft a top-notch OT at #2, St. Louis would have a dream scenario at O-Line. He (the draftee) would play at LT, Long would play at RT, Barksdale would go inside, and the rest is just about set! This would be an elite offensive line, and the Rams may seriously consider going this direction on draft day.
However, if the Rams don’t draft an OT, they will still be okay at the offensive line. It’s not like they must draft one in order to have a good O-Line. The Rams will be fine if they decide not to go OT at #2 in the draft, but it sure would be nice to stack up that line.
This is the other position you see mocked to the Rams all the time. Here’s the thing, though -- the Rams don’t NEED a wide receiver.
The Rams have spent significant time and recourses into making their receiving group good for Sam Bradford. They currently have Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey playing at WR; and their TE is Jared Cook. So it’s hard to say their receiver situation is bad. It may not be perfect, but it’s definitely not bad. It’s actually kind of good. They just need one more piece, and then they’re set at WR. So why not get one? I mean, if you are coming from a BPA standpoint, isn’t Watkins a good option? Yes, but here are the reasons they may not take a WR at #2:
However, if we are looking at this from a BPA standpoint, I’d say Watkins is near the top of that list. It’d be a hard decision either way, but don’t knock Watkins out of this. He may very well be the pick.
First off, the Rams don’t need a DE. Yes, Clowney is a great athlete, but the Rams should not draft him. If he was there, they should trade back. Otherwise, they already have Quinn and Long playing DE.
To my second point, the Rams run a 4-3 defense, and that means two DE’s and two OLB’s. The Rams two DE’s are set in stone for now. They may want to "prepare for the future" by drafting Clowney and swapping in him and Long during snaps, but it’s not worth the #2 pick to do that.
Now to my final and big point: Khalil Mack is higher in the Rams’ big board than Clowney is. Mack is just as athletic as an OLB as Clowney is as a DE. Difference is, you don’t have those work ethic concerns in Mack that you do in Clowney. Mack is not just higher on their board because of that, though. Team needs play a role in that as well.
The Rams have two good DE’s, as I mentioned before. But what they don’t have is a filled-up OLB spot. MLB James Laurinaitis and OLB Alec Ogletree are holding two of the three LB spots, but the other one is up-for-grabs. And this is where we say "MACK"!!!!!
Khalil Mack would actually fill a hole on the Rams team. However, St. Louis already has a decent-enough defense with Jeff Fisher coaching it up, and they’ll most-likely add more pieces later in the draft, so the Rams may be looking at adding offensive pieces at #2. I mean, do you really want that stacked of a defense with only a decent offense?
The Rams don’t have any HUGE needs to take care of at #2, so the pick comes down to whoever they think is the best player.
According to WalterFootball.com, a St. Louis Rams source stated last year that the team was targeting Alec Ogletree in the first round, and they ended up taking him. Now, that source is saying that the team is targeting Greg Robinson at #2.
If the Rams decide to take Robinson, they will suddenly have an awesome situation at O-Line. Also, if they are targeting Robinson, they could opt to trade back a little and still acquire Robinson. Whichever way they play it, St. Louis is currently targeting Greg Robinson, and we’re really close to the draft.
The Jaguars hold the #3 overall pick in the draft, and have an abundance of needs to take care of on draft day. They, like the Rams, may want to take a BPA approach to this pick; that is, if they stay put.
Before I get into team needs, let me state this: The Jaguars hold the key to the draft -- whatever they do will alter the course of the draft.
As I will get to in a moment, the Jaguars could draft any of the four QB’s at #3, they could draft Sammy Watkins, they could go on defense and take Clowney or Mack, or they could trade out -- even back to number 9 or 10. Whatever they decide to do will completely alter the course of the draft.
During my team needs explanation, I’m not going to say what position the Jags should target, because I don’t know -- they have so many to fill. But I am going to go over their positional needs, the reasons for those needs, and what they could do to address them on draft day.
QB | OLB (Pass-Rusher) | OL (RG, RT) | WR
Okay, the Jags need a QB. The reason this is probably their biggest need is because this is the most important position in football -- and they don’t have a good one. The Jags MUST address this need in the draft. Last year, under the same regime they have this year, the Jags didn’t use a high pick on a QB. But this year, the opportunity is bigger and better than it was then, and they could definitely address that need early on in the draft.
The Jags hold the #3 pick, and there are some good QB’s at the top of this draft. If they want Blake Bortles, he may be available. If they want Johnny Manziel, he may be available. If they want Bridgewater, he may be available. If they want Carr, he may be available. Any of these guys could still be there at #3, and the Jags could jump at any of them.
The argument that people bring up here is this -- the Jaguars could get a QB in the second round, or they could trade up into the late first round. While I tend to agree with that assessment, I have to wonder this: 1) Will any of the good QB’s make it to the second round? and 2) are the Jags really going to pass up a QB when they have an opportunity and a need to get one?
After debating this over and over in my head, I finally came to this conclusion -- If the Jaguars feel that there is a very good QB in this draft, they will draft him. Otherwise, they’ll just wait until the second round and or trade up to the late first, as I mentioned before.
The Jaguars are in need of a pass-rusher, and could settle that for good with the selection of either Clowney or Mack.
Clowney probably won’t be there, but Mack may have a chance. Either one would be a huge addition to their team, and both could make an immediate impact to their defense.
While neither of them might slide, if one was available, the Jags’ front office would have a tough time passing him up. They are considered to be the best two players in this draft, and if the Jags were looking at BPA, they may want to consider these two guys heavily.
The Jags spent a very high pick a couple years ago on Justin Blackmon, and he hasn’t played out to be all they have hoped for. He’s been in some legal trouble, and the team doesn’t believe he will return to play in 2013. So this leaves them with a decision to make -- do they want Cecil Shorts to be their go-to guy in 2013? NO! They must address this at some point, whether it be in the draft or in the next free agency period.
Lucky for them, Sammy Watkins could be sitting there at #3, and it would be somewhat hard to pass him up. However, if they decided to go elsewhere at #3, there are good options in the second round at WR. It’s a very deep class, and whatever way they decide to play it, they could definitely fill their WR hole with a good piece.
Sammy Watkins is in that BPA conversation, and if he can fill a need, the Jags might jump on him.
Don’t expect the Jags to take Robinson or Matthews at #3 in the draft, because they spent their first round pick last year on Luke Joeckel, so adding another LT is worthless. They may go O-Line later on, but don’t expect it at #3.
The Jaguars can take any number of players at #3, and it’s really anybody’s guessing game for who they will choose.
If they trade back, they’ll have to look a little deeper than just those top players. But for now, here’s a list of anyone the Jags could take at #3, and not in any particular order:
It’s your guess, and whoever you feel the Jags should/will take, it definitely could happen.
For me, and it may just be a gut feeling, but I think the Jags will take Teddy Bridgewater at #3.
I hate to admit this, and it almost never happens to me, but I really don’t have any idea of who the Jags will pick. I’m just going to trust my gut (Bridgewater)on this one, and if I’m wrong, then I’m wrong.
The Browns hold the fourth overall pick of the draft. They aren’t as set as the Rams are, but they aren’t in as much need as the Jags are.
QB | CB | WR | RB | TE
I have seen Sammy Watkins mocked to the Browns so much, and I just don’t buy it. The Browns don’t need a superstar WR. The Browns would have Josh Gordon and Sammy Watkins with nobody throwing to them. The Browns need a QB, and some suggest just waiting to take one at pick #26. But they can do the same thing with a WR, since there are good ones available in the late-first, early-second round.
Here’s the thing: I think that it would be wise to draft a star WR at #4 and then a good QB at 26; however, I think that if the Browns are sold on any particular QB at #4, they’ll take him -- and I think the Browns are sold on Johnny Manziel.
I think the Browns want Manziel, and I think they want him so badly they’d be willing to trade up to get him.
The Browns need a QB desperately, and Manziel has that poise and excitement to him that most coaches covet. He also has a large fan base, and the Cleveland staff may want Manziel’s fan base to enter into their franchise.
Many reports recently have said that Manziel won’t slide out of the top ten, and the Browns may be that team that wants him.
I personally think that Manziel will be the Browns pick, and that they might find Houston and Jacksonville as a threat to that.
I’m not saying it will happen, but don’t be surprised if Cleveland trades up to any of the top three spots to get Manziel.
I believe that if they stay put, they will draft Manziel, and if they trade up, they will draft Manziel. Expect it, and remember this guy when it happens.
The Raiders have the 5th pick of the draft, and have the opportunity to add someone very special to their franchise.
QB | DE | DT | CB | S | WR
First off, the Raiders will not draft a QB at #5. It just won’t happen. They have Matt Schaub who can step in and play well for them right now. The Raiders have claimed to be in a win-now mode, meaning that they need an immediate impact player at #5 in the draft. No QB in this draft will fill that title, and there should be other very good players available at #5.
It would be hard to see Clowney falling to #5, but if he did, Oakland would immediately jump at him.
If we’re talking pass-rusher, then Mack has a chance, a slight one, but a chance to slide there to take him. If he did, the Raiders may take him, even though Sio Moore is their current OLB, and he’s just fine where he is.
Either one of those guys are opportunities for the Raiders at #5, and both would be at the top of their draft board.
The Raiders won’t take any of these positions at 5. They would draft one if they traded back a little (which is doubtful), but otherwise they need an immediate impact player, and they won’t satisfy that by drafting one of these positions that early.
The Raiders could draft a WR at #5, easily. IF Watkins was there, they would take him immediately. Watkins would fill a big need and he’s a big-time playmaker who would come in and set the stage from day one.
Other reports have been out there that the Raiders are seriously considering Mike Evans. Evans is a big receiver who had a very successful campaign in Texas A&M. He would be an immediate help to the team, and the fact that they are showing a lot of interest in him shows that they are targeting a wideout.
I think that Oakland realizes Clowney and Mack are unlikely options at #5. If either slid, they may be tempted to take one, but they’re not counting on it. The Raiders need a WR who can come in and play well immediately, and there are two guys at the top of that list -- Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans.
Since they have shown interest in both, I could see either one of those guys going that high to Oakland.
The Raiders’ big board should look something like this:
The Falcons hold the 6th pick of the draft, and have some big needs that can be satisfied early on in the draft.
OLB (Pass-Rusher) | OT | S | TE
The obvious need of the Falcons is that of a pass-rusher. They NEED one, and most-likely won’t get one at #6, at least not a good one.
Many have projected the Falcons to trade up to #1 or #2 to take either Mack or Clowney. Neither will slide, though -- that’s for sure.
If they did find it worth it, the Falcons may very likely trade up to get one of these guys. It all depends on what they decide to do.
Clowney would probably be more coveted by the team than Mack would, but either way, those are the guys to get. It’d be unlikely to see Anthony Barr of UCLA go at #6, though.
The Falcons need to protect Matt Ryan, and they did a poor job of that last year. Ryan needs help from his O-Line, and the only way that will happen is if the team adds somebody to their line in the draft or free agency. If they stay put at #6, a premier LT may be there such as Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews.
Atlanta would most-likely go for Robinson over Matthews due to athleticism, but either one could go there.
It’s unlikely that Atlanta will draft either one of these positions at #6. If they traded back a little, they might take Ebron or Clinton-Dix, but not at #6.
The Falcons’ two options at #6 are LT and pass-rusher. They won’t get a pass-rusher like Clowney or Mack at six, but they probably can get a good LT there.
If Atlanta wants Mack or Clowney, they’ll have to trade up to get the one they want.
Atlanta’s situation is this:
If they want a pass rusher (Clowney/Mack), they’ll trade up.
If they want an OT (Robinson/Matthews), they’ll stay put.
The Buccaneers hold the seventh overall pick in the draft, and have the opportunity to take an elite player, despite having a mid-late top 10 pick.
WR | DE | OG | QB | CB
To start, the Buccaneers won’t draft an OG or a CB at #7. It would be quite a surprise if it happened that way.
Also, however crazy this seems, I doubt they would draft an OT at 7 overall. Tampa Bay has a good right tackle who still has three years left on his contract, and they just signed Anthony Collins to be their starting left tackle. The Buccaneers signed him to a long-term deal, and he’s not going to suddenly move to the right.
So who will they draft? Well, wide receiver is a big need, and the Bucs have been looking into Mike Evans, who is apparently high on their radar. If Evans is still around at 7, the Bucs would most likely take him, considering their interest in him thus far. If Watkins was available, which would be absurd, the Bucs would likely jump at him too.
DE is also a need, and Clowney won’t be there at #7. I wouldn’t predict it in any of my mocks, but Anthony Barr may go at #7 to Tampa Bay. Again, I wouldn’t count on it, and it’s very unlikely, but just remember it so you’re not completely surprised if it happens on draft day.
QB is also an option for the Bucs. Blake Bortles is near the top of that list, but I think Bridgewater would be too. Bridgewater fits that mold of a guy Lovie Smith would like in Tampa, and he can play.
Tampa Bay is going to have to wait around a little before they can know for certain what they’re doing on draft day, but for now they must have a draft board to choose players from. I think their board would look something like this:
If any of these players make it to seven, they’ll probably draft one of them. Otherwise, a trade out may occur.
The Vikings are in a unique spot because they have one glaring need that they really must address sooner than later, and they have the opportunity to address it at the eighth pick of the draft.
QB | OG | CB | LB
You know which spot I’m talking about. QB is their big need. The Vikings MUST address this need immediately, and they have a huge opportunity to do it on draft day.
I doubt they’d draft an OG, a CB or a LB at #8, even though they may find Justin Gilbert or CJ Mosley somewhat intriguing at that spot.
It’s very likely that the Vikings are targeting a quarterback, and there are four that they could look at. Blake Bortles may be at the top of their list, and Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater may also be targets. Johnny Manziel may not slide, but I know a lot of people who would love for Manziel to go there at eight.
The Vikings’ pick simply comes down to this: which QB do they want and which ones will slide?
The Vikings will take a QB, but which one will they take? Here’s the big board for which QB they’d feel most comfortable with:
- Teddy Bridgewater
- Derek Carr
- Johnny Manziel
The Vikings’ GM recently said that the team is going defense at #8. However, the Vikings need a QB, and Blake Bortles might be their guy. The Vikings have not worked out with Bortles yet this year. They are in a spot where they know they can get someone good, but if they release any hints of who they want, some team could easily trade up in front of them. So they have to set up smokescreens, and they can’t give even the slightest hints. So far they’ve done that with Bortles, and it would be no surprise to see them go with Bortles at #8, if he’s available.
The Bills hold the ninth pick of the draft, and have certain needs that can easily be filled at that pick.
WR | TE | S | OT | DE
This is interesting, because the Bills can address any of these needs here.
The Bills need to add a WR, and if Mike Evans is available, they may be tempted to take him.
The Bills obviously need a TE, and star UNC TE Eric Ebron may be available there. If so, it’d be hard to see them pass him up, unless someone else slid there that they want.
Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix may be available at 9, and if so, don’t be surprised if they go his direction on draft day.
Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews should go before the Bills pick at 9, but if they aren’t, then Buffalo would quickly love to take one of the two. However, if they don’t slide, and Buffalo still wants to go with an OT, then Michigan’s Taylor Lewan could be their guy at #9.
The Bills won’t get Clowney, obviously, at #9, but if they really wanted him, they could always trade up to get him. Otherwise, if they still wanted to go that route for a DE, Anthony Barr could be the guy.
The Bills could take any number of players, but recent sources have pointed toward an OT. If either Robinson or Matthews are there at #9, then Buffalo would immediately jump at either of them.
I would say that their big board will consist of whoever they feel is worth it, and as of now they feel that OT is the need.
The Detroit Lions currently hold the 10th overall pick of the draft. Recent rumors have pointed to the Lions possibly trading up, but there’s no way to tell what really will happen until it does. First let’s get the Lions needs down, and then we’ll talk trading up.
CB | S | K | WR | DE
The Lions need some secondary help, and adding someone like Justin Gilbert or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at #10 would be ideal. In the Lions’ current state, they have big-time problems on defense, as we saw a lot of last year, due to the lack of a strong secondary. Again, adding a piece at #10 who could help the secondary would be ideal for the Lions.
Detroit’s only other need worth considering at #10 is WR. The Lions aren’t bad at WR. They have Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, whom they just acquired in this year’s free agency, showing that WR isn’t in dire need of help. Now, I’m sure Matthew Stafford and the Lions front office would love to see another good name at WR, but it’s not a necessity.
Other than that, it would be unlikely to see the Lions go elsewhere at #10. Some say that the Lions need a DE, but considering their current secondary situation, DE is but a minor need.
Some reports have been that the Lions could trade up into the top 5 picks. Now, the thing here is that they are looking for a bargain. It’s doubtful that the Lions will get a bargain if they were looking to trade into the top 5, but if they were, they would most-likely be targeting Sammy Watkins.
Some say that the target would be Clowney, but that’s not a big enough need to trade all the way up for. Watkins is the target if they traded up, and it would be more likely to see them stay put at #10 to address a big need, than for them to trade up to the top five to address a minor need.
The Lions are most-likely staying at #10, and they’re probably targeting someone in the secondary. If not that, then a WR. Here’s a big board of who they’d be looking to get at #10.
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
- Mike Evans
- Anthony Barr