With the draft approximately six weeks away, and all of the big free agency moves having been made, this seems like a good time to take a stab at how the draft will pan out. I do mocks every year in order to familiarize myself with the draft prospects, and to get an idea as to who will be available for the Patriots at pick #29. Here goes:
1.) Houston Texans: QB Blake Bortels, Univ. Central Florida: Though I'm not sure that any QB in this draft class is worthy of being a top 5 pick, Bortels appears to be the best of the lot. Though very raw, he has the prototype physical size and skills to develop into a "franchise QB". Houston's recent trade of Matt Schaub and acquisitioin of bridge QB Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to lend credence that Bill O'Brien will pass on DE Jadeveon Clowney or OT Greg Robinson in favor of Bortels: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/why-trading-schaub--signing-fitzpatrick-means-texans-thinking-qb-first-overall-152333445.html;
2.) Minnesota Vikings (from St. Louis Rams): DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina: The Washington Redskins are the gift that keeps on giving for the Rams, who are on their way to becoming an NFL powerhouse. St. Louis wants to trade down, and somebody will deal with them. Though Falcon's boss Thomas Dimitroff has a history of trading up to acquire a player he sees as having unique skills, the Falcons have too many other needs, particularly on the OL. The Raiders could move up, but they signed a bunch of veteran pass-rushers, and are paying QB Matt Schaub $14mil. to start for them. Minnesota will lose DE Jared Allen through free agency, and will look to replace him. QB Teddy Bridgewater's poor pro-day performance raised red flags...so Clowney, who has the physical skills to develop into the premier pass-rusher, will be the target. The Vikings will part with their first (8th overall) second (40th overall) and 4th rounder this year, and 1st round pick in 2015, to swing the deal.
3.) Jacksonville Jaguars: DE/OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo: Perhaps I'm giving the Jags too much credit, in seeing through the fraud that is QB Teddy Bridgewater. But, the Blaine Gabbert experience may have taught them something. Some "experts" see Mack as nearly as good a pass-rushing prospect as Clowney;
4.) Cleveland Browns: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson: Perhaps I'm giving the Browns too much credit in seeing through Bridgewater, too. But, my guess is that Cleveland will give home-town boy Brian Hoyer a shot at being The Man. Adding Watkins to a receiving corp which already boasts TE Jordam Cameron and WR Josh Gordon is a frightening arsenal of aerial weapons;
5.) Oakland Raiders: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn: Many "experts" feel that Robinson is the best available prospect in this draft class. The Raiders badly need a LT, especially with a statue like Matt Schaub playing QB;
6.) Atlanta Falcons: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M: Matt Ryan badly needs a bodyguard;
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA: Lovie Smith adds a pass-rusher to his new look defense;
8.) St. Louis Rams: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan: Jumbo Elliot-sized tackle, whose skills fit what Jeff Fisher likes to do on offense;
9.) Buffalo Bills: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M: The Bills need to add a quality receiver to take some of the pressure off Stevie Johnson. At 6-5" and fast, Evans could serve as both a deep threat, and as a redzone threat;
10.) Detroit Lions: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Good sized CB (6'0", 200lb.), and one of the best athletes available in the draft. Had seven picks for the Cowboys, and returned two for TDs. Also has skills as a KR;
11.) Tennessee Titans: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: Well...somebody has got to take him. The Titans should know better, after the Jake Locker experience. But, Tennessee released veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, leaving the injury prone, usually ineffective Locker as the starter;
12.) New York Giants: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina: Though the G-men have a ton of needs on the OL and DL, they have nothing at TE, and see Ebron as a rare talent;
13.) St. Louis Rams: FS HaSean Clinton-Dix, Alabama: The Rams badly need to upgrade from FS Rodney McLeod;
14.) Chicago Bears: DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: The Bears lost DT Henry Melton and DE Julius Peppers through free agency. Their DL must be addressed;
15.) Pittsburgh Steelers: FS/SS Calvin Pryor, Louisville: Steelers tab safety to replace Ryan Clark;
16.) Dallas Cowboys: DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State: Should be their pick at this point. But, with Jerrah Jones in charge, who knows!
17.) Baltimore Ravens: OT Zach Martin, Notre Dame: Ravens need a RT after losing the inconsistent Michael Oher through free agency;
18.) New York Jets: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: The failure of Jets GM John Idzig to land a decent CB through free agency results in the Jests having to spend their top pick to shore up the position;
19.) Miami Dolphins: OT/OG Xavier Su'a-filo, UCLA: With all four of the top OTs gone, this is a tough pick to make. Tough, nasty interior lineman, who appears to be better suited to play guard than tackle;
20.) Arizona Cardinals: DE/OLB Kony Ealy, Missouri: Pass-rusher who appears to have the athleticism to play either a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB;
21.) Green Bay Packers: DE/DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota: Has the physical tools teams look for in a defensive lineman. Boom or bust type player;
22.) Philadelphia Eagles: WR Marqise Lee, USC: My guess is that Philly is serious about unloading DeSean Jackson and his $10.5mil. contract;
23.) Kansas City Chiefs: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State: The 6'5", 235 pound Benjamin should be an enticing target for QB Alex Smith;
24.) Cincinnati Bengals: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State: Bengals need to get younger in the secondary. Roby has world class speed;
25.) San Diego Chargers: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame: Chargers grab huge NT in Nix to anchor their 3-4 defense;
26.) Cleveland Browns: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: Browns are thrilled that Manziel dropped into their laps at #26;
27.) New Orleans Saints: DE/OLB Dee Ford, Auburn: Saints add a pass-rush toy for DC Rob Ryan to play with;
28.) Carolina Panthers: WR Odell Beckham, LSU: The Panthers must rebuild their receiving corps;
29.) New England Patriots: LB C.J. Mosely, Alabama: I had initially penciled in huge DE/DT Stephen Tuitt of Notre Dame, who could have been just what the Patriots needed to fortify their DL. But, I've just learned from another poster (mthurl) below that Tuitt had recently suffered a stress fracture, forcing him to don the dreaded walking boot. But, from what I've read, who knows how long the injury will take to heal...if it in fact does heal: http://www.nfl.com/combine/story/0ap2000000328559/article/notre-dames-stephon-tuitt-not-cleared-for-combine; and http://www.statesman.com/feed/sports/2014-nfl-draft-stephon-tuitts-foot-fracture/fYP9t/
So, I'll go with an alternative to Tuitt here, in LB Mosely. After losing Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher through free agency, the Pats might add Mosely him to shore up their linebacking corp. Other possible choices include OG David Yankey of Stanford, WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State, or a TE, such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins, from the University of Washington;
30.) San Francisco 49ers: WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: Quick, fast, and tough. A homerun hitter in the DeSean Jackson mold;
31.) Denver Broncos: OG David Yankey, Stanford: The Broncos replace the departed Zane Beadles with the top rated OG in the draft;
32.) Seattle Seahawks: OT Morgan Moses, Virginia: Seahawks add size and depth on their OL.
So ends my first 2014 mock draft. It appears that the Patriots will be able to land a good player at #29. There's also a good possibility that BB will trade down, much as he did last year.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome. Have a great day!