Silva's Final 2014 Mock DraftThursday, May 08, 2014
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1. Atlanta Falcons -- South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney (Via Trade Up)
I believe the Texans badly want to trade out, and will ultimately settle for less than the reported Robert Griffin III haul they initially demanded from Atlanta. The Falcons have ten picks -- including four in the top 105 -- so GM Thomas Dimitroff does not lack ammunition if Houston's price tag comes down. The Texans don't seem sold on Jadeveon Clowney, either from a "football character" standpoint or off the field. I think they love Blake Bortles and can get him at No. 6.
2. St. Louis Rams -- Auburn OT Greg Robinson
The Rams did a nice job of smokescreening interest in Johnny Manziel leading up to the draft. At a Wednesday night pre-draft party with season-ticket holders, coach Jeff Fisher promised Sam Bradford would remain St. Louis' 2014 starter. As Bradford returns from his ACL tear, expect the Rams to support him with a run-based offense. Robinson is the best run blocker in the draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Buffalo OLB Khalil Mack
I expect Jacksonville to sit tight at No. 3 and draft either Mack or Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. Most media members expect it will be Watkins. I think Mack makes more sense. The two most valuable commodities in football are franchise quarterbacks and franchise pass rushers. Currently, Jacksonville has neither. If the Jaguars drafted Watkins, they would still have neither.
4. Cleveland Browns -- Texas A&M WR Mike Evans
There's been buzz that the Browns grade Evans higher than Watkins since early in the pre-draft process. I expect Cleveland to take Evans here and use its 26th or 35th pick on a quarterback. Even with limited QB play, Evans, Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron would score touchdowns.
5. Detroit Lions -- Clemson WR Sammy Watkins (Via Trade Up)
A lot of folks seem to believe the Lions finished adding receiver help when they signed Golden Tate. They didn't. This is a team that will play frequent three-wide packages under first-year coordinator Joe Lombardi, and currently has only two snap-worthy wideouts. The Lions also love Watkins. With GM Martin Mayhew likely feeling pressure after another underachieving season, I think he'll be aggressive in this draft. And it is no secret the Raiders want to trade out to get more picks. For the second straight year, I bet they'll be willing to do it for below-market compensation.
6. Houston Texans -- UCF QB Blake Bortles (Via Trade Down)
(See No. 1.)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
The Bucs quickly turned the page on Mike Glennon under rookie GM Jason Licht, and 35-year-old journeyman Josh McCown currently sits atop the depth chart. McCown is very clearly best suited for a backup role. With a defense I expect to be stout under Lovie Smith and a high-volume running game featuring a deep backfield, Tampa Bay looks to be building in Seattle and San Francisco's likeness. Manziel would be the Bucs' version of Russell Wilson/Colin Kaepernick.
8. Minnesota Vikings -- Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
The Vikings' free agent pursuit of Henry Melton shows they aren't satisfied on the defensive line, and there isn't a better interior player than Donald in this draft. The Vikings may maintain high hopes for 2013 first-round pick Sharrif Floyd, but his rookie-year performance suggests Floyd isn't ready to be an NFL difference maker. Donald is. He'd be new coach Mike Zimmer's next Geno Atkins.
9. Buffalo Bills -- North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
The Bills have a good defense, one of the top run games in football, a receiver corps loaded with young talent, and an above-average offensive line. Even with Jake Matthews still on the board here, I think Buffalo can fill its right tackle need in a later round. What the Bills do not have is stable quarterback play. In an effort to support second-year signal caller E.J. Manuel, I expect Buffalo GM Doug Whaley to use the No. 9 overall selection on the best offensive playmaker left.
10. Oakland Raiders -- Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
(See No. 5.)
11. Tennessee Titans -- Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert
Even though his tape isn't stellar, I fully expect Gilbert to be the first cornerback drafted. Teams are more concerned with attributes than college performance, and Gilbert combines 4.37 wheels with 33 1/8-inch arms at 6-foot, 202. New Titans DC Ray Horton may envision Gilbert as a poor man's version of Patrick Peterson. Horton coached Peterson for two seasons with the Cardinals.
12. New York Giants -- Michigan OT Taylor Lewan
I have the tackles falling further than expected, mostly because there are so many playmakers worth grabbing in the top ten. Lewan would be a no-brainer pick for the Giants, who can't count on injured LT Will Beatty and may have to move RT Justin Pugh to the left side. Lewan is also athletic enough to protect the blind side, though I'd expect him to man right tackle in New York.
13. St. Louis Rams -- Alabama FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Clinton-Dix lacks special athleticism, but he's a B+ in every area and would shore up a longtime trouble spot in St. Louis. The Rams' biggest need on defense is free safety. Coach Jeff Fisher has used first-rounders on safeties before (see Michael Griffin), and "HHCD" would be a big upgrade on incumbent Rodney McLeod, bookending T.J. McDonald behind Chris Long and Robert Quinn.
14. Chicago Bears -- Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Darqueze Dennard should also be on GM Phil Emery's radar at No. 14, but with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings re-signed, safety is a more pressing need. The Bears are weak at both positions after FS Chris Conte's April shoulder surgery. Though limited in coverage, Pryor is an enforcing, downhill thumper who profiles similarly to Denver's T.J. Ward.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Pittsburgh at 15 has become such a popular mock destination for Fuller that it probably won't happen, but it's also too sensible a match for me to ignore. Fuller excels in zone coverage, which is the foundation of Steelers DC Dick LeBeau's scheme in the secondary. Fuller can also play man and cover the slot where needed. He'd unseat Ike Taylor to start opposite Cortez Allen.
16. Dallas Cowboys -- UCLA DE/OLB Anthony Barr
Connections between Barr and the Cowboys have been numerous over the last few days. It's believed they have a top-ten grade on the polarizing pass rusher, perhaps even somewhere in their top five. Barr isn't a favorite of most draftniks, but offers a boatload of edge speed, and new DC Rod Marinelli would know how to use him. Dallas is desperate for defensive line upgrades.