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Mason's Mock: 3.0

Posted Mar 28, 2014

Independent analyst Andrew Mason gives his take on how the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft will shake out.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It's time for the third version of the mock draft, and there's a bit of movement.

1. HOUSTON (2-14): QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Johnny Manziel may be inserting himself into the conversation, but there is a connection between UCF and Texans coach Bill O'Brien, as he worked under Knights coach George O'Leary at Georgia Tech in the late 1990's. O'Brien cited this connection when asked about Bortles at the Combine, and he probably possesses more intel on Bortles than any of the other quarterbacks atop the class.

But then again, there's this ...

… which ties in with this:

… and the 41st President is a long-time friend of Texans owner Bob McNair. See, this is the sort of tea-leaf reading in which we engage at this time of year.

2. ST. LOUIS (7-9, from Washington): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

An immediate starter at right tackle who can eventually fit at left tackle, Matthews is a good match of team and need. Greg Robinson has greater upside, but the Rams want to make their move now. A trade down is a distinct possibility.

3. JACKSONVILLE (4-12); DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

If the Rams trade down, this changes drastically, and the Jaguars' options break wide open. The Jaguars have so many needs that they might consider a trade down, but if they stay, they can take the best player available at any position -- including quarterback, if that's what it comes to -- and help themselves.

4. CLEVELAND (4-12): QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

Thursday's Pro Day workout at Texas A&M -- attended by President George W. Bush, former First Lady Barbara Bush -- and, their two dogs -- was close to flawless. His height is becoming less of a discussion topic.

5. OAKLAND (4-12); WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

Best player available here. But if reports are to be believed, it gets interesting; The Fresno Bee reports that the Raiders "have a massive crush" on Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, but could be inclined to trade down. If Watkins and Khalil Mack

6. ATLANTA (4-12): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Version 2.0: LB Kahlil Mack, Buffalo
Version 1.0: Robinson

I go back and forth on this one. Although I expect the Falcons to attempt to trade up, if they stay put, they have two needs: another pass-rushing linebacker or improved protection for Matt Ryan. The franchise's long-term future is in Ryan's hands, and anything they can do to keep him upright is crucial.

7. TAMPA BAY (4-12): LB Kahlil Mack, Buffalo
Version 2.0: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Version 1.0: Mack

If Mack falls this far, he's probably irresistible for new Bucs coach Lovie Smith.

8. MINNESOTA (5-10-1): QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida

The shuffling of the deck doesn't affect the Vikings' core need, although Bridgewater's pro readiness likely relegates Matt Cassel to backup once again.

9. BUFFALO (6-10): OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

As with Atlanta, protecting the quarterback is the top priority. Although the Bills' financial investment in E.J. Manuel doesn't yet match Atlanta's in Ryan, they want to give him the best possible chance.

10. DETROIT (7-9): CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

Gilbert would immediately become the Lions' best cornerback.

11. TENNESSEE (7-9): WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Version 2.0: LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Version 1.0: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

The signing of Shaun Phillips to a two-year contract changes the dynamic a bit, and the Titans don't necessarily have to get a pass rusher. Does new head coach Ken Whisenhunt now try to get Jake Locker a weapon? His success in San Diego with rookie Keenan Allen might offer a clue into a potential plan. Evans' strong Pro Day helps him, as well.

12. N.Y. GIANTS (7-9): TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

The Giants' tight end complement is so bereft of contributors that Ebron is almost a necessity if he drops this far.

13. ST. LOUIS (7-9): S "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

With Evans off the board, the Rams are forced to turn to another need.

14. CHICAGO (8-8): DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: S "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, Alabama

Jernigan appears to be a slightly better fit for the Bears than Aaron Donald.

15. PITTSBURGH (8-8): LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Version 2.0: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Version 1.0: Barr.

The availability of Barr shakes things up a bit. I doubt the Steelers would pass up Barr if he's undrafted at this point.

16. DALLAS (8-8): DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

Donald is almost too perfect of a fit for the Cowboys.

17. BALTIMORE (8-8): S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama

The Ravens need an injection of youth at safety. He will receive unfair comparisons to Ed Reed if the Ravens pounce, but he should help.

18. N.Y. JETS (8-8): WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

Beckham is a good complement to Eric Decker, with a different skill set, but the question now is whether Michael Vick or Geno Smith can utilize him to his optimal effectiveness.

19. MIAMI (8-8): OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

Miami needs offensive linemen, and needs character. Martin offers both.

20. ARIZONA (10-6): DE Dee Ford, Auburn
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State

In Arizona's scheme, Ford has a chance to be more than just a situational player.

21. GREEN BAY (8-7-1): LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville

Mosley is a Day 1 starter, but the Packers have many defensive needs and could go in any number of directions here.

22. PHILADELPHIA (10-6): CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Version 2.0: DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Version 1.0: DT Ra'shede Hageman, Minnesota

If Dennard happens to fall this far, it's a no-brainer.

23. KANSAS CITY (11-5): WR Marqise Lee, USC
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

Kansas City will try again to find a complement for Dwayne Bowe, but Lee appears better positioned to succeed and fit the Chiefs than their other acquisitions of recent years.

24. CINCINNATI (11-5): CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Version 2.0: DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Version 1.0: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

Pass rush remains a need since the departure of Michael Johnson, but the Bengals' cornerbacks are in need of a youth infusion.

25. SAN DIEGO (9-7): NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State

Secondary remains a need, but with Cam Thomas signing with the Steelers, the Chargers have little experience on the inside. Cornerback is a possibility here, depending how the pieces fall.

26. CLEVELAND (4-12, from Indianapolis): LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Version 2.0: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Version 1.0: Shazier.

Last week, Roby dropped to the Browns. This week, he's off the board, so it's back to Shazier, who fills a need.

27. NEW ORLEANS (11-5): DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Version 2.0: LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Version 1.0: LB/DE Dee Ford, Auburn

New Orleans needs pass-rush help, and Ealy can provide it.

28. CAROLINA (12-4): OT Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: OT Morgan Moses, Virginia

It's shocking how many needs the Panthers could target in the draft, considering they just had a season that matched the best regular-season record in franchise history. Offensive line and wide receiver stand out, but the Panthers can get quality receivers in later rounds. They can also target guard later in the draft. For value, the pick has to be tackle. If Kouandijo's knee is sound, he can play well above this spot.

29. NEW ENGLAND (12-4): DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame

Vince Wilfork has agreed to an extension, so that eases the pressure, but the Patriots need more than just a healthy Wilfork to restore the defense's interior to optimal performance.

30. SAN FRANCISCO (12-4): WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

I think the name of the wide receiver might change based on how the round falls, but the desire to get one will be strong for the 49ers.

31. DENVER (13-3): LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Version 2.0: Same.
Version 1.0: WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

In this scenario, I think they could entertain a trade-down of a few picks and still get Borland, who has the steadiness, smarts and technical proficiency to be a starter from Day One. It will depend what quarterbacks remain on the board -- and on this mock draft, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo remain available. Offensive line and cornerback are among the possibilities, too. This will be one of the hardest selections to project -- and that's probably what John Elway wants.

32. SEATTLE (13-3): G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
Versions 1.0 and 2.0: Same.

He won't fall out of the first round.

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