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Mason's Mock 5.0: If I Was GM

Posted Apr 11, 2014

Independent analyst Andrew Mason approaches each pick in the first round as if he were the football decision-maker for each team.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In recent weeks, the mock drafts have focused on who I expect that each team will pick. But as Pro Days end and teams retreat into their meeting rooms to evaluate and plan their strategy, not much changes from week to week. So in Mock Draft 5.0, I'll focus on not on predictions, but what I would do if I were each team's general manager/final-say football authority and why:

1. HOUSTON (2-14): Trade the pick to Atlanta, which takes DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida

Obviously, this takes a willing suitor. In this case, were I running the Falcons, a team in clear win-now mode with a quarterback in his prime and a 4-12 season that ought to be an aberration more than a trend. If Atlanta offers enough, the Texans can move down and still get one of the elite quarterbacks in this year's draft -- and probably at a more logical spot than No. 1.

2. ST. LOUIS (7-9, from Washington): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same

There's fewer rough edges to Matthews' game than Greg Robinson's. He doesn't have to be the left tackle immediately, although he can be groomed for it. He doesn't have to be a right tackle, either; the Rams can move him around, and Matthews, like his father, should be able to handle it.

3. JACKSONVILLE (4-12); QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

I'm 5-foot-5. Height's overrated. Short man's disease, Napoleonic complex, call it what you will. But I'm not losing sleep over Manziel's height. His frame is a concern, and he will have to learn how to avoid contact. The sidelines and the safety they afford after a scramble must be his friends. But he can make all the necessary throws, and brings a presence unlike anything Jacksonville has had before.

4. CLEVELAND (4-12): WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Why Watkins? Because one good receiver isn't enough. Because he can complement Josh Gordon. And because the Browns can get a quarterback with their other first-round pick, and Brian Hoyer is good enough to start -- and could do very well with Gordon, Watkins and tight end Jordan Cameron as targets.

5. OAKLAND (4-12); LB Kahlil Mack, Buffalo
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

OK, if I were running the Raiders, I would be angry that Watkins isn't on the board here. But with Matt Schaub aboard, I have the luxury of not being forced to take a quarterback.

6. ATLANTA (4-12): Trade the pick to Houston, which takes QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn

The Texans' trade-down gambit probably wouldn't have been possible without Bridgewater's shaky Pro Day.

7. TAMPA BAY (4-12): WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: LB Kahlil Mack, Buffalo

At this point, the Bucs don't have enough good receivers to do what new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford wants -- and not enough to give Josh McCown more than a fighting chance. Evans will help.

8. MINNESOTA (5-10-1): QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

This slot feels more right for Bortles than No. 1, where I've had him projected to the Texans atop the draft. Not all of Bortles' film is stellar, and he, like the other quarterbacks in this class, has noticeable warts.

9. BUFFALO (6-10): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

Robinson is just a smidgen more athletic and has greater upside than Lewan. It would surprise me if this scenario comes to pass, but Buffalo should be ecstatic if Robinson is available.

10. DETROIT (7-9): CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same.

This just feels right, if it comes to pass. Gilbert has athletic ability and potential unlike any other cornerback in this class.

11. TENNESSEE (7-9): LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

I can't pass up a potential stud pass-rusher here for a defense that doesn't have the outside explosion you want. Cornerback is a possibility here after Alterraun Verner's free-agent departure, but that can be addressed on Day Two.

12. N.Y. GIANTS (7-9): Trade the pick to Miami, which takes OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Lewan has dropped, and a feeding frenzy commences. The Giants might still be able to get Ebron by moving down six slots. Stay tuned.

13. ST. LOUIS (7-9): S "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same.

I gave some thought to a receiver (Odell Beckham Jr., Marqise Lee), but both felt like reaches here, and the Rams have enough issues to where they don't have to reach.

14. CHICAGO (8-8): DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same.

The best player on the board at an area where the Bears still need some work. The only positive from having a defense that was shredded as thoroughly as Chicago's is that there should be a premium defensive player on the board here, and Donald fits.

15. PITTSBURGH (8-8): CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: LB Anthony Barr, UCLA

The AFC North doesn't have the quarterback/passing game challenges inherent in other divisions, like the NFC North, but Dennard still fills a need.

16. DALLAS (8-8): DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same.

Louis Nix is a possibility, but Jernigan is a bit better of a fit.

17. BALTIMORE (8-8): OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville

The Ravens took care of left tackle by wisely re-signing Eugene Monroe after he stepped up his performance to an elite level following the trade from Jacksonville. Now Martin can take over the right side.

18. N.Y. JETS (8-8): S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Pryor has breakout potential, and as a former Ravens defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan understands the impact a safety like this can have on building a defense.

19. MIAMI (8-8): Trade the pick to the Giants, who take TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame

And the swap pays off, with the Giants picking up an extra selection later, while addressing a pressing need.

20. ARIZONA (10-6): DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same.

Ealy is a lower-risk pick than Dee Ford, who would also fit and merited strong consideration.

21. GREEN BAY (8-7-1): S Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama

The more I watch Ward, the more I like his range, athleticism and instinct for the position.

22. PHILADELPHIA (10-6): WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

The decision to cut DeSean Jackson leaves a hole that Beckhom can potentially fill.

23. KANSAS CITY (11-5): WR Marqise Lee, USC
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same.

Lee is a better fit for what the Chiefs need than Beckham, so the Eagles' decision works out well.

24. CINCINNATI (11-5): CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same.

Pass rusher is a possibility, but the Bengals' aging cornerback corps will catch up to them at some point if it goes unaddressed.

25. SAN DIEGO (9-7): CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame

The Chargers were caught short in the secondary at times last year, and in their attempt to dethrone the Broncos, coverage help is essential.

26. CLEVELAND (4-12, from Indianapolis): QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

If Carr had been off the board, Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo could be in play here.

27. NEW ORLEANS (11-5): LB/DE Dee Ford, Auburn
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: Same.

Ford isn't the ideal size, but his pass-rushing skills are an ideal fit for Rob Ryan's defense.

28. CAROLINA (12-4): G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: OT Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama

The red flags on Kouandijo are a bit much to ignore, and Su'a-Filo is a sure-fire starter. Carolina's needs up front are numerous, so there's no reason to reach or take an unnecessary gamble.

29. NEW ENGLAND (12-4): LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota

A quick replacement for Brandon Spikes.

30. SAN FRANCISCO (12-4): WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

Cooks' skill set. a more ideal complement to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.

31. DENVER (13-3): LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin

There's a bit of a burst of good fortune that Shazier lands here; he can step in, play every down and fill what some perceive as a void.

32. SEATTLE (13-3): WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Mock Draft 4.0 Projection: G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA

A replacement for Golden Tate -- and potentially a long-term upgrade.

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