ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The ninth version of the Mock Draft, in which perfection undoubtedly proves elusive. It's way past time for the real thing, and 6 p.m. MDT on Thursday cannot arrive fast enough.
1. HOUSTON (2-14): DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
If the Texans do not trade this pick, this is the call. Houston will roll the dice on getting a quarterback early in Round 2 -- or via trade to a pick at the end of the first round.
2. ST. LOUIS (7-9, from Washington): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Previous versions had Jake Matthews, and that would be my pick, if I were in their shoes. Robinson's upside is a higher, although there is greater bust potential, but the indications are that if the Rams keep the pick, Robinson, not Matthews, will be the call. A trade is a distinct possibility here, considering the Rams can get Matthews later.
3. JACKSONVILLE (4-12); LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Clemson's Sammy Watkins would be in play here, as the Jaguars have given up any reliance on the talented, but troubled, Justin Blackmon getting his act together. But the Jaguars' quickest path to relevance is through Gus Bradley's defense, and in a deep receiver draft, they can find help later.
4. CLEVELAND (4-12): QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
This is a whole-organization pick, as in the impact of the player will be felt in every corner of Browns headquarters, and will define them for the foreseeable future. The presence of left tackle Joe Thomas will help keep him upright, and he can buy time for Josh Gordon to get open downfield.
5. OAKLAND (4-12): WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
The Raiders have the luxury -- if you can call it that -- of being able to wait at No. 5 and still find a premium player at a spot of need. So if the Browns pass on Manziel and he lands here, or trades prevent an offensive tackle from going in the top four picks, or Mack drops, the Raiders have someone who can immediately help.
6. ATLANTA (4-12): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
If the Falcons come away from this draft without fortifying the offensive line in front of Matt Ryan, they've failed.
7. TAMPA BAY (4-12): WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
There's a buzz of interest in Manziel, so watch for a trade-up. But the Bucs don't appear sold on any of the other quarterbacks -- at least at this point. A trade up late in the first round is a possibility.
8. MINNESOTA (5-10-1): QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Matt Cassel offers a bridge to Bortles, and ensures that the Vikings don't have to force him into the lineup; they can work on the mechanical tweaks he needs.
9. BUFFALO (6-10): OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
This is similar to the Falcons' situation at No. 6: they have to find a way to protect their quarterback. The Bills' faith in E.J. Manuel is secure at this point; their draft class will likely revolve around giving him the best chance to succeed.
10. DETROIT (7-9): CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron is a possibility at this pick, but the Lions can't continue to ignore their issues at cornerback, right?
11. TENNESSEE (7-9): QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Someone is going to look past the Pro Day workout and focus on the tape. As draft cliche' goes, "All it takes is one team to love you." The Titans passed on giving Jake Locker the fifth-year option, and new head coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn't appear tied to the 2011 first-rounder at all. In a division where the Colts appear set for a long, dominant run with Andrew Luck at the controls, can the Titans afford to pass on a quarterback who at one point was the consensus favorite to be the top selection?
12. N.Y. GIANTS (7-9): DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Ebron is still on the board, and there is a wide gap from him to the other tight ends. But the Giants' success under Tom Coughlin has come when their front four was fortified from one flank to the other, and their defensive tackle corps badly needs someone as quick as Donald.
13. ST. LOUIS (7-9): S "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, Alabama
This has been a consensus pick at this spot for some time, which means it won't actually happen, in the unpredictable nature of mock drafts. It makes sense, allows the Rams to balance their first-round haul on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and provides an immediate upgrade.
14. CHICAGO (8-8): C.J. Mosley, Alabama
I had Timmy Jernigan here, but the reports of a diluted urine sample at the Combine will hurt his stock, since he would start his NFL career with one strike against him in the NFL's drug program. The Bears have so many holes on defense that they can take the most explosive, impactful player available that is a fit for their defense.
15. PITTSBURGH (8-8): CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Dennard is the type of cornerback who fits the Steelers perfectly: aggressive against the run, physical, and with ample confidence.
16. DALLAS (8-8): LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
This would be a coup, if Barr drops this far. The Titans' pick may determine what happens here; if they select Barr, the Cowboys are wide open, and could even consider an offensive lineman like Notre Dame's Zack Martin.
17. BALTIMORE (8-8): TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Mosley would have been ideal here with him off the board, but Ebron would also fill a need, and potentially be great value if he drops this far. Joe Flacco has not had a tight end with this blend of size, speed and receiving acumen.
18. N.Y. JETS (8-8): WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
If Dennard or Gilbert drops, the Jets could think cornerback, but they're not on the board here, so the Jets have to take the top wide receiver available.
19. MIAMI (8-8): OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
The question Thursday is whether the Dolphins move up to secure Martin, or are willing to wait and settle for Morgan Moses or Cyrus Kouandijo?
20. ARIZONA (10-6): DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
This is among the most difficult slots to project in the first round. Arizona needs a pass rusher, and even a safety or linebacker could help. But quarterback is a possibility as Carson Palmer heads into his 12th season. The key question is: how close do the Cardinals believe they are? In 2013, this was a 10-6 team that played on equal terms with the world champions in their season series. The Cardinals might be one player away in a season where the Super Bowl is in their home stadium -- and a rookie quarterback probably isn't that one player. And might the value be better on, say, Georgia's Aaron Murray in the second round than any of the quarterbacks on the board at this point?
21. GREEN BAY (8-7-1): S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Ryan Shazier is a legitimate possibility here, if he's available, but the chain reaction of this mock makes Pryor the best mix of player, immediate benefit and need.
22. PHILADELPHIA (10-6): WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
It seems likely the Eagles take a receiver, but which one? Cooks has the best chance to offer a direct, one-for-one replacement for DeSean Jackson.
23. KANSAS CITY (11-5): WR Marqise Lee, USC
The shortcomings of recent Chiefs drafts at this position won't keep their current administration from going back here. Quarterback is also a possibility, though, even though it offers no short-term benefit.
24. CINCINNATI (11-5): CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
A run on cornerbacks could loom among the later picks, and Roby appears to be the best fit for the Bengals, although Kyle Fuller is a possibility.
25. SAN DIEGO (9-7): NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
Cornerback will be discussed -- potentially Fuller -- but Nix is too perfect a fit at a need position to pass up here.
26. CLEVELAND (4-12, from Indianapolis): CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
An ideal complement to Joe Haden, Fuller's size and intelligence gives the Browns enough strength in coverage to turn Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger loose.
27. NEW ORLEANS (11-5): DE/LB Dee Ford, Auburn
If Ford and Ealy are still on the board, Ealy gets the nod based on having more all-around potential. Ford is a premier pass rusher, but is undersized.
28. CAROLINA (12-4): OT Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama
We hit trade-up territory with these last few picks, as Derek Carr remains on the board. Carolina could opt for a deal and add extra selections later, to try and boost their shaky offensive line and receiver corps. But if they stand pat, and Kouandijo is on the board, this is the pick.
29. NEW ENGLAND (12-4): DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
One reported strike in the drug-testing program isn't the type of issue that will faze Bill Belichick.
30. SAN FRANCISCO (12-4): WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
If Ford or Ealy drop here, this could change the 49ers' plan, but if not, wide receiver has to be the call.
31. DENVER (13-3): LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
There are plenty of scenarios in which he is not on the board, and if the Broncos want him, a trade up might be necessary. But at 31, he has above-average value. Even if Derek Carr is still available and trade offers arrive, Shazier might be to difficult to pass up.
32. SEATTLE (13-3): G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
I still can't see him escaping the first round. But he's a more certain bet than Kouandijo, so the Panthers might think about him at No. 28.