After a month of allowing the XN Sports Mock Draft 2.0 marinate, and the NFL pre-draft visits have come and gone, we have a strong idea of how the dominos will fall next week during the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Barring any draft-day trades, this is how we expect the first round to go:
No. 1 Houston Texans: Javedeon Clowney, South Carolina
The logic: The debate used to be Clowney vs. Manziel, but now it has turned to Clowney vs. Mack. Nobody wants the team to pass up on Clowney, considered to be a once in a lifetime kind of talent.
Mock 1.0: Jadeveon Clowney
Mock 2.0: Jadeveon Clowney
The logic: St. Louis is the likely candidate to move out of this spot, with the Falcons and 49ers are potential trading partners. But if they stay put, they find their new left tackle in Robinson.
Mock 1.0: Greg Robinson
Mock 2.0: Greg Robinson
No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, Buffalo
The logic: Arguably the No. 1A defensive player in the draft, Gus Bradley finds his “LEO” in Mack. The team can make a play for a quarterback at the top of the second round.
Mock 1.0: Teddy Bridgewater
Mock 2.0: Blake Bortles
No. 4 Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
The logic: Manziel has been the pick for Cleveland in each mock draft. I can’t see them passing up on this guy, who has been linked to the team since the winter. He’ll be the first quarterback off the board.
Mock 1.0: Johnny Manziel
Mock 2.0: Johnny Manziel
No. 5 Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, Clemson
The logic: The Raiders are also open for business, and they probably would’ve wanted Mack to fall here. Unless they decide offensive line is the way to go, there’s no way they pass up the opportunity to nab the draft’s best wide receiver.
Mock 1.0: Sammy Watkins
Mock 2.0: Sammy Watkins
No. 6 Atlanta Falcons: Taylor Lewan, Michigan
The logic: The Falcons are one of the teams that may try to move up for Clowney or Mack. If they are unable to, they have to take the best offensive lineman available. It seems as if the team values Lewan over Matthews.
Mock 1.0: Khalil Mack
Mock 2.0: Khalil Mack
The logic: One of the most-coveted wideouts in the draft, Tampa needs to find another weapon for Josh McCown other than Vincent Jackson. The team has flirted with Manziel and Bridgewater, but I’m not sure Lovie Smith pulls the trigger so soon.
Mock 1.0: Anthony Barr
Mock 2.0: Mike Evans
No. 8 Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, Central Florida
The logic: The Vikings have not shown much interest in Manziel, and I don’t believe they value Bridgewater too much, so Bortles falling here is the ideal fit. He can sit a year and learn behind Matt Cassel.
Mock 1.0: Blake Bortles
Mock 2.0: Jake Matthews
No. 9 Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, North Carolina
The logic: Buffalo wants to provide second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel with weapons, and I think it comes down to Ebron and Matthews. I think Ebron is too intriguing to pass up.
Mock 1.0: Eric Ebron
Mock 2.0: Taylor Lewan
No. 10 Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
The logic: Gilbert has been the Lions’ pick in all three mocks, and I just can’t imagine the team not addressing its secondary here, especially with the best corner in the class.
Mock 1.0: Justin Gilbert
Mock 2.0: Justin Gilbert
No. 11 Tennessee Titans: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St.
Mock 1.0: C.J. Mosley
Mock 2.0: Anthony Barr
No. 12 New York Giants: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
The logic: The Giants went with offensive lineman Justin Pugh in last year’s draft, so it’s hard imagine the team doing it again in 2014. Donald is a disruptive force in the trenches, which is just what the Giants need to get back to doing.
Mock 1.0: Jake Matthews
Mock 2.0: Eric Ebron
No. 13 St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
The logic: This could be different if the Rams trade out of the No. 2 spot. The team could take a linebacker (Mosley) or wide receiver (Beckham), but it has a glaring void on the back end of its secondary.
Mock 1.0: Mike Evans
Mock 2.0: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
No. 14 Chicago Bears: Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Mock 1.0: Timmy Jernigan
Mock 2.0: Calvin Pryor
No. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers: Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
The logic: I think this decision comes down to a corner or a wide receiver, but there might be enough receiver talent that the Steelers can afford to wait until Round 2.
Mock 1.0: Darqueze Dennard
Mock 2.0: Aaron Donald
No. 16 Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Barr, UCLA
The logic: Once considered a top-10 pick, Barr could now be a savior for the Cowboys, who need to bolster its pass rush.
Mock 1.0: Aaron Donald
Mock 2.0: Kony Ealy
No. 17 Baltimore Ravens: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Mock 1.0: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Mock 2.0: Timmy Jernigan
No. 18 New York Jets: Odell Beckham, Jr.
The logic: The Jets need a wideout and a corner, and with the top three corners gone the team needs to strike on Beckham. The LSU standout gives the team a much-needed deep-threat option opposite of Eric Decker.
Mock 1.0: Marqise Lee
Mock 2.0: Marqise Lee
No. 19 Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, Notre Dame
The logic: The Dolphins has long been linked to Martin, despite reports they value Cyrus Kouandjio. It’s a long shot, but they could be eyeing a wide receiver here, too.
Mock 1.0: Zack Martin
Mock 2.0: Zack Martin
No. 20 Arizona Cardinals: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
The logic: It’s too early for Bruce Arians to take a quarterback, and with Karlos Dansby now in Cleveland, the Cardinals need to sure up its linebacking unit. Mosley is a value at No. 20.
Mock 1.0: Dee Ford
Mock 2.0: C.J. Mosley
No. 21 Green Bay Packers: Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
The logic: Green Bay could go in a lot of directions here. The top two safeties are off the board, but is it too early for Jimmie Ward? Ebron is gone, but is it too early for Jace Amaro? Shazier is another strong addition to its revamped pass rush.
Mock 1.0: Calvin Pryor
Mock 2.0: Jace Amaro
No. 22 Philadelphia Eagles: Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
The logic: The Eagles needs outside pass-rushers, and both Ford and Ealy are available. But I can’t see Chip Kelly passing up on Benjamin to continue adding threats to the offense.
Mock 1.0: Jason Verrett
Mock 2.0: Dee Ford
No. 23 Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, USC
The logic: Andy Reid needs to address his receiving corps, and Lee’s stock has dropped into toward the latter portion of the first round. He may wind up being a steal at No. 23.
Mock 1.0: Odell Beckham Jr.
Mock 2.0: Odell Beckham Jr.
No. 24 Cincinnati Bengals: Dee Ford, Auburn
The logic: This comes down to a corner or whether the team likes Ford or Ealy more. Verrett and Roby are the two best cornerbacks available. But with so many holes on the defensive side of the ball, they can’t go wrong with any of those guys.
Mock 1.0: Kony Ealy
Mock 2.0: Darqueze Dennard
No. 25 San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, Ohio State
The logic: Roby has been linked to the Bolts all along. It was the team’s most glaring weakness in 2013. It’s unknown whether Roby’s off-the-field incident will impact the Chargers’ pick.
Mock 1.0: Bradley Roby
Mock 2.0: Bradley Roby
No. 26 Cleveland Browns: Jason Verrett, TCU
The logic: The Browns could grab an offensive guard or a wide receiver here, but the team was in the hunt for Darrelle Revis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie over the offseason. Pairing Verrett opposite Joe Hayden is huge for Mike Pettine’s defense.
Mock 1.0: Ryan Shazier
Mock 2.0: Kyle Fuller
No. 27 New Orleans Saints: Cody Latimer, Indiana
The logic: The top five corners are gone, and this comes down to giving Drew Brees a weapon to replace Lance Moore. No prospect is climbing up draft boards faster than Latimer. The other option here is Ealy, giving the defense another edge-rusher.
Mock 1.0: Kyle Fuller
Mock 2.0: Jason Verrett
No. 28 Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses, Virginia
The logic: The Panthers need offensive linemen and wide receivers, but I believe they can find talented pass-catchers beyond the first round. Kouandjio may be the better prospect, but he carries a lot of off-the-field baggage, too.
Mock 1.0: Cyrus Kouandjio
Mock 2.0: Morgan Moses
No. 29 New England Patriots: Ra’Shede Hagemen, Minnesota
The logic: Vince Wilfork is back, and Nix is the guy who has drawn the most comparisons to him. But Hageman’s stock is back on the rise, and New England needs to add depth to its D-line.
Mock 1.0: Louis Nix III
Mock 2.0: Louis Nix III
No. 30 San Francisco 49ers: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
The logic: The Niners are expected to be one of the most aggressive teams in the draft, and they have enough picks to slide up at any point. If they don’t, they’ll take the best wideout available.
Mock 1.0: Kelvin Benjamin
Mock 2.0: Kelvin Benjamin
No. 31 Denver Broncos: Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
The logic: Denver addressed a lot of its needs through free agency, but could afford to upgrade its offensive line. Zane Beadles is off to Jacksonville and needs to be replaced.
Mock 1.0: Xavier Su’a-Filo
Mock 2.0: Xavier Su’a-Filo
No. 32 Seattle Seahawks: Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
The logic: Tuitt’s ability to play numerous spots along the defensive line makes him all the more attractive to the Seahawks. He can help fill the void left by Red Bryant.
Mock 1.0: Stephon Tuitt
Mock 2.0: Stephon Tuitt