Today is the day we have all been waiting for as the NFL Draft kicks off tonight at 8:00 PM EST with the first round. To prepare you, our faithful readers, for the madness, the “Cowboy” Roger Morrissette and Andrew Flanagan went back and forth over the last couple of days and mocked the whole first round. The rules they used were simple: who would you draft if you were the GM and why? To be clear, Cowboy and Andrew’s picks are not intended to be predictions. They have simply put on their GM hats for all 32 of the NFL teams and drafted the players they thought were the best fit. Without further ado… it’s draft time!
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Cowboy’s Take: I think this an absolute no-brainer for the Texans. Clowney is a generational talent with the ability to make an immediate impact. While he may not fill a glaring need for the Texans, you simply can’t pass up a guy like this.
2. St. Louis Rams – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Andrew’s Take: While there are rumors that St. Louis is considering trading Sam Bradford (and/or this pick), they’re committed to their quarterback for now. As such, it’s in their best interest to give him every chance to succeed this year. Bradford has never had a top tier receiver in St. Louis, and Watkins has the talent to be one.
3. Jacksonville Jaquars – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
Cowboy’s Take: While the chances of this actually happening are slim and none, if I were the Jags I would go with Jonnny Football here. Manziel is certainly a gamble, but he has the most upside of any quarterback in the draft. Also, given the state of the Jaguars’ offensive line, having a QB who can make plays with his feet seems like a logical choice. Finally, this is currently the saddest franchise in the NFL and they could certainly use the attendance/publicity boost that drafting Manziel would bring.
4. Cleveland Browns -Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Andrew’s Take: Once believed to be the number one overall pick, Bridgewater has been sliding down draft boards in the wake of a poor pro day performance. The Browns reportedly don’t think much of him, but I think he’s the best QB prospect available and the position is obviously a need for Cleveland.
5. Oakland Raiders- Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
Cowboy’s Take: I was torn here between Mack and OT Greg Robinson. If the draft falls this way the Raiders will be very excited as they are able to choose between the consensus number 2 and 3 overall talents picking 5th. Oakland needs help all over and I am a believer in building a champion through defense. Mack and newly acquired Justin Tuck would turn a below average Oakland pass rush into one of the league’s best. The small school thing doesn’t scare me with Mack as everything you read and see indicates that he is the total package and versatile enough to fit into a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. This is a steal for the Raiders.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
Andrew’s Take: The Falcons need help on both the offensive and defensive lines to bounce back from last year’s disastrous season. Robinson is the best player available and will provide a boost to the offensive side.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Cowboy’s Take: Tampa is looking to win now with new coach Lovie Smith and veteran quarterback Josh McCown. Evans is a big, physical target much in the mold of Alshon Jeffrey, who McCown had huge success with. Having traded the troubled Mike Williams in the offseason, Evans gives the Bucs an immediate starter and someone who will take some of the heat off Vincent Jackson.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
Andrew’s Take: Bortles’ experience has been the opposite of Bridgewater’s as Blake’s draft stock rose dramatically due to his impressive pro day and prototypical QB build. The Vikings need a QB and Bortles is clearly the best available.
9. Buffalo Bills – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
Cowboy’s Take: I love this pick for the Bills as it is a combination of good value and filling a team need. Matthews is the best OL on the board and protecting young QB E.J. Manuel is a top priority for Buffalo.
10. Detroit Lions – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
Andrew’s Take: The Lions have several weaknesses to address (pass rush, receivers not named Calvin Johnson), but corner is the most obvious need. There’s not much consensus on the top CB prospect, but the Lions need an immediate starter and Dennard is the most polished.
11. Tennessee Titans – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
Cowboy’s Take: While this is not a position of glaring need for the Titans, I’m still going with Lewan. I think he is clearly the best player available at this point and represents great value. You can never have enough good offensive lineman in the NFL and protecting Jake Locker in a huge season for the young QB is critical.
12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald – DT – Pittsburgh
Andrew’s Take: The Giants’ offensive line was a disaster last season so they would consider addressing that here. However, the defensive line is also in rough shape and Donald is the highest rated player available.
13. St. Louis Rams – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
Cowboy’s Take: Since, in this draft, the Rams passed on Greg Robinson at #2 in favor of Sammy Watkins, it makes sense for them to take a tackle here. Martin is the best available at the position and there is a clear drop off after him making this a fairly obvious pick for St. Louis.
14. Chicago Bears – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – S – Alabama
Andrew’s Take: In a reversal of tradition, Chicago last year had a top 10 offense that was held back by a bottom 10 defense. They could use a boost at several positions, but Clinton-Dix is the best fit here.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma St
Cowboy’s Take: The Steelers are in need of an injection of youth in the secondary and Gilbert is just what the doctor ordered. He has a tantalizing size/speed combination and huge upside. He has a lower floor than some of the other CBs available, but if I’m the Steelers I try to hit the home run.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Andrew’s Take: Dallas needs to address their run defense which was atrocious last season, but this is too high to take a nose tackle. Barr is the best value here.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Odell Beckham, Jr. – WR – LSU
Cowboy’s Take: This is another value pick. Beckham should not be available at this point in the draft and he is too good for the Ravens to pass up. He will combine with Torrey Smith for a great 1-2 punch at WR for years to come.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
Andrew’s Take: This pick is a good balance between “best available” and “need” as the Jets need offensive weapons and Ebron has top 10 talent.
19. Miami Dolphins – Morgan Moses – OT – Virgina
Cowboy’s Take: While I don’t think Moses is a great value here, the Dolphins have no choice but to address their offensive line. The unit single-handedly sunk their season last year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miami trade down from here, but if they keep the pick I would take Moses.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Shazier – OLB – Ohio State
Andrew’s Take: The Cardinals would probably prefer to get an offensive tackle or quarterback here, but the best ones are already gone. Shazier has first round talent and Arizona could use an outside linebacker.
21. Green Bay Packers – Kyle Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech
Cowboy’s Take: This is another great value pick in a first round full of them. Most scouts grade Fuller out as the #2 CB in the draft and to get him here is a coup for the Packers. He will team with Sam Shields and Tramon Williams to form one of the better trio of CBs in the league. This is particularly helpful when playing in a division featuring Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffrey.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Calvin Pryor – S – Louisville
Andrew’s Take: The Eagles need to upgrade their secondary and Pryor is the best available.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State
Cowboy’s Take: This is a dream scenario for Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Cooks is a dynamic, short statured speed merchant who more than makes up for the loss of Dexter McCluster in free agency. Given Alex Smith’s reliance on the short passing game, getting a guy like Cooks who can take a screen pass to the house at any time is a no-brainer. Great pick here for Kansas City.
24. Cincinatti Bengals – Bradley Roby – CB – Ohio State
Andrew’s Take: There are age and injury concerns with the Bengals’ cornerbacks. It is worth taking a chance on the talented Roby here.
25. San Diego Chargers – C.J. Mosley – ILB – Alabama
Cowboy’s Take: This is yet another great value pick. The Chargers get the best inside linebacker in the draft to improve an already sturdy defense. If both Te’o and Mosley pan out and live up to their potential, the Chargers will have the best pair of 3-4 linebackers in the league for years to come.
26. Cleveland Browns – Marquise Lee – WR – USC
Andrew’s Take: Cleveland could use a second wideout and some insurance against another suspension for Josh Gordon.
27. New Orleans Saints- Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
Cowboy’s Take: The Saints went a long way toward shoring up their porous secondary with last year’s selection of safety Kenny Vaccaro in the first round and adding another impact defensive back in Verrett makes the most sense here.
28. Carolina Panthers – Cody Latimer – WR – Indiana
Andrew’s Take: The Panthers have to draft for need since they don’t have much room to maneuver under the cap. With the best OT’s already gone, Latimer addresses their hole at wide receiver.
29. New England Patriots – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Cowboy’s Take: Benjamin’s draft stock has taken a bit of a hit in recent weeks as scouts are questioning his polish as a route runner. What he does have that you can’t teach is size as the FSU product stands at a massive 6′ 5″. Tom Brady needs a red zone weapon and Benjamin is the perfect choice for the Pats.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Keith McGill – CB – Utah
Andrew’s Take: The Niners need to rebuild their secondary but the best options are gone. They may be better off going for value with a defensive lineman. If they do opt for the secondary, McGill is the best available. He can move to safety if corner doesn’t work out.
31. Denver Broncos – Gabe Jackson – G – Mississippi State
Cowboy’s Take: I thought long and hard about Derek Carr here, but decided that the Broncos can wait another year before drafting Peyton’s heir apparent (I’m not very high on Brock Osweiller). Jackson can step in play right away for a team that is in full win now mode.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Joel Bitonio – OT – Nevada
Andrew’s Take: Offensive line may be Seattle’s weakest unit and Bitonio’s ability to play multiple positions will give them plenty of options.