Top-10 Mock Draft: Projections for 10 worst teams after Week 15
With most of the Week 15 games in the books, it’s time to take another look at how the draft’s top 10 might play out.
(Note: The order for this mock is based on current strength of schedule, which is the first tiebreaker used by the NFL for draft position.)
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The excitement surrounding Case Keenum has worn off completely with Houston stuck in a 12-game skid. Even if the Texans want to keep the youngster around, they need to pick up someone else at the quarterback spot. Could Jay Cutler be a possibility if he gets to free agency? How about a Kirk Cousins trade?
Maybe. But this is the easiest path toward landing a potential franchise quarterback.
2. St. Louis — via Washington: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Rams fans — at least those who took time to comment — hated this pick last week. Well, bad news …
Drafting Clowney would create a little clutter along an already-stacked defensive line, thus forcing Jeff Fisher’s coaching staff to get a little creative. But Clowney, Robert Quinn and Chris Long together would form perhaps the NFL’s finest pass-rushing front.
3. Oakland Raiders: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Really, take your pick between Evans and Clemson’s Sammy Watkins — the point is that the Raiders have to find a playmaker at wide receiver, so the choice should be the guy they like best. No. 3 seems high for a WR in this draft, but if both Evans and Watkins are top-10 guys and this fits a huge need, why wait?
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The Jaguars’ second-half turnaround was fun and all, but losing to Buffalo Sunday should help more in the long run. That setback pushed the Jaguars back into the top five (they were at No. 6 last week) … and with the top three falling as it does here, Jacksonville has a chance to grab a guy some will argue is the top quarterback in this class.
5. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The thought of nabbing Anthony Barr to bolster a crummy pass rush would be pretty appealing. That said, the Falcons are built around Matt Ryan and their offense, so leaving Ryan unprotected behind a suspect line does not make a ton of sense. The Falcons also learned the hard way this season how badly they need at least some balance from the run game, and their current line isn’t capable of providing that.
6. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Again, Evans and Watkins can flip-flop here and work out just as well — Evans’ lack of high-end speed may eventually knock him down a tiny notch, though his talent ought to offset most of the concerns there. A combo of Watkins and Josh Gordon (with Jordan Cameron at tight end) would make the QB spot in Cleveland pretty appealing to whomever lands it. Watkins can excel at all levels of the field, including deep, where Cleveland wants to press.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
This is as much a value pick as anything else at No. 7, because Barr does not exactly fit into Tampa Bay’s current 4-3 setup on defense. But here’s the thing: He is a spectacular athlete and has only begun to scratch the surface as a defender. Even if the Buccaneers eased him in somewhat slowly, as San Francisco did with Aldon Smith in his rookie season, the impact might be worth it. And two or three years down the line, Barr could be one of the most feared pass-rushers in the league.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
When the Vikings were sitting No. 4 last week, Derek Carr was the choice. Here, the quarterback options would be something to keep an eye on: Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Brett Hundley are the names you’ll hear a lot if they all enter the draft. Instead, how about pairing Nix with Sharrif Floyd in a rebuilt Minnesota front? The Vikings defense was at its best in recent memory with Pat Williams holding down the nose tackle spot. After a bit of a wait, here’s his replacement.
9. Buffalo Bills: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
I don’t really mean to do this, but the Mack-to-Buffalo occurrence keeps happening no matter how the picks above the Bills play out. Keep an eye on one of the elite tight ends here — Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins — as Scott Chandler’s set to be a free agent and has battled injury. But Mack would make an improving LB corps led by Kiko Alonso even better and would cement the position in Buffalo for years.
10. Tennessee Titans: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Whereas Minnesota is almost certain to head a different direction at QB next season, Tennessee has a choice to make on Jake Locker. If the Titans decide he’s not their guy, one of those aforementioned players — Manziel, Bortles, Hundley — could fit the bill. Some of the decision may come down to whether it’s Mike Munchak or a new head coach calling the shot.
If they don’t take a chance on a QB, the Titans have a number of ways they could go: defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver. Mosley’s one of my favorite players in this draft, a talented defender who should be on pretty much every team’s radar. Drop him between Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown in Tennessee, and the Titans would be stockpiled with young linebacking talent.