Top-10 Mock Draft: Projections for 10 worst teams after Week 17
With the NFL’s regular season in the books and the majority of the draft order set, it’s time to take another look at how the top 10 might play out.
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.
Even those who are skeptical of Bridgewater’s abilities had to be impressed with how he played against Miami in Louisville’s bowl game. He threw for 447 yards and accounted for four touchdowns — a dazzling performance that showed off everything he brings to the table. Included in that list of abilities: mobility, touch downfield and the awareness to roll through progressions in decisive fashion.
2. St. Louis Rams — via Washington: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina.
I flipped Jake Mathews into this spot last week, but it’s honestly difficult to envision the Rams — or any team that might trade up to this spot — would pass on a player that could be dominant at the next level. Clowney is the best overall prospect in this class, and he would be more than capable of stepping into whatever role the Rams envisioned for him up front.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo.
Shooting Mack up several picks — had him to Buffalo in that 9ish range for the past few mocks — and it’s mainly because I still have questions about the other QBs in the mix. Plus, Gus Bradley is a coach with a defensive background … and he’s leading a team with a severe deficiency in playmakers off the edge. Mack is a little further along in his development at this point than Anthony Barr, a key for a team in need of immediate starters.
4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson.
All bets are off at the moment, with the Browns parting ways with Rob Chudzinski after one season. The next coach will want to place his guy in charge at QB, and at the very least will need an upgrade over the Brandon Weeden/Jason Campbell/Brian Hoyer triumvirate. Count Derek Carr, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles among the possibilities here (if the latter two turn pro). Until more is set in place, though, the thought of adding Watkins to Josh Gordon in the passing game ought to excite Browns fans.
5. Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State.
It may not always be that apparent, but the Raiders have weapons who could excel in creating after the catch. Carr’s shortcomings were on display in a bowl loss to USC — off-balance throws, inaccuracies and so on. But he’s way better than he showed against the Trojans, perhaps enough so that Oakland could hand him the offense.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M.
The notion of dropping Anthony Barr here was tough to ignore. The Falcons’ pass rush was nonexistent at times this season, and they never managed to replace John Abraham. That said, did you see them try to block Carolina’s front on Sunday? It’s a miracle Matt Ryan walked off the field at the end of the game. No reason to overthink this, then: Matthews is a top-five talent at a position of need for the Falcons.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.
Like their division rivals in Atlanta, the Buccaneers simply were not talented enough on the edge of their defense. So hello, possible quick fix. This is another spot where a QB could come off the board, as well as a choice that will be dictated by what’s going on with the coaching staff. Barr would provide the Buccaneers some punch, either as a starting DE or as a dangerous situational pass-rusher.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State.
The Vikings used their first-rounder last year on Xavier Rhodes, so doubling down may not be all that attractive. On the other hand, they still finished 32nd against the pass, plus play in a division that features three dynamic aerial attacks. They clearly need more of a presence across the field from Rhodes.
But how about Manziel here instead? One way or another, the Vikings will be adding a quarterback this offseason. An offense centered around Manziel, Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson would be mighty challenging to scheme against. (Bortles could be in play here, too.)
9. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama.
Mentioned above that this had been a spot reserved for Mack in most of my recent mocks. This would not be a bad consolation prize. Mosley projects more as an inside guy in the pros — either as a 4-3 MLB or 3-4 ILB — but he could do some damage out of a weakside position, which is where he’s played at Alabama. The Bills’ hybrid defense could take advantage of having both Mosley and Kiko Alonso, and it’s important to remember that teams increasingly use two-LB, nickel sets, so Mosley’s time stuck outside might be limited.
10. Detroit Lions: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M.
There’s no denying that cornerback may be the Lions’ biggest need. There’s also no denying that this team has to upgrade its talent at wide receiver, both to give Calvin Johnson a little help and to guard against the offensive stalemates that occur when he’s been out of the lineup. If Dennard’s here (or whichever CB the Lions have atop their board at that position), that pick might be a no-brainer. In the event that he’s not, though, dropping in a physical 6-foot-5 receiver into the No. 2 role behind Megatron might leave Matthew Stafford doing cartwheels of joy.