1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon
Many are asking me why I like Mariota over Bridgewater. I like Mariota’s overall skill set and his physical build better. While both are listed at 6’3”, Mariota is bigger and can take the hits better than Bridgewater. Bridgewater will need to put on at least 25 more pounds and there have been some injury concerns. Then there is the whole level of competition thing, which Mariota has a clear advantage playing in the PAC-12. Mariota isn’t as refined as a passer, but the upside is there. Mariota is the far more dynamic quarterback and could be the bigger box office draw. I just believe his upside is greater than that of Bridgewater’s’ but with the rookie wage scale does it matter if it is two or three or one or two?
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville
Bridgewater is averaging 312 passing yards per game and owns an astounding 71 percent completion percentage. He has 18 TD’s and only 2 INT’s. Bridgewater is leading a Louisville team that possesses a per game margin of victory of 33.6 points. Nevertheless, I must point out that the six teams faced by Bridgewater have an average ranking of 96. While I know he can only play the schedule given to his team, it is a big part of the reason why I have Mariota ahead of him and why Louisville may be on the outside looking in at the BCS Bowl picture this season.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Brett Hundley, UCLA
Hundley is averaging 312 passing yards per game and owns an astounding 71 percent completion percentage. He has 18 TD’s and only 2 INT’s. Hundley is leading a UCLA team that possesses a per game margin of victory of 33.6 points. Nevertheless, I must point out that the six teams faced by Bridgewater have an average ranking of 96.
4. New York Giants: Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina
Let us just for a moment say it aloud. The Jaguars played the Broncos a lot tougher than did the Giants this season, so at this point of the season, it is time to be honest about where the G-Men are—possibly worse than Jags? Both teams in my opinion have a chance to win their first game in Week 7 and it does not matter who has the first pick, it will not affect the draft. The Giants need help on both sides of the ball on the line and considering they know what having a pass rush meant to beating Tom Brady not once—but twice in the Super Bowl, this pick is Jadeveon Clowney all day long. Despite his subpar season, his potential is limitless.
The Rams could trade one of these two picks and get two to three potential impact starters but may opt to stay with both in hopes of grabbing players with Pro-Bowl potential. One of the players is OT Jake Matthews. He has a great combination of size and athletic ability and is drawing comparisons to Michigan standout Jake Long.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan
The Steelers got their first win of the season vs. the Jets last Sunday. It was a vintage Steelers win in terms of how their defense tortured a rookie QB. There are still major issues on the offensive line. They placed Levi Brown on IR this past week, yes—the same Levi Brown they just acquired in a trade from Arizona. The Steelers will likely have a chance at one of the top Tackles in the draft, if they are at No.5 they will be blessed with Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews. Mel Kiper says of Matthews—“Matthews was at right tackle last year and would have been drafted high, but a full season at left tackle solidifies his stock. He is an intense worker and has great NFL bloodlines, as his father, brother and two cousins have played in the league. Has strong skills as both a pass protector and a finisher in the run game.”
7. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Falcons need to address their offensive line but they need to address their pass defense even more. They are 1-4 and come off the bye with the 26th worst pass defense in the NFL. Geno Smith, who tossed three touchdowns, beat them at home. The Falcons have 11 sacks through five games and need to get more pressure on opposing QB’s to help ease the 275 yards they are allowing through the air per game. While this may be a reach and many thought, Ziggy Ansah was at No.5 LY, I like Khalil Mack. The Buffalo has an amazing 63 tackles for a loss and 23 sacks so far in his career. He added an INT return for a TD vs. Ohio State this year and is likely to legitimize being drafted this high by years end.
8. Buffalo Bills: CJ Mosley, OLB Alabama
The Bills need a cornerback and they need some help on the defensive line. So let’s split the difference and give them one of the best linebackers in the country. Mosley is the heart of the Alabama defense and has the all-around skill set that makes him appealing in any scheme. At 6-2, 232 pounds, he could be undersized but he flies to the ball and makes a ton of plays. At his size, he could be the best pound-for-pound player in the country. There is talk of Ryan Shazier and now everyone is in love with Vic Beasley from Clemson and for good reason. I’ll stick with the proven Nick Saban groomed player at the moment and so will the Bills if this is the pick.
9. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR Clemson
I am sold that the Raiders believe Terrell Pryor is the long-term solution going forward. If they want to keep him around for a while, they may need to think about protecting a bit more, as they allowed the Chiefs to sack him 10 times last week. The smart play would be to trade back once again, stockpiling a few more picks. However, finding a playmaker for Pryor is likely where the Raiders head at No.9 and that could be Sammy Watkins from Clemson. Watkins & USC’s Marquis Lee and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans are considered the top three WR’s in the draft. In three games against FBS competition (Georgia, NC State, Wake Forest), Watkins is averaging seven catches for 112 yards and a score. We will see what happens this weekend vs. the Florida State Seminoles.
10. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M
I am convinced the Browns are finished with Branden Weeden and no matter what you think of Johnny Manziel off the field, he will be drafted in the first round. Against Ole Miss last Saturday, the Aggies looked as if they could be finished but it only appeared that way. Despite an early injury scare, a feisty Mississippi defense and a few uncharacteristic mistakes, Manziel was Johnny Football in enough time to lead the Aggies to a win. Texas A&M trailed 38-31 midway through the fourth quarter, but Manziel engineered a 75-yard drive that he finished with a tying 6-yard touchdown run with 3:07 remaining.He completed 31 of 39 passes, threw for 346 yards, and ran for two touchdowns while rallying No. 9 Texas A&M past Ole Miss for a 41-38 victory. On the game winning drive, playing with an injured knee, Manziel had runs of 12 and 13 yards. Yeah, the Browns will and their fans will love Johnny Football.
11. Houston Texans: Zach Mettenberger, QB LSU
If the Texans are actually drafting this high and did not turn their season around, then they will indeed be in search of a QB. Whether they want a prototypical drop back passer like a Zach Mettenbereger or a more mobile guy like Boyd or Manziel will likely be decided by who their head coach is. If Manziel is here that would be there pick, but with him off the board I think they look to Mettenberger to be their QB of the future.
12. St. Louis Rams: Louis Nix III, DL Notre Dame
The Rams trampled the Texans but only on the scoreboard. Houston led every statistical category, as Arian Foster rushed for 141-yards. Everybody runs on the Rams 30th ranked rushing defense. It only makes sense to sure up the middle of the front seven with this pick. Nix is a potential-future NFL Pro-Bowl type run-stuffer with enough burst and determination to push the pocket.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Taj Boyd, QB Clemson
Watching Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick play four times, a year make has Arizona wanting and needing a QB for the future. Boyd possesses less-than-ideal size but Wilson is not exactly Hercules either. If Boyd takes down Florida State on Saturday night and finishes the season undefeated, size will not matter. He has significantly improved his accuracy and decision-making from the pocket in 2013. A true dual-threat quarterback, Boyd is in fact very comparable to above-mentioned Wilson and some even say the late Steve McNair, as well.
14. NY Jets: Marquise Lee, WR USC
I like Watkins overall playmaking ability more than I do that of Marquis Lee’s, but that doesn’t mean Lee won’t still go high in the draft. The Jets need a weapon to pair with Stephen Hill and Lee gives them that guy. He would be a huge addition for Geno Smith’s development and could help jump start this offense.
15. Carolina Panthers:Cyrus Kouandjio, OT Alabama
The OL and WR are where Carolina will look to upgrade here. I say they snag the top available OL on the board at this point and that is likely to be Kouandjio. The Bama OT is a physically blessed athlete, who has begun to draw comparisons to former Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels, the No. 3 overall pick out of Alabama in 2000. With Jordan Gross getting up there in years (11 in the NFL), this is as good a time to make this pick.
16. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Chargers finally shut down a QB and it just happened to be Andrew Luck. That still does not diminish the need for help in the secondary. The Chargers pass defense is 25th in the NFL and although Verrett lacks prototypical size, he is more than agile enough and skilled enough to be a good NFL corner. Verrett led the pass happy Big 12 with 22 passes defended and 6 interceptions in 2012. After injuring his shoulder, he returned to provide great coverage (six tackles, two passes broken up) against Oklahoma on Oct. 5 earning him the Top Prospect of Week 6 by NFLDraftScout.com.