Andre Johnson gives kids a Christmas to remember
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina*
Two weeks ago, I couldn't see a scenario where the Texans didn't address their need at quarterback with the top pick. However, after their second loss to the Jaguars and an embarrassing outing against the Colts, I now believe they have to take the best player on the board.
A quick-fix at quarterback would imply the wounds on this team are superficial. But there are a lot of underlying problems that surfaced this season. Bringing a force like Clowney on board would help re-establish the Texans as a power at getting at opposing QB's, and a duo of J.J. Watt and Clowney could be one of the most imposing tandems the league has ever seen.
2. St. Louis Rams (f/ WSH): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
I've had St. Louis taking Matthews for two months now. The Rams added Jake Long in the offseason, and he's performed pretty well, but the other side of the offensive line is still a liability. Jeff Fisher has his team playing good football right now. If they could add another top lineman to anchor the right side and get Sam Bradford back, healthy with a final season to prove himself. St. Louis could be in prime position to challenge for the postseason.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville*
Jacksonville has been looking for a new franchise quarterback since Mark Brunell. Bridgewater has all the tools you look for in a QB. Some questions remain as he's only had to subpar competition to play but key is that he's found ways to win. If the Jags draft him, he would instantly become the new face of the team.
4. Oakland Raiders: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M**
It appears that the Raiders' Terrelle Pryor experiment is over, and they're looking to move on. The question is: Who will be the next starting QB? And the answer isn't Matt McGloin. On the surface, Manziel to Oakland makes perfect sense. Other franchises may be afraid of a player because of reputation, but that has never been an issue for the Raiders.
I believe that Manziel may have the highest potential ceiling of all the quarterbacks in this class and he could Oakland's counter to their cross bay rival's new posterboy, Colin Kaepernick. Imagine a potential 49ers-Raiders game with both of those guys at the helm, talk about media hype.
5. Cleveland Browns: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame*
The Browns, like the Rams, are another team with two first round picks in this draft. That luxury allows them the ability to draft a need with one pick, and a luxury with the other. Cleveland's defense has been one of the most improved in football this season, but they're still in need of more impact players. Tuitt has drawn comparisons to a young Richard Seymour. Praise like that is hard to overlook, and another impact defender up front could set their defense up to take the next step toward elite.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Atlanta expected to be a Super Bowl contender this season. Their lack of success has been partially due to injuries, but the Falcons defense has also fallen flat. Anthony Barr is far and away the best linebacker in this draft class, and would instantly help one of the NFL's worst ranked defenses.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson*
The verdict is still out on whether Mike Glennon is the QB of the future for the Bucs but if they want to find out for sure, giving him weapons will be vital. Tampa could also look into drafting one of the offensive tackles, but Watkins possesses elite ability. Alongside Vincent Jackson, they could be a very effective duo.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Minnesota is in desperate need of some consistency at quarterback. Matt Cassel has performed admirably as placeholder but neither Ponder or Freeman will likely be on the team next season. Derek Carr, the younger brother of David, has been sky-rocketing up the charts with elite play in his senior season. He may not have the arm you look for in a top pick, but he's pin-point accurate and has an elite work ethic.
9. Tennessee Titans: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Rumor is that the Titans will be looking to part ways with Chris Johnson after this season. Whether they keep him or not, his days of being a feature-back in the NFL are likely over. Carlos Hyde has had a monster season at OSU and may be the only workhorse option at running back in this draft. The Titans rely on the ground game for their offensive style to flow, and while they've struggled at it this season. Moving forward with a revitalized rush attack will be a priority.
10. Buffalo Bills: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn**
Robinson's stock has been soaring this season alongside Auburn's return to prominence. He may elect to stay another season, and could be the top tackle off the board in 2015. But if he comes out, he'd be another addition to this elite class of offensive linemen. Adding protection for E.J. Manuel moving forward will be important for his growth.
11. New York Giants: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame*
A real impact player inside, Nix is a space-eater with top level quickness for a big guy. The Giants could use a lot of different positions to try and infuse new energy into their team. However, the staple for them has always been defense, and rushing the passer. Bringing someone like Nix to the table could really help get their pass rush back to what it used to be, and as we all know, a strong pass rush can hide a lot of other weaknesses.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon*
Secondary is a real need for the Steelers. Keeping mostly the same unit together for a lot of years and without the infusion of youth and speed, they've become slow and vulnerable. Ekpre-Olomu is an impact play-maker at the corner position and has emerged as potentially the top defensive back in the draft.
13. New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC*
The New York Jets have been in transition for several seasons now. They've done well, adding several nice pieces on the defensive side, and taking Geno as their potential QB for the future. What they really lack is offensive weapons right now. Lee is a speedster with good hands, adding a few pounds could make him a potentially elite option.
14. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Rams have had one of the more underrated defenses in the NFL this season. They have a ton of talent up front, but their secondary still has some glaring holes that opposing teams have been able to expose. Gilbert could potentially be the top corner in this class and has the ability to develop into a true shut-down corner.
15. Detroit Lions: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida*
Detroit's been looking to upgrade their secondary for a few seasons now, but it hasn't been a complete success. The addittion of Glover Quin hasn't been as successful as they'd liked, and they're relying heavily on Rashean Mathis and Chris Houston, both of which have underperformed this season.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa*
Jerry Jones has shown a lot of interest in improving the offensive line to help Tony Romo and while they've added some talent, their biggest weakness is still at tackle. Doug Free has been a liability as a starter, and Tyron Smith hasn't developed into the elite player they were hoping he'd be. Scherff is big, consistent and the exact sort of tough player the Dallas O-line has lacked.
17. San Diego Chargers: Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson*
San Diego has lost a lot of playmakers in their defense the past few seasons. Beasley has been a defensive end for Clemson, in the NFL his best position would likely be a pass-rushing OLB in a 3-4 defense. He has an special ability to infiltrate opposing offensive lines at will.
18. Green Bay Packers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
A strong year for offensive tackles, Lewan would've been a stand-out last season but his decision to stay another year at Michigan should net him a top ten selection.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama*
Kouandjio may have the most physical gifts of the offensive linemen in this class. The Dolphins need better bookends on their offensive line, and should be searching for a future anchor, especially after losing Jake Long last offseason.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State*
Erving has top-ten talent, if he decides to return to Florida State, he'll likely find himself as one of the top tackles off the board in 2014. However, if he comes out this season, he'd still likely get scooped up in the first round. The Cardinals in recent weeks have been doing a better job of protecting Carson Palmer but they still need a youth infusion at the tackle position.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama*
Every time I see Clinton-Dix's first name, it's hard to not think of Nelson from 'The Simpsons.' All jokes aside though, he's the best safety in this draft. He's a ballhawk, and a leader amongst defensive backs. Philadelphia has completely shifted their approach on defense, and it's been mostly successful. However, their secondary has been a weak spot, and if they're going to continue making strides to get better in the offseason adding some new talent will be essential.
22. Chicago Bears: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Chicago’s secondary has been ravaged by injuries this season, which really exposed their lack of depth at the position. In recent years, their secondary has been the strongest unit on the defense, and if they plan on keeping that going, they’re going to need some fresh legs back there.
23. Baltimore Ravens: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Rebuilding isn't something the Ravens have had to do in a long time, but they've lost a lot of the defense over the past few seasons. Thankfully, the addition of Dumervil has worked thus far for the unit, but if they hope to contend moving forward, bringing youth to the table will be key. Mosley has been a leader for Alabama since his freshman season, he could help fill the void they've had since losing Ray Lewis.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
The Bengals defense has been stellar, but opposing teams have found the holes on their offense. Disrupting Andy Dalton proving an effective strategy. If Cincinnati hopes to continue their offensive sucess, protecting Daulton by adding quality pass-blocker on the inside should be a big consideration. Richardson is the best interior lineman in this class and would fit their offense perfectly.
25. Cleveland Browns (f/IND): Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida*
Bortles has all the tools you look for in a franchise quarterback. His stock has been on the rise all season, and recently he's been targeted by a lot of draft experts as a fringe first rounder. While Jason Campbell has performed well in his short stint as starter, the Browns will be looking for a signal-caller of the future in this year's draft.
26. New England Patriots: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Khalil Mack might be the most complete defender in this draft. He can cover in space, tackle at the line, and possesses good athleticism. The Pats need guys like that in their linebacking corps, he could go a lot higher than this.
27. Carolina Panthers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M**
Steve Smith gets older every season, and the Panthers have still to find an heir apparent at receiver. LaFell has improved and is a solid number two, but adding a player like Mike Evans could become a star as a possession receiver in the NFL.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford
San Francisco... always in position to go BPA. They have a great balance of veteran leadership and youth on their roster at a lot of positions. A lot of scouts are in love with Trent Murphy. A very intelligent player, with good intangibles that just seems to be involved in every defensive play at Stanford.
29. New Orleans Saints: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State*
On talent alone, Jernigan should be a top ten pick. Unfortunately, defensive tackles have had a trend of falling later in drafts, as it's not the sexiest pick to make. Saints need to add run stoppers, and Jernigan is a big guy that could plug up holes for their early in his career.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina*
Ebron is a freak athlete and has been on the rise all season. His skill-set would create a lot more versatility in the Chiefs pass attack. He'd be the best tight end they've had since Tony Gonzalez.
31. Denver Broncos: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida*
Denver's once vaunted secondary is old and have been injury-riddled. They need to address the cornerback position at some point soon, it's been the only true weakness on their team this season.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The Seahawks don't have too many needs. On defense, they're loaded all around, and have a ton of versatility. On offense, one area that they could look to improve on is consistency particularly in the receiving corps. Jordan Matthews has been one of the most consistent WRs in college over the past few seasons and should be a hot commodity come draft day.
33. Houston Texans: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
With the Texans taking Clowney first overall, the Texans will need to look elsewhere to find their quarterback for the future. Mettenberger tearing his ACL should prevent him from rocketing up the charts. He has elite arm strength, depending on how his interviews with teams go and if he can get healthy in time for pro days, he could still find himself as one of the top QBs drafted.
*Non-Senior **Redshirt Sophomore