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NFL mock draft: Johnny's on the (top) spot

Solid pro day by Texas A&M quarterback puts him at No. 1.

April 05, 2014|By Sam Farmer
  • Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's impressive pro day performance helped propel him to the top Sam Farmer's latest mock draft.
Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's impressive pro… (David J. Phillip / Associated…)

What a difference a (pro) day makes.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had a great one, consistently hitting his receivers in stride. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater did not, struggling with his timing and accuracy in a choreographed on-campus workout that NFL scouts traditionally expect to be polished and seamless.

Manziel is the top pick in this mock draft, and Bridgewater tumbles out of the first round. That's based not only on the players' pro day performances, but also on the seismic shift of free agency, in which teams such as Oakland and Tampa Bay addressed (at least for the time being) their pressing need for help at quarterback.

Opinions will continue to shift and evolve right up to the start of the three-day NFL draft, which begins May 8.

•1. HOUSTON — Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Manziel's polished pro day turned a lot of heads. Bill O'Brien has worked with smaller quarterbacks and has indicated he has no concerns about that.

•2. ST. LOUIS — Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: This is not a pressing need for the Rams. But they use three and sometimes four defensive ends, and Clowney could be a once-in-a-generation talent.

•3. JACKSONVILLE — Blake Bortles, QB, UCF: Quarterback Chad Henne would love to see the Jaguars take Sammy Watkins here, and they just might, although Bortles could round into a long-term answer at the position.

•4. CLEVELAND — Watkins, WR, Clemson: The Browns are sorely lacking offensive weapons, and Watkins would pair nicely with Josh Gordon.

•5. OAKLAND — Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: Having signed free agent Matt Schaub, the Raiders satisfied their immediate need for a quarterback. With 31-year-old Kevin Burnett on the back end of his career, Oakland needs another impact linebacker.

•6. ATLANTA — Greg Robinson, T, Auburn: Matt Ryan was under crushing pressure last season, and the Falcons need to upgrade in the trenches.

•7. TAMPA BAY — Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: If the Buccaneers don't take a defensive end or offensive tackle, they could go quarterback, even though they signed free agent Josh McCown. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has known Carr since Derek was 5.

•8. MINNESOTA — Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: With Jared Allen gone, the Vikings are in desperate need of a defensive playmaker. Barr fills the bill.

•9. BUFFALO — Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M: Even though they had the No. 2 running game last season, the Bills lacked punch in short-yardage situations. A top-shelf tackle is on their wish list, as is a big receiver.

•10. DETROIT — Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: The Lions were 23rd in pass defense last season and need to address a secondary that lost safety Louis Delmas to Miami.

•11. TENNESSEE — Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Dennard could help lessen the sting of losing cornerback Alterraun Verner. If Barr is still on the board, though, the Titans would be hard-pressed to let him slide by.

•12. N.Y. GIANTS — Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Both the Giants and Jets are interested in Ebron, the top tight end in this class and a versatile player who has drawn favorable comparisons to San Francisco's Vernon Davis.

•13. ST. LOUIS — Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan: Jake Long suffered two torn ligaments in his right knee at the end of last season and might not be ready for the start of the 2014 season, so that further amplifies the Rams' need for a tackle.

•14. CHICAGO — Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: Chicago had the league's worst run defense last season, and with DT Henry Melton now in Dallas, the pressure is on to rebuild at that spot.

•15. PITTSBURGH — Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: Emmanuel Sanders (Denver) and Jerricho Cotchery (Carolina) left in free agency, meaning the Steelers are without last season's Nos. 2 and 3 receivers. The signings of Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey aren't likely to pick up all that slack.

•16. DALLAS — Zack Martin, T, Notre Dame: The Cowboys could play Martin at either guard spot during his rookie season, then move him to right tackle to replace Doug Free, who is in the last year of his deal.

•17. BALTIMORE — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama: The Ravens have moved Matt Elam, their top pick last season, from free safety to strong safety. That leaves a vacancy in the secondary and no clear answer about who can fill it.

•18. N.Y. JETS — Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Lee has the potential to develop into a No. 1 receiver, and the Jets need that. The addition of Eric Decker helps, although he's more of a No. 2.

•19. MIAMI — C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: If the supply of offensive tackles has run dry — and it has in this mock — the Dolphins could reach for the best available player. They have invested a lot in linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Weaver, yet haven't gotten big dividends.

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