With both the Senior Bowl and Combine in the books, we’ve reached a perfect time for an updated mock draft. As usual, we’ll go pick by pick to make sure we discuss each pick thoroughly enough, and as usual, we’re assuming I’m the GM, so I’m not making picks based off who I actually think will go where, but rather who I’d take with the slot. And no, no trade scenarios because they’re infinite.
Here’s a quick rundown of our draft so far: no. 1- Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina), no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M), no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville) and no. 4 Cleveland Browns (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M). With the 5th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Oakland Raiders select?
We’ll cut the snarky comments about how bad the Raiders are and just get to the meat of things. Obviously there’s a ton of needs, the biggest of which is QB. As I’ve discussed before, I think there’s only two QB’s in this draft worthy of first round status, so I’m not vastly reaching for Blake Bortles (UCF) here, as much as some fans may want. I’ll look at A.J. McCarron (Alabama), Derek Carr (Fresno St.) and Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) at the top of round two.
With that said, talent and value will dominate the outline of this pick, and if I’m going by my board and who’s left, three main candidates stuck out for this pick: Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn), Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) and Khalil Mack (DE/OLB, Buffalo). In my first mock, I took Robinson here and I’m sticking to my guns once again.
I know the fans desperately want Watkins. I get it. He’s the flashiest player at the flashiest position in the draft, and he’d also fill a need, since we still don’t have a viable number one wideout. Considering I’m going to take a QB in the next round, I need some playmaking targets for him to grow with, so Watkins would make a ton of sense here. But Robinson is a legitimate option for the top pick overall in the entire draft (he’s that good), and also plays a position of need, so this is just too good to pass up.
Robinson absolutely erupted at the Combine, running a 4.92 40-yard dash at 6-foot 5, 332-pounds. He also put up 32 reps of 225 with tree limb-like 35-inch arms, registered almost a 29-inch vertical leap and also a 113-inch broad jump. He’s truly an athletic marvel. And he’s not just a workout monster in the mold of Tony Mandarich– put on the film and you’ll see why he was so highly thought of before he blew everyone away at the Combine.
I’m going to be re-signing LT Jared Veldheer (who just might be the best LT in the game when healthy), so I’ll be putting Robinson at his most natural position on the right side, where his dominating run blocking will shine. He’s got the athleticism and feet to play the blindside, but is still a little raw in pass protection, so if Veldheer gets hurt again I can slide Robinson over to the left if need be.
This bookend set of tackles will truly be the foundation of the offense moving forward. They’ll help keep whichever young QB is taking snaps off his back and bountiful of time in the pocket, plus improve an already strong ground game.
As far as helping out the receiving corps, this draft is loaded with talent. There’ll be first round talent still available in round two, and second round talent still available in round three, and so on and so forth. Plus, if I really want to make some waves, I’ll use some of my $66 million in available cap space to sign free agent WR Eric Decker. That’d give both my offense a big boost while also taking away a top player from my division rival.
With the 6th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Atlanta Falcons select?