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), no. 4 Cleveland Browns (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M) and no. 5 Oakland Raiders (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn). With the 6th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Atlanta Falcons select?
This really came down to three guys: Khalil Mack (DE/OLB, Buffalo), Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) and Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan). Mack would be a tremendous value here and bring the elite young pass rushing presence our defensive line has been looking for even since we took Jamaal Anderson 8th overall in 2007. Watkins needs to be considered here just because of the value, and could potentially replace Roddy White opposite Julio Jones in the near future. But in the end, the holes on the offensive line are just too great to ignore, so I’m going with Lewan.
Yes, I know we also have just as big of a hole inside at defensive tackle, especially with three looming free agents in Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry and Corey Peters. But sixth overall is way too high for the likes of Louis Nix (Notre Dame), Ra’Shede Hageman (Minnesota) or Aaron Donald (Pitt). I’m going to re-sign Babineaux and Peters and look for Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina) or Dominique Easley (Florida) at the top of round two.
Lewan was very impressive at the Combine, running a jaw-dropping 4.87 40-yard dash at 6-foot 7, 309-pounds. For comparison’s sake, Florida State running back James Wilder ran a 4.86. Imagine that: an offensive tackle from Michigan is as fast as a running back from Florida State. Lewan also measured nearly 34-inch arms, 9 1/4-inch hands, 29 reps of 225 on bench and a 9-foot 8 broad jump. In the drills he was equally as impressive, showing excellent feet and good knee bend. We already knew he was a ferocious run blocker from film and a solid pass protecter, but with his measurables you have to be confident in his ability to play the blindside.
We have major issues on the offensive line and last year made that abundantly clear. Aside from LG Justin Blalock, I don’t have a ton of confidence in anyone we have. LT Sam Baker, who signed a head scratching six-year deal last March, is coming back from surgery on his knee, and we don’t know what kind of player he’ll be when he returns. Even if he returns fully healthy, Lewan would be a major upgrade, and I could push Baker over to the right side.
Adding a potential franchise blindside protector like Lewan would do wonders for a team already teeming with talent. He’d certainly improve our ridiculous 32nd-ranked rushing attack, and also help buy QB Matt Ryan more time in the pocket.
With the 7th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select?