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), no. 5 Oakland Raiders (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn), no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan), no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson), no. 8 Minnesota Vikings (Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State), no. 9 Buffalo Bills (Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo), no. 10 Detroit Lions (Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M), no. 11 Tennessee Titans (Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA) and no. 12 New York Giants (C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama). With the 13th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the St. Louis Rams select?
We already took Matthews with the second pick overall, and he’ll lock down the right side until I let LT Jake Long go after the season. Recently re-signed Rodger Saffold will move inside to his more natural OG position, and could slide back out next year when Matthews swaps sides. With that said, we have some flexibility with this pick, and have a number of solid options.
In the end, I had to go with Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix (FS, Alabama). I’ve already got a lot of solid pieces in place in our secondary with CB’s Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins, and T.J McDonald, our third rounder from a year ago, looks like he could be a long term starter at SS. FS Rodney McLeod did a nice job last year and wasn’t a liability, but Clinton-Dix would be a huge upgrade.
Clinton-Dix is the latest in a long line of elite defensive backs hailing from Nick Saban’s pro factory in Tuscaloosa. He’s got good length, reads and diagnoses plays and routes quickly, has good anticipation skills and a good nose for the ball. He’s the best cover safety in the draft, and that says a lot. Good cover safeties are hard to find; hard hitting safeties aren’t. I’m always baffled at the market for hard hitting safeties, because they’re so common. Good cover men aren’t, so when you have a FS like Clinton-Dix on the board at 13, ya take him.
This wasn’t a slam dunk though as there were a couple of other strong options here. There’s a lot of talented wide receivers I thought about here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume one of the many talented but underperforming receivers we already have are going to take the next step in their development. Plus, the receiving class is so deep I can still get a first round talent in round two if I really want.
DT’s Aaron Donald (Pitt) and Ra’Shede Hageman (Minnesota) were also decent options here. Donald would provide some interior pass rush to go with star DE’s Robert Quinn and Chris Long, and Hageman is the most athletic defensive lineman in the entire class outside of Clowney. Either would pair nicely next to Michael Brockers, and would give us a solid rotation with Kendall Langford (until I cut him after this season).