Everyone is doing a mock draft, so here is mine. This is the hardest year to predict who each team is going to take. That is due in large part to the uncertainty about the top pick as well as the overall depth in the entire class.
The Minnesota Vikings have the eighth pick, but General Manager Rick Spielman said during his press conference Monday that he, along with every other general manager in the league, is trying to make a trade. He hinted more at moving down and acquiring additional picks more than moving up, but either could happen. Rumors state that he is looking to move up.
My preference for the Vikings, in order, is; outside linebacker Khalil Mack from the University of Buffalo, wide receiver Sammy Watkins from Clemson University, trade down and safety Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley both from the University of Alabama.
Without further delay, here is how I think the first round will go on Thursday.
No. 1 Houston Texans - DE Jadaveon Clowney, South Carolina. It is hard to imagine the Texans would pass on Clowney if they are unable to trade the pick.
No. 2 St. Louis Rams - WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson. The Rams need playmakers and Watkins is the best.
No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Johnny Manziel. The Jaguars need a quarterback and Manziel’s name has been heating up. It could be a smoke screen, but I’ll go with it.
No. 4 Cleveland Browns - OLB Khalil Mack. The Browns have a good defense, but the best player available is a good way to go.
No. 5 Oakland Raiders - WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M. Evans has become a hot name and the Raiders need weapons.
No. 6 Atlanta Falcons - OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M. The Falcons need a reliable player to protect quarterback Matt Ryan. Matthews is the surest thing.
No. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - OT Greg Robinson, Auburn. With Robinson available, this pick could be coveted, but the Buccaneers get better value by taking him than by trading down for more picks.
No. 8 Vikings - DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh. Somebody will want Donald bad enough to trade up with the Vikings to select him.
No. 9 Buffalo Bills - OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan. Perfect scenario for Buffalo, Lewan is going to be a cornerstone for many years.
No. 10 Detroit Lions - WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU. The Lions don’t need another offensive player, but it sure sounds like they want another receiver.
No. 11 Tennessee Titans - CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State. The Titans seem more content on adding cornerbacks through the draft rather than keep the ones they develop.
No. 12 New York Giants - OL Zack Martin, Notre Dame. The Giants need someone to block for Eli Manning. Martin can play just about anywhere on the offensive line.
No. 13 St. Louis Rams - OT Morgan Moses, Virginia. Moses is the best offensive lineman available and the Rams need someone to protect Bradford.
No. 14 Chicago Bears - CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State. The Bears need secondary help.
No. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers - CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech. See above.
No. 16 Dallas Cowboys - S Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama. Clinton-Dix is a sideline-to-sideline ballhawk. Don’t be surprised if the Vikings move down to this spot.
No. 17 Baltimore Ravens - TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina. Ebron could go anywhere between seven and 20.
No. 18 New York Jets - WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State. Cooks would look good opposite Eric Decker.
No. 19 Miami Dolphins - S Calvin Pryor, Louisville. Pryor has been linked to the middle of the first round for a while.
No. 20 Arizona Cardinals - QB Blake Bortles, UCF. The Cardinals can use Carson Palmer for one year and then turn it over to Bortles for years.
No. 21 Green Bay Packers - OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State. Shazier would be a good fit in Green Bay.
No. 22 Philadelphia Eagles - WR Marqise Lee, USC. Lee is a playmaker that could make the Eagles fan base forget DaSean Jackson.
No. 23 Kansas City Chiefs - WR Cody Latimer, Indiana. Latimer has become a late first round commodity and the Chiefs have a need at wide receiver.
No. 24 Cincinnati Bengals - CB Jason Verrett, TCU. Verrett is an immediate impact player and best player available for the Bengals.
No. 25 San Diego Chargers - ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama. The best player available.
No. 26 Cleveland Browns - QB Derek Carr, Fresno State. The Browns have to get a quarterback and Carr is a solid addition in the mid-20’s.
No. 27 New Orleans Saints - OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA. Barr would be a terrific pick for the Saints.
No. 28 Carolina Panthers - WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt. The Panthers need a wide receiver.
No. 29 New England Patriots - DL Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota. The Patriots have been linked to Hageman for a while and the steam has not subsided.
No. 30 San Francisco 49ers - CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State. Roby is a talented cornerback that would fit into the 49ers well.
No. 31 Denver Broncos - G Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA. The Broncos need to add an interior offensive lineman.
No. 32 Seattle Seahawks - DL Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame. The Seahawks can take the best player available.