NFL Mock Draft 1.0

1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney

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The Texans were the biggest disappointment this season in the NFL because they have extraordinary amount of talent. However, after winning the first two games, the Texans went on a 14 game losing streak and claimed the first overall pick. The reason why the Texans faltered was the play from their quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Case Keenum. While Case is young, he does not look like a future franchise quarterback. Matt has been in the league for many years and this season was the worst season of his career. Schaub does not have the skill to lead such a talented team. The 14 game losing streak lost Gary Kubiak his job and he was replaced by Bill O’Brien. Bill has been known as a quarterback guru during his time with the Nittany Lions and Patriots. However, many believe there is not a franchise quarterback in the draft. Although Bortles, Bridgewater, and Manziel have talent and could be franchise quarterbacks, they all have major flaws that should keep teams concerned during the draft. Instead of drafting a possible star at quarterback, the Texans should draft a sure fire star in Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is a freak of nature that has speed, power, and strength. Clowney should be an instant star in the league because unlike other college players he is already the same size as many of the professional pass rushers. With the turf in Falcons, Clowney should dominate the run and record at least 10 sacks per year from the start of his career. In his prime, he may become a 15+ sack man with his speed, skill, and size. The combination of JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney would be a nightmare for any starting quarterback and offensive coordinator. In today’s pass happy NFL, defenses need to provide pressure on the quarterback in order to disrupt offenses and create turnovers. Although it will be difficult to pass on a quarterback at number one, the Texans should not allow Clowney to fall past number one in the draft.

2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson (via Washington Redskins)

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After trading their pick two year’s ago, the Rams were fortunate that the Redskins were the second worst team in the league last year. The Rams are a young team with talent and a bountiful of draft picks in the upcoming draft. The Rams are desperately in need of help on the offense line and wide receiver. If the Rams cannot trade the pick and move down a few spots in the first round, they will either draft Greg Robinson or Sammy Watkins. The Rams need to protect Sam Bradford in order to evaluate if he can be the future quarterback of the team. Although Robinson will not provide the splashy plays like Watkins, he will provide the Rams with a rock on the offensive line that should be able to protect the quarterback for the next 10-15 years in the NFL. Robinson has risen lately up the draft board because of his physical skills and talent. If he continues to impress scouts he may be able to become the number one pick, although it is unlikely. If the Rams do not like Robinson or Watkins at this selection and can move down to 6-10, they may still have the chance to grab one of these players if they fall in the draft. The combination of Robinson and Long on the both sides of the line may be too enticing for the Rams to pass on if they believe Bradford can be the quarterback of the future.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles

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The Jacksonville Jaguars have occupied the abyss of the NFL for the past few seasons and desperately need a franchise quarterback. The Jaguars are the most irrelevant team in the NFL because they are annually one of the worst teams in the NFL and draw the least amount of fans. Over the past few seasons, they have been unable to draft and groom a quarterback to excite the fan base and win games. Their last experiment, Blaine Gabbert, was an extreme bust and they recently traded him for a sixth round pick to the San Francisco 49ers. However, the Jaguars may be in luck this time because their are a few quarterbacks that can change the fortune of their franchise, Bortles, Bridgwater, and Manziel. Although one or even possibly both of them may be gone at three, they will have a chance to draft one of the top three quarterbacks. If Bortles slips to the Jaguars at three, the Jags should not hesitate before drafting the quarterback. Although Bortles may be the most raw quarterback of the bunch, he has the most potential because of his stature and ability. Bortles has prototypical size for a quarterback, has a huge arm, and has the ability to scramble for yards and escape pressure. Bortles would be a great pick for the Jaguars as long as they can give him weapons later in the draft and in free agency.

4. Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater

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The Browns, like the other teams ahead of them, are in need of a quarterback that can provide excite and stability to a team that has given their fans neither over the past few seasons.  Although some are reporting that the Browns will not take a quarterback with the first of the their two first round picks, they desperately need someone that can play well and score points. In the first day of free agency, they added Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner to improve their defense. Unless the Browns believe that Brian Hoyer is the answer at quarterback from the three games he played before injury, they must select a quarterback in the first round with their first draft choice. By the number 4 pick, it is likely that at least one of the quarterbacks will be gone. However, it does not mean that they will be out of luck. Teddy Bridgewater would be a great selection for the Browns. Bridgewater is the most refined quarterback of the trio and should have the most success among the three during his first season. Although Bridgewater does not have the ceiling like Manziel or Bortles because he does not possess the same athleticism, he has the highest floor, which means he will not be horrible with the Browns. At worst, Bridgewater should be a middle of the road quarterback that could lead the Browns to a few playoff appearances with a good supporting cast around him. Although it is unlikely that he will become one of the five best quarterbacks in the league, he should be a top 15 quarterback with similar success like a Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Mathew Stafford, and quarterbacks of that ilk.

5. Oakland Raiders – Johnny Manziel

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Johnny Manziel is the most polarizing prospect in the NFL since Tim Tebow a few seasons ago. Johnny ability to achieve such great success on the field while running into some trouble off the field made him a household name around America. Manziel is an interesting prospect because of his unorthodox playing style. Unlike most quarterbacks, Manziel is short, under 6 foot, and is fairly like for a quarterback, around 200 pounds. However, his playmaking speed and knack for making big plays made him a great collegiate football player. Although many believe he is not big enough to play in the NFL, many think that his intellect and instincts will allow him to become one of the most fascinating and successful quarterbacks in the league.  Manziel has the potential to be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, if he can transition his game from college. Over the past year, Manziel has improved his passing game from the pocket, which will be huge for him if he wants to succeed. Manziel’s offseason work with his quarterback coach should help him improve his comfort inside the pocket so he is more willing to look for his second or third option, instead of running the ball if the number one option is covered. Manziel must learn to slide or get out of bounds if he is going to stay healthy for an entire season in Oakland. If Manziel can improve his weaknesses and transition into a NFL style quarterback, he may become the best quarterback in the draft. Although the Raiders have a young quarterback in Terrelle Pryor, he is not a future star and the Raiders should look toward Manziel, if he is around a 5, to lead them in the future. The Raiders have a proud and strong fan base that desperately wants to win quickly. If the Raiders can put together a strong draft and sign players with their $60 million of cap space, they have enough talent to compete for the last wild card position in the AFC.

6. Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack

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The Falcons were one of the most underachieving teams in the NFL because they had numerous injuries and the defense was horrendous. The two previous seasons, the Falcons were championship contenders because they had a great offense and the defense was respectable. However, last season, the Falcons’ offense fell as Jones and White hurt themselves and Steven Jackson was unable to carry the load in the running game. On defense, the Falcons were no longer respectable because they could not rush the passer and the secondary was not good enough to top the opposing offenses. However, this offseason, the Falcons have already made a push to improve their defense by signing Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai. These additions will improve their pass rush and stop opposing rushing games. However, the Falcons need a pass rusher from the outside. Although the are not high enough to select Clowney, they can still receive Mack. Although Mack did not compete against great competition at Buffalo, he has great skill and size, which should make him a great pass rusher in the NFL. With the turf in Atlanta, Mack’s speed should be heightened and he should disrupt offenses. Mack should eventually become a double digit sack man for the Falcons, which they have not had since John Abrahams in his prime. The Falcons will not longer have to sign stop gaps on the defensive line like Umenyiora.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins

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The Bucs have made a lot of moves this offseason, but they still have a lot of needs. Last season, the Bucs were lead at quarterback by Mike Glennon, who played okay at the position for a rookie. However, they recently signed Josh McCown, who had a great season last year with Chicago and should bring a quality arm to Tampa. If McCown is going to succeed like in Chicago, he will need weapons at wide receiver. Last year, he had Jeffrey and Marshall. Currently in Tampa they only have Vincent Jackson, but the addition of Sammy Watkins would add another great wide receiver. Watkins has the potential to be one of the best wide receivers in the league. Although the Bucs do not have a great need for wide receiver, they cannot afford to pass up Watkins at 7 because he has the potential to go as high as 2 to the Rams. Since he bursted onto the scene as a freshman at Clemson, Watkins has amazed fans and scouts because of his skill, speed, and size. Watkins is clearly the number one receiver in the draft and has been compared to receivers such as AJ Green and Julio Jones. If the Bucs can add Watkins, the Bucs will have a new weapon that will drastically improve their offense and possibly lead them to the playoffs in the difficult NFC South. If the Bucs choose to go a different route, they may select an offensive lineman.

8. Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Barr

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The Minnesota Vikings were a playoff team the season before, but last year they were one of the worst in the league. The Vikings’ defense must improve since their offense does not have a quality quarterback, many weapons at wide receiver, and Adrian Peterson cannot run forever. Since there is not a great quarterback on the board at 8, the Vikes should look at the defensive side of the ball in order to improve their team. After a few great seasons in Minnesota, Jared Allen will be leaving the Twin Cities. Allen has been one of the best pass rushers in the league over the last decade. The Vikings need to reproduce his production and Anthony Barr has the ability to help Vikings’ fans forget about Allen. Barr is an extremely fast and talent pass rusher that should succeed immediately in the NFL. Like Clowney and Mack, Barr should be at least a 10 sack man in the NFL and should be a dominant pass rusher over the next decade. If the Vikings do not select Barr, they may look at an offensive lineman, like Matthews, trade down, or reach for a quarterback like Derek Carr.

9. Buffalo Bills – Jake Matthews

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The Bills have been improving over the past few seasons and will be looking to make the next step this season or the following season. EJ Manuel looked like a quality quarterback for the Bills last season when he was healthy. However, this situation was rare because their offensive line was not very good and he was consistently hit by opposing defenders. The Bills need to improve their offensive line so that they can keep Manuel upright in the pocket and provide lanes for Spiller and Jackson on the ground. Until Manuel becomes more experienced, the running game must lead the Bills’ offense if they want to score and win games. Jake Matthews should be the guy for the Bills because he will help solidify the line. Like Greg Robinson, Matthews is a big, strong, and talented lineman that should be able to play for the Bills for the next decade. If the Bills do not go for an offensive lineman, they may look for a tight end or a linebacker like Barr or Mack if one of them fall to them at number 9.

10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert

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The Detroit Lions have an extreme amount of talent and should be able to be perennial playoff contender because they have talent at almost every position. The Lions have a very good offense because they have a good quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, and running back. The Lions need to stop recording turnovers if they are going to become a great offense. On defense, they have great players on the defensive line, which helps them apply pressure on the quarterback. However, they need a better secondary and linebackers. By drafting Justin Gilbert, the Lions will be able to solidify one of their cornerback positions. Gilbert was great last season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys and should be able to excel in the NFL. Gilbert has great size, speed, and hands, which allows him to make plays in the secondary. Gilbert should intercept numerous balls because of the pressure provided by the defensive line. Besides Gilbert, the Lions may look at the wide receiver position if they do not sign one during free agency.

11. Tennessee Titans – Darqueze Dennard

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Until Jake Locker was lost for the season due to a shoulder injury against Mo Wilkerson and the Jets, the Titans were playing great football because they were forcing turnovers without giving the ball away too often. Although the Titans desperately need another running back since they want to release Chris Johnson, there are no first round running backs for the Titans. The Titans need some help at the skill positions, which may allow them to draft a wide receiver or an offensive lineman. However, if the Titans are going to continue recording turnovers, the Titans need to grab a corner. This offseason, the Titans already lost their star corner Verner, who was an interception machine. Dennard has great speed and should be able to cover the best wide receivers in the AFC South. With the wide receivers on the Colts and Texans, the Titans must have enough corners that can defend all the different wide receiving options. If Locker can put everything together this year in a make or break year for himself, the Titans may have a chance to beat out the Colts for a playoff position in the AFC.

12. New York Giants – Taylor Lewan

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Although the Giants entered the 2013 season with a lot of hope and hype, they never were able to play at their full potential. Thus, the team lost many games and finished the season under 500. The Giants offense was suppose to be one of the best in the league with two great wide receivers , a Hall of Fame quarterback, and a young fast running back. However, everything failed as the offensive line was unable to protect for Eli Manning or create running lanes for the running backs. Unfortunately, the team became one dimensional, but their passing game was not very effective because Manning was consistently rushed and he could not find open receivers, which resulted in one of his worst seasons as a professional. Although the Giants improved their interior line with a few cheap free agents, they need a young tackle opposite Justin Pugh, 2013 first round pick, to create stability on the line. The Giants could put Lewan, one of the best prospects in this draft on the left side and slide Beatty to one of the guard positions. Lewan is a big and fast offensive lineman that should be able to succeed at the next level. Since his early days at Michigan, he has been regarded as one of the top tackles and linemen in the whole country. At 12, the Giants would be drafting a quality player in Taylor Lewan. If they decide to go a different route, they could draft CJ Mosley, a middle linebacker, since their linebacker play has been subpar over the past few seasons.

13. St. Louis Rams – Mike Evans

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After drafting an offensive lineman with their first pick, the Rams need to address their wide receiving issue with their second first round pick. Since the departure of Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, the Rams have not had a wide receiver that put fear into opposing secondaries around the league. Although Bradford has not experienced much success during his time in the NFL, he has not been given many weapons to use at his disposal. The addition of Mike Evans would give the Rams a future number one receiver that will excel in the red zone and be great for the quarterback. Mike has great size which allows him to jump over opposing wide receivers and gives Bradford a huge target. Evans had a great combine, which propelled him into a top 15 prospect and possibly a top 10 draft pick. Although Evans will never have the break away speed, he will be very good for the Rams, who desperately need playmakers to complement Tavon Austin, last year first round pick and a major disappointment.

14. Chicago Bears – Aaron Donald

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The Bears were only one game from making the playoffs last season, but they did not have the defense to win that game. Last year, the Bears were a juggernaut on offense because they had talent at every position. The Bears had a very good running, a solid quarterback, and one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. The Bears offense was rarely held to under 25 points, but their defense barely stopped their opponents from scoring 25 points. The Bears biggest problem was the inability to stop the run. The Bears linebackers were horrible because of the loss of Urlacher and Briggs. Along with the poor linebackers, the Bears interior defense was not very effective. The addition of Aaron Donald would be a great addition for the Bears. Donald is a fast rising player that should be the number one defensive tackle taken in this year draft. Donald was one of the best lineman last season and should be able to continue his success in the NFL because of his skill and play making ability.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Odell Beckham Jr.

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After starting the season with multiple losses, the Steelers played great football for the last half of the season and they almost made the playoffs. The Steelers offense has been changing from a ground and pound team to a team that throws the ball all over the field. The Steelers may be losing a few of their secondary wide receiver weapons. The Steelers will need more wide receiver options if they are going to continue their great offense. Currently, the Steelers have a great wide receiver in Antonio Brown, but they do not have another great option for Big Ben. The addition of Odell Beckham will give the Steelers another physically gifted and talented wide receiver. Odell had a great combine, which boosted his draft stock. Odell has size and speed to be a number one or a top number two in the league. In college, Beckham showed that he could run the deep routes and the interior routes around the middle of the field. If the Steelers do not want a wide receiver, they could reach for a corner or offensive lineman or draft a tight end.

16. Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan

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The Dallas Cowboys have been one of the most consistent teams over the past few seasons. However, they have been a consistent 8-8 team and have not made the playoffs in many seasons. The reason the Cowboys faltered was because of their horrible defense. The Cowboys’ defense was one of the worst in NFL history last season because they could not stop anyone on the ground or in the air. The Cowboys need to add at lot of talent on defense through the draft and free agency. The Boys desperately need a new defensive tackle if they cannot resign Jason Hatcher in the offseason. Jason Hatcher was great for the Cowboys last season and was their best player. The Cowboys also lost DeMarcus Ware, which means they need more talented bodies on the line to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Jernigan is one of the most talented defensive players in this class because he has one of the best bodies and physical skill in the draft. Although Jernigan may be a bust according to many draft experts, the Cowboys need to take a risk on this player because they need a defensive leader and star on the line, after the departure of Ware.

17. Baltimore Ravens – CJ Mosley

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The Ravens were one of the multiple of teams that could have made the playoffs during the last week of the playoffs. After the Ravens won the Super Bowl, they lost many players on defense that caused their team to not make the playoffs for the first time in the Flacco-Harbaugh era. The Ravens lost Ray Lewis and have been unable to replace his spirit and product on defense from the linebacker position. Unlike previous Raven defenses, the Ravens did not strike fear into their opponents and did not force their opponents to be one dimensional. The addition of a top linebacker will help the Ravens become a top run defense again. Mosley would instantly become the starting interior linebacker and could drastically improve the Ravens defense. Mosley was a standout defender on the Alabama defense, which was the best in the country. Mosley was taught by Saban, one of the best defensive coaches in football. Although Mosley may not have the same effect as Luke Kuechly, he should be able to improve the Ravens’ defense so they do not have to score many points next season.

18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron

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The Jets are desperate for offensive weapons. Last year, the best skill player they had on their roster was Jeremy Kerley, who is a good slot receiver. The Jets need to add at least 3 players at wide receiver or tight end this offseason. So far, the Jets have signed Eric Decker to a significant contract. However, the Jets cannot be done because Decker is only a number two receiver. Currently, the Jets starting tight end is Eric Cumberland. Although Cumberland is a nice player, he is not a starter. The addition of Eric Ebron at 18 would be great for the team. Ebron is like the new tight ends who are physical freaks and are impossible for defenders to guard. Ebron cannot be defended by a corner because he is too big or a safety because he is too fast. Ebron would be great for Geno Smith because he is a big target that should be able to get open and make big plays for the Jets next season. If the Jets do not draft Ebron, they should select a wide receiver.

19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin

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The Dolphins’ offensive line has undergone a lot of changes due to the Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito situation. The Dolphins had one of the worst offensive lines in the league as Ryan Tannehill was consistently feeling pressure and was on the ground. Toward the end of the season, the constant pressure definitely hurt Tannehill’s confidence and the Dolphins lost their last two games and lose their playoff hopes. Although the Dolphins signed Branden Albert to a big deal this offseason, the Dolphins need another good offensive lineman to protect their young quarterback. The addition of Zack Martin would be great for the Dolphins. Although Martin is not rated as highly as the other top tackles, he should be an above average tackle or guard in the league for the next decade for the team. With extra time in the pocket, Tannehill will have time to throw deep balls to Mike Wallace and give running lanes to the future running backs. Later in the draft, the Dolphins need to look for a few running backs because they currently do not have much talent at the position.

20. Ryan Shazier

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The Cardinals were one of the most underrated teams in the league this season and almost made it to the playoffs in the hardest division in football, NFC West. Although he was not great, Carson Palmer was a solid quarterback. Besides a solid running back, the Cardinals have  great weapons at wide receiver. If one of the top four offensive tackles falls in the draft to the Cardinals, the Cardinals should draft the tackle because their offensive line is very inconsistent and does not have much talent. However, the tackles will probably be gone so the Cardinals should draft an edge rusher. The Cards do not have young quality pass rushers to apply pressure on Russell Wilson or Colin Kapernick. The addition of Ryan Shazier would have been great for the Cardinals because he is a talented edge rusher and should have provided benefits to the Cards. Shazier was an extremely productive player for Ohio State and should be able to continue his production with the Arizona Cardinals.The addition of another quality defensive player could catapult the Cardinals over the top in the NFC West and possibly secure a Wild Card position in the tightly contested NFC.

21. Green Bay Packers – HaHa Clinton-Dix

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The Packers were one of the most unlucky teams in the league because of injuries. The Packers lost many players including their All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers and their starting tight end Jermichael Finley. Although they lost a lot of talent, the Packers were able to make the playoffs and almost beat the 49ers in the first round of the playoffs at Lambeau Field. Although the Packers have great offensive talent, they need a tight end because of the loss of Finley and Quarless to free agency. If Ebron lasts to the Packers, they should be quick to drafting him because he has a lot of talent and would add more to the potent Packers offense. However, it is unlikely he will stay until the 21st pick in the draft. The Packers should be looking for ball hawk safety that can create turnovers. The Packers were able to win the Super Bowl a few seasons ago because they were able create many turnovers and give Aaron Rodgers more possessions. The addition of HaHa Clinton Dix would be great for the Packers. Clinton Dix was coached by the best defensive coach in college football and should be able to use his instincts, skill, and size to force turnovers, like Charles Woodson at the end of his career. The combination of Clinton Dix, an improved defense, and Aaron Rodgers could lead the Packers back to the promise land and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to the Frozen Tundra.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – Calvin Pryor

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The Eagles were one of the most surprising teams in the NFL because last year they were picking number four last season. Last season, the Eagles’ offense was one of the best in the league. After Mike Vick was lost for the season, Nick Foles became the starting quarterback and the offense exploded. Shady McCoy was great, the wide receivers were fantastic, and Nick Foles rarely turned over the football. Although the Eagles drastically improved their team, their defense needs to improve if they are going to take the next step forward. The Eagles should be looking at the draft to improve their defense. The Eagles desperately need a safety and Calvin Pryor would be a great addition to the team. During his time in Louisville, Pryor showed that he could be an effective safety in the NFL. If Pryor can become a leader at safety like Brian Dawkins in Philly, the Eagles may return to their successful defense.The improved defense and the talented offense should be able to lead the Eagles deep into the playoffs.

23. Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee

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The Chiefs were the biggest surprise in the NFL last season as they were the worst team in the league, but this season they made the playoffs. The Chiefs defense was very effective for most of the season, but toward the end of the season they were injured and tired. The Chiefs pass rushers were unable to stay healthy, which exposed their porous cornerbacks. In addition, the cornerbacks played extremely physical and took many chances. Along with the poor secondary, the Chiefs desperately need to improve their weapons on the outside. Last season, they were only one dimensional because Bowe did not live up to his number one receiver contract. However, the addition of Lee will give the Chiefs another great weapon on the outside. Lee has very good speed and he is a talented route runner. Lee would be a great addition to the team and give Smith more options than just Charles.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Jason Verrett

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The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the best defenses in the league, but their secondary occasionally does not perform well, which hurts the defense. In today’s NFL, team’s must have multiple talented and quality corners that can defend opposing wide receivers because the league is becoming more pass happy and the quarterbacks are throwing the ball more often. Last year, the Bengals had okay corners, but they are rising in age and need fresh legs in the back field. The addition of Verrett will significantly improve the Bengals’ defense. Verrett is a young and talented corner that should become a number one corner in the future. At TCU under Gary Patterson, Verrett thrived and made numerous big plays all over the football field. Although he does not have great height, he is fast and has excellent ball skills and agility.

25. San Diego Chargers – Kyle Fuller

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Although it seemed that the Chargers were completely out of the playoff picture, they snuck up on many teams and came away with the last Wild Card position. The Chargers were able to thrive this season because of the resurgence of Phillip Rivers and Ryan Mathews. Rivers was able to regain his success because of the emergence of rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen, who was amazing throughout the season. Mathews also had a solid year, which made the Chargers’ offense more than a passing offense. Although the offense was superb, the defense was inconsistent throughout much of the season. Last season, the Chargers’ corners were not very good because they did not have much talent. However, the addition of Kyle Fuller will immediately improve the unit as a whole. Fuller is one of the best cover corners in the draft. Fuller is a bigger corner with quality speed and great playmaking ability. Although he was rarely on the big stage, he produced and made big plays for the Hokies’ defense this season. If the Chargers do not go with a corner, they should select a nose tackle to bolster their defensive line. A player like Louis Nix would clog up running lanes, while providing occasional pressure up the middle.

26. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr (via Cleveland Browns)

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The Vikings are desperately in need of a future quarterback. Although the Vikes do not have a second first round pick this year, it is likely they will look to trade into late in the first round, if they do not grab a quarterback with their first pick. The Browns should be looking to trade the pick because they need more picks in order to get more quality players. The Browns need a running back, but there is no running back worthy of a first round pick. The Vikings could give the Browns their second and third round pick in exchange for the 26th overall pick. During the Vikings’ trip to the playoffs the previous season, Christian Ponder was playing quality football which allowed Adrian Peterson to run free without 8 men in the box. Although Derek Carr may not have an immediate impact, he should be an average starter in the NFL in the future. Carr recorded great numbers during his time in Fresno State. Carr has a great arm and should be able to make all the required throws in the NFL. However, Carr must learn how to play from under center because he will be handing the ball off and using the play action pass more often with the Vikings.

27. New Orleans Saints – Dee Ford

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The New Orleans Saints’ defense was one of the most remarkable story in the NFL last season. In 2012, the Saints had the worst defense of all time because they allowed the most yardage in NFL history. Rob Ryan was able to motivate the defense and improve the pass rush, especially Cam Jordan, which made the Saints’ defense one of the ten best in the league. Dee Ford would add another great pass rusher to the Saints’ defense. Dee showed during the Senior Bowl that he is a dynamic and fast pass rusher that will record double digit sacks. Although Dee will probably start as a situational pass rusher, he should be very effective for Saints because they need more defensive talent. The Saints need to have a good defense so they have a great regular season and have home playoff games, unlike last season. Ford should be able to maximize his speed in New Orleans on the turf field. It is unlikely that the Saints will look at the offensive side of the ball because the offensive unit has been one of the best since Sean Payton and Drew Brees came together in Who Dat nation. If the Saints want to surprise people, they may draft a wide receiver because Colston is getting older and they do not have another top wide receiver for Brees.

28. Carolina Panthers – Brandin Cooks

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The Panthers were a great story last season after playing poorly at the beginning of the season. The Panthers took a major step forward because their defense was fantastic and scared many opposing offenses. The Panthers are led by the defense, but specifically their all world linebacker Luke Kuechly and a very good linebacker in Thomas Davis. This offseason, the Panthers re-signed their defensive linemen because their defensive line provided constant pressure and was one of the best units in the league. In the draft, the Panthers should look at the secondary and the wide receiver position. The Panthers lost two of their top wide receivers, Smith and LaFell. Newton needs more help on the outside and Brandin Cooks should be a great addition for the team. Cooks has great speed and showed that he could be an extremely effective wide receiver during his time with the Beavers. The Panthers may take Bradley Roby if they decide to pass on Cooks or another wide receiver.

29. New England Patriots – Louis Nix

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The Patriots have been one of the model franchises over the last decade, but they have not been able to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots were unable to win last season because they did not have the defense to stop Peyton Manning and their offense did not have the necessary talent to win the Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots have been major spenders this offseason and signed Darrelle Revis, Brandon LaFell, Brandon Browner, and Julian Edelman. However, all of the spending has angered star defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Wilfork was hurt last season and played less than half of the season. Wilfork has been one of the best defensive players in the league over the past decade and does not want to take a paycut or restructure his contract. If the Patriots are forced to release Wilfork, they need to draft a new defensive tackle. Louis Nix would be great for the Patriots because he is a big strong tackle and should be able to stuff the run and provide pressure up the middle. Nix has proven that he can play against the best during his time at Notre Dame and is ready to lead a defense like New England. Besides Nix, the Patriots may look at a linebacker because they lost Brandon Spikes and need fresh talent at the position.

30. San Francisco 49ers – Kelvin Benjamin

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The San Francisco 49ers were only one catch away from going to the Super Bowl and possibly winning the Super Bowl. The 49ers have made three straight conference championships, but have not won a championship. The 49ers have needs at wide receiver and cornerback and should address these issues during the draft. The 49ers looked at many wide receivers during free agency, but were unable to lure the free agents into the Bay Area. However, the addition of Kelvin Benjamin would be great for the Niners’ and Colin Kapernick. Kelvin is a big, physical, and strong wide receiver that showed he can be a big time number one receiver during his time with the Winston and FSU. Benjamin would add a deep threat for the Niners. The combination of Davis, Benjamin, Boldin, and Crabtree may be enough to beat the Seahawks because the Niners would have 4 very good and talented wide receivers.

31. Denver Broncos – Kony Ealy

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.00.42 PM

Although the Broncos were the second best team in the league, they have made many new transactions this offseason in order to win the championship. The Broncos’ offense was statistically the best in NFL history because Manning was amazing, the wide receivers were great, and the running back were effective. However, in the Super Bowl, the Broncos could not score on offense and the defense could not stop the Seahawks. During the offseason, the Broncos have made it a priority to improve their defense. Through the first couple of days, they have signed Talib, Ware, and Ward, but they have failed to address their issues at linebacker. The Broncos need to add more physicality on defense and on the offensive line. The addition of Kony Ealy will improve the Broncos’ defense. Like Ware and Miller, Ealy will add more pressure on quarterbacks, which will create interceptions and errant passes. Ealy is a very good prospect from Missouri and the Broncos should quickly select the linebacker with the 31st overall pick. If they do not select Ealy, they should select an offensive lineman that is known to be physical. If the Broncos add physical players, they have a great chance at beating the extremely physical teams like Carolina, San Francisco, and Seattle.

32. Seattle Seahawks – Jace Amaro

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.01.09 PM

The Seattle Seahawks, unlike many other championship teams, have been able to keep many of their supporting cast from their championship team. The Seahawks were able to win last season because they were extremely physical and talented on defense. The Seahawks would destroy opposing teams mentally and physically because they were not afraid to hit opposing players. On offense, the Seahawks do not have a lot of weapons on the outside, but it complements their running game. Lynch is an absolute beast and Wilson has taken the next step as a quarterback. However, the Seahawks need more weapons on the outside to help Wilson because they may lose a number of wide receivers. The addition of Amaro will be great for the Seahawks because he is a big and talented weapon. Amaro should be the second tight end off of the board because he is one of the new tight ends that are impossible to defend. The Seahawks want to repeat and the addition of Amaro will significantly help their chances because of the skill and potential he possesses at tight end.

2nd round

33. Houston Texans – Jimmy Garoppolo

34. Washington Redskins – Stephen Tuitt

35. Cleveland Browns – Carlos Hyde

36. Oakland Raiders – LaMarcus Joyner

37. St. Louis Rams – Bradley Roby

38. Tampa Bay Buccanners – Austin Seferian Jenkins

39. Jacksonville Jaguars – RaShede Hageman

40. Cleveland Browns (via Vikings) – Xavier Su’a filo

41. Buffalo Bills – Chris Borland

42. Tennessee Titans – Morgan Moses

43. New York Giants – Carl Bradford

44. St. Louis Rams – Zach Mettenberger

45. Detriot Lions – Troy Niklas

46. Pittsburgh Steelers – Brandon Thomas

47. Dallas Cowboys – Dion Bailey

48. Baltimore Ravens – Marcus Martin

49. New York Jets – Jordan Mathews

50. Miami Dolphins – Tre Mason

51. Chicago Bears – Jimmie Ward

52. Arizona Cardinals – Bashaud Breeland

53. Green Bay Packers – Kyle Van Noy

54. Philadelphia Eagles – Trent Murphy

55. Cincinnati Bengals – Jeremiah Attaochu

56. San Francisco 49ers – Marcus Roberson

57. San Diego Chargers – Davante Adams

58. New Orleans Saints – Allen Robinson

59. Indianapolis Colts – Trevor Reilly

60. Carolina Panthers – David Yankey

61. San Francisco 49ers – Weston Richburg

62. New England Patriots – Paul Richardson

63. Denver Broncos – Keith McGill

64. Seattle Seahawks – Martavis Bryant

NBA Mock Draft 1.0

By: Evan

As March Madness approaches and the NBA playoff picture becomes clear, prospects are trying their best to impress scouts so they can hear their name called by commissioner Adam Silver. This draft class has been hyped since the summer,  and now we are starting to appreciate why franchises may be willing to “tank” for high draft picks.  It is rare to have 4-5 franchise players in the top 10, as well as other talented players projected to fall to the mid teens.  GMs have their work to do.  Here is my mock draft, which is subject to change based on draft position (#1-#21 from position standing on 3-3-14 and #22 to end from 3-13-14) and whether players will declare for the NBA draft.

1.) Milwaukee Bucks- Joel Embiid (Center- Kansas)

Joel Embiid has too much potential to pass up Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com
Joel Embiid has too much potential to pass up
Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the Pick:  Joel Embiid came into his freshmen season as the mystery of the Kansas Jayhawks’ recruiting class, overshadowed by the talent of Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins.  Now, Embiid has emerged as one of the best players in the country. Scouts  compare him to a young Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the best centers of all-time with a litany of vicious post moves that would stun defenders. Embiid has earned this comparison(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Irvvb7Y4-w) and might be a better defender than Olajuwon was when he was at Houston. Embiid’s numbers don’t shout superstar as he only averages 11.4 ppg and 8 rpg but what drives the interest is his upside — he can become the best center in the NBA.  And savvy evaluators know Embiid  has to compete currently for shots with Wiggins and Selden, two prolific wing players with NBA futures themselves.

How does he fit the Bucks: Embiid may have a tough rookie season as he would need to adjust to playing more physical centers and the attention he would attract as the main scoring option. The Bucks also have Larry Sanders, a defensive player who takes up most of the paint and would leave Embiid fighting for position. The Bucks could try to trade Sanders but his poor performance this season combined with his hefty contract makes him an unattractive option. If the Bucks can deal Sanders, then Embiid would likely flourish and  reach his Olajuwon-like potential.

2.) Philadelphia 76ers- Andrew Wiggins (Forward- Kansas)

Andrew Wiggins isn't the next Lebron but that doesn't mean he can't be a star.  Courtesy of Ballislife.com
Andrew Wiggins isn’t the next Lebron but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a star.
Courtesy of Ballislife.com

Why the Pick: If the 76ers land at number 2 and Wiggins is still available, expect them to sprint to the podium to make this pick. Now Wiggins came to college with unfair expectations, drawing comparisons to LeBron James and Kevin Durant, the two best players in the NBA.  As the season has progressed, we are starting to see why these comparisons were made.  Watching Wiggins drop 41 on West Virginia, (where he played high school ball), he showed a full array of offensive moves and defensive tenacity.  His athleticism is off the charts, and at the absolute worst, Wiggins will be able to guard  premier wing players in the NBA.  Some question his motor but Andrew has shown that when the lights get bright, he won’t disappoint.   He tends to have his best games in the biggest games.  Everyone will be watching Kansas during the tournament,  and it won’t surprise me if Wiggins takes over and proves why he is the best player in America.

How he fits: With Michael Carter-Williams as the front runner for ROY (Look at Jon’s article for his predictions on the major NBA awards) and Nerlens Noel recovering from a torn ACL, the 76ers would have one the youngest cores in the NBA.  And given the pitiful 76er season, Wiggins would undoubtedly create excitement in the city of brotherly love.  Wiggins would immediately become the primary scorer and expected to average between 18-22 ppg. If Brett Brown can tap into Wiggins’ potential, the Sixers could be for real very soon.

3.) Orlando Magic- Jabari Parker (Forward-Duke)

Parker will bring a offensive  repertoire that is unparalleled.  Courtesy of CBSPORTS.com
Parker will bring a offensive repertoire that is unparalleled.
Courtesy of CBSPORTS.com

Why the Pick: The Magic need a franchise player who can score and Parker would help solve this problem as he can score in bunches. He can face up and bring players to the outside and  body smaller players down low with his 6’8 235 lbs frame. Averaging 19 and 9, Parker can take over a game with his ability to knock down shots and take pressure off bigs on the defensive glass. Parker also brings leadership and a high basketball IQ  that has impressed scouts. Future potential is a great asset, but being able to contribute immediately is Parker’s calling card.  Parker is a game changer and the Magic need immediate help.

How he fits: Parker would step into the 3 spot and establish himself as the main scoring threat. With Victor Oladipo and Arron Afflalo at the wings, things could get crowded but Afflalo only has 1 year left on his contract so he can be moved on draft day. With the defensive threat of Oladipo and the offensive prowess of Parker, the Magic would improve and have a solid nucleus of talent.

4.) Boston Celtics- Julius Randle (Forward-Kentucky)

Julius Randle is strong and should be a force down low. Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com
Julius Randle is strong and should be a force down low.
Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the pick: Julius Randle is probably the best equipped to deal with the NBA’s physical punishment of the top like picks as he stands 6’9 250 lbs. Randle is  extremely athletic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt8pMZ7Gg-M) and shoots well from about 15-20 ft. He doesn’t shoot as much at Kentucky because of the perimeter-oriented players like the Harrison twins and James Young. There is no doubt that Randle could be a double-double machine in the NBA and may develop into a primary scorer.

How he fits: With the coaching ability of Brad Stevens and the return of Rajon Rondo, Randle should be just fine in terms of having success in his rookie year.  Imagine a Rajon Rondo/Julius Randle pick and roll, with Rondo’s ability to get into the lane if the big comes out and switches, combined with Randle’s size against a smaller guard.  This duo could be potent.  Boston would still be in rebuilding mode though as they have numerous holes to fill.

5.) Utah Jazz- Gary Harris (Guard-Michigan State)

Gary Harris is exactly who the Jazz need to make the next step. Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Gary Harris is exactly who the Jazz need to make the next step.
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Why the Pick: The Jazz have a nice young nucleus with Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, but they lack a defensive stopper. Gary Harris is a tremendous two-player who could guard the elite playmakers in the West. He averages 17.7 ppg and 2 spg for the Spartans but his numbers don’t encompass his true value as Harris is asked to take all the big shots for Coach Izzo and he  creates shots by himself. This is an important quality for any two-guard as scoring in the NBA won’t always be generated from a drawn-up set.

How he fits: Alec Burks is a good offensive player but he is nowhere near the overall player that Harris is, hence why Harris would start on the currently constructed Jazz team. Come crunch time, Tyrone Corbin should feel comfortable throwing Harris on the opposing teams’ best player.

6.) Los Angeles Lakers- Dante Exum (Guard-Australia)

Dante Exum is an unknown to many basketball fans, but he could become the star of this draft. Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com
Dante Exum is an unknown to many basketball fans, but he could become the star of this draft.
Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the Pick: Sorry Lakers fans, the Kobe days are dwindling and they will need an heir to the franchise. Enter Dante Exum, the slim guard from down under. Exum is a super-quick combo guard who, standing at 6’6 is a nightmare for smaller guards. He can also pass, making him an even more intriguing prospect. He needs to work on his shot and his time training with the renowned Tim Grover (trainer of MJ, Kobe and D-Wade) should be beneficial. If Exum falls this far, there is no doubt the Lakers should take him.

How he fits: This draft process could be interesting as Exum is represented by Rob Pelinka, Kobe’s agent and rumors are swirling that Exum wants to end up in LA. All that hoopla aside, Exum will be a secondary type of scorer but learning from one of the most prolific scorers in history of the NBA shouldn’t hurt. After Kobe’s days are done, look for Exum to assert himself as the Lakers’ superstar.

7.) Denver Nuggets (Pick from Knicks)- Marcus Smart (Guard Oklahoma State)

Marcus Smart would fill the 2 spot for the Nuggets Courtesy of Draftexpress.com
Marcus Smart give the Nuggets a legitimate 2 guard.
Courtesy of Draftexpress.com

Why the Pick: Even though Smart has had a down sophomore season, make no mistake his talent is off the charts. He can penetrate and finish at the rim and is a tenacious defender. He is also a vocal leader, evident by his invitation to last years’ Team USA summer camp. Frankly, the overreaction to Smart’s incident in Texas Tech is disappointing and I don’t think his stock will be impacted by the incident. He desperately needs to work on his outside shooting and even if he becomes a 45% percent shooter, his game will improve.

How he fits: Smart is deadly on the fast break and Denver currently averages 100 offensive possessions, best for 3rd in the NBA, making Smart a perfect fit for Brian Shaw’s up-tempo style. Smart won’t have the pressure of being the main scorer as Ty Lawson has that covered. Smart should start though, as the Nuggets don’t have a real threat at the two-guard position.

8.) Sacramento Kings- Aaron Gordon (Forward-Arizona)

Could Gordon be the missing piece to the Kings' puzzle? Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com
Could Gordon be the missing piece to the Kings’ puzzle?
Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the Pick: Gordon, like Wiggins was given an unfair comparison, this time comparing Gordon to Blake Griffin. While the two are both supremely athletic, Blake was much more refined in college and now has become a top 10 player in the NBA. Gordon can rebound, play defense on the perimeter and is a terrific passer in the post. His shot needs work, but his outside game will never be the focal point of Gordon’s success. Gordon also has a hot motor, a value overlooked by many fans.

How he fits: The Kings have a boatload of individual talent in Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Derrick Williams and DeMarcus Cousins but the wins are coming. Gordon won’t put up gaudy stats in  his rookie year but he will definitely provide the necessary intangibles to win games. He reminds me of another Wildcat, Andre Iguodala, who never put up ridiculous stats, but has been a team leader and can defend the other team’s best player.

9.) Cleveland Cavaliers- Rodney Hood (Forward-Duke)

Rodney Hood could be the perfect fit with fellow Dukie, Kyrie Irivng. Courtesy of ESPN
Rodney Hood could be the perfect fit with fellow Dukie, Kyrie Irivng.
Courtesy of ESPN

Why the Pick: With Luol Deng going to test free agency and LeBron not thinking about going back home, the Cavs are going to need a scoring wing player. Hood has a strong offensive array, combing individual moves with the ability to come off of Duke’s typical sreen-action. He is shooting 48 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from the three and has played a tremendous secondary role for Duke. He needs to work on his defense, which is strange for a Duke player  from the Coach K system, but with more time and good NBA coaching, he should improve.

How he fits: Hood probably will be a third option on a good team, but for the Cavs he could be the second option behind Kyrie. The Cavaliers could use a knock-down shooter to reap the kick-outs of Kyrie’s driving prowess and Hood fits. Hood doesn’t have the potential as some of the previous prospects, but he should be good for 15-18ppg for his career, making him a safe pick for the troubled Cavaliers.

10.) Philadelphia 76ers (Pick from New Orleans)- Zach LaVine (Guard UCLA)

Zach LaVine could vault up draft boards if UCLA has a good tournament. Courtesy of UCLABRUINS.com
Zach LaVine could vault up draft boards if UCLA has a good tournament.
Courtesy of UCLAbruins.com

Why the Pick: The 76ers could change their franchise if New Orleans falls out the top 5 (part of the protection of this pick) and LaVine would provide an even more athletic piece to this team, already loaded with young talent. LaVine can shoot although he is a bit streaky evident by his 14 games with less than 10 points yet he has 8 games with over 15 points. These numbers don’t scream lottery pick, but his potential is worth the risk for the Sixers. He shoots 40 percent from behind the arc, and averaging a steal per game, LaVine does play both ends of the courts.

How he fits: LaVine can handle the ball, which would enable Michael Carter to play off the ball more and since LaVine can shoot he would open up driving lanes. Just imagine a Michael Carter Williams, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young and Nerlens Noel lineup, not bad at all. The 76ers like to push the tempo, which would allow  the super-athletic LaVine to get out on the break and finish at the rim.

11.) Charlotte Bobcats- James Young (Guard- Kentucky)

James Young has the potential to be a all-star shooting guard. Courtesy of Yahoo Sports
James Young has the potential to be an all-star shooting guard.
Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Why the Pick: James Young can flat out get buckets, and if he didn’t play for the Kentucky Wildcats, he would surely be averaging over 14.4 ppg. He has elite size for a two guard, standing at 6’6 with a 6’11 wingspan, meaning he will be able to get up shots on the NBA level. He needs to work on his defense but the size and instincts to become a solid perimeter defender are there, evident by his five steals in his last five games.

How he fits: Every team needs at least two scorers who can create for themselves and there is no doubt that Young would be able to fit this role in Charlotte. If he learns from the best player in the history of the game in MJ, James Young could have an advantage over the other prospects listed above him. It wouldn’t surprise me if Young became a 20+ scorer in due time.

12.) Orlando Magic (Pick from Nuggets)- Noah Vonleh (Forward- Indiana)

Noah Vonleh could flourish in Orlando bringing terrific rebounding and a developing post game Courtesy of Insidethehall.com
Noah Vonleh could flourish in Orlando bringing terrific rebounding and a developing post game
Courtesy of Insidethehall.com

Why the Pick: Noah Vonleh came into Indiana as the next must-see player in Hoosier basketball and he has lived up to the hype. He averages 11.4 ppg and 9.1 all while shooting over 50% from the field. He has a nice inside-out type game and can shoot from 3, despite his hesitancy to do so. Vonleh also has a solid power forward sized body, standing 6’10 240 lbs, which means he should be able to play against the elite power forwards in NBA.

How he fits: Now that “Big Baby Davis” is gone, the Magic could use help at the power forward position. Vonleh would be given time to develop as a scorer as he could leave the scoring to Jabari (see above). There is no doubt that Vonleh can rebound and with his evolving offensive game, he could develop into a solid starter and maybe make an all-star team or two.

13.) Minnesota Timberwolves- Doug McDermott (Forward-Creighton)

Doug McDermott could be the perfect fit if Kevin Love should leave the Wolves. Courtesy of CBSSports.com
Doug McDermott could be the perfect fit if Kevin Love should leave the Wolves.
Courtesy of CBSSports.com

Why the Pick: Doug “McBuckets” McDermott is probably the safest NBA prospect as he will always be able to score the basketball. With over 3,000 points in his Creighton career, Doug is currently 7th on the list of all time college scorers. He has a bevy of offensive moves as he can use his big body in the post and can shoot from outside, with a 3pt shooting percentage of 45%. The NBA has a propensity to draft players with potential, and there is no doubt that McDermott deserves a lottery selection.

How he fits: In the caption I said that McDermott could be the perfect fit should Kevin Love leave the Wolves. This is not saying that McDermott will be the next Kevin Love, rather McDermott has a similar playing style as a stretch 4 that can shoot the three. McDermott could learn the game sitting behind Love and should Love leave during free-agency, McDermott could step in and contribute.

14.) Memphis Grizzlies- Jerami Grant (Forward-Syracuse)

Jerami Grant could be a nice pick for the Grizz, providing an immediate defensive presence and an evolving offensive game. Courtesy of NCAA.com

Why the Pick: Jerami Grant is a NBA-ready athlete that uses his athleticism to beat opposing wings at the college level. Grant can shoot from the midrange but needs to work on his 3-point shot, which is essential for a small forward. He can defend using his 7’2 wingspan and knows defensive rotations as he leads from the back line of Syracuse’s famed 2-3 zone.

How he fits: Sure the Grizz could use some more perimeter oriented offense to combine with Z-Bo and Marc Gasol, but Grant has too much potential to pass up. As his offensive game evolves, Grant could become a 15 ppg player who provides tough defense to guard the opposing team’s best wing player. As Tony Allen primarily defends smaller and quicker point guards, Grant could lock down forwards, making for a dynamic defensive duo.

15.) Atlanta Hawks- Tyler Ennis (Guard-Syracuse)

Tyler Ennis is #15 now, but that could change in the coming weeks. Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the Pick: Tyler Ennis is a killer, he is calm under pressure (this has been said a billion times) and has led Syracuse to a 27-4 record this year and possibly a number one seed should the Orange win the ACC title. Ennis serves as a pass first point guard, looking for others to score then taking his own shots. Averaging 5.5 assists per game along with only 1.7 turnovers a game, he is showing why he is a lead candidate for the Bob Cousy award. He is not an elite athlete and with so many explosive players at the point guard position, the questions remains whether Ennis can handle the faster guards.

How he fits: The Hawks don’t need a point guard seeing as they drafted Dennis Schroder last year and just signed Jeff Teague to an extension, there is always room for improvement and I believe Ennis is a significant upgrade. Teague’s contract is relatively friendly with only $24 million owed for the next three years, making it a movable piece for the Hawks. If Ennis could be paired with Paul Milsap and a healthy Al Horford, the Hawks could be in business. The problem is if Ennis has a spectacular tournament, his stock will rise and will probably be off the board before the Hawks have a chance to get him. Ennis is a good bet to be the player picked later in the draft that turns out to be a top-5 player in the class.

16.) Chicago Bulls- (Pick from Charlotte) TJ Warren (Forward-North Carolina State)

TJ Warren is exactly who the Bulls need to help them take the next step. Courtesy of ESPN.com

Why the Pick: TJ Warren is a “bucket getter” averaging 24.7 points per game while shooting 53 percent from the field. He took a tremendous leap from his freshmen year where he only averaged 12 ppg and now he is the ACC Player of the Year. Warren does have his pitfalls as he doesn’t have the athleticism of an ideal NBA wing player and is really more a scorer.

How he fits: Warren fits perfectly, the Bulls need instant offense and a shot creator to come off the bench. Under Tom Thibodeau’s defensive system, Warren’s defensive weaknesses can be covered, allowing him to flourish on the offensive side of the ball. Warren would also work well with Derrick Rose as he can come off screens and spot up and shoot. The Bulls should be drooling if Warren falls to them at this spot.

17.) Boston Celtics (Trade from Brooklyn Nets)- Kyle Anderson (Guard-Forward UCLA)

Kyle Anderson would be a tremendous addition to Celtics, serving as the heir to the Rajon Rondo era. Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the Pick: Kyle Anderson aka “Slow-mo” is as advertised, slow yet patient, never allowing an opponent to change his pace. Anderson improved from his freshmen year, his scoring went from 9.7 ppg to 15ppg, his assist from 3.5 to 6.6 and his field goal percentage from 41 percent up to 48 percent. He does have some turnover issues at 3.5 per game but UCLA runs a fast pace offense under Steve Alford averaging 72.7 possessions per game, making the turnover numbers greater. Anderson also possesses terrific size, standing at 6’9 he is bigger than all NBA point guards, making for a better view of the court, a plus for teams looking for point guards.

How he fits: Rajon Rondo looks to be on the outs as Danny Ainge tried to trade him at the trade deadline and there have been reports that Rondo is not happy with Boston’s plan to rebuild. Kyle Anderson would fit well, probably earning the starting point guard spot should Rondo leave. With the recent success of Michael Carter-Williams, Anderson might be a prime target for teams looking for a bigger guard. Anderson, like Ennis, could rise if he impresses during tournament time.

18.) Phoenix Suns- Montrezl Harrell  (Forward- Louisville)

Montrezl Harrell is exactly who the Suns need to defend the premier 4s in the Western conference. Courtesy of NBCcollegebasketballtalk.com
Why the Pick: As the NBA draft gets down towards the late-teens, teams look for situational-role players. Harrell fits the mold of a solid big defender who can guard in the post. A bit small at 6’8, Harrell has a massive 7’4 wingspan that should serve him well going up against the likes of Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin,  and all the other potent bigs in the Western conference. Harrell has a limited post-up game that needs significant improvement, but that is not his calling card as Harrell uses his athleticism to create easy layups and dunks. 

How he fits: With a guard oriented team like the Suns, Harrell won’t have to worry about scoring a prolific rate in order to be effective. The Suns are in desperate need of a lock-down post defender and in time, I believe Harrell could become just that. Combined with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, Harrell could feast off of lobs from the two-point guard system. Harrell should be a quality NBA player for the Suns and could be an elite defender.

19.) Chicago Bulls- Nik Stauskas- (Guard-Michigan)

Nik Stauskas would be another viable offensive weapon for the Bulls. Courtesy of ESPN.com

Why the Pick: Nik Stauskas is a shooting machine who can light it up from 3-point land, averaging 2.4 3pt baskets per game while shooting a tremendous 45 percent. He also can shoot off the dribble, making him even more of an outside threat. Stauskas has good shooting guard size at 6’6 but he needs to improve his defense given his size. Stauskas reminds me of Klay Thompson without the defensive instincts.

How he fits: Kyle Korver. Mike Dunleavy Jr. Both have had success in Tom Thibodeau’s system and I believe Stauskas could play the younger and more athletic role of both of these aforementioned players. Combined with TJ Warren, the Bulls could have a lethal scoring duo from the bench. There is a possibility that the Bulls maybe trade the two picks for a higher selection so the Bulls might not be able to get both players.

20.) Toronto Raptors- CJ Fair (Forward-Syracuse)

CJ Fair could be the stretch 4 that the Raptors need to give more room to Jonas Valanciunas in the post. Courtesy of USAToday

Why the Pick: CJ Fair is a talented senior who has improved every year he has been at Syracuse going from a 6 point scorer freshmen year to a 17 point scorer this season. He has a tremendous midrange game and can even shoot the occasional 3 point shot. He is also a solid defender who has good lateral quickness but lacks power forward size. Although Fair doesn’t have size, the league is changing and stretch fours are becoming more and more popular, making Fair an attractive candidate to teams who need more shooting.

How he fits: Massai Ujiri came to Toronto because he saw the promise of DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas and viewed them both as franchise players. DeMar has clearly taken that step with the departure of Rudy Gay and now Jonas needs to take the same step. The problem is Amir Johnson primarily plays in the post, clogging up room for Jonas to operate. With CJ Fair, the Raptors could give Jonas more room in the post and have CJ as a potential 15 foot jump shooter. 

21.) Oklahoma City Thunder- Adreian Payne (Forward-Michigan State)

Adreian Payne is exactly who the Thunder need to provide scoring and toughness off the bench. Courtesy of Huffington Post

Why the Pick: Adreian Payne is the cornerstone of the Michigan State program and is obviously the leader on the court and in the locker room.  Add Payne to an already very positive and vocal locker room, and the chemistry is enhanced. On the court, Payne can stretch the floor and can play some defense against bigs but he needs to be more focused on both sides of the floor.

How he fits: Payne could be the heir apparent to the wily veteran Nick Collison and would likely serve a limited reserve roll for the Thunder. The Thunder have a nature of rotating rookies in and out of the D-League and then give them a bigger role in their sophomore campaign. If Payne fits the system he will probably ride the pine for his first year, yet emerge as a talented back-up later on.

22.) Phoenix Suns- PJ Hairston (Guard-Texas Legends)

PJ Hairston is a good fit in Phoenix and could be a key contributor off the bench. Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the Pick: PJ Hairston minus his recent off the court trouble could have been a lottery pick, and maybe a possible POY candidate in the ACC. Make no mistake Hairston is talented, equipped with an effective outside game and NBA-type size, he is in perfect position to play the two-guard. In the D-league, defense is poor and some of Hairston’s stats are inflated but he is still showing why he was the best player on North Carolina last year.

How he fits: Gerald Green has found himself a nice niche in Phoenix, but his contract expires after next year and he could look to take a more lucrative offer elsewhere, leaving room for Hairston. Hairston most likely will rotate between the D-League and the NBA during his rookie year, but he could be a significant piece in his sophomore year.

23.) Utah Jazz- Chris Walker (Forward- Florida)

Chris Walker hasn’t played much at Florida but he has enormous potential. Courtesy of Fansided.com

Why the Pick: Chris Walker was one of the best high school players in the nation last year, but he sat out the beginning of this year with academic issues. Walker is extremely athletic on both sides of court and can change the course of the game with his mere presence. Though talented, Walker is raw and his mid-range game needs significant work and development.

How he fits:  Utah has one of the youngest teams in the NBA and they are clearly in rebuilding mode, so Walker would probably have the opportunity to make an impact his first year. Walker would probably back-up Derrick Favors but given playing time he could force himself into the starting lineup. Walker has tremendous talent and even reminds me of a rawer version of Amar’e Stoudemire.

24.) Charlotte Bobcats- Willie Cauley-Stein (Center-Kentucky)

Willie Cauley-Stein could be the perfect compliment for Al Jefferson. Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the Pick: Willie Cauley-Stein is a prolific defender, who might just be a better shot-blocker than Anthony Davis but his offense is a work in progress. He is also extremely athletic, which helps him dominate in the paint. If Cauley-Stein can improve the post-game he could be a quality NBA center.

How he fits: Charlotte would be a tremendous fit for Cauley-Stein, as he could play next to Al Jefferson and primarily focus on the defensive side of the floor. The Bobcats are a nice, young team and Cauley-Stein would be another good addition.

25.) Los Angeles Clippers- Wayne Selden (Guard-Kansas)

Wayne Selden would challenge J.J Redick for the Clippers’ starting 2 guard spot. Courtesy of CBSSports.com

Why the Pick: Wayne Selden has one of the most NBA-ready bodies, standing at 6’5 230lbs with a knack for getting to the rim, he could vault up draft boards with a strong NCAA tournament. Selden is also improving his outside game, a necessity if a player wants to survive as a two-guard in the NBA. His defense could improve as well as his shot selection but Selden is a solid prospect with nice upside.

How he fits: The Clippers tried to bring in two shooters in JJ Redick and Jared Dudley in the offseason and both have disappointed. Jamal Crawford is getting older and the Clippers could use another young, talented player like Selden to bolster their bench and possibly start alongside CP3.

26.) Houston Rockets- Glenn Robinson III (Forward-Michigan)

Glenn Robinson III is a big-time talent but his inconsistent play has dropped him on most draft boards. Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Why the Pick: Glenn Robinson III (son of “Big Dog” Robinson) has all the talent to be an NBA player, he has great size and tremendous athleticism and can shoot, but it doesn’t seem like he can put it together all at the same time. He is consistently inconsistent, which is infuriating to watch because he is such a talent. GR3 could be another player who could help his draft stock with a big NCAA tournament.

How he fits: Chandler Parsons is going to be a free agent after next summer and being a second round-pick he is probably going to cash in big time. There are rumors that the Rockets could target Carmelo Anthony during the offseason, leaving the Rockets with little to no cap room for Parsons, so this makes GR3 an ideal fit, seeing as he has the potential to be another Chandler Parsons as he can shoot it and can play defense.

27.) San Antonio Spurs- Clint Capela (Forward-Switzerland)

Clint Capela needs to develop and San Antonio could be the perfect place for him. Courtesy of DraftExpress.com

Why the Pick: Many have compared him to a young Serge Ibaka, a prolific defender with great size who needs to learn how to play the game in an NBA system. Granted, my access to Capela is limited but from the scouting tape he looks like an NBA player who could contribute as a back-up defender on a contending team.

How he fits: The Spurs are nearing the end of their run, yet Coach Pop always has a tendency to develop the unknown player and turn them into a contributor. With Capela, Pop would have a nice interior defender who can run the floor and provide solid minutes when Duncan or Splitter is out.

28.) Miami Heat- Mario Hezonja (Guard-Croatia)

Mario Hezonja is regarded as one of the top international prospects and should the big three break up, he would become the next two guard. Courtesy of ESPN.com

Why the Pick: Hezonja is another prospect who I have to use film to watch, when I did watch his tapes I saw a player who has tremendous range and good size at 6’7 to play either the 2 or the 3. He needs to improve on the defensive end if he wants to be a solid player in the NBA,  but the talent is there.

How he fits: Hezonja will most likely be a Euro-stash pick who would stay in Spain and play more and then receive a buy-out in a couple of years. With the Heat wanting to re-sign the big 3, Hezonja will likely be coaxed into staying the Spain for a couple of years until the Heat figure out their cap situation.

29.) Oklahoma City Thunder- Jahii Carson (Guard-Arizona State)

Jahii Carson could mean the end of the Derek Fisher era in OKC. Courtesy of ESPN.com

Why the Pick: Jahii Carson is small, but he has a bulldog mentality, constantly attacking the rim, regardless of the size of his defender. He also is a willing passer, evident by his 4.5 assists per game. Defending bigger point guards is going to be a problem but his elite quickness should help some.

How he fits: I have no idea why Derek Fisher is still getting minutes in an NBA game, but Carson could put an end to this foolishness if he were drafted by the Thunder. Frankly, the Thunder need another ball when Reggie Jackson is on the floor and Carson would be serviceable.

30.) Phoenix Suns- Semaj Christon (Guard-Xavier)

Semaj Christon is just who the Suns need to backup Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Why the Pick: Semaj Christon is one of the most underrated players in college basketball, as he can play the 1 and the 2 for the Musketeers. He is a terrific ball-handler and is capable of scoring for himself while also working inside the flow of the offense. His size is a question mark as he only weighs 190 lbs. He can shoot from deep, but he is still a work in progress.

How he fits: Jeff Hornacek has done a tremendous job with the Phoenix guards, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic and rookie Archie Goodwin has shown promise and Christon could be the same way. The fast pace at which Phoenix plays fits right in with Christon and he could be a nice back-up for Bledose and Dragic.

Conclusion: This draft is a pivotal piece for the growth of teams and with so many teams trying to “tank”, the emphasis on this draft is highlighted even more. The hype has been a bit overstated as it was compared to the legendary ’84 and 03′ drafts, but make no mistake, this draft has extraordinary potential.

Top NFL Free Agents on Offense

By: Prad

 

This year’s free agent class might not be filled with many big name talents but certainly boasts much depth at some critical positions. Something also important to note is that the salary cap for NFL teams has risen from $123 million in 2013 to $133 million this year.  After last year’s lack of many big time  contracts look to see more this offseason with the inclusion of a greater salary cap and deeper talent.

Note: Parentheses denote current team

 

Quarterbacks

QB Michael Vick may not be willing to accept a backup role Courtesy of USA Today
QB Michael Vick may not be willing to accept a backup role
Courtesy of USA Today

1) Michael Vick (Eagles)

In a weak QB free agent class compared to years past, Vick controls his fate and has the ability to make some decisions. For one of the first times in his career, he may be underrated by GMs around the league. At the age of 33, Vick still possesses his signature arm strength and athleticism. Initially, Minnesota showed interest in him but that soon disappeared after inking QB Matt Cassel to a two year deal. At this point, the most plausible option for Vick seems to be the Jets. They have a clear need for improvement at the position with QB Geno Smith offering very little for the future. But no team will be willing to offer him a long term deal with his advanced age. Whoever decides to sign him may be able to salvage a few good seasons.

2) Josh McCown (Bears)

McCown proved that he is worthy of a starting job after QB Jay Cutler went down with a groin injury for five games last season. In Cutler’s absence, McCown threw for 1,829 yards and a TD to interception ratio of 13:1 in eight games (five games started). He has stated that he is willing to leave Chicago for a starting job somewhere else. Tampa Bay is a good fit because he has a good chance of beating out QB Mike Glennon for the starting Buccaneers job.

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3) Matt Flynn (Packers)

The most important part of his decision is whether or not he is willing to remain in a backup capacity or wants to vie for a starting role. Last season, he won both games he started in QB Aaron Rodgers’ absence. He provided stability for the Packers, which was something hard to come by with QB Scott Tolzien. His best fit is with Green Bay because he fits well into Mike McCarthy’s offensive system. He experienced far less success in Seattle, Oakland, and Buffalo in the last couple seasons.

 

Running Backs

RB Courtesy of The Denver Post
RB Knowshon Moreno won’t be leaving Peyton Manning anytime soon
Courtesy of The Denver Post

1) Knowshon Moreno (Broncos)

Coming off the best season of his career in Denver, Moreno is sure to garner a lot of interest. Perhaps overshadowed by Peyton’s monster numbers in the Broncos’ offense, Moreno put up  1,038 yards and 10 TDs on the ground with 548 yards through the air on 60 catches. At the beginning of the season, he was in a competition with RB Montee Ball and RB Ronnie Hillman for the starting job, but by season’s end he had a firm grasp on the starting running back position. He’ll probably be best suited for Denver in the end because of his adaptability in Manning’s offense.

2) Darren McFadden (Raiders)

The injury bug has kept McFadden from breaking out in the past with Oakland. The talented back has missed approximately three to five games each season. McFadden had two of his most successful seasons though under current Bengals Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson. He had 11 rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns and 2,432 total yards of offense in those couple seasons. This has led to speculation of him signing with Cincinnati to revitalize his career.

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3) Maurice Jones-Drew (Jaguars)

The current MJD is nowhere near as explosive or durable as the MJD of a couple years ago. He has failed to rush for 1000 yards since his 2011 campaign two years ago. This can be partially attributed to his frequent ankle, hamstring, and knee injuries. Yet, he also averaged a career low 3.4 yards per carry last season. The Jags do not seem to be interested in his services in the future with them failing to aggressively chase after him. They will most probably offer him a two year deal but Jones-Drew has said that he wants something longer. He will not garner that much interest in the market, so I predict he will actually return to Jacksonville with a more limited role in the offense.

 

Wide Receivers

WR Eric Decker doesn't warrant the money he's asking Courtesy of Bleacher Report
WR Eric Decker doesn’t warrant the money he’s asking
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

1) Eric Decker (Broncos)

Decker has been exceptional with Peyton Manning under center in Denver. In the past two seasons with Manning, Decker has caught 172 receptions for 2,352 yards to along with 24 touchdowns. His production as a No. 2 WR in the offense behind WR Demaryius Thomas make his numbers look even more impressive. The biggest problem with him appears to be his financial demands. His target deal is $10 million a year, but very few teams will be willing to offer that to any great receiver. And “great” may not be a suitable adjective for Decker despite his recent production. Although, he wants to be a No. 1 WR with a team, he’ll most probably end up being a No. 2 alongside a superior wideout such as WR Josh Gordon in Cleveland.

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2) Hakeem Nicks (Giants)

The talented Nicks has allowed inconsistency and injuries to deter him to become just an average receiver when he had the potential to become an exceptional one. He failed to register a single touchdown reception in the 2013 season with the G-Men. His statistics the last couple seasons (failing to reach at least 60 receptions or 900 yards in either season) point to a player lacking any sort of motivation. He has also never played a full 16 game season. Any team that wants to sign Nicks is certainly taking a risk, but the reward still remains in question. If they can get pre-2012 Nicks production, then he is definitely worth a mid-level contract.

3) James Jones (Packers)

In the last couple seasons, James Jones has recorded 17 touchdowns. One of the biggest redzone threats in the NFL is actually one of the quietest talents in the league. His production cannot be understated as a No. 2 receiver. He’ll also come to teams relatively cheap and with low demands making for a great team player. A few teams have expressed interest in signing Jones and I think he will eventually fall to Detroit. In the Lions offense, he can be a potent No. 2 receiver behind the league’s best in Calvin Johnson. With the help of Megatron, Jones will be able to remain consistent in a new environment.

 

Tight Ends

TE Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Is TE Jermichael Finley worth the gamble?
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

1) Jermichael Finley (Packers)

TE Jimmy Graham would definitely be #1 on the list if it weren’t for the Saints applying a franchise tag on him. TE Dustin Keller would also be very high on this list if he hadn’t just missed an entire season recovering from a torn MCL, ACL, PCL, and a dislocated knee. Nevertheless, Finley top this list because of he provides a team with a very talented big target. In 2011 and 2012, Finley caught 116 passes for 1,434 yards and 10 scores. He’s coming off a season in which he suffered a terrible neck injury but should be completely healthy and prepared for next season. There is certainly tremendous upside but teams must ask themselves if he’s a risk worth taking.

2) Brandon Pettigrew (Lions)

Pettigrew is an enigmatic talent to say the least. He has enough raw talent and blocking prowess to become one of the best at his position. However, his drops and lack of route running have forced him to become an average player. His inefficiency has led to him being undervalued by GMs around the NFL but some teams would be content to have him as a weapon. His best option is the Giants who are in great need for a tight end to help the offensive line block for Eli and the running game.

3) Garrett Graham (Texans)

Last season, the young talent out of Wisconsin had 49 receptions for 545 yards and five scores in his first year with extended playing time. After starting TE Owen Daniels battled injuries all of last season, Graham was able to fill his spot smoothly. The recent release of Daniels also indicates the Texans desire for Graham to stay with the team. Look for Houston to sign him to a long-term deal soon.