2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new May 6 version
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: After months and months of speculation as to who would be drafted No. 1 overall, the same thing most everyone thought a year ago at this time is true: Clowney is the best player in this draft.
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: There’s a late push for wide receiver Sammy Watkins at this spot to give Sam Bradford a legit weapon, but Jeff Fisher historically prefers substance over flash.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: The 2011 NFL Draft had certain “can’t miss” QBs at the time in Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder. The Jags took Gabbert then, and likely don’t want to get burned early with a QB again. Mack is a safe choice here.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: The latest rumor is that the Rams are highly interested in Manziel. Maybe if he falls to No. 13, but it’s highly unlikely that the Browns, Raiders and Vikings will pass on Johnny Football.
5. Oakland Raiders – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: As we’ve said in the past few mocks, the “Raiders way” hasn’t worked since George W. Bush’s first term. The old Raiders would have taken Sammy Watkins here in a heartbeat. This pick will show a lot about the direction in which this franchise is going.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF: No, Matt Ryan isn’t being replaced. Unless Greg Robinson, Khalil Mack or Jake Matthews fall here, expect the Falcons to trade down to one of the many teams desperate for a franchise QB.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: Lovie Smith brought in a pair of defensive tackles in Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson in his first draft with Chicago. But the Bucs’ need at wide receiver appears to be too great for Smith to go defense.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Blake Bortles is the new “It guy” in Minnesota, but every team can’t be down on Bridgewater. There’s a chance the Vikings could trade down and still select Bridgewater, but this team is in no position to take risks.
9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: Lewan isn’t a finished product, but his strength and size aren’t going anywhere. The Bills would be smart to select the best available offensive lineman here.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: For the third straight mock, we have the Lions taking Gilbert with the No. 10 overall pick. The Lions have plenty of corners on their current roster but none of them are game-changers. Gilbert could be.
11. Tennessee Titans – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: Many mocks are going with Derek Carr here for the Titans, but Tennessee could still grab the Fresno State QB late in the first or early in the second through a trade.
12. New York Giants – Zack Martin, G, Notre Dame: The Giants will likely look to the offensive side of the ball here, but the real question is, how do they want to help Eli Manning? A receiver or tight end is tempting, but Martin would be more of a sure thing.
13. St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: Clinton-Dix’s NFL.com draft profile says “the hype exceeded his performance in Tuscaloosa.” It also says he will be a “Day 1” starter. The Rams wouldn’t be asking Clinton-Dix to be a Pro Bowler; they simply need NFL-caliber bodies in the secondary.
14. Chicago Bears – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: We again go with Pryor at No. 14. The Bears have a need at strong safety and is one of those secondary players who is described as a “strong open field tackler” – a lost art for defensive backs.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Dennard is a distant third cousin of Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who despite off-field issues looks on track to be a fixture in the Pats’ secondary. This Dennard is even more decorated coming out of college.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA: The Cowboys are already screwing with Barr. During a visit, new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wanted to make him a defensive end. He might be right, but all Dallas decisions should be questioned until further notice.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: Baltimore had no choice but to ink Joe Flacco to his monster deal last year. Now they have no choice but to give him more and more capable receivers.
18. New York Jets – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: Cooks posted one of the fastest 40-yard dashes in the history of the combine (4.33 seconds). Imagine him on a field with Chris Johnson and Michael Vick?
19. Miami Dolphins – C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: The Dolphins obviously need an offensive line overhaul, but the big guns in this draft will likely be gone by the time Miami makes its pick. The Dolphins could also use some run defense help, which Mosley would help solve.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: Donald is on the fringe of a top 10 pick in most mocks but, in most mocks, someone has to fall. This isn’t a knock on Donald – he has all the tools to be a dominant force on a defensive line for years to come.
21. Green Bay Packers – Ryan Shazier, Ohio State, LB: Shazier had back-to-back seasons with over 115 tackles at Ohio State. Safety is Green Bay’s biggest need but with Calvin Pryor and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix gone, the Pack looks at a different defensive level.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Cody Latimer, Indiana, WR: Latimer wasn’t thought of as a first rounder too far back, but the “experts” have given the 6-foot-3, 215-pound wide out some late credit. A bonus: He’s a tremendous blocker in the open field.
23. Kansas City Chiefs — Marqise Lee, USC, WR: Nearly everyone has the Chiefs taking a receiver at No. 23. The question is, which one? Lee’s strength is his route-running and could give Alex Smith another weapon next to Dwayne Bowe and A.J. Jenkins.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: The cornerback roulette in this draft, particularly late in the first round, is going to be fascinating. Expect the Bengals to nab Kyle Fuller, Bradley Roby or Verrett here.
25. San Diego Chargers — Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: Roby wants to go to San Diego and seems as though he knows a good deal of recent Chargers history, telling U-T San Diego: “It’s time for them to get a great corner.”
26. Cleveland Browns – Odell Beckham, LSU, WR: It would have been stunning to see Beckham go later than Cody Latimer and Marqise Lee a few weeks ago. Not anymore.
27. New Orleans Saints – Dee Ford, Auburn, DE: Sean Payton loves players that can get to the quarterback. Ford certainly fits that mold.
28. Carolina Panthers – JaWuan James, Tennessee, OT: There’s little doubt that the Panthers are going offense here, but it may not come in the form of wide receiver if some of the top end talent is gone.
29. New England Patriots – Eric Ebron, UNC, TE: Ebron hauled in 62 catches with North Carolina last season and, in an interview with SI.com, humbly compared himself to San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis before correcting himself to say, “I play the tight end position like no one else.”
30. San Francisco 49ers – Kony Ealy, Missouri, DE: Jim Harbaugh would instantly fall in love with Ealy’s versatility. According to NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread, Ealy could scoot over to defensive tackle if needed.
31. Denver Broncos – Kyle Van Noy, BYU, LB: Van Noy is another guy who has climbed draft boards in recent weeks. Under Van Noy’s leadership, BYU had the No. 3-ranked defense in the nation last year.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington, TE: The big man has great body control and give Russell Wilson a legit target over the middle. Seferian-Jenkins is part of a deep crop of tight ends that should begin to come off the board in the late first and early second round.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS