What's even more interesting is that I'm more interested in the college -> pro football stage of the game. I find 'scouting' potential future NFL players something that is really interesting.
Therefore, I will write a mock draft for next year - maybe once every fortnight? Of course, with the college football season ongoing, much of it can change over the course of the next few weeks and months.
For reference, red-shirt sophomores will be included in the mock draft until they officially declare they will be coming back next season for their college teams. The order of the mock draft will be similar to the NFL standings.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Gabbert sucks. Henne sucks. There is no better draft class to pick up a franchise quarterback in the next few years than this one. Bridgewater, at the moment appears to be the top quarterback, but if Marcus Mariota continues to dominate this season and Bridgewater loses to teams like UCF, expect Mariota to be the top pick.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Many will argue that Mariota is simply a system quarterback who won't succeed at the next level, but I think he's shown enough that that isn't the case. Tampa Bay are desperate for a new franchise quarterback after getting rid of Josh Freeman, and in general, new regimes mean new quarterbacks. That meaning, I don't think the regime of Schiano and Dominik is going to last come the end of the season. If they somehow miraculously do, expect this pick to be Jadeveon Clowney, as it's clear that Glennon is Schiano's whipping boy and he's the best prospect available for them.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
Surprise, surprise. Why not Clowney? Well, while I do feel Clowney is a pretty fucking good player, his lack of commitment and effort he's shown this season has made him drop off my big board. In this case, I feel that Barr is the safer and more solid pick. With the impending free agency of Jared Allen, the Vikings need an edge-rusher. Barr has shown considerable improvement in the past two seasons under Jim Mora and projects nicely as either a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 rush linebacker.
4. New York Giants
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
If it comes down to this pick for the Giants between Matthews or Clowney, it would be an extremely difficult decision. However, I'm personally leaning more towards Matthews here with the offensive line being the more glaring need. With both Eli Manning and his offensive line growing old, Matthews will add some youth to that line along with last year's Justin Pugh. It's clearly evident that the line has not been able to protect him as well as well as they did during their two Super Bowl runs. You can also make the case for Clowney though - with only JPP and Justin Tuck the only notable pass rushers on the defense, Clowney will add so much to their pass rush rotation.
5. Atlanta Falcons
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
... and there the most hyped up defensive prospect in NFL history lands. Even before all the injuries fucked over the Falcons season, the MNF game against the Jets demonstrated how bad the Falcons' pass rush was. No wonder Geno Smith was able to walk circles around them. This pick is a no-brainer for the Falcons.
6. Houston Texans
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
I think it's safe to say Schaub is done in Houston. After throwing four pick-sixes in as many games consecutively, Case Keenum has walked in as their new starter. Kubiak will have the rest of the season to evaluate whether he can start next year. In the case that he doesn't impress, I think that Houston will look towards a new franchise quarterback in the draft. Hundley has the size and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback, but he still somewhat raw as a prospect.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
When Maurkice Pouncey went down in Week 1, the season was effectively lost for the Steelers. With such an anemic offensive line, Big Ben has not been able to carry the Steelers on his back like he did in previous seasons. In addition, the loss of key players from their defense has made them a shadow of their former selves. Even after trading for Levi Brown (who also got injured), the offensive line is shoddy, at best. In acquiring Lewan, much like Matthews in New York, he would become Big Ben's blind-side tackle up until he decides to hang the boots up.
8. St. Louis Rams (via Washington)
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
With the top two tackles off the board for the Rams, it would be wise to go the best player available. In this case, the Rams acquire a new weapon for Sam Bradford, coming off a torn ACL. Mike Evans is a huge receiver, much like Vincent Jackson or Andre Johnson, and has been Johnny Manziel's go-to guy over at Texas A&M.
9. Buffalo Bills
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Buffalo's tight ends are Scott Chandler, Lee Smith and Chris Gragg. EJ Manuel will love to have a weapon like Sefarian-Jenkins to throw to. Sefarian-Jenkins is one of the most athletic prospects to enter the draft in quite sometime. Much like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, Sefarian-Jenkins will be a match-up nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs. The only factors against Sefarian-Jenkins are his under performance this season and his off-the-field issues (DUI).
10. Cleveland Browns
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Weeden is not the future in Cleveland. Deciding their new franchise quarterback will be a difficult choice. They have to chose between either Tajh Boyd or Johnny Manziel. Both of these QB's have the clear flaw of height against them. The people who bang the table for them however, will cite players like Drew Brees and more recently, Russell Wilson. I decided to mock Boyd over Manziel here, as Boyd can be seen as the more 'safer' prospect, with a plethora of big-game experience as starter for the Clemson Tigers.
11. Philidelphia Eagles
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
A perfect fit for Chip Kelly's offense, Manziel has all the tools to operate his system properly. With Vick getting banged up every week and Foles/Barkley not being fits to run the system, it just makes too much sense to take Manziel at this point. Some may knock on his douchebaggery attitude, but I'm punting the Eagles are willing to take a chance on him.
12. St. Louis Rams
Haha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
It was a hard choice picking between Cyrus Kouandijo or Haha Clinton-Dix here, but I think safety is a more glaring need for the Rams. You can make the argument that the Rams need better protection for Bradford, but the Rams safeties are very mediocre. Despite being suspended until the Alabama-LSU rivalry game, Clinton-Dix has shown he has play making ability and has the potential to be as good as fellow Alabama safety, Mark Barron.
13. Baltimore Ravens
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Flacco can't throw to Torrey Smith every passing down. The Ravens have been desperate for a wide receiver ever since the departure of Anquan Boldin. Sammy Watkins will be a nice complement to Ray Rice and Torrey Smith. Watkins has been Tajh Boyd's go-to weapon at Clemson ever since the departure of DeAndre Hopkins to the Texans, and has the speed to stretch the field.
14. Oakland Raiders
Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
In acquiring Louis Nix, the Raiders have a piece to add to their defensive line along with Lamar Houston. Last year they traded down, passing on Shariff Floyd in favour of cornerback DJ Hayden. Louis Nix is a big, big man who can disrupt offensive lines from the middle of the scrimmage.
15. Tennessee Titans
C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama
The Titans have all the pieces to be a competitive team. However, one of their glaring weaknesses is at middle linebacker, where some guy called Moise Foikou is starting. C.J. Mosley will immediately improve the position. Mosley has been a staple of the Alabama defense for the past couple of years, and has shown to be impeccable in pass coverage.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Cyrus Kouandijo, OT, Alabama
With the trade of Levi Brown, OT has become a glaring need for the Cardinals. Observers will have noted how atrocious the offensive line has been in keeping Carson Palmer upright. Kouandijo is an athletic tackle who has started for the Crimson Tide since his freshman season.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
After passing on Shariff Floyd and Star Lotulelei last year for Travis Frederick, Monte Kiffin has a defensive tackle to use in his Tampa 2 system. Hageman has improved considerably over the course of the season, but needs to be more consistant in his play.
18. Miami Dolphins
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Miami also has an offensive line issue. They have allowed Tannehill to get sacked a ridiculous amount of times this season. Richardson is the best OT available, and would replace the aging Bryant McKinnie, whom the Dolphins traded for as a desperation move to attempt to solve their pass defense problems.
19. New York Jets
Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Beasley would be a welcome addition to the Jets' front seven, already loaded with players like Sheldon Richardson, Muhammed Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. Despite being undersized at 235lb, Beasley has been a disruptive force for the Tigers' defense this season. Beasley will have to put on weight in order to perform to his peak in the NFL.
20. Carolina Panthers
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Steve Smith won't last forever, and Brendon LaFell is not a quality wide receiver. Acquiring Lee will add a dynamic play maker for Cam Newton. Marqise Lee was the unanimous top wide-out in this year's class until this season imploded for him. With a bum knee and poor quarterback play, he has not performed to expectations. That being said, a team like Carolina will probably take a flier on him due to his success last year, where he won the Biletnikoff Trophy as the nation's best receiver.
21. Chicago Bears
Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida
With both Tillman and Jennings set to hit free agency next season, it appears that the Bears will be only to keep one of them. The Bears will have first pick of the cornerbacks in the draft. Purifoy is a dynamic defensive back who can make plays and keep receivers isolated from the game, much like what Revis did in New York.
22. San Diego Chargers
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Despite San Diego's resurgance under Mike McCoy, the Chargers still need to address their back four. Roberson, much like his team mate Purifoy, is a dynamic cornerback who can make plays. The only knock to him is that he has not played much this season due to some knee troubles.
23. Detroit Lions
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
I think it's clear Broyles is not the solution to being Megatron's decoy in Detroit. Ever since coming out of college, he has been plagued by injuries. Matthews is a big receiver with excellent route-running and catching skills and would work well as Megatron's #2.
24. Cincinatti Bengals
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
There's no such thing as having too many defensive backs in the NFL. With Terence Newman and Adam Jones aging, Ekpre-Olomu would be a great addition to go along with Leon Hall (coming of an achilles tear) and Dre Kirkpatrick.
25. Green Bay Packers
Kyle Van Noy, DE/OLB, BYU
Even after taking Datone Jones and Nick Perry the past two years, I think the Packers could use another pass-rusher to join the group. Van Noy has been one of the main reasons why BYU has performed so well the past couple of seasons.
26. New England Patriots
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
We all know how bad the Patriots receiving situation is. Moncrief will add a big, talented body to the corp. Moncrief can stretch defenses very well, despite his size.
27. San Francisco 49ers
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The 49ers don't really have any needs to cover, so they will most likely look at the best player available. Carlos Rodgers is an aging defensive back who is owed a lot of money next season, so they could cut ties with him and go in favor of a younger option, like Roby. Roby would have been a top 16 draft pick last season if he declared, but inconsistent play and off-the-field issues will see him drop off draft boards.
28. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis)
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Why not replace the RB you traded away with another RB with the pick you acquired for it? If the Browns aren't able to get Ben Tate in the off-season, the best player for the Browns in this case would be Lache Seastrunk. Seastrunk has been ripping apart defenses this season, and has deceptive speed for his stature.
29. New Orleans Saints
Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
While Rob Ryan's defense has been surprisingly decent this season, it wouldn't hurt to add some personnel to their pass-rushing group. Khalil Mack is one of the most dominating pass-rushers in college football, obliterating the Ohio State offensive line in their game earlier this season.
30. Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Despite the Chiefs successes this season, I think that their tight ends could use some upgrading, especially with Tony Moeaki's season ending injury. Anthony Fassano is also mediocre to be a consistent option for Alex Smith.
31. Seattle Seahawks
James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
Despite eeking out a win in St. Louis against a Clemens-led Rams team, the offensive line allowed Wilson to be sacked a lot. Whether if it was lethargy or a lack of talent due to injuries, who knows. Either way, Hurst would be a solid choice to help their offensive line.
32. Denver Broncos
Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
The Broncos perfectly know that in order to have success, they must keep Manning upright. Adding an offensive guard like Richardson will help in achieving that.
Please post comments as to your thoughts on this mock. If I get a decent response, I'll probably do more in the future.