|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
The day is nearly upon us. After months of waiting, the 2014 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday at 8 ET. Here you’ll find a mock of the first round of the draft. Thursday we’ll have projections for each of the Patriots’ draft choices. Although there’s probably a 90% chance we’ll see the Patriots trade out of some of their picks, we’ll be mocking the draft without any projected trades. So, without further ado, here are the picks…
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Although there’s still a chance the Texans trade the pick, Clowney seems like the obvious choice. I’m not buying any of the hype that GM Rick Smith may select to choose Buffalo LB Khalil Mack.
2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Rams should give Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder a call before this pick, and thank him for their left tackle for the next 10 years.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins provides more than insurance for the troubled Justin Blackmon. If they can get on the field together, they’d create one of the most dynamic receiving cores in the AFC. The Jags can look for a QB in Round 2.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel is by no means a safe pick, but combined with Josh Gordon and a receiver selected on Day 2, Manziel could make the Browns a top 15 offense for the first time in a while.
5. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, DE/LB, Buffalo
The Raiders get perhaps the draft’s second best player in the draft with the 5th pick. Value.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Falcons desperately need help protecting Matt Ryan. Matthews is a safe pick here.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Evans becomes the third Aggie taken in the top 7. Although they Bucs would prefer the more versatile Watkins, Evans has undeniable talent that will be an immediate playmaker.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The Vikings would love to add to their defense in the first round, but Bortles is too enticing to pass on at No. 8. Bortles should finally be the answer to the Vikings’ futility at QB.
9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Although Bills fans may be clamoring for North Carolina TE Eric Ebron, Lewan is the smart choice here for an offense that desperately needs help at tackle.
10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Gilbert is the best defensive back in this year’s class, and he fills a glaring need for the Lions.
11. Tennessee Titans: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Titans pair Alfonzo Dennard’s cousin with Devin McCourty’s twin in their young secondary.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Giants need playmakers on offense. Notre Dame OL Zach Martin is a possibility here, but Ebron will give Eli Manning a big play tight end for the first time in years.
13. St. Louis Rams: Odell Beckham Jr, WR, LSU
Beckham Jr gives Sam Bradford something to look forward to in the 2014 season.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald could get taken as high as No. 7 by Tampa Bay, but if he falls to Chicago, look for them to scoop him up quickly.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Steelers have needs everywhere. Offensive line and defensive back seem to be the two most important ones. Look for the Steelers to target a corner in Round 1.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Either Clinton-Dix or Louisville’s Calvin Pryor make sense here for Dallas.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The Ravens would be thrilled to have Pryor fall into their laps.
18. New York Jets: Brandin Cooks, WR, Orgeon State
Cooks will bring dynamite speed and big-play ability to the Jets. Think Tavon Austin.
19. Miami Dolphins: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
The Dolphins would be smart to pair Virginia alum Branden Albert with the talented Moses on their offensive line.
20. Arizona Cardinals: David Carr, QB, Fresno State
Arizona would be good landing spot for Carr, where he could learn behind Carson Palmer for at least a season.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Mosley brings much needed versatility to the Packers linebacking core.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Lee is a dynamic playmaker that will thrive in Chip Kelly’s offense.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Zach Martin, OL, Notre Dame
Martin is the most versatile, and perhaps best lineman in the draft. The Chiefs would be thrilled to see him on the board at 23.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Bengals secondary is old. Fuller brings some added youth to a talented defense.
25. San Diego Chargers: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Barr is still a work-in-progress, but he has impressive pass-rush skills that are needed in San Diego.
26. Cleveland Browns: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
After snagging Manziel at No. 4, the Browns go defense here. Verrett is a tremendous cover-corner that will do good things across from Joe Haden on the Browns defense.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
The Saints get a skilled edge-rusher who should thrive for Rob Ryan in the Superdome.
28. Carolina Panthers: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
After losing both Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell to free agency, the Panthers should target a receiver in the first round.
29. New England Patriots: Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
While it’s likely the Patriots move out of this pick, Easley would be a smart pick here. If he hadn’t torn his ACL last season, Easley might be a top 15 pick. If the Patriots stay at 29 and don’t have any concerns about his medical reports, look for Easley to be the pick.
30 . San Francisco 49ers: Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri
Ealy enters the San Francisco defense as a potential long-term replacement for the troubled Aldon Smith.
31. Denver Broncos: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
I’m going out on a limb here and sending Bridgewater to Denver. Peyton Manning’s questionable health makes him truly a year-to-year player. The Broncos have gone all-in this off-season, but if a talent like Bridgewater is available, I think John Elway looks to the future in Round 1.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Tuitt is a perfect replacement for Red Bryant on the Super Bowl champs’ defense.