A month of the NFL is in the books, and as we finish the first quarter of the season, it’s time for an NFL draft update.
This draft order is aligned with records more closely than my previous mock draft. It also accounts for point differential (via NFL.com), but understand there is no such thing as an official order at this point.
Obviously, records are all very close at this point, so a lot can change in just a week or two. So if you aren’t happy with where your team is picking or the player in that slot, just wait a week and so much can change.
So with that, feel free to peruse and abuse this latest mock draft.
Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville
The Jacksonville Jaguars might not be the worst team in the NFL, but they are probably playing the worst football. Being that inept means they get Bridgewater with the top spot.
While he might not be the next John Elway, he's a phenomenal prospect with an alluring blend of pure quarterback skills and surprising athleticism. Whether Jacksonville is here next April or not, I have a hard time thinking Bridgewater isn't still the top pick.
Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
The New York Giants have been a mess this season. And a finger can be pointed to the mish-mash of defensive personnel who have been trotting out onto the field.
Clowney would be a dominant Swiss Army knife-type of player for head coach Tom Coughlin. He can move along the defensive line with ease and even stand up and play linebacker if need be. If the Giants continue to lose, this might be the most locked-in pick in the round.
Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
The Steelers season is disintegrating around them, and it all starts with abysmal play by the offensive line.
Starting tackles Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert seem to be competing to see who can play worse on a given week, which makes an offensive tackle a top priority. Matthews has made a seamless transition to left tackle and is an easy opening-week starter.
Anthony Barr, Linebacker, UCLA
Tampa Bay is a one big dumpster-fire full of drama: quarterbacks getting benched, players calling out coaches and just general mayhem.
But on the defensive side of the football, there is still hope. So adding Barr to an up-and-coming group makes perfect sense. If he lined up opposite linebacker Lavonte David, he would give the Bucs one of the most athletic tandems in the league.
Louis Nix III, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
For all the upgrades that the St. Louis Rams have made, their interior defense still needs work. Kendall Langford does his best, but he's the weak link on an otherwise talented defensive line.
Nix III is a massive man who is born to play the 4-3 nose tackle spot next to Michael Brockers. Nix III commands constant double-teams and would provide smooth sailing for the back seven.
Khalil Mack, Linebacker, Buffalo
The Philadelphia Eagles were considering drafting defensive end/linebacker hybrid Dion Jordan in 2013, so it is not out of the question that they are still looking for a disruptive, hybrid rush player for their struggling defense.
And if you look up disruptive in the dictionary, Mack will be the picture you see. Teams have started running two defenders at him on nearly every play. When he isn't being swarmed by offensive players, he does he best impersonation of the Tasmanian Devil.
Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State
This is a far-from-ideal pick for the St. Louis Rams. In fact, if this plays out this way, it would make much more sense for the Rams to trade back—that is, unless they have decided to give up on Sam Bradford. In that case, a player like Marcus Mariota or Tajh Boyd would be enticing.
However, assuming the Rams sit on this pick and keep Bradford, Roby would bolster their secondary. The real weak spot is at safety, and bringing him in would allow the Rams to groom him to replace veteran Cortland Finnegan or even allow Finnegan to transition to safety.
Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Every offseason scenario involved the Oakland Raiders drafting a quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft, but not so fast, my friend. The Raiders seem to have found their way with Terrelle Pryor.
So, with a quarterback in place, attention turns to the wide receiver position and Sammy Watkins. I've gone back and forth between Watkins and Marqise Lee as the top wide receiver in this class.
For the Raiders, I lean on Watkins here. His deep speed and ability to improvise are tremendous, and he works well with a mobile quarterback.
Tajh Boyd, Quarterback, Clemson
If the Arizona Cardinals want to get over the hump and become competitive in the NFC, they must upgrade their quarterback position. Carson Palmer is struggling this year, and there is no talent behind him.
Enter Boyd into the equation. His career path is similar to New York Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith, and he has a certain Russell Wilson-like quality about him. This might be a little early for him, but for a team desperate for a quarterback, the Cardinals might need to pull the trigger.
Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
A young quarterback can receive no better gift than a top-notch wide receiver. Lee is being hurt this year by a lack of talent at quarterback at USC, which is making his evaluation murky.
But if you watch the 2012 film, you see what kind of receiver he can be. He's a strong player who works hard to get open and even harder after the catch. He's the best run-blocking wideout in the draft and has underrated speed.
Jets QB Geno Smith loves throwing short, quick routes and letting his receiver run. That is something Lee can deliver.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Cornerback, Oregon
If you look closely at the problems the San Francisco 49ers are having on defense, much of it stems from the secondary. They have tried to make some moves to get help, but they continue to struggle.
Ekpre-Olomu is a former safety who has turned into a physical, ball hawk of a cornerback. His ability to play in multiple spots in the defensive secondary makes him an enticing pick for the 49ers, even if this is a little early.
This cornerback class is deep, and by April, Ekpre-Olomu might end up being the top coverage player in the group.
Stephon Tuitt, Defensive End, Notre Dame
Plenty of Houston Texans fans will be clamoring for a new quarterback here, but even with Marcus Mariota still on the board, I resist.
Instead, I look to the defensive line to pair up someone opposite J.J. Watt in Houston's 3-4 base defense. Tuitt is a big body with experience in the 3-4 and can not only stuff the run, but he can beat the tackle with his strength and rush the passer.
Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
Atlanta went into the season with high hopes for its offensive line. But some players—in particular left tackle Sam Baker—have seriously underachieved.
The former top pick has played, well, bad this first month of the season, and if he doesn't turn it around, he could be replaced.
Should the Falcons decide to replace Baker, it is hard to argue against Lewan. Come next April, Lewan is unlikely to makes it this far, but for this exercise, he represents a great value pick.
Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon
The Minnesota Vikings are blessed to have a massive offensive line and the best running back in the league. What they don't have is an efficient passing game. The quarterback play on this team limits the the offense.
Adding a dynamic athlete like Mariota would be a huge boost for both the running and passing game. Mariota is only a redshirt sophomore, so nothing is certain, but he is developing quickly as a passer, and his ability to use his legs to beat a defense is rare.
Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
The position to put here for the Green Bay Packers isn't a hard decision. The decision of which player to put at this spot is more challenging. Offensive tackle seems to be the clear top need, but no third offensive tackle has separated himself from a group of three or four players just a notch below Matthews and Lewan.
At this point, based on the games played this year, I lean on Richardson. He's a big, physical kid who holds his own against the best defensive ends in the SEC. He shows the fewest flaws of that next group of tackles, so he gets the nod to Green Bay.
Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
There is no faster-rising prospect in the draft than Evans. For all the hype that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel gets, Evans is the guy who bails him out play after play. He is a huge target with great speed and impressive body control.
By next April, Evans could be challenging for a top-10 pick, and if he tests well in the offseason, the sky is the limit. For the Carolina Panthers, Evans would give Cam Newton a massive target to just throw it up to and let him make plays.
Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt
It appears that Cleveland is having a fire sale, and no one is off limits. The best player left on offense is wide receiver Josh Gordon, and I won't be shocked if he is traded away. But even if he isn't, quarterback Brian Hoyer seems to have a little magic working, so why not give him another weapon?
Matthews is the best wide receiver whom no one talks about. He has a long frame, nice speed on the field and amazing body control. He is also the most polished route-runner among this receiver class and would be an instant impact player.
C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama
If there is a spot where the Bills could help themselves early in this draft, it might be at outside linebacker. Buffalo has one of the most exciting young inside linebackers in the NFL in Kiko Alonso, but the players flanking him are less than stellar.
Mosley is one of the best all-around defensive players in this draft. He can play any linebacker spot and is as adept at stuffing the run as he is at rushing the passer. Mosley at 18 is a great value and an immediate starter.
Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU
I don't love this pick. I like it, but I don't love it. The Bengals could use a cornerback without a doubt. But, Verrett is the player who could be destined for a fall this year. He's a solid player and smart in coverage. But he lacks elite measurables and has just looked average when he hasn't been hurt.
This pick could end up a linebacker or even an offensive tackle come April or even a different cornerback depending on who slides and rises in the next seven months.
Odell Beckham Jr., Wide Receiver, LSU
Mark it down that Beckham Jr. will be one of the real risers this season. He has shown a knack for making athletic catches and big plays when LSU needs them. The Ravens are missing wide receiver Anquan Boldin, and so Beckham and his ability to generate lots of yardage would be enticing.
Beckham isn't the physical presence that Boldin was, but finding another player like him would be tough. But at this point in the round, Beckham would fill a need and could be the best player available.
Cyril Richardson, Offensive Guard, Baylor
Offensive tackle might be a more pressing need, but when you think about the impact an offensive lineman can have, what Richardson can bring to the table trumps anything the fourth or fifth best tackle could for the San Diego Chargers.
He is that once-in-a-draft mauling elite guard we always see. He has good feet for such a massive man, but his strength is well, his strength. He puts defenders on skates and would look amazing paired up on the right side with D.J. Fluker.
Kyle Van Noy, Linebacker, BYU
Sometimes a player just falls into a team's lap. For the Dallas Cowboys, that would be Van Noy here. The Cowboys could use an upgrade at strong-side linebacker over Justin Durant, and with Van Noy they get a player who can come on in sub packages and rush the passer with his hand on the ground.
Defensive tackle might be a greater position of need at this point, so a player like Will Sutton wouldn't be out of the question here. It just seems that Van Noy is too talented to pass up at this point in the round.
Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State
As impressive an effort as the Chicago Bears defense has put out this year, it never hurts to add depth and an explosive element, especially at linebacker. James Anderson and Lance Briggs are good players, but neither is getting any younger.
The more I watch Shazier, the more I like him. He has a quality about him that is rare among players. It's not something that is easy to put a finger on, but he seems to have anticipation and explosion that makes it look like he is a step ahead of the play. Shazier paired up with Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene would make a formidable trio for the future.
Aaron Colvin, Cornerback, Oklahoma
The Detroit Lions are proof that a great front four can help cover up a mediocre secondary. But even with this unit, the cracks are starting to show. This team needs an immediate upgrade at cornerback opposite of Darius Slay.
Colvin is one of those cornerbacks that is victimized by poor defensive play around him. He is often asked to defend run plays that should have been made in front of him or to cover wide receivers when his team gets no pressure on the quarterback. But he has the skills and size to be a very good corner or a really good free safety.
Seantrel Henderson, Offensive Tackle, Miami
The Tennessee Titans are another team with more talent than their record might indicate right now. The two spots that look like they could use an upgrade are offensive tackle and defensive end. Neither needs an immediate starter but could use some depth.
Henderson is a nice fit at this point in the round. He's likely a right tackle in the NFL, but he is a massive individual who shows flashes of greatness. He must play more consistently and do better in space, but his upside is tremendous.
Ka'Deem Carey, Running Back, Arizona
After trading away their top running back, the Cleveland Browns suddenly have a vacancy in the offensive backfield. I am philosophically opposed to trading away a player just to draft their replacement with the pick. In this scenario, however, it appears to be a decent fit.
Carey is a great all-around running back and would immediately be the best back on the roster from the minute he is drafted. If the Browns chose to pass on a running back here, they could consider an inside linebacker or safety with this pick.
Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
The only spot on the Miami Dolphins depth chart that is as an area of concern and could be upgraded here is right tackle. Tyson Clabo is a nice player, but he is the weak link of a very talented offensive line.
For a time, Kouandjio was considered a high first-round pick, but his play this year hasn't quite lived up to expectations. That doesn't change the fact that he still has gobs of potential and is improving every week. If he slides this far, the Dolphins would be wise to snatch him up.
Will Sutton, Defensive Tackle, Arizona State
The New England Patriots are going to play out the rest of the season without star defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, and they lack any appreciable depth on the interior.
Sutton has chosen to play this year much heavier than he did in 2012, and it's showing in reduced performance. This means he is likely to slide, and if he lands with the Patriots, there's no better team for him. He can play multiple positions along the defensive line, and no team could coax production out of him better than the Patriots could.
Aaron Lynch, Defensive End, USF
New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has transformed the Saints defense into an attacking 3-4 unit. And the foundation of that sort of defense are pass-rushing outside linebackers. The Saints have some interesting players on the edges, but a team can never have too many pass-rushers.
Lynch has been up and down this season for USF, but his ups have been high enough to account for the occasional dip. He has the physical stature and explosion to be a great fit as a 3-4 linebacker, where he can attack downhill and make plays.
Adrian Hubbard, Linebacker, Alabama
Good teams have the luxury of drafting the best player available at the end of a round and can do so without great risk. The Kansas City Chiefs have been one of the surprise teams of the NFL this year, and they could find themselves deep in the playoffs.
The Chiefs have excellent starting outside linebackers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, so adding a third such as Hubbard is simply a luxury pick and would represent the best player on the board. He is a very physical player who could support the run in sub packages while he hones his pass-rush skills.
Ra'Shede Hageman, Defensive Tackle, Minnesota
When it comes to physical defenses, few teams can do what the Seattle Seahawks can do. They push teams around and just impose their will on them. And they do it with a mix of players along their defensive front who play very specific roles.
Hageman is a great fit for what the Seahawks do because he can line up at left defensive end in that power role or move inside as a 3-technique defensive tackle as well. This kind of scheme versatility and his impressive skill set make him a nice value this late in the round.
Loucheiz Purifoy, Cornerback, Florida
When a team wins the Super Bowl, it can do whatever it wants in the draft. In this scenario, the Broncos are the champs, and so they can take a chance on a big upside-type of player with a high ceiling and potentially low floor.
I am not sure what position Purifoy will even play in the NFL, but an athlete like him has to have a spot. He could be a replacement for Champ Bailey, or he could end up as a slot receiver and kick returner. However, there is little risk with him at this point in the round.