Six weeks into the season teams are starting to realize whether they are contenders or not. Struggling teams still have plenty of time to turn things around, while winning teams will need to stay on track. Although there are many teams still in the hunt, there are a few that have all but lost hope. Here is a look at how the draft could unfold.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB – Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville
The Jaguars are in need of a franchise quarterback, and Bridgewater is just that. He has all the tools to be an elite player at the next level. Bridgewater continues to tear opposing defenses apart. There is no question he is the best quarterback in this class.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB – Tajh Boyd – Clemson
Last week I had the Bucs going defense, this week that all changes. It is clear that there needs to be a coaching change in Tampa. With coaching changes comes changes in personnel all over the board, as well as changes in the offensive and defensive schemes and systems. Whenever a new regime takes over, there is usually turnover at the quarterback position. I believe that the new coaching staff will want to find their new guy with the first pick.
Tajh Boyd is still my number two ranked QB in this class. He has made large strides this year so far and will continue to grow as a passer. He is tough in the pocket and can step up and make big time throws. He also has the ability to make plays with his legs.
3. Oakland Raiders – DE – Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina
The Raiders are one of the most surprising teams this season. No one gave them a chance to win many games, but they are proving they can compete with mostly everyone. Terrelle Pryor has really stepped up and is starting to look like the guy who can lead Oakland into the future. So with the 3rd overall pick I have them taking the most talented defensive player on the board.
Clowney has garnered a lot of criticism this year due to his work ethic, but he is still the dominant player he was last season. He decided to hush some of the negative comments by choosing to play through his injury this past weekend. The Raiders will find a solid piece to build a defense around with this selection.
4. Buffalo Bills – OLB – Anthony Barr – UCLA
Kiko Alonso is continuing to have a terrific year for the Bills, but they are still thin at outside linebacker. Anthony Barr is one of the most dynamic players in college football. He has great speed, and has proven he can be a threat all over the field. He had a very solid 2012 season, and has kept his play on a high level so far this season. He is solidifying himself as a top-tier defensive player. Barr could overtake Clowney as the best defensive player in this class if he continues his dominance.
5. New York Giants – OT – Jake Matthews – Texas A&M
Part of the problem for New York this season is the fact that Eli Manning is constantly running for his life. This pick would give the Giants the best offensive lineman in the draft. Matthews is a very intelligent football player, and can play on either end of the line. He is a great pass-protector, and a very physical run-blocker. This 6-foot-5, 300 lb lineman is very quick for his size and overpowers his opponents with ease.
6. Minnesota Vikings – QB – Marcus Mariota – Oregon
Josh Freeman is only a temporary fix for the Vikings. Unless he can step in and turn this team around, Minnesota will be looking for a new quarterback with their first pick. So far this season, Mariota has developed in the pocket. He chooses to step up and make difficult throws instead of abandoning ship and scrambling. While he does have great mobility, Mariota has matured into a great passer. He had a great game against Washington. He continues to show he can hit his receivers in stride and muscle the ball deep. There is a very strong possibility that Mariota could surpass Boyd as the second quarterback taken in the draft.
7. Arizona Cardinals – OT – Taylor Lewan – Michigan
The Cardinals may potentially be another team to snag a quarterback if Carson Palmer continues to play poorly. But, as of right now I feel they need to strengthen their offensive line. Taylor Lewan has had his struggles this season, but he has experience at left tackle and has a lot of potential to be a force in the NFL. Lewan is a great run-blocker, and has the athleticism to be an outstanding pass-protector. He is a mauler, and plays with a ton of attitude.
8. Tennessee Titans – WR – Sammy Watkins – Clemson
Kenny Britt has proven to be useless and will be out of Tennessee at the end of the season, if not sooner. The Titans have a good young receiver in Kendall Wright, but two is always better than one. Sammy Watkins is the best wideout in the draft. He is a big physical receiver. He reminds me a lot of Dez Bryant. He has great ball skills and fights for yards after the catch. This pick would give Jake Locker a clear-cut number one target.
9. St. Louis Rams – OT – Antonio Richardson – Tennessee
With a young unproven running game, the Rams need to make sure they have the guys that can create room to run. Richardson is one of the only guys that has been able to completely shut down Jadevean Clowney. Playing in the SEC as a left tackle is not easy, and Richardson has done a great job. At 6-foot-6, 330 lbs, he has a size advantage over many defensive lineman. He will easily step in as a starter for the Rams.
10. New York Jets – WR – Marqise Lee – USC
There are many areas of need for the Jets. The two biggest are at wide receiver and running back. There are no clear-cut top running backs in this draft, so the Jets will take the best wide receiver prospect left on the board. Lee has the speed to open up the field for this offense. He is a threat to score any time you put the ball in his hands. He will be a top-notch receiver in this league and would turn the Jets into an offensive threat on Sundays.