My previous mockery was trade-free, because I dared not gamble on senseless trading that may or may not happen. Drafts are unpredictable that way, especially when - outside of a mere handful of must-draft guys - there are a lot of solid talented players that may slide down the draft anyway to the team(s) that may not want them but may need them at position needs.
This time, however, I decided to make the effort to predict potential trades. It's based on a very simple mathematical formula:
The team trading down has high need for extra picks and the team trading up has extra picks available for trade.
In this scenario, San Francisco moves up as the team with the most picks on hand, while Houston as a team moves down and not that far while still garnering enough extra high picks to enjoy the draft weekend.
Otherwise, all draft rules remain in place:
1) Mock draft revolves around Tampa Bay doing the right smart pick(s) at all times.
2) All other teams can go draft long snappers (it used to be punters, but after a serious case of disillusionment with the Jags wasting a Third on a punter a few years ago, I can't wish that even on my worst enemy) for all I care.
3) Teams should draft for Best-Player-At-High-Need, not Best Player Available no matter what.
4) When in doubt, draft Offensive Line
5) When in doubt and OL is fine, draft Defensive Line
After all that, here's the revised Mockery: the poll follows forthwith and posthaste and ergo proctor ego.
NFL draft 2014 – TRADE BAIT EXTRAVAGANDA!
Jacksonville (Trades with Houston) (needs DE, QB, OL) – If I'm gonna go batsh-t crazy with making trades in this mock, might as well start at the top. Houston Texans are a team in dire need across the board, but may have a problem narrowing their choices down to BPA (DE Clowney by all scouting reports) or Best QB (either Bortles or Manziel). One rumor going about is how Houston is interested in trading down – to pick up extra high picks to fill more gaps – and in this draft it's possible to find a trading partner (esp. now that guaranteed rookie contracts are hard-capped). Considering Clowney is there as trade bait, it's a question who is more desperate – and more capable – of trading up: Jacksonville or Atlanta, two teams drafting high but not high enough to ensure they can draft him. I'm giving the edge to the Jags, who'll trade their third overall as well as cough up their Second Rounder, their Fourth Rounder, and two of their three Fifth Rounders (!) as part of the package.
Pick: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
St. Louis (from Wash) (needs WR, OL, CB) – This doesn't change from my original mock: the Rams can sit pretty and get a game-changing WR to improve their offense.
Pick: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Houston (everything, QB above all) – One reason the Texans can afford to trade down is that while they can't make up their mind choosing between good draft choices, they do need more draft picks. By trading down only two spots – yet picking up four extra draft picks in the process! - it's a win-win. And one of their choices – Clowney – gets made for them, making it easier to settle on the other choice: which QB to take, which was the same guy I had them taking if there wasn't a trade.
Pick: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Cleveland (everything, esp. offense) – It's possible that the Browns could trade down if they wanted, considering they have a good number of gaps to fill and depth concerns to answer by snagging more picks, but it's unlikely. There'd be a question about who here would be trade bait: clearly both of the top Offensive Tackles (Matthews and Robinson) could be had, but right now most teams waiting for OT help can wait and see who gets picked first and then trade with the next available team to get the other. Browns are stuck, and drafting the same guy I had before.
Pick: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Oakland (everything, even Punter) – Part of me wonders if any team wants to trade with the Raiders, content in the knowledge that having Oakland as a broken unit satisfies an ungodly amount of schadenfreude. Also because nobody can ever really guess what the Raiders will draft...
Pick: OLB/DE Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Atlanta (LB, OT, DE, TE) – Losing out on the trade attempt for Clowney may sting a little, but it forces the Falcons to draft someone more for a true need – a beaten-up O-line – than someone who was more of a luxury.
Pick: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Pittsburgh (trades with Tampa Bay) (OT, CB, DE) – This is a trade I'm hoping for, because I feel Tampa needs a few more draft picks than anything else at this point. As I noted earlier, the second one of the OT's got drafted, the next team got the trade offers because a good number of teams – Pittsburgh especially – need help with their OL, and Matthews (or Robinson) is too good a deal to miss. Question is, what the Bucs can get out of the Steelers: Pittsburgh garnered a meager number of compensatory picks that frees up their late rounder picks, but not that high. Bucs should barter for the Steelers' fifteenth overall as well as their Fourth Rounder and Fifth Rounder this year, and if they can push their luck also go for the Steelers' Second Rounder next year (if available). Pittsburgh might go for that deal.
Pick: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Minnesota (CB, S, QB, OL) – The Vikings are another team that could trade down if they want to, considering some of the gaps they still have even after all their FA moves. But for all intents, they're stuck here unless there are teams eager to trade for a tempting target like LB Barr or the guy I have going to Minnesota. Even though other QB's – Carr? - are moving up the board and are weakening Teddy's trade value...
Pick: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
San Francisco (trades with Buffalo) (WR, DE, OT) – The 49ers are sick: they are one of those teams just sitting on a stockpile of draft picks, and yet loaded with enough talent to barely need a few key starting spots to get filled. Buffalo is short on draft picks and while in dire need of starting talent at some spots they won't resist being able to get the extra Second, Third, and Seventh Rounder picks San Francisco can drop with a yawn at them. The question here is, what will make the 49ers this eager to trade up? The fact that their star Defensive lineman Aldon Smith is due for a serious suspension away from the game due to off-field woes. Getting a pass-rusher they can convert to DE like Barr will help cover their bases... and if Smith is still available to play they can keep Barr at Linebacker.
Pick: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Detroit (CB, S, WR) – The draft even with the early trades works out to the Lions' advantage: nobody's gone after the Corners in the draft, so they can go after best-scouted CB on the board. They'll listen to trade offers, but at this point it's a question of who's sliding down the boards at the key positions: which aren't many. It's a decent draft for talent, but after Clowney and Watkins and the two OT Matthews and Robinson there's few must-have guys left.
Pick: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St.
Tennessee (LB, RB, QB) – Titans are a team desperate-looking about Outside Linebacker that they might trade up to get Mack or Barr if they could. But Tennessee has too few draft picks to give up. I do make a change here in that I had them drafting a Running Back to cover the cutting of RB Chris Johnson: enough people have pointed out that this year's draft, while good with RB's, just don't have any deserving of a Top 20 pick. So I'll have them jump on next-best-available OLB.
Pick: OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio St.
New York Giants (WR, OL, DL) – Giants would like to address WR need but the defensive line had issues last season and they lost a key DT to free agency. It's hard to establish which need is going to be greater, and what the quality of talent might be here. Nobody's taken any Defensive Tackles yet – I have Nix topping one scout list, Aaron Donald another – so I'm leaning either way.
Pick: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
St. Louis (same) – Rams I had getting Matthews here because without trades either OT (him or Robinson) could slide this far. With trades, this doesn't happen, so St. Louis can go however they want at this point. They could go with Lewan – next best OT on the boards – or go after Safety help. Sanity prevails because I fall back on one of my key rules: when in doubt, draft offensive line.
Pick: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Chicago (LB, DL) – Still don't care much for Chicago and how they draft. Still looks like defensive line could get addressed in the draft. Had Jernigan going here in the first mock, but got chewed out for letting Aaron Donald slide, so... meh. He might even fit their D-line scheme...
Pick: DT Aaron Donald, Pitt
Tampa Bay (from Pittsburgh) (WR, G, TE, DE) – I've hoped that WR Mike Evans slipped this far. May have well tricked this trade-happy draft to do so, but still it worked. One of the reasons why I hope the Bucs don't trade down further, because past here there are more teams interested in receivers.
Pick: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Dallas (S, DE, LB) – It's possible the Cowboys can be major trade players – they have six (!) Seventh Round picks – but those picks are so low the value can't be that good for trading up much. They may use those later in the mid-rounds – say, the Third or Fourth – if there's a particular player of interest they need to get. Otherwise they stay here, and I don't see any changes here.
Pick: DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
Baltimore (WR, S, TE) – The Ravens could be a team to trade up, but their trade chit is meager – I see their Third Rounder being useful, but all the other late rounders are compensatory and thus untradeable – and so they're better off staying put. Have them taking Safety, but going after a WR is possible. I think I saw someone seeing them trade up with Tampa Bay... after Tampa traded to Buffalo in a trade-down, all in an attempt to get Tampa more picks. Don't see that happening...
Pick: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
New York Jets (G, S, TE, WR) – Jets are a team with enough picks on hand to make a serious trade-up effort: just can't see them using the trade-up to take care of needs – Guard, Tight End, Safety, Wide Receiver – they might be better off waiting on to fulfill in the mid-rounds. Any one of those spots can get a decent fill with this pick with either best-available G or best-available TE still on the boards.
Pick: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Miami (OL, CB, DT) – Dolphins might be a team to trade down, even this late in the draft, because they have depth issues that can be resolved with a good number of extra mid-rounders. I also had them going after Corner, but the odds are starting to look like they may go with Guard since that's a more pressing need. They could go with a Tackle getting projected to play Guard, which should help OL need overall...
Pick: OL Zack Martin, Notre Dame
Arizona (LB, OL, CB, TE) – Cardinals simply have enough gaps in the Cornerback roster that it's making me lean this way in the draft. Thing is, the other need for LB... does it garner value at this point? Is Trent Murphy or Kyle Van Noy or any other OLB rated at this level of the draft?
Pick: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Green Bay (OL, S, WR, TE) – Packers are a team with some extra picks to where they could trade up, but it depends on who's valued enough worth the trade-up or which position they'll need fixing. Help against the passing game is a top priority, but getting help WITH the passing game is a deal-maker as well. Safety still seems serious enough a need to fix, but don't be surprised to see next-best Guard taken off the list.
Pick: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Buffalo (trades with Philadelphia) (WR, DE) – Eagles are short on draft picks, so trading up is not an option. Trading down is doable, and this is where the Bills – flush with a few extra picks from the Niners – can trade back up a bit to make a move on best-available WR rather than wait and hope. Eagles only get out of it the Third Rounder from San Francisco, but that's nothing to sneeze at in a relatively deep draft.
Pick: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St.
Kansas City (WR, DE, LB) – Chiefs have few draft picks to be a major up-trader, and trading down might make sense except that at this point there's few teams eager to do so. Considering their need can get easily filled here, there's no need to worry or move. One reason I have Buffalo trading up one spot ahead is that the Chiefs may go for best WR available...
Pick: MLB CJ Mosley, Alabama
Cincinnati (CB, OL) – The Bengals could be a team that could trade up, but their extra draft picks are Sixth and Seventh, not much to work with. They could make moves in the middle of the draft, say the Fourth Round if need be, but not here in the First.
Pick: CB Jason Verrett, TCU
San Diego (CB, WR, LB) – The Chargers are stuck: they could try to trade up to snag a better Cornerback or Wide Receiver, but that would ravage their chances of drafting depth needs in the mid-rounds.
Pick: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio St.
Cleveland (from Indy) (same) – I have the Browns sitting pat with the Colts' pick here, and there's no need to think otherwise. Considering the starter needs they've got, Cleveland shouldn't think about packaging this away. The only question is if the Browns will go for O-line help here or get a Running Back to fill the gap this trade created in the first place. I'm going with OL.
Pick: G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
New Orleans (LB, DL, OT) – The Saints have little to trade with, and in some respects no need to trade, other than downward to snag more picks. But at this spot in the draft there's more need to draft best-available-player at best need, and they do need linebacker help...
Pick: OLB Trent Murphy, Stanford
Carolina (WR, OT) – Nothing changes the fact they need receiver help, except for the fact I still hate this team. Hope they draft Punter in the First (yes, that is HOW MUCH I HATE THEM).
Pick: WR Marquis Lee, USC
New England (LB, OL, DT) – The Pats could make some drafts moves – they have extra picks and perhaps a need to jump for a must-need player on the defensive front lines – but I doubt anyone wants to deal with The Hooded One. The whole "sign away your firstborn" tends to be deal-breaker...
Pick: OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
Philadelphia (from Buffalo from San Fran) (LB, DL) – At some point someone's gonna have to draft at this spot, so expect the Eagles to get around doing it sooner rather than later.
Pick: DE Kareem Martin, North Carolina
Denver (God) – Broncos may be desperate enough to trade up – and have enough FA talent at enough key spots to not worry about depth or late-round development – but I don't see them making any major moves. They don't have extra draft picks on hand: they'd have to use next year's picks, always a risk...
Pick: DE DeMarcus Lawrence, Boise St.
Seattle (S, DE, OL) – Seahawks are stuck with few draft picks this year, and aren't in any enviable spot worth trading for. Super Bowl winners have to learn to be content with drafting last in the top rounds and cope.
Pick: S Deone Bucannon, Washington St.
What do you think, sirs?