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MY MOCK: The NFL Draft arrives & here’s how Round 1 will go

Two weeks.
Two extremely long and for all intense purposes useless weeks.
Well, tonight at 8 is the first round of the NFL Draft. For any of you who pay even the slightest bit of interest in the draft that reloads the professional football teams with a new arsenial of college players probably have noticed the first-round of selections is late this year. You would be correct. It’s 14 days later because a viable venue in New York City ala Radio City Music Hall could not be found to host the event at its normal time.
Don’t believe it? Me either.
However, we are now past the additional days of NFL officials’ “He’s a bum” and “He’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer” smokescreens and plenty of mindless NFL prognosticators’ verbal goobily gook.
Each year I have provided you with my well-researched thoughts on how the first round will play out. My apologies you had to wait the extra weeks, but, as noted, I didn’t have any control over the timing.
I am not going to delay this anymore, but please understand that there is a high probability of first-round trades, including a potential one for the Atlanta Falcons to try to get their mitts on Jadeveon Clowney or Greg Robinson. The following is my mock draft picks for the opening round without any trades.
Enjoy my predictions and enjoy the draft that goes through Saturday. Friday starts at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at noon.

1) Houston (2-14) — Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina, Jr. – The Texans have announced they know who they will draft. However, they have not said who that selection is as they entertain offers from other teams wanting to move up to the No. 1 spot. JJ Watt and Clowney both coming off the edge is scary.
2) St. Louis (7-9) from Washington (3-13) — Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn, So. – The Rams also will field their share of trade offers. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins will be tempting here, but keeping quarterback Sam Bradford upright wins out.
3) Jacksonville (4-12) — Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo, Sr. – The Jaguars could go with a quarterback, but No. 3 is too early for any of them. Like the Rams, Watkins is very intriguing but general manager David Caldwell and defensive-minded head coach Gus Bradley go with a perfect fit for their “Seattle East” system.
4) Cleveland (4-12) — Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson, Jr. – The Browns need a quarterback, but instead pair up current WR Josh Gordon with Watkins for the new QB to be selected later. The Browns have another first round pick at No. 26.
5) Oakland (4-12) — Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M, So. – Evans’ 6-foot-5 and 231-pound size and speed is very tantalizing and Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie gets his playmaker and a target for new QB Matt Schaub.
6) Atlanta (4-12) — Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M, Sr. – Texas A&M product No. 2 comes off the board for the Falcons who did a pitiful job of protecting Matt Ryan last season. The Falcons have thoughts of moving up to No. 1 or 2, but still get one of the top tackles in the draft while retaining their later round picks.
7) Tampa Bay (4-12) — Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M, So. – The most energizing quarterback in the draft is available and the Buccaneers’ War Room really likes him. Manziel can do a lot with his arm and legs and people will buy tickets to see that. With this, the A&M Nation goes “Wow. We just had three go in the top 10” and then seconds later realizes, “Oh drat. We just had three go in the top 10.”
8) Minnesota (5-10-1) — Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida, So. – The Christian Ponder experiment, as ill-fated as it was, is officially over for the Vikings. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, Blake Bortles is just the size NFL coaches traditionally like in their quarterbacks. Additionally, Bortles apparently likes the Norv Turner offensive system.
9) Buffalo (6-10) — Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan, Sr. – Then we find another team in search of extra protection for their quarterback. In this case, it’s EJ Manuel who needs assistance. The Bills allowed 48 sacks in 2013. Yes, they already have Cordy Glenn, but one will move to right tackle.
10) Detroit (7-9) — Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA, Sr. -- If the Lions are looking for an edge rusher who can fill the role of “flamethrower,” they are not going to find a better option than former running back Barr in the first round. His skill set has drawn comparisons to DeMarcus Ware.  
11) Tennessee (7-9) — Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St., Sr. – Gilbert (6-foot, 200 pounds) is a ballhawking, press-man corner who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds. He returned two of his 12 career interceptions for touchdowns and took six kick returns to the end zone.
12) N.Y. Giants (7-9) — Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina, Jr. – He is – hands down -- the best receiving tight end in this draft. Giants QB Eli Manning had a rough 2013 and Ebron will give him another weapon. After Watkins and Evans, Ebron is the best “receiver” in this draft.
13) St. Louis (7-9) — HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama, Jr. – When this guy hits you, it is no laughing matter. Clinton-Dix can immediately improve the defensive backfield for the Rams. This pick would make for a good first round for the Rams who select two cornerstones – one on offense and another on defense.
14) Chicago (8-8) — Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh, Sr. – As for typical NFL-caliber defensive tackles, Donald is undersized at 6-foot-1 and 285, but his continuous motor and strength pushes him to the top at his position. He had a solid year for Pittsburgh and at the Senior Bowl.
15) Pittsburgh (8-8) — Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St., Sr. – The athletic, cover man took his game to higher level as a senior. Dennard will provide a needed boost to the Steelers’ secondary. The Steelers also have holes at wide receiver and defensive line.
16) Dallas (8-8) — Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri, Jr. – Like many teams, the Cowboys seek a disruptive pass rusher who can get to the opposing QB which, in turn, will help out the defensive backs. The D in Big D last year received a grade of “D-.”
17) Baltimore (8-8) — Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville, Jr. – With this selection, the Ravens get a player to pair with Matt Elam at safety to help bring back a defense-first mentality in Baltimore. The Ravens will wait on offensive tackle and D line help.
18) N.Y. Jets (8-8) — Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech, Sr. – Wide receiver is a deeper position in this draft so the Jets opt for a cornerback after not doing much to replenish that position during free agency.
19) Miami (8-8) — Zack Martin, OG/OT, Notre Dame, Sr. – The Dolphins have issues on the offensive line after the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal of last season. This new Martin has the capability of playing either guard or tackle which are two positions where the Dolphins have glaring voids.
20) Arizona (10-6) —C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama, Sr. -- The Cardinals lost Karlos Dansby and his 114 solo tackles to free agency. They plan to replace Dansby with Kevin Minter, but that leaves a hole that Mosley can fill.
21) Green Bay (8-7-1) —Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio St., Jr. -- Shazier would be the perfect complement to A.J. Hawk in the middle of Green Bay’s defense. Shazier can play inside as he lined up in the middle for Ohio State in nickel packages.
22) Philadelphia (10-6) — Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State, Jr. – Head coach Chip Kelly is fond of saying big people beat up little people and a 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin is big. The receiver provides a monster target who can command a double-team in the middle of the field.
23) Kansas City (11-5) — Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU, Jr. -- Beckham is a great athlete with the ability to accelerate off the line and get up to top speed quickly. He can beat a defender deep with good straight line speed of 4.38 in the 40. Beckham should make an immediate impact as a return man on special teams.
24)    Cincinnati (11-5) — Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St., Jr. -- The Bengals need an infusion of youth and talent at this position and Roby just may be the most athletic corner in this draft. He has some growing to do, but with some more coaching he has the potential to be solid defender.
25) Chargers (9-7) —Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame, Jr. -- If the Chargers draft Nix, they’d have a very stout defensive line adding him among other high-round picks Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget. Even though Nix is 6-foot-2, 331 pounds, he’s a natural athlete as he played basketball in high school and his blend of size and quickness gives him a significant advantage over opposing centers and guards.
26) Cleveland (4-12) from Indianapolis (11-5) — Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State, Sr. – With this selection, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s stock continues to drop, possibly even into the second round. The Browns are higher on Carr than Bridgewater.
27) New Orleans (11-5) — Dee Ford, OLB/DE, Auburn, Sr. -- Dee Ford set the Southeastern Conference on fire last season by logging 10.5 sacks in 11 games. He also got into the backfield a ton by adding 14.5 tackles for losses.
28) Carolina (12-4) — Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia, Sr. -- Morgan Moses graded out this season over 90 percent in every game, including giving up no sacks against Kyle Van Noy, Aaron Donald and Jeremiah Attaochu. He was voted the top pass protector at the Senior Bowl.
29) New England (12-4) — Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota, Sr. -- The Patriots have a major need on their defensive line. Both of their starting defensive tackles are over 32 years old. Hageman has versatility which is important when playing for the Patriots. He has played nose tackle, tackle and end.
30) San Francisco (12-4) — Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St., Jr. – The 49ers get a high-level performer without having to trade up to at least the early 20s to get him. Cooks is one of the fastest wide receivers in the draft, as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds.
31) Denver (13-3) — Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA, Jr. -- The Broncos went out in free agency and added players like DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and TJ Ward to bolster up their defense. With Denver losing Zane Beadles to Jacksonville in free agency, that opens up a spot for Su’a-Filo to make an impact.
32) Seattle (13-3) — Marqise Lee, WR, USC, Jr. -- Lee is one of the best wide receivers to ever take the field at Southern California. With 24 owned or shared USC records, including three conference records and one NCAA record, Lee’s three years as a Trojan were defined by on the field dominance.

Enoch Autry is the managing editor of the Sylvania Telephone. As a bonus, Autry offers a couple of extra notable predictions. Georgia Southern’s Jerick McKinnon is going to the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round with their No. 103 selection and Lavelle Westbrooks is going to the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round with their No. 243 pick.