Who the Seattle Seahawks draft or what the San Francisco 49ers do with all their 11 picks will certainly be noteworthy as Thursday night plays out. But the real key for the Bears is not what happens down in the 20’s and 30’s, but what happens in the first half of the draft, in front of and right behind the Bears at No. 14.
“View from the Moon” takes an updated last look at that half-draft with the latest information or supposed information heading into the final pre-No. 14 hours. The “bad” news for the Bears is that quarterbacks may not be as much a part of the pre-14 action as general manager Phil Emery hoped they’d be:
1. Houston Texans Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The only drama with Clowney is whether the Texans end up successful in their efforts to shop the pick. Whether he’s going to turn into Courtney Brown or Bruce Smith, that’s the debate.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) Greg Robinson, T, Auburn
The Rams are very likely to trade down and still land Robinson. Coach Jeff Fisher said Sam Bradford is his QB and the Rams need to take better care of him.
[MORE: Complete Guide to 2014 NFL Draft]
3. Jacksonville Jaguars Khalil Mack, DE/LB, Buffalo
Another distinct slot for trade winds, but coach Gus Bradley was part of building the Seattle defense into something elite with picks like Bruce Irvin and he’s not going to let his side of ball languish.
4. Cleveland Browns Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Browns will leave this draft with a quarterback but it won’t be Johnny Manziel. Watkins bookend’ing wth Josh Gordon is instant offense.
5. Oakland Raiders Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
It’s been four years since the Raiders went WR No. 1 (Darius Heyward-Bey) and before that, Tim Brown in 1988. They can’t score with Denver without firepower.
6. Atlanta Falcons Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M
Sacks (44) unraveled Matt Ryan last season and unless protection improves, there won’t be time to get balls to Julio Jones and Roddy White. This may be Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, depending on the Falcons’ final board.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The No. 1 need is a wide receiver to help Josh McCown but Lovie Smith believes that winning starts with defense and special teams. McCown is percentage offense, not deep artillery, and a scoring defense makes him better too.
8. Minnesota Vikings Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Vikes GM Rick Spielman extended Matt Cassel and said he isn’t trading Christian Ponder. Blake Bortles would be another developmental QB project and new coach Mike Zimmer is from the defensive side.
9. Buffalo Bills Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
If Jake Matthews lasts past Atlanta, he comes to Buffalo to bolster an offense in need of control up front.
10. Detroit Lions Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Bortles and Manziel should be dropping out of the top 10, but the Lions can add picks by answering a call from down lower. Detroit wants more offense for Matthew Stafford and could land it here or down a couple of slots.
11. Tennessee Titans Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Bears will be getting nervous about now as quarterbacks Bortles and Manziel keep dropping barring a trade and a run on good defensive players could be starting.
12. New York Giants Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Giants missed Martellus Bennett and know the importance of a TE for a championship offense.
13. St. Louis Rams Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
This is a wild-card situation. Notre Dame’s Zack Martin projects as a day one starter and may already be gone, but the chance to get more stupid-speed for that turf is too good to pass up.
14. Chicago Bears Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Phil Emery will have his pick from at least three of his elite-six list and Pryor is a statement-maker for the back end of Mel Tucker’s evolving defense, someone likened to Troy Palamalu in some analyses.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers Kyle Fuller, CB, Va. Tech
Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have gone offense-defense-offense-defense over the past eight drafts and took a LB last year. But Fuller is good enough to break the pattern.
16. Dallas Cowboys Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
The ‘Boys need so much help on defense and Jerry Jones pretty much shot down Manziel here, despite the obvious buzz potential. A DT would help but impact comes from pass rush and Barr brings that.