By John Boyle Herald Writer
The NFL draft begins at 5 p.m. Thursday. Here are our picks for who’s going where.
1 Houston | Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Texans would like to trade back, but if not, the most talented player in the draft will make an already scary pass rush even better.
2 St. Louis | Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
(From Washington) Another team looking to trade back, the Rams could do worse than adding a potential stud left tackle in a division full of nasty defenses.
3 Jacksonville | Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley knows defense can win championships. He just watched his former team do it.
4 Cleveland | Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Johnny Manziel would be the splashy move here, but instead the Browns do the smart thing and take the best player available to help their offense.
5 Oakland | Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Sure Oakland has other needs, but is there a more “Raider” pick than a controversial, athletic player with game-changing talent?
6 Atlanta | Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
The Falcons could be looking to trade up to grab Mack or Clowney, but if they can’t pull off that move, the smart call is protecting their franchise quarterback.
7 Tampa Bay | Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Bucs could go quarterback here, but instead look for them to make the safer play and add a playmaking receiver to an offense that lacks playmakers.
8 Minnesota | Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
The Vikings were burned by reaching for a quarterback three years ago, but because Christian Ponder didn’t pan out, they have to take a risk here again.
9 Buffalo | Jake Matthews, OT, Michigan
Second-year QB E.J. Manuel could use a receiver here, but some more protection would also work well.
10 Detroit | Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Lions added Golden Tate to an already high-scoring offense. Now it’s time to upgrade a defense that is lagging behind despite a strong D-line.
11 Tennessee | Anthony Bar, OLB, UCLA
The Titans haven’t given up on Jake Locker, so they won’t reach for a QB here. Besides, what team couldn’t use more pass rushers?
12 NY Giants | Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
After watching Eli Manning suffer through a horrific season, adding a reliable target seems a logical move for the Giants.
13 St. Louis | Aaron Donald, DT Pittsburgh
The Rams already have a scary pass rush, and now they add an elite talent to their interior line.
14 Chicago | C.J. Mosley, ILB, LSU
Non edge-rushing linebackers have been devalued in the draft, but Luke Kuechly serves as a good reminder that middle linebacker can still be incredibly valuable.
15 Pittsburgh | Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The Steelers’ aging defense could use help as well, but Ben Roethlisberger needs more weapons, and Beckham is a pretty darn good option at 15.
16 Dallas | Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
If the Cowboys are going to escape their perpetual 8-8 limbo, they desperately need to upgrade their defense.
17 Baltimore | Zach Martin, OG, Notre Dame
Martin can play tackle and guard, and wherever he plays, he could help upgrade a line that allowed QB Joe Flacco to be sacked 48 times in 2013.
18 NY Jets | Darqueze Denard, CB, Michigan State
Yes, the Jets used a first-rounder on a corner last year as well, but as a certain Super Bowl champion team in Seattle can attest, strong cornerback play goes a long way.
19 Miami | Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The Dolphins need line help, and may need to trade up to get the player they’re looking for. If not, they’ll take a chance on the raw but physically gifted Kouandjio.
20 Arizona | Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The Cardinals know Carson Palmer doesn’t have much left in the tank, and will hope that this Carr turns out better than his older brother, former No. 1 overall pick David.
21 Green Bay | Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Packers should be thrilled that Clinton-Dix, a top-15 talent, is still there to provide instant help for what was at times a porous defense in 2013.
22 Philadelphia | Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The Eagles parted ways with DeSean Jackson, but can still have in Cooks a small, speedy receiver capable of making big plays in Chip Kelly’s offense.
23 Kansas City | Marqise Lee, WR, USC
It’s a mini-run on Pac-12 receivers! Lee could help balance out a passing attack that relies too heavily on Dwayne Bowe.
24 Cincinnati | Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Pryor might be the best player still on the board, but he also fits a need for the Bengals, who would love to add some secondary help to what is already a strong defense.
25 San Diego | Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Chargers need help at cornerback, and they share a division with Peyton Manning and Denver’s historically prolific offense, so best-available CB seems like a no-brainier here.
26 Cleveland | Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
(From Indianapolis) After passing on Manziel with the No. 4 pick, the Browns look to find their quarterback of the future here.
27 New Orleans | Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Shazier’s speed and athleticism will provide a nice upgrade to a defense that took a step forward in 2013, but still has room to grow.
28 Carolina | Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Receiver has to be tempting for the Panthers after releasing Cam Newton’s favorite target, Steve Smith, but protecting Newton has to be the top priority.
29 New England | Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Both of the Patriots’ starting DTs are on the wrong side of 30 and dealt with injuries last year. It’s time to start looking for young dept here.
30 San Francisco | Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
The 49ers have the ammunition to move up, but if they stay here, adding to their one weakness on defense is a logical decision.
31 Denver | Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
In case you missed Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos’ record-setting offense can be affected by a strong pass rush. Bitonio, a tackle in college, will likely play guard in NFL, which is a position of need for Denver.
32 Seattle | Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Pete Carroll believes a defense can never have too many pass rushers, and with Chris Clemons gone and Cliff Avril in the final year of his contract, Lawrence makes sense, even if he doesn’t necessarily fill a 2014 need.