FOX Sports South offers a whimsical 'do-over' of the 2014 NFL Draft -- at least for Round 1 -- where the clubs are hypothetically granted a short-term window to revisit their early picks from last May. To clarify, we're not re-arranging the slot swapping that occurred leading up to the '14 draft -- such as Buffalo's trade with Cleveland, thus moving up to the No. 4 overall spot. We're simply offering the chance, relatively free and clear, to make a new selection, if necessary. (Photos: Cary Edmondson/Brad Penner/Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
1. Houston Texans -- LB Khalil Mack
ACTUAL PICK: DE Jadeveon Clowney ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Odell Beckham Jr., Clowney ...REASONS FOR MACK: 1) This time last year, the Texans were reportedly torn between Clowney (hailed as a once-in-a-generation talent) and Mack, an explosive athlete (6-foot-3, 251 pounds) who dominated his competition in college (Buffalo). 2) As a rookie, Mack (4 sacks, 59 tackles) bore the look of a future All-Pro, while bringing some stability to a Raiders defense that remains a major work-in-progress. 3) Of equal importance, Mack appears to be the "safer" choice over Clowney, who essentially lost his rookie campaign to injury. 4) In hindsight, the Texans might have been better off trading the top selection. As this mock do-over will attest, burgeoning stars can be found throughout the top 10 (and beyond).
2. St. Louis Rams -- WR Odell Beckham Jr.
ACTUAL PICK: OT Greg Robinson ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Clowney, Robinson, Sammy Watkins ... REASONS FOR BECKHAM: 1) Yes, Beckham's one-hand, reach-back snag against the Cowboys shall forever remain one of the greatest touchdown catches in NFL history. But the kid's amazing rookie campaign actually transcended that moment. In just 12 games, OBJ rolled for 91 catches, 1,305 yards and 12 TDs. 2) Beckham has superstar written all over him, perhaps joining the ranks of Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown by season's end. 3) Let's be honest: Even with a properly motivated Kenny Britt in the mix, the Rams have nothing in Beckham's class, receiver-wise. 4) Robinson's upside notwithstanding, St. Louis should be happy playing the waiting game of grabbing an O-lineman at No. 14 overall.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -- QB Blake Bortles
ACTUAL PICK: Bortles ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Clowney, Watkins ... REASONS FOR BORTLES: 1) Bortles had a rough rookie campaign, tossing more INTs (17) than TDs (11); and in his final starts, he failed to crack 230 yards passing each time. But who cares? Bortles has the physical presence of an eventual franchise QB. 2) No reason for concern here: Bortles' rookie numbers (2,908 yards passing) compare favorably to John Elway from 1983 -- who tallied 1,663 yards passing, eight total TDs (seven passing) and 14 INTs over 10 starts. 3) Jags GM David Caldwell restocked the receiver shelf in last year's draft, landing Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson -- nice complementary parts to a No. 1 wideout, like Justin Blackmon (possible reinstatement in 2015) -- and finding a potential gem in undrafted rookie Allen Hurns (51 catches, 677 yards, 6 TDs).
4. Buffalo Bills -- WR Sammy Watkins
ACTUAL PICK: Watkins ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Clowney, Greg Robinson, Mike Evans ... REASONS FOR WATKINS: 1) The Bills gave up a lot last year, surrendering a first- and fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft -- simply to move up four slots in Round 1. And Buffalo got its man, bolstering the vertical attack with Watkins (65 catches, 982 yards, 6 TDs). 2) As a rookie, Watkins had four breakout outings for the Bills, averaging seven catches, 13 targets, 131 yards and one TD against the Dolphins, Vikings, Jets and Broncos, respectively. 3) If Beckham had dropped to No. 4 for this social experiment, the Bills' brass would have had a gut-wrenching decision. Of course, Watkins routinely pledged his allegiance to Buffalo before the 2014 draft. He's a long-term keeper, perhaps in the mold of Hall of Famer Andre Reed.
Timothy T. Ludwig
5. Oakland Raiders-- DE Jadeveon Clowney
ACTUAL PICK: LB Khalil Mack ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Mike Evans, Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr ... REASONS FOR CLOWNEY: 1) Clowney may still end up being a reasonable facsimile of Lawrence Taylor, but the perception of him being injury-prone or less than highly motivated -- whether fair or not -- certainly played out last season. 2) Even with Khalil Mack in the fold, the Raiders still had the NFL's worst defense in 2014 (allowing 28.2 points per game). For this exercise, Clowney's presence in Oakland puts a high-profile face on Oakland's ambitious reclamation project on defense.
6. Atlanta Falcons -- OT Greg Robinson
ACTUAL PICK: OT Jake Matthews ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Matthews, Donald, Barr ...REASONS FOR ROBINSON: 1) Yes, the Falcons could use a healthy infusion of sack-happy defensive ends and rush linebackers. But Robinson has the hypothetical capacity to anchor Atlanta's offensive line for 10-12 years. With the Rams, Robinson (6-foot-5, 332 pounds) started 12 games as a combo guard-tackle on the left side and should make the full-time transformation to left tackle in 2015. 2) The Falcons have hopes for Matthews, for sure. But for this countdown, Robinson gets the slight nod.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- WR Mike Evans
ACTUAL PICK: Evans ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Donald, Barr, Jake Matthews, Kelvin Benjamin ... REASONS FOR EVANS: 1) Unfortunately, timing was everything for Evans, who lived in the shadow of fellow rookie Odell Beckham Jr. last season, despite amassing 68 catches, 1,051 yards and 12 TDs. 2) That aside, Evans surely surpassed the Bucs' expectations for their prized wideout, who racked up the majority of yards/touchdowns once Mike Glennon became the starting fixture at QB. 3) By my count, Beckham and Evans were the NFL's first pair of wideouts to collect double-digit touchdowns as rookies. 4) In a three-game explosion against the Browns, Falcons and Redskins last season, Evans cumulatively rolled for 21 catches, 458 yards and five TDs.
8. Cleveland Browns -- DT Aaron Donald
ACTUAL PICK: CB Justin Gilbert ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Barr, Benjamin, Jake Matthews, C.J. Mosley, Brandin Cooks .... REASONS FOR DONALD: 1) The Browns may have committed a double gaffe in Round 1 last year, grabbing Gilbert (8th overall -- rough rookie campaign) and QB Johnny Manziel (22nd slot -- possible flop). But none of that matters with this countdown. 2) It still floors me that Detroit (No. 10 slot) passed on Donald -- the ACC's most dominant defender his final year at Pitt -- knowing D-tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley might bolt in free agency. And sure enough, Suh and Fairley inked deals with the Dolphins and Rams this offseason. Donald would have been an easy plug-and-play asset with the Lions. 3) With the Rams last year, Donald (nine sacks, 37 sacks) graded out as one of the NFL's best defensive rookies.
9. Minnesota Vikings -- LB Anthony Barr
ACTUAL PICK: Barr ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Matthews, Benjamin, Bridgewater, Mosley, Taylor Lewan ... REASONS FOR BARR: 1) Barr was considered a project for the Vikings, given his novice experience as a linebacker/rush end at UCLA. But everything shaked out well for the rookie, starting all 12 games, registering four sacks/55 tackles and producing one game-winninng score -- the heroic pick-six against the Bucs in overtime (Week 8). 2) At 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, Barr is a physical freak who could develop into an annual Pro Bowler or All-Pro consideration. 3) For what it's worth, the Vikings allowed averages of just 18.8 points in Barr's last seven outings. 4) It's also worth noting: Barr tallied a sack in back-to-back games twice last season.
10. Detroit Lions -- OT Jake Matthews
ACTUAL PICK: TE Eric Ebron ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Lewan, Zack Martin ... REASONS FOR MATTHEWS: 1) In a perfect world, the Lions would have had a chance at defensive tackle Aaron Donald -- just like last year's REAL draft (along with Odell Beckham). But when in doubt, you can never go wrong in building up the O-line, and Matthews represents terrific value at the 10th slot. In some circles, Matthews (Texas A&M) initially graded out as the best O-line prospect in the 2014 class. 2) As for Ebron, Detroit's actual pick, the club learned a cold, hard lesson for the second time in six years: Don't waste a first-round pick on tight ends. Positional stars like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Julius Thomas all came after the first round; and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates went undrafted, back in 2003.
11. Tennessee Titans -- OL Zack Martin
ACTUAL PICK: OT Taylor Lewan ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Lewan, Mosley, Benjamin ...REASONS FOR MARTIN: 1) The hypothetical Titans might have been torn here, vacillating between Lewan (the real-life tackle of the future) and Martin, the NFL's best rookie O-lineman for 2014. Ultimately, we'll side with the Pro Bowler and All-Pro standout. 2) The Titans, the only NFL team of the last three decades to start a rookie QB (Zach Mettenberger), rookie tailback (Bishop Sankey) and rookie left tackle (Lewan) in the same game, have a viable chance to get better in a hurry -- regardless if they grab Heisman winner Marcus Mariota at No. 2 overall. Tennessee has four picks in the first 100, including the top choice in Round 2, allowing team officials to reset the draft board and/or field trades prior to Day 2.
12. New York Giants -- LB C.J. Mosley
ACTUAL PICK: WR Odell Beckham Jr. ...PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Martavis Bryant ... REASONS FOR MOSLEY: 1) Obviously, Giants fans are thrilled with the real-life acquisition of Beckham, a superstar-in-waiting. But the hypothetical G-Men fared well too, with the club redirecting their focus from offense to defense. 2) With the Ravens last year, Mosley racked up one Pro Bowl berth, two interceptions, three sacks and 99 tackles. He was arguably the NFL's best rookie defender last season. 3) Even with Beckham off this board, it also made Plan B sense to secure Cooks or Benjamin (73 catches, 1,008 yards, 9 TDs) at this slot, knowing QB Eli Manning and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo require a cornerstone at receiver. Thankfully, Beckham fills that role.
13. St. Louis Rams -- OT Ja'Wuan James
ACTUAL PICK: D Aaron Donald ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Lewan, Benjamin, Bridgewater ... REASONS FOR JAMES: 1) It was a mild surprise to see James -- who took a so-called backseat to O-tackle Antonio "Tiny" Richardson in college (Tennessee) -- get selected in the first round last year. But he quickly demonstrated his stuff, starting all 16 games for the Dolphins (left/right tackle). 2) Sure, the Rams could have used a dynamic asset like Aaron Donald in the '14 draft; but with the recent addition of D-tackle Nick Fairley, the hypothetical Rams get the best of three worlds here -- a) They're set along the defensive line, b) Rock-solid along the O-line and c) They possess the best Rams receiver since Torry Holt or Isaac Bruce (take your pick -- since this is a dream sequence).
14. Chicago Bears -- CB Kyle Fuller
ACTUAL PICK: Fuller ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Lewand, Bashaud Breeland, Timmy Jernigan ... REASONS FOR FULLER: 1) The Bears will face Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings) and Matthew Stafford (Lions) at least six times every year for the foreseeable future. As such, the club needs to get better at the pass rush and cornerback. Fuller certainly helps with the latter. He started 14 games last season and tallied 10 pass deflections, while regularly drawing top-flight receivers like Calvin Johnson (above), Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. 2) Chicago has a long way to go in rebuilding its defense. It's a brick-by-brick process, and Fuller represents a good starting piece for the present and future.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers -- OT Taylor Lewan
ACTUAL PICK: LB Ryan Shazier ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Benjamin, Shazier, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Justin Gilbert ... REASONS FOR LEWAN: 1) No one keeps the O-tackle cupboard stocked like the Steelers, an organization that values infrastructure picks perhaps more than any other NFL club. As such, Lewan's hypothetical addition bolsters a group which needs a long-term left tackle. 2) As a bonus, Lewan's drafting precludes the Cowboys from fortifying their own prodigious O-line; and since we already know Jerry Jones has the patience NOT to draft QB Johnny Manziel ... this meat-and-potatoes style of gamesmanship holds water.
16. Dallas Cowboys -- WR Kelvin Benjamin
ACTUAL PICK: OT/OG Zack Martin ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Clinton-Dix, Deone Bucannon, Johnny Manziel ... REASONS FOR BENJAMIN: 1) In the 2014 draft, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones reportedly had to be talked out of drafting Manziel, instead of opting for an infrastructure pick (Martin). With that knowledge, it would have been interesting to learn of Jones' perspective on this hypothetical draft board ... if only Benjamin, Clinton-Dix and Bucannon stood in front of Manziel, the 2012 Heisman at Texas A&M. 2) Benjamin had a strong rookie campaign with the Panthers (73 catches, 1,008 yards, 9 TDs), which included three 100-yard efforts, eight different games with at least one touchdown and five outings of double-digit targets. In a hypothetical world, Benjamin would be the ultimate complement to Dez Bryant.
17. Baltimore Ravens -- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
ACTUAL PICK: LB C.J. Mosley ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Bucannon, Martavis Bryant, Justin Gilbert ... REASONS FOR CLINTON-DIX: 1) The Alabama product had a solid regular season with the Packers in 2014 (one sack, one INT, nine pass deflections); but his proverbial star really took off during the playoffs, when Clinton-Dix tallied two crucial interceptions in the NFC title game against the Seahawks. 2) Given their status as playoff mainstays, the Ravens' schedule (including the postseason) typically includes Ben Roethlisberger (2-3 times), Andy Dalton (twice), Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and/or Peyton Manning. That places a greater premium on ball-hawking safeties, like Clinton-Dix. 3) For this hypothetical, the Ravens miss out on both Mosley and Timmy Jernigan.
18. New York Jets -- QB Teddy Bridgewater
ACTUAL PICK: CB Calvin Pryor ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Bucannon, Gilbert ... REASONS FOR BRIDGEWATER: 1) In real life, it would have been tough for the Jets to justify a Round 1 pick on a quarterback -- just 12 months after taking Geno Smith at the top of Round 2. That aside, this represents the perfect 'hindsight' choice for a franchise that desperately needs a cornerstone at this position. 2) Of his final six games last year, Bridgewater (2,914 yards passing, 15 total TDs) tallied two outings of 300 yards passing, three Vikings victories and five games of multiple touchdowns. 3) Of equal relevance, Bridgewater has quickly debunked the once-rampant speculation of being a bust at the NFL level. (Must be the gloves.)
19. Miami Dolphins -- RB Jeremy Hill
ACTUAL PICK: OT Ja'Wuan James ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Gilbert, Bryant, Jack Mewhort, Joel Bitonio ... REASONS FOR HILL: 1) Character concerns from his LSU days might have dropped Hill to No. 55 overall in the 2014 draft. But the kid seemingly led the life of a model citizen as a rookie, amassing 1,339 total yards (1,124 rushing) and nine TDs -- while sharing Cincy backfield duties with Gio Bernard. 2) The Dolphins have had two 1,000-yard rushers this decade -- Reggie Bush (2011) and Lamar Miller (2014). But Hill represents the kind of home-run/workhorse back that Miami hasn't had since Ricky Williams. 3) Of his final nine regular-season outings last year, Hill posted five games of 100-plus yards rushing and six TDs; and for Weeks 15-17, he notched 413 total yards and three scores.
20. New Orleans Saints -- WR Brandin Cooks
ACTUAL PICK: Cooks ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Bryant, Bucannon, Jernigan, Mewhort, Bitonio, Shazier ... REASONS FOR COOKS: 1) Cooks (53 catches/550 yards/3 TDs in 10 games last year) hit the proverbial fantasy jackpot during this offseason -- citing the triple result of Jimmy Graham getting traded to Seattle, Kenny Stills being shipped to Miami and Marques Colston simply getting another year older. 2) From a real-world standpoint, though, the Saints need the Oregon State product to bridge the club's on-the-fly transition from playoff stalwart to one-year flop to possible NFC South favorite in 2015. Plus, future Hall of Famer Drew Brees cannot flirt with 5,000 yards passing/40 TDs on middling options alone. 3) Martavis Bryant would have brought a home-run quality to the Bayou, if the hypothetical Saints had a Plan Ba at receiver.
21. Green Bay Packers -- CB Justin Gilbert
ACTUAL PICK: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Bucannon, Jernigan, Mewhort, Bitonio, Calvin Pryor ... REASONS FOR GILBERT: 1) With the Browns last year, Gilbert was tagged with two bad labels: Immature and unprofessional. Neither one is defensible from afar ... but environment certainly shapes rookies, as well. 2) Bottom line: If Gilbert (one INT, eight pass deflections) truly has the physical prowess of a top-10 pick (good size, blazing speed, superb coverage skills), then surely he would thrive in the Packers' ultra-professional atmosphere. And once again ... Green Bay would (hypothetically) benefit from a blue-chip prospect tumbling into the 20s for Round 1 (see Rodgers, Aaron).
22. Cleveland Browns -- WR Martavis Bryant
ACTUAL PICK: QB Johnny Manziel ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Jernigan, Bitonio, Preston Brown ... REASONS FOR BRYANT: 1) Bryant rocked the real-world and fantasy worlds last season, accounting for 300 yards and six touchdowns in his first four games. A few weeks later, Bryant added to his rookie legacy by scoring a lightning-fast 94-yard TD against the Bengals. 2) In the last eight years, the Browns have drafted three disappointing QBs at the 22nd slot of Round 1 -- Brady Quinn (2007), Brandon Weeden (2012) and Manziel last year. However, for this exercise, it's like the Manziel debacle never happened. 3) The Bryant addition has a second consequence: The Steelers are (hypothetically) forced to find a stellar complement to all-world receiver Antonio Brown.
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY SportsJason Bridge
23. Kansas City Chiefs -- WR Jordan Matthews
ACTUAL PICK: DE Dee Ford ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Jernigan, Bitonio, Mewhort, Preston Brown, Dominique Easley ... REASONS FOR MATTHEWS: 1) Matthews enjoyed a superb rookie season in Philly -- as the Eagles' No. 2 wideout (behind Jeremy Maclin) -- rolling for 67 catches, 872 yards and eight TDs; and in this hypothetical exercise, he would also follow Maclin to Kansas City. 2) In a drought that dates back to early December 2012, no Chiefs wideout has scored a receiving touchdown in 20 games -- a stunning cold snap for a winning club in a passing-heavy era. 3) Matthews, arguably one of the 10 greatest receivers in SEC history, is a budding star and virtual steal in the latter stages of Round 1.
24. Cincinnati Bengals -- CB Deone Bucannon
ACTUAL PICK: CB Darqueze Dennard ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Jernigan, Pryor, Breeland, Mewhort, Dennard ... REASONS FOR BUCANNON: 1) There's a reason why the Cardinals didn't sweat the loss of Antonio Cromartie during free agency. Buccanon (two sacks, three pass deflections in limited duty) should blossom into an ideal complement to Patrick Peterson in Arizona's defensive backfield. 2) For this exercise, however, Bucannon might also be viewed as an upgrade to Dennard -- one of the highest-rated corner prospects entering last year's draft. 3) That's not to say Cincinnati should abandon Dennard after a marginal rookie campaign. He could fall to the 55th slot in Round 2, allowing the Bengals to hypothetically go corner-corner at the top of the draft.
25. San Diego Chargers -- S Calvin Pryor
ACTUAL PICK: CB Jason Verrett ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Breeland, Jernigan, Mewhort, Verrett, Bitonio, Preston Brown ... REASONS FOR PRYOR: 1) Pryor was a highly coveted prospect coming out of Louisville; and he still has time to develop into a top-flight asset in the NFL. Frankly, his drop in this countdown has more to do with competition/needs of other clubs than a missed evaluation of talent. 2) On the flip side, safeties play 12-15 yards from the ball on nearly every snap. As such, they've been somehwat devalued in today's game, not unlike running backs. 3) In 2014, Pryor started 11 games for a physical Jets defense that allowed 25-plus points just seven times. With San Diego, Pryor would have been a perfect complement to two-time All-Pro safety Eric Weddle.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBruce Kluckhohn
26. Philadelphia Eagles -- CB Bashaud Breeland
ACTUAL PICK: DE Marcus Smith ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Jernigan, Preston Brown ... REASONS FOR BREELAND: 1) After covering Clemson's Pro Day in 2014, I went to lunch with a few other writers. And to a man, we all agreed that Breeland -- a real-life fourth-rounder last year (102nd overall to the Redskins) -- had similarly stellar athleticism to Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. Breeland's hands on certain passing/tip drills were excellent, as well. 2) As a rookie, Breeland anchored the Redskins' injury-riddled and often-maligned secondary, starting 15 games, collecting two picks, knocking down 13 passes and making 58 tackles. 3) Breeland was arguably one of the 10 most valuable defenders from the 2014 draft class. He would have been a great fit with Philly ... while also depriving Washington of a gem later in the draft.
Kelley L Cox
27. Arizona Cardinals -- LB Preston Brown
ACTUAL PICK: CB Deone Bucannon ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Jernigan, Teddy Bridgewater ... REASONS FOR BROWN: 1) In the last 15 years or so, the Cardinals have enjoyed much success with the drafting of defensive linemen and linebackers. The traditiion continues for this countdown, with the Cards hypothetically landing Brown at No. 27 overall. 2) Brown was a rock-solid asset in his first year with Buffalo, collecting one interception, one fumble recovery, two pass deflections and 66 tackles. Of equal relevance, Brown was consistently around the ball, exhibiting the instincts of a first-round pick. 3) Brown graded out as a top-15 linebacker among rookies last year. Moving forward, he might reach three or four Pro Bowls over the next five seasons.
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY SportsKevin Hoffman
28. Carolina Panthers -- OT Jack Mewhort
ACTUAL PICK: WR Kelvin Benjamin ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Mewhort, Marqise Lee, Davante Adams, Cody Latimer, Jarvis Landry ... REASONS FOR MEWHORT: 1) Heading into last year's draft, the Panthers were hunting high and low for quality offensive linemen and game-changing receivers. As such, they nailed the first-round selection of Benjamin (73 catches, 1,008 yards, 9 TDs). 2) Mewhort, a second-round pick in the 2014 draft (59th overall), was an exceptional asset for the Colts, starting all 14 of his games and grading above many of the O-linemen drafted in Round 1/early Round 2. 3) As a Plan B, Carolina hypothetically has a surplus of supremely athletic options at receiver -- led by Davante Adams , perhaps the NFL's best No. 3 wideout (with Green Bay).
29. New England Patriots -- DT Timmy Jernigan
ACTUAL PICK: DT Dominique Easley ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Shazier, Bitonio, Adams, Easley, Jeremiah Attaochu ... REASONS FOR JERNIGAN: 1) It happens every year in the draft. A coveted prospect holds good value to a large cluster of teams ... and yet, falls to the end of Round 1. Jernigan would represent this countdown's needless tumbler. 2) With the Ravens last year, Jernigan (four sacks) played a supporting role on a star-laden defense that ranked 6th in scoring. In Year 2, Jernigan might take a sizable leap into the 'Pro Bowl' neighborhood. And that's without the daily tutelage of Bill Belichick. Just think of what Jernigan could accomplish, while playing for Belichick and the Patriots. (Technically, we've already done the legwork.)
30. San Francisco 49ers -- LB Ryan Shazier
ACTUAL PICK: CB Jimmie Ward ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Bitonio, Adams, Easley, Ward, Attaochu ... REASONS FOR SHAZIER: 1) Tough call here amongst the names on the "considerations" list. Shazier started only five games for the Steelers last year (tallying one pass deflection and 27 tackles); but he still bears the look of a possible 10-year pro. Especially in the right system. 2) The 49ers have undergone many changes in the last few months, particularly at linebacker (Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retirements). 3) Speaking of which ... Borland would have been an easy choice for this countdown -- if he had chosen to return for his second pro campaign. Oh well.
31. Denver Broncos -- OT Joel Bitonio
ACTUAL PICK: CB Bradley Roby ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Easley, Attaochu, Roby, Adams, Jarvis Landry, QB Jimmy Garoppolo ... REASONS FOR BITONIO: 1) On the surface, infrastructure picks, like Bitonio, don't necessarily run in concert with the whole Super Bowl Or Bust theme. But then again, with the Browns last year, Bitonio graded out very well, starting all 16 games and serving on countless lists for the All-Rookie Team. 2) This may be Peyton Manning's last season in the NFL ... and he would undoubtedly appreciate the extra help along the offensive line. As a Plan B, he probably wouldn't mind a potential star like Davante Adams, either. 3) In this hypothetical exercise, the Day 1 acquisition of Bitonio boosts Denver's championship chances -- in the short term (with Peyton) and long term (with QB Brock Osweiler).
32. Minnesota Vikings -- QB Derek Carr
ACTUAL PICK: QB Teddy Bridgewater ... PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS: Attaochu, Adams, Landry, Garoppolo ... REASONS FOR CARR: 1) We could have gone either way between Carr (3,270 yards passing, 21 TDs last year) and Garoppolo, the strong-armed Patriots backup and heir apparent to Tom Brady (down the road). But there's a slight nod toward Carr, who somehow kept his sanity on a talent-deprived Raiders club in 2014. 2) Carr enjoyed two tent-pole games as a rookie, carving up the Chargers for 282 yards passing/4 TDs in October. A few weeks later, he rolled for 254 yards and three TDs in Oakland's emotional upset of San Francisco. 3) In real life, Carr's marketability may take another leap forward, given the Raiders' signing of Michael Crabtree. For this exercise, he becomes the face of the Vikings -- after Adrian Peterson bolts town.