As I posted on my NFL Rumors page, the Texans and Falcons are being linked in a potential pick swap. For more, click on the link.
As I did when the Texans-Bills trade rumor surfaced a month ago, What would the 2014 NFL Draft look like if such a trade did happen to go down? Here are the top 10 picks in a brief 2014 NFL Mock Draft, taking the proposed Houston and Atlanta trade into account. You can go here for my real 2014 NFL Mock Draft. Also, make sure you vote in the poll below.
Atlanta Falcons: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
As I wrote a month ago, if a rumor is already out there connecting two teams, it's probably not true. Most trades that occur in the NFL come out of nowhere. Still though, it's fun to speculate what would happen if such a transaction took place.
There's no doubt that Atlanta is moving up for Jadeveon Clowney in this scenario. It would be funny if they pulled a Kevin Costner, traded up to this spot, determined that they didn't want Clowney and snatched a second-round prospect like Dee Ford instead. But this isn't some stupid movie, unfortunately.
The Falcons have telegraphed their desire for Clowney. His off-the-field issues are problematic, but he'll be a dramatic difference-maker for Atlanta on the field. He would be a key weapon to have on defense to combat Drew Brees and Cam Newton.
St. Louis Rams: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
This is what St. Louis' preferred options look like, in order:
1. Trade down with a team wanting Jadeveon Clowney or Blake Bortles.
2. Draft Clowney if available.
3. Draft either Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins.
Most mocks have Watkins or Greg Robinson here, but the Rams are deciding between Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins at No. 2 barring a trade or Clowney being available. They are also "falling in love" with Mack, per Charlie Campbell's report. And for those wondering, this is not a smokescreen; it's the same source that gave us Alec Ogletree in 2013, which is why both Charlie and I had the Georgia linebacker mocked to St. Louis last year.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Jaguars probably want Khalil Mack if they don't go with a quarterback at No. 3, but the Rams snatched him off the board. Fortunately, there are other great consolation prizes available, including Sammy Watkins.
Justin Blackmon is suspended indefinitely. Jacksonville has reportedly been conducting business as though it doesn't expect him to be back anytime soon. Even if Blackmon does return, having Watkins on the team would give their second-round quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo?) a very potent trio of receivers to work with.
Cleveland Browns: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
There have been many reports linking the Browns and Derek Carr. It was speculated earlier that Cleveland would take the Fresno State quarterback at No. 26, but as I wrote about a month ago, I've been hearing more and more that multiple teams in the top 10 prefer Carr over both Teddy Bridgewater and/or Johnny Manziel. We're trained to think that Bridgewater and Manziel will go before Carr because of what we've heard on TV or read on news-aggregator Web sites, but "strange" things happen on Draft Day because teams simply think differently at times. This was confirmed by Charlie Campbell's report that three teams in the top 10 have Derek Carr as the No. 2 quarterback.
Though some may deem Carr a reach, the Browns need to take him if they believe he can be their new franchise quarterback. They need to give their morbid franchise some sort of spark. Besides, there's no way Carr is lasting until the 26th-overall pick.
Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Greg Robinson might be the obvious choice if the draft were to unfold like this, but Mike Evans would also be strongly considered. If the Raiders don't move down - and they're desperate to - they almost can't go wrong. Evans would give them a No. 1 receiver they currently lack. Robinson, meanwhile, would solidify the right tackle spot. Oakland was going to take Luke Joeckel if Jacksonville didn't a year ago, so Robinson is definitely an option. He'd fill a huge hole.
I'm slotting Robinson here for now. I may change my mind, but Robinson is the better consensus prospect.
Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
So, the Texans get the guy many projected to them in February and March - all while acquiring a 2015 first-round pick. That's pretty sick. Granted, the Falcons' selection will probably be anywhere between 17 and 28, but next year's class is going to be great. Check out my 2015 NFL Mock Draft for more.
If Houston can pull this off, it almost has to do it. The team will have a new franchise quarterback and an extra 2015 selection. They can then add a piece around Blake Bortles in the second round like Carlos Hyde, Marqise Lee or Jace Amaro.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
As recently written in the NFL Draft Rumors page, there have been reports linking Johnny Manziel to the Buccaneers. This could be smoke, however, and I found it interesting that former general manager Mark Dominik said that he expects Manziel to fall. Dominik undoubtedly still talks to people in the Buccaneers' organization, so he may know something.
Either way, the Buccaneers walk away with an Aggie. Mike Evans would project as a stud No. 2 receiver as a replacement for the departed Mike Williams.
Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
Tony Pauline reported that the Vikings are planning on drafting a pass-rushing linebacker like Khalil Mack (or more realistically, Anthony Barr) and then a quarterback in the second round who can fit Norv Turner's system, such as Zach Mettenberger or Tom Savage. Barr would be better in the 3-4 under normal circumstances, but Mike Zimmer's defense calls for a strongside linebacker who can get after the quarterback. Barr would be a nice fit.
Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Bills filled some of their holes in free agency, but there are three glaring positions of need that still have to be addressed: wide receiver, tight end and right tackle. Buffalo will likely choose the top player available who can fix those needs. As it stands in this mock draft, the order would likely be Jake Matthews, Mike Evans and Eric Ebron.
Matthews is just too good to pass up. He'd start instantly and could eventually be moved to the left side if the Bills think Cordy Glenn would be better at right tackle.
Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Mike Evans and Anthony Barr aren't available, but the Lions won't despair too much because they can pick either Eric Ebron or Justin Gilbert. The former is probably the more realistic option for them despite the re-signing of Brandon Pettigrew. Detroit has shown a ton of interest in Ebron, who could really give Matthew Stafford a potent intermediate target.