Mock Draft: Clowney Goes No. 1 to Texans

With the annual NFL scouting combine complete, USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis re-assesses this year's rookie prospects with a new mock draft:

1. Houston Texans — Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: There are significant questions about each of the top quarterbacks available. Clowney has red flags of his own, but none pertain to his rarely seen combination of physical attributes and talent. So why not pair him with DE J.J. Watt — and make Colts QB Andrew Luck's life miserable for the next 10 years — and let new coach Bill O'Brien develop a lower-tier QB or even try to fix Matt Schaub? Even acquiring a younger backup (Kirk Cousins? Ryan Mallett?) makes more sense for a veteran-laden Houston squad built to win now.

2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) — Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: Given this draft's perceived depth, we still think the Rams' best move would be to deal with a quarterback-hungry team (Browns? Vikings?) and parlay their 2012 trade of the Robert Griffin III selection into additional draft currency. Barring that, Robinson is probably too huge (6-5, 332) and athletic to pass up. He may not be ready to play left tackle immediately but would have the luxury of starting on the right side in St. Louis — assuming LT Jake Long's injured knee allows him to play Week 1.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Before arriving in Jacksonville, GM Dave Caldwell worked for two organizations (Colts, Falcons) that experienced sustained success with pocket passers Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan, respectively. Entering Year 2 of the Jags' extensive rebuild, Bridgewater seems to be the guy best suited to stabilize the position for the short and long term.

4. Cleveland Browns — Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida: This team obviously has a hole under center, and maybe drafting Johnny Manziel would be a more exciting way to fill it. But Cleveland's best offensive players are Pro Bowlers Joe Thomas (LT), Josh Gordon (WR) and Jordan Cameron (TE). Wouldn't a big passer (Bortles is 6-5, 232) who is comfortable in the pocket best leverage the talents of such teammates?

5. Oakland Raiders — Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: He could make an impact along the lines of A.J. Green or Julio Jones. Given that, the Raiders might be best served to do what the Bengals did in 2011 and get the game-breaking receiver first and then focus on quarterbacks like Derek Carr, who's just down the road from Oakland.

6. Atlanta Falcons — Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: The Atlanta O-line was an embarrassment in 2013 as QB Matt Ryan and his $104 million contract were sacked 44 times, the most of his six-year career, while the offense produced just 3.9 yards per rush. Matthews (son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews) may have literally been born to play left tackle and would instantly stabilize this unit.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: Though he may not be a perfect scheme fit for Lovie Smith's Cover-2 defense, a player who draws comparisons to James Harrison and Von Miller is too good to pass up. And though Mack does just fine in coverage, his ability to rush the passer would be the most welcome asset to a team that struggled to generate pressure. Mack would form a nice tandem with DT Gerald McCoy, whose nine sacks were more than a quarter of the team's total.

8. Minnesota Vikings — Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: He's obviously not the prototypical pocket passer that new offensive coordinator Norv Turner is accustomed to working with. But consider how effective RBs Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore and Alfred Morris have been after being paired with multi-dimensional quarterbacks, then imagine what Adrian Peterson might do if teamed with Manziel. WRs Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings and TE Kyle Rudolph are a solid group of receivers in need of more effective quarterback play.

9. Buffalo Bills — Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: The 6-5, 231-pounder could be the perfect solution to Buffalo's passing woes. Most importantly, he'd be a major upgrade in the red zone for a team that didn't have anyone catch more than three TDs in 2013.

10. Detroit Lions — Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: He's big (6 feet, 202 pounds), fast (4.37 40-yard dash time), and his return skills are a bonus. Given Detroit's lackluster play at corner in 2013, Gilbert would be an asset for a team that annually spends one quarter of its schedule playing Aaron Rodgers or the Bears' mega-wideout tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

11. Tennessee Titans — C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: A fast-flowing linebacker with a team-first attitude and winning DNA infused from the Crimson Tide should fit seamlessly into a defense expected to convert to a 3-4 front.

12. New York Giants — Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: Getting after quarterbacks has won the Giants two titles since 2007. They need to get back to that formula while facing the prospect of losing DE Justin Tuck a year after Osi Umenyiora walked. Jason Pierre-Paul's injury issues also underscore the need for a talent like Ealy.

13. Rams — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: St. Louis struggled on the back end in 2013. Adding a player who can defend deep and has the speed to run down enemy QBs Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick for the foreseeable future would be a plus.

14. Chicago Bears — Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: The Bears' myriad free agent issues will probably preclude a new deal for injured DT Henry Melton. But the requirement to replenish the defensive line and bolster the league's worst run defense remains. Enter Donald, whose athleticism could make him a star in a scheme that relies on interior quickness.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers — Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Even if the Steelers can afford to hang on to veteran Ike Taylor for another year, it's time to start getting younger and deeper in the secondary.

16. Dallas Cowboys — Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: Pro Bowl DT Jason Hatcher is scheduled to be a free agent, and Dallas desperately (and unsuccessfully) searched for players to put next to him last year before ultimately finishing last in total defense.


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