The draft is less than a month away, but scouts are still working hard to put the finishing touches on draft boards across the league. With team visits, private workouts and background searches nearly completed, we can begin to make solid assertions on what might transpire in the first two rounds of the draft.
Here’s my latest mock draft based on what we’ve learned over the final month through pro-day performances and private workouts:
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South CarolinaA frontline featuring Clowney, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus would make AFC quarterback shake in their boots facing the Texans.
2. St. Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&MGreg Robinson is the better athlete and offers more upside, but it could be hard for Jeff Fisher to pass on the more polished Matthews based on his relationship with the family.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&MSay what you want about Manziel’s potential flaws, there is no doubt that he would energize the Jaguars with his presence and spectacular playmaking ability.
4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, ClemsonAdding an explosive weapon like Watkins to a lineup featuring Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron would give the Browns the top receiving corps in the AFC North.
5. Oakland Raiders: Blake Bortles, QB, Central FloridaWith Matt Schaub set to lead the team in 2014, the Raiders can afford take a patient approach with Bortles.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, AuburnProtecting Matt Ryan is the team’s priority after watching him get pummeled in the pocket a season ago.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&MThe Mike Williams’ trade paves the way for the team to add Evans as a complement to Vincent Jackson in the passing game.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Khalil Mack, OLB, BuffaloLinebacker isn’t an obvious need, but the Vikings could elect to take the best player available with Mack on the board at this pick.
9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLAThe Bills could elect to take a talented tight end to help E.J. Manuel, but the defense could use a versatile SAM linebacker/pass rusher to complement Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes off the edges.
10. Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron, TE, North CarolinaJim Caldwell’s experience with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis could prompt him to surround Matthew Stafford with a explosive weapons on the perimeter.
11. Tennessee Titans: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma StateDefensive coordinator Ray Horton’s success with Patrick Peterson could persuade the Titans to take a rangy, athletic cornerback with superb ball skills.
12. New York Giants: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama:Mosley’s athleticism and versatility would bring another dimension to a defense that’s struggled the past few seasons.
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, AlabamaJeff Fisher would be wise to give Greg Williams an aggressive safety with playmaking skills based on the defensive wizard’s success in Tennessee (Blaine Bishop), Washington (Sean Taylor) and New Orleans (Darren Sharper).
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, PittsburghDonald is an ideal 3-technique in the Bears’ Tampa 2 scheme because of his speed, athleticism and quickness.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan StateThe Steelers need to find a replacement for Ike Taylor as the designated No. 1 corner in the lineup. Dennard is an ideal fit with his grit, toughness and ball skills.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, LouisvilleSecuring a pass rusher is a top priority, but Pryor is rated higher than any available defensive end at this point. Thus, Jerry Jones opts to fill one of the Cowboys’ biggest needs with his first.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, MichiganOzzie Newsome has a reputation for snagging Pro Bowl-caliber players in the first round. Lewan has all of the tools to be a dominant player at his position, which makes this pick a no-brainer at this point.
18. New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USCThe Jets have made a concerted effort to upgrade the receiving during the offseason, but adding a dynamic weapon like Lee in the middle will help Geno Smith and Michael Vick become more efficient from the pocket.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre DameMartin’s versatility makes him an ideal fit for the Dolphins as a potential swing player along the offense line.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Dee Ford, OLB, AuburnJohn Abraham led the Cardinals with 11.5 sacks in 2013, but he is 35 and on the backside of his career. Ford could serve as his apprentice for a season before taking over as the team’s designated pass rusher.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio StateDom Capers love to throw out exotic looks to disrupt the flow of offensive schemes. Shazier is versatile playmaker with the ability blitz, run or cover from multiple spots on the front seven.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio StateRoby is a talented cover man with the speed, athleticism and movement skills to thrive in an aggressive scheme.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSUAndy Reid desperately needs an explosive playmaker on the perimeter to make the Chiefs’ version of the West Coast offense pop. Beckham is a dynamic receiver-returner with the talent and potential to be a star as a pro.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kony Ealy, DE, MissouriThe loss of Michael Johnson robbed the Bengals of a young, athletic rusher with extraordinary length. Marvin Lewis fills the void by taking Ealy with the Bengals’ first pick.
25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia TechThe Chargers need a long, rangy cover corner to match up with the big-bodied receivers that dominate the AFC West.
26. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, LouisvilleGM Ray Farmer patiently waits for his franchise quarterback to fall into his lap. Bridgewater gives the Browns a legitimate signal caller to build their future playoff aspirations around.
27. New Orleans Saints: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon StateThe creative offensive mind of Sean Payton won’t allow him to bypass a talented playmaker like Cooks at this point.
28. Carolina Panthers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, AlabamaThe departure of Jordan Gross could force GM Dave Gettleman to the focus his efforts on finding a blindside protector for Cam Newton.
29. New England Patriots: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, MinnesotaIt’s hard to find big, athletic defenders with Hagemen’s physical tools. Although effort and desire are huge concerns, Belichick needs to add youth to a defensive line that’s long in the tooth.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise StateThe 49ers might be forced to look for a pass rusher with Aldon Smith’s off-field actions become a huge distraction. Lawrence is a fluid athlete capable of rushing the passer from a three-point stance or upright position.
31. Denver Broncos: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLAAfter watching his offensive line bullied at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, John Fox insists on adding a beefy blocker with a nasty disposition.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Morgan Moses, OT, VirginiaThe Seahawks rolled to the world title despite playing with a patchwork offensive line. Moses addresses the void at right tackle and is a perfect fit in the ‘Hawks’ zone-based blocking scheme.
33. Houston Texans: AJ McCarron, QB, AlabamaThe Texans have all of the offensive weapons needed to be a force in the AFC, but the quarterback position must be addressed. McCarron is the ultimate winner with a ton of experience managing game situations and egos.
34. Washington Redskins: Joel Bitonio, OT, NevadaJay Gruden most important job is to help RGIII return to his playmaking ways. Adding a talented pass protector to solidify the edges is a great lace to start.
35. Cleveland Browns: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio StateBen Tate’s signing won’t prevent the Browns from adding a punishing runner to the stable. Hyde can contribute as a role player initially, before taking over as the full-time runner in a year or so.
36. Oakland Raiders: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida StateJernigan would add some juice to the Raiders’ defensive line with his athleticism and non-stop motor.
37. Atlanta Falcons: Jason Verrett, CB, TCUThe Falcons released Asante Samuel in the offseason, so finding a quality nickel corner could be a priority despite drafting two young players a season ago. Verrett is arguably the top corner in the draft, but his size keeps him out of the 1st round.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYULovie Smith inherits a loaded defense, but needs a versatile SAM linebacker to fill out the line up. Van Noy is disruptive defender capable of creating chaos as rusher or in coverage.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tre Mason, RB, AuburnThe loss of MJD makes it imperative to add a young RB despite the presence of Toby Gerhart. Mason is an ideal complement as a change of pace runner.
40. Minnesota Vikings: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSUDerek Carr will be in play at this point, but Mettenberger’s talent and experience in pro-style system under one of Norv Turner’s protégées (Cam Cameron) makes him the better fit in Minnesota.
41. Buffalo Bills: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, WashingtonTo help E.J. Manuel become more efficient in the pocket, the Bills could add a big-bodied tight end with Rob Gronkowski-like skills to the line up.
42. Tennessee Titans: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSUThe Titans want to get back to being a physical offensive squad but need a hammerhead runner to pave the way. Hill is a big, physical runner with sneaky quickness and wiggle.
43. New York Giants: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas TechThe Giants could use a hybrid tight end like Amaro to create mismatches in space, while providing Eli Manning with a big-bodied playmaker over the middle.
44. St. Louis Rams: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida StateCredit GM Les Snead for attempting to surround Bradford with playmakers, but the receiving corps still needs a big-bodied pass catcher in the stable to serve as a red-zone weapon. Benjamin destroys smallish defenders near the goal line with his significant size-strength advantage, as evidenced by his 15 receiving touchdowns at Florida State in 2013.
45. Detroit Lions: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, NebraskaThe Lions have been looking for a No. 1 corner for years but haven’t found one capable of holding up against the dynamic receivers in the NFC North. Jean-Baptiste is far from a finished product, but his size and ball skills make him an intriguing option at this point.
46. Pittsburgh Steelers: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington StateWith Troy Polamalu nearing the end of a distinguished career, the Steelers need to groom a young, athletic safety to take his place. Bucannon is the ideal guy for the job with a strong nose for the ball and a penchant for delivering teeth-rattling shots in the hole.
47. Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Smith, DE, LouisvilleThe pressure is on Jerry Jones to find a suitable replacement for DeMarcus Ware’s production off the edge. Smith is a smooth pass rusher with explosive first-step quickness and exceptional body control.
48. Baltimore Ravens: Cody Latimer, WR, IndianaJoe Flacco missed Anquan Boldin’s presence a season ago, so Ozzie Newsome will attempt to add a big-bodied playmaker to the mix in the draft. Latimer is a size-speed monster with outstanding natural receiving skills.
49. New York Jets: Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia TechRex Ryan is a masterful schemer, but he needs an explosive athlete off the edge to increase the Jets’ sack production in 2014. Attaochu lacks polish as a rusher, but his natural athleticism and strength could make him a disruptive force in the Jets’ aggressive scheme.
50. Miami Dolphins: Chris Borland, ILB, WisconsinAdding a Zach Thomas clone would work well in Miami. Borland is a tackling machine with the instincts and awareness to thrive behind the Dolphins’ imposing frontline.
51. Chicago Bears: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern IllinoisAfter watching balls repeatedly fly over the top of the defense last season, Marc Trestman will convince Phil Emery to invest heavily in athletic safeties on draft day. Ward is a gifted ball hawk with terrific instincts and field awareness.
52. Arizona Cardinals: Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre DameWith Darnell Dockett signs of slowing down as the Cardinals’ designated disruptive defender, GM Steve Keim could enter the draft intent on identifying a potential successor.
53. Green Bay Packers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn StateThe loss of James Jones leaves a void in the Packers’ three-receiver lineup. Robinson is a big, physical pass catcher with underrated athleticism and explosiveness.
54. Philadelphia Eagles: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno StateThe loss of DeSean Jackson has garnered the headlines, but it’s the void created by the departure of veteran Jason Avant that could have the greatest impact Nick Foles’ efficiency from the pocket. Avant routinely made key catches over the middle of the field in critical situations. Chip Kelly could peg Adams to slide into Avant’s role as the versatile No. 3 receiver.
55. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Martin, C, USCNew offensive coordinator Hue Jackson wants to run the ball up the gut, but the team needs an athletic center with strength and power to execute his wishes. Martin has all of the tools to develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber pivot at the next level.
56. San Francisco 49ers: Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole MissThe 49ers need a speed receiver on the perimeter to open up the field for Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Moncrief is a remarkable size-speed athlete, with the potential to slide into Boldin’s spot when the veteran retires in a few seasons.
57. San Diego Chargers: Louis Nix III, NT, Notre DameNix is a classic 3-4 nose tackle with the size and strength to two-gap at the point of attack.
58. New Orleans Saints: Keith McGill, CB, UtahRob Ryan loves long, rangy corners with press-man skills. McGill is a talented cover man with the size-strength combination to match up with the big-bodied receivers dominating the NFC South.
59. Indianapolis Colts: Lamarcus Joyner, S/CB, Florida StateJoyner lacks the prototypical size of a starting NFL cornerback, but his versatility, toughness and physicality should make him an ideal nickel corner as a pro.
60. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Matthews, WR, VanderbiltThe Panthers desperately need a No. 1 receiver after parting ways with Steve Smith during the offseason. Matthews shattered the receiving marks in the SEC while developing a game that is more pro-ready than most of his counterparts.
61. San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Roberson, CB, FloridaRoberson isn’t the most explosive athlete at the position, but he is a sound technician with terrific instincts, anticipation and ball skills.
62. New England Patriots: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre DameRob Gronkowski’s injury could prompt Bill Belichick to take a closer look at the tight end position early in the draft. Niklas is an intriguing option because of his size, length and big play potential.
63. Denver Broncos: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon StateJohn Fox could elect to bring in a high-motor rusher like Crichton to fortify the Broncos’ defensive line.
64. Seattle Seahawks: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSUThe Seahawks need a rugged receiver to handle the dirty work over the middle. Landry excelled in that role at LSU and has some Anquan Boldin-like qualities that makes him a great fit in the Seahawks’ offense.
Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.