Few people know the 32 NFL teams better than the writers who cover those teams on a day-to-day basis. Those beat writers made the selections for this mock draft, and explained the picks in their words, choosing the players as if Thursday night were to unfold this way:
1. Houston (John McClain, Houston Chronicle) DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina — "The Texans are desperate for a quarterback, but they take Clowney over Johnny Manziel, unless they trade down."
2. St. Louis (Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M — "Under this scenario, the Rams have a couple of options: trade down or take an offensive tackle. I don't think they'll take Sammy Watkins. I think they'll take Matthews over Greg Robinson."
3. Jacksonville (Vito Stellino, Florida Times-Union) WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson — "They will consider Watkins and Khalil Mack, and go with Watkins because they need a franchise type receiver and don't know if Justin Blackmon will be returning from his suspension."
4. Cleveland (Tony Grossi, ESPNCleveland.com) QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — "A franchise in need of a transformation tosses up a Hail Mary. Browns may be leaning toward Khalil Mack here, though."
5. Oakland (Steve Corkran, Bay Area News Group) OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo — "The Raiders are trying to rebuild from the lines out, so there will be a major emphasis on their offensive and defensive lines."
6. Atlanta (D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) OT Greg Robinson, Auburn — "The Falcons need to improve their line play, especially at left tackle. Robinson could step in at right tackle immediately."
7. Tampa Bay (Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times) WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M — "Evans immediately fills a need for a No. 2 receiver, and he's a Vincent Jackson clone for the future."
8. Minnesota (Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press) ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama — "After missing on Christian Ponder, the Vikings are gun-shy about taking a quarterback so early. They go linebacker instead."
9. Buffalo (Tim Graham, Buffalo News) TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina — "The Bills are gathering weapons for second-year quarterback EJ Manuel, and while they've gotten some production out of incumbent Scott Chandler, the Bills haven't had a do-it-all tight end since forever."
10. Detroit (David Birkett, Detroit Free Press) CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State — "The Lions need help all over the secondary and Gilbert doubles as a dangerous kick returner."
11. Tennessee (Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean) OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA — "Barr fits the Titans' defense and fills their need for an outside linebacker. Lou Spanos, the team's new linebackers coach, knows him well from his days at UCLA."
12. New York Giants (Ralph Vacchiano, New York Daily News) OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan — "The Giants' offensive line, thanks to years of neglect, was a disaster last season and they know it's past time to stock up on big, young, powerful linemen."
13. St. Louis (Nick Wagoner, ESPN.com) CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State — "The Rams lost Cortland Finnegan and need another corner. Dennard fits the physical, press style of Gregg Williams."
14. Chicago (Dan Wiederer, Chicago Tribune) DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh — "GM Phil Emery has called the under tackle position 'the engine that drives' the Bears' defense. Donald is the best defensive tackle in this draft."
15. Pittsburgh (Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech — "The Steelers start over on defense by addressing a weak spot for them."
16. Dallas (Todd Archer, ESPN.com) OG Zack Martin, Notre Dame — "The Cowboys would like to add to their last-ranked defense, but Martin shores up the offensive line and they can address the defense later."
17. Baltimore (Aaron Wilson, Baltimore Sun) FS Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama — "The Ravens have needed a natural center fielder ever since the departure of Ed Reed. This allows them to switch Matt Elam to strong safety."
18. New York Jets (Rich Cimini, ESPN.com) WR Odell Beckham Jr., Louisiana State — "The Jets' two biggest needs are wide receiver and cornerback. With the top three corners gone, and LSU's former special-teams coach now with the Jets, Beckham is a good fit."
19. Miami (Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel) QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida — "If you don't get the quarterback right, you'll eventually be fired. Ryan Tannehill has been decent, but isn't worth the $14.6-million fifth-year option in 2015."
20. Arizona (Kent Somers, Arizona Republic) OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State — "The Cardinals have used a 3-4 defense since 2007 but have yet to develop an elite outside linebacker. They need an eventual replacement for John Abraham, who turns 36 on Tuesday."
21. Green Bay (Bob McGinn, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) DT Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame — "The Packers haven't stopped the run well since 2009. Tuitt is the massive, 5-technique they need."
22. Philadelphia (Nick Fierro, Allentown Morning Call) DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame — "Assuming the Eagles stay put, which is highly unlikely [I think they trade down], Nix makes a lot of sense for the middle of their new 3-4 and could benefit immensely from Chip Kelly's cutting-edge conditioning program."
23. Kansas City (Adam Teicher, ESPN.com) FS Calvin Pryor, Louisville — "The Chiefs need to fix the back end of their defense. If Pryor is still on the board, they will take a hard look at him."
24. Cincinnati (Geoff Hobson, Bengals.com) WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State — "Over the past five years, the Bengals have had among the league's best drafts. They haven't reached, and they've taken the best player available."
25. San Diego (Michael Gehlken, San Diego Union-Tribune) CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State — "This is a good shot for San Diego, which chooses between two top options — Roby and Jason Verrett — at arguably its No. 1 need."
26. Cleveland (Tom Reed, Cleveland Plain Dealer) WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State — "The 6-foot-5 Benjamin is a good pairing with Josh Gordon. That would give them a nice big receiving corps and would really help them in the red zone. The concern with Benjamin is his dropped passes."
27. New Orleans (Mike Triplett, ESPN.com) WR Marqise Lee, USC — "The Saints' top need is for a dynamic speed receiver who can stretch the field, and Lee's kickoff-return ability won't hurt, either."
28. Carolina (Joe Person, Charlotte Observer) WR Davante Adams, Fresno State — "As tempting as it is to take a tackle here to find a replacement for Jordan Gross, the Panthers' greater need remains a receiver."
29. New England (Karen Guregian, Boston Herald) DT RaShede Hageman, Minnesota — "If they don't trade the pick, the Patriots will go with the best available defensive lineman, and in this scenario that's Hageman."
30. San Francisco (Matt Barrows, Sacramento Bee) CB Jason Verrett, Texas Christian – "Carlos Rogers had been the 49ers' slot corner for the past three years, so Verrett could step right in and play more than 50% of the snaps as a rookie."
31. Denver (Mike Klis, Denver Post) OLB Kyle Van Noy, Brigham Young — "An outside linebacker in college who could convert to inside, Van Noy could be a fit at middle linebacker. The Broncos addressed everything in free agency but that."
32. Seattle (Bob Condotta, Seattle Times) OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA — "The Seahawks lost two of their top six linemen. Su'a-Filo is older than the typical rookie, so he might be able to come in and be less of a project. He could play either guard or tackle."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times