Head-to-head: Three-round mock

Illustration by Rafa Alvarez

When we roll out typical mock drafts, you're not getting our opinion on a player, or what a team should do. No, you're getting a projection of what we think a team could do in each position. This will be different. In this case, you'll get a better glimpse of how we value players, and you'll get a very clear glimpse of what we would do if we had the chance to make the picks.

And we're going to make 100 picks -- 50 for each of us -- taking you through three full rounds. The rules:

1. We rotate picks: Todd has odds, Mel has evens, and picks are made for each slot through Round 3.
2. These are our picks: Each selection reflects our call, not what we think teams want.
3. It's about the board: The analysis is less a scouting report, and more about why the pick was made.

Now that you know the rules, let's get to the action ...

First round

1. Houston Texans

Todd McShay's pick: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Analysis: No surprise here. Clowney is the No. 1 prospect on my board, a once-in-a-decade type of natural talent, and the right choice at the top of the draft. We'll try to get our quarterback at No. 33.

2. St. Louis Rams (from WAS)

Mel Kiper's pick: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Analysis: I'm interested in Greg Robinson here, but if the top tackle in the draft has one area where he can struggle early, it's going to be in pass protection, so I go with a greater assurance of impact. Watkins can be special -- and soon.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

McShay's pick: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Analysis: We need a quarterback, but Mack is one of the four elite players in this draft class, and we think he's long enough to play the "Leo" role (hybrid DE/OLB) in Gus Bradley's defensive scheme, but if not, we can move him to linebacker. Regardless, he's an every-down impact defender.

4. Cleveland Browns

Kiper's pick: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Analysis: I have five of the first 83 picks in this draft, seven in the first four rounds. I'm going to add talent, so I'm willing to place a big bet on a player with the potential to change the face of my franchise. And I do so knowing he doesn't have to start immediately.

5. Oakland Raiders

McShay's pick: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Analysis: Killed it with this pick. Got my second-ranked prospect at No. 5, and he plays a need position. Raiders fans should be happy with this one. Robinson has the potential to develop into an elite left tackle.

6. Atlanta Falcons

Kiper's pick: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Analysis: If I'm Atlanta, I'd like at least one tackle out of this draft, and in drafting for them I'm going with Lewan, a top-5 talent in this draft and a nasty run-blocker even with the great length and athleticism you want in a left tackle.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

McShay's pick: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Analysis: I know that Aaron Donald is in play here, but I love this pick. Evans is the second-ranked wide receiver on my board after Sammy Watkins, and we are in need of a wide receiver to play opposite Vincent Jackson.

8. Minnesota Vikings

Kiper's pick: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Analysis: It's simply not a good value spot for me to target cornerback, safety or linebacker -- all need areas -- and I can't move down in this situation. So I go after need No. 1 and target a high-ceiling QB who I don't have to ask to start in Week 1.

9. Buffalo Bills

McShay's pick: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Analysis: I have Kiper to thank for this one, as he passed on Matthews to take Taylor Lewan at No. 6, and I've got Matthews ranked higher on my board (No. 5 overall). I'm sprinting to the podium. I needed to get the Bills a right tackle, and Matthews was effective on both the right and the left in college. He's a plug-and-play starter.

10. Detroit Lions

Kiper's pick: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Analysis: I want impact, but I'm a little concerned with developmental learning curve and value of taking a CB here. It's also a little too high to take one of the safeties. And while I've added Golden Tate, if Calvin Johnson is out, this offense could stall. I'm targeting this potential star to round out my WR depth.

11. Tennessee Titans

McShay's pick: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Analysis: This is the first pick I've made so far that I'm not thrilled with, only in the sense that I have Dennard rated a little lower than this on my board. But the bottom line is that Dennard is a really good football player, and I needed to get Tennessee a cornerback at some point.

12. New York Giants

Kiper's pick: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Analysis: Getting a disruptive force on the D-line here is important, given the state of the depth chart up front. I considered Eric Ebron here, but I can't pass on Donald.

13. St. Louis Rams

McShay's pick: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Analysis: With Sammy Watkins going No. 2 overall, we can take Martin here and plug him in at right tackle, filling another big need on offense. He'll help in pass protection but also make us more physical in the run game. Watkins as a perimeter weapon, plus Martin to solidify the offensive line -- that's not a bad first-round draft haul.