For the draftees, it meant two more weeks of being picked apart by unnamed scouts.

For NFL general managers, it meant two more weeks of creating elaborate smokescreens.

And for reporters, the NFL’s decision to push its annual draft back two weeks meant additional time to gather information and offer up more accurate mock drafts, right?

Um, not so fast.

Despite everyone having more time to analyze — or is that over-analyze? — the draft, it remains as unpredictable as ever. The pre-draft buildup is the one time telling lies is not only acceptable, it is an integral part of the process. Then, once the draft starts, the entire first round can take a left turn as soon as the initial trade is made. And there will be trades: At least four in every first round since 2006.

This year’s draft is complicated by a quarterback class where beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The quarterbacks have generated a wide range of opinions and a high risk/reward factor at the NFL’s most important position.

That should give the first round even more unpredictability than usual, which means most mock drafts, like most NCAA tournament pools, will be ready for the waste basket long before the Green Bay Packers take their turn at No. 21. Indeed, no matter how far the NFL pushes back the draft — and there’s talk it will be moved back even further next year — it will remain impossible to predict.

That said, here is one guess at how the first round will go:

Houston: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina — Texans had one of the NFL’s most anemic pass rushes ... and that was with J.J. Watt.

St. Louis: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn — Here’s an idea: Instead of replacing quarterback Sam Bradford, try blocking for him.

Jacksonville: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — Johnny Football is just too tempting for a franchise that needs pizzazz.

Cleveland: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson — Browns wanted Manziel but are thrilled to land Watkins, who is Sterling Sharpe with speed.

Oakland: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo — No way Raiders thought a dynamic pass rusher like Mack would still be on the board.

Atlanta: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M — Falcons can’t let quarterback Matt Ryan take another pounding like he took last season.

Tampa Bay: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M — Buccaneers also wanted Manziel but settle for Vincent Jackson’s new running mate.

Minnesota: Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt — New coach Mike Zimmer had Geno Atkins in Cincinnati and Donald is an Atkins clone.

Buffalo: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina — Young quarterback E.J. Manuel has no excuses with the stable of weapons he has around him.

Detroit: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State — Lions secondary has been a sore spot for a long time, which is not a good thing in the NFC Central.

Tennessee: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA — Quarterback Jake Locker is in the final year of his contract but Titans fill a more immediate need with a pass rusher.

New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan — Giants offensive line suffered a meltdown last season. Only problem is Lewan might not make it this far.

St. Louis: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State — Many scouts think Gilbert is the second-best athlete in the draft behind Clowney.

Chicago: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville — With Donald off the board, Bears turn their eyes toward long-neglected safety position.

Pittsburgh: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech — Much like the Bears, Steelers are rebuilding their once-fearsome defense.

Dallas: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame — Not a sexy pick for Jerry Jones, but former University of Wisconsin center Travis Frederick wasn’t a sexy pick last year and look how he turned out.

Baltimore: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama — Clinton-Dix and Matt Elam will give Ravens a Seahawks-like safety tandem.

New York Jets: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU — With Beckham and free agent Eric Decker catching passes, maybe a Jets quarterback will have a chance to succeed.

Miami: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama — Dolphins want to trade up for Lewan or Martin but end up with Kouandjio or UCLA guard Xavier Su’A-Filo.

Arizona: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State — Cardinals put a Carson Palmer succession plan in place.

Green Bay: Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State — Cardinals could spoil the Packers’ day by taking Shazier, in which case Alabama ILB C.J. Mosley is the pick. Packers need — yes, NEED — someone to shadow NFC quarterbacks such as Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.

Philadelphia: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State — DeSean Jackson was sent away and Chip Kelly’s offense needs speed, making this a no-brainer.

Kansas City: Marqise Lee, WR, USC — Injuries and poor quarterback play hurt Lee in 2013, but put on 2012 film and you’ll see why Chiefs are ecstatic.

Cincinnati: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama — Were it not for injury concerns, Mosley would be a top-10 pick.

San Diego: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame — Unless they really like one of the remaining cornerbacks, Chargers will fill hole at nose tackle.

Cleveland: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville — Browns and Vikings have the same quarterback mantra: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

New Orleans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida — Little- known fact: Drew Brees is 35.

Carolina: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State — As much as Panthers need an offensive tackle, they need a wide receiver more.

New England: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota — Properly motivated, Hageman has a chance to be great. Patriots are pretty good at motivation.

San Francisco: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State — For Kaepernick to be a more effective passer, maybe he needs another big-time target.

Denver: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU — Did you watch the Super Bowl? Broncos defense needs help.

Seattle: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State — Because the Seahawks can never have enough defensive linemen.

Contact Tom Oates at toates@madison.com or 608-252-6172.

Sports Columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal

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(6) comments

DowntownTruth
DowntownTruth

Hey Tom - just read your article patting Teddy T on the back in Fridays paper then reviewed your picks (guesses) from thurs - I realize that it is the trend, but don't you feel a bit pathetic for the absolute lack of accountability? Will you do a follow up about how far off / how many of 32 u had correct? Thanks for the Onion-like end of the week.

River
River

Tom had haha all the way. ????

Boot
Boot

How could the WSJ be losing readers when Oatesy continues to put out scintillating sports journalism like this? Fantastic work Tom!

Cornelius_Gotchberg
Cornelius_Gotchberg

I'd LUV to see Shazier in the Green-n-Gold!

@River;

Will you be wearing your Herschel walker Vi_Queens jersey (symbolic of their unique approach to personnel matters) while you watch them whiff with another lousy pick tonight?

You & @Crow Barr can drown your sorrows tonight with a couple of Grain Belt 40's while you contemplate another year of the "Purple" getting flushed.

Me? I'll watch to see the next player with the tremendous good fortune to be "selected" by the 13 Time World Champion Green Bay Packers & wear the hallowed Green-n-Gold in TitleTown.

GO PACKERS!!

The Gotch

Crow Barr
Crow Barr

Gotchie, football is a long way off, Brewers are slowly tanking, the Bucks are watching the playoffs in some bar and the Wisconsin NHL team is....oh, there isn't one.

Packers 2014 record: 7 wins, 9 losses, gotta win your home games and they will except for DA-BEARS!

River
River

... And a 90% incorrect article. Nope, 96%. Let's regroup when the draft is done.

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