Teddy Bridgewater has thrown for 25 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. (Al Tielemans/SI)
As with the race to the playoffs, the battle for draft position remains rather unsettled with 12 weeks of the season almost in the books. It's only fair, then, to take as close a look at the teams that are not headed to the postseason as those that are.
With that in mind, here's the first of several abbreviated mock drafts to come, spinning through the top 10 picks:
(Draft order based on current standings, including current strength of schedule tiebreaker as accumulated by ESPN.com):
1. Houston Texans (2-9): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Well, here's the upside to imploding completely after a 2-0 start. Though the Case Keenum Experiment remains in its early stages, the Texans would be remiss to pass on a potential franchise QB like Bridgewater. Houston could hit the reset button here (possibly with an entirely new coaching staff) and begin to put the Matt Schaub era behind it.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
There will be some questions heading into the draft -- fair ones -- about just how far along Mariota is in his development. (And that's if the redshirt sophomore opts to turn pro after a relatively disappointing season for his Ducks.) Pigeon-holing Mariota as a system QB, though, would be a huge mistake. Stanford coach David Shaw has said multiple times Mariota is college football's best quarterback, one capable of running any offense. He's right about the second point and not far off on the first.
3. Atlanta Falcons (2-9): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The offensive line should be of real consideration for the Falcons in Round 1. But they also badly need a guy like Clowney to help revitalize a defense that's been worked over throughout 2013. The Falcons had just 22 sacks in their first 11 games, a product of a somewhat patched-together defensive line getting little production in that category from anyone other than Osi Umenyiora.
4. Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
MMQB contributor Eric Edholm tweeted last week that a scout pegged Carr as "top 10 when all is said and done." Well, here's one spot in which he could land. Minnesota has taken a ride on the QB merry-go-round all season, from Christian Ponder to Matt Cassel to Josh Freeman. It's time to find a real answer there, and Carr is plenty capable of distributing the ball to Minnesota's underrated stock of weapons.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
With Mike Glennon shutting up a lot of draft folks by playing rather brilliantly in his rookie season, the Buccaneers, with or without Greg Schiano, can focus somewhere other than QB. Again, the offensive line could use a boost, but a linebacking corps of Barr, Lavonte David and Mason Foster could start Tampa Bay on a Carolina-like rise in 2014.
6. St. Louis Rams -- via Washington (3-7)*: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Rams still have their own 2014 first-rounder coming, so they'll have two early shots to stockpile some more youthful talent. They do have Jake Long signed through 2016, but Matthews would bolster the right tackle spot (where Joe Barksdale has held his own this season) plus give the Rams a replacement for whenever Long hits the end of the line.
7. Oakland Raiders (4-7): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Thought about Khalil Mack here to help the Raiders defense. Also considered Johnny Manziel as a home-run swing from a team desperately attempting to rebuild -- and Brett Hundley of UCLA would fall under a similar umbrella if he declared and were available. But in Evans, the Raiders add a physical receiver who can win plenty of battles. Better yet, he's thrived by finding space as Manziel ad-libs, making him a terrific match for Terrelle Pryor if Oakland gives the Ohio State product a longer look.
8. Cleveland Browns (4-7): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Quarterback will have to wait -- possibly only until Cleveland's second pick of Round 1, where a guy like Zach Mettenberger or Tajh Boyd or even Manziel might be on the table. In Watkins, the Browns would find another receiver who, like current Cleveland No. 1 Josh Gordon, can stretch the field in Rob Chudzinski's offense. Watkins and Gordon together with TE Jordan Cameron would make the Browns a headache for any defensive coordinator.
9. New York Giants (4-7):C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
It is no secret that Mosley is one of my favorite prospects in this draft, and he happens to fit a great need for the Giants. Though New York did find a little something at the MLB position by trading for Jon Beason, Mosley could supplant him or slot in elsewhere in the starting rotation. Either way, the 'Bama product could have a bright future.
10. Buffalo Bills (4-7): HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The good folks over at DraftMecca.com list Jairus Byrd as the NFL player comparison for Clinton-Dix. So ... that's kind of perfect. The Bills used the franchise tag on Byrd this season, but it's hard to imagine them bringing him back -- either with another tag or with a lucrative long-term contract. Why not just add a cheaper, younger version instead?
* = Washington plays on Monday night