Dan Pluta (@DPluta08) has put together his latest 2014 NFL Mock Draft and it has literally been months since the last edition. So much has changed and the scope of the Draft is really in place now with the order set and NFL Combine having been completed.
This edition of the mock draft is based on the official 2014 NFL Draft order of picks. This list is subject to change and will throughout the NFL offseason as free agency gets under way and the Combine and Pro Days occur. These selections will more than likely be incorrect as all mock drafts typically are. Don’t let Mel & Todd tell you otherwise.
2014 NFL MOCK DRAFT Volume 8.0 (2 Rounds)
1.) HOUSTON TEXANS: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF – This is still up for debate. The Houston Texans could do a number of things here, and listing all of them would be senseless because we all know what every option is. I think given the QB class, and the inability (right now) to pick a truly #1 between Bridgewater, Manziel, Bortles and heck, even Mettenberger, McCarron and Carr, really makes it possible that Houston trades this away to grab one of them a few picks later. Or, realistically, Houston could just nab Clowney and be over with it – I’m sure J.J. Watt is lobbying for that pick. Nonetheless, it makes too much sense for the Houston Texans to grab a new QB given Schaub’s disappointing 2013 and a new coaching hire in Bill O’Brien. The question becomes, is this a veteran or a newly drafted QB? O’Brien had success in his first year at Penn State with Matt McGloin, maybe that was McGloin’s own doing or O’Brien’s coaching – nonetheless, Blake Bortles is the pick. Matt Schaub will be owed upwards of $14.5 million next season. It makes a lot of sense to say goodbye and utilize that money on free agency. Bortles brings a physical skill set that is tops in his class, plus a big arm and winning track record. Bortles showed some impressive stuff at the combine, and although Bridgewater is more NFL-ready than Bortles, I think the Texans take the UCF signal-caller.
2.) ST. LOUIS RAMS: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – This pick was probably not projected to be this high by the St. Louis front office as this selection comes via the Robert Griffin III trade back in 2012 from Washington. With that said, why not trade back and acquire more since trading partners will surely be out there looking to trade into a spot to select Bortles, Bridgewater or Manziel or even to nab Clowney. I think that option for the Rams is more than likely, but in the essence of keeping this simple, we’ll forgo trading and make a pick. With Chris Williams hitting free agency this offseason as well as Rodger Saffold, the Rams could look to shoring up the offensive line to protect Sam Bradford and help open up the running game which was boosted in 2013 by rookie Zac Stacy. This pick could be Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson. Matthews has been solid and one of the best lineman in the country all season long, and certainly will be consistent. Robinson, on the other hand, has shown he has potential with a very high ceiling. Potentially a more risk/reward scenario for St. Louis than Matthews might be – but Robinson brings high upside and will likely be a strong selection to fill in at RT or potentially take over for Jake Long at LT.
3.) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – I really thought they’d be first on the clock this time around. I don’t think it’s a secret though that Jacksonville will be focused on finding their franchise QB early. At this point, it appears that the Jags really like Teddy Bridgewater and he’s been the consensus top pick for most of the 2013 college season. I also just don’t see Jadeveon Clowney providing as much for this struggling Jags franchise (right now) as would Bridgewater. That’s not to say Clowney couldn’t be the pick, he could be – but Bridgewater makes more football sense.
4.) CLEVELAND BROWNS: John Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – I remember seeing Ian Rapoport reporting that Ray Farmer loved Marcus Mariota. That could mean two things: the Browns are selecting a QB, or the Browns are waiting to possibly select Mariota in the 2015 Draft. It does seem as if everyone is projecting Cleveland to draft a QB here. They’re probably right. Unfortunately, the Browns now have Kyle Shanahan as their Offensive Coordinator, which is about as good of an OC to have as Barack Obama as an NCAA Basketball analyst. By the way, he picks UNC to win it all again this year. Back to Cleveland though, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Browns waste a pick this year to trade for Kirk Cousins. It’d make perfect sense, really. The Skins don’t have a 1st Round pick, Cleveland has 2. The Browns don’t have an adequate QB, the Skins have 1.5. It’s funny (and not a surprise) to think about that scenario. For Cleveland fans, I hope this isn’t the way they go, but it seems to be more than likely at this point. In an effort to “ease the pain” for them, the Cleveland Browns will select John Manziel, kind of like Bill Heywood in Little Big League. But, at the end of the day, with Kyle Shanahan at the helm of the offense, the factory of sadness should continue.
5.) OAKLAND RAIDERS: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – Let’s forget all those Oakland stereotypes about only drafting the physical freaks with the speed and jumping ability. I think Oakland has a chance to make this pick just about anything as they currently are in the market for just about every position. I think Oakland is in pretty good shape at Center and the LB positions, but everything else is fair game. Fortunately, Oakland has more money in cap space to sign free agents than they know what to do with. They’ll need to do a lot this offseason making this pick difficult to project prior to free agency opening up. I think Oakland likes Tajh Boyd, but it’s a far stretch now at #5, and may make sense to wait until Rounds 2-3. Plus, when you face Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Jamaal Charles all twice a year, you need to pose a threat on D. That’s where Clowney comes in as the pick. Might not be the conventional pick right now, but Clowney is seemingly the top defensive (if not overall) player in this year’s class. The Oakland defense allowed over 28 pts per game, Clowney should help fill in on the D-Line which sees Lamarr Houston, Jason Hunter, Pat Sims, and Vance Walker all hit the open market. With the physical assets the Clowney possesses, I’d be shocked to see him slip past Oakland.
6.) ATLANTA FALCONS: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – The Falcons were a pick by many to make the Super Bowl before the 2013 season got underway. Unfortunately, now Tony Gonzalez will ride off into retirement in one of the worst team performances of his career (aside from the 2-14 ’08 Chiefs). Oh, and he’ll need to be replaced. The Falcons downfall was partly due to the rushing game. They could not rush the ball as they were 32nd in the league with less than 78 yards per game. They also could not stop the rush as they allowed nearly 136 yards per game. The offense should see a boost with the return of a healthy Julio Jones as well as Roddy White. On the other side of the ball, however, several gaps exist. Khalil Mack should be able to come in, start, and provide the Falcons a promising pass-rush and learn from the veteran, Osi Umenyiora. Mack provides a special type of length and explosiveness that Atlanta will covet for many years on D.
7.) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – The Bucs surprised many by winning 4 games, especially once Doug Martin got hurt and Mike Glennon was thrown into the fire. Tampa’s strength really resides in the defense with Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Darrelle Revis. Defensively, this team will continue to get better as the Bucs return mostly all of their starters with most of the returning components under the age of 25. What will be necessary to improve is the passing game. Lovie Smith claims a franchise QB will be available at #7, whatever that means. I just don’t see that here and Glennon did fine considering he was tossed in too early, the Bucs can afford to take a chance on him again this season. With that said, the Bucs need to give Glennon the tools to provide him the opportunity to succeed. Sammy Watkins would be a huge boost to this offense which will also see the return of Doug Martin. Martin’s return should relieve some pressure on the offensive line which gave up 47 sacks in 2013. Watkins showed at the Combine strong route-running skills and speed running an offical 4.43 (NFL Network clocked him at 4.34).
8.) MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA –The Vikings need a QB. Josh Freeman failed to deliver, Matt Cassel wants to test the market, and Christian Ponder’s wife is a bigger star on the field than he has been. Mike Zimmer has indicated his desire to land Jadeveon Clowney, but there’s no way he makes it here. This could mean the Vikings would look for a trading partner to move back and accumulate a few more early picks. The Vikings do need help with the pass-rush and at middle linebacker given Jared Allen and Marvin Mitchell hitting the market, so C.J. Mosley could be an option as will be Anthony Barr or Kony Ealy. Brian Robison is also aging and Allen really has been the rock on the Minnesota D. In 2013, the Vikings were 31st against the pass and dead-last in the NFL with 30 points allowed per game. I see two options – CB or pass-rusher. The Vikes have plenty of youth at corner with Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson, so Anthony Barr seems more likely here.
9.) BUFFALO BILLS: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – I’m not on board with many’s idea of the Bill’s drafting another QB this year. Maybe if a hot arm is around on Day 3, but unlikely. If the Bills can manage to sign Byrd back, this defense is on the verge of breaking through. The Bills do need another sideline-to-sideline LB to play with Kiko. But, priority should be given to protecting the team’s QB. I think a TE would provide more value, and regardless of signing Chandler back or not, one should be addressed this offseason, but with Jake Matthews looming – it makes too much sense to pick him here to take over for Erik Pears or allow Cordy Glenn to slide over to his natural right-side and have Matthews play LT.
10.) DETROIT LIONS: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State – The Lions (in my eyes) were as disappointing in 2013 as Atlanta and Houston. I see the talent, and understand the weaknesses, but am still unable to come to terms with them losing with that roster. I guess they’re somewhat like the 2012 Chiefs or every-year as of late Cowboys. Regardless, the Lions have to address two items early this Draft – DB and WR. Receiver wasn’t as much of a need until Nate Burleson was released leaving the Lions with only 97 receptions amongst their receivers (84 coming from Calvin Johnson). I see Mike Evans as the top receiver available, but it just doesn’t make sense to draft a 6’5 receiver when you already have Megatron (6’5) and more than likely Kris Durham (38 catches at 6’6). Brandin Cooks or Odell Beckham make the most sense here and both looked good at the Combine. I think Detroit sits tight on WR and hopes to take one of the above early on Friday. I think the Safety position is rising on most team’s draft board’s making Clinton-Dix and Pryor both possibilities. I am a big fan of Darqueze Dennad, but Justin Gilbert has all the numbers to suggest he should be drafted first.
11.) TENNESSEE TITANS: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – The Titans were a team that hung around for most of the season and proved a tough opponent in many games. They’re also returning their OL (which could use youth at OT). I also see a huge gap at WR, given Damian Williams, Kenny Britt and Kevin Walter all hitting free agency and the need for a clear #1 to step up. But, if Jake Locker is the guy, they need to provide him protection and time. Even if he won’t start right away, I think Taylor Lewan could be a long-term solution on the OL and one of these top Tackles won’t be around at pick #42. Lewan possess a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism that we saw with Nate Solder. David Stewart and Michael Roos are 32 and 31 this season and free agent Mike Otto also on the wrong side of 30. Lewan makes sense to help shore up the OL for the long-term.
12.) NEW YORK GIANTS: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State – This is most certainly a best-player available situation as the Giants need help in every facet of the game. They’d love for Lewan to make it here, but in the event that he doesn’t – there are plenty of other needs. Shaun Rogers, Linval Joseph and Mike Patterson are all free agents on an aging defensive line. Timmy Jernigan is arguably one of the top players on the board and has shown he can take over a game at the line of scrimmage.
13.) ST. LOUIS RAMS: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – This could be another traded pick, if the Rams keep the 2nd overall selection, but I think it’s unlikely they’d pick at #2. St. Louis already selected one of the top lineman in this year’s class. I think the Rams will look to strengthening their D and find their next DT or address the secondary. At this point, Cortland Finnegan is underperforming and owed $10 million next season and could find his way out the door. Trumaine Johnson filled in admirably last year and Janoris Jenkins has been solid, but there’s very little behind them and at Safety. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would help alleviate some stress at corner providing strength at the Safety position.
14.) CHICAGO BEARS: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame – The Bears will see several key components hit the market this offseason, including James Anderson, Zack Bowman, Henry Melton, Charles Tillman, Major Wright and Corey Wootton. The Bears were strong on offense last season but miserable on D giving up the most rushing yards in the NFL and the 3rd most points and sacking the QB the 2nd fewest times. With Henry Melton not only becoming a free agent, but also coming off an injury, something will need to be done up front to help push the offensive line. Louis Nix is in familiar territory coming out of Notre Dame and can provide the Bears defense that spark they need. This pick could easily be one of the other big DL players such as Tuitt, Hageman, Donald or even CB, Darqueze Dennard. Nix reminds me of Vince Wilfork.
15.) PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Wouldn’t that be something if the Steelers took Aaron Donald out of Pitt? It’s unlikely though given the need for WR here and Ben Roethlisberger will be unhappy without weapons, Furthermore, the Steelers didn’t have weapons and will be seeing Sanders and Cotchery hitting free agency. Antonio Brown is the only serviceable WR on the roster and he mainly lines up in the slot. The Steelers need a big and physical receiver and Mike Evans might just be the best player available overall. Evans stands at nearly 6’5 and was clocked by some under 4.5. Evans has long arms at 35 1/8 inches and a vertical leap of 37″, which will give Roethlisberger a massive window to throw to.
16.) DALLAS COWBOYS: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – The Cowboys could select anything and have it “make sense.” Dallas was in the bottom half of the league for almost all defensive statistics including 30th in pass defense and 27th in rush defense, not a good combo. To make matters worse, the Cowboys managed just 34 team sacks. Injuries to Anthony Spencer can be part of the reason, but Spencer is now on the market and the Cowboy’s are over the cap by a league-leading amount making it unlikely that Spencer returns. George Selvie can probably salvage part of what Spencer brought, but another player is needed inside with Nick Hayden. I think it comes down to who the Cowboys like more, Ra’Shede Hageman or Aaron Donald (Jernigan is the obvious pick if he’s available). Hageman makes more size-sense, so he’s the pick, although I feel that Donald has more football talents that he could provide.
17.) BALTIMORE RAVENS: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – The Ravens need to take pressure off of Ray Rice in the worst way. The Baltimore OL allowed 48 sacks on the QB last year, good for 28th in the NFL. You can’t put up a big contract to your QB and not protect him, or have nobody for him to throw to. I think the Ravens ideally want Mike Evans here who could bring back that Anquan Boldin-type of receiver to this offense. Dennis Pitta looks likely to return, but it’s not clear as to what will go down with that tag. The future of the TE position in Baltimore may be looking dire and Eric Ebron can provide Flacco an immediate go-to target and a long-term solution at the position. The Ravens must now hope that Ebron can last on the Draft board this long.
18.) NEW YORK JETS: Marqise Lee, WR, USC – I thought the Jets drafted pretty well last year. Geno Smith might not have been what everyone had hoped he would be in his first year, but there’s time still and he was the Jets 3rd selection in the Draft. I think the Jets are waiting for Ebron and fall short one pick, and I don’t like Jace Amaro in this offense, Austin Seferian-Jenkins would be too far of a stretch. The Jets need to address the passing game regardless, and Marqise Lee is the top receiver available by most’s standards. Brandin Cooks may be an option also, but the Jets already have a similar receiver in Jeremy Kerley.
19.) MIAMI DOLPHINS: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame – The Fins better look to an O-Lineman with this pick after allowing an NFL-worst 58 sacks on the QB as well as averaging only 90-yards rushing per game. On top of that, the only real returning starters on the OL are LG Nate Garner and C Mike Pouncey. Help is needed in the worst way and Zack Martin looks be the next Tackle in Miami. This pick could have easily been Cyrus Kouandjio but I think he’s no longer a 1st-Round option after the Combine.
20.) ARIZONA CARDINALS: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama – The Cardinals won 10-games last season while missing the playoffs. The NFC West has become a power and, unfortunately, a good team will suffer a bit because of it. The Cardinals will look to find ways around the tough defenses of their division opponents. Arizona personnel spent a lot of time scouting the SEC this past season and could decide to make a move on a QB this offseason – whether with a trade for a veteran or trading up for someone like Johnny Manziel. Since neither of those can be slotted here, I think the Cardinals look to shore up other aspects of the team. Jonathan Cooper should be healthy for his debut season after sitting out 2013 and Bradley Sowell should continue to develop. I just can’t see another rookie put on this O-Line playing against this division. I think the Cardinals address the need for a RT in free agency and draft the top player available in C.J. Mosley to fill the gap they have at ILB.
21.) GREEN BAY PACKERS: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame – The Packers would love to take one of the talented TE’s here, but the Packers seem to be committed to improving the defense. Two areas of concern are up-front on the DL and in the secondary, where B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly along with Sam Shields and M.D. Jennigns are all hitting the market. I would be shocked if Raji didn’t return to Green Bay and Sam Shields also likely should be back. With gaps at DE, Stephon Tuitt proves the perfect fit for the Packers 3-4 scheme. Tuitt provides great range for his massive 6’5, 304-pounds and would help elevate the struggles Green Bay had at stopping the run and disrupting the passing game.
22.) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State – The Eagles are poised to enter the offseason with some of the fewest gaps to fill in all the NFL and they return as a playoff team with a lot of promise. Free agency will play a big factor in this pick as Philadelphia has money to spend and may re-sign Nate Allen and Cedric Thornton, both starters on D. I think it’s unlikely the Eagles spend this pick on a DB given that Earl Wolff figures to compete for a starting job and the Eagles will likely sign Allen or another FA Safety and Howie Roseman has indicated that should be the case. More importantly, Nick Foles is a young developing QB. Chip Kelly will want to protect his QB and his mental game and provide him with weapons and protection on offense. Riley Cooper (signed after this pick was mocked) and Jeremy Maclin are pending free agents and at least 1 won’t be returning. Rumor has it that the Eagles like Cooper more than Maclin, and he is coming off injury. Regardless, a WR should be addressed early this Draft and Kelvin Benjamin met with Philadelphia during the Combine and would provide Foles with a big rangey receiver to toss to.
23.) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State – The Chiefs will need to find a way to re-sign or replace Branden Albert as well as several key players on D including Tyson Jackson, Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps. With free agency focus on the above, the Chiefs will probably look to building their offense with weapons as Dwayne Bowe can’t be the only option for yet another year. Donnie Avery is aging and Anthony Fasano and Sean McGrath can’t be relied on to make big plays each week. Brandin Cooks has great speed after the catch and can be a Week 1 starter in the Slot. Odell Beckham is also an option and grades out just as well as Cooks.
24.) CINCINNATI BENGALS: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State – The Bengals go with the best player available who also happens to fit one of their biggest needs at CB with Darqueze Dennard. Leon Hall is coming off an injury and Terence Newman will play this season as a 36-year old. Dre Kirkpatrick might not be the solution to take over, but Dennard can be.
25.) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – Shockingly, the Chargers outdid themselves on offense (despite injury to Malcom Floyd) in 2013 and hope to carry that momentum forward. Some OL help is needed but might not be the first place the Chargers look with Johnnie Troutman and Michael Harris providing depth. The Chargers need to improve on pass defense. I think Gilbert and/or Dennard grade out higher than Verrett and may be the selection if available. But, Verrett had a strong Combine Verrett provides the speed and athleticism to run with any receiver, which will prove valuable against the Broncos. I have Loucheiz Purifoy as the #3 CB on my Board, but failed to produce strong Combine numbers.
26.) CLEVELAND BROWNS: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU – With Manziel tabbed to be the next possible QB in Cleveland, he’ll need help. Josh Gordon has a promising future as does Jordan Cameron, but another weapon will be needed, especially with Davone Bess on the brink of suspension. Given the size of the current receivers in Cleveland, I think Kelvin Benjamin becomes an unlikely pick. The Browns will look to take a speed slot receiver such as Odell Beckham, Jr. or maybe even Davante Adams. Given Beckham’s speed, hands and control over his game, he makes the most sense right now.
27.) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia – Drew Brees is running the show here. Jimmy Graham will be back and the offensive weapon set will be complete with Thomas, Sproles, Ingram and Robinson in the backfield and Moore, Stills, Colston and Watson joining Graham catching the ball. What will be needed is protection for the face of the franchise. Both Pro Bowl Guards will be returning but neither Tackles or Center Brian De La Puente are under contract, with the Saints over the cap by about $9 million. Terron Armstead has stepped in when needed but isn’t ready to become the full-time guy just yet. Morgan Moses projects as the top OT on the Board here.
28.) CAROLINA PANTHERS: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State – Carolina will have a lot to do this offseason to shore up loose ends with their free agents. As Cam Newton continues to develop, he’ll continue to need more weapons, and right now he’s left with only an aging Steve Smith and Greg Olsen. Aside from those two, Cam will be returning a combined 0 catches from 2013 by his WR and TE’s on the roster. The Panthers are committed to resolving that issue. The Panthers hope the run on WR’s doesn’t occur like it has here, but nonetheless, Davante Adams projects as the best WR available.
29.) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington – It’s no secret that the Pats need to find offensive help for Tom Brady this offseason even if Edelman is brought back. Brady (and the Patriots) success came with the two-TE sets with Gronk and Hernandez. With Gronk always injured and Hernandez… well – you know, another TE will be looked at this offseason. Jace Amaro is a popular name thrown around, but has question-marks all over him. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is in a similar boat, but (in my opinion) the superior football player of the two, making Seferian-Jenkins the pick. Both TE prospects met witht he Patriots in Indy. Although, I could see neither being the pick and the Pats looking to fix the rush defense, which was 30th in the NFL last season.
30.) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville – The 49ers are again in a strong position to make another run at the Super Bowl. With mostly all their key components on defense returning, the 49ers can focus on adding specialty players and depth while looking to forge ahead on offense with skilled position players. It’s likely that Anquan Boldin is re-signed but another offensive weapon would be needed, possibly even a RB to groom to take over for the aging Frank Gore. The 49ers do have a lot of picks but most are on Day 3 of the Draft making good trade bait to possibly add an extra pick on Day 2 and take that RB. I think the 49ers use this pick to take the best player available for them, and in this case, Calvin Pryor is the best fit to come in and compete at SS.
31.) DENVER BRONCOS: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri – The Broncos have no choice but to address the defense. It’ll be important to find a replacement for Zane Beadles too, making Gabe Jackson a potential pick here. But, the Broncos were beat in every facet of the game on defense against Seattle. The Broncos will need someone with speed and quickness to get after the QB. Kony Ealy could be the guy, Ealy is strong and long with his arms and is physical while also versatile at the line. Aaron Donald or a cover CB could also be a fit.
32.) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech – With a small offseason budget to work with, the Seahawks are fortunate to not have very many holes to fill. The Seahawks will need to address a few key free agents, but for the most part can look to the Draft for building purposes. With Doug Baldwin a pending free agent, Pete Carroll will want to ensure his young QB has plenty to throw to next season. Pete Carroll is also arrogant enough to think all these “problematic” or “distraction” players don’t pose any red flags because he has such a great locker room. With that said, Jace Amaro has some (albeit minimal) red flags and projects to be a solid receiving TE to move the chains.
33.) HOUSTON TEXANS: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech – So, Houston nails their new signal-caller in Round 1. Generally, the thought is to now put together pieces to help make that new QB succesful. Bortles should have plenty to throw to, but upgraded protection could be a place to look here. The Texans could also look to boost one of the NFL’s worst secondaries in 2013. I think the Texans take one of the best players available in Kyle Fuller, who had a very impressive day at the NFL Combine.
34.) WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State – The Redskins have their first pick in the Draft and would love to find a long-term solution at Safety. Unfortunately, there’s a huge dropoff after Clinton-Dix and Pryor. The Redskins will need to focus on improving the defense after allowing nearly 30 points per game. Brian Orakpo will likely be signed, but the Redskins will face London Fletcher as a Free Agent and contemplating retirement as well as Perry Riley hitting the market with aging Nick Barnett. Keenan Robinson (coming off injury) and Josh Hull won’t be able to fill those shoes and help will be needed inside. Ryan Shazier is the ideal fit who can bring speed and good instincts to this linebacking corps.
35.) CLEVELAND BROWNS: Tre Mason, RB, Auburn – Cleveland boosted the offense with their new QB in Johnny Manziel and target Odell Beckham. One more piece to the puzzle, a running back. The Browns averaged just over 87-yards on the ground per game last season and will want to bring someone in to take the opposing defense’s attention of Manziel. I’m hesitant about Carlos Hyde right now, and that could change after his Pro Day next Friday. For now, I’m looking at Ka’Deem Carey and Tre Mason who both looked good in Indy. Both backs are similarly sized but Mason is extremely explosive and it appears like he’ll be overlooked by many teams. He’s my top back right now making him the pick, although Hyde or Carey appear to be a more likely pick.
36.) OAKLAND RAIDERS: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State – Oakland went the way of defense in Round 1 with Jadeveon Clowney. Although holes still exist on that side of the ball, Oakland also badly needs help on offense in every facet of the game. Darren McFadden has been unable to stay healthy and is a free agent along with Rashad Jennings, who carried most of the load in 2013. It may be time to look for that next back and Carlos Hyde and Ka’Deem Carey are both available here. I don’t think this will be the popular pick, but it seems more likely to address the need during the Draft rather through Free Agency where the availability might be aging and injury-prone. Although not always the first off the Board, the top running backs going into the Draft have found success in recent years, think Eddie Lacy, Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller. Hyde showed his power running in 2013 and found the endzone 16 times. Hopefully durability won’t be an issue.
37.) ATLANTA FALCONS: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh – Let’s forget that the Falcons just took a pass-rusher. The best player on the Board happens to be a D-Lineman in Aaron Donald and he shouldn’t have fallen this far. I can see this pick being a Guard or even a DB. But, Donald showed speed, strength and athleticism which should play a vital role on the inside of the Falcon DL which needs bodies before it can even get an upgrade.
37.) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee – The Bucs OC is a former Fresno State QB and coach, making Derek Carr a possibility if the new Bucs regime looks to go that route. At this point, Mike Glennon appears to be just as serviceable as any upcoming QB, so I don’t think QB should be the pick. In order for the current QB to have success, he’ll need better protection from an offensive line that allowed 47 sacks last season. Donald Penn is aging and must be relishing in his former Pro Bowl days and Carl Nicks only managed to play 2 games last season. Cyrus Kouandjio would have been a steal here last week, but now doubts are pouring in after his testing revealed a possible medical concern and his workout numbers were less than desirable. I think Antonio Richardson over his teammate Ja’Waun James makes more sense given Richardson’s experience at LT playing against the SEC. Richardson brings good size and strength to hold up against the NFL pass-rush.
39.) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Marcus Martin, C, USC – The Jags are in rough shape and just took their *hopefully* next franchise QB, Teddy Bridgewater. Right now, Bridgewater has no backfield and a questionable character for a #1 WR in Justin Blackmon, who still has to re-apply for reinstatement into the league. To complicate things further, they’ll need to make a move on restricted FA Cameron Bradfield and also Austin Pasztor. Jacksonville should be able to find a RB/WR at pick #70, so it makes more sense to give Bridgewater protection and time in the pocket to make plays. Marcus Martin fits a need on the OL. Center Brad Meester retired making the position a hole to fill. Martin is arguably the top OL on the Board at this time.
40.) MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois –As mentioned at pick #8, the Vikings need a QB. This might be the place to make that pick with Derek Carr, Zach Mettenberger, A.J. McCarron and Jimmy Garoppolo. The latter of that list is one of the hottest prospects at any position and several close ties to the NFL have stated that Jimmy Garoppolo could be a 1st Round pick.
41.) BUFFALO BILLS: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn – The Bills now have solidified their OL taking Jake Matthews who will join all the starting members of that line from 2013. The Bills have several needs they can address here and in Round 3. This pick will largely hinge on whether the Bills re-sign Scott Chandler and where the Bills value Troy Niklas. I think Chandler is back next season making TE a bit less of a critical need. I also am assuming Jairus Byrd is back under a franchise tag. With both of those signings, the Bills should find themselves in a position to take the best defensive player on the Board. In this case, I see that being Auburn’s Dee Ford. Ford brings a 6’2, 252-pound body that can line up on the outside of the 4-3 scheme and also play standing up as an OLB in the 3-4, which the Bills will likely implement a mixture of schemes.
42.) TENNESSEE TITANS: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State – The Titans seem committed to Jake Locker. They don’t sound committed to bringing veteran WR Nate Washington back, which could make WR an option here. The Titans also need to bring in a CB to take over for Alterraun Verner who’s a free agent. Luckily, there’s a fair amount in options at Corner. Lamarcus Joyner is the top graded CB on the Board, but I prefer Bradley Roby to run with the best receivers in the division.
43.) NEW YORK GIANTS: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State – The G-Men went with DT in Round 1. But, pass-protection was awful in 2013 and Eli Manning struggled because of it. Further, Brandon Myers was brought in to catch passes and instead ended up blocking all season. Line help is critical with Kevin Boothe (free agent) and David Diehl (retirement) both unlikely to return and Chris Snee and David Baas both aging and injured. Gabe Jackson is the top Guard in the Draft and will bring the Giants much-needed help and youth up front.
44.) ST. LOUIS RAMS: Loucheiz Purifoy, DT, Florida State – The Rams already have made picks in Greg Robinson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. I think having those two top picks in the bag allows the Rams to gamble a bit with pick 44 and select Loucheiz Purifoy. Purifoy seemed to be one of the best DB’s coming out of college until he was torched by Kelvin Benjamin in the Florida State game and then dropped the ball, figuritively, at the NFL Combine. I still think Purifoy has talent to play with the best and might need some coaching up in St. Louis, but a gamble worth taking.
45.) DETROIT LIONS: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame – The Lions will need to take some pressure off of Megatron, especially since Nate Burleson is a free agent. Kris Durham hopefully will be back, but Brandon Pettigrew likely will not be. Troy Niklas should be able to come into Detroit and be that possession TE for Matthew Stafford.
46.) PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama – The Steelers nailed it with Mike Evans in Round 1. His presence will create a lot of new opportunities in Pittsburgh for Ben Roethlisberger. There’s still a need to get younger on defense, but there’s a bigger need to put together better protection on offense. Cyrus Kouandjio was one of the top OT’s in the Draft and once seen as a Top 25 pick a few weeks ago. His Combine has helped drop him to mid-Round 2 where he should be able to help out on a struggling OL in Pittsburgh.
47.) DALLAS COWBOYS: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU – The Cowboys can mostly rest easy on offense making this pick a little easier to predict on the defensive side of the ball. A sideline-to-sideline LB would add a huge benefit to this defense which struggled keeping offense’s off the field and out of the endzone in 2013. Bruce Carter has a lot of promise and Sean Lee can be a star leader when healthy. Kyle Van Noy out of Brigham Young has been a star tackler who can do it all – attack the QB, stop the rush and drop back and defend against the pass. I really like Van Noy and consider him a steal at 47.
48.) BALTIMORE RAVENS: Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee – If Van Noy somehow makes it past Dallas even, he could land here. In this case, the need to fill that LB role will continue another round. I think Baltimore is making moves to sign Arthur Jones back, so I’m not jumping on DE here. But, the Ravens have needs on OL with Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher both hitting the market and Gino Gradkowski probably needing to move over to Guard or possibly the bench. Best player available on the OL makes sense here and that happens to be Ja’Wuan James out of Tennessee.
49.) NEW YORK JETS: Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor – The Jets went after a playmaker in Round 1. They’ll need to now find a replacement for Willie Colon at RG as he hits the market along with Vlad Ducasse and Austin Howard. Cyril Richardson is the best Guard and even OL left at this point and will help improve the rush. Xavier Su’a-Filo or David Yankey provide other options, but Richardson enables the Jets to use him with a little more versatility on the line.
50.) MIAMI DOLPHINS: Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona – They still need to improve their OL more, but RB is also an issue which might help open up the passing game a bit more and keep defenses honest. Carey was one of the top RB’s in college.
51.) CHICAGO BEARS: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame – The re-signing of Roberto Garza fills a large hole on offense for at least another year. Tillman, Bowman and Major Wright are all free agents this offseason making DB a priority. Marcus Roberson looked good in Indy showing strong agility skills and the ability to run routes with receivers.
52.) ARIZONA CARDINALS: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State – After taking the top inside linebacker in the Draft, Arizona looks to boost the defense a bit more with a versatile DE/OLB in Scott Crichton. Crichton is overlooked and has the potential to be a 1st-Round pick, so is a steal here at 52. But, Crichton is quick for his 275-pound frame and can explode off the snap to get after the QB. He can put on weight and move up to DE or stand up on the pass-rush.
53.) GREEN BAY PACKERS: Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford – The Packers need to get back to their stout defensive ways. The Packers front office has expressed interest in Stanford’s Trent Murphy who performed pretty well last weekend in Indy.
54.) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State – The Eagles will need to focus on finding the next pass-rusher for this defense early in the Draft. Demarcus Lawrence should be able to provide that given his strength to get past offensive lineman with his big powerful hands.
55.) CINCINNATI BENGALS: Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech – The Bengals are in a good position to make another run at the division title. The next step is to elevate the pass-rush and improve the Center position. Cinci can probably afford to wait on that Center, so Jerry Attaochu can be taken. Attaochu is a pure pass-rusher who will be able to explode off the line and get after the QB. His athleticism should allow him room to develop and learn.
56.) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt – This pick comes by way of KC. The Niners are poised to make another Super Bowl run in 2014. One thing they could do to improve the offense is add another weapon for Colin Kaepernick. Jordan Matthews can come in and be reliable and steady on the offense. Long-hailed to be a 1st Round pick, Matthews is amongst the most reliable receivers in the Draft with excellent route-running ability and hands.
57.) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: David Yankey, G, Stanford – The Chargers will go to a DB in the 1st Round, and if they don’t – this will definitely be one. Second priority will likely be on the pass-rush, but Guard is also a need and David Yankey is a great pick-up here.
58.) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Keith McGill, CB, Utah – The Saints need to get young in their secondary. One thing they could benefit from is a big, physical CB like Keith McGill. McGill showed some flash in Indy running sub-4.5 times on many watches. McGill provides that speed with athleticism and size standing 6’3.
59.) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA – The Colts used their 1st Round pick to trade for Trent Richardson. Trent Richardson had a poor impact in Indy which may have been as a result of sub-par blocking up-front. Although the defense has holes all over that need to addressed, the long-term investments need protection on offense. Xavier Su’a-Filo was hot in the Pac-12 and helped block for Johnathan Franklin in 2012 and Brett Hundley and Paul Perkins last season.
60.) CAROLINA PANTHERS: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State – Carolina will see Pro Bowler Jordan Gross retiring as well as Travelle Wharton hitting free agency with the oft-injured Garry Williams. Protection for the face of the franchise, Cam Newton, is a necessity. Jack Mewhort showed impressive skills this past season at Ohio State which featured heavy usage for blocking with Carlos Hyde and the dynamic Braxton Miller. Mewhort is mostly overlooked due to the strength of the OT position in the Draft, but is still a quality lineman who can start for a long time in Carolina.
61.) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas – Jonathan Goodwin at 35 this season is a tough call to re-sign. The Niners should look to a Center and take the best available right now in Travis Swanson.
62.) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin – The Patriots surprise no one by taking a TE in Round 1. Middle Linebacker is still a need though. Chris Borland is not a well known name, but provided steady play for the Badgers and is a leader on the field.
63.) DENVER BRONCOS: Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State – The Broncos look to the best player available, Lamarcus Joyner. I think Joyner was overhyped on a strong defense at Florida State. Not to say he isn’t a good player, but he’s certainly not the 1st Rounder that many have projected him to be. Joyner lacks size at 5’8 and vertical speed, but is explosive and quick off the blocks and can run routes with receivers.
64.) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina – The Super Bowl champ all-of-a-sudden has a need at DT with Red Bryant now gone. Fortunately, some of the best players available fit that position. Pete Carroll will have his choice with Kelcy Quarles, DaQuan Jones, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton amongst others. I like Quarles here, he shows tremendous speed for his size and an ability to get after the QB when needed.