SkoodSports’ NFL Mock Draft: Post Early Free Agency

Posted: March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

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1. 34Houston Texans – QB Blake Bortles, UCF (Stock up)

I’m not sure that this is the right pick. But, with rumors abound that they’re looking to trade Matt Schaub, the Texans are in need of a franchise quarterback. Really, even if they kept Schaub, they’d need a new one. The former Pro Bowl gunslinger was miserable last year, setting a record for most consecutive games with a pick-six. Bortles isn’t a sure thing. But, his upside is intriguing to talent evaluators.

2. 14-1 St. Louis Rams (From Washington) – OT Greg Robinson, Auburn

If Clowney goes #1, I think that the Rams will trade back a few picks and grab an offensive lineman like Robinson or Matthews. The latter has the hype. But, the former was a key cog to Auburn’s miraculous season in 2013. His combine, meanwhile, was one of the best in business. With comparisons to Larry Allen, the Rams can’t afford to pass on the big man.

3. 30-1 Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (Stock down)

Clowney could go anywhere from #1-#5. The Jaguars seem like a solid landing spot, though. They have a defensive minded coach, a 4-3 scheme, and the need to add playmakers on both sides of the ball. A quarterback was always a possibility. But, with Jacksonville resigning Chad Henne to a two-year deal, it’s less of a pressing need.

4. cle Cleveland Browns – OLB/DE Khalil Mack, Buffalo (Stock up)

Cleveland shocks those who thought they’d be looking at offense here. The Browns’ new coach is Mike Pettine, a defensive guru with an attacking 3-4 scheme. Mack is a perfect fit for that system and more of a sure thing than any of the quarterbacks in the draft. Yes, Sammy Watkins at wide receiver is a possibility, too. But, pass rusher is a better value in the top-five than a receiver.

5. oak Oakland Raiders – QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

The Raiders could pull an Oakland and select WR Sammy Watkins here. But, with Bridgewater available, they thank the football gods and grab the dynamic gunslinger. Bridgewater brings unparalleled leadership and athleticism to a position that the Raiders have been trying to fill for over a decade.

6. atl Atlanta Falcons – OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

Atlanta saw all too well what not protecting Matt Ryan could do to their once prolific postseason hopes. The Falcons find the best tackle in the draft fall right into their laps, and they couldn’t be happier. Matthews, the son of Hall-of-Fame lineman Bruce Matthews, projects as a bookend tackle for a decade to come. The Falcons could use the remainder of their picks to boost their depth on defense and to find a replacement for Tony Gonzalez.

7. tam Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson (Stock down)

Watkins is faster than a speeding bullet, which makes him a perfect compliment to Vincent Jackson down in Tampa Bay. Lovie Smith has spent the offseason rebuilding his defense. He’s also brought in veteran chucker Josh McCown. Which means that Smith wants to win now. Finding the former Bears QB a weapon like Watkins would make that possibility more likely.

8. min Minnesota Vikings – QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (Stock down)

I’m not in love with this pick being mocked here because I’m not 100% sure that the Vikings are interested in going QB number one. Matt Cassel could conceivably start for them in 2014, though it would be a tough sell to fans who will be sitting outside in the frozen tundra for the next two years. Manziel, on the other hand, is a guaranteed seat filler. That alone makes him a decent selection here. His upside is tremendous. The question is whether or not he’ll ever reach it. Massive bust potential here.

9. buf Buffalo Bills – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan (Stock up)

Lewan had a solid combine and could find himself taken higher than expected thanks to a usual run on offensive tackles. The Bills desperately need to improve their line if they want to see EJ Manuel play 16 games next year.

10. lions8 Detroit Lions – CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State (Stock up)

Gilbert seems to be the consensus here at this point. The Lions really need a cornerback after missing out on the premier options during free agency. Gilbert was the #2 ranked corner heading into the combine. But, he greatly impressed, leading the former Cowboy to leapfrog Darqueze Dennard.

11. ten Tennessee Titans – OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA (Stock down)

The Titans signed Wesley Woodyard to play middle linebacker last week. They still need to find some solid outside backers to put around him. Barr is the consensus #1 ranked 4-3 OLB in the draft. He’d be a perfect fit for a rebuilt Titans defense.

12. giants19 New York Giants – TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina (Stock up)

The Giants have addressed a lot of their needs already this offseason. One spot they haven’t addressed in years is tight end, where Ebron waits as the best player at the position. The pass catcher put up magical numbers on Chapel Hill a year ago and would give Eli Manning a deadly weapon on third down.

13. 14-1 St. Louis Rams – CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State (Stock up)

After addressing offense with their first pick, the Rams shift their attention to their improving defense. After losing Cortland Finnegan to Miami, the Rams should look to improve their secondary. It was either HaHa Clinton-Dix or Dennard here. The immediate need in the aftermath of losing Finnegan makes me lean towards the corner. Dennard was the #1 cornerback on the board prior to a disappointing combine.

14. chi3 Chicago Bears – DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (Stock up)

Chicago lost Julius Peppers this offseason. But, they added former Raiders’ DE Lamarr Houston. I’ve had them selecting a defensive tackle here for the longest time, and that will continue. However, a strong combine from Aaron Donald pushes him over Timmy Jernigan.

15. pitt23 Pittsburgh Steelers – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M (Stock down)

The Steelers didn’t have the deepest WR corps in the league a year ago. Now, they’ve lost Emmanuel Sanders and haven’t replaced him. Evans would be a perfect compliment to the speedy Antonio Brown as his height (6’5) and hands are perfect for red zone scoring drives.

16. dal6 Dallas Cowboys – DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State (Stock down)

DeMarcus Ware is gone. Jason Hatcher is gone. Anthony Spencer is on his way out. The Dallas Cowboys are desperate for defensive line help. All of these things are true, which is why Jerry and Jason will grab the best available defensive lineman in the first round.

17. bal33 Baltimore Ravens – ILB CJ Mosley, Alabama

Baltimore’s defense has taken quite a few hits in recent years. Gone are the days when Ray Lewis and Ed Reed struck fear into the hearts of opposing offensive coordinators. Now, Baltimore has a younger, less aggressive defensive unit. But, they could still use some reinforcements to replace those that have moved on in recent years. Mosley is the best inside linebacker prospect in the draft. His combination of speed, size, and aggressiveness would be a valuable fit in Baltimore’s attacking 3-4 scheme.

18. 20 New York Jets – WR Marqise Lee, USC

New York signed Eric Decker earlier this month. But, they should still seek offensive improvements in the draft. Decker’s never been a #1 and doesn’t have the speed to separate from opposing DBs. The same can’t be said about Lee.

19. mia15 Miami Dolphins – OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame (Stock up)

Miami may have lost Jonathan Martin. But, they’ll boost their offensive line by grabbing Notre Dame’s Zack Martin with their first pick.

20. cards22 Arizona Cardinals – DE Kony Ealy, Missouri (Stock down)

The Cardinals’ defense was stout last year. But, their pass rush could use a few shiny new pieces. Ealy is the best available defensive lineman and would fit perfectly into Arizona’s scheme.

21. pack9 Green Bay Packers – DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame

Green Bay may have brought back BJ Raji. But, they could still use an improvement in depth at the position. Nix stands at 345 pounds and would be an adequate replacement for Raji down the line.

22. eagles21 Philadelphia Eagles – FS Calvin Pryor, Louisville

With the resigning of Nate Allen on Monday, Philadelphia could look to use their first round pick on the BPA as opposed to fitting a specific position. Pass rush, receiver, and safety are all needs, so the team has to judge which would make the most sense here. For me, the answer is still Calvin Pryor out of Louisville. The Eagles could use depth at safety and while they now have a little bit of quantity at the position, they are still lacking in significant quality. Pryor would probably start over Nate Allen. If Philadelphia deals DeSean Jackson, they could address the receiver position here.

23. kc12 Kansas City Chiefs – WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Offensively, the Chiefs most pressing need is a deep threat for Alex Smith to take the pressure off of Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. Beckham may not be a better overall prospect than Kelvin Benjamin. But, his 4.45 speed combined with top of the line elusiveness makes him the perfect match for Andy Reid’s offense.

24.  ben4 Cincinnati Bengals – CB Jason Verrett, TCU

There was a time when cornerback was a strength of the Bengals’ defense. That’s not the case anymore. Cincinnati could look to find a replacement for free agent DE Michael Johnson. But, the value pick here is Verrett. The TCU product has solid size and speed and would immediately be a dramatic upgrade in the secondary.

25. cha24  San Diego Chargers – CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

Other than Eric Weddle, San Diego’s secondary is a mess. Fuller, while not the top cornerback in this draft, is still a solid get at 25. The Chargers could also look to beef up their offensive line, as going another year with King Dunlap as their starting left tackle would seem imprudent.

26. cle Cleveland Browns (From Indianapolis) – WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

I’m a little bit uncomfortable putting this many wide receivers in the first round. That position has seen a sharp drop in instances where they’re drafted early in recent years. But, the Browns definitely have depth issues at the position (and a lot of others as well). After Cleveland grabs Teddy Bridgewater earlier in the round, they find their young gunslinger a big target in Benjamin. At 6’5, the former Florida State star is a solid compliment to the speedy Josh Gordon (assuming Cleveland doesn’t trade him). The Browns need all the help they can get on both sides of the ball.

27. saints18 New Orleans Saints – DE Dee Ford, Auburn

A fluid athlete with impressive burst, Ford emerged from the Senior Bowl as one of the most coveted pass rushers in this draft. Saints’ Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan knows the importance of a good pass rush (and a good breakfast). With the loss of Will Smith, New Orleans could use a boost of youth at defensive end.

28. panth29 Carolina Panthers – OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (Stock down)

The Panthers possess a ton of holes, and they could look to address their beleaguered secondary or receiving corps here. But, the loss of Jordan Gross to retirement opens up a pressing need at tackle. Kouandjio played and thrived at the highest level of College Football. He’d be a steal at this pick.

29. new17 New England Patriots – DE Trent Murphy, Stanford (Stock up)

Bill Belichick is as likely as anyone to trade out of this pick. But, one thing that New England still needs is a pass rusher to go along with Chandler Jones. Rob Ninkovich is a solid player. But, the Patriots need to get to Peyton Manning if they hope to upend the Broncos come playoff time. Murphy may be a bit of a reach here. But, he’s the classic fit for a 4-3 defense and possesses a high motor reminiscent of Jared Allen.

30. sanf25 San Francisco 49ers – DT/DE RaShede Hageman, Minnesota

Justin Smith is aging and the Pro Bowl DE won’t be around for too much longer. Hageman is the type of hybrid lineman that can either play 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end. In San Francisco’s case, grooming him to supplant Smith as 3-4 end would give them a big piece to keep the pressure off their superstar duo at LB, Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman.

31. sanf7 Denver Broncos – OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (Stock down)

The Broncos may have beefed up their pass rush and secondary this offseason. But, they still could very much use an improvement at the linebacker position. Von Miller is phenomenal on one side. But, his injury problems may give Denver incentive to find a supplement to him in Shazier, who projects as a steal at this position in round one.

32. sea26 Seattle Seahawks – TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

The 6-5 tight end may have had the best numbers of anyone in the country, catching 98 passes for 1240 yards and 7 TD. If there was one weakness on the Seahawks this year, it was at tight end. Adding Amaro to an already talented offense might set the Seahawks up for another title in 2014.

33. 34Houston Texans – OG David Yankey, Stanford

Houston’s focus will probably be on a tackle here. But, Yankey a value pick by a team that could really use some help throughout their offensive front. Yankey comes from a pro style offense that has developed plenty of stars on the offensive line in recent years.

34. skinsWashington Redskins – SS Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois (Stock up)

The Redskins improved their defensive line by signing Jason Hatcher away from Dallas. But, their secondary could still use some serious work. Ward is the top safety available at this point and would be an improvement over the garbage that Washington sent out last year.

35. cle Cleveland Browns – QB Derek Carr, Fresno State (Stock up)

Cleveland passed on a QB in round one in this mock draft. They’ll address that need early in round two by grabbing Carr. The brother of former #1 overall pick, David Carr, Derek possesses all the upside that his brother did. Hopefully, he won’t be pounded into a pulp as well.

36. oak Oakland Raiders – WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State (Stock up)

The Raiders grabbed James Jones in free agency. But, I’m not sure that precludes them from grabbing another target early in the draft at a talent rich position. Oakland has always been enamored by speed, and Cooks’ 4.33 forty-yard dash certainly inspires this pick.

37. atl Atlanta Falcons – OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU (Stock up)

The Falcons beefed up their front four by signing Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai this offseason. But, their beleaguered LB corps didn’t get much of a facelift. There’s still time for that, and Van Noy would be a welcome addition. He’s a high-character kid with solid intangibles, which makes him a solid fit down in the ATL.

38. tam Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA (Stock up)

The Buccaneers appear poised to ride Josh McCown in 2014. If that’s the case, they’ll want to keep their investment upright. Su’a-Filo is the best guard in this class according to many prognosticators. He’d be a phenomenal fit in Tampa Bay.

39. 30-1 Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (Stock down)

At 6-6, 336, Richardson is among the largest tackle prospects in this draft. Good luck moving this mountain of a man at the LOS. Jacksonville could look to address QB here if one is available. Though, I still think it’s too early for Jimmy Garoppolo or AJ McCarron.

40. min Minnesota Vikings – S Terrence Brooks, Florida State (Stock down)

Minnesota still needs to address the safety position after missing out on the top available free agents at the position. Brooks was one of the best playmakers on the National Champion Seminoles this season.

41.  buf Buffalo Bills – TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (Stock up)

So many wide receivers have gone that the value just isn’t here to take one. But, tight end is another position of massive need for Buffalo, who could use a compliment to Scott Chandler. Seferian-Jenkins is big with soft hands and provides a solid target for EJ Manuel over the middle.

42. ten Tennessee Titans – CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida

Tennessee lost Alterraun Verner to Tampa Bay this offseason, so they’ll need to replace him early in the draft.

43. giants19 New York Giants – DT Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (Stock up)

New York addressed their needs at LB and in the secondary this offseason. They now need to beef up that front-four to compete with the vicious rushing attack of Philadelphia.

44. 14-1 St. Louis Rams – WR Allen Robinson, Penn State (Stock down)

St. Louis has taken a lot of receivers early in recent drafts. Only Tavon Austin looks like a keeper. But, the diminutive receiver is better fit for the slot than on the outside. That’s where Robinson fits in. At 6-2, 220, he’s the perfect compliment to last year’s first round selection.

45. lions8 Detroit Lions – OT Morgan Moses, Virginia (Stock down)

The Lions luck out and land one of the better tackle prospects in the draft. After addressing the secondary earlier, they’ll need to sure up their offensive line if they have any hopes of improving under Jim Caldwell.

46. pitt23 Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Carl Bradford, Arizona State (Stock up)

Pittsburgh brought Jason Worilds back on a Transition tag. But, they could still use some pass rushing help at their customary 3-4 OLB position. Bradford is the best available rush linebacker.

47. dal6 Dallas Cowboys –  DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State (Stock up)

Dallas lost DeMarcus Ware and will likely lose Anthony Spencer as well. In other words, they need to find more pass rushers from their front four. Crichton has added 30 pounds since his high school days and recorded 7.5 sacks last year for Oregon State.

48. bal33 Baltimore Ravens – C Travis Swanson, Arkansas

When Matt Birk retired last year, it last a gaping chasm in the middle of Baltimore’s line. Replacing him this season should be a high priority.

49. 20 New York Jets – OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (Stock up)

New York added some playmakers this offseason for Geno Smith to rely on. They then added another in the first round of this mock draft. Now, it’s time to find him some blockers.

50. mia15 Miami Dolphins – RB Tre Mason, Auburn (Stock up)

Mason had a stellar collegiate career that nearly came to an end with a National Championship. Miami, meanwhile, has relied too long on supplementary backs to get themselves by. They need a game breaker, and that’s what Mason is.

51. chi3 Chicago Bears – CB Marcus Roberson, Florida (Stock up)

The Bears brought Peanut Tillman back. But, they’ll still need to find some youth at the cornerback position. Roberson is a perfect fit for their Cover-2 scheme as he’s not the biggest or fastest corner. But, he’s very physical and disrupts receiver’s routes with the best of them.

52. cards22 Arizona Cardinals – TE Troy Niklas, Notre Dame (Stock up)

Arizona hasn’t had a solid tight end in what seems like ages. Niklas isn’t one of the top prospects in this draft. But, he’s a great bet because he’s solid in all facets of the game, not just catching passes.

53.  pack9 Green Bay Packers – WR Devante Adams, Fresno State (Stock up)

Green Bay likes to surround Aaron Rodgers with as many weapons as possible. With the loss of James Jones to Oakland, Green Bay would be wise to find another piece to the championship puzzle.

54. eagles21 Philadelphia Eagles – WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (Stock up)

If Philadelphia deals DeSean Jackson, they’ll almost absolutely grab a receiver early in the draft. Even if they don’t, Jeremy Maclin’s one year contract and Jackson’s contentious standing with the team suggests that they’ll consider adding more pieces. Matthews would be a perfect fit for what Chip Kelly is trying to do. He wants big receivers with speed and character. Matthews stands tall at 6-3, 212 and ran an impressive 4.46 forty-yard dash at the Combine. His credentials as a Vanderbilt graduate also suggests that he isn’t a character concern like some of the other “diva” receivers. Like I said, he’s a perfect fit and someone that I think Philadelphia should really consider.

55. ben4 Cincinnati Bengals – OLB Telvin Smith, Florida State

A 4-3 linebacker by trade, Smith was a very valuable defensive cog for FSU last year. He’ll need time to learn the NFL game. But, the upside is there.

56. sanf25 San Francisco 49ers – C Marcus Martin, USC (Stock up)

San Francisco’s biggest needs are on both of their lines. While they could look to add a playmaking receiver here, almost all of the value picks at that position have been taken. Martin is one of the if not the best center in the draft, and finding him waiting late in round two would be a welcome addition for Jim Harbaugh, who is very familiar with California prospects.

57. cha24  San Diego Chargers – DT Daniel McCullers, Tennessee (Stock up)

The Chargers are reaching for a positional need here. They desperately need to find a nose tackle and there aren’t a ton of big, bad defensive tackles left in the draft. McCullers is projected to be a 3rd or 4th round pick, so it’s not an outrageous reach towards the end of the second round. The former Tennessee Volunteer is an astounding 6-7, 352 pounds. Perfect for clogging up the middle in their 3-4 defense.

58. saints18 New Orleans Saints – CB LaMarcus Joyner, Florida State (Stock down)

The Saints addressed their pressing need at safety by overpaying for Jairus Byrd. They could use more help on defense as their cornerback corps has been victimized by opposing defenses for years. Joyner is only 5-8. But, he hits like he’s 6-2, 230 and is fearless in run support and only plays at one speed.

59. colts Indianapolis Colts – WR Paul Richardson, Colorado

Indianapolis needs help all over their defense. But, we saw how much losing Reggie Wayne affected Andrew Luck last season. The Colts need to find some help for TY Hilton and Hakeem Nicks.

60. panth29 Carolina Panthers – WR Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss (Stock up)

Unfortunately for Carolina, most of the impact weapons have gone off the board already. With their pressing need at receiver, they have to grab Moncrief, who brings solid size (6-2, 221) to the position.

61. sanf25 San Francisco 49ers – DT/DE Dominique Easley, Florida (Stock up)

Easley would fit in as a 3-4 end in the 49ers’ scheme. Justin Smith is still a beast on the outside. But, his age has to be a concern for the 49ers. Easley could learn behind one of the best before eventually supplanting him in the future.

62. new17 New England Patriots – QB AJ McCarron, Alabama (Stock up)

New England knows that Tom Brady’s career is likely coming to an end within the next 3-4 years. The veteran QB’s current backup, Ryan Mallett, is in the final year of his contract and is reportedly being shopped. McCarron is a proven winner and a high character guy. Seems like a perfect fit for Bill Belichick, who can let McCarron learn behind the best for a few years.

63. sanf7 Denver Broncos – RB Carlos Hyde, Ohio State (Stock up)

Knowshon Moreno is a free agent and his return remains doubtful. Denver could use a guy like Hyde to replace him.

64. sea26 Seattle Seahawks – CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood (Stock up)

The classic sleeper pick. Seattle lost Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond this offseason. So, reestablishing their depth in the secondary is a priority. Desir is not going to be a major impact player this year. But, he has the upside to contribute significantly in the future.

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