By Mike Tanier, Dan Pompei and Russ Lande

Welcome to the Sports on Earth Mock Draft Version 30.0!

Oops, we mean 3.0. It only feels like the thirtieth mock draft. But this is the last one. We promise. Scouts honor. Our families met the editors' ransom demands. (Thanks, honey!)

In a just universe, the draft would have happened last Thursday through Saturday, and we would all be in draft grading mode, the second stupidest mode of human consciousness there is, above mock drafting mode, of course. But our universe is ruled by the whims of Roger Goodell, so it is best to keep smiling and watch the dinosaur show like those poor adults under the thrall of creepy young Bill Mumy in that Twilight Zone episode.

We're a bunch of kidders! Mock drafting is a blast, and we have chosen to change things up for this final installment. (Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.) First, we are going two rounds, because we cannot contain our enthusiasm to just 32 selections. Second, each writer is following his own muse. Dan Pompei goes the traditional route, determining which player each team is likely to select. Russ Lande plays the dietician ordering teams to eat their vegetables: Pompeii may give them what they want, but Lande gives them what they need.

And the handsome, insightful, introduction-writing Mike Tanier? He goes outside the box for provocative selections. Not totally bonkers selections, mind you, but choices that shine a light on a team's underpublicized need, or a franchise's preferences, or a road less traveled that some team might benefit from steering toward.

Pro days are over. Free agency is toast. Even the reruns of Gruden's QB Camp are looking blurry and grainy -- which is weird because they are digital -- but the pre-draft has been that long, folks. There are only a few days left until the real picking starts. Until then: eat, mock, love.

* * * First Round * * *
1
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Houston Texans

Mike

Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina DE
"Hi! We're the Texans and we love leaking draft information! We like Khalil Mack better than Jadeveon Clowney! We like Blake Bortles better than Johnny Manziel! Blah blah blah! PLEASE LET US TRADE DOWN WE WANT EXTRA DRAFT PICKS AND DO NOT CARE WHICH OF THE TOP SIX OR SEVEN PLAYERS WE END UP WITH!!!!!!!"

Geez, show some dignity, guys. Why don't you just draft Clowney, immediately create the most talented defensive line in your division (and one of the three or four best in the league) and trust your coaches to motivate one of the most unique athletic prospects of the decade? It will be far easier than working up all of this flopsweat trying to get the Browns' attention.

Dan

Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina DE
What we do not know is which team will make the first pick in the draft. What we can be reasonably sure of is whoever makes the pick will take Clowney. That is what has become apparent over the last couple weeks. The Texans appear motivated to deal down, but they have to find the right partner. The Falcons have been identified as one strong possibility, and others are likely to emerge as we get closer to draft day. If the Texans move down, they can select Khalil Mack or a quarterback (Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater would be the most likely candidates).

Russ

Khalil Mack
Buffalo OLB
While the Texans need to get a quarterback, new head coach Bill O'Brien does not feel any is worth the first overall selection, so they grab Mack, who fits their 3-4 defense perfectly. Although Jadeveon Clowney has rare physical tools, the Texans do not want to make a risky pick at the top of the draft, especially when a player with Mack's talent is sitting there. Mack's explosiveness and strength as an edge rusher, consistent production against the run and natural coverage instincts and awareness should enable him to start immediately at outside linebacker in their defense.
     
2
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St. Louis Rams

Mike

Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M QB

The most novel element of my novel mock draft is that the two most famous (and probably most talented) prospects go first and second overall. Now there's an idea. The Rams say farewell to Sam Bradford and his "free beer tomorrow" development cycle as soon as it is financially feasible, turning the offense over to a dynamic playmaker who injects a little danger. Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer might take one look at his freewheeling, unpredictable new scramble-and-bomb threat and retire immediately to a quiet life in the Pac-12 or the real estate market. I'm not seeing a downside, folks!


Dan

Greg Robinson
Auburn OT
Rams coach Jeff Fisher goes way back with the family of Jake Matthews, but he also has ties to Robinson. Fisher's son, Trent, was Robinson's college teammate. Fisher's teams never have picked an offensive lineman in the first round, but it could be time for that to change. If the Rams pick Matthews ahead of Robinson, they will be going against the consensus. They also could go with another position and take wide receiver Sammy Watkins, however. He would fit in nicely with the Rams offense. The Rams are in deal-down mode, but it may be more difficult to move the No. 2 pick than it will be to move the No. 1 pick.

Russ

Jake Matthews
Texas A&M OT
There is little question that the Rams need to add some offensive weapons in the draft, but after taking Tavon Austin in the first round a season ago, they feel they can address receiver later in the draft. Jake Long is rehabbing a blown out knee, and while they hope he will be back at full speed, there is no guarantee that he will be and they lack a front-line right tackle. Adding Matthews gives them an instant upgrade at right tackle and insurance if Long is not ready to start at the beginning of the season.
     
3
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Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike

Greg Robinson
Auburn OT

Instead of searching for that one true playmaker who finally fixes their entire offense, the Jaguars get a hulking right tackle to bookend with Luke Joeckel. Build the offensive line, and Jordan Todman, Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders and others will look a lot better ... though we had better find a quarterback in Round Two.


Dan

Khalil Mack
Buffalo LB
Trading down also is a possibility for the Jaguars, and it is possible another team such as the Falcons might want to move into this spot. But if they are stuck at No. 3, they likely will be very pleased with Mack, a player who represents good value and fills a need. Mack would also be a good system fit in Gus Bradley's hybrid defense. The Jaguars really need a quarterback, but general manager Dave Caldwell will not force a pick and take a lower rated player just to fill the hole. The possibility of Sammy Watkins also cannot be discounted.

Russ

Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina DE

The Jaguars best pass rusher is 33-year-old Jason Babin, so he is not going to be the man for much longer. While there are definitely questions concerning whether Jadeveon Clowney will work hard and compete at the highest level once he gets paid, head coach Gus Bradley has the charisma and leadership to reach players who are often tough to motivate. Of all the places Clowney could go, I believe the Jaguars have the best chance of getting the most out of his rare physical talent.

     
4
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Cleveland Browns

Mike

Khalil Mack
Buffalo LB

No more Browns-style drafts, Browns! No more first-round fashion statements where the new regime flexes its muscles, stamps the roster and digs a deeper trench for the next new regime to climb out of. In my mock draft, the Browns will draft solid, useful players, not expressions of managerial philosophy. Mack is great, Mack can do a lot of things well and the Browns have needs everywhere except speed receiver, tight end and tackle. Plus, he can join Alex Mack as the second "Mack" on the roster, making the sideline look like a truck stop, something Jimmy Haslam understands.


Dan

Sammy Watkins
Clemson WR
Watkins and Josh Gordon might give the Browns the best set of wide receivers in the league. But Watkins can't throw to himself. The Browns have to find a starting quarterback in this draft, so Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel are considerations here. The Browns could be best served by taking the best available at No. 4 and then revisiting the quarterback board at 26, or moving up from the 26th pick if necessary. This is the first draft for Browns general manager Ray Farmer, so this team is more difficult to predict than most.

Russ

Sammy Watkins
Clemson WR
I believe the Browns' new regime is not going to reach for a quarterback with the fourth pick and will instead add the most explosive playmaker in the draft. With the big Josh Gordon on one side, Watkins would bring the speed and explosiveness to take the top off the defense and make big plays after the catch, which will lead to more connections for Gordon and Jordan Cameron and make life easier for the quarterback they select with their second first-round pick.
     
5
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Oakland Raiders

Mike

Sammy Watkins
Clemson WR

In James Jones and Denarius Moore, the Raiders have two receivers who can threaten the sidelines 20-to-90 yards downfield but cannot do anything else. If the Raiders hope to develop a quarterback, they should consider drafting a receiver who can do more than tightrope the sideline.


Dan

Blake Bortles
UCF QB
In this scenario, the choice is probably Bortles or Johnny Manziel. Back in the day, the choice would definitely have been Manziel, just because. But these are the new Raiders. Bortles is the safer pick, and the word on the street is Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie likes him. If Watkins falls to No. 5, the decision will become more interesting for McKenzie. But whereas taking a QB may have been a bit of a reach at No. 1, taking Bortles with the fifth pick really is not. In fact, it is not out of the question that another team will try to move into this spot to select Bortles.

Russ

Mike Evans
Texas A&M WR
 

       I have little doubt that the Raiders will draft a quarterback to develop behind Matt Schaub, but I think in the first round they will focus more on getting Schaub some weapons. Schaub was most effective in Houston when Andre Johnson was healthy and playing at a high level, and Evans could give him a similar type target. While Evans lacks the premier speed receivers picked in the top 10 usually possess, he has enough speed, knows how to get open and will be one of the best red-zone receivers in the NFL from day one.

     
6
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Atlanta Falcons

Mike

Eric Ebron
North Carolina TE

The Falcons have needs at cornerback and on both lines. They also have a need at tight end, what with the greatest tight end in league history retiring and whatnot. Is this too early to take a tight end? Maybe. It may be too early to take a linebacker from the MAC, too, but talented players have to be drafted sometime.


Dan

Jake Matthews  Texas A&M OT The Falcons can go one of two ways with their first pick: offensive tackle or pass rusher. Trading up could get them Clowney, Mack or Robinson. Staying put likely will leave them with Matthews, or possibly even Taylor Lewan. In order to get one of the top two pass rushers, the Falcons probably have to trade for one of the top three picks. Matthews is not a player the Falcons are likely to be disappointed with. Some think he could have been the first player drafted overall one year ago. He can line up at left tackle or right tackle from day one and play winning ball.

Russ

Greg Robinson
Auburn OT

       Atlanta has made big strides upgrading the size and strength of its defensive line through free agency. With Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack off the board, the Falcons turn their attention to the other side of the ball. Current left tackle Sam Baker has been adequate at best and is not the physical or aggressive run blocker that the Falcons want. Robinson is a rare athlete for the position, and with his playing strength and aggressive blocking style he could really help the Falcons protect Matt Ryan better and become a much more physical running team.

     
7
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike

Mike Evans
Texas A&M WR
My Buccaneers depth chart looks like a rough draft of a high school mash note right now: all scratch-outs and illegible doodles. I have no idea who is even on the roster after this offseason; I still have Mike Kafka as the No. 3 quarterback, and there is no way on earth that is right! According to my scribbles, their current starting wide receivers are Vincent Jackson, who is very good, and Skye Dawson, who is the pretty hacker in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They also have Chris Owusu, who may or may not be a typo, and Lou Murphy, who is awful. Instead of worrying about their quarterbacks, the Bucs should worry about getting more receivers worth throwing to.

Dan

Mike Evans
Texas A&M WR
A quarterback can't be discounted here because the Bucs' new regime clearly is not enchanted with Mike Glennon, and there have been murmurings about Johnny Football. But the Bucs also can pick a decent quarterback later. They won't find a receiver with anywhere near Evans' ability the next time they select. Evans and Vincent Jackson would give Josh McCown an excellent set of receiving weapons who can create matchup problems for opponents. Evans is the type of big, physically gifted player who Lovie Smith is drawn to. Michigan OT Taylor Lewan is another player who could fit here, but not as well as Evans.

Russ

Eric Ebron
North Carolina TE

       After trading receiver Mike Williams, the Buccaneers' only major offensive weapon is veteran Vincent Jackson. Josh McCown is largely unproven as a starting quarterback, and Mike Glennon is a young quarterback with a lot of potential, so adding a tight end who can be a short-yardage security blanket would definitely help. The added bonus is that Ebron has the talent to turn short catches into long gains, which adds explosiveness and big-play ability to their offense.

     
8
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Minnesota Vikings

Mike

Blake Bortles
UCF QB
The combination of Bortles and coordinator Norv Turner just makes too much sense. Five years from now, Bortles will be the 16th best quarterback in the NFL, Turner will be getting undue credit for his development and all will be right with the world. In the short term, Turner the mechanics guru can determine if there is a delivery under all those hitches, and Vikings receivers will uncover the fog of war hanging 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Dan

Anthony Barr
UCLA LB
Many mock drafts have the Vikings taking Johnny Manziel, but it is difficult to see him fit with Mike Zimmer's style of coaching and Norv Turner's style of offense. If Manziel is not an option and the draft plays out this way, the Vikings may be considering defensive players such as Barr, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Aaron Donald and C.J. Mosley. Some think this is too high for Barr, who has become somewhat of a wild card. But Barr is interesting because he could give the Vikings a pass-rush dimension on nickel downs and play linebacker on first and second down.

Russ

Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M QB

       Despite many believing that head coach Mike Zimmer was ripping Johnny Manziel after his pro day, the reality is that Zimmer, offensive coordinator Norv Turner and general manager Rick Spielman were the most attentive people there and spent a lot of time with Manziel after his workout was over. Although he does not fit the prototypical pocket passer mold that Turner has coached throughout his career, he has the elite intermediate/deep ball passing ability that works in his offense. Adding his unique skill set to a team with Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson would give them not only a dangerous offense, but one that could create big plays out of broken ones, which is vital to success in today's NFL.

     
9
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Buffalo Bills

Mike

Darqueze Dennard
Michigan State CB
The Bills are the worst team in the NFL with the best ideas. They are like Edith Keeler from Star Trek, trying to embrace modern science and clothe the needy but accidentally allowing the Nazis to win World War II. As such, they are a difficult team to shop for, because they seem to have all sorts of gadgets and appliances they are not sure how to use. Dennard gives them a plug 'n' play cornerback. You can never have enough of those.

Dan

Taylor Lewan
Michigan OT
The talent definitely drops off in this range, which is why the Bills are interested in moving up. Lewan is a solid pick though, certainly as solid as any player remaining. The Bills also could look at players like C.J. Mosley, Eric Ebron or Barr if he still is not taken. Hardly anyone suspects they will go for a quarterback, but the possibility should not be completely dismissed. It's kind of difficult to picture Johnny Football in Buffalo, but it was kind of difficult to picture Jim Kelly there before he came over from the USFL.

Russ

Taylor Lewan
Michigan OT

       The Bills offense will not succeed if EJ Manuel does not develop, which requires better protection from the rush. Young left tackle Cordy Glenn has elite talent and is on the verge of being one of the better blindside blockers in the league, but the right side of their line is not as talented. Lewan is a premier athlete who was highly productive starting throughout his career at Michigan and would immediately upgrade their right tackle situation. With Glenn and Lewan manning the tackle spots and Eric Wood at center, the Bills offensive line could be their strength for the next decade.

     
10
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Detroit Lions

Mike

Justin Gilbert
Oklahoma State CB
As part of a bold new initiative to improve their secondary, the Lions will attempt to improve their secondary, instead of trying to make their defensive line better and better until quarterbacks are too terrified to find wide-open receivers. Because Jim Schwartz spent half a decade proving that doesn't really work.

Dan

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Alabama S
The Lions have been behaving like a team that is intent on moving up. And they might. They also have taken a long, hard look at Eric Ebron. But what they really need is some help for the back end of the defense. Their secondary wasn't good enough last year, and it will miss the presence of Louis Delmas. Other teams suspect Clinton-Dix is their target. A cornerback also has to be a consideration. Justin Gilbert is the highest rated by many, but he may not be rated as highly as Clinton-Dix. There is more depth at corner than safety, so the Lions can take a corner in a subsequent round.

Russ

Aaron Donald
Pittsburgh DT

       Whether it is this offseason or next, Ndamukong Suh is likely going to move on from the Lions, so they grab Donald, whose explosiveness off the ball, competitiveness and college production would be a great replacement. In addition, Nick Fairley has never become the player he has the talent to be and could be leaving Detroit soon too, which means they need to prepare for life without both Fairley and Suh. Donald gives them the best chance to be prepared for rebuilding their defensive line.

     
11
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Tennessee Titans

Mike

Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville QB
Bridgewater is secretly hoping to follow the Aaron Rodgers career trajectory: look great entering the draft; become the subject of all sorts of predraft micro-criticism; slide down until he becomes the heir apparent to some legend; hang around until said legend wears out his welcome; demonstrate awesomeness. Unfortunately, the teams with legends won't pick for a while yet, so Bridgewater gets to replace Jake Locker on a team with zero offensive stars. At least he won't have to travel far from campus.

Dan

Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M QB
The easy pick in this scenario would be Justin Gilbert, a corner who could replace Alterraun Verner. Others think the Titans will go for Barr if he remains on the board. But taking Manziel here would be a gamble on greatness. The Titans clearly are not sold on Jake Locker. They might not be sold on Manziel either. But between the two of them, they should be able to get at least one solid quarterback. The competition would be fascinating. Ken Whisenhunt could be the type of coach who can figure out how to get the most out of Manziel.

Russ

Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville QB

       Jake Locker still has not proven he can be a consistently productive starting quarterback, and new head coach Ken Whisenhunt's offense requires the quarterback to be quick and accurate, which are not Locker's strengths. While Bridgewater's small hands are not ideal, the reality is he wont have to deal with too many games in frigid temperatures with the Titans. His athleticism combined with his quick release and excellent short/intermediate accuracy seems to be a perfect fit for Whisenhunt's new offensive scheme.

     
12
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New York Giants

Mike

Jake Matthews
Texas A&M OT
Will Beatty had ankle surgery in January and may not be ready for the start of camp. The Giants are thinking of moving Jordan Pugh from right to left tackle after his excellent rookie season and sticking Charles Brown at right tackle. In other words, the Giants have been shuttling linemen to and fro for so many years that they actually think it's normal to start training camp on Plan B. Here's an idea: Leave Pugh at right tackle so he can be a star, draft the smoothest pass protector in the draft and actually upgrade the offensive line instead of lurching from crisis to crisis!

Dan

Eric Ebron
North Carolina TE
This pick could come down to Ebron or defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Neither would be a bad choice. Eli Manning needs help, and a receiving tight end with big-play ability might be able to help him more than anyone. Four different tight ends have led the Giants in catches the last four years, and they lost their latest leader, Brandon Myers. They also lost wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, so dependable targets will be in demand. C.J. Mosley or an OT -- Taylor Lewan or even Zack Martin -- also would be fits. This is a good spot for the Giants.

Russ

Anthony Barr
UCLA LB

       The Giants have consistently drafted pass rushers when people did not expect it, and Barr matches that pattern. Similar to Jason Pierre-Paul, Barr has limited experience playing defensive end in college, but he is a rare athlete with elite explosiveness/speed and outstanding intangibles. His addition would give them another dynamic athlete to rush and could get their defensive line back to where it was when they were consistently dominating the line of scrimmage.

     
13
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St. Louis Rams

Mike

Aaron Donald
Pittsburgh DT
Imagine short, thick Donald wedged between superhero-proportioned Michael Brockers, Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Photos of the Rams line will look like vintage X-Men comic covers, with Donald as Wolverine.

Dan

Calvin Pryor 
Louisville S
Assuming the Rams go with Greg Robinson at No. 2, there are a lot of ways they can go with this selection. Other possibilities include C.J. Mosley, Odell Beckham and a cornerback such as Justin Gilbert. A quality safety can have a big impact on this up-and-coming defense. The Rams probably won't be able to find a safety close to Pryor later in the draft, but the depth is better at some of their other positions of need. If the Rams took Sammy Watkins with their first pick, they could go with Zack Martin here.

Russ

Justin Gilbert
Oklahoma State CB

       While they're probably hoping Taylor Lewan will still be on the board around this time, if the Michigan OT is gone the Rams will look to upgrade their secondary. Darqueze Dennard and Kyle Fuller are better football players than Justin Gilbert right now, but Gilbert is a better athlete than both. Jeff Fisher has a long history of drafting elite athletes who need development over more developed players who lack elite athleticism, and Gilbert fits the bill. Pairing Gilbert with Janoris Jenkins could give the Rams two of the most athletic playmaking cornerbacks in the NFL, which would help their defense become a major force when combined with their elite defensive line.

     
14
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Chicago Bears

Mike

Calvin Pryor 
Louisville S
Charles Tillman does not want to play safety. There is not much to be gained by making Charles Tillman do something he does not want to do. Let Peanut be Peanut, Bears. Draft a safety.

Dan

Aaron Donald
Pittsburgh DT
Donald would be a good value pick here, a need fit and a perfect scheme fit. In fact, Donald to the Bears seems like one of the most logical picks in the draft unless Donald is snatched away by the Giants or Rams, or a team like the Cowboys leapfrogs the Bears to take him. Donald lacks ideal height and length, but as we have gotten closer to the draft it has become increasingly difficult for anyone to poke holes in him. This is a player who has passed every test. Other players who could be matches for the Bears include either Pryor or Clinton-Dix, should they drop, C.J. Mosley or one of the cornerbacks.

Russ

Kyle Fuller
Virginia Tech CB

Longtime starting cornerback Charles Tillman is not getting any younger, and aside from Tim Jennings, the Bears' other cornerbacks are not front-line players. Kyle Fuller has the length, instincts, technique, ball skills, athleticism and intangibles to fit what the Bears organization is all about under general manager Phil Emery. The addition of Fuller would give them three quality starters in 2014 to deal with Green Bay's high-powered passing attack.

     
15
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Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike

Anthony Barr
UCLA LB
Shhh ... nobody tell the Steelers that they have the fourth-best pass rush in the AFC North. They are taking a lovely nap and dreaming of 1978 and 2008 again. When they wake up, we will have slipped a multi-purpose linebacker ready to make an immediate impact under their pillow in place of all the developmental one-note pass rushers they used to prefer. That's right, we're Blitz Fairies now.

Dan

Justin Gilbert
Oklahoma State CB
The Steelers should be doing backflips if they have their choice of any cornerback. Gilbert solidified his standing with an excellent workout, and his potential is excellent. He also would fit in well in Dick LeBeau's scheme. Gilbert could go higher, in which case the Steelers might be interested in Darqueze Dennard or Bradley Roby. Cornerback appears to be their top priority, and they should be able to find a corner at this spot without reaching. The other possibility for the Steelers would be a wide receiver like Odell Beckham, and this is not too high for him to go.

Russ

Zack Martin
Notre Dame OT

In recent seasons the Steelers offense has struggled greatly with consistency, and a big part of that problem has been their offensive line. Martin is a gifted athlete with the speed, technique and intangibles necessary to bring great versatility to Pittsburgh's line. His consistency would upgrade their rushing attack, because of his ability to get movement on run blocks and stay on blocks out in space. For years people have predicted the Steelers to take an offensive tackle in the first round, but they have gone in other directions. Their offensive line needs so much help that I think this is the year they finally make the move.

     
16
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Dallas Cowboys

Mike

Tom Savage
Pittsburgh QB
It would be easy to pencil a lineman like David Yankey or Zack Martin in here and move on, but what good is an outside-the-box mock draft that refuses to ask the tough questions? And "what will the Cowboys do if Tony Romo fades suddenly?" is a pretty tough question. The Cowboys currently have answers like Kyle Orton and (shudder) Brandon Weeden, but they also have a maverick owner who a) is not afraid of radical draft selections; and b) is extremely susceptible to the pre-draft "rise and fall" hysteria. Drafting a live-armed project in the first round may be foolish, but Jones has built his empire on bedrock of foolish, and it would represent the first evidence of long-range planning we have seen in Dallas since roughly 2010.

Dan

Zack Martin
Notre Dame OT
There is talk that the Cowboys will jump on Johnny Manziel if he falls, but Martin would be the anti-Manziel pick. He is safe, solid and not very controversial. The Cowboys also always are a threat to move. Could they trade up for Manziel? That would be something. They also are rumored to like Aaron Donald, but they probably would have to move a few spots to get him. What they need most is an edge rusher to help replace DeMarcus Ware, but it is unlikely they will find one in the first round unless Anthony Barr falls. Martin could give the Cowboys stability on the offensive line as a bookend to left tackle Tyron Smith.

Russ

Kareem Martin
North Carolina DE

The Cowboys current defensive ends are Anthony Spencer -- who is coming off micro-fracture surgery -- George Selvie and Jeremy Mincey, and could definitely use more talent at the position. Martin is a long, powerful and versatile defensive end who is higher on draft boards around the league than the media knows. Although he is raw as a run defender, he is a polished pass rusher who can beat pass blockers with quickness, hand use and power. Adding Martin to a defense that struggled to consistently pressure passers in 2013 would allow their young secondary to make more plays on the ball.

     
17
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Baltimore Ravens

Mike

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Alabama S
Ozzie Newsome drafts a Tide defender who fills a moderate roster need. C'mon, not all the picks can be flashes of insane inspiration, folks. I just made the Cowboys draft a quarterback, for heaven's sake.

Dan

C.J. Mosley
Alabama LB
Mosley could be taken higher than this based on his abilities. He would be a nice fit in Baltimore, where former Crimson Tide players always get a good look. Mosley could be the new Ray Lewis. Zack Martin also could interest the Ravens if he still is available, as they are looking to fill a hole created by Michael Oher's departure. The Ravens need a safety, but they have little chance of getting one of the top two safeties at 17. Taking another one here like Jimmie Ward probably would be a reach. The Ravens usually are disciplined and smart about not reaching for need.

Russ

Morgan Moses
Virginia OT

       After trading for left tackle Eugene Monroe a year ago, it was clear that right tackle Michael Oher would not be returning, and he left via free agency this offseason. Moses should be able to step in as a rookie, which gives the Ravens a young tackle to develop and replace Monroe in three or four years. It is vital for Baltimore to provide better pass protection going forward, because Joe Flacco struggles with consistency when he has to move his feet to avoid pressure.        

     
18
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New York Jets

Mike

Louis Nix
DT Notre Dame
All Rex Ryan decisions are best interpreted as attempts to revisit old Buddy Ryan decisions. Sheldon Richardson is Rex's Jerome Brown. Louis Nix can be Rex's Mike Golic. For the record, Chris Johnson is his Gizmo Williams.

Dan

Bradley Roby 
Ohio State CB
This would be a Rex Ryan pick, and it is made with the assumption that Rex has some draft room juice. The Jets took a first-round cornerback last year in Dee Milliner, but Rex never can have too many cover guys. They also really need a wide receiver, and there are some intriguing possibilities here with Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee available. But with the depth at wide receiver, it might make more sense to take a cornerback first and address offense in subsequent rounds. A lot of teams like Darqueze Dennard better than Roby, but Roby might be a better fit for the Jets' man-to-man scheme.

Russ

Marqise Lee USC WR

With Eric Decker on one side, the Jets need to find another weapon to keep defenses from focusing their coverage around Decker. Marqise Lee is one of the most polished receivers to enter the NFL in years, as he runs outstanding routes, knows how to step up defenders and breaks free from defenders easily. With Decker and Lee, the Jets would have two sure-handed receivers, which would make Geno Smith's job much easier in 2014.

     
19
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Miami Dolphins

Mike

Zack Martin
Notre Dame OT
The unconventional selections will return soon. There is just no way we can leave poor Ryan Tannehill without extra offensive line reinforcements.

Dan

Darqueze Dennard
Michigan State CB
The Dolphins still need offensive line help even after adding Branden Albert in free agency. But they can find a right tackle and a guard later in the draft, and there might not be one worth using the 19th pick on if Zack Martin goes ahead of them. This seems to be a bit high for UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo. It would not be shocking to see the Dolphins play to the strength of the draft and take a wide receiver. Even though the Dolphins brought back Brent Grimes and added Cortland Finnegan, they still could use a solid cornerback like Dennard.

Russ

C.J. Mosley 
Alabama LB

Dannell Ellerbe was a very productive linebacker for the Dolphins in 2013, but outside linebackers Philip Wheeler and Koa Misi are not ideal fits in their 4-3 defense. Mosley is a smooth and fluid athlete with sideline range versus the run and in coverage. He would bring stability and leadership to the Dolphins defense and pair well with Ellerbe to give them two efficient linebackers behind their strong defensive line. In today's NFL where tight ends have become such vital parts of passing attacks, having Ellerbe and Mosley would give them the flexibility to cover TEs that few defenses have.

     
20
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Arizona Cardinals

Mike

Ra'Shede Hageman
Minnesota DT
Darnell Dockett has been in Arizona so long that the defense has gone from bad to good to bad again to good again during his run. It is time to provide a super-talented supplement/heir apparent.

Dan

Derek Carr
Fresno State QB
The question is, can Carr jump ahead of Teddy Bridgewater? It is possible, especially if the team picking a quarterback favors big, strong-armed throwers. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has said no quarterback stands out in this class, but Carr seems like his kind of passer. There are a number of ways the Cardinals can go if they decide to wait on a quarterback. They can go for an edge rusher like Kony Ealy, Demarcus Lawrence or Dee Ford. Or they can go for a linebacker like Ryan Shazier. They could even be interested in cornerbacks if the right one drops to them.

Russ

Ja'Wuan James
Tennessee OL

       Jared Veldheer stabilizes the Cardinals left tackle situation, but they still have major issues on the right side as Bobby Massie struggled with technique and consistency in 2013. James is a strong and highly competitive blocker who is equally productive as a run and pass blocker, which would bring stability to their offensive line. With a 34-year-old Carson Palmer, the Cardinals will draft a young developmental quarterback early, but with only two quarterbacks selected so far they can afford to wait until the second round to attempt to pick Zach Mettenberger.

     
21
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Green Bay Packers

Mike

Xavier Su'a Filo
UCLA OG
Have you noticed that the Packers do not have a center? Like, at all? J.C. Tretter, their current depth chart topper at center, is a former tight end from Cornell. Ted Thompson is grooving to the rhythm of the spheres again, and while his moments of inspiration are inspiring, there is a precedent for the Packers entering the regular season with no one at all manning a critical position (see backup quarterback, 2013). There are no first-round centers this year, but Su'a Filo is an exceptional all-purpose guard who can keep bigger nose tackles off Tretter or replace T.J. Lang if Lang replaces Tretter.

Dan

Ryan Shazier
Ohio State LB
Shazier and A.J. Hawk could give the Packers an all-Buckeyes inside linebacker tandem. The Packers have bigger needs, especially tight end and safety. It may be difficult to pass on a wide receiver like Odell Beckham, and they could use a cornerback like Kyle Fuller as well. But Ted Thompson is very disciplined about letting the draft come to him. If the Packers deem Shazier as a system fit, he may be the best player on the board at any position here. Shazier has helped himself in recent weeks with an excellent workout and solid interviews. He could even be picked earlier.

Russ

Jimmie Ward
Northern Illinois S

Young safety Morgan Burnett has developed into a quality starter, but the Packers have no established safety to pair with him. Although many have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor rated as the top two safeties, I believe Jimmie Ward is the best of the bunch and would fit in perfectly playing alongside Burnett. It surprises many to learn that Ward -- a safety aggressive in run support who is willing to make blow up hits -- came to college as a cornerback and played at the spot before making the switch. This experience is evident in his feel for coverages and his physicality in man coverage.

     
22
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Philadelphia Eagles

Mike

Dee Ford
Auburn LB
You can never have too much pass rush. But really, this is just an excuse to give the Eagles a player I like personally.

Dan

Brandin Cooks
Oregon State WR
He would be an ideal replacement for DeSean Jackson, as Cooks is a similar player. Chip Kelly is sure to be intrigued by his 4.31 40-yard dash speed and big play ability. A lot of teams probably would take Odell Beckham ahead of Cooks, but the Eagles might rank the wide receivers differently than most. Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin are other receivers worth considering here. The Eagles also could use a safety, tight end, cornerback or linebacker, but wide receivers are likely to be the best players available. This might not be too high for tight end Jace Amaro.

Russ

Odell Beckham
LSU WR

       Cutting their most dynamic receiver, DeSean Jackson, may have surprised many, but with Odell Beckham still on the board the Eagles get as close to a perfect replacement as possible. Beckham's ability to accelerate to full speed in a flash, explode out of his cuts and out-run angles to turn short passes into long touchdowns are just many of the physical traits he shares with Jackson. With Jeremy Maclin returning from an injury that caused him to miss the 2013 season and Riley Cooper having developed into a quality starter, the addition of Beckham gives the Eagles three good starting receivers who all have different skill sets.

     
23
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Kansas City Chiefs

Mike

Brandin Cooks
Oregon State WR
Odell Beckham is the better overall prospect, and he has not left the board in this little exercise yet. But Cooks gives the Chiefs a mixture of what they need (speed at receiver, the way shredded wheat needs sugar) and what they want (a slot guy who runs the "slant screen" play five times per game).

Dan

Odell Beckham
LSU WR
This looks like one of those "sprint to the podium" picks. Certainly, it is value meets need. The Chiefs are fortunate because the strength of this area of the draft should dovetail nicely with their primary need. Even if Beckham is gone, they could have a shot at Cooks, Marqise Lee or Kelvin Benjamin. Some even think Cody Latimer could be a consideration here. The Chiefs don't have a second-round pick, so it could be a problem if they didn't get a wide receiver in the first round. The only other big need that could be a factor in the first round for the Chiefs is tight end.

Russ

Ra'Shede Hageman
Minnesota DL

       During the first half of the 2013 season the Chiefs defense played very well, but they struggled greatly throughout the second half for a variety of reasons. With nose tackle Dontari Poe having established himself as an impact player, the Chiefs need to put pieces around him on their defensive line to both upgrade their overall defense and protect Poe from constant double teams. Hageman has the length, size, strength and athleticism to be a dominant player when he competes aggressively, and head coach Andy Reid has a strong history of motivating players who came into the league with questions surrounding their competitiveness.

     
24
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Cincinnati Bengals

Mike

Zach Mettenberger
LSU QB
This is my theory and I am sticking to it.

Dan

Kyle Fuller
Virginia Tech CB
What the Bengals probably want most is help upfront. But the 24th pick might not offer a scratch for that itch. They could take a defensive lineman like Kony Ealy, Dee Ford or Timmy Jernigan, but Fuller might give them more bang for the pick. They might like Jason Verrett from TCU better than Fuller, but Fuller appears to be a more versatile cornerback who also can play some safety. In fact, it's possible the Bengals could even line up Fuller at safety. The Bengals need depth and competition at both safety and cornerback.

Russ

Trai Turner
LSU OG

       It is hard to find a glaring weakness in the Bengals starting lineup, so they have the flexibility to draft a player who could help them at more than one position. While Trai Turner played primarily as a guard at LSU, his combination of great flexibility, strength and competitiveness gives him the tools necessary to be a starting center or guard. I believe Turner would challenge to start as a rookie and would eventually become their best interior linemen. With two quality starting offensive tackles, Turner would eventually bring stability to the interior line, which would upgrade their rushing attack and shut down inside pass-rush pressure.

     
25
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San Diego Chargers

Mike

Jason Verrett
TCU CB
Looking at the Chargers secondary, I get the impression that their strategy is to lose to the Broncos twice, beat the receiver-challenged Raiders and Chiefs by outscoring them, ride a 4-2 division record into the playoffs, hope to face the Bengals in the first round again, then see what happens. As a better strategy, they could actually draft and develop some quality cornerbacks.

Dan

Jason Verrett
TCU CB
This could be a spot in the draft that heats up in terms of trade activity. Why? If the Browns don't pick a quarterback early, other teams will suspect they will pick one at 26. So anyone wanting a quarterback from the second wave might want to get in front of the Browns. The Chargers likely will be open for business. But if the Chargers stay put, they can address a need at cornerback with Verrett, who has risen on some boards. Other possibilities for them are Notre Dame DT Louis Nix and Auburn pass rusher Dee Ford.

Russ

Louis Nix
Notre Dame DT

       For a team that made the playoffs in 2013, the Chargers have a number of holes, especially at cornerback, pass rusher and offensive line. However, they do not have an established nose tackle, and you must have one for a 3-4 defense to shine. In addition, other than pass rushers, good nose tackles are difficult to find, because few humans that are 350 pounds have the quickness, athleticism and in-game competitiveness that Louis Nix does. Nix might have some issues with playing upright and inconsistent hand use, but his ability to anchor at the point of attack and get penetration to disrupt plays behind the line would upgrade the Chargers defense dramatically.

     
26
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Cleveland Browns

Mike

Timmy Jernigan
Florida State DT

There are lots of 3-4 teams drafting in the second half of the first round this year. That makes it hard to project a natural one-gap 4-3 type like Jernigan into a scheme. The Bengals and Cowboys could gobble him up, but since I have them drafting quarterbacks, that leaves Jernigan to a 3-4 team that needs a quarterback. Actually, Mike Pettine is more of a "multiple fronts" type, and he is also a Rex Ryan disciple who knows defensive line talent when he sees it. Evaluating Pettine decisions as reinterpretations of Rex Ryan decisions, Jernigan becomes Pettine's Sheldon Richardson, making him the spiritual great-grand-nephew of Jerome Brown if you think about it (please don't).

Dan

Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville QB
He could be the 2014 version of Aaron Rodgers. Certainly, Bridgewater has the credentials to be picked much higher. If he is picked higher, the Browns still could go QB with their second pick of the first round. Other possibilities would be Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. If the Browns take a quarterback early, they could go for a cornerback or wide receiver here. The corners are picked clean in this mock, but receivers still on the board in this scenario are Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin. Two other possibilities here are guards Xavier Su'a-Filo and Joel Bitonio.

Russ

Derek Carr
Fresno State QB

       For Sammy Watkins, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron to catch a ton of passes and turn the Browns' offense into a high-powered attack, they need a trigger man. While Carr often looks frenetic in the pocket, he fits well in Cleveland because it has two elite linemen in Joe Thomas and Alex Mack and three solid ones in John Greco, Jason Pinkston and Mitchell Schwartz. With his ultra quick release, elite arm and underrated athleticism, Carr has the physical talent to turn in to a star passer in the NFL.

     
27
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New Orleans Saints

Mike

Jace Amaro
Texas Tech TE
No, Jimmy, we won't be paying you what you want.

Dan

Marqise Lee
USC WR
Their biggest need might be cornerback, but the board might not set up so that it makes sense to take one here. The team lost Lance Moore and Darren Sproles and could use another offensive weapon. Marques Colston, the team's best receiver, soon will be 31 years old. An edge rusher such as Kony Ealy or Dee Ford also could be a fit. It is not crazy to suggest the Saints could draft an eventual successor to Drew Brees with this pick. Quarterbacks who could be available in this range are Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Savage and Zach Mettenberger.

Russ

Dee Ford
Auburn OLB

       As impressive as their transition to a 3-4 defense was in 2013, the Saints are still in dire need of outside pass rushers. While Dee Ford is not productive playing off the ball in coverage and is wildly inconsistent competing as a run defender, his quick first step off the ball, natural ability to defeat pass blocks and explosive burst to the passer make him an excellent fit as an outside linebacker in the Saints' scheme. As one NFL person told me, don't stress over what Ford can't do, as few players can rush the passer as well as he can, and pass rushers are the hardest players to find outside of quarterbacks.

     
28
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Carolina Panthers

Mike

Odell Beckham
LSU WR
If the draft actually plays out this way, with one of the best all-purpose receiving prospects on the board plopping into the Panthers' laps, Jerry Richardson and David Gettleman will look like geniuses. Since this particular mock draft was specifically designed to present contrary and provocative ideas, the chances of Jerry Richardson and David Gettleman looking like geniuses are not great.

Dan

Kelvin Benjamin
Florida State WR
No team needs a wide receiver more than the Panthers, who lost their top four receivers from a year ago and don't have anything close to a true No. 1 receiver. Cam Newton can't do it all by himself. There still are some receivers who could be taken at this point, including Allen Robinson and Cody Latimer. The Panthers also really could use an offensive tackle and a cornerback, so players such as Morgan Moses and Cyrus Kouandjio could be considerations. They might have to reach to get a corner at 28.

Russ

Xavier Su'a-Filo
UCLA G

       With Jordan Gross and Geoff Hangartner retiring and Travelle Wharton leaning that way, the Panthers offensive line is in bad shape. While I am sure they would love to get a left tackle here, they would need to reach, and general manager Dave Gettlemen spent many years with the Giants, who do not reach. So he selects Su'a-Fila, who has the size, athleticism and versatility to start at guard or right tackle. His ability to tie up and keep pass blockers frozen on the line combined with his pulling ability is uncommon, which makes him a great fit for the Panthers offense.

     
29
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New England Patriots

Mike

Dominique Easley
Miami DT
Damaged-goods mega-talent who either slams the door on this Patriots era or becomes the reason we are still wincing through Bill Belichick press conferences in 2019.

Dan

Ra'Shede Hageman
Minnesota DL
The Patriots need some youth up front, as Vince Wilfork is 32 years old and Tommy Kelly is 33. Notre Dame DT Louis Nix also could intrigue the Patriots, as players with his size don't come along often. But Hageman's versatility and rare ability could play well in Bill Belichick's front. If anyone can get Hageman to perform with more consistency, it's Belichick. Given the tight end turmoil on this team, a player like Jace Amaro also has to be on the radar. And the Patriots have looked at a lot of the top quarterbacks, so a QB pick can't be discounted. What is most likely though, based on history, is the Patriots will move down.

Russ

Scott Crichton
Oregon State DE

Similar to San Diego, the Patriots have a surprising amount of holes for a team that made it so far in the playoffs, so they are not forced to reach. Crichton is the type of player I would expect Bill Belichick to love because he plays with his hair on fire and has the length, strength and athleticism to line up in a variety of spots. While he is not a premier athlete, he is a good one whose effort, instincts, hand use and playing strength make him tough to block. He could contribute as a defensive end or outside linebacker and even slide inside to defensive tackle in some passing situations. That versatility is a huge part of why he would fit so well in New England.

     
30
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San Francisco 49ers

Mike

Marqise Lee
USC WR
Needing badly to get over the Super Bowl hump, the 49ers shift priorities from insisting that their receiving corps is great to making their receiving corps great.

Dan

Kony Ealy
Missouri DE
Can the 49ers count on Aldon Smith? No one knows. He is likely to be suspended for at least a portion of the 2014 season. So at the very least, the Niners need to give themselves an alternative. Dee Ford or Demarcus Lawrence also could be possibilities as edge rushers. With Justin Smith closing in on his 35th birthday, the 49ers also could use a big defensive end like Stephon Tuitt of Notre Dame. Other needs for this team include cornerback and wide receiver. Cody Latimer or Allen Robinson could be considerations at receiver if the 49ers want to give Michael Crabtree some help.

Russ

Bradley Roby
Ohio State CB

       On a team with so much talent, the 49ers could definitely use a cornerback with Roby's size, athleticism and instincts. Terell Brown is no longer with the 49ers, and with Chris Culliver's legal issues, who knows how long he will be a part of the team. Although Roby's final season at Ohio State was disappointing on the field, if the 49ers can coach him up and get him back playing like he did in 2012, then they will have the best cornerback in the draft.

     
31
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Denver Broncos

Mike

David Yankey
Stanford G
Brainy, brawny Peyton insurance for yet another team that graduated from the Giants-Packers school of shuffling offensive linemen around to cover gaps and hoping everything will turn out A-OK.

Dan

Xavier Su'a-Filo
UCLA G
After losing guards Zane Beadles and Chris Kuper, the Broncos could use an interior blocker who can help bring an element of toughness to their offense. Su'a-Filo is rated the best guard in the draft by many. The Broncos drafted Montee Ball last year, but they still could use another running back, and this would not be a bad spot for Ohio State's Carlos Hyde. If a cornerback should fall, that is another area the team could address after losing Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Joel Bitonio also could be in the mix, depending on how the Broncos rate the offensive linemen.

Russ

Darqueze Dennard
Michigan State CB

       While they gave big money to cornerback Aqib Talib, fellow corner Chris Harris is recovering from a season-ending injury and they have little depth at the position. Denver was not planning on drafting a cornerback in the first round, but with Dennard still on the board, it cannot pass on him. He is a strong and physical cornerback with great instincts, which should allow him to start as a rookie. He will need to learn to be less physical after the initial five yards to avoid penalties, but other than that he is ready to be a productive NFL starter.

     
32
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Seattle Seahawks

Mike

Taylor Lewan
Michigan OT
Lewan gives the Seahawks offensive line a fighting chance of catching up with the rest of the roster.

Dan

Cyrus Kouandjio
Alabama OT

His stock went down because of a substandard workout and medical concerns, but at one point he was considered a mid first-round pick. His size and his production will appeal to the Seahawks, and they could use a reinforcement on their offensive line. They can go a lot of ways though. Other possibilities for them include receiver Allen Robinson, defensive end Stephon Tuitt and guard Joel Bitonio. This is a spot in which a trade could happen, as teams may try to leapfrog the Texans and others for a second wave quarterback.


Russ

Joel Bitonio
Nevada G

       Breno Giacomini is gone, and the offensive line probably has the most question marks on the Seahawks roster. Bitonio is a bit raw and played at a smaller school but he is a top athlete who plays with the energy and aggressiveness that Pete Carroll seems to love. There would no doubt be some growing pains with him starting at right tackle as a rookie, but he is so much better athletically than Giocomini that by the end of 2014 he would likely be a better player for them and would add to their offensive versatility because of his ability to get out and block effectively in space.

     

 

 

 

* * * Second Round * * *
1
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Houston Texans

Mike

Derek Carr
Fresno State QB
There is a lot to like about this pick. Carr comes ready to play, with B-plus skills in most areas. Bill O'Brien is likely to mesh with a football lifer who has a "work within the system" mentality. And Texans fans will see another Carr brother, rend their garments and run into the streets screaming "IT'S ALL HAPPENING AGAIN!" which of course is the most likeable thing about this pick.

Dan

Tom Savage
Pitt QB
At some point between the first pick in the draft and the 33rd, the Texans must come up with a quarterback. There is a chance, maybe a good one, that they will choose that quarterback with a pick other than the first or the 33rd as the result of a trade. But this mock isn't making trades, so let's give the Texans the fast-rising Savage at the top of the second. Savage is the type of developmental passer with whom Bill O'Brien probably could work well. It would help to make Savage a second-round pick as opposed to a first because that means the pressure to play him immediately wouldn't be as intense.

Russ

Blake Bortles
UCF QB

       After playing it safe by selecting Khalil Mack with the first overall pick, the Texans win their gamble that one of the top quarterbacks would slide out of the first round and grab Bortles. Although Bortles has top-level physical skills, many in NFL view him as a project because his footwork needs much work and he has to become quicker getting rid of the ball within the pocket. To say things could not have worked out better for the Texans would be a drastic understatement.

     
2
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Washington Redskins

Mike

C.J. Mosley
Alabama LB
Welcome to the draft, Redskins! Here is a reasonable London Fletcher facsimile to anchor the middle of your linebacker corps, which is currently populated by spare parts. You are welcome.

Dan

Morgan Moses
Virginia OT
The Redskins traded their first-round pick to the Rams in the Robert Griffin III deal, so this would be their first chance to draft. With good size and movement ability, Moses should be able to contribute quickly in Jay Gruden's new Redskins offense. Protecting Griffin better will be a priority, and it should start with a high draft pick. Moses would be a good value at this point in the draft. There is a chance he could be gone and Cyrus Kouandjio could be available. Either would be a good get for the Redskins. A cornerback or inside linebacker also could be appealing here.

Russ

David Yankey
Stanford OG

       The interior of the Redskins offensive line is far from settled and no doubt needs an influx of young talent. Yankey was a highly productive guard at Stanford and possesses the necessary size, technique and athleticism to be a productive starting center or guard in the NFL. Not only will Yankey upgrade the Redskins rushing attack, but more importantly he will improve their ability to keep RGIII from taking as much punishment as he has in the past.

     
3
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Cleveland Browns

Mike

Jimmy Garoppolo
Eastern Illinois QB
Well, the Browns had to draft a developmental quarterback sometime, right? Have you noticed that Garoppolo's name is full of double letters where there should be singles and single letters where there should be doubles? It should be Garropollo. But as long as it is not spelled "Weeden," Browns fans have reason for optimism.

Dan

Joel Bitonio
Nevada OL
This mock already has the Browns with a wide receiver (Sammy Watkins) and a quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater). So at this point they might need someone to pass protect so Bridgewater has time to throw to Watkins. Bitonio played tackle in college but is viewed as a guard by many NFL teams. He probably could help the Browns at guard or right tackle. The Browns might not want to go all offense with their first three picks, in which case an inside linebacker could make sense. And if they don't take Watkins early, a wide receiver would be an easy pick in this spot.

Russ

Calvin Pryor 
Louisville S

       Adding veteran safety Donte Whitner helps their secondary greatly, but they do not have an established safety playing next to him. Pryor is a quick-twitch athlete who flies around with the field with great energy and intensity, making plays from sideline to sideline. In addition to energy and range, Pryor's aggressiveness and hitting ability would give the Browns one of the best tandems of run support safeties in the league.

     
4
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Oakland Raiders

Mike

Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Washington TE
With Garoppolo and Carr off the board, we are now out of early-round quarterbacks to dole out. So let's keep providing the Raiders with weapons so Matt McGloin and Matt Schaub have someone to throw to over the middle of the field. Seferian-Jenkins is the perfect tight end for the team that has none: He blocks well enough to help in the running game and provides an outlet receiver with some seam speed, and with his long name, the Raiders can pretend there are two of him.

Dan

Jimmie Ward
Northern Illinois S
Ward is going to be a hot commodity, in part because he is a versatile, dynamic prospect and in part because there are so few quality safeties in this draft. In fact, some team may reach to take him in the first round. If not, he is sure to go high in the second. The Raiders need a pass defender to help them keep up with the explosive offenses of the Broncos and Chargers in the AFC West. Defensive line help also is possible for the Raiders. And if they don't take a quarterback in the first round, they'll have to look hard at one with this pick.

Russ

Jimmy Garoppolo
Eastern Illinois QB
 

       Although they acquired former Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub via trade, the Raiders know they have to prepare for when he is no longer their starter, and in the worst-case scenario, have someone ready to step in sooner if he does not play up to his pre-2013 level performance. While many have anointed Tom Savage the best of the next tier of quarterbacks, in our eyes, Garoppolo has a much higher chance of becoming a consistent quality starter in the NFL than Savage.

     
5
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Atlanta Falcons

Mike

Ryan Shazier
Ohio State LB
Don't Worrilow. Be happy.

Dan

Kyle Van Noy
BYU LB
The Falcons might be playing more 3-4 this year, and Van Noy would fit that front well as an edge rusher. His athleticism and versatility is intriguing to a lot of teams, so Van Noy wouldn't last much longer even if the Falcons didn't take him. If the Falcons somehow end up with Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack in the first round, look for them to go with an offensive lineman here, assuming they still have this pick. The problem is all of the OTs worthy of being picked this high may be gone.

Russ

Kony Ealy
Missouri DE

       Continuing their stated trend of becoming strong and more physical along both lines, the Falcons grab Ealy. When Ealy is playing his best he can be an excellent run defender and a good power rusher who flashes the athleticism to be even better. On a team with Osi Umenyioram who is 32, and Kroy Biermann, who is coming off season-ending surgery, Ealy would be an ideal player to back up both spots. He could play 20 or so snaps at each spot so that neither one has to play 60-plus snaps per game.

     
6
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike

Cyrus Kouandjio
Alabama OT
The Bucs need depth and options at tackle (and possibly at guard, with Carl Nicks still on the mend). Kouandjio has great upside if the medical mystery of his knees is ever solved. It's a good thing Greg Schiano is gone. He believed that he could heal a degenerative arthritic condition by yelling at it.

Dan

Gabe Jackson
Mississippi State OL
This huge blocker could team with Carl Nicks and Evan Dietrich-Smith and give the Bucs a formidable interior offensive line. Jackson won't fit every scheme because he is not the most mobile athlete, but teams that run a lot of power will be drawn to him. It is possible the Bucs will prefer a different style of guard, such as David Yankey. The Bucs are a threat to take a quarterback at this spot, or even to move up to take one. Possibilities include Tom Savage, Jimmy Garoppolo, Zach Mettenberger and AJ McCarron.

Russ

Allen Robinson
Penn State WR

       Adding tight end Eric Ebron gives their offense one big weapon to go with Vincent Jacson, but on a team with a lot of defensive talent, they continue to focus on offense. Robinson has not received the same national publicity as Kelvin Benjamin or Brandin Cooks, but he is a more consistent player than both and consistency has great value to NFL teams. Although not as big as Jackson, Robinson has good size and outstanding hands and is one of the better run-after-catch receivers in this year's draft.

     
7
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Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike

Carlos Hyde
Ohio State RB
Run big, powerful Hyde behind Greg Robinson. Repeat until the defense gels and you start to feel better about another season of Chad Henne.

Dan

Jimmy Garoppolo
Eastern Illinois QB
It is difficult to envision the Jags not taking a quarterback at some point in the first two rounds, and it seems unlikely they will take one with the third pick of the draft. That means a good chance exists they will either take a quarterback at 39 or somehow use this pick to position themselves for a quarterback. They could even move up and take Garoppolo late in the first round. Garoppolo doesn't have the biggest arm, but he has a knack for making plays. There are not many teams that don't think highly of him. Some compare him to fellow Eastern Illinois alum Tony Romo.

Russ

Tom Savage
Pittsburgh QB

       The Blaine Gabbert experiment is finally over, so the Jaguars new regime steps up and selects what they hope is the long-term answer at quarterback. An immensely gifted talent, Savage resurrected his once-promising career with a strong final campaign at Pittsburgh. With a rocket arm, an ultra-quick release and the feel for not forcing passes into bad spots, Savage has many of the tools to be successful in the NFL, but he must improve his footwork dramatically and become a more accurate passer to ever do so.

     
8
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Minnesota Vikings

Mike

Kyle Fuller
Virginia Tech CB
Everybody thinks the Buccaneers are the 2013 underachiever ready to pounce this year. The Vikings are the 2013 underachiever ready to pounce this year. All they need is a quarterback (done) and enough depth in the secondary to reduce their reliance on Captain Munnerlyn.

Dan

Allen Robinson
Penn State WR
Wide receiver is not the most pressing need for the Vikings, who chose Cordarelle Patterson in the first round one year ago. But if they are not going to choose a quarterback with their first two picks, they need to do all they can to help the quarterbacks they have. The Vikings very well could select a passer in the second round, though they may be picking at the end of a run on QBs. If they really like a quarterback, Rick Spielman won't hesitate to move up. The issue is whether or not they are enamored enough with any of them to do that. Robinson is a player who has not gotten his due in the media. He does not have great stopwatch speed, but his size and polish should make him a solid pro.

Russ

Ryan Shazier
Ohio State LB

       For a team that had a top-10 pick, the Vikings have a surprising amount of talent, but other than Chad Greenway they have no real established stud linebackers. Expected to be a first-round pick, Shazier is a great value for the Vikings here. Unlike many college linebackers, Shazier excel in pass coverage, which can be traced to his being a former safety who made the switch to linebacker during his time at Ohio State. Pairing Shazier with Greenway would give the Vikings two athletic, three-down linebackers, which is extremely valuable in today's pass-happy NFL.

     
9
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Buffalo Bills

Mike

Jimmie Ward
Northern Illinois S

Forget Jairus Byrd, Bills fans! Ward is more of an in-the-box safety, but he sometimes looks like he is in two places at once and has an even greater knack than Byrd for showing up in the general vicinity of ball.


Dan

Jace Amaro
Texas Tech TE

If the Bills are going to commit to EJ Manuel, they need to give him some help. A pass-catching tight end can be a quarterback's best friend. Amaro has the height, speed and receiving ability to have a significant impact on the Bills' passing game. Some think he could be gone by this point, and might even be taken in the first round. The Bills also could use a safety to help offset the loss of Jairus Byrd. Jimmie Ward is likely to be gone. Could they be tempted by Deone Bucannon?


Russ

Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Washington TE

       Trading for troubled receiver Mike Williams gives the Bills potential at receiver, and while Scott Chandler is a solid, workmanlike tight end, he is not a dynamic offensive weapon. Seferian-Jenkins has the length, athleticism, receiving skills and ability to make big plays running after the catch to help a young quarterback. When you add in his production as a blocker, he has all the tools to be a front-line starting tight end for a long time.

     
10
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Tennessee Titans

Mike

Tre Mason
Auburn RB
Dub this Titans draft Operation Acquire Players People Have Actually Heard Of. Also, Mason has the potential to be a real featured back, not a guy featured 20 times per game so he can do three exciting things per year.

Dan

Carlos Hyde
Ohio State RB
The Titans would be fortunate if Hyde still were available at this point. In this scenario, no running back has been taken in the first 41 picks. Hyde has the ability to justify a late pick in the first round. In fact, there has been talk that some team could try to move up for him, as many think he is the best back in the draft. For the Titans, he could help offset the loss of Chris Johnson. The Titans also could use some muscle for Ray Horton's new 3-4 defensive front, as well as a cornerback to step in for Alterraun Verner, who left in the offseason.

Russ

Jason Verrett
TCU CB

       With top-flight cornerback Alterraun Verner no longer with the Titans, they have a hole to fill, as Blidi Wreh-Wilson is young and unproven. Scouts around the league have been raving about Jason Verrett since 2012 and insist that if he were two inches taller he would likely be a top-15 pick in the draft because he has a rare set of skills. Verrett is a student of the game who is able to plant, drive and close on the ball fast enough to consistently make plays on the ball. Finding cornerbacks who are willing to hit and tackle is tough, nonetheless short cornerbacks who are willing to, but Verrett seems to enjoy it.  

     
11
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New York Giants

Mike

Kony Ealy
Missouri DE
The defensive line cracked the Top Five Units the Giants Were in Denial About in 2013 (1: running back, 2: offensive line, 3: tight ends, 4: defensive line, 5: receivers. Linebacker was grandfathered onto an all-time list the day Jessie Armstead left). Ealy is a solid all-purpose defender of the type that used to help the Giants win Super Bowls.

Dan

Dominique Easley
Florida DT
Whether or not Easley is picked this high all depends on how a team views him medically. There is no question he has the athleticism and production to merit a high second round pick. But he has had two ACL tears, which raises multiple questions. Is he susceptible to these injuries? Can he come back from the latest? Will his quickness be diminished? His high-end ability might make him worth a gamble. If the Giants pick DT Aaron Donald in the first round, they could go for a TE here such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Jace Amaro, should he still be available.

Russ

Davante Adams
Fresno State WR

       Hakeem Nicks is a Colt, and rumors continue to persist that the Giants are not sold on Rueben Randle to fill his role, so the Giants grab the underrated Adams. Adams is a thickly built and athletic receiver with excellent ball skills and better quickness and speed than he gets credit for. He will definitely need to adjust to running the complete route tree after catching so many passes either behind the line or on deep passes, but the talent is there and he should challenge Randle for the starting job as a rookie.

     
12
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St. Louis Rams

Mike

Kelvin Benjamin
Florida State WR
If you give a chubby loved one enough exercise equipment and gym memberships, eventually he or she will get the message, work out a little and realize it is not so bad. Similarly, if you give Brian Schottenheimer enough stellar receiver prospects, he will eventually acquiesce and call a forward pass.

Dan

Jordan Matthews
Vanderbilt WR
Some think this may be a little high for Matthews, especially with other solid receiver prospects still available like Cody Latimer, Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant, Davante Adams and Bruce Ellington. But at this point, it's about individual preference and scheme fit. Early in the college season Matthews was considered the No. 1 receiver prospect, and he hasn't done anything to diminish his standing. If the Rams take Sammy Watkins near the top of the first round, they could use this pick on a cornerback. They could even pull a stunner and take a quarterback here if one slips.

Russ

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Alabama S

       Throughout the 2013 season all I heard from people around the Rams is how they needed to upgrade their coverage at the safety position. T.J. McDonald is penciled in to start at strong safety in 2014, but he is not consistent in coverage, so grabbing Clinton-Dix gives them a smart safety who can sit back and patrol the back end of the defense. By not asking him to play near the line, his inconsistent open-field tackling will not be as big of an issue.

     
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Detroit Lions

Mike

Allen Robinson
Penn State WR

       There is all kinds of chatter about the Lions loving Sammy Watkins. We all love Sammy Watkins, but Matt Millen is safely chained to a television studio desk, so no one is moving up to select him. The Lions appear loaded at receiver with Megatron, Golden Tate and two good tight ends, but let's give them what every team with a Megatron can use: a dependable possession receiver capable of gobbling up all the 12-yard passes Matthew Stafford can sidearm to him.


Dan

Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Washington TE
With his route running and receiving ability, this tight end is a little different flavor from Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew. He would give the Lions yet another mismatch player for their offense and help create big problems for opposing defenses. Another thought: Taking a safety in the first round should not preclude the Lions from taking a cornerback in the second. The issue is whether or not one will be available who is worth taking here. A center such as Weston Richburg, who could be the successor to Dominic Raiola, also has to be a consideration.

Russ

Cyrus Kouandjio
Alabama OT

       While Riley Reiff looks like he is going to be a solid left tackle and LaAdrian Waddle surprised with his play as a rookie, this is a value pick because if Kouandjio has no knee problems going forward (which is why he will likely slide to the second round) he could prove to be a better left tackle than Reiff. Highly competitive and strong, Kouandjio can knock defenders backward on run blocks and maintain position well in pass protection when he keeps his knees bent and stays over his feet.

     
14
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Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike

Stephon Truitt
Notre Dame DT
The Steelers defensive line depth chart looks like some ninjas snuck in and dropped a bunch of "seventh-round pick and former rookie free agent" pellets.

Dan

Louis Nix
Notre Dame DT
Nix has Pittsburgh Steeler written all over him. The Steelers have not had a big, potentially dominating force at nose tackle since Casey Hampton left, and they have been worse for it. If the Steelers get a solid cornerback in the first and Nix in the second, they can get better in a hurry on defense. Nix might be gone by this point, in which case a wide receiver also would make sense here. The Steelers probably could have their pick of some good receivers, including Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant and Cody Latimer.

Russ

Kelvin Benjamin
Florida State WR

       Antonio Brown has developed into a top player and Lance Moore is a good slot receiver, but they do not have a big receiver. While Kelvin Benjamin's lack of a consistent effort and tendency to drop too many passes are major red flag, the reality is that receivers with his size and athleticism are hard to find. This is the spot where teams often gamble on immensely talented players whose production in college did not match their talent level.

     
15
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Dallas Cowboys

Mike

Bradley Roby
Ohio State CB
A speedy gambler in the DeAngelo Hall mode, making him a terrible fit for a Tampa-2 defense designed for technician cornerbacks. But as soon as Jerry Jones explains everything he knows about coverage techniques, this pick will make perfect sense. To him. And frankly, the Cowboys needed talented warm defensive bodies, even if they are odd fits.

Dan

Timmy Jernigan
Florida State DT
Getting Jernigan at this point in the draft would be an excellent value for the Cowboys. At one point he was considered a potential mid-first-round pick. He still could go higher, but his stock dipped after a mediocre combine performance. The Cowboys need some depth up front and Jernigan would be a good fit in Rod Marinelli's defense. If the Cowboys don't go offensive line in the first round, they could use this pick for a blocker. They need a safety as well, but the pickings at that position may be slim here.

Russ

Deone Bucannon 
Washington State S

       The outside of the Cowboys' secondary is very strong, as they have spent the money and draft picks on cornerbacks, but they need to upgrade at safety to contend with the NFL's wide-open passing attacks. Although he's not often mentioned along with the top safeties in the draft, a number of teams have told me that not only do they have Bucannon in the same cluster as Ward, Clinton-Dix and Pryor, but some have him rated above them all. A good-sized safety who does not get credit for his playing speed and athleticism, Bucannon could be the all-around safety the Cowboys have been trying to find for a number of seasons.

     
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Baltimore Ravens

Mike

Morgan Moses
Virginia OT
Hulking, super-strong right tackle who is a little slow off the line. It will be like Michael Oher never left.

Dan

Stephon Tuitt
Notre Dame DE
The Ravens lost Arthur Jones in free agency and could replace him with a similar player in Tuitt. He would be a good system fit in Baltimore, as he is suited to play a five-technique and his size and power can help control the line of scrimmage. DaQuan Jones is a similar style player who also could be a consideration. A wide receiver also could make sense here. Picking up Steve Smith was nice, but the Ravens could use some youth at the wide receiver position. They also will be looking hard at offensive linemen at this spot.

Russ

Dominique Easley
Miami DT

       If not for two torn ACLs, Easley likely would have challenged to be the first player selected in the draft, so general manager Ozzie Newsome once again shows a willingness to gamble on players coming off injury. Easley is much more of an explosive penetrating defensive linemen than the Ravens usually have on the defensive line, but he has the talent to be an elite, game-changing player, so they will make their scheme and his style work for the sake of production.

     
17
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New York Jets

Mike

Lamarcus Joyner
Florida State CB
Ornery little No. 2 cornerback. Rex will love him.

Dan

Dee Ford
Auburn LB
The Jets' best pass rusher, Calvin Pace, is 33 years old. They need to find an eventual replacement. Ford would represent good value at this point in the draft, and he is likely to slip a bit because he does not fit four-man fronts. Ford lacks the size and power to play the run, especially as a down lineman, but he has the kind of pass rushing ability that Rex Ryan can capitalize on. The Jets also are likely to be taking all wide receivers into consideration at this point in the draft, and a guard could be appealing here.

Russ

Jace Amaro
Texas Tech TE

       Not planning on taking a tight end here, the Jets are shocked that Amaro is still on the board. Although Amaro lacks explosive, top-end speed, he is a good athlete with the quickness and agility to create separation and soft, natural hands to make tough catches. His ability to become a security blanket type short-area receiver should help Geno Smith improve.

     
18
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Miami Dolphins

Mike

Chris Borland
Wisconsin LB
Remember when Jeff Ireland spent all kinds of money to acquire garden-variety linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler? Borland will provide the Dolphins with an opportunity to forget.

Dan

David Yankey
Stanford OG
Offensive line is a big area of concern in Miami. Not only do the Dolphins need a young blocker, they need him to play now. Yankey has excellent athleticism and foot quickness, but he left school early and still is honing his technique. What's interesting about Yankey potentially going to the Dolphins is that he was Jonathan Martin's successor at left tackle at Stanford before Yankey moved to guard, where he is best suited. The Dolphins also could use an offensive tackle, but there might not be one on the board for them who is worth the 50th pick.

Russ

Billy Turner 
North Dakota State OT

       If the season started today, veteran Jason Fox, who has never established himself as a quality starter, would start at right tackle for the Dolphins. Turner is a thick man with great feet and athleticism, and he plays with an aggressive streak that is hard to find in offensive linemen. Having played at North Dakota State, he no doubt will have some rough moments as he adjusts to the huge jump in competition. but with his size, strength, athleticism and work ethic, he should progress as the season goes on to become a good starter.

     
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Chicago Bears

Mike

Will Sutton 
Arizona State DT
The Bears revamped their defensive line late last season and through free agency. Now, they should add some players under 30.

Dan

Tre Mason
Auburn RB
General manager Phil Emery usually has a surprise or two up his sleeve and Mason could be one. Emery is more likely to take a player at a position that some do not consider a primary need than he is to reach to fill one. If Emery lands a DT in Round One, he might not like what is left in round two at defensive back. The Bears could use a second running back to pair with Matt Forte, and some think Mason is the best running back in the draft. His presence would give the Bears as much talent in their backfield as any team in the league.

Russ

Timmy Jernigan
Florida State DT

       Upgrading their defense has been the priority all offseason, and after adding two veteran defensive ends in free agency, Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston, and cornerback Kyle Fuller in the first round they continue with their defensive focus. Jernigan is not the explosive penetrating defensive tackle that he has been portrayed to be, but he is stout at the point of attack, can clog holes and can push the pocket when he bull rushes. Playing Jernigan next to Stephen Paea would give the Bears a strong interior defensive line.

     
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Arizona Cardinals

Mike

Kyle Van Noy
BYU LB
The Cardinals need a quarterback of the future, a power running back and some reinforcements along the offensive line. But let's keep adding talented defenders until the entire NFC West collapses into a quantum singularity from which no scoring can escape.

Dan

Jeremiah Attaochu
Georgia Tech LB

John Abraham still is a fine player, but he will be 36 in May. The Cardinals need to find a successor. Attaochu has the frame, athleticism, speed, intensity and versatility to be an effective pass rusher at the NFL level. It is possible Attaochu will be taken before this point, as pass rush usually is snapped up quickly in the draft. Offensive tackle and safety could be other positions of consideration in the second round for Arizona. If they don't choose a quarterback in round one, Zach Mettenberger could make sense here.


Russ

Zach Mettenberger
LSU QB

       After drafting an offensive tackle in the first round to try and keep Carson Palmer upright and healthy, they draft Palmer's eventual replacement here. Blessed with the strongest arm in the draft and a rare pocket toughness to stand strong and make throws right before he gets crushed, Mettenberger could not fit Bruce Arians' offense any better. While he should be ready to play in 2014, having a season or two to back up Palmer while he learns and improves is the perfect situation for him.

     
21
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Green Bay Packers

Mike

Troy Niklas
Notre Dame TE
The Packers need a replacement for Jermichael Finley, and this guy just screams "Ted Thompson selection:" a 6-foot-7 specimen who spent a season at linebacker before replacing Tyler Eifert at tight end. By the time the Packers are done with him, he'll be starting at center.

Dan

Weston Richburg
Colorado State C
This is not a bad spot to get arguably the best center in the draft. This also is a situation in which value meets need, as the Packers lost Evan Deitrich-Smith in the offseason. They have 2013 fourth-round pick J.C. Tretter as a potential replacement, but he is not considered as talented as Richburg, who could be a rock in the middle of the line for Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers. What the Packers need more than anything is a tight end on offense and a safety on defense, but the draft might not offer a player at either position worth taking at this point.

Russ

Chris Borland
Wisconsin LB

       Not passing the eyeball test is nothing new for Borland, but all he did was dominate games and make impact plays right up in Wisconsin his entire college career. Despite my belief that Borland can be successful starting an nearly any linebacker position in the NFL, I believe going to a team like Green Bay that plays a 3-4 scheme and likes to move its players around gives Borland a chance to really shine. He not only excels chasing down ball carriers all over the field, but he is a vastly underrated pass rusher.

     
22
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Philadelphia Eagles

Mike

Terrence Brooks
Florida State S
The Eagles need a safety. Trying to predict Chip Kelly's decisions is like playing chess with Spock.

Dan

Demarcus Lawrence
Boise State LB
Trent Cole soon will be 32 years old, so the Eagles are looking for more pass rush. Lawrence has the type of athleticism, strength and length that fits into their scheme. Defensive backs also figure to be on their radar, but Lawrence likely will be rated higher than any DB at this point if he still is available. If Lawrence is as good as advertised, he can help make the Eagles secondary more effective by getting to the quarterback. If Jeremiah Attaochu still is available, he might even be more appealing.

Russ

Stanley Jean-Baptiste
Nebraska CB

       Last year's big free-agent signing, Cary Williams, struggled through a tough season. and if he does not improve he may not be long for the Eagles. With Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin in the fold, I believe the Eagles will look for a cornerback who could replace Williams if need be. Chip Kelly constantly stresses that the NFL is a big man's game, and in the tier of cornerbacks still available, Jean-Baptiste is clearly the tallest of the group.

     
23
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Cincinnati Bengals

Mike

Kareem Martin
North Carolina DE
Another "specimen" type for a front four that never quite produces the pass rush the Bengals are hoping for. These guys will either become the Midwest Seahawks or die trying.

Dan

Kareem Martin
North Carolina DE
He will appeal to 3-4 teams more than some 4-3 teams, but the Bengals like big, strong, physical specimens at defensive end. Martin, at 6-foot-6, 272, fits that description. He is a solid run defender who has developed some pass rush and has the potential to keep developing. He would be a logical replacement for Michael Johnson, who left in free agency. They also could go with an offensive lineman at this point, as they could use help at tackle and guard. Could this be the spot for safety Deone Bucannon?

Russ

Terrence Brooks
Florida State S

       I feel very confident saying that the Bengals do not want to enter the 2014 season with Taylor Mays starting at one of their safety spots, so they address that concern here. Brooks has not received much national attention, but people around the NFL have been telling me since the fall that he is one of the more underrated players in the draft and has the talent to start as a rookie because he can shine in pass coverage and run support equally.

     
24
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San Francisco 49ers

Mike

Keith McGill
Utah CB
"Big cornerbacks, Seahawks? We've got big cornerbacks too! And we are drafting them with the extra picks we got in exchange for Alex Smith! Wait until you see what we do with our own second-round pick, you coffee-chugging grunge muffins!"

Dan

Donte Moncrief Mississippi WR This is an intriguing prospect who would be a good value for the 49ers at this point in the draft. Moncrief's size (6-foot-2, 221) and speed (4.40 40-yard dash) would play well in Jim Harbaugh's offense. His stock dropped a little due to a down season in 2013, but the ability remains. The 49ers also could use a big defensive lineman, and if the Bengals don't take Kareem Martin, the 49ers could. DaQuan Jones and Ego Ferguson might also be of interest. And if they don't get an edge rusher in Round One, Stanford's Trent Murphy or Louisville's Marcus Smith could be appealing.

Russ

Brandin Cooks
Oregon State WR

       After missing on the A.J. Jenkins pick, the 49ers have been trying to find an explosive receiver/returner to become what they hoped he would have been. Although Cooks does not consistently play up to his elite timed speed and rarely shows a burst out of his cuts, his talent is so enticing that the Niners grab him here with the hope that they can improve his technique enough that his natural athleticism can shine through and enable him to be a star.

     
25
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San Diego Chargers

Mike

Jack Mewhort
Ohio State OT
Because while King Dunlap is built like a sequoia, he is about as agile, and isn't likely to stick around as long.

Dan

DaQuan Jones
Penn State DT
At 6-foot-4, 332, Jones has rare size, and that kind of size usually gets recognized very quickly in the draft. Jones never will make a lot of sacks, but he is the type of player who allows others to make plays by drawing blocking attention and being difficult to move. He also is a solid run defender. The Chargers gave up 4.59 yards per run last year and lost nose tackle Cam Thomas in the offseason. Center Marcus Martin is another intriguing option for San Diego. A wide receiver also could be in play.

Russ

Kyle Van Noy
BYU LB

       The Chargers pass rush needs to be upgraded, and after considering Van Noy with their first-round pick, they cannot believe their luck that he is still available. Some in the NFL have concerns about Van Noy because his style of play is more slip and dip to avoid blockers, rather than taking them on strong and aggressively at the point. He is, however, a natural pass rusher who knows how to get to the quarterback and is the best linebacker in coverage in this year's draft. Playing him opposite Melvin Ingram could give the Chargers the outside pass rush they have been searching for since Shawn Merriman's career went into a tailspin.

     
26
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New Orleans Saints

Mike

Anthony Fera
Texas K
Now I'm just trollin'. Actually, I have been trollin' since the Tom Savage pick. Actually ... think about how solid the Saints are at most positions and how much angst their kickers have caused in the last few years. Do they really want to go into 2014 with Shayne Graham handling field goals? No, the Saints should not and would not draft a sharpshooter like Fera in the second round, but I wanted to point out the need, and we won't be mock drafting through the fifth or sixth rounds. Will we? Oh please God don't say we will ...

Dan

Marcus Martin
USC C
The Saints allowed starting center Brian De La Puente to leave in free agency, and the position currently is a soft spot in their lineup. Martin's power could come in handy for protection of Drew Brees, and he probably could start immediately. Martin also has experience at guard, which enhances his value. Coach Sean Payton always has emphasized having a strong interior of his offensive line, and this move would be in keeping with that line of thinking. After getting rid of some dead weight on defense, the Saints also could use some help at cornerback and outside linebacker.

Russ

Jared Abbrederis
Wisconsin WR

       Former Saints receiver Lance Moore made many big plays and opened things up for their other offensive weapons, but with him gone they need to address the loss. Abbderis is much taller than Moore, but his route running, ability to get open and excellent hands all should enable him to step in and contribute immediately as a slot receiver. In addition, Abbderis' skills as a safe punt returner would allow him to contribute in other way. He seems like the type of player that coach Sean Payton would love to have on his team.

     
27
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Indianapolis Colts

Mike

Jeremy Hill
LSU RB
First reporter who asks Chuck Pagano or Ryan Grigson if this selection indicates a lack of confidence in Trent Richardson gets a Friday night beer, on me.

Dan

Trent Murphy
Stanford LB
General manager Ryan Grigson has an affinity for Stanford players, as he has acquired Stanford alums Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Delano Howell and Griff Whalen. What's more, former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is in charge of the Colts offense. Murphy could team with Bjoern Werner to give the Colts a solid pass-rush tandem for the future. The Colts also need a safety to help replace Antoine Bethea, so Deone Bucannon is a possibility. An interior offensive lineman also could help. This is the Colts' first pick because they traded their first-round choice for Trent Richardson.

Russ

Marcus Martin
USC C

       General manager Ryan Grigson played offensive tackle at Purdue and believes that you need big bodies upfront so that you can dictate the game to the opponent. Martin has excellent size for a center and has the athleticism and potential to be a top starting center. After having issues with the very athletic but not overly physical Samson Satele, Martin is the opposite type of player and would fit well in the middle of the Colts offensive line.

     
28
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Carolina Panthers

Mike

Marcus Roberson
Florida CB
We could spend seven rounds drafting receivers and defensive backs for the Panthers and it would be like spitting down a well.

Dan

Martavis Bryant
Clemson WR
This mock had the Panthers taking WR Kelvin Benjamin in the first round, but it is not unreasonable to suggest the Panthers could take receivers with each of their first two picks. They certainly need more than one, and acquiring two of them would give them a fallback in case the first is a bust or is slow to pick things up. With a great combination of size and speed, Bryant could help the Panthers in the vertical game and the red zone. His hands can be shaky at times, but he'd be a good value here. Cornerback and offensive tackle also are significant areas of need.

Russ

Donte Moncrief  Mississippi WR

       With Steve Smith no longer in the fold, the Panthers receiving corps is a major question mark right now, so grabbing the big, physical Moncrief makes perfect sense here. Although he is unlikely to out-run defenses to remind anyone of Steve Smith, he is a strong receiver who can make tough catches when he stays focused and can be a strong, physical runner after the catch.

     
29
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San Francisco 49ers

Mike

Bruce Ellington
South Carolina WR

"That's right, you fish-tossing flannel jockeys: We have a Percy Harvin now, too, except that ours doesn't get injured when going through airport security! Did you read that Marcus Lattimore is ready to play, too? So now we have our own Beast Mode, except our guy is a normal person. That's right, we are coming straight after you, you umbrella-packing Queensryche blasters!!"


Dan

Stanley Jean-Baptiste
Nebraska CB
This is a little high for Jean-Baptiste, but the skimpy supply and the heavy demand for cornerbacks is going to push up some players. Jean-Baptiste is a good candidate to be pushed up because he can play the press style that has become vogue. At 6-foot-3, 218, Jean-Baptiste gets good jams and reroutes receivers. The 49ers may beat the Seahawks to him. With three picks in the first 61, the 49ers have a chance to maybe take a bit of a chance, and Jean-Baptiste qualifies as taking a bit of a chance this high. Other corner possibilities here are Keith McGill, Pierre Desir and Phillip Gaines.

Russ

Stephon Tuitt
Notre Dame DL
Justin Smith is nearing the end of what I believe is a Hall of Fame career, and the 49ers need to have someone ready to step in when he is done. Tuitt is a very tall and athletic defensive linemen who fits best as a 3-4 defensive end, but he would not be able to help the 49ers this season. He needs to learn to compete harder on the field, use much better technique (especially playing with leverage) and prove he will do the things off the field to prepare for games. He has the talent to be a special player, but he is available at the end of the second round because his effort, production and work ethic are inconsistent.
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New England Patriots

Mike

Jeremiah Attaochu
Georgia Tech LB
Something something best player available something something inscrutable genius something.

Dan

Jeremy Hill
LSU RB
Tight end Troy Niklas from Notre Dame also would be a good fit here. He may be more blocker than receiver, so the Patriots might not value him as much as a receiving specialist at the position. Bill Belichick likes those LSU backs, having previously has taken Stevan Ridley from the school, as well as utilizing Kevin Faulk for years. Hill can be better than either of them. Some say he has first-round talent, but it's unlikely he will be chosen in the first round in part because he has had some missteps off the field. At 6-foot-1, 233, Hill would give the Patriots a physical dimension in their running game that few teams have.

Russ

Troy Niklas
Notre Dame TE

Rob Gronkowski is returning from injury and Aaron Henandez is likely to never play football again, so for the Patriots to have their two-tight passing attack again they need another athletic big man. Niklas fits the bill. He has not received much notoriety, but a number of NFL teams feel that other than Eric Ebron he is right there in the mix with all the other tight ends in this year's draft because he has the size, athleticism and receiving skills that NFL teams are desperate for.

31
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Denver Broncos

Mike

Shayne Skov
Stanford LB
Skov is a bit of a reach, here. When you are in Super Bowl-or-bust mode and Jamar Chaney is atop your depth chart at middle linebacker, it's time to do some reaching.

Dan

Cody Latimer
Indiana WR
Some believe he could be taken as high as the first round. Others believe he ran faster than he plays. But it is likely some team will take a chance on Latimer in this range, if not sooner. He would fit in well with the Broncos' stable of wide receivers, and Peyton Manning could bring out the best in him. Latimer could develop into a similar player to Eric Decker, who left in free agency. The Broncos also could go for a linebacker or cornerback with this pick, or an offensive lineman if they don't get one in the first round.

Russ

Carlos Hyde Ohio State RB

Montee Ball is now the lead dog in Denver's backfield, but few teams let one man carry the load anymore. Hype is the best big back in the draft and has the strength, balance and agility to easily run through attempted tackles to gain yards after contact. In addition, having he and Ball would give them the versatility to use them together in goal-line situations where they both excel.

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Seattle Seahawks

Mike

Carl Bradford
Arizona State LB
Fly-around defender who was a man without a position for the Sun Devils. The Seahawks actually have a position for men without positions.

Dan

Keith McGill
Utah CB
This may be a little high for McGill, but teams wanting corners -- especially big corners -- are going to have to take them early. McGill can play Seattle-style coverage. He hasn't always stayed healthy, which could hurt his stock a bit. Another corner who could appeal to Seattle, should he be available, is Stanley Jean-Baptiste. A big defensive lineman to replace Red Bryant also would make sense here if DaQuan Jones or Kareem Martin slipped. The Seahawks also could play the strength of the draft and go wide receiver with this pick.

Russ

Bashaud Breeland
Clemson CB

Obviously, the Seahawks secondary is a major strength, but part of the reason that they draft so well is that they do not pass on very talented players, even if they are not a position of need. Breeland fits the Seahawks style of physical coverage cornerbacks and has the athleticism, competitiveness and instincts to develop into a quality cornerback in time. Whether he ever starts for them is tough to predict because they have so much talent in their secondary.