It’s that time of year again: the time of year when NFL fans haven’t much to look forward to besides the NFL draft. Free agency has just about wrapped up, with all but a few big names latching on with a team. Furthermore, the combine has concluded and Pro Days have come and gone.
This leaves us nothing to do but speculate, something us sports pundits do constantly (albeit poorly in my case). It’s the NFL Mock Draft time of year, and who am I to deny you such speculative fun?
So without further ado, here is isportsweb’s version of the 2014 NFL draft, as composed by our NFL staff.
– isportsweb Senior Editor Scott Peceny
It was a tough decision to go quarterback here, as I feel it is a bit of a reach considering the talent level. But the Houston Texans are a quarterback away from contending again and it had to be done. I really like Blake Bortles from UCF, but I went with the safer pick here in Teddy Bridgewater. He’s a smart, mobile quarterback who needs to put on a few pounds, but should thrive under head coach Bill O’Brien. His pro day was bad, but on film, during games, he’s got everything a QB needs.
-AFC South Expert Faraz Majid
2. Oakland Raiders (via St. Louis Rams): Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
The Raiders are no stranger to making draft day deals, and just because Al Davis is gone doesn’t mean Oakland no longer chases playmakers. It’s no secret that the Raiders need a quarterback (sorry Matt McGloin/ Terrelle Pryor/ Matt Schaub) and Manziel fits both the playmaker and quarterback role.
I hated Manziel at A&M and then loved Manziel at A&M, and his attitude will fit in with the Raiders perfectly. In this case, swapping first rounders and giving up a second rounder to get Manziel was a no-brainer.
-isportsweb senior editor Scott Peceny
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, Quarterback, University of Central Florida
The Jacksonville Jaguars desperately need a quarterback and Blake Bortles just might be the answer for them. He reminds me a bit of Andrew Luck with his linebacker-type mentality, but he obviously has a lot more work to do than Luck did coming into the league. He has great upside and has prototypical size at the quarterback position. With Gus Bradley really improving that Jaguars defense, Jacksonville is one step closer to becoming relevant again with this pick.
4. Cleveland Browns: Derek Carr, Quarterback, Fresno State
With likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles off the board, the Browns needed a quarterback and best available is Derek Carr out of Fresno State. The constant change at quarterback has taken its toll on this franchise, but at this point they have nothing to lose by giving Carr a chance. Brandon Weeden is gone, and there’s potential for Carr to be a gem of a pick.
-AFC North Expert Ryan Petrovich
5. St. Louis Rams (via Oakland Raiders): Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
The Rams need to improve their offensive line to protect Sam Bradford as well as help Zac Stacy put up solid numbers on the ground. In a division where the defenses are among the best, the Rams need a solid line to become contenders. Matthews, who is the best lineman in the draft and can start immediately, makes for a solid pick.
-NFC West Expert Ken Kosirowski
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
Since Robinson declared himself eligible for the 2014 draft, the Falcons have been evaluating this kid. He’s coming off a great season from a run heavy team; to be exact, he was a big part of an offensive line that averaged 328 rushing yards per game. The Falcons are making a new commitment to a more physical style of football and Robinson should be able to develop into a future starter for the franchise in Atlanta.
-Falcons correspondent Dean Johnson
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
They Bucs would be ecstatic if Clowney fell this far. A physical freak, some scouts say he is a once in a decade athlete. With Lovie Smith being a defensive-minded coach, he would love to add a player like Clowney to a defensive line that already features Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy and up-and-comer Adrian Clayborn. This makes for a scary proposition for opposing offenses.
-NFC South Expert Bijon Banerjee
8. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State
Since the four quarterbacks on the Vikings’ radar have already been selected, the next best selection would be cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State. The Vikings were ranked 31st in passing defense and Gilbert has the makings of an NFL superstar at his position. He would immediately revamp that passing defense and would be a great choice at #8.
-Vikings correspondent Andrew Koch
9. Buffalo Bills: Khalil Mack, Outside Linebacker, Buffalo
With Jim Schwartz now manning the D. Coordinator spot, the focus will be getting after the quarterback, which is something that Mack can and will do. The hometown hero will rev up the Bills’ fanbase and make the Buffalo defense even more fearsome than it already is. Which is a horrifying thought.
-AFC East Expert Alex Peters
The Lions’ history of drafting wide receivers is generally not positive, but this pick fits their needs at this point in time. The offense struggled down the stretch and another target for Matthew Stafford to throw to besides Megatron will give Detroit a big boost. The Clemson standout had a huge junior season, grabbing 101 passes for 1,464 yards. He would make an instant impact in the league, and would in turn improve the Lions.
-NFC North Expert Lucas Rains
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, Defensive End/ Outside Linebacker, UCLA
Barr is arguably one of the best pure prospects in the 2014 drafts and getting him at the 11th overall spot would be a steal for the Titans. He would help create a formidable pass rush in the Titans new 3-4 scheme.
12. New York Giants: Darqueze Dennard, Cornerback, Michigan State
Yes, the Giants have issues on the offensive line, but those can be solved through free agency. The team really only had one cornerback all year who they could rely on (Prince Amukamara) and desperately need an upgrade in the secondary. Dennard is a very aggressive corner and I expect him to shoot up draft boards by the end of February due to his combine workout. He’s not a perfect prospect, but his supreme athleticism and raw talent are enough to make this a great pick for the Giants.
-NFC East Expert Ryan Kohn
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
The Rams have begun building their secondary with corners like Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, but they could definitely use an upgrade at the safety position. Clinton-Dix will be a menacing presence at safety, with his ability to cover the field as well as stuff the run, and his pro potential impresses a lot of analysts.
14. Chicago Bears: Louis Nix III, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
Nix would provide the Bears with a much-needed defensive presence on the defensive line. Chicago has been known for its tough defenses, but 2013 was a different story. Despite Nix’s down year this past season, he played a big role for the Fighting Irish’s run to the National Championship in 2012. He gives the Bears a well-balanced tackle who can stop the run and rush the passer effectively.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: CJ Mosely, Inside Linebacker, Alabama
The Steelers’ defense is in need of a tune up and it wouldn’t be surprising if they made defensive picks for at least the first three rounds of the draft. Vince Williams showed some signs of being a quality player, but Larry Foote may not be back next season, leaving depth an issue for inside linebacker. Even on the outside there will be gap due to either Jason Worilds or LaMarr Woodley leaving.
Mosley isn’t the biggest playmaker but he’s always involved in plays and has a never-quit attitude when he’s on the field. Mosley comes from one of the nation’s top programs in Alabama and has been a National Champion. He knows how to win. Mosley’s the kind of player that can give you everything on every down. The Steelers’ defense need a work horse and they’ll have one in Mosley.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
The Ravens have relied on Torrey Smith as their number one receiver, but have yet to find a suitable and dependable number two receiver. And with free agency looming, the Ravens could potentially be facing the departure of Jacoby Jones. Marqise Lee is a dynamic player that could be just the receiver the Ravens need to round out the offense. He is a true athlete that can maneuver quickly around the field and break away from his defender to find the open areas. When he gets the ball in his hands, he is absolutely explosive. The Ravens could benefit from his athleticism and overall field presence.
-Ravens correspondent Kaitlin McLhinney
17. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, Defensive End, Missouri
Sure, the Cowboys suffered numerous injuries on defense in 2013, but their lack of success can also be chalked up to their nonexistent depth on the defensive line. Not to mention that Anthony Spencer is still a free agent and is no sure thing to return to the team while Demarcus Ware is now a Denver Bronco.
They need to replenish their front seven badly, and Kony Ealy would be a great start to that rebuild. Showing off extreme quickness and strength during his junior season at Mizzou, Ealy can be an elite pass rusher in the NFL, as well as an above-average run defender. The success of former Mizzou D-linemen Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, and Sheldon Richardson bodes well for Ealy to see similar results. For the Cowboys, he’s too good of both a fit and a player for them to pass up on at 17.
-NFC East Expert Ryan Kohn
18. New York Jets: Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
The Jets have neglected the offensive side of the ball in recent drafts, and if Rex Ryan wants to remain head coach past next year he must address the biggest hole on offense: wide receiver.
Even with Eric Decker, the Jets lack playmakers on the outside and if Geno Smith is going to progress into a franchise quarterback he will need some help. Evans gives the Jets a big 6-foot-6 target who can go up and get any ball that’s up for grabs. Evans doesn’t have elite speed but will be a good possession receiver and a red zone nightmare for defenses.
-Jets correspondent Daniel Ingham
19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
The controversy surrounding Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito led to both players leaving the team, decimating Miami’s offensive line in the process. In a division filled with QB-terrorizing ends (Chandler Jones, Sheldon Richardson, Mario Williams), that led to Ryan Tannehill getting beat up in the pocket. Lewan would be a huge boost to that line, with a terrific combination of size (6-7, 315) and lateral quickness. The Wolverine captain plays with a nasty streak that should translate well to the AFC East.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina
With Taylor Lewan off the board, the Cardinals will look to their next greatest need: tight end. Ebron, at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, has the versatility to line up at tight end and slot receiver. His speed makes him a mismatch for linebackers, and his hands and blocking are solid enough for him to make an immediate impact on the Arizona offense.
With playmaking tight end Jermichael Finley possibly done for his career with a neck injury, the Packers need to find another tight end that can stretch the field. Amaro is a big boy at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, but can lineup as a wide receiver just like Finley. His big size also makes him a big mismatch against small cornerbacks in the red zone. Even if Finley resumes his playing career, Amaro would just add to the offensive weapons for the Packers.
-Packers correspondent Andy McConnell
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Florida State
The 6-foot-4, 232-pound wide receiver who caught the game-winning touchdown in the National Championship game, should be high on the Eagles’ list of prospects.
Should Benjamin fall to the Eagles’ number 22 pick, he would fit nicely into an offense that could use a big target in the red zone. With the possibility of Jeremy Maclin finding a new home not in Philadelphia, Benjamin becomes an even more sought after target for the Eagles.
Benjamin is a touchdown scoring machine. He racked up 15 touchdowns on 54 catches for 1,011 yards this past season, including the game-winning touchdown catch in the BCS National Championship game. The 2014 Pro Bowl offensive MVP, Nick Foles, would undoubtedly appreciate having such a dominating presence to throw to every Sunday.
-Eagles correspondent Josh Sawyer
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Dee Ford, Defensive End, Auburn
Dee Ford could help the Chiefs in numerous ways. A work in progress, Ford could transition to linebacker just as Tamba Hali did earlier in his career and help the Chiefs provide an even greater pass rush combined with the likes of both Hali and Justin Houston. It would be difficult for Ford to succeed as a DE in the NFL given his physical characteristics now, but he could develop until a strong pass rusher off the outside in the future.
-Chiefs correspondent Anthony Pluff
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Zack Martin, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame
The Bengals need to improve on the offensive line, and keeping Andy Dalton protected will be a concern come next season. Anthony Collins will likely be gone due to free agency and this leaves a window open for Martin to make an impact. Martin could play outside or inside with some time and hard work. This will benefit the Bengals in the long run.
Maybe an improved offensive line is what finally puts Dalton over the top and propels the Bengals past the first round of the playoffs.
25. San Diego Chargers: Loucheiz Purifoy, Cornerback, Florida
The Chargers struggled against the pass last year, and need to rebuild their secondary. Purifoy would be a great place to start; he’s physically menacing at 6-0, 190, and his speed is better than he showed at the combine. That same speed will help the Bolts in the return game, another area where San Diego struggled. The Chargers’ 22.1 yards per kick return ranked 23rd in the NFL.
26. Cleveland Browns: Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Drafting a new quarterback was the Browns’ top priority and it only makes sense to build a solid line in front of that quarterback.
Kouandjio is quick, big and physical. He has all the qualities to start at a left tackle for the Browns. The most impressive part of Kouandjio is his speed. His quickness allows him to pull and lead block very well. If the Browns want to improve on their running attack, Kouandjio excels when it comes to run blocking. Also an interesting stat on Kouandjio is that he has only 16 percent body fat, a solid number for an offensive lineman.
27. New Orleans Saints: Marcus Roberson, Cornerback, Florida
The Saints took many injury hits at corner this season losing Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson and Kenny Vaccaro. Roberson is good physical corner, who excels in man coverage.
With an aggressive mean streak similar to Vaccaro, his attitude would be perfect for Rob Ryan’s system and would solidify the depth in the secondary that already features Keenan Lewis.
28. Carolina Panthers: Odell Beckham Jr., Wide Receiver, LSU
It’s about time the Carolina Panthers send some help to Cam Newton. Steve Smith is now a Raven, and Brandon LaFell has jumped ship as well, leaving the Panthers with nobody at wideout. With Beckham, they get a dynamic receiver with the ability to run most of the routes and take the top off the defense. In addition, he can contribute to special teams as a return man in Ted Ginn’s wake.
29. New England Patriots: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight End, Washington
With Ebron, Nix, and Amaro all off the board, I suspect the Pats will try to trade down for better value (let’s be real, that’s gonna happen anyway). But New England still gets one of the three top-tier tight ends in the draft, and a player who can step in immediately to pair with Gronk. ASJ has a 6-6, 260 frame that will strike fear in the hearts of defenses and give Brady another big target in the red zone.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU
The 49ers’ defense is already one of the best in the league but as their rival Seahawks showed, a great secondary can be lethal. Tarrell Brown is a Raider now and Carlos Rogers a free agent, so there is a definite need at the position. With Dennard and Gilbert already gone, Verrett is the obvious choice. Verrett is also an aggressive defender that can cause turnovers in the passing game and an effective tackler that limits large chunk plays and helps with stopping the run.
-49ers correspondent Cesar Mondragon
31. Denver Broncos: Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State
Last season the Broncos’ aging secondary struggled to cover young, agile wide receivers. Even with the addition of Talib, the Broncos still need strong safety players. If Loucheiz Purifoy goes off the board early, I expect the Broncos to pick up Bradley Roby out of Ohio State. At 5-11, 192 he isn’t the next Kam Chancellor, but his speed and coverage ability are elite. In addition to running a 4.4 40, Roby blocked two punts during his college career and deflected 13 passes. Roby may have personality concerns (he was suspended for the first game of Ohio State’s season for an off the field issue), but if he interviews well the Broncos should pull the trigger and draft him with the 31st pick.
-Broncos correspondent Ian Joyce
32. Seattle Seahawks: Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Penn State
Seattle could use a tall, physical receiver like Robinson. Their talented receiving corps is a little undersized, especially with the release of Sidney Rice and the departure of Golden Tate. Robinson could quickly turn into another dependable option for Russell Wilson in the passing attack.
33. Houston: Ra’Shede Hageman, Defensive Tackle, Minnesota
The Texans have a huge need at RT but let’s hope they can find a replacement through free agency, because I’m taking the best player available. It came down to Hageman and another prospect and Hageman was the choice, due to the fact that he’s an athletic freak: at 6-foot-6, 318-pounds he runs a 4.8/4.9 40 with a 36″ vertical. He’s a first round boom-or-bust talent that will be able to learn a lot under the tutelage of the 6-foot-5, 288-pound J.J. Watt (4.88 40, 37″ vertical). The two could combine to make the SWAT team.
34. Washington: David Yankey, Offensive Guard, Stanford
Washington fans wanting the team to draft a skill position player with this pick will be disappointed, but Yankey is a 1st round talent that fills arguably the team’s biggest need.
Both Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester struggled mightily last year, and could be let go this offseason. Even if they aren’t cut, neither one of them should be starting games in the NFL anymore. They need an injection of youth to the OL, and Yankey would provide just that. Solid in both run- and pass-blocking, Yankey’s biggest strength comes in his willingness to block far downfield, something a lot of guards simply do not do. The Redskins will not have success in 2014 without being able to keep Robert Griffin III upright; adding Yankey to their offensive line corps would be a huge step in the right direction, not only for next season, but beyond.
35. Cleveland : Morgan Moss, Offensive Tackle, Virginia
The Browns will need to protect whoever they have playing quarterback this season. Keeping the quarterback healthy has been an issue for the Browns more often than not. Bringing in Morgan Moss would be a solid move to boost the offensive line. Moss is a big, strong and quick offensive tackle that can certainly make an impact. He still isn’t the most groomed lineman out there but the Browns should able to work out any issues with him. Even if Moss isn’t used immediately he’ll add depth to the line.
36. St. Louis (via Oakland): Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver, Oregon State
While he may be undersized to be the Rams’ number one receiver, his quickness and hands make up for his sub-six foot height. He set records at Oregon State, among them being receptions in a single season (128). Cooks, the best remaining wide receiver at this point in the draft, has natural talent and can be a reliable target right away for Sam Bradford.
Aaron Donald was a bit of a surprise when he outplayed his expectations at the 2014 Senior Bowl. He showed that he was able to burst off the snap count just as fast, and some analysts say, even better than the highly rated prospect Ra’shede Hageman.
In the 2013 season he posted 51 tackles, 26 of which were for a loss, eight sacks and four forced fumbles. Donald also was the recipient of the 19th annual Chuck Bednarik award, basically the Heisman for defensive players. Donald actually had some support to be considered to be a possible Heisman candidate.
In addition to the Bednarik award he also won: the Lombardi award, the Outland Trophy, and the Nagurski award. He accomplished these feats in the same division that won the BCS National Championship game. With his recent upsurge in attention it would be a steal for his draft stock to remain in the second round. As of now, Donald is a bit undersized for the NFL; standing at 6″1 and 288 pounds. However, under a training staff that took two previously undrafted rookies and converted them into bonafide starters, the Falcons should have more than enough talent in Aaron Donald to have him NFL ready for the start of the 2014 season. In fact this pick seems very likely since Atlanta’s own Mike Smith was the coach for the North team in the Senior Bowl and had this to say about Donald according to AL.com, “Donald is a very explosive defensive tackle. I’ve been very impressed with him.”
38. Tampa Bay: Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt
The big bodied receiver from Vandy is what the Bucs need. With Vincent Jackson on the outside and Doug Martin in the backfield they could use one more weapon to round out an offense that also includes talented up and coming tight end Tim Wright. Matthews has the ability to play inside and outside and can run most of the routes. He doesn’t have the burner speed, but he makes up for it with strong hands. It also doesn’t hurt that he is the cousin of the G.O.A.T Jerry Rice, right?
39. Jacksonville: Timmy Jernigan, Defensive Tackle, Florida State
The Jaguars have needs at the interior of their offensive line and running back, but I’m going to go with best player available here. Jernigan has a first round grade and would bolster a defensive line in need of help. Not to mention Gus Bradley is a Pete Carroll disciple from Seattle, where defense reigns all. Bradley will be one step closer to creating a legitimate defense and bringing the Jaguars back to relevance.
A.J. McCarron is a logical second-round selection for the Vikings. McCarron has a big 6-4 frame and could potentially compete for a shot at starting next season for Minnesota. His arm isn’t the greatest, but he knows hows to win on the big stage. He could be a big surprise in the draft and remains my second-round sleeper pick.
41. Buffalo: Gabe Jackson, Offensive Guard, Mississippi State
The Bills desperately miss Andy Levitre. The stud guard was such a key part of that O-line that in my AFC East preview I repeatedly forgot he had been moved to Tennessee. In Jackson, they get another stud guard, though one of a different sort. The former Bulldog is a true mauler in the running game, and will make life a whole lot easier for Fred Jackson/CJ Spiller. He has some consistency issues, but a ton of upside, and is perhaps the second best guard in the Draft behind Yankey.
42. Tennessee: Calvin Pryor, Safety, Louisville
This all depends on whether the Titans re-sign Bernard Pollard or not but Pryor is one of the ‘BPA’ choices here for the Titans. He is a big time playmaker who can start from day one, and help a secondary that is most likely going to lose Alterraun Verner this offseason.
43. New York Giants: Scott Crichton, Defensive End, Oregon State
Justin Tuck is an impending FA, and the Giants’ line struggled last season, recording the seventh-least amount of sacks in the league. They were also vulnerable at times against the run. Crichton is a solid all-around player that is a good value at this spot in the second round. He would both fulfill a need and solidify a former position of strength for NY.
44. St. Louis: LaMarcus Joyner, Cornerback, Florida State
Cortland Finnegan didn’t produce anywhere near what the Rams were hoping him to, and another corner who can replace him as well as add to the depth chart is very much needed for St. Louis. Joyner, while not the tallest corner (5-foot-8), is a physical hitter who can be an asset on run defense and blitz packages. He’s played both safety and corner during his time as a Seminole, displaying some impressive versatility. He may not develop into an every-down corner, but it’s safe to say he would be an excellent nickel corner for the Rams.
45. Detroit: Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
The Lions are desperate for a corner who can make an immediate impact on the field. If Detroit is indeed lucky enough to land Sammy Watkins in the first round, selecting a corner with their second round pick is a must. New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will look to improve a young Lions secondary that ranked 23rd against the pass in 2013. In addition to his 6-foot frame, Fuller’s natural instincts make up for his lack of top-notch speed. He has the capability to play a role in sub packages right away and could become the number-two corner in Detroit by season’s end.
-Lions correspondent, Jordan Johnson
46. Pittsburgh: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Cornerback, Nebraska
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary needs major improvement. After a season filled with busted coverage and countless splash plays given up it’s clear which area of the steel curtain needs a tune up. Bringing Jean-Baptiste will help get this unit back on track. They Steelers’ defense needs to get younger and better ASAP. With Ike Taylor’s status still up in the air past this season, the cornerback position will need a lot of attention this offseason. Jean Baptiste is a big guy who shows a lot of positives because of it. The Steelers will probably look to get him into the scheme as right from the get-go, the secondary needs all the help it can get.
47. Dallas: Jimmie Ward, Safety, Northern Illinois
Though he saw less-than-stellar competition during his years in the MAC, Ward is the best strong safety on the draft board and would be a valuable addition to this needy Dallas defense. Ward is a small but physical defensive back who takes good angles to the ball and can limit an offense’s big-play ability, something the Cowboys must do much better this season. J.J. Wilcox simply can’t be counted on to fill the team’s long-term needs at the strong safety position. Ward can play solid man coverage on slot receivers when he needs to, and his versatility is a big part of his value. Though he suffered a minor foot injury at the combine, don’t expect his draft stock to fall much. The ailing Cowboys could sure use his help.
-Cowboys correspondent Graham Dudley
48. Baltimore: Xavier Su’a-Filo, Offensive Lineman, UCLA
The Ravens’ offensive line was one of the main units that struggled in 2013. Su’a-Filo could benefit the Ravens at left guard not only because of his skill, but he could also add flexibility to the line, allowing the team to play around with the idea of putting certain players in different positions. Kelechi Osemele could be moved to right tackle with Su’a-Filo added to the line. He is also strong and very quick off the snap, which was an area in need of improvement for the Ravens last season.
-Kaitlin McLhinney, Baltimore Ravens correspondent
49. New York Jets: Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor
Quietly, among all the hype/hate of Geno Smith and the will-they-won’t-they-fire-Rex drama, the Jets offensive line had completely fallen apart by the end of the season. While the Jets can hope for bouncebacks from Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, they cannot hope for anything from Brian Winters, and Willie Colon is a free agent. While picking Richardson here is a bit of a reach, he won’t make it to the third, and there’s a dropoff in talent after him. He’s a gigantic but surprisingly nimble guard who will help keep Geno Smith upright and inject a little nasty into the Jets’ nasty-less offense.
50. Miami: Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
After adding a stud offensive lineman in the first round, the Dolphins desperately need a running back to take advantage of him. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were pretty awful last season (combining for 1,115 yards on 286 carries, good for 3.9 ypc), and the team needs a quick back to liven things up a bit. Enter Tre Mason, who had a monster season at Auburn, rushing for 1,816 yards and 23 TDs, putting on a show in the National Championship Game. Despite his 5-8, 207-pound frame, the Palm Beach native plays like a much bigger back, with plenty of power and the ability to put the hurt on defensive backs. Plus his dad is Maseo from De La Soul, which, if anything, infinitely raises the Dolphins’ cool factor.
51. Chicago: Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas
As the No. 1 ranked center in the draft, Swanson gives the Bears a solid guy in the middle of a young and inexperienced offensive line. After last season’s injuries to Jay Cutler, the key to the team’s offensive success in 2014 will be to keep their newly-invested QB healthy. With veteran center Roberto Garza being a free agent, now is the time to go grab someone like Swanson to anchor the Chicago offensive line for years to come.
52. Arizona: Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
While deep at the pass rusher position, Arizona could use another impact pass rusher for when Abraham leaves. Jeremiah Attaochu is that guy who could fulfill much the same role as Matt Shaughnessy did; seeing time at defensive end in addition to linebacker.
A somewhat raw prospect, Attaochu also has some discipline questions. Too often he bites on play action and can lose his cool. But with veterans like Calais Campbell and John Abraham to keep his eyes on the prize, I feel that Todd Bowles can harness the talent into a weapon for an already deadly Cardinals defense.
In his four year career at Georgia Tech, he has amassed 31.5 sacks and 43.5 tackles for loss. (This is of course assuming the Cardinals address their need at tackle in free agency)
-Cardinals correspondent Seth Juneac
53. Green Bay: Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
One area that the Packers have struggled with in recent years is getting pressure on the quarterback with someone other than Clay Matthews. With the jury still out on linebacker Nick Perry, Trent Murphy from Stanford could be the missing piece for the Packers. In his final season at Stanford, Murphy had 15 sacks and 61 total tackles. Murphy also showed that he do other things than just rush the quarterback when he had a pick-six against Washington State. If Murphy can fall to the Packers, they might have a three headed monster hunting opposing quarterbacks.
-Packers correspondent Andy McConnell
54. Philadelphia: Pierre Desir, Cornerback, Lindenwood
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound cornerback out of Lindenwood University would fill a much needed void for the Eagles on the defensive side of the ball. Desir was a division II All-American and has racked up 93 tackles and 13 interceptions over the last two seasons. In 2013, the Eagles’ defense ranked dead last in the league in passing yards allowed and could use some size in their secondary. Big corners are a hot commodity in todays NFL, as seen from the Seattle Seahawks dominant Super Bowl run. Desir’s size and athleticism, coupled with his small school mentality, would be a perfect fit in Philly.
55. Cincinnati: Aaron Lynch, Defensive End, USF
The Bengals’ defense may want to find some in this draft. Their defense struggled at times this season and with the addition of someone like Aaron Lynch they may be able to put some depth and help in the lineup. Lynch will need time to develop and put on some NFL weight but with time he has the tools to help this defense out.
56. San Francisco: Stephon Tuitt, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
The 49ers have had one of the best run defenses in the NFL over the past three seasons. Their All-Star linebacker corps is a huge part of it but what is often overlooked is those guys in the trenches. Guys like Justin Smith and Glenn Dorsey have done a tremendous job but the depth has not been there. Tuitt changes that immediately. At 6-5, 304 pounds, his athletic ability alone will make him a productive player off the bench in his rookie season. What makes him scary is his versatility as he is big enough to clog up the middle but also quick enough to rush of the edge and get to the quarterback.
57. San Diego: Carlos Hyde, Running Back, Ohio State
I’m not a believer in drafting running backs high, because they aren’t as valuable as other players on the field in today’s game. However, when a guy like Carlos Hyde drops to late in the second round, the trigger has to be pulled. I just don’t believe Ryan Mathews is the guy and Danny Woodhead isn’t a threat to run between the tackles. Hyde certainly fills that role.
58. New Orleans: Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State
The Saints have dynamic playmakers on the line with Cam Jordan and junior Galette and in the secondary with with Kenny Vaccaro. However, their inside linebacker position is underwhelming athletically. For as solid David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton are, Shazier would add a great amount athleticism and versatility. He is rangy, long, and excels in coverage, which will allow the Saints to properly defend outside runs and swing passes.
59. Indianapolis: Terrence Brooks, Safety, Florida St.
With the signing of Hakeem Nicks, the wide receiver position is of less importance at this time, and safety comes to the forefront of major needs for the Colts. It came down to Ed Reynolds of Stanford and Brooks, and Brooks got the tiebreaker for being a converted corner. The Colts NEED a coverage safety and Brooks fits the bill. This pick is just another step in the process of building the monster in Indianapolis.
60. Carolina: Donte Moncreif, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
With Steve Smith, Brandon Lafell, and Ted Ginn all leaving via free agency, the Carolina receiving corp might be one of the worst in the league right now. As of now, they have Marvin McNutt and a hypothetical Odell Beckham Jr(yikes!). With Moncreif, the Panthers get a big bodied receiver to pair with Beckham Jr. Moncrief can run all the routes and was very productive in college. He may lack the elite straight line speed, but the Panthers need all the help they can get at receiver.
Some regard him as the best all-around running back prospect in the draft, and let’s face it: Frank Gore won’t be around forever. Carey may not make an impact right away, but he would be another promising prospect in San Fran along with LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore.
62. New England: Weston Richburg, Center, Colorado State
After passing up Ra’Shede Hageman and Timmy Jernigan in the 1st (whoops), the immediate instinct is to take a big defensive tackle like Dominique Easley or DaQuan Jones. But there is depth there in the 3rd and 4th rounds, and the Patriots should jump all over Colorado State’s Richburg. He’s a big, athletic, tough-as-nails team leader who plays with a mean streak just like Logan Mankins. Plug him into the line, move Marcus Cannon to right guard, and suddenly the Patriots offensive isn’t a liability anymore, but a serious strength.
63. Denver: Chris Borland, Linebacker, Wisconsin
If the Broncos do draft Bradley Roby, they should have a pretty sick secondary. However, they are still seriously lacking when it comes to linebackers. Now that Wesley Woodyard is most likely gone, the Broncos seriously need to add more talent to the roster at Linebacker.
Borland isn’t the tallest guy in the world, he came in at 5-foot-11 at the combine, and he isn’t very fast either. However, he anchored an incredibly stout Wisconsin defense and recorded over 400 tackles in his college career with 15 forced fumbles. He may not be the next Brian Urlacher but he is definitely a solid player that could contribute to the Broncos defense.
64. Seattle: Brandon Thomas, Guard, Clemson
Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini are now gone, leaving a lack of depth on the right side of the offensive line. Thomas has versatility, having played tackle and guard at Clemson, but he looks more suited to be an NFL guard. Thomas is a tough blocker with incredible upper body power, and a tough-nosed guy like Thomas is needed to continue opening up lanes for Marshawn Lynch. With his impressive Senior Bowl performance, Thomas could be off the board well before Seattle gets a crack at him in the second round, but if he manages to fall this far, Seattle will have picked up a good one.