17. Baltimore Ravens
Wide Receiver, USC
The Ravens are losers at the combine because Mike Evans is exactly what they need, and there is no way he is available at #16. The Ravens offense struggled this season without Anquan Boldin and still need to take a receiver. Marqise Lee finsihed 3rd amongst receivers in the broad jump, exemplifying his huge target radius. Marqise Lee was the best receiver prospect in the draft heading into the season, so the Ravens should be happy that he will probably fall to them at #15. Lee got no love after having an average season with an average quarterback, multiple play callers, and a whole bunch of drama at USC.
Previous pick: WR Mike Evans
18. New York Jets
Tight End, North Carolina
Eric Ebron performed well at the combine. He was 2nd amongst tight ends in the 40-yard dash with a 4.60. The Jets believe Geno Smith is good enough to be groomed into their future QB, so it’s time to start surrounding Geno Smith with real weapons. The Jets had the 31st passing offense in the NFL. This was in part due to growing pains with Smith, but the Jets also have absolutely no one that can bail him out from the pressure he felt behind the 26th worst O-line. Adding Ebron creates a mismatch for almost any defender in the NFL. Ebron is fast, physical, and can make insane catches in contact. Eric Ebron would make life for Geno Smith much easier in the open field and especially in the red zone.
19. Miami Dolphins
Offensive Tackle, Michigan
Taylor Lewan posted the fastest 40-yard dash time for an offensive lineman with a 4.87. He showed he has the athleticism to hold up against NFL pass rushers. The Dolphins did nothing to replace Jake Long on the offensive line, and the offense has struggled because of it. The Dolphins will being in their next era of Michigan left tackles, Taylor Lewan. Lewan would bring a tenacity and competitiveness that was lacking on the front line this season. He has quick feet and bursts off the line. He is only falling this far because he needs to develop his technique a bit more to stand up to premier NFL pass rushers. He will improve the running lanes for the emerging Lamar Miller as well.
20. Arizona Cardinals
Quarterback, Eastern Illinois
The Cardinals offense struggled at times this year due to their deficiency in the running game. They are also starting a 34 year old Carson palmer that threw 22 picks this year. Even though the top-4 quarterbacks are off the board, the Cardinals could take a shot at Jimmy Garoppolo. He played well in the Senior Bowl, and showed his quick feet and quick release at the combine. Garoppolo does not have the pocket presence you would like for a 1st round quarterback selection, but he has the physical tools to be productive. There are still some good day 2 quarterback prospects available as well if the Cardinals don’t feel like betting a 1st round pick on Garoppolo.
Previous Pick: TE Jace Amaro
21. Green Bay Packers
Tight End, Texas Tech
Jace Amaro absolutely crushed the combine this weekend. He finished in the top-5 for tight ends in every single drill except the 3 cone drill. Whether or not the Packers decide to bring Finley back this year, they need a plan to replace him. Finley is coming off a career-threatening neck injury and has never really been able to put it together, even with all his talent. Plus, Aaron Rodgers deserves some new weapons. Amaro is a tight end built in the same vein as Jimmy Graham. He is tall (6’6″) and lean and runs most of his routes from the slot. He specializes in burning defenses down the field. He speeds by linebackers and uses his huge frame to beat safeties to the ball in the air.
Previous Pick: MLB CJ Mosely
22. Philadelphia Eagles
Calvin Pryor may be the 1st safety off the board after his showing at the combine. He tied HaHa in the 40-yard dash with a 4.58 and tied for 4th among safeties in the bench press. The Eagles GM has stated he wants to address the safety position in free agency prior to the draft. Assuming that doesn’t go as planned, Pryor is a very good fit for the Eagles. They need to add some explosion to their defense to match that offense. Adding a heavy hitter that is willing to step up and make tackles will add a dimension tot he Eagles defense that will instantly improve their 32nd ranked pass defense. Calvin Pryor is flying up draft boards after he outplayed his fellow Louisville safety, Hakeem Smith. He can play both safety spots because he is a vicious hitter and a great tackler, but he is athletic enough to make plays on the ball in center field.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
Cornerback, Michigan St.
Darqueeze Dennard dropped for me due to his lack of participation in more than a few of the combine drills. Dennard proved that he didn’t have the elite athleticism of Justin Gilbert in the 40 and bench press and wasn’t the most reliable player due to injuries this season. The Chiefs’ secondary was exposed after teams realized how to stop their pass rush. The Chiefs are in desperate need of help and youth in the secondary after they whiffed on Dunta Robinson in free agency, and Gilbert is possibly the best CB prospect in the draft.Dennard won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back, and played a great game against Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Previous Pick: CB Justin Gilbert
24. Cincinnati Bengals
Jason Verrett helped his draft stock significantly after the combine. He tied for 2nd among corners and 5th overall in the 40-yard dash with a 4.38. Perhaps more importantly, he tied for 3rd among corners in the vertical jump which should quiet some of the concern over his 5’9″ frame. The Bengals have relied on Pacman Jones and Terrence Newman for a little too long. Since Mike Zimmer left for the head coaching offer in Minnesota, the Bengals D will most likely take a step back. They need to get younger in the secondary, and Verrett is the best CB prospect remaining in the draft. I have seen Verett mocked as high as #12. He looks like the best pure corner in the draft, but he lacks the size (5’10″, 176 lbs.) to be considered a top prospect. He plays like he is 6’3″, 230 lbs. though, throwing his body at the ball in run support and in coverage. He could also replace Leon Hall in a few years.
25. San Diego Chargers
Louis Nix III
Nose Tackle, Notre Dame
Louis Nix didn’t help his draft stock much during the combine. He failed to stand out amongst the other defensive tackle prospects, but he did cut over 20 lbs. since his senior year which will not go unnoticed. Nix’s knee surgery is a growing concern for most teams, although that could change if he puts on a good workout. As of now, it doesn’t appear to be that Nix will go in the top half on day 1. I am coming back to this pick because it seems like a perfect fit. The Chargers have had a huge hole in the middle ever since Jamal Williams left a few years ago. Cam Thomas is a backup at best and adding Nix would turn turn the defensive line into one of the best in the NFL with Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget. Having that inside presence will also make things easier for the outside rushers and secondary. The Chargers could also look to draft a CB here, and they will surely draft on the defensive side.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis)
Offensive Guard, Notre Dame
The Browns picked up their hopeful franchise quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, earlier in the draft. Now, they need to keep him clean and give him enough time to build a rapport with Josh Gordon. Martin played LT at Notre Dame, but does not have great size or speed to continue playing LT in the NFL so he will likely move inside. The Browns already have a premier left tackle in Joe Thomas and a premier center in Alex Mack, so adding Martin could give Bortles the best blindside protection in the NFL. Martin is strong, fast, and able to block on the move. The Browns may also want to snag another receiver here to give Bortles even more weapons.
27. New Orleans Saints
Middle Linebacker, Alabama
Cyrus Kouandjio killed his draft stock after failing miserably at the combine. Luckily for the Saints, who recently released Jonathan Vilma, CJ Mosely is available for the taking. CJ Mosely performed admirably at the combine, but his true value lies in the tape. His instincts and character will make Mosely very valuable. Mosely would also just be a nice fit alongside Curtis Lofton in the 3-4. CJ Mosely probably has the talent to be a top-15 pick. Mosely is an elite athlete coming from one of the best defenses in college football. Mosely should be able to make an immediate impact in the Packers’ rush defense, and has the athleticism and instincts to become great in pass defense.
Previous Pick: OT Cyrus Kouandjio
28. Carolina Panthers
Wide Receiver, Fresno State
The Panthers have needed another wide receiver for a long, long time. Steve Smith can still get it done, but not for much longer. Davante Adams has the speed to stretch a defense. Adams could easily go in the top-15, however like Derek Carr, most of his tape is against lesser competition, which could cause him to be drafted later than expected. The Panthers will take a chance on him if it means it will help the development of Cam Newton and improve the slow, 29th ranked passing offense.
29. New England Patriots
Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
Donald showed great athleticism and strength during the combine. He finished 5th in the 40-yard dash among defensive linemen and 2nd in the bench press. Something tells me he won’t be available a #29, but if he is, the Patriots are in for a treat. Aaron Donald has been compared countless times to a cannon ball. He is short, powerful, and comes off the line with explosion. He can rush the passer as shown by his 29.5 career sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss as a senior. Donald is extremely explosive and would create havoc for the interior of an offensive line as a disruptor in the middle of the Patriots’ defensive line.
Previous Pick: DT Timmy Jernigan
30. San Francisco 49ers
Wide Receiver, Florida State
Back to back Florida State picks. Kelvin Benjamin is a HUGE receiver with speed to kill. He can make catches anywhere on the field and is trouble to bring down for a defensive back. The 49ers have a good receiving core with Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. But, the 49ers have been knocking at the door of a Super Bowl championship for 3 years now, and ‘good’ isn’t good enough anymore. Boldin is 33 and Crabtree just cannot put it together for a full season. He has only eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving once in his 5-year career and was never a burner anyway. Benjamin will be a huge asset for Colin Kaepernick as he develops his passing game to match the explosiveness of his running ability. He is, however, still developing as a pure receiver and often looks to make plays before actually cutting or making a catch.
31. Denver Broncos
Defensive End, Auburn
Since this is my first mock since the Super Bowl, allow me a second to just say… wow. I knew the Broncos defense wasn’t great but just…wow. The Broncos were not only without ace pass rusher Von Miller for the Super Bowl, but also for most of the season. Shaun Phillips played well, but doesn’t have a lot left in the tank. The Broncos need a pass rusher badly if they hope to get back to the Super Bowl next year. Ford has a very quick burst off the line and underrated strength. Across from a hopefully healthy and eligible Von Miller, Ford will be able to set an edge and will disrupt pockets quickly as O-lines struggle to handle the explosiveness of both players. Ford would have to transition into a 3-4 OLB, but will likely get the chance to be a 2-down linebacker until he gets the hang of dropping into coverage.
32. Seattle Seahawks
Odell Beckham Jr.
Wide Receiver, LSU
Finally. Jenkins’ medical hold out from the combine convinced me that he may not be a 1st rounder. Odell Beckham, on the other hand, used the combine to prove that his quickness is elite among wide receiver prospects. Seattle may want to add reliable receiver to pair with the explosive Percy Harvin. Beckham Jr. may not be the ideal possession receiver, but he has the physical tools to be a force downfield and take attention off of Harvin and Russell Wilson’s running ability. Beckham has great top-line speed but even better acceleration and agility. He is dangerous with the ball and has home run ability. He is best at stretching the field and creating separation.
Previous Pick: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Thanks for checking out my Version 4.1 2014 NFL Mock Draft. I will be updating it each week until the NFL Draft on May 8th.