9. Buffalo Bills
Tackles are at a premium in the draft. Cordy Glenn is an above-average left tackle who’s protecting E.J. Manuel’s blindside, but right tackle could use an upgrade. Eric Pears is not that bad in pass protection, but he gave up more sacks than I think the Bills would have liked to see. Protecting Manuel should be the team’s first priority – before his knee injury against the Browns, Manuel was making some eye-opening plays. Robinson is a solid prospect with a “high ceiling” and a crazy skillset which makes him the best remaining player on the board. Robinson is a necessary upgrade over Erik Pears.
10. Detroit Lions
CB, Michigan State
There’s no doubt that the Lions’ biggest need is at corner. Taking a wide receiver like Mike Evans or even Marquise Lee to take away some attention on the field from Calvin Johnson is tempting, but the secondary was what cost the Lions on multiple occasions last season. Dennard is a rangy, big, athletic corner who could fill that need. Cornerback prospect Justin Gilbert will be on the Lions’ radar as well, but I like Dennard over Gilbert because of the former’s superior technique and consistency in his three years of starting at Michigan State. I don’t care that Mike Mayock said that Gilbert will be the first corner off the board. Chris Houston will remain the starter on the other side and Dennard would be a nice compliment to him.
11. Tennessee Titans
WR, Southern California
Ken Whisenhunt says he’s confident in Jake Locker, but the Titans still might be in the market for a quarterback. However, I don’t think that happens in round one. If Locker truly is their guy, the Titans’ front office needs to surround him with key pieces for him to succeed. Lee would provide Jake Locker with a potential number one receiver on the outside – Lee is not as big as teams would like for a top receiver, but his speed makes him difficult to jam at the line of scrimmage and he his route-running ability is above-average.
Injuries are something to watch out for, as Lee struggled with a hurt leg in 2013, but injuries should be a concern for every single player. Lee’s skillset reminds me a little bit of Giants’ star receiver Victor Cruz – small but extremely explosive. I think he’ll be a good fit in whatever Whisenhunt wants to do. Perhaps he’ll be a 2014 version of Keenan Allen under Whisenhunt.
12. New York Giants
The Giants need help on the offensive line, but I expect the team to sign at least one guard in free agency. With Barr, the Giants regain some of its defensive prowess it boasted from 2007 to 2011. Some people believe that Barr can only play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but his tremendous ability would allow him to play defensive end in a 4-3 and even outside linebacker in that system as well. He’s a strong cover linebacker and a good pass rusher, but his run defense needs to be worked on. Despite that, I think that no matter what position he plays, he’ll be a good fit in Perry Fewell’s defensive scheme. Barr’s talent is “raw”, but the Giants do a tremendous job of developing talent (like Victor Cruz – even Ruben Randle is evolving into a solid receiver).
13. St. Louis Rams
After grabbing Sammy Watkins with their first pick, the Rams now fill their offensive line need with Lewan. I was thinking about having the Rams take Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but I don’t see as much of a need at safety than I do at offensive tackle, especially with Jake Long’s injury. Lewan should be able to come in and start right away at left tackle if Long isn’t able to go come week one – there’s a strong possibility that happens. Center Scott Wells and guard Harvey Dahl are cap casualties, so it’s possible that the Rams could move starting right tackle Joe Barksdale to the interior offensive line and have Lewan play right tackle. Although there isn’t much depth for the Rams on the line, there should be a little more flexibility with Lewan on the roster.
14. Chicago Bears
Taking a look at all of the Bears’ rankings per unit, the defense was the worst out of the three; specifically run defense. It seemed like half of their guys were hurt. Brian Urlacher retired, Lance Briggs was out for an extended period of time, and the defense was not good. I think the Bears have to go with a defensive lineman – at any position, end or tackle – to improve that run defense and pass rush. Ealy is athletic and disruptive, and 4-3 defensive ends come at a premium in the draft, making the selection appealing to Chicago. Ealy will make his presence felt immediately and the Bears’ pass rush and run defense will be vastly improved with his addition.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
People have been telling me that defensive tackle is a bigger need for Pittsburgh, but I disagree. Troy Polumalu is a prime candidate to be cut (for the Steelers to save cap space) and I have my doubts about Shamarko Thomas taking his place as the new starting safety. Clinton-Dix has the ability to play either free safety or strong safety, and I think if/when the Steelers cut Troy Polumalu, safety will be their biggest need. The team can address the defensive line later in the draft or even through free agency.
Ha Ha has very good on-field awareness, much like Polumalu, and he’s a rangy safety who’s also very decisive. His playing style is very close to that of Earl Thomas – both are long, rangy safeties; Ha Ha is not as fast or explosive, however. Clinton-Dix is the best safety in the draft and I don’t think it’s much of a risk taking him at 15th overall.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Like Chicago’s defense, Dallas’s defense was bad in the secondary and up front. I remember seeing some crazy stat about the number of different starting defensive linemen they used. I think it was 17. There’s no doubt that the Cowboys’ biggest positional need is defensive tackle. Maybe Jerry’s son should wipe his glasses for him so he can see that.
I have Donald rated as the best defensive tackle prospect, despite his “small” size, with Louis Nix shortly behind him. He really helped his draft stock at the combine (although I don’t take the combine too seriously – it 40 times with no pads on shouldn’t make much of a difference). Still, Donald, although he’s “only” 6’1”, makes perfect sense for the DT-needy Cowboys.