9. Buffalo Bills
C.J. Mosely, ILB, Alabama
1.0 pick: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Bills could go with a tackle here, but the best two (Robinson and Matthews) are already off the board. I know the Bills have Kiko Alonso, but Mosely is the best player available at this point and he would definitely help the Bills’ defense immensely. Alonso and Mosely would make one of the best inside linebacking tandems in the league, if Mosely will turn out like everyone thinks he will.
10. Detroit Lions
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
1.0 pick: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Most people have the Lions taking a cornerback here, and I did in my previous mock draft. But Detroit wasn’t able to re-sign Louis Delmas, and safety now becomes a bigger need than cornerback. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the best safety prospect in the draft by far, and now that Delmas is in Miami, I don’t see the Lions passing on Clinton-Dix.
If Detroit is able to add safety Chris Clemons in free agency, things might change and I could have them drafting a cornerback again. But Clemons and Clinton-Dix would be a nice tandem on the back end if the Lions are able to land both. Clinton-Dix has the potential to become an Earl Thomas-like player, as he’s rangy, fast, and has great on-field awareness and decisiveness.
11. Tennessee Titans
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
1.0 pick: Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California
Tennessee thinks its quarterback situation is fine with Jake Locker. I disagree, but the jury is technically still out. Barr is a pure 3-4 outside linebacker, and the Titans might decide to go with a 2-gap, 3-4 system defensively. If that is the case, then Barr would be a perfect fit in Tennessee. His play slips off a bit in run defense, but I think he will be stellar in passing downs – he was good in coverage and was a great pass-rusher at UCLA.
12. New York Giants
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
1.0 pick: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Eli Manning struggled mightily in 2013, and one of the main reasons for that was due to bad pass protection. I actually thought that the Giants’ defense was not bad last year, and the team just signed Walter Thurmond III and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, so I highly doubt this will be a defensive pick. I think Lewan is the next-best tackle behind Robinson and Matthews, so the Giants will look to upgrade a bad offensive line.
13. St. Louis Rams
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
1.0 pick: Taylor Lewan
Fuller’s speed is not an issue. He ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, and it really doesn’t look like he’s slow at all on tape. A lot of mocks are leaving him out of the first round (and I was guilty in my previous mock), but I think that he’s pretty much a lock to be somewhere around a top-20 pick.
The Rams could use someone opposite of Janoris Jenkins. While I think Trumaine Johnson is a little above average, Fuller could probably be an upgrade. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is off the board, and I would not take any other safety here – it’s not that great of a need for St. Louis to reach for someone like Jimmie Ward or Calvin Pryor here.
14. Chicago Bears
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
1.0 pick: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Defensive line is still the biggest need for the Bears after free agency. Run defense was especially bad for the Bears last season, and a presence on the interior line is necessary. Donald is “small” (6-2) – but he’s widely regarded as the best defensive tackle prospect in the draft, and I agree with that. Donald, as a defensive tackle, will aid the Bears’ bad run defense.
The Bears could use this pick to upgrade the secondary, but cornerback isn’t as much of a need as safety is – the Bears don’t have as much of a need at corner, and there aren’t any safeties that are worth reaching for at 14th overall.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Odell Beckham, Jr, Louisiana State
1.0 pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
It looks like Troy Polumalu will be staying in Pittsburgh, so I don’t think the Steelers would look to take a safety anymore. That can wait. But someone needs to replace Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders and Jericho Cotchery are both gone due to free agency, and the Steelers lack a second target behind Antonio Brown. Beckham isn’t a big receiver, but he isn’t afraid of contact. He also generates separation so easily. One thing that Ben Roethlisberger struggled with last year is leading receivers – if a receiver generates separation easily, it will obviously help Big Ben with his issues last year.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
1.0 pick: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
I don’t know where to start when it comes to evaluating the Cowboys’ defense. It was absolutely horrendous last year. The defensive line has obvious issues (17 different starting defensive linemen last year!?!), but after watching Dallas’s defense more, it looks like safety is as big of an issue.
I know Calvin Pryor is a reach here, but it’s one that might be necessary. Pryor is a bit of a ball hawk, and Dallas struggled to get takeaways (or even get off the field) last season. Dallas hasn’t had a solid starting safety in a while, and Pryor, although he’s a reach at 16th overall, it is absolutely necessary that the Cowboys get a playmaking defensive player with their first pick.
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