9. Cincinnati Bengals
Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
Actual pick: Keith Rivers, LB, Southern California
Flowers has been a good corner while Rivers was eventually traded to the Giants — for a fifth round pick. He isn’t as valuable as Flowers is. Had the Bengals taken Flowers, cornerback would not be a need in 2014, as Leon Hall and Flowers would be a very good cornerback duo. The jury is still out on Dre Kirkpatrick, but he would fill the role of either a third cornerback or nickel corner. Then the team could focus on a bigger defensive weakness — safety (rather than having somewhat of a need at both).
10. New England Patriots
Thomas DeCoud, S, California
Actual pick: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
Mayo turned out to be a Pro Bowl linebacker, but I think safety was more of a need at this point. Rodney Harrison had just retired after the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Giants, so the Patriots would need someone to replace the long-time starter. DeCoud was a Pro Bowl safety with the Falcons, and as evident by the Giants’ game-winning drive in the Super Bowl, defensive help on the back end was needed.
11. Buffalo Bills
DeSean Jackson, WR, California
Actual pick: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
The Bills have a lot of size at receiver, but to this day lack a game breaker on the outside on the offensive side of the ball. I know that there are possible off-the-field issues with Jackson, but nothing has happened so far. There should be no concern until a legitimate claim can be made. The Bills would have a lot of speed offensively with Jackson, along with mobile quarterback E.J. Manuel and speedy running back C.J. Spiller.
12. Denver Broncos
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Actual pick: same
Clady was hit with the injury bug last year, but that doesn’t stop the Broncos from taking him. When he comes back from injury this year — and if Denver somehow drafts Xavier Su’a-Filo in the first round — that should make Denver the sole favorites in the AFC if they weren’t already. That kind of pass protection along with the weapons on offense Peyton Manning has is scary. Not to mention the addition of T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware, and Aqib Talib on defense, and the return of Von Miller. Clady’s return could complete the Broncos offense this year, and I’d still pick him here because of that.
13. Carolina Panthers
Jordy Nelson, WR, Kansas State
Actual pick: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Stewart isn’t even the best running back on the Panthers’ roster right now. DeAngelo Williams is much better, and Mike Tolbert has a lot more value for his playing time and consistency. The Panthers now lack weapons on the outside. The team’s three leading receivers from 2013 (Steve Smith, Ted Ginn, and Brandon LaFell) are no longer on the roster. Jordy Nelson would help the receiver position and quarterback Cam Newton greatly today, as he’s helped Aaron Rodgers. For a team which currently lacks receivers, Nelson is a nice addition.
14. Chicago Bears
Matt Forte, RB, Tulane
Actual pick: Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Williams didn’t play well until he left Chicago. Forte was a second round pick, but with the way he’s played in the NFL, he won’t slip that far in a re-mock. Despite untimely injuries, Forte has been the Bears’ most consistent offensive player since he was drafted. Chicago won’t get him in the second round in a re-draft, so might as well take him here. He’s definitely an upgrade over Chris Williams.
15. Kansas City Chiefs
Carl Nicks, OT, Nebraska
Actual pick: Branden Albert, OT, Virginia
Albert was taken by the Saints, so Nicks is the pick. Tackle was obviously a need, because the Chiefs took Albert. Nicks had a foot infection in Tampa Bay and was hurt for most of 2013, but he should be back for 2014 barring something unexpected in terms of his recovery.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
Actual pick: same
I don’t think the DRC pick worked out as well as Arizona would have liked. The team didn’t bring him back, and he’s been to three other teams since. But after the year he had in 2013, the Giants handed him a contract which will pay him an average $9 million a year until his contract expires in 2020. If the Cardinals stuck it out with Rodgers-Cromartie instead of letting him go, it would’ve turned out fine for the team. Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, and DRC would be the Legion of Boom 2.0.