Evan Silva

NFL Draft Preview

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Pre-Free Agency Mock Draft

Saturday, March 01, 2014



16. Dallas Cowboys -- Alabama ILB C.J. Mosley

The Cowboys plan to move incumbent Mike 'backer Sean Lee to Will in an effort to task Lee with fewer physically challenging situations and preserve his health. He's missed 15 games over the past two years. Bruce Carter will move to Sam. Mosley is a middle linebacker through and through with sideline-to-sideline range, powerful hands, and plus pass-coverage skills. Mosley would solidify the second level of Dallas' defense, which was the most porous in football last season.

17. Baltimore Ravens -- Michigan OT Taylor Lewan

The Ravens intend to re-sign LT Eugene Monroe and get LG Kelechi Osemele (back) healthy. RG Marshal Yanda is a strong starter. Center and right tackle remain glaring deficiencies, however, with Gino Gradkowski having flopped at pivot and free agent Michael Oher on his way out. At 6-foot-7, 309 with intriguing and arguably untapped athleticism, Lewan would shore up right tackle and even give Baltimore blind-side options down the road. It's a nice match of value and need.

18. New York Jets -- UCLA OLB Anthony Barr

Barr is a long, explosive edge presence who needs technical work, making him an excellent fit for teach-first Jets coach Rex Ryan. Ryan has a lengthy history of maximizing player talents, and has lacked a difference-making outside rusher for most of his time in New York. With Barr opposite Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison up front, the Jets could field a dynamic pass rush again, masking their numerous flaws in the secondary.

19. Miami Dolphins -- UCLA OG Xavier Su’a-Filo

The Dolphins seem locked into an offensive lineman at this pick for a couple of reasons. They need to put the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito fiasco behind them. And C Mike Pouncey is currently Miami's only worthwhile front-five starter. During a recent tape study of Su’a-Filo, SI's Doug Farrar dubbed him a "pure finisher" with a "nasty streak" who "seems determined to play right to (and sometimes through) the whistle." Su’a-Filo proceeded to tear up the NFL Combine.

20. Arizona Cardinals -- Auburn DE/LB Dee Ford

John Abraham turns 36 in May, and the Cardinals return a pedestrian foursome of Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander, Alex Okafor, and Dontay Moch behind him at outside linebacker. This team sorely needs a threatening presence off the edge. Ford is an explosive rusher with edge-bending ability at 6-foot-2 and 252 pounds. He's an ideal fit at outside linebacker in Todd Bowles' 3-4.

21. Green Bay Packers -- Louisville S Calvin Pryor

NFL Network's Mike Mayock has projected Pryor as a top-15 pick, dubbing him a "bigger version of Bob Sanders." Annually in need of more defensive physicality, I think Green Bay would sprint to the podium for Pryor at 21. A clock-cleaning hitter with ample range, Pryor can play strong or free, and interchangeable is how coordinator Dom Capers fancies his safeties. Incumbent SS Morgan Burnett is coming off a miserable season, while FS M.D. Jennings is not a starting-caliber player.

22. Philadelphia Eagles -- Minnesota DL Ra'Shede Hageman

An edge-setting five technique at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds with nearly 34-inch arms, Hageman fits the Eagles' profile with a prototypical build. Snap-to-snap consistency concerns may keep Hageman out of the top-20 selections, but he would add high-ceiling talent to an Eagles defensive front seven that should be the cream of the crop in the NFC East this season. After locking up Riley Cooper, Jason Kelce, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Peters, look for the Eagles to attack defense in the draft.

23. Kansas City Chiefs -- Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward

A versatile safety with experience in slot coverage, Ward was a ballhawking playmaker in the MAC and is capable of playing all over the secondary. Kansas City's largest 2013 defensive hole was at free safety, where incumbent starter Kendrick Lewis is now entering free agency. Teaming Ward with SS Eric Berry and CBs Sean Smith, Brandon Flowers, and Marcus Cooper would give Kansas City more blitz freedom up front. Second-year DC Bob Sutton loves to send the house.

24. Cincinnati Bengals -- Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard

Cornerback is Cincinnati's biggest need on either side of the ball as Leon Hall rehabs his second Achilles' tear in three seasons, and Terence Newman and Pacman Jones creep further into their 30s. 2012 first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick has been a major disappointment. Dennard is a scheme fit for the Bengals as the premier press corner in this year's class. He would be a day-one starter.

25. San Diego Chargers -- Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert

Possessing a prototypical size-speed combination at 6-foot, 202 with 4.37 jets, Gilbert is pushing Dennard to be this year's first cornerback selected. Gilbert is the better athlete, while Dennard plays with more pro-ready technique. The 2013 Chargers were shredded by the pass, in large part due to league-worst cornerback play. Gilbert would give them instant credibility at the position.

26. Cleveland Browns -- LSU WR Odell Beckham

An all-purpose playmaker who profiles as a more explosive version of Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown, Beckham is an agile, sudden wideout and punt returner who creates separation from defensive backs. Beckham would play "Z" receiver in Cleveland, upgrading on former second-round bust Greg Little and bookending Josh Gordon. Pairing Beckham with No. 4 overall mock pick Johnny Manziel would give first-year OC Kyle Shanahan's offense 2014 breakout potential.

27. New Orleans Saints -- Ohio State CB Bradley Roby

Roby allowed too many 2013 completions due to an overly aggressive playing approach, but is a high-ceiling prospect with elite tools. After Jabari Greer's release, the Saints' lone starting-caliber corner is Keenan Lewis, with burnable Corey White, draft bust Patrick Robinson, and fringe NFL players Trevin Wade and Rod Sweeting behind him. It's the biggest need position in New Orleans.

28. Carolina Panthers -- Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas

Wideout and offensive line look like bigger needs for Carolina on paper, but Niklas could assist in both areas as an impact in-line blocker with an enormous catch radius. He goes 6-foot-7, 270 with 34 1/8-inch arms, and is built country strong enough to block defensive ends. As the Panthers are short on wideouts, their base 2014 offense would make heavy use of 12 personnel with Niklas and Greg Olsen on the field together. OC Mike Shula is a proponent of smash-mouth offense, and Carolina could assert its will via this new “two-tight” approach, particularly in the running game.

29. New England Patriots -- Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro

Losing Aaron Hernandez, and later Rob Gronkowski for 9-of-16 games, New England's offense took a 2013 step back as OC Josh McDaniels was forced to rely on Julian Edelman and two rookie wideouts as Tom Brady's go-to pass options. Although not nearly as refined as a blocker, Amaro profiles similarly to Gronk at 6-foot-5 3/8, 265 with 4.72 speed. A healthy Gronkowski and Amaro would allow New England to restore its two-tight attack, in which Brady is most comfortable. I fully expect the Pats to prioritize a tight end, be it in free agency or the draft.

30. San Francisco 49ers -- USC WR Marqise Lee

Flip on the 2012 tape, and Lee looks like a top-ten pick. He played all of 2013 injured and his draft stock plunged. In San Francisco, the 22-year-old would offer much-needed field-stretching ability across from run-after-catch maven Michael Crabtree and aging possession receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin, currently a free agent, is entering his age-34 season. Crabtree is in a contract year.

31. Denver Broncos -- Ohio State OLB Ryan Shazier

Assuming Denver retains free agent CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, its biggest team need is on the second level of DC Jack Del Rio's defense. LBs Paris Lenon, Wesley Woodyard, and Stewart Bradley all have expiring contracts. Look for Shazier's stock to soar at the Buckeyes' March 7 Pro Day, when he may flirt with 4.4s in the forty. Possessing outstanding range, cover skills, and striking ability, Shazier could play middle or weak-side linebacker for the Broncos.

32. Seattle Seahawks -- Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan

Seattle's roster is loaded enough that GM John Schneider can stay true to his board on draft day. Highly disruptive versus both the run and pass, Jernigan can play one and three technique in a 4-3. The Seahawks released LE Red Bryant to save salary cap space, and three more key Seattle D-Linemen are free agents: DE Michael Bennett, DT Clinton McDonald, and DT Tony McDaniel. Jernigan would quickly challenge to start next to Brandon Mebane.

Also Considered: Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks, TCU CB Jason Verrett, Georgia Tech DE/LB Jeremiah Attaochu, Stanford OG David Yankey, Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller, Missouri DE Kony Ealy, Clemson OL Brandon Thomas, Arizona State DT Will Sutton, Fresno State QB Derek Carr, Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde, Clemson CB Bashaud Breeland, Virginia OT Morgan Moses, Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Florida State DB Lamarcus Joyner, Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort, Florida DT Dominique Easley, Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Louisville DE/LB Marcus Smith, South Florida DL Aaron Lynch, USC C Marcus Martin.



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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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