2014 NFL Mock Draft 5.0
17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.
In the same vein as Gilbert, Lewan’s combine effort could make it tough to let him linger on the board this long. As mentioned above, however, a few players are bound to tumble. Assuming the Ravens can retain either Eugene Monroe or Michael Oher (preferably the former), drafting Lewan would lock up their tackle spots.
Oh, and that nasty streak Lewan has been criticized for in the past? Seems to fit the Ravens’ mold, no?
18. New York Jets (8-8): Marqise Lee, WR, USC.
Is Lee still the No. 3 receiver in this class? It says here that he is, although the combine proved that he has plenty of competition. Given all those choices, the Jets should have no problem finding someone who can expand their options offensively. Now that he’s healthy again, it is not hard to see Lee making the leap into being a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver for a very, very long time.
19. Miami Dolphins (8-8): Zack Martin, G/T, Notre Dame.
For reasons off the field and on, Miami’s situation on the offensive line is in shambles. In fact, the Dolphins may commit multiple picks to their guard and tackle spots. Martin would offer them the versatility to bolster their situation either outside or inside. This would be a strong first step toward remaking the Miami front.
20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Dee Ford, DE/LB, Auburn.
As sensational as John Abraham was for the Cardinals last season, he’ll be 36 before training camp opens. Even if he’s on the field for all 16 games in 2014, this defense could use another threat off the edge. Ford did not work out at the combine because of a back-related “medical precaution,” but that did not stop him from proclaiming himself better than Clowney.
That’s not an opinion shared here, but Ford definitely can get to the QB.
21. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1): C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama.
Perhaps chalk this up to the lengthy pre-draft process, but it feels like Mosley has slipped out of the discussion a bit. That’s a mistake. He’s a legitimate plug-and-play starter on defense — a guy with the ability to chase down running backs or drop back into coverage. The Packers badly need to find some safety help somewhere, so Calvin Pryor may be near the top of the board. Mosley, though, is a value pick and a LB who could solidify the Packers’ linebacking corps.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville.
I realize “debaclefest” is not a word, but the Eagles’ current situation at safety is a debaclefest. They may get the expected rookie-year-to-Year-2 bump from Earl Wolff, but the need is there for another playmaker. Say hello to Pryor, whose smash-mouth style would make him an instant favorite in Philadelphia.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU.
What else do you want? Beckham ran a 4.43 official 40 time at the combine, then chalked up a 38.5-inch vertical jump. He can catch and run, burn defenses deep and outmuscle defenders for 50-50 balls. This is precisely the type of weapon Kansas City’s offense is missing.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech.
Injury issues behind him, Fuller has re-established himself as a legitimate first-round option at cornerback. He turned in a 4.49 40 time at the combine — not blazing fast but plenty good enough to keep his arrow pointing upward. The Bengals would love to be in position to pick between Fuller and Jason Verrett here. It’d be hard to go wrong either way.
25. San Diego Chargers (9-7): Jason Verrett, CB, TCU.
Whichever guy the Bengals pass on would make sense here. Verrett is on the small side at 5-foot-9, but he also reminded everyone who asked at the combine that he covered much bigger receivers out wide during his TCU career. He may have a better chance to succeed in the slot as an NFL corner. Pigeon-holing him into just that spot would be a mistake.
26. Cleveland Browns — via Indianapolis (11-5): Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt.
Mentioned above that the Browns could consider going after Sammy Watkins with that No. 4 pick. That Matthews, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin and other impressive receivers are sitting here at 26 highlights why they may wait to address this position.
Matthews ran a 4.46 40 at the combine, off a strong Senior Bowl. He caught 112 balls last season for Vanderbilt in spite of shaky QB play. Count on him to produce in the NFL.
27. New Orleans Saints (11-5): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State.
Last year, the Saints scored with Kenny Vaccaro. This year, they might receive just as much of a boost in the secondary. Roby displayed his sensational athleticism at the combine, topping out with a 4.39 40 time. Although he should have been better in 2013, he was not as bad as the buzz around him may have led everyone to believe.
O-line or wide receiver could be intriguing options for the Saints here, too. But the tackle value simply is not there to reach given how Terron Armstead played late last season.
28. Carolina Panthers (12-4): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State.
The Panthers are in dire need of an offensive tackle or two on the heels of Jordan Gross’ decision to retire. Expect them to dip into free agency with aggressiveness, which would free them up to seek out a buddy for Cam Newton in the passing game. Cooks may have locked himself into Round 1 with his combine — his 4.33 40 blew away the field.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri.
Not as high on Ealy as some others, but this is a Patriots prospect if I’ve ever seen one. Ealy has desired size at 6-4 and a little more than 270, plus he excelled in the three-cone drill, which is a favorite of this Patriots regime.
There might be more of a pressing need inside on the line — Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan or Minnesota Ra’Shede Hageman jump off the page a bit there. Ealy’s a tough prospect to get a handle on right now, so how he does at Missouri’s Pro Day and in individual workouts may determine his final standing.
30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State.
The 49ers might lose Anquan Boldin to free agency, thus leaving them shy a physical fail-safe receiver on the outside who can go snatch Colin Kaepernick’s passes from DBs. Benjamin was inconsistent for the Seminoles, yet his 6-5, 244-pound frame (matched with a 4.53 40) falls right in line with what the 49ers crave at wide receiver.
31. Denver Broncos (13-3): Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State.
Just on how the board happened to fall, the Broncos land a top-20 talent at No. 31 overall. Jernigan stands only 6-2 and a little south of 300 pounds, leaving him shy of an ideal nose tackle build. He still could play there, if needed, or kick out a little wider into the three-technique hole.
“When you’ve got a guy that can play multiple positions and understand how to play multiple positions and has the ability to learn different schemes,” Jernigan said, “I feel like it can make any team better no matter what scheme it is.”
32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3): Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech.
The rich get much richer. Amaro is a lethal weapon in the passing attack, plus he showed unexpected strength in the combine bench press. That’s important because it may mean Amaro is better equipped than expected to handle a blocking role in front of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. And he already proved time and again at Texas Tech that he can shift out away from the line to smoke linebackers and safeties in the passing game.
33. Houston Texans: Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame.
34. Washington Redskins: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State.
35. Cleveland Browns: Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA.
36. Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State.
37. Atlanta Falcons: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington.
Tuitt’s a value pick here — he should be a Round 1 guy, but a shaky 2013 coupled with an untimely foot injury could drive him down. Though the Redskins need help in the trenches and secondary, a Robinson-Pierre Garcon duo would be lethal. Su’a-Filo had a stellar combine and would slot in well on Cleveland’s underrated line. If Carr’s not off the board by pick No. 8, there could be a steep slide for him, which benefits the QB-needy Raiders in Round 2. Atlanta gets its Tony Gonzalez replacement and a guy who should aid the run game with his blocking.