Tennessee Titans- Anthony Barr
If Detroit went Ebron or Evans I can see the Titans being all over Justin Gilbert but in this mock they have just missed the boat. This has been my biggest head scratcher so far as the Titans have a lot of positions they could upgrade and a number of good players available to them. CJ Mosley or Mike Evans could both be upgrades on either side of the ball but with the Titans likely to play more 3-4 they lack a dominant pass rushing olb that can play standing up or with a hand on the ground.
Cue Anthony Barr, a pass rusher discussed in the same breath as Clowney in November. He has fallen away yet his physical ability is still very impressive. He shows great first step quickness, exceptional closing speed and a good solid motor but regularly struggles to get off blocks and is incredibly unrefined as a rusher. Considering his production in college over two years with very limited technical skills his potential is off the charts and if the Titans have the patience to develop him he could become a very strong edge rusher in the NFL.
New York Giants- Mike Evans
I feel the Giants have to address the defensive line with this draft especially after losing Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph this offseason but they also have to help Eli Manning. With Robert Ayers on a short term deal, JPP another year from surgery and a vastly improved secondary to back them up the Giants D should be on its way back to form.
If Buffalo go Ebron or Evans I think Lewan is a lock in here as the giants definitely need help at tackle. Zack Martin is also a good option who could play tackle or guard but I don’t think he is a value at 12. Mike Evans however is easily a top 10 pick who could give Eli Manning a big body receiver on the outside of Victor Cruz.
A big physical player whose route running will only improve learning from Cruz, the value is just too good to miss. If he falls this far it would be a great pickup for both sides.
St Louis Rams- Ha Ha Clinton Dix
I really wanted to go with CJ Mosley here to create a linebacking core of Laurinitus, Ogletree, Mosley, which would be one of the best lb cores in the NFL for the next 10 years. Mosley could play any lb position in a 4-3 with ease but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, plus with the depth of the draft at wide receiver and after picking Austin last year I think there are other positions that deserve more attention.
A ball hawk like Ha Ha Clinton Dix with sideline to sideline range and great instincts would add a weapon in the Rams secondary that they are currently lacking and will not be available in later rounds. With interception happy qbs like Kap and Carson Palmer in their division an instinctive playmaker like Clinton Dix could have instant rewards and with time and development he could become the Ed Reed to Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
Chicago Bears- Darqueze Dennard
People really should be talking about what Chicago is building. Though I have reservations about Jay Cutler they have locked him down as the face of a franchise and paired him with possibly the best wideout tandem in the NFL and the ever productive Matt Forte running the rock. This is an offense to compete for rings.
On the other side of the ball, they have revamped their defensive line with Willie Young, Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston coming in to an impressive rotation. The secondary however is in no fit state and must be addressed immediately for the Bears to be competitive particularly in a league with Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford.
Safety is the obvious choice but with Clinton Dix just snapped up by the Rams and Calvin Pryor a bit of a reach at 13 that leads me to Darqueze Dennard the most pro ready corner in the draft. Sharing snaps with Tillman he has an opportunity to learn from a veteran of the game whilst making an instant impact in a pass happy division.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Louis Nix III
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been notoriously nasty on defense for a long time, but then players got old and things started slipping away. Time to change that and though he secondary is getting old with tired legs like Ike Taylor and even the timeless Troy Polamalu it’s the front 3 particularly nose tackle and right defensive end that need upgrading.
Though it’s not a flashy pick I’d find my big nose tackle to start things off in Notre Dame’s Irish Giant Louis Nix. This allows you to keep Heyward at LDE and put Thomas at RDE where he was signed to play. All of a sudden this gives the Steelers a front 3 weighing round 950 pounds which will provide them some muscle in the run game and allow Worilds and Timmons a bit more room to roam.
Tough, aggressive and big enough to need two men to keep in check Nix has everything to take on the double teams and start stopping the run. He’s a centrepiece you can build around and though Aaron Donald is perhaps the better player, the Ziggy Hood experiment should show that undersized players can’t be as effective as a nose tackle in a 3-4. Nix has everything to lock down and dominate in a physical Pittsburgh defense.
Dallas Cowboys- Aaron Donald DT
Jerry Jones has to hit on this pick and there are a lot of ways he could do it. A wide receiver to go opposite Dez Bryant can probably wait till the second round especially with the depth of the class and after losing Demarcus Ware they need someone to go after the QB.
Henry Melton and Nick Hayden will probably start at DT with Selvie outside. Dee Ford could be a good pick for a speedy right defensive end but I think he is poor value this high. What Pittsburgh passes on Dallas will snap up and thrive on taking Aaron Donald the classes best DT at 16. If Henry Melton can’t get fit he can snap up his spot but I don’t think inside is where he will find his niche.
Though the adjustment could take time Donald is undersized for a DT but pretty perfect for a dual purpose DE whilst he has the first step burst and speed to get in and outside the tackles. Matched with that incredible strength he could be a handful for any left tackle.
I think Donald could still thrive at rde competing with, learning from and eventually beating out Jeremy Mincey for his place on the starting 11.
Baltimore Ravens- Zack Martin
A coin flip later, the Ravens too could go defense with Mosley a steal at 17. Daryl Smith was instrumental for the Ravens last year and deserved to be resigned to a long term deal nevertheless he is 32 and on his other side is UDFA Josh Bynes. Moseley would certainly be an upgrade and a long term lock at the mike but that offensive line cannot be ignored.
Resigning Eugene Monroe locks down the left but the loss of Oher to the Titans leaves a gap on the right side. Step in Zack Martin who can lock down the right tackle or be moved inside as a guard. A good technical player he locks down another spot on a leaky offensive line.
New York Jets- Eric Ebron
Be it Michael Vick or Geno Smith both need somewhere to throw to. Though it’s not Rex Ryan’s style to draft skill positions early on, Eric Decker is not a number one receiver and either QB will need more than him to throw to.
Step forward my personal faller, Eric Ebron, the best tight end in the draft who in this mock has quietly slipped past the Bills at 9 and Giants at 12(where he may well go). After that he faces competition with Heath Miller, Jason Witten and Dennis Pitta on teams with much higher needs leading him to the Jets at 18 who will snap him up in a heartbeat. He is a big physical tight end that can offer improvements in the run game and pass game. It’s great value and a perfect match.
Miami Dolphins- CJ Mosely
I thought this would be easy. After the Incognito Martin scandal and with the most sacks given up in the league the dolphins need Oline help. Albert will lock down the left but a right tackle or guard would be ideal. So I’ll take… hmmm… with Martin and Lewan off the board the top tier tackle prospects are all gone which leaves me with two options both reaches. Cyrus Kouandijio a big physical run blocker who mauls with power but doesn’t have the physical speed or Xavier Su’a- filo, the top guard prospect in the draft but not in the same league as Cooper or Warmack from last year.
I feel both are a bit of a reach at 20 which leads me to look elsewhere and first off to the receiver core. With Wallace underachieving and Hartline doubtful for next season with a PCL injury the receiving core suddenly looks thin on the ground. Regardless I feel there is sufficient depth at tackle and at wide receiver for the Dolphins to leave tackle to the second and wide receiver to the third and add a playmaker in the front 7 in CJ Moseley. Early on he was mocked around the top 10 and though he hasn’t fallen other players at skill positions have rocketed up around him and he has been swallowed by the tide. Regardless he is the best middle linebacker in the class and could play outside or inside linebacker in a 4-3.
Solid against the run and against the pass sitting behind the dominant Cameron Wake he could really clean up at the next level.
Arizona Cardinals- Derek Carr
The Arizona Cardinals in any other division would be playoff contenders. There is talent all over their defense and with the brilliant addition of Jared Veldheer the line looks more solid for andre ellington to go to work ( though I would be looking at a power running back in the later rounds). If Mosely gets past Miami I can see them snapping him up to replace Karlos Dansby or going Ryan Shazier. He is a bit of a reach but still could do a solid job in the middle.
That being said John Abrahams, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald are all getting on in years and a first round pick could go along way to replacing them while they still have time to pass on their experience.
With the deep wide receiver class I feel a protege at wideout could be picked up in the second or third round but top class pass rushers and quarterbacks don’t fall to pick 20 very often. To me it’s a toss up between Dee Ford and Derek Carr.
Both are not day 1 starters as Ford would need to learn to play standing up as an olb whilst Carr’s mental game needs developing.
Though Arians has said he wants to keep Palmer around he is on a contract year and Palmer’s Jekyll and Hyde nature is most likely to ruin Arizona’s playoff chances, especially with the Seattle secondary in town twice a year. With the talent on the team it is unlikely Arizona will be drafting in the top 10 anytime soon and a prospect like Carr who has all the physical tools, can already make all the throws rarely falls into your lap. His pocket presence and decision making needs work but time sitting behind a veteran like Palmer can help him develop that.
With patience Carr could fit straight into Palmer’s shoes at the end of this year and ensure no dip in a potentially golden era.