2014 NFL Mock Draft: Best, Worst-Case Scenarios for Each Team in the 1st Round

Eric Galko@OptimumScoutingFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Best, Worst-Case Scenarios for Each Team in the 1st Round

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    The NFL draft never goes as planned or at least how prognosticators in the media project it to go. That’s part of what makes the draft so entertaining to cover, follow and watch live every year. 

    Every team enters the draft with players they covet, but only a handful of teams leave the draft securing all the players they hoped they would when the first team is on the clock. And while mock drafters covet accuracy, one wrong pick can have a drastic effect on the rest of the first round and beyond, thanks to teams adjusting for who’s on the board and what needs they need to fill immediately. 

    In this mock draft, I’ll give the best- and worst-case scenarios for each selection in the first round. Keep in mind there are plenty of options besides the two listed and quarterback draft slots can have a drastic and potentially surprising effect on the top 32 picks. 

    With that said, here’s all 32 picks of the first round and where certain players might land, or which players teams might settle for, on draft day.

1. Houston Texans

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioTrade Down

    Trading down always seems to be appealing to fans, as accumulating more draft picks presumably and conceivably gives teams more talent. However, it’s much easier said than done, as teams that would consider moving up in the draft are reluctant to part with those aforementioned draft picks.

    For the Texans, they need to hope that the elite potential of Jadeveon Clowney (Atlanta?) or the playmaking ability of Sammy Watkins (Buffalo?) can entice a team to assume to take their spot atop the draft.

    Worst-Case ScenarioJadeveon Clowney

    Clowney as a fallback option seems like a pretty good backup plan to me. If the Texans sit on the first overall pick, it’d be a surprise if they didn’t take the best defensive prospect of the past five years. Clowney has an NFL-ready skill set and elite potential to not only make an impact as a rookie but for the next 10 years.

2. St. Louis Rams

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioTrade Down

    Similar to the Texans, the St. Louis Rams would really like to trade down, but there’s no guarantee a team will bite, especially if Clowney is already off the board. Still, teams looking to leapfrog the Jacksonville Jaguars for Khalil Mack, a quarterback or a top offensive tackle may have interest.

    Worst-Case ScenarioSammy Watkins

    After drafting Tavon Austin in the top 10 just a year ago, selecting another receiver at No. 2 overall certainly won’t, and shouldn’t, go over all that well in St. Louis. However, Watkins provides the highest instant-impact potential for Sam Bradford for the 2014 season, and he’s worthy of a top-three pick, despite being a receiver.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Bill Wippert

    Best-Case ScenarioJadeveon Clowney

    It seems highly unlikely that Clowney won’t go in the top two overall picks, but if the Texans surprisingly opt to go for a quarterback first overall and the Rams decided to draft Sammy Watkins, the Jaguars could find Clowney falling into their laps. Gus Bradley will certainly be able to find a place for Clowney in his defense.

    Worst-Case ScenarioKhalil Mack

    Not a bad second option, Mack may actually be a better fit for Gus Bradley’s defense, thanks to his experience as a stand-up linebacker and his ability to bend around the edge as a pass-rusher. If Clowney isn’t here, Mack is the favorite for this pick, especially if if they don’t go the quarterback route with this pick.

4. Cleveland Browns

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    Dave Martin

    Best-Case ScenarioSammy Watkins

    The Cleveland Browns already have Josh Gordon as their feature receiver but not much else offensively after him. Watkins, paired with Gordon, could give the Browns two dynamic receivers for the future, allowing whoever takes the reins as the quarterback plenty of weapons to work with.

    Worst-Case ScenarioGreg Robinson

    While Robinson has a chance to be the Rams' second overall pick, it seems more likely that he slips to this point and gives the Browns a chance to pair Joe Thomas with another talented offensive tackle. Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus sold me on the value of right tackles in today’s NFL, and if they pass on a quarterback here, they should strongly consider adding another top blocker with near-elite upside.

5. Oakland Raiders

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    Mary Ann Chastain

    Best-Case ScenarioJadeveon Clowney

    Clowney won’t fall this far. That seems to be an almost near certainty. But the Oakland Raiders are in the market for instant-impact options, and trading up just two or three spots may be worth the loss of draft picks to acquire a soon-to-be All-Pro talent.

    Worst Case ScenarioAaron Donald

    Without immediate needs at offensive tackle or quarterback, the Raiders likely are hoping Mack or Watkins is on the board when they pick here. If not, there aren’t any prospects who can both fill a need and are worth the fifth overall pick. If they’re forced to stick at five, they could target the undersized, but highly productive, Aaron Donald to add more talent to their defensive front four.

6. Atlanta Falcons

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    Mark J. Terrill

    Best-Case ScenarioJadeveon Clowney (Trade Up)

    You’ve probably begun to notice a trend here: Every team at the top of the draft would likely love to get their hands on Clowney. Atlanta doesn’t have too many needs, so dealing a second-rounder or a 2015 first-rounder may be worthwhile to move up to first or second overall.

    Worst-Case ScenarioAnthony Barr

    The Falcons need to leave this draft with an impact pass-rusher, but if Clowney and Mack are both gone, they might opt to take Anthony Barr, a high-upside rusher who needs time and coaching before he’s ready to be a three-down player. He’s a worthy top-10 pick, but for a team looking to compete for a Super Bowl next season, they’d probably rather not have a prospect who requires time to develop.

7. Tampa Bay Bucs

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    Patric Schneider

    Best-Case ScenarioSammy Watkins

    After Vincent Jackson, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t have a receiver who should ideally start in the NFL next season. It’s a long shot that Watkins comes close to sniffing this point in the top 10, but the positional value of a receiver plus the depth of this class may cause some teams to pass at the last second.

    Because of his talent level, if he falls past the Rams, don’t be surprised if the Bucs, among other teams, begin calling teams in the top five to offer a trade. That is, assuming he’s not picked by the St. Louis Rams.

    Worst-Case ScenarioMike Evans

    While I’m not a big Mike Evans fan as a prospect, his length, physicality and ball skills are certainly intriguing for NFL teams. The fact that he could remind some evaluators of Alshon Jeffery (whom Lovie Smith coached in 2012) certainly helps when pegging what his ceiling may be. Pairing Evans with Vincent Jackson would make the Bucs a nightmare to cover on the outside.

8. Minnesota Vikings

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    Garry Jones

    Best-Case ScenarioTeddy Bridgewater

    Despite reports of Teddy Bridgewater having “shaky” private workouts, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen (via Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com), I’ll still be surprised if he falls drastically on draft day. For Norv Turner, who covets plus-pocket-passers, Bridgewater is potentially the best fit for his offense. Bridgewater still could be the third or fourth overall pick, but if he falls, it’d be tough for Minnesota Vikings fans to swallow if Minnesota passes on him.

    Worst-Case ScenarioAnthony Barr

    Similar to the Falcons at pick No. 6, the Vikings would ideally like one of the premier pass-rushers to fall to eighth overall. Barr fits Minnesota’s needs better than Atlanta’s, as he won’t be asked to come in and produce right away for the Vikings. The extremely talented Barr could be developed perfectly by Mike Zimmer, who has a history of grooming top pass-rushing talents from his time in Cincinnati.

9. Buffalo Bills

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioEric Ebron

    There isn’t a team that, as of now, looks like they’ll be targeting a tight end in the top eight picks of the draft. But with Eric Ebron’s ability as a seam-stretching interior pass-catching tight end, it could intrigue teams that miss on their initial target. The Bills don’t have any long-term answer at tight end, and Ebron could give EJ Manuel a safety valve for the future.

    Worst-Case ScenarioTaylor Lewan

    The Buffalo Bills don’t have a glaring need at right tackle, but they could use an upgrade if one presented itself. Enter Taylor Lewan, who is arguably the most talented offensive tackle in this class and likely to be available at this point in the draft. If they can’t get an offensive playmaker to help Manuel, getting him more protection is the next best option.

10. Detroit Lions

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioJake Matthews

    After adding Golden Tate in free agency, the Detroit Lions don’t have any pressing needs that they need to fill with this first pick. But Riley Reiff has only been good, not great, at left tackle, and could use some competition. Jake Matthews has played both left and right tackle in college and likely could slide into the guard position if need be for the Lions.

    Worst-Case ScenarioHa Ha Clinton-Dix

    Ha Ha Clinton-Dix seems to be both the worst-case and most likely pick for the Lions, simply because they need safety help more than any other position on their roster. In a safety class that lacks great depth, getting the best of the lot in the class and filling the biggest hole on the roster should allow the Lions more flexibility throughout the rest of their draft selections.

11. Tennessee Titans

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    Brett Deering/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioJustin Gilbert

    After losing Alterraun Verner in free agency, the Tennessee Titans didn’t bring in a replacement. As of now, they’re banking on Blidi Wreh-Wilson, a third-rounder from last year’s draft, to be the starter. While he may be an NFL-starter talent, Justin Gilbert has ideal length and plus-upside to develop into a feature perimeter defender for Tennessee.

    Worst-Case ScenarioRa’Shede Hageman

    This is probably the highest Hageman would go, but that doesn’t mean he’s not worthy. A rare blend of length, power and athleticism for a defensive lineman, Hageman would fit perfectly into Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense.

12. New York Giants

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    Peter Aiken/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioJake Matthews

    With David Diehl retiring and William Beatty combing off a struggle-filled season, the New York Giants are still in need of offensive-line help. Justin Pugh has shown he can start as an NFL tackle, and adding Jake Matthews could give Eli Manning the protection he needs to bounce back in 2014.

    Worst-Case ScenarioKony Ealy

    The Giants are known for a punishing pass rush, but after losing Justin Tuck, they’re beginning to get thinner along their defensive line. Ealy can rush from the 3-, 5- or wide-technique as a pass-rusher, and he has the length and upside the Giants always covet.

13. St. Louis Rams

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    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioKyle Fuller

    It seems very likely Kyle Fuller is available at this point in the draft, and while cornerback doesn’t seem like a glaring need, it is one that they certainly shouldn’t avoid if the Rams can get one of the draft’s best at 13 overall. Pairing him with Janoris Jenkins could keep this cornerback group as a team strength.

    Worst-Case ScenarioCalvin Pryor

    Calvin Pryor probably isn’t worth a top-15 pick based on his definiteness (???) and style of play, but he’s not a bad fallback plan if Fuller or one of the top offensive tackles isn’t available. Safety is their biggest need, and Pryor can play a bit of both spots if necessary.

14. Chicago Bears

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioAaron Donald

    Despite lacking great length, it’d be a surprise if Aaron Donald lasted much longer than this on draft day. With elite penetration ability, Donald could provide an interior threat to go along with free-agent signings Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen.

    Worst-Case ScenarioDarqueze Dennard

    Darqueze Dennard’s stock appears to be falling, according to Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, and may slip out of the top 25 picks. However, the Bears need secondary help, and if Gilbert and Fuller are off the board, odds are, Dennard is the next man up for most teams’ cornerback draft boards.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioRa’Shede Hageman

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been strict “best player available” advocates in the draft, and talent-wise, Hageman likely is at this point in the draft. Combine that with the fact that he fills a 5-technique void they have on their defense, and it’s a perfect match if he’s available.

    Worst-Case ScenarioLouis Nix

    Kevin Colbert said the Steelers signed Cam Thomas as a defensive end, but he has since said he could also play nose tackle, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Outside of Thomas, no one on their defensive line can fill the nose tackle role. Louis Nix is the best nose tackle in this class.

16. Dallas Cowboys

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Best-Case ScenarioAaron Donald

    Similar to the Bears, the Dallas Cowboys would love to grab the draft’s best interior pass-rusher. Getting interior penetration was a major problem for the Cowboys, as it led to most of their pass-defense issues. Donald can quickly fix that problem.

    Worst Case ScenarioZack Martin

    The Cowboys likely covet Donald and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, as they would fill their two biggest needs. But if neither is still on the board, I’d look for Dallas to target a top offensive lineman like Zack Martin of Notre Dame. He played left tackle in college, right tackle during the Senior Bowl practices and has the tools to be an above-average NFL guard.

17. Baltimore Ravens

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioTaylor Lewan

    While they missed Anquan Boldin’s presence last year, the Baltimore Ravens offense struggled because of their inconsistent offensive line play. While Eugene Monroe and Marshal Yanda are still bright spots, they need to find starters and bolster depth. Taylor Lewan could step in and be a top-notch right tackle opening day.

    Worst-Case ScenarioJimmie Ward

    I’m a big Jimmie Ward fan, but even this is a bit too high for a cornerback/safety ‘tweener without an elite skill set. Still, his ability to play strong safety and nickel cornerback, along with the ability to finish as a tackle and in short-area coverage, he should be intriguing for a Ravens team that is short on secondary depth.

18. New York Jets

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    Victor Calzada

    Best-Case ScenarioAnthony Barr

    Despite their needs offensively, Rex Ryan and the New York Jets would be hard-pressed to pass on Barr. Barr is underdeveloped after only playing three years on the defensive side of the ball, but he has displayed elite potential that I’m sure Ryan would love the chance to tap in to.

    Worst-Case ScenarioOdell Beckham Jr./Marqise Lee

    You’ll see these two tied together throughout this article, mostly because either one has a chance to go between 15 and 25 overall. Odds are, one of them will be here at 18, and if the Jets can’t grab a top pass-rushing or cornerback talent, they’ll opt for more help for their offense.

19. Miami Dolphins

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioTaylor Lewan

    It was no secret that, coming into this offseason, the Miami Dolphins' offensive line needed a serious overhaul. And even after signing Branden Albert in free agency, the job is still unfinished. Finding a top offensive lineman in the first round should be the top priority for Miami, and Lewan could quickly fill the void at right tackle.

    Worst-Case ScenarioRyan Shazier

    While he has the aggressiveness and speed to be a rangy inside or weak-side linebacker for the Dolphins, he doesn’t fill a glaring need, and despite being listed at the combine at 236 pounds, he didn’t appear to play that thick on film. He’s a fit for the Dolphins defense and could help the defense bounce back from a worse-than-expected 2013 season.

20. Arizona Cardinals

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioKony Ealy

    Arizona runs a 3-4 base defense, but defensive coordinator Todd Bowles had plenty of success with versatility in his alignments. Ealy doesn’t have a natural NFL position yet, but he has great athleticism and natural interior pressure ability to work as a 5-technique, as well as a situation edge-rusher.

    Worst-Case ScenarioDee Ford

    After a fantastic senior season and a wowing Senior Bowl, Dee Ford was on the fast track to be one of the top edge-rushers taken in the draft. But with concerns about a herniated disk that he suffered in 2011 keeping him out of the combine, teams may be wary about selecting him early.

21. Green Bay Packers

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    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioKyle Fuller

    There’s strong odds that Fuller is gone by this point, but if he’s available, he’d be a great fit for the Green Bay Packers defense that’s always looking to bolster its secondary. He could be the best defensive back to come out of this draft when we look back in five years.

    Worst-Case ScenarioC.J. Mosley

    C.J. Mosley has a chance to go higher as well, but linebacker values continue to be diminished, with his injury past being an issue, as expounded upon by NFLDraftScout.com's scouting report (via CBSSports.com). He has a chance to slip into the 20s on draft day. The Packers gave up 125 yards per game last year on the ground, per NFL.com. Mosley can help ease some of those issues for the future.

22. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioKyle Fuller

    Chip Kelly covets as much perimeter talent as he can get his hands on, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Fuller could immediately challenge Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams for the starting job opposite Brandon Boykin and could emerge as the Philadelphia Eagles’ best cornerback by the end of his rookie season.

    Worst-Case ScenarioDee Ford

    With Brandon Graham reportedly on the trading block, per Philadelphia Magazine's Tim McManus (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com), and Trent Cole, at 31 years old, the Eagles should be looking for edge-rushing help at some point in this draft. As I said before, Kelly loves speed on both sides of the ball, and there may not be a quicker rusher in this draft than Ford.

23. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioMarqise Lee/Odell Beckham Jr.

    At this point in the draft, both of these top-20 worthy receivers could be picked, but because teams might fill their receiver needs later in this deep class, the Kansas City Chiefs may get the opportunity to snag a plus-talent. Lee fits the short-area, West Coast offense-type receiver they’ve utilized with success in the past, while Beckham Jr. provides a more vertically-stretching presence to complement Dwayne Bowe.

    Worst-Case ScenarioJimmie Ward

    The Chiefs secondary is in need of work, both at cornerback and safety. Depth is especially needed, and finding a defensive back who can play multiple roles would be a huge plus. Enter Jimmie Ward, who can play strong safety and cornerback, providing depth and situational value at both spots in a variety of defensive packages.

24. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioDarqueze Dennard

    Despite rumors he may slip on draft day, Dennard has NFL-ready man- and press-coverage skills. The Cincinnati Bengals need the depth, and with Leon Hall recovering from his midseason Achilles injury last season, having Dennard as starter insurance is a nice plus.

    Worst-Case ScenarioBradley Roby

    As far as athleticism and speed are concerned, Bradley Roby should firmly be in the first round. However, after an up-and-down junior season and past character issues (such as being banned from the first game of the year) could make him a bit of a risky pick for teams in the first. Still, the Bengals could stay in-state and potentially get a plus-NFL starter in Roby.

25. San Diego Chargers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioLouis Nix

    Right now, the San Diego Chargers are projected to start either Sean Lissemore or Kwame Geathers, who played a combined 77 snaps last season and had a combined minus-0.3 Pro Football Focus score (subscription required). They need an upgrade at the position, and Nix is the clear-cut best nose tackle this class has to offer.

    Worst-Case ScenarioJeremiah Attaochu

    While he hasn’t gotten much buzz, Attaochu is one of my favorite pass-rushers in this class and is worth a first-round pick. Despite being held back by scheme changes throughout his college career, he could step in immediately and help this Chargers pass rush behind Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson.

26. Cleveland Browns

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    Jay LaPrete

    Best-Case ScenarioJohnny Manziel/Derek Carr

    If the Browns choose to pass on a quarterback at fourth overall, they’ll likely be banking on one of their top passers being available with this pick. Despite both Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr frequently being discussed as top-10 possibilities, I wouldn’t be surprised if either or both fell this far on draft day.

    Worst-Case ScenarioBradley Roby

    After Joe Haden, this team lacks another quality starter or depth at cornerback. If they go for a quarterback earlier in the draft or opt to look for a passer in the second round, Roby could give this Browns defense a talented duo for the future.

27. New Orleans Saints

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Best-Case ScenarioDee Ford/Jeremiah Attaochu

    Junior Galette, Victor Butler and Parys Haralson, the three featured pass-rushers the New Orleans Saints have right now, aren’t going to worry any offensive coordinators next season. The Saints need edge-rushers, and they likely will double up early in this draft. Ford and Attaochu would be nice values at this point.

    Worst-Case ScenarioAllen Robinson

    As an offense that relies on having plenty of weapons to utilize, the Saints could use some new ones in this draft. Allen Robinson is under-appreciated right now, but his skill set reminds one of Keenan Allen, and he could have a similar rookie impact.

28. Carolina Panthers

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Best-Case ScenarioZack Martin

    After losing Jordan Gross to retirement and already having needs at right guard and potentially at right tackle, the Carolina Panthers have clear needs along their offensive line.

    Instead of reaching for a blocker with high upside, the Panthers would be wise to scoop up Zack Martin, who played left tackle in college, right tackle during the Senior Bowl and could be an excellent guard if those two positions don’t work out long-term.

    Worst-Case ScenarioJason Verrett

    The Panthers let their best cornerback, Captain Munnerlyn, walk in free agency and didn’t do much to replace him. With Jason Verrett, they can get a new undersized, yet highly successful, cornerback to fill his role.

29. New England Patriots

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    Frank Franklin II

    Best-Case ScenarioTop Quarterback Available

    As usual, the New England Patriots don’t have any glaring needs to address, and they can let the draft come to them. They’re always looking to trade down, and if one of the top quarterbacks starts to tumble (Bridgewater, Bortles, Carr), they could reap the rewards for a team in the second round hoping to move up. Or, they could take the passer themselves.

    Worst-Case ScenarioTroy Niklas

    Troy Niklas isn’t a finished product, but he’s shown enough as a blocker, pass-catcher and overall athlete to have teams excited about his ceiling. The Patriots have been known for the utilization of tight ends, but with Rob Gronkowski suffering from yet another injury, they need to start adding to their stockpile again. 

30. San Francisco 49ers

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    Mark J. Terrill

    Best-Case ScenarioOdell Beckham Jr./Marqise Lee

    At this point, there’s almost zero chance either of these two are available. But, with an arsenal of picks at their disposal and a need to add a new playmaker to the offense, the San Francisco 49ers could certainly consider trading up for a top receiver talent.

    Worst-Case ScenarioMarcus Smith

    Similar to Attaochu, I’m a big Marcus Smith fan. The Louisville product had a breakout season this year, has an awesome speed-to-power combination on the edge and could slide in right away as a 3-4 speed-rusher. Plus, the 49ers can’t bank on Aldon Smith producing next year.

31. Denver Broncos

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    Jay LaPrete

    Best-Case ScenarioBradley Roby

    Even after adding Aqib Talib to the roster, the Denver Broncos still need ample help in the secondary. Roby has the tools to develop into an elite cover corner, and the veteran locker room in Denver could help him reach his potential quickly.

    Worst-Case ScenarioScott Crichton

    The Broncos added DeMarcus Ware to their defense, but they still could use more depth along the pass-rush category, especially after their struggles to consistently get pressure on Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl. Crichton could provide depth at multiple spots as a rookie.

32. Seattle Seahawks

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    Butch Dill

    Best-Case ScenarioZack Martin

    The Seattle Seahawks don’t have many needs, but they’ll most likely be looking for offensive-line help if they can find it at pick No. 32. Luckily for them, Martin could still be around, and he could provide starter potential at tackle and guard as a rookie.

    Worst-Case ScenarioCyrus Kouandjio

    Despite concerns about his arthritic knee, as reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport (via Chase Goodbread of NFL.com), Kouandjio has mauling run-blocking capabilities and could be a tremendous right tackle in the Seahawks scheme.