2014 NFL Mock Draft: Where Every First-Round Team Stands

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2014

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01:  Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in action during their game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2014 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the Kansas City Chiefs surprising many by taking tackle Eric Fisher with the No. 1 overall pick. This is important for one reason: We are still more than two full weeks away from finding out who will follow in his footsteps.

The NFL draft cottage industry is so robust that Roger Goodell—in his latest attempt to make sure the shield never, ever, eh-ver (Taylor Swift v) leaves your life—decided it could be pushed back a couple weeks into May. This was done as a source of future revenue (and to address a scheduling conflict). May is one of the two most important months from an advertising standpoint (the so-called sweeps period), and with draft broadcasting rights coming up it only makes sense for the NFL to make a two-week pushback for what could amount to millions. 

The problem: It's taking an already ridiculously overlong process and stretching it even more. To make matters worse, the combine and other draft-related activities weren't pushed back to accommodate the later draft date. By the time Goodell steps to the podium on May 8, we will be nearly three full months removed from the Underwear Olympics.

This has, as expected, created an absolute cluster of hashed and re-hashed storylines more warmed over than your great aunt's meatloaf. We've talked about Johnny Manziel's level of "controversy" so often that he's somehow become boring. We have all played a part in the bludgeoning of Teddy Bridgewater's draft stock. Human beings have convinced themselves that Tom Savage is worth a draft invite.  

Certifiably insane, you say? Well, umm, we got two more weeks of this stuff, baby. So let's not waste any more of your time (HA!) and check in on my latest projections for the entire first round.

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1. Houston Texans — Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Rumors of the Texans trading the top overall choice have been bandied about for months.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports noted this week the team is still hard at work looking for a deal, ostensibly to take outside linebacker Khalil Mack. The former Buffalo standout obviously has more experience standing up than Clowney, and other teams have such a major crush on the South Carolina defensive end that the haul could be major.

Here's the issue: Teams don't trade the No. 1 overall pick. It's been a decade since the San Diego Chargers shipped Eli Manning to the Big Apple. In the years since, there have always been plenty of rumblings about a potential move with a whole lot of inaction. The price necessary to move up that far—especially in our cost-controlled draft environment—is just too steep.

Assuming the Texans stand pat, Clowney is just too much of a sure thing to pass up for Mack. Houston's base 3-4 and the presence of J.J. Watt present an interesting conundrum, but it's not one so difficult that you pass up the better player. It also seems somewhat obvious, based on Prisco's report, that the Texans are leaning away from taking a quarterback here—the most likely fit being Blake Bortles.

Two weeks is a long time in this process. For now, though, Clowney is the pick.

2. St. Louis Rams — Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Two scenarios present themselves here for the Rams.

If Houston pulls a semi-shocker and goes quarterback, leaving Clowney on the board, I fully expect the Rams to shop this pick with fellow top-six teams and take the highest offer. Clowney is a better fit in St. Louis than in Houston, but Chris Long and Robert Quinn are more than adequate as a pair, and Jeff Fisher's roster has too many other holes.

In this, scenario the Rams choose between Robinson and Sammy Watkins and go about their day. Watkins is the higher player on my board, a Pro Bowler in the making who won't have the typical rookie-receiver learning curve.

But the Rams took Tavon Austin at No. 8 last season and could shore up their offensive line by taking Robinson. The mammoth former Auburn star could replace projected right-side starter Joe Barksdale as a rookie or allow Jake Long to extend his career by moving to the less-daunting half. Long turns 29 in May and has started to show signs he's on the downside.

Nabbing Robinson here helps offset that immensely.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

No matter who they take here, the Jaguars are going to be a terrible offensive team in 2014. The prospect of starting Chad Henne for 16 games is only enticing when the alternative is bringing Blaine Gabbert back for another go around. The prospect of starting Toby Gerhart for 16 games is only enticing when the alternative is, well, I'm not even quite sure. Jacksonville was so bad offensively in 2013 it almost seemed as if Gus Bradley wasn't trying; that's not changing overnight.

Drafting Watkins here helps start the long-term overhaul. It's true that the Jaguars just went through this two years ago in Justin Blackmon, but Watkins comes with roughly 3,415 fewer character red flags.

A Blackmon-Watkins combo meal on the outside could also be daunting if Blackmon can ever keep his nose out of trouble. Folks forget that he was starting to show real signs of promise as a rookie and averaged over 100 yards a game in his four 2013 contests.

Watkins is as close to a can't-miss prospect as they come. He's a couple inches shorter (6'1") than the absolute ideal at the position, but the rest of his measurables are jaw-dropping, as was his college production. A standout since his freshman season at Clemson, Watkins is already a polished route-runner underneath and has a second burst the will make him a deep threat.

4. Cleveland Browns — Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

It feels right, doesn't it? The team with the longest list of quarterback curses in recent history selecting the most controversial quarterback prospect since He Who Shall Not Be Named. Manziel worked out for the Browns over the weekend, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, and he plans on meeting with team brass throughout the week.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of sorts for Manziel, who was always a one-way-or-the-other prospect. A few poor interviews and a bad pro day could have given him the Bridgewater treatment. But instead, Manziel has passed every test (including the Wonderlic) with flying colors and seems a borderline top-10 lock at this point.

The Browns could go with the traditional choice of Bortles or the best quarterback in Bridgewater. Since when has Cleveland done anything conventional at that position?

5. Oakland Raiders — Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Patric Schneider

In case you haven't heard, the Raiders' attempt to shore up their offensive line this season turned into a bit of a cluster-...umm, you know. Incumbent Jared Veldheer left for Arizona, and Rodger Saffold failed his physical, leaving the Raiders to find Donald Penn on the scrap heap and hope he still has above-replacement-level skills.

That's far from a sure thing. Taking Matthews in this scenario allows the Raiders to move Penn over to the right side and protect Matt Schaub with the most pro-ready tackle in this draft. Matthews could have come out last season and been a first-round pick. Instead, he smartly returned to school and proved himself capable of anchoring a line from the left side.

Matthews might fit better at right tackle as a pro, which leaves Taylor Lewan as an alternative. But after the fiasco they've gone through this offseason, the Raiders need a tackle.

6. Atlanta Falcons — Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo

This is a best-case scenario for the Falcons. Trading up to draft Clowney is tempting, and I'm assuming Thomas Dimitroff is having a conversation about it right this second. There were also real depth concerns exposed in Atlanta's core last season, ones that won't be fixed with a Julio Jones 2.0 trade.

Mack is less of an obvious schematic fit, but the writing has been on the wall for a 3-4 switch by Atlanta for months. The team will at the very least be running a hybrid scheme after signing guys like Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson, and throwing Mack into the mix could help cement the shift. Mack is an explosive, athletic force off the ball who can disrupt against the run and pass.

To watch Mack's tape is to fall in a deeper and deeper state of appreciation. The Falcons would be thrilled if here were still available at No. 6.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Michael Conroy

Take out "Falcons" and "Mack" and replace them with "Buccaneers" and "Evans." In this scenario, I envision Tampa Bay skipping up to the podium like a happy drunk. Evans is a ridiculous physical specimen, equipped with size (6'5", 231 lbs), athleticism and a huge catch radius that can bail out questionable quarterbacking decisions.

In other words, he's a perfect fit for Josh McCown. 

Putting Evans across from Vincent Jackson is almost unfair for opposing defensive coordinators. Jackson is not getting any younger at age 31, but was a formidable option last season despite shaky quarterback play. He can also play nice with Evans and teach him what it means to transform from Not Fair Human Specimen to Not Fair Human Specimen Who Knows How to Play NFL Receiver.

We're working on a smaller acronym for that.

8. Minnesota Vikings — Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Rather than try to hit a short-term home run with someone like Michael Vick, the Vikings stood pat at quarterback in free agency. They re-signed Matt Cassel and went on about their day. 

That's telling.

There is no scenario in which new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer plans on walking into Week 1 with a Cassel-Christian Ponder depth chart. Not only were both players brought in by a different regime, but they are also not very good at playing the position of quarterback. Neither is known around the league as a bad locker-room egg, either, so the prospect of a little training camp competition shouldn't create any fissures.

Bortles is the pick over Bridgewater here mainly because his stock is higher. I grade Bridgewater a step higher, and am still a little wary of the rapid ascent Bortles has undergone the past year. The kid has all the physical tools in the world. But there's a reason beyond UCF-related ignorance that he wasn't mentioned as a top-10 pick before the season.

It will be interesting to see how Bortles develops.

9. Buffalo Bills — Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

The Bills need to protect EJ Manuel. It's about that simple. Lewan is the best offensive tackle remaining on the board by a significant margin, and may have a higher ceiling than Matthews if he finds the right situation.

Buffalo may be that. The team has quietly amassed a solid all-around roster and has relatively few needs to fill on draft night. Offensive tackle is one.

Having Cordy Glenn and Lewan protecting the outside would create one of the promising young tackle duos in the league, allowing Manuel, who showed some level of injury-proneness his first season, the best possible chance to succeed.

Eric Ebron is another option here. He would satisfy a desire to equip Manuel with dangerous pass-catching targets. But there are enough solid pass-catching options that the Bills should be able to land someone like Allen Robinson on the second day.

10. Detroit Lions — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Here is one of the few areas of the draft where a relative consensus has been reached. The Lions have a glaring need for multiple pieces in the secondary, and Clinton-Dix would satisfy perhaps the biggest. Traditionally not a position that gets drafted in the top-10, all you need to do is look at free-agent contracts to realize the quickly rising importance of safeties.

If Mike Mitchell, on the scrap heap a year ago, can land $5 million annually off one good season, let's just say Detroit can take Clinton-Dix at No. 10. The former Alabama star is appreciably better than his peers in the class and should be a Week 1 starter.

11. Tennessee Titans — Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Sue Ogrocki

Not only did the Titans lose Alterraun Verner this offseason, they lost him to a really team-friendly contract for Tampa Bay. Either Tennessee knows something we do not or Verner wanted to get the hell out of Dodge.

Either way, his departure leaves a hole in the secondary that should be fillable here. The pick will come down to Gilbert and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard, and I suspect Gilbert's better all-around skill set will win out here. Dennard has the profile of a shutdown man-to-man corner, and defensive coordinator Ray Horton runs more man than his predecessor, but Gilbert is an elite athlete who can handle about anything thrown his way.

Gilbert is also a ball-hawk, picking off seven passes in 2013. The Titans picked off only 13 passes as a team last season. This is a strong fit.

12. New York Giants — Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

I'll be honest: I've had Donald pegged as my sleeper choice for months, and I'm a little disappointed to have him here. A player cannot be slept on at the No. 12 pick in the draft. The problem with having Donald as a "sleeper" is that pretty much everyone else did, too, and the former Pittsburgh standout's brilliant workout performances have sent his stock roaring into its rightful place.

Donald, despite his less-than-ideal size (6'1", 285 lbs), is a star in the making. His power and speed off the ball rivals any defensive lineman in this class, and he plays with the motor typical of someone with a Napoleon Complex.

Given the Giants' struggles along the defensive line the past few seasons, they'd be remiss if they passed him up here. The only other possibility in this spot is Ebron, who would give Eli Manning someone to overthrow in double coverage. (Sorry.)

13. St. Louis Rams — Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

If St. Louis had its druthers here, it would trade back. The obvious tackle-wideout combination for the first two picks is off the board here, with Robinson already in place and no remaining pass-catcher worthy at No. 13. A dream scenario involves Evans somehow slipping to this spot, but that would probably involve a whole lot of illicit drugs somehow being taken by the front offices sitting between No. 7 and No. 12.

Since we're not factoring in trades here, Dennard becomes the pick essentially by default. The Rams let go of Cortland Finnegan this offseason after a lost couple seasons, and they are currently projected to start Trumaine Jackson in his place.

That's not ideal. Dennard is a lockdown, smart defender in man-to-man coverage. He'd be a solid fit across from Janoris Jenkins and appreciably less expensive than what bringing back Finnegan would have cost.

One side note: Don't sleep on Bridgewater here—especially in this scenario. 

14. Chicago Bears — C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Does C.J. Mosley play defense? Is he the best defensive player on the board? Does he fit a need? Yes, yes and yes.

That's really all the questions one needs to answer about the Bears' pick. Let's move on.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers — Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Sep 28, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Bradley Roby (1) reacts after the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium. Buckeyes beat the Badgers 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

This is a bit of a reach, but the Steelers' need for a top cornerback eclipses anything else. They would sprint to the podium if Dennard or Gilbert were available. In this scenario, both are gone, leaving Pittsburgh with the choice of grabbing one of the remaining pass-catchers or someone designed to stop those players.

Roby is more in line with historic precedent. The Steelers last took a wide receiver in Round 1 in 2006 (Santonio Holmes) and have had a ton of success mining the middle rounds in recent years. Markus Wheaton, their 2013 third-round choice, could be the latest in an assembly line that has included Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. And Limas Sweed! (Whoops.)

It also doesn't help matters that Pittsburgh is slated to start 34-year-old Ike Taylor and William Gay at cornerback in 2014. Roby struggles with consistency at times, and he projects well more due to his athletic prowess rather than his lockdown skills at this juncture. Still, the Steelers need some long-term hope at corner, and Mike Tomlin is the type of coach who can coax the most out of Roby's skill set.

16. Dallas Cowboys — Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Let's follow the Bears model here.

Does Timmy Jernigan play defensive line? Is Jernigan the best defensive lineman available? Are we sure they don't want to trade back and draft a center?

Yes, yes and yes. Jernigan's the pick because, outside of Notre Dame's Zack Martin, no other player makes sense.

17. Baltimore Ravens — Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Another obvious landing spot here. The Ravens have a dilapidated hellscape at safety at the moment, inhabited only by a deeply flawed hero in Matt Elam. They made the right call last offseason in allowing Ed Reed to walk after being the back-half defensive stalwart for more than a decade, but apparently replacing him with "no one in particular" was not a great call.

Pryor might be the long-term answer Baltimore is looking for. Measuring in at 5'11" and 207 pounds, Pryor would bring the toughness and bone-crunching hits that Reed once provided back into the fold. He is wildly aggressive at times, almost to his detriment, and whichever team drafts him will have to harness in his bull-in-the-china-shop tendencies or risk being beaten in coverage.

Nonetheless, Pryor is a great fit and a solid value at No. 17. The Ravens wouldn't have much of a second thought.

18. New York Jets — Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

An admission: Ebron goes here because I cannot envision a scenario in which he goes any lower. This is the absolute bottom of his draft stock, and Ebron only sits here because Buffalo and the Giants went in different directions due to positional need.

Ebron is a stud. He's an almost unimpeachable prospect as a pass-catching tight end. His wide catch radius, strong route-running skills and soft hands make him an ideal fit for a Jets offense in need of anyone possessing those traits. Run-blocking isn't a strength at this point, and he'll probably peak out as average in that regard.

Jimmy Graham isn't a Pro Bowler for his blocking skills, either. Ebron has the athletic profile necessary to take his hand off the ground and move into the slot a la Graham, and he's a massive steal at this late-teen juncture. New York has five tight ends listed on its depth chart at the moment, but something tells me Rex Ryan would be willing to make room.

19. Miami Dolphins — Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame

I know this slotting is a shock after the entirely uneventful season the Dolphins offensive line had last season, but they need help just about everywhere. In more than one way.

Miami signed Branden Albert to fill in at left tackle next season, but Jason Fox is not an answer on the right side. Martin is a versatile prospect who might be able to start Week 1 at right tackle, or could fit at either guard spot long-term. He's really a solid all-around player. The only flaw in his armor is his length (32.88-inch arms), where he'd be at a disadvantage at left tackle. 

Move him to guard or give him developmental time at right tackle, and Martin should be an asset. 

20. Arizona Cardinals — Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Assuming the draft falls in exactly this order (which, of course it will; I'm a savant), Arizona holds the first real swing pick. The Cardinals have a few holes that need plugged here or there, most notably at outside linebacker, but they're not desperate. Anthony Barr is still available at this point, so it's possible they could address a short-term need in an attempt to compete for a playoff berth.

It's also possible Arizona realizes its comfortable standing and shops this pick to solidify an influx of cheap depth through the roster. Which, in its own way, would help the Cardinals compete with the Seahawks and 49ers.

Bridgewater is the long-term home run.

Arizona has been in a state of desperate scrambling at quarterback since Kurt Warner's retirement. It's been the ugliest situation in the league at times. Carson Palmer came over from the Raiders last season and did Carson Palmer things—throwing interceptions on roughly 98.5 percent of his 10-yard outs—and his contract all but dictates he'll be under center in 2014.

The Cardinals can lop off $10 million from their cap next offseason by cutting Palmer, which is where the Bridgewater pick could be of benefit. Bridgewater is already the most pro-ready quarterback in this class, but Palmer is a smart guy, and at age 34 he won't be as threatened by young talent as he once was. If Bridgewater develops as quickly as hoped, he might even be able to help Larry Fitzgerald nab one last Hall of Fame-worthy season.

21. Green Bay Packers — Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Ted Thompson will probably push hard to trade out of this pick. Green Bay has quite a few holes on both sides of the ball in need of filling, none of which present a value at No. 21. If the Cardinals stick at No. 20 and don't take Bridgewater, here is where the bidding war starts and ends.

Should Thompson not find a trade partner and fit at a need position not be available, the Packers could do a whole lot worse than Lee. The former Biletnikoff Award-winner has dropped down a tier behind Watkins and Evans, but the perception that he's vastly inferior could make him a draft-day steal. Lee is a polished route-runner, consistently effective whenever healthy and a year removed from one of the best wide-receiver seasons in college football history.

Size (6'0", 192 lbs) and top-end speed are question marks, but we'd be remiss to not remember the fall of Keenan Allen last season. When wide receivers know how to play the position, they can find ways to translate. Lee will be a solid No. 2 option for the next decade.

22. Philadelphia Eagles — Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

I can't not make this projection. The prospect of Cooks scampering around all over different formations in Chip Kelly's offense is too tantalizing. Cooks needs the right scheme to succeed at the next level, and both parties should be doing backflips if he's available at No. 22.

Cutting DeSean Jackson remains a strange and frustrating move for the NFC East champs. If Kelly manages to replace Jackson by putting Darren Sproles and Cooks on the field at the same time, though, the City of Brotherly Love might find forgiveness in their hearts.

23. Kansas City Chiefs — Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Nov 23, 2012; Fayetteville, AR, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) on a kick return defended by Arkansas Razorbacks kicker Cameron Bryan (47) at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Allow the run on wide receivers to continue. The Beckham-Lee-Cooks trio has been graded so close together you could see them come off the board in any order, really. Indiana's Cody Latimer is rising up fast enough that he may eclipse them all if some team falls in love with him to the degree that many analysts have.

Receiver is a deep and interesting crop this year, with plenty of potential No. 2s lurking and waiting to be taken. History tells us that at least half of them will go bust. But, hey, there is no time for negativity in May. We'll save that for when we get a one-game sample in September.

The Chiefs have a glaring need at receiver, particularly for one who can stretch the field on the outside. Beckham doesn't have ideal size (5'11", 198 lbs) for a deep threat, but he's quick off the ball and is one of the best leapers in this class. Andy Reid's penchant for first-round receivers is another reason this is a promising fit.

24. Cincinnati Bengals — Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Many have spent the draft process projecting the top available corner here for good reason. Leon Hall turns 30 in December and is coming off his second torn Achilles in three seasons. Adam Jones and Terrance Newman aren't getting any younger, and both started to show real signs of their age in 2013. The Bengals were still the NFL's fourth-best pass defense in 2013, per Football Outsiders' DVOA, but there could soon come a time when they're searching for answers.

Fuller can help that transition go more smoothly. He's one of the more experienced players in this class (42 collegiate starts) and can at times look like a top corner in the making. His innate understanding of the position makes him difficult to beat badly in coverage, and Fuller has the lateral quickness to play in nickel packages if needed.

Cincinnati can afford to take a guy who it can bring along slowly, but given its injury issues in the secondary, Fuller's instant-translation may be a blessing come September.

25. San Diego Chargers — Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA

Mark J. Terrill

The Chargers would probably send roughly 4,214 heart emojis to the previous 23 general managers. Barr was considered a potential top-five selection coming into his senior season, and even though he didn't progress the way scouts wanted, still has potential as a pass-rusher.

Positionality will depend on which team drafts him. In a 3-4 scheme, Barr will have to play outside linebacker, where his questionable top-end speed might cause him some problems in coverage. You can hide him by having him rush the passer on most downs, but without variance the effect is lost.

San Diego's base is a 3-4, and the front office is still hoping to get some production out of 2012 first-round pick Melvin Ingram. With Dwight Freeney getting up there in age and Ingram yet to show he's an effective NFL player, the Chargers probably have little choice than to go with Barr here.

26. Cleveland Browns — Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

If the Browns go with Manziel or Bortles at No. 4, they'll probably look to move out of this spot unless they fall in love. Derek Carr is still on the board in this scenario, and with the dream of Bridgewater falling out of the first round gone, the bevy of top-10 teams still in need of a quarterback might go into bidding-war mode. 

Cleveland should look to surround Manziel with another pass-catching weapon if it sticks at No. 26. Latimer is shooting up draft boards after scouts finally had a chance to check Indiana tape—which they did only after taping their wrists to the chair to avoid turning off Hoosiers football in horror. (I'm kidding. Yeesh.)

There is no doubt Latimer presents a risk. If you would have told me a few months ago that I would have Latimer going ahead of fellow Big Ten standout Allen Robinson in a mock draft, I would have wondered when Robinson tore his ACL or was arrested. But the hype surrounding Latimer is reaching a fever pitch at the right time. 

27. New Orleans Saints — Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington

Going well off the beaten path here for a pick I'd love if the Saints actually made it. New Orleans and Jimmy Graham are still in a contract stalemate that may be decided by an arbitrator. If Graham is ruled a wide receiver—where he played more snaps than tight end in 2013—the Saints will have to consider their long-term options.

The team is already all-in on 2014 as is. Cap purgatory is only going to get worse going forward, and adding someone like Seferian-Jenkins might assuage the disappointment of losing Graham in 2015 if it comes to that.

It would also turn the Saints into pre-2013 New England South. Having Seferian-Jenkins and Graham on the field at the same time would force opposing defenses to account for the middle of the field at all times. Drew Brees' noted love of the middle has made Graham a star and could do the same for Seferian-Jenkins.

With Darren Sproles and Lance Moore leaving this offseason, a change is due in the Saints offense. They could go with a more traditional option here like Kelvin Benjamin, or push their chips to the middle with a real risk—while giving themselves long-term insurance.

28. Carolina Panthers — Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

The Panthers' receiving corps is a gigantic yuck sticker at the moment. They could draft a wideout in the first four rounds, and it still wouldn't be enough. Going elsewhere here would be an affront to Cam Newton's sanity.

29. New England Patriots — Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

The last time the Patriots did not make a trade in the first round was 2006. They are going to move from this pick, whether it's backward (likely) or forward (unlikely). Wide receiver should be the target if New England moves up. Tom Brady probably dreams of the day Bill Belichick calls him and says the Patriots traded next year's first and more for Mike Evans.

That's probably not happening. Moving back is Belichick's M.O., and Nix or Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman could be on the board in the top half of the second round. 

In a tradeless world, Nix is the pick because he's more naturally gifted than Hageman. Belichick has a habit of coaxing the most effort possible out of guys with questionable work ethics, so this would be a mutually beneficial match.

30. San Francisco 49ers —  Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson

Michael Conroy

This would be almost a full-round reach over where most have Bryant at this point, but the 49ers can't expect Colin Kaepernick to take the next step with their current receiving corps. Neither Anquan Boldin nor Michael Crabtree have the downfield burst necessary to challenge opposing defenses over the top. 

Bryant is an incredible athlete with the type of big-time size (6'4", 211 lbs) and athleticism to make it worth the risk. He's a raw prospect at this point with a limited route tree, so it will be hard to make him an every-down threat until his second or third year. The 49ers are one of a few teams with the necessary depth elsewhere to take that type of hit, and Bryant's potential as a playmaker down the field would give Kaepernick a dimension he's sorely missed.

31. Denver Broncos — Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey are gone, and Chris Harris is still recovering from an ACL tear. If there is any position the juggernaut Broncos need help, it's cornerback. Verrett is the best available player and should be able to situationally contribute as a rookie.


32. Seattle Seahawks — Joel Bitonio, OT/OG, Nevada

The Seahawks are loaded everywhere. They could probably use a little help at receiver after Golden Tate's departure, but Seattle won the Super Bowl due to its unbelievable defensive line depth. Now it's time to enact the same commitment to the other line.

Bitonio is a versatile prospect who could fit at right tackle or either guard spot, and he's developed enough already that he could plug right in from Week 1. Seattle lacks an instant must-plug hole on the line, so Bitonio would come into training camp as a backup—possibly at multiple positions. One injury later, though, the Seahawks should have a kid who won't represent an appreciable step down.

All height/weight measurements courtesy of NFL.com.

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