Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New England Patriots on Paper - 2014 NFL Draft Full first round mock (final edition)

There has been a lot of talk coming into the last week before the draft regarding how needs of other teams drafting before the New England Patriots could drive a coveted prospect right down into reach of coach and defacto General Manager Bill Belichick's radius of enticement... although linebacker Ryan Shazier is considered perhaps a top 20 selection by many experts, the fact that there are so many receivers and corners projected for the top end of the draft - as well as some offensive and defensive linemen and perhaps even a few quarterbacks - a dynamic yet undersized talent such as Shazier could still end up in New England.
Shazier to the Pats is one of 12 original mock picks remaining

In this mock draft - the final projection before the actual draft takes place this Thursday - we have eight pass catchers and six defensive backs taking up half of the spots leading up to number 29, with equal numbers of offensive and defensive linemen and quarterbacks taking the show into the mid to late 20's, the hope here is that the Ohio State linebacker and future NFL Big Nickle will be right where Belichick needs him to be to add a difference maker to an already loaded defense.

If not Shazier, needs at tight end and the interior offensive line along with linebacker and safety depth take precedence, a complete breakdown of the Patriots' Big Board as well as a full seven round Patriots' draft can be found by clicking on the links.

As you will notice in the Patriots' full draft, we present three different scenarios - one in which Ryan Shazier falls to 29, one where the Patriots would select Joel Bitonio as a backup option if Shazier doesn't last, and one where they scrap the entire thing and trade down...

...which is pretty much sitting on the fence, but with this draft being one of the toughest in recent memory to try and pin down, the options are too numerous to ignore.

Previous mock drafts:

February 25th: Volume 1 - Combine Edition
March 18th: Volume 2 - Free Agency Frenzy Edition
April 16th: Volume 3 - When the draft should have been held Edition
Consolidated Draft Guide: A Call To Arms

1. Houston - Jadeveon Clowney, DE. South Carolina

It certainly sounds as if the Texans are planning to do everything they can to avoid picking a quarterback with the first overall selection in the draft, and there are even some national writers who are reporting rumors that the Texans like Kahlil Mack more than Clowney - but rumors at this point could be more posturing than having any truth to them.

That said, because of things like that, this is a tough draft to get a handle on.

It was a stroke of genius by Bill O'Brien to bring in veteran signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick - who is a game manager if there ever was one - to give himself a little flexibility and to suggest going a different direction other than QB.

With mixed signals coming out of the Texans' front offices as to what they will ultimately do with the pick - and with the prospect of turning the pick into a gold mine of draft capital at the forefront, Trading down and collecting draft picks would probably be the prudent move...

...particularly since their team needs include a franchise quarterback and a true 3-4 nose tackle, and selecting the top prospect at those positions has a larger risk factor than most intelligent General Managers would be comfortable with, the smart move is to trade down and take their need picks lower in the round and into the second round.

With that being said, Clowney wouldn't be the worst player they could take with at the top even though he doesn't fulfill a need - he would merely help give the Texans one of the most feared pass rushing tandems in the NFL - and that's a hard thing to argue with.  Another rumor is that the Texans would rather take Kahlil Mack with their first pick, but in the interest of value and extra draft picks, they could possibly trade down a couple of spots and still get Mack.

A Quarterback?  They'll almost certainly hook themselves up with one in the second round, though there is still the chance that Smith and O' Brien covet a signal caller already on another team's roster.

Original projection: Clowney

2. St. Louis - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

The Rams have a ton of leverage in this draft, even more than the Texans as they have two of the top 13 selections in the first round and could use one or both to hit the sweepstakes in second day draft picks.

Their most prominent needs are for a road grading guard and - to a lesser degree - a wide receiver on offense, while their defensive needs are focused on the secondary, and with none of these positions providing optimum value for the Rams at number 2 overall, look for Jeff Fischer to deal the pick.

Unabashedly, the Rams are dangling the #2 overall pick in front of teams willing to give up a boat load of picks as compensation - but it seems that the excitement surrounding the top three quarterback prospects has waned a bit with either poor combine showings, or not working out at all - so the Rams' status of having the second pick is a bit fluid.

On paper, this team has it all, everywhere except along the offensive line and a quarterback - and word has it that the Rams have talked to the Vikings about dealing Sam Bradford to Minnesota, but again, just a rumor. If they stay at #2, they could take take the top rated right tackle with the biggest upside at second overall, an extremely safe pick, then address a need for a field stretching wide receiver or their secondary at #13.

(Patriots' perspective: The Rams' top need in this draft, a road-grading offensive guard would present a much better value to the Rams at #2 or #13 - and while it is very unlikely that the Patriots would be interested in moving up at the second overall, 13 would certainly be in play with perhaps a deal involving Ryan Mallett and draft picks if they wanted to move up for a Donald, Ebron, Benjamin...

...the most likely trade partners at the second overall would be Atlanta moving up from #6 or San Francisco to move all the way up to take Mack or Clowney, which would be absurd for the Rams to deal with a division rival unless one considers that the 49ers have a boat load of draft picks and the Rams could command a three or four for one and potentially satisfy every need on the roster within the first two rounds of the draft...)

Original projection: Robinson

3. Jacksonville - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Jaguars insist that they are not targeting a quarterback, but they lie. 

This draft for the Jaguars is more than just snagging solid value at the #3 overall pick, they need a public relations dream, someone who will immediately become the face of the franchise - someone who will put butts in the seats at EverBank Field while developing consistency on the job.

The team has upgraded their defensive line in the offseason, leaving quarterback, offensive line and a receiver to replace the indefinitely suspended Justin Blackmon - but if they want an immediate face of the franchise, there is only one pick.

Former Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, who protected the blind side of manic quarterback Johnny Manziel before becoming a Jaguar - has spoken on record that he believes that his former teammate belongs in northern Florida - and if they don't take him here, the Rams most likely will with their #13 selection.

"Johnny Football" becomes "Johnny Jaguar" and gives Jacksonville their franchise quarterback - not to mention putting butts in the seats at EverBank Field - right now, that's what it's all about for the floundering Jags...

Original projection: Manziel

4. Cleveland - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

When the Browns sent running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for their 2014 first round draft pick, many believed that it was done with the idea of using the leverage of having two first rounders to wheel and deal to snag the best quarterback in the class...

...and that may still be the case, but they are not going to have to go crazy with moving around to get their quarterback and a whole lot more.

New Browns' bench boss Mike Pettine is apparently enamoured with brief 2013 starter Brian Hoyer and says that he's the top guy going into the offseason process - and while things change in a hurry in the NFL, it sounds like he won't take a QB with the #4 overall.

Instead, the Browns become one of the most potentially explosive passing attacks in the league by selecting Watkins at number 4 overall to team with Josh Gordon, then take their franchise quarterback of the future (present?) at number 26, unless they decide that their draft capital is better spent with one of the many guards that will come into play at the bottom of the first round or even move back into the second round.

Original projection: Watkins

5. Oakland - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

The Raiders brought former Texans' fans' punching bag Matt Schaub and immediately anointed him day one starter - and who knows how Schaub will prosper in the Black Hole - but one thing is for certain: If they don't protect the quarterback, it won't matter who's taking the snaps.

Overall, the Raiders are needy just about everywhere, and many doubt that Schaub is the answer at quarterback

Oakland tried to spend major money on their tackle positions in free agency, Bringing in Austin Howard from the Jets and Roger Saffold from the Rams, but Saffold somehow managed to fail his physical and reverted back to the Rams, so the Raiders look to the best tackle available in the draft.

Original projection: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

6. Atlanta - Kahlil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

The Falcons are a mess.  They can't run the ball, they can't stop the run.  They give up far too many sacks and their pass rush can't get to the quarterback - that about covers everything.

Now, what can they do about it?

Jadeveon Clowney all but begged the Falcons to trade up to the top pick of the draft to select him - but that may take draft capital that the Falcons can't afford to part with, and the Falcons' have already pretty much played that hand out in free agency by spending big bucks on their defensive line.

With both of the top offensive tackles off the board, the Falcons have some decisions to make as far as draft value - do they take the next best offensive lineman, or wait until the second round and take a pass rushing terror to continue their defensive overhaul?  Better yet, could they trade down to where those need players represent more reasonable value? The bet here is that they won't be able to pass on Mack - nor should they.

Original projection: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

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

It is very difficult to get a gauge on what Lovey Smith is going to do with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft - but it truly all depends on how they feel about their quarterback situation.

Smith brought Josh McCown with him to Tampa and immediately anointed him the starter under center, relegating last year's starter Mike Glennon either fighting for a roster spot or as trade meat as it is clear that they do not envision him as a fit - but do they see McCown as the bridgekeeper or as the long-term starter?

The answer to that question will guide their hand in the first round of the draft.

If McCown was brought in as a bridgekeeper, chances are high that Smith and General Manager Jason Licht will be looking for one of the top-rated quarterbacks, like Bortles or Bridgewater - but if McCown was brought in to be the franchise, the team must concentrate on an impact weapon to contribute immediately.  Given the sorry state of the Buccaneers' offense last season, those are the options.

At receiver, the Bucs unloaded troubled Mike Williams and have a greater need for an immediate number two and could possibly even double-dip at the position in the later rounds - and the logical choice in the first round is Texas A&M's Mike Evans.

Why?  Well, McCown was fantastic last season filling in for an injured Jay Cutler - throwing for 13 touchdowns and just one pick - and much of the reason why was the two big outside targets he had to throw to in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey.  In taking Evans, Smith would be trying to recreate that duo, teaming Evans with 10-year veteran Vincent Jackson.

Original projection: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

8. Minnesota - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida 

Bortles has climbed most mock drafts all the way to the top pick of the draft, but this quarterback class has it's share of mystery and certainly no locks to be a success - and with a talent evaluator's charge being to find the guy that give the offense the best chance of succeeding, the Vikings would have to be considered a perfect destination for Bortles.

Classic pocket quarterback that can balance the Vikings' offense and with the play action talent to take advantage of the attention that defense pays to their running game - and the big hands that you want your quarterback to have when you go to places like Green Bay and Chicago in the middle of the freaking winter.

It has also been reported that the Vikings are seeking a "disruptor" for the middle of their defensive line as, so it wouldn't be a shock to see Minnesota take a stab at Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald or trade down and take a chance on in-state talent Ra'Shede Hageman at DT.

Bortles remains the pick though it is rumored that the Vikings have expressed interest in LSU's Zack Mettenberger, who should be available when they select in the second round - and if the Vikings do plan on going into the second for Mettenberger, the slide for Bortles could be Rodgers-esque.

Original projection: Bortles

9. Buffalo - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Bills' General manager Doug Whaley tipped his hand last week when he told beat writers that sophomore quarterback E. J. Manuel needs a "size receiver", then elaborated on the tight end position, stating the the position is "trending toward those basketball, athletic guys that can position their body, go up and get balls, take balls away from smaller defenders. There's less of an emphasis on the blocking at the tight end position nowadays."

Without a doubt, the fastest tight end in the draft is an immediate upgrade over the plodding, yet effective Chandler - which is more an indication of Ebron's skill than any thing to do with the serviceable Chandler and immediately gives quarterback E.J. Manuel a solid safety valve in the middle of the field and a huge, athletic target in the red zone- but offers very little in the way of inline or even downfield blocking.

The Bills lost free safety Jarius Byrd in free agency, so it would not surprise to see them go for the best safety in the class to replace him, though it sounds as if the coaching staff is counting on strong safety Aaron Williams to make the switch.

Original projection: Ebron

10. Detroit - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Gilbert is a high-wire act, taking incredulous risks and relying on his his range and athleticism to get him by if his plans backfire - but a solid man corner with a nose for the ball...

...and while he isn't overly aggressive or physical at the point of contact, his risky style leads to some spectacular plays and with a little NFL coaching, he could be the outside shut-down corner of the immediate future in this defense.

Original projection: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

 11. Tennessee - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

If it makes any sense, the Titans' biggest need in the draft is also the position that they also have productive depth in.

Tennessee needs a linebacker - not just a linebacker, but an elite edge-rusher - and while he's far from a finished product as far as a complete linebacker is concerned, the Titans have a unique situation in which the currently one-dimensional Anthony Barr could thrive.

Akeem Ayers, Shaun Phillips, Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley constitute a decent depth chart on the outside of the second level, so a pure pass rusher like Barr could be rotated in and out, plying his trade while being mentored by the others - and not just mentored by those veterans, but also coached up by his former defensive coordinator at UCLA Lou Spanos, who is now the linebacker's coach in Nashville.

Chances are that you give Spanos and the veteran leadership on the depth chart a season to build Barr up, he would prove to be worth a selection this high.

Original projection: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

12. New York Giants - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

The most glaring needs for the Giants are within the ranks of the pass catchers, where obtaining a wide receiver is of paramount importance, and tight end might have to be considered need 1B.

Maybe there's a way they could get both in one player.

Benjamin is a freak.  At 6' 5" and 240 pounds, the kid eats up cushion, has great hands and separates with a long gait.  The Giants haven't had size like Benjamin's since Plaxico Burress was run out of town, and though he's not as fast as Burress was, his catch radius and intimidating presence would be just as effective in the red zone and on possession routes, particularly stretching the seam like a tight end.

The could certainly go tight end with ease on the second day, as the position is deep in the class - as is wide receiver, but you don't find many hybrids like Benjamin.

Original projection: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan 

13. St. Louis - Calvin Pryor, SS, Louisville

St. Louis is a wildcard in the draft as they will be given every opportunity to trade down with one or both of their 1st round picks - however, if they do keep the picks, an offensive tackle is a must and then it comes down to who's available at safety and wide receiver...

...and after taking a bath in shame for last year's 1st round debacle, will they be hesitant to re-up on a wide receiver in the first round again? Another issue facing the Rams is that they desperately need a big, violent strong safety - and many good pure strong safeties will be available throughout the second day of the draft.

St Louis has tons of leverage with two picks in the first round and seven picks on the third day, so a very good argument could be made for the Rams to move down and collect second day picks, where all of the great depth lies.

Those thing said, they could just stay the course and take the best safety in the draft to ensure quality, and Pryor is nothing if not a huge hitter and a force in the running game - and being as they play in the NFC West with those prolific power running schemes....

Original projection: Marquis Lee, WR, USC

14. Chicago - Aaron Donald, DT/DE Pittsburgh

The Bears probably should take an impact safety at this juncture, but with Donald still available there is no way to pass him up.

In free agency, Chicago lost tackle Henry Melton to the Cowboys and end Julius Peppers to the Packers, but ably replaced them with Oakland tackle Lamar Houston and Vikings' end Jared Allen, but with Donald the Bears would get the final piece of the front seven puzzle - the best three-technique rush tackle in the class.

Donald is undersized for a defensive tackle, but somehow manages to slip through the tiniest of openings and causes all sorts of chaos in the opponent's backfield, and he's so quick that he can play five technique and abuse offensive tackles as well.

Original projection: Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

15. Pittsburgh - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Ike Taylor fell apart in the second half of last season and carries a cap hit equivalent to what the franchise tag offers, and the Steelers just can't afford it. Releasing Taylor for cap relief is probable, and even if they somehow manage to retain him, he's 33 years old with a lot of wear on his tires.

As fluid a corner as you'll find in the draft, the Steelers will snatch up Dennard in a heartbeat if he's there for them at 15 - most notably with Dennard, who is the cousin of New England corner Alfonzo, is his aggressiveness in press coverage.  It got him a few flags on the collegiate level so he'll really need to scale it back outside of the five yard buffer, but inside that alleyway he is the best press corner in the class.

Original projection: Dennard

16. Dallas - Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

What a mess the Cowboys' defense is in now.  They've needed a safety since - well - forever, and then they allow their top two defensive linemen to escape the circus.  They've plugged those holes the best they could in free agency, but were probably hoping that Aaron Donald got past the Bears.

If he does, he would be the obvious selection here, but he doesn't on this final mock.  The upside of which is that Clinton-Dix is still on the board and will immediately fill their long-standing need for a true centerfielder.

Original projection: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

17. Baltimore - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Joe Flacco was sacked 48 times last season, and found himself flat on his back after releasing the pass at least twice that many times.  Flacco took a beating and his running game provided no relief at all - and most of the issues had to do with the offensive line - and now they've lost tackle Michael Oher.

The immediate need is for a right tackle - and while the Ravens could put a serious crimp in the Miami Dolphins' draft party by taking the versatile Zack Martin from Notre Dame here - Martin can play every position along the line - he is projected to fit best at guard and with Lewan slipping this far...

Lewan's got a questionable reputation coming out of college, being linked (in name only) to a couple of indiscretions on the campus of the University of Michigan, but he did his best at the combine to quell the talk and stop the rumor mill - but didn't say enough to keep the Giants - our original projection - enticed.

But Baltimore won't care so long as the trouble is behind him - besides, the Ravens will love his nastiness in the trenches, and though he played left tackle in college, making the transition to the right shouldn't be a problem for the athletic Lewan.

Original projection: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

18. New York Jets - Marquis Lee, WR, USC 

Poor Rex Ryan.  He can't get anyone to sign with the Jets outside of the over-rated money grabber Eric Decker from the Broncos.  At least Decker fills that need, but the fact that Ryan had to cut his best remaining cornerback while banking on picking up a top DB in free agency blew up in his face.

He could very well opt for one of the best corners in the class, but Gilbert and Dennard are gone, leaving names like Fuller and Verrett as possibilities, and he still has last season's first rounder, Dee Milliner, on board and ready to take the sophomore step.

But the feeling is that while Decker is on board, he is a limited possession receiver and the need for a true number one is glaring, not because Geno Smith needs more weapons to throw to, rather, Michael Vick needs more weapons to throw to - Smith may be the starter at the beginning of the season, but don't think for a second that Ryan isn't looking for an excuse to make Vick his signal caller, and a slow start by the offense should provide that.

So with Eric Ebron off the board, the choice is between the inconsistent speedster Odell Beckham and the solid playmaking after-the-catch ability of Marquis Lee - and if he gets it right, Lee will be wearing a Jets' jersey come September.

Original projection: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU

19. Miami - Zack Martin, T/G, Notre Dame

It requires zero brains to realize that dysfunctional Miami needs to rebuild an offensive line torn apart by scandal last season, and Martin could wind up being the binding agent that brings it all together.  While not as accomplished as a Matthews or a Robinson, he is far more versatile and can play every position along the line - though his best spot would probably be holding down Richie Incognito's old left guard position.

The Dolphins completely blew up their offensive line and are in the process of reconstructing it - but they could always wait for help on the interior until the second round, and stick a fork in the Patriots at the same time by selecting linebacker Ryan Shazier, whose father is the Dolphins' team chaplain.

Shazier is undersized for what the Dolphins need (mike), but his athleticism may be hard to pass up.

Original projection: Martin 

20. Arizona - Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State

Arizona may have solidified the core of their team more than any other in free agency, finding a starting left tackle and plenty of cornerback help - leaving strong safety and the outside pass rush as the top need - and while outside linebacker could use an upgrade, there are linebackers crawling all over the second round.

Lawrence is 6' 3" tall,  250 pounds and projected as a defensive end in the 4-3 - and is perhaps the most explosive edge rusher among linemen in the class - with greater upside over Auburn's Dee Ford - who is a medical red flag - and Missouri's Kony Ealy - who is sliding down boards with what scouts are calling an over-rated skill set.

The Cardinals got a lot out of greybeard John Abraham last season, but they would be wise to lock up a young defensive end for Abraham to mentor.  Lawrence has some positional versatility and can rush the quarterback from the blind side from an end position or from a standing weakside linebacker position.

Original projection: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

21. Green Bay - CJ Mosely, ILB, Alabama

The Packers need many things, but for their defense to take a step up to the next level, the front seven must be stabilized.  They took steps in free agency to do just that by signing Julius Peppers and re-signing OLB Mike Neal.  Neal can play anywhere in front seven but his best position with Green Bay is on the outside, which means the need for an interior linebacker is key.

There's nothing spectacular about his game and he is rated as high as a top 10 pick in some mocks to as low at the top of the second round in others, so it's more or less a crap shoot with Mosely - but less so with Green Bay, surrounded by top notch outside backers and a stout defensive line.

Original projection: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

22. Philadelphia - Odell Beckham, WR, LSU

The Eagles have to replace DeSean Jackson's speed on the outside or teams will be able to stack the box against them - and Beckham has "Big Play" written all over him.

In Beckham they will find a speedy big play receiver who is magic with the ball in his hands after the catch.  Add in his kick return experience and you have a suitable successor to Jackson - though it will take a while for him to achieve that status - and it's a pick that the Philly fans won't hate them for.

There are rumors floating around that the Eagles are enamoured with Virginia Tech corner Kyle Fuller, and the Eagles can most certainly use some depth in their secondary, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them head in that direction either.

Original projection: Calvin Pryor, SS, Louisville

23. Kansas City - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Speed is what Andy Reid needs.  Actually, what Reid needs is some consistency, and with the explosive Dexter McCluster probably on his way out of town, it leaves just Dwayne Bowe and the wildly inconsistent Donnie Avery for Pro Bowl quarterback Alex Smith to throw to on the outside and down the field.

Free agency has not been kind to the Chiefs, and they could move in many different directions with this pick. but with the loss of Dexter McCluster, the anticipated availability of Cooks appears to be a God send.

Enter the appropriately named Cooks, who absolutely burned up the field at Lucas Oil Stadium during the combine with an overall best 4.33 on the 40 yard dash, coupled with him going for over 1,700 yards and catching 16 touchdowns in an incredibly average Oregon State offense and winning The Bilitnikof Award for the nation's best receiver...

Original projection: Cooks

24. Cincinnati -Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

The Bengals needs are very simple: they need some help at offensive tackle, maybe at guard depending on how things shake out in a seemingly fluid situation - and also at corner, where Terrence Newman is getting a little long in the tooth and Dre Kirkpatrick is not the successor.

In this instance, Fuller gives the team some versatility as he is a scrapper that has extensive collegiate experience at both inside and outside techniques as a corner and at safety as well.  He could be the Swiss Army Knife on the back end of the Bengals' defense.

If not Fuller, TCU's Jason Verrett sould be in line as a slot corner or the team could opt to replace the departed Michael Johnson with another defensive end in the person of Dee Ford or even Kony Ealy.

Original projection:  Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

25. San Diego - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Verrett is the intense, twitchy guy that would be the pest on a hockey team - smallish, talkative, always buzzing around your head, just waiting for the opportunity to drop the gloves...

The TCU product is smallish in stature but big in confidence and attitude, a perfect combination for a nickle slot back - his athleticism and natural football instincts allow him to be exceptional in space and he is willing in run support - a perfect addition to an over-achieving team.

The Chargers are also in need of a space eater in the middle of the defensive line, so they could surprise with a pick such as Louis Nix out of Notre Dame, but the feeling here is that Verrett is exactly what this defense needs.

Original projection: Verrett

26. Cleveland - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

So now Cleveland has Josh Gordon and Sammy Watkins and a truly great offensive line - they also have Brian Hoyer at quarterback, who will play the part of "incumbent" to the strong-armed rookie and let the chips fall where they may.

Ideally, Carr would win a quarterback competition (isn't that what you would expect from your first round pick?) and have one of the most able backups in the NFL in Hoyer, just in case.

There have been recent reports that the Browns front office is "in love" with Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is the most NFL ready signal caller in the draft, but Carr may have more long-term upside.  Don't be surprised by either one, but we'll stick with our original projection.

Original projection: Carr

27. New Orleans - Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Ideally, the Saints could use a good cover corner, but the best ones are off the board by this time.  The Saints are pretty lean on pass rushers as well, and Ford is the best athlete left on the board in an area of need.

Ford is undersized for defensive end, but is perfectly sized for either the nickle rusher in Rob Ryan's defense or at weak side.  He is strong at setting the edge and for holding containment and has as explosive a first step as any rusher in the class.

Original projection: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

28. Carolina - Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss

The Panthers have an emergency need at wide receiver and some help along the offensive line, but all of the elite talent has already been scooped up - so a question to ask themselves is if they reach for a second round talent in an area of need, trade out of the round and pick up draft capital for the second day or take the best athlete left on the board?

At this point Moncrief would be a decent pick as a bigger receiver who can replace Steve Smith's speed immediately and his savvy down the road a bit - a field stretcher who can thin out the second level and leave lots of room for Cam Newton and that Panthers' running game to operate underneath.

Original projection: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

29. New England - Ryan Shazier, LB/SS, Ohio State

The need here is for a nickle rusher as well as a physical intimidator underneath the coverage - and Shazier could be both.

In our seven round Patriots' mock draft, we presented the possiblity that Shazier could be off the board with both Arizona and Green Bay having big-time needs at outside linebacker, but there's no coaching staff in the league that could use Shazier to his full potential - so this pick is presented as more a hope than a probablitlity.

Small for a linebacker at 6' 2" and 235 pounds, Shazier was the fastest linebacker in the nation the past two seasons, easily covering running backs and tight ends in the pattern underneath with a penchant for causing cases of alligator arms amongst them - he was a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, and anyone who saw Ronnie Lott play for the 49ers knows what "impact" means.

An accomplished blitzer who hits like a ton of bricks, coupled with being one of the best sideline-to-sideline talents in college football, Shazier projects as a big nickle who would also provide quality depth on the weak side - a cover backer with his safety skill and range, as well as being an explosive pass rusher, Shazier would complete the back seven picture for the Patriots' defense.

If Shazier goes earlier than 29, expect New England to look at guard Joel Bitonio or safety Jimmie Ward.

Original projection: Shazier

30. San Francisco - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

The 49ers could just select Roby and be happy they found a corner in the first round with a grade that suggests that they haven't reached - though they are corners in the second and third round that could contribute in the same way they need Roby to, so this pick is fluid.

It may even be that the 49ers trade up to snag Fuller, Verrett or even Dennard, as they have the draft capital to do so - but if they stick here, Roby provides good value as a slot cover or as a number two.  Roby has every intangible there is, but tends to lose battles with taller receivers.

Don't be surprised with anything San Francisco does, as they could move up or down.  If they stay put, Roby or Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman would represent good value.

Look for San Francisco to trade up.

Original projection: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

31. Denver - Joel Bitonio, OG, Nevada

The Broncos can do something in the draft that they weren't able to do in the Super Bowl - which is beat the Seahawks.

Beating them to perhaps the best guard in the class isn't quite the same, but it's a step in the right direction as the late-rising Bitonio is athletic and huge - but his best attribute is his mile-wide mean streak.  He looks to bury the defender and doesn't stop until he does.

Original projection: CJ Mosely, ILB, Alabama

32. Seattle - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

How does one replace a Golden Tate in this offense?  Right, bring in the guy that amounts to the biggest slot receiver in the draft.

Amaro is huge, but he has tremendous foot speed and is adept at splitting the seam but he's not a full value tight end in that he offers little in the way of inline blocking but would be a huge, fast safety valve for Russell Wilson to look for while he's scrambling around...

...and the kid offers a large target with big mitts that swallow the ball.

Original projection: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington

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