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Mason's Mock: 2.0

Posted Mar 21, 2014

Independent analyst Andrew Mason gives his take on how the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft will shake out.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Reading the tea leaves -- or, putting my ear to the ground and evaluating the vibrations. So it goes with the Mock Draft, as we revisit a fair amount of picks following Pro Days and other doings.

1. HOUSTON (2-14): QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Previous: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Perhaps this is reading too much into workouts, but the difference between these two quarterbacks in their poise in a pressure-filled environment was massive. This will ultimately come down to what type of quarterback situation makes Texans coach Bill O'Brien most comfortable. Houston agreed to terms with former Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, which gives O'Brien the luxury of taking Bortles, who is less refined than Bridgewater but could have a higher ceiling. If Bortles isn't ready, O'Brien can start Fitzpatrick.

2. ST. LOUIS (7-9, from Washington): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Previous: Same.

An immediate starter at right tackle who can eventually fit at left tackle, Matthews is a good match of team and need. But if the Rams are flexible in which tackle they want, they could be enticed into a trade-down. The return of Rodger Saffold gives additional flexibility, although with the quality of tackles in the draft, a move to guard seems likely.

3. JACKSONVILLE (4-12); DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Previous: Same.

This could change if someone leapfrogs Jacksonville for the No. 2 overall pick. Clowney is exactly what Gus Bradley's defense is missing; he's got some nice components in free agency to rebuild the defensive line -- Red Bryant, Ziggy Hood and Chris Clemons -- but Clowney is what he needs to bring it all together.

4. CLEVELAND (4-12): QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Previous: Same.

He has high boom-or-bust potential, but is the kind of electric, if dramatic, quarterback Cleveland needs for its ongoing revitalization.

5. OAKLAND (4-12); WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Previous: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

A report in the Ann Arbor (Mich.) News that Lewan faces multiple misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a Dec. 1 incident leads to the change here. With Austin Howard and Donald Penn in the fold, Oakland doesn't have to draft a tackle, and Watkins is arguably the best player available.

6. ATLANTA (4-12): LB Kahlil Mack, Buffalo
Previous: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn

I still wouldn't be surprised if the Falcons are on the phone to the Rams if Clowney is not taken atop the draft, but since trades are too fluid to predict, I keep them here. Atlanta needs front-seven help, and in Mike Nolan's 3-4 defense, Mack could be a terror at an inside linebacker spot.

7. TAMPA BAY (4-12): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Previous: LB Kahlil Mack, Buffalo

Right tackle is an issue with Anthony Collins expected to step in on the left side, and Robinson could handle that while he is groomed for work on the left side. He's raw, but extremely athletic.

8. MINNESOTA (5-10-1): QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Previous: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida

The shuffling of the deck doesn't affect the Vikings' core need, although Bridgewater's pro readiness likely relegates Matt Cassel to backup once again.

9. BUFFALO (6-10): OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Previous: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

If Lewan's off-field issues push him down a bit, the tackle-needy Bills will pounce.

10. DETROIT (7-9): CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Previous: Same.

He's too good to pass up and plays a position that has been a Motown trouble spot for a long time.

11. TENNESSEE (7-9): LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Previous: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

Cornerback remains a pressing need, but the Titans are transitioning to a 3-4 and don't have enough outside punch to mount a pass rush with their potential linebackers on hand.

12. N.Y. GIANTS (7-9): TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Previous: Same.

Eli Manning is still in his prime years for a quarterback -- he enters his 11th season this year -- and without an obvious help to the pass rush on the board, getting him a weapon is the priority.

13. ST. LOUIS (7-9): WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Previous: Same.

St. Louis and quarterback Sam Bradford don't have a target like this: big, physical, able to make catches in traffic.

14. CHICAGO (8-8): S "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Previous: Same.

Defensive tackle could be tempting here, but Clinton-Dix offers the best chance for an immediate upgrade, especially with four games against the air-intensive Packers and Lions. The Bears are in win-now mode.

15. PITTSBURGH (8-8): CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Previous: LB Anthony Barr, UCLA

Another defense that is in need of plenty of help. Last week's pick, Barr, is now off the board, and Dennard fills a need.

16. DALLAS (8-8): DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Previous: Same.

Dallas seems destined to go for a defensive tackle no matter who is on the board, but Donald makes the most sense of the lot for the Cowboys' scheme.

17. BALTIMORE (8-8): S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Previous: LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama

The re-signing of Daryl Smith to a four-year deal fills the hole, but the Ravens don't have enough experience and presence at safety. Pryor is the best chance to change that.

18. N.Y. JETS (8-8): WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Previous: Same.

No matter who ends up starting at quarterback -- whether it's Geno Smith or a free-agent pickup -- Eric Decker is not the only target the Jets need.

19. MIAMI (8-8): OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
Previous: Same.

It's impossible to ignore the Dolphins' pressing needs along the offensive line, even after adding Branden Albert in free agency. Martin can be plugged in on the right side.

20. ARIZONA (10-6): DE Dee Ford, Auburn
Previous: DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State

For other teams, Ford would be a reach, but not the Cardinals, as their 3-4 alignment allows him to play every down and provides an immediate upgrade to their pass rush.

21. GREEN BAY (8-7-1): LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Previous: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville

Pryor would be a perfect fit if he were available, but Mosley also fits the bill and satisfies one of the Packers' myriad defensive needs.

22. PHILADELPHIA (10-6): DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Previous: DT Ra'shede Hageman, Minnesota

In Philadelphia's 3-4, Jernigan will usually play defensive end. His unexpected slide on this mock makes him hard to pass up.

23. KANSAS CITY (11-5): WR Marqise Lee, USC
Previous: Same.

The Chiefs' pursuit of Emmanuel Sanders revealed that receiver is a priority, and it would be an upset if they don't target the position early in the draft.

24. CINCINNATI (11-5): DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Previous: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

Ealy allows for a seamless transition after the free-agent departure of defensive end Michael Johnson.

25. SAN DIEGO (9-7): NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
Previous: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State

Secondary remains a need, but with Cam Thomas signing with the Steelers, the Chargers have little experience on the inside.

26. CLEVELAND (4-12, from Indianapolis): CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Previous: LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

Linebacker is a priority, but if Roby drops, he'll be hard to resist after his strong Combine workout. He also allows the Browns to get a bit bigger, a lot faster and more aggressive with the cornerback slot on the other side of Joe Haden.

27. NEW ORLEANS (11-5): LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Previous: LB/DE Dee Ford, Auburn

Ford is a perfect fit, but he's gone in this mock draft. Shazier isn't a snug fit, but he can be plugged in multiple spots, any of which could use an upgrade.

28. CAROLINA (12-4): OT Morgan Moses, Virginia
Previous: Same.

UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo is tempting, but you can find effective interior linemen in the next few rounds. Tackle is much more difficult, and the Panthers have to try and address a gaping hole at a premium position.

29. NEW ENGLAND (12-4): DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Previous: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame

Vince Wilfork's desire to leave clouds the prospects for the Patriots' interior defensive line and makes adding bulk up front a necessity.

30. SAN FRANCISCO (12-4): WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Previous: Same.

As noted last week, San Francisco needs another vertical threat, and Benjamin provides a complement to what the 49ers already possess.

31. DENVER (13-3): LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Previous: WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

A trade-down is a possibility if Derek Carr is still on the board and teams at the top of the second round get antsy. The Emmanuel Sanders signing reduces the pressure to get a wide receiver, and with good depth at that position, the Broncos can easily bolster that area in the second or third round. With Shazier and Mosley off the board, Borland is next on the list. Although his measurables aren't wow-inspiring, his film is terrific; he rarely makes a bad decision, has proper bulk (248 pounds) and is intelligent and can make the checks and calls. Borland also appears to be an immediate starter, which matters for a Super Bowl contender.

32. SEATTLE (13-3): G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
Previous: Same.

The best player still available also fills one of the Seahawks' few needs. Su'a-Filo is quick, powerful and had good enough footwork to work at left tackle in college.

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