Patriots Pick Big Pass-Rushing Defensive Lineman In 2014 NFL Mock Draft

Stephon TuittThe New England Patriots will not be selecting Jace Amaro in this mock draft.

The Texas Tech tight end is the pick du jour for the Patriots so far in the pre-2014 NFL draft season. While the Patriots certainly could go with the tight end in Round 1, Bill Belichick likely will go with a better blocker if he’s selecting a player at that position so high in the draft.

The Patriots have plenty of needs they could address in the first round this year. Find out where they go in NESN.com’s first mock draft of the season.

1. Houston Texans (2-14): Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville

There are reports that it’s down to Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles for this pick, but why would the Texans leak who they’re picking? Bridgewater will have a solid combine and should vault into this No. 1 slot.

2. St. Louis Rams from Washington Redskins (3-13): Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina

“Needs” are overrated. The Rams’ defense would benefit from having a third pass rusher to rotate with Chris Long and Robert Quinn, and Clowney is big enough to kick inside to play defensive tackle in nickel.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): Blake Bortles, quarterback, UCF

The Jaguars finally get their athletic quarterback from central Florida. Bortles isn’t as high profile as Tim Tebow, though.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M

This just makes too much sense, right? It seems like a Jimmy Haslam selection.

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Clemson

The Raiders might see what they have in Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin for another year. If so, Watkins should help either quarterback.

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12): Greg Robinson, offensive tackle, Auburn

The Falcons’ situation at left tackle last season was dire. Robinson could solve that issue real quick.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Khalil Mack, pass rusher, Buffalo

The Buccaneers lacked a speed edge rusher last season. Mack can play strong-side linebacker or defensive end in the Buccaneers’ 4-3.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1): Derek Carr, quarterback, Fresno State

Not many mock drafts have Derek Carr in the first round, but the Vikings might get desperate. A fourth quarterback likely will be taken in the first round this year.

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Mike Evans, wide receiver, Texas A&M

The Bills lack a true No. 1 wide receiver. They found a solid No. 2 last year in Robert Woods. Evans would help E.J. Manuel a lot.

10. Detroit Lions (7-9): Jake Matthews, offensive tackle, Texas A&M

Tackle isn’t a huge need for the Lions, but Matthews is the best player available. Matthews would give the Lions the flexibility to move Riley Reiff to guard or right tackle. Matthews likely will go off the board before the No. 10 pick, but this is how the cookie crumbled.

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9): Anthony Barr, outside linebacker, UCLA

Kamerion Wimbley didn’t get the job done at right defensive end for the Titans last year. Barr will immediately improve the Titans’ third-down defense.

12. New York Giants (7-9): Eric Ebron, tight end, UNC

Ebron isn’t the prototypical Giants tight end, but they’ll likely need another receiver with Hakeem Nicks on his way out. Ebron is the best pass catcher left.

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Marqise Lee, wide receiver, USC

The Rams improved their defense with their first pick. Now it’s time to help quarterback Sam Bradford. Lee would give Bradford a legit No. 1 threat, which could open up the middle of the field for Tavon Austin.

14. Chicago Bears (8-8): Taylor Lewan, offensive tackle, Michigan

It’s an NFL offseason, which can only mean one thing: The Bears need offensive line help. Lewan has some character concerns, but the man can play.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Darqueze Dennard, cornerback, Michigan State

Ike Taylor is getting up there in age, and his skills appear to be declining. Dennard is the cousin of New England Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (though, interesting fact: They pronounce their last names differently).

16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Ra’Shede Hageman, defensive end, Minnesota

Starting defensive end Arthur Jones is a free agent and could be on his way out. Hageman’s stock likely will rise after the combine.

17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver, Florida State

Dez Bryant could use a partner in crime out wide at receiver. One of the lasting moments of the 2013 season was Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo telling Bryant that the team needed him because he’s their best player.

18. New York Jets (8-8): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety, Alabama

The Jets drafted Clinton-Dix’s college secondary mate Dee Milliner in 2013. They could use a safety, so maybe Rex Ryan and John Idzik go back to the Nick Saban well.

19. Miami Dolphins (8-8): Zack Martin, offensive tackle, Notre Dame

In case you haven’t heard, the Dolphins’ offensive line is a bit of a mess. Martin is a safe pick who can start at guard or tackle. The Dolphins could use replacements for Richie Incognito, John Jerry or Jonathan Martin.

20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Cyrus Kouandijo, offensive tackle, Alabama

As always, the Cardinals need offensive line help. Kouandijo is the best available tackle.

21. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1): C.J. Mosley, linebacker, Alabama

The Packers need a lot of help on defense. Mosley could immediately start at inside linebacker for the Packers.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): Calvin Pryor, safety, Louisville

Patrick Chung started at safety for the Eagles in 2013. How much more needs to be said?

23. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State

The Chiefs’ pass defense started as a strength for Kansas City. By the time the playoffs rolled around, though, it was a joke. The Chiefs could upgrade their No. 3 cornerback spot.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): Kony Ealy, defensive end, Missouri

The Bengals likely will lose defensive end Michael Johnson in free agency. Ealy is a similarly built player.

25. San Diego Chargers (9-7): Jordan Matthews, wide receiver, Vanderbilt

The Chargers scored in 2013 when they selected the most NFL-ready wide receiver in the draft in Keenan Allen. They could help Philip Rivers by doing that again in 2014 with Matthews.

26. Cleveland Browns from Indianapolis Colts (4-12): Jason Verrett, cornerback, TCU

The Browns helped their offense by selecting Johnny Manziel with their first pick. Now it’s time to help the pass defense by selecting Verrett.

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5): Louis Nix, defensive tackle, Notre Dame

The Saints’ defense is in constant need of improvement. New Orleans could use better rotational players along their defense line. Nix could immediately start at nose tackle over John Jenkins.

28. Carolina Panthers (12-4): Jace Amaro, tight end, Texas Tech

Cam Newton could use another big target to throw to. Amaro won’t offer much as a blocker, but he’ll give the Panthers a big presence in the middle of the field.

29. New England Patriots (12-4): Stephon Tuitt, defensive tackle, Notre Dame

Tuitt could be the key to a switch to the 3-4 for the Patriots. At 6-foot-6, 320 pounds, he resembles Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, and he has similar upside as a pass rusher. Bill Belichick will get the full scouting report on Stephon Tuitt from Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.

The Patriots also could take the best available tight end (Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Troy Niklas) or pass rusher (Dee Ford).

30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4): Odell Beckham, wide receiver, LSU

The 49ers really struggled until Michael Crabtree returned from injury in 2013. They need to make up for their terrible first-round selection of A.J. Jenkins in 2012.

31. Denver Broncos (13-3): Ryan Shazier, linebacker, Ohio State

The Broncos could use another starting linebacker. If they take Shazier, Danny Trevathan likely would move to middle linebacker.

32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3): Timmy Jernigan, defensive tackle, Florida State

The Seahawks likely will be looking for replacements for defensive end Red Bryant and defensive tackles Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniels. Jernigan could play end or tackle in the Seahawks’ defense. This is probably way too late for Jernigan to come off the board, but this is also the first mock draft of the season — no one knows what’s going to happen.

Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here.

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