2014 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots Fill Need They Can’t Address In Free Agency

Stephon TuittNFL free agency has shaken up team needs heading into the 2014 draft.

The New York Jets aren’t looking so desperate for a wide receiver after signing Eric Decker on Wednesday and the Denver Broncos probably don’t need to draft a cornerback after locking up Aqib Talib.

There are some needs that can’t be filled on the open market, however. The well is running dry at some positions, and it was never deep in the first place at quarterback.

NESN.com’s latest mock draft as the Houston Texans addressing their pass defense with the No. 1 overall pick.

1. Houston Texans (2-14): Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina

It’s still possible that the Texans take their future starting quarterback No. 1 overall, but the safer option is to take Clowney. Even if his reputation of lacking effort is true, he can still be a 16-game starter and possible All-Pro.

2. St. Louis Rams from Washington Redskins (3-13): Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Clemson

If the Rams are truly dedicated to quarterback Sam Bradford, he needs some help. Watkins is the best skill-position player in this draft by a mile.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville

It’s time for the Jaguars to bite the bullet and take a quarterback. The only concern about Bridgewater is whether his body can hold up to NFL punishment.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Greg Robinson, offensive tackle, Auburn

Even though the Browns have Joe Thomas, I don’t see this special offensive tackle getting past Cleveland. Robinson has the potential to be a Hall of Famer.

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Jake Matthews, offensive tackle, Texas A&M

The Raiders lost out on their future left tackle when Rodger Saffold failed his physical. The Raiders have needs at quarterback and pass rusher, but Matthews is the pick here.

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12): Khalil Mack, outside linebacker, Buffalo

Based on their free agent signings (defensive tackle Paul Soliai, defensive end Tyson Jackson), it appears the Falcons are making the switch to a 3-4. Mack is the perfect fit as an outside rusher in that system.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M

The Buccaneers signed Josh McCown to be their starter, but forgive me for not buying him as the future of the franchise. Manziel can be exactly that.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1): Blake Bortles, quarterback, Central Florida

For now, it looks like Matt Cassel will be the starter in Minnesota. Cassel would give Bortles time to get acquainted to the NFL before being thrust into a starting role.

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

The Bills need a big No. 1 receiver for EJ Manuel to target. Evans is the next best wideout in the draft behind Watkins.

10. Detroit Lions (7-9): Taylor Lewan, offensive tackle, Michigan

Current starting left tackle Riley Reiff isn’t a perfect fit at the position. Drafting Lewan woud allow Reiff to move to guard.

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9): Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State

The Titans just lost Alterraun Verner and could use a top replacement. Gilbert is speedy and can play in zone or man.

12. New York Giants (7-9): C.J. Mosley, linebacker, Alabama

The Giants re-signed Jon Beason, but they could use even more help at linebacker. Mosley can cover and defend the run.

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Darqueze Dennard, cornerback, Michigan State

After letting go of Cortland Finnegan, the Rams need a starter to play across from Janoris Jenkins. Dennard is a physical cornerback whose game is reminiscent of Finnegan’s.

14. Chicago Bears (8-8): Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh

If Henry Melton doesn’t re-sign with the Bears, they need some pass-rushing prowess in the middle of the defense. Donald is the best in the draft at getting after the passer from defensive tackle.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Marqise Lee, wide receiver, USC

The Steelers are already extremely low on wide receivers. If Emmanuel Sanders leaves in free agency, it will be even more bleak. The Steelers need to get Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown some help.

16. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Anthony Barr, outside linebacker, UCLA

DeMarcus Ware was cut and signed by the Denver Broncos and it’s looking unlikely that Anthony Spencer comes back. The Cowboys desperately need help rushing the passer.

17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

The Ravens spent a high pick on Matt Elam last season, it’s time to do it again with Clinton-Dix to solidify the back half of the defense.

18. New York Jets (8-8): Eric Ebron, tight end, UNC

The Jets signed wide receiver Eric Decker, but they need to get Geno Smith more help in the passing game. Ebron is basically an oversized wide receiver.

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

The Dolphins did a nice job plucking Branden Albert from the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. They need more offensive line help after the 2013 bullying scandal, however.

20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Ryan Shazier, linebacker, Ohio State

The Cardinals lost Karlos Dansby to the Browns and could use some help at linebacker. Shazier is a player who has the speed to play every linebacker spot.

21. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1): Ra’Shede Hageman, defensive lineman, Minnesota

Hageman is the perfect fit as a five-technique defensive tackle. The Packers need a lot of help along their defensive line.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): Timmy Jernigan, defensive lineman, Florida State

Jernigan can play a number of roles in the Eagles’ defense. He can play nose tackle in the base alignment and three-technique rusher in sub packages.

23. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Brandin Cooks, wide receiver, Oregon State

Dwayne Bowe can’t do it all on his own at wide receiver for the Chiefs. Cooks would bring an explosive option in the “Z” and slot.

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

The Bengals lost Michael Johnson and could draft a near-clone at No. 24 overall.

25. San Diego Chargers (9-7): Louis Nix, defensive tackle, Notre Dame

Nix isn’t just a prototypical space-clogging nose tackle. He can move laterally to make plays along the defensive front.

26. Cleveland Browns from Indianapolis Colts (4-12): Derek Carr, quarterback, Fresno State

Waiting for a quarterback paid off for the Browns. They got a stud offensive lineman at No. 4 and the face of their franchise at No. 26.

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5): Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver, Florida State

The Saints have long needed another wide receiver to pair with Marques Colston. They would have a massive group of targets with Jimmy Graham, Colston and Benjamin. That’s a scary group.

28. Carolina Panthers (12-4): Odell Beckham, wide receiver, LSU

The Panthers cut Steve Smith on Thursday and it appears they won’t be bringing back Brandon LaFell. Beckham can give the Panthers what they lost in both players.

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

The well is running dry at defensive end/tackle in free agency. If the Patriots go to a 3-4 front next season, Tuitt can play five-technique defensive end, but if Bill Belichick sticks with a 4-3, Tuitt can play three-technique defensive tackle. He’s an ideal fit for the defense.

30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4): Kyle Fuller, cornerback Virginia Tech

The 49ers cut Carlos Rogers and can always use more help in their secondary. Fuller’s a big cornerback that’s rising up draft boards.

31. Denver Broncos (13-3): Jimmie Ward, safety, NIU

The Broncos solidified the secondary with Aqib Talib, but they could still use help at safety. Ward will be there No. 31.

32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3): Jason Verrett, cornerback, TCU

The Seahawks have done their best to bring back all the pieces that brought them a Super Bowl title in 2013, but they’re going to lose some key cornerbacks. Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell are the projected starting cornerbacks, but they need a nickel defender to replace Walter Thurmond. Verrett is definitely undersized for a Seahawks cornerback, but he’s an ideal slot defender.

Check out last week’s mock draft, where the Patriots selected a big wide receiver

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