2014 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots Pick Versatile Linebacker In First Round

Kyle Van NoyThe New England Patriots are going into the 2014 NFL draft in a unique position.

The Patriots have needs at almost every position, but there’s not a glaring need for a starter on their depth chart. The Patriots could find upgrades at wide receiver, safety or offensive line in the draft, but some of their biggest needs, like defensive tackle, defensive end and tight end, would be selected to play a rotational role or serve as depth.

The Patriots select two rotational players in NESN.com’s first two-round mock draft of the season.

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

The Texans still could elect to take a quarterback with the first overall pick, but Clowney is the best player in the draft. He would be a great fit in Romeo Crennell’s defense.

2. St. Louis Rams from Washington Redskins (3-13): Greg Robinson, offensive tackle, Auburn

It will be hard for the Rams to pass on Robinson, even with Jake Long currently occupying left tackle. Robinson is a special prospect based on his size and athleticism.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): Khalil Mack, pass rusher, Buffalo

Gus Bradley knows from his days as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator that a team needs to be built through the pass rush. Mack can play a number of roles in Bradley’s system.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Clemson

The Browns, like the Texans, will wait on a quarterback. Brian Hoyer will be happy to throw to Watkins and Josh Gordon in 2014.

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Mike Evans, wide receiver, Texas A&M

The Raiders filled most of their needs through free agency, but they still have a void at the “X” receiver role. Evans, at 6-foot-5, 231 pounds, has prototypical size for the position.

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12): Jake Matthews, offensive tackle, Texas A&M

This is the most obvious fit in the entire draft. The Falcons need a franchise left tackle, and Matthews could be sitting there waiting to be picked.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Blake Bortles, quarterback, Central Florida

The Buccaneers’ new regime doesn’t seem very excited about last year’s rookie starter, Mike Glennon, and Josh McCown was signed as a fill-in starter. Bortles would benefit from sitting for a season.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1): Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M

The Vikings have Matt Cassel to fill in for 2014, but Manziel could be starting before long in Minnesota if he’s the pick at No. 8 overall. He certainly will add excitement to the Vikings’ offense.

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Taylor Lewan, offensive tackle, Michigan

Cordy Glenn has played well at left tackle, but he could be even better at another position. The Bills can wait to take a wide receiver and select Lewan in the first round to help protect quarterback EJ Manuel.

10. Detroit Lions (7-9): Aaron Donald, defensive lineman, Pittsburgh

This might seem like a strange fit with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley already in place at defensive tackle, but Suh has been the subject of trade rumors, and the Lions don’t seem confident in Fairley. Donald can play defensive end in the interim.

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9): Anthony Barr, pass rusher, UCLA

The Titans could use a boost to their edge rush, and Barr has incredibly high upside as a linebacker or defensive end. He started his career on offense at UCLA.

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

The Giants need help at tight end after losing Brandon Myers in free agency. Eli Manning needs more receiving targets after losing Hakeem Nicks, as well.

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State

Gilbert can take over for Cortland Finnegan across the field from Janoris Jenkins. Gilbert is big with impressive athleticism.

14. Chicago Bears (8-8): C.J. Mosley, linebacker, Alabama

The Bears’ defense needs a boost in 2014, and Mosley can play any linebacker position in the Bears’ 4-3.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Odell Beckham, wide receiver, LSU

The Steelers are primed to go into 2014 with Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton as their starting wide receivers. Pittsburgh could have Beckham start across from Brown and have Wheaton come in for three-receiver sets to go deep.

16. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety, Alabama

Clinton-Dix might not last this long, but with the Cowboys’ need at safety, they would jump if he’s available. Clinton-Dix is a complete safety prospect.

17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Zack Martin, offensive tackle, Notre Dame

The Ravens lost Michael Oher in free agency and need a replacement at right tackle. Martin can play tackle or guard in the NFL.

18. New York Jets (8-8): Marqise Lee, wide receiver, USC

Brandin Cooks is the higher-rated wide receiver in most experts’ rankings, but with Jeremy Kerley already on the Jets, Lee is the better fit at the position.

19. Miami Dolphins (8-8): Ryan Shazier, linebacker, Ohio State

Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe struggled in 2013, and the Dolphins could use a linebacker who can help in coverage. There’s not an obvious offensive lineman to take at No. 19 overall.

20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Derek Carr, quarterback, Fresno State

Head coach Bruce Arians likes quarterbacks with big arms, and Carr is one of the strongest passers in the draft. Carr can sit behind Carson Palmer until he’s ready.

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

If the Packers draft Hageman, it would allow B.J. Raji to move back to nose tackle. Hageman has a lot of upside and, unfortunately, a very low floor.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): Louis Nix, defensive tackle, Notre Dame

Bennie Logan was forced to play nose tackle last season after Isaac Sopoaga was traded to the Patriots. Nix is a bigger, better fit at the position.

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

The Chiefs would be happy to have Cooks fall to No. 23. His playmaking ability fits well with quarterback Alex Smith.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): Darqueze Dennard, cornerback, Michigan State

Adam Jones and Terence Newman are getting up there in age, and Dre Kirkpatrick hasn’t lived up to expectations. Dennard is a physical cornerback who can either contribute right away or serve as valuable depth.

25. San Diego Chargers (9-7): Kyle Fuller, cornerback, Virginia Tech

The Chargers need help all over their defense. Fuller is a great place to start a defensive rebuild.

26. Cleveland Browns from Indianapolis Colts (4-12): Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville

The Browns finally get their quarterback at No. 26 overall. If Bridgewater can’t start right away, the Browns have Hoyer, but the Louisville prospect should be ready to go from Week 1.

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5): Dee Ford, pass rusher, Auburn

Ford is a great fit for the Saints’ 3-4 defense. He’ll provide another edge-rushing threat with Junior Gallette.

28. Carolina Panthers (12-4): Cody Latimer, wide receiver, Indiana

Latimer is a bit of a surprise as a first-round pick, but the draft never goes as expected. The Panthers desperately need a wide receiver and could bite early.

29. New England Patriots (12-4): Kyle Van Noy, outside linebacker, BYU

Van Noy is another first-round surprise, but he fills a variety of roles for the Patriots. They need an athletic player who can either cover tight ends and running backs or rush the passer. Van Noy can do both and will combine with Jamie Collins to help keep opposing offenses on their toes.

30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4): Jason Verrett, cornerback, TCU

The 49ers continue to need help in coverage. Verrett is undersized, but he might be the best pure cover corner in the draft.

31. Denver Broncos (13-3): Bradley Roby, cornerback, Ohio State

The Broncos have Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, but they lack a third cornerback. Roby has a ton of upside at the position.

32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3): Morgan Moses, offensive tackle, Virginia

The Seahawks have had trouble finding offensive linemen in the draft, but they could try again with Moses. They need a starting right tackle in 2014.

Round 2

33. Houston Texans: Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, Eastern Illinois

The Texans finally get their quarterback at the top of the second round.

34. Washington Redskins (3-13): Calvin Pryor, safety, Louisville

Pryor won’t drop too far into the second round, and the Redskins need help in their secondary.

35. Cleveland Browns: Xavier Su’a Filo, guard, UCLA

One of the Browns’ biggest weaknesses last season was at interior offensive line.

36. Oakland Raiders: Jimmie Ward, safety, Northern Illinois

The Raiders need help all over their defense, and it would help to get younger at safety.

37. Atlanta Falcons: Kony Ealy, defensive end, Missouri

The Falcons are going into the draft with big voids at left tackle and pass rusher. Matthews and Ealy are a best-case scenario for Atlanta.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Demarcus Lawrence, defensive end, Boise State

The Buccaneers lack explosive pass rushers, and Lawrence has loads of potential coming out after his redshirt sophomore season.

39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tom Savage, quarterback, Pittsburgh

The Jaguars grabbed Mack in the first round, but they still need a quarterback. Savage needs some work, but he has a big arm.

40. Minnesota Vikings: Timmy Jernigan, defensive tackle, Florida State

Jernigan would be perfect to pair with last year’s first-round pick, Sharrif Floyd.

41. Buffalo Bills: DaVante Adams, wide receiver, Fresno State

Waiting for a wide receiver paid off for the Bills, since this is one of the deepest drafts at wideout in recent memory.

42. Tennessee Titans: Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver, Florida State

Quarterback Jake Locker would benefit from having a huge target like Benjamin in the offense.

43. New York Giants: Allen Robinson, wide receiver, Penn State

The Giants lost Nicks in free agency and need another big receiver to take his place in the offense.

44. St. Louis Rams: Carlos Hyde, running back, Ohio State

The first running back goes off the board 44th overall for a team that needs help at the position.

45. Detroit Lions: Martavis Bryant, wide receiver, Clemson

The Lions have shown a lot of interest in drafting a wide receiver despite signing Golden Tate in free agency.

46. Pittsburgh Steelers: Stephon Tuitt, defensive lineman, Notre Dame

The Steelers might not be lucky enough to have Tuitt fall to No. 46 overall, but if he does, they’ll jump at the chance to take him.

47. Dallas Cowboys: Dominique Easley, defensive tackle, Florida

The Cowboys need help rushing the passer wherever they can get it.

48. Baltimore Ravens: Jace Amaro, tight end, Texas Tech

The Ravens re-signed Dennis Pitta, but they have shown interest in utilizing two-tight end sets. Amaro is a glorified slot receiver, anyway.

49. New York Jets: Lamarcus Joyner, cornerback, Florida State

The Jets need another starting cornerback after losing Antonio Cromartie in free agency.

50. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandijo, offensive tackle, Alabama

The Dolphins need to add a few offensive linemen in the draft. Kouandijo’s medical concerns could drop him.

51. Chicago Bears: Scott Crichton, defensive end, Oregon State

The Bears signed Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston, but Crichton adds youth to the position, and he can rush the passer from defensive tackle on third down.

52. Arizona Cardinals: Deone Bucannon, safety, Washington State

Bucannon is a versatile safety who can play on the free or strong side.

53. Green Bay Packers: Troy Niklas, tight end, Notre Dame

Niklas isn’t a traditional Packers tight end, but they could use a more versatile option at the position.

54. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Matthews, wide receiver, Vanderbilt

The Eagles re-signed wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper and released DeSean Jackson, so they could use a third option in the offense.

55. Cincinnati Bengals: Jeremiah Attaochu, pass rusher, Georgia Tech

Attaochu is projected as a linebacker, but he can add bulk and rush from defensive end for the Bengals.

56. San Francisco 49ers (from Bengals): Trent Murphy, pass rusher, Stanford

The 49ers need help at linebacker, and Murphy can rush the passer or drop back in coverage.

57. San Diego Chargers: Joel Bitonio, offensive lineman, Nevada

The Charges added help on defense with Fuller in Round 1, and they can help boost their offensive line with the versatile Bitonio.

58. New Orleans Saints: Phillip Gaines, cornerback, Rice

Without an obvious wide receiver on the board, the Saints can help their secondary with Gaines.

59. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Bishop Sankey, running back, Washington

The Colts lost Donald Brown in free agency and can add a similar player in Sankey.

60. Carolina Panthers: Pierre Desir, cornerback, Lindenwood

The Panthers could use a big, athletic cornerback like Desir to boost their pass defense.

61. San Francisco 49ers: Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, LSU

Landry is similar to Anquan Boldin, and the 49ers need a third wide receiver.

62. New England Patriots: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, tight end, Washington

Seferian-Jenkins could drop for a number of reasons, including injuries and effort questions. He’s exactly what the Patriots need at tight end, though, since he’s a balanced option who is athletic enough to split out wide. The Patriots hosted Seferian-Jenkins on a pre-draft visit on Wednesday.

63. Denver Broncos: Chris Borland, linebacker, Wisconsin

The Broncos lost Wesley Woodyard in free agency and need a replacement middle linebacker.

64. Seattle Seahawks: DaQuan Jones, defensive tackle, Penn State

The Seahawks need to find a replacement for Red Bryant, and Jones fits the bill.

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