2014 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots Fill Defensive Tackle, Tight End Needs

Dominique EasleyThe 2014 NFL draft finally is a week away.

It’s been a long wait to see who the New England Patriots will add in this year’s draft, and while there’s a chance they could trade up or down, we have them staying put at No. 29 overall in NESN.com’s latest mock draft.

The Patriots have needs all over their roster, including defensive tackle, where Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are both returning from season-ending injuries. The Patriots had little depth in 2013 at the position, and they should be grooming a new starter for the future.

1. Houston Texans (2-14): Jadeveon Clowney, pass rusher, South Carolina

A quarterback isn’t worthy of the No. 1 overall pick, but if the Texans can find a trade partner, they could take a signal-caller later in the first round. If they can’t, they can “settle” for Clowney

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

The Rams are another team that could look to trade down. They need offensive line help more than another pass rusher, though, so they should pick Robinson over Khalil Mack.

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

Mack won’t drop too far. The Jaguars need pass-rushing help, and Mack can serve as a Von Miller clone.

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

The draft is a week away, and there’s still no telling which quarterback will come off the board first. The Browns’ ownership likely will be pushing hard for Manziel.

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

The Raiders added everything in free agency other than a top-flight wideout. Watkins can help Matt Schaub, whom the Raiders traded for, and the quarterback they should draft in the second round.

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12): Taylor Lewan, offensive tackle, Michigan

Teams reportedly like Lewan more than Jake Matthews. The Falcons definitely should add a tackle in the first round.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Jake Matthews, offensive tackle, Texas A&M

The Buccaneers added Anthony Collins in free agency, but if they want a franchise left tackle, Matthews or Lewan likely will be available.

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

Bortles would benefit from sitting for a year, and the Vikings have Matt Cassel to start in 2014. Bortles has been compared to poor man’s Andrew Luck.

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

The Bills don’t necessarily need a wide receiver, but Evans should be too good to pass up. The Bills also could look to add offensive tackle Zack Martin here.

10. Detroit Lions (7-9): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety, Alabama

Clinton-Dix is widely considered the best defensive back in the draft, and the Lions need help in the back end of their defense.

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9): Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh

The Titans would have a dominant front four if they paired Donald with Jurrell Casey at defensive tackle. Donald and Casey could have 20 combined sacks.

12. New York Giants (7-9): Zack Martin, offensive tackle, Notre Dame

The Giants constantly need help protecting Eli Manning. Martin can play anywhere along the offensive line, including left tackle.

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Odell Beckham, wide receiver, LSU

Beckham should be flying up draft boards. He doesn’t have ideal size, but he immediately would be the Rams’ best receiver.

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

The Bears’ defense was in shambles in 2013. They need help improving the entire unit, and a great linebacker is a nice place to start.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State

A cornerback could go higher, but it might not be Gilbert. The Oklahoma State corner, Kyle Fuller and Darqueze Dennard all are ranked around the same area.

16. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Ra’Shede Hageman, defensive lineman, Minnesota

Hageman is one of the riskier first-round prospects, and his effort has been questioned, but he has the size and athleticism to be a star in the NFL.

17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Eric Ebron, tight end, North Carolina

The Ravens need another pass catcher, whether it’s at tight end or wide receiver. They could look to trade out of this spot, but if Ebron is available, they could be tempted to take him.

18. New York Jets (8-8): Kyle Fuller, cornerback, Virginia Tech

The Jets need a wide receiver, cornerback and pass rusher. They can find a wide receiver later in the draft, but this year’s class isn’t as deep at cornerback.

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

The Dolphins’ linebackers are on the older and slower side. Shazier can inject some youth and speed into that unit. His father is the Dolphins’ chaplain.

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

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians typically likes quarterbacks with big arms. Carr might have the strongest arm in the draft. The Cardinals could be fine with Carson Palmer under center for one more year, then Carr can take over.

21. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1): Calvin Pryor, safety, Louisville

Pryor isn’t a prototypical free safety because of a lack of speed, but he filled the role well for Louisville.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): Anthony Barr, pass rusher, UCLA

The Eagles could use a pure 3-4 outside linebacker, and Barr has the potential to fill that role. He can start off as an edge rusher, then the Eagles can teach him to drop back into coverage.

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

The Chiefs needed another receiver even before Dexter McCluster left for the Titans. Cooks can play in the slot or in the “Z” position.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): Louis Nix, defensive tackle, Notre Dame

The Bengals have Margus Hunt to take over for Michael Johnson, and they could use an improvement over Domata Peko at nose tackle.

25. San Diego Chargers (9-7): Darqueze Dennard, cornerback, Michigan State

The Chargers need a cornerback and Dennard is the best defensive back left on the board. He’s the cousin of Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

26. Cleveland Browns from Indianapolis Colts (4-12): Marqise Lee, wide receiver, USC

The Browns passed on Watkins to take Manziel at No. 4 overall. Lee can pair with Josh Gordon for an imposing set of receivers.

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5): Bradley Roby, cornerback, Ohio State

The Saints added Champ Bailey in the offseason, but they could still use more youth at cornerback. Roby has a high ceiling and low floor.

28. Carolina Panthers (12-4): Morgan Moses, offensive tackle, Virginia

Jordan Gross, the Panthers’ starting left tackle in 2013, retired after the season. The Panthers also need a receiver, but they can find one in the second round.

29. New England Patriots (12-4): Dominique Easley, defensive tackle, Florida

The Patriots need a versatile defensive tackle who can rush the passer. Easley tore ACLs in both knees during his career at Florida, but the Patriots have shown a lot of interest in him. The Patriots’ Super Bowl-winning teams were built by drafting defensive tackles in the first round. Easley is more Ty Warren than Vince Wilfork or Richard Seymour.

30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4): Dee Ford, pass rusher, Auburn

There’s are a lot of question marks at outside linebacker for the 49ers after Aldon Smith’s latest arrest. Ford has the agility to drop back into coverage and rush the passer from linebacker.

31. Denver Broncos (13-3): Xavier Su’a-Filo, guard, UCLA

The Broncos lost Zane Beadles in free agency, and Su’a-Filo could immediately serve as a replacement.

32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3): Joel Bitonio, offensive lineman, Nevada

The Seahawks need help at tackle and guard, and Bitonio can play both roles. He could start at right tackle from Day 1 and serve as insurance in case left tackle Russell Okung goes down with injury again.

Round 2

33. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville

Bridgewater has a little Tom Brady in him, which should be appealing to head coach Bill O’Brien.

34. Washington Redskins (3-13): Cyrus Kouandijo, offensive tackle, Alabama

Kouandijo could fall out of the first round because of a bum knee, but he should be good enough to start at right tackle for the Redskins.

35. Cleveland Browns: Kyle Van Noy, linebacker, BYU

The Browns need help at linebacker, and Van Noy is the best available on the board. He can rush from the outside, and he has the speed and agility to drop back into coverage. He could play inside or outside linebacker for Cleveland.

36. Oakland Raiders: Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, Eastern Illinois

Garoppolo is jumping up draft boards, and the Raiders need a future franchise quarterback.

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

The Falcons will be lucky if Ealy is still available in the second round. They need a pass rusher.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver, Florida State

Benjamin and Vincent Jackson would be twin towers at wide receiver for the Buccaneers.

39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tom Savage, quarterback, Pittsburgh

The Jaguars get stuck with Savage after waiting until the second round to take a quarterback. He has potential with a big arm, but he’s a risk. If the Jaguars want to play it safe, they could draft Alabama’s AJ McCarron.

40. Minnesota Vikings: Jason Verrett, cornerback, TCU

Verrett could drop into the second round since he’s small and projects as a slot cornerback. He might be the most talented corner in the draft, however.

41. Buffalo Bills: Jimmie Ward, safety, Northern Illinois

The Bills lost starting safety Jairus Byrd in free agency. Ward could wind up being a similar player in the NFL.

42. Tennessee Titans: Carlos Hyde, running back, Ohio State

The Titans need a running back after releasing Chris Johnson. Hyde is the best back in this class.

43. New York Giants: Timmy Jernigan, defensive tackle, Florida State

Jernigan is the best player available, and that’s how the Giants draft.

44. St. Louis Rams: Stephon Tuitt, defensive end, Notre Dame

The Rams need talented players all over their defense. Tuitt can contribute against the run and pass.

45. Detroit Lions: Lamarcus Joyner, cornerback, Florida State

The Lions need another cornerback and Joyner is the best player left at the position.

46. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jace Amaro, tight end, Texas Tech

Amaro can serve as a flex tight end/slot receiver for the Steelers, who desperately need pass catchers.

47. Dallas Cowboys: Scott Crichton, defensive end, Oregon State

The Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware, and Anthony Spencer might not come back from injury as the same player.

48. Baltimore Ravens: Cody Latimer, wide receiver, Indiana

The Ravens added a tight end in the first round, but they still have a need at wide receiver.

49. New York Jets: DaVante Adams, wide receiver, Fresno State

Adams would fit well across from Eric Decker in the Jets’ offense. They need better offensive weapons for whoever they decide to start at quarterback.

50. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Wuan James, offensive tackle, Tennessee

The Dolphins are desperate for offensive line help, and James can start at right tackle from Day 1.

51. Chicago Bears: DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end, Boise State

The Bears added Jared Allen and Justin Houston, but they could use some youth at pass rusher.

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

The Cardinals need a free safety, and Bucannon might be the most natural player at that position in this year’s class.

53. Green Bay Packers: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, tight end, Washington

Jermichael Finley is still unsigned after suffering a spinal injury in 2013. Seferian-Jenkins is athletic and an experienced blocker.

54. Philadelphia Eagles: Allen Robinson, wide receiver, Penn State

The Eagles still have Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper after releasing DeSean Jackson, but they could use a receiver with the size and athleticism of Robinson.

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

The Bengals could use a pure edge rusher, and Attaochu would provide a spark on third down.

56. San Francisco 49ers (from Bengals): Jordan Matthews, wide receiver, Vanderbilt

Matthews joins his cousin Jerry Rice’s old team. Matthews has deceptive speed and agility for his size.

57. San Diego Chargers: Martavis Bryant, wide receiver, Clemson

The Chargers found a winner in Keenan Allen last year. Bryant has similar size, but can add a vertical threat with his impressive speed.

58. New Orleans Saints: Bishop Sankey, running back, Washington

Sankey could start out as a third-down option for the Saints, but he showed at Washington that he can be a work horse back, as well.

59. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Weston Richburg, center, Colorado State

The Colts need help along their interior offensive line. Richburg is the best center in the draft.

60. Carolina Panthers: Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, LSU

Landry ran a 4.77-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which is concerning, but he was highly productive at LSU.

61. San Francisco 49ers: Pierre Desir, cornerback, Lindenwood

The 49ers are a little shallow at cornerback, and they’ve learned from playing the Seahawks that some size at cornerback can be valuable. Desir comes from a small school, but he’s 6-foot-1 and talented.

62. New England Patriots: Troy Niklas, tight end, Notre Dame

The Patriots will be lucky if Niklas is still around at No. 62 overall. He’s raw and new to the position, but he showed tremendous upside at Notre Dame. He’s one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft.

63. Denver Broncos: Carl Bradford, linebacker, Arizona State

Bradford served as an edge rusher at Arizona State, but he could play outside linebacker in the Broncos’ 4-3.

64. Seattle Seahawks: Donte Moncrief, wide receiver, Ole Miss

Moncrief is one of many wide receivers in this class with size and speed. He’s 6-foot-2, 221 pounds and ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash.

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