My 2014 NFL mock draft continues with the second half of the first round.
17. BAL – Defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman
The Ravens’ first option would likely be a right tackle if one of the top four offensive lineman fall. They could also be looking for a secondary upgrade, and I considered whether they would draft Jimmie Ward a little earlier than anticipated, or at the very least trade back for him. Instead, I think they spend this pick on Hageman, a quality defensive lineman who could help in multiple ways and in multiple formations.
18. NYJ – Tight end Eric Ebron
The Jets have several holes that need to be filled, but this pick seems likely to be spent on a pass-catcher. Most mock drafters expect Ebron to be selected in the first half of the first round, but I don’t think he’s nearly as exceptional a talent as widely thought. If the Jets don’t find a receiver they like to complement Eric Decker, they’ll be very happy Ebron lasted this long.
19. DET (f/MIA) – Wide receiver Brandin Cooks
The Lions could be looking at a cornerback here, and they will also heavily consider Anthony Barr, a player who some believe could come off the board to the Lions at No. 10, or potentially a few spots higher. They are most heavily linked to the top two receivers in the class, however, and after trading down, they decide to snap up a prolific slot option in Cooks. Along with Golden Tate, Cooks should force defenses to not invest too much in stopping Calvin Johnson, music to the Lions’ ears.
20. ARI – Edge linebacker Anthony Barr
The Cardinals will certainly entertain grabbing the slipping Teddy Bridgewater and give him a year to prepare for the starting job as Carson Palmer spends his last season as the Arizona starter. However, finding an edge rusher at the linebacker position should be the team’s top priority, and the highly divisive Barr could be the perfect value pick for the franchise.
21. GB – Strong safety Calvin Pryor
The only way the board could have worked out any more in the Packers’ favor would be for Ebron to also be available. As it is, they have the opportunity to add Pryor to the secondary or grab an inside linebacker. They choose Pryor, someone who could excel as an in-the-box safety with the ability to deliver punishing hits and create turnovers.
The Eagles need a massive amount of talent on defense to match up with the offense’s upside, and there are plenty of good options here. However, I think they’ll have their eye on a particular player that should be available later in the round, which should lead them to trade down for an extra Day 2 pick to help the defense.
DEN (f/PHI) – Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley
The Broncos are a championship-caliber team with very few immediate holes after grabbing several marquee names in free agency. I see them looking for three potential starters, one at cornerback, one on the offensive line and one in the middle of the linebacker unit. With no inside linebackers coming off the board yet, they jump at the opportunity to land Mosley and lock down the final piece of the front-seven puzzle.
The Chiefs are a playoff team with several needs to address. However, in addition to picking down with the other playoff teams, they’re also without a second-round pick. The players they were likely targeting in the first round didn’t make it this far, so it makes sense to trade back and pick up an extra Day 2 selection.
JAC (f/KC) – Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater has been picked apart in the predraft process, but I still believe he has as good a chance as any of the QB prospects to become a long-term NFL starter, thanks to his collegiate production as well as his work ethic. The Jaguars will likely explore trading their third round pick to move up from the early second and take the falling quarterback before Houston, Cincinnati or now Tennessee (who moved down), and also before another scheming team moves up into the end of the first round with the same plan.
24. CIN – Cornerback Kyle Fuller
Cincinnati didn’t sign any key free agents but did lose a big presence on the defensive line as well as a few other quality players. However, the position of most need is probably cornerback. Fuller is a strong enough player to go 10-12 picks higher in the draft, so he makes for a very nice value pick here. The Bengals will likely also consider one of the other cornerbacks or an offensive or defensive lineman.
25. SD – Cornerback Darqueze Dennard
The Chargers could move in several directions with this pick, as they need help at all three levels of the defense. I believe they’ll be choosing between an edge linebacker like Dee Ford, a nose tackle like Louis Nix or a cornerback, with the last option being the most likely due to the talent being available as well as the position representing the one of most need for San Diego.
26. DAL (f/CLE/IND) – Defensive end Kony Ealy
If the Cowboys don’t trade down, I can see them drafting Ealy at No. 16. He’s likely the best natural option at 4-3 defensive end in the draft outside of Clowney. While he’s nowhere in the same ballpark in terms of talent, he should be able to come in and play a healthy amount of snaps from the get-go, something the Cowboys certainly need from any defensive lineman that gets drafted.
27. NO – Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier
The Saints could choose to go with a wide receiver or cornerback here, but I don’t believe those options make as much sense as Shazier, a relatively safe pick for a late first-round selection. The talent just isn’t available at wide receiver, and cornerback isn’t quite the same need as linebacker for the Saints. They could, however, decide instead to grab a rush linebacker like Ford. Shazier would likely be best as a 4-3 weakside linebacker, but he should fit fine with the Saints.
28. CAR – Offensive tackle Morgan Moses
The Panthers were one of the top teams in the NFL last season, but the offseason hasn’t been kind to them. They desperately need to find a left tackle and talent at wide receiver and cornerback. They can’t fill all three holes at once, and with the top five receivers off the board, I think they’ll lean toward finding a tackle. The offense won’t be able to do anything at all if the team can’t keep Cam Newton upright.
It’s the Patriots, what do you expect them to do on draft day? Bill Belichik does have a few positions of need to address, but none of them have a key player that slipped to the team at No. 29. Therefore, they’ll be more than happy to move back into the second round and stockpile picks.
ATL (f/NE) – Edge linebacker Dee Ford
The Falcons weren’t able to land Clowney or Mack earlier in the draft, and there appears to be a decent-sized dropoff at the position after Ford. The team expressed the willingness to trade up from No. 6, and they should also be happy to spend a lot less to move up from the second round and grab a player at their weakest position. With the Titans and Eagles coming up next, two teams that traded down in this mock, the Falcons can’t feel comfortable hoping Ford makes it to their second-rounder.
30. TEN (f/SF) – Cornerback Bradley Roby
The Titans could be looking at quarterback or even running back with this pick, but there figure to be quality options at those positions during Day 2, and they’ll be able to capitalize on the draft depth at those positions after getting extra picks with the big move down. Roby is a first-round talent who might slip due to off-field issues and a subpar 2013 season.
31. PHI (f/DEN) – Wide receiver Cody Latimer
The Eagles have plenty of needs on defense and could be best served using this pick on that side of the ball, but I think Latimer will be too good to pass up. He’s a fit with Chip Kelly as a bigger guy who ran well during the predraft process. He’s definitely worked his way into first-round consideration, and I can see him going to the Eagles at No. 22 if they don’t trade down or to the Panthers a few picks earlier in this mock.
32. SEA – Offensive lineman Joe Bitonio
Like Latimer, Bitonio has been a fast riser during the predraft process. His key feature is the ability to potentially play at any spot on the offensive line, something that will likely endear him to a team selecting at the end of the first round. The Super Bowl champs don’t have a lot of needs but they certainly need to address some holes on the offensive line. Bitonio could serve as a guard or slot in at right tackle.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to CBSSports.com's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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