NFL Nation: 2014 Mock Draft 2.0

Both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. see the Seattle Seahawks adding to their receiving corps with their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

But it might raise a few eyebrows among Seahawks fans if Seattle selects a tight end with its first pick, as McShay suggests in his mock draft. Insider McShay has the Seahawks picking Jace Amaro, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end from Texas Tech.

Starting tight end Zach Miller is signed through 2015. Backup Luke Willson had a strong rookie season, a steal as a fifth-round pick. But the Seahawks are a team that relies heavily on its tight ends as part of its power running and often employs a double-tight end set.

Help on the offensive line appears to be Seattle biggest need, but McShay makes a good point in stating that six of them could be gone before Seattle picks.

Kiper has the Seahawks selecting Insider Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson. At 6-3, 210, Robinson would solve a need as a big receiver, assuming Sidney Rice does not return. And the Seahawks could lose Golden Tate to free agency.

The Seahawks are believed to have an interest in Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson, but Kiper has him going to New Orleans in the 27th pick. Look for Seattle to take Richardson if he falls to them.
As you know, Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider don't often agree. But the ESPN draft experts are of the same mind when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens' first-round draft pick.

Both are projecting North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron to go to the Ravens at the No. 16 overall pick (the Ravens will have a coin flip with the Dallas Cowboys to determine whether they're choosing 16th or 17th).

The selection of Ebron makes more sense if the Ravens add a wide receiver such as Denver's Eric Decker in free agency. This would give quarterback Joe Flacco a significant upgrade in targets. The Ravens would have Decker, Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown at wide receiver to go along with Ebron and Dennis Pitta (if he's re-signed or given the franchise tag) at tight end.

Tight end is the thinnest position for the Ravens right now. Pitta, Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark are all unrestricted free agents. So, the Ravens will likely take a tight end at some point.

Ebron has good value in the middle of the first round. He led all ACC tight ends in receptions and built a reputation for making impressive catches on the outside and down the seam.

Kiper likened Ebron to wide receiver Anquan Boldin in terms of being a trusted target.

"Ebron is the kind of new-breed tight end who can be split out, line up in the slot or take a hit from a strong side linebacker and get into a route where he becomes a constant matchup threat and a likely winner for contested passes," Kiper wrote.

The other position to watch for the Ravens is wide receiver. In McShay's mock, the top three receivers (Clemson's Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M's Mike Evans and USC's Marqise Lee) are taken in the first 13 picks. In Kiper's mock, Watkins and Evans are gone but Lee is still on the board when the Ravens are drafting.
The latest mock drafts by Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider both have Louisville's Calvin Pryor rated as the second-best safety in the draft.

And both believe he will be available when the Green Bay Packers pick at No. 21 overall.

But only one believes they will take him.

Just as he did in the first version of his mock draft released last month, Kiper has the Packers picking Pryor -- the 6-foot-2, 208-pound junior from Louisville -- in his Mock Draft 2.0. Insider

Among Kiper's comments on Pryor were: "Pryor is a downhill safety who will fly up to the line of scrimmage and make plays. While he's got work to do in coverage, he's instinctive and athletic enough to get better there."

In fact, Kiper thinks there's a chance that as the pre-draft evaluation process continues Pryor could push Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as the top safety in the draft.

There's no question that safety is the Packers' biggest need this offseason.

McShay has only one safety -- Clinton-Dix -- going in the first round but listed Pryor as the best available player among those he did not have going in Round 1.

In his first mock draft Insider in December, McShay had the Packers taking tight end Eric Ebron, but now he believes the 6-4, 231-pounder from North Carolina will be gone by then.

In McShay's Mock Draft 2.0, Insider he has them taking Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. McShay acknowledged that cornerback is "not as much of a need position as tight end, safety, D-line and linebacker. So this is more of a value pick than anything else. Gilbert is the top cornerback prospect in a class loaded with them, and he is an absolute ball hawk with good size and the ability to press or sit back in coverage."

Cornerback would become a greater need if general manager Ted Thompson does not re-sign Sam Shields or releases high-priced veteran Tramon Williams.
Both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay offered mock drafts for the first round of the May draft. Let’s review what they both mocked for the San Francisco 49ers at No. 30

Kiper: LSU receiver Jarvis Landry

Some of Kiper’s thoughts: Landry is a really strong hands-catcher who is fluid in and out of his breaks and doesn't care about making catches in traffic. Landry is a competitor and isn't afraid to throw a block.

My take: Landry may be a fine fit for the 49ers and receiver is their top need. I would also consider Penn State receiver Allen Robinson, who Kiper has tabbed to go to San Francisco rival Seattle at No. 32.

McShay: Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman

Some of McShay’s thoughts: Hageman has some boom-or-bust qualities, but he showed improvement last season. He is tall, well-proportioned and naturally strong, and not many guys his size move like he does.

My take: I’ve seen Hageman connected to the 49ers before. But if this is the way the board falls, taking Hageman at No. 30 wouldn’t be my top choice. The 49ers are deep at defensive tackle and unless they truly think they are getting a steal, I’d look at other positions first. Robinson and Landry would be available on McShay’s board and I’d take either one of them. Another thing that stands out on McShay’s board is Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins falling to No. 9. The 49ers have a surplus of picks and a lack of needs. They have the means to move up, so I’d consider that, too, if Watkins, who many think will be a top-five pick, starts to tumble.
The daily rumors and reports have intensified about what position the Houston Texans will draft and which player to draft if the pick is to be a quarterback.

With the top pick, many assume a quarterback is the way to go. It's what teams tend to do -- in 14 drafts since 2000, 10 quarterbacks have been taken first overall. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Unless the Texans think one of the available quarterbacks is a future franchise quarterback, there's no reason to use the top pick on one.

That's the part of the discussion in which our draft experts, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, disagree.

Kiper, in his second mock draft, is sticking with his early prediction of former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

"Right now I'll stick with the early bet on Manziel, and the idea that coach Bill O'Brien becomes convinced this is his QB of the future," Kiper writes.

McShay, on the other hand, goes with former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

"Passing up on a quarterback here, particularly in-state product Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, might be a public relations nightmare, but that would pale in comparison to the nightmares the combination of Clowney and J.J. Watt would create for opposing offenses," McShay says.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay each have the Jacksonville Jaguars addressing a major need with the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Kiper went defense Insider while McShay went offense Insider in their mock drafts 2.0 released earlier Thursday. Kiper predicts the Jaguars will take defensive end Jadeveon Clowney while McShay predicts the Jaguars will take quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Kiper has Houston taking quarterback Johnny Manziel and St. Louis taking offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the first two picks, which leaves the Jaguars with the choice of Clowney and Bridgewater.

"If they love one of the other QB possibilities, that could certainly be the pick," Kiper writes. "But if the board breaks this way, I think Clowney proves irresistible."

Give Kiper credit for consistency. He also had the Jaguars taking Clowney in his first mock draft, Insider which was released Jan. 16.

McShay, however, has Houston taking Clowney with the top pick and St. Louis taking Robinson. He writes that "this draft feels like the right time for the Jaguars to get their franchise quarterback" and they go with the player most analysts believe is the most NFL-ready of all the quarterbacks.

McShay also had the Jaguars taking a quarterback in his first mock draft, Insider which was released Dec. 18, 2012, but it was Manziel.

The Jaguars can’t go wrong with either Clowney or Bridgewater because they fill the team’s two biggest needs, but I fall into the Kiper camp. I wrote Tuesday that the Jaguars should address the defensive needs in the first two rounds and then take a quarterback in the third round. That doesn't preclude the Jaguars from taking a quarterback in the first round of the 2015 draft, either, because the rookie salary cap keeps the contracts reasonable.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have their latest mock drafts out, and they’re in agreement on who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take at No. 7.

Kiper and McShay have the Bucs choosing Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack. But unless the Bucs are planning to convert Mack into a defensive end, I don’t think this would be a good move. The Bucs already have one star at outside linebacker in Lavonte David, and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to invest a lot more in this area.

Personally, I think the Bucs should go with Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy. He’d be a natural fit opposite Adrian Clayborn. The addition of a pass-rushing defensive end might be all that separates the Bucs from having an elite defense.

If Ealy isn’t there or the Bucs want to go in another direction, I easily can see them taking Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson. The offensive line wasn’t very good last season and needs some new talent.

Of course, there’s another scenario that’s at least a possibility. The new regime has been saying nice things so far about quarterback Mike Glennon. But it remains to be seen if the Bucs are content to go with Glennon. If they have a shot at Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Derek Carr, they might not be able to pass on a quarterback.
SAN DIEGO -- Upgrading the cornerback position for the San Diego Chargers remains the focus in the latest mock drafts published by ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.

Even though San Diego’s pass defense was much better during the stretch run of the team’s surprise entry into the postseason, the Chargers had just 11 interceptions during the regular season, tied for No. 26 in the league, and allowed an average of 258.7 passing yards a contest (No. 29 in the NFL).

In this ESPN Insider piece Insider, Kiper Jr. selects Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson for the Chargers at No. 25. Roberson makes some sense, particularly because at 6-0 and 195 pounds, he gives San Diego some much-needed size at the position. In his first mock draft Insider, Kiper Jr. had the Chargers taking Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby. Here is what Kiper Jr. had to say about Roberson.

Kiper Jr.: “The Chargers did a pretty good job of scheming their way around some holes at corner during the late-season run, but there's no question they could use another good cornerback (or two), particularly because I think that defensive line and pass rush could take another step forward next season. Roberson can get a little lackadaisical, but it can also look easy for him out there because he has good instincts and a sense of where routes are going. He has long arms and can get his hands on the ball. He simply needs to be more physical against the run and grab a little less in coverage.”

In this ESPN Insider piece Insider, McShay has the Chargers selecting a different cornerback from the University of Florida, Loucheiz Purifoy, at No. 25. In his first mock draft Insider, McShay gave the Chargers Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Purifoy makes sense because of his athleticism and playmaking ability at 6-foot and 190 pounds. Purifoy also has the ability to return kicks, another high-priority need for San Diego. Here’s what McShay had to say about Purifoy.

McShay: “The Chargers need to upgrade at cornerback and in the return game, and Purifoy could help in both areas. He is raw with his technique but has the potential to develop into a playmaker at corner because of his very good ball skills, and because he's one of the most naturally talented defensive backs in this draft. If the Chargers pass on Purifoy, they could go with a smaller but equally skilled and more polished cover corner in TCU's Jason Verrett. If they take a CB here, they could target a pass-rusher like Auburn's Dee Ford in Round 2 and a guard like Baylor's Cyril Richardson in Round 3.”
ESPN draft experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper start off disagreeing right at the top of their latest mock drafts. So it’s not surprising they have a difference of opinion on the Philadelphia Eagles' selection at No. 22.

McShay’s first-round mock Insider has the Eagles selecting Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard. It’s hard to argue with McShay when he says the Eagles should make defense their "priority if the right player is available, in particular looking for an edge rusher and improving the athleticism and depth in the secondary."

While a safety would be preferable, it does appear there are more first-round corners in this year's draft. The 5-foot-10, 189-pound Dennard has "adequate size, good top-end speed and very good instincts and fluidity in coverage," McShay writes.

As for Kiper's second mock, Insiderhe has the Eagles taking LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. one spot before Kansas City takes Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Beckham is 6-0, 193 pounds. Benjamin is 6-4, 230 pounds. This seems like a big-people-beat-up-little-people situation to me, but Kiper likes Beckham to the Eagles "not just because he's a good receiver for a team that could use help in that department, but because he's versatile, and can work in the slot or on the edge."

Kiper has Dennard on the board when the Eagles pick. Again, there’s a lot of disagreement between these two noted draft gurus.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At the intersection of need and projected availability for the Denver Broncos at the bottom of the first round in May's draft, both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have the Broncos looking at the same position in their latest mock drafts.

There's certainly a rather substantial pile of logic for those selections. The Broncos have six defensive backs who will be either unrestricted or restricted free agents, including Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris Jr. who is also just beginning his road back from a torn ACL suffered in the divisional-round win over the San Diego Chargers.

There is also the matter of Champ Bailey's $10 million salary-cap figure for the 2014 season, something the Broncos likely will want to address in the coming weeks. And Bailey's willingness to do the same could affect whether the Broncos keep him for the final year of his contract.

Kiper has the Broncos selecting Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby (here's Mel's first-round projection), while McShay has the Broncos selecting TCU cornerback Jason Verrett (here's Todd's first round).

Roby is one of the better pure athletes on the board, but the video shows his concentration wavers at times. Overall, he closes to the ball with upper-tier quickness, has quality change-of-direction skills, is a willing tackler -- his 69 tackles were third on the team last season -- and will be one of the fastest players on the board.

He's also a little bigger than many of the other cornerback prospects -- 5-foot-11, 192 pounds -- and the big corners traditionally move up the board on draft day. Roby suffered a bone bruise to his knee in the Big Ten championship game and did not play in the Buckeyes' Orange Bowl loss to Clemson.

Roby also will have questions to answer at the scouting combine. He was suspended for the team's season opener this past season after an arrest last summer -- a misdemeanor battery charge was lowered to a Class B disorderly conduct after a bar incident in Bloomington, Ind. -- and he entered a pre-trial diversion program that will erase the charge from his record if he has no other incidents for a year.

Verrett is undersized, so some teams may shy away from him, but his man-to-man cover skills are clear. He was routinely asked to match up with the best receivers across from him and shut people down. In the end, when teams finish their evaluations of him, he will have played in man-to-man situations more than most of the cornerback prospects on the board.

He held Baylor's Antwan Goodley to just one catch for 12 yards this past season and held Texas Tech's Eric Ward without a catch. Verrett also plays with an edge and is a quality tackler in the run game.

Broncos head coach John Fox, who broke into the NFL as Chuck Noll's defensive backs coach in Pittsburgh, routinely prefers corners with reach and size. That said, he also respects the kind of man-to-man skills Verrett has shown. Harris is an undersized but competitive, aggressive, smart cover player who has found a home on the team's defense.
Mock drafts are basically meaningless this far before the NFL draft. Teams haven't even had a chance to address their needs via free agency.

Still, such mock drafts give die-hard football fans plenty to talk about after the Super Bowl. And it gives us reporters something to write about.

The latest mock drafts released by ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider both have the Atlanta Falcons targeting a lineman with their first-round draft pick. Kiper and McShay just happen to differ on which side of the ball the Falcons will address with the sixth-overall selection.

Kiper has the Falcons taking pass-rusher Anthony Barr from UCLA, while McShay has them selecting offensive tackle Jake Matthews from Texas A&M.

Most consider Barr a better fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. I talked about it with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and he agreed Barr could fit in a 4-3 or 3-4, as long as he gets to the quarterback. As Kiper noted, Barr has exceptional quickness. The one game I watched Barr play this season, he seemed relentless in terms of getting after the quarterback.

Some will question Barr's size at 248 pounds, but the 6-foot-4-inch Barr can put on some pounds before the season starts -- as long as he doesn't lose his quickness.

All that being said, I tend to side with McShay in terms of the Falcons needing an offensive tackle first. Matthews has the bloodlines, being the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews. He is probably the most NFL-ready tackle in the draft, although Auburn's Greg Robinson might have a bigger upside, from what a couple scouts tell me. But if the Falcons want someone to come in immediately and helped protect Matt Ryan, Matthews would be the guy.

We'll see how things change after the NFL Scouting Combine in a few weeks. Maybe another player will emerge as the must-have guy for the Falcons.

For now, Barr and Matthews are two safe choices.
It’s unanimous.

ESPN NFL draft Insiders Mel Kiper and Todd McShay were on the same wavelength when they picked the second version of their mock drafts. Both analysts believe the Arizona Cardinals will take Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio at No. 20 in May’s draft. But there’s enough in both of their analyses of the 6-foot-6, 315-pound 20-year-old to make me believe he’s not the best fit for the Cardinals.

It’s no secret Arizona needs a left tackle, but what they don’t need is a project. And from how Kiper described Kouandjio, it sounds like he is one: “... Kouandjio battled inconsistency last season, and was particularly susceptible to extremely quick pass-rushers who could drive upfield and turn the corner on him, getting under his reach.” That’s what Arizona had in Levi Brown, and we all saw how that turned out. With defensive ends -- such as St. Louis’ Robert Quinn -- getting faster by the year, Arizona needs athleticism more than size. And according to McShay, Kouandjio struggled at the start and end of Alabama’s season. The NFL season is much longer, and the Cards can’t afford to have a young guy hit a wall and let quarterback Carson Palmer end up on his back more often than not.

Here are links to Kiper's and McShay's drafts.
IRVING, Texas -- Mel Kiper Insider and Todd McShay Insider have many differences in their mock drafts, but when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys the two ESPN Insiders have the same name: Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

The Cowboys could use a safety opposite Barry Church, but the biggest need for the Cowboys is along the defensive line.

Kiper and McShay had five defensive lineman drafted by the time they had the Cowboys pick at No. 17 (evidently they believe the Cowboys will lose the coin flip to the Baltimore Ravens at the NFL Scouting Combine): Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack, Timmy Jernigan and Louis Nix were gone by the 15th pick.

Kiper did not have another defensive lineman going in the first round. McShay had two more: Stephon Tuitt, whom he projected to the Cowboys in his first mock draft, and Ra'Shede Hageman.

If evaluations of Kiper and McShay hold true through May, then the Cowboys could find themselves in a dead spot for defensive linemen with the No. 17 pick, which is why Clinton-Dix makes sense. Louisville’s Calvin Pryor could also get into the mix as well.

But what about an offensive lineman like Notre Dame’s Zack Martin? The Cowboys have taken Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick in the first round in two of the past three years to build a core on the line. Martin could be the third.
With the 2013 season officially in the books, it’s time to shift our focus to 2014. ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both produced their post-Super Bowl mock drafts on Thursday.

Here is how they view the Miami Dolphins with the No. 19 overall pick:
Interestingly, both Kiper and McShay projected the same position and player for Miami in May’s draft. It’s no secret that offensive line is a huge need for the Dolphins after allowing a franchise-record 58 sacks last season. Miami's running game also was rated 26th in the league. Starting offensive linemen Bryant McKinnie, Tyson Clabo, John Jerry and Richie Incognito will all become free agents in March and most -- if not all -- are expected to leave.

Martin would be a solid addition with the 19th pick. He was a very productive player at Notre Dame and is coming off a productive Senior Bowl. He is a three-year starter and team captain, which shows leadership.

The only question I have about Martin is his physical tools. He's not as naturally gifted as other left tackle prospects in the draft. But Martin is a high-motor player who gets the most out of what he has.

Martin would be a safe pick for the Dolphins, albeit not a spectacular one.
Mock draft season is cranking up, and we’ve got new ones from Mel Kiper and Todd McShay to review.

Kiper sticks with his pick for the Titans from his first mock: Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan.

Lewan could replace outgoing right tackle David Stewart in 2014 and be poised to move to left tackle to replace Michael Roos down the road. Lewan would certainly upgrade the position, but it would be a second consecutive first-round choice on an offensive lineman.

Given the reshaping of the defensive front and scheme changes on both sides of the ball, my gut at this stage is that the Titans will be heading in a different direction with the 11th pick.

McShay goes with UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, a player the Titans will gain some insight on from new linebackers coach Lou Spanos. Spanos came to Tennessee after serving as the Bruins' defensive coordinator.

Says McShay: “Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would also fill needs here, but I think Barr would be a fit for new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's hybrid scheme, given Barr's experience working on the line and standing up as a 3-4 outside linebacker.”

I’ll lean toward McShay over Kiper here at this early stage.

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