NFL Nation: Tre Mason

In his Grade A mock draftInsider, ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr. has the Minnesota Vikings ticking through their list of needs with the same efficiency they've displayed this offseason. The Vikings spent most of the free-agency period filling holes on defense, signing former New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph, adding Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to help solve their problem at slot cornerback and filling out their defensive line depth with New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson and Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton.

Now, with the help of four picks in the first three rounds, the Vikings have an opportunity to improve their secondary depth and find a backup for Adrian Peterson. According to Kiper, though, they'd find a fit for what might be their biggest need with the eighth overall pick.


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The Miami Dolphins have several well-defined needs entering free agency and the draft. Getting a running back who can handle the load should be on the team’s radar. Miami was 26th in rushing last season and Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were not the answer.

One potential solution is for the Dolphins to wait until the second round of the NFL draft to select a running back. This is not a top-heavy class at the position. But there are some opportunities to get good value at tailback after the first round.

Miami holds the No. 50 overall pick in the second round. Here are several quality college tailbacks who could be available in May:

1. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State

2013 stats: 1,521 yards, 15 TDs

Analysis: Hyde is the highest-rated tailback in this draft, but he’s not projected to go in the first round. In terms of production and ability, I think he’s a steal for any team that selects him in the second round. Miami’s second-round pick may not be high enough to get the Ohio State product. But Hyde fits the Dolphins because he’s a burly back who is tough inside the tackles. He also has soft hands for a power runner.

2. Tre Mason, Auburn

2013 stats: 1,816 yards, 23 touchdowns

Analysis: Auburn has had a long line of successful tailbacks, and Mason is the next Tigers rusher entering the draft. His production is off the charts, and he nearly led Auburn to a national championship. On the flip side, one concern is Mason ran the football a lot in college and lost some tread on the tires. Mason has shown good vision and acceleration as a runner. The Dolphins need more big plays from their running game.

3. Jeremy Hill, LSU

2013 stats: 1,401 yards, 16 TDs

Analysis: Like Hyde, Hill is another big bruiser who has ideal size for the next level. He's durable, competitive and runs hard -- all things the Dolphins need in their backfield. However, Hill enters the draft with a lot of character issues that will drop his stock. He is reportedly on probation until next January. That may be enough to scare new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey away, unless Hill drops to the middle rounds.

Wake-up call: Combine, Day 5

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
6:00
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On the schedule Sunday in Indianapolis:

New York Jets/Giants media availability: Completed.

Combine schedule: This is the most interesting day from an on-the-field perspective, because the so-called glamor positions -- quarterback, wide receiver and running back -- perform before NFL scouts and coaches. The players will be timed in the all-important 40-yard dash, and there will be agility stations and skill drills. The 40 always attracts the most interest. Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins said his goal is to run "something crazy, maybe break the combine record" -- a 4.24 by Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. Two of the top three quarterback prospects, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, have said they're not planning to throw at the combine. ... The defensive linemen and linebackers will have psychological testing, the bench press and team interviews. ... The defensive backs have measurements, medical exams, team interviews and a media session.

Players of interest: Both the Jets and Giants have a need at receiver, so this should be a compelling day. Watkins will be off the board by the time the Giants (12th) and Jets (18th) pick, but USC's Marqise Lee and Texas A&M's Mike Evans could be available for one or both teams. Lee was scheduled to meet Saturday with Jets officials; Watkins met with them Friday night. Evans, a former basketball player who measured a shade under 6-5, said, "There are a lot of great receivers in this draft, don't get me wrong, but I feel I'm the best one." ... With David Wilson's future uncertain, the Giants are in the market for a running back. There's no running-back value at No. 12, but there are second- and third-round candidates, including Auburn's Tre Mason, who claimed he's been running in the 4.3s. The stopwatch never lies; players do.
With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, here's a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars' positions of need on offense and which prospects the team might be looking to take a closer look at in Indianapolis. Positions of need are listed in order of importance. A look at the defense comes Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill on the roster and the next part in the process comes this week when general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley evaluate, watch and interview prospects at the NFL combine.

Here's a breakdown of what the Jaguars need, in order, on offense and some potential targets:

Quarterback: There's no question this is the Jaguars' top need, although pass-rusher is only slightly behind. Caldwell wants to re-sign Chad Henne before free agency begins next month, but Henne is a bridge player or someone who can mentor a young quarterback and begin the season as the starter if the rookie isn't ready. The Jaguars haven't completely given up on Blaine Gabbert, either, but he's entering the final year of his contract and it would be surprising if he were re-signed after 2014.

Potential targets: Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray.

Interior offensive line: The Jaguars have to find a center to replace the retired Brad Meester and a left guard to upgrade from Will Rackley. The Jaguars will address this area in free agency as well but the team also wants to add some young talent. The Jaguars appear set at both tackles (Luke Joeckel and Austin Pasztor) and right guard Uche Nwaneri has two more years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $4.775 million in each year, though, and could be a cap casualty after 2014. Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon can play guard and center but neither appears, now anyway, to be the long-term answer. It wouldn't be surprising if the team took an interior offensive lineman in the third round, especially if the Jaguars took a quarterback earlier.

Potential targets: G Gabe Jackson, G David Yankey, G Brandon Thomas, C Marcus Martin, C Weston Richburg, C Russell Bodine.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Stephen Morton/AP PhotoThe Jaguars need to find a feature back in the event they do not re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew.
Running back: The Jaguars are more than likely going to lose Maurice Jones-Drew in free agency, which leaves them with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter, and Justin Forsett on the roster. Forsett is likely going to be cut, but even if he's retained none of those players is a feature back. The Jaguars don't need to invest a high pick at this spot because good backs can be found in the later middle rounds.

Potential targets: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jerick McKinnon, Tre Mason, Lache Seastrunk, Dri Archer, Andre Williams.

Receiver: The Jaguars aren't planning on getting anything from Justin Blackmon in 2014 because they don't yet know his status, which is the correct way to approach his situation. Cecil Shorts is entering a contract year but has yet to stay healthy for a full season. Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Lamar Thomas, and Stephen Burton are complementary players. The Jaguars need to find a bigger, physical receiver. If they do that in free agency, this area drops to the bottom of the offensive needs list.

Potential targets: Josh Huff, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams.

Tight end: Marcedes Lewis came on strong at the end of the season and he should be a 50-catch player in Jedd Fisch's offense if he stays healthy. After Lewis, though, there isn't much. Clay Harbor is a flex tight end but he's a free agent and the Jaguars will have to decide if they want to re-sign him. Danny Noble is raw and needs more work. The Jaguars want a bigger tight end who can line up next to Lewis in two-tight-end formations.

Potential targets: Marcel Jensen, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Crockett Gilmore, Jake Murphy.

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