NFL Mock Draft 3.0 – Round 1

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9.) Bills – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M (6’5, 225): The Bills have some receivers with potential (Graham, Woods, Goodwin) but none of them project to be a #1 receiver and their resident #1, Stevie Johnson, is on his last legs. QB E.J. Manual needs some reliable weapons and Evans will give him a deep threat and a big target in the red zone. I think Evans will struggle a little adjusting to more physical NFL corners but his height will make him an asset in the red zone right away and he’s a good bet for 5+ TDs in 2014.

10.) Lions – CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma St (6’0, 194): The Lions have spent free agent money (Houston) and high draft picks (Slay, Bentley) on the corner position but haven’t been able to find starting caliber talent. Gilbert could be the answer. He’s one of the best athletes in the draft with great speed, acceleration and ball skills. Some question his effort level and aggresiveness but if new Lions DC Teryl Austin, a former DB coach with the Ravens, can get him to play hard consistently Gilbert could be not just starting caliber, but an all-pro.

11.) Titans – DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame (6’3, 340): New DC Ray Horton is transitioning the Titans to a 3-4, but is missing a key piece. While at Arizona in 2012, Horton had massive DT Dan Williams to anchor the defensive line and last season in Cleveland he had 330 pound Phil Taylor, but there is no one like that on the Titans roster right now. The signed NT Al Woods, but he is better suited a backup. It’s possible the Titans might wait to fill a position crucial to their defensive scheme, but Nix is far and away the best 3-4 NT prospect in the draft and he won’t be there when the Titans pick in round 2. It’s a bit of a reach judging by most draft boards, but if Nix can stay healthy and motivated he is a top 15 talent.

12.) Giants – T Taylor Lewan, Notre Dame  (6’8, 302): Is just a notch below Robinson in upside and almost as NFL ready as Matthews. Lewan showed off his elite athleticism at the combine and his technique is solid enough to step in and start right away. He has some off-field red flags and is rumored to have some maturity issues, but has too much talent and potential to drop any farther. The Giants O-line was a mess last year, but the combo of Lewan and a couple of free agents on the interior (Schwartz, Walton) could make for a quick fix.

13.) Rams – S HaHa Clinton Dix, Alabama (6’1, 209): The Rams’ safeties were almost as bad as the Bears last season and Dix is the best coverage safety on the board. There is a chance they take Donald with current DT Langford a year away from free agency, but Dix fills a more immediate need. He’s a prototype centerfielder in pass coverage and is more physical in run support then most scouting reports give him credit for.

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14.) Bears – DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh  (6’1, 285): I think Donald is no-brainer for the Bears if he is still available. The Bears saw how important DT depth was last year and being able to rotate Donald with Nate Collins at the 3-tech will keep both players fresh and improve Collins’ chances of staying healthy. Donald will be one of the smallest DTs in the league, but could also be one of the best pass rushers. He was the most productive DT in CFB last year (28.5 TFLs, 11.5 sacks) and has the quickness, low center of gravity, and strong hand play to be a force inside. His 4.68 40-time at 285 pounds is one of the most impressive combine feats I have seen in a while. A D-line group of Houston, Young, Ratliff, Donald, and Jared Allen should be able to generate a consistent pass rush.