NFL Mock Draft 3.0 – Round 1

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Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

15.) Steelers – CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St (5’11, 188): Starting CB Ike Taylor was brutal last season. PFF ranked him 70th out of 79 CBs that played at least half of their teams snaps. Dennard answered any questions about his straight-line speed at the combine with a 4.55 and his aggressive style of play will be a welcome addition to a Steelers secondary that was flat-out bad last year. Dennard will have an adjustment period as he figures out how much of his physical coverage technique will be allowed at the NFL level, but he should become a solid starting corner soon.

16.) Cowboys – DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida St (6’2, 298): The Cowboys somehow found enough cap room to sign former Bear DT Henry Melton to fill one of their holes at DT. Last years starter at the other DT spot, Nick Hayden, finished the 2013 season with a -27.4 grade from PFF which was the 2nd worse grade in the NFL (68/69). Drafting Jernigan gives them a replacement for Hayden with a ton of upside. When motivated Jernigan was a beast inside for FSU. He has the tools to be an all-pro DT if he can maintain a consistent effort level.

17.) Ravens – LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama (6’2, 234): Ozzie Newsome is known for taking the best player on the board regardless of need and Mosley has the talent to have been taken in the top 10 picks. The Raven’s may have bigger holes, but ILB is on the list and Mosley should step in next to Daryl Smith and be an immediate starter.

18.) Jets – TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina (6’4, 245): The Jets re-signed TE Jeff Cumberland and he is a solid player, but better suited for a #2 TE role. Ebron has tight end size but the speed and acceleration of a wide receiver. His hands need to be more consistent; He made some highlight reel grabs, but also dropped some easy ones. Ebron has the talent to be a poor man’s Jimmy Graham, if the Jets can find someone to get him the ball.

19.) Dolphins – T Zach Martin, Notre Dame (6’4, 304): The Dolphins need as many O-lineman as they can get after a complete meltdown both on and off the field by their O-line last season. Martin had a great Senior Bowl, but might be a little small for left tackle. With free agent LT Brandon Albert on board, Martin could be an excellent RT or G depending on how the rest of the line shakes out.

20.) Cardinals – LB Anthony Barr, UCLA (6’4, 248):  Barr only played OLB for 2 seasons so he is a little raw, but so quick and explosive off the edge that he will rack up some sacks on athleticism alone. With some experience, Barr could be an elite pass rushing OLB. This was a tough call between Barr and Dee Ford, but Barr has more experience playing as a stand-up OLB and more long-term potential.

21.) Eagles – LB Dee Ford, Auburn (6’2, 243): A tweener, but Ford is one of the most explosive pass rushers in the draft. He doesn’t have much experience playing as a stand-up OLB, but has elite pass rushing talent. Ford was un-blockable coming off the edge at the Senior Bowl and will be a weapon as a rookie even if he’s not on the field all three downs. The Eagles could use some youth on the edge and Ford has double-digit sack potential.