NFL Mock Draft – Final 1st Round

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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.

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: S Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Alabama (6’1, 209) – The Cowboys safeties were almost as bad as the Bears last season and Dix is the best coverage safety on the board. They have holes all over their defense, but Dix fills an 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.

17.) Ravens: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame (6’2, 331) – Haloti Ngata is 30 years old and nearing the downside of his career, so it makes sense for the Ravens to groom a replacement. Nix is far and away the best 3-4 NT prospect in the draft and he won’t be there when the Ravens pick in round 2. If Nix can stay healthy and motivated he is a top 15 talent.

18.) Jets: WR Brandon Cooks, Oregon St (5’10, 186) – Cooks has great hands and is very explosive after the catch. Cooks’ size is less than ideal, but he was unstoppable as a junior (128 catches, 1,730 yards, 16 TDs). He’s a poor man’s Steve Smith and a perfect complement opposite Eric Decker.

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.