With both the Senior Bowl and Combine in the books, we’ve reached a perfect time for an updated mock draft. As usual, we’ll go pick by pick to make sure we discuss each pick thoroughly enough, and as usual, we’re assuming I’m the GM, so I’m not making picks based off who I actually think will go where, but rather who I’d take with the slot. And no, no trade scenarios because they’re infinite.
Here’s a quick rundown of our draft so far: no. 1 Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina), no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M), no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville), no. 4 Cleveland Browns (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M), no. 5 Oakland Raiders (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn), no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan), no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson), no. 8 Minnesota Vikings (Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State), no. 9 Buffalo Bills (Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo), no. 10 Detroit Lions (Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M), no. 11 Tennessee Titans (Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA), no. 12 New York Giants (C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama), no. 13 St. Louis Rams (Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama), no. 14 Chicago Bears (Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri). no. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers (Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State), no. 16 Dallas Cowboys (Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt), no. 17 Baltimore Ravens (Eric Ebron, TE, UNC), no. 18 New York Jets (Marqise Lee, WR, USC), no. 19 Miami Dolphins (Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame). With the 20th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Arizona Cardinals select?
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota.
5-tech end isn’t a big hole yet, but it soon will be. Darnell Dockett has been a rock for us for years, but will be due to make $6.5 million in 2015, which will be the last year of his deal. Soon to be 33 years old, he’s starting to slow down and simply costs too much. On the other side is Calais Campbell who has also been outstanding for us, but will cost us more $18.5 million in ’15 and ’16. One of the two won’t be with us after this upcoming season, so I’m planning on finding their current backup and future replacement.
Hageman is the most athletic defensive linemen in this Draft not named Clowney. He’s an absolute freak of nature physically at 6-foot 6, 310-pounds, with a 35.5 inch vertical, a 114 inch broad jump, 7.87 3-cone drill and 32 reps of 225 on bench. He’s got the skills to play either 3-tech in a 4-3 or 5-tech in a 3-4 at a very high level, so he’ll give us some scheme flexibility when we’re in an even front. He’s a little raw at this point, and he’ll need a year or two to continue his development, but we have to remember he’s only been playing defensive line for a few years of his career (was recruited as a TE).
I’ll bring in Hageman, let him learn under Campbell and Dockett for a year, then hope he’s ready to step into the starting lineup in 2015.
Who else was considered here? Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville) would be a good fit in our defense paired next to FS Tyrann Mathieu and bring some more physicality to our back seven. Still, I think he’s primarily an in-the-box safety, and they tend to be overvalued because of their highlight reel hits. This is just a little too high for me here, even though most Draft analysts would disagree.
Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State) and Jason Verrett (CB, TCU) also were considered here. This is about the right range for both of them, and while I think they’d be a good fit with us, the recent Antonio Cromartie signing lessens the need for a starting corner to pair opposite Patrick Peterson.