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), no. 20 Arizona Cardinals (Ra’Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota), no. 21 Green Bay Packers (Lous Nix, NT, Notre Dame), no. 22 Philadelphia Eagles (Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn) and no. 23 Kansas City Chiefs (Odell Beckham, WR, LSU). With the 24th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Cincinnati Bengals select?
Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State.
Our team has benefitted from solid drafting the last couple years, so there’s both few holes and an abundance of talented young players along our roster. With that said, I could’ve gone a number of directions here considering we have no glaring holes, but ultimately I went with a versatile outside linebacker from the local powerhouse in our backyard.
Shazier is a strong tackler with a playmaking nose. He has impressive range versus the run, though struggles at times shedding blocks. He’s got the hips and balance to cover at a high level, and shows enough pop to jam tight ends. He’s not a polished pass rusher yet, but has the skill set to eventually turn into a five to six sack-per-year kind of OLB.
Shazier is a smart linebacker with the athleticism to play either weak, strong or middle linebacker spots in an even front, and some have even speculated he could play either inside or outside in an odd front. Personally, I think he’s a much better fit in an even front, mainly because he doesn’t have the girth or bulk to stop the run at a high enough level for that scheme.
But for our scheme he’s a perfect fit, particularly because of his speed and range. Shazier ran an unofficial 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day, and that injection of speed to the already solid (but incredibly slow) linebacker duo of SLB Vontaze Burfict and MLB Rey Maualuga could be just what our defense needs to take it to the next level. Jayson DiManche would be a good 4th linebacker in their rotation.
Who else was considered here? Many have been clamoring for DE help with Michael Johnson leaving town. Well, I’m pretty content with Carlos Dunlap, Margus Hunt, Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry. If Ealy is still on the board, I might consider him for the value alone, but I doubt he will be.
CB’s Jason Verrett (TCU) and Bradley Roby (Ohio State) are two other strong options. You can never have enough good athletes in your secondary, and both of these guys have both speed and athleticism to burn. Plus, Terence Newman is 35 and in the last year of his deal, Leon Hall is coming off two achilles tears in three seasons (and carries an $8.7 million cap hit) and Dre Kirkpatrick’s still an unproven commodity.