football

X’s 2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

X’s 2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings (8/14/16):

1. Cam Newton, CAR (last year’s preseason position rank: 10)

The reigning MVP of the league was nothing short of brilliant last year. He set a career high in TD passes with 35 (11 more than his previous career high) while throwing a career-low 10 INTs. With the impending return of his #1 target from 2014 Kelvin Benjamin, Newton could have another big passing season in store. What separates Newton from the pack continues to be his legs. He led the Panthers in rushing TDs for the fifth straight year, and since 2011 has more rushing TDs (43) than LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster, and Matt Forte.

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB (last year’s preseason position rank: 2)

Needless to say, Jordy Nelson was sorely missed by Rodgers last year. Despite attempting a career high 572 passes, Rodgers had his lowest passing total of any season in which he started at least 15 games (3,821 yards). Last year, Rodgers averaged 238.8 passing yards per game and 6.7 yards per attempt. Over the previous two seasons, those averages were 276.7 yards per game and 8.5 yards per attempt. Nelson’s return should enable Rodgers to regain the level of production we grew accustomed to seeing before last year’s relatively modest numbers.

3. Drew Brees, NO (last year’s preseason position rank: 7)

Sean Payton’s words and the Saints’ 2015 offseason moves all indicated a slight change in philosophy – not being quite as reliant on the passing game as they had been in previous years. The result – Brees attempted over 620 passes for the eighth time in nine years, and led the league in passing yards for the fourth time in the last five seasons. He still finished tied for 7th in TD passes (32) despite throwing his fewest TDs since 2007 – a sign of how high his floor is. Increased athleticism to his weapons (Coby Fleener, Michael Thomas) gives Brees’ value a slight boost.

4. Russell Wilson, SEA (last year’s preseason position rank: 4)

For the first nine games of 2015, Wilson was ordinary at best. He threw 10 TDs and 7 INTs over that span, with only one game in which he threw multiple TDs. He also failed to hit 240 passing yards five times during that stretch. However, he was the best quarterback on the planet over the last seven weeks of the season – tossing 24 TDs and just 1 INT. He finished the year with 3+ TD passes in six out of seven games, and topping the 240 passing yard mark in all but one game. While that pace is unsustainable, it demonstrates just how high Wilson’s ceiling is. He could have an expanded role in the offense due to Marshawn Lynch’s retirement.

5. Tom Brady, NE (last year’s preseason position rank: 6)

I was on the record last year saying I did not believe Brady would be suspended in 2015, and I was proven right. It looks like the 4-game suspension will stand this time around, putting a small dent in Brady’s fantasy draft day value. Even with a 12-game season ahead, Brady remains a top fantasy option at QB based on his level of production. His 402 completions last year were a career high, while his 36 TD passes were the most in the league. Pairing Rob Gronkowski with Martellus Bennett can only mean good things for a quarterback who thrived in the past when he’s had two strong receiving option at tight end.

6. Andrew Luck, IND (last year’s preseason position rank: 1)

Between a dip in production and injuries, last season was a disappointing one for Luck. He missed nine games (shoulder, ribs, kidney) after never missing a game in his first three years. When on the field, he put up career lows of 6.4 yards per attempt and a 1.25 TD:INT ratio. However, fantasy football is largely about workload, and Luck should have a hefty one. Luck would have been on pace to attempt 670 passes over 16 games, which would have led the league. Now fully healthy (and of course fully paid), Luck should be able to do far more than he did last year with his ample opportunities to put up stats.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (last year’s preseason position rank: 3)

Roethlisberger led the league with 328.2 passing yards per game in 2015. He has averaged over 300 yards per game in each of the last two seasons after never averaging 290 yards per game in any of his first ten seasons. Over his last 21 games, Roethlisberger has thrown for at least 340 yards 13 times. Losing Martavis Bryant (and his 14 TD catches in 21 career games) for the season (suspension) doesn’t help, but the Steelers should still be strong on offense. Roethlisberger led the league with 8 2-point conversions last year. He could receive a bump in value if Mike Tomlin continues to go for two more than everyone else.

8. Carson Palmer, ARI (last year’s preseason position rank: 14)

Health has been the main caveat for Palmer, and last year we witnessed what a healthy Palmer is capable of. Playing in all 16 games for just the second time in five seasons, he established career highs in passing yards (4,671), 300+ yard passing games (9), and TD passes (35). His career best 8.7 yards per pass attempt easily led the league, a reflection of how Palmer has been a perfect fit in Bruce Arians’ vertical-based passing offense. Palmer was the only QB last year to throw for over 4,400 yards while attempting fewer than 600 passes, an illustration of just how efficient he was.

9. Eli Manning, NYG (last year’s preseason position rank: 8)

For the first time in his career, Manning has thrown at least 30 TD passes in consecutive seasons. He joins Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees as the only four quarterbacks with 30+ TD tosses in each of the last two seasons, so he is keeping elite company in that regard. Manning has seen his pass attempts increase in each of the last three seasons, and there is no reason to believe the Giants won’t continue to lean on their passing game. If Sterling Shepard lives up to the offseason hype, Manning will have the luxury of throwing to an extremely dynamic wide receiver duo.

10. Philip Rivers, SD (last year’s preseason position rank: 15)

In eight games with Keenan Allen last year, Rivers averaged 344.3 passing yards per game, completed 69.9% of his passes, averaged 7.9 yards per pass, and threw 18 TDs. In eight games without Allen, those numbers declined sharply to 254.9 passing yards per game, 62.0% completions, 6.5 yards per attempt, and 11 TDs. Rivers’ production with Allen in the lineup suggests that he still has high-end fantasy value when his primary weapon is available. The Chargers’ run game and defense remain questionable, which could mean more heavy workloads for Rivers after attempting a league-leading 661 passes a season ago.

11. Jameis Winston, TB (last year’s preseason position rank: 21)

It was an uneven rookie season for Winston, but there were encouraging signs of progress. Winston posted a 6:7 TD:INT ratio in his first four games, but proceeded to throw 16 TDs and 8 INTs over his final twelve games. He threw for at least 295 yards in each of his final three games after hitting that mark only once in his first thirteen games. His 6 rushing TDs ranked 2nd among QBs, and it will be a boost to his fantasy value if he remains a running threat in the red zone. His conditioning is reportedly much improved, and his coaches have said they’ll put more on his plate. The arrow is pointing up for Winston (especially if Mike Evans stops dropping passes).

12. Tony Romo, DAL (last year’s preseason position rank: 9)

The 2015 season was a nightmare for Romo, who threw almost as many INTs in four games (7) as he did in fifteen games two years ago (9). A newly-reinforced left collarbone and the return of a healthy Dez Bryant are reasons to be optimistic for a bounce back season. Two years ago, Romo became the first QB since 2007 to throw over 30 TD passes while having fewer than 450 pass attempts. So while the Cowboys will look to throw less and focus on the run game (similar to their 2014 offensive approach), a lighter workload could prove to be beneficial to Romo’s production (and durability).

13. Andy Dalton, CIN (last year’s preseason position rank: 23)

Prior to breaking his thumb in Week 14, Dalton was having a career year last season. He established career highs in yards per attempt (8.4) and completion percentage (66.1%), while throwing fewer than 1 INT per game for the first time since his rookie season in 2011. His five games with 3 TD passes was only one fewer than Tom Brady had in a full 16 games. The concern for Dalton is that he failed to reach 250 passing yards in all but one game after Week 5. Tyler Eifert (who caught 48% of Dalton’s TD passes last year) coming off of offseason ankle surgery and Brandon LaFell replacing Marvin Jones are factors that work against Dalton’s fantasy stock.

14. Tyrod Taylor, BUF (last year’s preseason position rank: 29)

Taylor was one of the pleasant surprises of the 2015 season, for both fantasy and reality purposes. His sterling 20:6 TD:INT ratio only got better as the season went on (12 TDs, 2 INTs over his last ten games). His fantasy value got a huge boost with him rushing for 40+ yards in nine of his fourteen starts. Limited opportunities to throw the ball could cap Taylor’s fantasy ceiling. Among QBs who made at least six appearances last year, Taylor ranked 33rd in pass attempts per game (27.1). His size and style of play create mild durability concerns. He missed two starts with a sprained MCL and was forced to battle through a shoulder injury during last season.

15. Derek Carr, OAK (last year’s preseason position rank: 22)

Carr showed some signs of progression in his second NFL season, and had stretches where he got hot. He threw for over 300 yards in four of five November games, and opened that month with consecutive 4 TD games. He made modest improvements in his completion percentage and yards per attempt, though he finished outside the top 20 in both of those categories. Carr did have a disappointing finish to the 2015 campaign, averaging just 218.4 passing yards over his last five games. If second-year players Amari Cooper and Clive Walford take their anticipated steps forward, Carr will greatly benefit.

16. Matthew Stafford, DET (last year’s preseason position rank: 13)

Sparked by a change in offensive coordinator to Jim Bob Cooter and a great home matchup against a porous Eagles defense, Stafford wrapped up the 2015 season with six straight games with multiple TD passes. Over that stretch, Stafford completed 72.3% of his passes and complied a 17:1 TD:INT ratio. Based on a strong finish, there is reason to believe Stafford could finally be putting it all together. Obviously the loss of a premium weapon like Calvin Johnson puts a damper on Stafford’s fantasy outlook. The acquisitions of Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin, and development of Eric Ebron should mitigate the loss of Megatron, but they won’t totally make up for it.

17. Kirk Cousins, WAS (last year’s preseason position rank: 26)

Cousins proved he can exploit favorable matchups at a high level last year. He had three games with over 300 passing yards and 4 passing TDs. Those games came against the Eagles (30th ranked defense), Saints (31st ranked defense), and Bills (who were without Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams in the secondary). Cousins threw for under 220 yards seven times last year (not counting the Week 17 game he was pulled from early), so questions about his consistency still linger. Despite not being a big running threat, Cousins had more rushing TDs (5) than the rest of his team combined (4). With no proven commodities in the backfield, he could receive more goal-to-go running opportunities.

18. Blake Bortles, JAX (last year’s preseason position rank: 30)

Bortles finished the 2015 season tied for 2nd in passing TDs, and was one of four QBs to have over 4,700 combined passing and rushing yards (joining Brees, Brady, and Rivers). Those were the positives. His league-worst 18 INTs and 23 total turnovers, along with his 58.6% completion percentage illustrate the flaws in his game that still remain. The Jaguars 31st ranked scoring defense and 27th ranked rushing offense contributed to Bortles having to do more than his coaches would have preferred. The addition of Chris Ivory in the backfield and a made over defense should lead to a lighter workload for Bortles, reducing his fantasy value.

19. Matt Ryan, ATL (last year’s preseason position rank: 12)

Ryan is one of two QBs to throw over 600 passes in each of the last three seasons. Yet he is not among the sixteen QBs with at least one season of 30+ TD passes in that span. The opportunities have been there for Ryan, but the results haven’t. Even with a heavy workload, a premium weapon in the passing game (Julio Jones), and a well-respected offensive coordinator (Kyle Shanahan), Ryan somehow managed the second lowest TD total of his eight-year career (21), and second highest INT total (16). Ryan has been underwhelming at times in his career, but one would think there are too many favorable factors surrounding him to not improve from last year.

20. Ryan Tannehill, MIA (last year’s preseason position rank: 11)

Despite setting career highs in passing yards (4,210), yards per attempt (7.2), and 300-yard games (6), last season was a disappointment for Tannehill. He started the season by throwing 9 INTs in his first seven games, and finished the season with a mere 4 TD passes over his last five games. The Dolphins have brought in a renowned offensive coach in Adam Gase. The explosive DeVante Parker is finally healthy, and rookie Leonte Carroo has been added to the mix. Arian Foster is an excellent receiving RB when healthy. The pieces are in place – it’s time for Tannehill to start delivering on a consistent basis.

21. Marcus Mariota, TEN (last year’s preseason position rank: 24)

The overriding theme of the Titans’ offensive approach to the 2016 season has been condensed to one hashtag – #ExoticSmashmouth. While the term is catchy (for better or worse), it doesn’t bode well for Mariota’s fantasy value. Trading for high-priced DeMarco Murray and drafting Derrick Henry suggest Tennessee is committed to leaning on the run, and not Mariota’s arm. The hope is that this ground-based attack means more runs for Mariota himself. He is too gifted a runner to have fewer rushing attempts per game than guys like Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick like he had last year.

22. Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ (last year’s preseason position rank: 27)

It was not a very efficient season for Fitzpatrick last year, as indicated by his subpar 59.6% completion percentage and 6.9 yards per pass attempt (ranked outside of top 25 QBs in both categories). However, he was solid for fantasy purposes due to his stud WR duo. 80.6% of Fitzpatrick’s TD passes (25 out of 31) went to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. As long as he gets to throw to them, Fitzpatrick will carry some fantasy value. Adding another pass catcher to the backfield in Matt Forte and the impending return of Jace Amaro should help the Jets’ passing game a bit.

23. Joe Flacco, BAL (last year’s preseason position rank: 20)

Before he went down after a Week 11 ACL tear, Flacco was on pace to attempt 661 passes – which would have tied Philip Rivers for the NFL lead. Even with backup QBs finishing out the last six games of the season, the Ravens still led the league in passing attempts. The opportunities should be there for Flacco, but the pass-catching personnel is questionable. Concerns about the health of Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, and the effectiveness of Mike Wallace dampen Flacco’s fantasy outlook. Flacco’s 46 INTs over his last 42 games is a problem as well.

24. Alex Smith, KC (last year’s preseason position rank: 25)

Smith threw for a career-high 3,486 yards in 2015, which ranked 20th in the league. This is a clear illustration of just how low Smith’s ceiling is for passing stats. He threw for under 200 yards eight times last year, including in each of his final five games. Smith’s ability to pick up yardage by running is the saving grace to his fantasy value. His 498 rushing yards were also a career high, and 4th among QBs. He had at least 5 rushing attempts in eight of his last nine games, rushing for over 30 yards on seven occasions during that stretch. If Smith keeps running, he’ll carry a bit of sneaky fantasy value.

25. Brock Osweiler, HOU (last year’s preseason position rank: unranked)

While the Texans are known as a run-oriented team, they did tie for the 9th most passing attempts in the league last season. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett attempted 35 or more passes in seven of their fourteen combined starts. Considering the almost franchise-level deal Houston signed Osweiler to, they’ll likely to be inclined to give him more opportunities than they gave to those backup-caliber QBs. Osweiler threw for 250+ yards in five of his seven starts with the Broncos. It’s a small sample size, but perhaps an indication that he may have a decent floor even if his ceiling is relatively low.

26. Jay Cutler, CHI (last year’s preseason position rank: 19)

The Bears dealt with all sorts of injuries at the offensive skill positions last year, which undoubtedly contributed to Cutler’s mediocre fantasy output. His decreased workload over the latter portion of the season didn’t help either. Through Week 9, Cutler attempted at least 33 passes in every game – with four games with 40+ attempts.But from Week 10 on, he only threw 33+ times in a game once. This was part of the reason Cutler threw a modest 8 TDs over his last seven games. Limited opportunities and significant durability concerns with all of his pass catchers make Cutler a shaky fantasy option.

27. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (last year’s preseason position rank: 16)

In 29 career games, Bridgewater has only thrown 28 career TD passes. In an era of inflated passing stats, throwing just under 1 TD per game makes him a useless fantasy commodity in all but the deepest of leagues. Fantasy football is largely about opportunities, and Bridgewater simply doesn’t get enough of them. Despite starting all sixteen games, Bridgewater attempted a mere 447 passes. That’s fewer attempts than Ben Roethlisberger had in 12 starts, and only 34 more attempts than Joe Flacco had in 10 starts. Unless your league gives points for handoffs, Bridgewater won’t do much for you.

28. Sam Bradford, PHI (last year’s preseason position rank: 17)

To Bradford’s credit, he stayed on the field more than most people thought he would and wound up throwing for a career-best 3,725 yards. There was no easing him back into the mix, as Bradford attempted 52 passes in his first game in a year and a half. He ended up ranking 9th among QBs with at least three starts in passes per game. However, he goes from having the aggressive Chip Kelly running the offense to the much more conservative Doug Pederson. While Pederson will certainly look to reduce Bradford’s workload from last year, the Eagles’ porous defense is likely to force Pederson to air it out a bit more than he would like.

29. Robert Griffin III, CLE (last year’s preseason position rank: 35)

There is a ton of uncertainty surrounding Griffin, which makes him a volatile fantasy asset at best. As everyone is aware, Griffin was benched/deactivated for the entire 2015 season, and has only appeared seven games since September 15, 2014. Griffin has turned the ball over 26 times in his last 22 games, a trend that needs to end if he has any shot at redemption this year. The Browns’ offensive line is replacing two very good players (Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz) with unproven commodities. Even Josh Gordon is a major question mark, assuming he makes it back to the field and stays on it. There is upside here, but it feels like too many concerning factors are in play to expect reliable results.

30. Blaine Gabbert, SF (last year’s preseason position rank: unranked)

Shockingly, Gabbert showed signs of life last year after being completely irrelevant for the previous couple of seasons. He threw for 354 yards in his last game against the Rams, and 318 earlier in the season against a good Cardinals defense. Those were the two highest yardage games of Gabbert’s career. He also ran for 75 yards in another game after never for running for more than 98 yards in a season before. Gabbert appeared to gain a lot more confidence last year than he ever had in Jacksonville. His role on the team might end up being a week-to-week proposition, but for the first time it looks like there might be a little something here.

31. Jared Goff, LA (last year’s preseason position rank: N/A – rookie)

Rams QBs attempted 30 passes or less in ten of sixteen games last year, and finished last in the NFL in total completions. While Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin had occasional outbursts as receiving threats, this remains a low-volume passing offense lacking a true go-to target. Without premier weapons, and being inserted into an offense that projects to be heavily run-oriented, Goff’s fantasy value is minimal. Though some “rookie coachspeak” could be in play, the fact that Goff hasn’t been able to clearly separate himself from a replacement level QB like Case Keenum clearly indicates expectations should be low in year one.

32. Mark Sanchez, DEN (last year’s preseason position rank: 33)

Whoever wins the starting job in Denver will have the chance to throw to a prolific pair of receivers. Even with a down year at the quarterback position for the Broncos, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were able to combine for over 2,400 yards. However, as we saw last year, Gary Kubiak will not hesitate to bench a QB who is turning the ball over. Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler were both benched after games with 3+ turnovers. Sanchez has been turnover prone in his career (71 turnovers in his last 44 games), and will have a short leash if he doesn’t cut those mistakes down.

33. Jimmy Garoppolo, NE (last year’s preseason position rank: unranked)

It is rare that you have a situation where you know the backup QB will receive playing time going into a season. But thanks to the Tom Brady 4-game suspension, this is the case for Garoppolo. The Patriots are always opponent-specific with their game plans, and will likely put the ball in Garoppolo’s hands if they think an opposing defense is vulnerable through the air. Garoppolo faces a tough week 1 challenge (at Arizona), but then will get three consecutive home games which may help him settle into his short term assignment.

34. Case Keenum, LA (last year’s preseason position rank: unranked)

In five starts last year, Keenum averaged 25 pass attempts per game and threw for under 140 yards three times. It appears that Keenum may serve as a bit of a bridge QB for rookie Jared Goff, but for as long as he is the starting QB for the Rams he’ll have a very limited ceiling. If nothing else, Keenum did a nice job of protecting the football (1 INT in 125 pass attempts) so that may buy him a bit of time. Ultimately it would be surprising if Keenum made more starts than Goff this year.

35. Josh McCown, CLE (last year’s preseason position rank: 32)

For the second time in three seasons, McCown was able to string together a series of three straight games with 340+ yards passing. He has proven he can be successful as a starter in short spurts. Given that he is playing a QB in Robert Griffin III who has had issues with durability and consistency, and is coming off of a year of virtual inactivity, it is feasible that McCown gets another one of those “short-stint” opportunities this year. There is an outside chance McCown gets traded if another team loses their starter, adding a bit of intrigue.

36. Colin Kaepernick, SF (last year’s preseason position rank: 18)

Coming off of offseason surgeries on his left shoulder, left knee, and right thumb, Kaepernick has a lot of work to do to rebuild his value. Even if he is not the Week 1 starter, he could get a look from Chip Kelly at some point if the 49ers aren’t competitive with Blaine Gabbert under center.

37. Trevor Siemian, DEN (last year’s preseason position rank: unranked)

Not too long ago it would have seemed far-fetched, but it is feasible that Trevor Siemian could see meaningful playing time. While he carries a low ceiling, Siemian could be seen as a stabilizer at QB if Mark Sanchez plays erratically and rookie Paxton Lynch isn’t deemed ready.

 38. Chase Daniel, PHI (last year’s preseason position rank: unranked)

Sam Bradford stayed relatively healthy last year, but still has not played in all sixteen games since 2012. Odds are good that an Eagles backup QB makes at least one start this year, and Daniel’s familiarity with Doug Pederson’s offense would make the transition smoother if a reserve is needed.

2014 NFL Mock Draft

Here is the first post of the new blog for X Marks the Sport. Enjoy! Comments welcomed and encouraged.

2014 NFL Mock Draft
Round 1
1. Houston – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina    6’5’’  266
The last time the Texans had the #1 pick in the draft, they took an athletic anomaly at defensive end (Mario Williams) over a popular Texas-grown QB. It worked out well as Williams made two Pro Bowls and is the franchise leader in sacks. There is a strong chance history repeats itself. Another highly athletic defensive end, J.J. Watt, who by age 24 has been to two Pro Bowls and has been named Defensive Player of the Year, has also worked out well. Amazingly, Clowney may be even more athletically gifted and will be a nightmare to defend if paired with Watt.

2. St. Louis – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn    6’5’’  332
Going back to his last year of college, Sam Bradford has missed at least six games in three out of the last five years. The Rams have publicly continued to back Bradford, and have supported him in other ways such as trading up in last year’s draft to get him another weapon. This year, St. Louis could support Bradford by improving the protection in front of him. Robinson has a great combination of size, power, and agility. He could start on the right side immediately and possibly provide insurance for left tackle in case Jake Long’s knee continues to be a problem.

3. Jacksonville – Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo    6’3’’  251
In 2013, Jacksonville finished the season tied for last in sacks. This is nothing new for the Jaguars, as they have ranked in the bottom two of the league in sacks in four of the last five years. Coming from Seattle and bringing the Seahawks’ defensive mentality with him, head coach Gus Bradley won’t let this trend continue. Re-signing Jason Babin and adding Chris Clemons helps, but the Jaguars need more help. Mack can do a little of everything, and has mastered the art of the strip sack. His ability to line up all over a defensive formation is an added bonus.

4. Cleveland – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson    6’1’’  211
Even after being suspended for the first two games of last year, Josh Gordon had nearly 150 more receiving yards than any other player. He also finished 2nd in the league in yards per catch. Despite Gordon’s brilliance, the Browns still ranked 29th in the league in yards per pass attempt. The money Cleveland gave Andrew Hawkins this offseason indicates they want to add more playmakers in the passing game. Watkins would give the Browns as much speed as any team at wide receiver. He plays bigger than his size, and is a game-breaker when the ball is in his hands.

5. Oakland – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M    6’0’’  207
Matt Schaub was brought in to be a stopgap solution for the Raiders, but he is clearly not the long-term answer. He is fresh off of a season where he had his lowest passer rating since 2007 and had his highest interception total since 2009. He also set a dubious NFL record by throwing a pick six in four consecutive games. Schaub is entering his age 33 season and has no guaranteed money in his contract beyond the 2014 season. Manziel has a knack for making plays whether he sticks to the script or not. His mobility would be a plus behind Oakland’s mediocre offensive line.

6. Atlanta – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan    6’7’’  309
Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times last year, 16 more times than he’d been sacked in any other season in his career. Ryan is one of four quarterbacks who has attempted over 600 passes in each of the last two years, a clear indication that Atlanta has become more dependent of their passing game. That being the case, improving the pass protection in front of their franchise QB becomes an urgent need. Lewan plays with an aggressive demeanor, which should endear him to owner Arthur Blank. He is also a solid pass protector, thanks to his sometimes underrated athleticism.

7. Tampa Bay – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M    6’5’’  231
Newly acquired quarterback Josh McCown was the surprise of the league in 2013, finishing the season 3rd in the league in passer rating among qualifying QBs. He absolutely thrived in an offense where he had two big receivers on the outside who could win jumpballs and make plays down the field. The Bucs already have one of those guys in Vincent Jackson, and the trade of Mike Williams leaves a spot open across from Jackson. Evans has solid straight line speed for his size and has an ability to go over the top of defenders and consistently make contested catches.

8. Minnesota – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida    6’5’’  232
The Vikings have made no secret of the fact that they want to acquire a new young quarterback. Christian Ponder no longer appears to be the future for Minnesota, and they desperately need to stabilize the quarterback position. In each year from 2010 to 2013there were at least 20 players who threw for over 3,000 yards. Yet the Vikings have not had a player reach the 3,000 yard mark in a season since Brett Favre did it in 2009. Bortles is viewed by many as the most “pro-ready” QB of this draft. He has the size and arm strength that Norv Turner prefers in his quarterbacks.

9. Buffalo – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M    6’5’’  308
Erik Pears has not fared very well in his time as the Bills’ starting right tackle, and Chris Hairston simply can’t seem to get healthy enough to audition for the position. Doug Marrone’s run-heavy offense would be easier to run with an upgrade on the right side of the offensive line. Matthews is widely considered the safest prospect in this draft due to his refined technique and well-rounded game. He is a good enough run blocker to be an asset in Buffalo’s offense. His ability in pass protection would help E.J. Manuel, who had durability issues in his rookie season, take fewer hits.

10. Detroit – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Louisiana State    5’11’’  198
Over the last two seasons, no QB has attempted more passes than the 1,361 Matthew Stafford has. Jim Caldwell oversaw a Ravens offense that was that went from 21st in 2012 to 10th last year in pass play percentage, so Detroit’s reliance on the passing game isn’t likely to go away. Even after the addition of Golden Tate III , the Lions still need more weapons alongside Calvin Johnson to bolster their oft used aerial attack. Beckham is one of the most explosive athletes in the draft and his presence as a home run threat would shift some defensive attention away from Johnson.

11. Tennessee – Anthony Barr, LB, California-Los Angeles    6’5’’  255
In Ray Horton’s primarily 3-4 defense, you can’t have too many outside edge rushers. That is the reason veteran linebacker Shaun Phillips was picked up. Last year when Horton was hired as defensive coordinator for Cleveland, they used their top pick on edge rusher Barkevious Mingo to cater to Horton’s attacking philosophy. Likewise, if Barr is still on the board here, he could be added as an asset in Horton’s defense. Barr is still learning the LB position, but if he’s allowed to use his speed and athleticism to just go after the QB, that would be ideal for him.

12. N.Y. Giants – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh    6’1’’  285
For years, the Giants have been noted for having one of the deepest defensive lines in the league. That is no longer the case after Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck left via free agency, and Shaun Rogers’ contract was not renewed. Tuck had nearly a third of the team’s sacks last year, while he and Joseph were the top two Giants in tackles for loss. Donald is the type of impact player who New York needs to rebuild their defensive line. He lives in opponents’ backfields and had more tackles for loss in 2013 than the other top DT prospects in this draft had in their careers.

13. St. Louis – Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama    6’1’’  208
Despite boasting one of the league’s top pass rushes (3rd in the league in sacks last year), the Rams ranked dead last in opponents’ yards per attempt and completion percentage. This is of course an indictment on the secondary, which has since lost Darian Stewart. Rodney McLeod Jr. had some good moments last year, but having an impact player at the back end of the secondary to clean up would really help St. Louis. Clinton-Dix has tremendous range, and uses his closing speed to be a factor against both the pass and the run. He always seems to be around the ball.

14. Chicago – Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville    5’11’’  207
To put it bluntly, the Bears have to get better at safety heading into next year. Major Wright left to reunite with Lovie Smith in an effort to bounce back from a bad season. This leaves Chris Conte, who struggled through last season and will be sidelined during the offseason after shoulder surgery, Ryan Mundy, and M.D. Jennings who are better suited for backup roles despite being starters last year. Pryor played a lot of single high safety in college, so he got to showcase his excellent range. He’s not afraid to lower his shoulder and deliver some big time hits.

15. Pittsburgh – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State    5’11’’  199
The transition for the Steelers to get younger in the secondary has begun, as veteran Ryan Clark was replaced in free agency by Mike Mitchell. The next step in this transition may be to find the heir apparent for Ike Taylor, who will be 34 years old by the time the draft rolls around. Taylor took a 60% pay cut for the 2014 season following a rough year, and could be in line for a reduced role moving forward. Dennard is physical both in coverage and in run support, and that physicality would fit in well with the Steeler culture and Mike Tomlin’s football philosophy.

16. Dallas – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame    6’2’’  331
Over the course of the last several months, the Cowboys have lost DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Jason Hatcher. After switching to a base 4-3 alignment last year, Dallas needs to add bodies along the defensive line. The addition of Henry Melton should help up front, but they need more. Specifically, they could use a run stuffing presence to pair alongside Melton, who is more of a gap-shooting penetrator. Nix is a simply a large man who is difficult to move and create running lanes. He has 3-4 nose tackle size, but his surprising agility means he can play in a 4-3.

17. Baltimore – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia    6’6’’  314
Michael Oher is one of the more well-known right tackles in the league thanks to the movie “The Blind Side”, but his play didn’t live up to his fame. Oher’s departure isn’t a big loss for Baltimore, but they still need a replacement. New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is installing his zone blocking scheme which Moses, who has great feet for a player his size, played in at Virginia. Program pedigree works in Moses’ favor as Virginia products D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Branden Albert, and current Raven Eugene Monroe have all enjoyed very successful NFL careers.

18. N.Y. Jets – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State    5’10’’  189
Jeremy Kerley led the team last year with 523 receiving yards, which was just the 86th highest total in the league. New York’s wide receivers combined to catch a total of just 7 touchdowns a season ago, less than 22 players had individually. Eric Decker was brought in to be part of the solution, but the Jets still need to provide more playmakers for Geno Smith and/or Michael Vick. Brandin Cooks has tremendous speed, and is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. He would be a nice complementary piece to the physical presence Decker provides on the outside.

19. Miami – Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame    6’4’’  308
Two words can sum up the Dolphins’ offensive line last year: complete disaster. Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin were in the news for all of the wrong reasons, and obviously neither player’s talents could be brought back to South Beach. John Jerry, who was also implicated in “Bullygate”, is gone. Tyson Clabo had a rough 2013 campaign and will not be retained. Martin is a solid all-around lineman whose only real “weakness” is lacking the frame of an NFL tackle. Miami has plenty of holes to fill, so Martin can help no matter what position he ultimately winds up at.

20. Arizona – Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois    5’11’’  193
Yeremiah Bell is contemplating retirement and not expected to return to the Cardinals next year. Ward spent a lot of time at strong safety in college and can fill the position, and he also offers enough versatility to potentially slide to other positions in the secondary in subpackages. His coverage skills are considered his biggest strength. He could help an Arizona defense that gave up over 1,100 yards and 16 TDs to tight ends last year. Ward is undersized, but that doesn’t stop him from being physical as he did have about 300 tackles in his last three years of college.

21. Green Bay – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina    6’4’’  250
While it does look like Jermichael Finley will be able to continue his football career after suffering a scary vertebrae injury, the odds are against a return to the Packers. Finley’s absence leaves primarily blocking Andrew Quarless and raw prospect Brandon Bostick as Green Bay’s top tight end options. Ebron would represent good value here if he lasts to this point of the draft. He possesses an exceptional combination of size and speed, and demonstrates excellent run after catch skills. His hands are inconsistent, but the Packers did put up with Finley’s frustrating drops.

22. Philadelphia – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State    6’0’’  202
It’s no secret that the Eagles need to upgrade a defensive unit that ranked dead last in passing defense last year and 29th in total defense. Cary Williams in particular had his struggles in pass coverage, and may not be the answer moving forward. Brandon Boykin had an excellent season, but he is strictly a slot corner and won’t help the Eagles on the outside. Nolan Carroll was added to the mix in the offseason, but he is ideally a #3 corner on the outside. Gilbert has the physical tools to develop into a top-level corner and displayed great playmaking abilities last season.

23. Kansas City – Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California    6’0’’  192
Jamaal Charles had a huge burden to carry as the centerpiece of the Chiefs’ offense last season. He finished 3rd in the league in rushing yards, and also led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He scored 19 of the team’s 41 offensive TDs (46%). Having a weapon like that is nice, but Kansas City needs someone to help carry the burden and take some defensive attention off of Dwayne Bowe. Lee’s speed and playmaking ability would be a welcomed addition, and could potentially replace the explosive Dexter McCluster on punt returns.

24. Cincinnati – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri    6’4’’  273
In 2012, Michael Johnson racked up 11.5 sacks, good enough to tie for 9th in the NFL. The sacks were down for Johnson in 2013, but he still made an impact as he led all defensive linemen with 9 pass breakups. The Bengals couldn’t afford Johnson in free agency, so they could be looking for another impactful defensive end. Ealy is not a very polished pass rusher, but his size and speed on the edge are intriguing. He is excellent at batting balls at the line of scrimmage (12 passes defensed in the last two seasons), so he can replace Johnson’s impact there right away.

25. San Diego – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech     6’0’’  190
The Chargers were one of two teams (the other team being the Raiders) to rank in the bottom five in the league in opponents’ total passing yards, yards per attempt, completion percentage, and passer rating. San Diego is unlikely to make a return trip to the playoffs if they don’t improve their pass defense. They fixed part of the problem by cutting oft burned Derek Cox, but now they need to add help. Fuller has lingering durability concerns, but his athletic ability and willingness to play physical make him a good bet to be a quality cover corner as long as he can stay healthy.

26. Cleveland – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State    6’2’’  214
Brian Hoyer was surprisingly effective in his three games as a starter last year, going 3-0 for a Browns team that was 1-12 when anyone else started. However Hoyer, the owner of a career 77.4 passer rating, does not appear to be the long term solution at QB. At the very least, Cleveland needs depth at quarterback after moving on from Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. Carr has arguably the best arm talent of any of this year’s quarterback prospects, and his ability to throw accurate deep balls would be a great match to pair up with the extremely explosive Josh Gordon.

27. New Orleans – Jason Verrett, CB, Texas Christian    5’9’’  189
Rob Ryan’s coaching and changes in the Saints’ secondary helped them go from a historically bad defense ranking 31st against the pass in 2012 to a defense that was 2nd best against the pass in 2013. Keenan Lewis and Kenny Vaccaro were big additions last offseason, and the big contract given to Jairus Byrd this year indicates New Orleans is still looking for ways to upgrade their secondary. Verrett is built like a nickelback, but plays bigger than he is and can handle the outside if asked to. Other than size, he has good measurables to go along with excellent ball skills.

28. Carolina – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama    6’7’’  322
Jordan Gross’ retirement is a huge blow to the Panthers’ hopes of pulling off the elusive task of winning the NFC South in back-to-back seasons. Without Gross Carolina is currently projected to start Byron Bell, an undrafted player who has struggled at right tackle, and Nate Chandler, an undrafted player who the Panthers initially used as a defensive end. Kouandjio possesses arguably the best combination of size and athleticism of any offensive lineman in the draft. He is an injury risk due to an arthritic knee, but Carolina desperately needs an upgrade at the position.

29. New England – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota    6’6’’  310
At the moment, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are projected to be the Patriots’ starting defensive tackles. Wilfork is 32 years old and is coming off of a torn Achilles’ tendon. Kelly is 33 years old and tore his ACL last fall. With both players past their prime and returning from significant injuries, New England needs young talent into the middle of their defensive line. Hageman wasn’t consistent in college, but looked unstoppable at times. The Patriots are known to be willing risk-takers for talented players, and Hageman’s rare ability makes him worth the risk.

30. San Francisco – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State    5’11’’  194
Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are now on the other side of the bay, and Chris Culliver is a major question mark due to significant legal issues on top of rehabbing a torn ACL. Eric Wright is back as a bargain bin free agent, but he was benched last postseason. San Francisco showed their willingness to take a chance on an athletically gifted corner when they signed Chris Cook, and they may look for another one with this pick. Roby is a tremendous athlete with plenty of speed to recover if beaten or close in quickly on the ball. The hope is that he regains his 2012 form.

31. Denver – C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama    6’2’’  234
Super Bowl XLVIII saw the Broncos fail in every aspect of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. It’s clear by their offseason moves however, that Denver viewed its defense as the team’s weakness. They signed Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, and T.J. Ward to roughly $110 million worth of contracts while allowing key contributors on offense to walk. Mosley would be an ideal pick for a team that hasn’t yet addressed middle linebacker after Wesley Woodyard’s departure. Size and durability concerns exist, but Mosley is one of this year’s most refined prospects.

32. Seattle – Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State    6’3’’  251
One of the biggest strengths of the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks last year was their depth along the defensive line. That depth has been negatively impacted by the losses of Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Clinton McDonald. Lawrence would help replenish the depth Seattle likes to have up front. He has experience playing in various positions, which is a plus for any player coming into a defense that likes to move their players around in their defensive front seven. Lawrence is built similarly to the departed Clemons, so his build would not be an issue.

Round 2
33. Houston – Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh    6’4’’  228
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Case Keenum are not viewed as starters, so the Texans need a new signal caller for next year. Savage had a meteoric rise through the draft process and has the prototypical build Bill O’Brien prefers for his QBs.

34. Washington – Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State    6’1’’  237
There is no obvious replacement for London Fletcher on the Redskins’ roster. Shazier brings a tremendous amount of speed to the position. He is undersized, but Washington has brought in several smaller linebackers in recent years.

35. Cleveland – Joel Bitonio, OT/G, Nevada    6’4’’  302
Shawn Lauvao and Oniel Cousins were allowed to walk, and Mike Shanahan will want someone who fits in his zone blocking scheme to replace them. Bitonio has the mobility to fit in and also potentially offers positional versatility.

36. Oakland – Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana    6’3’’  215
No receiver prospect has benefited more from the pre-draft process than Latimer. He has proven to be more athletic than some thought, and has the physical tools to develop into the number one receiving option that the Raiders need.

37. Atlanta – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn    6’2’’  252
The transition to a base 3-4 defense means the Falcons need at least one more pass rusher at outside linebacker. Ford is a quick edge rusher with a non-stop motor. He has experience dropping into coverage and playing in space.

38. Tampa Bay – Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, California-Los Angeles    6’4’’  307
Anthony Collins and Evan Dietrich-Smith are upgrades at the tackle and center positions, but the Bucs still have major question marks at guard. Su’a-Filo is a versatile all-around lineman with a nice blend of strength and agility.

39. Jacksonville – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville    6’2’’  214
Chad Henne has never thrown more TDs than INTs in any season. Bridgewater was the consensus top QB in this draft until concerns over his slight frame and average physical tools were highlighted. He’s a potential Day 2 steal.

40. Minnesota – Kyle Van Noy, LB, Brigham Young    6’3’’  243
Mike Zimmer will want to see upgrades made to a Vikings linebacker corps that often struggled last year. Van Noy is a smart player who would bring pass rush ability to the outside without being a complete liability in coverage.

41. Buffalo – Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State    6’3’’  273
Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes form a strong pass rushing duo, but Jim Schwartz likes to use waves of defensive linemen. Crichton is a solid pass rusher who is good enough in other areas to be an asset on any down and distance.

42. Tennessee – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois    6’2’’  226
Organizational confidence in Jake Locker seems to be waning, and Ken Whisenhunt may want to bring in his own guy. Garoppolo needs more polish, but his strong arm, accuracy, and quick release are good pieces to work with.

43. N.Y. Giants – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington    6’5’’  262
It’s been a rotating door at tight end for the Giants with Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, Martellus Bennett, and Brandon Myers in recent years. Seferian-Jenkins fits the Tom Coughlin mold of a blocker and mid-range receiving threat.

44. St. Louis – Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State    5’8’’  184
Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson make a solid young pair of corners, but the Rams need more depth. Joyner fits well into the nickelback role and Gregg Williams would love to use his ability to successfully blitz from the slot.

45. Detroit – Jeremiah Attaochu, LB/DE, Georgia Tech    6’3’’  252
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has expressed interest in adding an outside rushing linebacker into the fold. Attaochu is inexperienced, but is a fast and gifted pass rusher. Sounds a little like Ezekiel Ansah did last year.

46. Pittsburgh – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State    6’5’’  240
The losses of Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders in back-to-back seasons have the Steelers in the market for a receiver. Benjamin has tremendous size and would be the big red zone target Ben Roethlisberger likes to have.

47. Dallas – Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina    6’6’’  272
Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware combined for half (17 of 34) of the Cowboys’ sacks last year, and both are gone. Martin showed an improved ability to get to the QB in 2013 and has can rush the passer from different positions.

48. Baltimore – Deone Bucannon, FS/SS, Washington State    6’1’’  211
Matt Elam is being moved from free safety to his more natural strong safety position, so he needs to be paired with a deep safety. Bucannon is known for his hitting, but he increased his interception total for each season in college.

49. N.Y. Jets – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech    6’5’’  265
Despite not having great talent at the position, Geno Smith threw 5 of his 12 touchdown passes to tight ends in his rookie season. Amaro has reliable hands and certainly possesses the size to become a productive red zone target.

50. Miami – Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee    6’6’’  311
After a strong year in 2012, Tyson Clabo’s play fell off of a cliff in 2013 leaving the right tackle position unsettled. James has experience and looks comfortable playing in a system with zone concepts, which Joe Philbin likes to run.

51. Chicago – Timmy Jernigan Jr., DT, Florida State    6’2’’  299
The 5.3 yards per carry the Bears gave up last season was historically bad, and that must be addressed early in the draft. Jernigan is a good run defender who uses his quick hands and agility to be disruptive at the point of attack.

52. Arizona – Zach Mettenberger, QB, Louisiana State    6’5’’  224
Carson Palmer turned 34 in December, and in his words he won’t play forever. Mettenberger would be eased into the fold here coming off of his torn ACL. His huge arm would be an asset in Bruce Arians’ vertical-based offense.

53. Green Bay – Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State    6’3’’  298
Evan Dietrich-Smith was lost in free agency, so the Packers will be looking for their 4th starting center since 2011. Richburg is an intelligent player, and has the mobility to execute the zone blocking concepts Green Bay deploys.

54. Philadelphia – Marcus Smith, DE/LB, Louisville    6’3’’  251
Trent Cole and Connor Barwin performed well against the run last year, but neither consistently got to the quarterback. Smith brings good speed off the edge, and has shown that he is comfortable operating in space.

55. Cincinnati – Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson    5’11’’  197
Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick have struggled to stay healthy, and Terence Newman is entering his age 36 season. Breeland brings size, length, and physicality to the position, and has the potential to be Newman’s heir apparent.

56. San Francisco – Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson 6’4’’ 211
Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin make up one of the league’s better receiving duos, but neither is a real vertical threat. Bryant has plenty of speed to be a downfield threat, and his presence would help open up the 49ers’ offense.

57. San Diego – Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi    6’2’’  221
Keenan Allen turned out to be a steal in the 2013 draft, but injuries helped to decimate the depth at the wide receiver position. Moncrief has an intriguing combination of size and speed, and does a nice job picking up yards after catch.

58. New Orleans – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt    6’3’’  212
Kenny Stills was a pleasant surprise as a deep threat last year, and Joe Morgan also has plenty of speed. Matthews is more of a mid-range run after catch receiver who could take advantage of space opened up by the deep threats.

59. Indianapolis – Marcus Martin, C/G, Southern California    6’3’’  320
Phil Costa was signed to upgrade to help improve the struggling interior of the Colts offensive line – then he retired. Martin can help at guard and/or center and he would help establish the power running game Indy wants to establish.

60. Carolina – Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State    6’1’’  212
Projected starters Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant have combined to catch 42 touchdowns in 262 career games. Adams has adequate speed, and his ability to go and catch a ball at its highest point should help in the red zone.

61. San Francisco – Dominique Easley, DT, Florida    6’2’’  288
With draft picks to spare, the 49ers could use last year’s strategy of drafting and stashing highly rated players coming off of significant injuries. Easley has major knee concerns, but has been a disruptive force when healthy.

62. New England – Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State    6’0’’  230
LeGarrette Blount is gone, so the Patriots could be looking for insurance if (when?) Stevan Ridley is benched for fumbling. Hyde has the size and power to be a between the tackles runner but is also a solid all-around tailback.

63. Denver – Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska    6’3’’  218
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey are gone, and Chris Harris Jr. is recuperating from a torn ACL. After struggling with Seattle’s big corners, the Broncos may look more at a big cover corner like Jean-Baptiste.

64. Seattle – Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State    6’3’’  336
The interior of the Seahawks’ line wasn’t up to par last season, and Seattle hasn’t committed to James Carpenter beyond next year. Jackson moves quite well for his size and has enough strength to anchor at the point of attack.

Round 3
65. Houston – Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State    6’1’’  250
Depth at linebacker is a concern for the Texans, particularly inside to go along with injury-risk Brian Cushing. Bradford has the versatility to fill a void on the inside and the ability to shift outside as a situational pass rusher.

66. Washington – Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford    6’5’’  323
Tyler Polumbus has been below average at right tackle, and he isn’t a great fit on Jay Gruden’s power blocking scheme. Fleming brings more girth and power to the position and demonstrates a good feel for the game.

67. Oakland – Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State    6’5’’  315
Khalif Barnes was brought back for another year, but ideally the Raiders would do better at left guard. Turner would be an immediate upgrade at guard and could eventually challenge the struggling Menelik Watson at right tackle.

68. Atlanta – Tre Mason, RB, Auburn    5’9’’  207
Steven Jackson is entering his age 31 season, and Jacquizz Rodgers only averages 3.6 yards per carry in his career. Mason shows excellent burst when running between the tackles and could eventually develop into a feature back.

69. Tampa Bay – Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia    6’1’’  207
Josh McCown turns 35 in July and isn’t a long-term option at QB. The new Bucs regime doesn’t seem sold on Mike Glennon. Murray makes quick decisions and has quality intangibles, helping to make up for average physical tools.

70. Jacksonville – Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas    6’5’’  312
For the first time in about a dozen years, the Jaguars will be looking for someone other than Brad Meester to man the center spot. Swanson had a pre-draft process, but that shouldn’t overshadow four years of quality performance.

71. Cleveland – Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida    5’11’’  194
Though Buster Skrine showed some improvement last year, he is still best suited as a nickelback/slot corner. Like his high-profile younger half-brother Sammy, Watkins is a smooth athlete with the speed to run with most players.

72. Minnesota – Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame    6’5’’  304
Jared Allen became expendable due in part to the emergence of Everson Griffen, but that’s still 11.5 sacks from 2013 to replace. Tuitt would provide depth as a third rusher and potentially an interior rusher on passing downs.

73. Buffalo – Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame    6’6’’  270
Scott Chandler isn’t a bad option at tight end, but he’s not an inspiring one either. Niklas is a strong run blocker which fits right in with what the Bills want to do. He has flashed good receiving skills when given the opportunity.

74. N.Y. Giants – Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State    6’3’’  220
If Victor Cruz’ comments mean anything, the Giants need one more weapon on the outside while he mans the slot. Robinson isn’t an elite athlete, but he runs great routes and would fit in the newly implemented West Coast offense.

75. St. Louis – A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama    6’3’’  220
Sam Bradford will enter next year as the starter, but his future beyond that is uncertain. The Rams could be looking for a long-term starter. McCarron would serve as a game manager for a team with a solid running game and defense.

76. Detroit – Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood (MO)    6’1’’  198
Chris Houston is coming off of an injury-plagued season and Rashean Mathis turns 34 this year. Desir would be well served to be eased in behind a pair of veterans. He is from a small school, but displays NFL-level athleticism.

77. San Francisco – Trent Murphy, DE/LB, Stanford    6’5’’  250
Aldon Smith is one of the more gifted pass rushers in the game, but the 49ers need insurance due to his off-field troubles. Murphy is a relentless pass rusher who even without top level speed knows how to get in the backfield.

78. Dallas – Antonio “Tiny” Richardson, OT, Tennessee    6’6’’  336
Coming off of his second back surgery in a year, Tony Romo needs his offensive line to protect him now more than ever. Richardson has tantalizing physical attributes and with some refinement would be an upgrade over Doug Free.

79. Baltimore – Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice    6’0’’  193
As the team’s third corner, Corey Graham led the Ravens with 4 INT last year. His departure leaves Baltimore thin at the position. Gaines has the size, speed, an intelligence to be an impact player in a reserve role like Graham was.

80. N.Y. Jets – Keith McGill, CB/S, Utah    6’3’’  211
Rex Ryan didn’t get his wish of impactful secondary help in free agency, but maybe he will in the draft. McGill has plenty of size to play in Ryan’s press coverage, and if he has to move to safety he’d help New York there too.

81. Miami – Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin    6’0’’  248
Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler were fairly expensive busts at linebacker last year, necessitating help being brought in. Borland doesn’t have great physical tools, but he would bring some welcomed on-field awareness.

82. Chicago – Jeremy Hill, RB, Louisiana State    6’1’’  233
Matt Forté’s 363 touches last year were his highest total since 2008, and the Bears may want to ease his load a little. Hill would play the short-yardage power back role that Michael Bush was expected to fill when he was in Chicago.

83. Cleveland – Terrance West, RB, Towson    5’9’’  225
Projected starter Ben Tate has never had 200 carries in a season due in large part to durability issues. West showed in college that he can handle a huge workload, and his decisive cutting is perfect for Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

84. Arizona – Chris Smith, DE/LB, Arkansas    6’1’’  266
36-year-old John Abraham led the team with 11.5 sacks last year as their only impactful rushing linebacker. Despite having less than ideal height, Smith has very good arm length and understands how to use that to defeat blockers.

85. Green Bay – Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State    5’11’’  198
Morgan Burnett had a disappointing season last year, and the Packers discovered M.D. Jennings wasn’t the answer. Brooks has closing speed and anticipation skills and would have had a monster senior year if he had better hands.

86. Philadelphia – Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado    6’0’’  175
DeSean Jackson was a major part of Kelly’s offense last year, as he 2nd in the league in catches of 20+ yards. Richardson is undersized (like Jackson), but he has plenty of speed to replace Jackson’s home run hitting presence.

87. Kansas City – Dakota Dozier, OT/G, Furman    6’4’’  313
Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah, and Geoff Schwartz are all gone from last year’s offensive line. Dozier projects as a guard in the NFL, who could kick out to tackle if necessary. He’d be a good run blocker for Jamaal Charles to have.

88. Cincinnati – Christian Jones, LB, Florida State    6’3’’  240
James Harrison’s one season as a Bengal wasn’t a very impactful one, and as a result he was released. At this stage of their careers, Jones is a significant athletic upgrade over Harrison and may be a better pass rusher now as well.

89. San Diego – DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State    6’4’’  322
The loss of Cam Thomas leaves the Chargers with very few proven options in the middle of the defensive line. Jones has shown he is a capable run stopper and embraces taking on multiple blockers, so he could help fill that void.

90. Indianapolis – Brock Vereen, S/CB, Minnesota    6’0’’  199
When the free agent safety carousel stopped, the Colts were left without a replacement for the departed Antoine Bethea. Vereen has good speed and range for a safety, and could also provide some needed depth at corner as well.

91. New Orleans – Dri Archer, RB/WR, Kent State    5’8’’  173
In three seasons with the Saints, Darren Sproles was a key part of the passing game averaging 77.3 receptions per year. Archer has blazing speed and could fill the Sproles role of a receiving scat back and explosive punt returner.

92. Carolina – Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida    6’0’’  191
Captain Munnerlyn was allowed to walk, and often ineffective Antoine Cason was brought in to help take his place. Roberson has shown promise as a pure cover corner, and would benefit from playing behind Carolina’s front seven.

93. New England – Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech    6’6’’  248
Tom Brady turns 37 this year and Ryan Mallett is in the final year of his rookie contract. Thomas needs refinement, but he has all of the physical tools wanted in a quarterback and would be well served being groomed behind Brady.

94. San Francisco – Dion Bailey, SS, Southern California    6’0’’  201
Antoine Bethea was brought in to replace Donte Whitner, but the 49ers have the luxury of being able to add depth. Bailey is still learning the position (former linebacker), but shows promising ball skills (9 INT in the last two years).

95. Denver – Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State    6’6’’  309
The departure of Zane Beadles necessitated some shifting around of the Broncos’ offensive line. Mewhort, a solid pass blocker, could fill Orlando Franklin’s old right tackle position or at least provide key depth with his versatility.

96. Minnesota – Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor    6’5’’  329
Charlie Johnson was ultimately re-signed, but after a couple of subpar seasons at left guard he may be better suited as a reserve. Richardson is a powerful lineman who could open up some holes for Vikings MVP Adrian Peterson

97. Pittsburgh – Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State    6’0’’  303
Ziggy Hood left after a forgettable run in Pittsburgh, and Brett Keisel isn’t a guarantee to be brought back. Sutton had a down year in 2013, but has shown an ability to get into opposing backfields and could help the pass rush.

98. Green Bay – Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford    6’2’’  245
Brad Jones did nothing to distinguish himself as a starter last year, and there is not a ton of depth at the position. Skov’s lack of raw athleticism necessitates playing in a 3-4, but his instincts and hustle should lead to productivity.

99. Baltimore – Jarvis Landry, WR, Louisiana State    5’11’’  205
The addition of 35-year-old Steve Smith helps, but the Ravens may still add younger talent to the position. Landry would help bring some of the toughness and reliability at receiver Baltimore never replaced from Anquan Boldin.

100. San Francisco – Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington    5’9’’  209
Anthony Dixon is gone, LaMichael James could be next, and Kendall Hunter is entering a contract year. Sankey is slightly undersized, but is a solid all-around runner who can also be a factor catching passes out of the backfield.