17. St. Louis Rams: Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
The St. Louis Rams have one of the NFL’s best defensive end duos in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but they could use a greater interior pass-rushing presence.
Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley is an explosive interior penetrator who could rotate with Rams defensive tackles Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers and provide an additional spark on pass-rushing downs. With a player with as much quickness on the inside as Easley, offensive lines would have to draw off double-teams off the edge and account for Easley’s inside pass-rushing presence.
18. Miami Dolphins: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida (Jr.)
The Miami Dolphins drafted two cornerbacks in this year’s NFL draft, but neither has contributed yet while the team’s only solid veteran starter, Brent Grimes, is only signed to a one-year contract. Even if Jamar Taylor and Will Davis make big leaps this season and going into their second year, adding another cornerback will still be a need if Grimes is not resigned.
Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy is an outstanding athlete with star potential. He needs to become a more consistent and disciplined player, but he has terrific size, speed and ball skills and could add a real playmaker to the Dolphins secondary.
19. New York Giants: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
BYU defensive playmaker Kyle Van Noy would be a steal in the second half of the first round, and would help the New York Giants at linebacker, one of their positions of greatest need.
Van Noy is an explosive, versatile athlete who could be an immediate upgrade at strongside linebacker while also having the versatility to kick inside to middle linebacker or down to defensive end as a situational pass-rusher. He is the best player available in this scenario.
20. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State (Jr.)
The St. Louis Rams are likely to be in the market for a replacement at right tackle for unrestricted free agent Rodger Saffold next offseason. Florida State’s Cameron Erving is an athletic offensive tackle prospect with the potential to develop into a star.
Erving’s game remains raw, but he is a better prospect than Menelik Watson, who was a second-round pick in the 2013 draft after one season as Florida State’s right tackle. With another year of seasoning, Erving could develop into a player who can fill in immediately at the right tackle position.
21. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (RS So.)
The Baltimore Ravens need to add another playmaker at the wide receiver position opposite Torrey Smith to replace Anquan Boldin, and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans could be the perfect fit should he declare for the 2014 NFL draft.
Like Boldin, Evans is a big wideout who attacks the ball in the air and uses his size to box out defensive backs. He has great athleticism relative to his size, and consistently creates mismatches with his length and physicality.
22. Houston Texans: James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
Derek Newton has not proved to be the long-term answer for the Houston Texans at right tackle, so they would be smart to look for an upgrade in the 2014 draft.
North Carolina’s James Hurst is an athletic, technically sound offensive tackle who could be plugged in immediately as on the right side of the offensive line. He is a more skilled pass protector than Newton and is also active in picking up run blocks.
23. New Orleans Saints: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The New Orleans Saints got a one-year loan on Parys Haralson by acquiring him in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers, but that does not solve the team’s lack of a long-term premier pass-rusher at the outside linebacker. The Saints need to add that player to their 3-4 defense, and they could with Buffalo’s Khalil Mack.
Mack is an explosive athlete who excels at getting into the backfield, but also has very good range as a run defender and is solid in coverage. He is well-suited to be a three-down linebacker in an NFL 3-4 defensive scheme.
24. Chicago Bears: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon (Jr.)
The Chicago Bears have many key players slated for unrestricted free agency in 2014, including both of their starting cornerbacks, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. With Jay Cutler and Henry Melton also on the hook for new contracts, the Bears may be forced to replace one of their starters, as both will command significant contracts on the open market.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is an aggressive playmaking cornerback who would be a good choice late in the first round. He does have great size, but is a very good athlete and sound tackler. He could be a replacement starter or an immediate impact player as a nickel cornerback.
25. Indianapolis Colts: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Cornerback is already a point of weakness on the Indianapolis Colts’ roster, and Vontae Davis is slated for unrestricted free agency in 2014. The Colts should be in the market for another cornerback early in the 2014 draft, and TCU’s Jason Verrett would be solid late first-round value.
Verrett is a fluid athlete who makes plays on the ball and tackles well. He could be a potential upgrade over Davis or Greg Toler as a starting cornerback, or contribute immediately as the nickel slot cornerback.
26. Green Bay Packers: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington (Jr.)
Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has too much upside to go through the first round without someone taking a chance on him. Outside the top 25, he would be a steal and fill a need for the Green Bay Packers if Jermichael Finley leaves via unrestricted free agency.
Seferian-Jenkins is a massive tight end (6’6”, 276 pounds according to Washington’s official athletics website) who also has great athleticism. He is a skilled receiver who can create consistent mismatches for opposing defenses, while he could also provide much-needed help for Green Bay as a blocking extension of the offensive line.
27. New England Patriots: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The New England Patriots added many young pass-catchers this offseason, but after losing four of their top five receivers from the 2012 season, adding more weapons to the offense for Tom Brady is going to remain a top need for the 2014 draft.
Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews could be exactly what the Patriots need at the wide receiver position. He is a big, physical, sure-handed wideout who goes after the football and runs smart routes. He could thrive as an intermediate downfield target in the Patriots offense.
28. Atlanta Falcons: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (Jr.)
Tony Gonzalez was talked out of retirement in 2013, but will most likely retire again in 2014. The Atlanta Falcons should be in the market for his heir apparent at tight end in the 2014 draft.
Oregon’s Colt Lyerla is not quite the player Gonzalez is, but he offers a different and dynamic skill set. He is a big tight end who has very good open-field quickness for his size, and a versatile weapon who can also be used as a runner and blocker out of the backfield.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida (RS So.)
With one of the most complete rosters in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals can afford to take a risk in the 2014 NFL draft. The Bengals are highly unlikely to be able to re-sign Michael Johnson after giving big money to defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, so looking for another pass-rushing defensive end to combine with Dunlap and Margus Hunt would make sense.
Aaron Lynch has limited experience and his game remains very raw, but he is an explosive athlete who has flashed serious pass-rushing potential and has great length. In an opportunity where he can be developed and worked in gradually, Lynch could emerge as a star.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame (Jr.)
It’s going to be time for the San Francisco 49ers to find an heir apparent to take on Justin Smith’s role as a 5-technique defensive end on their defensive front, as he turns 34 later this month and will be a free agent in 2015.
Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt has the potential to excel in that role. He has ideal size for the position (listed at 6’6 1/2” and 312 pounds by Notre Dame’s official athletics website) and although he lacks an explosive burst, he is a fluid athlete and skilled interior pass-rusher who projects best to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
31. Denver Broncos: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State (Jr.)
The Denver Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil this offseason and have yet to replace him, leaving them in need of a pass-rushing defensive end.
Oregon State’s Scott Crichton is a well-rounded defensive end who could, along with 2012 fourth-round pick Quanterus Smith, help fill that void on the Broncos’ defensive line. Crichton is an explosive athlete who can beat his opponents with both speed and power, and get into the backfield in a hurry.
32. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, OG, Stanford (Jr.)
The Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line could use some rebuilding, especially on the right side of the line.
Stanford’s David Yankey is one of the nation’s best guard prospects. He could come in and immediately push for a starting spot at either left or right guard, while his offensive tackle experience could allow to slide out to right tackle in a pinch.