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2015 NFL DRAFT

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Will Bengals take a QB to compete with Dalton?

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

Could the Bengals take former Georgia QB Aaron Murray in Round 2 to compete with Andy Dalton? (USATSI)
Could the Bengals take former Georgia QB Aaron Murray in Round 2 to compete with Andy Dalton? (USATSI)

More NFL offseason: NFL Mock Drafts | Prospect Rankings | Top free agents

The Houston Texans face a conundrum with the first overall pick of the 2014 draft.

History says they should select a quarterback. Doing so would come at the cost of passing up better players -- and ditching the tried-and-true approach of drafting the best player available -- at positions more likely to provide an immediate impact.

This quarterback class is deep but not truly dynamic. Plucking Jimmy Garoppolo or Aaron Murray in the second or third round might prove to be the wiser investment. Rolling the dice with raw UCF junior Blake Bortles at No. 1 overall comes with a risk factor.

What will Texans' general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O'Brien decide? They may have given us a hint last week, prompting a change at No. 1 overall and a second round added in my first two-round mock draft of the year.

NFL Mock Draft - 3/25/2014
Round 1
1. Houston Texans

(2-14)
Blake Bortles, QB, UCF: The best players in the 2014 draft play other positions but every indication is that the Texans are set on taking a quarterback with the first pick. Trading away Matt Schaub and signing veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is respected for his willingness to mentor young quarterbacks, are the latest indications of the Texans' plans. Bortles wasn't perfect at his Pro Day but he was improved from his Combine throwing session, which optimists will take as a sign that he's only scratching the surface of his ability. Bortles' perceived upside and fit O'Brien's offense make the UCF product the logical fit for Houston.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)

(7-9)
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: To compete in the league's most physical division, the Rams have to get tougher along the offensive line. Robinson's rare size, athleticism and dominance in the running game would allow St. Louis to keep Rodger Safford inside at guard and provide some protection at tackle, where veteran Jake Long is recovery from a torn ACL.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars

(4-12)
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: The Jaguars would like to add a quarterback but can't pass up the best player in the draft. Clowney will contend for Pro Bowl honors as a rookie in Gus Bradley's scheme.
4. Cleveland Browns

(4-12)
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Rather than swing for the fences with a quarterback as his first pick at general manager, Ray Farmer may elect to take the safer route with Matthews, who could slide in at right tackle and push Mitchell Schwartz back to his more ideally-suited position at guard.
5. Oakland Raiders

(4-12)
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: If Schaub is going to have the same revitalization of his career with the Raiders that Jim Plunkett and Rich Gannon previously enjoyed in the Silver and Black, he'll need weapons. An explosive athlete with excellent hands, Watkins will quickly emerge as a No. 1 target in the NFL.
6. Atlanta Falcons

(4-12)
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: The Falcons rebuilt their defensive line via free agency with veterans Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson but currently lack their headlining pass rusher to make the conversion to the 3-4 successful. Mack, the all-time leader in FBS history with 16 forced fumbles and tied for the all-time lead with 75 career tackles for loss over his career. Among the cleaner prospects in the draft, Mack is a chic dark horse candidate for No. 1 overall with the Texans and would offer great value here.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(4-12)
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: No one attacked free agency like Tampa, which gives head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht plenty of options with this pick. One of those additions was Josh McCown, who Smith already proclaimed as his starter over second-year pro Mike Glennon. McCown's age (34) and relatively small contract (2 years/10 million) means he is a stop-gap solution at best. Few offensive coordinators are more creative than the Bucs' Jeff Tedford and with a Mike Evans-like target already on the roster in Vincent Jackson, the Bucs could prove a surprise landing spot for Manziel.
8. Minnesota Vikings

(5-10-1)
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: Mike Zimmer's choice of Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator is an indication that he is looking for quarterback with the big arm to keep safeties from crowding the line of scrimmage. The quarterbacks already on the roster do not possess this type of ability, nor does Louisville's Bridgewater. Vikings' general manager Rick Spielman and Turner were among those who took in Carr's very impressive Pro Day workout.
9. Buffalo Bills

(6-10)
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: In head coach Doug Marrone's first season at the helm, he showed off his preference for a ball-control attack, making controlling the line of scrimmage paramount to success. Few are better there than Lewan, who starred for four seasons at left tackle with the Wolverines but may be even better suited to the right side because of his length and aggression.
10. Detroit Lions

(7-9)
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin inherits a unit that was terrible a year ago in creating turnovers. Safety Louis Delmas led the team with three interceptions and he's no longer on the roster. Veteran Chris Houston was the only cornerback on the team to intercept a pass. Gilbert is a proven playmaker who led the Big 12 with seven interceptions in 2013 and returned six kickoffs for scores over his collegiate career.
11. Tennessee Titans

(7-9)
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: The Titans tied for 21st in the NFL with 36 sacks recorded in 2013 with defensive tackle Jurell Casey chipping in a disproportionate 10.5 of them. With the Titans expected to transition to a 3-4 defense under Ray Horton, Casey's numbers are likely to fall, creating a need for more pass rushers. Only two years removed from playing on offense, Barr lacks the polish to rank as a top 10 pick for everyone but his tremendous blend of size (6-5, 255), speed (4.44) and flexibility made him a star rush linebacker in UCLA's 3-4 scheme.
12. NY Giants

(7-9)
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Whether it comes in the first round or elsewhere, tight end will be a position the Giants almost surely address given that the club currently only has Larry Donnell (three career receptions) and Adrien Robinson (none) on the roster. Ebron's ability to create big yardage after the catch would be a perfect fit in new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's attack.
13. St. Louis Rams

(7-9)
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: The Rams have invested heavily in receivers in recent drafts and therefore may elect to give their current group more time. Given the size and physicality of the cornerbacks in the NFC West, however, the 6-5, 233-pounder Evans has to be intriguing. The long-strider has often been compared to Tampa's star Vincent Jackson but Evans is much more aggressive, a characteristic head coach Jeff Fisher has always prized in his players.
14. Chicago Bears

(8-8)
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: The free agent additions of Lamarr Houston and Willie Young (among others) certainly lessens the need for defensive linemen but penetrators like Donald don't come around often. Given the caliber of explosive offenses in the NFC North, getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks is paramount.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers

(8-8)
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: The once-proud Pittsburgh defense has fallen off in recent years and reinforcements are needed at all three levels. Given his polish, aggression and schematic fit, Dennard would make a lot of sense.
16. Dallas Cowboys

(8-8)
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: The signing of defensive tackle Henry Melton helps fill the gaping hole in the middle of Dallas' defensive line but doesn't necessarily eliminate it. Jernigan's burst and strength make him capable of handling either of the two defensive tackle roles in Rod Marinelli's scheme.
17. Baltimore Ravens

(8-8)
Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama: The Ravens plan to shift last year's first round pick, Matt Elam, over from free safety to strong safety. Clinton-Dix boasts the range and ball-skills to complement him. The tandem would give the Ravens the formidable duo in the deep patrol to handle the explosive passing offenses of the AFC's powerhouses.
18. NY Jets

(8-8)
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: Rookie Geno Smith certainly took his lumps as a rookie but considering the weapons surrounding him, his struggles aren't surprising and he appears likely to return as the Jets' starter in 2014. Cooks is an extraordinary athlete with the agility and speed to complement newly signed possession receiver Eric Decker.
19. Miami Dolphins

(8-8)
Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: With Branden Albert signed to take over at left tackle, the Dolphins can instead shift their draft-day focus towards boosting the play inside at guard. Zack Martin, unrelated to Jonathan Martin by genetics or style of play, is a coach's dream. While perhaps lacking the body type scouts prefer at tackle (where he started 50 of his 52 career games for the Irish), Martin slides well laterally and controls opponents with fierce hand usage.
20. Arizona Cardinals

(10-6)
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: John Abraham led the Cardinals with 11.5 sacks in 2014 but next season will be his 15th in the NFL. Ealy starred at defensive end for the Tigers and certainly will be viewed as a quality defensive end from teams operating out of a 4-3 but he's a fluid athlete also capable of making the transition as a standup outside linebacker in the 3-4, making him an intriguing fit for the Cardinals.
21. Green Bay Packers

(8-7-1)
Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State: For the second consecutive season the Packers were knocked out of the playoffs by Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers and therefore improvements in handling dual-threat quarterbacks will likely be a priority. Adding a pass rusher like Julius Peppers should help, but reinforcements in the back end is also necessary. Shazier may lack the length and pass rush skills traditionally associated with the 3-4 scheme but he is an aggressive, explosive defender well-suited to shadowing athletic quarterbacks.
22. Philadelphia Eagles

(10-6)
Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: The Eagles took a significant step in improving upon their 30th ranked pass defense by landing former New Orleans Saints' safety Malcolm Jenkins but more help is needed. Adding a versatile and explosive edge rusher like Ford, the Senior Bowl MVP, would help.
23. Kansas City Chiefs

(11-5)
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: In guiding the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and a return to the playoffs, quarterback Alex Smith proved worthy of the trade to acquire him from the 49ers. He's a classic game-manager, however, who needs complementary playmakers around him to be at his best. Beckham is a dynamic athlete capable of providing the big plays necessary for the Chiefs to take the next step.
24. Cincinnati Bengals

(11-5)
Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville: Re-signing veteran Taylor Mays means that safety isn't an obvious concern for the Bengals but Pryor likely would prove an upgrade. Boasting the explosive closing ability in run support that makes Mays intriguing, Pryor is also fluid and instinctive in coverage. His leadership could help pull together a secondary blessed with talent but not consistency.
25. San Diego Chargers

(9-7)
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: The Chargers run to the playoffs was all the more impressive when one considers that the team ranked last in the AFC (and 29th overall) in pass defense. Roby wasn't as consistent in 2013 as scouts would like but he is a terrific athlete whose best football may still lie ahead of him. Some team is going to gamble on his upside in the first round.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis)

(4-12)
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville* -- Bridgewater remains my personal top-rated quarterback but he has plenty of critics in NFL scouting circles who will point to his slight frame and disappointing Pro Day as evidence that he's been overrated in the media. With few teams in need of a quarterback outside of the top eight picks, any passer who begins to slide could be left hoping that an aggressive team trades up to rescue him. In this scenario, Bridgewater's loss could be the Browns' gain.
27. New Orleans Saints

(11-5)
C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: Mosley's awareness and reliable open -field tackling skills make him an easy projection to the NFL but, like a lot of Alabama players, his checkered medical history could lead to a slight slip on draft day. Pairing Mosley with the Saints' already formidable duo of safeties of Kenny Vacarro and Jairus Byrd, however, would make New Orleans as athletic and instinctive up the middle as any defense in the league.
28. Carolina Panthers

(12-4)
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: Adding weapons for Cam Newton might seem like the Panthers top priority but with unique depth at the position, the team could opt to fill other needs -- like cornerback -- first. Fuller isn't a flashy athlete but he's technically sound, tough and equally effective against the pass and run, a combination that makes him one of the more pro-ready corners of the draft and a solid late first round candidate.
29. New England Patriots

(12-4)
Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame: The season-ending Achilles tear to nose guard Vince Wilfork made the middle of the Patriots' defense a sieve and with an $11.6 million cap hit next year, reinforcements up the middle are needed. If available here, Nix would be an ideal match.
30. San Francisco 49ers

(12-4)
Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California: Considered by some to be a top-10 lock after a breathtaking sophomore season that earned him the Biletnikoff Award, Lee instead struggled with injury and inconsistency in 2013. For a club with two dependable possession receivers in Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin but lacking a traditional playmaker at the position, Lee could prove a steal.
31. Denver Broncos

(13-3)
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: The Broncos paid top dollar for Aqib Talib but with the talented cornerback having never played a full season in his seven-year NFL career, Denver would be wise to add fortification to the position in the draft. Verrett may lack size but what the 5-09, 189-pound Verrett lacks in bulk, he more than makes up with grit and athleticism.
32. Seattle Seahawks

(13-3)
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: Though free agency has tapped some of their depth, the Seahawks still boast the league's most talented roster which will once again put Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider in the enviable position of selecting the best player available. The Seahawks look for unique traits and could see the 6-5, 240-pound Benjamin's height, gliding speed and strong hands as an ideal replacement for the injury-prone Sidney Rice.
Round 2
1. Houston Texans

(2-14)
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: Given the investment at quarterback, fortifying the offensive line must be a priority.
2. Washington Redskins

(3-13)
Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA: An undersized offensive line was pushed around too often a year ago. The versatile Su'a-Filo is powerful, athletic and pro-ready.
3. Cleveland Browns

(4-12)
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: With Josh Gordon one failed NFL policies test away from a year-long suspension and Greg Little as likely to drop a ball as catch it, the Browns can't afford to let big, talented receivers slip by.
4. Oakland Raiders

(4-12)
RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: Few gamble on size and athletic upside like the Raiders and Hageman possesses a great deal of each.
5. St. Louis Rams

(7-9)
Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois: Pairing Ward with 2013 rookie T.J. McDonald would tighten up the Rams' leaky secondary quickly.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(4-12)
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame: A former linebacker who plays with this kind of mentality, Niklas could help in the running game immediately and develop into a quality security blanket.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars

(4-12)
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois: If the Jaguars don't take a quarterback in the first round, they could rely upon their Senior Bowl experience, which included coaching Garopollo.
8. Minnesota Vikings

(5-10-1)
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young: Pairing Van Noy with Chad Greenway would give the Vikings two versatile and instinctive linebackers on the perimeter.
9. Buffalo Bills

(6-10)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: Protecting the investment in EJ Manuel with big pass catchers is a must and few boast the reigning Mackey Award winner's size and mitts.
10. Tennessee Titans

(7-9)
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU: With Chris Johnson potentially on his wait out of town, adding a back capable of starring on all three downs will be critical.
11. NY Giants

(7-9)
Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State: The lack of a consistent running game nearly got Eli Manning killed a year ago. Improving in this area will be a focus.
12. St. Louis Rams

(7-9)
Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame: With extra picks, the Rams can gamble on talent and few boast the combination of length, athleticism and power as Tuitt.
13. Detroit Lions

(7-9)
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State: Supplementing the unique talent already on the defensive line with a Cliff Avril clone makes a lot of sense for Detroit.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers

(8-8)
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: The Steelers have reportedly promised Ben Roethlisberger some big receivers. Few fit the bill better than Amaro.
15. Dallas Cowboys

(8-8)
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State: Crichton may lack the elite athleticism of some of the top pass rushers in this class, but his hands and motor never quit.
16. Baltimore Ravens

(8-8)
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington: If Ray Rice has played his final game in Baltimore, the Ravens won't waste time looking for a replacement. Like Rice, Sankey is effective on all three downs.
17. NY Jets

(8-8)
Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech: The Jets rely on their defensive line to supply their pass rush but could see this former Yellow Jacket as a fit as a traditional 3-4 edge rusher.
18. Miami Dolphins

(8-8)
Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State: Whether it be at corner or as an upgrade at safety, Joyner is just too instinctive and athletic to ignore.
19. Chicago Bears

(8-8)
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida: An aging Chicago secondary could use reinforcements and few corners in this class play with Roberson's instincts and physicality.
20. Arizona Cardinals

(10-6)
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina: The best way to beat the big, physical corners of the NFC West is with quick, tough receivers.
21. Green Bay Packers

(8-7-1)
DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State: Ted Thompson reloads the defensive line like few others and Jones' size and power makes him a fit at virtually every position in the 3-4.
22. Philadelphia Eagles

(10-6)
Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson: Athletic enough to handle tackle but built more like a guard, Thomas would give the Eagles plenty of options up front.
23. Cincinnati Bengals

(11-5)
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: The Bengals would like someone to push Andy Dalton and may be unwilling to gamble that Murray will slip to the third round.
24. San Francisco 49ers

(12-4)
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State: The 49ers gave Daniel Kilgore a three-year extension in the hopes that he can take over for veteran Jonathan Goodwin but should a talent like Richburg fall into their lap, he'd make too much sense not to consider.
25. San Diego Chargers

(9-7)
Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah: The Chargers need help on the perimeter and after proving his health during his Pro Day, the lengthy and versatile Reilly could be on their radar.
26. New Orleans Saints

(11-5)
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn: Replacing Darren Sproles won't be easy but Mason offers a similar skill set and could prove to be a steal at this point in the draft.
27. Indianapolis Colts

(11-5)
David Yankey, OG, Stanford: Given their needs for improved play on the interior, adding one of Andrew Luck's former teammates makes a lot of sense.
28. Carolina Panthers

(12-4)
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: Cam Newton needs weapons around him to be successful and considering Matthews' dominance of the SEC, few come with more polish.
29. San Francisco 49ers

(12-4)
Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State: Moved all over the field by the Sun Devils, Bradford is being projected by some as an ILB in the 3-4. His instincts and physicality could be especially valued by the 49ers, a club potentially looking for depth considering Navarro Bowman's knee injury in the NFC Championship game.
30. New England Patriots

(12-4)
Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford: Instinctive, physical and possessing underrated athleticism, Murphy fits the Bill as a Belichick edge rusher.
31. Denver Broncos

(13-3)
Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State: Replacing Eric Decker with a similarly reliable route-runner and hands-catcher like Adams shouldn't be this easy.
32. Seattle Seahawks

(13-3)
Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville: Pete Carroll is always looking for edge rushers and with Cliff Avril only signed for one more year, adding depth at the LEO position is critical.

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