The NIT Nati Mock Draft 2014

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7.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M.  Tampa’s receiver corps behind Vincent Jackson is rough.  Whether its Josh McCown or Mike Glennon under center, the Bucs have to find some targets to give their signal callers a chance.  Mike Evans’ ability to elevate above defenders is a big reason Johnny Manziel was able to complete some of the more ‘creative’ plays last season.  Paired with Jackson, Evans will create mismatches and draw safeties, opening this offense up to more explosive playmaking.

October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) defends against the California Golden Bears during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

8.  Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.  Nope, not a quarterback here.  While very much of a defensive mind, new head coach Mike Zimmer prides himself on getting more juice from later round picks.  That being said, a quarterback in the second round seems more likely, so for now Anthony Barr is too good of a defensive player for the Vikings to pass up.  Not much talk has circulated on the top linebacker prospect who was often compared to Khalil Mack in past months.  It is unlikely that his stock has fallen; rather, the media just seems to have found him uninteresting.  In which case, Minnesota goes best player available.

9.  Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.  Some scouts have Taylor Lewan has the top overall tackle in this year’s draft.  At 6’7”, 315 lbs he is bigger than Matthews and Robinson, and he has experience playing both left and right sides of the line.  Further, Lewan blew the doors off the combine, posting the fastest 40-yard dash (4.87 sec) and broad jump (9’9”) by any offensive lineman.  The Bills need help at linebacker and tight end as well, but both would be reaches at this point.  Lewan is worthy of a top 15 pick, and is one of the best players available.  More importantly, it addresses a critical need for Buffalo whose young quarterback EJ Manuel needs better protection if he is going to be effective.

10.  Detroit Lions – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina.  The Lions need a help in the secondary, and with the top cornerback still on the board this pick is easy…or is it?  Detroit needs safety help too, and though after Calvin Pryor and Hasean Clinton-Dix mark the edge of the world in terms of safety talent this year, the Lions have not taken a defensive back in the first round since Terry Fair in 1998.  Meanwhile, there are only four or five tight ends that grade out in the first three rounds.  Perhaps number ten overall is a reach for Eric Ebron, but his talent is far and away the top at his position.  If Detroit wants to add a dynamic big receiver to pair with Megatron, this is the player to select.  While some fans may be disappointed that Justin Gilbert is not mocked here, they may be surprised to learn that Todd McShay actually has Ebron rated higher than any defensive back.