With the thirteenth pick, the Vikings Select…
Kyle Van Noy, OLB out of Brigham Young
Every draft has the relative unknown pass rusher who ends up shooting up the draft boards as we approach the actual draft and ends up being a star. This year that player will be Van Noy. Two years ago Bruce Irvin was picked in the first despite not being in any mock drafts. Last year, Ezekiel Ansah, also from Brigham Young, went from being a fourth round product, to one of the highest players on any draft board by the time the it started. People like to throw players from smaller conferences to the side, but it always ends up coming around to bite them in the end.
Van Noy is versatile, which helps since Vikings seems to be preparing for a hybrid front under new head coach Mike Zimmer. He is a tremendous edge pass rusher, using his speed to beat the blocks and get to the quarterback. More importantly, he can keep pressure on the Qb with consistency, unlike many pass rushers his size. He not only excels in the pass rush though, as he is adept in cover skills in both man and zone fronts as well.
Van Noy is a little small, and can get beat in the run game sometimes. He will need to bulk up, but his instincts give him a chance to succeed even without the elite strength. This pick will draw some gasps, and potentially some boos, but the Vikings fans will be loving it by the end of the season.
With the fourteenth pick, the Bears select…
Timmy Jernigan, NT out of Florida State
The Bears run defense is in desperate need of help. That is evident from their embarrassing loss to the Eagles last year where they failed to stop any running back on the Eagles. If Jernigan is still available at the time the Bears pick, this should be an easy pick.
Scouts rank Jernigan as the sixth best player in the draft, but thankfully everyone above the bears have bigger needs to fill. The 6-2, 300 pound Jernigan would step in and instantly be a boost to the Bears. He has incredible strength and has been known to easily toss unprepared linemen to the ground.
He lacks elite athleticism or pass rushing skills, but he isn’t there to rush the passer, he is there to stuff the run. He is the type of guy running backs run away from because he consistently breaks through the middle. Bears should pray Jernigan doesn’t climb the board on draft day, because he would be the best available player, and would fit their biggest need.
With the fifteenth pick, the Steelers select…
Mike Evans, receiver out of Texas A&M
Steelers needs some help on offense, and Evans is the best option here at this point. Evans is an intriguing option considering his size, and his ability to work downfield. He is the perfect option for a QB who loves to roll outside the pocket, which Big ben does a lot.
He will replace Emmanuel Sanders, who seems bound on leaving in free agency. Evans is an improvement anyway, so the Steelers won’t be at a loss. His size, 6-5, 225 pounds, gives him the advantage in jump ball situations, and he has decent speed to match it.
Finally playing across from another good receiver, Antonio brown, should be very helpful for Evans. In the NFL he should see a lot more one on ones, giving him a chance to become more of a deep ball threat. Evans should prove to be a great second option for Big Ben, finally giving Ben a chance to compete again.
With the sixteenth pick, the Cowboys select…
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety out of Alabama
Safety has been a tumultuous position for the Cowboys for a while now. Clinton-Dix projects to be a starting caliber cover safety, and the Cowboys would benefit from that greatly. He may not be as flashy as his fellow safety Calvin Pryor, another 2014 draft prospect, but he is a much safer pick. The Cowboys cant affords to take any more risks with the position, they need a safety now because the clock is ticking on Tony Romo, he isn’t getting any better.
Clinton-Dix is a safe pick, he doesn’t get burned often and doesn’t miss many tackles. He plays a very conservative style of play. That conservative style limits his upside, but also limits his downside. He isn’t going to be a playmaker at the next level because of his cautiousness, but it also means that he will make less mistakes.
Clinton-Dix shows remarkable football IQ despite only starting 19 games at Alabama. He makes quick reads, and can use his speed to adjust on the rare occasions he does make a mistake in coverage. He could certainly bulk up a bit, but if he doesn’t it won’t be too big of an issue. This is a safe, secure pick, so the Cowboys can finally sure of their secondary and move on to the many other issues.