2014 NFL Draft: Surveying the Dream Fit for Every Team

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIJanuary 13, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Surveying the Dream Fit for Every Team

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    Now that the playoffs are in full swing, most teams have begun to look forward to the 2014 NFL draft. Each team that missed out on the big dance this year is already looking for ways to improve in the best possible way.

    The ensuing draft is quite possibly the most crucial part of a team's offseason transcendence.

    Each franchise will eventually have full draft boards set up that detail which players would best fit the direction and style of the team. On those draft boards, the most compelling names from college football will be listed in order of projected availability.

    Not every team will get its dream prospect. However, there are always scenarios in which trades, reaches and rising or falling players help franchises acquire their most sought-after player.

    Let's take a look at all 32 NFL teams, their draft positions and which player would be most beneficial for each should a dream scenario arise.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Draft Position: 20

    Dream Fit: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

    One major upgrade that's needed in Arizona is on the offensive line. The Cardinals finished the 2013 regular season giving up a total of 41 sacks. That's not a terrible total; however, the offensive line also gave up a whopping 98 quarterback hits.

    If this team is to take the next step offensively, getting the best possible offensive tackle at No. 20 overall would be ideal. If Robinson were to slip to the Cardinals due to teams ahead of them that have needs in the secondary, this dream scenario could come to fruition.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Draft Position: 6

    Dream Fit: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

    The Atlanta Falcons struggled mightily in their attempts to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks throughout the 2013 regular season. Atlanta finished with just 32 total sacks on the season, tied for 29th in the league.

    Clowney is a freak athlete and is the answer to the Falcons' edge-rushing problems. He is capable of taking on double-teams, which allows other defensive linemen to take on more favorable matchups. There is a dire need for quarterbacks and offensive linemen for the teams that pick ahead of the Falcons in the draft. It is not too unreasonable to think that nabbing Clowney at sixth overall could be possible.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Draft Position: 16

    Dream Fit: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

    The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver corps was in absolute disarray in 2013. Torrey Smith remains a speedy option, but he is not a true No. 1 wide receiver. Marlon Brown came into his own with some great play in the red zone during the season. However, Baltimore is incredibly thin at the position and needs to gain stability.

    Evans fits perfectly here. Standing at 6'5" and weighing in at 225 pounds, he has tremendous potential to suit up as a true No. 1 wide receiver for the Ravens. He would demand attention and allow Smith to find room to get over the top of opposing defenses.

    Evans would be the perfect selection to help quarterback Joe Flacco regain his form.

Buffalo Bills

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    Draft Position: 9

    Dream Fit: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

    With a young quarterback at the helm of the offense, the Buffalo Bills could use as much help along the offensive line as they can get. EJ Manuel and his fellow Bills quarterbacks were sacked a total of 48 times and hit a total of 105 times over the course of the 2013 regular season. If Manuel is ever going to get up to speed, he must first be afforded time in the pocket.

    Matthews would be an instant contributor on the offensive line. Allowing him to team up with Cordy Glenn to anchor the line on both sides would not only benefit Manuel, but it would be able to maintain the success of the fantastic running back duo of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

    The need for quarterbacks and linebackers is quite heavy before the Bills pick at ninth overall, making Matthews the perfect fit for their dream scenario.

Carolina Panthers

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    Draft Position: 29

    Dream Fit: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

    The Carolina Panthers must continue to surround Cam Newton with weapons. After a year in which Carolina boasted one of the best defenses in the NFL, it is time to shore up the offense. With Steve Smith in the twilight of his career and the emergence Brandon LaFell, the Panthers would do well to bolster the wide receiver corps.

    Benjamin fits the bill perfectly here. His huge 6'5" frame would be a welcomed target for Newton. His big-play ability would also ease the burden of losing Smith once he decides to retire.

    With other receivers such as Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans looking to go off the board early in the draft, Benjamin becomes the best fit for the Panthers at 29th overall.

Chicago Bears

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    Draft Position: 14

    Dream Fit: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

    The Chicago Bears were absolutely decimated along the defensive line in 2013. The lack of a stout presence in the middle of the defensive line was a huge reason for the Bears' 32nd-ranked run defense. This needs to be the primary focus of the draft for Chicago, as it cannot go another year allowing an average of 161.4 rush yards per game.

    Nix is the answer to bolster the defensive line. He is the top-ranked prospect at his position and can come in and contribute immediately. Not only is he stout against the run, but he has the ability to shed blocks and cause havoc in the backfield as a pass-rusher as well.

    The beauty of this dream scenario for the Bears is that Nix is nowhere near a stretch to be taken as the 14th player in the 2014 draft.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Draft Position: 24

    Dream Fit: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

    The Cincinnati Bengals finished the 2013 regular season as the league's third-best defensive unit. This team is deep all the way around; however, it has struggled to find a standout player at the safety position opposite Reggie Nelson. Cincinnati spent a third-round pick on safety Shawn Williams last season, but he has not quite panned out thus far. Instead of waiting for Williams to come around, the Bengals must find an answer immediately.

    Clinton-Dix has been a staple on Alabama's stout defense for the past two seasons. He is the top prospect at his position and can come in immediately to fill a big need. He has been surging up draft boards lately and could easily go to Chicago or Green Bay. Still, with so many different team needs across the board in the first round, Clinton-Dix could potentially slide down to Cincinnati at 24 overall.

Cleveland Browns

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    Draft Position: 4

    Dream Fit: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

    The Cleveland Browns have been struggling to find a decent quarterback since the days of Bernie Kosar. Last season, they faltered at the quarterback position once again, as former first-round pick Brandon Weeden proved that he is not the guy for the job.

    With quarterbacks like Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel surging up draft boards, the position has become rather murky. If the Texans and Jaguars decide that they would rather go with the two aforementioned quarterbacks, Bridgewater would slide to the Browns at four overall, completing the team's ideal scenario.


    Draft Position: 26 (from Indianapolis Colts)

    Dream Fit: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

    Now that the Browns have secured their quarterback of the future, it's time to bolster a shaky wide receiver corps. Cleveland already has one of the better emerging receivers in the league in Josh Gordon, but it doesn't have much to work with after him.

    Despite dealing with nagging injuries in 2013, Lee showed that he has the kind of skill set that would make him a dominant receiver at the NFL level. He was a speedster and playmaker at USC and would provide a perfect complement to Gordon as the Browns' No. 2 receiver. Lee could slide to the Browns at No. 26 overall if other receivers, such as Kelvin Benjamin and Allen Robinson, jump ahead of him in the draft.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Draft Position: 17

    Dream Fit: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

    The Dallas Cowboys simply had the worst defense in the league in 2013. They finished the season ranked 30th against the pass and 27th against the run. Improving this side of the ball requires new life on the defensive line; after all, it all starts up front.

    Adding a player like Ealy would allow Dallas to get after opposing quarterbacks with greater ease. This would, in turn, keep the Cowboys secondary from remaining in coverage for too long. Ealy is a sure tackler and would bolster the defense's run-stopping ability as well.

    Even though he is the second-ranked prospect at his position, he could slip to Dallas due to other teams' necessities being in other areas.

Denver Broncos

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    Draft Position: 31

    Dream Fit: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

    Champ Bailey is aging and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2014. This means that the Denver Broncos must do something to help out an already lackluster secondary in this year's draft.

    If the Broncos are to improve their 27th-ranked passing defense, it will all start with Gilbert. After a seven-interception season in 2013, he is now ranked second at his position for the 2014 draft. It may be difficult to imagine Gilbert dropping this low; however, with so many teams looking for line help and attempting to add offensive firepower, the Broncos could be the benefactors here.

Detroit Lions

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    Draft Position: 10

    Dream Fit: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

    The Detroit Lions defense finished with a 23rd overall ranking against the pass in 2013. Despite the amount of talent on the offensive side of the ball, the team only won seven games thanks to a defense that allowed an average of 23.5 points per game. This team is in dire need of defensive playmakers.

    Dennard is the top cornerback prospect in this year's draft. He is the epitome of a shutdown corner and has the ability to remain in man coverage without safety help over the top. With Dennard shutting down one side of the field by himself, Detroit will be afforded more versatility with its remaining players. Quarterbacks, offensive linemen and linebackers are huge needs over the first nine picks, making Dennard plausible here at 10 overall. 

Green Bay Packers

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    Draft Position: 21

    Dream Fit: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

    The Green Bay Packers secondary was their Achilles' heel in 2013. Not only was it ranked 24th against the pass, but the defense also gave up an average of 26.8 points per game. Even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, that is a tremendous feat to overcome.

    Clinton-Dix would be an immediate contributor in Green Bay. He has great vision when playing center field and can read a quarterback's eyes to make a quick break on the ball. He has the speed to make up ground in the secondary and is also a physical, sure tackler who can make plays at the line of scrimmage.

    The top safety in this year's draft, Clinton-Dix could slide to Green Bay due to the lack of needs in the secondary early in the draft.

Houston Texans

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    Draft Position: 1

    Dream Fit: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

    The Houston Texans need some major help at the quarterback position. After a year in which Matt Schaub became increasingly inefficient and backup Case Keenum faltered over the latter portion of the season, it is apparent that the franchise's quarterback of the future is not yet on the roster.

    Bridgewater may be one of the best prospects to come out of college at the quarterback position in recent years. He is polished, equipped with a strong arm and has the capability to escape pressure in the pocket. He is the kind of quarterback that franchises are built around. No trickery here, the Texans need to pull the trigger on this signal-caller with the first overall selection.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Draft Position: 59

    Dream Fit: Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama

    The Indianapolis Colts are without a first-round selection this year, as they traded it to the Browns for running back Trent Richardson. Indianapolis' biggest weakness this season on the offensive side of the ball was the interior line. Andrew Luck must be kept upright, and running lanes need to open up. This should be the Colts' top priority.

    Steen will fit the Colts nicely, as he has a great mix of strength and athleticism. He is not very tall at 6'3" and 310 pounds, but he became a tremendous force on Alabama's interior line throughout the past two seasons. Steen could go as early as the beginning of the second round, but he could also fall to the Colts if other prospects, like Xavier Su'a-Filo, keep rising up draft boards.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Draft Position: 3

    Dream Fit: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

    Jacksonville is another quarterback-needy team that is clustered near the top of the draft. After seasons of disappointment with Blaine Gabbert at the helm, there is no clear-cut starter on the Jaguars roster. This is a team that needs a spark at the position immediately.

    Yes, Bridgewater is the answer again here. He is clearly the best quarterback in this year's draft and will certainly hear his name called early. He has all of the intangibles and the skill set to make an immediate impact on any NFL team. With other quarterbacks like Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel getting attention from scouts, there is a possibility that Bridgewater drops to Jacksonville at No. 3 overall.


Kansas City Chiefs

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    Draft Position: 23

    Dream Fit: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

    The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the most explosive teams in the NFL this season, but they could still use another threat at the wide receiver position. With skill players like Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster already in place, another talented receiver for Andy Reid and Alex Smith to utilize would certainly put this offense over the top.

    Evans has been absolutely dynamic for Texas A&M. His 6'5" frame and his ability to block out defenders make him a formidable opponent at any level. His size, skillful route running and reliable hands make him a candidate to become the Chiefs' future No. 1 receiver. There are other receivers, such as Kelvin Benjamin, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee, out there, which makes Evans to the Chiefs slim but a possibility.

Miami Dolphins

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    Draft Position: 19

    Dream Fit: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

    It's rather clear what was plaguing the Miami Dolphins for the duration of the 2013 season. Miami could not find any stability on its offense simply because the offensive line continued to crumble. The Dolphins gave up the most sacks in the league in 2013 with 58. Keeping Ryan Tannehill upright is their top priority heading into the 2014 draft.

    Offensive tackle is a highly coveted position early in the draft. Kouandjio is the third-ranked offensive tackle this year and would be a steal for Miami at 19th overall. He would be an instant upgrade on the outside of the line and would help quell the onslaught of AFC East pass-rushers. The top of the draft is quarterback- and defense-heavy. If it remains that way, Kouandjio has a good shot of sliding to Miami.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Draft Position: 8

    Dream Fit: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

    Obviously, the Christian Ponder experiment did not work out for the Minnesota Vikings. After starting multiple quarterbacks over the course of the 2013 season, it's back to the drawing board once again. After all, the Vikings have some great talent on the offensive side of the ball, they just need someone to consistently distribute the ball.

    Bortles capped off a tremendous 2013 season with a fantastic performance in the Fiesta Bowl. He showed his accuracy as a passer and his ability to scramble when necessary. He has a big arm and looks every bit the part of an NFL quarterback. With Bridgewater certainly gone at this point, Bortles becomes the best option for the Vikings. He will have to slide past the Jaguars and Browns to get to this point, but it is not out of the question.

New England Patriots

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    Draft Position: 28

    Dream Fit: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

    The New England Patriots need some major help on the interior of the defensive line. Their pass rush is fine, as they finished the 2013 season with a total of 48 sacks; however, they also finished 30th against the run. New England allowed an average of 134.1 rushing yards per game over the year and needs a big presence in the middle to right the ship.

    Hageman is exactly what the team needs on the defensive side of the ball. He was absolutely dominant in the trenches while at Minnesota, and New England's coaching staff will be able to get the most out of his abilities. It is a bit of a stretch to think that he'll drop this far, but with so many talented first-round prospects at many different positions available, it is certainly possible.

New Orleans Saints

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    Draft Position: 27

    Dream Fit: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

    The New Orleans Saints defense under coordinator Rob Ryan was one of this year's most improved units. It was stout against the pass, but its lack of athleticism up front allowed the unit to be susceptible to the run. What New Orleans needs now is an injection of youth and explosiveness at the outside linebacker position.

    Shazier is a perfect fit for Ryan's system. He is a tackling machine, positing 144 total tackles over the 2013 season. He also had an impressive 23.5 tackles for a loss, including seven sacks and four forced fumbles. There is plenty of need for linebackers this year, but Shazier is currently ranked third at his position by CBS Sports and could find himself in the latter portion of the first round depending on early selections.

New York Jets

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    Draft Position: 18

    Dream Fit: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

    The New York Jets need a lot of help on the offensive side of the ball. They simply do not have enough weapons around their young quarterback, which has rendered their aerial attack anemic. Jets wide receivers accounted for only 13 touchdowns in 2013, which ranks dead last in the NFL. This draft is chock-full of playmakers at the position, and that's exactly where New York should be looking.

    Evans is the complete package at the wide receiver position. He has great size, at 6'5" and has great speed, route-running ability and solid hands. He would make an immediate impact in the passing game and especially in the red zone. There are teams ahead of the Jets that may be looking at Evans, but with such a deep wide receiver class, there is a possibility that he could slide to 18th overall.

New York Giants

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    Draft Position: 12

    Dream Fit: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

    The New York Giants finished the 2013 season ranked 10th against the pass. Despite a good standing in that category, they could still use some playmakers in the secondary. If the Giants could find a legitimate complement to Prince Amukamara, they could find themselves with one of the best secondaries when the 2014 season rolls around.

    Dennard completely fits the bill here. He is a shutdown corner who has tremendous coverage skills and almost-flawless instincts. He is capable of remaining on an island in man coverage against better wide receivers. If Dennard gets past the Detroit Lions and falls out of the top 10, the Giants could be staring the league's next great corner right in the face.

Oakland Raiders

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    Draft Position: 5

    Dream Fit: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

    The Oakland Raiders tried two experiments at the quarterback position in 2013 in Terelle Pryor and Matt McGloin. But they were left searching for yet another answer once the season ended. Pryor just doesn't have what it takes to start in the NFL, and McGloin would need plenty of polishing if he were to contest for a starting gig. Oakland will go back to the drawing board during the 2014 draft.

    Manziel would fit this offense perfectly. He encompasses the best of both worlds between Pryor and McGloin. He has the capability to use his arm to take the top off of a defense, as well as scramble away from pressure. And his ability as a runner makes him a perfect fit behind a rather shaky Raiders offensive line.

    If Manziel is to drop to the Raiders, he would have to fall past Jacksonville and Cleveland first.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Draft Position: 22

    Dream Fit: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

    The Philadelphia Eagles are pretty much set on the offensive side of the ball. Once Nick Foles came into his own, they were one of the league's most dynamic units. The other side of the ball is a different story, however. Philadelphia's secondary was beaten up on numerous occasions, a big factor being the lackluster play at the safety position.

    Clinton-Dix is the 2014 draft's most highly coveted safety. He shows great vision and can play center field nicely due to his speed and athleticism. A sure tackler, Clinton-Dix is capable of coming up and making plays at the line of scrimmage as well. His ball skills will also make him a welcomed addition to the Eagles secondary. If he can slip past teams like Dallas and Green Bay, the Eagles will get their answer at the safety position.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Draft Position: 15

    Dream Fit: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

    The offensive line, specifically the offensive tackle position, remains a huge concern for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh gave up 43 sacks over the regular season, and its running backs were only able to muster an average of 3.5 yards per carry. If the Steelers are to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright and revamp their rushing attack, they must look to the draft.

    Robinson is a monster at 6'5" and 320 pounds. He is able to maul his opponents in the running game and remain surprisingly athletic against quicker edge-rushers. Pittsburgh has whiffed on tackles in recent drafts, but Robinson looks to be the real deal. If he can sneak past teams like the Falcons and Rams, Robinson could bolster the Steelers offensive line for years to come.

San Diego Chargers

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    Draft Position: 25

    Dream Fit: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

    The San Diego Chargers featured a resurgent offense this season but they couldn't quite muster the same sort of dynamics on defense. They finished the 2013 regular season ranked 29th against the pass, allowing opponents to average 258.7 yards per game through the air.

    The team would do well to bolster its secondary in the upcoming draft.

    San Diego is in dire need of a coverage corner, and that is exactly what it will get in Gilbert. The second-ranked cornerback in this year's class, Gilbert has great instincts and ball skills, which make him a feared opponent for any quarterback. Getting to San Diego may be tricky as there are some cornerback-needy teams ahead of them; however, he would be a perfect fit should he find his way to 25th overall.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Draft Position: 30

    Dream Fit: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

    The San Francisco 49ers already have a couple of solid receivers in Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. However, neither receiver has a natural ability to stretch the field. San Francisco generally relies on tight end Vernon Davis in regards to that task. Adding a speedy playmaker at the wide receiver position would allow an already dynamic team to get even better.

    Lee would be ideal in this situation. His speed and athleticism would give the 49ers offense and quarterback Colin Kaepernick an added dimension that they have been lacking. Surrounding Kaepernick with another weapon like Lee is never a bad idea.

    It would take a bit for him to drop down to the 49ers—especially after a great showing in the Las Vegas Bowl—but concerns over nagging injuries throughout the season could cause him to slide.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Draft Position: 32

    Dream Fit: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

    The Seattle Seahawks have the best defense in the NFL. They also have a young, talented offense. However, they could use one more pivotal piece. A tight end with the ability to stretch the field would be a perfect addition for quarterback Russell Wilson and Co. Surrounding Wilson with talented weapons will keep the Seahawks among the NFL's elite.

    Amaro would be a dream fit for Seattle. The 6'6", 260-pound tight end has the athleticism to get up the field quickly and is an extremely reliable receiver. He would become an instant threat in red-zone situations.

    Per CBS Sports' prospect rankings, Amaro is the second-ranked tight end in the draft, so it is doubtful that he would slide this low. However, the needs of teams earlier in the first round could sway toward the defensive side of the ball.

St. Louis Rams

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    Draft Position: 2 (from Washington Redskins)

    Dream Fit: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

    The St. Louis Rams have a young, developing offense and must keep quarterback Sam Bradford upright if they are to continue to improve. Upgrading at the offensive tackle position is crucial for the long-term success of this offense.

    Matthews is the absolute best offensive lineman in this year's draft—there is no question about that. He will easily be available with the second pick, as Houston will likely look at a quarterback. Matthews would become an instant upgrade and anchor the Rams offensive line for years to come.


    Draft Position: 13

    Dream Fit: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

    Now that the Rams have an elite lineman in place, it's time to continue to build around Bradford and the offense. Wide receiver Tavon Austin will be brilliant for this team in the coming years, but he is primarily a slot receiver. The Rams need a talented true No. 1 receiver on the outside.

    Watkins is the most talented wide receiver in the ensuing draft. He is explosive and has extremely reliable hands. His size, 6'1" and 205 pounds, is nicely suited to contest cornerbacks on the NFL level.

    With Watkins on the outside and Austin on the inside, this offense could become a powerhouse in a hurry. Only a couple of teams are really in the market for a wide receiver before the Rams' 13th overall pick, so he remains a possibility here.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Draft Position: 7

    Dream Fit: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a solid interior of their defense. One thing that they could certainly use, though, is a dominant pass-rusher off the edge. Tampa Bay finished the 2013 regular season with just 35 total sacks—good enough for 23rd in the league. A big presence on the edge would go a long way.

    Clowney is one of the most freakishly talented athletes to come out of college football in quite some time. His dominance on the line of scrimmage is second to none. Not only does he excel as a pass-rusher, but he contributes nicely against the run as well.

    There are many offensive-needy teams ahead of the Buccaneers in the draft this year, making Clowney's drop to seventh overall a possibility.

Tennessee Titans

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    Draft Position: 11

    Dream Fit: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

    The Tennessee Titans have a very athletic defense. The sky is the limit for what this group is able to accomplish. However, it is a few pieces short of creating a truly dominant unit.

    One of the weakest links is the middle linebacker position. Shoring up this position will give the Titans a field general who will act as the glue for the entire defense.

    Mosley is a tackling machine. During his 2013 regular season with Alabama, he recorded a total of 108 tackles, including nine tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and five passes defensed. He is a do-it-all middle linebacker and the only one worthy of starting immediately in this year's draft.

    The beautiful thing about this dream scenario is that it is very plausible—Mosley is nowhere near a stretch at 11th overall.

Washington Redskins

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    Draft Position: 34

    Dream Fit: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

    The Washington Redskins do not have a first-round selection this season due to their trade with the Rams to acquire Robert Griffin III. However, they are picking at the top of the second round and could nab a prospect with first-round talent. The defensive side of the ball needs to be addressed, and a dominant edge-rusher would be a great start.

    Tuitt was a force while at Notre Dame. He was no stranger to wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage on a weekly basis. He finished his final season with 49 tackles, including nine tackles for a loss, 7.5 quarterback sacks, two passes defensed and one forced fumble. The end of the first round features many offensive-needy teams, which could force Tuitt to fall into the early second round, where the Redskins will be waiting with open arms.