The draft is finally here and for the next three days fans will follow along as young men live out their dream by reaching the NFL. This draft doesn’t have the skill position star power that last year’s had, but it does have depth and that is essential in the mid to late rounds. Mock drafts are always hard to do but this year in particular was very difficult as there are no sure things in how the top of the draft will play out.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, T Texas A&M: This draft is lacking the “true” elite top five options of most years. In fact, I can’t remember a year with this much uncertainty before the draft regarding the first pick. Joeckel should be the pick here as he and Eric Fisher are probably the top two talents in the draft. What seperates Jocekel is that he should be the most pro ready. Fisher is obviously the other main option here.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB Oregon: The Jaguars dictate the rest of the first round this way as they can go many different ways here. With a new front office, there are no previous draft tendencies to go off of and the Jaguars need just about everything. The Jaguars have been looking for a pass rusher for years now and Gus Bradley wants to build his team around speed. He gets both here in Jordan as while he is still raw, the upside to be a pro bowl caliber pass rusher is there. Fisher along with trading down are the two options that should be considered.
3. Oakland Raiders: Shariff Floyd, DT Florida: The Al Davis era may be over, but in traditional Raiders fashion, nobody knows what they will be doing come draft day. Floyd has been rumored to the Raiders for quite some time here but if one of the offensive tackles is available, the Raiders best option would be to trade. They are a team without many picks and a lot of holes which is never a good thing. If Floyd isn’t the pick, he could be in for a little slide. Some other options if the Raiders keep the pick are Ezekiel Ansah and Star Loutulelei.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, T Central Michigan: This is an ideal scenario for the Eagles as they not only meet a need but also get the best player available. If Fisher is gone, the Eagles will probably consider Lane Johnson, Loutulelei or Dion Jordan if he’s available.
5. Detroit Lions: Lane Johnson, T Oklahoma: The Lions would be heartbroken if they stayed put with the fifth pick and Fisher is off the board. They could actually be a prime candidate to try and trade up with the Raiders to land him. Johnson isn’t a bad consolation prize though. While he’s still raw, his athleticism sets him apart from the other tackle prospects. The Lions could also consider Dee Millner or Ansah with this pick.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Millner, CB Alabama: This spot has been projected as one where teams in the bottom of the first round could look to start trading up. Some people feel the Browns could go with Geno Smith here, but pairing Millner with Joe Haden would form one of the better young cornerback tandems in the league. The only option I see Millner not being selected by the Browns if they keep the pick, they are interested in Ansah or Dion Jordan is somehow still on the board.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Star Lotulelei, DT Utah: The Cardinals could decide to tackle here if Lane Johnson falls but Lotulelei is too much of a talent to pass up. In fact, if it wasn’t for a previous heart condition he probably would be considered to go in the top two. Ansah is another player that the Cardinals could consider here.
8. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB Syracuse: If you’ve been paying any attention leading up to the NFL draft, you probably know the relationship between Nassib and Bills head coach Doug Marrone. Marrone was Nassib’s college coach and with the team needing a quarterback and Nassib already having familiarity with the system, it makes sense. This wouldn’t be the first time a coach/quarterback combination has happened. Just last year the Mike Sherman/Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M connection led to the Dolphins selecting their franchise quarterback.
The difference though is if Nassib is selected here it’s because the Bills know he won’t be available in the second round. There is no true number one quarterback this year and opinions on Nassib vary from first rounder to mid round pick.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE LSU: Besides having my favorite name in the draft, Mingo has the physical traits to become a top tier pass rusher. The Jets are in need of a pass rusher and are supposedly smitten with him. When you’re in the same division as Tom Brady, you can never have enough guys who can get to the quarterback.
10. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Cooper, G North Carolina: Considering the year Chris Johnson had in 2012, chances are the Titans will be addressing the offensive line with this pick. The main question is who that will be. It’s hard to go wrong with Cooper who is considered to be the best guard in this class. D.J. Fluker could be another option here as he would give the Titans versatility at multiple line positions.
11. San Diego Chargers: D. J. Fluker, T/G Alabama: The Chargers entire offensive line could use some help and Fluker would be a very good pick at this spot. He has the versatility to play multiple positions and in a division with pass rushers such as Von Miller, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, linemen are always needed. Cooper or Lane Johnson if he somehow fell here are also options here.
12. Miami Dolphins: Ezekiel Ansah, DE BYU: Most have Ansah as a top five pick but barring somebody trading up to get him; this seemed like the most likely landing spot. The Dolphins are in need of a pass rusher opposite Cameron Wake and could go a lot of ways with this pick. Cooper, Tyler Eifert and Xavier Rhodes are all in play here as well as possibly trading up.
13. New York Jets: Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia: In this situation, the Jets have already addressed their need of a pass rusher. Now it’s time to grab a weapon for their offense and arguably nobody is more dangerous than Austin. Kenny Vaccaro is also an option here as the team is in need for some safety help.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas: If the Raiders don’t pick him at three, Shariff Floyd will be very tempting for the Panthers here. However, when you’re in a division with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman starting at quarterback, the secondary is a big priority. Many have Vaccaro pegged as the best safety available in the draft. A cornerback such as Xavier Rhodes could also be an option here.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri: The Saints secondary could still use a lot of work but at this point, Richardson is too good a talent to pass up. He could come in right away and be an immediate contributor on the defensive line. Vaccaro or Jarvis Jones could be options with this pick as well.
16. St. Louis Rams: Alec Ogletree, LB Georgia: The Rams have a lot of holes on the defensive side of the ball and Ogletree would help fix any issues at inside linebacker. If the Rams are interested, they will have to take him here as teams such as the Giants, Bears and Bengals could be high on him.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB Georgia: This pick is one that seperates teams like the Steelers from the rest of the league. They realize when a top talent is falling (at a position of need no less) and pounce on him. Jones doesn’t have great timed speed but before that was being considered as a top five pick. This is a pick made in NFL draft heaven.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Chance Warmack, G Alabama: The Cowboys are supposedly high on Vaccaro and Cooper here and in this scenario neither is available. They are in need of somebody to protect Tony Romo and Warmack is a very good consolation prize.
19. New York Giants: Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State: With enough cornerback needy teams, Rhodes could be long gone here. In this scenario, he not only fills a need for the Giants but also represents a great value. Ogletree and Warmack are also very likely candidates if they are both on the board.
20. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame: The Bears may have signed Martellus Bennett this offseason, but they are always looking for more receiving options for Jay Cutler. Eifert would be an excellent fit here as he is a matchup nightmare in the slot. There is a chance he could be long gone by this point so another possibility could be an inside linebacker.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S Florida International: The safety position is one that the Bengals desperately need to address. Cyprien fits the bill as he has been shooting up draft boards. On top of that, the Bengals also went down earlier this week to South Florida to have a private workout with him. Another safety such as Eric Reid could also be an option here.
22. St. Louis Rams: DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson: The Rams could package this and the 16th pick to move up and draft somebody like Tavon Austin. However, the Rams have been all over Hopkins in recent weeks and he could be the number one receiver Sam Bradford has needed. On top of that, Hopkins is also (allegedly) in a league of his own in this class when it comes to trashing combine hotel rooms. Whenever bowel movements get thrown into the mix, you know you’re looking at a blue chipper in that category.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams, DT North Carolina: Williams is one of the top players available at this point and also fills a large need for the Vikings as their defensive line is aging quickly. This would also once again form the Williams Wall. It would also bring an end to the word association of “Williams, Vikings, defensive tackle and StarCaps” which had an underappreciated four year run.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones, DE/ DT UCLA: The Colts made some moves in free agency to work on their defensive line. However, they could still make some moves in that category. Jones gives them versatility as he could be used as either an end or a defensive tackle.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Manti Te’o, LB Notre Dame: For whatever reason, Te’o has been linked with the Vikings more than any other team. Maybe it’s the fact they could use some linebacker depth or that they’ve had practice handling a media circus. Either way, while he was a great college football player, this is the area of the draft where Te’o should and most likely will be selected.
26. Green Bay Packers: Geno Smith, QB West Virginia: There is no way the Packers will end up with Smith. However, this is around the point I think a team with an early second round pick bites the bullet and trades up to get him. In my eyes, Smith is the best quarterback available in this class and while he doesn’t compare favorably to the top picks last year, he’s still a first round prospect. That is enough reason for a team such as the Jaguars (who hold the 33rd pick) to possibly take a risk.
27. Houston Texans: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee: It seems like the Texans have been looking for someone to lineup opposite Andre Johnson for years now. Patterson fits the bill as he is arguably the most talented receiver in this class. There are some possible red flags regarding character/how he interviewed with teams. However, on a veteran team with a late first round pick in need, he’s worth the risk.
28. Denver Broncos: Tank Carradine, DE Florida State: Carradine would be an excellent option for the Broncos here as a replacement for Elvis Dumervil. Heck, he’s been moving up boards so fast he could be gone by the mid to late teens. If he isn’t here though, the Broncos could target a defensive back here.
29. New England Patriots: D.J. Hayden, CB Houston: Hayden would be the perfect Patriots pick. Based on his performance, he’s probably a top 15 pick. Up until a month or so ago, he had a medical issue that was a red flag for many teams around the league. While many feel Hayden could end up as an early second round pick, it would be a very Belichick-esque move to grab him here.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jamar Taylor, CB Boise State: There are two things that the Falcons are in desperate need of. Those things are defensive backs and pass rushers. In this case, the quality of cornerbacks on the board is too much to pass up. The Falcons are supposedly very high on Taylor and if he’s not available Hayden and Desmond Trufant could be some other options.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid, S LSU: After losing Dashon Goldson, the 49ers are in need of a safety. Reid, who is projected by many to go in the top twenty, fits the bill. He’s a playmaker with the ability to make an immediate impact to what is already a stout defense.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Desmond Trufant, CB Washington: The Ravens would love for a safety to fall to them here considering they lost both Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard. Cornerback is another position that could use some improvement. Lardarius Webb has had two recent knee surgeries and Cary Williams left in free agency. Trufant, who has NFL bloodlines fits the bill here and also happens to be one of the top players available.