1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB West Virginia – Before the recent hiring of HC Andy Reid, I saw the Chiefs going a number of different ways with this pick. However, Reid has had great relationships with his quarterbacks in the past (McNabb, Vick) and I would not be surprised to see Kansas City take Smith at one to give Reid his next quarterback to mold into a winner. If not Smith, then I see the Chiefs solidifying that offense line with Joeckel.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Demontre Moore, DE Texas A&M – Possibly the scariest and most athletic prospect in years, Moore is a no-brainer here for the Jags, whose pass rush was anemic the majority of the year this year. Moore will come in and start immediately for the Jaguars, who need help in just about every position on defense.
3. Oakland Raiders: Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia – This pick gave me trouble, frankly because the Raiders could not go wrong choosing between Jones, Werner, or Joeckel. People will most likely disagree on this one, but I see the Raiders choosing Jones, who could line up at DE or OLB in the Raiders’ 3-4 defense. Either way, the Raiders will get a pass-rushing, run-stopping stud with the 3rd overall pick.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: OT Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M – Joeckel is the number one player on most of this years’ NFL prospect boards. Philly just so happens to have an abysmal offensive line. They can’t go wrong with this monster from A&M, the best tackle in the draft since Joe Thomas and Jake Long.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB Alabama – After his brilliant performance in the National Championship, the Lions will grab Milliner, a ball-hawking corner and strong tackler. He is by far the best corner in the draft, and will help bolster a struggling Lions secondary.
6. Cleveland Browns: Chance Warmack, OG Alabama – Picture this: Joe Thomas and Chance Warmack on the same side of the ball opening gaping holes for RB Trent Richardson. With the addition of the giant Warmack, who can also pull as good as anyone, the Browns would have a top notch NFL running game, which would make things a lot easier for second year QB Brandon Weeden.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan – With Kevin Kolb healthy and under a huge contract, I don’t see the Cardinals reaching for a quarterback here. Newly hired HC Bruce Arians will find the right offensive scheme for whoever his QB is, and I see the Cardinals playing it safe with this pick. Sure, they could have their pick of the next best QB (assuming Smith is gone) but with the lack of talent at the position, I see the Cardinals filling their next most important need: the offensive line. Fisher is a cookie cutter lineman; he has great balance, great footwork, and is extremely strong.
8. Buffalo Bills: Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State – Before the Bills hired Doug Maronne, I saw them reaching for a QB here to replace Fitzpatrick. Now I think Maronne will try to fix Fitzpatrick or turn to Free Agency for a different play caller. Werner is the best pick here, he is a natural and knows how to get to the QB. The Bills could use some of that, seeing that their pass rush was almost non existent this year.
9. New York Jets: Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas – The Jets were perhaps the most talked about team in the NFL this past season, and for all the wrong reasons. One of their biggest problems (if not their biggest) was their QB play. Sanchez was awful more times than not, and Tebow rarely played. I think the Jets will bring in the talented Wilson to challenge Sanchez (and Tebow if he is still a Jet) for the starting job, and eventually win the job.
10. Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo, DE LSU – The Titans can’t resist Mingo’s unparalleled athleticism and strength. While he is a little raw and will need to develop his rush technique, the Titans use their first round pick to improve a desperate pass rush.
11. San Diego Chargers: Jonathon Cooper, OG North Carolina – One of the reasons Philip Rivers struggled in 2012 was he was constantly pressured or hurried and did not have the necessary time to throw. Cooper would add strength and security to the Chargers’ line, and give McCoy the opportunity to design plays to get the ball down field and spread the field.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR California – Look for Miami to use their massive cap space to secure vital free agents like Jake Long, Reggie Bush, and Randy Starks. With their free agents posting new contracts, Miami uses the 12th overall pick to fill their biggest weakness of 2012: wide receivers. Allen has exactly what it takes to shine in the NFL, and would give second year starter Ryan Tannehill the number one target he needs.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State – The Buccaneers looked great for the first half of the season, but failed to stop pass happy teams such as the New Orleans Saints late in the season. The Bucs secondary looked horrible for the most part of the season, and with Milliner off the board early, look for the Bucs to take the next best prospect in the secondary in Rhodes.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT Utah – Chances are, Lotulelei won’t fall this far due to his incredible athletic ability and sheer strength, but if the right pieces fall into place, the Panthers eagerly take Lotulelei at 14. He would compliment DE Charles Johnson nicely, and is too good to pass up for other needs.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri – The Saints’ offense was in the top 5, and their defense was deep in the bottom half. They could go a number of ways with the 15th pick, ranging from cornerback to defensive end to defensive tackle. I see them taking Richardson here. He is strong yet fast, and is a great tackler who can also put pressure on the quarterback, which the Saints could use (25th overall in sacks in 2012).
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, SS Texas – With Jeff Fisher being the defensive-minded coach he is, I don’t see the Rams going the offensive route with this pick. Vaccaro is the best safety coming into the draft; combine Vaccaro with Courtland Finnegan and rookie sensation Janoris Jenkins, and the Rams have one of the best secondaries in the league.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Matt Elam, SS Florida – Two safeties taken in a row in the first round? This does not seem feasible, but when you look at the remaining safeties after Elam and Vaccaro, you begin to realize why this wouldn’t be so strange to see come April. Troy Polomalu has been the face of the steel curtain for a while, and drafting Elam to learn the ropes to eventually take over would be wise.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Johnathon Hankins, DT Ohio State – Dallas has incredible defensive ends and has no problem getting to opposing quarterbacks in the passing game. What they lack is a big, run-plugging, up the middle stopper. They find all of that in more in the 6 foot 3, 320 pound beast that is Hankins.
19. New York Giants: Sam Montgomery, DE LSU - Jason Pierre-Paul was an animal in 2012. It is still uncertain whether Osi Umenyiora will be back in 2013. I expect the Giants to draft Montgomery to accompany Pierre-Paul and giving the Giants’ D-Line a fresh new face.
20. Chicago Bears: Barrett Jones, OG Alabama – The Bears offensive line was terrible this year. Drafting Jones would add some consistency to this unit that couldn’t seem to keep QB Jay Cutler off the ground. Behind Warmack and Cooper, Jones is the next best guard.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Dion Jordan, DE Oregon – This 6 foot 7 monster would cause any offensive coordinator problems alone. Imagine him paired up beside Geno Atkins, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. Simply put, Jordan is everything the Bengals could ask for on defense, and with one of their two defensive ends leaving for Free Agency, this pick is a pretty easy one.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Redskins): Cordarelle Patterson, WR Tennessee – Having solidified their secondary with their first pick, I see the Rams grabbing a big name wide-out to help Sam Bradford and the passing game. The Rams couldn’t go wrong with Austin, Hunter, or Patterson with this pick, but I think Patterson has it all: great route running, incredible speed, and ridiculously good hands.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Alexander Ogletree, ILB Georgia – The Vikings have a pro-bowl linebacker in Chad Greenway, but after that, the position severely drops off in terms of talent. Ogletree would be able to come in and start immediately, and help out an already above average Vikings defense.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Johnathon Banks, CB Mississippi State – The Colts traded their second-round pick in the 2013 draft to Miami for CB Vontae Davis, who was a nice addition to the Colts’ secondary. However, they are still weak at that position, and Banks could come in and play in certain packages, if not earn a starting job. The Colts need a good defense, and can’t depend on Luck to win games by himself again in 2013.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Zach Ertz, TE Stanford – The Seahawks could not go wrong with Ertz or Notre Dame’s Eifert. One could argue Ertz is the better pass catcher, which I think the Seahawks need over Eifert, considered to be the better run blocker. Regardless, Seattle gets a big body to assist Russel Wilson in the red zone and the middle of the field.
26. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama – Green Bay struggled to find a consistent runner throughout all of 2012, and virtually tried everyone on their roster. I see them grabbing Lacy, a freak athlete who performed flawlessly in all the big games throughout his college career. Lacy would give the Packers the consistent back they have lacked since Ahman Green.
27. Houston Texans: D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama – I really don’t think the Texans can afford to do anything but address their offensive line in the first round. Arian Foster is a stud, there is no denying that. However, the right side of the Texans O Line is no where near as good as the left. I see the Texans adding Bama’s Fluker, who is an absolute menace, and strengthening one of the weakest parts of their offense.
28. Denver Broncos: Manti Te’o, ILB Notre Dame – All drama aside, Te’o can still play and I think he has what it takes to be a great linebacker in the NFL. At the end of the day, it’s about football. Nothing else. Te’o still goes in the first round and I think the Broncos find themselves a great linebacker to replace the aging Keith Brooking.
29. New England Patriots: Jonathan Jenkins, DT Georgia – The Pats have one of the best DT in Vince Wilfork, but when Wilfork goes out to catch his breath, the talent at that position drops significantly. Wilfork is also a very large man and won’t be able to play forever. I see the Pats drafting Jenkins here. Oh yeah, the scary thing is, Jenkins is even bigger 6 foot 3, 351 pounds, and even more athletic. Good luck running up the middle.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame – With Hall of Famer Tony Gonzales likely to retire after Atlanta’s 24-28 loss to San Francisco, the Falcons will have the virtually impossible task of filling Tony’s shoes. While unlikely, Tyler Eifert may be the best tight end in the 2013 draft. With Ertz off the board a few picks earlier, I see the Falcons taking Eifert with the 30th overall pick.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Ezekiel Ansah, DE BYU – With no bias at all, I am putting San Fran at 31 and Baltimore at 32. This is by no means a statement that I think the Ravens will win, I simply had to put one team first. Ansah is extremely underrated, and could very well turn out to be the best DE behind Moore from Texas A&M. Justin Smith’s injury showed how weak the 49ers’ depth is at DE. Ansah would get to come in and learn from two of the best, Aldon and Justin.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB LSU – The day has come: Ray Lewis is retiring. Possibly with a Super Bowl ring. With that said, I see the Ravens drafting the next best linebacker on the board: Minter. He may not be the most anticipated linebacker in the draft, but he has what it takes to come in and learn behind Terrell Suggs.