1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel – Texas A&M
A new staff, a new era in Kansas City. Taking the best available player is the best way to re-build a young and talented squad. Although KC could take QB Geno Smith, LT Brandon Albert is a free agent this year – why not go with a younger, more talented and cheaper option in Joeckel?
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Bjoern Werner – Florida State
Jacksonville is in a position to take the best available player, also. Although the Jaguars played tough last season, there is only talent in a few spots on the squad. Taking Werner will not only boost Jacksonville’s pass rush, but Werner is also a presence in the run game as well. Although the Jaguars do need a quarterback, I don’t expect new Head Coach David Caldwell to put his career on the shoulders of Geno Smith or any other QB prospect in the first round.
3. Oakland Raiders – OLB/DE Jarvis Jones – Georgia
The Oakland Raiders are entering an interesting offseason in which the team needs to get “nasty” on defense. The team has virtually no playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, no defensive presence if you will. Jarvis Jones comes in with his uncanny ability to get to the quarterback and his relentlessness to instantly upgrade a soft Oakland Raiders defense.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – OT Eric Fisher – Central Michigan
Surprise? No. Fisher’s stock has been on the rise for weeks now and will continue to rise with a strong outing at the NFL Combine in February. Philadelphia needs offensive line help – especially with new head coach, Chip Kelly, bringing his fast paced read-option offense to town. Yes, the team already has Jason Peters (the best offensive lineman in the NFL if you ask me), but having two blue-chip tackles can do wonders for an explosive offense.
5. Detroit Lions – CB Dee Milliner – Alabama
Detroit has needed corner back help for years now…AND FINALLY, Martin Mayhew has a chance to draft a stud corner. The team could also go for another pass rusher if Cliff Avril decides to move on during free agency (Damontre Moore of Texas A&M comes to mind), but Detroit will decide to take the best corner in this year’s draft class.
6. Cleveland Browns – DE/OLB Damontre Moore – Texas A&M
With defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, now on board, Cleveland will likely make the move to a 3-4 defense. That being said, adding the best pass rusher on the board would be an excellent way to kick off this year’s draft. Moore will add his explosiveness and power to an under-rated browns front seven.
7. Arizona Cardinals – QB Geno Smith – West Virginia
With Bruce Arians now in town, Arizona needs to find a quarterback. Luckily, the best quarterback in this year’s class fell right into their lap. Smith is not as polished as top quarterbacks in years past, BUT he has all of the tools to become an All-Pro in the right system. That’s where Arians comes in. He did an EXCELLENT with Andrew Luck last season with a bunch of inexperienced tools on offense. If Arians can bring a culture similar to what he had last season in Indianapolis, Smith and the Cardinals could be in for a surprisingly good season.
8. Buffalo Bills – DT Star Lotulelei – Utah
Buffalo has holes to fill, but Lotulelei is a top 5 talent who just so happens to fall right into their lap at number eight. DT Kyle Williams is aging and has issues with staying healthy. Lotulelei has the ability to step right in and boost Buffalo’s 31st ranked rush defense.
9. New York Jets – DE/OLB Ezekiel Ansah – BYU
Last season the Jets had absolutely NO pass rush at all! Having absolutely no pass rushing threat is not something head coach, Rex Ryan, can be happy about. In comes Ezekiel Ansah. Ansah is a physical freak and has been compared to New York Giants’ defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul. This could easily be the best match of the top 10 picks in terms of dire need.
10. Tennessee Titans – OG Chance Warmack – Alabama
Tennessee gets their guy with the tenth overall selection. Warmack is a “once in every ten years” type of prospect at the guard position. Possessing a merely flawless game at the guard position, Warmack is a match made in heaven for the run-heavy offense in Tennessee. (RB Chris Johnson would be licking his chops)
11. San Diego Chargers – FS Kenny Vaccaro – Texas
Last year we saw safety Mark Barron’s draft stock dramatically increase from late first round to mid-first round to top ten pick. Vaccaro should see a similar rise in his stock this year. San Diego could go corner here with Jonathan Banks, but pairing Vaccaro with Eric Weddle is a defensive coordinator’s dream and a quarterback’s nightmare.
12. Miami Dolphins – DE Barkevious Mingo – LSU
It will be interesting to see where Miami ultimately decides to go here at number twelve. The best player on the board is Mingo – a stud pass rusher which Miami really needs. BUT, the team also needs a play maker at the wide receiver position. Miami can afford to wait until the second round to find a stud pass catcher and can find good value at the corner position in the second and third rounds. Mingo will step in and provide relief to All-Pro defensive end, Cameron Wake.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Jonathan Banks – Mississippi State
Tampa traded away their best corner last season, and needs a stud on the outside to repair their secondary. Banks is an ideal fit in Tampa’s zone scheme (length and awareness). With Banks available, Tampa could trade down here and still get him in the 18-22 range, but this mock is not dealing with trades. Tampa finds their guy at 13 and pairs him with a young and budding star in Mark Barron.
14. Carolina Panthers – DT Sheldon Richardson – Missouri
Carolina lacks an interior presence along it’s defensive line, and has for years (good ol’ days with Kris Jenkins plugging the middle). With Richardson’s unique skill set of being stout against the run and the pass, it would be hard for Carolina to look else where. Richardson immediately would step in and upgrade a weak Carolina defense.
15. New Orleans Saints – DE Dion Jordan – Oregon
New Orleans has been lacking a true sack artist for quite some time. Jordan comes in as a very raw and lanky prospect, but he compares to a Jason Taylor type of player based on pure athletic ability and size. New Orleans could also look to trade down here to boost their secondary, but Jordan is an immediate contributor from day 1.
16. St. Louis Rams – OG Jonathan Cooper – UNC
Cooper is easily the most athletic guard I have seen in quite some time. He is a lean looking 300 pounder and should fit in quite well along a weak St. Louis offensive line. Although OT Lane Johnson’s stock has been rising quite significantly, St. Louis can wait until the second or third round to find a right tackle. Passing on Cooper could be costly for a franchise trying to dig itself out of an abysmal hole.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Alex Okafor – Texas
For the Steelers, it’s all about getting younger and faster on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison are still great talents. BUT, they are NOT going to be around forever. Time for the team to begin grooming a new stud pass rusher to take over for the aging Harrison. Okafor is a talented player who has not even touched his potential yet.
18. Dallas Cowboys – DT Sharrif Floyd – Florida
With the recent hiring of defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, Dallas will be switching from a 3-4 defensive scheme to a 4-3 front. Jay Ratliff is an excellent player on Dallas’ defensive line, but he could use a partner in crime. Floyd is a strong and disruptive player who is an ideal fit to play defensive tackle in Monte Kiffin’s defense.
19. New York Giants – LB Alec Ogletree – Georgia
Ogletree is one of my favorite prospects this season. He is a big, athletic and speedy linebacker. Exactly what the New York Giants need. Many scouts are actually projecting Ogletree to play one of the outside backer positions (SAM or WILL), but I think he would be a perfect fit in NY’s defense at the MIKE position.
20. Chicago Bears – MLB Arthur Brown – KSU
Questions about Brian Urlacher’s future with the team have become a constant ever since the Bears played their last down in Week 17. Whether or not Urlacher returns should not change this selection. With age and health becoming a concern for Chicago’s leader on defense, the team should look towards drafting a future replacement. Brown is quite under-sized, but he is the best middle linebacker in this draft class. Similar to Urlacher when he was drafted, Brown is incredibly quick and has amazing pursuit skills.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – WR Keenan Allen – California
And there we have it, our first wide receiver is officially off the board. Cincinnati has absolutely no threat at the wide receiver position other than their All-Pro, AJ Green (Andrew Hawkins is more of a slot receiver). Desperately needing a number two wide receiver, Cincinnati really cannot go wrong by taking the possession receiver (Allen) or the speed receiver (Patterson). Allen is really the better option and should be ready to develop into one of the league’s better number two receivers.
22. St. Louis Rams (From Washington) – WR Cordarrelle Patterson – Tennessee
Although the team could opt to use it’s second first round selection to solidify the right tackle position, Sam Bradford really needs some options on offense. Potentially losing RB Stephen Jackson could kill this offense if St. Louis does not find their quarterback some targets. Patterson is a speedy target who can be used in multiple ways on offense – similar to Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings or Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers. Taking Patterson would instantly add speed and spunk to a young St. Louis offense.
23. Minnesota Vikings – MLB Manti Te’o – Notre Dame
First off, I am certainly not buying in to this whole Manti Te’o B/S. Similar situations happen to people all of the time. This is just magnified because of who Manti is. He is not a problem and his stock will NOT take a hit because of this situation. Secondly, Minnesota would be insane NOT to take Te’o with their first round selection. Te’o’s stock will drop because he may end up testing bad (stupid but it happens to great players every year). Plugging a top 10 caliber player into your already stout defense could catapult this unit into the one of the top squads.
24. Indianapolis Colts – OT Lane Johnson – Oklahoma
Indianapolis found their stud quarterback last season. Now it’s time to find a stud left tackle to protect your young quarterback. Finding value at the left tackle position is quite rare this late in the first round – but Johnson is not your ordinary prospect. Johnson, a former quarterback and tight end, has seen his stock rise quite significantly over the past few weeks. Therefore he may not be here when Indy picks, but in the situation that he is still on the board, Indianapolis should be running to the podium to hand in their pick.
25. Seattle Seahawks – OT Dallas Thomas – Tennessee
Seattle has a great run blocking offensive line. But one of the weak links is clearly Breno Giacomini. Thomas needs to improve his quickness, though. Speed rushers may give Thomas issues during his first season, but Seattle cannot pass up an opportunity to draft a 10 year starting caliber right tackle. DJ Fluker could also get a look here, but Thomas is a more versatile player which will ultimately make the decision for Seattle.
26. Green Bay Packers – OT DJ Fluker – Alabama
Green Bay really needs some offensive line help….badly. Don Barclay isn’t doing himself any favors being on the field and Brian Bulaga has had issues staying healthy. DJ Fluker could be a decent Left Tackle, but he projects as an amazing right tackle. Yes, it’s not a flashy selection. But drafting Fluker will instantly provide comfort and time for Aaron Rodgers to find his plethora of weapons.
27. Houston Texans – ILB Kevin Minter – LSU
The injury to Brian Cushing absolutely destroyed Houston’s run defense, and their chances of reaching the Super Bowl this season. After Cushing went down, teams were able to run the ball all over Houston. Minter is an excellent linebacker not only against the run, but covering tight ends, also. Minter would instantly improve Houston’s defense as a whole.
28. Denver Broncos – DT Jesse Williams – Alabama
Denver, yes, has one of the league’s best run defenses. But, this is a value pick. Williams is a potential top fifteen player, who is going to drop because he will not test well. Although Williams is not a great athlete, he is one hell of a football player. Whether or not Williams would be able to step in and start from day one remains to be seen (he needs to get into better shape first), but he will be a strong contributor to one of the league’s best defenses.
29. New England Patriots – DE Sam Montgomery – LSU
New England did an excellent job of revamping their defense last season through the draft. Chandler Jones is the league’s next great pass rusher, in my opinion. But, I’m not sold on Rob Ninkovich. Sure, he has had his moments in the past few years. But the team could clearly use an upgrade opposite Jones. Sam Montgomery entered the season as a potential top 10 selection, but seemed to use his athletic ability to win match ups rather than his skill and technique. If Montgomery can develop his game and New England can push him to his full potential, Jones and Montgomery could create one deadly pass rushing duo.
30. Atlanta Falcons – TE Tyler Eifert – Notre Dame
Isn’t this one pretty obvious? Tony Gonzalez may have played the last game of his historic career. Even if Gonzalez comes back for a year or two, there’s no reason NOT to pull the trigger on the stud pass catcher from Notre Dame. Eifert needs to work on his run blocking, but Eifert is second to none in every other faucet of his game. The rich get richer, as they say.
31. San Francisco 49ers – CB Xavier Rhodes – FSU
San Francisco could use some help along the defensive line here, but the team cannot pass up an opportunity to solidify their secondary (you really can never have too many corners). Carlos Rogers really came back down to earth after having a spectacular season for the niners a year ago (not to mention he’s starting to slow down). Rhodes is a big and physical corner who could immediately step in and start opposite Chris Culliver, allowing Tarrell Brown to cover the slot. Again….the rich get richer.
32. Baltimore Ravens – FS Eric Reid – LSU
Ed Reed may be returning to play football next year, but his contract is up after this season and Baltimore may opt to replace him with a younger and cheaper option. Even if the team opts to bring Reed back, there’s no reason NOT to bring in a young player to learn from one of the all-time greats. Reid is a lanky ball-hawking safety who is quite physical in the run game. Although he is no Ed Reed, Eric Reid is a better tackler than Ed, and could have a similar impact as Harrison Smith had for the Minnesota Vikings last season.