1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, OT/ Texas A&M – With all the different evaluations complete, Joeckel is still considered the best lineman in the draft, and now that the Chiefs have traded a 2nd round pick and a conditional 2014 pick to the 49’ers for Alex Smith, he would certainly love a little protection. They also released Eric Winston which puts KC in need of a starting tackle, and there is rumor Brandon Albert is refusing to move to RT, so they will be looking to trade Albert for a second round pick and a conditional pick in 2014. Sound familiar… Joeckel has been the clear cut #1 pick since the college season ended and I would be amazed if the Chiefs went in a different direction.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan, DE/Oregon – Dion is an anomaly. Most prospects unable to compete at either the combine or their pro day typically fall on draft boards. Instead, all this kid has done is run a 40 and he’s being considered as one of the best defensive players available this year. Jordan was unable to help his draft stock at the Oregon Pro day because he is recovering from a recent surgery to repair a torn labrum. He ran a 4.53 unofficial time at the combine, which is amazing. GM David Caldwell recently said, “We’re pretty close – It’s down to two people.” Most people believe the two he referenced are Oregon DE Dion Jordan and West Virginia QB Gen Smith.
3. Oakland Raiders – Geno Smith, QB/West Virginia – I jokingly put “the ghost of All Davis lives” when I first put Geno to the Raiders in late January. The truth is Davis would have been drooling at the opportunity to grab a mobile QB, especially if he had been alive to see RGIII the year before. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie will be left with making a franchise changing decision, as QB’s taken in the top 5 can cost a GM their job if they don’t pan out. Just ask Mike Tannenbaum. The Raiders released Carson Palmer due to salary cap issues, and have only have Matt Flynn & Terrelle Pryor on staff at QB. This pick is easy.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Ezekiel Ansah DE/ BYU – Ansah reportedly didn’t hire a trainer for the combine instead focusing on finishing his classes at BYU. His draft stock was already high but this news makes him seem kind of freakish. Measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 271 pounds with 35 1/8-inch arms, Ansah posted the sixth fastest forty times (4.63) of 37 defensive linemen who ran, and his 34 1/2-inch vertical tied for seventh. There is also a rumor that his 40 at the combine was the first one he ever ran in his lifetime. Ansah is a lightning in a bottle type of player and would be a welcome addition to any defense that drafts him. Billy Davis should be thrilled.
5. Detroit Lions – Dee Milliner CB/ Alabama – The Lions were active in free agency acquiring RB Reggie Bush, DE Jason Jones, and CB Chris Houston. Former Colts GM Bill Polian mentioned Detroit as the “greatest show on turf.” That ought to be billboard material for division rival Bears, Vikings and Packers. The ability to stop those teams, as well as the rest of their opponents next year will be a priority on draft day. In a past mock I mentioned that according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, teams wanting Alabama CB Dee Milliner will “probably have to trade ahead of Detroit at No. 5 to get him. Enough said.
6. Cleveland Browns – Sharrif Floyd, DT/ Florida – NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah was quoted as saying, “everybody” has Floyd pegged as a top-five pick.” The reason for his fall to six has more to do with the rise of Dion Jordan and Ziggy Ansah up opposing teams’ draft boards. At 6’3 297 pounds, with a solid 40 time, Floyd racked up 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, and two kick blocks as a junior before declaring. Cleveland recently spent some big money on DE Paul Kruger and will be developing an intimidating pass rush after drafting Floyd to compliment him. Utah DE Star Lotulelei could also fit nicely here.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Eric Fisher OT/ Central Michigan – Carson Palmer was recently acquired and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Total Access that the Cardinals are unlikely to draft a quarterback at No. 7 overall. This may not be the popular thing to do from a fan perspective, but it makes a heck of a lot of sense. The QB class outside of Smith is not worthy of a selection this high and a good LT is a necessity in a rebuilding process. Bruce Arians and his imaginative play calling would love to feel confident their QB, whoever it is, will stay upright no matter what the play, and Fisher can do just that. Watch for Arizona to draft a QB in the 2nd round.
8. Buffalo Bills – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/Tennessee – I am less confident in this pick every day. Last time I had mentioned “Patterson needs a coach that isn’t going to take any crap and can bring him in with more a drill instructor mind set than a player coach mentality”. Now there are reports from a WR coach that Patterson would be an offensive coach’s dream. This is pure crap. You don’t change from a head case to a saint in the time since the combine. GM Buddy Nix mentioned to the press that he wanted to draft a big time WR as well as a franchise QB. Good luck with that. Patterson is considered to be as immature as he is talented. There was a report from a scout that he questioned Patterson’s intelligence and thinks the team that drafts him will have to simplify their offense to make him successful. Still, he scored a touchdown via kickoff return, punt return, receiving, and rushing, joining Carl Pickens (receiving, KR, PR, INT) as the only players in Tennessee history to score a touchdown four different ways in a career. Some drafts have Buffalo grabbing Ryan Nassib here, but I can’t see it. His combine was average and he’s not coming from a football powerhouse in Syracuse. His talent is fantastic, but even with his former coach now in charge of the Bills; Nassib would be a major risk here. I do however think West Virginia WR Tavon Austin has a legitimate chance to be drafted here.
9. New York Jets – Star Lotulelei, DT/Utah – The Jets are a tough team to gauge simply because they have so many needs and on both sides of the field. Lotulelei has been all over draft boards due to his supposed heart issues which have since been declared a non-issue. Star won the Morris trophy which is the award given to the best defensive player, voted by the Pac-12 offensive lineman he played against. His prototypical size at 6’3 311lbs. will help Rex Ryan in his pursuit of a pass rush. He should be a great addition to a line that just lost Sione Pouha and is in desperate need of improvement.
10. Tennessee Titans – Chance Warmack, OG/Alabama – I stand by this pick since the first mock in Late January. The Titans need to give Jake Locker a chance. Ha! Chance… In order to do that he needs to stay on his feet and taking the best guard at 10 would be a big time pick for the Titans. Warmack is a wild card to me, as the Jets, Cardinals, and Eagles could all use some help at the offensive line, so if he’s still available Tennessee will pounce. CBS Sports has Warmack as the second best prospect in this year’s draft behind only Luke Joeckel.
11. San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, OT/ Oklahoma – The new regime of GM Tom Telesco, HC Mike McCoy, and OC Ken Whisenhunt have a lot of work to do to keep the Chargers relevant. Johnson did 28 reps of 225lbs at the combine and with his strength will help Philip Rivers try to redeem himself after getting sacked on 50 of his 587 drop backs. The Bolts’ most glaring need is at left tackle, where Jared Gaither up and quit last season, and Johnson will also help fill the void on the right side where Louis Vasquez played before he departed to Denver.
12. Miami Dolphins – Jonathan Cooper, OG/North Carolina – Miami lost Jake Long to St. Louis and now are left with Jonathan Martin at left tackle and they brought in Nate Garner to be a swing tackle/guard. That being said, neither of those guys is going to a pro bowl any time soon. Cooper will help Miami recover from their loss of a former 1st round lineman. Greg Cossel from NFL films praised Cooper saying “the most purely athletic guard I can remember seeing” coming out of college. Cooper plays with “light feet, great balance,” and also showed a “nasty streak,” consistently “looking for contact.” Cooper is considered by some to be the best guard prospect in the class.
13. New York Jets (Via Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Tavon Austin, WR/West Virginia – For this to happen, Derrelle Revis must first become a Buccaneer. Consider it done! This trade is going to happen and it will happen before the draft, simply because no team would be willing to give up a first round pick for a player that they haven’t medically deemed healthy. Austin is a heck of a talent and will do wonders in the west coast offense the Jets are planning on using. Jets fans should also be looking towards receiving a 3rd round and maybe a late round pick or a pick in 2014 in the Revis trade.
14. Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson, DT/Missouri – The Panthers statistically had a top 15 defense in 2012 finishing 10th in the league for yards per game allowed. Richardson, who stands 6’2”, 294lbs., became Mizzou’s first-ever All-SEC designee, as he was named to the 2nd-team for his outstanding play. His presence should help solidify Carolina’s front seven.
15. New Orleans Saints – Menelik Watson, OT/ Florida State – This kid is very intriguing. He has only played 2 years of football after coming over from Manchester England, but is considered by NFL.com’s Gil Brandt as a “very good offensive lineman.” Pursued by the likes of Oklahoma, Oregon, Auburn, Cal and Rutgers, Watson elected to sign with Florida State where he emerged as a starter in just his second season of playing the sport. Drew Brees and Mark Ingram will enjoy Watson’s services as he is helpful in both the run and the pass.
16. St. Louis Rams – D.J. Fluker, OT/Alabama – Some scouts doubt if Fluker can play tackle in the pro level. St. Louis is in dire need of offensive line help, so the concerns will be listened to, but ignored. D.J. Fluker who measures in at 6’6” 339 would be the 7th offensive linemen taken in this mock and the second of the first round coming from a SEC powerhouse in Alabama that produces NFL players every single year.