The NFL Draft is my favorite event of the year. Therefore, expect about 20 more of these mock drafts. These are my early projections for the first round.
1. Chiefs: Luke Joeckel: tackle, Texas A&M.
No quarterback here. Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, and Matt Barkley are good, but there is not a true franchise quarterback in this draft. Plus, Cassel isn’t THAT bad.
2. Jaguars: Demontre Moore: defensive end, Texas A&M.
The Jaguars have some good players on defense but they need a pass rusher to put everything together. Moore is the most complete defensive end in this draft and is better fit for a 4-3 defense, which is what the Jaguars run.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei: defensive tackle, Utah.
Lotulelei might be the top pick in the draft if and when he destroys the scouting combine. He is the next coming of Haloti Ngata.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher: tackle, Central Michigan.
Fisher performed very well at the Senior Bowl and was the best player there according to scouts. Fisher will give the Eagles offensive line stability for years to come. Fisher and Jason Peters would give the Eagles one of the best tackle duos in the league.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Miliner: cornerback, Alabama.
If Eric Fisher or Luke Joekel were still on the board, they would be a Lion. Milliner fills a need on a team with little to no cornerback talent.
6. Cleveland Browns: Bjorn Werner: defensive end, Florida State.
Werner was the star of Florida State’s defense. He can play on the strong side or weak-side and has a great motor.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack: guard, Alabama.
Guards usually don’t go in the top ten but Warmack is one of the best guard prospects I have ever seen. The Cardinals need offensive line help in a division that has some of the league’s best defenses.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith: quarterback, West Virginia.
Finally! A quarterback! I know the Bills have Ryan Fitzpatrick but he has not played well to say the least. Smith brings mobility to the quarterback position and is the closest thing to a franchise quarterback in this draft.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones: defensive end/outside linebacker, Georgia.
This is the best-case scenario for the Jets. Jones was once projected as the top player in the draft for his pass rushing ability. He should help the Jets in multiple aspects.
10. Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo: defensive end, LSU.
The Titans have spent a lot of money and draft picks on defensive lineman. Mingo has a tremendous first step but needs to improve against the run to become a complete player.
11. San Diego Chargers: Dion Jordan: defensive end/outside linebacker, Oregon.
Jordan is the best pure athlete in this draft. Jordan is a great pass rusher but the Oregon Ducks also had him cover slot receivers which is unreal considering he is 6’7” and 245 pounds. Jordan, Melvin Ingram, and Sean Phillips will give the Chargers a dangerous pass rushing trio for years to come.
12. Miami Dolphins: Cordarelle Paterson: wide receiver, Tennessee
Think Brandon Marshall’s after the catch ability with DeSean Jackson speed. Paterson might have the most potential of any player in the draft and gives Ryan Tannehill a much-needed number one option.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes: cornerback, Florida State.
Rhodes draft stock depends on his 40-yard dash. If he runs a good time, this is the right spot for him. But if not, expect him to be a 49er.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro: safety, Texas.
Vacorro reminds me of Eric Berry. He is a tremendous coverage safety and can even come in the box to defend the slot receiver. The Panthers have some talent on defense upfront but need a difference maker in the secondary.
15. New Orleans Saints: Ezekiel Ansah: defensive end/outside linebacker, BYU.
Like Dion Jordan, Ezekiel Ansah has potential. Many scouts are comparing him to Jason Pierre-Paul. Ansah would have to adjust to a 3-4 outside linebacker with Rob Ryan. Therefore, expect Ansah to be a situational pass rusher in 2013.
16. St. Louis Rams: Lane Johnson: tackle, Oklahoma.
Johnson’s draft stock, like Eric Fisher’s was raised by his performance in the Senior Bowl. Johnson is a great tackle and fills a need seeing as the Chargers have struggled with that position over the past season or two.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jesse Williams: nose tackle, Alabama.
The Steelers need a successor to Casey Hampton and Jesse Williams is the answer. Williams wont start but will rotate with Hampton.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson: defensive tackle, Missouri.
This is big for the Cowboys. Richardson is very athletic and has dangerous pass rushing ability. The Cowboys might switch to a 4-3 defense and Richardson would combine with Jay Ratliff for a dynamic duo at defensive tackle.
19. New York Giants: Manti Te’o: inside linebacker, Notre Dame.
With the loss of Michael Boley, the Giants need an inside linebacker. Te’o is a supreme talent with some off the field issues. If it were not for those issues, he would be a top ten pick.
20. Chicago Bears: Barrett Jones: center/guard, Alabama.
Barret Jones is the Bears dream draft pick, or he should be. Jones won three National Championships at Alabama at three different positions – left tackle, guard, and center. The Bears offensive line is awful and Jones brings some much-needed versatility.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree: outside linebacker, Georgia.
Talk about a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. The Bengals need a linebacker with the uncertainty of Ray Malaluga.
22. St. Louis Rams: DeAndre Hopkins: wide receiver, Clemson.
DeAndre Hopkins could become the best receiver in this draft. Cordarelle Paterson has insane potential but that potential might not be realized. Hopkins has tremendous route running ability for shorter routes and even has the speed to beat cornerbacks on deep routes.
23: Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen: wide receiver, California.
Even if Percy Harvin is not traded, the Vikings need a receiver. Allen would be a perfect complimentary receiver to Harvin because of his Anquan Boldin like skill set.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Shariff Floyd: defensive tackle, Florida
Come draft day, Floyd will not last this long. Once he shows his athletic ability at the combine, he could be a top fifteen pick.
25: Seattle Seahawks: Tavon Austin: wide receiver, West Virginia.
If Tavon Austin falls to the Seahawks, they automatically become the favorite in the NFC West. Austin is a poor man’s Percy Harvin and his versatility would add a dangerous piece to an already explosive offense. Austin adds that extra weapon that the 49ers dont have on offense and wont have an answer for on defense.
26. Green Bay Packers: Jonathan Cooper: guard, North Carolina.
This pick is based on need alone, not the best player available. It seemed like Rodgers was getting hit on every pass play, and Cooper will help this offensive line in the run and pass game.
27. Houston Texans: Eric Reid: safety, LSU
Towards the end of the season, the Texans gave up a lot of big pass plays. Reid is the second best safety in this draft and is a good overall player.
28. Denver Broncos: Jonathan Hankins: defensive tackle, Ohio State.
If this draft were not filled with so much talent on the defensive line, Hankins would be a top 15 pick. The Broncos need a presence on the inside against the run. Hankins presence would also help Von Miller.
29. New England Patriots: John Jenkins: nose tackle, Georgia.
Jenkins was criticized at the Senior Bowl. According to scouts, he lacked muscle mass despite his massive frame – 6’3” 358 pounds. Like the Steelers, the Patriots need a successor to their all-pro nose tackle and Jenkins is the answer.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor: defensive end, Texas.
The Falcons experiment with Ray Edwards was a failure. If it were not for John Abraham, the Falcons would have no pass rush at all. Okafor had four and a half sacks in the Alamo Bowl, and had a solid week at the Senior Bowl.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Banks: cornerback, Mississippi State.
The 49ers cornerbacks struggled against the Ravens (that’s you Chris Culliver). Outside of Carlos Rodgers, the 49ers have some good corners but not any difference makers. Banks is a huge corner that is very physical. He fits the mold of the players Jim Harbaugh wants.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter: inside linebacker, LSU.
Minter is one of my favorite players in the draft. He lacks elite athleticism but is great against the run and has a good overall skill set.