1. Kansas City Chiefs – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
A 15-0 loss to Oakland sticks a fork in the idea that the Chiefs could or should stay away from a quarterback with the first pick. The offense is inept, outside Jamaal Charles and you won’t win many games without a top quarterback in today’s NFL. The new regime in KC will bank their future on West Virginia’s signal caller. While he struggled a bit down the stretch, a solid showing in pre-draft workouts will vault Geno back to the top.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Chiefs and Jags appear to be dead set on battling until the end for the top pick. They were beat up by a so-so Miami squad to solidify themselves as a full fledged candidate for the top spot. Don’t let the Jason Babin selection fool you into thinking the Jags won’t take a pass rusher if they sit in this spot. Babin could wind up being a rental for the season leaving the Jags empty handed at DE. Werner is the top pass rusher in a stacked class. He’s a much better athlete than given credit for and adds the bonus of being able to stop the run. He’s the most complete of the bunch and a very worthy selection with the 2nd pick.
3. Oakland Raiders – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour could both be gone after this season. Neither has proven worthy of their hefty contracts and could be upgraded. Many will think this is too high for Richardson…now. Richardson is a dynamic athlete at DT, he may challenge Warren Sapp’s 40 time at the combine. He possesses an elite first step and is the most disruptive DT in this class which includes some very good prospects.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Philly fans haven’t been big fans of this selection but I can’t see the Eagles banking on Todd Herremans and Jason Peters to man the ship. Both will be 31 next season and could be best suited to move inside to guard. Joeckel is one of the elite prospects in this draft class and passing on him would not be wise for the future of Nick Foles.
5. Detroit Lions – Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Lions have a plethora of options here. Dee Milliner and Manti Te’o could really intrigue Martin Mayhew but they are in need of a dynamic pass rusher. I give the edge to Moore because of positional value. In a division with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you have a top flight pass rusher. The Lions have some tough decisions in free agency this season with limited cap space and will have to be creative in the draft to fill holes.
6. San Diego Chargers – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Chargers have been abysmal at tackle for a long while. Counting on Jared Gaither’s health is fool’s gold and Jeromey Clarey is just plain terrible. As bad as Phillip Rivers has been, they won’t really know what they have in Rivers until they find him some protection. Matthews may be a long shot to declare. If he does, he is talented enough to land in the top 10. I think he possesses the skills to play the left side and at worst you have a very good RT.
7. Cleveland Browns – Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
The Redskins just feasted on the Browns linebackers forcing them to cover the slot. It was bad enough to make me think they really need to invest heavily in the linebacker spot. Te’o gives them some flexibility in their LB corps. Te’o brings some leadership to a young, budding defense and instantly upgrades their ability to make plays on that side of the ball.
8. Buffalo Bills – Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
It couldn’t work out more perfect for the Bills. I think this pick comes down to whether or not Chan Gailey is in Buffalo next season. Wilson fits the mold of a Gailey quarterback to a tee. If Gailey isn’t there Buffalo could look to the strong-armed N.C. State signal caller in Mike Glennon. Either way, an upgrade over Ryan Fitzpatrick is a priority this offseason.
9. Tennessee Titans – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Titans are terrible on defense. They struggle mightily to stop the run and could use a big body in the middle. They have some solid three-techniques but very little in the way of run stuffers. Star Lotulelei instantly gives them a legitimate run stuffer with the ability to push the pocket. While they are young at the position with solid depth they need to upgrade it if they want to be better against the run.
Don’t look now but the Panthers are riding a two game win streak and playing much better football late in the season. With San Diego and Oakland remaining on the schedule, it’s feasible that the Panthers could finish with seven wins. Who would have thought that three weeks ago. The biggest problem in Carolina is stopping the run as they have little talent in the middle of their defense. Adding Johnathan Hankins would be huge for the Luke Kuechly as Hankins is skilled enough to demand double-teams, freeing Kuechly to read and react. Hankins’ wore down as the season progressed and will need to improve from a consistency and conditioning aspect.
11. Arizona Cardinals – Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State
The Cardinals feature the NFL’s most inept offense. They rank 32nd in rushing yards and 30th in passing yards. The QB situation is a mess, don’t let the 38-10 win over the Lions fool you. Glennon is a big armed quarterback with NFL tools. I think he’s NFL ready and could make an immediate impact for the Cardinals.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Bucs would jump for joy if Milliner slid down to them. Milliner is exactly what the Bucs are looking for and fits their defensive scheme perfectly. He joins former teammate Mark Barron in Tampa to give the Bucs the start to a good, young secondary.
13. Miami Dolphins – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
This pick could be dependent on what the Dolphins do with Jake Long. It would be costly to franchise Long and I don’t know that giving him another monster contract is the right thing to do. If Long bolts South Beach, they could look to another UM tackle in Taylor Lewan. For now, the Dolphins need to find a pass rusher opposite Cam Wake. Dion Jordan is an absolute steal at this point and the Dolphins would do well to get him at 13.
14. New York Jets – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
I’m cautious with Jarvis Jones until after the Combine. His medical concerns are concerning enough to warrant my caution. That said, he’s a top ten talent with special abilities to rush the passer, a much needed ability in New York. The Jets have struggled to get much pass rush this season and could use an upgrade at rush linebacker. If Jones can clear team’s medicals this will be a pipedream for the Jets as he’ll settle somewhere in the top 10.
15. New Orleans Saints – Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The Saints will be looking to upgrade their front four early in the draft. Will Smith is probably done in New Orleans and they have little at DE with him in the fold. Sharrif Floyd is an interesting fit for the Saints but Ansah is a special talent with boatloads of upside. He’s the type of athlete that they need to get after Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Josh Freeman.
16. St. Louis Rams – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Rams fans will jump for joy if Lewan slides into their laps at 15. While, I don’t think its much of a slide, they will be jumping for joy to get Lewan to protect Sam Bradford. Lewan needs a solid showing against South Carolina to warrant this pick. If he shows well against Clowney, he could be headed for a rise up draft boards.
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