1. Kansas City Chiefs – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The debate will begin next week whether Geno Smith is worthy of the top pick. The result matters very little as the Chiefs are in desperate need of a signal caller. I’m not sure that waiting until the 2nd round is good enough for this desperate franchise, making Smith the most obvious choice leading up to April. There will be much debate on this pick and whether or not he’s worthy of it, but at the end of the day he’s the best of this quarterback class.
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. Don’t let the Jason Babin acquisition 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 – Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Raiders have to chalk up Carson Palmer as a loss and begin the process to move on from that abysmal trade. Palmer didn’t get any help in Oakland with oft-injured running back Darren McFadden on the shelf most of the season. That said, Palmer will be 33 next season and hasn’t been the same since his knee injury in Cincinnati and this may be the end of the road for Palmer as a starter in the NFL.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Nick Foles appears to be deserving of a look as a starting QB in the league. The Eagles are almost certain to bring a veteran to mentor and challenge Foles in the offseason. The biggest issue for the Eagles this season has been their offensive line. Granted some or even most of the cause has been injuries, they aren’t strong on the interior. The selection of Joeckel allows the Eagles to move Todd Hereman’s inside, where he’s best suited.
5. Detroit Lions – Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Lions have a plethora of options here. 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. Buffalo Bills – Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State
Chan Gailey’s fate has been sealed and the Bills will be looking to move forward with a new signal caller. They cannot enter next season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as a starter for this team despite giving him big bucks last season. Some people don’t have one quarterback in their top ten, I have three already. An argument can be made for my sanity but I think Glennon will be a favorite of Nix’s. Glennon has legitimate NFL tools and I think he winds up in the top ten. Here’s my personal plug for Glennon to Mobile, so I can see him in person with top weapons.
7. Cleveland Browns – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Sheldon Brown has played pretty well in 2012 all things considered. Against Denver you saw him exposed as he was forced to cover Eric Decker, who completely outclassed him. In today’s NFL it’s important to have two stud corners with a solid nickel. The Browns lack another top end talent to pair with Joe Haden. In a conference with A.J. Green, Torrey Smith, and Mike Wallace this pick should be a slam dunk.
Nate Potter’s emergence gives the Cards a little flexibility. With Smith, Wilson, and Glennon off the board I don’t see the Cardinals reaching for Matt Barkley. They should look to further strengthen their offensive line by bringing in a stud guard that is capable of making an instant impact in the league. This would be considered too high by many for a guard to be taken but Warmack is as good as they come and certainly deserves consideration this high.
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.
10. 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.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
I fully realize that any pick that doesn’t involve a defensive back will be criticized. That said, I can’t see the Bucs passing on a talent like Richardson for Xavier Rhodes or Johnthan Banks. Pairing Richardson with a healthy Gerald McCoy is dangerous and instantly gives this defense a major boost. Richardson is a phenomenal athlete that I highly doubt makes it this far after pre-draft workouts have him skyrocketing up draft boards.
12. 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.
13. Carolina Panthers – Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Panthers are riding a hot streak and could finish the season on a four game win streak if they can knock off the Saints this Sunday. 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.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers – Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Te’o is going to be a polarizing prospect as some have him in the top three of their draft. I’m not sold on that idea but I think the floor for Te’o will be wherever Pittsburgh winds up picking. Te’o would be an absolute steal for the Steelers and bring exactly what they need to the table. He’s a solid leader that fits the Steelers draft history to a tee.
15. 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.
16. New Orleans Saints – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Saints lack a force in the middle of their defense. Floyd gives them a dynamic three technique that is capable of rushing the QB from the inside and could be used on the edge in a three man front. The Saints will look to vary their fronts with an improvement in personnel and Floyd gives them the versatility to do so.
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