1. Kansas City Chiefs – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Pinstripe Bowl has everyone reeling on Geno’s viability as No. 1. I can’t vary from this one. Just think it’s a must for the Chiefs to find identify their QB from this draft and stick with it. I think this one comes down to Geno Smith and Mike Glennon with Geno getting the nod. As much as I like the idea of taking Joeckel, drafting a QB in the second, and picking up a veteran I can’t see it happening.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
This is the only pick in the top five that I feel pretty confident about. The Jags need to find a dynamite pass rusher early in the draft. They don’t get much better than Werner. He can stop the run and get after the QB which is much needed for Jacksonville.
3. Oakland Raiders – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Terrelle Pryor played decent for the Raiders in the season finale. Possibly good enough to develop him under Carson for another year. I have been a proponent of the Raiders taking a QB in the first round but I’m wavering with all the needs on defense. Sheldon Richardson is a dynamic athlete that can change the game from his DT spot. The Raiders will move on from Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, leaving them with little quality on the interior of their defensive line. Trust me on this one, Richardson will rise as we get closer to the draft.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Eagles need to focus on strengthening their offensive line. With Jason Peters back next year, the Joeckel selection allows them to move Todd Heremans inside and gives them a strong offensive line. This is the best option given Nick Foles lack of escapability and a promising running game.
5. Detroit Lions – Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
I can’t see the Lions re-signing Cliff Avril unless he comes on the cheap. KVB has seen his better days and the lack of a pass rush has really hurt this defense. Moore is a little undersized but plays bigger against the run that one would expect from a DE his size. He’s a relentless pass rusher that instantly makes this defense better at pressuring the QB.
6. Cleveland Browns – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Sheldon Brown is no longer a viable starting CB in the league. He’s lost a step (or three) and the Browns defense needs to find a running mate with Joe Haden. Milliner is a big, physical corner with the movement skills to give the Browns two of the best, young corners in the league. The Browns are absolutely broke at LB and could use an upgrade at that position. If Jarvis Jones’ neck checks out, he could be a solid option at No. 6.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Cardinals can’t afford to stifle this team with Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, or Ryan Lindley. They have to find a franchise signal caller and taking a shot on Wilson at No. 7 is a must.
8. Buffalo Bills – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Bills will be looking for a QB early in the draft but can’t afford to miss with a new HC in place. They will look to start off a new coach on the right foot with a solid defense. The Bills roster isn’t as bad as their record would indicate. Putting Jarvis Jones on this defensive roster makes it more than formidable and adds a pass rusher not named Mario Williams
9. New York Jets – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Jets desperately need a QB but I can’t see them taking a shot on Matt Barkley or Mike Glennon at No. 9. If they elect to go with a veteran they need to add some weapons on offense. Patterson may run sloppy routes and lack the experience of a Keenan Allen but he’s got an opportunity to be special. Guys that are 6’3″ and 205 pounds shouldn’t move with the ease that Patterson does with. I think Patterson rises quickly up draft boards the closer we get to April.
10. Tennessee Titans – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
There are some bigger needs for the Titans but finding a stud DT at No. 10 is not a bad option. The defense really struggled to stop the run as they lack a big body in the middle. Lotulelei gives them a run stuffing DT that can push the pocket.
11. San Diego Chargers – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Chargers offensive line is atrocious. That’s putting it nicely. I think the Chargers need to find at least two starters on the OL if they want to be competitive in the near future. Phillip Rivers has played poorly but needs some help from his OL and running game. Adding a talent like Matthews in round one should have Rivers jumping for joy on draft day.
12. Miami Dolphins – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
This pick has to be a pass rusher or pass catcher. Jordan offers so much upside opposite Cam Wake. He also gives this defense the versatility to play multiple fronts as he can stand up and drop into coverage as well.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Banks is a bit of a reach for me at this point but the DB spot is a must early in this draft. Banks has the size and speed to be a solid corner in the league. He lacks the physicality to be a top flight corner but I can’t see the Bucs passing on a corner unless they fall in love with a prospect that falls into their laps.
14. Carolina Panthers – Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Carolina finished the season out on a high note and could have saved Ron Rivera’s job. That said, they have nothing in the middle of their defense. Hankins has top five potential but wore down late in games and throughout the season. This pick could wind up a steal if Hankins commits himself to being great in the league.
15. New Orleans Saints – Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Clearly DE or DT is a bigger need for the Saints but they need quality leaders on this defense and Te’o fits the bill. Vilma was the heart and soul of this defense during the glory years and Te’o could be the guy to take them back to playoff contenders in 2013.
16. St. Louis Rams – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Fisher has carried a high grade on my board for a long time and he showed well in CMU’s bowl game. Not that he needed to but it certainly helped solidify his standing as the top senior tackle in the draft and a worthy top 20 pick.