1. Kansas City Chiefs – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Pinstripe Bowl has everyone reeling on Geno’s viability as No. 1. I just can’t find a scenario that makes sense to me other than Geno Smith. Finding a QB will be Andy Reid’s first priority in KC. Smith’s midseason struggles will be forgotten once he impresses in pre-draft workouts. Hopefully, Smith will be attending the Senior Bowl and start the process of reinvigorating No. 1 pick talk.
Luke Joeckel is my top rated player but I can’t see them letting Brandon Albert walk to spend the first overall pick on Joeckel. That scenario makes little sense with needs at QB.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Dave Caldwell rings in his GM reign in Jacksonville with a big body in the middle of the defense. Terrance Knighton has been underwhelming and injury prone since a solid rookie season. As much as the Jags need a pass rusher, they could really use a big body in the middle and Star fits that role.
3. Oakland Raiders – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
I have fluctuated between a DT and QB for the Raiders. Clearly, Carson Palmer isn’t the biggest or only problem with this roster. Terrelle Pryor played well in his first career start and proved he is worth developing. For that reason, the Raiders look to take a dominate defensive lineman. They don’t get much more disruptive than Sheldon Richardson. Richardson is only going to rise after he blows up the NFL Combine. I fully expect him to run in the 4.7 range at near 300 pounds.
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 – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
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. The top defensive end spot is going to be an intriguing one between Werner and Damontre Moore. Werner is equally adept as a pass rusher and run defender.
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. As much as some want the Cardinals to hinge their hopes on Kolb, there’s no way they are paying $11 million next season and a $2 million roster bonus in March. I would expect the Cards to part ways with Kolb and look to the draft for their franchise quarterback.
8. Buffalo Bills – Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Doug Marrone is taking over the Bills. Many believe he will look to take his former QB in Ryan Nassib at this spot. That would be a monumental mistake on his part. Nassib is solid but needs work and doesn’t warrant the eighth pick. Pairing Mario Williams with another stud pass rusher should be a priority for the offensive minded Marrone.
9. New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The Jets desperately need a QB but I can’t see them taking a shot on Matt Barkley at No. 9. Their pass rush was anemic this season despite some fairly solid defensive numbers. While Mingo underperformed compared to his enormous ceiling, he will have scouts drooling over the promise of a bright future after workouts.
10. Tennessee Titans – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
I don’t see defensive end as the Titans biggest need but passing on a talent like Jordan would be unwise. Jordan brings a unique skill set and could bring some much needed versatility to this defense. The Titans were awful in most defensive categories in 2012 and finding a playmaker is an absolute must.
11. San Diego Chargers – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
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. Taylor Lewan will be rated higher on most draft boards but it’s my personal feeling that Fisher is the better of the two. Fisher has been compared to former Chippewa Joe Staley but I believe he’s more ready to play than Staley was coming out of college.
12. Miami Dolphins – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
As of 6:30 PM EST I had Taylor Lewan in this spot. So much for that. Nothing like the last minute changes to mock drafts that end up changes everything. I really contemplated Chance Warmack and Johnthan Banks here but at the end of the day, the Dolphins need to find an impact defender. I don’t love Banks’ ability to ballhawk in the secondary and don’t see him much better than the options they can go after in the 2nd round. Jones’ medical concerns will keep teams up at night. If he checks out ok medically, I think he falls somewhere between 9 and 18.
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 – Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Ron and Dwan Edwards make up the completely inept Edwards Wall in Carolina. With any luck neither will be back next season. Jesse Williams brings upside and potential to be exactly what the Panthers need. He’s a freak athlete that will test off the charts. Still a little raw in terms of technique but the tools are there to be a really good DT.
15. New Orleans Saints – Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
There is going to be a ton of debate on Hankins leading up to the draft. At times, Hankins looks like a top five prospect. At other times, he turns into Harry Houdini. His tendency to wear down due to conditioning is a concern but fits what New Orleans needs to a tee. Hankins is a big body, run stuffer with the ability to pressure the QB.
16. St. Louis Rams – Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Rams couldn’t go wrong with drafting a tackle or guard. Quality upgrades at both positions is an absolute necessity early in the draft. Warmack was his usually dominant self in the National Championship Game and proved that he is one of the top prospects in the draft.
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