It’s time for our first Mock Draft of the year and with the combine on its way, it couldn’t come at a better time.
MOCK DRAFT DISCLAIMER: Once again, the following picks are not how I have these players ranked and it is definitely not how I would pick for these teams.
A good mock draft should be the most accurate prediction of how NFL GMs/Teams will be thinking and which players they will be targeting when the end of April is upon us.
Trades will be marked with an *asterisk to indicate an original pick being changed.
If you have any questions or other players to ask about, go ahead and drop a comment below or hit me up on the twitterverse if that’s you’re thing @RookieDraft
1. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M - While most observers will crucify this pick, there simply is no quarterback worthy of the #1 overall selection in the 2013 draft class. Joeckel is far and away the safest prospect in the class and he meets an obvious need area for the Chiefs, especially if they decide to move on from Branden Albert. Regardless, Kansas City could still theoretically keep Albert and kick him inside to form one of the more talented offensive lines in the league.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State - The Jaguars have needs on both sides of the ball but addressing a lack-luster pass rush in a first round that is going to be littered with star-caliber blitzers at the top should be ideal. Werner will give new Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley the high motor pass rusher that his aggressive defense will need.
3. Oakland Raiders: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia - The Raiders new management isn’t falling for the same tricks the old regime used to be prone to but Jones is a player that any talent evaluator can fall in love with. He is relentless in pursuit and should test out extremely well to go along with his great character. The only thing that can hold this guy back is a poor medical evaluation but even with that he’ll still be a highly sought after player with the kind of quick twitch ability he brings to the table.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: DT Star Lotulelie, Utah - The aptly named defensive tackle is a rare specimen when considering what kind of tape he has out there at 300+ pounds. Star Lotulelie is a force no matter where he lines up and he’s so much more than just a nose tackle, as he the ability to anchor against the run as well as rush the passer. While some might compare him to a Dontari Poe in terms of size and speed, the biggest difference is that Lotulelie actually has quality production and outstanding film to match his hype.
5. Detroit Lions: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama - The Lions have good depth at the position but selecting a potential shutdown cornerback in Milliner would be a huge addition to a defense that already has a solid linebacker corps and a vicious front line. While they have a lot of talent up front, they only got to the quarterback 34 times (20th in the league) and they could inflate that number drastically if the coverage is tighter in the back half. Corner might not be the most glaring need but Milliner would be an instant impact player.
6. Cleveland Browns: DE Demontre Moore, Texas A&M - Demonster is lightning quick and scheme versatile, making him an ideal fit for the Browns defense under new coordinator Ray Horton who is certain to utilize multiple fronts and a variable of schemes. The Browns are in need of another edge rushing presence outside of Jabaal Sheard and with a healthy Phil Taylor returning this season to join Ahtyba Rubin on the inside, this revamped front four could help keep Cleveland in more games.
7. Arizona Cardinals: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan - The Cardinals finally address a long standing sore spot for their roster and while the quarterback position is still a glaring need for this team, the real value at the top-10 is going to be Eric Fisher who has all the makings of an all-pro left tackle that has a chance to start for the team that drafts him for the next 10+ years. There’s simply too much to like about Fisher and too much of a need for the Cardinals to ignore here.
8. Buffalo Bills: DE Dion Jordan, Oregon - While I’m sure new coach Doug Marrone would love to shock the world and select one of his Orange, namely Ryan Nassib, cooler heads will likely prevail and that will mean addressing the need of another player to help install the new 3-4 defense that the Bills appear to be headed for. With the hiring of former Jets defensive assistant, Mike Pettine, New York will look to add another player that can set the edge and run the arc which is something Jordan excels at.
9. New York Jets: DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU - The J-E-T-S go with a bit of a reach and while I don’t completely agree with it, somebody is going to be enamored with Ansah’s measurables and workout numbers enough to pull the trigger at the top half of the draft. New York should be a landing spot for one of these quarterbacks but after the deal they just gave Mark Sanchez, pass rusher has to be pushed to the forefront. This could either be the Jets’ version of JPP or Vernon Gholston part II.
10. Tennessee Titans: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida - Floyd is going to be selected very high in this draft and that’s because of his high motor play but also his understanding of the game. Capable of playing both end and tackle, this pass rushing phenom would fit very well with the rest of the Titans’ hyperactive interior defenders. Offensive line is definitely a concern but not a liability if they don’t get bit as harshly by the injury bug so while guard is a need, they can address that in the next round.
11. San Diego Chargers: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama - The Chargers have had a gaping hole at left guard ever since Kris Dielman was forced to retire due to concussion issues and they are in luck with the most talented guard prospect available this year. Warmack has the makings of a player that will be a starter in the league for the next decade at the very minimum. He is nasty in the run game, he is a powerful pass protector and his knowledge of the game is unparallelled.
12. Miami Dolphins: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri - Richardson is another “play until the whistle blows” type of defensive tackle that will thrive in any defense because of his tremendous pass rushing ability and relentless approach to the game. The Dolphins boast one of the better pass rushing ends in the league in Cameron Wake and the addition of Richardson should afford Wake less double teams and more one on one matchups in obvious blitzing situations.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State - Rhodes is a bit of a gamble but he serves a very clear need in a secondary that is void of talent at the cornerback position. Eric Wright is a very adequate corner in their scheme but they need a stud on the outside and Rhodes has a chance to be just that with his size and impact in the running game. The biggest question mark is how well he’ll run at the combine but there’s a very good chance that Tampa might roll the dice on Rhodes in the first round to keep him in the state of Florida.
14. Carolina Panthers: WR Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee - There’s two directions the Panthers will go here and that’s defensive tackle or wide receiver but, regardless of how perfect the fit might be, I don’t see either Sharrif Floyd or Sheldon Richardson lasting this long. Patterson is one of the names being tossed around as the most likely receiver being selected first and while that may or may not happen, he fits the needs of this offense much more so than a Keenan Allen or a DeAndre Hopkins with his potential to blow the top off the defense and allow Cam Newton’s vertical ability to flourish.
15. New Orleans Saints: OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU - Mingo is another one of these freak of nature pass rushers that should be considered by all defensive schemes because of his outstanding athletic ability and his tremendous speed off the edge. His best fit is likely as a standup rusher in an odd front and that is apparently where the Saints are going after the acquisition of Rob Ryan as their defensive coordinator. Mingo is undersized but should prove to be a force off the edge as a potential James Harrison type in this defense.
16. St. Louis Rams: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma - Johnson is a fast riser thanks to all the positions he’s played over his career (former TE/DE) and a very strong showing at the Senior Bowl. The amount of teams that are in need of an true potential left tackle in the middle of the first round is actually substantial and that leads me to believe that Johnson will be off the board before the Bears pick at 20 and possibly even before this pick. Lane Johnson has a very good chance to blow up the combine with his excellent speed and strength so it’s very possible pick #16 is a modest estimate.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas - It’s past time to start building for the future and retooling this defense which should begin by replacing future HOFer Troy Polamalu, as the veteran’s injuries have begun to pile up. Vaccaro can play both safety positions but projects as a free safety that will be the Steelers centerfielder of the future. The best part is that he will be groomed by two quality veterans in Polamalu (A 2015 Free Agent) and Ryan Clark who is in the last year of his contract.
18. Dallas Cowboys: DE Alex Okafor, Texas - Okafor has done a terrific job of generating buzz after a strong showing in his last game as a Longhorn, where he produced an Alamo Bowl record 4.5 sacks, and he made his presence known throughout practices during the Senior Bowl. The Cowboys are in need of another edge rusher that can play base end in their revamped even front with new coordinator Monte Kiffin now dialing up plays for his classic Tampa-2 defense. The team is likely to part ways with free agent Anthony Spencer and that would create a need opposite DeMarcus Ware.
19. New York Giants: ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia - The Giants have had a hole at middle linebacker since they parted ways with Antonio Pierce and while Chase Blackburn has played exceedingly well by all accounts, he’s not the future and they could dramatically upgrade their defense with a player the caliber of Ogletree. Even though Ogletree doesn’t rush the passer, he excels out in coverage and chasing down ball carriers to sideline to sideline. This would be an ideal addition with both Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley moving on in free agency.
20. Chicago Bears: OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina - The Bears can’t ignore their offensive line forever and while most will point to the tackle position, they’re still counting on JeMarcus Webb and Gabe Carimi to develop on the outsides. Regardless of that being an ideal plan of attack, they need to address their interior line around center Roberto Garza and Cooper would be an ideal building block. Even though he’s a guard only, Cooper has tremendous strength and is capable of dominating his one on one matchups which is something you simply can not say about any of the Bears’ current offensive linemen.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: S Eric Reid, LSU - Cincinnati has a talented safety that they have rebuilt in ex-1st rounder Reggie Nelson (JAX) but they still need more help in their secondary at strong safety, otherwise they wouldn’t keep recycling Chris Crocker every single year. Eric Reid is a future free safety and learning from Nelson to start off his career will be a dream scenario for both Reid and the Bengals as far as adapting to the speed of the game while helping the cause at the same time.
22. *St. Louis Rams: WR Keenan Allen, California (via Redskins) - This is the first in the series of draft picks that the Rams garnered from the Redskins in the Robert Griffin trade and it’s very deserving that they should get a potential impact player to help Sam Bradford in Keenan Allen. The Cal receiver has a complete game but thrives as a possession player, using his strong ball skills and size to beat out coverage consistently. While the Rams have a tone of wide receiver options currently, they don’t have a pass catcher that can beat out Allen from being Bradford’s future go-to guy.
23. Minnesota Vikings: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson - Hopkins might very well become a first round player with the positive buzz he’s generating and a strong combine showing should only encourage GM Rick Spielman to add another target for third year passer Christian Ponder but the potential trade rumors surrounding Percy Harvin are probably going to be more of a motivating factor if proven true. Hopkins can separate from defenders vertically, he can breaks tackles and he has a lot of upside but his ball skills are inconsistent. Still, that didn’t stop the Vikings from taking Percy Harvin in the first round back in 2009.
24. Indianapolis Colts: ILB Kevin Minter, LSU - Minter is viewed by some talent evaluators as the best inside linebackers in this entire class and regardless of where he is on every single team’s board, he is a very good fit for the Colts next to Jerrell Freeman with Pat Angerer (2014 Free Agent) requiring a second surgery on his injured right foot. Minter is strong in run support but is also viewed as one of the real students of the game in this draft class with his advanced understanding of the game and that would make him the perfect type of player to build this defense around.
25. Seattle Seahawks: DE Datone Jones, UCLA - The Seahawks already have a strong defensive line but with Chris Clemons (2015 Free Agent) rehabbing a torn ACL this off-season and Jason Jones departing in free agency, they need to think about adding future impact opposite Bruce Irvin who will look to take the next step. Seattle doesn’t have a ton of pressing needs so they are in the very fortunate position of stockpiling talent and selecting the best player available. Jones’ physical presence and knowledge of the game will be certain to appeal to the Seahawks’ super sized front four.
26. Green Bay Packers: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama - The Packers are another team that has few needs at the forefront but one of the more obvious holes along their roster is at runningback, after once again struggling to produce consistent yards on the ground and keep the ball out of their opponents hands. Lacy may not be the top back on every team’s draft board but he’s exactly the kind of ball carrier that the Packers could use to ice games and grind out the tough yards which is what the team had in mind when the brought Cedric Benson into the mix last year.
27. Houston Texans: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia - The Texans need another wide receiver to step up and they have some other issues in their secondary but adding a future quarterback that Gary Kubiak could mold into his starter will be too much to pass up at the end of the first round. There’s no instant starter at the quarterback position and while Geno Smith is closer than the rest, he also would benefit greatly from a year of holding the clipboard for Matt Schaub and learning from a seasoned veteran. Smith’s athleticism and terrific production should make him the type of player the Texans’ west-coast style offense is looking for.
28. Denver Broncos: DE Sam Montgomery, LSU - Montgomery is viewed as a better overall NFL-ready prospect than his teammate Barkevious Mingo by some scouts and the Broncos need for a true base end opposite Elvis Dumervil in their defensive front should make this an ideal selection. The Bayou Bengal has an non-stop motor and he is a technically sound player that should be able to make an immediate impact on a very talented Denver defensive line. While there is a need in the secondary, the Broncos should be able to address that position later in the draft.
29. New England Patriots: DT Jesse Williams, Alabama - The Patriots defense has issues in the secondary and up front but one thing that will help all three levels of the defense is an impact interior pass rusher like Jesse Williams. A very raw player, Williams has only played two years of division I football but his physical presence is obvious on any football field. The former rugby and basketball prospect is now one of the nation’s top defensive tackles because of his unbelievable raw strength and relentless approach to the game. His scheme versatility and background in Nick Saban’s defense should provide extra appeal for Bill Belichick in the evaluation process.
30. Atlanta Falcons: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame - Eifert is ideal for the Falcons with future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez likely hanging up his cleats for good after the season and it’s Eifert’s ability to highpoint passes in traffic that will help ease the loss of Gonzo in the middle of the field. The Golden Domer has legitimate receiver ability with his strong ball skills, terrific coordination/body control and field awareness. The Falcons’ high octane offense is certain to continue surrounding franchise quarterback Matt Ryan with more weapons each passing year and this pick is no exception.
31. San Francisco 49ers: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State - The 49ers don’t have a ton of needs with their quarterback of the future (Colin Kaepernick) in place and a bevy of skill position players surrounding him but if they were to stockpile a position at this point in the draft, the smart money would be on Hankins. He’s a player they could immediately use in as a specialty blitzer and sub package defender but would fit nicely in a number of positions for the multiple front San Francisco defense.
32. Baltimore Ravens: LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame - Not even a terrible off-field hoax or a horrific bowl game performance can take Manti Te’o out of the first round but after watching more of Te’o’s competition (Ogletree/Minter), it’s not out of the question to believe that he wasn’t considered the top inside linebacker even before January. Regardless, Te’o has a strong collection of game film that is certain to get him selected highly and the Ravens need some answers at linebacker with Ray Lewis retiring and Dannell Ellerbe headed for free agency.
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