|Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson|
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Let's be honest, Smith is not the best prospect on the board. Heck, he's doubtful to even be a top ten prospect after he disappointed in the snowy Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse. But he is the best quarterback on the board, quarterback prospects always get pushed up the draft board due to the importance of the position and the Chiefs desperately need a franchise quarterback. Plus, the news that Andy Reid will be the next coach in Kansas City makes it more likely that they will go for a quarterback due to his skills in developing quarterbacks. Smith has ideal size, a good arm, strong accuracy and mechanics and has plus athleticism.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Jaguars really could not go wrong with this selection as they are lacking in talent at almost every position, and particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line could really use some talent infusion as they were last in the league in sacking the quarterback, and especially as Terrence Knighton is a free agent this offseason. Lotulelei impresses some folks with how he manhandles offensive linemen thanks to his strength and quickness. Plus, he can play in either the 4-3 or the 3-4, which would please new coach Gus Bradley, who likes to feature multiple looks.
3. Oakland Raiders - Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M
The Eagles' offensive line, even after the free agent signing of Demetress Bell after the injury to Jason Peters, was a real disappointment as they allowed the fifth most sacks in the league. Having major problems with the line was a problem and with Chip Kelly bringing in his new spread, they need to make a real investment into line play and thus taking an elite tackle prospect like Joeckel makes sense. He has everything you want in a franchise tackle with good size, quickness on his feet, athleticism as well as big-game experience.
5. Detroit Lions - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
A key reason why the Lions' defense took a couple steps backward this season was the struggles of the pass rush. The team went from being tied for tenth in the league in sacks last year to being tied for 20th this year. Considering Kyle Vanden Bosch's declining play, the team really needs to find a quality pass rusher opposite Cliff Avril, whose contract is also up after having the franchise tag applied last offseason. Werner is an ideal pass rusher for the 4-3 as he a great combination of speed and physicality who also plays with a consistent motor.
6. Cleveland Browns - Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The Browns really had some problems defending the pass and one way they could improve in that regards in finding a pass rushing complement for Jabaal Sheard, as they have struggled to find another threat opposite him. Ansah was awesome at the Senior Bowl and his stock has been on the rise since. He is pretty raw and only started one year in Provo but he is drawing comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul due to his freakish athleticism and his high ceiling. Plus due to his size, he is a better fit for a hybrid scheme than is Barkevious Mingo.
7. Arizona Cardinals - Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan
The Cardinals face a harder draft process with Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan deciding to return to Ann Arbor instead of entering the NFL draft. Like I said last week, there is not a quarterback worth taking at this juncture and with offensive tackle being their other huge need, I think they will reach a little for for this Central Michigan product, although many think that Fisher's stock will rise. Fisher is versatile as he has played three positions on the line during his time in Mount Pleasant and has is pretty quick on his feet, an important trait for a left tackle, although he could use some more pounds on his frame. And he was tremendous in Mobile, slowing down even the best of pass rushers in dominant fashion.
8. Buffalo Bills - Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State
There is no question that Mike Glennon here is a reach, I am not even sold that he is a first round caliber player. That said, quarterbacks always get overdrafted due to the vast importance of the position and I think that Bills GM Buddy Nix, who barely kept his job after coach Chan Gailey got axed, is desperate enough to reach for a quarterback. Glennon may have been inconsistent in Raleigh but he has got the skills and the potential to be very good at the next level, even as he was up-and-down at the Senior Bowl.
9. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
10. Tennessee Titans - DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
We saw in 2012 why the Titans really wanted to draft a cornerback in the first round this past year because their pass defense was completely awful, seventh worst in the league, and a key reason why the team slumped to 6-10 and lost six games by three touchdowns or more. Milliner is a good fit for Tennessee because he is big and physical with solid ball skills but he also has the speed to deal with deep threats down the field.
11. San Diego Chargers - Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
The Chargers did have a solid pass rush last year, tying for 11th in the league with 38 sacks, but they really did not get much production outside of Shaun Phillips on the edge, even after selecting Melvin Ingram in the first round last year. That, and Phillips is a free agent this year, is good reason for the new management to select another pass rusher this year, and another SEC product that slips. Jones projects to be a similar player to Von Miller. He is a truly gifted pass rusher with his speed, his pass rush skills and a relentless motor. I do think his stock will slip a little due to concerns about the spinal problem he developed at USC as well as beliefs that he will not workout well in the coming months.
12. Miami Dolphins - Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
While it certainly was not as great of a rookie campaign as those of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill did show promise this past year and looked like he could be a good quarterback down the line, he was just a bit raw which we knew he would be. And he made use of what he had and Brian Hartline and Davone Bess both had pretty solid seasons at wideout but neither really strikes fear into opposing defenses. Allen has a nice combination of good size and quality speed and is a guy that loves to attack passes in the air.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
You know who had a great secondary last year? The Buccaneers. After all, they were 32nd in opposing passing yardage and were that far away from allowing the most passing yardage of all time. They had to get rid of the malcontent Aqib Talib but that left them worse off, especially since Eric Wright was awful, as expected. So they really have to address the cornerback position and thus, Banks makes sense here. Banks is a pretty big corner who plays the ball well and is also very aggressive in the run game and is pretty good in run support.
14. Carolina Panthers - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
A reason why I was not as bullish on the Panthers as others were this year was because I knew that the defense was not very good. One key problem with the defense was in the interior of the line, which has not been good since Kris Jenkins left town and they got gashed on the ground multiple times this year, Bryce Brown's performance being first on my mind. Richardson, he of the infamous "old man football" quote regarding Georgia, truly was awesome in 2012 for the Tigers with 75 tackles, four sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. He is an athletic big guy who moves well in the trenches and has the arms to bat down passes as well.
15. New Orleans Saints - Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Saints were at their best on defense when they will attacking the opposing quarterback with aggressive blitz schemes and thus they were not a good fit for Steve Spagnuolo's scheme. Now as the team will switch to a 3-4, they need to bring in some edge rushers as they make the transition and it is a very good draft for that. Jordan could go higher but he tore his labrum and thus his stock will likely fall. He has only played defensive end since 2010 but he has shown the athletic ability to not just rush the passer but to drop back into coverage as well. And we all know that teams love pass rushers with long arms.
16. St. Louis Rams - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
It may sound crazy to take an interior lineman this early in the draft but Warmack is awesome, just watch him and that entire Crimson Tide offensive line against Notre Dame on Monday night, and the need to protect the quarterback is so great. Sam Bradford has been beaten and battered around during his NFL career by defenses because he has continually been behind awful offensive lines and if Jeff Fisher wants him to realize his potential, he needs to upgrade the five in front. Where Warmack will also help is in the run game because he is a true punishing blocker in the run game and athletic enough to pass block well.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma
For years, the Steelers have had problems with their offensive line, even after spending a lot of resources in recent history to help shore up the unit. They were 19th in the league in sacks allowed with their quarterbacks being sacked 37 times and Ben Roethlisberger had some injury issues this past season. Johnson was a borderline first rounder going into Mobile but after a very impressive performance, he has solidified his stock in the first round. He had a very good senior season in Norman protecting Landry Jones and he fares very well against athletic pass rushers due to his own plus athleticism as he used to be a tight end and a defensive end.
18. Dallas Cowboys - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
You know rumor has it that the Cowboys were looking pretty hard a couple of years back at taking J.J. Watt but they passed, taking USC tackle Tyron Smith instead. Now with some holes on their defensive line, look for the Cowboys to push the action on a lineman here. Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Monte Kiffin will be in a conga line if they can get Sheldon Richardson or Floyd to fall to them here. Floyd is a great fit for the Tampa 2 due to his disruptive style. He is physical and faster than you would think out of a defensive tackle.
19. New York Giants - Johnathan Haskins, DT, Ohio State
We all know the Giants for having a great defensive line, but they do have some questions at the defensive tackle position. Rocky Bernard is a free agent this offseason and the club recently cut Chris Canty, leaving a hole at tackle. Not to mention that the Giants really struggled at times to defend the run, finishing 25th statistically. That is precisely why you draft a guy like Hankins, who is not going to provide much of a pass rush but he will eat up double teams and be very tough to run on and to move from the point of attack.
20. Chicago Bears - Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia
The Bears really need to find some reinforcements for their offensive line, which is what got Lovie Smith fired. Unfortunately, the prospects that would be available in this mock would also be reaches, so I think that the Bears would be off taking one of the best players on the board and a guy who would eventually replace Brian Urlacher. Ogletree had himself a great season and was a key reason why Georgia came pretty close to getting to the national championship. He is a great athlete who can cover the field from sideline to sideline and he is sound in coverage and in run support.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame
Now I had Te'o falling out of the first round in my mock draft last week but as the story has gone and developed with Te'o's non-televised interview with Jeremy Schapp and his interview with Katie Couric, I think his stock has stabilized right in this area. Yes, the whole weird and incredibly bizarre story will cause him to drop but I don't think it will cause him to drop as much as I thought it would in the eye of the story. Even with his awful performance against Alabama, I still think he is a very talented linebacker with little flaws. Cincinnati won't care about the character issues, besides, it's not like Te'o killed anybody, and they need some help at the position.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Rams were much improved on defense this past year under Jeff Fisher's first year in town and a big reason was from the secondary, with one clear exception, at safety. New corners Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins did a solid job on the outside and while Quinten Mikell is a capable strong safety, Craig Dahl is garbage at the other safety spot and needs to be upgraded. What Fisher will appreciate from Vaccaro are his instincts in both the run game and against the pass as he has a good head for where the ball is.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
By no means is Christian Ponder a solid quarterback right now but to be fair to him, he has nothing to work with the exception of Percy Harvin, who could be potentially moved this offseason. The team didn't get much out of Jerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins is a scrub. Patterson looks to potentially be the most physically gifted wideout this year, perhaps even more than Keenan Allen, but what may draw teams away from him is how raw he is. Considering that if you want Ponder to become a franchise quarterback, you need to find him a No. 1 and I think Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier would take the risk.
24. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Cooper, C/G, North Carolina
If you have been Andrew Luck this season, it really has been impressive for him to do what he has done with what can be described as a subpar offensive line, one that gave up the ninth most sacks in the league. Not to mention this line struggled to run block all season long, as the club had the seventh lowest average yard-per-carry. A versatile lineman like Cooper would be a good selection. Cooper is very experience and has started every year in Chapel Hill. He is quick when blocking in the run game and is athletic enough to pass protect as well.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Seattle has itself an excellent defense, one of the best in the league, but one position where they could an improvement is at defensive tackle, where Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch combined for just four sacks. Short may be the best pass rushing tackle in this draft class as he uses his strength and athleticism very well to press the pocket. He is also a not too shabby run defender, which Pete Carroll would appreciate as well so he could keep Short on the field for three downs.
26. Green Bay Packers - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Once Packers tight end Jermichael Finley figured out how to catch the ball again, he put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2012. However, he still is a pretty inconsistent tight end and considering he is due around eight million next year, with two talented tight end prospects worthy to be selected in the first round, look for the Packers to pounce. Eifert has all the tools to be a real weapon in the passing game as he has got great hands, can take a hit and runs good routes.
27. Houston Texans - Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU
The Texans have themselves a really good defense but one spot with some questions marks is at inside linebacker, a crucial spot in their 3-4. Brian Cushing tore his ACL in early October against the Jets and Bradie James is a free agent this offseason, so utilizing their first round selection may very well be in play for some reinforcements. Minter is a guy that Wade Phillips will love as he is very physical and plays with a lot of intensity that his fellow players feed off of.
28. Denver Broncos - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Denver may have had the third best pass defense in the league in 2012 but it was one of the top reasons why they lost in the Divisional round to the Ravens as they struggled all night to slow down Cotton Eyed Joe Flacco and the Ravens' deep passing game, especially on that pass to Jacoby Jones to force overtime. With Tracy Porter and Tony Carter both being free agents, and Champ Bailey looking like his age against Baltimore, it would make sense for a corner to be selected here. Rhodes is a big corner that plays pretty physical against both the pass and the run and has the speed to deny receivers separation on vertical routes.
29. New England Patriots - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Speaking of teams that struggled against Joe Flacco and the Ravens, the Patriots really missed Aqib Talib in the AFC Championship as they were trash and got punished as a result. And the icing on the cake is that Talib is a free agent this offseason and regardless of whether or not he stays in Foxborough, the team really needs to find some help for the secondary. Trufant was tremendous in Mobile and seemingly shut down whatever wideout he covered all week. He, who has a pair of brothers in the NFL, was tremendous in his senior season at U-Dub and he has the skill set that you desire from a corner.
30. Atlanta Falcons - Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
It really should be a prerogative for the Falcons this offseason to find some pass rush, because they were really awful rushing the passer in 2012. They only sacked opposing quarterbacks 29 times this past season and the only guy that could provide any consistent pressure, John Abraham, who had a third of the team's sacks, is turning 35 within months. Montgomery has great athleticism and speed for an end but may have to add some weight to play in a 4-3 and he would also have to improve his run defense, but they'll definitely take his pass rush skills.
31. San Francisco 49ers - John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The defensive line is something that needs to be a priority for the 49ers this offseason if they want to get to East Rutherford next February. Justin Smith is still a hell of a player at end but he is not getting any younger and he was brutal in the Super Bowl. And the other two spots may have new faces next season because nose tackle Issac Sopoaga and end Ricky Jean-Francois are both free agents. Jenkins would be able to fill the void at the nose very well, thanks in part to his girth at over 350 pounds. A guy that many compare Jenkins to is Shaun Rogers, although I don't think he will try to carry a loaded gun in his luggage.
32. Baltimore Ravens - Matt Elam, S, Florida
Not many think that Ravens great Ed Reed will be back with the team next year as there have been rumors that he may retire and he is also a free agent. Even if he does return to the club next year, the Ravens need to find themselves a potential replacement to take over when he does go. Elam may not be a huge guy but he plays bigger as he is very good in run support and also good playing in coverage, and does good work covering tight ends.
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