1.) Kansas City
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
This pick is more or less set in stone following the Chiefs’ public announcement that they had settled on Joeckel. In a Draft bereft of QBs, it’s hard to pass on a stud LT like Joeckel.
Dee Millner, CB, Alabama
After the Jaguars cut their entire starting secondary and did nothing to address the position in free agency, I’m surprised more commentators don’t have them looking at Millner here. He would immediately be the best CB on their roster, something they badly need in a division featuring Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. This draft is a lot deeper at their other need positions—pass-rusher and O-line—so they will be able to get value at those positions later.
Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders need help just about everywhere, but they’ve been hit especially hard with salary cap casualties on the defensive line. Floyd has settled in as the best 3-technique DT in this Draft and will merit a top-ten selection despite the depth of this DL class.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Chip Kelly’s new staff will be looking to fill a lot of holes, but the Eagles’ O-line situation has to bother the offensive-minded HC more than their other various needs after an active free agency period failed to address the position. Fisher is widely considered to have higher upside than Joeckel physically, but gets knocked a peg for playing weaker competition and relying more on his pure physical tools than technique. He’s still OT #1B and one of the consensus best prospects in this Draft.
Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, DE, BYU
OT and CB are big concerns for Detroit, but after losing their top two starting DEs (Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch), I expect the D-line focused Lions to be looking for a stud DE here. Ansah’s raw talent but limited experience (12 college starts) has drawn comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul, mostly optimistic ones. With his 270+-pound frame he projects as a solid LDE in a 4-man front, and the Lions’ coaching staff would view him as someone they could coach into greatness.
Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Despite adding Paul Kruger in free agency, it’s hard to think the Browns’ new DC Ray Horton is done adding pass-rushers to his defense. They could go a lot of directions here, but if Jordan hangs around this long I doubt they would pass on him. He has drawn comparisons to Jason Taylor with his long, lean frame and eye-popping measurables (including a sub-4.6 40-yard-dash at 250 pounds).
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Cardinals’ offensive line play last year was an embarrassment to NFL football, and a big contributor to the utter ineptitude of all three of their QBs. Now they have added Carson Palmer, and new HC Bruce Arians’ first priority will be keeping him upright. Johnson is a former QB and tight end who brings unheard-of athleticism to the OT position (a 4.7 40 at 300+ pounds). He had some great college tape in the Big 12 but is still considered more raw than Joeckel and Fisher; but his ability to match elite pass-rushers move-for-move means huge upside.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Despite a weak QB class, Smith will likely go in the top ten as the consensus best QB in this Draft. He certainly put up the numbers at WVU to back up that position. The Bills are as likely a candidate as any in the top ten teams: no one can be truly satisfied with a QB depth chart consisting of Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson. Having those two veterans aboard will hopefully give Smith a much-needed chance to adjust to the pro game, which will maximize his chances of success.
9.) New York Jets
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Guess who else was an incredible college pass-rusher and ran a 4.9 40-yard-dash? Terrell Suggs. Guess who rode his success with Suggs to a head coaching job? Rex Ryan. Jones has two big knocks—workout numbers and potential health problems (spinal stenosis)—but a ton of upside. This is a true make-or-break year for Ryan and the Jets seriously need a dominant pass-rusher, so this is just the kind of risk they might take with one of their two first-round picks.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Jerry Gray’s scheme always succeeded the most when he had a big honking DT in the middle of his defense. Lotulelei is a big body with a lot of nice tape if not nice stats. He is considered a “safe” pick now that he has been cleared medically. The Titans would hope he would bolster the moderate pass-rushing success of Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan while aiding a struggling run defense.
11.) San Diego
Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The Chargers are sticking with the 3-4 under their new coaching regime, and they need a complement and long-term solution opposite Shaun Williams as an OLB. If they cannot get an elite D-lineman here, that is priority 2 in this Draft. Mingo is undersized as a 4-3 DE at the next level but has a prototypical frame for a 3-4 OLB, and the necessary athleticism to match.
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Dolphins have spent this offseason adding impact players to a roster of “solid” guys, and Vaccaro fits that profile. The Dolphins certainly have a need at safety, but Vaccaro also projects as the kind of defensive playmaker that can take the Dolphins’ revamped D to the next level. He is a bit of a “luxury” pick for a team with plenty of holes, but his value fits with this high of a pick.
13.) New York Jets (from Tampa Bay)
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Rex Ryan still wants to try to win by running the ball, but his offensive line fell apart at times last year. Fluker projects as a pure RT at 335 lbs, but he projects as one heck of a right tackle prospect and may well deserve this high of a grade. He’ll open up much better holes for Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell to take advantage of while also providing far better strong-side protection for Mark Sanchez (and an even bigger butt to fumble against).
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
This year is make-or-break for Ron Rivera, and his success rests on the shoulders of former #1 pick Cam Newton. Surrounding Newton with explosive offensive talent must be a priority for the Panthers in this Draft. Austin, an undersized WR with incredible explosive skills, fits that bill. He is a slot-type receiver at the next level who will also contribute on Special Teams.
15.) New Orleans
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Saints’ defense was the worst in NFL history last year. They’ll be looking for the best defender on the Board here, period. The Saints have invested plenty of high picks in DBs over the years (Malcom Jenkins, Patrick Robinson) but still have great needs in the secondary. Rhodes is a big, rangy corner who answered questions about his athleticism with great workout numbers and now projects in the top half of the first round.
16.) St. Louis
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Despite Warmack’s extremely high and well-deserved grade, one has to look at history: guards just don’t go in the top ten in the modern era. Even surefire Hall-of-Famer Steve Hutchinson went in the middle of the first round. The Rams would certainly value him this highly given Jeff Fisher’s run-first philosophy and focus on the trenches, and they would be very smart to invest this pick in such a safe and potentially productive prospect, even at a lower-value position.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Steelers’ aging defense needs to add some youth in this Draft. They have some prospects to fill their holes at D-line and linebacker, but their secondary is sorely lacking. Trufant, brother of long-time NFL starter Marcus Trufant, added some great Combine numbers to his excellent college tape to establish himself as the first-best CB prospect in this Draft. He helps the Steelers answer for life after Ike Taylor and provides a solution to the growing WR threat in their division.
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Like Warmack, Cooper is a great prospect at a spot that just doesn’t demand high Draft picks, and I expect both of them to slip further than many Mocks project. But neither would make it past Dallas, who has a terrible need at the interior O-line. Cooper is the kind of high-upside prospect Jerry Jones covets, and even as a raw prospect represents a notable upgrade over the Cowboys’ current O-line situation.
19.) New York Giants
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Richardson is a great prospect who has been stereotyped as “scheme-locked”: a pure 4-3 prospect in a growing field of 3-4 teams. Meanwhile the Giants are a team stereotyped as a pass-rush first outfit, but who put up terrible numbers in that category last year. If Richardson falls due to depth at the DT position and lack of suitors, the Giants will be lucky to grab him here. He provides an inside complement to Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul that the Giants have lacked for some time.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Bears have added some O-line help to keep Jay Cutler upright, but what he needs just as much is a pass-catching target besides Brandon Marshall, who caught nearly 50% of the passing yards Chicago put up last year. Cutler was at his best when he had a stud TE (Tony Scheffler) next to Marshall, so a stud TE fits the bill here as well. Eifert made a name for himself at Notre Dame as a pass-catcher as is a willing (if not polished) blocker as well. He will help Cutler avoid sacks by getting rid of the ball more quickly, which may be just as valuable to a QB who has suffered from a bereft of receiving talent.
Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Bengals need explosive offense, but are set at #1 WR and RB positions. Patterson is an explosive physical talent who is not ready to be a #1 WR or RB. The fit sells itself. Patterson will be able to put his raw physical talent to use exploiting the single coverage he’ll enjoy thanks to A.J. Green, while adding “splash” plays in the running game and as a return man. I think any team that drafts Patterson as a primary receiving option will be sorely disappointed, but as a role player like he was a Tennessee, he can make a big difference to a team “on the verge” like the Bengals.
22.) St. Louis (from Washington)
Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Character knocks have never stopped Jeff Fisher from taking a player (Pacman Jones, Kenny Britt), and the Rams could certainly use an all-purpose LB like Ogletree to complement pure MLB James Lauranitis. Ogletree matches well with today’s NFL—a former safety turned LB with coverage skills to match—and he would add a playmaking dimension to the Rams’ solid, physical defense.
Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Vikings never have replace big Pat Williams in the middle of their D-line, and now Kevin Williams is getting long in the tooth as well. Enter the next big DT named Williams, Sylvester, a 310+-lb. prospect from UNC with great movement and penetration for his size. He would be a tremendous value at this spot as a three-down player who could take advantage of double-teams on most downs—on Kevin Williams on running downs and Jared Allen on passing downs.
Datone Jones, DT/DE, UCLA
The Colts’ 3-4 lacked significant D-line talent last year, and one has to expect that the defense will be Chuck Pagano’s priority as he returns from cancer for his first full season as head coach. Jones was considered a great is undersized DT prospect, but his eye-popping athleticism have a lot of pundits rethinking him as a J.J. Watt-type LDE prospect for a 3-4 defense. His explosiveness adds a much-needed flash to the Colts’ mediocre front-seven.
25.) Minnesota (from Seattle)
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Te’o has become the most controversial prospect in this Draft both media-wise and talent-wise. His character and demeanor was considered exceptional…until the infamous “fake girlfriend” scandal. His on-field production was highly-touted…until the National Championship game, where he looked terrible against Alabama’s NFL-level talent. It’s still hard to see him falling out of the first round, and a team like the Vikings that needs a defensive captain in the middle will happily scoop him up at this spot.
26.) Green Bay
Eddie Lacey, RB, Alabama
This is a stupid pick. People have been saying the Packers need an impact RB for years. For years they’ve taken RBs later in the Draft or snagged them in free agency. Lacey fits the Pack as both a tough inside runner and a great pass-catcher, and he is a likely late first-round pick. But really, while I would take him if I was the Packers’ GM, they won’t. Really.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Call this my “troll” pick for this Mock. Matt Barkley won’t last out of the first round despite all the knocks on him; but he will likely fall to the late first. The Texans will draft a QB in this Draft, because one can only put up with Matt Schaub’s playoff ineptitude and moderate production for so long with the Texans’ talented roster. I can easily see the Texans taking a QB in the first three rounds this year to push Schaub; Barkley would make as much sense as any here.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Broncos lost a big piece in Elvis Dumervil, who became the poster child for ending the fax forever. Now they need to add a pass-rusher to their D-line. Fortunately this Draft is chock-full of them, with Werner being the poster child: one a top-ten prospect, he has slipped this far due to depth in the Draft and less-than-admirable workout numbers. But his production and ability are hard to ignore, and he will be a great value for someone late in the first round.
29.) New England
Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Despite letting several of Tom Brady’s targets go (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd) and having his two bit TEs go down to injury, the Patriots are not likely to trust their fortunes to a rookie WR in this Draft. Instead they will address other needs like their lagging pass-rush. Moore, like Werner, was once regarded as an elite DE prospect until he foolishly worked out at the Combine and his Pro Day with a nagging hamstring and posted poor numbers. But Bill Bellichek has never let those numbers move him off a player with great talent and production, so Moore would be the type of pick he would covet here.
Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Atlanta has several immediate needs, especially at DE, but if they can get a future replacement for Tony Gonzalez here, they may well grab him. Ertz is a very close second to Eifert as a TE prospect and will benefit significantly from a year behind (and sometimes opposite from) a Hall-of-Famer like Gonzalez.
31.) San Francisco
DJ Hayden, CB, Houston
The 49ers have no major holes, but adding Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency indicates they are not satisfied with their DB corps moving forward. Hayden miraculously survived a life-threatening vein tear and has steadily risen back up to his previous position as a top Draft prospect. The 49ers have the luxury of letting him sit for a year or play in a dime position while holding him as a future prospect if Nnamdi doesn’t work out or Carlos Rogers gives off.
Justin Pugh, OL, Syracuse
OK, I actually would have picked Menelik Watson, OT from Florida State here. But it’s a Mock Draft, and I felt like picking a guy named Justin Pugh—who is legitimately projected as a second-round pick, BTW. Incidentally, an OL named Thomas Gray was on the Titans’ roster as an undrafted free agent at one point.
Anyway, good night!