It's gameday everybody! Get excited for the draft tonight! I'm sure there will be TONS of trades (which will completely ruin this mock) because this year's draft class is pretty terrible, and dumb teams will be losing their jobs over the QBs they take this year. Anyway, enjoy the mock!
1. Kansas City Chiefs- LT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Andy Reid starts his rebuilding project by bringing in Alex Smith and drafting a franchise LT to protect him. Though Eric Fisher is giving him a run for his money, Luke has the better pedigree and is reportedly already drawing interest from the Chiefs.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars- DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Jacksonville could consider taking Eric Fisher, but they already have a LT in Eugene Monroe. Though Monroe is a free agent after 2013, I think they will try to resign him and target a RT in the later rounds. Meanwhile, Jordan brings an incredible skill set to their defense. He is a good fit for the LEO position as an edge rusher, and if Gus Bradley's comments are any indication, they're going to use the draft to find one.
3. Oakland Raiders- DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
If Al Davis were still running the show, you could be sure the Raiders would draft Geno Smith. But having just traded for Matt Flynn, I think the new management will resist that temptation and take the best player available on defense. Oakland has a gaping hole at DT with Richard Seymour now gone, and Floyd can be an excellent interior pass rusher.
4. Philadelphia Eagles- OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Fisher has closed the gap on Joeckel, and it's now a coin flip as to which will be taken first. However, Fisher is better suited for Chip Kelly's offense, as he is much more athletic and can keep up with the fast tempo. The Eagles might also consider Dee Milliner to fill their gaping hole at CB, but an alleged smear campaign is hurting his stock.
5. Detroit Lions- DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Losing Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril in the same offseason means the Lions are going to have a lot of trouble generating pressure on QBs. Ansah is an athletic superfreak who only just started playing football, but his upside must have Jim Schwartz salivating. By the way, if Schwartz had his way he would sign scrub after scrub at defensive back if it meant he could have the most dominating defensive line in the league.
6. Cleveland Browns- CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Mark my words: if Lane Johnson is available at this spot the Chargers will trade up to get him. For that reason I'm going to reflect that trade in this draft even though I'm not actually switching the picks. The Browns have a big need for a 2nd corner opposite Joe Haden and Milliner thinks he would be part of the best CB tandem in the league in Cleveland.
7. Arizona Cardinals- OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Believe it or not, the Cardinals actually have a decent couple of bookends on the offensive line in Nate Potter and Bobbie Massie. If Levi Brown comes back healthy, he could push one of them inside to guard, or move there himself. Either way, Arizona will still need another guard because the interior of their line is where the real problem is. Warmack has been called by some the best prospect in the draft, and is a rare guard worthy of a top 10 selection.
8. Buffalo Bills- QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Whether its Smith, Ryan Nassib, or even Matt Barkley, it doesn't matter: the Bills will take a QB at 8. The sad news is whoever they take will probably not live up to the high expectations. No QB in this draft is worthy of a first round pick, in my opinion, but the nature of today's NFL mandates that some poor team reach for a QB in hopes of getting lucky.
9. New York Jets- OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
This pick almost makes too much sense. For all the attention Rex Ryan gets for pressuring opposing QBs, he has never had a reliable pass rusher in his time with the Jets. Mingo is a superb edge rusher with a first step as quick as anyone in the NFL. His problem right now is that he doesn't show any counter moves in his game when that doesn't work. If he can learn some, however, he could be the team's sack leader for the next 10 years.
10. Tennessee Titans- OG Jonathan Cooper, UNC
Signing Andy Levitre was a good start, but their issues along the O line are far from solved. If they ever hope to revive Chris Johnson's career, they need to get him some quality blockers. Cooper vs Warmack is exactly like Fisher vs Joeckel. Cooper is more athletic and probably more versatile as a result, but Joeckel and Warmack are dominating technicians. It's all a matter of preference. Side note: two guards in the top 10, or even the top 16, show how talent-starved this draft class is.
11. San Diego Chargers- OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Like I said, this pick reflects an almost inevitable trade with Cleveland for the 6th pick. The Chargers need to find a way to protect Phillip Rivers, because his reputation, and career, depends on it.
12. Miami Dolphins- CB DJ Hayden, Houston
After addressing almost every need on offense in free agency (and assuming they send their one of their 2nd round picks to the Chiefs for LT Brandon Albert), the Dolphins can afford to spend the draft on their defense. They are desperate for help at cornerback, and Hayden is shooting up draft boards now that his injury concerns have been put to rest. Hayden nearly died on the field from a blood clot in his lung, but some even have him rated higher than Milliner.
13. New York Jets (from Tampa Bay)- TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Many people are mocking Tavon Austin to the Jets, but with Santonio Holmes returning from injury and 2nd year pro Stephen Hill hopefully developing into a good starter, the Jets might be more confident in their wideouts than you might expect. However, they lost Dustin Keller, who battled injuries in 2012, to the rival Dolphins, so there is a big hole at tight end. Eifert is as reliable a pass catcher as there is, and has the athleticism to be split out wide anyway.
14. Carolina Panthers- DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Part of me thinks Lotulelei will go higher than this, but there are few teams in the top 13 who are looking for defensive tackles; and if they are, they have much bigger needs elsewhere. The Panthers, however, would love to get some help in the middle of their defense, as it would make Charles Johnson and Luke Kuechly's lives much easier.
15. New Orleans Saints- OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
I expect the Saints to take the best available player on defense, and in this case it is Jones. Once considered a top 5 prospect, Jones has slipped because of slow workout times and injury issues that apparently are no longer issues.
16. St. Louis Rams- S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
The Rams will be very tempted to take Tavon Austin here, but with an extra 1st round pick and a lot of depth in this year's receiver class, they can take Vaccaro and gamble that another receiver is available at 22. Vaccaro fills a big need on a defense that has the pieces to really surprise people in 2013.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers- ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Many of the typical picks for the Steelers are unavailable in this scenario, so the Steelers surprise everyone by taking the most talked about player in the draft. Te'o is a perfect fit as the Buck LB next to Lawrence Timmons because he doesn't need elite athleticism to be successful in that role (just ask incumbent Larry Foote). He won't have to come off the field on third downs because he is intelligent and adept enough in zone coverage to make plays there, which is rare for a Buck LB. Bottom line: his tape shows a great player, and if Jason Worilds blossoms as a starter, the Steelers will be set in their front 7 for a long time.
18. Dallas Cowboys- DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Richardson is regarded by some as every bit the player Floyd and Lotulelei are. His motor runs on high every play, and he nearly led his team in tackles as an interior linemen. Lining him up with Demarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Anthony Spencer could spell disaster for the offensive lines of the NFC East.
19. New York Giants- RT DJ Fluker, Alabama
The Giants have to be ecstatic to see Fluker available at 19, as he can come in right away and solidify their RT spot. He's a dominant run blocker and an underrated pass blocker, though he will never be confused for a LT. If the Giants weren't so adamantly opposed to drafting linebackers in the first round, they might consider Te'o or Alec Ogletree if they were available because their linebackers are horrible.
20. Chicago Bears: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
I would expect a team to trade up and grab Austin if he were really to fall this far in the draft, but the Bears get a phenomenal playmaker in this scenario. They might have bigger needs at linebacker, but Austin is just too good to pass up any longer. He is a touchdown-in-waiting if you get him in open space, and he'll see plenty of it with teams focusing on Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: SS Matt Elam, Florida
The Bengals have surprisingly few needs for a team that barely made the playoffs, but safety is by far their biggest one. Reggie Nelson is a decent free safety, but Cincinnati can't be satisfied with Chris Crocker or Taylor Mays on the strong side. Elam is a phenomenal in-the-box safety, and has a knack for making plays.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Again, the Rams pass up the opportunity to take the best available receiver. But there will be plenty of options available in the later rounds and Ogletree is a better player than any receiver left on the board. St. Louis, with Vaccaro and now Ogletree, has the makings of one of the best defenses in the league.
23. Minnesota Vikings: DT Sylvester Williams, UNC
24. Indianapolis Colts: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
This pick is becoming pretty common among mock drafts. But that's only because the need meets the value so well. Rhodes was once considered to be a target for Tampa Bay before they traded their 13th pick to the Jets. He'll come to Indi and form a pretty decent duo with Vontae Davis.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle): WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
With the pick they received for Percy Harvin, they draft his replacement in Patterson. Signing Greg Jennings was a good start to giving Christian Ponder some weapons, but this receiving corps was so depleted that another 1st round prospect is needed. This will push Jerome Simpson out of the starting lineup, where he will be much more effective as a #3 receiver.
26. Green Bay Packers: DL Datone Jones, UCLA
Jones is a late riser on most boards, and is a great fit for a 3-4 DE. The only defensive linemen the Packers have signed past 2013 are Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, and Jordan Miller. Taking Jones will allow them to let Ryan Pickett walk in free agency so they can turn their attention toward resigning BJ Raji.
27. Houston Texans: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
The Texans will probably take the best receiver available if they stay at 27, and Hopkins is the most reliable receiver in this class. He has phenomenal hands and will provide a legitimate threat opposite Andre Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
After losing Elvis Dumervil to a bizzarre fax foul up, the Broncos need to address their pass rush. Werner isn't exceptional in any one phase of his game but is consistently good at everything. He could provide about 8-10 sacks a year playing opposite Von Miller.
29. New England Patriots: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Hunter blew up the combine, and has since started garnering first round consideration. He is very raw, and had a disappointing year in 2012 after returning from an ACL tear. Another year removed, he should start building strength back in his knee and get more explosiveness back. The Patriots can feel comfortable taking a raw prospect like Hunter knowing Tom Brady will make up for a lot of his mistakes.
30. Atlanta Falcons: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
The Falcons were one play away from the Superbowl, but lost CB Brent Grimes to the Dolphins and released Dunta Robinson for cap reasons. They now have a huge hole at the #2 cornerback spot across from Asante Samuel. Trufant is versatile and should be able to help Atlanta immediately.
31. San Francisco 49ers: S John Cyprien, Florida International
It's rare to see a player drafted in the first round who has to jump from a small school like FIU to the NFL. But Cyprien turned a lot of heads at the Senior Bowl and has a good chance to jump into the first round. Having lost Dashon Goldson to the Buccaneers, San Fran needs a new safety.
32. Baltimore Ravens: ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
17 years ago, the Ravens selected Ray Lewis at the end of the first round with the 26th overall pick. In case you didn't know, Ray Lewis just retired. The Ravens signed Rolando McClain in an effort to replace Ray Lewis, but McClain was promptly arrested 10 days later. Taking Minter at the end of the first round and starting him in Ray Lewis's spot probably won't work out as well as it did with Ray Lewis, but maybe he can fill Ray Lewis's dance shoes. Ray Lewis.