It is officially NFL Draft week! As Brad mentioned in his mock draft yesterday, this is a time for smokescreens to try and have a prospect fall into the specific team's lap. I will try to see if there is really fire with the smoke around the NFL league circles. Now, let's get to my first mock draft!
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
I have had Joeckel pegged into this spot since the Super Bowl. Joeckel is the safest pick in this draft and compares well to Joe Thomas of the Browns. Now with all the Branden Albert trade speculation, it makes too much sense to not take Joeckel here. He will come in and start in Kansas City for the next decade.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Dion Jordan has been my pick here for almost two months now, but with the news from Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, and Daniel Jeremiah I have to reconsider. All three mentioned that the Jaguars are leaning toward taking Eric Fisher to play right tackle. The pick does not make sense to me at all, but you have to trust the top three brain trusts come draft week. Fisher and Eugene Monroe would protect whoever they pick up as their quarterback for many years to come. Jacksonville now has themselves maybe the best tackle duo in the AFC South.
3. Oakland Raiders: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
When Floyd blew up the Combine, I moved him ahead of Star Lotulelei on my board as the best defensive tackle in the draft. Floyd has the speed and pass-rush ability that should entice Reggie McKenzie and crew to take him here. Floyd will anchor the defensive line with the huge left by Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
If Jordan does not go to Jacksonville, he will fit right into the Eagles new 3-4 defense. With his old coach Chip Kelly now running the show, this pick makes too much sense if he is there at four. His speed and coverage ability makes him a perfect fit in Philadelphia. If he is on the board here, write in sharpie Jordan's name here.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
Before the season started, many did not even know who Ezekiel Ansah was. This might be the biggest rise in NFL Draft history for any prospect. He was a late-round pick, but now going in the top five to Detroit. After losing both Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, Ansah is the easy pick here. The Lions staff got an up-close look of Ansah at the Senior Bowl when he blew up Mobile with his performance. Ansah and Detroit are a perfect match with the situation at hand.
The first projected trade in my mock draft has San Diego caving in and trading up for an offensive tackle. The Chargers have a massive hole at left tackle to protect Philip Rivers' blindside. Lane Johnson has taken a big rise up draft boards since the Senior Bowl. San Diego worked out Johnson twice and got in one last workout last week in Norman.
7. Arizona Cardinals: D.J. Fluker, OT/OG, Alabama
The first true surprise pick in my mock draft. Arizona gets desperate to improve their poor offensive line by getting a versatile lineman in D.J. Fluker. He could come in and be a mauler/road grader in helping pave the way to improve the Cardinals running attack. Fluker could switch inside to guard, which could be his more natural position. If not Arizona, Fluker will go much earlier then everyone expects come Thursday night.
8. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
I am pretty confident in saying that Ryan Nassib will be the first quarterback taken in the draft. He is a perfect fit in Buffalo's offense for obvious reasons. His old head coach and offensive coordinator are in Buffalo now. If Nassib truly is the choice as their future quarterback, they have to take him here. They can not afford to wait until the second round to make this selection.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
It has been noted that the Jets have serious interest in Barkevious Mingo. He would fit perfectly into Rex Ryan's defense as he desperately needs a pass-rush specialist. Mingo could also drop back into coverage if needed with his freakish athleticism. Quinton Coples and Mingo would be a frightening duo for the AFC East.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Even after signing Andy Levitre to a huge contract, they still have a need for a powerful run blocker along the line. Putting Warmack on that line makes Tennessee a great offensive line. A line consisting of Levitre and Warmack would put fear into any defenses heart. An offensive lineman in Mike Munchak would love to add a special talent like Warmack to his roster.
11. Cleveland Browns (Via San Diego Chargers): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Even in trading back, the Browns still get their guy. Dee Milliner is the top prospect on their board and makes a ton of sense for them. Pairing Milliner with Joe Haden would make Cleveland have a top, young corner duo in the AFC. With the shoulder concerns, Milliner will likely slide out of the top ten. The Browns should still be able to trade back and get the defensive target they desire in Milliner.
The Vikings are forced to jump ahead of the Jets to get Tavon Austin. There is a hole at the slot receiver after the Percy Harvin trade, Austin fills that. There have been some rumblings about Minnesota attempting to trade up for a wideout. I assume that would be for Austin. Adding Austin to an offense featuring Adrian Peterson would be very dangerous.
13. San Francisco 49ers (Via New York Jets): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Another trade, but this time it is the 49ers who move up almost 20 spots to get Star Lotulelei. Justin Smith is getting long in the tooth and San Francisco would be smart to find his eventual replacement early on in the draft. If Star starts to slip like this, expect the 49ers to pounce on this and force the Jets hand. Jets general manager, John Idzik, would love to trade down and collect more picks in the draft.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Carolina would have loved to see Lotulelei fall here, but they settle for Sheldon Richardson here. The Panthers have ignored a big need of defensive tackle for awhile now. Inserting Richardson fixes that need and makes the defense much better. The Panthers run defense will be upgraded right away with the selection of Richardson.
15. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
I do not see Kenny Vaccaro dropping out of the top 15. With that being said, this is where I pegged him to go. Vaccaro recently took a visit to New Orleans last week and he makes a terrifying duo with Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary. The top corner in the draft finds a nice home in New Orleans to roam around in with Rob Ryan.
16. St. Louis Rams: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, the Rams worked out DeAndre Hopkins again Monday. That would be two workouts in a four day span between Hopkins and the Rams. This is no smokescreen here, workouts are legit. Hopkins would become the top wideout for Sam Bradford to throw the pigskin to. It is looking more and more like Hopkins will be the second wideout off the board, even with the whole hotel room fiasco.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
What a perfect fit this is. After James Harrison left and went to play in Cincinnati, getting his clone in Jarvis Jones makes way too much sense. Pittsburgh needs a pass-rushing linebacker who can bring the heat. Jones proved that last year against SEC competition. After his spinal stenosis issue, Jones slipped down a few spots on many draft boards. That landed him in the perfect spot with the Steelers though.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Dallas' war room would be jumping in joy to see Jonathan Cooper still on the board here. Dallas needs some more stability on the line and a top prospect like Cooper will do wonders to help that. Adding Cooper to the likes of Tyron Smith will make Cowboys fans feel protected on offense. Tony Romo will also be well protected with Cooper on his side. His versatility could make him play at guard or center, which should entice teams to try him out at both spots. Cooper in a Cowboys uniform is a perfect fit for both sides.
19. New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
A versatile linebacker that will allow Mathias Kiwanuka to move down to the defensive end spot.
20. Chicago Bears: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
Brian Urlacher is now gone off the roster, insert Arthur Brown with no hesitation. Brown has been compared to Ray Lewis, a yearly pro bowler in the NFL. He could play in both the 4-3 or 3-4 defense, very scheme versatile. Arthur would surely be a good use for Chicago with the 20th pick in the draft. Brown could be the best pro out of this whole draft if he pans out.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Cincinnati needs a rock in the secondary, Cyprien provides that. Talent wise, you could say Cyprien could be a better prospect then Vaccaro. On Monday, Bengals DC Mike Zimmer held a private workout with Cyprien at FIU. Cyprien is a high-motor, intimidating force who could get down in the box and impose his wrath on the field. In coverage, he has high anticipation and could also be a ball-hawk safety in the NFL.
22. St. Louis Rams: Eric Reid, S, LSU
The Rams will need a safety in the draft, no if's, and's, or but's about it. Taking Eric Reid here might be a little bit of a reach, but the safety need has to be addressed early in the draft. Jeff Fisher would love to nail down his biggest needs (WR and S) early in the draft.
23. Miami Dolphins (Via Minnesota Vikings): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Miami drops down 11 spots and still get the guy they wanted all along, Tyler Eifert. Pairing Ryan Tannehill with an arsenal of Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, and Eifert would make his job much easier. Eifert could flex out to the slot in most cases to create massive mismatches with nickel cornerbacks.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Wait, the Colts are taking another quarterback? No, the Eagles can not let Geno Smith fall any farther and they make another trade with Ryan Grigson to move back. Philadelphia would give up their second and third round picks in the draft this year. As mentioned, the Geno slide finally ends here. I am pretty confident this is how it will be on draft night as well. Chip Kelly needs his own quarterback to run his offense. Michael Vick is a stopgap option, Geno will then take over and thrive under Kelly's tutelage.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
I am very tempted to put Manti Te'o here, but instead Xavier Rhodes heads to Minnesota. After losing Antoine Winfield to Seattle, the Vikings have a dire need at cornerback. A tall, press corner like Rhodes fits the billing for Leslie Frazier up in Minnesota.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Green Bay Packers): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Green Bay would love to move back to get more picks and target some guys expected to slip. They get their wish here as Jacksonville can not wait any longer to get their franchise quarterback. I have been hearing that the Jaguars are targeting Matt Barkley at 33 if he is still there. They could be pressed into trading up due to teams like Cleveland wanting to trade back in as well. Getting Eric Fisher and Barkley on the first night of the draft should please many Jaguars fans.
27. Houston Texans: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
According to the SidelineView.com's Lane Zierlien, Menelik Watson is a lock to be a first round pick. Houston needs another tackle on the opposite side of Duane Brown. Watson looks like a project, but he could pay off as a right tackle with proper teaching. A duo of Brown and Watson looks like a move Matt Schaub would applaud.
28. Denver Broncos: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE/OLB, Florida State
Trust me, I was very tempted to take Carradine at 24 for the Colts or even in the top 15. I think everyone here knows I have a prospect crush on Carradine. If he did not tear his ACL, he would be a top ten pick. He will become a pass-rushing specialist opposite Von Miller in Denver.
29. New England Patriots: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Tom Brady gets another weapon to work with in his arsenal by adding Cordarrelle Patterson. He is expected to slip on draft night due to his character issues, specifically his poor interviews and wonderlic score. Also, Patterson is a terrible route runner. Patterson will truly be a project, but Belichick will take the chance as he gives Brady the best deep threat he has had since Randy Moss.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
There has been some noise about Atlanta making a big move, but I could not find a spot to see where they could. Many top prospects will slip down the board right into their laps like Trufant here. After losing Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson, cornerback is a massive need. Inserting Trufant will help Atlanta take the proper steps of trying to stop the passing attacks in the NFC, like Green Bay for example.
31. New York Jets (Via San Francisco 49ers): D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
After trading all the way down from 13 to 31, the Jets take another defensive player in D.J. Hayden. He has been making a lot of noise lately as a first round prospect, and I buy the hype. Rex Ryan and five other Jets scouts were at Hayden's workout Monday at Houston. It looks like a trade down to take Darrelle Revis' possible replacement in Hayden could be a great possibility.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
To round out the first round, Manti Te'o heads to Baltimore. I was considering putting Kevin Minter here, but Te'o is the more polished prospect. If he is still available at 32, I expect Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh to pounce on the Notre Dame linebacker. Sure putting Te'o in the situation of replacing Ray Lewis could be daunting, but Te'o has all the capabilities of making the transition go smoothly.
35. Indianapolis Colts (Via Philadelphia Eagles): Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State
If Bjoern Werner is on the table still in a trade down for the Colts at 35, then I am pounding the table for him. With the trades before with Green Bay now having 33 (Select Datone Jones) and the Jets having 34 (Select Margus Hunt) then I take Werner. If Jones and Hunt were still there, then I would be in a tough situation. Even if they were still on the board, I would take Werner. He has the scheme versatility to play as a 3-4 OLB in Chuck Pagano's defense. Personally, he reminds me of a Jarrett Johnson/Paul Kruger type linebacker Pagano needs in his defense. Werner could switch in on pass-rushing situations on the opposite side of Robert Mathis and thrive in that role. In his press conference, Ryan Grigson stressed scheme versatility. Werner would give the Colts a pass-rusher on key situations, and then a player who has the high motor to get to plays all over the field. If the Colts did trade down and I was the general manager, then Bjoern Werner is my pick.