Every year the number of NFL mock drafts on the Internet seems to grow. It’s an inexact science, with so much uncertainty and suspense attached that it almost seems silly attempting to accurately predict how it will all unfold.
But that hardly seems like a reason not to give it a try. TDS sports reporter Andrew John recently tried to make sense of it all, predicting how the first round will look prior to trades being announced. In addition, he’s offered other possible scenarios to reduce the chaos and sort out which players each team could and should be targeting.
Comments below are welcome, particularly if the early part of the first round turns out much different than predicted.
Enjoy the draft.
1. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — ERIC FISHER, OT, 6’7 306, CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Despite the lack of a consensus No. 1 player in this year’s draft, Fisher appears to be the favorite in the Kansas City war room. The Chiefs desperately need help shoring up the offensive line to keep newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith upright, and Fisher is the best pass-blocker in the class.
Other options: OT Luke Joeckel out of Texas A&M is another option, though he doesn’t fit quite as well as Fisher.
2. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — LUKE JOECKEL, OT, 6’6 306, TEXAS A&M
Joeckel is good value here, where he’d strengthen an offensive line that has had difficulty staying healthy. If he doesn’t go No. 1, Joeckel won’t slide much.
Other options: The Jaguars really need a pass-rusher to help a unit that struggles to find opposing quarterbacks a year ago. Dion Jordan out of Oregon and Ezekiel Ansah from Brigham Young could be possibilities here.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS — Sharrif Floyd, DT, 6’3 297, FLORIDA
There’s been much debate about where the unpredictable Raiders will go with this pick but they badly need a player who can disrupt plays in the backfield and stuff the run, and Floyd fits the bill. He conveniently fits in Oakland’s 3-technique system as well. A potential trade spot for a team looking to move up.
Other options: Dee Milner makes too much sense to actually be the pick here. His coverage skills would certainly help improve a weak secondary that struggled mightily against the pass a year ago.
4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — LANE JOHNSON, OT, 6’6 303, OKLAHOMA
The last of the elite tackles available, Johnson would help fill major need in Philadelphia. With as much offensive firepower as the Eagles have, they can’t afford to have the line falter for a second consecutive year.
Other options: DT Star Lotulelei perfectly fits Philadelphia’s 3-4 hybrid scheme. But the Eagles took a defensive lineman (Fletcher Cox) in the first round last year, and doing so again seems a bit redundant.
5. DETROIT LIONS — DEE MILLNER, CB, 6’0 201, ALABAMA
Cornerback has been an obvious need in Detroit for some time and Millner is fortunately still available under this scenario. He has the speed and cover skills to complement this superb defensive front the Lions have assembled.
Other options: Offensive tackle is the greater need with the retirement of longtime starter Jeff Backus. A pass-rusher such as Ansah could help make Detroit’s D-line even more volatile.
6. CLEVELAND BROWNS — DION JORDAN, OLB, 6’6 248, OREGON
The Browns could go any number of directions with this pick, including trading out altogether. Getting to the quarterback was a problem that plagued Cleveland all last season, and Jordan immediately helps solve that problem. Would the front office really draft quarterback Geno Smith only a year after taking Brandon Weeden in the first round?
Other options: Ansah is another pass-rusher that should get serious consideration here. TE Tyler Eifert out of Notre Dame is also rumored to be a serious candidate.
7. ARIZONA CARDINALS — JONATHAN COOPER, G, 6’2 311, NORTH CAROLINA
The Cardinals weren’t able to upgrade the O-line as much as they would have liked in free agency, and Cooper is talented enough to warrant serious consideration here. In need of a powerful run blocker, Cooper fills a need and has the talent to be a fixture on the line for years to come.
Other options: Lotulelei would be a great value here, though he doesn’t fill a need as much as, say, Cooper or Warmack.
8. BUFFALO BILLS — CHANCE WARMACK, G, 6’2 317, ALABAMA
The Bills need help rushing the passer and protecting their own, so it’s likely they go with a guy who can help on the line as opposed to quarterback Ryan Nassib who would be reunited with his college head coach (Doug Marrone) and offensive coordinator (Nathaniel Hackett).
Other options: Marrone, a former offensive linemen himself, understands the value of a solid line of protection, though it’s hard to not buy into him potentially taking Nassib and trying to rekindle the success his offense had at Syracuse.
9. NEW YORK JETS — EZEKIEL ANSAH, DE, 6’5 271, BRIGHAM YOUNG
After trading Darrelle Revis to Tampa earlier this week, the Jets are likely hoping Millner falls in their lap here. With him off the board, Ansah makes a lot of sense here. He has the raw skills and high energy to create pressure coming off the edge and he’s just too good to be passed over at this point.
Other options: Several way the Jets could go here. Floyd makes sense if he slides, as does pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo out of LSU. If they decide to trade Mark Sanchez, as rumored, a quarterback could be in play as well.
10. TENNESSEE TITANS — BARKEVIOUS MINGO, OLB, 6’4 241, LSU
Mingo has been called a perfect fit in Tennessee, where his versatility and explosiveness would dramatically upgrade a unit that struggled to make plays in the backfield a year ago.
Other options: Cooper and Warmack are options for a team that is trying to find consistency out of its offensive line. The Jets could also go with the best player available, should someone slide.
11. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — STAR LOTULELEI, DT, 6’3 311, UTAH
It would be a major coupe is he does, though it’s fairly unlikely. Instead, this could provide an opportunity to trade this pick to someone desperate to move up and take Lotulelei.
Other options: Sheldon Richardson out of Missouri is the type of 3-technique DT that could be an option if Lotulelei is off the board.
12. MIAMI DOLPHINS — D.J. FLUKER, OT, 6’4, 339, ALABAMA
With the loss of OT Jake Long in free agency, a powerful run-blocker such as Fluker would be a nice replacement at this point in the draft. He’s a major reason Eddy Lacy ran all over Notre Dame in the BCS title game.
Other options: Trading up to get one of the elite OTs appears to make the most sense, as does CB Xavier Rhodes out of Florida State, who fills a need in the defensive secondary and is a match in Miami’s press-man cover scheme.
13. NEW YORK JETS — GENO SMITH, QB, 6’3 218, WEST VIRGINIA
Acquired via the Darrelle Revis trade, the Jets have an opportunity to acquire fill a need and grab a value player in Smith, who could be the heir apparent to Mark Sanchez.
Other options: Smith’s former teammate Tavon Austin would give the Jets another playmaker to team with whomever ends up under center in Week 1. They could also grab the best available player, should someone fall.
14. CAROLINA PANTHERS, SHELDON RICHARDSON, DT, 6’3 294, MISSOURI
This pick appears to be the consensus among most draft experts. The Panthers need a 3-technique tackle, and Richardson is talented enough to warrant consideration. He has the explosiveness and quickness to make plays in the backfield.
Other options: Austin would be a nice long-term replacement for aging receiver Steve Smith, should he be available here. Condarrelle Patterson, an athletic receiver out of Tennessee, could also garner consideration.
15. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — JARVIS JONES, OLB, 6’3 245, GEORGIA
Jones may not be the best fit in New Orleans, but he’s a big-time talent and is simply the best player available. The Saints have drafted well in early rounds recently, and prefer value over fit in most cases.
Other options: S Kenny Vaccaro out of Texas fills a need more than Jones does, but he’s not quite as talented or proven. Fluker also fills a need, if he happens to slide.
16. ST. LOUIS RAMS — TAVON AUSTIN, WR, 5’9 174, WEST VIRGNIA
With WR Danny Amendola gone, there isn’t much debate about the Rams taking Austin if he’s available. In this case he is, and his playmaking ability in the return and passing games make him a threat the Rams desperately need.
Other options: Patterson is likely the choice is Austin is already gone, as is Vaccaro and maybe even former Alabama RB Eddy Lacy now that longtime leading rusher Stephen Jackson is gone.
17. PITTSBURGH STEELERS — TYLER EIFERT, TE, 6’6 250, NOTRE DAME
With Heath Miller coming off a knee injury, Eifert provides instant value in an offense that utilizes its tight end as much as anyone. Eifert isn’t just a potential long-term replacement but also an immediate red zone target.
Other options: Jones makes sense in the Steelers’ scheme, should he fall. Patterson is also an option, and don’t be shocked if Lacy lands here, either. Pittsburgh could use help in the running game.
18. DALLAS COWBOYS — KENNY VACCARO, S, 6’0 214, TEXAS
Needing help in the defensive backfield, specifically at safety, the Cowboys would be ecstatic if they could land a local product as talented as Vaccaro. He’s the most polished player at his position and would be a perfect fit in Dallas.
Other options: DT Sylvester Williams out of North Carolina would be a nice fit for a team looking for pass-rushers, as would Richardson, should he fall.
19. NEW YORK GIANTS— JUSTIN PUGH, G, 6’5 307, SYRACUSE
There may be a better value pick available at this point, but upgrading the right side of the offensive line is paramount and Pugh is an underrated talent who can play multiple positions along the line. His versatility and tutelage under Doug Marrone in college could make him a long-term starter.
Other options: CB Desmond Trufant’s 4.38-second 40-yard dash would help upgrade the defensive secondary that allowed a flurry of big plays in the passing game a year ago. Fluker also makes sense is he’s available.
20. CHICAGO BEARS — MANTI TE’O, ILB, 6’1 241, NOTRE DAME
Te’o looked like a miracle worker prior to the BCS title game, and would quickly become a fan favorite in neighboring Chicago. He fills a need, too, replacing the departed Brian Urlacher. No pressure, though.
Other options: Eifert is likely the pick if he’s available. ILB Alec Ogletree makes sense, too, and Trufant would be a fantastic pick for a secondary that faces a trio of talented quarterbacks in the NFC North.
21. CINCINNATI BEGALS — EDDY LACY, RB, 5’11 231, ALABAMA
Lacy provides an upgrade to the run game and would allow the Bengals to move a step closer to being a playoff contender. Not many other players on the board immediately make such a difference.
Other options: Trufant has been rumored here, but he doesn’t fill a major need. Same with Xavier Rhodes. But both are god value picks.
22. ST. LOUIS RAMS — MATT ELAM, S, 5’10 206, FLORIDA
If the Rams don’t go after a safety with their first pick, they likely will here. Elam can step in and become and immediate starter at a position of need for a team that struggles against the pass.
Other options: Patterson would make sense if they addressed the need at safety with the earlier selection. He’s the type of dangerous playmaker they need.
23. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES — CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, WR, 6’2 216, TENNESSEE
With the departure of Percy Harvin, they need a playmaker that can take the pressure off quarterback Christian Ponder. Enter Patterson.
Other options: Te’o fills a need at middle linebacker. WR Robert Woods out of USC could also garner consideration.
24. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — DESMOND TRUFANT, CB, 6’0 190, WASHINGTON
A number of solid cornerback prospects will be in the mix here, but Trufant may have the edge. He has the ball skills and speed to be an immediate starter.
Other options: CB Xavier Rhodes out of Florida State and D.J. Hayden out of Houston should also get consideration here.
25. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES — ALEC OGLETREE, ILB, 6’2 242, GEORGIA
Ogletree has more of the raw skills and talent to step right in and start, as opposed to Te’o whom Minnesota has targeted. He doesn’t have the leadership or instincts of Te’o but could perhaps end up the better player down the road.
Other options: Woods makes a lot of sense here if the Vikings go with a linebacker with their first selection.
26. GREE BAY PACKERS — MENELIK WATSON, OT, 6’5 310, FLORIDA STATE
The Packers could use an upgrade on the offensive line, and Watson fits their zone-blocking scheme. The could also use an edge rusher.
Other options: Pugh would be a great value pick if still around. Lacy would provide instant support to the run game. I don’t think either will be available.
27. HOUSTON TEXANS — ROBERT WOODS, WR, 6’1 200, USC
Star receiver Andre Johnson is going to slow down eventually and getting a player such as Woods at this point is good value.
Other options: There are other receivers in play here and offensive linemen that would help shore up a weakness that needs to be addressed.
28. DENVER BRONCOS — DATONE JONES, DE, 6’4 284, UCLA
With the loss of Elvis Dumervil, Denver could really use help on the edge. Jones has a unique combination of speed and power and would be a great fit in Broncos’ system.
Other options: S Eric Reid out of LSU would be a great fit, though this may be a bit of a reach.
29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — XAVIER RHODES, CB, 6’1 210, FLORIDA STATE
Rhodes could be a great value pick here and provide depth at a position of need for a team that needs to improve its pass protection.
Other options: The defensive secondary is in need of upgrades, so really anyone with first-round talent could be in play here.
30. ATLANTA FALCONS — ROBERT ALFORD, CB, 6’0 185, S.E. LOUISIANA
Another team in need of an upgrade at the cornerback position should have not problem finding decent value this late in the round.
Other options: I really like DE Tank Carradine out of Florida State here, simply because he’s a talented, high-energy edge rusher that would be a great addition to a team already a fixture in the playoffs.
31. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — TANK CARRADINE, DE, 6’4 276, FLORIDA STATE
To get Carradine to play opposite of DE Aldon Smith would be a major coupe. With Jason Smith aging and the rest of the line fairly unproven, this is a great time to start upgrading.
Other options: TE Zach Ertz out of Stanford could help his former college coach, Jim Harbaugh, form a really dynamic two-TE set. I also like DT John Jenkins from Georgia, filling perhaps the 49ers’ biggest need.
32. BALTIMORE RAVENS — JUSTIN HUNTER, WR, 6’4 196, TENNESSEE
It doesn’t do much good to give quarterback Joe Flacco that big contract without surrounding him with weapons. Hunter is a major talent and could provide the offense with another big-play threat.
Other options: The defense needs help with the departure of future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Linebacker and safety should be high on the priority list.
Twitter — @ALJnotes