1.) Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M: While it’s already nearly impossible to predict the No.1 overall selection this early in the draft process, a new regime in KC only complicates the forecast further. Although the Chiefs used back-to-back picks on the offensive line (second and third round) in the 2012 NFL Draft—and signed right tackle Eric Winston to a four-year, $22M contract last offseason— the Kansas City decision makers will find it hard to pass up a talent like Joeckel on draft day. We all know Andy Reid loves his quarterbacks, but I think the most likely scenarios include Reid finding one through a trade or sometime on the second day of the draft—as he did with both Kevin Kolb and Nick Foles.
2.) Jacksonville Jaguars- Bjoern Werner, Defensive End, Florida State: Another tough selection to gauge this early in the process, especially considering the juxtaposition of recently hired head coach Gus Bradley’s defensive background and general manager Dave Caldwell, who comes from the offensive-minded Atlanta Falcons organization. There’s a good chance the Jags stick with Chad Henne at quarterback this season—and assuming the current crop of QBs doesn’t improve drastically by April, I don’t see Jacksonville selecting one to groom for the future in this spot. Werner is arguably the most gifted defensive player in this draft, with tons of upside considering he only started playing the game at 15. He’ll have an immediate impact on the Jaguars defensive line.3.) Oakland Raiders- Star Lotuleli, Defensive Tackle, Utah: Oakland has issues all over the place, and while Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher is certainly an option here (even with promising LT Jared Veldheer already on the roster), Lotuleli is just too good for Dennis Allen to pass up. Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly hasn’t performed well, and both Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant are unrestricted free agents. Lotuleli is the best player left on the board at No. 3 and fills a huge need for Oakland.
4.) Philadelphia Eagles- Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan: While Luke Joeckel is the trendy name for top tackle in the draft, it’s Fisher –whose stock will continue to soar as April approaches- that may end up being the best of the bunch. The Eagles are in a great shape to improve an offensive line that has completely fallen apart the past two seasons with Fisher, who would immediately start at left tackle for Chip Kelly & Co.
5.) Detroit Lions- Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M: With Cliff Avril likely testing free agency, and Kyle Vanden Bosch no guarantee to return to the Motor City in 2013, Moore looks like the most logical pick for a Lions defense that finished last season tied for 20th in sacks. The decisionmakers in Detroit have to figure out a way to maximize Ndamukong Suh’s presence up front and adding a threat like Moore to the line is as good a way as any.
6.) Cleveland Browns- Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia: Jones is the likely option for Cleveland at No. 6 following defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s confirmation that the Browns will switch to an “attack-minded 3-4 scheme” next season. Considered the best 3-4 OLB in the draft by some, Jones will give a boost to a defense already equipped with middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, cornerback Joe Haden and defensive tackle Phil Taylor. It’s too early to know if Jones’ injury concerns are severe enough knock him out of the top 10, but for now he’s the perfect selection for the Browns at No. 6.7.) Arizona Cardinals- Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama: The Cardinals have issues-on-top-of-issues when it comes to the offensive line. With the two top-rated offensive tackles off the board, it’s Warmack –not Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson—who jumpstarts the Arizona rebuild. The seventh spot may be considered too high to select a guard, but Warmack is a special talent worth reaching for.
8.) Buffalo Bills- Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, LSU: This selection could likely turn into a quarterback on draft day, depending on head coach Doug Marrone’s stance on Ryan Fitzpatrick. But in this, my 1.0 mock draft, the selection goes the way of the defense. While Mingo has, in my opinion, the highest bust potential of any OLB in the draft, it’s his versatility and intangibles that will likely get him drafted early on Day 1.
9.) New York Jets- Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon: The moment you’ve all been waiting for: Dion Jordan is the first pick of the John Idzik regime in New York. Versatile enough to play standing up in 3-4 front or at defensive end in 4-3 schemes, Jordan is the multitalented defender of Rex Ryan’s dreams. While he has a lot of developing yet to do—and is currently dealing with an injury that could certainly alter this selection in the coming months—the addition of a young, athletic outside linebacker like Jordan is something the Jets have been trying to accomplish for years. Combine the pick with the possible addition of OLB’s Conner Barwin or Paul Kruger via free agency, and the Jets once weak LB corps instantly morphs into a strength.
Note: Although some people see the Jets going offensive line here, we’ve seen time and time again the ability to secure a solid interior lineman late in the draft or through free agency. The Jets did it with Brandon Moore (who I believe will be back in ‘13) and they’ll have the opportunity to do it again this year.10.) Tennessee Titans- Johnathon Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State: Hankins’ versatility makes him an intriguing option at No. 10 for Tennessee. Another team with lots of concerns, Tennessee could go in a number of different directions here. And while the tenth spot may be a little high for the Buckeye standout, it’s Hankins’ versatility, combined with the production from starting defensive ends Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, that could make the Titans defensive line a real force moving forward.
11.) San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma: Another offensive lineman who will continue trending upward as April approaches, Johnson is one of the most versatile big men in this draft. While he’s settled in a No. 11 today, he very well could find himself a top 10 prospect in the coming months. A former quarterback and tight end, Johnson has shown the ability to play left and right tackle, despite still being a neophyte on the offensive line. His long arms and elite athleticism will certainly garner a warm welcome from quarterback Phillip Rivers, who appears to have developed some happy feet over the past two years.
12.) Miami Dolphins- Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, Cal: They’re stocked with picks and cap space in 2013, and while a free agent wide receiver like Gregg Jennings remains a very likely option for Miami, selecting the highest rated receiver certainly won’t hurt the development of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama: You probably didn’t expect to see the highest rated cornerback fall this far (truthfully, neither did I), but you better believe the Bucs will be more than happy reap the benefits of Milliner at No. 13. The best all around cornerback in this draft, Milliner’s size and physicality will be a welcomed addition in Tampa as a replacement to Aqib Talib.
14.) Carolina Panthers- Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri: The Panthers have a bevy of athletic linebackers, but they lack a big body in the middle of the defensive line to help stop the run and eat up blocks. Richardson will help address those issues, and will also provide another pass rushing option up the middle.
15.) New Orleans Saints- Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas: The Saints defense needs a lot of help, and while they could likely target a linebacker here, not know the scheme they intend to use next season makes Vaccaro the pick for now. Touted as the highest rated safety in the draft, Vaccaro is a rangy prospect with the body-type and athleticism to play both safety positions.
16.) St. Louis Rams- Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee: The Rams need to give Sam Bradford more offensive weapons in 2013. With Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson the top receivers in St. Louis, Patterson would provide offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer more flexibility in his offensive schemes. Patterson, who is one of the most complete receivers in the draft, could also have an impact on special teams.
17.) Pittsburgh Steelers- Johnathan Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia: The Steelers have gotten very old, very quickly on the defensive side of the ball, as its linebackers, defensive line and secondary have all seen better days. That means, with a rare top 20 pick, Pittsburgh is in good position to start retooling. Casey Hampton is older than dirt (sorry Casey), and Jenkins has an enormous frame capable of taking on multiple blockers. While he may lack versatility up front, his strength and frame make him a great fit for the Steelers 3-4 defense.
18.) Dallas Cowboys – Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida: Jay Ratliff isn’t getting any younger, and after his most recent run-in with police (he got popped for DWI a few days back) a defensive tackle to Dallas at No. 18 is looking even more likely. Monte Kiffin is in as defensive coordinator in Dallas now, and Floyd fills a big need in his Tampa 2 scheme.
19.) New York Giants- Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame: His recent “issue” may steer the Giants away from making this selection, but the fact remains that Jerry Reece just can’t ignore his needy linebacker corps any longer. When Chase Blackburn is arguably your best ILB over the past two seasons…it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
20.) Chicago Bears- Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina: You only needed to watch a few offensive series to recognize Chicago’s biggest need is on the offensive line. Cooper is my second-rated guard in the draft, and boasts impressive speed, lateral movement, and footwork. I’m sure Jay Cutler will be ecstatic with the addition fo Cooper to the Bears offense.
21.) Cincinnati Bengals –Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Alabama: The Bengals have a solid core and will eventually need to address some issues on defense (notably the overwhelming disappointment of Rey Maualuga at the MLB position). But as the cliché goes, “it’s an offensive league” and the Bengals can’t rely on BenJarvus Green-Ellis to carry the load in 2013. Lacy is a power back with some speed that would fit well with young up-and-coming offensive stars like Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.
22.) St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)- Giovani Bernard, Running Back, North Carolina: Confession time: It pains me to write this because of an obsession I’ve developed with Jets grabbing Bernard in the second round. But, with that dream quickly fading, I’ve conceded that the Rams will once again address the offensive side of the ball in an attempt to recreate the days of “The Greatest Show on Turf”. Goodbye, Giovani.
23.) Minnesota Vikings- Alec Ogletree, Inside Linebacker, Georgia: The Vikings need help at linebacker in a bad way, and Ogletree boasts the speed and athleticism to make plays all over the field. A converted safety, Ogletree will likely need to add size to his frame, and will certainly deal with questions regarding off the field issues during interviews. But for now, he’s a great pick for Minnesota at No. 23.
24.) Indianapolis Colts- D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, Alabama: It’s pretty simple: Andrew Luck is your meal ticket; make sure you protect him accordingly. While Fluker isn’t as highly touted as some of the other offensive lineman in this draft (as part of one of the best OL units in college football last year Fluker was, at times, overlooked), he does possess the physical skills to play both tackle positions in the NFL. Of course defense is an option here, but lowering Luck’s sack number from 40 should take precedence.
25.) Seattle Seahawks- Larry Warford, Guard, Kentucky: Similar to the situation in Indy, the Seahawks need to protect their investment at quarterback. Warford turned some heads at the Senior Bowl and will likely continue to do so in the coming months. With defense a strength in Seattle, No. 25 is a great spot to lock up one of the top interior lineman in the draft.
26.) Green Bay Packers- Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU: Ansah is an extremely raw prospect (after only one year starting at BYU) who has garnered obvious comparisons to the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul due mostly to his untapped potential. The Packers’ defense is lacking and Ansah could provide Green Bay with another weapon alongside Clay Matthews.
27.) Houston Texans- DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson: Matt Schaub is Gary Kubiak’s guy at QB so the best chance for success in Houston is to improve the weapons around him. Kevin Walter isn’t a consistent enough weapon as a No. 2 receiver, and Hopkins possesses the skillset that could see him eventually develop into a replacement for Andre Johnson in a few years.
28.) Denver Broncos- Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State: The pick makes sense for a Denver team that really doesn’t lack much on either side of the ball. John Fox could go running back here, but the presence of Peyton Manning at QB automatically improves whatever ‘back the Broncos trot out on the field. With Champ Bailey showing his age in the playoffs this season, Banks fills a big need in for the Broncos.
29.) New England Patriots- Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia: With Julian Edleman likely gone, and Wes Welker possibly right behind him, the Patriots offense may need to be tweaked in the offseason. Austin looks to be a great fit for the Pats offensive scheme and should flourish with Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick.
30.) Atlanta Falcons- Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame: Tony Gonzalez says he won’t be back—despite still being arguably the best receiving TE in the league—and Eifert is the ideal replacement. It won’t be easy to replace one of the best TE’s in NFL history, but Atlanta could certainly do much worse than the top-rated tight end in the draft.
31.) Baltimore Ravens- Kevin Minter, Inside Linebacker, LSU: Just like in Atlanta, Baltimore will have to deal with the absence of an icon in 2013. Ray Lewis is retiring and Ravens defense is getting older. Despite playing well late this season and during this postseason run, Baltimore has a lot of work to do this offesason. Minter is capable to step in as a starter and should provide Baltimore with more versatility in the middle of the field.
32.) San Francisco 49ers- Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington: San Francisco boasts the most impressive roster in this league, but if there’s one issue with its defense it’s the absence of a true cover corner. So with pick No. 32 it’s a case of the rich getting richer, as arguably the best defense in football walks away with a big, physical corner who recently impressed during the Senior Bowl.