The NFL draft is always full of surprises. Even though general managers spend exorbitant amounts of time and resources scouting and putting together a strategy, there's always few picks in the first round that leave fans scratching their heads.
In this mock draft, we'll pretend those picks don't exist. Oakland Raiders fans rejoice.
What follows are the best possible picks for each of the teams in the first round based upon their needs and best value.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs offseason moves have been a bit perplexing. Aside from re-signing wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a long-term deal, their moves have sent mixed messages for how they spend the first pick.
They used the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert and then went on to cut right tackle Eric Winston. Since they already have a solid left tackle it seems less likely that they’ll take Joekel, but he remains the right pick.
Albert is still only guaranteed to be with the franchise for one more season. They could (and should) still draft Joekel and play him on the right side to replace Winston for one season before sliding him over to the left side on a permanent basis.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Jaguars pass rush was just dreadful last season. They were last in the league in sacks and were consequently carved up by opposing quarterbacks. Werner brings a bite to this pass rush that has been missing in recent years.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
This pick isn’t as much about how good Geno Smith is as much as it’s about how badly the Raiders need a quarterback. Carson Palmer was awful last season and Terrelle Pryor doesn’t appear to be promising as the quarterback of the future.
The Raiders can take advantage of a “weak” quarterback class by picking up the best one in the class with the No. 3 selection.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
New head coach Chip Kelly will be looking to really ramp up the Philadelphia Eagles offense this season and everything he does starts with the offensive line.
Fisher would give Kelly the kind of athletic cornerstone that he needs on the offensive line to open up lanes in the running game and protect against elite pass-rushers.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Milliner is the perfect marriage of need and value for the Lions at No. 5. He has elite coverage skills and possesses the versatility to cover bigger and faster receivers. He will immediately improve the Lions floundering secondary.
6. Cleveland Browns: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Browns enter the offseason with a ton of cap room and a big need for a pass-rushing linebacker for their new 3-4 scheme. That’s why they figure to be major players in the free-agent sweepstakes for Paul Kruger and Cliff Avril (h/t Cleveland Plain Dealer).
Assuming they land one of those two, they’ll be free to select the best player available. That may be Cordarrelle Patterson. He’s an explosive receiver with great size and would be a nice complement to Josh Gordon.
With Gordon, Greg Little and Patterson, the Browns would have one of the best young receiving corps in the NFL.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
As much blame as John Skelton and Kevin Kolb have received for the Cardinals offensive failures last season, they had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Johnson is an uber-athletic tackle that showed off his skills at the combine. He’s a rare blend of athleticism and size that would instantly improve the offense with his protection.
8. Buffalo Bills: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The Bills are likely going quarterback here, but there’s simply no one actually worth the pick. If they want to get the best value they should look to add a guy like Ansah to their front seven. Mario Williams’ debut season with the Bills didn’t go as well as expected but Ansah’s presence might be just what he needs to get back on track.
9. New York Jets: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Rex Ryan’s defense just doesn’t work unless he has pass-rushers that can get to the quarterback off the edge. By drafting Jordan the Jets would be getting a player that can do that. His versatility would work great in Ryan’s scheme because he’s fluid enough to be used in coverage too.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Titans are pretty fortunate at No. 10. One of their biggest needs this offseason is at guard and they are in a position to draft the best one without reaching. Warmack should be around at No. 10 and he provides enough value to be the pick here. Chris Johnson will likely match his 4.2 40-yard dash time running this pick up to the podium.
11. San Diego Chargers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
This is a nightmare situation for the Chargers. They desperately need to take an offensive lineman with this pick but in this scenario, there really aren’t any options worthy of taking this soon. There are plenty of pass-rushers that are worthy of the selection, but it’s a little too early to give up on Melvin Inrgam just yet.
Rhodes is a big physical corner that could start opposite Quentin Jammer right now. Considering Jammer will be 34 years old this season, cornerback is also a considerable need for the team.
12. Miami Dolphins: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
With Brian Hartline inked to a long-term extension, the Dolphins can take care of their need at receiver through free agency by signing either Greg Jennings or Mike Wallace. That would free them up to address either tackle or cornerback with the No. 12 pick.
In this scenario no tackles worthy of the selection are available so they would need to turn their attention to cornerback. Banks is comparable to Rhodes in terms of overall talent and either one would be an upgrade for the Dolphins secondary.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Buccaneers will be very disappointed if they miss out on the run of cornerbacks in the first round, but they can still bolster their defense by adding a pass-rusher to replace the likely-to-depart Michael Bennett at defensive end.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
There’s almost no way that Floyd slides this far. Teams would likely trade up somewhere in the top-10 to pick him up, but in this scenario he falls to No. 14 and the Panthers get the steal of the draft. Floyd would immediately add some punch to the front seven and give them a rare pass-rushing talent on the interior.
15. New Orleans Saints: Star Lotulelei , DT, Utah
Lotulelei could go as high as No. 1 if he’s cleared of his heart condition that held him out of the combine. As it stands now, he’s likely to see a bit of a drop in stock come draft day and the Saints couldn’t be happier. With a defensive line in desperate need of a stout run-stuffer, Lotulelei is a tremendous value that fits a need for the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
If Sam Bradford is going to succeed as the franchise quarterback in St. Louis, he’s going to need better protection. Not only does Cooper offer that protection, he has the ability to really open up the running game.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The days of the Steelers having an elite pass-rush are coming to an end. If they want to continue their yearly assault on quarterbacks a replacement for the aging James Harrison must be found. Fortunately for the Steelers, Jones is a massive talent that will only see his stock fall because of spinal stenosis that could cut his career short. At No. 17 he’s well worth the risk.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
There are bigger needs than defensive tackle for the Cowboys here, but Richardson has too much value here to be passed up. He’s a disruptive force on the inside and would ease the team’s transition to the 4-3 defense.
19. New York Giants: Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
The once fearsome New York Giants pass rush has become docile. Jason Pierre-Paul still remains a force, but Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have seen their production fall off. In Carradine the Giants get an explosive edge rusher that can revitalize the front four.
20. Chicago Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT, Chicago Bears
Fluker is a behemoth of a man who has the potential to be one of the best run blockers in the NFL with time. He’s probably not nimble enough to slide over to left tackle, but No. 20 is a good spot to take a right tackle that will hold down that spot for a long time. This would be a huge step in the right direction for an offensive line that has given up way too many sacks over the last two seasons.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore’s poor combine performance left his athleticism a bit exposed. That being said, the film shows a guy that simply knows how to get to the quarterback and make a play when he gets there. The Bengals would be more than happy to add him to their burgeoning front seven.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Rams have a great opportunity to improve the offense with two picks in the first round and that’s exactly what they do here. Danny Amendola is an excellent option in the slot but Allen is the kind of receiver that can develop into a true No. 1 receiver for Bradford.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Poor Adrian Peterson was asked to do it all for the Vikings last season. Percy Harvin is the only other weapon that the Vikings have and he is always dealing with injuries. In Austin, the Vikings would add a weapon that could do a little bit of everything and add a new wrinkle to their offense.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama
The Colts already have a promising young offense. With the addition of Williams, the Colts would be building around the prototypical 3-4 nose tackle. Herculean strength and suitable bulk at 320 pounds, Williams has all the tools to be the centerpiece that will make this defense tick.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Seahawks already have an impressive defense, adding Kawann Short would make them absolutely terrifying for opposing offenses. Short is not only stout against the run at 315 pounds, but he can get to the quarterback as evidenced by his seven sacks last season.
26. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Packers don’t have a huge need at tight end with Jermichael Finley on the roster, but the Patriots seem to make the whole two tight ends thing work. Drafting Eifert would give Rodgers another weapon to add to the Packers impressive arsenal and give them the flexibility to get rid of Finley down the road rather than give him a big contract extension.
27. Houston Texans: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The temptation to reach for a receiver will be there. It’s the team’s most obvious need and Quinton Patton may be worth the risk. However, Ogletree has much better value at 27 and fills a need. The Texans could use a young alternative and middle linebacker and Ogletree fits the bill.
28. Denver Broncos: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Say what you will about his 40 time and his performance in the national championship game. He has an entire career full of production that says he can play. The Broncos find a nice successor to Keith Brooking late in the first round.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Trufant is an underrated cornerback prospect and the Patriots have a need to improve the secondary. Bellichick scores again.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Whether or not Tony Gonzalez retires, a dynamic play-making tight end makes this offense dangerous. Gonzalez won’t be around forever and this is the perfect opportunity for the Falcons to bring in his eventual (or immediate) replacement.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Niners don’t have many needs, but safety is one of the few. Fortunately Vaccaro is an incredible value here and would immediately contribute. The 49ers would be extremely lucky for him to drop this far.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
If you happened to blackout for the entire playoffs, Ray Lewis has now retired. That means the Ravens will need to find a backer who can man the middle of their 3-4 defense and Brown is the best prospect left on the board.
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