With the NFL Draft just around the corner, it is time for some last minute mock drafts. While later this week I will publish my predictions on how the draft will go down, I will use this article to outline what I would do if I was drafting for each team. Therefore, this is not a prediction of where the players will go, but rather who I would take if I were the GM for each team in the NFL. So without further ado, lets begin.
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel (OT): Texas A&M
With their trade for Alex Smith and the franchise tag that was given to Brandon Albert, it is seeming almost certain that Kansas City will take one of the two offensive tackles with this pick. While Fisher is a great player, he is simply not as good a prospect as Joeckel. He has the quickness and strength to dominate from day one, the experience playing in both a west coast blocking scheme and a spread one, and the pedigree of stonewalling SEC pass rushers for a full season. He is a safe as it gets in this draft, and will be able to lock down the blind side for Alex Smith for a long time
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Geno Smith (QB): West Virginia
The Jaguars have not been linked with a quarterback, after all they still have Blaine Gabbert on the roster. However, he was drafted in the age of the rookie wage scale, so giving up on him is not the same level of investment waste as it was before. Also, I think that Geno Smith will be a good quarterback, especially if a team decides to build an offense that suits his accurate intermediate passing game and takes advantage of his mobility. If the Jaguars go for it, they will not look back.
3. Oakland Raiders - Star Lotulelei (DT): Utah State
The Raiders would have looked at Geno Smith with this pick, but with him off the board and Star Lotulelei's clean bill of health, the Raiders should go with him. Lotulelei is the best defensive tackle in the draft, and his ability to push the pocket and hold up in the run game is unparallelled in this draft. Also, with the Raiders losing all their starting DT's from last season, he make a lot of sense as a value and need pick
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Dion Jordan (OLB): Oregon
The Eagles are converting to a 3-4 defense, and with the ready made connection between Chip Kelly and Jordan as well as his athletic talents and perfect fit in a 3-4 defense makes this a no-brainer. Jordan has the ability to rush the passer, cover slot receivers and tight ends and make stops against the run. He is perfect for a rebuilding team.
5. Detroit Lions - Eric Fisher (OT): Central Michigan
The Lions are looking for a replacement for Jeff Backus at left tackle, and Fisher has the ability to be a major upgrade, even in his rookie season. His quick feet, great pass blocking technique and long arms make him a ready made wall in the passing game, and he has the frame to develop into an above average run blocker.
6. Cleveland Browns - Dee Milliner (CB): Alabama
Milliner is a great press-man and zone cornerback who has the size, recovery speed and run stopping skills to make an impact in the modern NFL paradigm. Pairing him with Joe Haden would give Cleveland the best young cornerback tandem in the NFL.
7. Arizona Cardinals - Lane Johnson (OT): Oklahoma
Johnson has been a late riser this year, but his athletic talent, current technique and developmental trend could make him the best offensive tackle in this draft class in five years time. He is more boom-or-bust than the other tackles already off the board, but a team desperate for blind side protection like the Cardinals should be willing to take that risk.
8. Buffalo Bills - Chance Warmack (OG): Alabama
This would make Warmack the first offensive guard in years to break the Top 10 of a NFL Draft, but his talent, immediate impact and the need for Buffalo to replace Andy Levitre makes this a good move. Warmack has the skillset to excel in any blocking scheme, and his mauling run blocking will make the two-headed monster of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller even harder to shut down.
9. New York Jets - Jarvis Jones (OLB): Georgia
Many people will not rate Jones this highly, but it only takes one team to like Jones for him to make it into the Top 10. The Jets have been looking for a dominant pass rusher off the edge ever since Rex Ryan came to town, and Jones, while lacking measurables, has the game tape to prove that he can be close to unblockable when he is on his game.
10. Tennessee Titans - Bjoern Werner (DE): Florida State
Werner is another player I have going higher than normal in this draft, but like Jones I think his game tape shows a player who can impact the game on every down due to his hand use, burst and football IQ. Given his lack of experience, he could turn into even more of a weapon as he plays more.
11. San Diego Chargers - Sharif Floyd (DT/DE): Florida
Some may wonder why Floyd is not in the Top Five, but I believe that he lacks the consistency to be that high a pick. However, his game is perfect for playing the five technique in a 3-4 defense, and the Chargers, having missed out on an offensive tackle, will have to settle for a defensive force to shore up their run game and keep Melvin Ingram free to cause carnage.
12. Miami Dolphins - Ezekiel Ansah (DE): BYU
The Dolphins 4-3 defense already has one great defensive end in Cameron Wake, but he is on the wrong side of 30 and lacks a stablemate to run with. Ansah has the long term potential to be Jason Pierre-Paul, and if he gets there he will be able to set the edge and rush the passer with equal skill.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Xavier Rhodes (CB): Florida State
The Bucs have got a talented bunch of young players, but their secondary was lit up like the fourth of July in 2012. While Mark Barron may help a bit, they really need a cornerback to replace Aqib Talib and lock down top receivers. Rhodes has more than prototypical size for a modern press-corner, and also the quickness to run keep up in the breaks. He could definitely become the next Richard Sherman, without the motor mouth.
14. Carolina Panthers - Sheldon Richardson (DT): Missouri
Richardson is taking a big fall here, since I think he is the seventh best player in this draft. However, I think his only fit this high in the first round is as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense, and not many of the first round defenses need one of those. However, Carolina need to get better up the middle, and Richardson's ability to penetrate into the backfield is second to none in this draft class.
15. New Orleans Saints - Desmond Trufant (CB): Washington
Trufant comes from a strong NFL bloodline, but that is not all there is to like about his game. He has the athleticism to run with receivers and a knack for baiting interceptions. He is not the most physical player, but he reminds me of a taller and faster Asante Samuel. The Saints need someone who can cover on the back end if they are going to win the shootouts that Drew Brees starts.
16. St. Louis Rams - Cordarelle Patterson (WR): Tennessee
Patterson no doubt has the game to be a great weapon in the NFL, but he needs to improve his route running and hands if he is not to be a bust. However, the Rams need a receiver who can consistently get open for Sam Bradford to throw to, and Patterson has the size, speed and burst to do that with ease. Plus, his open-field running style would be lethal in a west coast offense.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kenny Vaccaro (S): Texas
Vaccaro is the prototype for the new school versatile safety. He can come up and defend the run, play deep zone coverage and take on and beat tight ends and slot receivers in man-to-man coverage. The Steelers will be looking for a replacement for Troy Polamalu in the near future to run, and Vaccaro is just that man.
18. Dallas Cowboys - Jonathan Cooper (OG/C): UNC
Cooper is possibly the best interior offensive lineman in this draft, even more so than Warmack, so getting him this late in the draft is great value. The Cowboys are desperate to protect their new investment in Tony Romo, and Cooper has the versatility to play guard and center, and the size, speed and technique to do a great job at both.
19. New York Giants - Manti Te'o (LB): Notre Dame
Te'o has seen a big hit in his stock recently, but that will just serve to make the rich richer in the 2013 Draft. While he is not the sort of superstar that he was hyped to be, he is a player who can get sideline to sideline, cover with the best of them and clean up in the running game. He would be an ideal signal caller for the Giants at a position of weakness.
20. Chicago Bears - Alec Ogletree (LB): Georgia
In what could be a run on linebackers, the Bears will look to replace Brain Urlacher in the middle of their 4-3 defense with another athletic player. Ogletree would be going much higher if not for his questionable off-field decisions, and his speed and block shedding skills could make him a dominant force in the league if he stays out of trouble.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Jesse Williams (DT): Alabama
The Bengals do not have many needs at the moment, but a great defensive tackle who can eat up blockers and make life even easier for Geno Atkins could help take their defense to the next level. Williams is a raw player, but although he has the size to command double teams as a nose tackle, he is quick enough to beat players off the ball. He is raw, but could give the Bengals an all-time great pairing in the middle of their defensive line.
22. St. Louis Rams - Jonathan Cyprien (S): Florida International
The Rams have no depth at safety, so adding Cyprien would be a great way to deal with their team needs. He is also a great safety who is nearly as good a prospect as Vaccaro. He has the whole package as well as elite athleticism, and a secondary containing him, Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan would be hard to pass on.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Tavon Austin (WR): West Virginia
It may seem strange to mock Austin, who is extremely similar to Percy Harvin, to the Vikings after they moved on from Harvin this off season. However, Harvin was an MVP caliber player last year, so adding a player with a similar skill set should let the Vikings try to recreate that. Austin also has none of the red flags that Harvin possesses.
24. Indianapolis Colts - Datone Jones (DE): UCLA
The Colts are trying to put together a fearsome 3-4 front for their defense, and to do so they will need playmakers in this draft. Jones is one of the best 3-4 defensive end prospects, and while he is not on the same level as J.J. Watt, he plays a similar way. While slightly undersized for a five-technique, the power he plays with and his block shedding acumen makes him a bear to block. His ability to provide a pass rush from the end also really changes the dynamic of any 3-4.
25. Minnesota Vikings - Johnthan Banks (CB): Mississippi State
The Vikings have a gaping hole at cornerback now that Antoine Winfield has moved on, and with that in mind a great cover-two cornerback is right at the top of their list of draft priorities. Johnthan Banks has the size, zone coverage instincts and run stopping skills to be great in this scheme, and his ball skills would also be a great upgrade over the man he would be replacing. It is a slight reach, but when it comes to a perfect fit at a position of need, that is more than acceptable.
26. Green Bay Packers - Tyler Eifert (TE): Notre Dame
This is a pick that I have been mocking for ages, and it just makes too much sense not to happen in my opinion. The Packers offense was so much better in 2010 when Jermichael Finley was playing well, and Eifert has the receiving skills to bring that back. He is also a competent blocker, something that Finley never offered.
27. Houston Texans - Justin Hunter (WR): Tennessee
The Texans have been looking for a complementary receiver for ages, and in 2013 they may finally get their man. Hunter has the potential of a Top Five pick, with elite speed, leaping ability and deep ball skills. He is raw, but on an offense that is great already his big play potential could tip it over the edge. He will only need to run one route.
28. Denver Broncos - Cornelius Carradine (DE): Florida State
Carradine has been flying up draft boards recently, and if healthy he certainly would have competed for the first defensive end off the board with his mix of track speed and power. The Broncos, after losing Elvis Dumervil to a fax machine, will be looking for a defensive end, and at the back end of the first round, Carradine should be huge value.
29. New England Patriots - John Jenkins (DT): Georgia
The Patriots have taken to playing Vince Wilfork at defensive end in their 3-4 fronts, so another nose tackle would be great. Jenkins is a monster who has enough quickness to legitimately play three-technique in college. While he will not do that in the NFL, he has positional versatility in a 3-4 defense to play three positions, and the power to develop into a wall against the run.
30. Atlanta Falcons - Terron Armstead (OT): Arkansas Pine Bluff
An argument could be made that Armstead is the most athletic left tackle ever to enter the NFL, and if he manages to parlay this into better technique he should be an anchor for an offensive line for the next 10 years. While his small school status should force him to develop on the bench for a season, he has the upside to replace Sam Baker at left tackle in a year or two.
31. San Francisco 49ers - Barkevious Mingo (OLB): LSU
What do you give a team with just about every position on the roster covered. A super talented athlete who could become the best pass rusher from this draft. I do think that there are even odds that Mingo will be a bust, and very high odds that he will never be an every down player. However, on the 49ers defense that lacks pass rush outside Aldon Smith, he has the speed to play a Bruce Irvin type role as a rookie.
32. Baltimore Ravens - Arthur Brown (LB): Kansas State
The Ravens lost a key player in Ray Lewis to retirement this season, and with in house replacement Danell Ellerbe moving to the Dolphins this offseason, they will probably have to look to the draft to replace him. Fortunately, a great player has fallen to them. While Brown is undersized, he plays a fast, physical game similar to Lewis, and he has the strength to play in the middle of the Ravens defense that has the strength up front to keep their linebackers clean.