After posting several mocks and spending countless hours pouring over an endless stream of information, I've concluded I have no idea which way teams will go.
Well, there are a few picks that seem more certain than others, but projecting the first round is always difficult and this year is especially so. There is very little separating the talent from the top of this round to early in the second round.
So for this mock I'm just going to forget what I think teams are going to do and project what they should do. If the teams follow this blueprint, they all can walk away happy.
I'll spend extra time on a few of the more intriguing picks, which are marked by italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
This is the sole pick in this draft that I'd be willing to place money on. Joeckel will be dominant in the running game and passing game, and all signs are pointing to the Chiefs grabbing a tackle.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Jaguars are desperate for pass-rushers and new coach Gus Bradley needs one who can do so while also bringing some versatility.
The supremely athletic Jordan can certainly do that.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
This selection makes too much sense to ignore. The Raiders must add difference makers to an anemic defense and they have a very unsettled situation at defensive tackle after completely making over the position.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
This pick could go a few ways. The Eagles could stand to get stronger up the middle on defense, making Star Lotulelei a solid pick here.
Also, the future of the quarterback position is not set in Philadelphia. That means Geno Smith could make sense as he has the mobility to run Chip Kelly's offense.
However, Smith, while athletic, is not the greatest runner and he is a bit of a reach at No. 4.
Eric Fisher is not a reach.
He is strong enough to get a good push on the run and quick enough to be an outstanding pass-blocker. Fisher is a nice fit for Kelly's spread schemes. He is the best value available here and a great pick for the Eagles.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
With Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley holding down the interior of the defensive line, the Lions need someone on the edge to complete the talented group.
Ezekiel Ansah is a complete player and he will help the Lions lock down the edge of the line of scrimmage.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Browns have some talent on defense, but they could use a corner opposite Joe Haden. Dee Milliner is easily the best corner in this draft.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Cardinals need major help on the offensive line. Lane Johnson is an athletic tackle and he will be an instant upgrade for the Cardinals.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The Bills have a need at guard. Chance Warmack will be able to step right in and improve a promising run game.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
With nothing but question marks at their quarterback position—and two first-round picks—the Jets will take a chance on the draft's best quarterback.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Titans need a consistent force on their defensive line. Star Loutulelei can eat up blockers and penetrate into the backfield.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The San Diego Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers are in dire need of an upgrade at the tackle position. Fluker is a bit of a reach here, but the need justifies this selection.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Dolphins need an upgrade at corner. Rhodes is an extremely physical corner who will be able to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage.
13. New York Jets (from 7-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
This draft works out great for the Jets. First, they get the best quarterback when Smith falls and then they will have the chance to grab the pass-rusher they would likely consider at No. 9.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson's draft stock has been a fluid situation. In many mocks, that stock seems to be dropping as we approach the draft.
I'm not buying it.
Patterson is raw. There is no denying that, but there is also no denying that he has elite physical tools. His mix of size, speed and athleticism make him a deep threat on every down.
Yes, he will have to learn the nuances of the receiver position to be a complete threat, but just his ability to stretch the field will be a huge boost to the Panthers.
The Panthers need receivers who can keep extra defenders out of the box. This will make dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton lethal and it will allow the Panthers' run game to flourish.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Bjoern Werner is an intense player who will seal the edge in the run game and occasionally provide pressure on the passer. The Saints need all the help on defense they can get.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin is a big play waiting to happen. He can turn any route into a touchdown. The Rams' offense badly needs some explosiveness.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Steelers won't concern themselves with the latter, as Jones is an excellent fit in Pittsburgh.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Dallas must get more consistent and physical on defense. Sheldon Richardson will strengthen the Cowboys' defense where they need it the most.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Giants' pass defense is too bad to be ignored. Johnthan Banks is a well-rounded corner and a smart selection here.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
I'm sure this selection will raise a few eyebrows. After all, the Bears are in a position where they should be loading up for a Super Bowl run, and they have a starting quarterback with Jay Cutler.
With needs at middle linebacker and guard, the Bears could justifiably go in another direction.
However, Cutler is in the last year of his contract and he has missed seven games in the last two years while taking an absolute beating.
This has to leave the Bears wondering how many more shots Cutler can withstand. They need to not only worry about his backup for next year, but also if they want to re-sign Cutler knowing this.
Matt Barkley would be a nice safety blanket and it would allow the Bears to not be so dependent on Cutler.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro is an instinctive safety. He has a nose for the ball and he will help the Bengals solidify an excellent defense.
22. St. Louis Rams (From 10-6 Washington Redskins): Eric Reid, FS, LSU
The Rams have an up-and-coming defense, but a need at free safety. Eric Reid is an athletic player, with a high ceiling.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
At first glance, this pick doesn't make a lot of sense, as the Vikings have a bigger need at defensive tackle rather than at end.
However, Datone Jones has the size to play inside, which will fill a hole for the Vikings while giving them tremendous flexibility.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Jesse Williams is one of the few true nose tackles in this draft and the Colts' defense needs a nose tackle.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from 11-5 Seattle Seahawks): Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Vikings need more playmakers at receiver. Keenan Allen will provide a consistent presence on the outside.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Menelik Watson isn't getting a ton of hype for this draft, but he is a quality tackle, and the Packers definitely need a boost on the edge of their offensive line.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Robert Woods, WR, USC
Robert Woods is a natural receiver who will be a threat all over the field. The Texans' offense needs another presence at receiver to keep defenses from stacking the box.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
I love this pick for the Broncos. While Williams is not the classic run-stuffing tackle, he is a solid pass-rusher on the interior. He will help the Broncos bring pressure on the quarterback from all angles.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Desmond Trufant has the tools to be elite in man coverage or zone coverage. He is a good value here and a great fit.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Atlanta needs to bolster their front seven. Johnathan Hankins is a bit of a risk, but he has a high ceiling.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The rich will get richer here as Jonathan Cooper has the talent to get drafted much higher. However, teams will pass on the interior offensive lineman and the 49ers will plug him into the center position to complete their offensive line.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Ravens need an inside linebacker they can count on next year. Minter is not dominant, but he is a tackling machine.
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