Happy Draftmas Eve!
A long, fun and sometimes arduous NFL draft season is nearly over. The draft is upon us, with all the glitz and hype and hyperanalysis it brings.
Below you will find my second and final first-round mock draft. There are certainly new wrinkles in it, not the least of which is the fact trades are involved.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
It seems like Branden Albert's days are numbered, and Kansas City cut Eric Winston on the other side. Whether the Chiefs pull off a trade for Albert, there is almost no choice but for the Chiefs to take an offensive tackle here.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Giving Jacksonville a right tackle is all the rage among draft experts, but there is a distinct odor of smoke in the air. Blaine Gabbert has not been the answer at quarterback, and getting the opportunity to take the best one in the draft doesn't come around every year.
3. Oakland Raiders—Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Desmond Bryant, Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are gone. The Raiders have needs all over the roster, but Star is the best player available for them.
4. San Diego Chargers (from Philadelphia)—Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Chargers have a pressing need at offensive tackle, so much so that they will move up to grab one of the top tackles in the draft.
5. Detroit Lions—Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
With Cliff Avril gone, the Lions run to the podium to take one of the draft's best pass-rushers.
6. Cleveland Browns—Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Pairing Joe Haden with the draft's top cornerback could make for a deadly duo in Cleveland.
7. Arizona Cardinals—Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
D'Anthony Batiste was just putrid last year. The Cardinals might be getting Levi Brown back from injury, but it will be difficult to pass up taking the last best offensive tackle here.
8. Buffalo Bills—Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
The smokescreens have Matt Barkley going to Buffalo. Don't buy those reports.
9. New York Jets—Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU
The Jets need upgrades in several areas, but it is difficult to see Rex Ryan pass up on a guy who could grow into a DeMarcus Ware clone.
10. Tennessee Titans—Cornellius Carradine, DE, FSU
This might seem a bit high for Tank Carradine given his ACL injury, but the fastest-rising player in the draft cleared a major hurdle when he performed well at his recent pro day. He is arguably the top pass-rushing prospect in the draft.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (from San Diego)—Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Philadelphia took San Diego to the cleaners and wound up getting a guy who some had them taking with the fourth overall pick. Not a bad haul in this mock draft to start off the Chip Kelly era.
12. Dallas Cowboys (from Miami)—Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
It wouldn't be a mock draft featuring trades without Jerry Jones moving up to take someone.
13. New York Jets (from Tampa Bay)—Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Having given up Darrelle Revis for a first-round pick and a ham sandwich, the Jets need to shore up the cornerback position. After all, do you trust Kyle Wilson?
14. Carolina Panthers—Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC
Jonathan Cooper might not be a huge need, but he will still be a big upgrade along the line.
15. New Orleans Saints—Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The safety position needs addressing in New Orleans, and Kenny Vaccaro is the best safety in the draft. This is a no-brainer.
16. St. Louis Rams—Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The hype surrounding Tavon Austin has reached warp speed, but he might be too small for Jeff Fisher's blood. Cordarrelle Patterson might be a bit raw, but the Rams have done well with red-flagged prospects recently.
17. Chicago Bears (from Pittsburgh)—Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Bears have to address the offensive line this year, right? The guard position is of particular need.
18. Miami Dolphins (from Dallas)—Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Dolphins could do anything with the No. 12 pick. With all of the top offensive tackles gone, a move back is ideal. They found an easy suitor in Dallas and managed to fix the tight end position once and for all—or the next few years at least.
19. New York Giants—D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
David Diehl is no spring chicken. It seems fated the Giants will take D.J. Fluker in the draft, which probably means they will draft a defensive back or something.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Chicago)—Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Middle linebacker could be an important position for the Steelers to address if Sean Spence's recovery from a gruesome knee injury is indeed going poorly.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU
The biggest draft need for the Bengals comes at the safety position. Cyprien is almost a match made in heaven after Vaccaro.
22. San Francisco 49ers (from St. Louis)—Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
This might be a little unorthodox being an inter-division trade, but the Rams can rake the 49ers over the coals for this one. And the 49ers can afford to overpay a little for the right to take Tavon Austin.
23. Minnesota Vikings—Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Vikings are astonished that Floyd fell this far in the draft, taking him as the best player available on their board over all other choices.
24. Indianapolis Colts—Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU
Having addressed a lot of offensive needs last year and without a value on the offensive line here, the Colts take their first step towards fixing issues on the defense here. Werner is a nice, well-rounded guy who can step in for Dwight Freeney.
25. Minnesota Vikings—Robert Woods, WR, USC
Virtual Rick Spielman punched a hole through his war room after the 49ers stole Tavon Austin out from underneath him here. The Vikings take the next best guy in Robert Woods, an underrated receiver who might be the most well-rounded in the draft.
26. Green Bay Packers—Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The Packers could use an upgrade on the interior defensive line. Datone Jones has become a bit of a forgotten man these days, but he fits in perfectly on that defense.
27. Houston Texans—Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
This might seem like a bit of a stretch—alright, it is more than a bit—but the Texans need to start looking ahead at the quarterback position. Will 31-year-old Matt Schaub lead them to the promised land or has he hit his ceiling?
28. Denver Broncos—Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Willis McGahee is getting on in years, and Knowshon Moreno is no long-term solution. Grabbing a violent runner like Lacy to pair with still-developing Ronnie Hillman could pay big dividends for that Broncos offense.
29. San Francisco 49ers (from New England)—Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama
It wouldn't be an NFL draft without a Bill Belichick trade. Last year saw the Patriots moving up twice, but New England is curiously low on picks this year. A move back makes sense, and the 49ers have so many picks they can afford to move up twice.
30. Atlanta Falcons—Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
The Falcons are on the cusp of a Super Bowl run, and they need to shore up their secondary. Taylor can contribute right away, helping mitigate the loss of Brent Grimes.
31. St. Louis Rams (from San Francisco)—Eric Reid, S, LSU
With Vaccaro and Cyprien gone, the Rams saw no reason they shouldn't move down here. Eric Reid plus their trade haul are a nice consolation.
32. Baltimore Ravens—Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Free agency and retirement have ravaged the Ravens, particularly on defense. They need to replace the departed Dannell Ellerbe and Ray Lewis, and Minter is a decent start.