1. Kansas City Chiefs Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan
Maybe it is time to work off the presumption that Kansas City will end up trading Branden Albert when all is said and done. The starting left tackle just signed his one-year franchise tender, but has publicly stated that he is opposed to moving to the right side. If that is the case and Kansas City retains Albert, there is no way it spends the No. 1 overall pick on a right tackle. Expect there to be some discussions about a trade here.
If the Chiefs do stay pat at one, they will go with a franchise book end to protect Alex Smith. This pick could either be Fisher or Luke Joeckel. All things the same, I am going to project that Kansas City goes with the surprise selection here. Fisher, a Central Michigan product, has more upside than Joeckel and could easily turn into one of the best tackles of his generation. This is how high I am on him. That being said, put Joeckel here and you will not get any complaints from me. Both are going to be studs.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon
I have finally been talked into it. It has been my presumption that Jordan fits best in a 3-4 scheme and will only go to a team that runs that type of defense. Others within the draft community have pointed to new Jaguars' head coach Gus Bradley, the former defensive coordinator in Seattle with the Seahawks, as a primary reason Jordan would go here. Bradley ran multiple fronts in the Pacific Northwest and didn't stray away from adding underzied defensive linemen to the mix; Bruce Irvin the most recent example.
Jordan has the quickest first step of any pass rusher in the 2013 NFL draft and possesses upside that I have not seen enter the league in quite some time. He reminds me a great deal of Aldon Smith with the San Francisco 49ers. Considering that Smith racked up nearly as many sacks (19.5) as the entire Jaguars' defense (20), this is an area of need for Bradley and company.
3. Oakland Raiders Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, Louisiana State
I flirted with going Geno Smith here, but then realized that Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie actually knows that he is doing in Northern California. Oakland needs to consider building from the inside out and acquiring a stud pass rusher like Mingo this early would be an absolute steal in its hybrid defensive scheme.
4. Philadelphia Eagles Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Again, we have no idea whether Jason Peters will return at 100-percent in 2013. Even if he does, Philadelphia needs to consider an eventual replacement. Joeckel is 1(B) on my big board behind Fisher. He is one of the top-five offensive tackle prospects to enter the NFL over the last decade. In addition, Joeckel should be able to come in and start immediately.
5. Detroit Lions Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma
Unfortunately for Detroit, the two consensus top offensive tackles off the board are gone here. Even more unfortunate for Detroit, it now has to replace two starting offensive tackles after Gosder Cherilus moved on in free agency and Jeff Backus called it a career. While Johnson may be a reach here, he still translates into being a blind-side protector for the suddenly struggling Matthew Stafford.
6. Cleveland Browns Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia
While this isn't the pick I would make if I were running things in Cleveland, recent reports suggest that it is seriously considering Smith should he fall to six. The previous front office really put new general manager Michael Lombardi in a difficult situation. No one realistically believes that Brandon Weeden is the franchise quarterback here, but the Browns did spend a first-round pick on him and he deserves another season. Lombardi and company might not see it that way. As it is, Smith is the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the draft and will provide the Browns with upside and talent at quarterback.
7. Arizona Cardinals Matt Barkley, Quarterback, Southern California
I can hear fans in the desert now. They'd much rather be eaten alive by a snake than being forced to see yet another USC quarterback attempt to make a career in the NFL at the cost of their franchise. Again, this is NOT the selection that I would make. Rather, it's just me having little faith in the Bidwell's. Arizona released Kevin Kolb last week and is currently relying on Drew Stanton to be the man. As a apologist of Stanton's, I am not too sad to see him actually given an opportunity to vie for a starting job. That being said, he is nowhere near the lone-term answer here. While Barkley isn't a franchise quarterback, he is probably the most pro ready of any quarterback in the draft. Look for someone to reach for him in the initial round. My money is on Arizona.
8. Buffalo Bills Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama
Can we please just stop all the Ryan Nassibe to Upstate New York talk? He isn't a day-two prospect, let alone a top-10 pick. Buffalo will go with best player available; even at a position of "strength." It did go out there and select Stephon Gilmore from South Carolina in the first last season, but this doesn't mean that general manager Buddy Nix doesn't recognize talent when he sees it. If Milliner is on the board here, as the consensus No. 1 defensive back in the draft, Buffalo may just jump all over him. After all, a cornerback pairing of Milliner and Gilmore would be dominating in the AFC East.
9. New York Jets Ezekiel Ansah, Linebacker, BYU
New York needs to start rebuilding a defense that has been ravaged by ineffective play from veterans over the last couple seasons; especially in the secondary. It needs multiple outside linebackers and 5-tech defensive linemen in order to become viable moving forward. Where better to start than with Ziggy Ansah, the highest-upside, front-seven player in the entire draft. Ansah reminds me a great deal of Jason Pierre-Paul with his tremendous raw athletic ability. He possesses a ridiculous first move and can get to the quarterback with his hands down at the line or standing up as a natural 3-4 pass rusher. This fits the Jets new multi-front defensive scheme to a T.
10. Tennessee Titans Bjoern Werner, Defensive End, Florida State
I have long had Tennessee going guard with this selection, but its ability to steal Andy Levitre from the Buffalo Bills in free agency likely puts an end to that thought. Instead, the Titans look to bolster a pass rush that had been downright anemic at times in 2012. While the Titans did record 39 sacks, no one player put up more than 6.5. As we have seen in the past, most specifically with the Jets, teams without a true pass-rush threat who rely on multiple players to bring the heat, usually take a step back the next season. If Tennessee is able to bring in someone like Werner, it would make its front seven just that much better. A defensive end pairing of Derrick Morgan and Werner in front of a solid young linebacker dueo of Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers doesn't sound too shabby to me.
11. San Diego Chargers Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Florida State
While San Diego's No. 1 need entering the draft will be offensive tackle, its just a product of the numbers game in this mock draft. The top three tackles on my board all went in the top five; leaving the Chargers without much of an option here. Instead of reaching for someone like D.J. Fluker or Terron Armstead at 11, they decide to fortify another perceived weakness in the secondary. The Chargers "lost" both of their starting cornerbacks but were able to bring in the highest-upside defensive back on the market in the form of Derek Cox. Rhodes, who is a physical press corner with great ball skills would be a great complement to Cox at cornerback. If this were to occur, San Diego would be going from old and washed up at corner to young and inspired. I can see it making a move like this.
12. Miami Dolphins Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas
The additions of Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, and retention of Brian Hartline leaves Miami without much need for a wide receiver early. This is one of the primary reasons that the "most accurate" mock drafts are usually created immediately following the first wave of free agency. Without needing a wide receiver, Miami just goes best player available at 12. Vaccaro is the best safety prospect to enter the draft since Earl Thomas. He will be able to come in and immediately improve the Dolphins' pass defense from the free safety position. While Desmond Trufant could also be an option here, I don't see Jeff Ireland and company passing up on the many talents of Kenny Vaccaro.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington
Laugh with me for a second, as it seems Tampa Bay is "shopping" Eric Wright. Maybe if the NFL had 15 rounds much like it did back in the 1970's, the Buccaneers could actually get a pick for him. As it is, the Buccaneers are in trouble at the cornerback position right now. Assuming Wright doesn't return in 2013, their depth chart is in shambles right now. 2012 drat pick Leonard Johnson was popped for a DUI on Saturday, so there are going to be issues as it relates to him. Outside of that, we are looking at Myron Lewis and Anthony Gaitor. While Johnson's 2013 season shouldn't be impacted, Tampa Bay still needs another starter. Trufant is one of the best cornerbacks that I have studied on tape this offseason. He is physical at the line, has no issue back peddling when the jam doesn't work and possesses fluid hips on the outside. Even if Tampa Bay acquired Darrelle Revis, I expect it to look in this direction.
14. Carolina Panthers Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah
Even after much overblown concerns over his health, Star is still a top-five prospect. The reason he falls to Carolina here is that there really aren't a great deal of need at this position prior to 14. He will come in and be an immediate upgrade over what the Panthers currently have on their roster. The likes of Ron Edwards and Sione Fua really aren't going to scare any team in the NFC South. Day-one starter with a solid amount of upside.
15. New Orleans Saints Jarvis Jones, Linebacker, Georgia
As a 3-4 linebacker, Jones seems to fit best for what Rob Ryan is attempting to build on defense with New Orleans. While Jones seems to lack the initial burst at the line with his hands down, he has no issue beating a blocker to the point on the outside and will be a tremendous fit in the Saints new scheme. As it is, New Orleans really doesn't have anyone outside of Cameron Jordan that seems to fit what its attempting to build in the front seven.
16. St. Louis Rams Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee
It takes until the middle of the first round before a wide receiver comes off the board. Don't let this fool you; this is as deep of a wide receiver class as any in recent history. The only issue is that there really aren't many immediate impact players here. Patterson possesses the most upside of any wide receiver in the draft, but is as raw as they come. He is going to have to tighten his route-running skills and start to recognize coverage. Once that happens, watch out. He has great hands and athleticism and will not struggle beating defenders in press coverage. Add Patterson to the mix with Chris Givens and Brian Quick, and Sam Bradford has a few nice young targets on the outside.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri
Likely the best possible fit for Pittsburgh here. This is a team that continues to build through the draft, but really hasn't hit gold selecting defensive linemen in recent years; Cameron Heyward coming to mind first. Richardson fits better as a 3-4 defensive end and should be an upgrade over Ziggy Hood.
18. Dallas Cowboys Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama
Why the heck not? Cowboys' fans want to blame Tony Romo for their lack of success in recent seasons, but the truth is that he really doesn't have a whole lot in front of him along the offensive line. Interior offensive-line play has long been an issue in Big D and Warmack could come in and solve that issue. He is a top-five prospect, but falls to the latter half of the initial round because of the position he plays and the lack of value teams place here. Make no mistake about it, Warmack will be a Pro Bowl guard out of the gate; this is how good he is.
19. New York Giants Kevin Minter, Linebacker, Louisiana State
Dan Connor and Keith Rivers leave a lot to be desired at middle linebacker for New York. While I am a fan of Mark Herzlich, he seems to fit better on the strong side, where a struggling Mathias Kiwanuka is "holding down the fort." Move Herzlich over to the strong side and implement the best middle linebacker in the draft class at his natural position. This seems to make too much sense not to happen. Of course, Manti Te'o and Arthur Brown are options here too.
20. Chicago Bears Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina
Value at a need position, here. General manager Phil Emery couldn't have asked for more. While Chicago needs multiple upgrades at linebacker, it is lucky that a couple options will be available in the second round. As it relates to guard, there is a major drop off from Warmack and Cooper to the second-tier players at this position. Cooper is a day-one starter with above-average technique. Chicago can install him in at left guard as an ummediate upgrade over James Brown.
21. Cincinnati Bengals Jonathan Cyprien, Safety, Florida International
I am pretty sure that Marvin Lewis and company would wig out if Cyprien is available at 21. As one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire draft, Cyprien fits the Bengals' defensive mold to a T and could be slotted in as a strong safety next to Reggie Nelson out of the gate. Moving forward, this small-school product translates into being a Pro Bowl performer.
22. St. Louis Rams Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida
Again, a top prospect falls to the Rams here. Floyd could easily go in the top five, but needs for teams selecting ahead of the Rams enables him to get picked up by this up-and-coming team. The talented defensive lineman will slot in next to Michael Brockers at defensive tackle to form one of the best 4-3 lines in the entire NFL with Robert Quinn and Chris Long on the outside.
23. Minnesota Vikings Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia
This has long been our selection for Minnesota here on eDraft. It doesn't change with the departure of Percy Harvin and arrival of Greg Jennings. Instead, Austin seems to be a better fit with Jennings on the roster. He had the best set of hands in the draft and is as strong as they come on the outside. Really a no-brainer.
24. Indianapolis Colts Arthur Brown, Linebacker, Kansas Sate
Maybe Indianapolis figures that Erik Walden is the answer at outside linebacker opposite an aging Robert Mathis. After all, former first-round pick Jerry Hughes really hasn't gotten it done. Brown can slide in as a starting inside linebacker; representing an upgrade over both Kavell Conner and Jerrell Freeman.
25. Minnesota Vikings Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State
Minnesota addressed a need at wide receiver with its initial pick in the first round. Now it makes the decision to go with an underrated cornerback to eventually take over for Antoine Winfield, who appears set to return to Minnesota after being released by the club earlier this month. Banks is as physical as they come and fits what Minnesota is attempting to build in the secondary.
26. Green Bay Packers D.J. Swearinger, Safety, South Carolina
Shocked? The more tape I watch on Swearinger the more I like him. While some experts solely believe that he can only play strong safety in the NFL due to a lack of range, I don't necessarily fall under that train of thought. While Swearinger is a natural ball hawk from the back end of the defense, his coverage skills are extremely underrated. A perfect fit next to Morgan Burnett in the Packers' secondary.
27. Houston Texans DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
"Nuke" just continues to impress. I have watched about seven total games of offensive snaps on this one prospect and couldn't be more excited about what he can bring to the table. As it is, Houston will be (and has been) looking for a star receiver opposite Andre Johnson. Hopkins fits that bill.
28. Denver Broncos Datone Jones, Defensive End, UCLA
The entire Elvis Dumervil situation, as embarrasing as it might have been for both him the the Broncos, could open up a hole for Denver to go out there and find a cheaper alternative in the form of Jones, who has a solid combination of speed and strength. He is a natural 4-3 defensive end and actually shows up darn well against the run.
29. New England Patriots Da’Rick Rogers, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Tech
Rogers has been the most impressive wide receiver I have scouted in quite some time. I absolutely love his skill set and believe he can be a true No. 1 wide receiver for Tom Brady and company. The "small-school product" is light on his feet, beats defenders to the spot down the field and is great sitting down in front of coverage. This doesn't even take into accout elite athletic ability and a great set of hands. If Rogers wasn't kicked off Tennessee's football team prior to the 2012 season, he would likely have been a top-10 pick.
30. Atlanta Falcons Cornellius Carradine, Defensive End, Florida State
A serious ACL injury in his final game at Florida State likely caused "Tank" to miss out on millions. While there seems to be solid reports out there that Carradine will be ready to go come opening day, it's still a red flag. All things equal, he is the most impressive defenside end in the entire draft on tape.
31. San Francisco 49ers Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame
Considering that all the first-round cornerback and safety prospects are off the board here, I have San Francisco going best player available. It can select upgrades at those positions with the 13 picks it has remaining in the draft. Heck, both Eric Reid and Matt Elam should be available at 34. Eifert would create ridiculous mismatches with Vernon Davis at tight end for San Francisco. Giving Colin Kaepernick the likes of Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham, Davis and Eifert, just wow!
32. Baltimore Ravens Keenen Allen, Wide Receiver, California
The Ravens could easily go linebacker here, but that position is stacked and it could pick up more value in the second or third round. Allen was the consensus No. 1 wide receiver in the draft as recent as January and provides a great target for Joe Flacco, who is going to miss Boldin a great deal. Value at a position of need next to Torrey Smith.