Updated April 25 – I don’t even know where I am anymore…
Rather than risking the No. 1 pick with a quarterback in Andy Reid’s first year, the Chiefs shored up the position by ditching Matt Cassel and signing Alex Smith.
Next order of business is locking down a franchise left tackle.
Last year’s starter Branden Albert was franchised, but refuses to play on the right side. He has made his way firmly onto the trading block.
Joeckel played all 37 games of his three years at College Station on the left side and he’s a technically sound and intelligent football player. Andy Reid has also shown a liking for his big guys in the trenches, so the 6’6″, 310-pound Joeckel fits the bill.
Jacksonville is in desperate need of upgrading their pass rush after recording just 20 sacks last season. Positioned to move to a different style of defense under new head coach Gus Bradley, the Jags need to fill the LEO position — a crucial instrument in the defensive orchestra.
Jordan fits the bill.
It starts with Jordan’s freakish size, blending well with natural athletic ability and coming together with his versatility. Although his pass rushing skills will need some work at the next level, make no mistake that Jordan can get after the quarterback. He’s also more valuable than other pass rushers in this draft because of his fluid ability to drop into coverage and track a ton of ground.
Jordan is one of my biggest draft crushes this year.
Check out my full scouting report on Jordan, here.
The Raiders were miserable in their pass rush last season, recording just 25 sacks. Targeting a pass rusher at this point seems to make the most sense and Oakland will have a good crop to choose from.
Although Shariff Floyd may not be the edge-rushing sack machine that most Raiders fans have in mind, he’d undoubtedly help the cause and easily take over for the departing Tommy Kelly ( who is owed $6.5 million in 2013 ).
Floyd is explosive and strong coming off the snap and he’s a versatile athlete that can move around the line based on package. I think he fits perfectly in Oakland with what the Raiders are doing.
That said, there are three left tackles in this year’s draft class with All-Pro potential and the Raiders can have their choice between two of them in Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson.
This organization doesn’t operate like it did five years ago.
Fisher is arguably the best left tackle prospect in this class and the Raiders should opt to keep new quarterback Matt Flynn upright for the entire season. Despite lesser competition in college, Fisher has all the tools to become an elite blind side blocker.
Previous Selection: Shariff Floyd ( DL / UF )
Tough pick for the Iggles, here.
Depending on what head coach Chip Kelly thinks he can land in the next round, we could see either Geno Smith or left tackle Lane Johnson. The team needs both.
Smith is the best quarterback in this class. He has shown impressive development over his college career, he’s very accurate, he can manipulate a pocket to extend plays and I truly believe that his leadership trait may be one of his most overlooked qualities.
Albeit a tough decision, the Eagles are in great shape at No. 4 and should have their pick between two potential Pro Bowlers at different positions of need.
Check out my full scouting report on Smith, here.
Previous Selection: Eric Fisher ( OT / CMU )
The Lions are in need of a left tackle following the retirement of Jeff Backus, and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson should be available here.
But while keeping Matthew Stafford upright is key, adding a weapon like Tavon Austin to go alongside Megatron would just be entirely too much fun for the Lions offense.
Hell, Stafford may be giddy enough to forget Backus ever left.
Previous Selection: Lane Johnson ( OT / Oklahoma )
In somewhat ( but not really ) of a surprise, new head coach Rob Chudzinski selects Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel.
Although adding Dee Milliner would make for a juicy pair in the secondary alongside former first-rounder Joe Haden, today’s game is about the quarterback.
And if you see your potential franchise quarterback staring you in the face at No. 6, you pull the trigger.
That is of course, unless you can trade back.
I’d look for the Browns to field plenty of calls from teams looking to move up, which in turn would give them a chance to gain some picks and still select their quarterback in the first round.
Chudzinski has publicly mentioned the similarities between Manuel and Cam Newton, and quarterback guy Norv Turner is the new offensive coordinator in Cleveland.
Check out my full scouting report on Manuel, here.
Although I still really like Ziggy Ansah here at No. 7, the Cardinals allowed a league-high 58 sacks last season and the offensive line is in dire need of attention.
The team made a move to bring in veteran Carson Palmer in order to temporarily shore up the quarterback position. But he’s not worth a dime if he’s on his back 58 times in a year.
In fact, Palmer wouldn’t make it through the season.
A bit raw in terms of a left tackle, Johnson has great athleticism, long arms and all the tools necessary to become a reliable blocker. He originally came to Oklahoma as a quarterback, then switched to tight end, then to defensive end and then to right tackle before serving as the team’s blindside blocker in 2012.
Previous Selection: Chance Warmack ( OG / ALA )
Sorry, Bills fans. This pick obviously isn’t as sexy as Ryan Nassib. But it fills a big need for the team.
Of course, given head coach Doug Marrone’s connection with Nassib and general manager Buddy Nix’s desire to draft a franchise signal-caller, the Syracuse quarterback has a good chance of hearing his name called at No. 8.
And I still believe Nassib ends up in Buffalo by the end of the second round.
Before that, though, the team needs to address the offensive line. They lost two guards during the offseason and new quarterback Kevin Kolb requires protection.
Chance Warmack is the best guard prospect in this draft, and arguably one of the top prospects overall.
The glaring need at quarterback goes without saying. But, since trading Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay and receiving an additional first-round pick in the process, the Jets are able to address multiple needs in a matter of minutes.
Alabama’s Dee Milliner is rated as the top cornerback in this class, and some scouts are calling him the top prospect overall by a “wide margin.”
If any of the former are true, the Jets land great value here and have yet another shutdown corner for the next several years.
The Titans could go with guard Jonathan Cooper here at No. 10 and it’d make a ton of sense.
But seeing as how the Titans were 24th against the run last season, upgrading the defensive line would also be wise and there’s the chance of netting huge value with Star Lotulelei.
Lotulelei has been cleared by a cardiologist and he remains, arguably, the top defensive linemen in this draft. He’s extremely versatile along the front line, he’s explosive off the line and he possesses an incredible combination of speed and strength.
After allowing 49 sacks last season, the Chargers looked to upgrade their offensive line via free agency.
Instead they signed King Dunlap.
A fun pick here could be safety Kenny Vaccaro, as he has all the makings of a next-gen player at his position. But the Bolts missed on Dee Milliner and now they need to get back to the basics of protecting their quarterback.
Some like Jonathan Cooper more than Chance Warmack because of his athleticism and versatility. While I wouldn’t go quite that far, Cooper is still deserving of a high pick and he’d fill a need ( because it still exists ) in San Diego.
Like so many others, the Dolphins have their heart set on addressing the offensive line. But with all top left tackles off the board, as well as guards, they’ll need to shift focus.
Assuming no trade for the Fins here, a pass rusher off the edge like Ziggy Ansah might be too good to pass up.
The team may be baited with a cornerback like Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant, but Ansah has one of the highest ceilings in this year’s draft.
Although Ansah is not a polished football player yet, the sky’s the limit. He has the speed, size and explosiveness to draw Jason Pierre-Paul comparisons.
Despite spending big money on Mike Wallace during free agency, I wouldn’t rule out wide receiver Tavon Austin here at No. 12.
Ryan Tannehill was drafted to be the franchise quarterback, so surrounding him with plenty of weapons is never a bad thing.
Previous Selection: Desmond Trufant ( CB / UW )
New York receives this pick from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for cornerback Darrelle Revis.
After addressing their need at corner at No. 9, the Jets are able to go after ( what I believe ) is their top-rated pass-rusher.
For me, I’m still concerned about Jarvis Jones’ spinal stenosis and how it could limit his career. But I don’t think Rex Ryan and the Jets are too concerned.
Not to mention, the Jets had only 30 sacks last season.
I also believe the Jets are after a playmaking tight end. But because I have the feeling right now that Rex won’t be able to turn down a defensive player with pass-rushing ability, I’m keeping Jones.
Just remember to keep an eye on Tyler Eifert around this spot.
I believe the Panthers take a long, hard look at Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro here at No. 14, but ultimately decide to address the defensive line instead.
Although I believe the Panthers will itch to pull the trigger on Vaccaro, they can certainly land a much needed safety in the following round. The safety position is deep and Sheldon Richardson is an insane physical speciman that could have some front office guys bangin’ the table.
Richardson has deceiving quickness and superb agility for a man his size, making him a fit at any position along the defensive front. His strength is still a work in progress, but NFL weight rooms should help improve that.
Don’t count out tight end Tyler Eifert at No. 14.
Last season, New Orleans ranked 32nd against the run and 31st against the pass. Dead last in overall defense.
The Saints are without a second-rounder in this draft as part of their punishment for Bounty Gate. If they choose to address their defensive pass rush — which they should — then doing so in the first round is a must.
This is the spot for Barkevious Mingo.
Mingo is a physical freak — demonstrating killer athleticism and ridiculous speed for a man his size. He also has great pursuit of the football and a motor that won’t quit.
I still have concerns regarding Mingo’s strength, weight and coverage ability, but he’ll fit in New Orleans.
Check out my full scouting report on Mingo, here.
If Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson is available, the Rams could pull the trigger and pair him with last year’s top pick Michael Brockers in the middle of the defensive line.
I also wouldn’t rule out Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.
The best pick, however, would be right tackle D.J. Fluker.
Although the Rams addressed their need at offensive tackle by signing Jake Long, Rodger Saffold has expressed his unwillingness to play on the right side. In that case, assuming Long wasn’t paid to be a right tackle, the team is going to need to find it’s other bookend.
Fluker is a powerful bulldozer that’s a perfect fit on the right side. He’ll have some work to do in pass protection, but he’s stout in the rushing attack and he’s an immediate contributor as a rookie.
Since losing Mike Wallace to free agency this offseason, a receiver like Cordarrelle Patterson could spark some interest.
Another guy to keep an eye on might be cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
But when it comes down to addressing the linebacker position, I think the Steelers go for a versatile inside guy like Arthur Brown.
Brown is strong, athletic and fluid in coverage. He fits the mold of a Pittsburgh player and the Steelers land themselves an every-down backer that can come in and play right away.
Check out my scouting report on Brown, here.
Previous Selection: Kevin Minter ( LB / LSU )
I’ve gone back and forth with this pick, finally falling on the Cowboys having their sights set on Kenny Vaccaro.
Assuming he’s available, he’d be my pick here at No. 18 and with tremendous value.
Vaccaro is my top-rated safety in this draft and I think he has the technique and style to match-up against the offenses of Washington and Philadelphia.
And remember, if the Cowboys don’t take Vaccaro here, the Giants could. That’s not a good look.
Corey Webster took a $3 million pay cut to stay in New York, but that doesn’t mean the Giants ignore the cornerback position.
In addition, the team will likely look to move forward with last year’s draft pick Jayron Hosley and it’ll be interesting to see how much confidence they have in Prince Amukamara’s durability.
The Giants address a position of need here, while also receiving good value. Rhodes is a cover corner with good size and physicality.
So long as the Giants trust Rhodes’ durability, he’s a valuable pick here.
The Bears allowed 44 sacks last season, so addressing the offensive line wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Shifting focus to the other side of the ball, the Bears have their sights set on the linebacker position. Despite free agency signings like D.J. Williams and James Anderson, the Bears need youth at the position.
Word on the street is that both the Bears and Vikings are in love with Manti Te’o, giving Chicago even more of a reason to take their inside linebacker at No. 20 — just two picks before division rival Minnesota.
Despite the hoopla surrounding Manti Te’o and his poor performance at both the National Championship and NFL Combine, his draft stock isn’t tarnished as much as you would think. Scouts still like a majority of his game tape and he’s reportedly killing it in interviews.
If Kenny Vaccaro is still around at this point, look for the Bengals to jump on him. I believe he’s atop their list.
After that, they may look to the linebacker position.
The Bengals re-signed Rey Maualuga this offseason, but he still can’t cover. Adding a guy like Alec Ogletree — who is one of the top athletes in this class — provides your defense with a potential long-term playmaker.
Ogletree has his flaws. He’s a bit leaner than you’d like in a linebacker, and he doesn’t play with good discipline.
In addition, he comes with a lot of off-the-field baggage.
But since when have the Bengals not looked past a few run-ins with the law?
If he can improve his technique and find a way to keep his head on straight, Ogletree can be a very productive linebacker with a superb skill set to defend against the new offenses of the NFL.
However, reverting back to the safety position, the Bengals snag arguably the top safety in this draft class by selecting Jonathan Cyprien — another one of my draft crushes this year.
Check out my full scouting report on Cyprien, here.
Previous Selection: Alec Ogletree ( LB / UGA )
The Rams receive this pick from Washington as part of the trade to acquire the No. 2-overall pick last year and they can choose to address a few different positions.
After the loss of Danny Amendola to free agency, the Rams need to continue to provide quarterback Sam Bradford with some offensive weapons.
Enter, Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson is a big-time athlete with an incredible frame for the wideout position. He has great YACability and tons of upside.
On the flip side, he carries decent bust potential as well.
The Rams may prefer a more NFL-ready wideout and choose a guy like Keenan Allen. But after watching a Patterson highlight tape, the Rams may not be able to pass on the potential.
DeAndre Hopkins may not be Percy Harvin, but the Vikings need to address the wideout position early in order to make up for Harvin’s departure ( traded to Seattle ).
Hopkins is somewhat under the radar when you hear so much about other receivers such as Patterson, Austin and Allen. But, in fact, Hopkins is one of the most well-rounded receivers in this class.
Despite not having elite speed, Hopkins plays with good football quickness and uses gears throughout his routes to effectively gain separation and break plays open. He’ll be a nice addition for whoever is throwing the ball in Minnesota.
UPDATE: The Colts are reportedly receiving a lot of calls from teams looking to trade.
The Colts are another team that would love to land a guy like Johnathan Cooper, but he’s long gone by now.
Instead, the team looks to add a player on defense that can immediately contribute and help improve a dismal passing defense from a year ago.
The Colts were active in free agency this year, landing two interior linemen on defense and adding a cornerback in Greg Toler. But I still see them addressing one of the two positions with their first round pick.
If they like Sylvester Williams enough and believe they can motivate him, he could be the pick.
If they’d rather bring along a corner and team him with Vontae Davis and the recently signed Toler, then Desmond Trufant is a nice pick.
For me, Trufant is right up there with Dee Milliner and Xavier Rhodes as the best corner in this class. He’s gritty, he possesses good natural instincts, he has a knack for the game and he’s a contributor in run support.
Minnesota receives this pick from Seattle by way of the Percy Harvin trade.
In return, the Vikings can address their other major need at interior defensive line.
And they like Sylvester Williams.
Williams has size, speed and explosiveness, but he needs a more consistent motor. If he can put it all together, and the Vikings can get max effort out of him, Williams is a long-term terror along the defensive line.
After watching Manti Te’o be swiped right out from under them by the Bears, the Vikings could also look at inside linebackers such as Kevin Minter and Alec Ogletree here at No. 25.
Florida State tackle Menelik Watson is a special athlete with incredible size and deceiving quickness. Although he isn’t a finished product, he’d be a great fit in Green Bay given his potential at either tackle spot and maybe even guard.
Watson will need some work at the next level, as he’s more athlete than football player right now. He’s raw, but possessing all the tools to succeed at the next level.
If it sounds like a slight reach, that’s probably because it is. Watson, though, has big potential.
Kind of a surprise pick here? Tyler Eifert.
What? No receiver mocked to the Texans?!
It would certainly make sense. Andre Johnson isn’t getting any younger and the team is in need of a No. 2 receiver. But there’s talent to be had in the second and third round with guys like Da’Rick Rogers, Markus Wheaton and Robert Woods.
With this pick, the Texans decide to grab another defensive bookend to pair with JJ Watt in order to wreak havoc for the next decade.
Current defensive end Antonio Smith is set to earn $6 million this season and he’ll turn 32 in October.
Enter, Datone Jones. The successor.
Jones is a mammoth, built like a rock and possessing all of the physical attributes a team would look for in a defensive end at the next level. He needs to work on his pass-rushing moves a bit, but Houston should love his quickness, versatility and the performance he put on at the Combine.
I really want to put Florida State’s Tank Carradine here to help fill the pass-rushing void created by way of Elvis Dumervil’s departure. But I think the Broncos have other plans.
Champ Bailey is back for another season and the Broncos went out and signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. That’s still not the long-term plan for the Broncos secondary.
Denver’s next lockdown corner is Jamar Taylor.
Taylor was initially seen as a Day 2 prospect, but his stock is rising. And deservedly so.
Taylor has a good frame, he’s tough, he brings great closing speed and he doesn’t shy away from any play. The only thing holding back Taylor from being regarded as one of the top corners is the Boise State program and the criticism they receive for strength of opponents.
John Elway and the Broncos front office sees through that.
After losing Wes Welker to free agency, the Pats got some decent compensation in Danny Amendola. But their need at wide receiver is still there.
To me, Keenan Allen is the most complete wide receiver in this class. At 6’2, 206 pounds, Allen is a solid wideout with good body control, awesome hands, a high football IQ and underrated speed.
But since when has Bill Belichick been predictable?
Although the safest best is probably to mock a trade here for the Patriots, I’ll count on Belichick keeping the pick and drafting a receiver he appears to like a lot in Robert Woods.
Like Allen, Woods is a safe wide receiver prospect. Although he doesn’t bring any glitz or flash, he’s perfect for what the Patriots do in New England and he’d be an immediate contributor.
UPDATE: The Falcons are reported to be one of the teams desperately attempting to move up.
It wasn’t that long ago that most mocks had FSU’s Bjoern Werner as one of the top defensive ends in this year’s class.
In fact, Werner wasn’t even the best defensive end prospect on his Seminoles team.
That credit would instead go to Tank Carradine.
Carradine is a beast of a man with incredible strength and explosiveness. If not for an ACL tear that ended his season early last year, I think we’d be talking about him as a top-10 pick.
And the best part about Tank: He’s not finished developing.
If safety Jonathan Cyprien is hanging around here at No. 31, I think the Niners bite. Despite signing Nnamdi Asomugha and retaining Carlos Rogers, the secondary can afford to be addressed following the departure of Dashon Goldson.
Assuming Cyprien is gone and the team is confident in moving to land LSU’s Eric Reid in the second round, the Niners will continue to bolster their offense at No. 31 by way of tight end Tyler Eifert.
In a game that relies on match-ups, Eifert would cause fits for opposing defenses alongside Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and, hopefully, eventually, A.J. Jenkins.
We’ve all seen how double tight end sets can be used to wreak havoc, and Davis already has the ability to split out wide. Head coach Jim Harbaugh should love this guy and what he can bring to the offense.
And remember, the Niners have more than a dozen picks in this draft. They can address every area of need on their team…twice.
After flipping and flopping over this pick for months, I’ve ultimately landed on one of my favorite prospects in this draft.
The Ravens went out and signed linebacker Rolando McClain in hopes the talented young man could clean up his act and become a reliable football player.
On Sunday, April 21, McClain was arrested, yet again, in his hometown of Decatur, Georgia.
Kevin Minter fits beautifully in Baltimore. He’s aggressive and hard-nosed, playing downhill and demonstrating the ability to lay the wood. Yet, at the same time, Minter is fluid dropping into coverage and getting from sideline to sideline.
Check out my full scouting report on Minter, here.