1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs cleared a spot along their offensive line when they released steady veteran Eric Winston back in March. With Branden Albert’s future up in the air, Kansas City could stick Joeckel at right tackle with the idea of moving him to the left side once Albert moves on. Or, if Albert winds up signing a long-term deal, he and Joeckel would make nice bookends along the Chiefs’ offensive line for years to come.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Jaguars need pass rushers, so Florida’s Sharrif Floyd and Oregon’s Dion Jordan are logical choices at this spot. But they also have a new head coach in Gus Bradley and a new GM in David Caldwell, neither of whom drafted former top-10 pick Blaine Gabbert. The Jags could allow Gabbert and Chad Henne to battle in 2013 and then re-evaluate the quarterback position heading into 2014. But chances are Bradley and Caldwell will look to put their stamp on things by handpicking their franchise signal-caller with this pick.
3. Miami Dolphins: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan (Projected trade with Raiders)
After signing Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler to lucrative free-agent deals in March, why wouldn’t Jeff Ireland continue his aggressive approach on draft night? The Raiders are a logical trade partner because of how few selections they have following Hue Jackson’s brutal acquisition of Carson Palmer two years ago. So, Oakland moves down and stockpiles more picks, and Miami uses this selection to replace the departed Jake Long. Fisher can start on the left side while Jonathan Martin stays at right tackle (his more natural position).
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd is widely viewed as a three-technique defensive tackle, which would make him a poor fit for Philadelphia’s new 3-4 front. But the Eagles did a nice job filling holes in free agency, so they’re in position to take the best player available at No. 4, which would be Floyd (at least in this mock). Plus, just because the Eagles will run a 3-4 doesn’t mean they won’t use one-gap principles along their defensive line. While lining up opposite 2012 first-round pick Fletcher Cox, Floyd could be a terror if Philadelphia plays to his strengths. If Floyd is off the board, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Dion Jordan and Star Lotulelei are fits as well.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Martin Mayhew unsuccessfully tried to trade up to obtain Patrick Peterson two years ago and Stephon Gilmore last year, so he could nab Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with this pick. But the Lions lost Cliff Avril in free agency and released Kyle Vanden Bosch in early February. Thus, look for Mayhew to address the team’s need for pass rushers and wait until the middle rounds to take a corner or an offensive tackle. (Along with Milliner, Eric Fisher would also be a fit at this spot.)
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Browns showed interest in free agent Brent Grimes before the veteran corner signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins. The Browns could potentially trade back and still fill their need at corner, but why not take the best defensive back in this year’s draft?
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Bruce Arians has thrown his support behind his offensive line since becoming the team’s newest head coach, but the bottom line is that the Cardinals had the league’s worst offensive tackle combination last season. Johnson will need to refine his technique, but he has plenty of upside and addresses a pressing need for Arizona.
8. Buffalo Bills: Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon
There’s a chance that Jordan won’t fall to this pick, but in this mock he’s available and is a fit for the new-look Bills. Jordan can play with his hand in the dirt or stand up and rush the passer as an outside linebacker after playing “drop end” at Oregon. His versatility would be a welcome sign for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who plans on utilizing hybrid fronts next season.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
If the season were to start today, Rex Ryan’s edge rushers would be Garrett McIntyre and Antwan Barnes. So while receiver, running back and quarterback are all needs for the Jets, they can’t head into next season without addressing their need for pass rushers. And while there are concerns about whether or not he’ll be able to hold up versus the run because of his svelte frame, Mingo is an athletic freak with untapped potential.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The consensus is that the Titans will select a guard at this spot, which makes sense given their need at right guard. But the middle of Tennessee’s defensive line hasn’t been a strength since Albert Haynesworth departed for Washington in 2009, and Lotulelei is versatile enough to play multiple positions. Tennessee added three versatile defensive linemen this offseason, including Ropati Pitoitua, Moise Fokou and Sammie Hill. The Titans’ base is a 4-3, but they could use more 3-4 elements next season, making Lotulelei a nice fit.
11. San Diego Chargers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Chargers need help along their offensive line, so tackle and guard both make sense at this spot. But guards are always overvalued by draft pundits, so with the top offensive tackles off the board, San Diego could turn its attention to another pressing need. The combination of Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason allowed more touchdowns (13) than it had passes defended (12). Rhodes is regarded as the best press-man corner in the draft and with Jammer (FA) and Cason (Arizona) both gone, the Florida State product fills a major need.
12. Oakland Raiders: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (Projected trade with Miami)
The Raiders could stay pat at No. 3 and take Sharrif Floyd, but if they do trade back, then Werner or Mizzou product Sheldon Richardson are fits. Oakland needs pass rushers, period. Whether they come in the form of defensive tackles or defensive ends, this team needs to add players that can get after the passer. Werner takes running plays off and avoids contact, but his upside as a pass rusher is unquestioned.
13. New York Jets: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama (Projected trade with Bucs)
The Bucs appear to be on the verge of acquiring cornerback Darrelle Revis, so let’s have some fun and assume that the Jets acquire this pick. After addressing their need at outside linebacker by selecting Mingo with the ninth overall pick, New York could focus on offense with the selection of Lacy. The Jets did sign Mike Goodson in free agency, and maybe they view him as a capable starter. But this team had its most success in 2009 and 2010 when the running game was firing on all cylinders. A combination of Goodson and Lacy could be tempting for Rex Ryan and new GM Mike Idzik.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers have a need at defensive tackle and Richardson is the best interior lineman left on the board. He could be a terror as a three-technique defensive tackle, which is something Carolina sorely needs.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jones is hard to project because you don’t know how many teams have flagged him as a medical risk. (He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2009.) But the condition didn’t hinder him in 2012 and despite his poor showing at his Pro Day in March, Jones stands out on film. The Saints need to give Rob Ryan more edge rushers and the versatile Jones could be used in a multitude of ways.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Rams have holes at safety, running back, outside linebacker and guard, but adding offensive playmakers has to be a priority. After signing tight end Jared Cook in free agency, Austin could provide Brian Schottenheimer and the Rams with another mismatch in the slot. Plus, he fills an immediate need as a returner.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Steelers could go in a variety of directions here, including pass rusher, guard or safety. But after losing Mike Wallace to the Dolphins via free agency, they need to find another weapon to go along with Antonio Brown in their passing attack. Heath Miller blew out his knee in Week 16 last year, tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL in the process. With the 30-year-old due over $5 million in 2013 and $6 million next season, the Steelers could address an immediate and future need with the selection of Eifert (who can attack the seam as well as line up on the outside and challenge cornerbacks with his size and athleticism).
18. Dallas Cowboys: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Safety was the Cowboys’ biggest need heading into free agency and unless they feel confident in Will Allen holding down the position opposite Barry Church, then Vaccaro makes a lot of sense at this spot. Jerry Jones handed Church a four-year, $12.4 million extension even after he tore his Achilles tendon last year, so it’s probably safety assume that he’ll hold down one safety spot. Vaccaro has to become a better tackler at the next level, but his athleticism and physicality allows him to play centerfield, down in the box, or even in the slot against receivers and tight ends. He did it all at Texas.
19. New York Giants: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Is there a general manager in the league who values defensive ends more than Jerry Reese? With Osi Umenyiora now in Atlanta and Justin Tuck slowing down, Jones gives the Giants youth and upside at their most coveted position. He has an aggressive style of play and often wins off the edge with strength and power. He’s also versatile enough to play inside in obvious passing situations.
20. Chicago Bears: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
There’s a chance that Warmack won’t fall this far, but then again, nobody thought David DeCastro would drop out of the top 15 last year and he fell to the Steelers at No. 24 overall. Simply put, guards rarely go as high as everyone thinks they will. Phil Emery is currently paying for past mistakes made by former Chicago GM Jerry Angelo, who missed on former first-round busts Chris Williams and Gabe Carimi. Warmack would offer an instant upgrade over Lance Louis at right guard.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
Ogletree is listed as an inside linebacker, but he could play outside in a 4-3 thanks to his athleticism. (He’s a former safety with 4.70 speed.) Mike Zimmer likes his SAM to be able to rush the passer and Ogletree could be a potential playmaker in that role. He’s also a knucklehead off the field, which makes him a perfect fit for Cincinnati.
22. St. Louis Rams: Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Rams could take running back Eddie Lacy or even a linebacker such as Jarvis Jones or Alec Ogletree if they fall, but they have a pressing need at safety and Elam could be a perfect fit for Jeff Fisher’s defensive scheme. Fisher likes safeties that can tackle and Elam is better in this regard than Kenny Vaccaro, who failed to wrap up on a consistent basis at Texas. Elam could also be the centerfielder that the Rams desperately need. (Again, though, don’t rule out the possibility that the Rams take Lacy, Ogletree or Jonathan Cooper at this spot and address their safety need later in the draft.)
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings did well to sign Greg Jennings in free agency, but they still have a need at receiver following the trade of Percy Harvin to Seattle. Patterson is raw and will need to refine his route-running ability, but he’s also explosive with the ball in his hands. If OC Bill Musgrave is creative, he’ll design ways to get Patterson the ball while he learns the nuances of becoming an NFL receiver.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The Colts addressed a lot of their defensive needs in free agency, so turning their attention to their offensive line is logical. While they did sign Donald Thomas in free agency, Indy could out-draft Mike McGlynn with the selection of Cooper, who has a chance to be selected ahead of Alabama’s Chance Warmack.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Te’o could easily slip into the second round because the middle linebacker position just doesn’t hold as much value as it did 10 years ago. It’s a pass-happy league and teams will continue to avoid paying two-down linebackers big money, as well as drafting them high in the first round. But at 23, the Vikings could fill a need with Te’o, who was one of the best defenders in the nation last year despite his lousy performance in the national title game. He could start Week 1 and represents an upgrade over current MLB Marvin Mitchell.
26: Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC (Projected trade with Packers)
Ryan Nassib has been widely connected with the Bills due to his connection with Doug Marrone at Syracuse. But how often does the seemingly perfect fit not happen (outside of maybe Ryan Tannehill’s reunion with Mike Sherman last year in Miami)? The fact is that Barkley is a better prospect than Nassib and the Bills need a franchise signal-caller to develop under Kevin Kolb (who is just a stopgap). Barkley has experience running a pro-style offense and while his arm strength has come into question, he displays good accuracy and touch on the short-to-intermediate passing game.
(If the Packers sit and pick at this spot, offensive line, defensive tackle and running back make sense.)
27. Houston Texans: Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Texans desperately need a weapon opposite Andre Johnson, which was evident during their postseason run last year. Woods played in a pro-style offense and has more speed than Cal product Keenan Allen. That said, Allen, Justin Hunter and DeAndre Hopkins are all possibilities as well.
28. Denver Broncos: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Broncos might wind up signing a veteran free agent like Dwight Freeney or John Abraham to address their need at defensive end, but even then they still need a long-term replacement for Elvis Dumervil. Moore doesn’t display much explosiveness off the edge, and he’s admitted to having a poor work ethic off the field. But put him in a winning NFL environment with veterans like Champ Bailey and Von Miller and Moore should realize his potential.
29. San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama (Projected Trade with Patriots)
After missing out on one of the top offensive tackles at No. 11, the Chargers could trade back into the first round and nab Fluker at this spot. (Bill Belichick is always moving picks, so New England makes for a logical trade partner.) Fluker could start as a rookie and in the process, the Chargers could save $2.3 million in cap space by releasing Jeromey Clary.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB, Mississippi State
Plenty of mocks have the Falcons selecting a defensive end at this spot, which makes sense given their need for pass rushers. But they signed Osi Umenyiora in free agency and remain high on undersized pass rusher Kroy Biermann. They also seem to like former mid/late-round picks Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews as well. Thus, the bigger need is at corner following the release of Dunta Robinson. Trufant might be off the board at this spot, but if he’s still available, he has the speed, agility and quickness to be a starter from Day 1. He just needs to be more physical, both in coverage and when defending the run.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
When Justin Smith tore his triceps in a late-season game against the Patriots last year, the 49ers’ secondary fell apart. But instead of investing a high draft pick in a cornerback, GM Trent Baalke once again went the bargain-bin route by signing Nnamdi Asomugha to a cheap one-year deal. (Baalke made a similar move a couple of years ago when he signed Carlos Rogers off the scrap heap in early August.) It makes sense that the Niners continue to focus on their front seven, and the versatile Hunt would be a nice fit at this spot.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Ozzie Newsome signed Michael Huff in free agency, but the addition of Cyprien could make the Ravens’ safeties interchangeable. They need to find a replacement for Ed Reed and while the safety position is deep in this year’s draft, Baltimore can’t wait to land one seeing as how its picking at the bottom of each round. A linebacker such as Manti Te’o or Kevin Minter also makes sense.