(Is Sharrif the One for the Chiefs? credit: USA Today)
KCCD Editor: Jinx Allessio
The biggest splash of the NFL pre-season occurred when the Chiefs traded their 2013 second-round pick and a conditional 2014 draft pick for 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. The trade cannot become official until the league year starts, so any projections for the Chiefs are pure speculation. The Chiefs are not the only team dealing with a lot of movement from now until the new league year, and eventually the draft. This mock draft projects which free agents are likely to be retained when evaluating team needs. Clearly, we are dealing with many hypotheticals, and nothing is set in stone, so predicting the draft is very difficult at this time. Yet this makes it all the more intriguing. What occurs from now until the draft will cause many changes in everyone’s mock drafts. So let’s get to it.
At this point, I am not going to take into account any trades. However, many are likely to occur and could affect where a prospect is drafted.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida
The Chiefs made the biggest splash of the offseason by acquiring Alex Smith. I am assuming they retain Branden Albert and Dwayne Bowe in some capacity. They will not only have a need for one 5 technique/sub package DT but may have two needs there if they end up letting Tyson Jackson go. Floyd is a dangerous man, as he can set multiple gaps and penetrate. Not many defensive tackles can occupy and split. His hands are some of the most violent in the draft. Adding him to the 30 front and pairing him with Dontari Poe in the subpackage will free a lot of space for the linebackers, as well. He brings most value and
versatility to the team from day one.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, LSU
The “Leo” position is one of the most pivotal positions in a Gus Bradley-designed defense. Mingo is one of the most explosive players in the draft and solidifies that position for years to come. Mingo had some inconsistencies on tape in 2012, but you must take into consideration what he was asked to do. He was asked to contain more than he ever had to before. Mingo is a go-forward, wreak-havoc type of player. He fits perfectly for the Jaguars and Gus Bradley’s scheme.
3. Oakland Raiders
Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia
The Raiders’ new regime has a lot of work—from the team’s talent to its salary cap situation—to do all over the roster. They could look at defensive tackle or pass-rusher. If Carson Palmer does not restructure his contract, he could be cut, and Oakland would then need a new face of the franchise. Smith provides stability to the franchise, and he is perhaps the only legitimate franchise quarterback in this draft.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Jason Peters is a question mark moving forward, and not just because of his age. The injuries that have nagged him for years and finally came to surface when he ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2012. He is due quite a bit of money in 2013, so they Eagles may be forced to keep him. If they do, a defensive tackle or a pass rusher could be the pick here. The Eagles take a different route and go with the best available player on their boards in the offensive tackle Joeckel. This move gives the Eagles flexibility along the offensive line in year one under Chip Kelly knowing that whoever the quarterback is long-term, they have their franchise left tackle.
5. Detroit Lions
Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama
This is one of the easiest picks in the draft. Milliner is a top-five talent who fills one of the greatest needs for the Lions. A well-educated player on the field, Milliner possesses superior athleticism and agility and gives the Lions a potential shutdown cornerback. Detroit could also look at the best available pass-rusher but Milliner’s value here is to great to pass up.
6. Cleveland Browns
Dion Jordan, Outside Linebacker, Oregon
The Browns’ defense is transitioning to a 30 front, but the needs along that front are not that pressing, and neither are those on the back end. The Browns need someone to attack the line of scrimmage and add versatility to the defense. Jordan is an exceptional athlete that can be a player offenses have to adjust their game plan for. He will change how offenses attack the different levels of the defense. Jordan can attack the line of scrimmage and can drop back in coverage. The Oregon star can immediately become one of the most effective 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan
The Arizona quarterback position has been a revolving door since Kurt Warner retired. However, there is not a franchise quarterback available, so the Cardinals address the next most urgent position—left tackle. Fisher brings a strong skillset and is fundamentally-sound with above-average athleticism. My favorite aspect of Fisher’s game is his nastiness. He can immediately change the ”patty-cake” perception that the Cardinals have.
8. Buffalo Bills
Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia
The Bills brought in Mike Pettine to revamp the defense, and they will be moving a 3-4 defense in 2013. The Bills have the $100 million man in Mario Williams, who will provide a consistent pass rush. The team’s pieces along its defensive line should form a strong front. The back end has some holes, and the team could use some more offensive weapons. The Bills could look at wide receiver or cornerback, but they address the need for a vicious pass-rusher opposite Williams by selecting Georgia’s Jarvis Jones. That combo could be the most lethal 3-4 outside linebacker duo in the NFL.
9. New York Jets
Ziggy Ansah, Outside Linebacker, BYU
The Rex Ryan Era in New York has been defined, on the football field, by a great defense. Has that defense ever had a pass-rusher whocould, year in, year out, put up double-digit sacks? I don’t think so. The upside of Ziggy Ansah is simply too hard to pass up. He gives Ryan an element to his defense that has not been seen before. The AFC East runs through New England and if the Jets can’t outscore the Patriots, they better out-punch them. Getting in Tom Brady’s face will only help that cause.
10. Tennessee Titans
Chance Warmack, Offensive Guard, Alabama
The best player available is easily Chance Warmack. Guard is one of Tennessee’s biggest needs, making this a pretty easy pick. They could stand to address all levels of the defense, but no one offers nearly the same value Warmack does.
11. San Diego Chargers
Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma
The Chargers need consistency on offense and defense. The previous coaching staff was often in disarray and lacked any identity. Phillip Rivers is not going anywhere anytime soon, and he needs to be kept upright. The Jared Gaither experiment did not work out, so the Charges grab my personal favorite offensive tackle prospect, Lane Johnson. A clean prospect who has elite athleticism, Johnson possesses solid technique that doesn’t need much work. He can come in and protect River’s blindside right away.
12. Miami Dolphins
Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, FSU
I presume the Dolphins get a big name wideout via free agency and retain Hartline, so grabbing a wide receiver this early isn’t necessary. I do not see the Dolphins re-signing Sean Smith, for better or worse. Cornerback is the biggest need and Xavier Rhodes fits the bill. A physical corner that can be a field/boundary type, Rhodes provides the Dolphins an immediate upgrade. The Florida State star is a good athlete who has fluid hip movements but sometimes falls victim to turning late. Th is more of a mental issue than a physical one. Once he learns the game and the subtle nuances of what offenses are looking to do, he can develop into a lock-down cornerback.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah
Another easy pick. Star Lotulelei is the best available prospect and fills a huge need. Roy Miller is most likely leaving in free agency. Lotulelei brings a physical presence to the interior of the Bucs’ defense. He embodies many characteristics of his head coach, as he shows great discipline and intensity on the field. This pick is as close to a no-brainer as there can be. Lotulelei could end up going in the top 10, but the pass-rush prospects that were picked early make him slide.
14. Carolina Panthers
Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri
The Panthers have several needs along the roster, including a true No. 1 wide receiver to take over once Steve Smith finally departs. They need some help in the secondary, yet the biggest need is at defensive tackle. Sheldon Richardson may be the most versatile defensive player in the draft. He may not be stout enough to occupy two linemen on a regular basis, but he has rare lateral ability for such a big man. He rarely gets locked up and engulfed by one offensive lineman. Richardson can penetrate and disrupt the pocket with ease. The Missouri star is the most disruptive 3-technique and would be a great pick for the Panthers.
15. New Orleans Saints
Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington
New Orleans is another defense transitioning to a 3-4. They have needs along all three levels, yet theire is not an elite, game-changing pass-rusher available. They take the best corner available in Trufant. The Saints could go in so many directions on defense, but the meteoric rise of Trufant makes him a valuable pick. Trufant is a legitimate top-20 talent in this draft.
16. St. Louis Rams
Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas
The Rams have many needs, but since Jeff Fisher’s arrival they have become more competitive. Simply being competitive in the division is not enough for the Rams. St. Louis needs a No. 1 weapon for Sam Bradford, and Cordarrelle Patterson is definitely an option here. Kenny Vaccaro, though, is one of the best all-around safeties that I have watched in the last five years. Adding him to that secondary will make the entire defense better. The Texas product can play centerfield or in the box and has excelled covering receivers in the slot. He is a dynamic player whom the Rams have no choice but to take.