KCCD Editor: Elliot Dennis
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Up until the Alex Smith trade, I’ve been mocking Geno Smith here; however, with the Chiefs giving up a 2nd this year and a conditional 3rd next year, they’ve proven they’re committed to Smith for the long term. There’s a good chance they’ll draft a quarterback later in the draft but there’s no chance that they use the first overall pick on one.
And then the events of the past week happened. First the Chiefs franchise tagged Branden Albert so the assumption was they weren’t going to take an offensive lineman. Then they cut RT Eric Winston. Now offensive lineman is back in the fold. This pick will be used on any 6 players, Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Dee Milliner, Star Lotulelei, Sharrif Floyd, or Sheldon Richardson. But with the Chiefs going out and filling the defensive line and secondary holes via free agency, offensive lineman is the only pick that makes sense.
Joeckel was a big part of Johnny Manziel’s success this season. He started out a bit slow, but was came on very strong against LSU and was tremendous to close the season. He has the ability to be a dominant pass-protector for some team for a very long time. A lot of scouts grade him out higher than Matt Kalil graded out in last year’s draft.
The Chiefs take the safest player in this year’s draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Jags desperately need some pass rush help. Jordan is a physical freak and special talent that fits their defense perfectly. His stock has been on the rise as of late.
Jordan has played defensive end and linebacker during his time at Oregon. He is a great fit for both the 4-3 and 3-4 defense. He has 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, and a pass defensed this season. He is one of the rawest prospects in this draft, but the upside is evident.
The Jags lost Derek Cox and Terrance Knighton via free agency, so some defensive help is needed. Gus Bradley likes speed on his defense, Jordan fits that mold.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
I would make this pick a QB, but the Raiders are committed to Carson Palmer for the time being. So they get some much needed help on defense. Desmond Bryant and Richard Seymour have left in free agency, so there’s a huge void left at defensive tackle.
Floyd is a run-stopping force. He explodes off the line and has shown great power. He totaled 46 tackles, 13 for a loss, three sacks, and a forced fumble this year for the Gators. He’s a perfect fit for the Raiders 4-3 defense.
Floyd has a reasonable shot to be taken first overall, but he doesn’t really fit what the Chiefs do defensively. Oakland would love to take him here.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT/DE, Utah
With the release of Cullen Jenkins, the Eagles could use some defensive line help. They take the best one on the board.
Lotulelei is a prototypical prospect for a 4-3 defense but is versatile enough that he could work in a 3-4. He has been an absolute force the past couple seasons for the Utes. This season he totaled 42 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, and four passes broken up. He would anchor the Eagles defensive line for the next 10+ years.
Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart condition while at the combine, but was cleared of it shortly after. He worked out as expected at his pro day and cleared any questions scouts may have had. He’s another player that has the potential to go first overall.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
With the recent retirement of Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus leaving in free agency, the Lions are in desperate need of a tackle. Fisher is a remarkable talent that the Lions would love.
Fisher has been a great left tackle for the Chippewas the last two seasons. Fisher has great size at 6-foot-8, 305 pounds and has tremendous upside. He displays great technique and has really dominated the MAC with his play.
Fisher was completely dominant during Senior Bowl week and was great at the combine, so his stock has really risen up. There’s chatter that he could challenge Luke Joeckel as the 1st tackle taken in this draft.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Browns could use some corner help across from Joe Haden. Milliner would give them two top-flight cornerbacks.
Milliner is the best corner in this draft. He was dominant to open the 2012 season against Michigan and continued his great play throughout the season. He currently has 54 tackles, two interceptions, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and 20 passes defensed.
His big knock is that he’s not as physical and not as fast as a shutdown corner should be. He quieted his critics with a great showing at the combine running a 4.38 40 yard dash.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Cardinals have absolutely nothing at either tackle position. No matter what quarterback played for them, he didn’t have time to throw. Plus reports have said the Cardinals will not take a QB in round 1.
Johnson, the former juco QB and college tight end, spent the last two seasons as Oklahoma’s blindside protector. A month ago it would have been crazy to take Johnson this high, but Senior Bowl week and the combine really opened up some people’s eyes.
The 6-foot-7, 303-pounder is an exceptional athlete and looks like a future NFL left tackle.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Bills finally get a franchise QB. Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t been good since receiving a big contract from the team and was recently released. The Bills get a much-needed change at that position.
He didn’t compete at the Senior Bowl, but he impressed scouts at the combine. He ran the fastest 40 among quarterbacks, threw the ball well, and reportedly aced his interviews.
Smith was awesome this season. He completed 71 percent of his passes for 4,205 yards, 42 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. He started the year with monstrous performances but was cooled down against Texas Tech and Kansas State. He was just okay in the bowl game against Syracuse.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder has prototypical NFL size for quarterbacks. His skill-set is what you look for in a franchise QB. He makes good reads and shows great vision. He displays great accuracy, but his arm isn’t “elite” however, it is very good (but neither was Aaron Rodgers). Smith can also make plays with his feet. A big concern was the fact that he played in a “gimmick” offense at WVU, but he played in a pro-style attack his sophomore year and played very well.
9. New York Jets: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Jets are in desperate need of offensive help. Outside of Santonio Holmes, the Jets really don’t have much at the receiver position.
Patterson is an extremely explosive player that has just tapped into his potential. He finished 2012 with 46 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns.
With somebody of his size and ability, it’s just unfair.
10. Tennessee Titans: Ezekial Ansah, DE, BYU
The Titans need some pass rush help. Derrick Morgan hasn’t been great during his time in Tennessee, so the Titans could use an upgrade. Ansah is the top 4-3 DE available. The Titans weren’t able to pick up a pass rusher in free agency.
Ansah has great potential. Ansah is 6-foot-6, 270 and has a great combination of size and speed. He had 62 tackles, 13 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, nine passes broken up, a forced fumble, and an interception in 2012. He wasn’t spectacular during Senior Bowl practices, but absolutely dominated during the Senior Bowl.
Ansah has flown up draft boards similarly to Jason Pierre-Paul a couple of years ago.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Phillip Rivers has really regressed the past couple of seasons. One of the main reasons was his offensive line play got worse. Protecting Rivers will be key for the Chargers to succeed.
Louis Vasquez left in free agency, so he’ll have to be replaced. Warmack is the top guard in the draft.
Warmack is a special talent who has been phenomenal for the Tide the past couple of seasons. He is good in pass protection and is an absolute mauler in the running game. He had a dominant performance blocking against Manti Te’o and Notre Dame in the National Championship game. The Chargers get the best interior defensive lineman available.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Dolphins were big time spenders in free agency, but their secondary got worse with the loss of Sean Smith. A new cornerback is needed.
Rhodes is a physical corner that had a great showing at the combine. His stock has really risen and there’s a great chance he’ll be the 2nd corner taken in this year’s draft. He totaled 39 tackles, 2 for a loss, 3 interceptions, 10 passes defensed, and a forced fumble this year for the Seminoles.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Tampa ranked dead-last in pass defense last season and, with the Aqib Talib trade, cornerback is their biggest need. Along with that, Eric Wright has been a huge free agent bust.
There have been rumors of a Tampa trying to trade for Darrelle Revis, but nothing is official yet. They’ll reach for Trufant here.
Trufant has really risen up draft boards lately. He had a fantastic Senior Bowl week and wowed at the combine, running a blazing 4.31 40-yard dash. He also looked very fluid in drills. Trufant had a solid 2012 season. He totaled 36 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, a sack, an interception, nine passes defensed, and a forced fumble.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers have a huge hole at defensive tackle. It’s by far Carolina’s biggest need.
Richardson was a disruptive force for Mizzou this past season. He totaled 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, three passes broken up, and three forced fumbles this season. He has great athleticism and a non-stop motor that could make him a dominant force in the league for years.
Richardson could go much higher than this. He falls some due to teams filling other needs.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
The Saints just need to draft a good defensive player. The Saints defensive line was horrific this season. They couldn’t stop the run or generate a consistent pass rush. With the Saints rumored to start playing some 3-4 next year, this pick would make sense.
The Saints were interested in adding Paul Kruger before he went to the Browns. It’s clear they’re looking for a pass rushing linebacker.
Concerns about his spinal stenosis problem have dropped Jones down some draft boards, but with doctors recently clearing him of any problems, there’s a good chance he’ll go even higher than this. I have him as my #1 rated player in the draft.
Jones has been one of the best pass-rushers in all of college football the past two seasons. In 2011, he was tied for second in the nation in sacks with 13.5. In 2012 he has racked up 14.5 sacks, along with 85 tackles, 24.5 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, three passes broken up, and one interception.
Jones would be an ideal fit for the 3-4 defense at 6-foot-3, 241 pounds.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Rams have a need at wide receiver. Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson have left in free agency and Brian Quick is still a work in progress. The Rams need to fill the need with one of their first two picks.
Austin is the most explosive player in this draft. He has great speed that will stretch a defense. He had 112 catches for 1,280 yards and 12 touchdowns this season for the Mountaineers.
He displayed his impressive speed at the combine, running a 4.34 40-yard dash. He also impressed teams by having a fantastic pro day.
Continue to picks 17-32: