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 Alex 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 month 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.
John Dorsey recently came out and said he has the list for the first pick narrowed down to four players. I believe those four players are Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Dion Jordan, and Sharrif Floyd. There have been reports that the Chiefs are leaning towards taking Jordan with the first pick; however, offensive line is a higher need than rush linebacker due to the Chiefs having two elite outside linebackers (Tamba Hali and Justin Houston). So I believe they’ll go with an offensive lineman and Joeckel is slightly better than Fisher, so I believe he’ll be the pick.
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.
There’s been talk that the Jags might target Geno Smith, but I don’t think that’s the case. There’s a great chance a team like Buffalo or New York trades up here to select Geno.
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 had Geno Smith here last week, but the Raiders traded for Matt Flynn last week. There’s still a chance the Raiders could draft Smith, but defensive line is a bigger need for now. 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: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
I’ve had EJ Manuel going to the Eagles in the second round now for quite some time, but they’ve been showing a lot of interest in Geno Smith recently. He’s a much better option than Mike Vick and Nick Foles anyhow.
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. He also had a great showing at his pro day.
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.
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 need to find a starting corner 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 they just traded for Carson Palmer, so they’ll have him start next year.
Johnson, the former juco QB and college tight end, spent the last two seasons as Oklahoma’s blindside protector. A couple months 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: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
With the top QB off the board and no others worth a high first round pick, the Bills will look towards selecting a receiver. They have Steve Johnson but aside from him they don’t have much. This pick helps that.
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. He’s skyrocketed up draft boards this offseason.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The Jets need pass rush help in the worst way. Ziggy is a great fit to play outside linebacker for their 3-4 defense.
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.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Titans need help everywhere on their defense. Star is the best defender on the board and would improve the Titans interior defensive line.
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 Buccaneers 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.
11. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Offensive tackle is the Chargers biggest need followed by guard. Well the top three available tackles are off the board here, so they’ll go with a dominant guard.
Cooper taken before Warmack? Crazy right? Not so much. Cooper is a much better fit for the Chargers zone-blocking scheme while Warmack would be best suited for a power scheme. Guards normally don’t go this high, but the Chargers are desperate.
Cooper had a great season blocking for the Tarheels. He helped RB Giovanni Bernard have a breakout season. He has a good build at 6-foot-3, 295 pounds and has really rounded his game this season. He is a great run blocker and is very good in the passing game. The Rams would be ecstatic if Cooper falls to them.
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. They have a big need at offensive tackle as well, but they only way they can land one of the top three tackles is by trading up into the top seven.
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: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Bucs have a ton of needs on the defensive side of the football but I have no doubts they’ll try and target a tight end early in the 2013 draft. Dallas Clark is up there in age and is no longer the player he used to be and Luke Stocker has been a bust thus far.
Eifert has a great frame for a tight end at 6-foot-6, 249 pounds. He’s a natural receiver who runs great routes and his hands are terrific. He has only totaled 50 receptions for 685 yards and 4 touchdowns this season. But to his credit, Notre Dame’s QB play has been very inconsistent this season. He’s also a better blocker than people give him credit for.
He was great at the combine and solidified his standing as the best tight end available.
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, 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. Also, they just signed Victor Butler, but even with that signing they still have a need 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: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Rams finally get some protection for Sam Bradford. The Rams offensive line has been poor all season and during Sam Bradford’s tenure with the team. The Rams signed Jake Long this offseason, so by drafting Warmack the Rams offensive line is set.
Warmack could easily go a lot higher, but guards just don’t go that high. David DeCastro was supposed to go top 15 in last year’s draft but he fell all the way to the Steelers at 24. I would not be shocked if he fell to the Rams here.
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 Rams get the best interior defensive lineman available.
Continue to picks 17-32: