MDD Assistant Editor: Chad Pullen
With the Draft now less than a month away and free agency in full swing, the biggest needs of teams swing from moment to moment. Without predicting any trades that are sure to take place and trying to go off recent histories of previous draft tendencies, here is an updated look at what the first round of the draft might look like.
1. Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs have done well in free agency to address several needs, adding Joeckel allows them to protect Alex Smith as well as pave the way for Jamaal Charles.
2. Jaguars: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Jags could try and trade out for a team wanting Geno, or they could take him themselves, but I think they give Gabbert one last chance before moving on. Milliner might be a tad high here, but Jacksonville may feel he’s that much better than who they could choose from at the top of round 2.
3. Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Look for the Raiders to release Carson Palmer and move for Geno be it at 3, or having to trade up into the 1/2 slot to get him.
4. Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Natural fit with Chip Kelly taking a player he himself knows better than anyone in the NFL right now.
5. Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Lions could be in play for Milliner and could make a deal if they feel it’s needed, but if he’s off the board, no other corner is worthy of a top five selection and the Lions can add a franchise LT to keep their offense upright and try to land a corner at the top of round 2.
6. Browns: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Possible trade down candidate as they need skill players that are not at the top of round 1 on offense or they can add Jones to an emerging defense in a division that features tough D.
7. Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California
Once the first QB comes off the board, other teams start to get antsy and make moves to ensure they aren’t left empty handed. Barkley has risen and fallen from sure fire #1 pick, to the third round and back again. At the end of the day, he’s a talented QB with four years of college experience, that has to count for something somewhere.
8. Bills: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
Much like the 2011 draft that saw Ponder, Locker, and Gabbert all go within the top 12, this year’s class could be similar with teams reaching to grab their guy early. Manuel is an intriguing physical prospect who finds ways to make plays even if his game isn’t as polished as most top ten QB’s should be.
9. Jets: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
New York could be one of those teams that reaches quickly for a quarterback when things start moving, if they play it smart, they simply try to improve their Oline and protect all the QB’s they already have as well as help the run game improve. Lane Johnson could also be looked at here.
10. Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Tennessee needs to get their Oline in shape for one simple reason. Chris Johnson. With a solid Oline, Johnson has the speed to break away at any moment. With no help from his line, he’s rather pedestrian and the Titans offense gets sluggish. Warmack is a road grader that will help Johnson get into open spaces.
11. Chargers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
OT could be and maybe should be a priority here, but the Chargers are in need of corners as well and Rhodes figures to be the clear cut #2 this year.
12. Dolphins: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Completely against the grain and everything GM Jeff Ireland has ever done. This roster, this offseason with extra picks available in the mid rounds, Ireland can go for the homerun and add elite speed to an offense that has been adding elite speed recently. Suddenly, Tannehill would have every weapon he could ever ask for at his disposal with the electric Austin and some additional picks in the next two rounds. The future of this team is being built around Tannehill, it’s time to stock up on young offensive talent to give him the tools he’ll need to be successful over a long period, not just the 2013 season.
13. Buccaneers: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Tampa would love Rhodes to drop to them here having played at Florida State, but with San Diego snatching him up, they settle for Trufant who has the lineage of NFL corners in his blood with his brother Marcus having played in Seattle.
14. Panthers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Cam Newton needs weapons, and Steve Smith needs someone to help him while he still has a little time left in his career. Carolina certainly could use the pick on one of the DT’s but Patterson helps keep their franchise QB happy as well as compliment what Smith does rather well.
15. Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Natural fit for New Orleans taking someone from Louisiana, and someone to help bolster their defense which was downright terrible in 2012. Mingo can get after the QB and help mask the weak secondary currently employed by the Saints.
16. Rams: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
With two picks in the first round, the Rams have the ability to take a player on each side of the ball and Werner gives them another pass rusher to compliment Chris Long as well as last year’s second rounder Janoris Jenkins.
17. Steelers: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Steelers are undergoing a sort of a rebuilding project on their proud defense, and Minter would fit in perfectly from one hard-nosed defense to another. They could also go OT or DT as well this deep in the draft.
18. Cowboys: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Cowboys would be extremely lucky if Floyd made it this far down the first round, but with the run on QB’s early, some players have to drop slightly from where they should realistically go. Dallas finds excellent value and helps keep their front seven as strong as ever.
19. Giants: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Lane is someone that could end up in the top 12 come draft day, if he makes it this far, the Giants can afford to grab someone that will help keep Eli upright as well as react to both the Eagles and Cowboys selecting Dlineman with their first picks.
20. Bears: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Bears would probably prefer Johnson to drop to them here, but if they have to settle for Cooper, they’ll be just fine. Cooper is an athletic guard that can get out in front of blocks and push people around to give Matt Forte some space to run through.
21. Bengals: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
It would be a surprise for Lotulelei to actually fall this far down, if he does, the Bengals shouldn’t hesitate to pounce and insert him into the middle of their defense.
22. Rams: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Even after signing Jared Cook to a large contract, the Rams add Eifert and have the ability to play two tight ends in the same mold of the Patriots with Gronk and Hernandez. It also helps them create matchup issues against division foes in Seattle and San Francisco when they run a hurry up offense and can split Eifert or Cook out wide against base defenses.
23. Vikings: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
With the extra selection in round 1 after the Harvin trade, Minnesota may feel they have enough to grab an upgrade over Ponder here and not have to rush him into the lineup with another first round pick still to come who can play right away.
24. Colts: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Colts had an incredible draft on offense in 2012, now they will attempt to provide Luck with the help on defense that they never gave Peyton. Richardson immediately helps the middle of their defense and they’ll look to build around him throughout the draft.
25. Vikings: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
WR will need to be addressed at some point, but with a deep class the Vikings nab a playmaker on defense and look to add receiving help towards the mid rounds.
26. Packers: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Green Bay’s offense is in good hands even with the loss of Greg Jennings. The defense on the other hand needs all the help it can get, and it starts with someone who can rush the passer opposite Clay Mathews. Taking Jones hedges their bet with Nick Perry being taken last season. Either one of them helping take pressure off Mathews would be welcome in GB with the second one providing depth.
27. Texans: Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Texans have never complimented Andre Johnson with a running mate, now they will see to it by grabbing one of the most polished receivers in this class. Allen has good size, speed, and hands and should do well not having to face double teams early in his career while defense still contend with Johnson.
28. Broncos: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The Cowboys could take Vaccaro with their pick, or the Broncos could move up and grab the top safety with nightmares of a 70 yard pass costing them a shot at advancing in the playoffs just three months earlier still fresh in their memories.
29. Patriots: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
New England added a pass rusher last season in Chandler Jones, now they pair him with Okafor who they might feel is a bit more ready to play right now over Ansah. They may also take a long hard look at Sam Montgomery of LSU.
30. Falcons: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
With Tony Gonzalez coming back, the Falcons don’t have too many holes to be concerned about. A young TE or RB as insurance policies could be in the fold, if not, then Ansah gives them an added pass rusher that is still very raw and still learning the game who has great upside.
31. 49ers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The 49ers do not have very many holes to fill, yet they have a ton of draft picks to plug any leaks that they do find. Certainly a possibility to trade up and grab a player they like, but if they stay put, adding Banks to a secondary that did struggle a bit in the Super Bowl and will have to contend with upgrades to Seattle and St. Louis’s passing games makes sense.
32. Ravens: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
A natural fit after the departure of Ray Lewis, Manti’s stock may have dropped a bit but the Ravens are experts at finding values and they place premiums on their defensive unit. Te’o would be surrounded by top notch talent even with the losses of Lewis and Ed Reed and could lead the next generation of strong defensive minded Raven teams.