I know the Final Four and baseball’s opening day are right around the corner, but I wanted to take this week’s blog and give you my projections on the first round of this year’s NFL draft. I will be doing another one right before the draft, but this is as good a time as any to look at who your team may take because the scouting combine just ended. There are two ways to look at this draft; the negative is there are no real big superstars in this draft (see RG3 and Andrew Luck last year); the positive is you can get value at almost every level of this draft. It is EXTREALY deep in defensive lineman this year. Well enough talk let’s get into the meat.
1 OT Luke Joeckel; Texas A&M; Jr.;6-6; 306 lbs – With Alex Smith in the fold, protecting him becomes their first priority. Joeckel fits the mold of an All Pro tackle for the next 10 years. He has great feet, long arms and is a solid pass blocker. He can be a road grader in run game for you as well. As of now, no scouts can find any weakness in his game.
2 CB Dee Millinr; Alabama; Jr.;6-0; 201lbs – His 40 time (4.37) makes him a top five pick. The Jags need help everywhere, so you have to take the best player on the board. (I wish somehow he would fall to my Bucs)
3 DT Sharrif Floyd; Florida; Jr;.6-3; 297lbs – Very Sapp-like. The Raiders were HORRIBLE against the run last year and need a solid push up front. Floyd looks to be the best of a very deep Defensive line draft.
4 OT Eric Fisher Central; Michigan; Sr.;6-7; 306lbs –The Eagles need help all across the offensive line. Chip Kelly’s fast break offense is going to need to protect the QB and open holes for McCoy in order to have any success.
5 G Chance Warmack; Alabama; Sr.;6-2; 317lbs – I know taking a Guard this high is rare, but Warmack is THAT GOOD. He has “All Pro for years to come”, written all over him. Plus he fits a need; Raiola cannot play forever and they need to do everything they can to keep Stafford upright.
6 DE Bjoern Werner; Florida State; Jr.; 6-3; 266lbs – They have a solid secondary and added Ray Horton as Defensive Coordinator. If they can create more pass rush they could be a top five defense. If you are going to run a 4-3 defense, take the best pure pass rushing DE in the draft.
7 WR Cordarrelle Patterson; Tennessee; Jr.; 6-2; 216lbs – Some would say the Cardinals should pick a QB here, especially since they lost out on Alex Smith, but if Cobb’s performance can come close to matching what they paid for him, then balance it out by giving Fitzgerald some help on the other side. Now I am not convinced this guy is a #1 receiver (thus the question is do you take him this high), but since their need is so great this could be a solid pick.
8 OLB Jarvis Jones; Georgia; Jr.; 6-2; 245lbs – Again you would think QB might be in play here, but Jones is an absolute steal for any team running a 3 – 4 defense. His talent says he should be the first pick in the draft, and he fits the Bills’ need for a pass rushing outside linebacker to go on the other side of Mario Williams.
9 QB Geno Smith; West Virginia; Sr.; 6-2; 218lbs –You have to address your weakest position, and for the Jets it is CLEARLY QB. Now I am not saying Smith will be a superstar but ANYONE would be better than Mark Sanchez (I guess expect for Tebow).
10 OLB Dion Jordan; Oregon; Sr.;6-6; 248lbs – The Titans need to get some speed on Defense so they should add someone with some athleticism to run sideline to sideline and make some plays for them. Jordan fits that bill to a “T” and I think will be a solid pick for them.
11 DT Star Lotulelei; Utah; Sr.; 6-3; 320lbs – If I am right, the Chargers are a lucky team. This guy is an absolute stud tackle. He was the best run stuffer in college, and will get in a Quarterback’s face. He has a very high motor and your only concern is that he tested for an irregular heartbeat at the combine. If that is not a factor and he gets the ok from the doctors he will be the next Haloti Ngata.
12 OT Lane Johnson; Oklahoma; Jr.; 6-6; 303lbs – This pick is based on the fact that I think the Dolphins are going to let Jake Long go. They have to protect their young investment of Tannehill and Johnson is the best tackle on the board.
13 LB Alec Ogletree; Georgia; Jr.; 6-2; 242lbs – Now I know the Bucs need cornerbacks in the worst way (see last year’s worse pass defense) but there is not a cornerback good enough to pick this high unless Millinr should happen to fall. They have drafted defensive linemen high recently and have a good young nucleus there. They need to improve the Defense somehow so they should take Ogletree and pair him with last year’s home run, Lavonte David, and Mason Foster from the year before that. That way they have a very good athletic linebacking corps that can grow together for the next few years.
14 OG Jonathan Cooper; North Carolina; Sr.;6-2; 311lbs –The Panthers offense is based on Newton, Williams, and Stewart running the ball, and run blocking is this kid’s specialty. Plus he is local so this is a match made in heaven.
15 DE-OLB Barkevious Mingo; LSU; Jr.; 6-4; 241lbs – Staying with the local kid theme, the Saints just hired Bob Ryan who is a master of the 3-4 defense. Since they are switching from a 4-3 front, they have to have this kind of hybrid player. Mingo is a poor man’s Jarvis Jones but I think he is a good building block for the defense conversion the Saints are about to make.
16 S Kenny Vaccaro; Texas; Sr.; 6-0; 214lbs – He is the typical “thumper” you need in your secondary. He is very week in coverage so he will have to play the strong safety and support the run, but this is just the kind of player Jeff Fisher loves.
17 DT Sheldon Richardson; Missouri; Jr.; 6-2; 294lbs – The Steelers need some young talent in their D-line and Richardson, although underachieved at Missouri, is the best available at this spot. He has all the tools but the question is does he have the motor and the heart to play every down, and not take plays off.
18OT D.J. Fluker; Alabama; Sr.; 6-5; 339lbs -After consulting our resident Cowboys fan (customer service rep Devin ) I think the Cowboys will go with offensive line. Fluker will be a solid right tackle in the league. Tyron Smith seems to have settled into left so they could have a nice set of bookends to protect Romo.
19CB Xavier Rhodes; Florida State; Jr.; 6-1; 210lbs- The Giants have a pretty solid line-up already so I think they will take Xavier Rhodes just because of his perceived value; I say perceived value because I think Rhodes is rated too highly.
20 TE Tyler Eifert; Notre Dame; Sr.; 6-5; 250lbs – Jay Cutler needs a security blanket, and ,from what I hear, Eifert appears to be the top Tight End in this draft. He needs to work on his run blocking but the Bears are not going to be drafting him for that. Their hope is that he will loosen up the coverage on Cutler’s favorite target: Brandon Marshall.
21 DE Damontre Moore; Texas; A&M; Jr.; 6-4; 250lbs – His draft status has slid a bit but he may have slid to the perfect spot. Moore should be the highest rated player on the Bangles’ board since he will bring another solid pass rusher to a playoff team.
22 WR Tavon Austin; West Virginia; Sr.; 5-9; 174lbs (From Washington)– This guy could end up being the offensive rookie of the year if he falls to St Louis. Team him up with the young receiving corps of Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, and Austin Pettis then Sam Bradford should have some toys to play with.
23 WR Keenan Allen; Cal; Jr.;6-2; 206lbs – They need a true number 1 wide receiver to get defenses to stop putting 8 men in the box against Peterson. If that happens he may run for 3,000 yards in a season. They also have to hope that Ponder is the franchise Quarterback they hoped for when they drafted him.
24 DE Ezekiel Ansah; BYU; Sr.; 6-5; 271lbs – They released Dwight Freeny this offseason, so you know they are looking for a defensive end in this draft. Ansah has a great burst off the edge, but needs to play against top talent to see how good he really is.
25 DE Sam Montgomery; LSU; Jr.; 6-3; 262lbs – I think Seattle will continue the trend and dip into this very deep and talented defensive line pool and nab Montgromery. Will he be an All Pro? No, but I think he has the skills to be a very solid pro, and should create some sacks when paired with the Seahawks good secondary.
26 RB Eddie Lacy; Alabama; Jr.; 5-11; 231 – I think this is the lock of the Draft: the Packers taking a running back. They have been trying to get a running game for years and now it’s time to invest in a first round back. It will come down to Lacy or Monty Ball, but my money in on Lacy because he runs with a little more power than Ball.
27 WR Terrance Williams; Baylor; Sr.; 6-2; 208lbs – I foresee the Texans trying to get some help for Andre Johnson. Williams is the 3rd rated wide receiver in this draft and he did a lot of good things at Baylor. Although his 40 time was not blistering, he did catch a lot of deep balls at Baylor.
28 CB Desmond Trufant; Washington; Sr.; 5-11; 190 – How old did Champ Bailey look chasing Ravens’ wide receivers down the field? I believe Denver will invest in some new blood to start the preparation for his inevitable retirement and induction into the Hall of Fame.
29 DT Sylvester Williams; North Carolina; Sr.; 6-3; 313lbs – New England will probably trade this pick for a first rounder next year and a second rounder this year. If not, Williams will fit right in line with this first round of again deep and talented defensive linemen. Also because the Patriots picked him, he will be an all pro.
30 DE Alex Okafor; Texas; Sr.; 6-4; 264lbs – John Abraham cannot play forever. The one glaring need for the Falcons is a pass rush. Okafor is a solid pick and should do very well in their 4 – 3 scheme.
31 DE Margus Hunt; SMU; Sr.;6-8; 277lbs – The 49ers are in a great position where they really do not NEED anything so I think Hunt will be the pick here. Hunt is a fast-rising prospect who measured in at 6-8, 277 pounds, and showed strength (38 reps at 225 pounds) and speed (4.6) at the combine. He’s also a name to watch as an eventual replacement for veteran five-technique defensive end Justin Smith.
32 DE Datone Jones; UCLA; Sr.; 6-3; 283lbs – Jones would be a nice fit in Baltimore because he is an athletic end prospect that might work as a nice bookend on the opposite side of Suggs. They are going to need to replace Paul Kruger and this might be a perfect fit.AJ’s Smokin’ Sports Corner: NFL Mock Draft 1.0!!! by David Sabot