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NFL Mock Draft: Eric Fisher Tops Last-Minute, First-Round Draft Projections

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Former Central Michigan offensive linesman Eric Fisher blocks against Western Kentucky during the second half of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl NCAA college football game at Ford Field in Detroit on Dec. 26, 2012.
Former Central Michigan offensive linesman Eric Fisher blocks against Western Kentucky during the second half of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl NCAA college football game at Ford Field in Detroit on Dec. 26, 2012.

By Russ Lande, National Football Post

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan, Senior: While Luke Joeckel may well be the more polished of the two top offensive tackles, he does not block with the aggressive, nasty attitude that Fisher does. This blocking style and all out competitiveness would add an edge to the Chiefs offensive line that they lost with the release of Eric Winston.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU, Senior: The Jaguars have many needs, but if they cannot improve their pass rush they will not have much chance of fielding a good defense in 2013. Ansah is raw, but immensely gifted and could fill the “Leo” role in Coach Bradley’s defense perfectly because of his combination of size, strength, explosiveness and athleticism.

3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah, Senior: With defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly no longer with the team and Jared Veldheer established as a quality starting left tackle, the Raiders grab Star Lotulelei to become the anchor of their defensive line. Star brings the ability to dominate run blockers at the point of attack, the explosiveness to get gap penetration to blow up plays behind the line of scrimmage and the playing speed to easily chase down plays in pursuit.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M, Junior: The Eagles’ offense struggled mightily in 2012 due to their massive issues along their offensive line, so despite the return of Jason Peters from injury they need to upgrade their offensive line. Joeckel would immediately step in as the starting right tackle and would provide great insurance in the event that Peters does not return from his injury as well as expected.

5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State, Junior: While the Lions have some offensive line concerns, they drafted Riley Reiff to be their left tackle in the first round a season ago. So they can address their obvious needs at defensive end after losing Kyle Vander Bosch and Cliff Avril by drafting Werner. Werner brings the athleticism, pass rush skill and warriors mentality that the Lions desperately need.

6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon, Senior: After they signed Paul Kruger it was assumed the Browns had their outside linebacker issues resolved. However, it looks like they will try to trade Jabaal Sheard as they do not feel he fits their new defensive scheme, so they need a dynamic pass rusher. Jordan is a dynamic pass rusher who also is outstanding playing off the ball in coverage, which makes him a great fit in their 34 defense.

7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma, Senior: With QB Carson Palmer now in the fold, the Cardinals must upgrade their pass protection in order to keep him upright and healthy. Johnson is a rare athlete for an offensive tackle and in two years could well end up being the best offensive tackle selected in this year’s draft.

8. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse, Senior: While the Bills may prefer to wait to select Nassib, rumors persist that they have decided not to risk another team grabbing him and will grab him here. With his mechanics, arm strength and great intangibles; I have no doubt that Nassib will be the quarterback the Bills have been searching for since Jim Kelly ended his career.

9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU, Junior: The Jets defense has struggled to consistently pressure the quarterback in recent seasons and in Rex Ryan’s 34 defense you must have dynamic outside linebackers to be effective doing so. Mingo is a special athlete who is dangerous rushing the passer when aligned wide and given the space to use his athleticism to defeat pass block inside or outside.

10. Tennessee Titans: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida, Junior: With defensive end Derrick Morgan on the verge of breaking out, the Titans need to find an interior defender to take some of the focus off him. Floyd is a quick off the ball defensive tackle who consistently is able to “press the gap” to disrupt plays behind the line of scrimmage and would upgrade their interior defense.

11. San Diego Chargers: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama, Junior: While the Chargers would prefer a left tackle, with the best ones gone they select Milliner to solve one of their cornerback issues. Both starting cornerbacks, Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer, from 2012 are no longer with the team, so the Chargers have huge holes to fill in the secondary and Milliner will at least take care of one of those spots.

12. Miami Dolphins: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State, Senior: As the Dolphins make the switch to a 43 defense they have to find a defensive end to play opposite Cameron Wake. After his shocking performance at his workout less than four months after tearing his ACL, many NFL teams are not concerned about Carradine’s ability to be close to 100% for the 2013 season.

13. New York Jets: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia, Senior: After improving their pass rush with their first pick, the Jets grab Austin to give their offense an instant influx of big play ability. Austin is the most dynamic offensive weapon in the 2013 Draft and will give whomever plays quarterback for the Jets in 2013 another weapon.

14. Carolina Panthers: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina, Senior: With Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, the Panthers have two gifted, young defensive ends, but their interior defensive line has been an issue the past two seasons. Williams is a strong and powerful defensive tackle with the excellent initial quickness and athleticism to be a dominating interior force and will upgrade the Panthers’ rush defense dramatically.

15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia, Junior: Making the move to a 34 defense is never easy and to make it work you must find impact pass rushing outside linebackers. Jones has been tremendously productive in the SEC and would be a good fit playing rush linebacker in the Saints defense.

16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee, Junior: The Rams signed Jake Long to help protect Sam Bradford and now they get him a dynamic offensive weapon to upgrade their offense. Patterson is a rare athletic talent with excellent receiving skills and dynamic open field running ability who will add a big play dimension to the Rams offense and special teams immediately.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Corey Lemonier, OLB, Auburn, Junior: The Steelers defense struggled rushing the passer in 2012 and with James Harrison no longer with the team, they need to replace him. Lemonier is an explosive athlete with the speed to easily get the corner and should improve the Steelers pass rush quickly.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama, Senior: Dallas’ offensive line has not played well in recent seasons and for the first time in many years they take the conservative approach and select Chance Warmack. While Warmack is one of the top five players in the draft, guards always fall on draft day as teams just do not place a high value on selecting them early in the first round.

19. New York Giants: Kenny Vaccaro, SAF, Texas, Senior: The Giants have long been very true to their draft board and Vaccaro is clearly the best player left at this point. This pick also makes sense as the Giants lost safety Kenny Phillips and have not had great play from their safeties in recent seasons.

20. Chicago Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama, Junior: The Bears held their breath hoping that Fluker would fall to them and do not hesitate to select him when he is still there. He is a massive man with better feet than expected to go with long arms and great character. He will start at right tackle immediately and will help them protect Cutler much better.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, SAF, Florida International, Senior: If the season began today, Taylor Mays would be the Bengals starting strong safety and he has not proven he can be a productive starter in the NFL. Cyprien is a top athlete who displayed excellent coverage skills and open field tackling ability at Florida International and would be a good starter next to Reggie Nelson.

22. St. Louis Rams (From Washington): Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina, Senior: After adding Jake Long the Rams improved their offensive line, but their interior offensive line still has concerns. Cooper has the athleticism, strength and smarts to start at either guard or center and would be another piece of the puzzle to protect Sam Bradford better.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California, Junior: After trading away Percy Harvin the Vikings have a big need for a game breaking receiver. Allen has the size, route running ability, polish and receiving skills that few receivers his size possess. He would give them a big play weapon to open up their offense and Christian Ponder another weapon to throw to.

24. Indianapolis Colts: Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama, Senior: While the Colts acquired Aubrayo Franklin to be their nose tackle in 2013, he is 32 and Ryan Grigson is the type of General Manager who is always thinking ahead. Williams has the massive size, dominating playing strength and shocking athleticism to be a top tier nose tackle for future.

25. Minnesota Vikings (From Seattle): Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia, Junior: The Vikings do not have an experienced middle linebacker on their roster and Ogletree has the elite talent to be a dominant NFL player if he takes care of his business off the field.

26. Green Bay Packers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri, Junior: Ryan Pickett is 33, Jerel Worthy is coming of a very bad knee injury and C.J. Wilson is unproven as a starter, so the Packers select Richardson who they did not expect to be available. After playing defensive tackle at Missouri, he has the explosiveness off the ball, strength and competitiveness to fit well as a defensive end in the Packers defense.

27. Houston Texans: Robert Woods, WR, USC, Junior: For too long Andre Johnson has been the Texans only high end receiver and I think they realize they need to get another weapon opposite him to make their offense more dangerous. Woods is the most polished receiver in the draft and should step right in and be a solid starting receiver from day one.

28. Denver Broncos: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA, Senior: After losing Elvis Dumervil the Broncos make the quick selection of Datone Jones to fill the hole. While Jones is a much bigger man than Dumervil, he is a better athlete than he gets credit for and is the versatile and productive defensive end that Coach Fox likes.

29. New England Patriots: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State, Junior: The Patriots defensive line has not been a strong unit for a number of years and Hankins has many of the traits that Coach Belichick likes. He is a big, powerful defender with the athleticism to start at any position on their defensive line, which gives him great versatility and is key in the Patriots defense.

30. Atlanta Falcons: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State, Junior: The Falcons cut Dunta Robinson and did not re-sign Brent Grimes, so they have a big need at cornerback. Rhodes has the size to dominate in press coverage and the athleticism to be strong in “off” and “zone” coverages.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid, SAF, LSU, Junior: With Dashon Goldson now a Buccaneer, the 49ers have a big hole to fill at safety and Reid makes a lot of sense here. He is a tall, well-built safety with elite athleticism and rare character/intangibles. He would likely step in and start as a rookie and provide the production that the 49ers were so used to Goldson providing.

32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State, Senior: Although Manti Te’o is still on the board; Ozzie Newsome views Brown as a better athlete with the speed and explosiveness to be more of an impact player. While Brown may not have received the hype that Te’o did during his college career, he was highly productive playing under one of the best coaches in all of college football in Bill Snyder.

Email Russ at Russelllande@yahoo.com and Follow Russ on Twitter @RUSSLANDE

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