Note: As opposed to predicting who each team will take, which is an exercise in futility with all the smokescreens out there, this is instead a mock draft of who I would pick if I were the general manager of each team.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Regardless of whether the Chiefs keep or trade Branden Albert, Fisher should go first. He's a much stronger pass-blocker than Joeckel, and while Joeckel has better technique, Fisher's the much better all-around tackle. If Albert stays in Kansas City, Fisher can start his career at right tackle, a place where Joeckel would flounder because of his run-blocking. If Albert goes Miami, the Chiefs still have a franchise left tackle.
Notes: Consistently blows defenders off the ball in the run game. Pulls outside and gets to the next level of the defense excellently. Good hand placement, great lower- and upper-body strength. Explosive coming out of his stance, extremely strong. May struggle against elite speed rushers, but has more than enough lateral agility to handle most rushers' spin and swim moves. Won't be outmatched a bull-rush, either.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon.
Gus Bradley ran the Seattle Seahawks' "Elephant" defense in Seattle, which used a 4-3 under alignment but had a position called the "Leo" defensive end where the end stood up and had linebacker-like responsibilities. For Jordan, such a role is a perfect fit that emphasizes his strengths and hides his weaknesses, so he makes sense as the cornerstone piece of Gus Bradley's defense in Jacksonville.
Notes: Extremely quick pass-rusher from the edge. Maintains great gap discipline, but isn't very agile when moving laterally in containment. Gets knocked off the ball frequently in the run game. Would be better suited as a 3-4 linebacker than a 4-3 defensive end because it would free him up to use his speed, which is his best asset.
3. Oakland Raiders: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Joeckel's too good of a player for the Raiders to pass up. Whether Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor wins the starting quarterback job,keeping the starter upright will be an important task, and a task made easier with Joeckel on the roster.
Notes: Puts his hands a bit too far on the outside of the defensive end's torso and shoulders. Great foot speed. Spreads his legs too wide to get great push against stronger pass-rushers, but has the speed to match up with any fast edge rusher. Gets leverage from the best possible angle to take his assigned defender out of the play, especially when run-blocking. Doesn't have the best upper-body strength - more suited for taking angles and making cut blocks on outside runs than power-blocking. Lacks the initial burst of strength coming out of his stance to quickly knock back a defender and get to the next level in the run game. Leverage and technique allow him to win matchups against players who are stronger than him.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah is an extremely versatile defensive player who can be the key building block of Philadelphia's switch to a 3-4 defense. As he continues to put on weight to become better as an every-down 3-4 end, he can also move around as an end when the Eagles go to four down linemen in nickel situations, and can also play at outside linebacker in certain packages as well.
Notes: Doesn't have elite pursuit speed when chasing down a ball-carrier. Great combination of strength and speed when rushing the passer. Gets his body low and uses a powerful swim move to get through double-teams against blockers who, size-wise, appear to be able to outmuscle him. While he only weighs in at 271 pounds, he will probably continue to add size to his frame as he has only been playing organized football for three years. Has the athletic skill to play as a J.J. Watt-style 3-4 defensive end, is good enough to play against the run or pass as a 4-3 end, or could make a solid pass-rushing 3-4 linebacker.
5. Detroit Lions: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Lions return neither of their starting tackles, and need to run the ball better. At right tackle, Johnson is a no-brainer choice to help fix both of those problems.
Notes: Great upper-body strength. Doesn't bend enough at the knees to get as good of a push against defenders as he could. Hand placement is sloppy and inconsistent. Doesn't have great lateral speed, looks stiff and unnatural against faster edge rushers. With some refinement of his technique, would be a great road-blocking right tackle. Doesn't really have the quickness needed for primary pass-blocking responsibilities on the quarterback's blind side.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Milliner's not afraid to get involved in the run game, which will help the Browns try to slow the rushing attack of the defending Super Bowl champions in their division. Pairing Milliner with Joe Haden will make the prospect of facing divisional rival passing attacks of Roethlisberger-to-Sanders, Dalton-to-Green and Flacco-to-Smith far less intimidating.
Notes: Physical corner who is great at shedding run blocks. Isn't strong enough to consistently re-route receivers at the line of scrimmage, but has displayed the strength to at least slow receivers down with press coverage as they come out of their stance. Turns his hips fairly quickly and has good, long strides that let him keep up the receiver. Excellent play recognition and phenomenal closing speed. May struggle leaping for jump balls against taller receivers in goal-line situations.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Cooper's the type of athletic, gifted offensive lineman that will shine in Bruce Arians' offense. The Cardinals need a run-blocker, and Cooper can help them run a variety of stretch plays and tosses to make plays on the ground and hurt defenses that overcommit to stopping Larry Fitzgerald in the air.
Notes: Relentlessly aggressive at the line of scrimmage. Extremely agile, especially for his size. Struggled against stronger defenders, but has added over 20 pounds since the end of the season and had the second-best bench press out of all offensive linemen at the combine with 35 repetitions of the 225-pound barbell. Pulls excellently, gets to the second level and delivers big hits to defenders. Best suited for a zone-type scheme that utilize a lot of cuts, not a power-based, straight downhill rushing attack.
8. Buffalo Bills: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Bills' unsettled quarterback situation can be fixed in a later round, but for now, they need someone to pave the way for their best offensive player, C.J. Spiller, to make life easier for whoever ends up being the Bills' starting quarterback.
Notes: Doesn't move feet laterally to get in front of the pass-rusher, which leads to rushers getting past him by taking a diagonal angle. Consistently uses his hands and leverage to steer the defender out of the play in the run game. Gets to the second level quickly in the run game, though occasionally too quickly, giving his first blocked defender a chance to get into the backfield. Doesn't have a ton of upper-body strength, but uses good technique to beat defenders when he's able to engage them.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Jets need to make a big splash at quarterback, but with the Titans, Chargers, and Miami all financially committed to another quarterback, the Jets can wait until the 13th pick to make that move. With this pick, they can get an instant starter who can help terrorize the opponent's quarterback.
Notes:Great change of direction and pursuit skills. Chases the ball-carrier down from behind with average speed. Doesn't have great pass-rushing moves, but doesn't stop trying to get to the quarterback. Can move around the field to the left or right side, but is best when rushing from the quarterback's right-hand side. Doesn't have any aspects such as size, strength, or speed, where he's particularly elite, but doesn't have any major holes either and likely will be an instantly above-average, but not great, starter.
10. Tennessee Titans: Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
Most of the Titans' moves this offseason have been designed to make life easier for quarterback Jake Locker, who struggled massively last year to capitalize on the promise he showed in his rookie year. By pairing Warford with free-agent signee Andy Levitre, the Titans can turn the interior offensive line, one of their biggest weaknesses in 2012, to one of their biggest strengths in 2013.
Notes: Isn't the quickest when pulling to the outside, but helps compensate for it by quickly identifying the right defender to block. Knocks defenders off the ball with a powerful first hit. Solid hand placement. Plays lower than the defender, getting excellent leverage when popping out of his stance at the snap. Lacks the quick hands and feet to handle defensive tackles with a quick swim move, but has the size and strength to keep any bull-rushing defensive tackle from getting past him.
11. San Diego Chargers: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
The Chargers' offensive line has been deteriorating for years, so there's no time like the present to take advantage of a draft class that's rich in offensive linemen.
Notes: Doesn't have the best lateral speed or quickness, but is fast enough to pull to the outside for run blocking. Doesn't have very refined technique in terms of technique, but gets out of his stance quickly and hits defenders hard. Gets to the next level of the defense well, and when he gets underneath leverage on a defender, he has no trouble knocking the defender off the ball.
12. Miami Dolphins: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Signing receiver Mike Wallace is a good step toward helping develop 2012 first-round quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but the Dolphins need to do more. When Reggie Bush signed with Miami, Tannehill lost a checkdown option that could move all over the field and make big plays after the catch. Eifert can fill that role and fill it much better than Bush, so this pick takes an offseason loss and turns it into an upgrade.
Notes: Extremely quick to get open coming out of the backfield. Very aggressive downfield blocker. Catches the ball smoothly and immediately turns upfield to pick up yards after the catch. Phenomenal leaping ability. Is an excellent run-blocker and above-average pass-blocker. Has experience moving all over the field, so should be able to take a wideout's spot on some plays and create more matchup advantages.
13. New York Jets: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
The Jets have a ton of holes, but they can't let deficiencies all over the place keep them from fixing the gaping wound that is the quarterback position on this team. The New York Jets' quarterback play last year was atrocious at best, and that's putting it kindly. It's time for the Jets abandon any pretense of Mark Sanchez being part of their future and take the only quarterback in this year's class that's ready to step onto an NFL field in Week One.
Notes: Goes through progressions very quickly. Releases the ball with average speed. Fairly low release point. Good spin on the ball. Spreads his feet a little wide when planting to throw the ball. Drops the ball too low to his side and doesn't protect it when running out of the pocket. Keeps his center of gravity underneath him when throwing on the run. Doesn't transfer enough weight from his back foot onto his front foot when throwing, but it doesn't hurt the velocity of his passes because he has such a powerful arm and good throwing technique. Can set the ball sailing with a light flick of his wrist. Displays an excellent intuition where his receivers are and who is open. Great ability to keep his eyes upfield and extend a play. Excellent thrower on the run.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Cam Newton desperately needs someone above the height of six feet tall that can catch a football, but it's too early to draft any of this year's receivers. Drafting 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year linebacker Luke Kuechly last year helped improve the Panthers' defense, and Lotulelei can help the unit improve in its quest to stop hemorrhaging points.
Notes: Constantly works his way toward the ball-carrier or quarterback with little to no trouble. Consistently worked past double teams in college. Plays a little bit too high out of his stance, but not enough to significantly impact his leverage. Has great strength for a 4-3 tackle, but isn't quite big or strong enough to be a 3-4 defensive end.
15. New Orleans Saints: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The Saints' defense is switching to a 3-4, so the perfect draft pick for them right here is a guy who can instantly be plugged into the system and produce as a 3-4 end.
Notes: Outstanding hand placement on his swim move. Best suited as a 3-4 defensive end. Consistently occupies double teams, clogging gaps and running lanes. Maintains average enough leverage to let his natural strength be a factor when rushing. Has good speed and pursuit for someone his size.
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Rams need another playmaker in the defensive backfield, and Vaccaro gives them just that. When facing the multifaceted offenses of divisional rivals Seattle and San Francisco, a versatile safety like Vaccaro will be a great help.
Notes: Excellent change of direction in coverage. Reads the quarterback's eyes well and is unafraid to jump in front of routes to make a play on the ball. Can move around the field, including playing as nickel corner in some packages. Doesn't get pushed back by run-blockers. Can run with receivers in man coverage or stay in a zone and be effective.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virgina
With Emmanuel Sanders taking over primary pass-catching responsibilities, Austin adds the element of giving the Steelers a weapon that can make big plays from underneath the defense. With Austin in the fold, checkdowns can turn into big plays for Big Ben and Co.
Notes: Has a good stutter-step, often causing defenders to misstep and leave him open. Doesn't make tough catches in traffic and doesn't have the size to beat press coverage. Won't win a lot of jump-ball battles. Doesn't have enough downfield speed to consistently take the top off a defense, especially because he will be able to be easily slowed by press coverage. Most dangerous when catching the ball with enough space to make a big play after the catch.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Cowboys are always going to be behind in the divisional race until they can find a way to shoot the gaps and disrupt Washington's zone-blocking in the backfield. With Chip Kelly likely to install an offense involving the heavy use of multiple play-fakes in the backfield, a gap-shooting defensive tackle becomes more of a need. Luckily for Dallas, such a player is available at this point in the mock draft.
Notes: Shoots through gaps with excellent quickness, but has a lot of trouble taking stronger blockers head-on. Will have a hard time against power-rushing teams, but could be a major source of havoc in the backfield for offenses running zone blocking schemes because of his ability to quickly penetrate gaps.
19. New York Giants: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
The Giants will miss Osi Umenyiora a lot less when they replace him with this Florida State pass-rusher. He isn't a great run defender, but he'll fit in wonderfully in the Giants' "Nascar" pass-rush packages.
Notes: Doesn't have top-tier speed coming off the edge, but makes up for it with great hand placement and an extremely high motor. Takes excellent angles to the quarterback. Recognizes the direction in which the play is going and quickly changes direction to get to the ball. Gets pushed off the ball pretty easily in the run game.
20. Chicago Bears: Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
If the Bears' offensive line doesn't protect its quarterback better, Jay Cutler's football (and likely literal) lifespan is going to get shorter and shorter. Pugh's a good enough run-blocker to play right tackle if he needs to, but he can protect the quarterback well enough to play left tackle as well if that's where he ends up needing to play.
Notes: Aggressive run-blocker. Has solid foot speed and lateral agility for a player his size. Won't get bull-rushed by many players, and plays with a wide enough stance to let him get a hand on edge-rushers who outmatch him athletically.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
The Bengals' linebackers aren't very fast when chasing down outside runs, so Cyprien's speed and aggressiveness make him a great fit to clean up those plays by sticking his nose into the play and blowing up the run.
Notes: Great sideline-to-sideline speed when playing deep center field. Quick blitzer coming off of the edge, but lacks the technique to shed blocks if he's engaged by a lineman or a bigger tight end or fullback. Delivers huge hits over the middle and is unafraid to jump into pileups in the run game. Fast, aggressive style sometimes leads to huge whiffs on tackles when defending against the run. Better suited for zone coverage than man.
22. St. Louis Rams: Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Rams need a receiver, and Woods is easily the best on the board. No point ignoring this need any longer.
Notes: Accelerates quickly out of his stance at the line of scrimmage. Makes outstanding leaping catches. Rounds out the cuts in his routes a little bit. Run-blocks impressively for a receiver. Makes good adjustments to the ball when it's in the air and maintains great body control when coming down with the ball.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Antoine Winfield's departure makes cornerback a pressing need, so the Vikings should nab a cornerback who is great in press coverage. Going against physical receivers in the division such as Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall should be easier for Rhodes than for less agressive cornerbacks.
Notes: Great change of direction and open-field tackling skills. Turns his hips incredibly quickly in coverage and has phenomenal downfield speed. Lets the receiver get underneath him too easily on crossing routes. Presses well at the line of scrimmage. Doesn't get taken out of position by pre-snap motion.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Ogletree played inside linebacker in college, but with Pat Angerer holding down the inside of the linebacking corps, the Colts can afford to move Ogletree to outside linebacker, which is his best pro fit.
Notes: Great open-field speed. Doesn't win many head-on matchups against defensive linemen, but does a great job shedding blockers who haven't fully engaged him. Doesn't get his center of gravity low enough when tackling. Between difficulty getting past blockers up the middle and tackling issues, would probably be better off as an outside linebacker.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
With the need for a receiver addressed by signing Greg Jennings, the Vikings' next-biggest need is at linebacker. Minter can hold down the inside linebacker spot and be the anchor of the defense for years.
Notes: Recognizes plays quickly and takes great angles to get to the ball-carrier. Phenomenal closing speed in pass coverage, and dishes out vicious hits over the middle when a pass gets sent to a player in his zone. Can be knocked off-target by bigger linemen but makes up for it in his pursuit of the ball-carrier by quickly adjusting to a new, smart angle to the ball. Phenomenal open-field tackler - gets low, gets his arms around the ball-carrier's waist, and brings him down swiftly.Gets good leverage against interior offensive linemen when trying to disrupt run plays, but it isn't always enough to help him get penetration up the middle.
26. Green Bay Packers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Packers have enough depth at receiver for Patterson not to have to be relied on as the primary passing option right away, allowing him time to improve his stance and become a true No. 1 receiver.
Notes: Extremely fast and talented receiver with tremendous hands and a good leaping ability. Plays too high in his stance at the line of scrimmage. Instead of exploding out of his stance, gradually accelerates, which will hamper his ability to get open against NFL-caliber defensive backs. Muscles in front of defenders to get to the football. Makes great adjustments to the ball when it's in the air. Makes explosive cuts and runs precise routes.
27. Houston Texans: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Hunter's a perfect underneath option to line up opposite of Andre Johnson. The Schaub-to-Johnson air attack is enough to get the Texans into the playoffs, but if they want to make a serious title run, they need another passing target.
Notes: Doesn't have great speed, but makes very quick cuts to get open. Puts himself in front of the defender, giving him a good chance at catching passes when his speed can't get him open. A good leaper who hangs onto the ball when being hit in traffic.
28. Denver Broncos: Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut
With a fax snafu sending Elvis Dumervil out of town, his presence needs to be replaced. Moore's the best man available for the job.
Notes: Can move all over the field to either rush the passer or defend against the run. Good play recognition. Does well shedding blockers and taking a smart angle to the ball. Moves smoothly and has a good swim move when getting pushed outside of the play.
29. New England Patriots: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson:
The biggest reason the Patriots aren't back-to-back defending Super Bowl champions right now is because of their inability to strike quickly downfield in the passing game. They move their tight ends all over the field to create open receivers all over the place, but those underneath passes won't win games when the Patriots get behind and have to put up some quick touchdowns. With Wes Welker gone, the need for a receiver is even more dire.
Notes: Runs good routes with multiple quick fakes. Makes great adjustments to the ball when it's in the air. Secures the ball very well, makes quick cuts, and isn't slowed by press coverage. Explodes out of his stance quickly and has the speed to take the top off of the defense. Isn't big enough to win in a lot of jump-ball situations, but can force defenses to bring a safety out of the box to help cover him over the top.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Brent Grimes is gone, and when you've got Drew Brees as a division rival, that's a hole you've got to fill immediately.
Notes: Backpedals well when playing off of the receiver. Displays solid form when tackling. Has very good closing speed and a knack for getting a hand on the ball. Makes extremely athletic plays when the ball's in the air. Will struggle to perform press coverage against more physical receivers.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Matt Elam, Florida
The 49ers' only noticeable hole is at safety, and Elam fills it well in a manner that matches their style of defense. His aggression and big hitting will help set the tone of the defense, and the 49ers have enough talent for him to make risky, aggressive plays without the whole defense getting burned if those risks don't pay off on a play.
Notes: Reads the play well. Doesn't have the best foot speed when not running downfield. Not big enough for press coverage at the line of scrimmage. Monstrous hitter over the middle.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Eric Reid, S, LSU
With Ed Reed in Houston, the Ravens should replace him with another center-fielding safety whose name is pronounced the same.
Notes: Doesn't get low enough to make great tackles in the run game, but has good closing speed to deliver big hits to receivers trying to catch the ball. Doesn't chase down the ball-carrier very aggressively. Shadows receivers well, even as they're crossing the field, and does a good job of getting his arm in front of the ball to swat it down.
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