Nate Davis, USA TODAY Sports
- The Atlanta Falcons picked up four compensatory picks in this year's draft.
- UGA defensive stand-out Jarvis Jones is projected to go #17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Two picks later, UGA linebacker Alec Ogletree is expected to go to the NY Giants
- With the #30 pick in the first round, Nate Davis thinks the Atlanta Falcons will take Desmond Trufant, a cornerback from Washington.
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: In a draft dominated by linemen, the Chiefs get their pick ... assuming they keep the No. 1 pick after their free agency makeover. But with RT Eric Winston gone, and LT Branden Albert currently signed only through this season - and possibly on the trade block - Joeckel, regarded as a can't-miss prospect in most circles, makes sense in any scenario.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida: New Jags head coach Gus Bradley comes from the defensive side of the ball but inherits a team that was soft against the run and hasn't consistently generated pass rush for a decade. Floyd will help on both fronts and makes Jason Babin and Jeremy Mincey more dangerous off the edges.
3. Oakland Raiders - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Carson Palmer isn't the long-term solution, and Terrelle Pryor almost surely isn't, either. Smith (42 TDs, 6 INTs, 71.2% completion rate as a senior) has been steadily rising for weeks and could climb this high four weeks from now ... whether that means the Raiders take him or trade out to bank needed choices while another team claims Smith.
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Star Lotulelei, DL, Utah: After he participated in a March 20 pro day, concerns about his heart seem to be abating. The Eagles have jettisoned most of last season's defensive linemen as they switch to a three-man front, and Lotulelei is a three-down player who can man the nose or five-technique.
5. Detroit Lions - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: He remains in state for a team that lost both its starting tackles this offseason after Jeff Backus' retirement and Gosder Cherilus' free agent defection. Fisher and 2012 first-rounder Riley Reiff could anchor the line for the next decade.
NFL DRAFT | How Other Experts Think the Draft Will Go
6. Cleveland Browns - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: Good size (6-0, 201 pounds) and good speed, and that means a good fit in a division where Cleveland must deal with WRs A.J. Green and Torrey Smith. Milliner and Joe Haden could instantly form one of the league's better corner tandems.
7. Arizona Cardinals - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: If he continues to blossom, Johnson (a former tight end and quarterback) might wind up as this draft's best blocker. Taking him would allow Arizona to keep Levi Brown on the right side where he belongs while stabilizing a depleted unit that couldn't run- or pass-block in 2012.
8. Buffalo Bills - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama: The man many rate as the draft's best player would instantly negate the free agent loss of Andy Levitre while becoming a fast friend of RB C.J. Spiller's. Buffalo clearly needs a quarterback, too, but would be wise to trade back into the latter part of the first round if not wait until Round 2.
9. New York Jets - Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon: Rex Ryan has never had the benefit of a formidable pass rusher since coming to New York in 2009. Jordan could change that while addressing a hole for a team that let starting OLBs Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas go this offseason. And the Jets will have to rely more on pressure if they ultimately subtract lockdown corner Darrelle Revis.
10. Tennessee Titans - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: Rhodes (6-2, 210 pounds) is even bigger than Milliner at a position that's increasingly putting a premium on size. The Titans need more talent on a defense that allowed a franchise-record 471 points in 2012 and missed CB Cortland Finnegan.
11. San Diego Chargers - Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: New GM Tom Telesco must find someone to help flagging QB Philip Rivers. In this scenario, the top tackles are gone, so why not get Rivers a gifted guard, another priority with Louis Vasquez now in Denver and Tyronne Green a free agent? The Bolts should be able to follow up with an intriguing wideout prospect in Round 2.
12. Miami Dolphins - Ziggy Ansah, DE, Brigham Young: He's one of the most talented but raw prospects available. The Dolphins need more playmakers on defense and could let Ansah embark on his pro career as a pass rush specialist behind starting DEs Jared Odrick and Cameron Wake, who wouldn't mind seeing fewer double teams on passing downs.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State: What's one way to fix a near historically bad pass defense? Sack the quarterback more. Werner could replace Michael Bennett while bookending 2011 first-rounder Adrian Clayborn. With Milliner and Rhodes gone in this mock, the safety-rich Bucs would have to reach for a corner here ... or might not have to worry at all if the Revis trade rumors come to fruition.
14. Carolina Panthers - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee: Ron Rivera has acknowledged the need to find a successor for WR Steve Smith, who will be 34 this season. Patterson is a bit of a project but offers superior size (6-2, 216 pounds) and explosion. And he can apprentice behind Brandon LaFell and Smith, provided he earns No. 89's respect.
15. New Orleans Saints - Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU: Slender pass rusher stays in Louisiana and sharpens the edge for a team switching to a 3-4 defense.
16. St. Louis Rams - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: He's not big (5-9, 174 pounds), but the Rams got sizable wideouts in last year's draft with Brian Quick and Chris Givens. Austin, who rolled up nearly 3,000 all-purpose yards in 2012 for the Mountaineers, looks like a supercharged version of Sam Bradford favorite Danny Amendola, who happens to now work for the Patriots.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: He's been red-flagged for spinal stenosis and hasn't tested particularly well in the pre-draft process. But he did lead the country with 14½ sacks last year, something a team which punted James Harrison can't ignore.
18. Dallas Cowboys - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas: Who better to solve the Cowboys' long-standing issues on the back line than a talented Longhorn? And new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's scheme requires someone he can rely on in center field.
19. New York Giants - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia: A defense that regressed badly in 2012 needs another playmaker behind its formidable front four. If GM Jerry Reese is comfortable with Ogletree's off-field issues, the wide-ranging linebacker would satisfy the Giants' best-player-available draft approach.
20. Chicago Bears - D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: GM Phil Emery upgraded at left tackle by signing Jermon Bushrod in free agency (and later patched issues at linebacker). Now he gives quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive mastermind Marc Trestman further peace of mind by drafting the swath-cutting Fluker for the right side.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri: If RT Andre Smith doesn't re-sign, the Bengals may want to make a play for Fluker. Barring that, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer greatly values depth in his front four, and Richardson could emerge as a force next to all-pro Geno Atkins.
22. Rams (from Washington Redskins) - Matt Elam, S, Florida: After saying goodbye to last year's starters (Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl), the Rams need a new last line of defense.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Keenan Allen, WR, California: Leg injuries have hampered him in the draft run-up, but he could get a boost if his April pro day goes well. Regardless, he'd be a nice investment for a Minnesota wideout group that still needs plenty of help despite the arrival of Greg Jennings.
24. Indianapolis Colts - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA: He lined up everywhere along the defensive front for the Bruins, and his 6-4, 283-pound frame is ideal for 3-4 ends. He'd be made to order for an evolving front in Indy as the Colts continue to pour resources into their new defense a year after turning over the offense.
25. Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks) - Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame: Jasper Brinkley left for Arizona, but the Vikes needed an upgrade in the middle anyway. This might be a perfect spot for Te'o, who would be surrounded by a handful of former Notre Dame teammates (including safety Harrison Smith) and wouldn't have to typically deal with a crush of media in Minneapolis.
26. Green Bay Packers - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: Though tailback again appears as a deficit area, it'd be a surprise to see GM Ted Thompson take one this early, especially in light of this year's weak crop. It's more plausible that Thompson trades down - this is a perfect spot for QB-needy teams to resurface in the first round - and gets a runner later while stockpiling extra picks. But Eifert also makes sense. Jermichael Finley hasn't matured into a player QB Aaron Rodgers can count on and isn't signed beyond this season anyway. The Packers' depth at tight end also took a hit when Tom Crabtree left for Tampa.
27. Houston Texans - DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson: Though GM Rick Smith is generally rather conservative, it wouldn't be stunning to see him climb the ladder for Patterson or Austin. In any case, the Texans still haven't enlisted a worthy Robin to aging Batman Andre Johnson but need one more than ever after letting Kevin Walter go.
28. Denver Broncos - Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: His stock has taken a beating ever since a horrid showing at the scouting combine. Still, Moore managed 12½ sacks for the Aggies last season, and the Broncos could use a young pass rusher in the wake of the Elvis Dumervil debacle. Perhaps a reunion with former A&M teammate Von Miller would be a needed boon to Moore.
29. New England Patriots - Robert Woods, WR, USC: Even if Brandon Lloyd eventually returns, the Pats appear woefully thin at wideout. Woods was a very productive player in a pro-style offense, and New England needs to find somebody on the outside if Amendola and the tight ends are to be effective near the hashes.
30. Atlanta Falcons - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington: If they don't want to be in a track meet every week, the Falcons need more cover guys.
31. San Francisco 49ers - Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State: The Niners' D-line was poached during free agency, and Justin Smith can't play forever. A big body like Hankins' (6-3, 320 pounds) would begin replenishing the group.
32. Baltimore Ravens - Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU: GM Ozzie Newsome knows the center of his defense from front to back needs a lot of work. Plugging Minter into the middle seems like a good start, though this could be another year when the Wizard of Oz trades back to the get the picks he needs to rebuild his roster.
- Though this draft's quarterback crop appears subpar - and really suffers in comparison to the 2012 group - don't expect Geno Smith to be the lone one taken in the first round. It's much more likely teams like the Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Eagles, Jaguars and/or Jets vault back into the bottom of Round 1 in order to pluck passers like USC's Matt Barkley, Syracuse's Ryan Nassib and/or Florida State's E.J. Manuel.
- Is this finally the year when no running backs go in the first round? Given the dearth of talent at the position and the waning emphasis on bellcow ball carriers at the pro level, don't be surprised. Teams like Green Bay could obviously use someone like Alabama's Eddie Lacy but would be perfectly content to get him in the second round.
- South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore is the most talented rusher available, but he's still on the mend from a devastating knee injury. Yet he's exactly the kind of investment a team like the 49ers, who have 14 selections, might buy into earlier than expected. The Niners will soon need a successor to Frank Gore, so why not earmark a relatively early selection on a stud like Lattimore who could be stashed on IR for 2013 rather than taking up a spot on a loaded 53-man roster as he rounds back into shape?
- This looks like a good tight end draft, so Atlanta might finally nab an heir apparent for Tony Gonzalez. Stanford's Zach Ertz or Cincinnati's Travis Kelce could be options, especially if the Falcons don't get their talons on Eifert.
- Two dozen offensive linemen might hear their names called in the first two rounds. Oregon's Chris Long, son of Howie and brother of Chris, looks ticketed for Day 2.
- Given the emphasis on the pass in the pro game, anticipate a run on corners with Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks a candidate to sneak into the back of the first round.
- LSU could send up to a dozen players to the NFL, including punter Brad Wing. And coming off a strong combine, Tyrann Mathieu again looks like a talent worthy of a mid-round gamble. Given his ability to play nickelback and return kicks, it would hardly be a surprise to see him work his way into the third round if he can convince decision makers that his drug problems are behind him.