by Nate Davis, USA TODAY Sports
- Might just one QB/RB come off the board in Round 1?
- Our latest mock draft reflects depth of offensive line talent available
- A different spin on how Ravens might replenish defense
Mock draft season has hit high gear, and our latest offering could elicit extra mocking given the creativity we used to place just one offensive backfield player in the first round. We'll find out in a week if we're visionaries or just plain blind...
1. Kansas City Chiefs
- OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: The 2013 draft lacks sizzle, so why not stake the No. 1 pick on one of its talented blind-side blockers, especially since LT Branden Albert's future in K.C. seems tenuous? QB Alex Smith's emergence over the past two seasons coincided with the 49ers' investment in their now-stellar O-line, so we advise the Chiefs to stick to that recipe.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan: When a rookie GM (Dave Caldwell) inherits a tattered roster, he'd better adhere to the "best player available" maxim. Fisher, who might even get the call from the Chiefs, theoretically improves QB Blaine Gabbert's opportunity to finally succeed while making Maurice Jones-Drew an even more effective runner. And with Jacksonville's best player, LT Eugene Monroe, potentially gone after he plays out his contract this season, best to line up a replacement now who can hold down the right side in the meantime ... assuming, of course, Caldwell can't trade out of here to stockpile needed bodies later
3. Oakland Raiders
- DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida: The Raiders also need reliable building blocks in the worst way and can't afford to gamble. Floyd is talented, hungry and fills the void left by free agent Richard Seymour.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
- DL Star Lotulelei, Utah: It makes sense to connect Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan to the Eagles given new coach Chip Kelly's familiarity with him from their days together in Eugene, Ore. But Philadelphia has already invested in free agent linebacker Connor Barwin and has some intriguing candidates to start opposite him in the team's new 3-4 defense. But they really need help on the D-line, and Lotulelei can play anywhere along the three-man front.
5. Detroit Lions
- OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: After losing both of last season's starting tackles - Jeff Backus to retirement and Gosder Cherilus to free agency - Detroit must find new bodyguards for QB Matthew Stafford. Last year's first rounder, Riley Reiff, should solve half the problem; athletic Johnson, who might eventually emerge as this draft's top blocker with added refinement, can take care of the left side.
6. Cleveland Browns
- CB Dee Milliner, Alabama: The Browns have no second-round pick after spending it on WR Josh Gordon in last summer's supplemental draft, so this selection could be an inviting trade target - especially if one of the tackles is still on the board for a blocking-deficient team that will probably need to jump the Cardinals. Barring that, Milliner would nicely fill an obvious need opposite Cleveland CB Joe Haden.
7. Arizona Cardinals
- OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon: The Cards would surely love to get one of the blue-chip tackles, too. But a rangy pass rusher who can chase NFC West bugaboos Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson isn't a bad consolation prize.
8. Buffalo Bills
- G Chance Warmack, Alabama: Does Buffalo need a young arm? Of course. But linking new boss Doug Marrone to the man he coached last year, Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib, rather than West Virginia's Geno Smith makes a lot of sense, especially since Nassib can be plucked much later in Round 1, if not Round 2. Warmack, who just might be the draft's best pure football player, makes life much better for whomever is passing or running the ball while softening the loss of Andy Levitre to free agency.
9. New York Jets
- OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU: The Jets desperately need a pass rusher, perhaps moreso if they weaken their secondary by pulling the trigger on a trade of all-pro CB Darrelle Revis. Mingo needs to bulk up, but he provides athleticism the Jets really haven't had at this position.
10. Tennessee Titans
- DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU: He typifies the boom-or-bust draft gamble, but this is a boom-or-bust kinda year in Music City. Ansah, a football newbie from Africa who needs plenty of polish, could focus on stalking quarterbacks on passing downs as a rookie while Titans DEs Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan hold down their duties in the base defense, which was horrid in 2012.
11. San Diego Chargers
- G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina: New GM Tom Telesco and coach Mike McCoy must get someone who helps give QB Philip Rivers a fighting chance in 2013. Cooper would certainly do that (and could more effectively unleash RB Ryan Mathews to boot).
12. Miami Dolphins
- CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State: They've spent freely on both sides of the ball this offseason and committed a one-year deal to CB Brent Grimes, who's coming off an Achilles' tear. But the defensive backfield could use more help, and Rhodes provides excellent speed and size (6-2, 210).
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame: The Bucs must address a pass defense that was virtually non-existent in 2012, and all indications are Revis will be imported to do just that and probably at the cost of this selection. Yet a big decision also looms on QB Josh Freeman, whose future with the team may hinge on this season, the last he's contracted for. A playmaking tight end is one threat currently not in Freeman's quiver.
14. Carolina Panthers
- WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia: Just imagine weaving Austin's multi-dimensional skill set into an offense that already includes plenty of weapons for QB Cam Newton but has no mismatch type in the slot. A truly frightening proposition for NFL defenses if this comes to pass.
15. New Orleans Saints
- OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia: With Bountygate claiming their second-round selection, the Saints must make this one count. As a historically inept defense transitions to a 3-4 front under new coordinator Rob Ryan, an edge rusher like Jones certainly makes perfect sense - assuming the staff is comfortable with his medical file and allows Jones' game film to trump his poor offseason workouts.
16. St. Louis Rams
- S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas: Along with wideout, safety is an evident shortcoming in St. Louis. With Austin gone in our scenario, the Rams should pluck the top safety and wade into the deeper wideout waters later.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
- CB Desmond Trufant, Washington: He can line up outside or in the slot, and that's good news since Ike Taylor can't play forever and Keenan Lewis no longer plays in Pittsburgh.
18. Dallas Cowboys
- DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri: Given their druthers, the Cowboys would probably love to get Longhorn Vaccaro but won't in this mock. Richardson appears much better suited to new coordinator Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense than some of Dallas' current D-linemen.
19. New York Giants
- OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama: It's time to start reshaping an aging offensive line. Fluker is made to order as a mauler for the right side who could eventually develop into a left tackle.
20. Chicago Bears
- LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia: Chicago's long-vaunted linebacking corps is a patchwork outside of OLB Lance Briggs, and he's entering his 11th NFL campaign. Ogletree would provide a long-term fix ... if Bears brass are comfortable with him outside the lines.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
- OT Menelik Watson, Florida State: It's looking more and more as if unsigned free agent RT Andre Smith is going to lose his game of contractual chicken with the Bengals, who can turn to players like Fluker or Watson in this tackle-rich draft.
(from Washington Redskins) - WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee: He's got a wealth of size (6-2, 216) and talent and a dearth of big-time experience and, perhaps, maturity. Rams coach Jeff Fisher has a reputation for harnessing conundrums like Patterson, who'd certainly be a boon to QB Sam Bradford if he puts it all together.
23. Minnesota Vikings
- ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: The Vikes have a cavity in the middle of their defense, one Te'o could capably fill. And he might feel right at home with five other Golden Domers currently on Minnesota's roster.
24. Indianapolis Colts
- OL Justin Pugh, Syracuse: It'd be nice to reinforce the defense, though GM Ryan Grigson has already used this draft to do exactly that after acquiring CB Vontae Davis last season for this year's second rounder. Still, the priority remains QB Andrew Luck, who needs to be better safeguarded after absorbing quite a bit of abuse as a rookie. Pugh was a tackle for the Orange but would kick inside for the Colts, who need better guard play.
(from Seattle Seahawks) - WR Keenan Allen, California: If his knee continues to progress, as expected, and the Anquan Boldin comparisons hold true, a position of weakness in Minnesota could almost instantly become one of strength with Greg Jennings now on board.
26. Green Bay Packers
- WR Robert Woods, USC: It would be no surprise to see GM Ted Thompson vacate this spot, especially if he could add a selection before getting a tailback such as Alabama's Eddie Lacy down the board. But if Thompson stays put, it will be business as usual: best man available. That could be Woods, who slides into Jennings' roster spot and offers the precise route running QB Aaron Rodgers and this high-tech offense require.
27. Houston Texans
- WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee: It's time to enlist a worthy sidekick/eventual replacement for Andre Johnson. Hunter (6-4, 196) would perfectly supplement the offense as a player who can stretch the field better than Johnson while providing a sizeable option in the red zone, all while learning from the master.
28. Denver Broncos
- DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M: Once regarded as a possible top-five pick, a less-than-impressive pre-draft showing has deflated Moore's stock. But this is a good spot to roll the dice on a player who terrorized SEC quarterbacks in 2012 (12½ sacks). And with Elvis Dumervil gone, Denver needs to get pass rush help for Von Miller, who'd also make a fine mentor for his former Aggies teammate.
(proposed trade with New England Patriots) - QB Geno Smith, West Virginia: Kelly seems to have plenty of faith in his offensive acumen, but does he really have that same confidence in any of the QBs currently on Philly's roster? This would represent quite a tumble for Smith, who could easily slide out of the top 10 but almost surely won't plummet out of Round 1. But the Eagles, who have an extensive history of dealing with the Pats at draft time, could be the ideal team for his skill set. New England is a perfect trade partner since they currently hold just five selections (two of them in the seventh round) and would probably command picks 35 and 67 at a minimum from the Eagles, who will probably be vying with a handful of other teams to get Smith if he slips on draft night. And there's really no reason for the Patriots to overdraft a wideout or corner at 29 since they can probably scoop up comparable talent on Day 2.
30. Atlanta Falcons
- DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State: Atlanta's depleted secondary needs another cornerback (or two), but Werner is too good to pass up. He probably doesn't have the upside of Tank Carradine, his former Seminoles bookend who's coming back from an ACL tear, but Werner is a high-motor guy who'd look awfully nice opposite Osi Umenyiora. And improved pass rush can help the guys in coverage.
31. San Francisco 49ers
- DL Sylvester Williams, North Carolina: The NFC champs are laden with picks, including five of the draft's top 100. Stanford TE Zach Ertz, who's already played for Jim Harbaugh, and injured South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore would seem to be logical targets for the Niners in that range. But let's start them off with Williams, who provides fresh legs and plenty of heft (6-3, 313) to a thinned D-line.
32. Baltimore Ravens
- NT Jesse Williams, Alabama: Baltimore has already added veteran Band-Aids to replace retired LB Ray Lewis (Rolando McClain) and departed FS Ed Reed (Michael Huff) and would probably be stretching if it committed a first rounder to either position, especially since there will likely be several options at both spots in Rounds 2 and 3. GM Ozzie Newsome, who's acknowledged the need to improve the middle of his defense, always sticks to his board. But he also remains true to his Crimson Tide roots, and the massive Williams (6-4, 323) might be just the guy to push disappointing Terrence Cody on the nose.