I’ll roll out my final mock draft tomorrow, but I had the idea for an intellectual exercise beforehand. Since the draft always has some major surprises– some teams play it straight with the media, many more don’t– I thought I would try my best to “predict” how some of those picks might happen, where a team (or teams) values a player more highly than the draft-community consensus, or where a team has expressed no interest in a player who seems suited to the team.
Having said that, I did my best to keep players as close to their legitimate value as possible, but more importantly, I chose players whom I thought would help the team, and I’ve explained why. The only catch is that, to the best of my knowledge and research, I’ve not seen these players and teams linked anywhere else.
Read on to see what Kansas City probably won’t do with the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft…
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Until his heart issue at the Combine, he was considered a strong candidate to go #1. Then he fell to the middle of the first round. Then his heart checked out and he rose again. Now he’s falling again on mock drafts, right before the draft.
I think he’s a sure thing to be an impact player and he can line up anywhere on Kansas City’s line. Of course, they’ve tied themselves into taking an offensive tackle, but in a world where Albert and Winston are still their starters for the foreseeable future, the Chiefs add a major player to their defense with Star Lotulelei.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Many writers think the Jaguars won’t take an OT because they have Eugene Monroe at left tackle. Monroe is a free agent after 2013, and he’s fine, but the front office has no ties to him, and he’s not good enough not to upgrade if the best prospect on board is a left tackle.
The Jaguars’ braintrust has said they are down to two players, and since Joeckel is largely considered the top prospect, it makes sense that he would be one of the two. Most writers who are mocking an OT to the Jaguars have Eric Fisher here, but with Joeckel still available, he’s the pick.
3. Oakland Raiders – Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oreogn
Perhaps the ghost of Al Davis took over this one, as Jordan’s tantalizing SPEEEEEEEEEEED makes him a promising developmental candidate as an edge rusher. I think a safer pick makes sense for the Raiders– and most mocks have them taking a defensive tackle, where they now have a hole– but they need help everywhere. They should take their top-rated prospect, period.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
He seems like a more natural 4-3 DT, but if Fletcher Cox can line up at 3-4 DE, why can’t he? Floyd would team with Cox to provide the Eagles with a devastating interior pass rush.
5. Detroit Lions – Barkveious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Mingo’s first step, acceleration, and motor make him possibly the edge-rushing prospect with the highest ceiling. The Lions won’t pass on Eric Fisher if he’s available in reality, but they lost their two starting defensive ends this offseason as well, not just their offensive tackles.
6. Cleveland Browns – Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Immediate upgrade to a pretty atrocious passing game. Would instantly make the team better all-around. Would complement Josh Gordon’s downfield skillset. Might make Brandon Weeden look competent.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
This is just a case of a prospect who’s too good to pass up falling into Arizona’s lap. The word is that with Levi Brown returning from injury, they are fine with their offensive tackles, but if Brown can move inside to guard, Fisher would be a tremendous (and long-term) upgrade.
8. Buffalo Bills – Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Buffalo has many holes, but one of them is Mark Anderson’s lack of pass-rushing productivity from one end. Ansah could potentially fix that hole, although he is a bit of a project. Nearly every writer has the Bills going offense with this pick– I’ve seen everything from Jonathan Cooper to Tavon Austin to Ryan Nassib.
9. New York Jets – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Obviously, they need to replace Darrelle Revis. Milliner may or may not fall here– he seems like he has a chance to go to Detroit or Cleveland, but his medical history may scare some teams off him early. Haven’t seen anyone connect these two dots yet.
10. Tennessee Titans – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
On the other hand, nobody’s mocking this pick because it’s absolutely not going to happen. But Jake Locker is not good enough. He runs fast, and he throws a football hard, and he looks so pretty doing it that if you’re a scout or media personality, apparently, you forget what you’re doing for a moment and fade into a fantasy where he’s having relations with your daughter. But he’s not accurate and doesn’t read defenses well. Those are critical parts of being a capable quarterback. Locker made no progress in these departments at Washington, which is the biggest reason to think he’s not going to in the NFL, either.
11. San Diego Chargers – D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
It would be kind of nuts to take D.J. Fluker over Lane Johnson, but you never know what teams will do. San Diego needs help on its offensive line basically everywhere. San Diego needs help on its roster basically everywhere.
12. Miami – Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
They don’t have much at guard right now. Warmack would be an immediate upgrade and I haven’t seen him mocked to Miami anywhere.
13. New York Jets – Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
There’s talk that their interest in him is a smokescreen to get the Bills to panic and take Nassib at 8. No idea if it’s true or not. The Jets, however, surely cannot go without taking a young QB somewhere in this draft. I don’t think Nassib is good value here, but teams always reach for QBs they like.
14. Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Amini Silatolu could develop into a good player, but their other guard spot could use an upgrade. If this actually happens, they’d be better off taking the next pick and starting him at RT until Jordan Gross leaves / falls apart. Cooper is legit, though.
15. New Orleans Saints – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
There’s been talk that Sean Payton is still worried about the left tackle position, and that the Saints like Johnson, but they (and I) don’t expect him to be here with this pick. If he is, the Saints will be ecstatic. There is a rumor going around that draftniks like his athleticism more than actual teams do.
16. St. Louis Rams – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Kendall Langford is a good player, but was a little disappointing in 2012. This pick could give them a complete long-term, seriously disruptive defensive line.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The word is that they like Cordarrelle Patterson, but I think Hunter is the better all-around prospect. Patterson has great moves after the catch, but Hunter is the total package, assuming his ACL recovery went smoothly.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida St.
You’re moving to a 4-3, you pick a 4-3 defensive end. It’s very possible Anthony Spencer could be traded, especially if he doesn’t fit into this defense.
19. New York Giants – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
They could use an upgrade at linebacker. Ogletree has not been mentioned in connection with them. He seems to be ping-ponging across the value board; one day it’s “Athleticism! Playmaker!” and the next it’s “Lazy! DUIs!”
20. Chicago Bears – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
I think the value of having defensive tackles who can penetrate is becoming more and more apparent in the NFL. Williams isn’t exactly a need, but he could be an effective player for a long time, especially if the team can’t get a long-term deal done with Henry Melton.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St.
I’ve heard they’re looking to upgrade at the position. Nearly everyone has them taking a safety here, but the depth at safety in this draft means they ought to be able to find someone at 37 they’re happy with.
22. St. Louis Rams – Deandre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Talk is they will upgrade at receiver, but the sure-handed Hopkins isn’t a name I’ve heard mentioned in connection with them.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
They’ll likely want to upgrade at receiver, and this is a name I haven’t seen linked to Minnesota. More recent mocks have them taking something like a secondary player and Manti Te’o with these two picks.
24. Indianapolis Colts – D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
He’s a late riser, and the Colts need help here. Seems simple enough.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
No one’s expecting Vaccaro to be there when the Vikings pick. They only have one good safety on the team; Vaccaro will start next to Harrison Smith on opening day.
26. Green Bay Packers – Melenik Watson, OT, Florida St.
They’ve used a lot of resources on it recently, but their offensive tackle position is very unsettled. Derek Sherrod hasn’t worked out. Bryan Bulaga can’t play left tackle. Watson gives them an upgrade over Marshall Newhouse, potentially allowing Newhouse and Sherrod to kick inside.
27. Houston Texas – Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Outside of J.J. Watt, the rest of Houston’s front five (including the OLBs, since what they play is almost closer to a 5-2 than a 3-4) is pretty ordinary. Jones will give them another disruptive player up the middle, especially since all the top WR targets are gone.
28. Denver Broncos – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen are serviceable, but do you want serviceable, or do you want potentially dominant?
29. New England Patriots – Keenan Allen, WR, California
Their wide receiver collection outside of Danny Amendola is a bunch of castoffs. Allen isn’t a big downfield threat, which is what they really need at the position, but he’s a surehanded guy who figures to be a low-floor low-ceiling type. Anquan Boldin is a comparison I hear a lot.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Justin Pugh, G/T, Syracuse
This is the first mock I’ve seen with this guy in the first round, but I hear he’s rising. Atlanta cut Tyson Clabo, so they need a right tackle. Big bodies always go higher in the draft than the media thinks they will.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Tank Carradine, DE/OLB, Florida St.
I’m not really sure if Carradine can play OLB in a 3-4, but teams who run both 4-3s and 3-4s have shown interest in him. He was an excellent pass rusher last season and gets around the edge well. He could undoubtedly help the 49ers there.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
I kind of like this pick mostly because I think Jones could fit the team’s hybrid concepts: He can play OLB in a 3-4 and, I think, in a 4-3 on rushing downs. He’s too small to play 4-3 DE, but he can be an effective run stopper as a linebacker. He fits their trend of drafting versatile guys like Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs.
And there you have it. Now if a team makes one of these picks, you can say you heard it here first!