I’ve always been fascinated with mock drafts. Every year around March and early April I scour the internet for some expert opinion on who my team might draft. And eventually you read enough of them that you fall in love with a couple type of players that you want on your team. The experts who mock them to your team always know what they’re talking about, and coincidentally, the ones who have that player being taken earlier, have no idea. Well this is my attempt to make you happy (probably false hope) and or piss you off with my mock draft. Either way, don’t act like this isn’t an efficient use of 15 minutes of your day (candy crush can wait). So enjoy my mock draft and watch me be totally wrong on draft day.
Editors note: I will mock by draft order as of 4/24/13. It’s impossible to predict when Jim Harbaugh trades up into the top 10 to get his impact SS or Milliner falls out of the top 5.
1. OT-Luke Joeckel: After trading for Alex Smith their is no need for Akili Smith 2.0 (Geno Smith). You could argue Eric Fisher here as well but i’m going with popular opinion. Either one upgrades already good Oline unit.
2.DE-Dion Jordan: A lot of needs here. If there was a halfway decent QB then it would be a no brainer. But there isn’t so it’s either OL or an impact rusher. I think Jordan gives them the athletic specimen similar to Jason Pierre-Paul on the NY Giants.
3.DT/DE-Shariff Floyd: With Richard Seymour leaving, Oakland needs a big bodied athlete to anchor it’s 3-4 defensive end spot. Floyd fits the prototype to a T. The Raiders improved from 29th in defense last year to 18th, the selection of Floyd will only help the Silver and Black.
4.OT-Eric Fisher: Mainly a value pick here, depending on who you ask, Fisher is at least a top 4 talent (some consider him the best in the draft). And the Eagles can’t go wrong with an Oline-men, especially if Chip Kelly expects to keep Vick upright throughout the remainder of the season.
5.OT-Lane Johnson: A lot of possibilities here. The sexy pick is Dee Milliner, buts unless he’s Charles Woodson or Champ Bailey (and he’s not) it doesn’t make sense. The need pick would be DE’s Dion Jordan or Ziggy Ansah to replace Cliff Avril. But the smart/unsexy selection is to fortify a massively depleted Oline. You could argue Alabama’s OG Chance Warmack here, he definitely fits the bill. But an elite OT to protect your two biggest investments, Stafford and in turn Megatron, is always a smart move. Don’t F this up Mayhew.
6.DE-Dee Milliner: New Browns GM Mike Lombardi returns to Cleveland since he and Belicheck left in 1995. It’s no coincidence that Lombardi wants to employ his mentor’s 3-4 defense. If Dion Jordan were here, it’d take 2 seconds for that draft card to be turned in. I go with Milliner here because he and Haden would make one of the best young CB’s duo’s in the NFL (it is a passing league). I thought about Ansah here as well but i don’t think he quite fits as a 3-4 OLB. Plus Lombardi already inked Kruger in FA to fill that need. Joe Haden worked out for them, why not Milliner.
7.OG-Chance Warmack: I thought long and hard about the Cards drafting Geno Smith here, but i’m not sold on him. The Cardinals had the worst offensive line in the NFL last year. They gave up a league high in QB sacks (54). In a draft rich with Oline talent, it makes perfect sense to go need and best available here. Warmack gives AZ a strong physical road-grader type guard. He’s NFL ready and has done it against the best of the SEC. Johnathan Cooper is an option here but you’re really just splitting hairs.
8.QB-Geno Smith: After releasing Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills are in definite need of a quarterback. Geno makes the most sense here. As the consensus top quarterback in the draft, number 8 isn’t a franchise breaker if he fails. He doesn’t have to start right away, they do have Travaris Jackson to groom him. Geno is off the board.
9. DE-Ziggy Ansah: The Jets have a lot of needs, QB being the biggest one but that discussion is for another day. WR help would be great as the have NO threat on the outside but that can be had later. I think Rex Ryan gets an infusion of juice in his now dormant pass rush. Getting Ziggy here is a great value for NY’s little brother.
10.DT-Star Lotulelei: Once a lock to be a Top 3 pick, health concerns sent him plummeting down the draft board, but it stops in Nashville. Now fully cleared by doctors, Lotulelei possesses the type of bulk and athleticism sorely needed in the Titans front front 4. There could be plenty of other options but Lotulelei’s upside is worth the risk.
11.OG-Johnathan Cooper: The Chargers need offensive line help and bad, particularly on the interior. With Bama OG Warmack off the board, UNC Johnathan Cooper would be a fine consolation prize. Cooper possesses the best agility and pass blocking skill of any of the interior lineman. Philip Rivers thanks you.
12.OT-D.J. Fluker: And the run on offensive linemen continues (get use to it). He does a little bit of everything and has the NFL size to back it up. With his long arms he is an asset in pass protection but his real skill is run blocking. Miami can look forward to both aspects of their blocking scheme being upgraded.
13.WR-Tavon Austin: As I said earlier the Jets need help on the outside. Last year’s group was an abortion and that is putting it nicely. Tavon Austin fits the bill. He’s comparable to that of a DeSean Jackson in size and explosiveness. Giving Butt Fumble (Sanchez) a legitimate WR who can stretch the field might actually turn the Jets offense from unwatchable to just stagnate.
14.DT-Sheldon Richardson: Sometimes picks just make too much sense, this one is a no brainer. With Shariff Floyd off the board, Richardson is the best interior one gap pass rusher left. To say the guy is an athlete at 310 lbs is an understatement. Don’t out think the room Carolina, Richardson is your man.
15.DE-Barkevious Mingo: After a season of completely sucking at defense (worst in NFL history). A pass rusher of Mingo’s talents is just what the doctor ordered. With the Saints going to the 3-4, Mingo gives them the all around package as an edge rusher. Mingo is step one to the Saints defensive overhaul.
16. SS-Kenny Vaccaro: The first of the Rams two round one picks, dont be surprised if they trade down *cough* 49ers *cough*. But seeing as I cannot predict that, I have the Rams taking the best SS on the board. Vaccaro is a versatile safety who can be a play-maker in center field, down in the box safety or even cover the slot nickel position. He’ll be a starter for somebody, question is who?
17. OLB-Jarvis Jones: Once considered a top 3 pick, medical issues and poor 40 time have sent his stock plummeting. But Pittsburgh is a team that could care less about that, Jones is a football player through and through. Match him up opposite Woodley and “Blitzburg” returns. Manti Te’o is an interesting option here but the void left by Harrison’s departure needs to be filled.
18.DT-Sylvester Williams: Another candidate to trade back. Dallas would have loved to have either Vaccaro or Richardson still on the board but both will probably be gone. Best available does not match up to need but I think Dallas reaches here and takes Williams. He is best as a run stopper and that is what Dallas needs to shore up the front seven.
19. TE-Tyler Eifert: The G-Men could have gone Oline here but i can’t see them passing up Eifert as the best available still on the board. Eli and company could become near unstoppable in the two TE sets (Eifert and Myers) with their explosive threats on the outside. This is strictly a value pick, the smart teams always stockpile good players no matter of need.
20. MLB-Manti Te’o: Some picks just make too much sense. Now with Urlacher gone, the hole in CHI Cover 2 is gaping, Te’o fills that need. Yes he’s had his troubles and one bad performance in the NC game but the kid is a 3-down MLB in the 4-3. Say what you will, Chicago would be smart to make this pick.
21.FS-Eric Reid: Some could argue that Eddie Lacy would be perfect here and that argument is valid. But Reid brings a more physical presence to the Bengals secondary that would be a better fit. Take Reid now and the Bengals can hit on some of the RBs in the later rounds.
22.ILB-Alec Ogletree: Once thought top be a lock for a Top 15 selection, character red flags have dropped him into the latter half of the first round. But Jeff Fisher has a history of assuming those risks (Janoris Jenkins anybody?). Red flags aside, Ogletree will give the Rams the athleticism needed to compete with one of the best division in football.
23.CB-D.J. Hayden: With two of the next 3 picks the Vikings can afford to go for both need and value. Hayden is the best player left on the board and will be counted on to fill the shoes left by Antoine Winfield. Some rate him as the best corner in the draft. Either way, at #23, it’s tremendous value. He can do a little bit of everything that is asked of a defensive back.
24.CB-Xavier Rhodes: Would have loved to have Hayden fall but Rhodes fits the bill of what the Colts need. While not the do it all corner that Hayden is, Rhodes excels in man press coverage. He has good size and will be a key cog in Pagano’s defense.
25.WR-Cordarrelle Patterson: Need and value meet again. Now that the Vikings have replaced Winfield, next is filling the void left by Percy Harvin. Patterson is similar to Harvin in terms of explosiveness. And with his 6’2″ frame, he can be a legitimate target for Ponder on the outside. Patterson should help lessen the pressure AP will face next year.
26.RB-Eddie Lacy: I truly think the GB will trade out of the pick and get an additional 2nd rounder because they have multiple needs to fill. Having said that, if they don’t trade, I think Lacy fits the bill. The Packers need a legitimate threat and Lacy gives them that. If he could tear up the SEC, he can give Rodgers an Co. that juice and burst against 6 and 7-man fronts. As the best player left on the board and a need at RB, Ted Thompson would be happy with Lacy.
27.WR-Justin Hunter: The Texans need to find a running mate opposite Andre Johnson. While they would have loved Patterson to fall to them, Patterson’s teammate Justin Hunter will do. While he does have his issues in certain facets of his game. He he has no better role model then Johnson to tailor his game and work ethic after.
28.DE-Bjoern Warner: Warner slides in nicely after the departure of Elvis Dumervil. Jack of all trades and master of none, he fits a need for a Super Bowl ready squad.
29.FS-Matt Elam: They need cornerback help and Hayden or Rhodes would’ve been nice but they’ll probably be gone by the Pats pick. Secondary help is still a focal point, as the best player on the board Elam can help the Pats in a myriad ways. Don’t be surprised if NE trades down if the two corners aren’t there.
30.TE-Zach Ertz: If by some miracle Eifert fell here, Atlanta would be doing somersaults. But Ertz is a good second option. While there are better players on the board. Ertz total package and heir apparent to Tony Gonzales gives the Falcons A LOT of options on offense. They can afford to wait on secondary and front 7 help. Ertz makes too much sense.
31.FS-Johnathan Cyprien: I’d be shocked to see the Niners picking at #31, they’ll probably move up into the Top 15 (St. Louis) to get their guy. But if they do stay, I see them filling a need with Cyprien. He’s been moving up the charts since his exceptional showing at the combine. He good on the back end and is a good tackler, always an important Harbaugh characteristic. Don’t be surprised if Harbaugh takes his boy Ertz from Stanfordif he’s still there.
32.ILB-Kevin Minter: If Te’o fell here it’d make a lot of sense. But they need to somehow fill that massive void left by Ray Lewis, or at least try to. Minter is undersized for a ILB but he’s got the athleticism to back it up. Has some character issues but in the right situation, he’ll flourish. Baltimore sounds about right.
There you go folks, my first round mock draft that will be busted like my NCAA bracket by pick 7. Hope you enjoyed it. Shoot me some feedback on your team picks. Enjoy the draft, it’s 5:00 pm on ESPN and NFL Network.