By PFC Lead Draft Writer Jason Davis
Here is my first NFL Mock Draft of the season for Pro Football Central. I took into account what I noticed at the NFL Combine. Please leave your thoughts and comments.
1. Kansas City – OT Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) Andy Reid brought in a quarterback and this pick helps protect him. Most reports say Brendan Albert won’t be resigned Joeckel can step right in an produce.
2. Jacksonville - Barkevious Mingo (LSU) Mingo provides new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley the perfect rush linebacker he needs. Plus, Mingo has the experience of playing the best competition in football in the SEC.
3. Oakland – QB Geno Smith (West Virginia) The Raiders have been linked to Geno Smith by various sources and I believe this is the pick. They need a quarterback since Carson Palmer isn’t close to be a capable long-term starter anymore. Smith can start from Day One and become a leader for the Raiders. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and will prove to people he should’ve been drafted No. 1 overall.
4. Philadelphia – DE Dion Jordan (Oregon) Chip Kelly lands his former linebacker from college. Jordan is the best pass rusher in the class and will help the Eagles defense immensely. Kelly will get his scheme players on offense cheap and must land playmakers via the draft and free agency. Jordan is the first piece.
5. Detroit – CB Dee Milliner (Alabama) Milliner has most of the tools to be a successful No. 1 corner in the NFL. The Lions are in desperate need for secondary help, especially when they face Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall twice a season. Milliner steps in and starts day one.
6. Cleveland – DE/OLB Damontre Moore (Texas A&M) Cleveland spent numerous picks last season shoring up their offense. This year, they need to focus on their defense. With Jabaal Sheard being the only real contributor, the Browns need to get some help rushing the quarterback. Moore can project either as a defensive end or outside linebacker and that versatility can be helpful for the Browns.
7. Arizona – QB Matt Barkley (USC) Bruce Arians is the new head coach and will get his quarterback right off the bat. Barkley has been linked to Arizona and I believe he doesn’t get by them at seven. He has impressed at interviews and his shoulder is healing well. While I don’t have a first round grade on Barkley mainly because of his arm strength, he goes to Arizona hoping to turn things around for the Cardinals. The Cardinals could grab OT Eric Fisher in hopes of shoring up their offensive line, but I don’t see that happening. They can’t continue with Kevin Kolb.
8. Buffalo — CB Xavier Rhodes (Florida State) Yes, the Bills are taking another cornerback after they drafted Gilmore first overall. Here’s why. First, Buddy Nix loves measurables in his players and Rhodes has them all. He’s 6’2″, 217 pounds while being able to run 4.43 40-yard dash. Rhodes has had a vertical jump of 40 1/2-inches. Second, Rhodes is the perfect corner for Mike Pettine’s defense. He can very phyiscal in man coverage and is good enough to hold down the wide receiver while Pettine brings the blitz. Finally, you could make the argument for Cordarrelle Patterson but I’ll take the elite cornerback first and grab a wide receiver in the second or third round. Great depth there.
9. New York Jets — DE Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah (BYU) The Jets get themselves the perfect pass rusher in Ansah. He can play a variety of positions in Rex Ryan’s defense and will get after the quarterback from wherever he is lined up. At 6-6 and 270 pounds Ansah is a physical freak and will be a problem for defenses for years to come. Ryan will coach him into a standout player on defense.
10. Tennessee — OG Chance Warmack (Alabama) Warmack is an elite talent and the Titans could use some help at the guard position. Most of the time guards don’t land in the top 10 but Warack is the exception here. He has the ability to open up running lanes rather easily and control the line of scrimmage. Warmack isn’t a flashy pick but he will be a starter in the league for years to come.
11. San Diego — OT Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) The Chargers get a steal with Fisher being here at pick 11 because in my mind Fisher is a top five pick. Fisher just didn’t fit the team prior to the Chargers, but they desperately need help on the offensive line. He can dominate the defense and prevent pass rushers from reaching Phillip Rivers. He has great feet and is very strong for his position. Rarely due you catch him off guard. The Chargers grab him to improve their line which allowed 48 sacks last season.
12. Miami — WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee) Patterson is rising up draft boards and is an elite talent and very well could be the best wide receiver in this draft. He still has raw ability but has already shown glimpses of greatness. Patterson has blazing speed, height and elusiveness for someone at 6’3”. Running a 4.42 40-yard dash proves it. He is dynamic in the open field and has great vision down the field. The Dolphins can finally give Tannehill an elite wide receiver to help the Dolphins 26th ranked passing offense last season.
13. Tampa Bay – CB Desmond Trufant (Washington) The cornerback crop is very deep this year but Trufant is a last of the elite talent. He’s been rising since the end of the season and is a great press corner. He prides himself in taking on an opponent’s best wide receiver and shutting him down. Trufant can be left on an island on defense which allows for more opportunity to blitz. The Bucs need some help in the secondary with Barber’s age and the loss of Talib.
14. Carolina – DT Sharrif Floyd (Florida) The Panthers nailed their first round pick in Luke Kuechly last year and now help the interior of their defensive line with Floyd. He has a strong motor and can chase plays down from behind. His explosiveness will help disrupt the backfield for the offense and he will immediately help in slowing down the opponents’ run game for Carolina. He can excel at either end or tackle but I believe you must keep him at tackle where he’ll be most productive.
15. New Orleans – DE/OLB Bjoern Werner (Florida State) Werner is a versatile pass rusher who can be used as an end or an outside linebacker and with the Saints transitioning to a 3-4 defense. He will be able to pursue the quarterback due to his strength, power and motor. Werner is a three down lineman so he can contribute most of the game.
16. St. Louis – S Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) The Rams improved their defensive line and corners last season and now they help the back end of their defense. Vaccaro is big, athletic safety and he can lower his shoulder to drop a receiver over the middle. He can also cover very well down the field including against slot receivers or tight ends.
17. Pittsburgh – LB Alec Ogletree (Georgia) Pittsburgh needs youth at the linebacker position. It was evident last season when each of them were injured at some point throughout the year. Ogletree is big enough to shed blocks and attack the ball carrier and fast enough to stay with receivers down the field. He’s a three down player who can cover from sideline to sideline. Exactly what the Steelers are looking for. He did have issues with the law but I believe the leadership with the defense can keep him under control.
18. Dallas – DT Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) Richardson is the defensive tackle the Cowboys desperately need. With Josh Brent out and Jay Ratliff injured most of last season, the Cowboys are in need of help in the interior of their defense line. Richardson is disruptive three-technique player at the next level and would be an ideal compliment to Jay Ratliff. Since the Cowboys are transitioning to a 4-3 defense, Richardson would help make that a little easier.
19. New York Giants – Jonathan Cyprien (FIU) Cyprien is one of the best safeties in this class and with the injuries to the Giants safeties last year, especially Phillips, Cyprien can be a huge help. He knows when to play the ball and when to take the man on the field. He is very instinctive and won’t get caught making mistakes in coverage.
20. Chicago – TE Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame) The Bears traded away Greg Olsen who was one of Cutler’s favorite targets. Eifert can fill in where Olsen left off. He is by far the most talented tight end in this class and will give opposing defenses problems if they leave him alone in the middle of the field. He impressed at the Combine and separted himself from the rest of the tight end class.
21. Cincinnati – DE Datone Jones (UCLA) Jones is a versatile player that saw action at virtually every position along with UCLA defensive line. His combination of quickness and strength will cause offensive lines problems for years to come. With the possibility of Michael Johnson leaving, Jones can step in and be an impact player next year.
22. St. Louis (from Washington) – OG Johnathan Cooper (North Carolina) The Rams selected defense with their first pick in the round and now they help themselves on offense. Cooper is one of the best guards in the draft and can help keep Sam Bradford upright. Cooper can also help Safford hold down the offensive line.
23. Minnesota – WR Keenan Allen (California) Ponder needs more weapons, plain and simple. He made it to the playoffs on the back of Adrian Peterson. Now it’s time to draft him some help. Allen has the big frame to win one and one battles and can help spread the field and allow Percy Harvin to work over the middle. Even if Harvin leaves, Allen has the skill set to be a No. 1 wide receiver.
24. Indianapolis – OT Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) Lane Johnson can be a steal here for the Colts. They need help on the offensive line because Luck was under pressure way too much last season. Defense might be a bigger need but when a guy like Johnson falls, it’s important to make the selection. He is very athletic and has good feet to help keep his balance. He is very strong and should be a mainstay in the NFL for years.
25. Seattle – WR Tavon Austin (West Virginia) The Seahawks could go a variety of ways here, but they need a true slot receiver and Austin would give them another dangerous weapon that defenses would have to plan for. With the 49ers improving after their run to the Super Bowl, the Seahawks need to make it as difficult as possible to cover all their weapons on offense.
26. Green Bay – TE Zach Ertz (Notre Dame) Jermichael Finley will be gone in Green Bay. Ertz would be a perfect fit to replace him. He has very good hands and has decent speed for a tight end. He would provide another option for Rodgers in the passing game and keep the Packers offense in the top part of the NFL.
27. Houston – WR Markus Wheaton (Oregon State) Matt Schaub is a good quarterback but needs more weapons to knock off an elite team in the playoffs. Wheaton possesses deep speed and runs very deceptive routes which leads to separation even from elite corners. Pairing him with Andre Johnson would give the Texans two elite threats at receiver while still possessing one of the best running backs as well. Could be a steal in the draft.
28. Denver – DT Star Lotulelei (Utah) The Broncos have holes in the middle of their defense. Their defense allowed opponents to run on them relatively easy. Lotuelei is a space eater and can help the Broncos solidify their run game along with helping their pass rush. With Miller and Dumervil on the outside, it’ll be hard to decide who to block on each play. Lotulelei only falls this far because of his heart condition that is still very unknown.
29. New England – WR DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) Wes Welker may leave in the offseason and the only other weapon the Patriots have at wide receiver is Brandon Lloyd and is isn’t secure either. Hopkins can be the possession receiver the Patriots are looking for and allow Lloyd to be more of a threat downfield. Hopkins possesses great hands, which Brady looks for in a wide receiver. He also runs very solid routes. A very good fit for the Patriots.
30. Atlanta – DE Alex Okafor (Texas) The Falcons had trouble getting to the quarterback even with John Abraham healthy. Now he’s gone. They need to be able to pressure the quarterback, especially in the playoffs if they want to win. Matt Ryan finally proved he can win a playoff game, now it’s the defenses’ turn to prove they can help out too.
31. San Francisco – CB Jonathan Banks (Mississippi State) The 49ers defense is one of the best in the league. They are aging though and could use some more help in the secondary. Banks is a very tall and athletic corner who can step in and start right away. With teams in the NFC West looking to improve offensively, the 49ers need to keep the defense improving, especially with playmakers like Banks.
32. Baltimore – LB Manti Te’o (Notre Dame) With Ray Lewis retiring, the Ravens need a player to fill in at linebacker. Ellerbe may leave in free agency as well so it opens up a major hole. Te’o has the same determination and will to win that Lewis possessed when he played in the NFL. Perfect fit for the Ravens. His stock is lowered due to a bad Combine and National Championship game.