By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
Does Geno go No. 1? How many QBs go in the first round? Do the Jets take Mingo, Jones, Moore or Jordan? Or does Gang Green surprise us with either a QB? Or do they trade down?
There are alot of questions going into April and that makes it really interesting for us draft nerds. Here is an updated look at how things could shape up. Any thoughts, feel free to comment!
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith (QB) WEST VIRGINIA
With Scott Pioli out as GM and Andy Reid in as coach the Chiefs will add a young quarterback in the draft, the only question is when. Geno Smith has NFL tools but struggled mightily down the stretch. Reid’s west coast offense has down wonders for several quarterbacks and the quick passing attack is something Smith does well. However, his real strength is his deep ball so maybe he can bring some explosion to the offense that may need to replace its number #1 WR if Dwayne Bowe exits via free agency.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei (DT) UTAH
With a new GM on the way one would think the affinity towards Blaine Gabbert would be declining and it would be surprisingly it that’s not the case. However, instead of using the #2 overall pick on a quarterback in a weak class the solution, or maybe better termed experiment, could be a local hero and hometown kid guaranteed to sell tickets. Yes that would be Tim Tebow. If the Chiefs don’t take Geno Smith expect the Jags to at least strongly consider doing so. If not Jarvis Jones brings tremendous pass rushing potential along with the athleticism to excel in pass coverage. His spinal stenosis condition and light frame could cause the Jags to opt for Utah DT Star Lotulelei, widely considered among the top 3 overall prospects.
3. Oakland Raiders: Manti Te’o (ILB) NOTRE DAME
The Raiders under Al Davis often went for the flashy pick, someone who has explosive athletic tools and often has the “Boom or Bust” label. Manti Te’o is the complete opposite of the type of player the Black and Silver once coveted, but a smart, physical linebacker with high character and the range to match up well in run support and handle coverage responsibilities is not only sensible, but probably the right the call.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel (LT) TEXAS A&M
Depending on what happens above them the Eagles will look to satisfy their needs and grab the best talent available. If Joeckel isn’t picked byKansas Citythen not only are the Eagles getting arguably the best player in the entire draft, but they will bolster a weak and problematic offensive line. Joeckel is a smooth athlete with the prototypical size (6’6 310) of an ideal LT.
5. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore (DE) TEXAS A&M
This pick seems like a perfect fit for the Lions recent draft strategy. Not only is Moore potentially the best player available, but as a premium pass rushing talent has he brought energy and the ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Hopefully this addition might start a turnaround on the defensive side of the ball, and while I think the secondary is more of an issue than the line, I don’t anticipate them to deviate very far, if at all, from their tendency to draft strictly based on their big board. If they do see the secondary as a big enough issue then Dee Milliner could be the guy.
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones (OLB) GEORGIA
Cleveland is quietly building a strong core of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Jones is versatile enough to drop back into coverage and chase down running backs, but his bread and butter is bringing the heat off the edge. Maybe the loyal fans of Cleveland will finally start to taste some success…Just maybe.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley (QB) USC
The search for a long term answer at quarterback has begun. In the meantime the Cards could choose to draft a LT like Tyler Lewan or Jake Matthews and hope a better protected Kevin Kolb can keep the fans and Larry Fitzgerald happy for a year. Even though Barkley’s stock has dropped like crazy he still has top notch intangibles, enough athletic tools and experience in a pro style system that could lead to instant (but limited) success.
8. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson (QB) ARKANSAS
The Bills have given some signs they are leaning towards taking a quarterback early in the draft. I’m a huge fan of Wilson and think he has displayed incredible toughness and leadership enduring an awful senior season with a depleted Arkansas squad. His big arm and gun-slinger mentality are intriguing to and could be the choice to replace Fitzpatrick and bring in a new era.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo (OLB/DE) LSU
Mingo seems like an ideal fix to the Jets inability to generate a consistent pass rush. He may not be a finished product and could use some more bulk, but he has elite speed and the athleticism to make flat-footed lineman pay. While not excelling in run support he has improved throughout the year and doesn’t shy away from contact. Those are all very good signs. A bit of a risky selection, but Rex needs to gamble in order to save his job. Expect a QB to be taken at some point, but other needs like help at S, WR and RB maybe push that down to the mid to late rounds.
10. Tennessee Titans: Bjoern Werner (DE) FSU
There is a good chance Werner doesn’t last to this point but if he does the Titans would jump at the chance to add a powerful defensive lineman who has been incredibly productive. The Titans have several holes but with Werner being mocked as high as #2 overall the talent he clearly has would be too much to ignore.
11. San Diego Chargers: Tyler Lewan (LT) MICHIGAN
Norv Turner departs and leaves the Chargers in an awkward state. Clearly they lack the ability to challenge the superior Broncos in the AFC West and at times look like they are simply confused out there on the field. That being said it’s hard to know if a full-on rebuild mode is under way with a still very talented Phillip Rivers who is declining and may only have a few decent years left as a legitimate starter. No matter the future direction the team decides a potential franchise left tackle will ensure any quarterback has the proper time in the pocket.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen (WR) CAL
Ryan Tannehill showed some real signs of improvement and the while Brian Hartline was a welcomed surprise he will only benefit from an improved supporting cast. Allen is a play-maker after the catch and has the size and hands to be a great X receiver.
13. Tampa Bay Bucs: Dee Milliner (CB) ALABAMA
The Bucs need help in the secondary after both Tanard Jackson and Aqib Talib left due to off-field issues and should be thrilled the top corner prospect fell to them at #13. Even if Milliner is gone they could very well take a very talented Johnathan Banks or another Johnathan with massive potential. That would be 6’3 330 lb Johnathan Hankins, one of my top overall prospects due to that upside.
14. Carolina Panthers: Johnathan Hankins (DT) OHIO ST
It’s no secret the Panthers need some reinforcements in the middle of the defense so why not snag a 330 lb Hankins who could develop into an All-Pro tackle. He has the strength to move linemen as well as the mass to anchor. For his size he is also a surprisingly smooth athlete and has the skills to penetrate effectively also.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson (DT) MISSOURI
A tumultuous season has come to a close and with the return of a handsomely compensated head coach the Saints should be fired up again. The defense was simply terrible and in order to improve the defensive line needs some renovation.Richardsonisn’t the typical hole-plugging tackle so prevalent, but rather makes his mark with the ability shoot through gaps and wreak havoc in the backfield.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jake Matthews (OT) TEXAS A&M
The Rams are headed in the right direction under the well respected and veteran coach Jeff Fisher. The young Sam Bradford hasn’t been able to duplicate his success as a rookie and the major reason why is the issues of the offensive line. Jake Matthews has NFL bloodlines and the versatility to play either tackle position.