By Kyle Casey and Mike O’Connor, Staff Writers
With the NFL’s premier scouting expo, the Scouting Combine, coming to an end on Tuesday, draft prospects have done almost all they can to prepare for the draft. Aside from pro days and individual workouts with teams, most teams’ draft boards are close to being solidified.
Now for online draftniks, all there is left to do is try to predict what will happen April 25-27. In order to do that, NYJD staff writers Kyle Casey and Mike O’Connor compiled a first round mock draft. Mike took the odd picks and Kyle took the even picks.
The picks are based on who should get drafted at each spot, not who will. Essentially, this is what would happen if Kyle and Mike were drafting for each team.
Here is their mock:
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Geno Smith being the #1 pick overall always had it’s skeptics, so it’s no surprise that the Alex Smith to KC rumors are turning the tables. With Star Lotulelei’s apparent condition (possibly heart issue, being speculated), and the solid chances of the Chiefs resigning Brandon Albert; defensive tackle becomes the top need by far, so Richardson slides right in. The explosive and versatile tackle doesn’t possess the consistent tools that Star or Shariff Floyd do, but I think his potential is apparent as soon as you turn on his clips. An upside pick for a team that isn’t as hopeless as most former #1 overall teams have been.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Geno Smith was considered here, but instead the team opts to take the best defensive player. Jordan can make an impact right away and could emerge as the best defensive player in this class.
3. Oakland Raiders – Geno Smith, QB West Virginia
The clear-cut best quarterback in the draft is a very safe pick here, as he proved at the Combine, though he didn’t really need to. The greatest part about this pick, however, is that Geno can sit if the Raiders still want to suck all of the possible solid play they can out of Carson Palmer after their woeful trade for him. An already consistent quarterback can learn in a system that won’t pressure him as much as Luck was last year when inserted right away, and that’s if he is the starter come September. Easy pick.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
While the Eagles have defensive needs, Luke Joeckel was too intriguing to pass up. Joeckel helps bolster an Eagles offensive line that should be much better in 2013. Regardless of who the starting quarterback is in Philadelphia next year, a talented offensive line is needed.
5. Detroit Lions – Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The end-of-the-season and Combine rave goes off the board early, as the Lions get to take their pick from their favorite defensive end prospects. While some can argue that the Lions desperately need a corner or a franchise offensive tackle, a team drafting this early that depends on their pass rush so heavily can’t pass up on a top ten rich with pass rushers. Despite his Combine performance, I still think Ziggy’s tape shows that his fluidity and flexibility he’d need to require to be an outside linebacker are quite there yet, so he fits in nicely with Detroit’s 4-3 scheme. If anything, a powerful pair of tackles inside with Suh and Nick Fairley will only free him up more often, so he can focus on developing as a rusher, since we all know his other tools.
6. Cleveland Browns – Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
With the Browns switching to a 3-4 defense, Barkevious Mingo is an ideal pick. Mingo would start immediately as a rushing outside linebacker and gives the Browns an impact defender that the team has been lacking.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Cardinals offensive line had no trouble proving to be the worst offensive line in the NFL last year, and the criticism can start with their tackles. Fourth-round rookie Bobby Massie was atrocious at the start of the season, but slowly worked his way up to a manageable level of play. On the other side, D’Anthony Batiste proved to be so bad that seventh-round rookie Nate Potter had to be inserted into the starting lineup. Whoever is quarterbacking the Cards next season will need some edge protectors, and where else better to start than Fisher, the best tackle in the draft besides Luke Joeckel.
8. Buffalo Bills – Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the answer and it’s time for the Bills to move on at the quarterback position. With Barkley available, who is my top quarterback in the draft, the opportunity was too good to pass up.
9. New York Jets – Damontre Moore, OLB, Texas A&M
Rag on me all you want Jets fans, but Damontre Moore is still my guy. His combine performance should hardly diminish his stock, as nobody should have expected the highly productive defensive end to run a forty time that compared to those of Mingo and Jordan. Such overall speed simply isn’t his game. Moore relies on his quick feet, hand usage, and burst to be one of the most versatile defensive prospects in this draft class. We all know Rex likes his edge defenders big, and the 6’4.5 ft, 250 lb mammoth doesn’t disappoint. Sure, us Jet fans would welcome the talents of Dion Jordan or Barkevious Mingo as well, but Moore makes for a more realistic and ideal fit, who can bring an instant impact to this defense. Moore will start from Day One.
10. Tennessee Titans – Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
The Titans need all the defensive help they can get. Shariff Floyd is a top defensive talent who can make an impact in the middle of Tennessee’s defense.
11. San Diego Chargers – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
With Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer both being obnoxiously average corners and potential goners, cornerback is the obvious direction, here. As much as Lane Johnson is rightfully rising up boards, Milliner is a special talent that this defense needs in their secondary this season. Eric Weddle can do quite a lot, but not everything.
12. Miami Dolphins – Keenan Allen, WR, California
After drafting Ryan Tannehill last year, it’s time to get him some help. I opted to go with Keenan Allen, as he’s the most talented all-around receiver in the draft and will be prepared enough to make an impact as a rookie.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Not as much of an obvious pick here as San Diego’s, but a Bucs’ secondary that took a pathetic swing-and-a-miss on Eric Wright and has an aging Ronde Barber starting needs a stable corner for the future. I think that the physicality (though it needs to be managed) and tenacity that Rhodes brings to the table matches up very well with the overall speed of the Bucs’ defense. Mark Barron will become much happier with this pick.
14. Carolina Panthers – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Bjoern Werner’s slide finally ends here. The Panthers have several needs, but defense is the biggest concern. Werner is a talented pass rusher and is athletic for his size, but his inconsistent effort is a concern the Panthers are willing to look past.
15. New Orleans Saints – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
A Saints team with many minors needs but no stressing ones can totally afford to go with simple value, here. As mentioned earlier, Star’s medical issue is a question mark, for sure, but recent reports make it sounds very precautionary and not too much of a worry. Without the condition, Star is arguably the best defensive tackle in this class with his blend of sheer strength, fluidity, and surprising quickness.
16. St. Louis Rams – Chance Warmack, OL, Alabama
With two first round picks, I decided to use one to give the Rams some help on the offensive line. Chance Warmack is an All-Pro talent who is a top-tier talent in this year’s draft. Sam Bradford needs more time in the pocket to continue to progress and Warmack helps him with that.