Reporting Justin Pawlowski
Over the next several weeks, we will see much movement in the NFL both by teams and by draft prospects.
As teams begin signing players, it gives a better understanding of what they might do in the NFL draft, but it’s never the entire picture.
As draft prospects have their pro days, we will continue to see stocks of these players rise and fall dramatically until April 25.
If you are new to my draft coverage, I’d like to explain how I piece together my mock draft.
As right as I want to think that I am, I am not naive to think that what I put out there is exactly how the 1st two rounds of the draft will play out. The draft is a puzzle with probably a million different ways it could unfold. Through my research of not just the players in the draft, but also of the team’s needs and their year-to-year approach to the draft, I try to construct just one way I believe the draft could unfold.
I do as much research on the players as I can with my limited resources. I analyze each team’s needs by breaking down each team’s roster myself. I also analyze the front office, head coach, and assistant coaches on each team to see if there might be a trend we can follow.
One thing I do not do is try to predict any trades. One thing I have learned over the years is that the trades we hear about with the NFL draft do not come true. The trades we don’t hear about are the ones that actually happen. It just doesn’t make sense to predict them at all.
With all of that said, I hope you enjoy my first mock draft of this year:
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel – OT – Texas A&M
Commish’s Comments: The release of Eric Winston probably gave us all the insight we need into what the Chiefs will do with this pick. Andy Reid has a history of drafting offensive linemen in the 1st round, so this shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Joeckel is an athletic offensive tackle who protected the Heisman trophy winner last year.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dee Milliner – CB – Alabama
Commish’s Comments: After being the defensive coordinator for one of the top secondaries in the NFL, new jaguars head coach Gus Bradley knows the importance of building that unit in today’s NFL. The Jaguars will be losing Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis to free agency after just releasing Aaron Ross, so cornerback is a major need.
3. Oakland Raiders – Sharrif Floyd – DT – Florida
Commish’s Comments: NFL Films’ Greg Cosell said recently that Floyd is by far the best player he’s watched on film so far and compared him to JJ Watt. The Raiders are trying to get their organization back on track, but are limited with draft picks again this year. I expect the Raiders to try to trade down to acquire more drat picks. If they stay here, Floyd would be a nice replacement for Richard Seymour.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Jarvis Jones – DE/OLB – Georgia
Commish’s Comments: On tape, Jones might be the most dominating player in this draft. If he gets a clean bill of health on his spinal stenosis, and it appears that he has, than Jones should be a top 10 selection. With a switch to the 3-4 defense, the Eagles need a hybrid pass rusher.
5. Detroit Lions – Eric Fisher – OT – Central Michigan
Commish’s Comments: The Lions face an off-season where their right tackle Gosder Cherilus could leave in free agency and last year’s first round pick, Riley Reiff, could be moved from offensive tackle to guard. The need for an offensive tackle is there, so why not draft an offensive tackle from the same state like they did 12 years ago in drafting Jeff Backus. Eric Fisher was dominant at the senior bowl, but his competition in 2012 was not against the top teams in the country. Fisher has the potential to protect Matthew Stafford’s blind side for years to come. Yes, I know the Lions need a CB and a DE, but this draft i about the big men. A cornerback should be available in the 2nd round.
6. Cleveland Browns – Dion Jordan – DE/OLB – Oregon
Commish’s Comments: The Browns are making the switch to the 3-4 defense, but their personnel is fairly well suited for the transition. The Browns do need another pass rusher, which is where Jordan fits in. Jordan is considered one of the draft’s top pass rushers and could fit a role with the Browns much like Aldon Smith has with the 49ers. What is overlooked with Jordan is his ability to drop in pass coverage as well. The Browns have been mentioned as suitors for both Cliff Avril and Paul Kruger. If they get either of these players, the Browns could then go after a cornerback or an offensive guard here.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Lane Johnson – OT – Oklahoma
Commish’s Comments: New head coach Bruce Arians has had a lot of success with young quarterbacks, but this draft is lacking a quarterback to his liking. I know that the popular pick here has been Geno Smith, but is the Cardinals new brain trust ready to reach on a quarterback with a ton of questions with their first pick? I don’t think so. Lane Johnson might be the most athletically gifted offensive lineman in this draft. With Bruce Arians open offense, it might be a benefit to have an offensive tackle that thrives in pass protection. Johnson has the ability to play left or right tackle.
8. Buffalo Bills – Chance Warmack – OG – Alabama
Commish’s Comments: New coach Doug Marrone is a former offensive line coach, so he views offensive linemen in a different light. Warmack has the potential to be dominant as a guard in the NFL. With no quarterbacks worth taking this high, including Marrone’s former QB at Syracuse, finding a replacement for Andy Levitre is a priority.
9. New York Jets -Geno Smith – QB – West Virginia
Commish’s Comments: I’m not ready to commit to Geno Smith falling to the end of the 1st round or into the 2nd round. If he gets past the Jets, that could very well happen. The Jets could look to Barkevious Mingo or Jarvis Jones here, but new GM John Idzik is ready to start over at quarterback with a new name instead of Mark Sanchez. Geno Smith delivered some beautiful passes and put up a lot of points during his career at West Virginia, but was also inconsistent.
10. Tennessee Titans – Xavier Rhodes – CB – FSU
Commish’s Comments: The Titans could go in a number of directions, and while an OG like Jonathan Cooper would be attractive, getting a big corner that can cover like Xavier Rhodes would be a big boost to a secondary that struggled in 2012.
11. San Diego Chargers – Jonathan Cooper – OG – North Carolina
Commish’s Comments: The Chargers would love to have a top offensive tackle fall to them here, but any help along their offensive line would be a big boost. Cooper is an athletic big man with potential to be dominant in the NFL. Cooper is a balanced offensive linemen in regards to run blocking and pass protection. He’d be a good fit in Mike McCoy’s new offense.
12. Miami Dolphins – Cordarrelle Patterson – WR – Tennessee
Commish’s Comments: Let’s face it, the Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill a year ago, but gave him no weapons to truly work with. After just resigning the only reliable target they had in Brian Hartline, the Dolphins need to find themselves a playmaker. Patterson is raw as a receiver, but is dynamic with the ball in his hands. Patterson would be a good fit in Joe Philbin’s and Mike Sherman’s offense. Keep an eye on the Dolphins pursuit of Mike Wallace. If they sign Wallace, the Dolphins could target a cornerback, a safety, an offensive tackle, or a defensive end.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ezekiel Ansah – DE – BYU
Commish’s Comments: The phrase “boom or bust” is a phrase often used in the NFL draft. Ansah has limited games played at BYU, and in those limited games, Ansah played all along the defensive line…even at nose tackle. Ansah is a physical freak with size (6’5” 271 lbs), speed (4.63), athletic ability (34.5″ vertical), and strength (21 reps). It’s very possible that a team within the top 10 could take a chance on Ansah because of his potential, but his inexperience and the time it might take for him to fully develop could shy teams away. I’m also not as certain as others that Ansah is a good fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The Lions and Dolphins are possible landing spots for Ansah, but if he slips to the Bucs, I believe the Bucs should select him. With Michael Bennett likely gone in free agency, the Bucs will have Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers as their starting ends, which might be a benefit to Ansah where he would not have to come in and start immediately. I believe the Bucs should address their secondary needs in free agency, so that their hand isn’t forced to reaching on a cornerback with the 13th pick especially if Rhodes is gone. Other options for the Bucs with this pick if available are Jarvis Jones, Xavier Rhodes, Star Lotulelei, Kenny Vaccaro, and Tyler Eifert.
14. Carolina Panthers – Star Lotulelei – DT – Utah
Commish’s Comments: The Panthers have many needs and not enough money to even keep their own players. They have built a very good linebacking corps and two very good pass rushers, but lack a presence in the middle. Star Lotulelei could easily shoot up draft boards if the medical situation with his heart comes back fine, but if he’s available here, the Panthers should jump at the chance to get him.
15. New Orleans Saints – Barkevious Mingo – DE/OLB - LSU
Commish’s Comments: The Saints are transitioning to the 3-4 defense, so they’re in big need for a pass rusher off the edge. Mingo is not a physically imposing force yet, but is explosive off the edge. Mingo is a good fit for the Saints as they try to right their terrible defense from a year ago.
16. St. Louis Rams – Alec Ogletree - ILB – Georgia
Commish’s Comments: I think Ogletree is one of the top playmakers in this draft, but his recent DUI will have him slip. Jeff Fisher was able to look past issues with Janoris Jenkins a year ago, so he might place a higher value on Ogletree’s talent than his character. Ogletree would have to move to OLB and play next to James Laurinaitis.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Vaccaro – S – Texas
Commish’s Comments: The Steelers want to get a young safety to play in the defensive backfield with Troy Polamalu. Vaccaro has some character concerns, but is a talented safety and a big hitter.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Sheldon Richardson – DT – Missouri
Commish’s Comments: While there are many teams transitioning to a 3-4 defense, the Cowboys have brought Monte Kiffen back to the NFL and are transitioning to his 4-3 “Tampa 2″ defense. A key figure in the “Tampa 2″ is a penetrating defensive tackle. Richardson is a quick defensive tackle who would be a good fit in this new defense.
19. New York Giants – Tyler Eifert – TE – Notre Dame
Commish’s Comments: Martellus Benentt is a free agent and I’m not sure he’s as good as most people think he is. Eli Manning has never had a top-of-the-line tight end as his security blanket. Eifert solidified his spot as the draft’s top tight end at the combine. He can be an excellent receiving threat in the NFL.
20. Chicago Bears – Desmond Trufant – CB – Washington
Commish’s Comments: With new coach Marc Trestman coming in, the thought is that the Bears will go offense, and they very well could, but if there isn’t an offensive player worth taking then why reach? The Bears will lose a few cornerbacks in free agency and Charles Tillman is another year older, so cornerback is another need. Trufant is a very good cover corner who shined at the senior bowl. He isn’t the most physical corner, but is very good in man coverage.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – DJ Fluker – OT – Alabama
Commish’s Comments: The Bengals might lose Andre Smith in free agency. Why not replace one former massive Alabama right tackle with another?
22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS) – Menelik Watson – OT – FSU
Commish’s Comments: The Rams need more help along their offensive line. Watson’s raw talent is having his stock rise. He can play right or left tackle.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Keenan Allen – WR – Cal
Commish’s Comments: The Vikings need more balance on offense. Michael Jenkins was just released and Percy Harvin has just been traded. Keenan Allen has the potential to move up draft boards with a good pro day, but as of right now he is a reliable target with good hands.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Bjoern Werner – DE – FSU
Commish’s Comments: This might seem like a far way for Werner to fall, but I’m not certain Werner has the elite qualities to go in the top 10 of this draft. Werner is a solid reliable defensive end. He reminds me of Adrian Clayborn of a few years ago. Werner doesn’t possess any characteristics that will “wow” you, but he wins with effort. This is not a bad thing. Chuck Pagano willmake a place for Werner who could be like Paul Kruger was for the Ravens when Pagano was there.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA) – John Jenkins – DT – Georgia
Commish’s Comments: The Vikings need a big nose tackle, so they could look to the draft to get a mammoth nose tackle to help stop the run. Jenkins is more than 350 lbs, but does have some athleticism.
26. Green Bay Packers – Jonathan Cyprien - S – FIU
Commish’s Comments: Cyprien’s stock has been on the rise for a while. He has a great blend of size and speed. Cyprien is a big hitter, but can also play deep in coverage. Cyprien could be a nice replacement for Charles Woodson and play next to Morgan Burnett.
27. Houston Texans – Tavon Austin – WR – West Virginia
Commish’s Comments: You can point to positions that the Texans need, but one overlying theme they need is speed. Austin does not have great size, but he has elite speed and elite athleticism. Austin is a big time playmaker.
28. Denver Broncos – Sylvester Williams – DT – North Carolina
Commish’s Comments: The Broncos have needs at defensive tackle and cornerback. Williams stock is beginning to rise. He is a big defensive tackle with good quickness off the snap. Since cornerback is pretty deep, the Broncos can address that position in the next couple rounds.
29. New England Patriots – Matt Elam – S – Florida
Commish’s Comments: The Patriots are always tough to predict. With Patrick Chung headed to free agency from a pass defense that was not very good in 2012, Matt Elam would be a nice upgrade for the Patriots secondary. Elam can be a big hitter, but also make plays in the pass game.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Tank Carradine – DE – FSU
Commish’s Comments: The Falcons have to replace Jon Abraham’s sack production somewhere. Tank Carradine is coming off a torn ACL, but is a very good pass rusher when healthy. There is some risk here, but if the Falcons feel Carradine is going to come back fully healthy, they might get a steal here.
31. San Francisco 49ers - Margus Hunt – DE – SMU
Commish’s Comments: Hunt’s name has been popular since his eye-opening performance at the combine. Hunt is like Ansah as he has little experience but unbelievable measurables. Hunt’s inexperience has led to him being a very inconsistent player.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Eric Reid – S – LSU
Commish’s Comments: I know the Ravens need a middle linebacker, but there isn’t one worth taking this high. The Ravens are also losing Ed Reed, so I thought it would make the most sense to replace him with Eric Reid. Reid is not elite in coverage or a terror in the box, but he is a very solid safety.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars – Damontre Moore – DE – Texas A&M
Commish’s Comments: Gus Bradley likes his pass rushers. Moore has good game tape, but his measurables are awful.
34. San Francisco 49ers - Zach Ertz – TE – Stanford
Commish’s Comments: If the 49ers lose Delanie Walker to free agency, they can replace him with one of Harbaugh’s old Stanford players.
35. Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Long – OT/OG – Oregon
Commish’s Comments: Chip Kelly’s offense can be demanding on the endurance of his offensive linemen. Kyle Long is used to it.
36. Detroit Lions – Johnthan Banks – CB – Mississippi St.
Commish’s Comments: Banks is a physical corner who can match up in man coverage, but lacs elite speed. The Lions need help at corner.
37. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK) – Eddie Lacy – RB – Alabama
Commish’s Comments: The Bengals need to upgrade over BJGE. Lacy is a physical back who’s used to running behind Fluker.
38. Arizona Cardinals – Matt Barkley – QB – USC
Commish’s Comments: People either have Barkley as a top 10 pick or a 4th round pick. Barkley should last until the 2nd round, but is instantly the Cardinals best quarterback.
39. New York Jets – Jamie Collins – DE/OLB – Southern Miss
Commish’s Comments: After getting their new quarterback in the 1st round, the Jets get a pass rusher with all the measurables here.
40. Tennessee Titans – Larry Warford – OG – Kentucky
Commish’s Comments: Warford might fit the Titans offense better than Warmack or Cooper. Warford is a massive body who is a run blocker.
41. Buffalo Bills – Ryan Nassib – QB – Syracuse
Commish’s Comments: Doug Marrone gets his quarterback from Syracuse. Nassib could surprise in the NFL.
42. Miami Dolphins – Sam Montgomery – DE – LSU
Commish’s Comments: Montgomery could slide further than this because of numerous issues, but the Dolphins could use an end.
43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – David Amerson – CB/S – NC St.
Commish’s Comments: I expect the Bucs to address their secondary in free agency, but Amerson’s natural ball hawking ability is a luxury at this point. The Bucs would have to determine if he can play cornerback in the NFL after giving up so many big plays last season at NC St or if Amerson is better suited as a centerfield safety with his strength in zone coverage and tracking the ball in the air. Amerson had 13 interceptions in 2011, but dropped to just 5 interceptions in 2012. Some believe he took too many chances while trying to duplicate his INT numbers from 2011 in 2012 which led to numerous big plays given up to opposing offenses. Both Ansah and Amerson are considered “boom or bust” prospects. Is this the year Mark Dominik takes a serious risk in the early rounds?
44. Carolina Panthers – Justin Hunter – WR – Tennessee
Commish’s Comments: The Panthers have just not been able to find a WR to play opposite of Steve Smith.
45. San Diego Chargers – Blidi Wreh-Wilson – CB – UCONN
Commish’s Comments: Wreh-Wilson is a physical corner who plays well in man coverage. The Chargers might lose Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer in free agency.
46. St. Louis Rams – Brian Winters – OG – Kent St.
Commish’s Comments: The Rams bolster their offensive line in a big way early in this draft.
47. Dallas Cowboys – Terron Armstead – OT – Arkansas Pine-Bluff
Commish’s Comments: Armstead was amazing at the combine. His athletic ability will get someone like Jerry Jones excited enough to draft him for a need.
48. Pittsburgh Steelers – DeAndre Hopkins – WR – Clemson
Commish’s Comments: With Mike Wallace on the way out, Hopkins would be a nice replacement with his hands and playmaking ability.
49. New York Giants – Khaseem Greene – OLB – Rutgers
Commish’s Comments: The Giants have been looking for linebackers for a few years. Greene was a top tackler and leader for Rutgers defense.
50. Chicago Bears – Travis Kelce – TE – Cincinnati
Commish’s Comments: Marc Trestman is tough to gauge, but the Bears need a tight end. Kelce is a big tight end that can block and catch.
51. Washington Redskins – Darius Slay – CB – Mississippi St.
Commish’s Comments: Slay was blazing fast at the combine. The Redskins secondary needs a boost.
52. Minnesota Vikings – Arthur Brown – OLB – Kansas St.
Commish’s Comments: Brown is a talented linebacker who can fit right into the Vikings defense.
53. Cincinnati Bengals – Manti Te’o - ILB – Notre Dame
Commish’s Comments: No description needed here. Te’o would be a replacement for Rey Maualuga.
54. Miami Dolphins (via IND) – Jamar Taylor – CB – Boise St.
Commish’s Comments: Taylor has some great measurables and is seeing his stock rise through this process.
55. Green Bay Packers – Le’Veon Bell – RB – Michigan St.
Commish’s Comments: Bell is big, fast, and a good receiver. Finally, the Packers address running back.
56. Seattle Seahawks - Kawann Short – DT – Purdue
Commish’s Comments: The Seahawks need a big body in case Alan Branch leaves in free agency.
57. Houston Texans – Johnathan Hankins – DT – Ohio St.
Commish’s Comments: The Texans need a nose tackle. Hankins could slip a bit, but would be a great fit at nose tackle in Wade Phillips defense.
58. Denver Broncos – Logan Ryan – CB – Rutgers
Commish’s Comments: The Broncos need some young reliable cornerbacks with Champ Bailey nearing the end of his career.
59. New England Patriots – Robert Woods – WR – USC
Commish’s Comments: The Patriots might resign Wes Welker, but they still need upgrades at receiver for Brady.
60. Atlanta Falcons – Justin Pugh – OT – Syracuse
Commish’s Comments: If Sam Baker leaves in free agency, why not replace him with a player that reminds me of Sam Baker?
61. San Francisco 49ers - Jordan Poyer – CB – Oregon St.
Commish’s Comments: The 49ers want to address their secondary. With no safeties worth taking here, Poyer would be a nice name to compete at corner.
62. Baltimore Ravens – Kevin Minter – ILB - LSU
Commish’s Comments: The Ravens get their replacement for Ray Lewis. Minter is big and physical. He has some questions in pass coverage and play recognition.
*New Orleans Saints forfeit their 2nd round pick due to the bounty punishment.
**Cleveland Browns 2nd round pick was used in the supplemental draft on Josh Gordon.
Catch The Commish weekdays from 9-12 on 98.7 The Fan.