Mock Draft: James Masini’s final attempt…

It’s draft day! The smokescreens are in place, the tip-offs have begun and behind all of that, 32 men wait to see if they’ll get their minute in the 1st round spotlight.  Soon, one of the most chaotic pre-drafts in memory will be over but for now, there’s time for one last mock. I’ve not predicted trades but I do expect someone to move for Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib late in the 1st round. However, if everyone stayed where they were, tonight might look something like this…

"NFL Draft"

  1. Kansas City Chiefs select Luke Joeckel (OT) Texas A&M – The Chiefs have been busy during free agency and with every move both in and out of Arrowhead, the selection of a new Offensive Tackle seemed more and more likely. Andy Reid believes in building from the trenches and by all accounts, the front office favours Joeckel over Fisher. I can’t argue with that. Joeckel is as close to a consensus number one pick as we’re going to see in 2013 and it’s clear to see why. Joeckel is a natural Left Tackle with unparalleled speed and size for his position this year. In a year of uncertainty, Joeckel might be the safest move anyone in the top 5 will make.
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars select Dion Jordan (DE) Oregon – The Jags could go in a million different options on draft day. They need help everywhere. Losing Knighton leaves a gigantic hole at DT which a guy like Floyd could fill, Chad Henne and Blaine “Gabby/Gabatron/B-Gabs/Absolutely Gabulous” Gabbert could both stand to be upgraded and the front office are apparently very keen on Geno Smith, the O-line wasn’t exactly a wall of steel last year which makes Eric Fisher a possibility and their secondary is lacking quality which may put Dee Milliner into the mix. However, it’s an edge rusher that remains the biggest area of need after 2012 left Jacksonville dead last in sack numbers. Babin and Mincey are OK but Branch has looks like a bust and there’s nothing after that. The opportunity to get younger and quicker should be considered their priority. I previously mocked Mingo in this slot but it appears as though Jordan is the preferred man in northern Florida.
  3. Oakland Raiders select Sharrif Floyd (DT) Florida – The Raiders are in a real mess. Geno Smith might be in play here but after selling the family Cow for Carson Palmer’s magic beans, I have to believe the new Raiders regime will want to try something a little different here. Sharrif Floyd fills a big need in Oakland and his positional versatility makes him a highly attractive prospect for Oakland Dennis Allen who will find multiple ways to use him. I like Ziggy Ansah here too, although I’m beginning to edge myself off the bandwagon. He’s still a bona fide top-10 pick but does he break the top-3 based on average tape and one dazzling game at the Senior Bowl? I’m not sure.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles select Eric Fisher (OT) Central Michigan – Philly have had a really promising off season. The addition of Barwin, Sopoaga, Williams, Phillips and Chung will make them considerably stronger on Defense. However, there is now a pressing need on the O-line. Demetress Bell was cut, Peters is coming back from injury and Todd Herremans is not a tackle, no matter how often he plays there. Eric Fisher would be a solid upgrade in the only position of need yet to be addressed by the Eagles. If he’s on the board, he’s the pick. Don’t rule out Lane Johnson here if Fisher goes in the top 3. It would be a bit of a reach but Johnson’s movement and fluidity makes him an ideal Tackle in the Kelly system.
  5. Detroit Lions select Lane Johnson (OT) Oklahoma – The Lions have been terrible in the secondary for a few years now. They celebrated the return of Chris Houston like they’d signed Deion Sanders. It won’t shock anyone to learn that Chris Houston is no Deion Sanders. Dee Milliner looked like sure-fire pick until Jeff Backus decided he’s had enough of protecting Matt “Big face” Stafford’s blindside. Stafford still has the potential to be an elite quarterback in the league but he’s at risk of going down the David Carr route if he doesn’t get some protection. Lane Johnson is on the climb both because of talent and because of need. He’s the last of the starting-calibre Left Tackles in the 2013 draft and he will be in high demand. A converted Tight End, Johnson has shown tremendous athleticism and whilst he’s better suited to a zone blocking system, the Lions cannot afford to be too choosey. Jim Schwartz will have had a nice long look at Lane Johnson during his time at the Senior Bowl, if he feels confident that Johnson can do a job, he should be the pick.
  6. Cleveland Browns select Ezekiel Ansah (DE/OLB) Brigham Young – Cleveland are once again in the box-seat for a trade down and as their fans will attest, the Browns LOVE to trade down. With only two big name defensive players off the board, they can happily shift down a few spots and still address need whilst also picking up some mid-round picks to help replace the 2nd round pick they gave up for Josh Gordon. If they stay at 6, the pick comes down to a pass-rusher or Milliner. Using the 6th overall pick on your 2nd corner is a bit of a waste but it would make an already decent defense into a one that is virtually unplayable. However, Ansah would be an ideal fit. A physical specimen, he’s still relative new to the sport so could learn behind Sheard and Kruger without any pressure before stepping up in 2014.
  7. Arizona Cardinals select Chance Warmack (OG) Alabama – The Cards won last off-season’s Race for Kolb. Fat lot of good it did them. Now they have Carson Palmer. I think we all know how this one is going to end. If the Cards are going to keep Palmer upright, they’ll need to reinforce the pocket. There were rumours that Arians liked Lane Johnson, now he’s in the top 5 discussion, there are rumours they like DJ Fluker. The Cards are positioning themselves to trade down. However, if they stay at 7, Chance Warmack could and should be the pick. He might be the best player in the draft so getting him at 7 is no bad thing, even if he is a Guard.
  8. Buffalo Bills select Geno Smith (QB) West Virginia – Poor old Buffalo. They are in a pig of a situation once again. They replaced the Amish Rifle, for a cheaper version model. Kevin Kolb. When you’re tossing up between Tavaris Jackon and Kevin Kolb for your starting QB, you know something’s up. Doug Marrone has seemingly convinced Buddy Nix that, Syracuse quarterback, Ryan Nassib should be the guy. However, getting hold of the only quarterback in the class capable of starting in Week 1 may ultimately be more important to the Bills front office than previous the new Head Coach’s old collage ties.
  9. New York Jets select Tavon Austin (WR) West Virginia – The Jets have the pick of the litter, if this is going to be Rex Ryan’s last year in New York, he’s being given the ammunition to make a go of it. Mark Sanchez is terrible so a QB could well be in play but if not, they’ll need to give him someone reliable to throw to, especially as his safety blanket, Dustin Keller has left town. With 2 first round picks, the Jets can afford to risk one of someone like Austin. It will galvanise the fanbase and give the Jets someone who can turn a short pass into a big gain. However, this pick comes with a warning.  Tavon Austin is not long for this planet, he’s light as a feather and within 5 years, he could be done. However, until a linebacker dismembers him, he’s going to be one of the league’s most exciting and dynamic wideouts, particularly after the catch.
  10. Tennessee Titans select Dee Milliner (CB) Alabama – Tell you what, the Titans have had a pretty decent free agency. They’ve strengthened their biggest positions of need and gradually improved. They’re not going to set the world alight but I doubt they’re picking in the top 10 next year either. They’re in the fortunate position of being to bring in the best player available. Luckily for them, Milliner would also fill one of their only glaring weaknesses. Milliner’s injury record could see easily see him fall. However, at 10, the Titans would be landing one of the premier defensive talents in the entire draft and could before targeting O-line and D-line reinforcements on Day 2.
  11. San Diego Chargers – DJ Fluker (OG) Alabama –The Chargers need line help and Fluker is the best available. Whilst he’s better suited to the Right Tackle or even Guard, the Chargers can’t afford to be too picky. Wherever San Diego ultimately start Fluker, it would be an upgrade.
  12. Miami Dolphins – Star Lotulelei (DT) Utah – By all accounts, Star’s dicky ticker with just a mishap and nothing to worry about. Whether a team in the top 10 are willing to risk it remains to be seen. As the Dolphins are flush with draft picks and have very few holes, they can take a chance with Star’s medical history. At 12, Miami get will get fantastic player and someone they can use in rotation with Soliai and recently franchised Randy Starks.
  13. New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo (DE/OLB) LSU – If the Jets come out of Thursday night with Austin and Mingo, they’ll have done very well indeed. Tight End and Quarterback are in play here but Rex Ryan’s defense needs to get better off the edge. Mingo would be an exhilarating OLB in New York and would add to the Jets’ complement of 1st round defensive talent.
  14. Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson (DT) Missouri – The Panthers didn’t think they needed any help up front in 2012. They were wrong. This year, they could go in a number of different directions. The safest and most logical is Richardson; a hyper-talented run-stuffer who has flashed elite level pass rushing skills. He’d be an instant upgrade. Don’t discount local hero Sylvester Williams making the short ride from Chapel Hill to Charlotte either.
  15. New Orleans Saints – Alec Ogletree (LB) Georgia – This pick comes down to Ogletree or Jarvis Jones. Ogletree has more red flags than a Communist Party get-together. That won’t deter the Saints. One of the few highlights of Rob Ryan’s defense in Dallas was the emergence of a truly dominant linebacker crops. Ogletree would be the first piece of the puzzle for Ryan. Ogletree is a better fit in a 4-3 but undoubtedly has the ability to play inside in a 3-4, or possibly even as a Will.
  16. St Louis Rams – Kenny Vaccaro (S) Texas – The Rams lost both starting Wide Receivers. They’ll need to find a replacement but their stable of young WRs are better than people think. With Austin off the board, Patterson would be the pick  but he’s just another developmental guy. In the circumstances, the Rams should address the situation at Safety. Vaccaro has gone through a truly diabolical pre-draft process flunking pretty much everything. However, the tape is exceptional. Vaccaro is the best true Safety in the draft and good value at 16.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR) Tennessee – Another team lacking in the WR department is the Steelers. With Mike Wallace gone, Pitt’s offense needs a playmaker. Patterson is raw but has shown speed and big play ability. He’s not the no-nonsense possession WR that Keenan Allen or DeAndre Hopkins can be but he’s more than just a straightforward Mike Wallace replacement.
  18. Dallas Cowboys – Sylvester Williams (DT) North Carolina – I have never been popular with the Cowboys faithful; something I consider a badge of honour. Not selecting Jonathan Cooper will only make me more unpopular. It’s true that the Cowboys need an OG but Jerry Jones will not burn the 18th overall pick on a Guard just because the fanbase don’t like Doug Free. This is a defense undergoing a major reconstruction; it has to be at the forefront of Jones’ mind. Williams is a beast and has the speed and cunning that Monte Kiffin craves from his D-lineman.
  19. New York Giants – Bjoern Werner (DE) Florida State – For an unimpressive team in 2012, the Giants have very major problem areas, certainly none that they usually address early in the draft. GM Jerry Reese can play sensible and take the best player on his board. At this stage, I believe this will come down to Trufant, Werner, Carradine or Datone Jones. Reese may be wary of Carradine’s injury record and drafting Werner would be a safe bet. The big German had an excellent 2012 campaign and would be an excellent successor to Justin Tuck who could hit the open market next year.
  20. Chicago Bears – Jonathan Cooper (OG) North Carolina – Jay Cutler is dying in Chicago. Dying. His offensive line was appalling in 2012 and although it improved towards the end of the season, it needs a revamp. Chicago have invested wisely this off season but another Guard would really help. Cooper is a perfect fit in Aaron Kromer’s zone blocking system and as he’s considered by some to be a top ten talent, landing him at 20 is a fine achievement.
  21. Cincinnati Bengals – Jarvis Jones (DE/OLB) Georgia – Jones is the ultimate ‘tweener but has barrels of potential. Were it not of question marks over his spinal stenosis, Jones would be in top ten or even top five discussions. Bengals can use him at Linebacker or put him at Defensive End in passing situations. He might not fill a massive need but he’s a bargain at 21, make no mistake.  There’s talk that the Bengals might be interested in Fluker, if so, there’ll be plenty of interest trade partners.
  22. St Louis Rams – Justin Hunter (WR) Tennessee – With Vaccaro packing his bags and heading to St Louis, the Rams can delve into the Wide Receiver market. Hunter is probably the best fit for what the Rams do. He’s a big target with the pace to stretch the field although he has a tendency to switch off and get lazy, but the Rams have enough depth behind him to ensure he stays focussed if he wants to stay on the field. However, with a deep receiver class, the Rams could trade down and get their guy later in Round 1 or even in Round 2.
  23. Minnesota Vikings – Desmond Trufant (CB) Washington – The Vikings have lost Antoine Winfield and will need to find someone to play opposite Josh Robinson. Trufant has great intangibles and whilst his tackling is sub-par at best, he’s got phenomenal range. That’s something the Vikes will value considering they face Stafford, Rodgers and Cutler twice a year.
  24. Indianapolis Colts – Datone Jones (DE) UCLA – I’ve had Jones locked in here for months. Whether the Colts using him as a 5-tech or tray and bring him along at Outside Linebacker, they should have a player who’ll be a starter for years to come. He’s the kind of no nonsense workhorse that the Colts have taken a shine to of late, I have no doubt that he’ll become a productive part of their defense.
  25. Minnesota Vikings – Manti Te’o (LB) Notre Dame – The Vikes have a luxury pick here. They could pick up some Offensive Line help, they could get another young Wide Receiver to complement Jennings and compete with Wright and Simpson or they could replace Brinkley in the middle of their defense. This pick could easily be Arthur Brown but the Vikes have a penchant for Golden Domers. Manti Te’o would come into a friendly environment and a loyal set of fans who value talent over tabloid sensationalism. If he lands in the Twin Cities, Te’o will find himself in the best possible position. Can he deliver?
  26. Green Bay Packers – Tank Carradine (DE/OLB) Florida State – Could the Packers take a 1st round pass-rusher twice in two years. It’s possible. Carradine is the best of the available bunch. With Nick Perry coming along slowly, it wouldn’t be a ridiculous selection, especially if the Pack decide to beef Carradine up into a 5-tech.
  27. Houston Texans – Kevin Minter (ILB) LSU – Andre Johnson is out on an island. He needs help. The Texans will have to make a decision between adding another target and upgrading the hole in the middle of their defense. Minter fills a clear need but a guy like Hopkins or Allen wouldn’t be a shock, nor would Jonathan Cyprien who would be a clear understudy to off season acquisition, Ed Reed.
  28. Denver Broncos – Jonathan Cyprien (S) Florida International – Cyprien has made all the right moves this off season and could well land in the 1st Round. Denver are one possible landing spot and he’s pretty good value here. It’s easy to focus on the Broncos’ at Safety during disaster in the playoffs but in truth, Safety play wasn’t great all year. Adding Cyprien would go a long way to improving this.
  29. New England Patriots – Jamar Taylor (CB) Boise State – The Patriots messed with the Steelers and ended up forcing them to pay Emmanuel Sanders more money that they wanted to. Great stuff but they still need to find a target opposite Amendola. DeAndre “Nuke/Dirty Protest” Hopkins is the best receiver available but at this stage but they may consider there’s better value in Round 2. Alfonzo Dennard, who’ll top off a great rookie year with some jail time will need replacing. Jamar Taylor has been racing up draft boards and is now expected to hear his name on Thursday. This is as good a landing spot as any.
  30. Atlanta Falcons – Tyler Eifert (TE) Notre Dame – It now seems certain that the Falcons will be moving up, to where and for what position seems to be a mystery. Eifert has fallen somewhat on my board, the same thing happened with Coby Fleener last year. However, Eifert is a better prospect than Fleener and should go in the 20s at worst but if he falls and if Atlanta stay at 30, the Falcons would have their long-term replacement for Tony Gonzalez.
  31. San Francisco 49ers – Xavier Rhodes (CB/S) Florida State – I have never been convinced by that San Francisco secondary. Adding Nnamdi does little to reassure me. There’s talk that Rhodes projects as a better Safety than Corner at the next level. That’s draft code for saying he’s not a very good Cornerback. Luckily, the 49ers need to find help at Safety probably more than at Corner although Carlos Rodgers will need replacing before too long.
  32. Baltimore Ravens – DeAndre Hopkins (WR) Clemson – As plenty of others have noted this pick comes down to whoever the Ravens have at the top of their board. I believe this could well be Hopkins; an all-round Receiver with great hands who, in time, will become a fine replacement for Boldin. Eric Reid, Jesse Williams and Arthur Brown could all find themselves in the mix though.

Love the pick? Hate the pick? Want to see who just missed out? Get in touch with James on twitter at @snl_football.

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