You know I find really bizarre? That Indianapolis, the home of the NFL Scouting Combine each year, is famous for the city's shrimp cocktails. It's not because the shrimp are caught in the ocean on the Indy borders either. It's because the cocktail sauce is backed with roughly 400 kilotons of horseradish and it will make you cry.
I love horseradish. So I'm totally down with this. It just perplexes me that Indy made this collective decision to say, you know what, we don't have anything distinguishing food-wise, let's just hijack some seafood and make the sauce really hot.
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It's a bold move. Speaking of bold moves coming out of Indianapolis, I think we're going to start to see some shifting in the way people view the tackle and guard classes in this draft.
Before the combine Luke Joeckel and Chance Warmack were the clear-cut leaders of their respective classes. But remember when I said the combine can still change lots of things? Well, Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan and Jonathan Cooper out of North Carolina are starting to close the gap on Joeckel and Warmack for top-of-their-position honors.
Listen to people around the league talk and it's clear there's just not that substantial a difference. I think it shrinks even more as the 2013 NFL Draft nears and that's why I've got a bit of a surprise at the top of my draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs -- Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan -- KC needs a quarterback. But I'm eyeing the Chiefs as the team that snares Alex Smith via trade, and Fisher was better at the combine. I think there's starting to be sea change with respect to where Fisher and Joeckel stand around the NFL, and it will only get tighter as we get closer to April. Andy Reid's not scared to go against the grain either, so he grabs the guy with, potentially, more upside.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU -- The Jaguars are installing a new "Leo" position and they apparently want a speedy, half-linebacker, half-defensive end guy who weighs between 240 and 265 pounds, is fast and generate a pass rush. I think we're done here.
3. Oakland Raiders -- Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida -- A playmaker in the middle of the defensive line who can also get up the field, Floyd's the type of guy who can step in and make a difference for Reggie McKenzie off the bat. They desperately need to start rebuilding on defense.
4. Philadelphia Eagles -- Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon -- Yes it's convenient to project Jordan to his old coach Chip Kelly since Kelly's now running the Eagles. And maybe a defensive tackle -- with the release of Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson -- makes more sense here. I think Kelly gets his guy.
5. Detroit Lions -- Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia -- Beefing up the secondary is the "logical" move, but a team that once looked stacked for the next few years when it came to pass rushers suddenly only has strength in the middle of the line.
6. Cleveland Browns -- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama -- You know what the only thing better than one studly SEC cornerback is? Two studly SEC cornerbacks. The Browns could use a pass rusher but Milliner and Joe Haden would be a filthy combination (and allow Milliner to step in and grow immediately without having to guard No. 1 NFL wideout talent).
7. Arizona Cardinals -- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M -- Honestly, if Joeckel falls like this, someone might try to convince the Browns to move down and leap up to No. 6. (It worked out so well for them last time too ...) But if that doesn't happen, the Cards can pounce on a franchise tackle.
8. Buffalo Bills -- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- The Bills need a quarterback and probably never thought they'd get a look at Smith. Strong players at other positions help to push Smith down to Buffalo, where he'd be quite good at running Doug Marrone's fast-paced offense.
9. New York Jets -- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee -- The Jets need playmakers in the worst possible way. Patterson is raw and doesn't have a ton of experience playing at a high level, but his athleticism is pretty jaw-dropping, and his ability to contribute in different ways could help the Jets offense improve immediately.
10. Tennessee Titans -- Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina -- Thought Warmack's the top guard on most boards, Cooper's got the better full-blown athleticism and is more refined at this point. He also can play multiple positions along the line (he took center reps at the combine and has worked on his snaps) and that versatility makes him a fantastic commodity for Mike Munchak.
11. San Diego Chargers -- Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma -- Mike McCoy knows what blind-side protection can do for a quarterback and, as such, he has to think Philip Rivers needs someone who can stop him from getting hurried. Johnson represents a world of upside and had a monster showing at the combine.
12. Miami Dolphins -- Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama -- Would the Fins like to land a playmaker to help out Ryan Tannehill here? Yes. But I'm banking that they manage to get some weapons in free agency and Warmack's ridiculous value here.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaeers -- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU -- The Bucs would probably like not having to draft a defensive lineman, but they've had some, um, issues the last few weeks with their guys. Ansah's the definition of upside and his stock is rising quickly.
14. Carolina Panthers -- Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah -- Lotulelei's stock is very much in flux right now with his medicals, but given the noise that popped out at the combine about his heart issues, it's hard to project him in the top 10.
15. New Orleans Saints -- Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU -- The Saints need a ton of help on defense. Werner's not the ideal choice for a team moving to the 3-4, but he played the position for FSU at times and is the most productive guy available here.
16. St. Louis Rams -- Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas -- Jeff Fisher keeps building up his secondary, adding the explosive Vaccaro and quietly turning the Rams defensive backs group into one of the most dangerous in the league.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M -- A poor showing at the combine could cause Moore to plummet down draft boards and the Steelers don't mind as they snag another young pass rusher to start replacing their departed talent.
20. Indianapolis Colts (mock trade with Chicago Bears) -- Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State -- When the Colts see Rhodes slipping down the board, they give Phil Emery a ring after Fluker goes off the board and the Bears don't have an ideal guy to grab at 20. Indy improves its secondary and Chicago gets to move down out of an uncomfortable spot.
21. Cincinnati Bengals -- Kevin Minter, LB, LSU -- This pick might well go whichever way the Bengals don't with respect to Andre Smith and Michael Johnson. But without knowing which one of those guys will be back (at least one will get the tag), the Bengals replace the disappointing Rey Maualuga with a guy who can fill the middle of this defense.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) -- Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia -- Playmakers, playmakers, playmakers. Though there's certainly a need to beef up the offensive line for St. Louis, Austin would be a dynamic weapon for Sam Bradford.
23. Minnesota Vikings -- Keenan Allen, WR, California -- Allen's health is a concern for sure, but it's the only reason he falls this far. The Vikings might not be interested in moving Percy Harvin, but they still need to get wideout help and they do just that here.
24. Chicago Bears (mock trade with Indianapolis Colts) -- Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas State -- This is an aging linebacker corps and Brown, while undersized, represents a guy who can come in and make plays. This could be Alec Olgetree as well depending on how Chicago views his off-field issues.
25. Seattle Seahawks -- Datone Jones, DE, UCLA -- The Seahawks have made it known they want to upgrade their pass rush this offseason, and while giving Russell Wilson an additional weapon or two wouldn't hurt, Jones can step in and help impact Seattle's ability to get after the passer.
26. Green Bay Packers -- Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama -- Given the way things are going this offseason, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Packers focus heavily on defense once again this year. Ted Thompson takes advantage of the depth at defensive tackle in order to beef up his defensive line and prepare for the future with the sneaky fast and super strong Williams.
27. Houston Texans -- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson -- "Nuke" exploded in 2012, outshining fellow Tigers star Sammy Watkins for much of the season. Though the Texans going defense once again wouldn't be shocking, Hopkins represents a guy who can step in and make a difference across from Andre Johnson, something they sorely need.
28. Denver Broncos -- Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State -- Finding talent to occupy blockers in the middle of the defensive line will only make the Broncos pass rushers more dangerous. Hankins does just that.
29. New England Patriots -- Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington -- Tom Brady's new contract means the Patriots will be very active in free agency. The guess here is they use a nice wideout class to bolster Brady's weapons and add a defensive back in the secondary.
30. Atlanta Falcons -- Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama -- First-round running backs aren't a smart investment usually, but I like Lacy operating in this offense, especially if and when Michael Turner gets cut.
31. San Francisco 49ers -- Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State -- The Niners can keep beefing up their secondary and making sure they're prepared in case Chris Culliver's offseason carries over into 2013.
32. Baltimore Ravens -- Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia -- If you're going to take someone with off-field issues, do you take the playmaker with the arrest right before the combine or the hyped guy with the fake girlfriend? I say the former, regardless of where the Ravens might stand on Manti Te'o.