I finally banged out a mock draft. And, well, might as well go out on a limb or two. Who needs to see them if they're all the same, right?
So I have a few surprises in here, a sprinkling of trades and I guarantee you this stab at it won't even come close to the unexpected turns this draft will actually take starting Thursday night. Things will change and more information -- or misinformation -- will keep coming right up until the Chiefs are on the clock, so stay tuned for what is to come.
The surprises are grounded in reality -- i.e. the team I have the player with did work them out and sources have indicated a degree of interest. I'm not just totally throwing darts here. But for now here is one attempt to size up the first round of what should be one of the most zany drafts in quite some time:
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1. Kansas City Chiefs -- Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: I had heard a drumbeat for Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel here the last few weeks, but in the last 72 hours have picked up more of a sense that Fisher will be the pick. Joeckel played more big-time football, but Fisher is a tremendously intriguing prospect, and Andy Reid is not afraid to go with his instincts here. Either player is seen as safe in a draft where safe will mean everything. Andy Reid isn't going to over-think this, and it's going to be impossible to drum up real trade interest with the way this draft is constituted. If the Chiefs manage to deal Brandon Albert, Joeckel is the pick. But the thought process for now if Joeckel lacks some of the strength to play on the right side for a year if Albert is on the left, and it also might be an ego bruise for him, whereas that won't be the case with Fisher.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: The Jags could go a bunch of different ways, and even taking a quarterback here wouldn't shock me, but I say rookie GM Dave Caldwell follows that s-word -- safe -- and even though he has Eugene Monroe he goes with the tackle. Came very close to spotting them Florida DT Sharrif Floyd here, and he could easily be the pick, but I am going to go with Joeckel if Fisher is gone first. And the Jags would love to trade down and have someone desperate to move up here for a tackle, but for all the rumors and reports of Miami, Arizona or San Diego doing it, I just don't buy it based on what I'm hearing.
3. Oakland Raiders -- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: From everything I've heard, the Raiders are very comfortable with any of these top three tackles (Joeckel, Fisher or Floyd), but have also kept a close eye on Smith. They haven't made a real commitment to Matt Flynn, and Smith is seen by many to be the one possibility for a transcendent passer in this draft. The Raiders haven't had a competent quarterback since Rich Gannon and they need quantity and quality to figure this out. Floyd would be the easy guy to mock to them, but I say they pull this off and go with a quarterback who fits the times we're playing in.
4. Philadelphia Eagles -- Barkevious Mingo, LB, LSU: Another of what could be considered a surprise here, but I've been hearing that while the Eagles have let word leak about a lot of players on their radar -- including OLB Dion Jordan, who was coached by Chip Kelly in college -- and the various offensive tackles and even quarterback Geno Smith, I'm heard more in recent days about Mingo perhaps being more of a pass-rushing fit for them.
5. Detroit Lions -- Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: If they took a guard here it would not surprise me in the least, but with Jeff Backus retiring and there being injury concerns with corner Dee Milliner, I'm going to give the Lions a tackle. Johnson is still raw but it's a relatively safe pick, and that's the mode the Lions are in after being pummeled for some of the issues with some recent draft picks (off field, injury history, etc). Chance Warmack, the guard from Alabama, would also make sense, and many are mocking them BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah, but his lack of football experience makes him a little risky here.
6. Cleveland Browns -- Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon: The Browns are comfortable with corner Dee Milliner's medical situation, but already have a stud corner in Joe Haden, so if they have the choice of these two players, I say they go Jordan. But ... the Browns are hoping Johnson at least is still on the board and that someone jumps up here to get him. Their prior regime gave up a second-round pick to draft Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft last year, and they badly need picks. This is another pressure point where a trade could well be what goes down, and having a top tackle still here would help.
7. Arizona Cardinals -- D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: The dream scenario has the Cards getting two tackles they love -- Johnson and DJ Fluker -- sitting there for them, but I don't see it going down that way, and I'm not sure they push all that hard to trade up with coach Bruce Arians loving Fluker as a road-grader to add bite to his line and try to establish a run game. Some will say it's too high to take a right tackle, just like it's too high to take a guard, but the rules are changing and this is a bizarre draft without the skill players befitting of the top 10. The Cards would love to drop down if the top three left tackles are gone, but I'm not sure they can pull it off.
8. Buffalo Bills -- Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse: Buddy Nix is dying to take a quarterback, he's been talking about it seemingly for years. He has never hid it and still badly needs one. And Nassib played for his coach, Doug Marrone, in college and is very much in play here. Geno Smith makes a ton of sense as well, but I believe there is fire to the Nassib smoke, and we all know quarterbacks get pushed up more than any other position, for better or for worse.
9. New York Jets -- Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: The most explosive player in the draft, someone the Jets love, and unless a team trades up -- St. Louis likely won't, but could, for instance; same with Minnesota, or, at an extreme, San Francisco -- they just might be able to land him here. Clearly the first receiver who will go off the board and one who is coveted (the Colts would be a sleeper team to watch in terms of a potential trade up for him, too; coach Chuck Pagano loves him).
10. Tennessee Titans -- Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: Two guards in the top 12? Yeah, I'm crazy, but what can I say. I'm a gambler at heart. Go bold or go home. As I've reported for quite some time, coach Mike Munchak loves this kid and few know more about offensive line play than Munchak. Having Floyd and Jordan still on the board here would be a surprise, but this is one of the least predictable drafts we've seen, so might as well reflect it in the mock.
11. San Diego Chargers -- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: It wasn't that long ago San Diego had Cromartie and Jammer and Cason doing a decent job as a trio, but now it's a big void position. They could use edge rushers, too, but if the best corner in the draft is sitting here outside of the top 10, I say they grab him, especially if the offensive line talent has already started to be depleted as I think it will.
12. Miami Dolphins -- Chance Warmack, G, Alabama: They have lots of needs, and landing a guard who could be a Pro Bowl-type athlete for the next 10-12 years isn't a bad thing at all. Guard Lance Louis, recovering from knee surgery, was a signing on a whim, and getting this line stout and powerful again will be huge with a young quarterback. It's not as sexy as if there was a top tackle available still, but if things play out this way I say they take the kid from Alabama.
13. Atlanta Falcons (TRADE) -- Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington: The Jets are still looking to move down, Atlanta is looking to move up with corner an acute need, and you could make a case for D.J. Hayden as their target as well, but I am going with Trufant here.
14. Carolina Panthers -- Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida: This would be a blessing for a club desperate to rebuild its defensive line and having a player who easily could go second overall fall to the middle of the first round. So if this happens, and who knows if it will, but at least in this space I have to give him to the Panthers. This is the absolute floor for Floyd, and it very well could be he's gone before we're 30 minutes into the draft.
15. New Orleans Saints -- Ezekiel, Ansah, OLB, BYU: Lot of buzz about him as a top 10 guy, and with his ability off the edge, a new toy for Rob Ryan to play around with. His very raw, with limited football past, but the Saints won't be scared off by that at all. Tank Carradine or Datone Jones or Jarvis Jones would fit the description here, too, but given Ansah is on the board, I'll go there.
16. St. Louis Rams -- Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas: I am really, really tempted to give them DT Sheldon Richardson, from nearby Missouri, but safety is such a need and Vaccaro could be very, very good. Some have knocked his attitude and ego a bit, and see it as a potential problem, but Jeff Fisher doesn't scare easy, and there are plenty of options to address their wide receiver need in a few picks.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia: They are very comfortable with his spinal stenosis situation and they covet his ability. Jones has top-five ability and fits what they want from their linebackers. Would be a lot of clapping in that Steelers war room if he is still on the board.
18. Dallas Cowboys -- Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: They need to add to the defensive line, and Jay Ratliff isn't getting any younger and had off-field issues last year. Before a potential setback with a heart condition, Lotulelei was getting chatter in the top 10. That could still be the case, and here the Cowboys would have the chance to pick between him and Richardson.
19. New York Giants -- D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston: Hayden has all the tools, and teams have been falling in love with him and his story. He nearly died from a heart ailment but his medicals look good now. The Giants don't get too caught up in need, although this is a need. I could also see them taking Tank Carradine or Datone Jones here as well big-time because they're always drafting pass rushers, but I'm feeling corner here.
20. Chicago Bears -- Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: Marc Trestman wants some new toys, needs to diversify his offense and have someone to take pressure off Brandon Marshall. The Bears also seem to be prone to try to mollify QB Jay Cutler, who is in the final year of his deal with an uncertain future. With the top offensive linemen long gone, the Bears look for some explosion on offense, and that Notre Dame connection can't hurt.
21. Cincinnati Bengals -- Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee: QB Andy Dalton is under pressure to raise his game and be more of a leader, and giving him a speedster to complement A.J. Green could be just what they need. Yes, they've invested picks in receivers recently, but it's about time we had a run on receivers, and I'll keep it going here.
22. St. Louis Rams -- Keenan Allen, WR, California: Yes, he ran slow and wasn't 100 percent, and probably shouldn't have had his workout at all. But he is a power forward who creates space and has hands. He could be a quarterback's best friend, which Sam Bradford surely needs. It's a little risky, but the Rams have been rewarded handsomely for such risks in recent years, and speed or not, this guy finds ways to get his hands on the ball.
23. Minnesota Vikings -- Robert Woods, WR, USC: Incredible need for someone to catch the football, especially with Percy Harvin gone. If anything, the Vikes could move up to grab a receiver sooner depending on how the first 12-15 picks work out.
24. Indianapolis Colts -- Datone Jones, DE, UCLA: Chuck Pagano wants more toys to play with to get his defense pushing into opposing backfields, and Jones makes too much sense. I could see them moving up a bit to grab a pass rusher if need be as well, with GM Ryan Grigson one of the more aggressive thinkers in the league.
25. Minnesota Vikings -- Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: The Vikings are very comfortable with him, they have a need there, GM Rick Spielman has strong ties to the Notre Dame program and they spent a lot of time trying to get to know him the past few months. In the end I see him going just about in the range that was expected before all the controversy.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (Trade) -- Matt Barkley, QB, USC: The Jaguars are getting antsy, and while they could maybe wait to do this trade until a bit deeper in the round, I'll make it happen here with a Packers team that could still get an immediate impact starter at the top of the second round, at, say running back or elsewhere. The Jags really like Barkley, and they desperately need a quarterback with Blaine Gabbert on borrowed time.
27. Houston Texans -- Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri: They could use another body in the middle of that defense and there is great value in this pick at this point. Another edge rusher like Tank Carradine could make sense, too, but Richardson could help balance out Wade Phillips' defense.
28. Denver Broncos -- Tank Carradine, DE, FSU: He's a natural fit, and, frankly, would be in play from 14 or so on. Could replace Elvis Dumervil and provide great value as he recovers from injury and continues to improve.
29. New England Patriots -- Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama: Vince Wilfork isn't getting any younger, few coaches have a stronger relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban than Pats coach Bill Belichick, there is generally a good scheme symmetry between the programs and Belichick will find a way to get him on the field.
30. New York Jets (Trade) -- Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU: This is the other Jets pick from the trade down from 13, that also netted them picks in the middle rounds. They can address the Revis void here and are loaded in my mock with picks to look at running back and their many, many other holes starting in Round 2.
31. San Francisco 49ers -- Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU: No knock on Werner here, as he is a heck of a prospect who could end up going in the middle of the first round. But if things played out this way, I figure the 49ers see too much upside here not to jump on him.
32. Baltimore Ravens -- Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse: I understand all the talk about the Ravens needing linebackers -- with Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe gone -- and safety -- with Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard gone -- but they also don't have a left tackle on their roster. And sure they could still bring back Bryant McKinnie on the cheap, but they've clashed with him before. I felt like seven OL would go in the first round, and the Ravens like what they seen from Pugh, and if they can't trade down, which would be their ideal, I'll say Pugh is the pick. There will be plenty of spots to address safety and linebacker with later picks, and the Ravens have plenty.