BBD Writer Eric Samulski
UPDATED: March 12th
I need to preface this draft by saying that I fully expect at least three quarterbacks to be taken in the first round. If I had to guess right now, I would say Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, and Matt Barkley are the likeliest candidates, with Mike Glennon pushing for the back half of the first round.
However, I don’t like to project trades, since they are all speculation this early on in the process. As it stands, I think if these teams stayed in their places, and this was the way the draft fell, these would be the smartest picks for each respective squad.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M
After the it had been reported that the Chiefs were looking to let Brandon Albert walk because of concerns over his back they suddenly tagged him. Pair that with the Chiefs trade for Alex Smith, and it has me leaning towards the offensive line at the top of the first. Even though Fisher is moving up boards, I think they go with the safest pick and nab Joeckel which will allow them to move Albert inside and save his back. They won’t miss a beat on the offensive line, perhaps even getting better, while still being able to find a solid quarterback to develop at the top of the second.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Shariff Floyd, DT Florida
The Jaguars are looking for a complete talent overall under new management, so I think they go for the best player available. Star Lotuleili is a talented defender, but the possible heart condition has teams worried, and frankly, I still am not sold on him as a top-5 lock. Floyd is an impact defender that will immediately make the Jaguars defense better. Plus, he’ll bring some local media attention from his Gator days.
3. Oakland Raiders – Dion Jordan, DE/OLB LSU
The Raiders are brutal against the run; they’ve proven that over and over again this season. Lotuleili is an impressively large and physical player who can play in multiple fronts, but the heart condition, mixed with my belief that he’s simply more of a run stopper only, makes it too hard to mock him this high. The Raiders could also turn to Geno Smith, but they weren’t able to get much pressure at all on the quarterback, so I think they tab Jordan to be an explosive pass rusher off the edge.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan
This is what happens when you build an offensive line around Bills cast-offs. With Bell unable to make an impact and Jason Peters suffering a pretty serious knee injury, the Eagles were a mess at tackle this year. As bad as Vick was, a lot of it had to do with the fact that he was running for his life. Fisher has seen his stock rise tremendously since the season ended, he fills a position of need, and has the talent to be a real asset.
5. Detroit Lions – Dee Milliner, CB Alabama
Milliner is a player that I’ve liked since I watched him beat up my Michigan Wolverines in the first week of the season. He’s physical, aggressive, but athletic enough to stay with receivers. The Lions are desperate for help at cornerback, and Milliner is far and away the best in the draft. The people in Detroit will love the rugged way he plays the game.
6. Cleveland Browns – Ezekiel Ansah, DE/ OLB BYU
Jabaal Sheard was a solid addition two seasons ago, but he’s found some trouble getting into the backfield regularly this past season. Part of the reason for that is that teams have gotten leads on the Browns and continued to run the ball, but it’s also simply that the Browns don’t have a lot of other talent on the line. Ansah can be the solution. He’s the type of hybrid DE/OLB that Horton would need in his new 3-4 scheme. He still needs to grow into his potential, but he’s long and can immediately make offenses gameplan to stop him.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Geno Smith, QB West Virginia
The Cardinals absolutely cannot walk away from this draft without a franchise quarterback, and although it would be a mild surprise to see Smith still available here, the Cardinals would absolutely not let him slip past them. Their reported interest in Matt Cassell might take them out of the market here, but for right now, I don’t see Smith getting below this pick.
8. Buffalo Bills – Cordarelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
There are no truly dominant players at the top of the draft who are far and away better than everybody else, which makes mocking the Bills pick so difficult. I know the Bills will be looking for a QB or WR, but with Smith gone, there are no quarterbacks really worth a top 10 pick. As it stands right now, this is also a bit of a reach on Patterson, but I think he has the size/athleticism combination that could make for a star receiver. He’s still a little unpolished and his combine interviews were apparently not great, but the wide receiver crop in free agency is not good (in terms of guys who would be realistic for the Bills), so the team needs to take a chance on a potential breakout star.
9. New York Jets – Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB Georgia
Yes, the Jets offense is terrible, but it’s also taking attention away from the fact that their defense is not producing either. Wilkerson is their leading pass-rusher, as a 3-4 defensive end, with only six sacks, so the Jets would love to grab Jordan, or Ansah here. However, if LaRon Landry leaves Kenny Vaccaro could be a possibility, as could a quarterback, although Rex Ryan is still firmly behind Mark Sanchez. So, I think Jones will be the pick. There are some concerns about his medical, but a lot of the NFL teams have cleared him. His on field performance would make him a top-5 pick alone, so this could be great value for the Jets.
10. Tennessee Titans – Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State
There are no major, glaring weaknesses on the Titans, but they simply don’t get after the quarterback all that well. Werner doesn’t flash, but he is a smart football player who does everything well. He can get after the quarterback, seal against the run, and understands his gap assignments perfectly. He won’t be a pick that makes people crazy with joy, but he’ll make the Titans a better team.
11. San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma
Much like the Eagles, the Chargers have made their quarterback look terrible by refusing to protect him from defenders. Rivers’ skills are certainly declining, but he has a few good years left in the tank. The Chargers would have really hoped that Lewan and/or Matthews would have declared for the draft, or that hadn’t played himself out of their range. However, I think the Chargers have to come out of this draft with multiple impact linemen. This is a bit high for Johnson, but the Chargers are desperate and he showed pretty incredible athleticism in the Senior Bowl and at the Combine. Warmack is another possibility, but I think the Chargers gamble on a potential franchise left tackle.
12. Miami Dolphins – Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri
Wide receiver is the Dolphins number one need, so if the Bills take Patterson, Miami will be in a tough spot. They could also use a left tackle if they let Jake Long walk, but is Johnson is gone there is nobody else worth this spot. What that leaves is Miami taking the best player available. It comes down to Richardson or Rhodes right now. Richardson is a strong defensive tackle prospect who could maker the Dolphins feel better about losing Randy Starks.
13. Tampa Bay Bucs – Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State
The Bucs can’t stop anybody through the air, and they got rid of their best corner when they traded Talib to New England. I don’t see anyway they don’t take a corner in the first round. At 6’1”, Rhodes is a larger corner who can defend the pass and also come up and help in run support. He also ran a very impressive 40 time at the combine to prove that he has the speed to stay wit receivers in addition to reading routes well enough to make plays.
14. Carolina Panthers – Star Lotulelei, DT Utah
The Panthers run defense is terrible. Their offense is starting to get a little bit more consistent under Cam Newton, but they are never going to win until their defense can start getting offenses off the field. Kuechly was a tremendous pick, but he needs some help in front of him. Lotuleili is good value here and can immediately improve the run defense.
15. New Orleans Saints – Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas
Amidst the entire bounty scandal, the Saints defense lost some of its aggressiveness. Their safeties and pass rushers in particular were a real problem last season. That means this pick could come down to Vacarro and Barkevious Mingo. I think the Saints turn to Vacarro who could go inside the top 10 as well. He’s an immediate starter in the secondary and can help the Saints stop people through the air.
16. St. Louis Rams – Chance Warmack, G Alabama
I think that Sam Bradford would be an effective NFL quarterback if he was given more time and more weapons. Givens and Amendola have produced this season, and it’s too early for the Rams to give up on Brian Quick, so I don’t think they’re taking a wide receiver in round one. The next best option is to keep Bradford upright and comfortable in the pocket. I’m a bit surprised that I have Warmack here, but it certainly seems possible that he could fall this far. If he does, the Rams won’t hesitate to pick up the drafts best guard.