With the 2012-13 season in the books, all 32 first-round picks are locked in. Meaning, it is time for another mock. These will be posted more frequently, but like I previously mentioned, I have a love/hate relationship with mock drafts. First, many fans seem to get stuck in groupthink, leading to outrage when a certain player is or is not mentioned in the top-32 picks because of how "unrealistic" that would be. Aren’t we all surprised at what actually happens in April? One of my main goals, especially this early in the process, is to introduce you to some new names that could ultimately end up as one of the top players at their position. I will shoot for accuracy at a later date. For now, this is all in fun.
There a few strategies to drafting. Obviously need is factored into the final grade teams give, along with talent, medicals, and character concerns. However, the one thing that may alter a prospect’s grade from team to team more than anything is scheme and fit. Since it is early in the offseason process, we have no clue what many teams’ schemes will be for next season or the players that will run them, so the proverbial darts are being thrown at this time. Also, consider that many teams select prospects in the hopes of them taking over for a declining name-brand player, usually ones that are on the down slope of their career. It may not be a popular tactic, but it makes sense when keeping future success and salary cap in mind.
As always, you can comment below or reach me on Twitter.
1. Kansas City Chiefs -- QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
The recent success of second- and third-round quarterbacks is either a new trend or an outlier, because from 2001-2010, only two quarterbacks selected in that two round span can be considered dependable starters (Drew Brees and Matt Schaub). With that said, there is a large group of signal callers that could be considered second- or third-round talents this season. Kansas City and Andy Reid can’t afford to wait on whichever one might fall to the outside of the first-round. Instead, this is one of the few opportunities a team can choose their favorite from the entire bunch. Here is more on the QB Problem from Eric Stoner.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars -- DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
This is all based on a guess for scheme fit. Gus Bradley’s scheme featured a run stuffing defensive end in Seattle, likely a role Tyson Alualu can play. On the opposite side, the Jaguars need a pass rusher whose main goal is to get to a point in the backfield and disrupt while penetrating. Mingo can line up from the 7 or 9 technique and do this quite well. Don’t get caught up in his dip in production, since it appeared Mingo was asked to take less aggressive lines at the QB in order to keep contain.
3. Oakland Raiders -- DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
I have no idea who Reggie McKenzie is going to cut this offseason. Neither do the players on the Raiders roster. McKenzie only has ties to a few players on the roster, so a large amount may be expendable. With Richard Seymour’s contact voiding and Tommy Kelly possibly on the outs, the Raiders must resign Desmond Bryant. After that, Star would be a nice piece since he can play from multiple alignments across in a number of fronts.
4. Philadelphia Eagles -- T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Obviously if Chip Kelly has full confidence that Jason Peters will return to form, this pick might not happen. We still are not sure what type of offensive system Kelly intends to run, but if Oregon-like play calling is featured, the Eagles’ offensive line needs to be very mobile and balanced. Joeckel is an excellent athlete for the left tackle position with great posture. He did show deficiencies against Florida, however.
5. Detroit Lions -- CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Lions could use a pass rusher, and in fact I usually side with the defensive end in situations where they have equal grades as corners. For some reason, possibly due to ex-GM Scott Pioli’s junior rankings, I get a feeling Milliner will be more highly coveted than many pass rushers that are generally considered to be in his talent range.
6. Cleveland Browns -- OLB Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
With the Browns' front seven likely in place outside of a strong side rush linebacker behind a three man front, expect the team to address that need at this selection. Moore has experience at both rush linebacker and defensive end, the latter being in a four man front. He offers a relentless motor, but I would like to see Moore use his length and hands more frequently while planting outside and working back in.
7. Arizona Cardinals -- QB Mike Glennon, NC State
Strong armed passer that can make quick decisions while vertically testing single high safeties? I think Glennon fits Bruce Arians’ style very well and thrives on getting the ball out of his hands immediately after planting off his back foot on three or five step drops. The Cardinals' offensive line issues are dreadful, and Glennon struggles the longer the ball is in his hands, especially against interior pressure.
8. Buffalo Bills -- WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
The talent is there for Patterson to be a star, including concentration to make catches with a defensive back draped on him, touch grabs along the sideline, and excellent vision as a ball carrier. I do not judge character or injuries, instead choosing to list what has been reported. Beat writers worried about Patterson’s academic standing all year, and even though we have seen less than intelligent players show excellent football smarts, it is something to note. One season at the FBS level is too small a sample size to know for sure.
9. NY Jets -- DE/OLB Bjoern Werner, FSU
This is a questionable fit, but just looking at the Jets’ pass rushers, Werner is listed at the same weight (or lighter) than both Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas. He might not have a ton of experience in space or fluid hips, but Werner could be considered the best pass rusher left on the board.
10. Tennessee Titans -- S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Vaccaro offers some positional versatility, after showing he can lock down explosive slot receivers like Tavon Austin or roaming in the deep half. Teams will start looking for antidotes to matchup with joker offensive weapons. Vaccaro can do that for the Titans while being an every down player.
11. San Diego Chargers -- T Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
It may be a stretch to see Fisher last this long, but there might not be a better fit. The Chippewa finds contact through his hands with great extension and control. An immediate starter on the left side, Fisher might be worth trading up for.
12. Miami Dolphins -- T Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Jake Long’s contract situation could dictate this selection, but without him the Dolphins are left with an adequate at best right tackle in Jonathan Martin. Johnson is not a finished product and will likely add weight to fill out a growing frame in order to absorb first contact more efficiently, but his agile feet to mirror pass rushers will keep evaluators optimistic. His posture versus power rushers could use some work.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- CB Xavier Rhodes, FSU
The Bucs have a good number of talented and young defensive players, and Rhodes fits the bill as an overly physical edge corner with speed to stick with receivers down field. He can be a bit unorthodox at times, but I definitely consider Rhodes a first-round talent, especially for a scheme that utilizes physical edge defenders.
14. Carolina Panthers -- DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
I have a feeling Ron Rivera will want to utilize more versatility in the type of fronts he runs, and Floyd fits that premonition. After mainly playing end in a four man front in 2011, Floyd moved inside and thrived during his junior season. I love his strength to press the pocket with leg drive and powerful hands to shed while penetrating, but don’t overlook Floyd’s agile feet as a weapon.
15. New Orleans Saints -- OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
With the Saints moving to a 3-4 defense, the team seems to have both ends already on the roster. If they decide to move Akiem Hicks inside, Ezekiel Ansah could be an option here, but as a pass rusher with excellent comfort in space, Dion Jordan is an ideal prospect. The Duck’s production might not stand out, but I beg you to watch the film. Jordan might not have ideal bend around the edge, but he covers a lot of ground and has strong hands. An impending shoulder surgery is the only issue.
16. St. Louis Rams -- G Chance Warmack, Alabama
Warmack might end up being my top grade, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he is selected before this, but it is a great fit. Not only can he consistently win one on one matchups, Warmack can move to the second level and maul smaller players. He would help create an identity along the interior of the Rams offensive line.