1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
Needs: OL, TE, WR, S, QB2
The Pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Breakdown: Even after franchising Brandon Albert, the Chiefs need help keeping their new QB upright. Earlier in the week, RT Eric Winston was released. With this move, the Chiefs have all but come out and announced publicly that Joeckel is their guy. Barring any major setbacks, expect Joeckel to be in KC.
The Pick: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Breakdown: Jacksonville’s pass-rush was abhorrent last season and this pick should absolutely be dedicated to a top pass-rusher here. The Jags have a ton of options at this point between Dion Jordan, Damontre Moore and Ezekial Ansah. Of the three, Jordan features the best skill set. That being said, Jordan may be a reach at this point in the Draft. If Jacksonville thinks they can get a quality defensive lineman later on, OT Eric Fisher could also fill a need here.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
The Pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Breakdown: This is one of the trickier spots to project. If Oakland does not retain Palmer or feel confident in Pryor, then Oakland may reach for Geno Smith. With needs on the defensive side of the ball, it is very possible Oakland could value the service of Dee Milliner. A potential trade-down could be in the works if the Raiders do not see any major upgrades at this slot in the first round. With a deep draft class defensively, Oakland could be looking to shop around this pick.
The Pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Breakdown: While many are projecting a reunion between Oregon DE Dion Jordan and new head coach Chip Kelly, Milliner is too good a prospect to pass up. After blowing scouts away with his performance at the Combine, more specifically the 40-yard dash, Milliner locked up a spot in the top five. Additionally, it appears the Eagles may be releasing Nnamdi Asomugha after their “dream team” experiment backfired in Philly.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12)
The Pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Breakdown: With no elite rushers available this early to compliment Mikel LeShoure, Fisher makes all the sense in the world at this point. For Detroit, there are not elite guys at a position of need, with the exception of the offensive line. The Central Michigan prospect has impressed scouts, and some have him ranked higher than Luke Joeckel on their boards. Detroit may find a gem in Fisher if he is not taken by Jacksonville at number two.
The Pick: Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State
Breakdown: If any QB is to lead Cleveland to the Playoffs, they must get better on the offensive side of the ball. However, there are no receivers worthy of a top 10 pick in this year’s draft. If Cleveland values Cordarrelle Patterson or Keenan Allen, they must trade back. Cleveland should opt to go with the best player available, Werner, to fix their poor pass rush from a season ago.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
The Pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Breakdown: Geno Smith could slot in here if Oakland passes on him. If Oakland re-signs Palmer, Smith may be all but locked up here. Since he is off the board at this slot, Arizona will try to help out their team by shoring up the offensive line that gave up a league-high 58 sacks last season. Though Johnson is still developing, Bruce Arians and company would benefit from Johnson’s athleticism.
The Pick: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Breakdown: Buffalo has the option between Dion Jordan and Alec Ogletree here. The pick will simply come down to who they value more. However, there is no doubt that the linebacking corps needs an upgrade. Whoever the Bills choose with the eighth overall selection, they should be getting a top-notch defender.
9. New York Jets (6-10)
The Pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Breakdown: The Jets stand to prosper from whoever Buffalo does not select right before them. With the release of veteran linebacker Bart Scott, New York desperately needs to find a replacement to help with their less than stellar defense. Like several teams, the Jets are also in need of a receiving threat at Santonio Holmes is on the mend. With no real reserve player in place, New York could opt for a play-maker to help out whoever is under center for Gang Green.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
The Pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Breakdown: If Lotulelei is available at ten, the Titans have hit an absolute home-run. With concerns about a heart condition, it is very feasible the stud defender from Utah is available this late. Though there is clearly concern about finding help on the offensive side of the ball, Tennessee would be foolish to pass up a player of Lotulelei’s caliber at this point.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
The Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Breakdown: Though San Diego’s need is more at the tackle position, Cooper is a guy that can come in and revitalize a unit that saw Norv Turner get the boot. Run-blocking was one of the major areas that San Diego was lacking last season, and Cooper will be an instant upgrade that can come in and start right away. That being said, the Charger could also look for help elsewhere should free-agents like Andy Levitre (Buffalo Bills) become available.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
The Pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Breakdown: If Miami is able to retain Brian Hartline, they would be looking for another play-making wide-out. While Patterson is the better option, Keenan Allen could be the guy that would fill out the receiving corps and give second-year signal-caller Ryan Tannehill a down field threat. This pick is contingent on the re-signing of Hartline and if the team decide to break the bank on a player like Mike Wallace.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
The Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Breakdown: While Tight End is a major need for Josh Freeman and the Bucs, Vaccaro is an excellent fall-back plan. Though it is tough to select back-to-back safeties in the first round, imagine a secondary with Mark Barron and Kenny Vaccaro. With this choice, the Bucs would instantly upgrade their biggest weakness and be able to contend in a division where Julio Jones, Roddy White, Jimmy Graham, and Marques Colston dominate. Tampa Bay would be getting the most complete safety in the Draft and would bolster their secondary for a number of years by partnering the Texas star with Mark Barron.
The Pick: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
Breakdown: Luke Kuechly was a brilliant selection for Carolina last year. Though there more pressing needs at this slot, running back and wide receiver, Shariff Floyd is an exceptional talent at 14. Floyd has great strength and a decent burst at the defensive tackle spot. He has also played the defensive end position which may offer up some versatility should the Panthers choose to use him in this way. Patterson and Allen could be options here, as well as Barkevious Mingo.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
The Pick: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Breakdown: With Will Smith aging and no viable star to partner with Cam Jordan, the Saints will likely seek out a dynamic player to shore up the worst defensive unit in NFL history. This pick comes down to value, and Mingo certainly presents the biggest upside available in this slot. Mingo can be an Aldon Smith type of player, but also has bust potential due to technique flaws. New Orleans should be able to overlook this and grab a devastating pass-rusher in what is becoming a pass-heavy league.
The Pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Breakdown: St. Louis simply could not stay healthy at wide receiver last year. With the first of their two picks in the first round, St. Louis can grab the most dynamic pass-catcher in the entire Draft. If the Rams keep Danny Amendola in the slot, and have a player like Chris Givens or Brian Quick emerge as a play-maker, Jeff Fisher and company might be able to get their offense back to when St. Louis boasted “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
The Pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Breakdown: The Steelers would be thrilled for a player of Jarvis Jones’ skill set to drop to them. With James Harrison’s future in question, Jones and Worilds could become the future for this team at outside linebacker. Though it is unlikely he drops this low, teams are worried about Jones’ diagnosis of spinal stenosis affecting his abilities. The health concern did not seem to be an issue when Jones dominated opponents at Georgia and Pittsburgh could get some nastiness back with Jones.
The Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DE, Missouri
Breakdown: The Cowboys have a number of pressing needs along their defense. While Linebacker is certainly a position of need, the Cowboys could use another dynamic pass-rusher to compliment DeMarcus Ware. Though Richardson could stand to benefit from added development, Big D stands to profit from the raw athleticism the former Mizzou Tiger possesses.
19. New York Giants (9-7)
The Pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Breakdown: Martellus Bennett filled in nicely as a receiving target for Eli Manning last season. However, can Tom Coughlin rely on Bennett to produce again this year and into the future? The NFL-ready Eifert combined with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz (if he gets a new deal) would return the Giants to their former glory in a weak NFC East.
The Pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Breakdown: Chance Warmack is widely considered the top guard in this year’s Draft class. With Jay Cutler taking about as much abuse as any QB in the league, Chicago needs to draft a player to keep their franchise QB healthy. Warmack is one of the most complete players in the Draft and Chicago would have to pounce on him if he makes it this far down the Draft board.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
The Pick: Ezekial Ansah, DE, BYU
Breakdown: Though Ansah is considered a top 15 pick; teams remain wary due to his lack of experience. Despite putting up freakish performances in both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, Ansah has the makings a boom-or-bust player. Ansah could be the next Jason Pierre-Paul…or Vernon Gholston. Still, Cincy could gamble and land a talented guy that fits well in their system.
The Pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Breakdown: The Rams would love a guy like Fluker to be available when they make their second selection in the first round. Fluker is a hard-worker and exactly the type of competitor that Jeff Fisher looks for in a player. Though there is the potential to land a replacement for Steven Jackson here, running back is deep enough that St. Louis is better-suited to get a player to help keep Sam Bradford upright. Tight End is a need, but Jeff Fisher may be trying to recruit his former player Jared Cook, who the Titans are likely going to allow to test the free-agent waters.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
The Pick: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Breakdown: While this may be a bit of a reach, Minter is certainly the best player available at one of the team’s biggest needs. Assuming Minnesota and Percy Harvin agree to a new contract, Minnesota will not be looking at receiver with this pick. Kevin Minter is a mobile player with good range sideline to sideline and has the leadership to be the quarterback of the Vikings’ D.
The Pick: Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse
Breakdown: In perhaps the biggest surprise of the first round, Pugh could fill a major role of protecting Indy’s franchise player, Andrew Luck. Pugh was one of the two non-seniors to play in the Senior Bowl and wowed the evaluators with his talent. Though there are minor injury concerns, Pugh stands out on tape and has the work ethic and blocking skills that offensive line coaches salivate over. If Indy does not value an offensive lineman here, the Colts could look at a Cornerback to shine alongside Vontae Davis.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
The Pick: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Breakdown: This is another trade-up eligible position. If Seattle does decide to keep the pick, Hankins could fill about the only void in the vaunted Seahawks D. Hankins would be used to occupy blockers with his big frame, allowing the talented linebackers like Bruce Irvin and K.J. Wright to make plays. Hankins has a high motor and will help Seattle protect against the run.
The Pick: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Breakdown: Green Bay could stand to benefit from having a home-run hitter in the backfield. The Packers have not had an explosive running back in recent memory and as a result, teams can game-plan for a heavy passing attack. Having an explosive runner like Lacy will take some of the heat off of Aaron Rodgers while being a weapon to make plays in the receiving game as well.
27. Houston Texans (12-4)
The Pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Breakdown: Though injuries plagued the linebacker position for Houston last year, Matt Schaub could use another target besides the talented Andre Johnson. No disrespect to Houston’s offense, but having Johnson, Owen Daniels, and Foster is not enough to strike fear into opposing defenses. Adding a speed element in the slot like Austin would make defenses adjust their coverage, which ideally would benefit Johnson out the outside. If Houston passes on the speedy wide-out, expect them to pick up some depth at LB to add to J.J. Watt.
The Pick: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Breakdown: Though this pick might not matter since Von Miller guaranteed Denver winning the next Super Bowl, the Broncos had better get good value just in case there is something wrong with Miller’s crystal ball. Williams is a very quick defensive player and will add future value to a defensive line that picked up Derek Wolfe out of Cincinnati in last year’s draft.
29. New England Patriots (12-4)
The Pick: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Breakdown: Another year, another need for a defensive back for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Even if the Pats hold on to their free-agent pickup Aqib Talib, Banks would fix a secondary that allowed over 4,000 passing yards last season. A Talib/Banks tandem would certainly make Pats fans happy. Which direction New England goes with this pick ultimately comes down to the Wes Welker debacle. Should New England retain Welker, than defense becomes their top priority.
The Pick: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Breakdown: Even if tony Gonzalez comes back for one final year with the Falcons, Atlanta should start looking for the heir apparent to the future Hall-of-Famer. With Eifert off the board, Ertz is easily the second-best Tight End available. If Gonzalez comes back, the Falcons could have two solid Tight Ends to pair with their elite receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Running back is a position that needs a look, but with the depth of the 2013 class, Atlanta can wait until the later rounds to round out their backfield.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
The Pick: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Breakdown: San Francisco could potentially pair one of their fifteen Draft picks with this one to move up if there is a player to their liking. However, if the 49ers decide to keep the 31st overall pick, Jenkins would only further add to the scary-good defensive line that San Francisco possesses. Head coach John Harbaugh could develop Jenkins to fill the role currently held by Justin Smith. Smith’s age has become a bit of a concern and this is definitely the Draft class to address defensive issues. Of course, if Safety Dashon Goldson leaves for greener pastures, a player like Florida’s Matt Elam could wind up playing by the bay in September.
The Pick: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Breakdown: Word on the street is that the Ravens will be without one of their best linebackers this season. While LSU’s Kevin Minter could fall to the Ravens at the end of the first round, this seems highly unlikely. Even with the poor Combine numbers that Te’o put up, his instinctual play and nose for the football still make him one of the best interior linebacking prospects in recent memory. With the potential departures of Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin, Baltimore could also opt for a player that could produce like these two have. South Carolina’s D.J. Swearinger, FIU’s John Cyprien, or Robert Woods out of USC could also be Draft candidates for the Ravens.
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