|NFL Mock Draft, Take 3: Free agency forces alterations||03.22.13 at 7:12 am ET|
Now that free agency is well under way and some big trades and signings have taken place, team needs have been altered quite a bit.
That makes it the perfect time to drop a new mock draft, with revised team needs and continued stock fluctuation among prospects making for a different first-round look than the one that existed a matter of days ago. Without further ado, here’s our latest look at the first round:
1. Chiefs (2-14) — Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Yes, the Chiefs franchised one of their tackles in Branden Albert, but they also released Eric Winston. That makes the selection of Joeckel more feasible, as they can play Albert on the right side and let Joeckel protect Alex Smith’s blindside.
2. Jaguars (2-14) — Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Jaguars didn’t make much noise early on in free agency, so their needs remain largely the same at this point: quarterback, front seven, defensive back, offensive line … pretty much everywhere. They finished last in the league with 20 sacks last season, and Jordan would step in and address that better than free agent signee Geno Hayes.
3. Raiders (4-12) — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders have added Vance Walker, Pat Sims and Jason Hunter to their defensive line via free agency. To save you some Wikipedia work, none of the three are star players, so while depth has been added to a very poor defensive line, the problem is by no means solved. If the Raiders elect to spend the third pick on a defensive tackle, the decision should be a little bit tougher now that Star Lotulelei has been medically cleared and turned in a strong performance at his pro day.
4. Eagles (4-12) — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Talk about a secondary in flux. The Philadelphia secondary was supposed to be strong after the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha two years ago, but they’ve already pulled the plug on that experiment by releasing Asomugha and letting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie walk as a free agent (Rodgers-Cromartie took a one-year deal with the Broncos). They’ve upgraded the safety position with the signings of Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung, but cornerback still is a big area of concern despite the signings of Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher.
5. Lions (4-12) — Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
This would pretty much be the ideal scenario for the Lions. With Jeff Backus retired and Gosder Cherilus having signed with the Colts, the Lions need major help at tackle. Fisher could step in and replace Backus at left tackle and provide the Lions with strong value at this pick. Mike Mayock feels the gap between Joeckel and Fisher is very small, so this would mean landing potential first-overall talent with the fifth pick.
6. Browns (5-11) — Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Browns needed a rush linebacker very badly, and they did something about it by giving former Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger a five-year, $40 million deal and, on a lesser note, bringing in journeyman Quentin Groves. One of their major needs has been addressed, but they still need help at guard and can get it with one of the best prospects to come along at the position in years.
7. Cardinals (5-11) — Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
If the Cardinals choose between quarterback and offensive tackle here, they might have to choose between a couple of risks in West Virginia signal-caller Geno Smith, a shorter prospect who has his doubters, and the raw but big and athletic Johnson. In the end, Johnson is the safer pick.
8. Bills (6-10) — Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
It was a pretty safe bet that the Bills would want to add a quarterback this offseason, but they guaranteed that they’ll have a new starter by releasing Ryan Fitzpatrick. They haven’t added anyone at the position this offseason, but the answer doesn’t appear to be in free agency. The feeling here all along was that Buffalo would be the most likely destination for Smith, and it’s looking more and more likely as the pre-draft process goes on.
9. Jets (6-10) — Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Antwan Barnes is a nice signing, but not the type that will will solve the Jets’ pass-rush woes. We had Jones projected to go second overall in our previous mock draft, so this would be a very good value pick for the Jets if the Jaguars opt for the taller Jordan with their pick.
10. Titans (6-10) — Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Titans entered the offseason needing a pair of guards, and they signed Andy Levitre and Rob Turner. While Turner isn’t the same caliber player as Levitre, he’s a good enough fit at right guard to prevent them from having to spend a top-10 pick at the position. Instead, they can focus on another big need (safety) with Vaccaro.
11. Chargers (7-9) — Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Chargers need line all over the offensive line, but with the top three tackles off the board in this case, the best value with the 11th pick in the draft would be guard (as crazy as that sounds). Don’t rule out a wide receiver here either, as this is a team with a good quarterback that just needs to put him in a better situation.
12. Dolphins (7-9) — Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Wide receiver was a logical choice for the Dolphins in our previous mock drafts, but those were before Miami went out and signed Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, while also retaining Brian Hartline’s services. The value of Lotulelei would be too good to pass up here, as he should easily be gone in the first 10 picks thanks to pro day.
13. Buccaneers (7-9) — Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The thinking here is that Ansah is way too raw to warrant selection this high, but the athleticism undoubtedly is there. The Bucs haven’t gotten tremendous value on some early defensive line picks in years past (Gerald McCoy, Da’Quan Bowers), but they could try to go for a home run with Ansah.
14. Panthers (7-9) — Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
We had Lotulelei here in the previous mock, and while that would be a dream scenario for Carolina, really getting any top defensive tackle out of the first round would be a win for the Panthers. They signed Colin Cole, who hasn’t played since being released by the Seahawks before the 2011 season, so he’s hardly the answer to their problems at defensive tackle.
15. Saints (7-9) — Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Yes, New Orleans re-signed Junior Galette, but the Saints still need to upgrade at outside linebacker. Though Mingo’s 4.5 sacks as a junior didn’t jump off the page, his 4.58 40-yard dash solidified his status as a top prospect. He would immediately step in and offer New Orleans more than Galette or Martez Wilson.
16. Rams (7-8-1) — Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson was the top-rated receiver at the beginning of the pre-draft process, but the combination of Austin’s impressive combine performance and his versatility makes him the most enticing prospect at the position. The Rams lost Danny Amendola in free agency. and the undersized but electric Austin would be able to replace him in the slot.
17. Steelers (8-8) — Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Steelers were so-so at getting after the quarterback last season, so Werner, who had 13 sacks as a senior, would make plenty of sense. Don’t rule out Patterson if he’s available here, as Pittsburgh lost Wallace to the Dolphins and could lose restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders.
18. Cowboys (8-8) — Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse
This would be a reach, but it would address Dallas’ greatest need. Mingo also would make a lot of sense if he were to fall this far, and if the Cowboys want to go after a defensive end, Sam Montgomery would be the best option, as Damontre Moore may have fallen out of first-round consideration since his horrid showing at the combine.
19. Giants (9-7) — Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
We nearly moved Oglretree out of this spot after the Giants went out and signed Dan Connor for a year, but do you really pass on a potential elite inside linebacker prospect because you have Dan Connor? Off-field issues (a DUI before the combine) are the only reason Ogletree fell this far, so his talent may be tough to pass up at this point in the first round.
20. Bears (10-6) — Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
If the Giants were to pass on Ogletree, D.J. Fluker likely would be the pick to upgrade at right tackle. That would make Ogletree a no-brainer pick for Chicago after being unable to come to terms with middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. With Oglretree off the board, the Bears could either grab Manti Te’o or look for help at a different position. They seemingly are no longer in the market for an offensive tackle after signing Jermon Bushrod, so defensive tackle is the pick.
21. Bengals (10-6) — D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Andre Smith still hasn’t signed, and right tackle will be a big need if he walks. Patterson also would be very tempting here if Marvin Lewis really wants to overload that offense, but Cincinnati spent a third-rounder on Mohamed Sanu a year ago and should wait to see if he’ll be a suitable complement to A.J. Green.
22. Rams (from Redskins) — Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Two receivers in the first round to the same team? With Gibson gone to Miami and Amendola in New England, it’s at the very least a possibility, and Patterson would provide tons of value at No. 22. The Rams gave former Titan Jared Cook a five-year, $35.1 million deal in free agency. Otherwise, Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert would be a logical fit here.
23. Vikings (10-6) — Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Vikings traded Percy Harvin to the Seahawks and then signed Greg Jennings to a five-year, $47.5 million deal. That’s a swap of receivers that have had issues staying on the field, and the Vikings needed another receiver before they got rid of Harvin. Allen gives Christian Ponder another receiver with good size and reliable hands.
24. Colts (11-5) — Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Though the signing of Aubrayo Franklin alleviates the need at defensive tackle a bit, general manager Ryan Grigson found himself talking at the combine not about whether the Colts would add a defensive tackle this offseason, but just how many they’d add. The mammoth Jenkins would add some long-term stability, and Grigson’s done a good job in free agency at filling other needs (right tackle with Cherilus, cornerback with Greg Toler).
25. Vikings (from Seahawks) — Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
This is another spot where Te’o would be a possibility, but the Vikings also could use help at defensive tackle. They would probably prefer the bigger Jenkins, but Hankins is plenty big at 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds. The run-stuffing Hankins has drawn comparisons to Vince Wilfork.
26. Packers (11-5) — Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The departure of Jennings makes receiver an obvious need for the Packers. Yes, they still have Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones, but that’s a pretty modest crew. Hunter may not get all of the attention because of his teammate in Patterson, but the 6-foot-4 Hunter projects to be a good outside receiver with his 4.44 speed and athleticism.
27. Texans (12-4) — Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
Pass-rusher becomes a bigger need for the Texans now that Connor Barwin has bolted for Philadelphia as a free agent. Montgomery admitted at the combine that he didn’t always give it 100 percent while playing college ball. That’s both too honest and troubling, but if he’s capable of picking up 17 sacks over the last two seasons without always going all-out, that’s impressive.
28. Broncos (12-4) — Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Terrance Knighton signing kind of flew under the radar because of all the attention that signing Wes Welker got, but bringing in Knighton helps a defensive line that really needed help entering the offseason. The Broncos also re-signed Kevin Vickerson, so defensive tackle is no longer a major need. Defensive end will be if they don’t bring back Elvis Dumervil, but there would be no value here unless the Broncos wanted to take a risk with Moore.
29. Patriots (12-4) — Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Depending on what happens with Sanders, who would cost the Pats their third-round pick if they were to sign him away from the Steelers with an offer sheet, don’t rule out a receiver with this pick if someone like Patterson or Hunter is still on the board. Cornerback also is a possibility, but Short would give the Pats both a strong interior pass-rusher and another young stud on the defensive line with 2012 first-rounder Chandler Jones.
30. Falcons (13-3) — Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Falcons will get another year out of Tony Gonzalez, but with Eifert still on the board here, they can get his long-term replacement and team him with the future Hall of Famer for a year in two tight-end sets. Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant also is a possibility given that the Falcons cut Dunta Robinson and have yet to replace him.
31. 49ers (11-4-1) — Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
There’s been all sorts of talk about the 49ers potentially going after Darrelle Revis. If they don’t get him, Trufant, a speedy (4.38 40-yard dash) 6-footer, would make plenty of sense. Trufant has been a fast-riser in recent weeks, and the brother of Marcus Trufant could be the second corner off the board on draft day when all is said and done. Xavier Rhodes out of Florida State also is a possibility.
32. Ravens (10-6) — Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The retirement of Ray Lewis suggests an obvious need at inside linebacker, but remember that their other inside backer in Dannell Ellerbe left via free agency to join the Dolphins. Te’o is a risk given all the uncertainty that surrounds his bizarre off-field goings on, but the Ravens need bodies at inside linebacker and he’s the best one available.
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