Mock Draft, Take 4: Manti Te’o moves up
|04.12.13 at 1:51 am ET|
With the draft less than two weeks away, things are beginning to take shape as team needs are solidified and prospects work closer to cementing their stock.
The biggest difference from our last mock draft is that two teams picking in the top 10 with needs at quarterback addressed those needs, as the Raiders picked up Matt Flynn in a trade with the Seahawks before shipping Carson Palmer to the Cardinals. The Raiders and Cardinals were potential suitors for Geno Smith, though the Raiders probably wouldn’t have gone after the West Virginia quarterback unless they could have gotten rid of Palmer.
1. Chiefs (2-14) — Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
With all the moving parts that comes with each draft, this just continues to be the logical pick at the top for the Chiefs. They addressed the quarterback position by trading for Alex Smith, and the future of the offensive line is unclear given that the team franchised Branden Albert and cut Eric Winston.
2. Jaguars (2-14) — Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Assuming nobody trades into the top spot to select him, this is the earliest possible destination for Smith. The guess here is that it’s still too early. Yes, quarterbacks often go higher than you’d expect, but Smith still doesn’t scream ‘top-five prospect.’ Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer for the Jaguars, but should they really roll the dice with such a high pick if there’s a chance Smith isn’t either? Jacksonville was last in the league with 20 sacks last season, so Jordan would be a logical fit.
3. Raiders (4-12) — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Reggie McKenzie inherited quite a mess, but the new general manager clearly is doing something about it. Despite the draft picks the team had given up for Palmer less than two seasons ago, McKenzie was right to move on from the shaky veteran when Palmer wouldn’t restructure his contract. The Raiders have strengthened their line a bit in free agency with Vance Walker, Pat Sims and Jason Hunter, but Floyd would become the star of a line that lost Richard Seymour when the team voided his contract.
4. Eagles (4-12) — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Chip Kelly‘s first big decision in the draft likely will come down to offensive line or cornerback. Does he grab Eric Fisher and stick him at right tackle for now or does he grab Milliner and add a top young player to the secondary after its big names went bust? The Eagles released Nnamdi Asomugha and let Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie leave before signing Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher.
5. Lions (4-12) — Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Yes, this pick means that the top five picks remain the same as they did in the previous mock draft. That’s a sign of the draft starting to take shape, and if the Eagles opt for Fisher, Milliner would make sense here. The offensive line should be the priority for Detroit though, as Jeff Backus retired and Gosder Cherilus signed with the Colts.
6. Browns (5-11) — Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Milliner would be a good fit here if available, but Warmack is the best fit for a major need for the Browns. Paul Kruger‘s five-year, $40 million deal says they likely won’t go for a pass-rusher this high unless someone like Jordan falls this far. Geno Smith wouldn’t be too shocking here.
7. Cardinals (5-11) — Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Cardinals didn’t give up a lot for Carson Palmer, but the acquisition is only so-so because at the end of the day, it’s Carson Palmer. This team really blew its first-rounder last year by taking Malcolm Floyd, so the Cardinals need to make this one count. Johnson draws comparisons to Nate Solder, but with a higher ceiling.
8. Bills (6-10) — Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Bills signed Kevin Kolb, but is he really the long-term guy there? If the Bills are indeed targeting Smith, they should be thrilled with the quarterback trades that took place last week. The Cardinals were one of the teams more likely to go for a quarterback and they are choosing one spot ahead of Buffalo.
9. Jets (6-10) — Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
If the Jets want to see what the potential payoff of rolling the dice on a raw pass-rusher is, they don’t need to look outside their own building, as there’s a good example in Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul. Ansah’s a much bigger risk than Pierre-Paul was in 2010 though; Pierre Paul had played football since his junior year of high school, while Ansah started playing football in 2009.
10. Titans (6-10) — Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The biggest needs for the Titans entering the offseason were at guard and safety. They addressed their guard situation by signing Andy Levitre and Rob Turner, while improving at safety with George Wilson and Bernard Pollard. This might be about 10 (or more) picks too early for Trufant, but all it takes is one team picking out of need to reach.
11. Chargers (7-9) — Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Is Rich Ohrnberger good enough to start? The Chargers signed the former Patriot and Cardinal as well as Chad Rinehart to replace free agents Louis Vasquez (Broncos) and Tyronne Green (still unsigned). The Chargers also need help at tackle, so don’t rule out the possibility of them trading up into the top 10 to grab Fisher or Johnson.
12. Dolphins (7-9) — Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
This would be a steal for the Dolphins, as Lotulelei’s pro day seemed to ease concerns that arose when a heart issue kept him from working out at the combine. That remains to be seen, though, as plenty of players have fallen in the past due to health issues. Tavon Austin would have been an option here had the Dolphins not gone out and loaded up at receiver.
13. Buccaneers (7-9) — Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Michael Bennett departed for the Seahawks via free agency, and Werner would be the best fit to replace him at this point. Gerald McCoy and Da’Quan Bowers haven’t paid off in recent years, but the Bucs would be wise to spend another high pick on their defensive line.
14. Panthers (7-9) — Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Last year, we projected defensive tackles Dontari Poe and Michael Brockers to the Panthers in our mock drafts. The Panthers rightfully grabbed Luke Kuechly when the inside linebacker was on the board at No. 9, but the need is still there on the defensive line. Either Lotulelei or Richardson would be ideal for Carolina.
15. Saints (7-9) — Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Saints will have options here as they look to upgrade over the likes of Junior Galette and Martez Wilson. We’ll give them Jones over LSU’s Barkevious Mingo here because Jones is more dangerous when blitzing, something that’s backed up by his 14.5 sacks from last season.
16. Rams (7-8-1) — Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The prediction here is that somebody’s going to trade up for Austin. Maybe it will be the Rams themselves, but at this point Austin looks like he’ll be the first receiver off the board. When enough teams know that and the Rams are such a logical fit after losing Danny Amendola, anyone who wants Austin should move up ahead of No. 16 to be safe.
17. Steelers (8-8) — Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Pittsburgh receiving corps has taken a hit this offseason, as Mike Wallace signed with the Dolphins and Emmanuel Sanders could end up with the Patriots. If the Steelers elect to not match New England’s offer sheet, they’ll be down two key receivers. Patterson was the consensus top receiver prospect entering the pre-draft process, but the smaller but more electric Austin has appeared to jump ahead of him.
18. Cowboys (8-8) — Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse
Do the Cowboys go for the best player available at a position that could use some help in Barkevious Mingo or do they try to address their biggest need by taking an interior lineman? The Cowboys paid Tony Romo, and now they need to protect him. Pugh wouldn’t provide the greatest value at No. 18, but he certainly would be valuable to Romo.
19. Giants (9-7) — Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
The Giants want improved linebacker play next season, and Dan Connor, while a nice signing on a one-year deal, isn’t a difference-maker. Ogletree is the top inside linebacker in this draft and he wouldn’t have fallen this far were it not for off-field issues.
20. Bears (10-6) — Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Bears had some obvious needs entering the offseason, with tackle and tight end among them. They’ve addressed both in free agency by giving Jermon Bushrod a mammoth deal and inking former Giant Martellus Bennett. With those needs filled, they can look to add another target for Jay Cutler, and Allen would team with Brandon Marshall and Bennett to give the Bears some pretty good options.
21. Bengals (10-6) — Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
We have projected offensive tackles to the Bengals in past mock drafts, but since Andre Smith still hasn’t signed with anybody else, it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll wind up back in Cincinnati. The Bengals need help at safety, and Vaccaro would be a steal at No. 20.
22. Rams (from Redskins) — Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Rams don’t have major needs at defensive tackle or defensive end, but with Williams and Mingo both on the board at this point, they should go for value. Williams would give Kendall Langford a run for his money.
23. Vikings (10-6) — Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Greg Jennings signing lessened the need at receiver for the Vikings, though they should still look to add one after the first round. Elam would team with Harrison Smith to make one of the best young safety tandems in the league.
24. Colts (11-5) — Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Colts need defensive tackles, so don’t think Ryan Grigson is done after signing Aubrayo Franklin. After all, the Colts general manager was aggressive in addressing the tight end position with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. The Colts would have options here with both Jenkins and Johnathan Hankins on the board.
25. Vikings (from Seahawks) — Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The whole whatever-it-was hurts his stock and so too does a less-than-stellar 40 time, but the fact of the matter is that Te’o can play, and were it not for the off-field stuff, he would be ranked ahead of Ogletree. The Vikings need help at inside linebacker and Te’o would provide it, even if his presence might also provide a bit of a media frenzy at first.
26. Packers (11-5) — Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
If Mingo and the other pass-rushers are off the board at this point, Justin Hunter would be a logical fit considering the loss of Jennings via free agency. D.J. Fluker also would be a great fit here, as it’s hard to see him falling this far.
27. Texans (12-4) — Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Andre Johnson isn’t getting any younger, and the options around him aren’t getting any better. The 6-foot-4 Hunter boasts 4.44 speed and brings everything a team could want from an outside receiver. Hunter and Johnson would make that offense pretty scary considering how productive it’s been in the running game.
28. Broncos (12-4) — D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Talk about the rich getting richer. This would be an absolute steal for a Broncos team that could actually use a left tackle. Ryan Clady will play next year under the franchise tag, so selecting Fluker would give Denver a solid left tackle of the future who won’t necessarily have to be thrown into the fire right away.
29. Patriots (12-4) — Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes had been projected to the Patriots in our past mock drafts, but he got pushed out of the last mock so the Pats could address their need on the defensive line with Kawann Short. The Purdue defensive tackle still would be a great fit for the Pats, but the need is lessened a bit by the Tommy Kelly signing. The Pats always could use more bodies in their secondary, and Rhodes is a tough one.
30. Falcons (13-3) — Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
This spot would present an interesting decision for the Falcons. Do they go for Florida State defensive tackle Tank Carradine, who is known to be coveted by Atlanta, or do they select the draft’s top tight end in Eifert? They’ll need to start preparing for life without Tony Gonzalez, so the guess here is the latter.
31. 49ers (11-4-1) — Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
The Titans signed Delanie Walker away from the 49ers, so finding another tight end to team with Vernon Davis becomes more of a priority here. Safety also is an area of need for the 49ers, but with Vaccaro and Elam both gone, they might be wiser to wait a round or two.
32. Ravens (10-6) — DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
With Anquan Boldin gone, the Ravens have a need at receiver. Although Hopkins doesn’t have the blazing speed of a guy like Austin or the length of Hunter, the 6-foot-1, 214-pound Hopkins is thickly built and can be a difference-maker once he catches the ball.
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