Just as the moth returns to the flame, I continue to roll out the mock drafts. As free agency and trades have altered NFL rosters, so too has it altered the NFL Draft landscape. With rumors and innuendoes of what team, loves what prospect continuing to flood the airwaves and internet, it’s time to throw those proverbial darts at just how I see the first round of April’s draft unfolding.
As March Madness draws to a close and my string of consecutive years without winning a bracket pool reaches 30 (yes, you read that right … 30), it’s nice to turn my full attention back to draft evaluation. So here is Mock 2.0 in all its glory!
1. KANSAS CITY – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: After shoring up their offense on multiple fronts through free agency, the Chiefs don’t overthink this one and go with arguably the top left tackle available in the draft. Selecting Joeckel to pave the way for
as well as protect new quarterback
’s blind side also opens up the trade possibilities for franchised offensive tackle Branden Albert. In a perfect scenario Kansas City is able to recoup the second-round pick they traded for Smith in an Albert deal.
2. JACKSONVILLE –
, OLB/DE, Oregon: The Jaguars need so much help on both sides of the ball that their selection here could go a number of ways. After swinging and missing on pass rushing options in the past such as
(the jury is still out but his rookie season was unimpressive to say the least), look for Jacksonville to take one more shot at it.
Jordan is a physical freak at 6-foot-6, 248 pounds and versatile enough to play outside linebacker or defensive end. He has drawn comparisons to San Francisco’s Aldon Smith.
3. OAKLAND –
, DT, Florida: The Raiders avoided the need to select West Virginia’s
by acquiring former Green Bay and Seattle quarterback,
. They also avoid having to realistically consider starting
next season as general manager Reggie McKenzie gets a familiar face to play under center for Oakland. That frees them up to grab the best defensive line prospect in the entire draft. Floyd is solid against the run and provides above average interior pressure from the defensive tackle position. He is also versatile and explosive enough to kick outside and play defensive end for Oakland. He’ll step in as a Day 1, three-down player on the defensive front.
4. PHILADELPHIA –
, DT, Utah: Philadelphia continues to bolster its defensive line and is happy to see the man-mountain out of Utah still on the board. If they had dropped Lotulelei on their board due to the combine heart scare the recent medical clearance to resume his career is music to Philadelphia’s ears. He can play anywhere along the defensive interior, stand stout against the run and offer decent pressure up the gut. He may never post eye-popping sack numbers but pursues the ball carrier well and can clog the middle effectively. He will join
to form one of the best young defensive tackle duos in the league.
5. DETROIT – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: The Lions replace the retiring Jeff Backus with the local kid from Mount Pleasant and address a long standing need along their offensive line. It’s not a flashy selection but it is the smart one. Passing on Alabama cornerback
will stir Lions fans into a frenzy, but shoring up franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford’s blind side is critical for an offense predicated on passing the ball.
6. CLEVELAND –
, CB, Alabama: The Browns have built a very solid defensive front over the past few seasons and now add the most pro-ready defensive back in the 2013 draft class. Milliner can play press coverage as well as zone schemes, and, if the Lions pass on him, the Browns are smiling like the butcher’s dog as they turn in this selection.
7. ARIZONA – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: Now that it has been settled that
is their quarterback for 2013, the Cardinals must address the debacle that is their offensive line. Johnson has been climbing up draft boards and while he is probably the least polished of the big three (Joeckel, Fisher, Johnson), he also may possess the most upside. The Cardinals are rebuilding under new head coach Bruce Arians and they can shore up the left tackle position for years to come by getting the kid from Oklahoma in the fold.
8. BUFFALO –
, QB, West Virginia:
is not the answer at quarterback for the Bills, and, if you don’t believe me, just take a quick poll of any 100 Arizona Cardinals’ fans. OK, we’re all in agreement then that Buffalo is still in the market for a quarterback, and Smith is the cream of this year’s crop. He’s an athletic quarterback with the arm strength and accuracy to fit passes into small windows as well as throw receivers open. He’ll need some work on taking snaps from under center after spending the last couple of years in the Mountaineers’ spread offense. As a sophomore, Smith did play in an offense where snaps from center were the norm, so that learning curve could be smaller than some would have you believe. Buffalo gets its quarterback of the future and look for him to be starting by Week 8.
9. N.Y. JETS –
, OLB, Georgia: Rex Ryan loves defensive toys to play with, and the kid from Georgia sitting here at nine is a dream come true for Ryan. The Jets are looking to improve their pass rush as well as plug the numerous holes left from salary cap-induced cuts. Selecting Jones addresses both fronts. He’ll step right in as a three-down outside linebacker and team with second-year pass rushing threat
and emerging defensive end
to immediately improve the Jets’ sack totals.
10. TENNESSEE – Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama: It’s a tossup here between Warmack and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper. Look for the Titans to go with Warmack as the Alabama pedigree wins out. He steps right in as the final piece to shore up the offensive front for Tennessee. The Titans want to pound the rock with
. Warmack will be a welcome addition.