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It’s that time of year. The Combine and Pro Days are all but over with, and Free Agency has hit its annual lull. Taking into account performances during the college season, Combine showings, and teams’ needs, here is part one of your definitive NFL Mock Draft:
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)
By letting Eric Winston walk, the Chiefs have effectively committed themselves to taking an offensive tackle with their top pick, and despite strong competition from Eric Fisher, Joeckel is the best player available at the position.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan (DL, Oregon)
The Jaguars have a lot of holes, but their ability to rush the passer is almost non-existent. Patience would be required with prospects like Barkevious Mingo and Ezekiel Ansah, but Jordan is ready to make an istant impact in the NFL.
3. Oakland Raiders – Sharrif Floyd (DT, Flordia)
Given the state of the Raiders roster last season, coupled with the releases of several key players, Oakland really can go with a ‘best player available’ policy. Questions remain over Star Lotulelei, leaving Floyd as the best defensive tackle in the draft by a considerable distance.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
The Eagles have brought in safeties Pat Chung and Kenny Phillips to help their beleaguered secondary, and adding a corner like Milliner could make it a formidable unit next season.
5. Detroit Lions – Eric Fisher (OT, Central Michigan)
The retirement of Jeff Backus and departure of Gosder Cherilus means that the Lions have a big need at tackle. Fisher could be paired with last year’s pick Riley Reiff to give Detroit a tandem that will protect Matthew Stafford for years to come.
6. Cleveland Browns – Ezekiel Ansah (DL, BYU)
Cleveland seem committed to Brandon Weeden, at least for the moment, and will resist the temptation to go after Geno Smith. Few players have improved their draft stock as much as Ansah over the last couple of months, and he will add to an already strong defensive line in Cleveland.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma)
This year’s draft class is extremely deep at the tackle position, and therefore taking the third tackle off the board with just the seventh pick can probably not be considered a reach. They have brought in Carson Palmer in the offseason, so protecting him, and giving him the time to find a target like Larry Fitzgerald, is a must.
8. Buffalo Bills – Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
Smith has been questioned a lot this offseason, essentially because he isn’t Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but he has the tools to be a good franchise quarterback. Parting ways with Ryan Fitzpatrick was a brave move, but probably the right one, and don’t be surprised to see the Bills trade up to ensure they acquire Smith.
9. New York Jets – Bjoern Werner (DL, Florida St.)
The Jets’ offensive failings have been well documented, but their once formidable defense has also struggled of late, and Werner could help reverse that trend. He could also help cover the loss of Mike DeVito to the Chiefs.
10. Tennessee Titans – Chance Warmack (OL, Alabama)
Warmack is undoubtedly one of the best players in this year’s class, but guards are just not seen to be as valuable as tackles in the modern NFL. The Alabama-product could arguably start on every single team drafting above the Titans, but expect Tennessee to be the first team willing to use a high first-round pick on a guard.
11. San Diego Chargers – Jonathan Cooper (OL, North Carolina)
Like the Titans, the Chargers also have a big need at the guard position, especially with the loss of Louis Vasquez, and they should take Cooper off the board immediately after Warmack.
12. Miami Dolphins – Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida St.)
Miami have spent big money to improve their team during free agency, but one area they were unable to make much of a splash in, was the secondary. Rhodes is a big, physical corner, in the ilk of Richard Sherman, and would help solidify an under-strength secondary.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sheldon Richardson (DL, Missouri)
The Buccaneers love interior defensive linemen who can get after the quarterback, and Richardson fits that mould perfectly. Coupled with Gerald McCoy, Tampa could have a solid pairing at the position for years to come.
14. Carolina Panthers – Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
A highly versatile defensive tackle, Lotulelei could help improve the Panthers’ defensive line, and help out a very talented linebacker corps behind him.
15. New Orleans Saints – Jarvis Jones (LB, Georgia)
Although New Orleans might be tempted to take LSU’s Mingo, Jones would be the better fit for their defense. If it weren’t for some lingering questions over his health, Jones would potentially be a top-10 pick.
16. St Louis Rams – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
The Rams are looking for a star receiver following Brandon Lloyd’s departure last year, and Patterson arguably offers the most potential at the position in this year’s class. He would give the Rams one of the youngest and most dynamic, albeit raw, receiving corps in the NFL, along with the likes of Brian Quick and Chris Givens.
Image credit: NFL.com