- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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"Mr. Scratch", "PatsFanTRichter", and "Clark12to81", three regulars in the comments section who add terrific insight to this blog, will join me in doing the selecting. The picks will be made in the comments section of the blog and then I'll cut-and-paste them into the main area of the blog.
The draft will proceed in the following order:
1. Chiefs (Mike Reiss) -- OT Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) -- Tough year to have the No. 1 pick, sort of like the Patriots in 1991. There is no clear-cut No. 1 this year, just as there was disappointment in Patriots headquarters in ’91 in a draft where the top pick was defensive lineman Russell Maryland (the Patriots traded the pick to Dallas). The Chiefs say they’ve narrowed it down to four players at this point, and Joeckel plays a premium position (left tackle). Given the unfortunate hand they’ve been dealt, the Chiefs -- with a new regime led by head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey -- do the best they can here.
2. Jaguars (Mr. Scratch) -- DE/OLB Dion Jordan (Oregon) -- The Jaguars were the worst pass-rush team in football last year with a league-low 20 sacks recorded and no single player accounting for more than (3.5). Gus Bradley has had experience and success with lighter, quick pass rushers (Clemons, Irvin) playing an "elephant" type position on the edge and Jordan would fit the bill nicely with his productivity, flexibility and athleticism and hopefully provide a cornerstone on their defense.
3. Raiders (PatsFanTRichter) -- DT Star Lotulelei (Utah) –- The Raiders are in full rebuilding mode, but with no franchise quarterback on the board, they look to fill both a huge need and select the best player available. After receiving a clean bill of health concerning Lotulelei's heart, the Raiders go with him following the departures of Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. Sharrif Floyd has raced up draft boards to become a potential top five pick, but Lotulelei is still the superior prospect, with power, quickness and length that will allow him to play inside and out.
4. Eagles (Clark12to81) -- OT Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) -- If Chip Kelly's high-powered offense is going to fly high it must first get off the ground. Injuries and poor depth grounded the Eagles' offense in 2012. LT Jason Peters and RT Todd Herremans are both over 30 and coming off significant injuries. In a class filled with freak athletes, Lane Johnson may be the best of all of them. “[Johnson] runs a 4.70 40 — that’s faster than Anquan Boldin did,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s jumped 34 inches, that’s the same as A.J. Green. He broad jumps 9-10, the same as Stevan Ridley." Johnson would project to RT protecting left-handed Micheal Vick's blindside and allow Herremans to kick inside to RG . Along with Jason Peters and LG Evan Mathis, the Eagles would have the makings of a dominant offensive line. Other possibilities: LT Eric Fisher; CB Dee Milliner; Trade with Detroit, Arizona, or Miami (for Johnson)
5. Lions (Mike Reiss) -- OT Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) –- The Lions haven’t selected a cornerback in the first round since Terry Fair in 1998, and this could be a chance to break that string and solidify a position of need with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. But given the depth of this overall cornerback class, and the potential to replace franchise left tackle Jeff Backus (retired) with another potential franchise talent who played his college ball in the state, general manager Martin Mayhem goes in that direction. The only hesitation in making this move is that the Lions selected Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff in the first round last year. This could kick Reiff to guard.
6. Browns (Mr. Scratch) -- CB Dee Milliner (Alabama) -- Not only does this give the Browns potentially one of the best young CB duos in the league but it also fills an enormous and hard-to-find hole as Cleveland is really down to only slot guys (Owens, Wade, Skrine) in the No. 2 role. Combined with a dynamic front 7, Cleveland's defense would be shaping up nicely.
7. Cardinals (PatsFanTRichter) -- DE/OLB Ezekiel Ansah (BYU) – Ansah is the premier down-lineman prospect in terms of athleticism in this draft, and the Cardinals have a major need for a pass rusher. Despite standing 6-foot-5, he possesses elite movement skills and explosive power, and can play both standing up and with a hand on the ground. A lack of production at the collegiate level is concerning, but that is explained in part by his recent introduction to the game. With no elite quarterback prospect available, Ansah is chosen to serve as a foundational piece for the Cardinals' underrated defense.
8. Bills (Clark12to81) -- WR Tavon Austin (West Virginia) -- Trading down would be ideal here. At the same time the Bills have nothing beyond Stevie Johnson at receiver. Former Bills wideout Donald Jones is a Patriot and David Nelson is with the Browns. No matter who the Bills start at QB they need a reciver that can catch a 5-yard pass and make something happen and Austin is that type of dynamic playmaker. Paired with fellow speedster RB CJ Spiller, might just make people forget that Kevin Kolb is the starting QB. Other posibilities: G Chance Warmack, G Jonathan Cooper.
9. N.Y. Jets (Mike Reiss) -- DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo (LSU) – With 2011 first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson and 2012 first-round pick Quinton Coples, the Jets go for the trifecta in terms of adding a dynamic playmaker to their front seven. This gives Rex Ryan, still weeping from losing cornerback Darrelle Revis, a chance to stop reaching for the Kleenex box and help spark more from a pass-rush that needs a boost.
10. Titans (Mr. Scratch) -- DT Shariff Floyd (Florida) -- The Titans have quietly had a very abundant and successful offseason and patched several holes, so there are really no glaring must fill needs. They could go OG but with a talented player like Floyd somewhat falling to this spot it would make sense to match him inside with Jurrell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill and Karl Klug and add a dynamic interior player to the fold.
11. Chargers (PatsFanTRichter) -- OG Chance Warmack (Alabama) – The Chargers' dreadful interior line is in dire need of a revamp, and Warmack is the kind of physical, mauling lineman they've had success with in the past. New head coach Mike McCoy is a former NFL quarterback and offensive coordinator, and his attempt to recapture Philip Rivers' former high level of play starts with the quarterback's best friend, protection up front. Warmack has few holes in his game, possessing both incredible short-area power and mobility to pull and block in space. His height is less than ideal, but that's a minor nitpick for a player near the top of some draft boards.
12. Dolphins (Clark12to81) -- OT D.J. Fluker (Alabama) -- Miami really would like one of the top 3 OT prospects and could think long and hard about Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes at this point. Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall were brought in to help the secondary but OT is still the greatest need.
13. Jets (Mike Reiss) -- CB Xavier Rhodes (Florida State) – With the pick that the Jets received in exchange for Darrelle Revis, they select his potential replacement. Rhodes (6-1, 210) is a bigger, longer corner who has some unique physical traits. That’s a tough spot to put Rhodes in – he’d be compared to Revis for years if this scenario unfolds – but it’s also a great opportunity for Rhodes to play under a top-notch defensive coach in Rex Ryan. North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper also gets consideration, but in a deep draft for offensive linemen, the Jets can look to that area later.
14. Panthers (Mr. Scratch) -- S Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) -- Good news for the Panthers is that it seems likely there will be several players that would fit here (including Richardson, Cooper, Patterson, Hayden). Bad news is that they can't pick them all. Their secondary is a desperate need and Vaccaro would be a solid selection.
15. Saints (PatsFanTRichter) -- DT Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) – With the arrival of Rob Ryan, the Saints' plan to install a new 3-4 defense this year, but lack the bodies needed in the trenches to run it effectively. Richardson isn't in the mold of a traditional 5-technique end, but he did play as an edge rusher at times for Missouri, and Ryan's schemes often call for only two down linemen to push the pocket. Long arms and heavy hands will allow him to control blockers when called upon to do so, but disruption and backfield penetration are Richardson's best skills, and that's what he'll be asked to do most often in the aggressive, attacking defense Ryan prefers.
16. Rams (Clark12to81) -- WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee) -- After losing Danny Amendola in free agency, the Rams must find weapons for Sam Bradford. And much like Amendola, Patterson can also return kickoffs and punts. Patterson is a four-down player that maximizes the need/value at pick No. 16.
17. Steelers (Mike Reiss) -- OLB/DE Jarvis Jones (Georgia) – With James Harrison balking at a paycut and ultimately getting cut, the Steelers have a question mark at the outside linebacker spot opposite of LaMarr Woodley (who dipped in 2012). Jones could eventually fill it. He’s the type of versatile, athletic linebacker that would appeal to the Steelers.
18. Cowboys (Mr. Scratch) -- G Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) -- Cowboys need OL help and Cooper can provide immediate assistance.
19. Giants (PatsFanTRichter) -- LB Arthur Brown (Kansas State) -- The Giants' defense was full of holes last year, and they also have to address glaring weaknesses on the offensive line and at tight end. But their prevailing need is at linebacker, where the mediocre Chase Blackburn lived up to his name, trailing behind ball-carriers at an alarming rate. Brown is smaller than the average NFL linebacker, but his speed, instinctiveness and tackling ability project him to be a quality three down defender in the league, and his leadership skills could help revitalize a suddenly vulnerable Giants' stop unit.
20. Bears (Clark12to81) -- LB Alec Ogletree (Georgia) -- With D.J. Williams brought in to man the ILB position vacated by Brian Urlacher, the Bears still need to replace Nick Roach outside and Lance Briggs is getting a little long in the tooth. Ogletree is capable of playing all three LB positions for the Bears so it's a natural fit at this point in the draft.
21. Bengals (Mike Reiss) -- RB Eddie Lacy (Alabama) – Solid on defense, this pick has a stronger likelihood of being on the offensive side, especially after watching how badly the Bengals struggled to move the ball in the playoffs. A receiver seems like a reach. So does an offensive tackle. Tight end Tyler Eifert could be intriguing, but the Bengals have some talent at that position. All of this leads us to Lacy (6.8 yards per carry over his career), who when teamed with BenJarvus Green-Ellis could help take some pressure off quarterback Andy Dalton, who looked limited when it counted most in the playoffs. The Bengals can get a safety later, as this is a deep draft at the position and the value isn't there at this spot.
22. Rams (Mr. Scratch) -- LB Manti Te'o (Notre Dame) -- Outside of Dunbar and Laurinaitis the Rams are woefully thin at LB. Safety is a significant need as well but the truth of the matter is that this a far deeper class at S than at LB, and a need the Rams can address later. An off-the-radar location like St. Louis would also be an ideal situation for Te'o.
23. Vikings (PatsFanTRichter) -- CB Desmond Trufant (Washington) – The Vikings seem like a prime candidate to trade up in this draft, possibly in order to secure one of the elite defensive line prospects. At this spot, however, with the top linebacking prospects off the board, they snag a potential replacement for Antoine Winfield in the athletic Trufant. His elite performance at the combine, coupled with his solid size and ability to mirror receivers in man coverage should make Trufant a valuable commodity in the pass-happy NFC North, where he'll be asked to match up with big receivers like Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall.
24. Colts (Clark12to81) -- DE/OLB Damontre Moore (Texas A&M ) -- A former OLB turned DE during his junior season, Moore would fit the mold for the ROLB position vacated by Freeney. Moore is not quite the pass rusher that Freeney was, but sets a much better edge in the run game. It would seem overkill to add WR Justin Hunter at this point, but the temptation is very hard to resist.
25. Vikings (Mike Reiss) -- DL Sylvester Williams (North Carolina) – They could go with a receiver at this spot, but based on the depth of the position in the draft and the likelihood to select a solid pass-catcher in the ensuing rounds, the Vikings go for the best value while thinking toward the future. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams enters the final year of his contract and the Vikings have some age up front. This is the pick that the Vikings received from the Seahawks in exchange for Percy Harvin. It’s a potential Williams for Williams swap, and if the Vikings get the same production out of Sylvester Williams that they did out of Kevin Williams since 2003, they’ll be thrilled.
26. Packers (Mr. Scratch) -- TE Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame) -- With the loss of Driver and Jermichael Finley's status in question and in the final year of his contract, the Packers add another weapon to Rodgers' arsenal. Eifert brings the value of a player more capable of also playing the true tight end position and a substantial upgrade over the Packers current options.
27. Texans (PatsFanTRichter) -- WR DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson)-- Year after year, various prognosticators have slotted a receiver to the Texans, only to be disappointed. Perhaps after public plea by Andre Johnson, Houston will finally capitulate. A savvy route runner with a feel for finding the hole in a zone, Hopkins is also a surprisingly good athlete, and after running in the 4.4 range at his pro day, the doubts about his long speed have been quieted as well. While he may not take the top off a defense the way a handful of other prospects in this draft might, he should be able to make defenses pay for focusing on Johnson.
28. Broncos (Clark12to81) -- S Matt Elam (Florida) -- The Broncos need a player that can break up a deep pass and prevent an upset when the game should be well in hand. Elam will provide solid coverage and the occasional blast over the middle to jar a ball free.
29. Patriots (Mike Reiss) -- WR Keenan Allen (California) -- This is an ideal scenario for the Patriots if they want to trade back (strong likelihood they do) and accumulate more picks, as they enter with just five. No quarterbacks have been selected and a team looking to move back in to the first round could have interest in jumping here. Receiver, cornerback and defensive line are the main areas of focus at this pick. Coverage linebacker and interior offensive line depth can wait. The eight names considered based on the way this unfolded were WR Keenan Allen, WR Justin Hunter, CB D.J. Hayden, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Jamar Taylor, DE/OLB Tank Carradine, DE/OLB Datone Jones and DL Jesse Williams. The pick is Allen, who was compared to Anquan Boldin by some. The Patriots have a big need at receiver, and while Allen doesn’t run fast for the stopwatch, he plays faster and runs good routes, always a must in New England. This would be the first time Bill Belichick selected a receiver in the first round of the draft since becoming Patriots coach in 2000.
30. Falcons (Mr. Scratch) -- CB D.J. Hayden (Houston) -- Hayden has burst onto the draft scene and some think he may be the best CB prospect in the draft now that his medical risk is somewhat diminished. Thomas Dimitroff has some river-boat gambler in him and a glaring need at CB. Hayden is the type of cover corner they typically seek, possesses the high upside athleticism that the Falcons look for and would be the type of risk/reward that they aren't often shy to take.
31. 49ers (PatsFanTRichter) -- S Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International) -- With the departure of Dashon Goldson to the Buccaneers and Donte Whitner's league-leading touchdowns allowed total last season, the 49ers have to address the safety position. With a glut of picks following the Alex Smith trade, they have the luxury to do so early on, and select the rangy and hard-hitting Cyprien. His ability to diagnose and tackle, coupled with his solid frame, make him a natural to replace Goldson's duties in the box. His speed, range and coverage ability are solid enough that he isn't strictly a strong safety, however, and he should bolster an already impressive San Francisco defense.
32. Ravens (Clark12to81) -- WR Justin Hunter (Tennessee) -- While temped to go with a safety after losing both Reed and Pollard, I instead look to replace Boldin's production at wide receiver. Adding a 6-foot-4 threat like Hunter is just too much to pass up at this point in the draft. It's a deep safety class, so I'd expect Baltimore to double dip in the middle rounds.
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