- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our man Mel Kiper, Jr. has posted his annual "Grade A" draft preview, which he says is not a mock draft but rather a simulation of the way the first three rounds of the draft would go if he were making the picks for each team based on his evaluation of their needs and his own rankings of the players. It's quite an undertaking, and it's available here if you're an Insider subscriber. There are trades involved, including one in which the Lions trade with the Chiefs to move up and make cornerback Dee Milliner the first pick in the draft. I mean, honestly, not shilling for the company here, but it's the kind of thing I would think would make a draft-obsessed non-Insider reach for his or her credit card.
Anyway, here's what Mel's got for the NFC East teams:
Round 1 (pick 4): Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon
Round 1 (pick 25, from Minnesota, in exchange for 2nd-round picks in 2013 and 2014): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Round 3 (pick 67): Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
My take: Pass-rusher Jordan makes a ton of sense for his college coach at No. 4, but the big move here is the trade-back into the first round for Smith. Lots of people like the idea of Smith with Chip Kelly, and if Kelly likes it too and can get Smith without the No. 4 pick in the draft, you'd have to call that a coup -- especially for a team that wouldn't need to start Smith right away. Obviously, the idea of the top quarterback in the draft lasting until pick 25 in this day and age is impossibly farfetched. But again, this isn't about what's likely to happen. It's about what would happen if Mel were in charge of every team's draft.
Round 1 (pick 18): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Round 2 (pick 47): Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
Round 3 (pick 80): Joe Kruger, DE, Utah
My take: I think a lot of people would be surprised to see the Cowboys use two of their first three picks on defensive linemen. But given that they're transitioning to a 4-3 and have depth and age issues on the line, it's not a bad way to go. In Mel's scenario, the draft's top six offensive linemen all go in the top 12 (something that has never happened in draft history, but again, this isn't meant as a prediction), and the Cowboys are forced to wait until Round 2 to address their most desperate need. Picking Williams with safety Kenny Vaccaro still on the board might frustrate Cowboys fans who like Vaccaro and yearn for a big-play safety, but it also might be the smarter long-term value play.
Round 1 (pick 19): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Round 2 (pick 49): Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn
Round 3 (pick 81): Jordan Reed, TE, Florida
My take: Mel admits he knows the Giants never take linebackers in the first round, but this is his draft, not theirs. Ogletree would be a great fit, there is no doubt, and they'd get their pass-rusher in the second round. What's missing here is a cornerback, and I'd be very surprised if the Giants went through the first three rounds without addressing that position.
Round 2 (pick 51): D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
Round 3 (pick 85): Robert Alford, CB, Southeast Louisiana
My take: Safety/cornerback is the most likely and sensible way to go for the Redskins with their first two picks this year, and Swearinger is a guy who could start for them right away. Alford is a guy Mel likes as a high-ceiling developmental player, and the Redskins don't have as immediate a need at that position as they do at safety.
So what do you guys think?