NFL Nation: Luke Joecekl

NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What’s the ideal first-round scenario for each team?

Denver

The Broncos are in a decent position sitting at No. 28. Yes, all of the elite players will be long gone. But the Broncos can get better at this spot. Denver doesn’t have many pressing needs, but it can surely upgrade at a few positions. Among the spots Denver could use some help at are on the defensive line, running back, cornerback and middle linebacker. This is a deep class on the defensive line and at cornerback, and the better running backs and inside linebackers may be available late in the first round. Denver would love to see these players available at No. 28: Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, Florida State pass-rushers Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden. I think, at least, one of these players will be available. Thus, Denver should get a player it covets.

Kansas City

Since the Chiefs will start the draft with the No. 1 pick, they dictate the show. But we’ve long talked about this being a bad year for the Chiefs to have the top pick. After a tremendous quarterback class last year, this year’s crop is devoid of top talent. The Chiefs could still find talent at the top of the draft, but they would prefer to trade out of the top spot to collect more picks and get out of paying the highest rookie contract. For that to happen, some team will have to come out of the woodwork. Thus far, there aren’t many indications there will be a market for the top pick. But if some team falls in love with a specific player, the Chiefs would accommodate them.

Oakland

The Raiders are in a similar spot as the Chiefs -- they want to trade down. In fact, Oakland likely wants to deal the No. 3 pick more than the Chiefs want to get rid of the No. 1 pick. Oakland badly needs to stock its roster. Trading the No. 3 pick may be easier than dealing the No. 1 pick. The price will be less and teams may be intrigued by the way the first two picks fall. So, I could see Oakland getting a suitable trade offer while on the clock. Oakland would love to still get a top-15 pick to get a top defensive talent and recoup its second-round pick lost in the Carson Palmer debacle. Now, if the Raiders don’t make a trade, they will be in good shape at No. 3. The Raiders badly need defensive talent. Among the top defensive prospects are Oregon pass-rusher Dion Jordan, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. At least two of those players will be available at No. 3, so Oakland will be sitting pretty.

San Diego

This is pretty simple: The Chargers want to see Oklahoma left tackle Lane Johnson still on the board at No. 11. But it may be iffy. The Chargers have a lot of needs, but no need is greater than at left tackle. The Chargers do not have a blindside protector for quarterback Philip Rivers. That’s scary. But there is no sure thing San Diego will find its left tackle in the draft. Top prospects Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher will both be gone by the time the Chargers pick. Johnson has been a fast riser and there is a good chance he will be gone. Arizona at No. 7 is considered a strong landing spot for the super-athletic Johnson. The Chargers need quarterback Geno Smith to go in the top seven picks. If the Eagles take him at No. 4, it could push Fisher to No. 7 and Johnson to No. 11. If the Cardinals take Smith, Johnson could fall to the Chargers.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has offered another mock draft Insider in an Insider piece. Let’s take a look at his choices for the AFC West teams:

1. Kansas City: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M.

My take: At this point, it would be a surprise if this pick is not Joeckel.

3. Oakland: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

My take: I still think Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd may be the leading candidate, but an argument over Milliner could easily be made.

11. San Diego: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

My take: With all the top left tackles taken, I’d have no problem seeing the Chargers add Warmack. He’d fill a hole for 12 years.

28. Denver: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

My take: He can play and he will help long-term, but I think a pass-rusher could add more of an immediate impact.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has offered another mock draft Insider in an Insider piece. Let’s take a look at his choices for the AFC West teams:

1. Kansas City: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

My take: It’s starting to look like Joeckel may be the pick. He’d move to right tackle for this season and be insurance if Branden Albert leaves in free agency next year.

3. Oakland: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

My take: This is starting to look like a strong possibility. Todd McShay had him tabbed here last week and I have him here in my latest mock. He would help Oakland’s defense immensely.

11. San Diego: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

My take: This is also starting to look like a real possibility. Along with McShay, I also selected Johnson at this pick. But the Chargers could sign a left tackle in free agency.

28. Denver: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

My take: This isn’t a bad idea. Trufant is rising and the Broncos are looking for a cornerback. But they could add one in free agency.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Lane Johnson did nothing Saturday to keep his name out of the mix to be the San Diego Chargers’ selection with the No. 11 overall draft pick.

As expected, the Oklahoma left tackle was blazing fast in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. Johnson, a 6-foot-6, 303-pound former quarterback, ran a 4.72 40-yard dash. It was the second-fastest time for an offensive lineman Saturday behind a 4.71 posting by Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The previous combine record by an offensive lineman was 4.84.

Johnson is considered a much higher prospect than Armstead. While he is still a bit raw, Johnson is considered a sure first-round pick. He helped his cause with a great Senior Bowl week and Saturday’s performance helped him greatly.

He is probably the third-best left tackle prospect behind Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. Joeckel is considered a top-5 pick and Fisher may be a top-10 pick.

Left tackle is the Chargers’ greatest need. If the Chargers don’t address the position in free agency (it’s a strong group), I’d think their top two choices at No. 11 will be either Fisher or Johnson.

So, San Diego had to be pleased with Johnson’s efforts Saturday.

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