Both ESPN NFL draft gurus -- Mel Kiper and Todd McShay -- project the same four Pac-12 players to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft this spring. The big question seems to be whether Utah DT Star Lotulelei will go No. 1 overall.
That's what McShay projects. He picks Lotulelei to be taken by Kansas City.
The biggest question at the top is whether the Chiefs think highly enough of any of the 2013 quarterback prospects to go in that direction with this pick. The second question is whether OT Branden Albert will return to Kansas City. Assuming the answers to those questions are no and yes, respectively, Lotulelei makes most sense. The Chiefs have a need for a 5-technique (DE) in their 3-4 scheme, and he is an ideal fit. Lotulelei has great size and natural tools, especially strength, but he is not just a space-eater. He makes plays versus the run and can help collapse the pocket as an inside power rusher.
Lotulelei is one of those players that makes everybody around him better. He demands multiple blockers or he'll collapse the pocket, and his instincts, vision, bust and power effect both the pass and the run. Oakland also has needs at linebacker, wide receiver and cornerback, but outside of maybe Dee Milliner, I don't think the Raiders can match the value of this pick, much less improve on it.
Kiper has Stanford TE Zach Ertz being picked 30th by the Atlanta Falcons. McShay rains on that parade by having the New York Giants pick Ertz with the 19th pick, thereby not allowing Ertz to taste the sweet nectar of playing for Atlanta.