With free agency looming, it always seems silly to do a mock draft before we know which teams have filled some of their needs. For example, the Lions might go for broke in free agency and try to nab Derek Cox or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. If so, they might not go for Dee Milliner at 5. Nonetheless, it’s fun to look back at how wrong some these are. We’ll look at how these picks change after some of the big moves in free-agency happen.
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Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M
- With Branden Albert returning, this pick is easily the hardest to pin down. Without a clear cut, number one prospect on the board, the Chiefs could go in a number of directions. I still have Joeckel here because I don’t think the Chiefs are going to get a long-term deal signed with Albert. If Lotulelei checks out medically though, he could be the pick here.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
- With so many starting-caliber free agents on the market, the Jaguars should be able to get some young talent at positions of need (See all the possible targets here courtesy of Jason Love). The only two options here have to be Geno Smith or the highest-rated pass rusher. At that point, it might come down to preference between Barkevious Mingo, Ziggy Ansah, or Dion Jordan. I’m banking on Caldwell taking his franchise quarterback in his first year and letting him grow with the young talent at receiver.
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
- As a Gator fan, it’s nice to finally see Floyd getting a lot of attention. He was a disruptive force in Gainesville and seemed to be in the backfield on almost every play. A defensive tackle who to can get to the quarterback often is a rarity. The Raiders need help all along the defense and should snatch him up here.
Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
- This pick is starting to make too much sense with the Chip Kelly connection. Dion Jordan had some injury concerns after the end of the season, but his elite athleticism at the combine solidified his position in the top 10. The Eagles need a pass rusher to replace Jason Babin after his departure last year.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
- Another pick that makes too much sense right now. The Lions need help all over the secondary and the gap between Dee Milliner and the second-rated DB is pretty broad right now. His speed at the combine probably entrenched his position as a top-10 pick.
Ezekial Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
- Ziggy Ansah can play in any scheme, making it hard to pinpoint which team might target him early in the draft. The Browns could use a pass rusher and will find a way to feature Ansah.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
- If Geno Smith makes it this far he’ll be a Cardinal. If not, the Cardinals needs to shore up their offensive line if they want a chance to evaluate the quarterbacks they have on the roster now.
Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
- It sounds like the Bills would love to take a quarterback, but it would be foolish to reach for anyone here. They should take Jones to post opposite of Mario Williams. Jones will excel in a 3-4 system with another rusher helping him out on the other side.
Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
- Mingo might end up being the best defensive player in this draft. His quickness off the snap and athleticism make him a nightmare to keep out of the backfield. The Jets would love it if he fell to them.
10. Tennessee Titans
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
- The Titans could go for Warmack here and beef up the offensive line, but they could use a stud on the defensive line as well. Some people have Richardson rated as highly as Lotulelei and Floyd, so this is pretty good value.
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
- The Chargers need to upgrade the offensive line to both help Philip Rivers out and to evaluate him properly. After a down year, San Diego needs to see if Rivers is starting to decline or just suffered from poor line play.
12. Miami Dolphins
Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
- The Dolphins liked what they saw from Ryan Tannehill last year, but they need to provide him with weapons along the outside. Patterson is raw but has all the tools to be the best receiver in this class.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
- Star Lotulelei is only falling this far if his medical check doesn’t come back spotless. Star could go as high as 1 to the Chiefs, so the Bucs would be thrilled if they could pair him with Gerald McCoy on the defensive front.
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
- The Panthers need help along the backend of their defense. They nailed the Kuechly pick last year, and if they hit with Vacarro their defense will be vastly improved from two years ago.
Xavier Rhodes, DB, FSU
- The Saints need help defensively in a lot of areas, but they should go with the big, physical corner from FSU here. Rhodes has a lot of talent, and I think he’ll end up being the best corner from this class.
16. St. Louis Rams
Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
- Some people have Warmack going in the top 10, but I really don’t see a guard going that high. Warmack might be the safest prospect in the entire draft, so the Rams could certainly use the first of their two picks to help out Sam Bradford.
Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
- After almost demolishing his draft stock at the combine, Moore needs to have a solid pro day to stay in the first round. Nonetheless, the Steelers always seem to find solid pass rushers in every draft. Moore could break their linebacker rotation immediately.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
- The Cowboys could go a number of directions here, but they could and should upgrade their offensive line. With most of the premier pass rushers already gone, the Cowboys take the guard out of NC.
19. New York Giants
Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State
- The Giants seem to take a defensive lineman every year and it always works out. Werner could rush the passer standing up and at the end spot. He could be a force opposite Jason Pierre-Paul.
20. Chicago Bears
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
- The Ravens showed the league what a strong armed quarterback can do when he has time to sit in the pocket. The Bears have been trying to fix their offensive line for a long time and they’ll continue to try in this draft. They need to keep Jay Cutler healthy for a whole season.
Menelik Watson, OT, FSU
- With the run on offensive lineman, the Bengals snatch up the last starting caliber one in the first round. With Andre Smith likely leaving in free agency, the Bengals need a stout replacement. This may be a little high for Watson, but he could likely play both tackle positions if needed.
22. St. Louis Rams
Tavon Austin, WR, West Viriginia
- The Rams should use both of their first round picks to help out Sam Bradford. Tavon Austin is a versatile player and could play a similar role to Percy Harvin in Minnesota.
Keenan Allen, WR, California
- Allen would likely be the first receiver off the board if he had finished the year healthy and strong. Allen has great hands and knows how to get open. The Vikings would love to get an outside receiver to provide Ponder with an inside-outside combo of Harvin and Allen.
Desmond Trufant, DB, Washington
- Desmond Trufant ran himself into the first round at the combine, and with the Colts needing help everywhere on defense they’ll take him.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
- Ogletree could anywhere from the middle of the first round to the second round given his off the field issues. The Seahawks don’t need defensive help, but adding a rangy outside linebacker who can rush the passer would make them a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
Margus Hunt, DE/DT, Southern Methodist
- Margus Hunt has drawn comparison to Justin Smith, but the production in college wasn’t there. The Packers take the gamble anyway and see if he can help B.J. Raji on the defensive front.
27. Houston Texans
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
- When it’s all said and done, I think Justin Hunter will be the best receiver in this class. He would be the perfect pairing opposite Andre Johnson and would really help an offense that struggled at times last year when they couldn’t get the ball to Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos
Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
- After the debacle in the playoff game against the Ravens, the Broncos will probably take the best defensive back on the board here. Cyprien is high on a lot of boards and probably won’t make it out of the first round.
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
- The Patriots are starting to gather a good young core of players on defense. Jenkins would be a solid addition and provide youth on the defensive front.
30. Atlanta Falcons
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
- Even if Tony Gonzalez returns for one more year, the Falcons will need to replace him sooner rather than later. Eifert distanced himself from Ertz as the top tight end at the combine.
Matt Elam, S, Florida
- The 49ers defense faltered some in the playoffs and had trouble with deep passes, particularly in the Super Bowl. Elam is a hard-hitting safety who will play in the box but can definitely cover the back end.
32. Baltimore Ravens
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
- With Ray Lewis leaving, this seems like the most “cop-out” pick in the entire first round. A few months ago, nobody thought Te’o would fall this far down in the draft. Despite his lack of speed, he’s still a solid football player who can play middle linebacker well on a good defense.
As more rumors come out and free agency gets into gear, a lot of these picks will change. Until then, feel free to point out any dumb picks. Remember, at this point everyone is covering their eyes and throwing darts!