Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
Because free agency still hasn’t happened I need to preface this mock with a few presumptions that I used as a baseline:
–Kansas City trades for Alex Smith and lets Branden Albert walk (late edit-the Chiefs traded for Smith as this was heading to press)
–Oakland restructures Carson Palmer and keeps him
–Kevin Kolb restructures his deal and stays in Arizona
–Detroit signs Reggie Bush and keeps Cliff Avril
–Baltimore loses Ed Reed and Paul Kruger to New England and Cleveland, respectively
–Miami signs Greg Jennings, St. Louis signs Mike Wallace, and Dwayne Bowe stays in KC
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M. With the QB issue solved (see above), the Chiefs are free to choose whatever they want at the top. Joeckel has all kinds of potential to be a franchise-defining left tackle for the next 12 years.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon. New HC Gus Bradley is used to having impact talent all over his defense. Right now the Jaguars sorely lack that quality. Jordan can do a lot of things, and the hope here is that rushing the passer more effectively will wind up being one of them.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida. Floyd didn’t light up the Combine as some thought he would, but his consistent ability to get into the backfield and make plays stands on its own merit. Oakland must restock and revamp the defensive front, and Floyd would be a good first step in that direction.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan. The new regime here has a number of different directions they could take here. In this instance Chip Kelly decides that the rangy Fisher at left tackle is the best way to breathe life into the offense and keep Mike Vick on the field for more than 10.5 games.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. The underwhelming performance of the ends pushes to focus to Milliner, a playmaking corner who checked off the “speed” box with a big black Sharpie. Not a lock pick as some will have you believe, in part because his shoulder surgery will keep him out until August at the earliest. My personal speculation: If Avril winds up back in DET and Fisher is gone, Milliner will be the Lions pick. I feel quite confident about that, though neither is a given.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU. For all the talk about how green he is, I want to step back and underline a basic premise: top 10 picks must be impact players. Ansah might do very little on 90% of his snaps, but let’s say in those 4 snaps a game where he does something he produces a sack, a QB hurry, a tackle for loss on 3rd & 2, and draws a holding penalty. That’s eminently worthy, and he absolutely can do that this September and only get better from there. Cleveland would take that in a heartbeat.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma. For my money Johnson was the biggest winner of the Combine, because he moved himself from the 15-20 range to the 7-12 range and that earned him millions. With Bobby Massie from last year, Johnson gives the Cardinals a pair of young and potentially dominant bookend tackles that improve the run game and protect whomever winds up being the QB.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. The first QB off the board goes to Buffalo at the eight spot. New coach Doug Marrone gets a chance to mold the offense around Smith’s skills with the luxury of not having to rush him into action if Geno isn’t ready. If they don’t go QB here, I strongly suspect they maneuver to get Ryan Nassib later on.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU. Mingo would bring speed and pressure off the edge, something this defense has lacked for too long. The potential return on investment is higher with Mingo than any WR or QB available here. Of course if they trade Revis, all bets are off.
10. Tennessee Titans: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. I went back and forth on this pick between Richardson and Chance Warmack. Tails won, and here’s why I would like the pick: the AFC South schedule features three of the weakest interior lines in the league. Richardson could make a big splash right away in this role.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama. Warmack might be the best player in this draft; he is my personal #1 rated player overall. He happens to fill a huge need in San Diego, and #11 is not too much of a stretch to take a guard. I do think the Chargers will take a quarterback sooner than later in this draft to push Rivers and potentially replace him if his precipitous decline continues, but this is not the spot for that.
12. Miami Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. Patterson is the ultimate high risk/reward pick. He’s either going to become an impact wideout along the lines of Andre Johnson or he’ll be bouncing around the league cashing checks on unfulfilled potential for 5 years before the plug gets pulled on him. MIA is desperate enough to get an impact wideout to bite that fruit.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State. His size and speed are fantastic, and he has shown he can press very well. Rhodes is another player who helped himself in Indy, perhaps enough to make Tampa Bay’s pick here. They certainly need the secondary help.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. Vaccaro did not have a great Combine, but he remains the highest-end safety on the board. I vacillated between defensive tackle and safety here for the Panthers, who need dire help at both spots.
15. New Orleans Saints: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. Dropping Werner this far is probably an overreaction, but I cannot understate how disappointing Werner was in position drills and the overall workout in general. I don’t think he’s a great fit in the new-look New Orleans defense, but I just can’t see him dropping any further at this point.
16. St. Louis Rams: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia. Ogletree is another high risk/reward player, and his off-field affinity for trouble is not the only reason. At times Ogletree takes over games with his range, speed, and anticipation, but at other times he is woefully undersized and timid. Jeff Fisher has a winning track record with star-crossed young men, and the concept of Ogletree and Laurinaitis at linebacker is one tasty biscuit.