Reporting Dan Durkin
By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) It’s draft day eve, and NFL fans are downright giddy. This is the most unpredictable draft I can recall in years, simply because of the lackluster quarterback class.
I have no quarterbacks projected in this mock, which you and I both know is highly unlikely. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1996 to find the last time a quarterback wasn’t taken in the first round.
Initially, I started projecting trades in this version (keep an eye on the Dolphins, 49ers, Vikings, and Falcons to move up), but it quickly became too convoluted. There have been no less than four trades over the past five drafts, so you can safely bet on a lot of activity tomorrow night.
One last time, here’s a seemingly obvious, yet essential fact to keep in mind when you read this: this is a hypothetical projection of the first round. Please let that sink in.
Instead of turning the comments section of this page into hell on earth, if you have a different viewpoint about how your team may want to use their selection, feel free to tweet me. I’m always open to sensible NFL banter.
1) Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel OT (Texas A & M) – Joeckel’s flawless footwork and technique gives the Chiefs a cornerstone left tackle, and a contingency plan should they trade Branden Albert.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan DE/OLB (Oregon) - Jordan’s silky smooth athleticism, straight-line speed, and quick change of direction makes him a tailor-made “LEO” prospect for Gus Bradley’s scheme.
3) Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd DT (Florida) – Anticipating a team looking for an offensive tackle (perhaps Miami) to trade up to this spot. Don’t confuse the Raiders activity in free agency for achievement, as the net gains on the defensive line are minimal. Floyd’s quick enough to play three-technique, but strong enough to set the edge as a five-technique.
4) Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher OT (Central Michigan) – Once Jason Peters went down, the Eagles line unraveled, allowing 48 sacks. After focusing on defense in free agency, the Eagles can plug Fisher in at right tackle to start, but have a potential future anchor left tackle.
5) Detroit Lions: Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah DE (BYU) - The Lions released Kyle Vanden-Bosch and lost Cliff Avril in free agency, leaving a void on the edge. Jim Schwartz coached Ansah at the Senior Bowl, where Ansah flashed his raw talent and high ceiling as a 9-technique.
6) Cleveland Browns : Dee Milliner CB (Alabama) – Late rumors swirling about Milliner’s string of surgeries pushing him down the board, but this is a ruse, as teams have long been aware of these procedures. General Manager Michael Lombardi has deep ties to Nick Saban, and knows what the defense could become by pairing Milliner with Joe Haden.
7) Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson OT (Oklahoma) – If you want Johnson you have to at least get in front of the Cardinals, perhaps the Lions even. With the Browns staying put, the Cardinals hope to fill a massive need at tackle. Johnson is an uber-athletic prospect with elite footwork and a frame that can add 15 pounds without losing a step.
8) Buffalo Bills: Chance Warmack OG (Alabama) - After losing guards Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart in free agency, the Bills are fortunate to plug in the nimble-footed Warmack. Warmack is an impact, day one starter with huge upside.
9) New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo OLB (LSU) – The Jets would like to see Milliner still on the board to replace the crater-sized hole left by Darrelle Revis, but they roll the dice on Mingo’s speed off the edge. Mingo got away without bench pressing at the combine or his pro day, so this is the epitome of a high-risk, high-reward pick.
10) Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Cooper OG (North Carolina) – The Titans are recommitting themselves as a power running team. After adding Andy Levitre, they double up with Jonathan Cooper who will immediately start at guard, and may slide over to center in 2014.
11) San Diego Chargers: DJ Fluker OT (Alabama) – If the board unfolds this way, the Chargers could be primed to trade down. As it stands, they don’t have a legitimate starting offensive tackle. Fluker has pass protection deficiencies, but his massive frame and long arms make him a plug-and-play right tackle.
12) Miami Dolphins: Tyler Eifert TE (Notre Dame) – The Dolphins are in the mix for Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert. Assuming that trade happens, the choice will then become Kenny Vaccaro or Tyler Eifert. The safety class is deep, tight end is not. Eifert is the top tight end prospect, and could give Tannehill another weapon to work with.
13) New York Jets: Tavon Austin WR (West Virginia) - This pick may be in play on draft day (perhaps the 49ers or Vikings), but if the Jets stay put, they’ll select the most electrifying playmaker in this draft. Austin will pay immediate dividends as a slot receiver and in the return game.
14) Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei DT (Utah) – Chances are, Lotulelei won’t make it out of the top-10, but in this scenario, the Panthers would be elated. After getting a clean bill of health for his pro day, Lotulelei didn’t disappoint, flashing strength and size. Lotulelei should immediately fill a void in the middle of the Panthers defensive line.
15) New Orleans Saints: Xavier Rhodes CB (Florida State) – The Saints have holes everywhere on defense and need to give Rob Ryan more talent to transition to his high-pressure 3-4 scheme. Rhodes is a long-armed corner adept at press coverage, who will fit in well.
16) St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro S (Texas) - While they would’ve liked Austin to slide to them, netting the top safety in the draft is a nice consolation prize. Vaccaro is an ideal prospect to play the “robber” safety, who can defend the read option attacks in San Francisco and Seattle.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones OLB (Georgia) – With holes everywhere on the roster, the Steelers have no margin for error in this draft. Just like the Ravens benefited years ago from Terrell Suggs’ slow 40 time, the Steelers benefit in 2013 with Jones. Any doubts about Jones go away once you turn on the tape.
18) Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson DT (Missouri) - With the top offensive lineman and Vaccaro gone, the Cowboys end up with an intriguing three-technique prospect. While he didn’t have his best performance against Alabama or Kentucky’s Larry Warford, Richardson has unteachable quickness off the ball for a man his size.
19) New York Giants: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine DE (Florida State) - Even with flawed technique, Carradine frequently dominated opponents. He’s still recovering from ACL surgery, but Carradine fits the profile of a Jerry Reese pick, and could become a fixture opposite Jason Pierre-Paul.
20) Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree LB (Georgia) – Even before they bid Brian Urlacher adieu, the Bears needed to get younger at linebacker. DJ Williams and James Anderson are rentals on one-year “prove it” deals. Ogletree is an elite talent and an ideal Tampa-2 Mike prospect who has been knocked down the board due to character concerns.
21) Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien S (Florida International) – Cyprien doesn’t fit the Bengals mold of a big school player, but he’s everything they’re looking for in a strong safety. Cyprien’s a fluid athlete who can play single-high, but is also a thumper over the middle and in run support.
22) St. Louis Rams (from Washington): DeAndre Hopkins WR (Clemson) – After missing out on Austin, the Rams get another receiver they covet, DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is a big target, who runs precise routes, giving Sam Bradford a much-needed intermediate target.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams DT (North Carolina) - Williams possesses a great blend of strength and quickness. When he plays with proper pad level and leverage, he’s a force, with the ability to stack and shed, and collapse the pocket from the inside.
24) Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones DE (UCLA) – The Colts added Ricky Jean-Francois, but need more talent and an eventual replacement for Cory Redding. Jones is scheme agnostic, but his best position could be a five-technique in a 3-4.
25) Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle): Arthur Brown LB (Kansas State) – The Vikings lost Jasper Brinkley in free agency, so they’re in the market for a linebacker. Brown is undersized, but is adept at shedding blocks, shows great instincts, and is the premier coverage linebacker in the draft.
26) Green Bay Packers: Menelik Watson OT (Florida State) – The Packers defensive front was pushed around in the playoffs by an offensive line made up of several first-round picks. See the connection here? This franchise evolves around Aaron Rodgers, and they must keep his uniform cleaner on game day. Watson, whose age may be a deterrent, is an intriguing prospect with great footwork and a massive frame.
27) Houston Texans: Cordarelle Patterson WR (Tennessee) - The Texans are still seeking a complimentary wide receiver to Andre Johnson. Patterson has freakish athleticism, but is still learning the nuances of being a receiver, and his skills would work best in a simplified scheme. Patterson’s vertical speed would be a great asset to the Texans play-action attack.
28) Denver Broncos: Jamar Taylor CB (Boise State) – Visions of Torrey Smith repeatedly torching Champ Bailey are surely vivid memories in the minds of the Broncos front office. Jamar Taylor can immediately step in as the nickel and eventually replace Bailey.
29) New England Patriots: DJ Hayden CB (Houston) - The Patriots have to make the most of their five draft picks, and their seemingly annual needs haven’t changed: secondary and wide receiver. DJ Hayden has a remarkable story to go along with remarkable talent and lightning quick feet.
30) Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant CB (Washington) – With massive needs at cornerback, the Falcons are prime candidates to move up for a higher-rated, and bigger prospect. Trufant elevated his status after a standout Senior bowl, where his quick feet, loose hips, and confidence were on full display.
31) San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid S (LSU) - Given their bevy of picks and not enough corresponding roster spots, I expect the 49ers to move up. After losing Dashon Goldson, safety is a pressing need. While he has lapses in coverage, Reid has rare size-to-speed ratio and is an intimidator in the secondary.
32) Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam S (Florida) - The Ravens have recovered from some early losses in free agency, but are still left with a big void up the middle of the defense. Elam gives the Ravens a hard-hitting strong safety prospect to mold.
Dan Durkin joined The Score’s columnist community after finishing runner-up in the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he was a member of the men’s football team (despite his best efforts to join the women’s team). Dan is a longtime Scorehead, known as Dan in Wicker Park – even though he no longer resides in Wicker Park – who will be sharing NFL analysis and opinions. You can follow Dan on Twitter @djdurkin. To read more of Dan’s blogs click here.