(We’ve updated this article – after the New York Jets traded Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the #13 overall pick. )
*New draft picks at #4, 6,11, 13, 16, 18, 21, 22
1. Kansas City Chiefs. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A & M. 6’6″, 306 lbs. The Chiefs strongly indicated they will draft a LT here when they considered trading Branden Albert for a draft pick). They were dead last in Passing yards with 169.6 ypg and second worst in QB rating 63.8% last year but they immediately took care of that when the Chiefs traded their second round pick to get QB Alex Smith, now they have to protect their investment. They gave up 40 sacks, one less than the 49ers but half the reason Alex Smith lost his job in SF is when he had concussion. (Colin Kaepernick was the other reason) Protection of QB is the Chiefs’ priority. LT Branden Albert is a disgruntled employee who could be traded or play out his existing 1 year (franchise tag) with the team.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars. Dion Jordan, DE Oregon. 6’6″, 248 lbs. The Jaguars have the least total amount of sacks in 2012 with 20 and Jordan will immediately be ready to help them in this category. Although his sack totals in college are not impressive, he is projected to be successful at it in the pro league. This batch doesn’t have the talents of last year’s QB so they have to give Gabbert another year or draft in later rounds for a ‘steal’ pick ( Remember a QB named Russel Wilson drafted in 3rd round?).
3. Oakland Raiders. Shariff Floyd, DT Florida. 6’3″, 297 lbs. The Raiders just traded for Matt Flynn from Seattle. Now they will start filling up the highly depleted defense beginning with the Defensive Line. The Raiders are gonna need at least 2 picks at D line, LB and DB positions though. The offense was also a victim of Oakland management’s major revamp. But with only 6 picks in the draft, don’t be surprised if they trade down for more picks. Floyd is their big bait here, it could bring in 2, 3 or more picks depending who wanted the DT prospect more. (SF 49ers has 13 picks, how much are they willing to give up for this kind of talent?)
4. Philadelphia Eagles. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah, 6’2″, 311 lbs. With Star Lotulelei’s stocks soaring after given an MDs clean bill of health, the Eagles’s could pass up on Milliner and get their CB in later rounds. This pick will fill up one of their glaring needs and with one of this draft’s rare talents. He is a powerful and agile tackle prospect. He can play almost all interior defensive line positions either in 3-4 or 4-3 defensive front formations. If his health checks out, he deserved to be drafted at number 4.
5. Detroit Lions. Eric Fisher OT, Central Michigan, 6’7″ 303 lbs. The Lions definitely need this pick. After addressing needs on defense in free agency, this is the priority of the team. They thrive on Matthew Stafford’s deep throws, Fisher’s wingspan will add pocket time for the QB. Strong anchor in pass protection, widens his stance, extends his arms, and keeps his balance. He is being compared to Joe Staley of the SF 49ers.
6. Cleveland Browns. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. 6’0″, 201 lbs. Milliner is the top CB prospect and it is hard for the Browns to pass up this kind of talent if they want to improve their secondary that gave up 245 yards per game in 2012, which is at the bottom 8 in NFL. The need in defensive line can be addressed in later rounds because the talents are deeper in this position. Taking the best CB who can immediately start, answer one of their glaring needs, makes sense.
7. Arizona Cardinals. Lane Johnson, OT, Alabama 6’6″ , 303 lbs. The Cardinals’ QB and OT needs reflect on their scoring stats. They are second worst to Kansas City Chiefs on points per game with 15.6 and they gave up the most QB sacks with 58 in 2012. Fixing the OLine is the priority and with Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher off the board before their turn at 7th, Johnson is their best bet.
8. Buffalo Bills. Geno Smith QB, West Virginia . 6′”2, 218 lbs. Smith is just coming off his Senior year with impressive numbers, 4200 yards passing and 42 TDs with only 6 interceptions. This will not go unnoticed in the first round especially for teams with at least 2 picks in the first round so the Bills should get their QB now or settle for one of the top 5 QBs in the draft in the next 2 rounds. Matt Barkley and Nassib are the other prospects who could go late in the first round or early to mid second round.
9. New York Jets. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia. 6’2″, 245 lbs. I still have the Jets choosing Jones here even with the extra pick at # 13. Jones is a sack machine and the Jets could use that skill to help pressure the opposing QB. Their 2012 season 30-sack output is just 10 more than the league worst Jacksonville Jaguars and they just can’t ignore this talent especially if it answers one of their pressing needs. They have invested on D line in the past 2 years with promising upwards this year. A pash rusher of this caliber will compliment the front line in pressuring the QB. (Correction 30 sacks is 10 more than Jaguars’ 20 total not 3).
10. Tennessee Titans. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama. 6’2″, 317 lbs. The team is at the bottom 12 of rush yards per game even with a talent like RB Chris Johnson, who once broke into a 2000-yard season (2009). Warmack can upgrade the O Line immediately either in run or pass plays. Alabama produced two 1000 yard-rushers in 2012 and a year before that, Trent Richardson rushed for over 1600 yards with 24 TDs. If he can create that lane for CJ, it’ll be another 2K season barring injury.
11. San Diego Chargers. Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina, 6’2″, 311 lbs. The Chargers chance to draft an elite Tackle at 11 is zip. The top 3 best OTs are gone in the first 10 picks and if they are serious in pursuing one, they need to trade up. Drafting a Guard who can help improve the running game is the next best option for the bolts. He is also tough to beat in pass protection but the Chargers will still draft an OT in the succeeding rounds. ( or they can trade up with the Browns at #6 to pick up Lane Johnson, OT).
12. Miami Dolphins. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State. 6’2″, 210 lbs. The Dolphins gave up close to 4000 passing yards with 248.4 yards a game in 2012. The front 7 sacked the opposing QB 42 times, not bad compared to the rest in the league. The secondary just accumulated 10 interceptions so it’s just fitting to draft a defensive back at number 12. Rhodes is a big cornerback who is very physical with receivers. He does a good job in press man coverage. Off the snap, Rhodes limits the release with a strong jam and rerouting skills. He has the speed and athletic ability to run with receivers after the jam.
13. New York Jets (Acquired from Tampa Bay Buccaneers for CB Darrelle Revis). Tavon Austin. WR, 5’9″ 174 lbs. West Virginia. The Jets found a talent at #14 overall in 2007 draft named Darrelle Revis but even with picks at #9 and #13, nobody in this class of CBs can step in to the shoes of Revis. They will instead draft a WR who can quickly provide a target at slot for QB Mark Sanchez before he gets “butt tackled/bumped” by his own lineman. He can also stretch the field like nobody in the current Jets lineup. (Or they could trade this down for more picks i.e. the 49ers for their #31st, 34th and a mid round pick)
14. Carolina Panthers. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. 6’2″, 294 lbs. Their defense is giving up almost the same number as their offense is producing. They’re scoring 22.3 points a game while the opponents are putting up 22.7 on the board. They’re gaining 360.7 yards averaging 5.8 points a game but the other unit is yielding 333.1 yards at 5.3 yards a game. An Offensive line or a Defensive line upgrade would equally help either unit but Richardson is the highest graded tackle left on the board after 13 picks at 90.7 %. The next DT Jesse Williams has 85.5 and the next O line not drafted at this point would be OG Larry Warford at 88.3. His agility, combined with his length, makes him a strong tackler in close quarters. Richardson’s first step off the snap, is quite impressive; he gets into the backfield in a heartbeat, beating reach-blocks and will work his way through double-teams if he sees the ball in the quarterback’s hands.
15. New Orleans Saints. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU. 6’4″, 241 lbs. The worst defense in the league will take the best available athlete to help the unit. “KeKe’s” (nickname) agility and length make him effective in coverage, can stay with running backs out of the backfield and wrap up receivers in space. Uses his length and jumping ability to knock down passes if unable to reach the quarterback.
16. St. Louis Rams. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee, 6’2″, 242 lbs. Tavon Austin would have provided the speed in the slot or the deep ball threat but if he is not available here, Patterson is the Rams obvious choice. They needed to upgrade that WR corps. Even with Amendola in the lineup, the Rams WR corps are not that good. Patterson can contribute at least 3 duties for the St. Louis because he can catch, rush the ball, PR and KR. At WR he is best at vertical routes even with DB on his face. He is nimble on his feet even for his size. He is a natural pass catcher. He scored at least a TD on all 4 positions he had played in college.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson. 6’1″, 214 lbs. The Steelers defense is still one of the best in 2012 so a defensive upgrade is not urgent. A replacement for Mike Wallace will make more sense at this point. Hopkins has a good height and length for an outside receiver, also has some lower-body strength for explosion off the line of scrimmage and in his cuts. Solid route-runner used in the short, intermediate, and deep games, sounds like a good target for Ben Roethlesberger. Cordarrelle Patterson is also a good pick up here.
18. Dallas Cowboys. Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU, 6’5″, 271 lbs. He is not an immediate need with DeMarcus Ware still in the lineup but if Ziggy falls at #18, the boys will grab him. They could use an upgrade or use him to trade down for more picks this year or future picks. Leverage starts with an elite player. The upside is tremendous. Choosing between the best available Offensive line and Defensive line, Ansah is hands down better than DJ Fluker, OT.
19. New York Giants. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. 6’3″, 266 lbs. The New York Football Giants addressed most of their needs through free agency but they haven’t found a replacement for Osi Umenyiora. It’s fitting that Werner is being compared to Osi in terms of frame, athleticism, speed or power. He has proven to be much more than just a pass rusher, showing better awareness against the run and at the line of scrimmage to swat passes down. (Sound familiar?)
20. Chicago Bears. Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia. 6’3″, 242 lbs. The Bears patched up the offensive needs by signing TE Martellus Bennett and OT Jermon Bushrod. They needed another OT to solidify that line but after the signings, this is not their urgent need and can be addressed in later rounds. Ogletree is considered the most exciting playmaker in this batch, being a former safety, he will be all over the field with his speed and range. He can also play inside or middle LB, not an exact replacement for Brian Urlacher, but definitely a good pick up to supplement the LB corp.
21. Cincinnati Bengals. Kenny Vaccaro, Strong Safety, Texas, 6’0″, 214 lbs. The top 2 needs of the Bengals include SS and RB. Vaccaro will be a good pick up at this spot. He is a very good open field tackler, pass defender and QB tracker. His athletic ability and NFL Combine performance projects him to be the first Safety to be drafted.
22. St Louis Rams. John Cyprien, FS, Florida International , 6’0″, 217 lbs. He is the top rated FS in this draft and they are like hitting 2 birds with one stone if the Rams pick him up here, first it will fill up their DB need and second it will deprive their rival SF 49ers of an opportunity to land Cyprien at #31. Possesses enough speed and athleticism to cover ground as a zone defender in the back half and line up against slot receivers inside.
23. Minnesota Vikings. Keenan Allen, WR, California. 6’2″, 206 lbs. The Vikings surely need help in this category. Even with Percy Harvin in the WR corps, Minnesota is dead last in reception yards and average per game in 2012 with 2935 rec yards and 183.4 yards a game. Now that Harvin has defected to Seattle, QB Christian Ponder is gonna have problem looking for targets downfield. Greg Jennings basically replaces Harvin but as I’ve said, they’re the worst receiving corps even with him. Keenan will add depth and and talent to this unit. Allen is agile and physical ball carrier, has the height, speed and ability to win jump balls required of a number-one target in the NFL, a successful technique used by the SB champs Ravens and other teams with tall WR.
24. Indianapolis Colts. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A and M. 6’5″, 250 lbs. The Colts invested on offense in 2012 draft, they could use another O line to solidify Luck’s protection but that defense needs a major upgrade this time around. Moore is the highest graded defensive lineman left and the LB corps are no better at this point. He led the Aggies in tackles with 80, 58 of them solo with 12.5 sacks. Indianapolis would be lucky to have him at his spot.
25. Minnesota Vikings. Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi St. 6’2″, 185 lbs.
The Vikings had only 10 interceptions in 2012 and among their defensive unit needs of CB, DT and OLB, the CB position became a priority when they cut Antoine Winfield. Banks, who had 61 tackles, 11 passed defended and 4 interceptions will help the Vikings improve their secondary. They have enough pressure from the front 7 with 44 sacks in 2012 so this pick make sense.
26. Green Bay Packers. Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky. 6’3″, 332 lbs.
Aaron Rodgers still has his top 4 targets from 2012 and a replacement for Greg Jennings is not as urgent as getting an O line to help with the pass protection. The Packers gave up 51 QB sacks, second worst to Arizona Cardinals. Big-bodied guard prospect with lower-body girth. Quick feet for his size, keeps them moving in pass protection to mirror his man and can adjust quickly to ride defenders penetrating gaps out of the play. Sounds like Rodgers’ dream Guard. He’s also got quickness and arm strength to lead on run plays.
27. Houston Texans. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor. 6’2″, 208 lbs. The Texans improved their top 7 defense by acquiring free agent Safety Ed Reed after the SB champion Ravens did not re-sign the veteran defensive back. To improve the other unit, the Texans will need another target for Matt Schaub besides Andre Johnson. Johnson had over 1400 receiving yards but with only 6 TDs and nobody in the WR corps had more than 7 total TD in 2012. Williams is a great addition, big, tall red zone target who can get up and get the ball. Much like Torrey Smith of the Ravens.
28. Denver Broncos. Cornellius Carradine. DE, Florida St. 6’5″, 265 lbs. The Broncos are the most complete team before the draft with elite players in almost every position starting with the offense. But the defense who’s been in the top 3 in both run and pass defense could use a little upgrade at this position. The failure to fax fiasco that made the untimely release of Elvis Dumervil made the Broncos aching for another pass rusher. Carradine is a sack specialist equalling the total of Dumervil with 11 sacks in 2012. He flashes explosion off the snap to challenge the lateral agility of right tackles, and can swipe them away with strong hands to slingshot into the pocket.
29. New England Patriots. Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State. 5’11″, 192 lbs. The Patriots offensive unit will always be at the top of the league because of Tom Brady. The void left by Wes Welker will be missed even more now that TE Rob Gronkowski’s elbow infection will require further surgical intervention. But Welker was an undrafted free agent and the current WR class left on the board are not worthy of first round so Coach Bill Bellichick will likely address the defensive necessity first as evidenced by signing DE Tom Kelly. They are top 9 in run defense but 29th in pass defense. This made the secondary unit the priority in the first round. Taylor had 51 tackles, 4 INTs, 9 PD in 2012 season. He can keep up with big WR downfield and is very good tackler against run plays.
30. Atlanta Falcons. Datone Jones. DE, UCLA. 6’4″, 275 lbs. The Falcons’ already powerful offense just got upgraded by signing RB Steven Jackson. Their pressing needs comes from the defensive line especially the void left by DE John Abraham. Jones can’t exactly duplicate what Abraham did but he’s the only DL left projected to make an immediate start in NFL. He has initial quickness and power that’ll jolt the offensive lineman. He uses his active hands to swim through blocks while moving towards the QB or ball carrier.
31. San Francisco 49ers. Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama. 6’3″, 323 lbs. The battle of free agent signings between the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks is not over yet but they’re both slowly filling up their pressing needs. San Francisco could use a Safety here but the best available player will answer their other priority which is the DT or NT position left by Isaac Sopoaga. Williams uses his size, consistent motor and supreme toughness to drain his opponents at the point of attack. His best NFL position is likely at nose tackle, but Williams has enough athleticism to play multiple spots for a 3-4 team at the next level.
32. Baltimore Ravens. Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU. 6’0″, 246 lbs. Six starters from the defensive unit of the Ravens are gone less than 2 months after they won the Super Bowl. Not to mention WR Anquan Boldin who was traded for a brotherly discount(6th round draft pick) to the 49ers. Ray Lewis retired, SS Ed Reed, ILB Dannell Ellerbe, DE Paul Kruger,S Bernard Pollard and CB Cary Williams found employment somewhere else. The Ravens are not worried about dismantling a defense that wasn’t even in the top 10 in 2012. Top 16 in pass, top 13 in rush defense. They got a good deal in signing OLB/DE Elvis Dumervil, they signed Michael Huff to replace Ed Reed and now they’ll use their draft picks to fill up that defense starting with the ILB. Minter is being compared to Takeo Spikes. Recorded 130 tackles for the Tigers in 2012, takes great angles and finishes off tackles well.