1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
With the Chiefs trading for Alex Smith, it means that they won’t be taking a quarterback with the top pick in the draft. That likely leaves the Chiefs looking to address either their offensive or defensive lines. With Branden Albert being an impending free agent, it’s questionable if he’ll be back in Kansas City next year. Joeckel can potentially slide immediately into that vacant spot across from Eric Winston, continuing what should be a formidable ground attack helmed by Jamaal Charles.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Jaguars reached on Tyson Alualu a few years back and he has not developed into the player hoped for. Terrance Knighton is also a free agent that may or may not be back. With new head coach Gus Bradley in town, the Jaguars will look to bolster their defensive line. Floyd has the versatility, size, and power to be a dominant player up front, something the Jaguars have lacked since they heydays of Marcus Stroud and John Henderson.
3. Oakland Raiders – QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
It’s been stated by the Raiders organization that Terrelle Pryor and Carson Palmer will compete for the starting job next year. But neither player was acquired by the current regime and thus they aren’t tied to either. Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie will look to put their stamp on the team by taking Smith to be their future franchise passer.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Lotulelei’s heart condition may affect his draft stock, but presuming it’s not a big deal, he would be a good addition up front for Philly. They’ve already cut Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. Lotulelei can come in and be an immediate upgrade to their front and give them some much needed beef on defense.
5. Detroit Lions – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
The team nabbed Riley Reiff as their top pick last year to be the heir apparent to Jeff Backus. But Gosder Cherilus is likely to part as a free agent, which could mean they could move Reiff to the right side and plug Fisher into the left tackle position. Protecting Matt Stafford and beefing up their run game are priorities for the Lions moving forward,and Fisher is a hometown kid that has risen up the boards the past few months.
6. Cleveland Browns – OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Jordan’s long frame and athleticism will have Browns management hoping that he’s the next Aldon Smith. They are moving to a 3-4 this year, and while Jabaal Sheard is expected to man one spot, they need to find a pass rusher that can take over the other.
7. Arizona Cardinals – OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
While the Cardinals would love to try and upgrade their quarterback spot, the only player that fits Bruce Arians’ offense and merits this high a pick is Geno Smith. With Smith off the board, the Cardinals will hope a good passer is there in Round 2, and opt to upgrade their offensive line. It was a unit that performed terribly last year, and solidifying the left side will allow Levi Brown to return to his more natural right tackle position giving Arizona a pair of bookends.
8. Buffalo Bills – DE Ezekial Ansah, BYU
Ansah is an athletic specimen that many will compare to Jason Pierre-Paul. The Bills have spent a lot of money on their defensive front, and Ansah is another significant investment in the hopes that they can build the league’s most formidable pass rush on their way to climbing out of the cellar.
9. New York Jets – QB Matt Barkley, USC
Despite the sour taste that Mark Sanchez has put in the Jets’ mouth, they will roll the dice on another former Trojan passer in Barkley. They have similar skillsets, but Barkley has enough intangibles that Rex Ryan & Marty Mornhingweg will be comfortable turning the keys over to Barkley by year’s end.
10. Tennessee Titans – OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Tennessee’s interior offensive line has been a notable weakness for a number of years, since Kevin Mawae hung it up. Warmack would be a nice upgrade up front and help give them the push up front to get Chris Johnson back to earning his CJ2K moniker.
11. San Diego Chargers – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Milliner will likely be tasked with replacing one of the Chargers’ starters that will be hitting the market as free agents. Given his age, that player will likely be Quentin Jammer. And Milliner will be expected to be that No. 1 lockdown corner going forward that Jammer was for years.
12. Miami Dolphins – WR Keenan Allen, California
The Dolphins want to upgrade their wide receiver position in order to give Ryan Tannehill a legit top target to throw to. Allen probably gets the edge over Patterson because he’s probably a bit more polished fit for the offense of Joe Philbin. A big athlete that can line up on the outside, Allen has the potential to be a top receiver at the next level.
13. Tampa Bay – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
While the Bucs have invested in their pass rush two years by taking Adrian Clayborn and DaQuan Bowers in the draft, neither player has been a consistent threat due mainly to injuries. Werner gives them another option that should be able to provide some speed off the edge to help pressure all those good NFC South quarterbacks.
14. Carolina Panthers – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Richardson gives the Panthers the playmaker in the middle that they’ve needed for some time. A disruptive penetrator that can help provide needed pressure up front, the combo of him, Charles Johnson, and Greg Hardy on third downs could be lethal.
15. New Orleans Saints – OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The Saints are switching to a 3-4 scheme this year, and they need to find an edge rusher to anchor one side of their defense. Mingo is the hometown kid that has the speed and upside to be a terrorizer on the next level.
16. St. Louis Rams – WR Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee
Patterson is raw, but many are reminded of Julio Jones when they look at him. Rams GM Les Snead knows all about that, and hopes that Patterson can be the dynamic playmaker on the outside that Sam Bradford has never had and needs.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jones’ medical concerns may cause him to slide some boards, but for a team like the Steelers they will be more than happy if that is the case. After lackluster seasons from James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and Jason Worilds, the Steelers pass rush needs a kick in the pants, and Jones is arguably this class’s best.
18. Dallas Cowboys – OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
The Cowboys need to improve their offensive front which can be inconsistent at times. Cooper is an athletic guard that could even potentially slide inside to center similar to ex-Cowboy Andre Gurode.
19. New York Giants – DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
The Giants are likely to lose Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck is probably entering his final year with the team. Getting another pass rusher to team with Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka would be a good move. Moore’s stock has been dipping a bit, but the Giants won’t pass on his potential.
20. Chicago Bears – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Austin’s outstanding Combine performance will push him up several boards, including the Bears. Austin’s dynamic slot potential will complement Brandon Marshall well, and the Bears will hope he becomes the offensive threat that Devin Hester was envisioned to be.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
The Bengals offense probably has more needs on it, but they can’t pass on the value that is Vaccaro who can upgrade the strong safety spot. He’ll give them a good pair of rangy ballhawking corners alongside Reggie Nelson.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) – RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
The Rams need to find a replacement for Steven Jackson, and Lacy is the likeliest choice. Lacy’s powerful running ability may remind Snead of Michael Turner and Jeff Fisher of Eddie George.
23. Minnesota Vikings – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Antoine Winfield has been hanging strong for years, but the Vikings attempts to find a suitable replacement in the draft have not been overly successful over the years. They hope that ends with an addition like Trufant, who can team with Harrison Smith to help an improved Vikings secondary.
24. Indianapolis Colts – DE Datone Jones, UCLA
The Colts need to get better up front in the scheme employed by Chuck Pagano. Jones has the size, athleticism to be a force as a 3-4 end that can both rush the quarterback and beef up against the run.
25. Seattle Seahawks – DE Margus Hunt, Southern Methodist
Pete Carroll won’t be able to pass up on a talent like Hunt, who has the sick physical tools to be a dominant defender. He’ll likely be asked to play a similar role in their defense as Red Bryant and Alan Branch have played in recent years.
26. Green Bay Packers – DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
They will hope that Hankins will become as solid an NFL pro as Ryan Pickett, another oversized ex-Buckeye. Hankins has the size to play the nose in their 3-4 and alongside B.J. Raji and Jerel Worthy, could give the the Packers a formidable front line.
27. Houston Texans – WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Overshadowed by Sammy Watkins in college, Hopkins is arguably this draft’s most polished receiver. He’ll give the Texans a very good complement opposite Andre Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
The struggles of Champ Bailey in the playoffs will cause the Broncos to try and add some youth there. Rhodes is a big, matchup corner that if he develops offers some Bailey-esque potential.
29. New England Patriots – CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Banks is a ball-hawking corner, which is typically the kind that Bill Belichick prefers. If Aqib Talib is re-signed and Devin McCourty moves full-time to safety, then they will need someother to man the other spot.
30. Atlanta Falcons – TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
It’s still possible that even if Tony Gonzalez decides to return the Falcons could draft Eifert to give them as formidable a pair of tight ends as they have at wideout. But more than likely in this scenario, Eifert is tasked with replacing a retiring Gonzalez. Eifert has the upside as a receiver to be as valuable as the G.O.A.T. was.
31. San Francisco 49ers – WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Randy Moss, A.J. Jenkins, and Mario Manningham didn’t provide a ton of help for Colin Kaepernick last year, which means the 49ers could look at other options. Hunter has an excellent combination of size and speed to be a dynamic vertical threat at the next level, comparable to a young Moss.
32. Baltimore Ravens – LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
The Ravens may be losing both Ray Lewis (retirement) and Dannell Ellerbe (free agency) this off-season, leaving a potential huge hole in the middle. The Ravens are shifting from old to young on defense, and getting leaders like Te’o will help with that transition.