Each week Fansided.com will have a new mock draft to preview and showcase this upcoming April’s draft. For more in depth analysis of each pick, be sure to visit the Fansided site of your favorite team and check back each Monday for a new and updated Mock Draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, OT/Texas A&M
This has now become the consensus pick when you consult draft experts. The Chiefs did nothing in free agency to boost their offensive line but they made plenty of moves to make the offense better. The next logical step is to make sure Alex Smith has time to throw and utilize his new toys, and Joeckel is that guy. Plus, the Chiefs are reportedly extremely high on the tackle after the Texas A&M Pro Day, so this is looking more and more like a lock.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan, DE/Oregon
Jordan is a guy who has shot right up to the top of most draft boards and it’s not without good reason. He’s got Jason Pierre-Paul potential as Jordan is fast, athletic and his stock is only going up. Jacksonville has been linked to Geno Smith in the last week, and he remains an option here especially after his admirable Wonderlic test. But the draft has plenty of quarterbacks that guru Jon Gruden has stamped with his approval, which means the Jags can focus on shoring up an awful defensive front from 2012.
3. Oakland Raiders – Sharrif Floyd, DT/Florida
This pick is also becoming a lock, even if Geno Smith is available. I really love Smith with the Raiders, but Oakland is on the verge of trading for Matt Flynn which allows Oakland to focus on is improving on defense. They’re not going to outscore opponents in 2013, so they need to contain them and Floyd is an absolute monster who was once briefly in the running to be the No. 1 overall pick.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Geno Smith, QB/West Virginia
This one has been waiting to be mocked, so I’ll be the sucker who does it. The Eagles need offensive line help and they could use some help on their defensive front. Cornerback is an area that could use a boost of youth, but if Smith is available, Chip Kelly is going to be sweating. Smith is an ideal fit for Kelly’s offense and he offers something important — long term value. Sure, Mike Vick is in town for another year, but he’s a short term option. Smith can develop and grow and one day emerge as an intense talent in Kelly’s offense.
6. Cleveland Browns – Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, DE/BYU
Cleveland wanted to land Cliff Avril but they missed out and still have defensive end as a serious need. Ziggy Ansah fits right into that, as he’s a raw talent with incredible upside. Ray Horton needs Ansah’s kind of viciousness on the edge of his defensive front and if the Browns draft him they may finally have the star defensive player they’ve been longing for. Check that, the Browns would finally have the star player they’ve been looking for (all due respect to Trent Richardson).
7. Arizona Cardinals – Lane Johnson, OT/Oklahoma
Thanks to some great Senior Bowl practices, Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson is rising up draft boards at a pretty quick rate and due to some names dropping out he could go higher than expected. Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan deciding to return to college means there’s a lack of supply for the high demand of offensive tackles at the top of the NFL Draft. Arizona is likely going to sign or trade for Carson Palmer, and even if they don’t, whoever is under center in 2013 will need some serious help up front.
8. Buffalo Bills – Jonathan Cooper, OG/North Carolina
Buffalo needs a quarterback, and they’re not going to get Geno Smith without trading up to get him. While Matt Barkley continues to be available, a more likely option is former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib in the second-round who would be united with his former college coach Doug Marrone. The signing of Kevin Kolb also puts the kibosh on taking a quarterback this high as well. But no matter who’s under center, the Bills will need to protect them moving forward and he’s the best available pick at this spot for the Bills without having to reach for a Tavon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson.
9. New York Jets – Star Lotulelei, NT/Utah
His heart issues seem to be cleared up which means his status as a top pick is being restored. Lotulelei likely won’t crack the top-10 but the Panthers will be big winners because of that. New York needs to plug the middle of their defensive line and bog down opponents in the run game, and Lotulelei is probably the biggest and best player to do that for the Jets. If his heart holds up, New York is getting a one-time top-3 pick in the middle of the first round. Can you say steal?
10. Tennessee Titans – Dee Milliner, CB/Alabama
The Titans need help on the offensive line, but it seems like a stretch for them to go after Chance Warmack here. Even if Jonathan Cooper had been available, there is no way the Titans are choosing a guard over Milliner if he’s on the board when they go on the clock. Milliner lost a little of his momentum at the Combine, but he’s still a top-10 pick and the best defensive back in the draft. Tennessee needs an upgrade in their secondary and Milliner instantly delivers that.
11. San Diego Chargers – Chance Warmack, OG/Alabama
Guards are hot this year, and both Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack will go quickly after one another if things fall into place. Teams are realizing that you can load up on skill players, but winning starts with solid protection up front, and new head coach Mike McCoy is making Philip Rivers success his No. 1 priority. That starts with making sure he’s protected and Warmack is arguably the best guard in the country.
12. Miami Dolphins – Xavier Rhodes, CB/Florida State
The Miami Dolphins spent big money on upgrading their offense in free agency, which means the draft will focus on making sure the defense can keep opponents down. Miami needs a boost in the secondary and that’s something Xavier Rhodes can give them, as he’s a big corner who plays physical and can be a Richard Sherman type of player, minus the mouth.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tavon Austin, WR/West Virginia
I fantasized about this pick, but it has been a reach up until now. Austin blew people away at his Pro Day and has leaped from being a late first-round sleeper to a bonafide top-15 lock. The Buccaneers need a cornerback and they’ll be taking one at some point in the draft, but due to the sheer number of rising stars at the position, someone is bound to slip into the second round and Tampa Bay has the means to trade up and get one. Austin is the best skill position player in the draft and he’ll not only be a speedy target for Josh Freeman, but he can return kicks and even play out of the backfield with Doug Martin. Austin makes the Buccaneers dangerous and dynamic and they’d be crazy to pass on him.
14. Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson, DT/Missouri
When it comes to Richardson, scouts are absolutely high on him and he’s got a lot of evidence to back up all the hype. He’s got a lighting fast first step and can penetrate backfields like some of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. He’s fluctuating in value right now, but all signs are pointing to Richardson seeing his value take a jump as we get closer to the draft. The Panthers need to beef up their front line and Richardson will be something running backs don’t want to deal with on Sunday’s.
15. New Orleans Saints – Barkevious Mingo, OLB/LSU
The Saints are starting to realize that they’re not getting any younger, but do have a golden opportunity to dip themselves into the fountain of youth otherwise known as the NFL Draft and help shore up an aging defense. Mingo is familiar with the bayou from his days with LSU and he’s a versatile monster of a linebacker. He plays his heart out and is a sideline-to-sideline type of player. New Orleans still has the talent to win now, but the more they look to the future, the quicker the transition will be when guys start to retire and move on.