DraftBrowns.com Staff Writer, Ryan Alton
So I had originally planned on doing four mock drafts by the time the big day rolled around. But that’s not happening. I figured, in addition to my first one in late January, right after the Scouting Combine (late February) and again after the initial wave of Free Agency (late March) would be good times to drop my other mocks. However, they never materialized.
It occurred to me while watching the combine that teams don’t typically make major changes to their boards based on how a player looks in shorts. And I felt like, even though a mock is really a prediction rather than a big board, I shouldn’t change how I felt based on the combine either. If anything, the interviews during the combine affect a player’s draft stock more than the on-field workouts, and unfortunately, the general public is not privy to those interviews. However, with the NFL becoming what it is, I won’t be the least bit shocked if that changes in the next 5-10 years. Cameras in the hotel rooms while these prospects are interviewed? Boy, won’t the teams love that!
I also realized as free agency went hard for two days and then fizzled out faster than a bottle rocket in a down pour, many teams didn’t really better themselves for the long term in ways that should drastically affect their draft plans. If anything, teams LOST players that they will be forced to fill in the draft but, aside from teams like Miami, Kansas City, and Indianapolis, no one really made franchise altering moves by acquiring talent on the free agent market. Many teams signed veteran players to one-year deals either because the player wanted the opportunity to hit the big pay day again next year or because the team had concerns about the player and they didn’t want to invest long term.
Even the teams that traded for quarterbacks like Oakland, Arizona, and Buffalo only helped themselves in the short-term. For example, if Buffalo really likes Geno Smith, trading for Kevin Kolb should not deter them from drafting Smith 8th overall. All it does is ensure that the rookie QB doesn’t have to start right away.
So what began as four mocks will now be only two. I feel like, with ten days left, I have enough of a sense of what’s going on and there isn’t likely to be any major moves at this point to throw a wrench in the whole thing. And if there is, then hey… the only one who will care how accurate my mock draft is after the actual draft will be me. So on with it then!
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel LT, Texas A&M – KC would love to trade out and still get one of the premier left tackles available at the top of this draft, but teams trading up for one don’t need to come up this far. So the Chiefs take the one they’ve had rated the highest for months and never look back. Eric Fisher could also be the pick here.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan OLB, Oregon– New HC Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator in Seattle while Jordan was lighting the PAC 12 on fire at Oregon the last few years. No doubt, Bradley would love to get his hands on the most versatile defensive player in this draft and line him up all over the Jags new defense.
3. Oakland Raiders – Star Lotulelei DT,Utah– The Raiders could move down if a team wants to ensure they get Eric Fisher here. Assuming they don’t though, Lotulelei gives them the dominant force on the DL they need with the ability to rush the passer from the interior. The Raiders publicly lamented the fact they let Desmond Bryant leave via Free Agency. Drafting Star numbs the sting.
4. TRADE – San Diego Chargers – Eric Fisher LT, Central Michigan – Leave it to Chip Kelly to make the first major “splash” of the draft by trading down with San Diego who desperately needs a Left Tackle. The Chargers didn’t want to run the risk of Detroit or a team trading up with Cleveland at 6 and taking Fisher so they send Philly their 2nd round pick (#45), their 4th(#110) and a 2014 6th round pick for the right to draft who some consider the best left tackle prospect since Joe Thomas.
5. Detroit Lions – Dee Milliner CB,Alabama– With the hometown guy in Fisher off the board, the Lions make the easy pick and take the best cornerback in this year’s draft with Milliner. Solid.
6. TRADE – Miami Dolphins – Lane Johnson LT, Oklahoma– This trade has been in the works for weeks. All that needed to happen was for the pieces to fall right and it would be executed. Miami cannot afford to sit and wait for LJ to fall to them at 12 so they pull the trigger and send the Browns the lower of their two 2nd round picks (#54) and a 5th round pick (#146) to get the athletic left tackle from Oklahoma to protect franchise QB Ryan Tannehill for the next decade.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Geno Smith QB,West Virginia– The Cardinals waited patiently for Smith to fall and grabbed him before Buffalo had the chance. Lucky for them, Cleveland took Miami’s trade offer instead of Buffalo’s as the Bills were hoping to get in front of the Cardinals for Smith. Arizona has no problem having Smith sit and watch behind Carson Palmer this year.
8. TRADE – St. Louis Rams – Tavon Austin WR, West Virginia – Armed with a haul of picks from last year’s RG3 trade, the Rams don’t bat an eye at the thought of giving up their 2nd rounder (#46) to go up and get the most explosive offensive player in this draft. With Geno gone, Buffalo trades down and now has pick #16 and two picks in the second round (#41 and #46) for which to draft their future QB.
9. New York Jets – Tyler Eifert TE, Notre Dame – While he would love to take one of the raw pass rushers like Mingo or Ansah here, Rex Ryan can’t wait for either of those guys to develop. He will lose his job at the end of the season unless the Jets win more games in 2013. No one will help the Jets’ offense more than a Tight End who can block and catch everything thrown at him. The departure of Dustin Keller makes this a no brainer pick.
10. Tennessee Titans – Chance Warmack OG, Alabama– Mike Munchak needs Jake Locker to take a big step this year if he wants to keep his job. Warmack is the type of mauler that can protect the interior of the offense and open up big running lanes for Chris Johnson. That should help Locker if he’s ever going to become the passer he was drafted to be in 2011.
11. Philadelphia Eagles – Barkevious Mingo OLB, LSU – The Eagles traded down and got the best pass rusher in the draft (next to former Chip Kelly pupil Dion Jordan) to plug into their 3-4 defense. Some in the draft community believe Mingo can be even better than Jordan down the road and Kelly will have the time he needs to develop him in Philly.
12. Cleveland Browns – Ezekial Ansah DE/OLB, BYU - With Jordan, Eifert and Mingo all off the board, the Browns are in a precarious position. Such is the price of trading down in the NFL Draft. If you’re going to do it, you better be willing to see players you had rated highly get drafted by other teams while you wait for your turn to come back around. You also better have a number of players with similar grades and you better be able to project that at least one of them will still be there when you pick. The Browns, with the creative and versatile mind of Ray Horton in charge of their defense, can’t stop thinking of ways to utilize the raw talent of Ziggy Ansah in their new scheme.
Some will undoubtedly call this a “boom or bust” pick and, with the Browns’ history of poor drafting by previous regimes in the last decade, this pick will make many fans and media lose plenty of sleep. But if there is anyone capable of harnessing Ansah’s raw talent into a bona fide wrecking ball of a defender, it’s Ray Horton. Ansah can line up at DT, DE and OLB for the Browns and, with their current depth, he won’t even have to step on the field and be expected to start from Day One. Also, the fact that they traded down and still got a talent like Ansah should have the draft community singing the praises of GM Michael Lombardi and Assistant GM Ray Farmer. He may not be an immediate star, but don’t be surprised if this pick becomes an integral cog in the Browns return to prominence in the AFC within the next few years.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Xavier Rhodes CB, Florida State – At this point, the Revis trade is still a possibility for the Bucs but I simply can’t wrap my head around any GM giving up a #1 pick (and possibly more) for a guy coming off a major injury and, not to mention, the new contract he will immediately demand as part of the deal. Instead, if I’m Bucs GM Mark Dominik, I spare myself that headache, keep my pick and take a very talented corner from my home state that is more than capable of starting in the NFL.
14. Carolina Panthers – Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee- The Panthers continue to put weapons around Cam Newton. Patterson is a bit raw but has the ability to take the Panthers offense to the next level and it’s anyone’s guess how much Steve Smith has left in the tank.
15. New Orleans Saints – Sharrif Floyd DT, Florida– New Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan is thrilled that one of the stoutest and versatile defensive tackles has fallen to his new team at #15. Floyd is an essential piece as the Saints transition to a 3-4 defense in 2013 and a great value in the middle of Round One.
16. Buffalo Bills – Ryan Nassib QB, Syracuse – The Bills have two 2nd round picks after the earlier trade with St. Louis for which they could orchestrate a move up for Nassib later in Round One. However, after missing out on Geno Smith earlier, they decide not to take the risk and instead grab Nassib here since they like him so much. Like Arizona, Buffalo traded for a stop gap QB who can play in the interim until the rookie has a chance to develop.