For those of you who can’t get enough of mock drafts, I participated in one this morning with pro football writers from across the country. Here’s a look at how the first 15 picks went:
1-KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
(picking: Adam Teicher, KC Star)
PICKS: 8 (one in first, fourth, fifth and seventh rounds. None in the second. Two in the third and sixth rounds).
NEEDS: OT, ILB, WR, S, DE.
THE SKINNY: The Chiefs would prefer to trade down but assuming that doesn't happen, they need to secure left tackle for the long term. Branden Albert signed his one-year contract as the franchise player but isn't happy and has been absent from offseason conditioning and last week's mini-camp. Otherwise, they filled a lot of their needs in free agency. Not that they couldn't use an upgrade at a number of spots but they can line up and play a game right now, other than this hole at LT.
THE PICK: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
(picking: Ryan O’Halloran, Florida Times-Union)
PICKS: 7 (one in every round).
NEEDS: Leo DE,RT,QB, CB, SS,LB
THE SKINNY: The Jaguars have accepted that trading out of the No. 2 spot isn't going to happen. Like a 2-14 team with a new general manager, head coach and coordinators, the Jaguars are undergoing a major roster overhaul and that makes for so many needs.
They could go with a DE at No. 2 to help a pass rush that had only 20 sacks last year (worst in the NFL), or a right tackle because the new staff has little faith in incumbent Cam Bradfield.
After the first round, they also need a No. 1 corner (right now it's Alan Ball), a strong safety(Bradley said Monday there isn't a starter on the roster), WILL linebacker who can play all downs and at some point, they should be expected to take a quarterback. They have only two on the roster.
THE PICK: BYU Ziggy Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
(They could make the safe pick and take Eric Fisher, but right tackle can be addressed later with somebody like free agent Tyson Clabo.)
(picking: Vito Tafur, San Francisco Chronicle
PICKS: 5 (Pick 3rd and then 68th (3rd round); also have picks in rounds 4,6 and 7).
NEEDS: DE, OLB, DT, CB, TE, QB, OT, G, WR
THE SKINNY: The Raiders would love to trade down and get back the second-round pick they lost in the Carson Palmer trade. General manager Reggie McKenzie knows he needs some impact players, and his shredding of the 4-12 roster (38 of the 53 players he inherited are gone) has left Oakland without any pass rush. Not that it had any last year. The Raiders only had 25 sacks in 2012, but players who had 17 of those are gone.
If the Raiders are able to trade down, I see them solidifying their front line with DTs Star Lotolelei or Shariff Floyd.
There will be some temptation to take Eric Fisher, who might be the best player on the board, but Dion Jordan fills the biggest need and has more star potential than a left tackle. The Raiders desperately need a star. Jordan has long arms and great athleticism and will immediately give the Raiders an outside rush.
THE PICK: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
(picking: yours truly)
PICKS: 9 (They have one pick in Rds. 1-5, none in Rd. 6 and 4 in Rd. 7).
NEEDS: OL, 3-4 edge-rusher, QB, 3-4 DE, ILB, CB, S
THE SKINNY: The Eagles will be getting All Pro LT Jason Peters, C Jason Kelce and RT Todd Herremans back from injuries. But Peters is 31, Herremans is 30 and LG Evan Mathis is 31.
They have a hole at RG. The light has yet to go on for 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins. Maybe it finally will this season or maybe it never will. Herremans has spent most of his career as a guard. So he can move inside if Watkins doesn't cut it.
If they don't get a plug-and-play OT in the draft, they still are interested in unrestricted free agent Eric Winston. So they could address the o-line dilemma that way.
It still remains to be seen how some of their defensive personnel will fit in the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4. They signed Connor Barwin, who was an edge-rushing OLB with Houston. But the jury still is out on veteran DE Trent Cole and 2010 first-round pick Brandon Graham as standup rushers. They want another difference-making pass-rusher.
They've got four QBs on the roster right now -- Mike Vick, Nick Foles, former Chip Kelly pupil Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne. All but Foles have the mobility to run the read-option. Vick agreed to a restructured deal and figures to be gone after this season, even if he ends up with the starting job. Eagles almost certainly will draft a QB at some point. Won't be at No. 4, but could be in second or third round.
The Eagles are very interested in trading down and acquiring another pick or two in the second and/or third rounds. But they don't want to drop any lower than 11 or 12.
Given how the first three picks in this mock went, that leaves the Eagles with OTs Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson and DTs Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei. Floyd, who is better-suited for a 4-3 than a 3-4, probably will end up going third to the Raiders. The Eagles like the versatility of Lotulelei, but four is just a little high for a 3-4 lineman. Fisher is the most likely selection here.
THE PICK: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
(selecting: Mike O’Hara of detroitlions.com)
PICKS: 8 (One in every round, two in the seventh. The fourth-round pick is a compensatory, and the second seventh-round pick is a compensatory.)
NEEDS: OT, pass-rusher, CB, WR.
THE SKINNY: The Lions’ first pick has to be an opening-day starter. They really want a left tackle because it locks into place other pieces on the OL. If either Joeckel or Fisher is there, they’ll take him without batting an eye. After those two, though, they like CB Dee Milliner.
Milliner would fit a need, opposite starting CB Chris Houston, a three-year starter who re-signed as a free agent in March. At his pre-draft presser last week, GM Martin Mayhew, a starting CB on the Redskins’ 1991 season Super Bowl champs, talked about Milliner’s size and speed.
“He’s the elusive, big corner,” Mayhew said. “Everybody’s trying to find that guy. You know, we’ve been here for years talking about these guys and trying to find a guy with some size, and he certainly fits that mold.”
The Lions drafted three CBs last year – Bill Bentley third round, Chris Greenwood fifth round, Jonta Green sixth round, and while they like them as developmental players – especially Bentley and Greenwood – Milliner is way above those three.
Surgery on his labrum is an issue, but thinking would be that once it heals, it’s fixed for good. Not like a pitcher with a bad elbow/shoulder or whatever.
Mayhew wants to avoid a boom or bust scenario with the fifth pick. “You certainly want guys with that high ceiling,’’ he said. “But it’s also important to make sure you’re getting a solid player you can have around for a long time. It may not be the best place to swing for the fence. You know, you might not want to be Dave Kingman at five. You might really just get on base, if you know what I mean.”
THE PICK: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
(picking: Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com)
PICKS: 7 (1st, 3rd, 4th, two 5th, 6th , 7th)
NEEDS: Starting CB, 3-4 pass rusher, inside LB, TE, WR, OG).
THE SKINNY First draft of the regime of CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi. They used free agency to address the switch to Ray Horton’s 3-4 – OLBs Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and LDE Desmond Bryant – but they still have starting vacancies at CB and ILB, and still want to add another OLB rusher. If Horton copies his hero Dick LeBeau, the Browns won’t take the CB at No. 6. On paper, they could justify one of the OGs, but they already have really good OTs and a solid C.
I don’t buy the national perspective that Banner and Lombardi will draft a QB to oust Brandon Weeden. I think HC Rob Chudzinski and OC Norv Turner think they can win with Weeden’s strong arm. Banner and Lombardi are not big fans of Weeden or WR Josh Gordon, who had a real good rookie year after ex-GM Tom Heckert used his No. 2 pick in last summer’s supplemental draft. Banner would like to recoup a No. 2. If any team is capable of doubling down – trading down twice – it is the Browns, if they could pull it off.
This draft: This scenario would be Browns worst nightmare. They would love to get out of this position, but ...
THE PICK: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
(picking: Kent Somers, Arizona Republic)
PICKS: 7 (One in each round)
NEEDS: G, T, 3-4 edge rusher, safety, inside linebacker, quarterback.
THE SKINNY: This is the first draft of GM Steve Keim and Bruce Arians. The most immediate need is the offensive line, but Arians seems to feel better about the
group than anyone else, especially his tackles. At the owners meetings, Arians said he is one player away from having a "helluva" offensive line. LT Levi Brown
returns after missing last season with a torn triceps. Nate Potter, a seventh-round pick in '12, took over for D'Anthony Batiste and showed promise
over the latter half of the season.
Another rookie, fourth-rounder Bobby Massie, started all 16 games at right tackle. He was a liability over the first half of the season but showed remarkable improvement over the second half. Their guards, Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder, signed as free agents over the last two seasons. Colledge had a solid year. Indications are the Çardinals would like to
upgrade the right side, Snyder's spot.
New DC Todd Bowles is maintaining the 3-4 and the team still needs 3-4 OLB who can rush. O'Brien Schofield hasn't stayed healthy enough. Sam Acho is a good
all-round player but not a pass rush specialist..
This draft: Lane Johnson has to be tempting here and that could be the pick. If they do that, Brown could move to the right side.
THE PICK: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
PICKS: 6 (one in Rds. 1-6, no seventh-round pick).
NEEDS: QB, WR, G, CB, OLB, TE, CB, S.
THE SKINNY: The Bills have plenty of needs, but QB is the biggest. Ryan Fitzpatrick was cut. Kevin Kolb is the favorite over Tarvaris Jackson on the current roster. Need a No. 2 WR opposite Stevie Johnson. But there's no WR worth taking at No. 8. Could use a starting OG to replace Andy Levitre, who left in free agency. So a good case could be made for Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. But OG is an easier position to fill.
New coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett know Ryan Nassib better than anybody. He could make a smooth transition running their offense. It makes sense.
THE PICK: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse.
9-NEW YORK JETS
(picking: Bob Glauber of Newsday)
PICKS: 8 (two in the first round and one in rounds 2-7).
NEEDS: QB, OLB, CB, S, G, T, WR.
THE SKINNY: The Jets acquired the 13th overall pick in the Darrelle Revis trade and are clearly in a major rebuilding phase under first-year general manager John Idzik. Mark Sanchez is the incumbent at quarterback, but mostly because of his $8.25 million guaranteed salary. Both starting safeties in 2011 (LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell) are gone. They re-signed OLB Calvin Pace to a one-year deal after initially releasing him. Also released were LB Bart Scott and S Eric Smith. Veteran guard Brandon Moore was not re-signed, and RB Shonn Greene signed with Tennessee. TE Dustin Keller signed with Miami. Santonio Holmes is coming off foot surgery and might not be ready for the start of camp.
This is Idzik’s first draft in the lead role, and he is considered by those he has worked with as a very patient, meticulous executive who prefers to build through the draft instead. Unlike predecessor Mike Tannenbaum, Idzik does not appear ready to take chances with roster transactions (see: Brett Favre, Tim Tebow, etc.), preferring a more methodical approach. Idzik has been extremely close to the vest throughout the draft process.
With our mock falling this way, and with Mingo, Milliner and Warmack off the board, Idzik can go any number of ways. They have done extensive work on the quarterbacks, although I don’t know that they value Geno Smith as the No. 9 prospect. They have done extensive work on him, however, and it is possible they take him here. But with Tavon Austin still on the board, and with the team also having examined him closely, there may be a temptation to go higher for him, especially with some interest among other teams in moving up for him.
THE PICK: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia.
(picking: Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean)
PICKS: 9 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd comp, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 7th comp)
NEEDS: OG, DT, DT, CB, S, LB
THE SKINNY: After signing 12 free agents and spending over $105 million in free agency, the Titans have some flexibility here. Yes, they still need a long-term option at guard opposite Andy Levitre, and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper is available in this mock. But with a difference-maker still around in Floyd, they’d have to take him here. They could then target a guard – Kentucky’s Larry Warford?—in the second round. The Titans also need pass rushers, and one position they didn’t address in free agency was cornerback. Look for them to snag one or two at some point in the draft as well.
THE PICK: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
11-SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
(picking: Michael Gehlken, San Diego Union-Tribune)
PICKS: 7 (one in each round.
NEEDS: LT, OG, ILB, OLB, NT.
THE SKINNY: This draft will be judged as something of a failure if the Chargers don't walk out with a starting left tackle. The offensive line was a mess last year, and new general manager Tom Telesco wants to replace at least three starters after parting with LT Jared Gaither, LG Tyronne Green and RG Louis Vasquez.
If LT Lane Johnson is available at pick 11, the Chargers ought to be jumping up and down, screaming like Reese Witherspoon at a DUI checkpoint that he fell to them; many scouts say the draft suffers a drop-off after the position's top three. Adding the ex-Sooner allows them to address guard sometime in the two or three rounds. Will San Diego be so fortunate Thursday to have this option at pick 11? That'd surprise. But in this mock, it's an easy call.
THE PICK: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma.
(picking: Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald)
PICKS: 11 (2 in the second, two in the third, two in the fifth and three in the seventh).
NEEDS: LT, CB, DT, TE, G, S, OLB.
THE SKINNY: The Dolphins have been working on filling their LT need by trading for KC's Brandon Albert but they would rather not give up a second-round pick for the privilege of paying Albert a huge contract. They probably would welcome giving up a 2014 second rounder. If the Albert trade is made, then the LT need is met. Otherwise the Dolphins will be hunting the fourth best LT in the draft in the second round because they aren't paying the ransom to trade up for Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, and Lane Johnson doesn't seem to be a team favorite.
The club says it doesn't need cornerback help but it does. Miami traded away Vontae Davis last year and let Sean Smith depart in free agency. The addition of Brent Grimes via a one-year deal doesn't solve the problem and actually raises the question whether he'll be healthy -- he's recovering from a torn Achilles -- in time for training camp or the season. The club also lost starting TE Anthony Fasano in free agency and although Dustin Keller is on the roster, he's also on a one-year contract so that position begs attention. The club loves Reshad Jones at one safety spot but has an opening at the other. Again, the Dolphins desperately want to trade down. If not .
THE PICK: D.J Hayden, CB, Houston.
(picking again: Bob Glauber of Newsday)
THE SKINNY: Armando took the next best corner for the Dolphins, so the Jets would be reaching here to get the second coming of Revis. They've already got two young first-round defensive linemen in Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. As I'd indicated before, they've done extensive work on Geno Smith, and while the jury is obviously still out on him around the league, considering the need, he might be tough to pass on.
THE PICK: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia.
(picking: Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer)
PICKS: 5 (no 3rd, no 7th)
NEEDS: DT, S, CB, OT
THE SKINNY: They’d like to trade down and get some of their later-round picks back. But not if Star Lotulelei's still on the board when they pick 14th. Panthers first-year GM Dave Gettleman spent 14 years with the Giants, who did pretty well beefing up their D-line seemingly every year in the draft.
Since cutting nose tackle Ron Edwards this offseason, Ron Rivera has talked about the need to find a space-eater up front to keep blockers off Defensive RoY Luke Kuechly. Lotulelei does more than occupy blockers, however.
And the Panthers have experience drafting guys with heart issues/scares. They took Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander in the fourth round last year after Alexander was sent home from the combine after doctors thought they found a hole in his heart. The Panthers checked into it, and it turned out to be a misdiagnosis.
THE PICK: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
15-NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
(picking: Brian Allee-Walsh of SportsNola.com)
PICKS: 5(one each in rounds 1, 3, 4, 5, 6) .
NEEDS: OLB, LT, DE, S, NT
THE SKINNY: If you have the NFL's worst ever defense in terms of yards yielded in one season (7,042), then no job is safe and plenty of holes need to be filled on that side of the ball. First and foremost for first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is trying to find someone, anyone, who can apply consistent pressure on the quarterback. They have lacked a premiere pass rusher for years.
They have other needs as well but this position is important in the big picture. They plan to give two youngsters shots at OLB, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson. But Jarvis Jones apparently has answered the medical questions and appears to be the real deal. Was not asked to drop into pass coverage at Georgia.
THE PICK: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia