Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Kansas City has settled on Luke Joeckel as the top pick. Brandon Albert is only signed for one season and the Chiefs are trying to trade him. Joeckel will be the long-term franchise left tackle for Andy Reid.
Joeckel has the ability to be a shutdown pass-protector. The 6-foot-6, 306-pounder is very quick and agile; possessing the light feet and the speed to get deep in his drops to prevent speed-rushers from turning the corner. He is nimble and athletic to mirror edge-rushers as they throw moves at him to get back to the inside. Joeckel blocked well in the ground game this year and has improved his ability to move linemen at the line of scrimmage.
The junior had a mixed outing against Florida in the 2012 season opener. He was beaten for a sack and some pressures in the second half after dominating the first two quarters. Joeckel was outstanding with statement games against LSU and Auburn. He dominated LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery and Auburn pass-rusher Corey Lemonier. Joeckel completely shut down both players' pass rush. It was very impressive with how much of a non-factor Montgomery and Lemonier were. Joeckel was very good against Alabama, too.
Joeckel broke into Texas A&M's starting lineup at left tackle in 2010. The freshman quickly got accustomed to the Big XII after some early struggles and finished his debut season strong. Joeckel did a very good job of protecting the blind side of quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the junior signal-caller became a starting quarterback for the first time in his collegiate career.
Joeckel had an excellent season in 2011. He did a superb job in pass protection for Tannehill. Joeckel gave up some pressures against some of the elite pass-rushers he faced, but overall, he did very well for a sophomore and rarely allowed his quarterback to get hit. For the most part, Joeckel won his matchups against Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander.
The Aggies' offensive line allowed only nine sacks in 2011. The team averaged 199.2 yards on the ground, 291 yards passing and an average of 490 yards per game on offense.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Jacksonville's roster has the least amount of talent of any team in the NFL. The Jaguars should go with the best player available. Jacksonville could consider many options on both sides of the ball. I think the Jaguars are faking heavy interest in Geno Smith to try and drum up a trade market. Smith isn't worthy of the second-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. That being said, watching tape of "Blame Gabbert" is a known aphrodisiac for amping up the desire to draft a new quarterback.
Judging from what I know about new head coach Gus Bradley, my guess is he will go with a defensive standout. I think this pick will come down to Dion Jordan or Sharrif Floyd. I just don't see the Jaguars going with an offensive tackle. Bradley could use a game changer in his defense, and Jordan is considered a great scheme fit as the Leo linebacker. After passing on Smith, Jacksonville can target Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Jordan played outside linebacker in 2012 and did well as a defender in space. He demonstrated the athletic ability to drop into pass coverage as well as rush the quarterback off the edge. Jordan (6-7, 243) recorded 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles and a pass swatted this season. He is a raw prospect with upside.
Jordan used the Combine to put on a clinic with great speed in the 40 (4.60 seconds) and athleticism to drop into coverage as a linebacker.
Jordan was a tight end early in his college career before switching to defensive end in 2010. He had 34 tackles and 5.5 tackles for a loss as a sophomore. Jordan made real strides in 2011 and produced a lot more with 42 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. The junior was a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection.
Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
TRADE! From speaking with sources this trade is a real possibility. Oakland is going to take Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel if either is on the board unless the team can move down and pick up another second-day pick. If Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are off the board, the Raiders' plan is to take Sharrif Floyd. In this deal, the Lions give up their third-round pick in order to get a franchise left tackle to protect Matthew Stafford.
Detroit could land BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah at No. 5, but left tackle is such a bigger need. The Lions signed veteran end Jason Jones and has some other ends coming back along with two special pass rushing-defensive tackles. However, the team has nothing at left tackle. Matthew Stafford has to stay healthy if the Lions hope to compete. With Julius Peppers, Jared Allen and Clay Matthews in the division, Detroit must land a left tackle.
Left tackle Jeff Backus retired and right tackle Gosder Cherilus signed with the Colts in free agency. The Lions could put Fisher at left tackle and start Riley Reiff at right tackle. Check out my interview with MLive's Anwar Richardson on the Lions' draft and more details of why Fisher is the pick for Detroit.
There is no doubt that Fisher has the makings of a franchise left tackle. The senior dominated the competition in 2012 and was a phenomenal in pass protection. He also was effective in the ground game.
Fisher is very quick on his feet. He uses that quickness to get deep in his pass drop to cut off speed-rushers. In the ground game, Fisher is fast to fire downfield to hit blocks on the second level of the defense. The speed can also be seen when he pulls around the other side of the line. Fisher would be a very good fit in a zone-blocking scheme. He also has good power to push defensive linemen around with a physical attitude.
Fisher is nothing if not versatile after starting at right tackle, guard and left tackle over his collegiate career. He eventually found home at left tackle in 2011 and was an All-Conference selection. The 6-foot-7, 306-pounder has upside to develop at the next level.
Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Sources have told me the Eagles are considering Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan, Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel. Lotulelei is the only one available here.
Chip Kelly wants a bigger and faster defense. The new coach said he wants a defense with big people because they beat up little people. Kelly also wants speed and explosiveness. The powerful Lotulelei fits that description better than any other defensive prospect. Plus, Kelly has studied Pac-12 tape for years and knows Lotulelei well.
The 6-foot-3, 311-pound Lotulelei was a First-Team All-Pac-12 pick in 2011 and won the Morris Trophy as the conference's top defensive lineman, as voted on by the starting offensive linemen. He recorded 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.
Lotulelei totaled 42 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles and four passes broken up this season. He also caused a fumble against USC, but was not officially credited for it. The senior had excellent outings versus Utah State and BYU. The Utes finished 5-7, so they didn't have a bowl bid.
It is obvious that Lotulelei has a tremendous physical skill set. He is very powerful and extremely quick, plus causes a lot of disruption at the point of attack. Lotulelei fires through the line with speed to cause havoc. He can be overwhelming with his power at times and sometimes looks like "rookie-year Ndamukong Suh" with the way he tosses linemen aside. Lotulelei explodes off the snap to quickly gain leverage on the guard.
The senior projects well to any NFL defense. Lotulelei probably has the ability to play end or nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. He looks like the prototypical defensive tackle for a 4-3. Off the field, Lotulelei is settled down with a wife and daughter.
Pick change; previously Eric Fisher, OT
Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
After making calls and doing some digging, I learned the Raiders would take one of the offensive tackles - Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher - if available. If they're both gone, Oakland is probably going to take Sharrif Floyd, though Star Lotulelei is also in the running. However, the Raiders want more picks and are interested in trading down. The team could do this deal for the Lions' third-round pick and come out of the 203 NFL Draft with three new starters.
The Raiders have to rebuild their defensive line, and Floyd is a great way to start. The disruption he can cause on the inside will make Oakland's defensive ends have much easier jobs.
The 6-foot-3, 297-pounder is very fast and physical. Even though Floyd doesn't weigh a lot, he regularly overpowered defensive linemen because of great leverage and knee bend. Floyd had good performances in 2012 against Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Missouri and Louisville, in particular.
Floyd is a disruptive force who was excellent at the point of attack in 2012. He amassed 46 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, three sacks and a forced fumble. Floyd didn't have a lot of sacks, but he pressured the quarterback consistently. Floyd totaled 46 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, one blocked kick and one pass broken up in 2011.
The junior had a great workout at the Combine. He ran the 40 in a stunning 4.87 seconds - unofficially - with a 10-yard split of 1.68 seconds. In the field drills, Floyd was phenomenal with quick feet and good movement skills. It was obvious that he has amazing athleticism for an interior defensive lineman.
Floyd fires his gap and quickly gets penetration into the backfield. Once he gains leverage, Floyd is tough to stop. He has the strength to shed blocks and maintain his balance with blockers pushing on him. Floyd consistently blows up runs in the backfield and gets a lot of pressure on the quarterback. It wouldn't be surprising if his sack numbers increase dramatically in the NFL.
Floyd has the ability to be a three-technique pass-rusher in a 4-3 or play defensive end in a 3-4 defense.
Pick change; previously Lane Johnson, OT (DET)
Cleveland Browns: DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
I still think this pick is likely to move if one of the offensive tackles is available. I think the Dolphins or Chargers could easily trade up in front of Arizona to land Lane Johnson. However, the Cardinals could trade up one spot to land Johnson also. Cleveland is without its second-round pick so getting one of Miami's makes a lot of sense. If the Browns are stuck here, I think they go Dee Milliner. He could be the final piece to finish off a talented young defense.
Milliner was dominant in 2012. It started in the season opener against the Wolverines. He had five tackles, four passes broken up and returned an interception 35 yards. Milliner's one mistake came when he lost his footing and fell down in man coverage. That allowed his receiver to get wide open for a score.
Milliner followed up that contest with great games against Ole Miss and Missouri. He had his worst game of the season against Mississippi State. Milliner earned a pass interference penalty and a special teams penalty, missed a tackle and allowed some catches. He had a rough outing against Texas A&M, too, being burned for a 24-yard touchdown on a corner post route.
Milliner bounced back with a superb showing in the National Championship Game against Notre Dame. He set up an interception with a pass batted and had tight coverage all night.
The junior recorded 54 tackles, two interceptions, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and 20 passes broken up in 2012. He tied for third in the nation with 20 total passes defensed.
Milliner worked his way onto the field in 2011 with a secondary stacked with NFL talent in Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester and DeQuan Menzie. Milliner (6-1, 199) had 27 tackles, three interceptions and nine passes broken up. He played extremely well.
Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Cardinals could also trade up to land Johnson. They have to get better protection for Carson Palmer or he could easily be on injured reserve by mid-season. Johnson makes the most sense for Arizona.
There was a buzz building for Johnson to be a first-rounder following his impressive Senior Bowl performance. His dominant Combine performance has him locked in as a top-10 pick and many believe he has the most upside of any offensive tackle.
Johnson was a 2-year starter at Oklahoma and a good edge-blocker for Landry Jones. Johnson protected the blind side of his quarterback extremely well in 2012. The senior had a strong game against Texas protecting his signal-caller versus some good Longhorn pass-rushers. He did that again versus Texas A&M in his collegiate finale.
Johnson has nice athleticism with quick feet to mirror speed-rushers. The 6-foot-6, 302-pounder showed at the Senior Bowl that he is a viable left tackle prospect for the NFL. He started at right tackle for the Sooners in 2011 having played tight end and defensive end the previous season. Johnson redshirted in 2009.
Depending on which team drafts him, Johnson could start his career at right tackle before moving over to the left side.
Pick change; previously Star Lotulelei, DT
Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Buffalo has a lot of needs, but none is more pressing than a franchise quarterback. General manager Buddy Nix has said as much, and the Bills can land their choice of signal-caller. It sounds like Buffalo is down to Ryan Nassib or Matt Barkley. I think they'll go with Nassib because of familiarity with Doug Marrone and the quarterback's knowledge of Marrone's offense.
Nassib is a gritty quarterback who has developed his accuracy and is very smart. He has a good arm and elevates the play of his teammates, too. The 6-foot-2, 223-pounder completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,753 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2012. He led his team to an impressive win over undefeated Louisville.
Nassib increased his completion percentage every season. He connected on 62 percent of his passes in 2011, totaling 2,685 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Nassib also ran for 155 yards and two scores. He completed 56 percent of his passes as a first-year starter in 2010, connecting for 2,334 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Nassib ran for 255 yards as well.
New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The Jets have a ton of needs throughout their roster, so a lot of players are in play for the team's first pick in Round 1. I think this one will come down to Ezekiel Ansah, Barkevious Mingo and Tavon Austin.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of Mingo and think there is some serious bust potential with him, but NFL teams and other pundits hold him in high regard. Thus, he could go in the top 10 of the first round.
Mingo (6-4, 241) had a breakout 2011 season. He showed blinding speed and was a disruptive force. Mingo totaled 46 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and one forced fumble. He recorded 35 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and six pass breakups in 2010.
Mingo started off this year slowly as he saw extra blocking attention. Mingo played well against South Carolina, but Florida and Alabama pushed him around in the ground game and kept him under wraps as a pass-rusher. He recorded 38 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, three passes broken up and 4.5 sacks in 2012. Mingo was a relentless force in the bowl game against Clemson with his constant pass pressure.
Beyond any doubt, Mingo proved this season that he should be an outside linebacker in any defense in the NFL. The junior is very undersized and not strong enough to be a 4-3 end. If Mingo stays at his current weight, he could move to outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense similar to Von Miller in Denver. Mingo would also fit well as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Tennessee needs more offensive line help, and Cooper is a great fit at guard or center. He would help Chris Johnson and Jake Locker more than any other player the Titans could draft.
Cooper was superb at the Combine. He showed surprising strength to go along with great feet and athleticism. Cooper could be a candidate to move to center in the NFL. Given his size and his elite athleticism, a shift over could easily be his best move for the pros.
Veteran NFL coach John Shoop recruited Cooper to North Carolina and coached him until leaving before Cooper's senior season. Shoop told WalterFootball.com that Cooper was so fast and athletic, he could play fullback. Shoop also said that Cooper was the best pulling guard he's ever been around and that includes long stints in the NFL with the Bears, Raiders, Buccaneers and Panthers.
Cooper was an excellent blocker for running back Giovani Bernard over the past few seasons. Bernard had a tremendous redshirt freshman season with 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2011. Cooper is an elite athlete who also is strong at the point of attack. He fits any blocking scheme and is lightning fast at pulling. The 6-foot-2, 311-pounder is a rock-solid interior pass-protector, too. He is a very safe pick to turn into one of the top guards in the NFL.
San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
San Diego misses out on the elite tackles in this situation, so I could definitely see the team moving down. If Chargers are stuck here, they could take the best offensive lineman available to protect Philip Rivers and improve their rushing offense. Fluker makes sense with how terrible San Diego's offensive tackles have been. Plus, he could move inside to guard if the Chargers want to get their best five blockers on the field.
Fluker (6-4, 339) was a powerful tackle for Alabama. He is a nasty run-blocker who blasts open holes in the ground game. Fluker allowed regular pass pressure for most of this season, and he was beaten for two sacks by Western Kentucky. The junior also allowed sacks in other games including Missouri, Mississippi State and Georgia.
Fluker had a real test against LSU versus Barkevious Mingo and performed well. Mingo was held in check, and Fluker really elevated his level of play against the dangerous pass-rusher. He was beaten for a sack-fumble by Jarvis Jones in the SEC Championship, but Fluker was dominant in run blocking against Georgia and Notre Dame. He needs to improve his pass blocking or some NFL teams may consider moving him to guard.
Miami Dolphins: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
If Miami doesn't trade up, the team will miss out on a first-round tackle. The Dolphins also miss on landing Jonathan Cooper, a player they covet. If the 2013 NFL Draft plays out like this, Miami could easily target the defensive line. The team's starting defensive tackles are on one-year contracts. Richardson could play end as well as tackle for the Dolphins and they've shown a lot of interest in him.
Richardson (6-4, 295) is a disruptive defensive tackle who has a lot of upside. He totaled 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, three passes broken up and three forced fumbles this year. Missouri did not qualify for a bowl game. Richardson also returned a fumble 60 yards against Kentucky. He recorded 37 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble in 2011.
Richardson has the potential to develop into a special player. He is utterly relentless with a non-stop motor. Richardson has elite speed and athleticism to beat offensive tackles and guards with his burst off the snap. While undenabily a great run-defender, he is a better pass-rusher than the stats indicate.
The only issue Richardson has is when teams run directly at him. That can be rectified with some added power from an NFL strength and conditioning program.
New York Jets: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
New York has a lot of needs, and taking a slot receiver is a luxury, but this is the Jets were talking about. Head coach Rex Ryan is on the hot seat and needs to get Mark Sanchez turned around to have any chance at a competitive season. Getting Sanchez a weapon who can score on any touch could help to overcome the quarterback's propensity to turn the ball over. It also could open up New York's running game by forcing defenses to play their safeties deep with the threat of Austin, Stephen Hill or Santonio Holmes.
Austin (5-9, 176) had 112 receptions for 1,280 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012. He also took 73 carries for 652 yards and three touchdowns. The senior is an electric play-maker who consistently beats defenses deep. Austin caught 101 passes for 1,186 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. He scored eight touchdowns on his 58 receptions for 787 yards in 2010.
Austin may not be able to add much weight to his small frame and that limits his role in an NFL offense. Still, he is extremely fast and athletic. Austin will stretch defenses deep and is a threat to score on any catch. He will instantly add an explosive big-play element to his NFL offense.
Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Last year, sources told me the Panthers' pick was going to be either Luke Kuechly or Quinton Coples. It sounds like this year's pick is coming down to Sheldon Richardson, Xavier Rhodes, Tavon Austin or Kenny Vaccaro. Carolina has missed out on Richardson in this mock, but safety is as big of a screaming need as the inside of the defensive line. The Panthers' safeties were awful in 2012 and Vaccaro could provide an immediate upgrade.
Vaccaro is the consensus top-rated safety in a talented class. He has good instincts and a lot of range. One of Vaccaro's most intriguing assets for the NFL is his ability to cover tight ends and slot receivers. Offenses have had a lot of success moving the ball and generating points with play-makers out of those positions, so Vaccaro has a big appeal to a number of teams.
Vaccaro had 67 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, seven passes broken up and two interceptions in 2011. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder was an All-Big XII First-Team pick that season. The senior totaled 96 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, five passes broken up, two interceptions and two forced fumbles this year. He also had some nice pass rushes on blitzes. Vaccaro led Texas in tackles.
One prominent talent evaluator told WalterFootball.com that they don't see Vaccaro's play matching the hype he's received. That evaluator prefers some of the second-day safeties over Vaccaro. They said they think Vaccaro is a good player, but don't see anything truly special with him.
A big concern to some scouts is the fact Vaccaro rarely played deep as Texas kept him in or near the tackle box. Many teams want their safeties to be interchangeable with the ability to play deep or near the line of scrimmage.
Despite those concerns, Vaccaro is still the consensus top safety in the 2013 NFL Draft and likely to be selected in the top 20. His skills to cover tight ends and slot receivers in man coverage trump the other negatives. That ability is in serious demand in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
With the Saints switching to a 3-4 defense, they need to acquire some edge-rushing talent. Ansah could start on the other side from Victor Butler with Martez Wilson and Junior Galette providing the depth. New Orleans could target another five-technique or nose tackle in the mid-rounds along with some tackle depth.
There is massive potential with the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Ansah. The senior totaled 62 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, nine passes broken up, one forced fumble and one interception in 2012. He exploded this season after recording a grand total of only 10 tackles as a junior and sophomore.
There is no doubt that Ansah has a great combination of size, speed, strength and athletic ability. He looks like this year's version of Chandler Jones or Jason Pierre-Paul. Both those players had little college production, but are great athletes who flew up draft boards.
St. Louis Rams: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
The Rams need an outside linebacker, and many 4-3 teams are projecting Ogletree to the outside in the NFL.
Ogletree hurt his draft stock with a DUI arrest in early February. That comes on the heels of him being suspended for the first four games of 2012 season. However, Ogletree was phenomenal in 2012. The junior collected 111 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, one interception and five passes broken up in 10 games.
Ogletree broke his foot in the 2011 season opener against Boise State and missed the next seven games. The sophomore really came on in the second half of the year. The 6-foot-3, 236-pounder produced 52 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles in the final seven games. Ogletree really stood out with big games against Georgia Tech, LSU and Michigan State. He had 34 tackles as a freshman in 2010.
Ogletree is very fast and instinctive. He has the frame to get bigger and stay as a middle linebacker in the NFL. Ogletree has a lot of upside, and it isn't surprising that his stock has pushed into first-round consideration this year.