Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
I wrote earlier that this pick largely depended on what would happen with Scott Pioli. If Pioli were retained, he'd draft Star Lotulelei or Luke Joeckel and then use his second-round pick on Mike Glennon, whom he likes. If Pioli were fired, however, as the awesome @saveourchiefs movement was pushing for, the new general manager would almost have to take a franchise quarterback.
Well, it was the latter situation that occurred. Andy Reid was hired, while Pioli was axed. New regimes mean new quarterbacks, but whether that means Reid will spend this selection on a quarterback or sign his aging, scrambling signal-caller from Philadelphia remains to be seen. But if history is any indication, Reid will use this pick on Geno Smith.
Reid eschewed all the top free-agent quarterbacks when he took over as the Eagles' head coach, taking a mobile, Big East product with a good deep ball and upside instead. Well, Smith is a mobile, (former) Big East product with a good deep ball and upside. He fits perfectly into Reid's offense.
ESPN and other outlets will tell you that Smith nor any other signal-caller is worth taking No. 1 overall, but that could easily change. Remember two years ago when ESPN was mocking Da'Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley to the Panthers? Well, Cam Newton ballooned to the top, as will some other quarterback this year. It could be Smith, Tyler Wilson, Matt Barkley or Glennon. We'll see. Four months is a long time. If this doesn't happen, the Chiefs could always trade down.
By the way, I'm doing this live because I thought it'd be fun to get instant feedback. I'm going to post my mock anyway, so why not do it this way? Follow @walterfootball for updates.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
I slotted a quarterback to the Jaguars in my pre-December mock drafts because Blaine Gabbert is a sunk cost. I argued that there was no way in hell Jacksonville could go into the 2013 season and sell its fans on Gabbert for another year.
However, two things happened. First, Matt Barkley has completely fallen off and cannot be taken at No. 2 overall right now. And second, Chris Mortensen reported that it's a virtual certainty that Tim Tebow will be on the Jaguars next year. Signing Tebow and then drafting a quarterback on Day 2 is the avenue Jacksonville will likely pursue.
Jarvis Jones would be a huge boost to a defense that has missed strongside linebacker Daryl Smith all year. Smith is a free agent, so if he's not re-signed, Jones would be a worthy replacement. He would function as Von Miller does in Denver, rushing the quarterback in obvious passing situations.
Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah
Is there any doubt the Raiders need help at defensive tackle in the wake of Doug Martin's near-record performance?
Richard Seymour's contract will be voided at the end of the season. Meanwhile, Tommy Kelly is a bum who doesn't care about winning, as evidenced when he laughed after prolonging a San Diego drive with a pair of offside penalties. He's a thug who has played so sluggishly this year in the rare instances when he wasn't trying to injure the opposing quarterback, so there's no chance he's going to see a penny of his $6.5 million salary in 2013. He's as good as gone, and 15-year-old head coach Dennis Allen lost all respect in the locker room for not cutting him after the opener.
Star Lotulelei has been going No. 1 overall in some mocks, so he makes sense here as possibly the top player available who fills a huge need.
Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
There's no question the Eagles have to upgrade their offensive line. Their tackle position is in shambles. Jason Peters tore his Achilles; Demetress Bell has been a bust signing; while King Dunlap simply sucks. Even if Peters comes back close to 100 percent, an upgrade could be made at right tackle, which would allow Todd Herremans to move back to his natural guard position.
Luke Joeckel had a slow start to his 2012 campaign, but he improved tremendously in the second half of the season, even stifling the LSU pass-rushers. He could easily go in the top four, right after a quarterback and some order of Jarvis Jones and Star Lotulelei. It wouldn't even surprise me to see him go No. 1 overall if Andy Reid signs or trades for a veteran quarterback.
Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
The Lions' draft strategy is to pick the top player on their board. It just so happens that the best prospect available happens to fill a huge need.
Kyle Vanden Bosch likely won't be back with the team next season because of his $5 million salary, while the other exterior pass-rushers, excluding Cliff Avril, have barely done anything this year.
Damontre Moore said earlier that he planned on returning to school, but he officially changed his mind recently after learning that he was close to being a top-five lock with a shot at going as high as No. 2 to Jacksonville.
Cleveland Browns: Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State
The Browns have to find a franchise quarterback to compete for the AFC North. There are none worth taking here, however, but that's OK because they need to improve their pass rush as well. Jabaal Sheard led the team in sacks with only seven. Juqua Parker-Thomas was next with six, and he'll be a 35-year-old free agent this offseason.
In the wake of Manti Te'o's horrific performance in the national championship, Bjoern Werner now has to be considered the best player available at this juncture. How far will Te'o fall? You'll see.
Pick change; previously Manti Te'o, ILB
Arizona Cardinals: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
*** Taylor Lewan has gone back to school, so it's time for an emergency 2013 NFL Mock Draft update! Follow @walterfootball as I update this live. ***
Arizona has proven that it'll draft the top player on its board as long as that prospect makes sense. Barkevious Mingo would bolster an inconsistent pass rush and displace the injury-prone O'Brien Schofield. I opted to go with Barkevious Mingo over Dion Jordan because the latter tore his labrum. I may drop him in next week's update.
Pick change; previously Taylor Lewan, OT
Buffalo Bills: Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State
This is a reach - I had Mike Glennon in the second round a couple of updates ago - but we've seen second-day talents like Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder go in the top 12. Teams are so desperate for quarterbacks that they'll make moves like this.
General manager Buddy Nix, who is generally forthcoming about his offseason plans, told the media that he plans on drafting a franchise quarterback. He even said he'll trade up for one in the 2013 NFL Draft. He may have been talking about Geno Smith if the Chiefs pass on him, but he won't have to move anywhere for Glennon.
It's still early, but I believe Glennon and Tyler Wilson are the two favorites for this selection. Nix will talk himself into taking one of them. Glennon is getting the most hype right now, with Mel Kiper even saying that he could be the first quarterback off the board. I liked this pick more when Chan Gailey was still the coach, as Glennon fit perfectly into his offense.
Of course, new head coach Doug Marrone may want Ryan Nassib, but it's not uncommon for a college coach to pass on his former players. For instance, we saw this in Seattle when Pete Carroll eschewed picking Taylor Mays in favor of the superior Earl Thomas.
New York Jets: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
All Jet fans want a quarterback right now, but the front office will have to give Mark Sanchez one more chance because it'll take a $17 million cap hit if it cuts him. Besides, there's no signal-caller worth taking at this spot.
With tons of holes thanks to a poor cap situation, New York has to take the best player available who makes sense for the roster. The Jets' inability to get to the quarterback needs to be fixed. Aaron Maybin was recently cut, while Calvin Pace has struggled for the most part.
Pick change; previously Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB
Tennessee Titans: DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Titans were interested in drafting a highly ranked cornerback at No. 20 back in April, but neither Stephon Gilmore nor Dre Kirkpatrick fell to them. Maybe they'll have more luck in the 2013 NFL Draft, as they do in this situation with one of the top players available filling a big need. Alterraun Verner will be entering his contract year in 2013, so Tennessee will need a new starter if it can't retain him. Besides, the Titans need to fix their 24th-ranked pass defense.
San Diego Chargers: Johnathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State
Johnathan Hankins is way too good to pass up here. Plus, it's not like the Chargers can't stand to find help on the defensive line. Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who isn't very good to begin with, will be a free agent in March.
Pick change; previously Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB
Miami Dolphins: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
It appears as though Jake Long will not be back with the Dolphins next year. Miami will have to pay him more than $15 million if it franchises him, which doesn't seem like a lucrative option because he's coming off a down season. He may not want to re-sign to a long-term deal either, so if he leaves, the Dolphins will have to find a new left tackle. Why not another Michigan product? Well, Central Michigan, but close enough.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Buccaneers decided they didn't like Morris Claiborne very much, so they traded out of the No. 5 spot in the 2012 NFL Draft and selected Mark Barron two picks later. They really need cornerback help, especially in the wake of the Aqib Talib trade, so they'll almost have to remedy that need at this juncture. Maybe another SEC defensive back will be the answer.
Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
I was told by a reliable source not to mock Fletcher Cox to the Panthers because they were satisfied with their current group of defensive tackles. Based on the rushing yardage they recently surrendered to Bryce Brown and Jamaal Charles, I highly doubt they'll feel the same way in April. Besides, Sheldon Richardson is one of the best players available.
Pick change; previously Johnathan Hankins, NT
New Orleans Saints: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The Saints didn't get much pressure on the quarterback this past year. Cameron Jordan improved in this department over the second half of the season, but Will Smith looked like a shell of his former self. He's due $10 million in 2013, so he obviously won't be back.
Ezekiel Ansah doesn't have much experience, but he's a highly athletic pass-rusher who has tremendous upside. He'll likely be compared to Jason Pierre-Paul.
Pick change; previously Sheldon Richardson, DT
St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Guards seldom have a chance to go in the top 15, but Chance Warmack has a shot because he's a special talent. Besides, he's the top prospect available who makes sense for St. Louis.
The Rams desperately need to upgrade their offensive front. Jeff Fisher played against the Texans twice per year when he was with Tennessee, and he watched Houston completely ruin David Carr's career by not building a competent offensive line around him. He won't want to make the same mistake with Sam Bradford.