Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Scott Pioli was fired, as the awesome @saveourchiefs movement was pushing for, and he's been replaced by Andy Reid and his staff. The question is whether Reid will take a shot on a quarterback or go the safe route with Luke Joeckel.
Chris Mortensen said Monday that he expects Joeckel to be the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but has a feeling that Reid will select a quarterback - which means he expects him to trade down. I agree with Mort. I'm not sure about the moving down part - Kansas City will sure as hell try - but here's why Geno Smith will be the pick, barring any big acquisition in free agency:
1. New regimes mean new quarterbacks, and if history is any indication, Reid will use this pick on 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.
2. 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, Matt Barkley or Mike Glennon. We'll see. Three months is a long time.
3. Think no one believes Smith is worth the No. 1 pick? Think again. Anthony Gargano of 94 WIP in Philadelphia revealed that he spoke to a general manager who told him that he would draft Smith with the first-overall selection. This is just one general manager, but if one GM wants Smith that badly, then there's a chance that several do. Smith has a ton of upside, so a quarterback-friendly coach like Reid might think he could coach him up to a Pro Bowl level.
4. My Chiefs' source, who has a high success rate of delivering Kansas City's first-round picks, told me Smith is currently the favorite to go No. 1 overall, but conceded that it's still too early in the process. He said that the combination of Joeckel and Tyler Wilson is also a strong possibility.
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: Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah
Chris Mortensen previously reported that Tim Tebow would be a Jaguar next year. Well, new general manager David Caldwell shot that down, telling the media he couldn't imagine Tebow being on his roster. Caldwell went on to say that he still thinks Blaine Gabbert deserves a chance to prove himself. Yeah, the future looks very bright in Jacksonville.
I'd love to give the Jaguars a quarterback here, but there are none available. Maybe Caldwell will reach because he sounds crazy enough to do that, but he can get a signal-caller atop Round 2. Instead, he might take the top defensive player in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tyson Alualu has been a major disappointment thus far, but the real reason why Star Lotulelei makes sense is because Terrance Knighton will be a free agent in March. Jacksonville will obviously have big shoes to fill if it can't retain him. Lotulelei is the type of big defensive tackle that Gus Bradley likes to have in his front.
Oakland Raiders: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
The Raiders really missed Kamerion Wimbley. There's a reason only the Jaguars had fewer sacks in the NFL this year. Oakland needs to find a legitimate pass-rusher. This is a situation in which the top player available aligns with a huge need.
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.
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. Joeckel would then become the heir apparent to Peters on the blind side.
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's not getting out of the top four. As mentioned earlier, Chris Mortensen thinks he's the favorite to go No. 1 overall. The Chiefs will definitely take him if they find a quarterback prior to the 2013 NFL Draft.
Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State
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, barely did anything this past year. Avril also happens to be a free agent, which is just one more reason why this pick will be used on a defensive end.
Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The Browns have to find a franchise quarterback to compete for the AFC North. There are none worth taking here, however - I could be wrong, but I think I remember hearing Michael Lombardi say there was no quarterback worth taking early this year - 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.
I'm stealing Charlie's pick from his mock draft. It was very close for me between Ezekiel Ansah and Barkevious Mingo, but I thought about it and the former makes more sense from a scheme perspective. Lombardi learned from Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, who both prefer larger rush linebackers. Ansah (274 pounds) dwarfs Mingo (240). He was also more productive this past season and possesses more upside, so why not Ansah?
Pick change; previously Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB
Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
I mocked Taylor Lewan to the Cardinals on several occasions before the Wolverine tackle announced that he was going back to school. Well, it's time to put another tackle from the state of Michigan in this spot, as Eric Fisher has undoubtedly soared up big boards with his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. Mike Mayock stated that Fisher could challenge Luke Joeckel to be the first tackle off the board. I wouldn't be surprised if he went as high as No. 4 in the event that Joeckel and Star Lotulelei were unavailable.
It doesn't matter who the quarterback is; if the Cardinals can't pass protect, that signal-caller will struggle. I can't imagine Arizona passing on Fisher if he's available. He's one of the top prospects remaining, so unless the Cardinals really don't like him, they'll select him to be the cornerstone of their new offensive front.
New general manager Steve Keim defended this quarterback class, so that makes me think Mike Glennon is a possibility. However, he could have been talking about a second-round signal-caller. I'll stick with Fisher for now.
Buffalo Bills: Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State
This is a reach - I had Mike Glennon in the second round several 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.
Many will criticize this move, but Nix is desperate. If he wants to keep his job, he'll have to find a franchise quarterback quickly. I think he'll swing for the fences with Glennon, who undoubtedly has first-round talent; he just needs to put it all together. I'm pretty convinced that Nix will talk himself into taking Glennon or another quarterback at No. 8 overall. Don't look for it to be Ryan Nassib though; it's been reported that Buffalo doesn't like Nassib very much.
New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
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, so Barkevious Mingo makes lots of sense.
The Jets have a ton of options, including Kenny Vaccaro, DeMarcus Milliner (if they trade one of their corners) and Dion Jordan (if they don't like Mingo). With tons of needs, it makes sense for them to trade down.
Pick change; previously Ezekiel Ansah, 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: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
I usually don't have teams reach for need unless it involves the quarterback position. However, Lane Johnson had a terrific Senior Bowl, so this isn't really considered a reach anymore.
The Chargers could be forced into making this selection. Philip Rivers appears to be regressing, but it's impossible to tell if that's the case because he's getting slaughtered behind a pathetic offensive line. San Diego cannot, under any circumstances, enter the 2013 season with Jared Gaither as its starting left tackle. He's just way too injury-prone and unreliable.
Pick change; previously Johnathan Hankins, NT
Miami Dolphins: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
It's a bit shocking that the Dolphins didn't obtain a safety in the 2012 NFL Draft. Yeremiah Bell was cut in the offseason, but all they found as a potential replacement was the mediocre Tyrell Johnson. Now, Chris Clemons is a free agent, so if he walks, Miami will have to find someone talented to play next to Reshad Jones.
Kenny Vaccaro is the consensus top player available. He has a shot to sneak into the top 10; there's been some speculation that the Lions will consider him at No. 5, but I think the Jets at No. 9 are a more realistic option.
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: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
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 surrendered to Bryce Brown and Jamaal Charles at the end of the year, I highly doubt they'll feel the same way in April. Besides, Sharrif Floyd is one of the best players available; some are even speculating that he could soar into the top 10.
New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Saints fired Steve Spagnuolo and announced that they are moving to a 3-4 defense. A new scheme doesn't mean they'll be able to fix their old problems, however. They still need to find a top pass-rusher to make things easier for an overmatched secondary. Dion Jordan makes a ton of sense here as one of the top prospects available.
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.