Cleveland Browns: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Browns are a disaster. Mike Holmgren probably won't be back next year, so the new regime will look to distance itself from Brandon Weeden, a move made possible because of the new CBA. Weeden has looked decent at times, but he hasn't shown any signs that he can be a franchise quarterback. He'll improve mentally and stop making dumb mistakes like that illegal forward pass, but by that time, he'll already be regressing physically. Spending a first-round pick on him was one of the all-time dumbest moves in NFL Draft history.
Anyway, the point is that if the Browns are drafting No. 1 overall, it'll mean that Weeden hasn't progressed. In that case, the Browns would certainly look to draft a quarterback.
It's Geno Smith over Matt Barkley. Smith has had an unbelievable season, as he just torched Texas on the road following a game in which he threw more touchdowns (8) than incompletions (6). Pretty sick. Barkley, meanwhile, has struggled at times and is now the No. 2 quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft.
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: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Blaine Gabbert appears to be a sunk cost. He's scared to take hits, he has no pocket awareness, he's painfully inaccurate, and he stares down his receivers. He's been awful these past four weeks, and if he continues to play this poorly, the Jaguars will have to use a first-round pick on a quarterback so they can actually be competitive with the Texans.
If Gene Smith is fired, this pick will almost definitely be used on a signal-caller. If not, Smith would likely go with Jarvis Jones (if Daryl Smith leaves via free agency) or either Star Lotulelei or Johnathan Hankins. I'm going to assume Smith is axed in this scenario, as the new owner will probably want to bring in his own guys.
Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Tennessee definitely has bigger needs than a defensive end, but the NFL Draft is all about taking the best players available who makes sense, especially this early in the process. Jarvis Jones is the top talent available, but he just doesn't fit.
The Titans have zero depth behind Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, and it's worth noting that Morgan has been terribly inconsistent thus far. The Titans will consider a defensive end in this scenario.
Pick change; previously Bjoern Werner, DE
New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
All Jet fans want a quarterback right now, but unless the front office is fired, it'll probably stick with Mark Sanchez and/or Tim Tebow for one more season rather than starting over. They'll blame it on Sanchez not having weapons.
Well, this isn't exactly a weapon for Sanchez, but New York has to take the best player available this early. The Jets' inability to get to the quarterback needs to be fixed. Aaron Maybin has done nothing thus far in 2012 after finishing on a strong note last year, while Quinton Coples has been inexplicably invisible following a strong preseason.
Pick change; previously Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB
Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah
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 played so sluggishly this year, 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 if I were Dennis Allen, I'd cut him ASAP.
It's a tough choice between Johnathan Hankins and Star Lotulelei. Hankins had a monstrous performance against California and moved ahead of Lotulelei, but then the Utah product responded by dominating USC's front. Lotulelei leads by inches.
Pick change; previously Johnathan Hankins, NT
Kansas City Chiefs: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
It's pretty evident that the Chiefs will need to admit they were wrong and move on from Matt Cassel. I'm sorry, Eric Winston, but he's just too limited to command a winning team in today's pass-happy NFL, and he's become a turnover machine in the wake of Charlie Weis' departure. The fans obviously know it too based on the reaction they supposedly had when he suffered a concussion.
Kansas City has to take a quarterback; in fact, the front office may have to trade up to acquire one.
Carolina Panthers: Johnathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State
I was told by a reliable source not to mock Fletcher Cox to the Panthers by a reliable source because they were satisfied with their current group of defensive tackles. Based on what happened with Andre Brown two Thursday nights ago, I highly doubt they'll feel the same way in April. Besides, Johnathan Hankins is the best player available. He'd be a huge upgrade over what Carolina currently has at the position.
Pick change; previously Star Lotulelei, NT
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
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, as you may know from Eli Manning's 510-yard performance, so they'll almost have to remedy that need at this juncture. Maybe another Alabama defensive back will be the answer.
Indianapolis Colts: Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
The Colts did a great job of finding a worthy supporting cast around Andrew Luck. They'll have to use the 2013 NFL Draft to improve their defense. That includes finding help at the rush linebacker position.
I'm not sure why the Colts retained both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis when they're in rebuilding mode, but they'll need to find someone next spring who can step in and start once either of them moves on (which very easily could be next year). Freeney is due $14 million in 2013, so it's difficult to see him returning.
Pick change; previously Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB
Buffalo Bills: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
I think the Bills will have to talk themselves into making this pick. It's pretty apparent now that Ryan Fitzpatrick is way too limited to win consistently in the NFL - SMH at Buffalo's front office for not recognizing this sooner - so if the team wants to move forward and contend with New England on a yearly basis, it'll have to find a franchise quarterback.
Tyler Bray would be better served going back to school for another year, but as we've seen this summer, he doesn't make the best decisions in the world. I will not dispute that this is way too early for Bray, but we've seen teams reach for quarterbacks recently (Blaine Gabbert went No. 10 overall for crying out loud). Buffalo needs a franchise signal-caller.
St. Louis Rams: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The Rams missed out on Justin Blackmon a few months ago. As the Jaguars traded ahead of them, Jeff Fisher reportedly slammed his glasses on the table. He went on to draft Brian Quick and Chris Givens, but neither has shown any signs of become a starting receiver in the NFL. Givens has caught an occasional deep pass, but Quick hasn't even been active in most games. Justin Hunter obviously has a much better chance of becoming a legitimate No. 1 target for Sam Bradford.
New Orleans Saints: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Saints are getting zero pressure on the quarterback. Cameron Jordan is good against the run, but he's been a bust as a pass-rusher thus far. Will Smith, meanwhile, looks like a shell of his former self. He's due $10 million in 2013, so he obviously won't be back.
Pick change; previously Sam Montgomery, DE
Detroit Lions: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Lions take the best player available, and that, by my estimation, would be Johnthan Banks. It's no secret that Detroit has major holes in its secondary. The Lions spent an early pick on Bullet Bill Bentley has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. It's still early though, so maybe he can improve as the season goes along.
St. Louis Rams: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Jason Smith was benched in favor of Barry Richardson and subsequently traded for turnstile Wayne Hunter, so Jeff Fisher will probably search for a tackle next spring. 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.
Cincinnati Bengals: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Bengals have major problems at linebacker. They lost Keith Rivers this past offseason, Manny Lawson will be a free agent in the spring, and Rey Maualuga is arguably one of the worst defensive starters in the NFL. I don't know if he's hurt or what, but he's been awful this season. Manti Te'o, the top player available, would be a big boost to the linebacking corps.
Pick change; previously Eric Reid, S
Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, California
I'm not sure if Brian Hartline qualifies as a No. 1 receiver just yet. I can't really explain the whole thing myself, but he appears to be a starting-caliber wideout. The Dolphins, however, need another one for Ryan Tannehill, who needs a better second option than Davone Bess, who should just be a tertiary slot receiver target.
Rockies and Diamondbacks fail yesterday, at least the Astros and Nats came through. For today: Closing two pars with Red Sox-178 in one and Nats -+169 in the other. In another ongoing par going in the second tier spot of a four team par will be the Astros -205. Start up par with the Dodgers -163, (Kershaw), two open. Still thinking about the Yankees in a start up. GLTA today.