NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
Last week Geno Smith sat atop the mock draft; this week, there’s a new player projected to go number one overall. Read on for my latest one-round projection, featuring widespread changes from top to bottom.
Last update: February 1
1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M*
Geno Smith has occupied this space for quite some time, but Joeckel is another strong possibility; Andy Reid’s affinity for drafting in the trenches is well-established. Free agent Branden Albert is likely a contract paying him over $10 million per year.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M*
Moore makes sense as a replacement for Jeremy Mincey, who unfortunately failed to live up to expectations after signing a lucrative contract extension this offseason. The A&M rusher’s versatility could appeal to Gus Bradley as a fit in his creative fronts.
3. Oakland Raiders – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
With Damontre Moore off the board, Lotulelei makes sense considering the lack of production the Raiders got from Tommy Kelly last year. Richard Seymour is set to hit the open market as well; he could opt to leave town for a team in contention.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama*
Nnamdi Asomugha has a massive contract; most of his $15 million base salary can be recovered by releasing him. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is set to become a free agent as well, meaning the Eagles could find themselves in need of a starter or two.
5. Detroit Lions – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida St.*
Werner could become an immediate starter for the Lions, who may lose left end Cliff Avril to free agency this offseason. Right end Kyle Vanden Bosch is a prime cap casualty candidate as well; Werner has played both positions with the Seminoles.
6. Cleveland Browns – LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia*
Jabaal Sheard makes sense at the “elephant” position in Cleveland’s new three-man front; however, they will need a complementary player at outside linebacker. Jones, the draft’s top pass-rusher, is worth the risk despite serious medical concerns.
7. Arizona Cardinals – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Bruce Arians needs to find offensive tackles to protect Arizona’s next quarterback; Fisher, whose stock rose in Mobile, would fit in well on the left side. None of the Cardinals’ current options at the position should be appealing to the new staff.
8. Buffalo Bills – QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Recent speculation has focused on North Carolina State senior Mike Glennon, but Smith probably has the higher draft stock right now; he’s a decent value at this point. If both Kansas City and Buffalo pass, Smith could slip out of the top ten.
9. New York Jets – DE Barkevious Mingo, Louisiana St.*
Quinton Coples looks like the long-term right end in New York’s defense, but New York still lacks an additional pass-rushing option. Mingo should be appealing because he canplay either his usual left end spot or transition to a role as a rush linebacker.
10. Tennessee Titans – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri*
Mike Martin is an effective nose tackle, but Tennessee could use a consistent starter at the three-technique “under” tackle spot. Richardson’s stock has been on the rise since the second half of this season and a player with his quickness makes sense.
11. San Diego Chargers – WR Keenan Allen, California*
Look for Allen’s draft stock to improve once he shows that he has recovered from a late-season knee injury. Philip Rivers would greatly benefit from a replacement for Vincent Jackson, who San Diego tried to replace last year with Robert Meachem.
12. Miami Dolphins – OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Jake Long appears to be on his way out in Miami; if he departs, the Dolphins will need at least one new offensive tackle next season. Johnson has the versatility to play on either side of the line depending on where Jonathan Martin lines up.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi St.
It may be a smokescreen, but the Buccaneers have been rumored to be interested in Banks for some time now. The fit makes sense, considering Tampa Bay’s current group of cornerbacks, which will look even thinner if Eric Wright is released.
14. Carolina Panthers – DT John Jenkins, Georgia
The massive 360-pound Jenkins would be a perfect fit in Ron Rivera’s defense, where his size and his effectiveness against the run would help upgrade a Panthers defensive which occasionally struggled against inside rushing attempts.
15. New Orleans Saints – DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio St.*
After firing defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Saints are reportedly considering moving to a 3-4 defensive front; if they choose to do so, especially if they opt to hire Romeo Crennel or Eric Mangini, they’ll need to look for a nose tackle.
16. St. Louis Rams – OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Rams had some difficulties finding a consistent starter at their left guard spot; that could be remedied by drafting Chance Warmack, one of the draft’s top talents. Warmack would help Jeff Fisher establish an aggressive, smashmouth identity.