USA TODAY Sports
Following the Super Bowl and Senior Bowl week, I've made several changes to the mock draft. I do want to reiterate that the selections below are not suggestions in terms of who I think each team should pick or reflective of the grades that I've given these players, but are more guesses based on what I'm hearing in the scouting world, and based on certain factors that teams or scouts may hold in higher regard than I do (i.e. Senior Bowl, measurements, etc.).
A few of the picks remain unchanged, particularly the Seattle pick of Khaseem Greene with the 25th overall selection. I don't see a better fit at that pick, and I am basing it primarily off Seattle's track record of making the unconventional pick, combined with Greene's physical style of play, matched with Seattle's need for help at that position. In this case, it turns out that I do like this pick and have given Greene a first-round grade anyway, so to me it's the perfect fit.
Anyway, enjoy, and feel free to discuss!
1. Kansas City
Player Selection: Luke Joeckel - OT - Texas A&M
Notes: While the Chiefs sorely need a quarterback, there just isn't one worth the first overall pick here, and Joeckel is the best franchise piece available at any position, in the entire class. Regardless of what happens with Brendan Albert, Joeckel is an upgrade. He's athletic, powerful, fluid and smart, and has a record on tape of handling some of the nations best pass rushers with relative ease. Albert has the versatility to move inside and play at a very high level there if you keep him, so this isn't necessarily an either/or scenario for the Chiefs.
Player Selection: Damontre Moore - DE - Texas A&M
Notes: New Head Coach Gus Bradley knows the importance of getting pressure off the edge having coached one of the game's best in Seattle, in Chris Clemons. Bradley's Seattle defenses have also been highly effective at stopping the run, and in Moore, he would get a guy who's really good at both. Though Moore may not have the pure speed of some of the others in the class, he has good technique, is extremely instinctive and is a relentless competitor. The guy makes impact plays - just what a new coach needs as a cornerstone in a rebuilding year on the defensive side of the football.
Player Selection: Bjoern Werner - DE - Florida State
Notes: The Raiders, like the Jaguars, really struggled to get to opposing QBs in 2012 (25 sacks - 31st in the league), and sorely crave more speed at the edges. Werner is a fascinating prospect, possessing flexibility, "plus" speed, good power and a growing repertoire of secondary and counter-moves to get to the quarterback.
Player Selection: Eric Fisher - OT - Central Michigan
Notes: New Head Coach Chip Kelly needs to establish some cornerstone pieces in year one, starting up front. Joeckel is the big-name tackle in this year's class, but Fisher shouldn't go overlooked. He didn't get as much publicity playing for Central Michigan, but the tape shows a guy with more than adequate range to protect the blind side, and he's an excellent run blocker. Fisher would provide a huge boost to an O-line that ended the '12 season in shambles.
Player Selection: Barkevious Mingo - OLB/DE - LSU
Notes: Though the Lions would hope to upgrade their defensive unit, they may be forced to make a replacement in the case that they lose Cliff Avril (9.5 sacks in '12) to free agency. Mingo possesses a rare combination of length, explosiveness and flexibility that could translate to him being something special at the next level. His numbers weren't what scouts were hoping to see in 2012, but like Aldon Smith a couple of years ago, in a system that utilizes his strengths he could put up some big sack numbers in year one.
Player Selection: Jarvis Jones - OLB/DE - Georgia
Notes: The Browns are in need of an explosive pass-rushing presence to come off the edge, and Jones would be an immediate upgrade. He may lack an elite first step, but he flashes a wide array of secondary moves, and is an explosive closer. He can also cover and play the run, providing the versatility to stay on the field in any situation.
Player Selection: Geno Smith - QB - West Virginia
Notes: Arizona's biggest weakness in 2012 was at quarterback where Kevin Kolb once again failed to live up to his contract, John Skelton took significant steps backwards, and Ryan Lindley simply couldn't keep up with the speed of the game. Smith may not be the clear-cut top QB prospect in the group but his arm strength and above-average mobility could be a nice fit in new Head Coach Bruce Arians' system.
Player Selection: Lane Johnson - OT - Oklahoma
Notes: The Bills take a step to bolster their front line here, as free agent guard Andy Levitre probably opts to hit the road in free agency. This may not be all bad though, as the Bills may already have their future left guard on the roster, in 2012 rookie left tackle Cordy Glenn. I was one who had Glenn projected best as a guard coming out last year, and the selection of Johnson here allows new head coach Doug Marrone to move the former Georgia Bulldog to his rightful spot, and upgrade the blind side with a more ideal tackle in the athletic Johnson, who is still raw and learning to play the position, but has exhibited an ability to learn quickly and has big-time upside.
9. New York Jets
Player Selection: Dion Jordan - OLB - Oregon
Notes: You could write down the names of the best player available at each position, tape them all to a dart board, blindfold Rex Ryan, give him a dart, tell him to throw, and the name he hit would probably be the right pick. That's how bad this Jets roster is. While the QB position has received the majority of the criticism, there simply isn't a high enough value here to upgrade it, and it shouldn't be overlooked that the Jets managed only 30 sacks on defense in 2012. Dion Jordan possesses a rare length-speed combo with a high ceiling, and has double-digit sack potential, with experience coming off the edge in a 3-4 scheme.
Player Selection: Sheldon Richardson - DT - Mizzou
Notes: The Titans need to get better pass-rush up the middle and Richardson is the best interior rusher in this year's class. He comes with his share of off-field concerns, but with such an exceptional match for such a glaring need still on the board, he's simply too good to pass on here. Assuming he can keep his act together, Richardson has All-Pro potential.
11. San Diego
Player Selection: Chance Warmack - OG - Alabama
Notes: The Chargers need to get tougher and younger up front, and although they'd prefer a tackle here, Warmack is the best offensive lineman on the board, and would instantly upgrade the front unit both in pass-protection and in the run game.
Player Selection: Cordarelle Patterson - WR - Tennessee
Notes: Although Miami's WR corps performed well for rookie QB Ryan Tannehill in 2012, there was no consistent big-play threat, and Patterson might have the most upside of this year's class of receivers. Other WRs like Terrance Williams or Keenan Allen are viewed by many as safer picks here, but the rare skill set of Patterson, and the big arm of Tannehill could be a deadly combo for years to come.
14. Tampa Bay
Player Selection: Dee Milliner - CB - Alabama
Notes: The Buccaneers were the worst team in the league at defending the pass in 2012, and considering Greg Schiano's desire to play a lot of press-man coverage, Milliner's size and physical style of play would be a great match here at 14.
Player Selection: Keenan Allen - WR - California
Notes: Steve Smith isn't getting any faster, and while Brandon LaFell is a big body and has shown some nice things since coming into the league, he's not the game-breaker that the Panthers had in Smith for so long. Allen has true No. 1 potential, and would give Cam Newton both the athleticism and the size, to go with a huge catch radius and would threaten secondaries from anywhere on the field.
15. New Orleans
Player Selection: Ezekiel Ansah - DE - BYU
Notes: Will Smith will almost certainly be gone in light of his bulky contract, and Ansah possesses the size and athleticism to be a big-time disruptive force from multiple spots up front. He has a lot of technical work to do considering his lack of football experience, but he has shown an ability to learn quickly and would be tough to pass on here.
16. St. Louis
Player Selection: Kenny Vaccaro - S - Texas
Notes: The Rams should be thrilled with the strides they made at rebuilding the secondary in 2012, after impressive rookie campaigns from Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. They continue that rebuild here by taking the versatile and athletic Vaccaro, who could step in and upgrade either safety position from day one.
Player Selection: Manti Te'o - ILB - Notre Dame
Notes: The Steelers have built their identity on playing physical and big up the middle, but they took some steps backward this year in terms of linebacker play. Larry Foote struggled mightily, and he's certainly not getting any younger. Te'o may lack the athleticism and the girlfriend that some of the other linebackers possess, but plays with the toughness and physicality to uphold the Pittsburgh tradition, and exhibits instincts that compensate for lack of athleticism in coverage.
Player Selection: Star Lotulelei - DT - Utah
Notes: The Cowboys will be moving to a 4-3 now with Monte Kiffin coming on as the new defensive coordinator, and they'll need another talented defensive tackle to put alongside Jay Ratliff. Lotulelei has been dropping on some boards due to consistency questions, but he possesses perhaps the strongest combination of size and athleticism in the class, and has potential to be a devastating force for a lot of years from either of the two interior DT spots.
19. New York Giants
Player Selection: Sharrif Floyd - DT - Florida
Notes: The Giants have done a great job of stock-piling edge rushers who have the versatility to move inside on passing downs. However, they've struggled to generate consistent pressure up the middle on early downs, and Floyd is a fascinating interior prospect. Though raw, he possesses an intriguing combination of quickness and natural power that give him the versatility of being both an effective pass-rusher and run-stopper.
Player Selection: Alec Ogletree - ILB - Georgia
Notes: Brian Urlacher is showing signs of decline and the lack of collective speed with the Bears' defensive unit was exposed in a few games this year. Ogletree is still raw in some areas, but he's tough against the run, fluid in coverage and would inject some much needed explosiveness and energy into this aging group.
Player Selection: Datone Jones - DE - UCLA
Notes: The Bengals may lose breakout DE Michael Johnson to free agency, but could replace him here with the talented and versatile Jones, who brings a combination of power and quickness to be routinely disruptive from multiple spots along the D-line. He's still raw in terms of technique, but there are some pretty impressive flashes and he may be an upgrade to Johnson immediately, against the run.
22. St. Louis
Player Selection: Barrett Jones - OL - Alabama
Notes: (Pick acquired from WAS) The Rams address another big need here with the versatile Jones, who can line up anywhere along the O-line, and whose instincts and toughness would be a huge upgrade to both the passing and running games.
Player Selection: DeAndre Hopkins - WR - Clemson
Notes: The Vikings' lack of weapons in the passing game hampered them severely this season. Percy Harvin is at his best when he's lined up inside, and Hopkins possesses the size, athleticism and ball skills to become a primary target with game-breaking potential at the next level.
Player Selection: Jonathan Banks - CB - Mississippi State
Notes: The Colts should look to get bigger and more physical at the corner spot, and Banks would fill the need here. He's explosive when asked to close on the ball, but also possesses the length and physicality to press and mirror. He's not a burner, so he'll need to continue to play physical, if he's to consistently keep up with NFL WRs on the outside.
Player Selection: Khaseem Greene - OLB - Rutgers
Notes: If the Seahawks had a glaring weakness on defense in 2012 outside of their pass-rush, it was at the weak-side linebacker spot where Leroy Hill is aging, and the young Malcolm Smith has been inconsistent. Greene is rated by many as a 2nd round prospect, due mostly to perceived size limitations. However, at 6'1, 234lbs, there shouldn't be any hesitation from a Seattle front office that craves Greene's versatility (former safety) and physical style of play. Greene recovered from a gruesome broken leg in 2011, to post 125 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks and a whopping 6 forced fumbles in 2012. A play-maker with the toughness and instincts of Greene would be a welcomed addition to a young, aggressive Seattle defense that may be one player away from being the most dominant in the league for a while.
26. Green Bay
Player Selection: Jonathan Hankins - DT - Ohio State
Notes: The Packers need to get stronger and quicker up front, on both sides of the football. Hankins is an impressive athlete for his size, and possesses all the natural tools of a dominant NFL interior lineman. His instincts are questionable though, and on tape, he doesn't exhibit the greatest effort consistently. The height of his ceiling may simply be too tough to pass on here at the end of round one, as he clearly has the potential to be something special.
Player Selection: Terrance Williams - WR - Baylor
Notes: Outside of the aging Andre Johnson, the Texans don't have a receiver with No. 1 potential, and 2013 boasts a strong class of big-play WRs. Williams isn't the eye-popping athlete that Patterson or Hopkins are, but he possesses good size, can run all the routes, plays the ball in the air and can be a challenge to bring down after the run.
Player Selection: Kawann Short - DT - Purdue
Notes: With Bannan and Vickerson up for free agency at the end of the season, the Broncos should look to bolster the interior D-line with some young, athletic talent, and Short could be a great fit. He's a bit unconventional and it doesn't always look pretty, but he exhibits a combination of quickness and power to get upfield and disrupt QBs.
29. New England
Player Selection: Desmond Trufant - CB - Washington
Notes: With the long-term status of Aquib Talib up in the air, and considering that their passing defense was near the bottom of the league again in 2012, the Patriots would be smart to nab a premier cover corner like Trufant should he fall here. I'm not as high on Trufant as some when I look at game tape, but he made a great impression on a lot of scouts during Senior Bowl week, and is ascending up a lot of boards as a result. He does flash the ability to mirror receivers on the outside and in the slot, closes well when he's not giving too much cushion (one of his key weaknesses on tape), and can play the ball in the air.
Player Selection: Jordan Reed - TE - Florida
Notes: Tony Gonzales says he's retiring, and Reed fits the athletic "move" tight end mold that Gonzales has embodied for so long. With Eifert and Ertz still on the board here, Atlanta opts for the best athlete, and the most versatile receiver of the available tight ends, despite his shortcomings as a blocker.
31. San Francisco
Player Selection: Markus Wheaton - WR - Oregon State
Notes: The 49ers can't live on Michael Crabtree alone, and last year's No. 1 pick A.J. Jenkins was all but abscent for the entire '12 season. Wheaton would give the ‘Niners a much needed dynamic play-making threat at the position. Maybe then, Jenkins could settle in where the tape from last year showed he fits best anyway - as a 3rd option. Oh, and Randy Moss could finally retire.
Player Selection: Kevin Minter - LB - LSU
Notes: With Ray Lewis set to call it quits after the 2012 postseason, the Ravens will need an incumbent to hold down the middle, and while Minter doesn't possess eye-popping measurables or athleticism, he's instinctive, tough and possesses a motor that rivals anyone in the class. Minter is not "elite" in any one area, but there are no glaring weaknesses to speak of.
You can find more of Derek's analysis at his Seahawks-centric draft, free agency, & pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." Head over and bookmark it - he maintains a really great free agent tracker in addition to his Draft focus that is much more in-depth than most places because of his background doing deep scouting of NFL Draft prospects.