DeiLeon Sand erscastle won’t be the Chief’s selection to start the draft. That much is certain, but little else is.
QB Geno Smith isn’t a QB that should command a top pick, but the positional value along with the rookie wage scale has shown that trades and making some small “reach” picks for need are both things that teams are more willing to do these days. It’s probably like almost everything else in life – the bottom line is money. Will player “X” generate more money for the club than goes out the door in his salary?
Of course, there are a number of ways at looking at how much money any given player generates. Suffice it to say the idea is to get a player that helps contribute to wins, which ostensibly helps boost overall fan interest and by extension, team revenue.
That said, and realizing it’s way way WAY early, and that some names will go away and others will pop up after the combine as players work themselves in or out of the top round with their performance in Indianapolis, here is my own initial first-round draft:
1: Kansas City – Geno Smith, WR, West Virginia – LT Branden Albert and RT Eric Winston are both serviceable and Geno Smith could wind up on top if the team re-signs Albert. If they don’t, the pick will probably be Joeckel, the LT from TAMU that protected Johnny Football’s blind side. This is one of many picks in the draft that will hinge on free agency and whether or not they re-sign Albert.
2: Jacksonville – Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU – The Jags may be gun-shy to draft a QB high after embarrassing themselves with the Blaine “Street Tragic” Gabbert pick 2 years ago and can’t afford to miss on another high pick. Werner will instantly improve the D-line and pass rush on an otherwise mediocre defense.
3: Oakland – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – It’s either Star or Milliner here, and the DT will help some of the issues in the middle of that defense.
4: Philadelphia – Luke Joeckel, OT, TAMU – Joeckel is the safest pick here and would give them the ability to get him some time at RT perhaps and see how Jason Peters holds up at LT.
5: Detroit – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama – The Lions need help everywhere except DT and Jarvis Jones’ spine condition may make him slide. Milliner will be an instant starter here and has the size to cover divisional receivers like Chicago’s Brandon Marshall and the Packers’ talented group…Greg Jennings or no. Joeckel is a possibility here if he’s still around and shouldn’t slide past this spot regardless.
6: Cleveland – Damontre Moore, DE, TAMU – Moore can play end in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4 and should be an instant impact player on a team that needs playmakers.
7: Arizona – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan – The 2012 Cardinals had issues all over the O-line and Alabama guard Chance Warmack could go here. They need to improve their passing game in any case and that starts with the tackles. QBs Barkley or Jones could eventually wind up thoughts here, but the line play was horrible.
8: Buffalo – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia – The Bills have a way of making some odd picks, and Jones is no exception. He certainly has the talent to go here, but he has the same spinal condition Chargers’ OL Marcus McNeil had that forced him to retire before age 30…otherwise he’d be a top-fiver. Could also be enticed with a quarterback here after all is said and done.
9: New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU – Mingo played DE at LSU but lacks the frame to add much more bulk, so he may be slotted to play OLB at the NFL level. If Milliner is still around, he’d give the Jets a great replacement for Revis, depending.
10: Tennessee – Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama – Mel Kiper thinks this guy will slide all the way down to Dallas at 18 because teams so devalue interior linemen. However, he’s too good to pass up here with CJ2K in the backfield and Jake Locker’s development in neutral last season.
11: San Diego – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma – The Chargers need help at LT with Marcus McNeil’s early retirement with orthopedic issues. Johnson was Landry Jones’ blind side buddy.
12: Miami – Keenan Allen, WR, California – A consistent playmaker on a team without consistent QB play, and with Brian Hartline facing free agency, the Dolphins get an outside threat they sorely need. Allen doesn’t have elite top-end speed but has enough athletic ability to make plays all over the field. The combine could determine if the pick is Allen or Patterson from Tennessee. DT Randy Starks also is going to be lost in free agency it appears, so they could go with a DT early but I think they’re hoping it’s a deep enough draft at the position to get high quality in round two there.
13: Tampa Bay – Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State – This young defense needs help badly at corner and with Milliner gone, Banks is the next best. If Stephon Gilmore can go higher last year, Banks can easily be the pick here.
14: Carolina – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri – I really think they want to trade down and with New Orleans needing help everywhere, if someone behind them has a player they particularly covet, they could move down and still get help at DT there in a draft that is very deep at that position this year. Not hanging my hat on this pick yet by any means as there are so many good ones and I think GM Gettleman wants to trade down.
15: New Orleans – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida – It all depends on the new coaches but they’re going to a 3-4 scheme. The 303-pounder isn’t big enough for a NT but will fit in nicely as an end.
16: St. Louis – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia – Switching to a 4-3 means more nimble DEs and more talent at LB. Ogletree is a superior athlete and new DC Monte Kiffin will be glad to have him on the outside.
17: Pittsburgh – Jonathan Hankins, DT, OSU – Hankins anchored an undefeated OSU defense that didn’t see a bowl game due to sanctions, but his talent hasn’t escaped notice. Yet another talented DT goes off the board, this time to replace Casey Hampton.
18: Dallas – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon – With multiple needs shifting to a 4-3 front, the Cowboys should get a very good and versatile guy they can move around if needed. Rob Ryan is out as DC, so some of it will depend on what the new man wants but Jordan should be able to fit in wherever.
19: New York Giants – Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford – I thought the Giants were taking Coby Fleener instead of David Wilson in last year’s draft. This time around, they won’t miss out on their Stanford TE.
20: Chicago – Manti T’eo, LB, Notre Dame – His girlfriend hijinks haven’t helped his stock, but with Brian Urlacher aging they need an influx of youth and T’eo is as good as any. They could go offensive tackle here just as easily.
21: Cincinnati – Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas – He’s a steal here, moving up the board fast. He might be long gone but won’t fall past here.
22: St. Louis (from Washington) – Cordorrelle Patterson, WR, Teennessee – The still need a tackle after the soap opera that has been at the position the past few seasons, but there isn’t one around here or at 16 so they add a target for Bradford and hope for the best…perhaps going after Jake Long from Miami in free agency? Brian Quick showed a few things last season so this pick could morph into an Eddie Lacy or perhaps a tackle as yet to be determined.
23: Minnesota – Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU – The Vikings need help here and at WR but with Patterson going on the previous pick, they keep to their draft board and pick the corner. Watch out though, Rhodes could scamper up the board from here.
24: Indianapolis – Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut – Gone is 11-yr veteran Dwight Freeney to free agency now. With a draft so deep in front-seven types, I can’t help but think they’re going defense here after last year’s offensive-dominated Colts’ draft. With depth in the front-seven CBs are at a bit of a premium so they grab the best available here and wait until round 2 for a lineman/linebacker with a first-round grade.
25: Seattle – Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech – The Seahawks’ search for another weapon for Russell Wilson lands them here. Carroll will take a chance on gifted athletes (aka Bruce Irvin) and Patton gives them some talent at a thin spot.
26: Green Bay – Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington – With Clay Matthews and rookie Nick Perry both spending time injure, they’ll reload there just by the passage of time. With the state of flux they’re in having just released Charles Woodson, they desperately need help at corner. WR is an issue too but nobody worthy of taking here.
27: Houston – Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU – They could go with Robert Woods and that would be equally reasonable a move, but Montgomery gives enemy offenses something else to worry about other than JJ Watt, who had nearly half the sacks for the entire team in 2011. Brian Cushing’s injury really hurt them, and they don’t want a repeat there.
28: Denver – Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia – The Broncos have been a bit soft up the middle for a few years now so Jenkins will give them an upgrade right there.
29: New England – Robert Woods, WR, Southern California – Woods isn’t the best athlete at his position, but he’s probably the most highly-polished and fits in very well with the Patriots’ scheme. With Wes Welker’s status in a state of flux, Woods is good insurance.
30: Atlanta – Alex Okafor, DE, Texas – Okafor’s size (280 lbs) is good for defending the run but he’s known for his pass rushing. John Abraham is all Atlanta has in the cupboard to pressure the QB and has to add bodies. Okafor is just what they need. They’ll await rd 2 for Tony Gonzalez’ replacement since he can’t be replaced anyway.
31: San Francisco – Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama – The Niners have the best roster in the NFL over all positions except depth at DT and turnover at WR. When Justin Smith isn’t good to go, the entire defense suffers. Williams is no Smith, but he’ll at least give them some youth they need at the position.
32: Baltimore – Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU – pretty self-evident with the retirement of Ray Lewis. Watch out for a safety here with Ed Reed’s continuously tenuous situation.
Others to keep an eye on: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama; Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina, Ezekiel Anzah, DE, BYU; Tyrann Mattheiu, DB, LSU
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