By Jeff Risdon
The draft order is based on my projected final standings after Week 7. This time I made it technically possible by sorting out division winners and playoff teams.
As always, this is a projection of potential picks and does not necessarily represent decisions I would make in the given situations. It is also not a rankings projection; prospect ranking and draft status are separate disciplines.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU. An impact pass rusher with the strength and acumen to set the edge against the run. I think Blaine Gabbert gets another shot and the Jaguars try to make the team better around him. Improving the pass rush is paramount, as the Jaguars rank dead last in sack percentage and have forced fewer turnovers than any other team over the last 24 games.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. Because Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel have both proven beyond any doubt they are not the long-term answer, and because a new GM with a new coach will want to establish a new identity. Smith’s star has lost some luster but my eyes tell me it’s more the fault of the offense he’s in than any shortcomings by Smith himself.
3. Cleveland Browns: Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State. Not their biggest need, but adding impact talent trumps need for this young club. Hankins will help the porous run defense but also has the ability to collapse the pocket up the gut a la Suh. Pair him with Athyba Rubin and Phil Taylor and the Browns have great strength at DT for the next few years.
4. Oakland Raiders: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU. “Keke” has the ability to line up at end on base downs but play linebacker in pass rushing situations, versatility that will allow disruptive creativity. His closing burst is exceptional, though some have questioned his ability to handle blocking. Al Davis would approve.
5. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah. This sure seems like a no-brainer pick for whoever becomes the new Panthers GM; their defensive line is awful and Lotulelei has legit potential to be a dominating interior presence.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor. This is higher than you’ll see Williams listed, and I project him this lofty on the expectation that his immense physical gifts will greatly enamor the decision makers once they get more involved in the scouting process. He would give Luck a legit deep threat with size that opens up the bread and butter underneath even more.
7. New Orleans Saints: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. The rock-solid Werner reminds me some of Will Smith, and by going to New Orleans he can learn from Smith himself while starting opposite the veteran pass rusher. The Saints have to address their toothless defensive front.
8. Dallas Cowboys: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M. Moore showed against LSU that he makes things happen from a down lineman position, able to use power and strength but also able to make solid tackles. His closing burst is as good as most linebackers. Dallas needs a dynamic playmaker up front.
9. Tennessee Titans: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. Milliner can be spotty in run support and isn’t a lockdown man cover corner, but he has good instincts, excellent range, and a real knack for playing the ball in the air. I could see the Titans also looking defensive line here.
10. St. Louis Rams: Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M. The Rams currently start castoffs Barry Richardson and Wayne Hunter at tackle. Enough said. Joeckel has great mirror skills, strength, and doesn’t mind doing some dirty work, a trait that will endure him to Jeff Fisher.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia. An anchor in the middle to replace the failed Brian Price experiment, Jenkins is a massive space eater. He has shown he can disengage and make plays as well in the manner of Pat Williams in his prime.
12. Detroit Lions: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State. The best pure cover corner in this draft, and I feel very comfortable saying that this early. Banks has improved his play recognition and has the length and positional integrity the Lions sorely need at corner.
13. St. Louis Rams (from WAS): Keenan Allen, WR, California. If Allen played at a better program, he’d be a household name. He is literally always open thanks to excellent footwork and good body control, and his hands are very trusty. Allen would give Sam Bradford (or his successor) a viable mid-range threat as Danny Amendola cannot be relied upon.
14. Miami Dolphins: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama. Warmack might be the most dominant interior blocker I’ve seen in the last decade, an absolute force who plays with menace and tenacity. The Dolphins might have more pressing needs at WR and DL, but Warmack is too good to pass up.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Brennan Williams, T, North Carolina. This is another pick where I’m projecting stock come April more than perceived stock now. Williams has great physical potential and has flashed the ability to achieve it on the field. Arizona must address the offensive line with more than one of their picks in 2013.
16. New York Jets: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon. I’m not his biggest fan, but Jordan has undeniable length and speed for a man of his length. Like Michael Johnson, he’s too soft to play end in the NFL but has the athleticism to play standing up as a pass rush specialist. The Jets hope he’s not Aaron Maybin 2.0, as he would be taking Maybin’s job here.
17. Philadelphia Eagles: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas. If Andy Reid remains coach, this pick will not happen. But if Reid goes and Vick goes, I can’t see the new regime comfortable entering next year with Nick Foles as the top option. Wilson has a scary concussion history but lots of tantalizing talent.
18. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC. The Bills have to have come to the realization that Ryan Fitzpatrick is simply a place holder. Barkley brings a strong pedigree and a Q rating that will excite the fans. It’s at this point I am compelled to remind readers that these picks do not necessarily reflect the decisions I would make with the given picks.
19. Minnesota Vikings: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama. The Tide center can also play guard at a high NFL level, and that makes him perfect for the Vikings. Minnesota has a decent starting five linemen but zero depth, so Jones’ versatility to start anywhere inside is a bonus.
20. Cincinnati Bengals: Manti Teo, LB, Notre Dame. Teo has the chance to be everything the Bengals wanted Rey Maualuga to be, a vicious between-the-tackles presence capable of quarterbacking the defense. Maualuga failed, but I don’t think the smarter, rangier Teo will.
21. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina. He brings risk with his knee issues and heavy workload, but Lattimore runs with a perfect style to fit in the wide open Green Bay offense. This is too high to take their most pressing need, a center.
22. San Diego Chargers: Dallas Thomas, T, Tennessee. The Chargers are fighting a war of attrition with their ever-changing OL, and Thomas is a great counterpunch to decline. He’s good at tackle but might be great at guard, and his stock will rise once coaches get a load of him.
23. Seattle Seahawks: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan. Lewan entered the year atop most tackle charts but has been merely pretty good, not dominant. His experience playing with a mobile quarterback and using wide splits makes him a good fit in Seattle. He could still play his way into the top 10.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. Even though the Texas defense has been horrendous, Vaccaro has stood out for his coverage skills and ability to read and react. The heavy nickel position is in high demand, and Vaccaro has the ability to fill that role for the Steelers. Both starting safeties are a lot closer to their ends than their primes.
25. Denver Broncos: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama. Williams is what a longtime scouting friend calls “a big ole hoss” and the Broncos need more young depth and beef on the defensive front. I had CJ Mosley here for a long time but swapped him for his Bama teammate.
26. New York Giants: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M. Best player available, check. Fills a need without reaching, check. Raises eyebrows as a great value pick, check. That’s pretty much how the Giants roll in the first round. Matthews can start at RT right away for 20 teams, the Giants being one of them.
27. San Francisco 49ers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. Playing his way up draft boards, Richardson displays an unusual stoutness inside but has the quickness to play 5-technique. The Niners don’t have one defensive lineman signed beyond 2014, so restocking the front is important.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia. Top-5 potential talent, but injury risks drop him to Ozzie Newsome’s lap. Jones has natural pass rush ability and very impressive athleticism. This is probably absurdly low when all is done, but the first response I got from two different scouts when I asked about Jones was about his neck issues.
29. New England Patriots: TJ McDonald, S, USC. His stock has fallen since preseason, but McDonald could have been a 1st round pick last April had he declared. His size and range are excellent. God only knows who the Patriots will trade this pick to, and the three players they’ll take in return that won’t make the team come 2015.
30. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. Eifert is a smooth pass catcher with sneaky speed and understated toughness. The Bears have a distinct need for a tight end with those skills. Jay Cutler approves of this pick.
31. Houston Texans: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee. Some will consider Hunter the most talented wideout in this draft, but his baffling inconsistency with his hands and effort will drop him. Houston has to realize Andre Johnson is no longer Andre the Giant and Kevin Walter is, well, Kevin Walter.
32. Atlanta Falcons: Cornelius Carradine, DE, Florida State. Carradine has seized opportunity and run with it, taking over for the injured Brandon Jenkins and looking tougher than the man he Wally Pipped. Atlanta perennially needs pass rushers, and this year will be no exception.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan
34. Kansas City Chiefs: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
35. Cleveland Browns: already used on WR Josh Gordon in supplemental draft
36. Cincinnati Bengals (from OAK): Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
37. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
38. Miami Dolphins (from IND): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
39. New Orleans Saints: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
40. Dallas Cowboys: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
41. Tennessee Titans: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
42. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
43. Miami Dolphins: Robert Woods, WR, USC
44. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
45. Detroit Lions: Eric Reid, S, LSU
46. Washington Redskins: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
47. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
48. New York Jets: Robert Lester, S, Alabama
49. Philadelphia Eagles: Oday Aboushi, T, Virginia
50. Buffalo Bills: Nico Johnson, LB, Alabama
51. Minnesota Vikings: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
52. Cincinnati Bengals: Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
53. Green Bay Packers: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois
54. San Diego Chargers: David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
55. Seattle Seahawks: Ricky Wagner, T, Wisconsin
56. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M
57. Denver Broncos: Baccari Rambo, S, Georgia
58. New York Giants: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
59. San Francisco 49ers: Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB, Auburn
60. Baltimore Ravens: Zac Dysert, QB, Miami OH
61. New England Patriots: Margus Hunt, DT, SMU
62. Chicago Bears: Arthur Brown, LB, Iowa State
63. Houston Texans: Tharold Simon, CB, LSU
64. Atlanta Falcons: Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida
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