Now that the combine is over, let’s look at how the first round of April’s draft could turn out barring the inevitable trades:
1. Kansas City Chiefs- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
You’ve heard the Alex Smith and Nick Foles rumors, but don’t forget about Matt Flynn. Either way, I see KC acquiring a veteran quarterback and drafting Joeckel to anchor the team’s left side for the next decade.
UPDATE: Sportscenter (via FoxSports) reports that Alex Smith has been traded to the Chiefs.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars- Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
Even though Dion Jordan’s name may come up since new Jags coach Gus Bradley was in Seattle when they surprised many observers and drafted Bruce Irvin (6-3, 250lbs) as a 4-3 edge rusher with the 15th pick, Jacksonville drafted ex-Clemson DE/OLB Andre Branch in the second round last year. Floyd solidified his status as a potential top-5 pick at the combine, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s an ex-Florida Gator.
3. Oakland Raiders- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Raiders will have a need a defensive tackle since they end up releasing Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant has his legal issues, but this draft has depth in terms of defensive line talent. The same can’t be said for the draft’s depth at cornerback, and Oakland has to play four games against Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.
4. Philadelphia Eagles- Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Chip Kelly gets a potential center piece for Philly’s new 3-4 defense. Jordan had one of the most impressive performances at the combine. Philly may consider Utah’s Star Lotulelei here too.
5. Detroit Lions- Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State
With Milliner off the board, Detroit gets a player who’s arguably the draft’s best true 4-3 defensive end to help compensate for the loss of Kyle Vanden Bosch and the potential loss of Cliff Avril.
6. Cleveland Browns- Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton plans on running a 3-4 scheme in Cleveland so the Browns have a need for a hybrid player like Jones. Though he has some medical red flags, Jones was one of the most dominant players in the SEC last year. I think the Browns take the risk on Jones here in hopes that the reap the same rewards that Georgia did after they signed Jones following his departure from USC.
7. Arizona Cardinals- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
This could be a dream scenario for Arizona. The new Cardinals’ regime didn’t sign Kevin Kolb, so it’s unlikely that they’ll feel any obligation to him. Quarterback was Arizona’s number one issue last year, and Geno Smith looks like he’s the most NFL-ready prospect in this class. He’s a good value at the seventh pick.
8. Buffalo Bills- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
With Smith off of the board, Buffalo opts for a play-making wide receiver to pair with Stevie Johnson so that whoever ends up playing quarterback is equipped with tools he’ll need to succeed. There isn’t a clear elite WR prospect in this draft, but Cordarrelle Patterson is probably the most talented wideout in a tight bunch.
9. New York Jets- Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The Jets will be tempted to draft another pass rusher, but Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore had a disappointing performance at the combine and the selected Quinton Coples in the first round last year. Some analyst think Warmack may be the best overall prospect in the entire draft, and he’d definitely be a huge upgrade for the Jets up front.
10. Tennessee Titans- Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Concerns over Lotulelei’s health cause him to slip a bit in this scenario, but the Titans eagerly jump on a defensive tackle with top-5 talent to inject some more play-making ability into their interior defensive line.
11. San Diego Chargers- Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Fisher has left tackle size and length at 6-7, 306 pounds. He had a solid combine performance, and he’s been compared to 49ers left tackle Joe Staley. Fisher would be a great fit in San Diego protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side.
12. Miami Dolphins- Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Moore’s combine performance leads to him falling out of the top 10, but Miami is thrilled to land pass-rushing help for Cameron Wake after seeing potential target Cordarrelle Patterson end up with AFC East foe Buffalo.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Adrian Clayborn is coming off of an injury, Da’Quan Bowers has legal issues and Michael Bennett may hit the market as a free agent. The Bucs play six games a year against Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. They have to be able to rush the passer. Ansah is raw, but Schiano and company can coach him up.
14. Carolina Panthers- Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The draft’s first major surprise. After nailing their first round pick in 2012 with Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly, Carolina will look to give Cam Newton more weapons on offense in what is likely a “make or break” season for Ron Rivera. The Panthers aren’t too far away from being real contenders, and even with Steelers WR Mike Wallace on the team’s radar, Austin would provide a dangerous weapon in the slot or out of the backfield in Carolina’s wide-open attack. The thought of the Percy Harvin-like Tavon Austin teaming up with Cam Newton would definitely keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night.
15. New Orleans Saints- Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU
Saints’ defensive coordinator will need a hybrid linebacker/defensive end for his new 3-4 defense and Mingo is a great value at 15. He’s an explosive athlete, and Ryan will be excited about finding ways to move him to take advantage of his versatility.
16. St. Louis Rams- Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
With first of their two first-round draft picks, the Rams get a “plug and play” starter in Jonathan Cooper to help protect Sam Bradford and clear space in the running game. Cooper is one of the safest picks in the first round.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers- Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Steelers stick to their instincts and take Ogletree despite his recent DUI. The team can’t depend on Larry Foote forever, and Ogletree would form a mean tandem at inside linebacker with Lawrence Timmons.
18. Dallas Cowboys- Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Dallas gets a quick, gap-penetrating defensive tackle for Monte Kiffin’s new 4-3 defense. Richardson established himself as a force in Missouri’s debut season in the SEC. He also has the kind of attitude and swagger that will be a good fit in Dallas.
19. New York Giants- D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Giants need a long-term option at offensive tackle since David Diehl is going to turn 33 at the beginning of next season and there is little depth behind Will Beatty at left tackle. Fluker is massive (6-4, 340lbs), and although many peg him as a right tackle, he’s got long enough arms to play some left tackle if he had to. He plays with a mean streak that Tom Coughlin will appreciate.
20. Chicago Bears- Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
It’s all about Jay Cutler in Chicago. Lane Johnson turned some heads at the combine with his 4.72 40-yard dash, and the converted tight end is one of the most athletic offensive tackle prospects in the draft. Johnson is a bit of a project, but he’s talented enough to compete with J’Marcus Webb for a starting position on the Bears’ offensive line.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Bengals have drafted as well as any team the last two years. Cincy continues that trend by getting great value with Kenny Vaccaro at 21. Vaccaro can play free or strong safety, and he’d be a nice addition to a Bengals’ defense that is already stout.
22. St. Louis Rams- Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The Rams use one of the picks they acquired from the Redskins in the RGIII trade to give Sam Bradford another target in the passing game. Rams GM Les Snead was in Atlanta when the Falcons drafted Julio Jones, and Hunter reminded a lot of scouts of the former Alabama receiver with his strong combine performance over the weekend that could thrust him ahead of Cal’s Keenan Allen.
23. Minnesota Vikings- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
It’s no secret that Minnesota needs more weapons in the passing game to take pressure off of Adrian Peterson. Hopkins is a versatile WR who’s not afraid to run across the middle of the field, and he has reliable hands. He was very impressive against LSU in the Peach Bowl, and scouts are sure to remember that film come draft day.
24. Indianapolis Colts- Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
The Colts hope that Hunt turns into their own version of J.J. Watt as a pass rusher who can also set the edge against the ground game from the “5” technique defensive end position in Indy’s 3-4. Hunt (6-8, 277lbs) was a workout freak at the combine, running a 4.60 40-yard dash and putting up 38 reps of 225 lbs.
25. Seattle Seahawks- Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
Seattle hasn’t been shy about the fact that they want to upgrade their pass-rush this offseason. Montgomery is an athletic, long SEC defender who fits well into Seattle’s defense with Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons returning from injury.
26. Green Bay Packers- Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The Packers could use a running back, but Green Bay will go for defense first after getting lit up by the 49ers in the playoffs. Jones is a versatile athlete who can play inside our outside on the defensive line, and he’d be a nice addition to the Packers’ front seven with Ryan Pickett headed towards the end of his career.
27. Houston Texans- Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
Houston follows Green Bay and takes defense over an offensive need (WR). Houston’s defense wasn’t the same after Brian Cushing went out with his injury, and the team needs to get more athletic at inside linebacker. Arthur Brown is a fast-rising prospect, and he’s been compared to NaVorro Bowman.
28. Denver Broncos- Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Broncos pass on a cornerback and take a physical running back to pound on defenses and help protect their leads. The team needs players who will help them win now, and Lacy won’t have to make much of an adjustment to play the role that Denver needs him to play.
29. New England Patriots- Johnathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
After spending two first round picks on front seven defenders last year, New England gets a tall cover corner to pair with Aqib Talib and help shore up their defensive secondary after Anquan Boldin’s performance in the AFC Championship game.
30. Atlanta Falcons- Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez may still be on the fence, but after most of the first-round pass-rushers are gone the Falcons take the best tight end in the draft as insurance for Gonzalez and to provide another matchup problem for opposing defenses in the passing game.
31. San Francisco 49ers- Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama
As if the 49ers’ defense needed any more beef, they add another powerful interior defensive lineman to help keep blockers off of what is probably the NFL’s best linebacking core.
32. Baltimore Ravens- Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Super Bowl champs get a quality safety prospect to eventually replace Ed Reed. Elam was arguably the best player on a top-notch Florida defense last year.