So I decided to write a mock draft in preparation of this week’s NFL draft. You may be asking, “What qualifies you to write anything on the NFL or football in general? You don’t seem particularly bright, and you probably are ugly.” Well, my only defense to that would be to tell you I have better hair than Mel Kiper, and that covers me on all counts—so take that. Plus most of these “experts” have a worse history of predictions than your local weatherman. So, here we go.
1.) Kansas City—As you could probably guess from where they are picking, the Chiefs need help all over the field. Gone are the days of ineffective quarterback Matt Cassel and in comes Alex Smith to save the day. Oh joy. Smith may not be the franchise-caliber signal caller you need to succeed in the NFL, but his signing and the lack of a top-tier QB in the draft means KC will look to someone else with the No. 1 pick and that someone is Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel. The 2012 All American was widely regarded as the best tackle in college football last season, and he could do wonders opening up holes for Jamaal Charles and keeping Smith upright.
2.) Jacksonville—Like the Chiefs, the Jags can also use help across the board. Need a QB? Yep. Need some help on the offensive line? You betcha. But the best combination of value and talent available at the No. 2 pick is Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan. For a team that put together a league-low 20 sacks last season—that’s .5 less than J.J. Watt had by himself—Jordan’s speed and athleticism could be just what the Jacksonville defense needs to return to relevancy.
3.) Oakland—Now that Al Davis is gone, you can no longer just pencil the fastest player in the draft in as the Raiders’ pick. So where do they go? Do they take West Virginia QB Geno Smith to replace the departed Carson Palmer? No, no they do not. Instead, they will take someone who can step in and make plays on the defensive line after they lost three playmakers there. Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd will contribute immediately as both a run stuffer and a decent sack producer.
4.) Philadelphia—Oh Philly, what are we going to do with you? Remember when they were the “Dream Team” and then couldn’t finish above .500? Ha, good times. Anyhoo, the Eagles are going to draft Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher because they have nobody who can do the unthinkable and keep Michael Vick healthy for more than five consecutive snaps. Fisher is every bit as good as Joeckel and is a good value pick here at No. 4.
5.) Detroit—If one thing is for sure, the Lions have this whole offense thing figured out. With Matt Stafford lobbing bombs to Calvin Johnson and a solid run game to boot, Detroit has no problems putting up points. The problem is, they can’t stop opponents from doing the same thing. That’s where Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner comes into play. A consensus All-American last season, Milliner can be a shutdown-type defender who could play a major role in turning around the Lions 27th ranked scoring defense.
6.) Cleveland—OK I need to keep these picks shorter. The Browns will take USC quarterback Matt Barkley because they aren’t good at football and seem to enjoy keeping it that way. Seems like a match made in hell. Moving on.
7.) Arizona—After picking up Carson Palmer from Oakland, the Cards seem set at quarterback—sort of—so they’ll look to upgrade their defensive line. BYU defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah’s combination of pass- rushing and run-stopping ability will help transform Arizona’s rush defense from really not good to just not good.
8.) Buffalo—Ah, my dear hometown Bills. A team with more holes than a sieve, this pick could be used on a quarterback, a wide receiver, a guard, a linebacker, a defensive end or even another cornerback. It’s a new regime in Buffalo, and new regimes typically mean new QBs. Many will connect the dots between head coach Doug Marrone and his college signal caller Ryan Nassib, and it is certainly looking like he will be the pick to fill the interception-riddled void left by Ryan Fitzpatrick.
9.) New York Jets—If we know anything about Jets head coach Rex Ryan, it’s that he likes defense and Mark Sanchez. And feet. But let’s stick to football here. The Jets just traded away Darrelle Revis. You know, the guy that was almost single-handedly keeping this franchise from becoming the laughing stock of the NFL. New York’s top remaining corner—Antonio Cromartie—has more children than toes and can’t remember half their names, so let’s give them Florida State corner Xavier Rhodes to pair with him and make his happy family even larger.
10.) Tennessee—The Titans had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last season but a big reason for that is quarterbacks had about a week and a half to throw the ball. Georgia pass rushing expert linebacker Jarvis Jones should force QBs make reads much quicker and keep their cornerbacks from running a half marathon in coverage every Sunday.
11.) San Diego—Hey look! Another team that needs help on the offensive line. Seems to be a bit of a recurring theme among teams that sucked last season. The Chargers ranked 27th in rushing offense last season, and while part of that falls on running back Ryan Mathews, much of the blame goes to the O-line. Alabama guard Chance Warmack ought to be able to help open up holes in the middle.
12.) Miami—The Dolphins went ham in free agency, signing anybody who has even sniffed a Pro Bowl in the last five years. Their offense should be fine in 2013, but their defense has to face Tom Brady twice a year. They actually did a surprisingly OK job of stopping him last season, picking him off three times and sacking him five times. But that was probably a fluke. Drafting LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo should help Miami replicate that fluke next season.
13.) New York Jets—Mark Sanchez is a bad quarterback. Now that is settled so we can all agree they need an upgrade. Tim Tebow you say? No you must have misheard me, I said “upgrade.” West Virginia’s Geno Smith should give New York an actual NFL-caliber starting quarterback to jumpstart a passing game that ranked 30th in the league last season.
14.) Carolina—The Panthers need to protect Cam Newton like their life depends on it, because when he’s healthy and has time to throw/run/do superman-type stuff, he can be one of the best in the biz. Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson should help in that regard. He and Jordan Gross could make one of the top tackle combos in the NFC.
15.) New Orleans—Wouldn’t it be funny if the Saints drafted another wide receiver here just to give Drew Brees ANOTHER weapon? I certainly think so, but since this is a totally serious mock draft, I’ll pass on it. This is the point in the draft where legitimate steals come into play. That’s what will happen here if the Saints can snag Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. A top-five talent, Lotulelei suffers from a heart condition that will have teams at the top of the draft scared, and he will fall to New Orleans here because I say so.
16.) St. Louis—This one is simple enough. Sam Bradford is actually a really good quarterback, but he has nobody to throw to. How sad! Let’s find him a new friend in West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, who will give the Rams a legit deep threat who has the speed to burn defenders.
17.) Pittsburgh—The Steelers are really old, so drafting anyone under the age of 30 is going to be a step in the right direction. Losing James Harrison hurts but losing Mike Wallace hurts more so the ‘Burgh will take Tennessee wide receiver Corderrelle Patterson to fill in across from Antonio Brown.
18.) Dallas—Much like the TV show “Dallas,” the Cowboys were relevant a really long time ago and have tried to reinvent themselves recently to disastrous results. North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper should cure what ails the Cowboy’s 31st ranked run attack. Sadly, “Dallas” the show traded away all its draft picks and will continue to fester at the bottom of the TNT ratings division.
19.) New York Giants—Osi Umenyiora is gone and he ain’t coming back. Guys like Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka on the defensive line all underperformed last year and their defense was surprisingly not that great. Put Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro in a backfield with Stevie Brown and Prince Amukamara and you can be sure NYG won’t rank 28th in pass defense again.
20.) Chicago—For all the flack jay Cutler gets, he’s actually a pretty tough guy. Let’s see you get sacked 38 times and still get out of bed in the morning. Chin up Jay, if Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker is half as good as protecting you as he was at protecting Katherine Webb’s boyfriend, you should be all good.
21.) Cincinnati—Alright, let’s see if we can keep this under 2,000 words. The Bengals need linebacker help. Georgia’s Alec Ogletree is a linebacker, and a pretty good one at that. Boom, drafted.
22.) St. Louis—The Rams are back up to bat thanks to the Redskins trading up for RGIII last year. Steven Jackson is gone and the Rams need to find a replacement in this draft. It might be a little early, but Alabama running back Eddie Lacy has to be the pick here if St. Louis has any hope of running the ball in 2013.
23.) Minnesota—The Vikings lost their second best offensive player when Percy Harvin ran off to Seattle and if Tavon Austin were available, he would be a great replacement. But he’s not. So Minnesota goes with Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins’ nickname is “Nuke,” which happens to be awesome, so he is sure to succeed in the NFL.
24.) Indianapolis— Going from picking first overall one year to a playoff spot and the No. 24 pick the next year. Not too shabby Indianapolis, not too shabby at all. The Fighting Andrew Lucks exceeded all expectations last season, and while Luck has shown he can turn around an offense by himself, he can’t do much when he’s sitting on the sidelines, looking like a goon. Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine will be able to help Andrew out in that regard.
25.) Minnesota—Oh boy! The Vikings are up again, this time thanks to the aforementioned Percy Harvin trade. Minnesota could probably use a linebacker (or a new quarterback) or a safety (or a new quarterback) but I think they will take Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant to help their mediocre pass defense. Their mediocre pass offense, however, will remain fully in tact.
26.) Green Bay—It would be every Wisconsinites dream for the Pack to draft Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, right? I mean they NEED a running back, he IS a running back—it’s a dream come true, right? RIGHT!? No. No it isn’t. You get Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson. Never heard of him? Too bad, he’s yours now (and he’s actually pretty good).
27.) Houston—The Texans are really good at a lot of things. Mostly football things but I’m sure they are good at other stuff too—like beat boxing and competitive cup stacking. Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter should be able to keep the Texans good at things like passing the football and taking pressure off Arian Foster and Andre Johnson.
28.) Denver—Thanks to a bureaucratic snafu, defensive end Elvis Dumervil was able to walk away from Denver after his contract was voided. Bummer. Don’t worry though, Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner has an even better first name and some of the same talents, so you should be all good.
29.) New England—The Pats already found their replacement for Wes Welker and with the team’s only glaring weakness lying in the defensive backfield, they draft Houston cornerback D.J Hayden and Bill Belichick laughs his way to another AFC East title.
30.) Atlanta—Tony Gonzalez is old. He’s still good, but he’s also really old—like Methuselah old. Tight end may not be a huge need until next year when Gonzalez dies retires, but Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert is too good to pass up this year.
31.) San Francisco—It looks like the 49ers new offensive game plan is to get people out of Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore’s way. Wisconsin center/guard Travis Frederick is good and making people get out of other people’s way. Simple enough.
32.) Baltimore—I’m not sure if you guys heard, but Ray Lewis retired. Shocked? I know I was. ESPN only talked about him every second of every day during the playoffs so I’m not sure how I could have missed it. Anyways, Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown has the same undersized/overskilled makeup that Lewis had, so he should be able to step in and take over right away.
What do you think of this draft for your team? Email Matt at email@example.com to let him know what you think of his picks.