Here’s a caveat before getting into the picks: Assembling mock drafts is a tedious, terrible, mostly pointless exercise. But we all do them anyway, and it’s a nice refresher to get thoughts out before the draft starts up. No one will ever get every pick right (obviously) and no one could possibly predict every trade that will occur or every shocking pick — like A.J Jenkins going No. 30 last year or Bruce Irvin going No. 15. But we still do them because they start off as a fun exercise that readers enjoy (complaining about).
I will acknowledge that Tyler Eifert will likely go before No. 25 and D.J. Hayden may well go before No. 29, but that’s just the way these things shake out sometimes. Once again, mock drafts are about as imperfect of a practice as you can find.
So before you hit the comment section and say “this WILL NOT happen”: Yeah, it probably won’t, but that’s because no one knows and this is just for fun anyway.
Without further ado:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
If Branden Albert is traded before the draft, the Chiefs will be left with zero starters at offensive tackle. That means they need to take Joeckel or Eric Fisher. Joeckel is the pick.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Rumor goes that the Jaguars are taking a tackle here despite already having Eugene Monroe on the left side. That would be Fisher.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
It’s been said that the Raiders want to take the safest pick here at No. 3. Right now, that’s Jordan, who can contribute in any scheme in a number of different positions.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Eagles fans may be tired of seeing defensive linemen taken early, but Philly needs a nose tackle, and Star is one of the new zero-techniques that can play three downs.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Jeff Backus retired, so the Lions need a tackle. Johnson is inexperienced and raw, but with his unbelievable athleticism, he could wind up being the best tackle in this draft.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU
Bill Belichick would love to have a player like Mingo, so of course Michael Lombardi will too. Mingo didn’t produce much at LSU, but a lot of that was scheme based.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The Cardinals likely wanted a left tackle to fall, but they will settle on this athletic freak. The Ghana product is as moldable as clay and could fit as either a five-technique defensive end or outside linebacker depending on whether they want him to add or cut weight.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Ok, I’m not just doing this because Nassib played under Doug Marrone. Many are rating him as the best quarterback in the draft, and they’re all analysts who have deep ties with the league. As they say, when there’s smoke, there’s fire.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Jets shouldn’t do this, which is exactly why there’s a strong possibility that they do.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
There may not be a glaring need at corner with Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner, but Milliner has the potential to be better than either player.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Chargers desperately need help at tackle, and Fluker may not be the most exciting prospect in the draft, but he can fill in at either guard or right tackle.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
It’s never a bad thing to be compared to Adrian Peterson. Carradine has drawn those comparisons because of how fast he’s recovered from ACL surgery. He tore up his knee in November and already ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash on the 20th.
13. New York Jets from TB (6-10): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Jets can address needs on defense in later rounds. For now, they have to take the most dynamic offensive player in the draft, Austin.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Panthers biggest need is at defensive tackle and Floyd fell right into their laps. The former Gator is an athletic big man whose best football is in front of him.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Saints need help getting after the passer and Jones racked up the sacks at Georgia despite showing a lack of athleticism in the predraft process.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC
Cooper’s athleticism makes him a special player at guard. Good luck finding a better guard prospect in open space.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
It seems like the Steelers have needed help at cornerback for years, and Rhodes is a nice fit in Pittsburgh. He’s got the size and speed teams covet at cornerback.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kenny Vaccaro, SAF, Texas
Vaccaro may not fall this far, but if he does, the Cowboys will take a defensive back in the first round for the second straight year.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Everyone knows the Giants like to stockpile pass rushers, and Werner is New York’s type of player.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Jay Cutler needs some help staying upright, and the Bears will know what they’re getting in Warmack. He could start at left guard for the next ten years.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Without Andre Smith under contract, the Bengals need a right tackle. NFL teams love Watson’s athleticism and upside.
22. St. Louis Rams from WAS (7-8-1): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
If Hopkins is still here at No. 22, the Rams will bite. They brought him in for a second visit very close to the draft just as they did with Brian Quick last year.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Vikings are getting a steal here, but that’s just the way the dice fell in this mock. Richardson moves like a linebacker in a defensive tackle’s body.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Even after signing Greg Toler, the Colts still need help at cornerback. Taylor is one of the best in this class.
25. Minnesota Vikings from SEA (11-5): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Vikings already have two Notre Dame tight ends on their roster, why not add a third? It would make sense to add a second starting-caliber tight end with Christian Ponder under center and Adrian Peterson in the backfield.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Until a running back doesn’t go in the first round, I’ll continue to put one in the first round. NFL teams love the former Bruin.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Andre Johnson has needed help on the other side for years, and this may finally be the year that Houston give him some.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Broncos showed a weakness in their secondary late last season. Trufant can play in man or zone coverages, and while he may never be a lockdown corner, he’s a solid contributor.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
Hayden is receiving a ton of hype this week, and while he may not fall this far, if he does, I have a feeling the Patriots scoop him up.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The Falcons need a strong-side defensive end replacement for John Abraham, and Jones fits that role perfectly.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1:) Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
The 49ers may look at Hunt and see a possible replacement for Justin Smith down the road. At the very least he’ll contribute right away in special teams.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
The Ravens lost Anquan Boldin, so why not draft a player many compare to the new 49er?