I’m not an expert. I don’t get paid thousands of dollars to study and assess college players. I read and watch as much as I can about the draft. I have a pretty good idea how prospects are viewed. If the draft were a science, then players would be selected in descending order of talent. I make this mock draft by studying what “experts” say and by consulting that “gut feeling.” Science? Not quite. But I can’t get them all wrong. Right?
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Bjoern Werner, DE
The Chiefs added Alex Smith this off-season, but still need help in their pass rush. Werner is the right top pick for them.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Luke Joeckel, OT
The Jaguars should take Joeckel and hope he’s able to protect the quarterback’s blind side for the next decade.
3. Oakland Raiders – Ezekiel Ansah, DE
The Ghana native could be nearly unblockable if he learns to harness his speed and strength with proper pass rushing technique.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Dee Milliner, CB
After cutting overpaid cornerbacks this offseason, the Eagles should turn to Milliner, widely considered to be the best defensive back in the draft.
5. Detroit Lions – Eric Fisher, OT
The Lions need a player like Fisher, who is the best tackle on the board, to add to their offensive line.
6. Cleveland Browns – Barkevious Mingo, OLB
Mingo could develop into a terror for quarterbacks. He’s too good for Cleveland to pass on, even after signing Paul Kruger.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Geno Smith, QB
8. Buffalo Bills – Mike Glennon, QB
The Bills need a new signal caller after releasing Ryan Fitzpatrick. Glennon has the strongest arm in the draft and should appeal to Buffalo.
9. New York Jets – Matt Barkley, QB
Mark Sanchez isn’t working for the Jets at quarterback, and it’s time for them to start over.
10. Tennessee Titans – Jarvis Jones, OLB
An injured back from a few years ago worries scouts, but Jones had a great year last season and could have an immediate impact in the NFL.
11. San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, OT
Johnson has the strength and athleticism to keep up in the NFL with pass rushers, and should help keep defenders off of Philip Rivers.
12. Miami Dolphins – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sharrif Floyd, DT
Gerald McCoy is Tampa Bay’s only option at the position and Floyd could solidify their line.
14. Carolina Panthers – Chance Warmack, G
Warmack is the best offensive guard prospect and it’s hard to imagine him dropping too far. His skill set typically takes time for guards to learn.
15. New Orleans Saints – Damontre Moore, DE
Moore didn’t impress at the combine, but the Saints finished tied for the fifth fewest sacks last year and need help pressuring the quarterback.
16. St. Louis Rams – Star Lotulelei, DT
Lotulelei has a possible heart defect, but if healthy he is the most technically sound tackle. He can be an immediate impact player for the Rams.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Dion Jordan, DE
Concerns about his lack of bulk can be made up for in Jordan’s burst off the line and great length, a deadly combination for a pass rusher.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Sheldon Richardson, DT
Richardson is a high-motor guy who has a knack for getting past offensive lineman and penetrating the backfield.
19. New York Giants – Alec Ogletree, LB
Ogletree is one of my favorite prospects and a game-changing linebacker. A red flag arose when he was arrested on DUI charges a week before the combine.
20. Chicago Bears – Jonathan Cooper, G
Chicago needs to fix that line. While not quite at the NFL-ready level of Chance Warmack, Cooper may prove to be the more athletic player as he progresses in the NFL.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – D.J. Fluker, OT
If the Bengals let Andre Smith walk in free agency, the door opens for Fluker, who profiles as a right tackle.
22. St. Louis Rams – Matt Elam, S
Elam might not be the best safety in the draft, but I believe he could be great with the Rams. He could add to a secondary known for hard hits and making offenses earn every yard.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Tavon Austin, WR
After trading Percy Harvin and signing Greg Jennings, the Vikings have shaken up their receiving core. Austin can immediately replace Harvin.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Datone Jones, DE
With the potential to play both in and out of the defensive line, Jones could dominate as a pass rusher in the NFL.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Author Brown, LB
Brown should be able to translate his efficiency in college to the NFL. He has versatility in making tackles on ball carriers and dropping back.
26. Green Bay Packers – Kenny Vaccaro, S
The Packers may not have an alarming need at the safety position, but with a late pick in the first round, they should be quick to grab Vaccaro.
27. Houston Texans – DeAndre Hopkins, WR
28. Denver Broncos – Jonathan Hankins, DT
Denver has no glaring holes on their roster, but their inside defensive line is thin. Hawkins is a behemoth of a player who could add yet another piece to their championship puzzle.
29. New England Patriots – Xavier Rhodes, CB
If they don’t trade the pick, New England should take Rhodes. He’s demonstrated man-to-man coverage, though his zone defense and ability to aid the run defense are questionable.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Cornellius Carradine, DE
Atlanta should be able to draft Carradine late in the first round. His durability is in question after suffering a season-ending ACL injury.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Desmond Trufant, CB
The 49ers had issues at the cornerback position throughout the playoffs, and though Trufant isn’t wowing scouts, his size and speed give him potential if he learns the intricacies of the position.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Kevin Minter, LB
The Ravens won the Super Bowl, but don’t have the most talented roster in the NFL. No one can replace Ray Lewis, but Minter can be a highly efficient player for Baltimore.