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NFL first-round mock draft

How our NFL analysts sees the first round of the NFL draft playing out:

TEAM NEEDS PROJECTED PICK OUTLOOK
1. Chiefs OT, DE, QB, LB, WR OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M Chiefs have a new coach/general manager combo in Andy Reid (Eagles) and John Dorsey (Packers). They didn’t like any of the quarterbacks in this draft, so they traded for Alex Smith of the 49ers. The second move will be to build the team from the lines on out, and both need help. LT Branden Albert is on the trade block, so the Chiefs anticipate adding a replacement. Is that player Joeckel or Eric Fisher? Joeckel has played against better competition, so he gets the nod.
2. Jaguars DE, RT, QB, CB, SS, LB DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon Another franchise making a complete overhaul, as former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley takes the reins, with David Caldwell (Falcons) shopping for the groceries. The list of needs is long, but right tackle and cornerback can wait. Jordan can instantly be that “Leo” end that is the playmaker in the Pete Carroll/Bradley defensive scheme.
3. Cardinals (TRADE from Raiders) G, T, OLB, S, ILB, QB OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan The Raiders have the worst roster in the league and are biting the salary-cap bullet this season, so general manager Reggie McKenzie will look to deal. If the Jaguars pass on Fisher, the Cardinals can’t feel great about OT Lane Johnson falling to them at No. 7. So they move up, sending their first and second (38th) to the Raiders, and instantly upgrade the offensive line.
4. Eagles OL, OLB, QB, DE, ILB, CB, S OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly is bringing a completely foreign system into the NFL, so he is the draft’s wild card. No one knows what to expect. The Eagles have three players coming back from injury on the offensive line, and have been a train wreck for a while. Johnson is a bit raw but he’s a phenomenal athlete and will be able to run with Kelly’s up-tempo style.
5. Lions OT, CB, DE, OLB DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU Really chewed over the Lions swapping spots with the Eagles. With both starting tackles — Jeff Backus (retirement) and Gosder Cherilus (free agent) — gone, Detroit has slim pickings beyond last year’s first-round pick, Riley Reiff, who might not even be a tackle. If the top three tackles are gone, the Lions need some outside pass rush with Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch both gone. Ansah has the most potential.
6. Browns CB, OLB, ILB, TE, WR, OG CB Dee Milliner, Alabama Browns have a new regime as well, which includes a switch to the pressure 3-4 scheme used by Ray Horton. GM Mike Lombardi would love to trade down to recoup the second-round pick lost in the supplemental draft last year (WR Josh Gordon). Perhaps that two could pry QB Ryan Mallett from the Patriots? If not, Lombardi goes with the sure thing: a cornerback well-schooled by old friend Nick Saban.
7. Raiders (TRADE with Cardinals) Everything but kicker DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida Don’t be surprised if McKenzie trades down multiple times. He finally has the cap headed in the right direction, now he needs more picks. McKenzie is more of a Ted Thompson disciple than other former Packers (John Schneider and John Dorsey were more Ron Wolf followers), and Thompson believes in building the lines. Floyd is instant impact in the middle.
8. Bills QB, WR, G, OLB, TE, CB, S QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse Bills bought themselves some time at QB by signing Kevin Kolb, but there is no franchise passer on the roster. If the Bills take Nassib this high, it would be the first big shock of the draft. But coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett know Nassib can run their system, and he has first-round skills. When it comes to quarterbacks, it doesn’t matter where you take them — as long as you get a good one. No guarantee Nassib lasts until second round.
9. Jets QB, OLB, CB, S, G, T, WR DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU Next to the Raiders, the Jets have the worst roster in the league, and are starting a major rebuild. They could go a number of different ways, from QB Geno Smith to WR Tavon Austin. The Jets have absolutely no pass rushers, and the best chance at short-term success is to give Rex Ryan something to work with. Mingo is a freak.
10. Titans OG, DT, CB, S, LB OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina Tennessee signed 12 free agents and spent more than $105 million in free agency to cover up most of its many holes. Signing former Bills guard Andy Levitre helps on the line, but more is needed. Cooper is a standout and versatile guard. He could even play center, where the Titans are also weak. Nobody needs to tell coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard, how much a stout line means.
11. Chargers LT, OG, ILB, OLB, NT OG Chance Warmack, Alabama Keep an eye on the Chargers for a possible trade up for one of the top three tackles; they have nothing at the position. If they stay put, new GM Tom Telesco knows he could do a lot worse than Warmack, who was the most talented player on one of the best lines in college football history.
12. Dolphins LT, CB, DT, TE, G, S, OLB CB D.J. Hayden, Houston Expect the free-spending Dolphins to land Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert in a trade at some point during the draft. The Dolphins have 11 picks, so they’re open to moving up or down. Miami thinks it is OK at cornerback, but with Vontae Davis traded last year and Sean Smith gone in free agency, the Dolphins need help. Hayden is terrific in all phases.
13. Jets QB, CB, S, G, T, WR WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia Rex Ryan got his playmaker earlier in Mingo, and that side could use more help with Darrelle Revis gone to Tampa. If Hayden is available here, the Jets probably won’t pass him up. If he’s gone, do the Jets like one of the quarterbacks enough to take one here? Don’t feel that way, so they land the biggest playmaker on the board: the explosive and slippery Austin.
14. Panthers DT, S, CB, OT DT Star Lotulelei, Utah Panthers first-year GM Dave Gettleman spent 14 years with the Giants, who knew the value of a stout defensive line. With nose tackle Ron Edwards being cut, there isn’t much beef up front to keep blockers off linebacker Luke Kuechly. Lotulelei can do more than take up blockers, and his talent at this spot is too much to pass up.
15. Saints OLB, LT, DE, S, NT OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia New Orleans, which gave up an NFL-record 7,042 yards last season, is changing from the 4-3 of Steve Spagnuolo to the 3-4 of Rob Ryan, so versatile edge rushers are more of a premium. The Saints don’t really have many good fits on the roster, and Jones is the best available in the draft. He may not be the fastest guy, but he produces.
16. Rams WR, S, RB, OLB, OL WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson The Rams have been searching for receiver help since the days of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. With Danny Amendola (Patriots) and Brandon Gibson (Dolphins) gone via free agency, they’re still looking. They could go with uber-talented Cordarrelle Patterson, but the more polished and proven Hopkins is the pick because St. Louis needs instant production.
TEAM NEEDS PROJECTED PICK OUTLOOK
17. Steelers RB, LB, S, WR TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame When you have Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, you’re never rebuilding. But the Steelers are definitely in transition, with an aging and thin defense. If Jarvis Jones is off the board, the Steelers will look to give Roethlisberger more weapons. TE Heath Miller is 30 and coming off major knee surgery. Eifert is by far the top tight end.
18. Cowboys OG, DT, S, DE, RB S Kenny Vaccaro, Texans Vaccaro, a dynamic and physical safety, could be looked at as Troy Polamalu’s replacement by the Steelers. But if he makes it to the Cowboys, they have to take him after cutting Gerald Sensabaugh. It makes far too much sense. Cowboys also could turn to DT Sheldon Richardson because help is needed there as well.
19. Giants LB, DE, OL, DB LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia Everyone knows about the Giants’ obsession with defensive linemen, so end Tank Carradine is definitely in play here and may be too talented for GM Jerry Reese to pass up. But the cupboard is entirely bare at linebacker with Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley gone. Ogletree makes too much sense. He’s an instant contributor as a versatile LB.
20. Bears OL, LB, WR, CB DL Tank Carradine, Florida State This is a spot where trade activity could really pick up, with talent such as DE Tank Carradine, DT Sheldon Richardson, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, and CB Xavier Rhodes still on the board. If the Bears keep the pick, Carradine is too good to pass up with his T/E versatility and Chicago’s thin defensive line.
21. Bengals S, OT, RB, LB, OL OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama This pick depends on whether the Bengals can strike a contract with free agent RT Andre Smith, a former first-round pick. Coach Marvin Lewis sounded as though it will happen, but if Smith is still a problem, the Bengals can move on with the excellent Fluker. If Smith is signed, help is needed at safety and linebacker.
22. Rams S, OLB, G, RB RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama D.J. Fluker could be too good to pass up if the Bengals don’t take him. The Rams still need to upgrade on offense, after finishing 25th in scoring and 23d in total offense. With RB Steven Jackson now in Atlanta, they are looking for a sure thing at running back. Lacy is a complete and powerful back.
23. Vikings MLB, WR, CB, DT, KR LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame Vikings have 11 picks, including two in the bottom half of the first round. They have a screaming need for a middle linebacker, and general manager Rick Spielman seems to love Notre Dame players (S Harrison Smith, DB Robert Blanton and TE Kyle Rudolph). Those three will vouch for Te’o.
24. Colts OLB, WR, CB, RB, G/C CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State A year after being a surprise playoff participant, GM Ryan Grigson tried to fill a lot of holes with 10 free agents for $138 million. Colts could use a dynamic pass rusher or a dangerous receiver, but if the talented Rhodes falls this far, they also could use another corner to pair with Vontae Davis.
25. Vikings WR, CB, DT, KR WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee After getting Manti Te’o, the Vikings will be very tempted to add another weapon for QB Christian Ponder. Swapping Greg Jennings for Percy Harvin is not enough. That help could be found later in the draft, but the Vikings need a dynamic outside threat. Hunter is a bit of a risk, but his athletic ability is unquestioned.
26. 49ers (TRADE from Packers) S, DL, TE, WR, CB DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri The 49ers can own this draft with 13 picks, and they could definitely move way up if there is a player they are particularly enamored with. For now, though, they will use that cache to nab the very talented Richardson. The 49ers don’t have many weaknesses, but they’re thin and older on the defensive line.
27. Texans WR, OLB, OT, ILB, NT, S WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee After getting trounced in the playoffs by the Patriots, the Texans know they have a ways to go to be challengers in the AFC. They would be helped immensely by getting another threat to pair with Andre Johnson. Kevin Walter was waived, and DeVier Posey is coming back from Achilles’ tendon surgery. If Fluker falls, he’s also a possibility at RT.
28. Falcons (TRADE with Broncos) CB, DE, LB, TE, RG CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State GM Thomas Dimitroff knows he needs to land a starting-caliber cornerback, and he also knows that former mentor Bill Belichick could use help there as well. Both teams see a lot to love in Taylor. Dimitroff jumps Belichick to take the cornerback he covets most. If Falcons stay put, TE Zach Ertz from Stanford is a definitely possibility.
29. Patriots WR, CB, DE, DT, G, S WR Robert Woods, USC With just five picks, the Patriots don’t have much ammunition to manipulate the draft. They’ll definitely be hoping that someone calls for a trade because they like the depth in this draft. If the Patriots stay put, Woods is too pro-ready to pass on. He doesn’t have the most upside, but he’s as sure a thing at a glaring need as there can be.
30. Broncos (TRADE with Falcons) DE, DT, RB, CB, LB, S DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State Broncos will love the fact that they kept Taylor away from the Patriots and added a pick or two as part of the trade down. With Elvis Dumervil lost in the fax fiasco and not much edge help, the Broncos look to the solid but unspectacular Werner to fill that void.
31. Packers (TRADE with 49ers) T, DE, NT, S, RB, OLB S Matt Elam, Florida Trader Ted Thompson is back to his old tricks by trading down with the 49ers, but he still gets the player he wants. With Charles Woodson gone, the Packers need someone better than M.D. Jennings or Jerron McMillian to play next to Morgan Burnett. Elam is instantly a physical force in the middle.
32. Ravens ILB, S, LT, WR, NT, OLB S Jonathan Cyprien, FIU The Ravens have 12 picks and a fair amount of needs to fill, so don’t be surprised if they try to move up for a player they covet. If they stay, the decision will be between LSU ILB Kevin Minter and Cyprien. With Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard gone, they signed Michael Huff for one safety spot. Cyprien can be the playmaker needed in this scheme.

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