By: Steve Balestrieri
With NFL Free Agency well under way and many of the bigger name free agents signed, the landscape is taking shape but by no means solidified for the NFL Draft.
So with this Mock Draft 2.0, we point out what the teams may opt for at this particular time, but this is by no means what the landscape will look like in April. Many moves will still be made by teams in the coming weeks.
The question most New England Patriots fans want to know is what will the team do with the #29 pick? I still believe that the Pats may opt to trade down in the first round and pick up an extra 2nd round pick and a mid-round pick since they have no 4th, 5th or 6th round picks.
So with Mock 2.0 let us take a look at some changes from the previous mock draft:
1. Kansas City — Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M – no change
With the Chiefs releasing T Eric Winston it opens the door for Andy Reid to step in and draft his replacement. And with Alex Smith in the fold, Joeckel will eventually be protecting his blindside.
2. Jacksonville — Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State- no change
The Jaguars need help along the OL and at QB but their pass rush was awful last year even with adding DE Jason Babin from the Eagles and Werner would be an immediate upgrade.
3. Oakland — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders have lost Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant along the DL and need a player that can come in and make his presence felt. Originally had Star Lotulelei here, he has been medically cleared and was strong at his pro day.
4. Philadelphia — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Philly lost both its starting corners in free agency but have signed Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. They may go for a T here but Milliner is the best player on the board.
5. Detroit — Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The Lions need help at tackle and with Fisher and Joeckle off the board they address another area of need. Can also go with a cornerback here, Millner in Mock 1.0
6. Cleveland — Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Had them going in Mock 1.0 with Dion Jordan but with them bringing in Paul Kruger and journeyman Quentin Groves, they have addressed this issue for now. Warmack will allow them to really upgrade their offensive line.
7. Arizona — Matt Barkley, QB, USC – no change
I can’t see the Cardinals staying with Hoyer and Stanton at QB, and they will need a QB that Bruce Arians can feel he can work with in his offense.
8. Buffalo — Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Bills released Ryan Fitzpatrick and at this point using Tavaris Jackson as the only starter in the AFC East has to be looked upon as a big roll of the dice. Smith can step in and compete for the starting job right off the bat.
9. NY Jets — Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Jets need help rushing the passer and have already signed Antwan Barnes. This will help them get the edge rusher that they’ve been lacking.
10. Tennessee — Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Titans have addressed some of their issues at OL during free agency, where we had them taking Warmack in Mock 1.0. Now they turn their attention to the DL where Lotulelei, now with a clean bill of health will be a force inside.
11. San Diego — Eric Fisher OT, Central Michigan
The Chargers could still go for a DT as we pointed out in Mock 1.0 but the protection across the board in the Bolts OL has been poor and Fisher is a good place to start.
12. Miami — Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
In Mock 1.0 we had them taking WR Coradelle Patterson but that was prior to Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, as well as the re-signing of Brian Hartline. With Sean Smith gone in free agency, the Fins need a big, physical corner and Rhodes (6’2, 215) will be that guy.
13. Tampa Bay — Jonathan Banks CB, Mississippi State – no change
Of course this all changes if the Bucs pull off the Darrelle Revis sweepstakes with the Jets.
14. Carolina — Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
With both Floyd and Lotulelei off the board, the Panthers opt for the athletic Richardson who can play 3-technique and could be a double-digit sack producer from the inside.
15. New Orleans — Ezekial Ansah, OLB/DE, BYU – no change
The Saints need a guy that can provide the edge rush from the OLB or put their hand on the ground from DE. Freakish athletic potential, and was recruited to run track.
16. St. Louis — Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
We had them going for a guard in Mock 1.0 with Cooper but with Danny Amendola now a member of the Patriots, the Rams take everyone’s favorite binky of the NFL Combine. The very athletic and fast Austin will take over in the slot.
17. Pittsburgh — Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia- no change
The Steelers could be using Jones as a heir apparent to the cut James Harrison and would provide a nice edge rush under Dick Lebeau. They could opt to go for a WR here, as Emmanuel Sanders was rumored to go to New England after they lost Mike Wallace to Miami.
18. Dallas — Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
We had them taking Richardson here in Mock 1.0 but with him off the board, the Cowboys need help in the interior of the offensive line and Cooper would immediately help and start.
19. NY Giants — Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
In Mock 1.0 we had them going for a OT and they still might, but the Giants might be phasing out Chase Blackburn at MLB and the smart Minter may be the heir apparent for the G-Men moving forward.
20. Chicago — Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Bears could easily go for a LB here, in fact if Minter is still here, that may be their choice, but Patterson is a too tempting target to pass up and will give the Bears plenty of options in the passing game.
21. Cincinnati — D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
We had the Bengals going after a DT in Mock 1.0 But with Andre Smith still unsigned this pick will fill a good need for Marvin Lewis’ team.
22. St. Louis (from Redskins) — Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas – no change
With the Rams initially addressing the WR position with Austin earlier in Round 1, they turn to their safety position which needs help opposite Quinton Mikell.
23. Minnesota — Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
With the signing of Greg Jennings, the Vikings more than replaced Percy Harvin. Now they provide some needed help to the defensive front seven.
24. Indianapolis — Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State – no change
The signing of Aubrayo Franklin is just one of a couple additions the Colts will make at the DT position. They could also opt for an OT here as well.
25. Minnesota (from Seahawks) — Steadman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
The Vikings add another talented WR for Christian Ponder in Minnesota. Bailey may be a bit of a stretch here, but he can play inside, outside and lined up next to Jennings should provide a nice tandem.
26. Green Bay — Eric Reed, S, LSU – no change
Most mocks have the Packers going for a WR in Round 1,but with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones, they are still good and will address it later. Reed fulfills a big need in the middle of their porous pass defense.
27. Houston — DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
By adding veteran Safety Ed Reed, the Texans addressed their most critical need on defense, look for them to add an edge pass rusher in Round 2. Hopkins provides them an excellent target opposite Andre Johnson.
28. Denver — Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington – no change
For now I’m sticking with Trufant here even though they signed DRC. With Elvis Dumervil on the outside looking in for now, they may opt to address his position but I believe he will return.
29. New England — Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
We had them going for a cornerback in Mock 1.0 but with the re-signing of Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington, the may opt to add another corner later. They could opt to use this pick for a WR if any of the top names are still available as well. I’ve stated, and continue to believe that the Pats trade down here, however…Short is a guy who starting to get a lot of looks from a lot of different sources as a fit for New England. And DT is a place that needs shoring up. Short is very versatile and next to Vince Wilfork would be a nice upgrade at the position. Sleeper pick Robert Woods, WR, USC
30. Atlanta — Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford – no change
The Falcons are bringing back Tony Gonzalez for one more year and Ertz who is a better pass receiver than blocker will be able to step in and learn from one of the best.
31. San Francisco — Tyrann Mathieu, CB, ex-LSU
With so many draft picks in this year’s draft, I can see the Niners taking a chance on the talented but high maintenance Mathieu. Could be a total bust due to off-field issues, but recently has made it clear he’s trying to turn his life around. Being teamed up with a no-nonsense Harbaugh could be a great fit.
32. Baltimore — Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame – no change.
No team has been as decimated by the off-season as the Ravens. Ray Lewis retired and Dannell Ellerbe left via free agency. Ed Reed moved to Houston and Bernard Pollard is gone, so the middle of the defense has been eviscerated. Te’o is a bit of a risk given his off-field antics, but he’ll replace that rah-rah, spiritual role that Lewis perfected over time.
Stay tuned for Mock Draft 3.0……