It's finally here: NFL draft day 2013.
The draft begins tonight at 8 p.m. If the Dolphins pick at No. 12 as they are currently scheduled, they should be on the clock sometime around 9-9:20 p.m.
It's possible by then the club will have a new left tackle in Branden Albert. That, assuming a trade with Kansas City can be consummated. It's possible Davone Bess will be traded away before the draft ends Saturday. It's possible the Dolphins will try to move down in the draft.
A lot of things are possible. My suggestion to the Dolphins?
I'm imploring Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland to pick Houston cornerback DJ Hayden. I'm hoping Hayden is the pick whether the Dolphins pick at No. 12 or whether they trade down.
The reasons I give are compelling as you can read in my column in today's newspaper.
Yes, I know Ireland said he doesn't see cornerback as a huge need for the team. Is he kidding? I hope he was using the same approach when he said that he was using when he said Davone Bess wouldn't be traded -- which is to say he wasn't being fully forthright.
Anyway, I participated in a nationwide mock draft of writers in every NFL city. The guys and gals on this mock draft are the best of the best. They know their teams intimately. And this is what they're saying will happen tonight from No. 1 to No. 32.
1. KANSAS CITY: Chiefs have eight picks (none in the 2nd, two in the third and sixth). Needs: OT, ILB, WR, S, DE. The Chiefs would prefer to trade down but assuming that doesn't happen, they need to secure left tackle for the long term. Branden Albert signed his one-year contract as the franchise player but isn't happy and has been absent from offseason conditioning and last week's mini-camp. Otherwise, they filled a lot of their needs in free agency. Not that they couldn't use an upgrade at a number of spots but they can line up and play a game right now, other than this hole at LT. Pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. Selection by Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star.
2. JACKSONVILLE: (seven picks, one in each round). Needs: Leo DE,RT,QB, CB, SS, LB. The Jaguars have accepted that trading out of the No. 2 spot isn't going to happen. Like a 2-14 team with a new general manager, head coach and coordinators, the Jaguars are undergoing a major roster overhaul and tha tmakes for so many needs. They could go with a DE at No. 2 to help a pass rush that had only 20 sacks last year (worst in the NFL) or a right tackle because the new staff has little faith in incumbent Cam Bradfield. After the first round, they also need a No. 1 corner (right now it's Alan Ball), a strong safety (GM Gus Bradley said Monday there isn't a starter on the roster), Will linebacker who can play all downs and at some point, they should be expected to take a quarterback. They have only two on the roster. Pick: BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah. They could make the safe pick and take Eric Fisher, but right tackle can be addressed later with somebody like free agent Tyson Clabo. The Jaguars go with Ansah despite his inexperience. Selection by Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.
3. OAKLAND: (Pick 3rd and then 68th (3rd round); also picks in rounds 4,6 and 7). Needs: DE, OLB, DT, CB, TE, QB, OT, G, WR. The Raiders would love to trade down and get back the second-round pick they lost in the Carson Palmer trade. General manager Reggie McKenzie knows he needs some impact players, and his shredding of the 4-12 roster (38 of the 53 players he inherited are gone) has left Oakland without any pass rush. Not that it had any last year. The Raiders only had 25 sacks in 2012, but players who had 17 of those are gone. If the Raiders are able to trade down, I see them solidifying their front line with DTs Star Lotolelei or Shariff Floyd. Pick: Oregon OLB/DE Dion Jordan. There will be some temptation to take Fisher, who might be the best player on the board, but Jordan fills the biggest need and has more star potential than a left tackle. The Raiders desperately need a star. Jordan has long arms and great athleticism and will immediately give the Raiders an outside rush. Selection by Vito Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.
4. PHILADELPHIA: (4th pick, 9 selections overall. They have one pick in Rds. 1-5, none in Rd. 6 and 4 in Rd. 7). Needs: OL, 3-4 edge-rusher, QB, 3-4 DE, ILB, CB, S. The Eagles will be getting All Pro LT Jason Peters, C Jason Kelce and RT Todd Herremans back from injuries. But Peters is 31, Herremans is 30 and LG Evan Mathis is 31. They have a hole at RG. The light has yet to go on for 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins. Herremans has spent most of his career as a guard. So he can move inside if Watkins doesn't cut it. If they don't get a plug-and-play OT in the draft, they still are interested in unrestricted free agent Eric Winston, whose wife has Philly-area roots. It still remains to be seen how some of their defensive personnel will fit in their transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4. They signed Connor Barwin, who was an edge-rushing OLB with Houston. But the jury still is out on veteran DE Trent Cole and 2010 first-round pick Brandon Graham. So they would like to get another edge-rusher. They've got 4 QBs on the roster right now -- Mike Vick, Nick Foles, former Chip Kelly pupil Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne. All but Foles have the mobility to run the read-option. Vick agreed to a restructured deal and figures to be gone after this season even if he ends up with the starting job. Eagles almost certainly will draft a QB at some point. Won't be at No. 4, but could be in second or third. Eagles are very interested in trading down and acquiring another pick or two in the second or third rounds. But they don't want to drop any lower than 11 or 12. Pick: With this scenario, I would expect them to take Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher, a good, athletic fit for Chip Kelly's offense, who can step in and play immediately at RT. Two other considerations: the other top-rated OT, Lane Johnson, of Oklahoma, and Utah DL Star Loutilelei, who could play both nose and 5-technique for them. But I think he figures into the equation only if Eagles trade down a few spots. Selection by Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
5. DETROIT: Lions have a selection in every round, two in the seventh. The fourth-round pick is a compensatory, and the second seventh-round pick is a compensatory. Needs: I refer to it this way because there’s a difference between need and want. The Lions’ top three needs are Offensive Left Tackle, pass-rusher and cornerback, and pick No. 5 has to be an opening-day starter. They really want a left tackle because it locks into place other pieces on the OL. Also, wide receiver for depth and injury protection, return specialist, and depth at defensive end, linebacker and perhaps tight end. GM Martin Mayhew has always stressed character in acquiring players, and that will be tightened further in the fallout of last year’s arrests. Mayhew wants to avoid a boom or bust scenario with the fifth pick. “You certainly want guys with that high ceiling. But it’s also important to make sure you’re getting a solid player you can have around for a long time. It may not be the best place to swing for the fence. You know, you might not want to be Dave Kingman at five. You might really just get on base, if you know what I mean.” He also says he hasn’t given as many first-round grades this year, but there is greater depth than in past drafts: “We didn’t give as many first-round grades this year as we normally give. This draft goes deeper into the second round this year. What we call those red grades. . . goes a little deeper into the second. So there are a lot of quality players out there and we expect to get good players in our first three picks for sure that can come in and have an impact. Then we have to be more selective in the back end of the draft and make sure we pick the right guys.” Pick: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama. He fits a need, opposite starting CB Chris Houston, a three-year starter who re-signed as a free agent in March. At his pre-draft presser last week, GM Martin Mayhew, a starting CB on the Redskins’ 1991 season Super Bowl champs, talked about Milliner’s size and speed. “He’s the elusive, big corner,” Mayhew said. “Everybody’s trying to find that guy. You know, we’ve been here for years talking about these guys and trying to find a guy with some size, and he certainly fits that mold." Selection by Mike O'Hara of DetroitLions.com.
6. CLEVELAND: Picks: 7 (1st, 3rd, 4th, two 5th, 6th , 7th). Needs: Starting CB, 3-4 pass rusher, inside LB, TE, WR, OG). First draft of the regime of CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi. They used free agent to address the switch to Ray Horton’s 3-4 – OLBs Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and LDE Desmond Bryant – but they still have starting vacancies at CB and ILB, and still want to add another OLB rusher. If Horton copies his hero Dick LeBeau, the Browns won’t take the CB at No. 6. On paper, they could justify one of the OGs, but they already have really good OTs and a solid C. I don’t buy the national perspective that Banner and Lombardi will draft a QB to oust Brandon Weeden. I think HC Rob Chudzinski and OC Norv Turner think they can win with Weeden’s strong arm. Banner and Lombardi are not big fans of Weeden or WR Josh Gordon, who had a real good rookie year after ex-GM Tom Heckert used his No. 2 pick in last summer’s supplemental draft. Banner would like to recoup a No. 2. If any team is capable of doubling down – trading down twice – it is the Browns, if they could pull it off. This draft: This scenario would be Browns worst nightmare. They would love to get out of this position, but ... Pick: They add to their pass rush with LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo. Selection by Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland.
7. ARIZONA: Picks: 7 (One in each round). Needs: G, T, 3-4 edge rusher, safety, inside linebacker, quarterback. This is the first draft of GM Steve Keim and Bruce Arians. The most immediate need is the offensive line, but Arians seems to feel better about the group than anyone else, especially his tackles. At the owners meetings, Arians said he is one player away from having a "helluva" offensive line. LT Levi Brown returns after missing last season with a torn triceps. Nate Potter, a seventh-round pick in '12, took over or D'Anthony Batiste and showed promise over the latter half of the season. Another rookie, fourth-rounder Bobby Massie, started all 16 games at right tackle. He was a liability over the first half of the season but showed remarkable improvement over the second half. Their guards, Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder, signed as free agents over the last two seasons. Colledge had a solid year. Indications are the Çardinals would like to upgrade the right side, Snyder's spot.
New DC Todd Bowles is maintaining the 3-4 and the team still needs 3-4 OLB who can rush. O'Brien Schofield hasn't stayed healthy enough. Sam Acho is a good all-round player but not a pass rush specialist ... This draft: Lane Johnson has to be tempting here and that could be the pick. If they do that, Brown could move to the right side. Pick: But I'll go with Alabama G Chance Warmack. He fills an immediate need. The Cardinals should be able to plug him in the starting lineup for the next 6-8 years. Selection by Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.
8. BUFFALO. NEEDS: QB, WR, G, CB, OLB, TE, CB, S. (Have six picks - no seventh). The Bills have plenty of needs, but QB is the biggest. Ryan Fitzpatrick was cut. Kevin Kolb is the favorite over Tarvaris Jackson on the current roster. Need a No. 2 WR opposite Stevie Johnson. But there's no WR worth taking at No. 8. Could use a starting OG to replace Andy Levitre, who left in free agency. So a good case could be made for Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. But OG is an easier position to fill. Can they wait to No. 41 (their second round pick) and get the QB they want? That’s a risk. Do they want to trade next year’s No. 1 to move up from 41 to the first round? Can’t see that. They can get a quality WR at No. 41. New coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett know Ryan Nassib better than anybody. He could make a smooth transition running their offense. Pick: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse. Selection by Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News.
9. NEW YORK JETS: (8 picks, two in the first round – 9 and 13 – and one in rounds 2-7). Needs: QB, OLB, CB, S, G, T, WR. The Jets acquired the 13th overall pick in the Darrelle Revis trade and are clearly in a major rebuilding phase under first-year general manager John Idzik. Mark Sanchez is the incumbent at quarterback, but mostly because of his $8.25 million guaranteed salary. Both starting safeties in 2011 (LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell) are gone. They re-signed OLB Calvin Pace to a one-year deal after initially releasing him. Also released were LB Bart Scott and S Eric Smith. Veteran guard Brandon Moore was not re-signed, and RB Shonn Greene signed with Tennessee. TE Dustin Keller signed with Miami. Santonio Holmes is coming off foot surgery and might not be ready for the start of camp. This is GM John Idzik’s first draft in the lead role, and he is considered by those he has worked with as a very patient, meticulous executive who prefers to build through the draft instead. Unlike predecessor Mike Tannenbaum, Idzik does not appear ready to take chances with roster transactions (see: Brett Favre, Tim Tebow, etc.), preferring a more methodical approach. Idzik has been extremely close to the vest throughout the draft process. With our mock falling this way, and with Mingo, Milliner and Warmack off the board, Idzik can any number of ways. They have done extensive work on the quarterbacks, although I don’t know that they value Geno Smith as the No. 9 prospect. They have done extensive work on him, however, and it is possible they take him here. But with Tavon Austin still on the board, and with the team also having examined him closely, there may be a temptation to go higher for him, especially with some interest among other teams in moving up for him. Pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia. Selection by Bob Glauber of New York Newsday.
10. Tennessee: Picks: 9 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd comp, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 7th comp. Needs: OG, DT, DT, CB, S, LB. After signing 12 free agents and spending over $105 million in free agency, the Titans have some flexibility here. Yes, they still need a long-term option at guard opposite Andy Levitre, and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper is available in this mock. But with a difference-maker still around in Floyd, they’d have to take him here. They could then target a guard – Kentucky’s Larry Warford?—in the second round. The Titans also need pass rushers, and one position they didn’t address in free agency was cornerback. Look for them to snag one or two at some point in the draft as well. Pick: Florida DT Sharrif Floyd. Selection by Jim Wyatt of Nashville Tennessean.
11. SAN DIEGO: Seven picks, one in each round. Needs: LT, OG, ILB, OLB, NT. This draft will be judged as something of a failure if the Chargers don't walk out with a starting left tackle. The offensive line was a mess last year, and new general manager Tom Telesco wants to replace at least three starters after parting with LT Jared Gaither, LG Tyronne Green and RG Louis Vasquez. If LT Lane Johnson is available at pick 11, the Chargers ought to be jumping up and down, screaming like Reese Witherspoon at a DUI checkpoint that he fell to them; many scouts say the draft suffers a drop-off after the position's top three. Adding the ex-Sooner allows them to address guard sometime in the two or three rounds. Will San Diego be so fortunate Thursday to have this option at pick 11? That'd surprise. But in this mock, it's an easy call. Pick: LT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma. Selection by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
12. DOLPHINS:– Eleven picks, including two in the second (42 and 54) two in the third (77 and 82), two in the fifth ( 146 and 166) and three in the seventh. Needs: LT, CB, DT, TE, G, S, OLB. The Dolphins have been working on filling their LT need by trading for KC's Branden Albert but they would rather not give up a second-round pick for the privilege of paying Albert a huge contract. They probably would welcome giving up a 2014 second rounder. If the Albert trade is made, then the LT need is met. Otherwise the Dolphins will be hunting the fourth best LT in the draft in the second round because they aren't paying the ransom to trade up for Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, and Lane Johnson doesn't seem to be a team favorite. The club says it doesn't need cornerback help but it does. Miami traded away Vontae Davis last year and let Sean Smith depart in free agency. The addition of Brent Grimes via a one-year deal doesn't solve the problem and actually raises the question whether he'll be healthy -- he's recovering from a torn Achilles -- in time for training camp or the season. The club also lost starting TE Anthony Fasano in free agency and although Dustin Keller is on the roster, he's also on a one-year contract so that position begs attention. The club loves Reshad Jones at one safety spot but has an opening at the other. Again, the Dolphins desperately want to trade down. If not ... Pick: DJ Hayden, CB, Houston. Selection by Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald.
13. NEW YORK JETS: (second of two first-round picks - one more pick in each of rounds 2-7. Needs above). Armando took the next best corner, so the Jets would be reaching here to get the second coming of Revis. They've already got two young first-round defensive linemen in Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. As I'd indicated before, they've done extensive work on Geno Smith, and while the jury is obviously still out on him around the league, considering the need, he might be tough to pass on. Pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. Selection by Bob Glauber of Newsday.
14. CAROLINA: Picks: 5 (no 3rd, no 7th). Needs: DT, S, CB, OT. Carolina is interested in trading down and getting one of their later-round picks back. But not if Star Lotulelei's still on the board when they pick 14th. Panthers first-year GM Dave Gettleman spent 14 years with the Giants, who did pretty well beefing up their D-line seemingly every year in the draft. Since cutting nose tackle Ron Edwards this offseason, Ron Rivera has talked about the need to find a space-eater up front to keep blockers off Defensive RoY Luke Kuechly. Lotulelei does more than occupy blockers, however. And the Panthers have experience drafting guys with heart issues/scares. They took Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander in the fourth round last year after Alexander was sent home from the combine after doctors thought they found a hole in his heart. The Panthers checked into it, and it turned out to be a misdiagnosis. Pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah. Selection by Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.
15. NEW ORLEANS: Selections (one each in rounds 1, 3, 4, 5, 6) ... Forfeited second-round pick as part of Bounty sanctions. Traded seventh-round pick to Seattle for LB Barrett Rudd, who was cut in training camp. Needs: OLB, LT, DE, S, NT. If you have the NFL's worst ever defense in terms of yards yielded in one season (7,042), then no job is safe and plenty of holes need to be filled on that side of the ball. First and foremost for first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is trying to find someone, anyone, who can apply consistent pressure on the quarterback. They have lacked a premiere pass rusher for years. They have other needs as well but this position is important in the big picture. They plan to give two youngsters shots at OLB, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson. But Jarvis Jones apparently has answered the medical questions and appears to be the real deal. Was not asked to drop into pass coverage at Georgia. Pick: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia. Seems like a safe pick, though his 40 time is unimpressive (4.90-ish). Good athlete, good pass rusher, fills a big need. That said, this team would consider trading down to acquire more draft picks and RB Chris Ivory is definitely a player they are looking to move in a trade. The Jets have offered a fifth, the Saints want more. Don't we all. Selection by Brian Allee-Walsh of SportsNola.com
16. ST. LOUIS: Selections: 8 total, 2 in first round _ w/No. 22 overall coming from Washington as part of the RGIII trade. Otherwise the Rams have their original pick in each of the remaining six rounds. Needs: WR, S, RB, OLB, OL. The Rams seemingly have been searching for wide receiver help since the dynamic tandem of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt last played in St. Louis. The teams wants to get faster and more explosive on offense after finishing 25th in scoring offense and 23rd in total offense. In addition, the team has lost a perennial 1,000-yard rusher in Steven Jackson (voided contract, signed with Atlanta in free agency), as well as two of their top three wide receivers from last season in free agent Danny Amendola, to New England, and free agent Brandon Gibson, to Miami. They have only 3 WRs on the roster who have ever caught an NFL regular-season pass in Chris Givens, Brian Quick, and Austin Pettis. There are only two RBs with NFL regular-season carries on their resumes minus Jackson in Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Quick, the WR, and Pead, the RB, were seldom-used disappointments as rookies. Pick: The Rams would've loved to have gotten Austin, but there are seven or eight picks available to them here that could help the team: DT Sheldon Richardson (more of a luxury pick), LB Alec Ogletree (lots of baggage), OG Jonathan Cooper (need a guard, but signing of LT Jake Long helps shore up line), OT D.J. Fluker (see Jake Long above), RB Eddie Lacy (big back to replace Sjax), WR Cordarelle Patterson (obvious reasons), best S available (Vaccarro or Cyprien). So the pick here is CORDARELLE PATTERSON, the WR from Tennessee. He's considered a project. But he'll be playing for a veteran staff and a head coach (Jeff Fisher) who's got plenty of job security. Patterson has speed, size, and great run-after-the-catch potential. And keep in mind, if this is how the actual draft scenario shakes out, the Rams can get one of the remaining seven players I've listed above when they select six picks later at No. 22. Selection by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
17. PITTSBURGH: Eight picks, one in each round plus a compensatory pick in the sixth round. Needs: RB, LB, S, WR. The Steelers are in a state of transition from their past two Super Bowl teams (’08, ’10 of which they were 1-1). They released OLB James Harrison and have little depth either on the outside on the inside, and the linebackers make the plays in their 3-4 defense. They need more than one. With the loss of Mike Wallace and with Emmanuel Sanders probably joining him in ’14, they need to restock their receiving corps. They have no starting running back after Rashard Mendenhall left. They have two good safeties, but Troy Polamalu is 32 and Ryan Clark turns 34 in October, and their top two veteran backup safeties left as free agents. They also could use a tight end. Heath Miller, 30, had major knee surgery to repair four torn ligaments at the end of the season, including his ACL.
If Jarvis Jones isn’t picked, I think they’ll grab him. But, of course, the Saints got him first. So ... Pick: Tight end Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame. (If Eifert is gone, S Kenny Vaccaro could be the pick). Selection by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
18. COWBOYS – Six picks, having lost their seventh to the Dolphins in a trade that brought C Ryan Cook last year. Needs: OG, DT, S, DE, RB. The Cowboys have spent a lot on their offensive line the past three years, drafting LT Tyron Smith with a first-round pick, re-signing RT Doug Free to a four-year, $32 million deal, and then signing free agent guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings in free agency last year for deals with $6.2 million in guaranteed money. Yet, they could use upgrades to their line. If Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper is there, Dallas will take him. That is doubtful. Safety is a real need after they cut Gerald Sensabaugh. Kenny Vaccaro is a real possibliity with this pick, but they also like Eric Reid if they think they can get him in the second round. That leaves defensive tackle, where Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff both are better fits at the 3-technique than the 1. Ratliff has had declining production because of injuries in recent seasons, and he played in only six games last season. Hatcher is in the final year of his contract. Pick: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina. Selection by Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
19. N.Y. GIANTS -- Giants have eight picks -- their own in each of the seven rounds plus a compensatory pick in the seventh round. Needs: LB, DE, OL, DB. GM Jerry Reese would prefer not to pick this high, but that's what happens when you follow up a Super Bowl championship season by not making the playoffs. The Giants always seem to need linebacker help -- they are a long ways from the days of LT, Carl Banks and Harry Carson. MLB Chase Blackburn signed with the Panthers, OLB Michael Boley was released and hybrid LB-DL Mathias Kiwanuka is apparently being moved back to defensive end to make up for loss of Osi Umenyiora, who signed with Falcons. Reese loves to stockpile defensive ends, but the Giants have a greater need at linebacker and have not drafted a linebacker in the first round since Banks in 1984. Still, DE Tank Carradine is a possibility. They can also use reinforcements at guard and tackle on the offensive line. Pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia. Selection by Gary Myers of New York Daily News.
20. SAN FRANCISCO:. There's been a trade! The 49ers and Bears were on the phone and have switched spots in the first round. The 49ers get the Bears' first-round pick, No. 20 overall, while Chicago gets San Francisco's first-round pick, No. 31, a third-round pick, No. 74, and a sixth-round pick, No. 180. (Mark Potash argued vociferously for a second-round pick, but the 49ers held firm). Chicago has talked about moving down while the 49ers, who have 13 picks in this draft but no where close to 13 roster spots, get rid of some of their selections. Needs: S, DL, TE, WR, CB. The biggest need is finding a replacement for starting safety Dashon Goldson, who is now a Buccaneer. However, the 49ers still have the 34th overall pick and could take care of this there. There's also a need for someone to take over Delanie Walker's role in two tight-end situations. They could do this later in the second round (No. 61) or with their other third-round pick (No. 93). However, the trade up in the first round was for a defensive lineman. Justin Smith turns 34 this year and is signed for just one more season. The 49ers also are well-aware of the negative ripple effect that went through their defensive when he was out with an arm injury last year. His heir apparent? Another Show-me State product. Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri. Selection by Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
21 CINCINNATI: 10 picks (2 each in rounds 2, 6 and 7). Needs: S, OT, RB, Depth on offensive and defensive lines and linebacker. After Reggie Nelson there is a huge dropoff at safety. Taylor Mays started at the beginning of the season but things got so bad in the secondary that they brought Chris Crocker back before Week 4. Right tackle is a need as well with Andre Smith being unsigned but they still have Anthony Collins and Dennis Roland on the roster, who have combined for 24 starts. Running back they would like to get a change-of-pace guy to pair with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Even with the signing of James Harrison, depth is thin at linebacker and with Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap slated to be free agents next year they could draft a defensive end much like they did last year when they added two defensive tackles. Pick: S Kenny Vacarro, Texas. The Bengals like the fact he can play either free or strong safety and think he can be a younger version of Chris Crocker as far as keeping things settled down in the secondary. Selection by Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enqquirer.
22 ST. LOUIS: Under this scenario, Fluker, Lacy and Cyprien are still available _ the first two are especially tempting for the Rams. Pick: Eddie Lacy, the Alabama running back at 22. They need a big back replacement for Steven Jackson. Selection by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
23. MINNESOTA: 23rd and 25th picks, 11 selections overall. They got the 25th pick, a seventh-rounder this year and a third-rounder next year in the Percy Harvin trade with Seattle. They have one pick in Rds. 2, 3, 5 and 6, two picks in Rd. 4 and three picks in Rd. 7. Needs: MLB, WR, CB, DT, KR. The Vikings have no one capable of starting at MLB, no receiving weapon of note beyond Greg Jennings and renewed concerns at cornerback after choosing to cut Antoine Winfield, who was their best defensive back, in a cost-cutting move. Jasper Brinkley, last year’s starting middle linebacker, was one of only three free agents the Vikings didn’t retain or even attempt to re-sign. They’re looking for a faster, more instinctive three-down playmaker to plug in the middle of a 4-3 defense that utilizes a lot of Tampa-2 schemes. General Manager Rick Spielman has stockpiled five former Notre Dame players, three of them starters, and probably would take Manti Te’o if he’s still on the board.
Ideally, the Vikings would like to come out of the first round with starters at middle linebacker and receiver. Without a second elite receiver, the big money spent on Jennings in free agency will be for naught because opponents will simply load up on stopping the former Packer. The Vikings re-signed Jerome Simpson, who was a flop during an injury- and suspension-marred season a year ago. They also have 2012 fourth-round pick Jarius Wright, who showed promise when Harvin’s season ended because of injury after nine games. The Vikings will be very interested to see how the receivers come off the board. Waiting until the second round (No. 52) for a receiver is a risk because the team needs to surround erratic third-year QB Christian Ponder with enough receiving weapons to accurately determine whether he’s the long-term answer or not. Cornerback could be the pick, especially if the big-name prospects tumble this far. Chris Cook is the No. 1 corner now, but he’s missed 26 of 48 possible games because of injuries and legal issues. Josh Robinson, last year’s third-round pick, was tabbed as Winfield’s heir apparent, but wasn’t expected to start until next year. The third corner is A.J. Jefferson, a big, young corner who can cover but needs work finishing. Defensive tackle also is a possibility. Although Kevin Williams is still a good player, he’s turning 33 in August and is not the force he once was. Since getting Williams ninth overall 10 years ago, the Vikings have drafted only four DTs, none of them higher than the fourth round. Pick: Notre Dame MLB Manti Te'o. Minnesota has thrown its challenge flag and wants Commissioner Gaughan to fine the Bears and 49ers $500,000 and two first-round picks apiece for a phony trade. Why? Because under this scenario, the Twin Cities media will now have to try and interview Lennay Kekua to get her thoughts on Manti. Spielman loves him some Notre Dame guys. Three of the Vikings -- S Harrison Smith, DB Robert Blanton and TE Kyle Rudolph -- played with Te'o and have been singing his positive points. Spielman did a lot of extra work on Te'o and seems comfortable that he's fast enough and instinctive enough to be a three-down player in the Vikings' defense. The thought is the Bears could take him at No. 20. But unless we nullify the trade, this is the Vikings' pick. Selection by Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
24. INDIANAPOLIS: Six selections6 (1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 7th comp). Needs: OLB, WR, CB, RB, G/C. Ryan Grigson filled a lot of holes in free agency. Signed 10 UFAs for $138 million. I’d rather see Grigson get a stud pass rusher (maybe UCLA’s Datone Jones) or a receiver (USC’s Robert Woods or Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins) who has the chance to develop and eventually replace Reggie Wayne. Wayne has two years left on his contract and turns 35 in November. As for a pass rusher, the only proven one on the roster is Robert Mathis, and he’s 32. Everyone’s patience is wearing thin on 2010 first-round pick Jerry Hughes (five sacks in 40 games). Pick: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
All that being said, if CB Xavier Rhodes slips to them, how do they not take him? Too good of a value at No. 24 to pass up. I won’t be a bit surprised if the Colts try to move out of the first round. They don’t have a second-round pick (traded to Miami last year for CB Vontae Davis) and might be able to get a player at the top of the second they really like while picking up an additional third-rounder. Selection by Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.
25. MINNESOTA: The Vikings could go defensive tackle (Slyvester Williams) or cornerback (Desmond Trufant), but logic says they have to swing big on a receiver and not wait for later rounds. If they're going to determine once and for all whether Christian Ponder is their QB of the future, they need to surround him with more receivers. Swapping Greg Jennings in after shipping Percy Harvin out isn't going to cut it. Hunter has the size (6-4, 196), the long arms and the top-end speed (4.49) this team has lacked for a long time now. Pick: Justin Hunter, WR, Tenn. Selection by Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
26 GREEN BAY: Packers have 8 picks, including an extra D5 as compensatory. Needs: T, DE in 3-4, NT, S, RB, OLB. GB lacks some toughness and some size. This team was punched in the face by the Giants and, at the divisional level, by the 49ers. I don't believe they would take T D.J. Fluker here. He is a RT only, and their problem is at LT where Marshall Newhouse is so-so and Derek Sherrard wasn't any good before he blew out his leg in December 2011 and sat out all last year. Their D-line is thin, especially since DE Jerel Worthy blew out his ACL late and had surgery in mid-January. RB figures to be another group effort of mediocrity once again. Safety is a major concern. Morgan Burnett is a good player, but with Charles Woodson gone it falls to MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian to start. I don't think the Packers want that. With Eric Reid a medical risk for several teams because of bad shoulders, the Packers bypass him. Pick: S Matt Elam, Florida. His reckless style of play will bring back memories of Chuck Cecil and bring a level of toughness the Packers need badly. Selection by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
27. HOUSTON: (9 picks, 2 in the third round, 4 of top 95). Needs: WR, OLB, OT, ILB, NT, S. Notes: GM Rick Smith has never traded up without trading down first. He’s made a trade in all but one of his six drafts. He’s taken five defensive players in the first round of his six drafts. Last offensive player: LT Duane Brown (2008). Last offensive player before Brown, WR Andre Johnson (2003). GM Rick Smith swears the Texans won’t reach, but they always take a first-round prospect who fits a need. This season, the most glaring need is a receiver to start opposite Andre Johnson. Kevin Walter, who started the last six years, was waived for cap purposes. Next in line would have been DeVier Posey, a rookie last season who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the last game and shouldn’t be ready before midway through the season, if that. Last year, Texans lost OLB Mario Williams, leaving them with Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed at outside linebacker. They drafted OLB Whitney Mercilus in the first round. Mercilus will start opposite Reed with Barwin gone to Philly. I think they’ll draft another OLB high. They also need a right tackle. Derek Newton, last year’s starter who rotated with journeyman Ryan Harris, underwent surgery to repair a patellar tendon in his knee. He’s supposed to be healthy by camp. He didn’t play very well. Harris re-signed for one year. This is a need position, too. Texans need depth at ILB, NT and S. The three ILBs on the roster, Brian Cushing, Darryl Sharpton and Tim Dobbins, finished last season on IR. They need an influx of youth, probably in the third round. Starting nose tackle the last four years, isn’t coming back. He’s recovering from back surgery. Earl Mitchell, who actually played more than Cody, becomes the starter. They need a backup. Texans also need a young free safety for Ed Reed to groom. Smith has never drafted a safety higher than the fifth round and might not this year, either. Pick: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson. Selection by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
28. DENVER: Broncos have 6 selections (No 6th rounder). Needs: DE, DT, RB, CB, LB, S. They'll be looking to trade down, but so will everybody else from the 23rd pick on down or so because if the way this board is structured, so the market won't be great. They lost Elvis Dumervil in free agency – fax machine, etc ... -- but Elway said this week he’s OK with where the defensive line is at the moment. But Elway will always take best player available, regardless of need, and if the best guy here is a D-lineman that’s the pick. They’re looking at corners as well even though they signed Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency. It’s only a one-year deal and they are looking for someone to help in the dime, which they play plenty under Del Rio, and for down the road. They signed guard Louis Vasquez in free agency, but also have four starting offensive linemen coming back from some kind of surgery in the past eight months and left tackle Ryan Clady is both coming back from shoulder surgery and disgruntled that they have used the franchise tag on him. Under our scenario here they’ll look at DEs like Tank Carradine and Datone Jones, but .. Pick: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. Selection by Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post.
29. NEW ENGLAND: Pats have five picks – first, second, third and two sevenths. Needs: WR, CB, DE, DT, DE, G. The Patriots haven’t had this few picks since 2002, when they drafted just six players. So Bill Belichick will be looking to trade out of this spot (like just about every other team). The Patriots, as part of their philosophy, do like to go into any draft with glaring needs. They did a pretty good job plugging most of their holes, but they left one big one: receiver. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman will replace Wes Welker, but not much has been brought in to fill the hole/lack of talent at the X receiver position. Aaron Hernandez’s versatility gives them some cover, but signing (and not getting) Emmanuel Sanders of the Steelers to an offer sheet for a third-round pick shows the Patriots are looking for help at the spot. The question is, do they think a receiver is worth a first-round pick? They’ve never taken one in the first round. Of course, we were saying that last year about edge rushers before they traded up and took Chandler Jones. Pick: Robert Woods, WR, USC. The Patriots have completely bombed drafting receivers because their scheme is so complicated, and Tom Brady is so demanding. Woods wins out over solid fits Keenan Allen and Marcus Wheaton because Woods is a little more polished and the most plug-and-play ready. Also considered: Allen, Wheaton; CBs Desmond Trufant, Johnathan Banks and Jamar Taylor; DTs Sylvester Williams, Kawann Short; DEs Datone Jones, Alex Okafor. Selection by Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe.
30. ATLANTA: The Falcons have 11 picks -- 1st Round (No. 30 overall), 2nd Round (No. 60 overall), 3rd Round (No. 92 overall), 4th Round (No. 127), 4th Round (No. 133 overall) – compensatory, 5th Round (No. 163 overall), 6th Round (No. 198), 7th Round (No. 236), 7th Round (No. 243 overall)– compensatory, 7th Round (No. 244 overall) – compensatory and 7th Round (No. 249 overall) – compensatory. Needs: CB, DE, LB, TE, RG. They Falcons are looking to trade up in order to get a quality starter for the defense, which finished last season ranked 24th overall. They could go in several directions, but because they released three of the top five cornerbacks and are a“needs-based” drafting team keep an eye on the cornerbacks. If there’s a run and their guy is coming off the board, look for the move. If their guy is slipping to them at 30, look for them to stand pat. Keep an eye on cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant. That will dictate which direction they could. They could stand pat if tight end Zach Ertz slips through. Pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington. Under this scenario Trufant, who I believe is their guy, slips through to them. Selection by D. Orlando Ledbeter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
31. CHICAGO: Bears have five picks: (1-20, 2-50, 4-117, 5-153, 6-188). The Bears traded their third round pick to Miami as part of the WR Brandon Marshall deal; they traded their seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay for DT Brian Price. Needs: LB, OG, OT, WR, CB, DE, QB. The Bears have filled enough holes for 2013 in free agency (MLB D.J. Williams, SLB James Anderson, LT Jermon Bushrod, G Matt Slauson, TE Matellus Bennet) that they aren't compelled to find a starter in the first round. So with only five picks overall, they are looking to trade down from No. 20 to acquire more picks -- presumable an additional second-rounder and a third-round pick to make up for the one they traded to the Dolphins. In his first season as an NFL GM, Phil Emery was highly unpredictable. I have yet to find a mock draft from 2012 -- and certainly not a local one -- that had him taking Shea McClellin at No. 19. So while the Bears' big-picutre need is an impact LB, fortifying a strength (DT) or upgrading a previously upgraded position (TE) are possibilities. Pick::OT D.J. Fluker of Alabama is the best available player and fills a need. Selection by Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
32. BALTIMORE: Selections: 12 total (four compensatory and sixth-rounder acquired in Anquan Boldin trade). Needs: ILB, S, LT, WR, NT, pass rusher. The Ravens, as has been the case for five straight years now, will be picking late in the first round. I can envision one of the prospects who have already been drafted in this mock unexpectedly dropping to the Ravens, and don’t be surprised if they use one of their 12 picks to move up for a player they like. If they stay put at this pick, the two most logical positions they might address at inside linebacker and strong safety, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a tackle or a wide receiver or even another pass rusher early. Given who has already been selected in this mock draft, I was basically picked between LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter and Florida International safety Johnathan Cyprien. Both are possibilities who could immediately fill a hole in the starting lineup. Since I’m personally not high on using a first-rounder on a two-down inside linebacker, I went with Cyrpien, who would bring youth and versatility to the secondary. But Ozzie Newsome might feel differently and go with Minter. Pick: Johnathan Cyprien, S, Florida International. Selection by Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun.