*=Player has worked out privately with team drafting him
1. Kansas City Chiefs- OT Luke Joeckel* (Texas A&M)
The Chiefs cutting Eric Winston is probably a sign that the Chiefs will go offensive tackle at the top of the draft. Winston was a fine player for the Chiefs last year, reasonably priced, and cutting him provided minimal cap relief for a team that wasn’t really backed up against the cap to begin with. You don’t make that move unless you feel you have an opportunity to replace him with a special talent.
Unless they view 2012 3rd round pick Donald Stephenson, who was awful in limited action last season, as that special talent, it’s very likely that special talent is either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher. While Fisher has his supporters and people who believe he’s a better tackle than Joeckel, I’m not going to stray from convention here. Joeckel is as close to a consensus top talent as we have in this draft class and the Chiefs are known to be very interested in him. The rumors that the Chiefs are actively shopping Albert make it even more likely that Joeckel ends up being the pick. Joeckel would be the left tackle with Stephenson at right tackle in that scenario. Either way, Joeckel looks to be all but locked into this spot.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars- OLB Dion Jordan* (Oregon)
There are two things the Jaguars have done a lot of this off-season. They’ve talked up incumbent Blaine Gabbert excessively and they’ve spent an awful lot of time with top quarterback prospect Geno Smith. Either they have very strong interest in making Geno Smith the #2 overall pick or they want to build around Gabbert in 2013. It can’t be both and it might not be either (they could go quarterback in the 2nd round), but they’ve really done a good job of making it unclear what their choice will be, with some around the league saying that they have “no clue” what the Jaguars are going to do at #2. The Jaguars say they have it narrowed down to 2 players and that they have no interest in moving back, but who knows what you can believe.
While I see two options for this pick, I actually believe the Jaguars know exactly what they’re doing with this pick. I don’t know exactly what that is, but whether it be Geno Smith or Dion Jordan, I think they know who they want. Last week I had Geno Smith mostly because Blaine Gabbert sucks, but they could just as easily take a quarterback in the 2nd round or take Geno Smith later in the first if Buffalo passes on him. Dion Jordan is becoming more and more the consensus at this point. They’d take him #2 overall and use him much like the Broncos use Von Miller, also the #2 overall pick. On obvious passing downs, he’d be an ideal Leo rusher for them at defensive end in Gus Bradley’s Seattle style system. That’s the Chris Clemons/Bruce Irvin/Cliff Avril role.
3. Detroit Lions (TRADE)- OT Eric Fisher* (Central Michigan)
This is the first of several trades I’m projecting. If the Lions really want Eric Fisher, they’ll have to move ahead of Philadelphia, who I don’t think passes on him. Along with Luke Joeckel and maybe Dion Jordan, Fisher is seen as one of the top-2 or top-3 players in this draft class and he’d fill a huge need for the Lions at left tackle with Jeff Backus gone and Riley Reiff expected to play either right tackle or right guard next season.
I don’t think the Lions would take Lane Johnson at 5. It’s not how they operate and while Johnson could go to the Cardinals at 7 or to a team trading up at 5 or 6, it would be out of desperation and need not because he’s the 6th or 7th best player in this draft class. Left tackle is just a premium position that teams will reach for (like quarterback) and this left tackle class falls off a cliff after Johnson. The Lions, however, don’t operate that way.
They give up a 2nd round pick to the Raiders to move up and the Raiders gladly do it given all they need. Besides, they can still take their top target Sharrif Floyd at 5 because Philadelphia is highly unlikely to take him given that he’s not an ideal fit for the 3-4. Or the Raiders could trade down again and accumulate more picks, which they obviously need. Stay tuned.
4. Philadelphia Eagles- NT Star Lotulelei* (Utah)
The Eagles miss out on Eric Fisher, so they go to their secondary target, who I believe to be Star Lotulelei. Now that his heart has checked out, he’s back in the top-5 discussion and the Eagles are known to be very interested. He could play both nose tackle and 5-technique defensive end in the sub packages and, while he’s still a bit raw as a pass rusher, he could also rush the passer from the interior on passing downs out of sub packages. I expect the Eagles to take either Fisher or Lotulelei here, making it 9 of 11 years in which they’ve used their first pick on an offensive or defensive lineman.
5. San Diego Chargers (TRADE)- OT Lane Johnson* (Oklahoma)
AJ Smith only once used a pick higher than a 3rd rounder on an offensive lineman in his tenure in San Diego dating back to 2004 and it shows. They have major holes at left tackle, left guard, right guard, and right tackle. They ranked 31st in the NFL in pass block efficiency, worse than even the Cardinals and only ahead of the Colts. With top offensive lineman Louis Vasquez signing with the Broncos, things will only get worse next year unless they do something. Smith was fired, so they can finally get an upgrade on the offensive line.
They’ll have to trade up to get one of the top-3 tackles, however, which is what they do here, giving Oakland another 2nd round pick to move up 6 spots. With Branden Albert likely Miami-bound, the Chargers become the favorites to move up into the top-6 to grab Johnson. I think the Raiders are more likely to move down than Cleveland, who is most frequently predicted to move down. While they could stay put and take Floyd, I think, given all that they need, they’ll take the 2nd round pick and take best available at 11.
6. Cleveland Browns- CB DeMarcus Milliner* (Alabama)
As I just mentioned, many people expect the Browns to be the ones who move down, but right now, it sounds like they’re pretty locked onto DeMarcus Milliner. He might not be the 6th best player in this class, but the Browns’ biggest need is at cornerback and he’s by far the best cornerback in this draft class. They Browns have a top-10 grade on him. He’d fill a big need opposite Joe Haden.
7. Arizona Cardinals- RLB Ezekiel Ansah* (BYU)
If the top-3 tackles are off the board at 7, it will be the worst case scenario for the Cardinals, but it’s looking more and more like that’s going to happen. If the Cardinals want Johnson badly, they may have to move up to 5 or 6 themselves to secure him. Or they could just take the best available player at 7. Sam Acho, O’Brien Schofield, and Quentin Groves really didn’t do a good job of getting pressure from the rush linebacker position for the Cardinals this year and Groves left as a free agent anyway. Right now, they only have 3 outside linebackers on the roster. They could add another rush linebacker through the draft if the value makes sense, which it does here.
8. Oakland Raiders (TRADE)- DT Sharrif Floyd (Florida)
The Raiders maneuver all around the top-10, but end up with their guy here at 8. They pick up a pair of 2nd rounders moving down from 3 to 11 and they give up a 4th rounder to move back up here to 8. This has to be the ideal situation for them. Floyd is probably their #1 draft day target but because 3 of the 4 teams between 3 and 8 run 3-4s (Floyd isn’t a good fit for a 3-4) and the other (Detroit) doesn’t need a defensive tackle, he could definitely be available here at 8 if the Raiders don’t take him at 3. He could even slip all the way to 11 where the Raiders originally were after trading down because the Jets run a 3-4 and the Titans don’t really need a defensive tackle. At the end of the day, I expect the Raiders to end up with Floyd. As for the Bills, they can take their target at 11. They want a quarterback, but also want to trade down first.
9. New York Jets- RLB Barkevious Mingo* (LSU)
The Jets really need someone to help what was the 27th best pass rush in the NFL last year in terms of pass rush efficiency. Calvin Pace is heading into his age 33 season and really hasn’t played well over the last 2-3 years anyway. They’re reportedly very smitten with Barkevious Mingo. They’ll probably take him with one of their two first rounds picks. With their other, they’d probably like to trade down and accumulate more picks.
10. Tennessee Titans- G Chance Warmack (Alabama)
Interior linemen almost never go in the top-15. I know that. Mike Pouncey is the highest drafted interior lineman since 1997, going 15th overall in 2011. Chris Naoele went 10th in 1997, but he’s the last true interior lineman to be a top-10 pick. However, if there ever were a year for that to happen, it’s this one. This draft class is pretty devoid of top level talent, which means elite players at positions like guard could go higher than they ordinarily would. On top of that, Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are among the best guard prospects in the last decade.
One of them makes a ton of sense for the Titans at 10. Right guard is by far their biggest need and GM Ruston Webster has made it known he’s not against taking a guard in the first round. Highly plugged in beat writer Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean has Warmack as the Titans’ pick at 10 right now. Chris Johnson is great when he has great blocking, but when the offensive line isn’t opening up holes for him, he’s pretty bad. Why do you think he has such good games against bad run defenses and bad games against good run defenses? Their run blocking was better last year than in 2011, but they still need help.
Center Fernando Velasco was their best interior lineman and Andy Levitre, a free agent acquisition, will lock down the left guard position. However, right guard is still a major need. That position was a rotating door last year. Right now, I have Warmack over Cooper for non-zone blocking teams, especially ones who need right guards rather than left guards, so I have Warmack here, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Cooper were the first guard off the board.
11. Buffalo Bills (TRADE)- QB Ryan Nassib* (Syracuse)
Here’s a surprise pick or I guess it would have been if I had made it 2 days ago. Nassib has generated a lot of buzz as the possible top quarterback off the board and he’d be an obvious fit for the Bills, who have Nassib’s former college coach Doug Marrone and who need a quarterback possibly more than anyone else in the league. At the very least, they’ve shown the most interest in adding a first round quarterback.
GM Buddy Nix, who is normally very candid about this type of thing, has made it known they want a quarterback. First he said, “I don’t want to leave here without a franchise guy [at quarterback] for the future in place. I have not said that before but I’m saying it now because it’s fact.” He also said this: “I think there’s a time that in the era that you’re in and the development of your team, there’s a time when you can move up a round to take a quarterback. And I think the time’s now for us. We need a good, young quarterback, and we’re going to do our best to get him.”
He also recently defended this quarterback class and said that taking a quarterback at 8 would not be a reach. His exact quote was this: “This quarterback class is better than everybody thinks it. Five or six of those guys, maybe seven, do a lot of things good and do them good enough to win. I’ve said this from the start, that two or three of these guys will be franchise quarterbacks. I believe that.” Ideally, they’d like to trade back further and grab Nassib in the teens, but if they can’t, they’ll be more than happy to take a guy they think will solve their long standing quarterback need here.
12. Miami Dolphins- G Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina)
The Dolphins don’t trade up for a tackle in this scenario because I have them trading pick #54 for Branden Albert, but they could still take an offensive lineman. Neither Richie Incognito nor John Jerry are good fits for their zone blocking scheme and free agent signee John Jerry is a mediocre player signed to a one year deal. Incognito and Jerry will be free agent next off-season as well. They’re known to be unhappy with their situation at the position. Cooper would be a perfect fit for their blocking scheme and an instant upgrade over everyone they have.
Jeff Ireland has put a lot of value on the offense line before, using first round picks on Jake Long and Mike Pouncey and a 2nd round pick on Jonathan Martin since 2008 and they could use another premium pick again this year and take Cooper. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly believes this pick will come down to Cooper, Tyler Eifert, and Xavier Rhodes if they stay put and don’t move up for DeMarcus Milliner. He eventually goes with Cooper and I agree.
Cooper would be the first guard to go higher than 15 since Chris Naoele went 10th in 1997 (unless Chance Warmack goes first). However, if there ever were a year for that to happen, it’s this one. This draft class is pretty devoid of top level talent, which means elite players at positions like guard could go higher than they ordinarily would. On top of that, Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are among the best guard prospects in the last decade. Besides, the Dolphins took Pouncey, a center, 15th in 2011, so this isn’t that much of a stretch for them.
13. San Francisco 49ers (TRADE)- 3-4 DE Sheldon Richardson (Missouri)
I mentioned earlier the Jets would like to trade down. They may have more needs than anyone else in the league. The 49ers are a team that could have a lot of interest in trading up. They have 13 picks overall, including 5 in the first 3 rounds and they package 2 of them (31 and 34) to move up here and grab a player they really like. In my last mock, I had them moving up for Tavon Austin and he could still make sense here for them, but right now it sounds more like they’d be interested in a defensive lineman if they were to move up.
Five-technique defensive end Justin Smith will be a free agent heading into his age 35 season next off-season. Expect the 49ers to prioritize extensions for Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick next off-season before re-signing him, so 2013 might be his last year with the 49ers, if not his last year in the NFL. The 49ers need to find a long term successor. The Falcons could also be an option to move up here and take Richardson as they’re rumored to be interested in doing so.
14. Carolina Panthers- WR Tavon Austin* (West Virginia)
The Panthers have been looking for a complementary receiver opposite Steve Smith for years. Dwayne Jarrett, Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards, David Gettis, Kealoha Pilares, Joe Adams, none of these guys have really worked out. LaFell is the best of the bunch and he’s marginal at best. With Smith turning 34 in May, that need is more dire than it’s ever been.
Over the next 2-4 years, Smith can be expected to go from top flight receiver to complementary player to gone. That’s just what happens to receivers around this age. Even the average top-20 receiver (in terms of yardage all-time) has his last 1000 yard season at age 34-35, averages 48 catches for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns for 2 more seasons after age 34-35, and is done playing by age 36-37. Drafting another receiver early this year isn’t a bad idea. They’re known to be interested in Austin, who they’ve worked out privately. They may see some similarities to Steve Smith, a similar sized player.
15. Dallas Cowboys (TRADE)- S Kenny Vacarro* (Texas)
I’ve said in recent weeks that while I view Vaccaro as a perfect fit for the Cowboys, he’s unlikely to make it past both the Rams at 16 and the Steelers at 17. However, if he’s there at 15, the Cowboys could move up 3 spots, give the Saints, who are without a 2nd rounder, an extra pick (a 3rd rounder by the trade value chart), and take him there. The Cowboys have a need at both safety spots and Jerry Jones has a noted history of loving players from the states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Unsurprisingly, they’re known to be very interested in Vaccaro.
16. St. Louis Rams- WR DeAndre Hopkins* (Clemson)
After losing Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson in free agency, the Rams are now missing 2 of their top-3 receivers from last year and it wasn’t a strong receiving corps to begin with. They’ve added Jared Cook and Chris Givens, their leading receiver last year, could be headed for big things in his 2nd year in the league. However, Brian Quick is still incredibly raw, though they haven’t given up on him. Austin Pettis, meanwhile, is only a backup caliber player. They also have just 5 receivers on the roster as of this writing and two of them have never caught a pass in the NFL. Just like Quick last year, Hopkins had a last minute workout with the Rams this year that reportedly went very, very well. He then met with them again privately at Clemson earlier this week.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers- RLB Jarvis Jones* (Georgia)
Right now, I think this pick will be between Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarvis Jones. I don’t consider Tank Carradine a candidate here because they don’t want to use a 1st round pick on someone whose position they’d have to change. Jones would fill their need for a pass rusher opposite LaMarr Woodley and, because he played in a 3-4 in college, he won’t be a conversion guy. Patterson, meanwhile, is someone else they’re known to be interested in and he would fill a big need at wide receiver. However, for right now, I think Jones is the better prospect. Patterson’s stock is falling back down to earth after a ridiculous Combine, much like Stephen Hill last year. Some even believe he could fall to the 2nd round now.
18. Oakland Raiders (TRADE)- CB DJ Hayden* (Houston)
The Raiders continue wheeling and dealing in the 1st round as they send two 2nd round picks to the Saints for the 18th overall pick and a 4th round pick. That gives the Saints a pair of second rounders and a pair of third rounders. It may sound strange that the Raiders would trade away the picks they accumulated considering all they need, but at the end of the day, I think has to been seen as the ideal situation for them. They basically got those two 2nd rounders for free considering they moved down to get someone they otherwise would have just taken at 3 and they basically turn them into a free 1st rounder. This gives them a pair of 1sts to replace their lost 2nd round pick. They also ended up moving down a few spots in the 4th round, but that’s pretty irrelevant.
DJ Hayden is a rising prospect right now with a ton of buzz on him after his once life threatening heart injury was cleared. Some teams will have him off their board entirely, but others will see him as the top available cornerback. According to sources, he’s actually seen as the consensus top cornerback in this draft class and compared to Stephon Gilmore, who went 10th last year. He looks like a safe bet for the top-20 and the Raiders, who have worked him out privately, would love to trade back up to get him if he falls this far and fill their massive cornerback need.
19. New York Giants- OT DJ Fluker (Alabama)
DJ Fluker is a rising prospect right now, with some saying he could go as high as 7th to Arizona. I don’t have him that high and I think it would be ridiculous to use a top-10 pick on a pure right tackle in an off-season where Tyson Clabo, Eric Winston, and Andre Smith are still available and Sebastian Vollmer and Phil Loadholt had to take less than they were expected to get. However, I don’t see the Giants passing on him at 19. They’re known to be very interested in him and he’d fill a huge hole at right tackle.
20. St. Louis Rams (TRADE)- OLB Alec Ogletree* (Georgia)
The Rams are known to be very interested in Alec Ogletree, but they’ll either have to take him at 16 or trade up ahead of Cincinnati from 22 to take him because the Bengals are also known to be very interested in him. Their interest in DeAndre Hopkins makes the latter scenario more likely than the former as they trade away a 4th rounder to move up 2 spots with the Bears and take Ogletree. At the end of the day, I expect the Rams to end up with DeAndre Hopkins and Alec Ogletree.
JoLonn Dunbar randomly had a solid year as a 3-down linebacker for the Rams, but he might still be better as a 2-down linebacker in the future. Ogletree could play every down with Laurinaitis and allow Dunbar to be a 2-down linebacker and come out on passing downs. He’d replace the mediocre Rocky McIntosh in that role. As for the Bears, their likely target is not an option to go to Cincinnati at 21 and the Bengals rarely trade so they can feel confident he’ll be available at 22.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- S Eric Reid* (LSU)
The Taylor Mays experiment didn’t last long. The Bengals were forced to move Nate Clements from cornerback to safety to play alongside Reggie Nelson and they also re-signed Chris Crocker mid-season and he saw some playing time. They can’t rely on that long term. Both Crocker and Clements are free agents and are heading into their age 33 and 34 seasons respectively. They need a new starter next to Nelson.
The Bengals tend to lock onto position by round and address their biggest needs first. Safety would qualify this year. While Jonathan Cyprien will probably overall be seen as a better prospect than Eric Reid and Matt Elam, the Bengals prefer big school kids so they’ll probably have Reid and Elam higher on their board than Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien, though defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer did work him out privately during draft week. They’ve worked out both Reid and Elam privately and it was tough to choose between them here, but Reid has the size that Zimmer prefers in a defensive back.
22. Chicago Bears (TRADE)- TE Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame)
The Bears already signed Martellus Bennett this off-season, but according to Draft Insider Tony Pauline, that won’t preclude the Bears from taking a tight end in the 1st round. Tyler Eifert is a rising prospect right now with a good chance to go in the top-20. He’s the consensus top tight end and could be seen as the best available player here for the Bears. While Bennett is more of an inline tight end, Eifert can move all around the formation and would allow the Bears to use a bunch of two-tight end sets and creative looks. Jay Cutler will be really happy (or as happy as Jay Cutler can be) with this off-season if the Bears add Eifert here after adding Bennett, Jermon Bushrod, and offensive minded Head Coach Marc Trestman.
23. Minnesota Vikings- MLB Manti Te’o* (Notre Dame)
The Vikings obviously have a need at wide receiver, but they pick at 25 in two more picks and it’s unlikely the Colts take a receiver at 24 so they’ll probably wait until that pick to take a receiver. With pick 23, I expect them to address defense, especially the front 7. Te’o is still expected to go in the 1st round when all is said and done and the Vikings appear to be the team most comfortable with him. He’d fill a massive need at middle linebacker.
24. Atlanta Falcons (TRADE)- CB Xavier Rhodes (Florida State)
The Falcons are rumored to be interested in moving up from 30. It’d make sense given their recent history, just two years after moving up 21 spots in the 1st round for Julio Jones. Sheldon Richardson is a name that’s being mentioned, but I don’t think he’s the only player they’d move up for. If Rhodes falls into this part of the first round, they’ll be working the phones and the Colts, who are without a 2nd round pick, make sense as a trade partner. They wouldn’t be able to recoup their 2nd round pick (the trade value chart says the Falcons would have to give up their 3rd rounder), but they’d still add a valuable asset.
After cutting Dunta Robinson, cornerback becomes a big need for the Falcons. Asante Samuel just turned 32 and might only be with the Falcons for one more season and Brent Grimes is gone. Rhodes could step in as an immediate starter opposite Samuel and allow Robert McClain to remain on the slot, where he was very good last season.
25. Minnesota Vikings- WR Justin Hunter (Tennessee)
Even after adding Greg Jennings, the Vikings still need another wide receiver opposite him. Besides, Jennings is turning 30 this season and might not be worth his contract once he’s into year 4 or 5 so they need to think about developing a long term #1. They’ll probably take one with one of their two 1st round picks. At the end of the day, even after trading Harvin, they’ll end up with a better receiving corps in 2013 than 2012 and have an extra 1st rounder to spare.
26. Green Bay Packers- 3-4 DE Datone Jones (UCLA)
The Packers’ defensive line got absolutely no pass rush in 2011. They used a 2nd round pick in 2012 on Jerel Worthy to help them out there, but that might not be enough. They still ranked just 30th in pass rush efficiency in 2012 as only Clay Matthews could get consistent pressure. They could use a 2nd pick on a pass rushing defensive lineman for their 3 man defensive line.
27. Houston Texans- OT Menelik Watson (Florida State)
The Texans lost the right side of their offensive line last off-season. They drafted a right guard in the mid rounds last year and could take right tackle this year. Derek Newton and Ryan Harris split snaps there last season, but Newton struggled and Harris, the better of the two, is still an unsigned free agent. Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle, who admits he is not a big fan of Watson, believes the Texans love him and that he’s going to go in the top-27 picks. He’s a project, but he’d obvious be a natural fit for their zone blocking scheme and fill a need, so the intrigue is understandable, even though I side more with Zierlein on Watson’s long term projection.
28. Denver Broncos- DE Tank Carradine (Florida State)
Elvis Dumervil was cut because his agent doesn’t know how I use a fax machine. A lot of people made fun of him, asking how could he not know how to use a fax machine? The answer is simple. It’s not 1998. Why is anyone using a fax machine still? Anyway, they’ll need to find an end through the draft. Their free agent options to replace him are all over 30 and they’ll need a long term solution behind whoever it is (probably Dwight Freeney). Tank Carradine is an interesting prospect right now. A first round talent, Carradine tore his ACL late in the season, but he ran a 4.93 40 at 276 pounds at his Pro Day this week and is having a remarkable recovery. He could end up being a top-20 pick and his stock is on the rise.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (TRADE)- QB Geno Smith* (West Virginia)
With the recent buzz that Ryan Nassib could be the first quarterback off the board, suddenly, Geno Smith’s stock has been sent into a tailspin. If he gets past the Bills, he could fall into the 20s and that could happen. Right now, people around the league have no clue where he’s going to end up. I don’t think he falls out of the first round, but he could fall this far. Someone will likely trade up for him before the first day is over, however.
That team could very well be the Jaguars, but the Eagles and Jets could also have interest. The Jaguars have shown the most interest in him, however, and give up a 5th and a 6th rounder to move up 4 spots from 33. They’ll consider him at 2 and earlier this week it looked like it would be down to him and Dion Jordan at 2 so if they can come out of the first round with both, you have to think they’d be very happy. The Patriots, meanwhile, are without picks in rounds 4-6 and love to trade down. They’ll take a 5th and 6th round pick to move down 4 spots to 33, where there will be plenty of cornerbacks for them to choose from.
30. Indianapolis Colts (TRADE)- 3-4 DE Margus Hunt* (SMU)
The Colts won 11 games last year despite replacement level talent all over the field, but they’ll have to play better to match that win total in 2013. Despite one of the easiest schedules in the league, they still had a negative points differential and the worst points differential in NFL history by an 11-win team. They won just 3 games against .500 or better teams and 2 games total by more than a touchdown (one of which was against the Jaguars). There’s a reason they couldn’t hang with the big boys in the post-season as the Ravens exploited their issues defensively and on the offensive line in their 24-9 victory.
However, they had a lot of cap space this off-season to add talent to a young and improving nucleus so I gave them a good chance to improve their level of play in 2013 and still make it back to the playoffs. That being said, I don’t like what they did with their cap space. It wasn’t just that they overpaid players; it’s the type of players they overpaid. If you’re going to overpay players, make sure they’re players who can have a big impact. I don’t know how much guys like LaRon Landry, Gosder Cherilus, Erik Walden, Ricky Jean-Francois, Greg Toler, and Donald Thomas will help this team (I did like the Thomas deal though, that wasn’t an overpay). They would have been better off signing two or three higher end free agents and filling other needs through the draft.
Now it’s unclear which position they still view as a major need and for that reason it’s unclear what they’ll do in the 1st round. Rush linebacker, offensive line, cornerback, and defensive line should all be considered, but they may not view them all as major needs. I’m giving them Hunt here because I think he’s one of the best available and because I think defensive line is their biggest need right now. Even after signing Jean-Francois, they need more youth there. Aubrayo Franklin, recently signed cheap, turns 33 this season at nose tackle, as does starting five-technique defensive end Cory Redding. They’ve worked Hunt out privately and he’s seen as a first round lock by several sources.
31. New York Jets (TRADE)- S Jonathan Cyprien* (Florida International)
The Jets lost both of their starting safeties from 2012. They’ve brought in mediocre veteran Dawan Landry and they have a pair of 2012 late round picks, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen, but they will still probably add a safety through the draft. Cyprien probably won’t make it out of the first round so he makes a lot of sense here for the Jets. Cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Jamar Taylor are also options, but one of them is more likely to be available when they pick at 34 than Cyprien.
32. Baltimore Ravens- MLB Arthur Brown (Kansas State)
Ray Lewis is obviously retired and, while Dannell Ellerbe played well in his absence, he’s gone as a free agent. Jameel McClain is a mediocre player who will be coming off a major injury in 2013 and even if he can lock down a starting spot, the Ravens run a base 3-4, so they need two starting linebackers. Middle linebacker will be a priority of their off-season.
CB Jamar Taylor (Boise State)
WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee)
CB Desmond Trufant (Washington)
DE Bjoern Werner (Florida State)
DT Sylvester Williams (North Carolina)