In my mock draft I wrote about how many surprises there were going to be in this year’s NFL Draft. I did not fathom how many surprises there were actually going to be. Geno Smith was not the first quarterback taken. Teams were trading like crazy to move up to get the guys that they wanted rather than wait it out and hope they made it to them. This was really a draft where teams were focused on filling roles and getting the pieces that would help them. It seemed like this year, as opposed to years before, teams were less reluctant to settle for what was given to them and instead they were more aggressive in going to get who they liked and what they wanted. This year’s draft, which started off kind of boring and predictable, really started to gain steam later in the first 10 picks when St. Louis decided to trade down to the Buffalo Bill’s spot and snatch up Tavon Austin. From that point on the draft was full of surprises and every pick seemed to be one where you didnt know where the teams were going to go with it.
Pick #1: Kansas City Chiefs.
OT ERIC FISHER – CMU
This wasnt much of a surprise. Fisher had been higher than Luke Joeckel on my board for a couple of weeks now. His athleticism is superior to Joeckel in my opinion, and he has way more of an upside. The experts on ESPN and the NFL network continued to mention his 40-time. If there is one thing that I do not care about for an offensive linemen it is the guy’s 40-time. I dont know how many times they are actually going to be running 40 yards. Honestly, their shuttle times and weight lifting numbers are more important. Fisher had the fastest shuttle time for a offensive linemen at 4.44 seconds. That means he has really quick feet. He also managed to bench 225 lbs, 27 times. He is strong, quick and has a ton of potential. Good Pick.
Pick #2: Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Luke Joeckel – TEXAS A&M
My first surprise here at number two. I really expected Jacksonville to go with a defensive player like Dion Jordan here. The pick makes sense though. Jacksonville, if they’re going to get better as a team, is going to have to become a better passing team. That should happen with Maurice Jones-Drew coming back to really help out that rushing game. Jacksonville has a couple of really good receivers that didnt get to see as much action last season as their quarterbacks were constantly under pressure. With the addition of Joeckel the Jags will be giving quarterback Blaine Gabbert more time to find his very talented receivers. This could potentially make the Jags a very dangerous team to play next year.
Pick #3: Miami Dolphins (From the Oakland Raiders)
OLB DION JORDAN – OREGON
No surprise here. The Raiders were actively looking to move this pick, so the fact that someone bit on it isnt much of a surprise. The Dolphins trade their first and second round pick to move up in the draft. At first I thought they were going to jump up and address their glaring need at offensive tackle with the departure of Jake Long. Instead they shocked the draft and took Dion Jordan with their third overall pick. For me, I dont really like this pick. I think Jordan is a good athlete but I dont know how big of an impact he is going to have right away playing in Miami. He may get some good looks coming off the edge opposite of Cameron Wake however, I am not completely sold on how much playing time that he is going to see. Many of the experts pointed out that he did not actually play that much at Oregon. He was on then field only 40% of the time for the Ducks’ Defense. With his limited playing time he only managed to rack up 44 tackles, 10.5 of them going for a loss, and 5 of them were sacks. The upside on Jordan is huge, but I do think that it is going to take some time for him to develop and when he does, with the athleticism that he has, he could become a dominant pass-rushing force in the years ahead of him.
Pick #4: Philadelphia Eagles
OT LANE JOHNSON – OKLAHOMA
Good pick here for the Eagles. If there is one thing you heard about all the time when it came to the Eagles last season it was how much Michael Vick was being knocked on the ground last season. The Eagles were one of the worst pass blocking teams in the league. This will definitely bolster their offensive line. Johnson can play either the left or right side and give Vick that extra bit of time that he’s going to need to get the ball to his crew of talented wide receivers. The Eagles could have also gone with Geno Smith here. I honestly felt that Joeckel would have fallen here to the Eagles and that would have made them really happy. I think they’ll still be happy with Johnson though. A lot of upside here with their first round pick.
Pick #5: Detroit Lions
OLB/DE ZIGGY ANSAH – BYU
A side note before I give my analysis. I really like that Madden Cover winner Barry Sanders was invited out to give this pick. Most of the time the NFL forces guest presenters into the second or third day when people arent watching. I see that this was a way to promote the video game, but I do like that they had Barry Sanders do this. What he means to the city of Detroit when it comes to sports is calculable. Good move Roger Goodell.
The Detroit Lions are probably the best team in the top-10 of this year’s draft. This team has a good amount of talent on offense and defense. They just had one of those years where a few things did not go right for them. So here they find themselves with a good opportunity to draft a quality player to shore up some holes in their team. I really thought they would go with Dee Millner here. The Lions need a quality cornerback to help their defense. Well, the Lions went another route to help their defense. Ziggy Ansah, if you asked me what I thought of him 3 months ago I wouldnt have any clue about who you were talking about. Ziggy Ansah, out of Ghana, wanted to play Basketball at BYU. When that didnt work out he shifted his talents over to the track. Eventually he found his way onto a football field and with little knowledge of the game, transformed himself into a top-1o draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Ansah has a ton of talent and a great motor that just keeps running. He’s absolutely skyrocketed himself up every experts’ draft board. His numbers at BYU were good. Ansah tailed 62 total tackles, 13 going for a loss, including 4.5 sacks. He should develop into one hell of a player but his lack of experience could prove to be a downside. It all depends on the coaching that he receives.
Pick #6: Cleveland Browns
DE BARKEVIOUS MINGO – LSU
If there is one player in this name whose name fits perfectly with the Cleveland Browns it is BARKevious Mingo. He is a tough, mean, aggressive, defender who will definitely help improve a defense that has a ton of potential on it already. He is going to have a lot of room to grow and is immediately going to go in to Cleveland and be their guy on defense. He’s not going to lead the team in tackles, but his talent as a pass rusher is almost too good to ignore. He is one of the elite guys and if he is used right, he could deal a lot of damage and once again give the Dawg Pound a reason to bark. (Not that they needed much of a reason before)
Pick #7: Arizona Cardinals
OG JONATHAN COOPER – UNC
Here is a guy who is crazy strong. He managed to pump out 35 reps at 225 lbs at the combine. He pushes guys around in the interior and can really work well in the trenches. While he is not my top inside lineman in this year’s draft. he will fit well in Arizona and can play either guard position and could even go down into the center position and make a name for himself there if he wants. Watching tape on this guy you can clearly see how he just bullies people without much of a problem. He’s probably the quickest interior linemen in the draft and he does a great job at rolling his hips to get leverage on big defensive tackles. His excellent play in his senior year earned him spots on the first-team All-American and All-ACC teams, as well as winning the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy. Watching him play reminds me a lot of former Baltimore Ravens guard Ben Grubbs. The Cardinals were ranked dead last in the NFL last season in rushing. With the addition of Rashard Mendenhall to help try to rectify that the Cardinals are going to need a lot of help blocking up front to create holes for Mendenhall to get through. Jonathan Cooper is just the guy to lead the way.
Pick #8: St. Louis Rams (From the Buffalo Bills)
WR TAVON AUSTIN – WVU
Here is our second trade within the top-1o picks the Rams send to Buffalo their first round pick, a third round pick and a seventh round pick in exchange for the Bills first and third round picks. This is a trade that I feel the Rams had to make if they were going to get the guy that they wanted. I do not think that Tavon Austin would have fallen past the Jets picks. So they had to go out there and give up some picks to get the guy that would make their team better offensively. Tavon Austin is one of those players who has a rare gift. He is a very fast, very versatile receiver who can do a lot of things for the St. Louis Rams. A lot of experts are talking about how he is coming in to replace Danny Amendola. Personally I think that Austin is a vast improvement from Amendola. Austin has the ability to completely take over games. Some of that was put on display as he acquired 527 all purpose yards by himself on national TV against Oklahoma. He was a do-it-all kind of guy in West Virginia where his receiving line was 112-1289-12 TDs and his rushing line was equally impressive at 72-643-3 TDs. I feel like he could be a player akin to Percy Harvin and really help his team on all levels.
Pick #9: New York Jets
CB DEE MILLNER – ALABAMA
The Jets needed a few pieces of the puzzle. One place that they needed to address was their lack of a big play receiver. Austin was snatched up by the Rams the pick before so the Jets, as expected from a team coached by Rex Ryan, shifted its attention to defense. I’m sure the Jets really wanted Ziggy Ansah or Barkevious Mingo to fall to them there. Their front seven could really use some work and both of those players would have really helped out. With those players not there either it is not surprising that the Jets didnt reach for another linebacker. Instead they shifted their focus on a recently opened position. Drafting the best player possible at the position that they are at the Jets took Dee Millner with the 9th overall pick. Millner will have the unfortunate task of stepping into the cleats of former Jets cornerback Darrell Revis and trying to replace him. Fortunately Dee Millner will have the opportunity to learn the cornerback position from a more than capable cornerback Antonio Cromartie. For me I feel that Dee Millner is a bit of a loser in this situation while the Jets are winners. Odd, I know, but look at the position that Millner finds himself in. He’s a cornerback with injury concerns replacing one, if not the best, cornerback in the NFL. Every play he will be compared to Revis and the amount of pressure that will be on the young man’s shoulders is insurmountable. Add all of that pressure to the fact that he will be under the ever watchful eye of New York City. Dee Millner is a great player and he is going to have to be able to carry the burden of being drafted in the situation that he finds himself in in order to be successful.
Pick #10: Tennessee Titans
OG CHANCE WARMACK – ALABAMA
The Titans may have drafted the best overall offensive linemen in this draft. The only reason that Warmack doesnt go any higher is because left offensive tackles are a much higher commodity blocking the blind side of a quarterback then interior offensive linemen are. Warmack is one of those linemen that come around once in a great while. He has blocked for two starting NFL running backs at Alabama. He lead the way for both of them to become great players in college and get drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. He has proved his mettle playing in the best, and most competitive, conference in College Football. He has a great ability to get to the second level when blocking and he can push around defensive linemen and linebackers alike. Overall I think that the person that benefits most from this pick is running back Chris Johnson. This was definitely the Titans way of showing Chris Johnson that they were still committed to giving him all the opportunities to dominate defenses.
Pick #11: San Diego Chargers
OT J.T. FLUKER – ALABAMA
The third Crimson Tide player to be selected in a row and another Crimson Tide linemen to be taken too. Fluker is a right side linemen by trade. He is a better run blocker than a pass blocker and he will do good in San Diego if they want to continue trying to play a power-run kind of offensive with the backs that they have. This is one of those picks where the Chargers are picking the best player on the board to fill needs. Fluker, I think, can play almost anywhere on the offensive line. The pick isnt a very exciting one, as most of the picks up until this point have been on the offensive or defensive line. Fluker has to potential to be one of those unsung heroes where his name doesnt show up on the stat sheet, but Chargers fans know that without him anchoring their right side, their team would not be the same.
Pick #12: Oakland Raiders
CB D.J. HAYDEN – HOUSTON
This is a pick that has me confused. I like D.J. Hayden, do not get me wrong. The thing that confuses me is why the Raiders drafted him here. The Raiders, when they were sitting at pick #3, were expected to fill their GLARING need on the defensive line with anyone that plays the position. Most notably the Raiders were expected to add Shariff Floyd at pick #3. Instead they opted to trade out of that pick, picking up a much needed second round pick in the process, and they found themselves sitting at pick number twelve. Well didn’t the Raiders (for once) look like geniuses when Shariff Floyd fell into their laps at 12? I mean, the guy that they were expected to get at pick #3, the best defensive lineman in the draft, is sitting right there! and you get a 2nd round pick for your patience! Well what do the Raiders do? They do what they Raiders do best: They botch the pick. As I said, I love D.J. Hayden. I think he is a great player. I had him going much later in the third round to the Atlanta Falcons if they decided to stay where they were (which they didnt). Some people say I might be acting a bit unfairly to the Oakland Raiders, but if you take a look at their recent first round draft history you will see why I am not surprised that they overextended themselves again and instead of addressing a position where they have absolutely no one to play the position they go out and grab a cornerback instead. That being said the Raiders a team with A LOT of holes that no one player is going to manage to fix. They are really going to have a fantastic draft to being to address some of their key issues at defensive tackle, quarterback, offensive tackle, offensive guard, etc. I have all the confidence in the world though that D.J. Hayden will definitely help a secondary that was one of the worst in the league. Hayden is a big, aggressive, corner that is not afraid to get up in the face of some of the bigger receivers in the league. He has great hands and a great ability to find the ball in the air.
Pick #13: New York Jets (From the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
DT SHELDON RICHARDSON – MISSOURI
A lot of Jets fans didnt seem to pleased with this pick. I actually liked it a lot. The Jets need a lot of help on their front 7 and Sheldon Richardson is a very athletic defensive tackle who can push his way around inside. He led all interior defensive linemen in the conference in tackles with 75, adding 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Richardson, while he does have his strength, does rely a lot on more finesse moves inside which can cause some problems if he gets caught against a more capable interior lineman that can push him around (Not that pushing him around is an easy thing to do). A lot of people were expecting the Jets to add a receiver here or possibly a pass rusher, but with the depth that is in this draft in the later rounds they could easily fill some of those spots with later picks. Richardson is a great fit here and probably my favorite DT in this draft.
Pick #14: Carolina Panthers
DT STAR LOTULELEI – UTAH
This is a phenomenal pick by the Panthers here. Great value for a guy who, for a while, was touted as the number one pick in the whole draft. Lotulelei is a very gifted player and the Panthers are very lucky that he fell to them. He should fit right into their defensive scheme as a natural nose tackle with a great ability to play the five-technique. His draft stock took a shot when reports of heart complications came out. He has been cleared by doctors to play, so if the situation is monitored properly Star Lotulelei should be a stud on defense. He has a great ability to disengage from linemen and find the ball carrier in the backfield. He should be stout in stopping the run game and he will probably find the quarterback a handful of times this season too. Expect him to make a big impact his rookie year. One thing that I really like about Star Lotulelei was that in the Pac-12 he was named the best defensive linemen in the conference. The reason that I like this is because the way that the Pac-12 determines who gets this award is that the offensive linemen from the Pac-12 all vote on who they think is the best guy to line up opposite them. So its an award given by the guys that play against him. I think awards like that always say something about the caliber of the person who receives them.
Pick #15: New Orleans Saints
SS KENNY VACCARO – TEXAS
Another nice moment from the NFL here. They invite a child from one of their programs out to give the Saints first round pick. You could tell just by looking at the kid how much it meant for him to be up there.
The Saints made a really good addition to their football team. I like the strong side safety that they have now with Roman Harper. The saints really needed to draft defense here. They had the worst defense in the league last year. They were 31st against the pass and 32nd against the run. If they had gone offense they would have pretty much been telling the league that they were going to try to outscore you every game on offense by racking up as many points as humanly possible while you scored all over them. Vaccaro is one of those safeties that can do a lot for this team. He’s like a Swiss Army Knife. He can play bump and run on the inside against tight ends and receivers. He can play over the top in zone coverage, he can cover the flats against screen passes and blow those up before they start. He can rush the passer and disrupt plays in the backfield. He had to be that do-it-all utility guy for a pretty bad Texas Longhorns defense last season. He should find plenty to do for the Saints in his years to come.
Pick #16: Buffalo Bills
QB EJ MANUEL – FLORIDA STATE
Very rarely, it seems, do the Buffalo Bills do something in the draft that blows the roof off the place. Well this year they managed to do just that. They started by adding a couple of extra later round picks and moving back 8 spots from 8 to 16. From there they managed to do something that no one expected. The Bills, by most people, were expected to take a quarterback in this year’s draft. That quarterback was supposed to be Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib. If not Nassib some people thought that they would make the best of the situation that they found themselves in and take Geno Smith. Well… The 8th pick came, Geno was still on the board, they passed and traded back. Then the 16th pick game. Still the Bills had Geno. They had Nassib too if they wanted. Heck they even had Matt Barkley if they felt so daring. Did they take any of those quarterbacks? Nope. Passed on them all. What did they do instead you ask? Well, they did take a quarterback. Just not one that anyone was really expecting at this point in the draft. The Bills took EJ Manuel. Now in my mock draft I said that the Bills needed to do something to excite their, more often than not, stale offense. Well they sure excited something. EJ Manuel is a tough one to gauge. He is one of those players that has to be coached into greatness. He has all the potential to be really good in the league. He is a staggering 6’5” and 240 lbs. I think Mike Mayock said it best about EJ Manuel when he said “You can mold him into something really special. He’s raw, but he’s that piece of clay where you take him and you can turn him to what you want.” If this pick isnt going to go down as another Buffalo Bill’s bust they are really going to have to be careful with how they mold this kid. If they throw him to the lions then he is probably going to fail. You’ve signed up for a really big development project Buffalo. Dont mess it up.
Pick #17: Pittsburgh Steelers
OLB JARVIS JONES – GEORGIA
Pittsburgh is one of those teams that, even though they lost some key players this off season, are still a good football team. They could have gone with a few choices here like wide receiver to attempt replace Mike Wallace who is now taking his talents to South Beach. They could have also drafted a defensive back to strengthen their secondary. Instead they decided to make the smart pick and take the best player on the board that will fit perfectly with what they try to do defensively. That pick is Jarvis Jones. Jarvis Jones is a player that embodies everything the Steelers like to do on defense. He plays hard, he plays fast, and he likes to rush the passer. As a junior he led the nation in sacks last season with 14.5, and tackles for loss with 24.5, he forced 7 fumbles while racking up 85 tackles in the process. He is a great defender and will really help to replace what the Steelers lost when they released long-time pass rusher, James Harrison. Jones was also a finalist for the Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Butkus and Lott awards.
Pick #18: San Francisco 49ers (From Dallas Cowboys)
FS ERIC REID – LSU
The 49ers trade up here from pick #31. They swap picks with the Cowboys and the Cowboys get picks#31 and #74. There is no surprise here that San Fran would grab a defensive back here. They have lost their starting free safety Dashon Goldson in free agency and strong safety Donte Whitner is entering the final year of his contract. Eric Reid is another one of those spot-filling picks. He is a good player who likes to tackle and can play well in coverage, especially zone. He is a long, strong safety that loves to lay out receivers coming over the middle. He also plays strong against the run and is not afraid to lower his shoulder and stop running backs in their tracks. He does, however, have an over tendency to get overaggressive and he will, at times, find himself out of position leaving the deep ball a possibility. I still like the pick though. His flaws can be coached away and the 49ers have a good coaching staff to make sure that he cleans up his play. I do think the that 49ers got a bit overzealous here and took Reid too high. I do not think that Reid was the best possible safety that could have been taken right here. Elam and Cyprien are better at the safety position in my opinion, but the 9ers went out and got their guy and they must think that this is the guy that is going to make their team better.
Pick #19: New York Giants
OT JUSTIN PUGH – SYRACUSE
I really thought this was where either Manti Te’o or Alec Ogletree was going to land. The Giants, I felt, really needed to address their hole at the linebacker position. Instead they decided to give their running backs and Eli Manning a bit of help and they added Justin Pugh out of Syracuse. Not an exciting pick really, but Pugh does have some versatility and could potentially end up playing either guard or tackle. He is a very solid player. He keeps his shoulders level and has very quick feet. He can sit into his blocks and drive defenders out of the pocket pretty easily. He could very well come in and help out the Giants offensive line and will get a lot of good experience blocking a good defensive line every day in practice.
Pick #20: Chicago Bears
OG KYLE LONG – OREGON
This is another team that I thought was going to address their defense in the first round. Instead they too decided to make an attempt to keep their quarterback upright. Jay Cutler is going to go the route of Joe Flacco and play out this season before resigning a contract. So the Bears decided to, for once, keep Jay Cutler upright. During his Bears career Jay Cutler has been constantly knocked down (and at times injured while being sacked) so it is no surprise that the team decided to go help him out. Long is another son of former NFL defensive end Howie Long, and brother to Rams first round pick Chris Long. Both Chris and Howie Long have said that Kyle is the best athlete in the family. That could be a good sign for the Bears as they move forward with Kyle. I still think that the Bears reached here on Kyle Long. While he has the make to be a pretty good offensive linemen in the NFL, I had him going in the second round and I think that the could have definitely taken a linebacker here and, if they still wanted Kyle Long later, they could have traded up to grab him at there. This is another good example of a team going out to get the guy they want regardless of the position they are in.
Pick #21: Cincinnati Bengals
TE TYLER EIFERT – NOTRE DAME
The Bengals just added another piece that makes Andy Dalton and their offense even more dangerous. I really like Eifert and I was hoping that the Ravens could manage to get their hands on him at some point. I think that Eifert is the best offensive player in the draft when it comes to going up and getting the ball in the air. He is not afraid to take a hit in mid-air and, more often than not, he comes down with the ball when he goes to get it in traffic. He can play coming off the line or in the slot and aside from his great receiving capabilities he is also really good at picking up yards after contact. I personally dont think that he’s anything special when it comes to blocking though. He could be well used in some situations, but he is a much better receiving tight end than a blocking tight end. I was actually kind of surprised by this pick because tight end wasnt really much of a need for the Bengals. I think this was simply them going out and taking the best athlete on the board. They’ll definitely find a use for them and he is more than likely going to make the Bengals offense that much more troublesome for defenses in the AFC North.
Pick #22: Atlanta Falcons (From St. Louis Rams)
CB DESMOND TRUFANT – WASHINGTON
Another legacy pick in the first round. Desmond Trufant is the brother to two NFL corner backs (Marcus and Isaiah). Desmond is a good blend of size and speed he fits well in the sub and nickel packages that the Falcons love to play in. He has good quickness with his feet and receivers often have a tough time separating from him because of his ability to not over commit on double moves. Despite his good athleticism I do have some knocks against Trufant. He’s not a good tackler by any means. He was selected to the 2012 All-Pac-12 first-team but I do think that there are better options at the corner position here for the Falcons to take. Desmond also doesnt have that big-play ability that his brother Marcus has. Desmond is good at defending inside, so I think that he will work well as their third corner back (something that the Falcons really needed last season). But I do not think that Desomond has that go and get it kind of playmaking ability. He only had one interception all of last season and only 6 interceptions his entire 4 year college career.
Pick #23: Minnesota Vikings
DT SHARIFF FLOYD – FLORIDA
A lot of people have Floyd slated as a top-5 picks. Most people had him as a top-3 pick. But here he is. He fell all the way down to the Minnesota Vikings at pick #23 and I can assume that the Vikings are very happy with how that turned out. This is one of Minnesota’s three first round pick that they will end up with before the night is out. Floyd is a freak athlete. I cant really explain why he fell so far. It might be his lack of experience, but I feel with the right coaching that he could be a force to be reckoned with. He Is a phenomenal talent that can play most positions on the defensive line. He has a strong lower body, a great motor that keeps on chugging, and explosive arm strength that he can use to get off of defenders. His college numbers do not exactly leap out at you (26 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks in two years) but his potential is through the roof and lining up next to Kevin Williams for a couple of years will probably benefit this young man as he learns to play the defensive tackle position in the NFL. Overall I say this is a good pick for the Vikings in a draft that only gets better for them.
Pick #24: Indianapolis Colts
DE BJOERN WERNER – FLORIDA STATE
The Colts need help rushing the passer. They went out and got a defensive end that can rush the passer. Pretty simple pick, right? The Colts spent all of 10 seconds on the clock before they locked in their pick. I’m pretty sure that 10 seconds were the 10 seconds it took to dial the phone. Bjoern Werner is another international product in this year’s first round coming out of Germany. His numbers talk for themselves. Werner earned the ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors after dominating offensive linemen and racking up a conference leading 13 sacks. (5 of which came in one game that he absolutely dominated) He added 42 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 8 pass breakups to his resume. Werner is a great talent and even though he is a little rough around the edges, I think that he can be molded into a great player for the Colts. The level of his talent has been compared to players like Osi Umenyiora. He has great quickness and a blinding first move that he frequently uses to get past offensive linemen. He is strong and also loves to just bull-rush offensive linemen off the ball. He should bring some tenacity back to the Colt’s pass-rush game that is getting up there in years.
Pick #25: Minnesota Vikings
CB XAVIER RHODES – FLORIDA STATE
The third Seminoles player to be taken in this year’s first round and the second of three picks from the Minnesota Vikings. Xavier Rhodes I had ranked higher than two of the three corners to come before him. I think he is a better overall player than Desomnd Trufant and D.J. Hayden. While I really like D.J. Hayden, I was really surprised that Xavier Rhodes was the fourth corner to come out of this year’s draft. He is one of those big, in your face, type corner backs. He is 6’1” tall with a 40.5 inch vertical jump. Yup, you’re reading that right: 40.5. The amount of space that he is going to be able to cover with his size and athleticism is going to be amazing. He loves to jam receivers coming off the line and disrupt routes. The biggest concern that I have with him is his inability to close on receivers sometimes. He lacks the top-end speed that you really want in a corner back, so if receivers get away from him, he has a tendency to get beat. That being said, they actually have to get away from him. Rhodes loves to keep close to his assignments and makes it really tough for people to get separation. His flaws can be coached away and he should really help the Vikings secondary right away.
Pick #26: Green Bay Packers
DE DATONE JONES – UCLA
The Packers could really use some help in the pass-rush game as well. They went out and addressed that problem with the addition of monstrous end Datone Jones. Datone Jones is another one of those raw talents that needs to be molded correctly into something amazing. He is great at getting off of blocks and making tackles inside and for a loss. He had 62 tackles last season, 19 of them being for a loss. He got to the quarterback 6.5 times as well last season. I think he fits perfectly into the 4-3 scheme that the Packers run because he is a big enough body where he can play anywhere on that line and be productive. If you continue to move him around then you start to create assignment problems for the offensive line. He fires off the ball like a cannon and has a really good first strike that be a big surprise to offensive linemen. It should also be noted that during the Senior Bowl practices where everyone fell in love with Eric Fisher; Datone Jones was the only player that was giving the number one overall pick issues.
Pick #27: Houston Texans
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS – CLEMSON
In the weeks leading up to the draft this year, when I had to take a look at the Houston Texans, I couldnt help but get the feeling that they were going to take a wide receiver in this year’s draft. Andre Johnson is coming up on the end of his career in a few years and Kevin Walter, their long time number two guy, was cut this off season and signed with the Titans. I really felt that the Texans were going to have to quickly address their hole at wide receiver and they certainly did with DeAndre Hopkins. He can catch the ball. Flat out. He had 82 catches last season for 1,405 yards (a school record) and 18 TD grabs (an ACC record). He is going to be able to do exactly what the Texans need him to do. He isnt the fastest receiver in this year’s draft, but he runs good routes and has a good vertical to go over defenders. He also has huge hands that he can use really well to reel in balls. Some people dont like this pick. To those people I say go put on the LSU game and watch what he does in that game. In big moments he can take a game completely over. Let him get a couple of years learning from Andre Johnson. If I were a betting man, I would bet that he becomes a top-tier receiver in Houston.
Pick #28: Denver Broncos
DT SYLVESTER WILLIAMS
This is a pretty safe pick for the Broncos. They dont have too many holes on their team, so you cant really fault them for wanting to add a big body to their defensive line to help stop the running game. Personally I thought that they were going to go out and get another pass rusher to help Von Miller, or even someone to replace Elvis Dumervile after the fax snafu this off season. The Broncos were ranked third in stopping the run this past season, and Sylvester Williams is the type of player that will be disruptive in the middle to stop the run. What Sylvester really does for this team is he gives them a good 4-man rotation for their interior defensive line. The Broncos already have 3 good defensive linemen and Williams will help keep everyone fresh throughout the game. So while the offensive linemen are getting worn out trying to block these guys, a successful rotation will allow for them to have the upper hand against the guys they’ll be squaring off against in the trenches. Williams is a big body that is hard to move around. He does lack the speed to close on the quarterback when the quarterback starts to move around the pocket, but when he gets his mitts on you, you’re not going anywhere.
Pick #29: Minnesota Vikings (From New England Patriots)
WR CORARRELLE PATTERSON
The Pats trade out of the first round here (probably because there wasnt anyone they liked at this position) and in the process they acquire picks #52, #83, #102, and #229. This is one thing that Bill Belichick and the Patriots really like to do. They really like to build their team based on middle round picks by finding great talent hidden in there. So I doubt they were very reluctant to trade out of the first round taking a plethora of picks in the process. That being said, the Vikings had the picks to give and they must have really wanted this Patterson. So in this instance, everyone is a winner. I had Patterson as my #3 receiver in this draft (Behind Austin and Allen) and the Vikings did a smart thing by grabbing a big play kind of guy to fill the spot left by Percy Harvin. Now Greg Jennings will have some pressure taken off of him. He does have a tendency to drop some balls, but I think with the ball in his hands his explosiveness ranks up there with Tavon Austin’s. My only concern with Patterson is that he only spent one year at Tennessee playing in division 1 football. While he clearly has speed and talent, it might be a while before he completely develops as a full blown weapon for the team. Here is a perfect example of a player with major upside, but he’s going to have to work hard to reach his full potential. Despite all of that I think the Vikings are the clear winners of round #1. They got 3 great athletes that will be the cornerstone of their team for years. If all 3 live up to their potential Vikings fans will look back at this draft as one of the best in team history.
Pick #30: St Louis Rams
OLB ALEC OGLETREE – GEORGIA
As the first round was ticking down, I was starting to get really excited because this guy was still on the board. Alec Ogletree is a great talent and has great speed coming off the ball that he uses to really get after the quarterback. I think that his stock really started to fall when he ran into multiple off field issues. As a player you will be hard pressed to find one better in this year’s draft. He has great quickness with his hands and can blow past defenders and disrupt plays in the backfield. Ogletree missed 3 games last season and still managed to total 111 tackles, 11.5 going for a loss with three sacks. He is also very comfortable in coverage, especially covering running backs, He had 5 passes defended last season as well. This is a pick that will really strengthen the core of the Rams defense. As much traded as they did, they really ended up with a great player who, if he can mind himself off the field, can really turn into something special for the Rams.
Pick #31: Dallas Cowboys
C TRAVIS FREDRICK – WISCONSIN
Boy oh boy. Dallas trades out of their #18 pick back to the #31 pick I can only assume because Kenny Vaccaro was off the board and they really didnt feel comfortable taking a safety where they were. Well the 49ers did take a safety with that pick, and they’re probably really happy with it. This is where I expected Elam or Cyprien to go. Instead the Cowboys shock everyone and take Wisconsin center Travis Fredrick. Fredrick is your prototypical Wisconsin linemen. He’s big, strong, and tough. He loves pushing guys around and gets the ball to the quarterback well. I really didnt see this as much of a big need for the Cowboys this early, but I guess when you give Tony Romo a giant extension you have to help him out up front. I figured the Cowboys could have waited around for this one, but apparently he was their guy and he is their first round pick this year.
Pick #32: Baltimore Ravens
FS MATT ELAM – FLORIDA
This is the guy that I had going to the Ravens in my mock. When Dallas traded back, I was getting kind of worried that they were going to snatch him up and even if they did I dont think it would have bothered me too much because I think we would have gone with Keenan Allen or John Cyprien instead (both players I like a lot more than Elam). I think that Elam has a really good talent. On tape I see him as a more athletic Bernard Pollard. He loves laying the big boom, but sometimes that causes him to be out of position. As defense oriented as the Ravens are they can very easily coach out any issues that Elam has in that regard. Elam isnt the tallest safety out there either, in fact he is a bit undersized for the position. Despite his size I still think that he is really good in coverage and is almost like a corner back playing the position. He identifies run very quickly and gets to his assignments with relative ease. I know there are some people out there who dont like the pick, but I think that he could come to embody the Baltimore Ravens style of playing football. He is tough and doesnt back down, and I think the Ravens fans will really like how much he likes to get in there and hit the ball carrier or potential receivers. The Safety position was one that Baltimore definitely had to address in this draft after losing both starting safeties this off season. I wouldnt be surprised to see them take another one a little later to really get some depth. They have 12 picks to work with, so it is going to be interesting to see where they go from here. The rest of the draft should be very interesting for the Baltimore Ravens.