We are just 78 days away from the NFL Draft and already we are receiving indications as to what teams will be looking for to improve their line-ups. Here is the first Mock Draft as we look at initial needs of each team and the players who would fit them: 1. Kansas City Chiefs: - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. Whether it's the Chiefs or somebody else selecting number one I think the pick will be Geno Smith. Someone will fall in-love with his undoubted skill set during this evaluation process. The Chiefs Quarterbacks are terrible, Matt Cassell hasn't lived up to his large contract and now the world can see why Brady Quinn hasn't been given a prolonged start at the top level. There is also a new regime in Kansas City, with Andy Reid the coach and Smith fits perfectly to his offense. He's a mobile, strong Quarterback with an incredible deep ball and can throw on the run with ease. Like most Quarterbacks in this class he has struggled at times this year, but taking Quarterbacks are less of a risk with the new Rookie Salary Cap in place. 2. Jacksonville Jaguars: - Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah. The Jaguars have needs all over. They might get lucky and have Smith fall to them but their GM David Caldwell has stated he thinks Blaine Gabbert deserves another chance. Where he got that analysis from is anyone's guess. However, that would indicate they won't be taking a Quarterback here, so they can take the top defensive player in the 2013 Draft. Lotulelei is a big imposing Nose Tackle who commands a double team on almost every play. Tyson Alualu has been a big disappointment since the Jaguars reached for him in the first round and with the impending free agent Terrence Knighton unlikely to return, getting pressure up the middle becomes an essential need for the Jaguars. 3. Oakland Raiders: - DaMontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M. The Raiders pass-rush was pathetic, second worst only to the Jaguars. They can't afford to wait another year with the hope that they will have a shot at Phenom Jadeveon Clowney. Moore has an incredible burst off the line and would be an immediate upgrade on what they have already. As we know with the Raiders and the Draft, anything can happen and probably will. They could ignore all the film and go with the fastest, strongest person like they have done in the past. They would be foolish to pass up on a talent like Moore. His relentless attitude is infectious and would help the Raiders considerably. 4. Philadelphia Eagles: - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. This is another pick that could go a different way. With Chip Kelly at the helm they may look for a Quarterback in the draft. I have written before about the possibility of the Eagles trading up for Geno Smith but I'm not including trades as of yet. DeSean Jackson has said 'It's a no-brainer' that Vick returns, but his unwillingness to re-structure his deal might make this harder than first though. Also, this is not a strong QB class and Smith is the only viable one to go in the top 5. Joeckel is quite the consolation prize for the Eagles. He is the standout Tackle in this years class and fills a huge need for them. There were times last year when I honestly thought the Eagles line was trying to get Michael Vick killed. They were woeful, having Joeckel and a returning Jason Peters at the tackle positions would give whoever's playing the Quarterback position far more time to throw than they have been given this year. He could go as high as Number One overall if nobody fancies gambling on a Quarterback, so this is a steal for the Eagles at number 4. 5. Detroit Lions: - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU. The Lions have had some controversial picks in the past and have mismanaged a lot of high picks. Lately, however, the new management has tended to draft the best player available which has proved fruitful. Mingo is a ferocious pass rusher and is an ideal replacement for Kyle Vanden Bosch, who is not returning due to a high salary cap number. Mingo was slightly disappointing this season but he should dazzle at the combine with his athleticism and the Lions could feel that the risk is worth it. 6. Cleveland Browns: - Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU. I think the new management gives Brandon Weeden one more year. Purely for no other reason than there is no Quarterback worthy of taking this early. Ansah may seem like a reach here but he was sensational at the Senior Bowl and many predict him to be one of the stars of the combine. He has the same athleticism of a Jason Pierre-Paul or a Vernon Gholston. Two players whom players took risks on and ended up in two very different ways. This draft is very weak at the top so I think you will see more gambles than in previous drafts. 7. Arizona Cardinals: - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan. Another team with a glaring need at Quarterback. I almost mocked a QB here, the two things that stopped me were Kevin Kolb's contract and the inept performance of the Cardinals offensive line. Fisher is the second best tackle in this class and confirmed as much with a very impressive week at the Senior Bowl. He has tremendous footwork for a man of his size and should give Kolb more time to go through his progressions and give him the best chance to succeed. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if a QB was taken here though. 8. Buffalo Bills: - Matt Barkley, QB, USC. Ok, hear me out. This is a major reach for the Bills I grant you. However, we have seen it in the past with Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. When a team needs a QB and he is available the draft position becomes irrelevant. Especially with the new rookie cap, it's not that great of a risk. The Bills GM has stated he is looking to draft a QB for the franchise to depend on and he needs to get it right. He gave Ryan Fitzpatrick an extortionate amount of money and it doesn't look like paying off. A change may be the answer. Matt Barkley has had an extremely disappointing year. He was the pre-season favourite for the Heisman Trophy and the Number One overall pick. By the end of the season some scouts don't even have Barkley in the first round. His decision making has been poor and he has looked flustered in the pocket against pass-rushers. The positives, well he has had 4 years as a starter at USC and his good film probably outweighs the bad. He has impressive fundamentals which will be evident at the combine and at his pro-day. He is a very intelligent man who will interview well and this could make a team gamble on him. This could easily be Tyler Wilson or Mike Glennon but I'm going with Barkley... For now. 9. New York Jets: - Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State. Rex Ryan will be doing cartwheels if the Draft pans out this way. Werner is a lock for the top 10 and some say even the top 5. It fills a huge need for the Jets who have struggled to rush the passer this season. Gambles on Aaron Maybin's potential went the way of Vernon Gholston and Calvin Pace has looked a shell of his former self this season. Werner's work ethic and never-say-die attitude to the game of football will have the Jets salivating at the mouth if he's there for them at number 9. Werner had nothing short of a sensational year at Florida State and looks primed to shine at the next level. 10. Tennessee Titans: - DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama. This makes a lot of sense here. The Titans need serious help at Corner. The division they are in is brutal, so they have that to consider too. They considered trading up for LSU Corner Morris Claibourne but the price was too steep. Milliner is the best Corner in this Draft and was an integral part in Alabama's success. He has good size and strength and although he is a little raw, the potential is undoubtedly there and he could fit in right away in this Titans defense. An immediate upgrade for one of the worst passing defenses in all of football. 11. San Diego Chargers: - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama. This is definitely a reach, or so you would think. San Diego has needs all over their roster but their main priority will surely be keeping Phillip Rivers upright. He was nothing less than a punching bag for opposing pash-rushes and this played on him mentally. His decision making gradually deteriorated due to his lack of time in the pocket and this was the main contributor to the Chargers underachieving again. Guards don't normally go this high in the draft, but Chance Warmack is a special talent. He is the best Guard to come out of college in years. Warmack is a brut, capable of sensational footwork and an incredible power surge off the line. Whilst this isn't the only lineman the Chargers will need if Rivers is to get back to his best, it sure is a fantastic place to begin. Barring injury Warmack is a 12-year NFL starter without question. 12. Miami Dolphins: - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. If the draft does indeed play out this way then Christmas will have come early for the Dolphins. Vaccaro has top 10 talent and this fills a huge need for Miami. With the departure of Yeremiah Bell and the impending free agent Chris Clemons likely to depart. Safety upgrade will be high on the list of priorities on Draft day in the Dolphins offices. Vaccaro has a similar skill set as Eric Berry in my opinion, although not as refined as Berry was coming out of the Draft. He has sensational anticipation of a Quarterbacks direction and is quick enough to provide cover over the top at the next level. Vaccaro will be one of the top players at the combine and this could see him go higher than this, which would be a nightmare for Miami. 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington. A good end to the season has kept Josh Freeman in a job for at least another season. With the Bucs trading Aquib Talib to the Patriots before the deadline last season Corner is a huge need for the Bucs. Trufant was one of the top 3 players at the Senior Bowl and many scouts now believe he could become a Shut-down Corner at the next level. He has some things to work on, his ball awareness being his main fault. However, the Bucs are desperate for help and will need to look to strengthen here. They have the cap space to go after a free agent corner too so this pick may change. 14. Carolina Panthers: - Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida. The Panthers offense seemed to have found their rhythm at the end of the season, although it took some time they look to have real potential. Their defense, on the other hand, is terrible. They have been shocking against the run this year and after missing out on a top Nose Tackle in last years draft I don't think they will hesitate to pull the trigger this year. I get the feeling this will be a bit low for Floyd, as more and more teams will be mesmerised by his athleticism for a man of his size. Some scouts even have Floyd going in the top 5, which is a little high in my opinion. He is a space hog and can penetrate the line with ease. He will be an tremendous addition to the Carolina defense and should instantly give opposing Running Backs more to think about when they come to face them. 15. New Orleans Saints: - Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia. Jarvis Jones is a beast, a pro bowler in waiting, the best pass rusher in this Draft. So why is he going as low as number 15? Well there are concerns regarding Jones, mainly with a Spinal injury that will no doubt have teams running scared. This is a major red flag in a violent sport like football, make no mistake. There have also been some concerns with Jones' extra-curricular activities outside of football. He will have to interview well if he is to squash these rumours regarding his social life. Rob Ryan looks to be taking over as Defensive Co-Ordinator and will be lobbying hard for Jones, who he will see as the DeMarcus Ware clone that this defense is sorely lacking. The draft will be a mystery for Jones. He could go as high as 2 or drop out of the first round altogether if the concerns are strong enough. For now I have him as a mid-round pick and this is considered the steal of the round as far as I'm concerned. 16. St. Louis Rams: - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma. The Rams need help at Wide Receiver but there simply isn't one worth taking this high in the Draft. So, they will look for the next best thing and that's keeping the talented Sam Bradford upright. Lane Johnson had a ridiculously good Senior Bowl and surprised almost all of the scouts there with his performance. The Rams are desperate for help on the offensive line. With former number 2 pick Jason Smith long gone, they will try again with a first round tackle as they look to take the next step into the Playoffs. 17. Pittsburgh Steelers: - Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon. The Steelers are ageing, this is the last chance for most of them to do some damage in the playoffs. They are particularly old on defense and their pass rush has suffered as a result. You could argue that they need more help on the offensive line but you have to consider how injury prone this defense it. A speedy, young pass rusher is what is required at this spot. Dion Jordan makes sense here, he will have opportunities to make plays as James Harrison will need attention despite his age. He does have some injury concerns but has exceptional size and speed which would give Dick LeBeau another weapon to utilise. 18. Dallas Cowboys: - Sheldon Brown, NT, Missouri. The Cowboys are the NFL's perennial under-achievers and the window is closing on this team. Troy Aikman was recently quoted as saying the Cowboys should draft a Quarterback of the future in this years draft. That's a bit harsh on Tony Romo and I think Jerry Jones is with him for the long haul. They will be moving to the 4-3 defense this year with the arrival of Monte Kiffin as defensive co-ordinator. They need someone alongside Jay Ratliff in the interior. Sheldon Brown fits the mould perfectly, he has good size and should draw enough attention for DeMarcus Ware and Ratliff to do some damage. You get the feeling this is the last chance saloon for this Cowboys team and the arrival of Brown should improve their front as they look to return to the playoffs. 19. New York Giants: - Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame. This is where I see Te'o falling. Let's forget the whole 'Catfish' incident for a moment. His performance in the National Championship game was a great cause for concern. Te'o was ineffective and largely anonymous which raised the question as to whether he could adapt to the faster pace of the NFL. Once touted as a possible top 5 pick, there is absolutely no way Te'o goes that high. One game should not define all the great work Te'o has stored on film during his time as a part of the fighting Irish. There is, of course, something else to consider. No doubt the incident involving his girlfriend dying and proving to be non-existent will come up heavily during Te'o's interview process. It's one of the most bizarre stories ever to come out of College Football. How much Te'o knew about the situation is anyone's guess. In my opinion he was legitimately duped and by the time he found out the damage had already been done. Whether he continued it afterwards is up for serious debate. He will, no doubt, drop because of this story as some teams like the clean cut image but I can't see the Giants passing up on him here. They are desperate for help on the inside and Te'o is the perfect fit. Tom Coughlin will defend him as he does all his players and he could finally be able to put the incident behind him despite Te'o arriving in the Media Capital of the World. 20. Chicago Bears: - Jonathan Cooper, OL, North Carolina. The Bears need Jay Cutler healthy if they are going to succeed, it's as simple as that. Their line was terrible again this year and there record would have been a lot different. If it wasn't for the improved play of their defense. When Cutler was out they get nothing from Brandon Marshall who relies on Cutler to get him the ball exactly where he wants it. Cooper is capable of playing across any position on the offensive line and has the leadership qualities that the Bears are looking for on the line. One lineman will not be enough, but drafting Cooper will be a start. 21. Cincinnati Bengals: - Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU. I think this pick will come down to Minter or Ogletree and the preference is for Minter. The Bengals look like they're about to have a lot of problems at the Inside Linebacker position with Manny Lewis not expected back and the poor form of Ray Maulauluga. Minter should be able to fill the void and provide stability of the position in the tough AFC North. 22. St. Louis Rams: - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. The Rams will use their extra pick received from Washington in the RG3 trade last year to draft a weapon for Sam Bradford. They are severely lacking in options for Bradford to throw to. Patterson is probably the only legitimate number one receiver in this draft. He has the talent to be drafted much higher but other teams have pressing needs at other positions. I feel another team may trade up if the price is right, but for now it's St. Louis who get Patterson. He should emerge as Bradford's number one target and whilst there are normally growing pains for rookie receivers, I'm confident Patterson is the man that Bradford will turn to when the chips are down for years to come. 23. Minnesota Vikings: - Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State. Many think the Vikings will draft a defensive tackle here and they could be right. I have them drafting a corner, which is another pressing need in the pass-happy NFC North. Kevin Williams, Jared Allen and company can hold the fort for one more year at least. Antoine Winfield isn't getting any younger, Chris Cook has had his injury problems and even though Josh Robinson has shown promise they still look a little bit short and unreliable at the position. Banks happens to be one of the best players available. He has the physical presence to cover receivers one-on-one at the next level and in the toughest division in football any help on the back end would be a plus. With Banks, Cook and Harrison Smith they would have a solid, young core at secondary which can only stand them in good stead as they look to build on last years playoff appearance. 24. Indianapolis Colts: - Jonathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State. Hankins is the best player available at this juncture and looks too good to pass up. Ideally an offensive lineman would fall to the Colts here, but with none available they address the defensive line. Hankins is a brut inside and should take some of the attention away from Freeney and Mathis. 25. Seattle Seahawks: - Kawann Short, DT, Purdue. The Seahawks have an impressive defense, one of the toughest in the entire league. One thing lacking is some pass rush up the middle. Short will solve this problem. He is rapidly moving up draft boards with his impressive senior bowl showing and his speed off the block will impress Carroll. 26. Green Bay Packers: - Keenan Allen, WR, California. Greg Jennings will not be back with this team, he can no longer be counted on due to age and injury and his cap space doesn't make him legitimate value. Wide Receiver is not a priority for the Packers but Allen is too good to pass up at this point. He will suit Green Bay's high tempo offense and should fill the void left by Jennings with ease. 27. Houston Texans: - Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia. Ogletree could go much sooner than this, he is talented enough to without question. However, if Te'o goes to the Giants and Minter to the Bengals then this will be the next stop for him. The thought of a returning Brian Cushing and Ogletree at the Inside Linebacker position will have the Texans fans expecting another impressive performance from their defense in 2013, providing Cushing can stay healthy. 28. Denver Broncos. - Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor. The Broncos aren't missing an awful lot and this could be the opportunity to take a flyer on Williams. There isn't a corner of value worth taking here and would give them another explosive element to their offense that will no doubt aid Peyton Manning as he looks to take the Broncos to the Superbowl. 29. New England Patriots: - Bennie Logan, DT, LSU. They could go receiver here, with Wes Welker becoming a free agent but he is likely to return so defense is the priority. The Pats don't have much pass rush and Logan would provide a nice compliment to Vince Wilfork and could also eventually replace Wilfork when the imposing man decides to call it a day. 30. Atlanta Falcons: - Alex Okafor, DE/OLB, Texas. This is a huge need for the Falcons with the ageing John Abraham in the twilight of his career and Ray Edwards having long been shown the door. Okafor is the best player available and would give the Falcons the intense pass-rusher they were severely lacking during the Playoffs. 31. San Francisco 49ers: - John Jenkins, NT, Georgia. The 49ers are in the position that they can take the best player available. Jenkins would be a nice compliment to their already intimidating defensive line and would provide an extra man in the rotation so give their seasoned veterans some valuable rest throughout the season. 32. Baltimore Ravens: - Barrett Jones, G/C/(, Alabama. They may want to go with a receiver here, with the possibility Anquan Boldin may be traded due to salary cap constraints. If that happens this pick will change but that sounds inconceivable after his Superbowl performance. Instead, I have them using this pick on the replacement for veteran Centre Matt Birk. Jones can play anywhere on the line and is the ideal replacement for Birk who is still undecided as to whether or not he will be back next year. - Obviously there will be many changes as we get nearer to the draft. Have a different opinion? Tweet me @DeanJones_
April 08 2014 10:05 AM EPL NEWS: FIVE FINALS TO GLORY - WILL LIVERPOOL WIN THE TITLE?
April 08 2014 9:46 AM EPL NEWS: FIVE FINALS TO GLORY - WILL LIVERPOOL WIN THE TITLE?
April 08 2014 9:41 AM EPL NEWS: FIVE FINALS TO GLORY - WILL LIVERPOOL WIN THE TITLE?