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Our latest draft day projections have the Cardinals getting an offensive lineman and Geno Smith going in the top 10.
Free agency has changed the face of the mock for many teams. Many teams' needs have been addressed, many wants have been fulfilled, so now the areas of need which remain help us have a better idea of positions teams will be hoping to address through the drafts. The Arizona Cardinals have bolstered their defense through multiple acquisitions in free agency albeit at the cost of veteran leadership, but they have began the rebuilding and rebranding process with General Manager Steve Keim and Head Coach Bruce Arians at the helm. They've put a lot of focus on the defense, but added only two pieces to the offense so far by adding veteran running back Rashard Mendenhall and QB Drew Stanton, who may be the Cardinals answer at QB this year. There have been rumors that the Cardinals will be using two of their first three picks in the upcoming draft to add top talent to the offensive line, and one of those three picks would be used on a new quarterback. The Cardinals still have needs at outside linebacker, running back, as well as adding safety and linebacker depth to groom.
Let's take a look at how the draft has changed since our last mock draft.
Following the acquisition of Alex Smith officially, the Chiefs will look to protect him by adding Joeckel. Andy Reid is building the Chiefs his way, and he knows the value of a good line, and has seen how effective Smith can be with time.
The Jaguars have been busy improving their defense in free agency and picked up Roy Miller from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to really bolster their running game, so now they pick up Dee Milliner to improve their passing game which was near the bottom of the league in 2012. Milliner will add a huge improvement to their porous secondary who gave up TDs, 1st downs, and had only 12 interceptions in 2012. This could also be Dion Jordan at #2, but I think Milliner is a potential star at CB.
The Raiders recently added DT Pat Sims as a stop gap in their defensive line, but there is still a need there and adding Floyd would be an immediate improvement. Floyd can learn from Sims and be a rotational player with Sims who has troubles with injuries which can allow both of them to stay fresh and get reps which will help the team.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Some may say that this pick is a reach, but for Chip Kelly's first pick as head coach why not take as close to a sure thing as possible. Kelly would love to add arguably the most talented OLB prospect to his team and help reunite Jordan with his college head coach and defensive line coach. This is a great move for everyone involved and especially supports the defensive changes in Philadelphia by adding a crucial piece that will have every opportunity to succeed and make an impact.
The Lions only have three defensive ends on the roster in Jones, Young, and Ronnell Lewis, and while many people have the Lions picking up an OT or OG at the number five spot they forget that the Lions already have three young linemen Riley Reiff, Corey Hilliard, and Jason Fox on the roster who will be competing for leading positions. I don't think they add another young lineman to the mix, especially when there is such a hole at DE. Ansah is the answer, excuse the pun. He's big and mean, and fits the perfect balance of need and BPA.
6. [Trade from Browns] Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Bills will get antsy and worry that the Cardinals will take Smith away from them, so they'll trade up two positions to make sure that doesn't happen. Smith will get his opportunity to lead a franchise in need of a quarterback, just as he would have in Arizona if he lasted one more pick.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
I'm torn in this position because I think with Smith off of the board the Cardinals could go with either Chance Warmack or Fisher, but I think they take Fisher because of the lack of depth at OT on the Cardinals roster. This opens the possibility to shift Levi Brown inside to OG and allowing the team to select the BPA between a QB/OG for the 2nd and 3rd round picks. Selecting Fisher here serves two spots, selecting Warmack would only address one and still leave a big burden on Levi Brown at OT.
8. [Trade from Bills] Cleveland Browns: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Prior to free agency the Browns would have used their pick to bolster their defense, but following a very active signing of many new pieces for Ray Horton's defense the Browns pick up an extra draft pick from Buffalo and add Warmack to their line to fix the hole at right guard and allow their running game to be better and their pass protection to be improved. Trent Richardson rejoices and Weedon is just happy it's not a QB selected ... yet.
The Jets have two wide open holes at Safety right now and Vaccaro is the best in the draft. I think there's a possibility the Jets pick a linemen here, or Mingo, but I think the need will cause them to call up Vaccaro to be a star in their defense.
The Titans running game has been terrible and needs to be addressed if the Titans are going to get any production out of Chris Johnson. Cooper is a mauler and talented. Cooper is the pick to protect Locker/the next QB the Titans pick, as well as open holes for CJ1.1K.
Johnson is the best player available that fits the Chargers glaring need. After the flurry of OT turnover in the 2012 season Johnson adds stability to Rivers' blindside with the hopes that Rivers can now concentrate on getting the ball down field and return to his 2010-11 Pro Bowl caliber play.
Lotulelei fell outside of the top ten due to other teams drafting for need, I can already hear the keystrokes being typed at how this seems ridiculous, but here me out. The Dolphins have franchised Randy Starks and if he wants too much money the Dolphins can use the year to groom Lotulelei and also use that as a bargaining chip with Starks. Lotulelei is a beast and would be excellent in rotation with Starks.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Bucs have a need at Defense End and Mingo is the type of player who can create pressure and would work well across from Adrian Clayborn. The Bucs run defense was number one in the league in 2012 and they'll look to continue that in 2013.
Richardson is that perfect mix of need and BPA. The Panthers lack talent at DT and finally address a position that was looked over for the past couple of drafts. They take a step in the right direction by adding Richardson's speed and motor.
Ogletree adds depth to a thin linebacker corps, and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan know how valuable depth is following the rash of injuries that decimated the Cowboys last year. While the Saints are lacking at CB, I think Nnamdi Asomugha signs to be reunited with his DC leaving Ryan to select the BPA between ILB and a pass rusher.
Austin is a talent, and after the departure of Danny Amendola the Rams will be looking for a little spark plug who could be a big difference maker right away. Austin has the potential to be just that, and he's that special talent that you can select now knowing you have an extra 1st round pick to pick up a need position.
Moore has speed and the Steelers have a need. The Steelers have parted ways with James Harrison and are in need or a pass rusher to create pressure on the right side. Moore has the talent and could find the guidance he needs in Pittsburgh to straighten out his image of lack of maturity.
Jay Ratliff hasn't been the answer for the Cowboys and Williams is a 313 lb answer to the Cowboys need versus the run and against the pass. Williams is tough, durable, and is a great pick at 18.
Werner is a great fit for the Giants and he can bring back some of the pass rush that was missing at the end of 2012. After the Giants have shored up so many other needs in free agency DE is still a hole and Werner is the best available here.
Prior to the Bears signing TE Martellus Bennett I had a TE filled into this spot because Jay Cutler needed someone with hands to dump the ball off to. But with that hole filled the Bears have needs at CB and LB and could pick Manti Te'o at 20 to fill their needs. I think Trufant is the better player here.
The Bengals add Patterson to fight Sanu for the WR No. 2 slot, and it's a win-win for the Bengals to identify the compliment to A. J. Green and add depth in case one of their weapons goes down due to injury.
22. St. Louis Rams: Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse
The Rams need to work on protection for Sam Bradford and the interior of their line is the weak spot right now.
23. Minnesota Vikings: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
In prior drafts we had the Vikings picking a WR at 23, but after the Vikings added Greg Jennings and resigned Jerome Simpson the need shifts to the hole in the defensive line. John Jenkins is a NT who is massive. At 6' 3" and 346 lbs his terrific against the run has a good motor to get push on the pocket and can draw the double team.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Many of the Colts needs have been addressed in free agency, so the Colts can look at BPA. Hunter is a good addition to the Colts downfield passing game. His 6' 4" frame and large wing span will give more opportunity for Andrew Luck to do what he does best and chuck the ball down the field.
25. [From Seattle Seahawks] Vikings: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Vikings have lost one of their starting linebackers to the Cardinals and can upgrade that position with Te'o or add depth to the OT by adding Menelik Watson. I think they'll take Te'o here as he has ties to the organization and could be an upgrade over Brinkley.
The Packers flirted with many RBs in free agency and could still end up with a 26 years young, but often injured, Ahmed Bradshaw, but until then I think it's best to identify a solution to the woes that have been the Packers running game for the past two seasons.
Patton is an excellent receiver with a big frame who works best exploiting zone coverage. With the Texans situation at WR it's time to start setting up talent to take the reins from an aging Andre Johnson and hopefully create more threats on the outside that will keep defenders from stacking the box against the run game.
After the Dumervil release drama the Broncos need someone to pick up a huge amount of slack and Montgomery could be just the player to take on a lot of that role and grow into it. Look for Denver to go Montgomery or Carradine to answer their need at DE here.
29. New England Patriots: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Watson is a depth signing here and will get time to grow in the system and compete for a starting spot. But this really is a depth pick due to the lack of talent on the Patriots offensive line, which was evident deep in the playoffs when players became injured or needed spot relief due to cramps.
The Falcons pick Gonzalez's heir and through his good graces he even agrees to come back for "one last ride" to try and win that evasive championship. Eifert is in a great position to learn from a future Hall of Famer and contribute to a pass heavy offense that knows how to use a TE.
Wreh-Wilson is a big framed, speedy cornerback who can start day one and grow into a great cover defender. He has the size and instincts, he just has to work on his hands to bring in more of the balls that are sent his way.
The Ravens lost both ILBs and need to find replacements fast. Minter is a stout defender who is durable and is a sound tackler. He'll have huge shoes to fill in Baltimore, but he's been called a "pro's pro" and is the type of player that could be just the leader that will be missing on the Ravens defense.