A new one. * Indicates underclassman. Playoff team order is based on predicted finishes:
1. Kansas City Chiefs - QB Matt Barkley, USC
The Chiefs almost have to take a QB. They have good players at a lot of other positions, and besides their D-line there are no real glaring holes on their roster. But given all the #1 picks they've used on linemen that have netted marginal results (Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Poe), it's time to turn to the QB position. Ultimately it's probably going to come down to Barkley, Geno Smith, or Tyler Wilson. All three are seniors, and if any of them work out at the Senior Bowl, they can start to push themselves up the boards. If not, then it'll come down to Combine and pro day before this thing is sorted out.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State*
The Jaguars almost certainly will use their top pick to draft a pass rusher. While there will be questions about whether they should draft a QB, this year's class does not really present anyone that is a clear upgrade over either Gabbert or Henne. It will likely come down to Werner or Damontre Moore at this spot. Lotulelei will also be in the mix here since Tyson Alualu hasn't been a good player, and Knighton is a free agent.
3. Oakland Raiders - QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
The new management of the Raiders didn't choose Carson Palmer or Terrelle Pryor. But despite some issues elsewhere on the roster (especially on defense), the Raiders will jump all over the QB that the Chiefs don't take No. 1. Smith is that guy, and he'll be groomed for a year behind Palmer, similar to how Palmer was groomed behind Jon Kitna as a rookie.
4. Philadelphia Eagles - DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
They used their top pick on Fletcher Cox last year, but Cullen Jenkins might be dumped this off-season, and Mike Patterson's time in Philly is likely coming towards an end. Lotulelei potentially provides a dominant presence in the middle of their line that alongside the bevy of solid pass rushers they already have give them potentially one of the league's more formidable fronts.
5. Detroit Lions - DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M*
While the Lions probably have bigger needs at WR, OL, and in the secondary, Cliff Avril is a free agent, and they have not been able to get a ton of pressure from the other DE spot. The Lions appear to believe in having a bunch of good pass rushers, and Moore could be a very good fit in their Wide 9s up front.
6. Cleveland Browns - WR Keenan Allen, California*
While the Browns saw flashes from Josh Gordon and Greg Little, neither represent that go-to target on the outside. What they reaped from the Julio Jones trade has not given them that sort of playmaker. Allen is not quite on that level with Jones, but definitely much closer than anybody they currently have.
7. Arizona Cardinals - OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M*
No doubt the Cardinals need help at QB and up front. If they don't get into the QB sweepstakes this year, then getting the top offensive tackle in the class would be a smart move. Joeckel's addition could move Levi Brown back to his more natural right tackle position and help give them a solid pair of bookends going forward.
8. Buffalo Bills - QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
The Bills want to get a QB, and ultimately I think they settle on Wilson who after a down year could move back up the boards since there is no clear-cut top QB. Fitzpatrick probably gets kept, but if he starts to struggle like he did this past year, they'll likely pull the plug and insert Wilson.
9. New York Jets - DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State*
While it's a no-brainer that the Jets take an offensive playmaker or QB, who is that player? Maybe Tennessee QB Tyler Bray moves up boards high enough to merit this pick, but given that they are forced to pay Sanchez, they might be better served pursuing a veteran since Rex probably doesn't have a long enough leash to develop someone new. Instead, Rex will become enamored with Hankins who will be his version of Vince Wilfork in the middle at nose tackle.
10. Tennessee Titans - DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri*
The Titans will see Richardson as a player similar to Jason Jones that can provide interior pressure, which they have tried to get with guys like Mike Martin and Karl Klug. It could mean a return to the days where they had a force up front with Haynesworth & Co.
11. San Diego Chargers - OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia*
Jones has the potential to be a top pass rusher, but I've heard some whispers about durability (neck injury as a freshman) and the like which can kill your draft stock pretty quickly. But the Chargers have been looking for an heir to Shawne Merriman ever since he got busted for steroids. Larry English was a failure. Melvin Ingram appears to be a potential success. Shaun Phillips is a free agent, and Jones can slide in immediately to play on the edge in his place.
12. Miami Dolphins - OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan*
Questions abound about whether Jake Long has a future in Miami. If he does not, then Lewan would be a good candidate to replace him because they are similar prospects. If Long stays, then Lewan potentially offers a major upgrade over Jonathan Martin at RT.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - CB Dee Milliner, Alabama*
Milliner will be tasked with replacing Aqib Talib, and shouldn't have any of the off-field issues that plagued Talib and have a similar skill level. Their secondary was weak this year due to their lack of depth. They also need help upgrading their pass rush, so if one of the edge rushers in the Top 10 starts to slip they could go after him.
14. Carolina Panthers - CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State*
Rhodes has the size and athleticism to be a similar player as Antonio Cromartie, but again sans the character issues. Gamble is getting up there in age, and while Josh Norman flashed potential, they still need more work in the back-end. Rhodes will be tasked to cover the likes of Julio Jones, Marques Colston, and Vincent Jackson going forward in the NFC South.
15. New Orleans Saints - DE Sam Montgomery, LSU*
With the turnover the Saints will likely see up front, potentially losing both Will Smith and Sedrick Ellis, they will really be on the lookout for an edge rusher. Even if they retained both, they need to find ways of getting pressure in Spagnuolo's scheme. Montgomery is a local player and a natural fit.
16. St. Louis Rams - OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M*
The Rams need to improve their offensive line. Jason Smith was a failure, and the combo of Barry Richardson and Wayne Hunter at right tackle did not work. Matthews plays the right side and is the son of HOFer Bruce Matthews, who Jeff Fisher coached for the final 8 years of his career. Matthews is good enough to also play on the left side, in case Rodger Saffold can't cut it there.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
I have this feeling that Te'o is going to be this year's well-known player that falls in the draft. If he goes to Pittsburgh, it's a great fit as they need a replacement for James Farrior/Larry Foote at inside linebacker, and he gives them a smart, young leader to rebuild their aging defense with.
18. Dallas Cowboys - OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Cowboys interior O-line has been a weakness, and while Nate Livings has gotten the job done at one spot, Mackenzy Bernardeau is an overglorified backup, not a starter. Warmack is a powerful and physical run blocker that can help get the Cowboys ground attack back to where it was a few years back when Leonard Davis was clearing lanes at right guard.
19. New York Giants - DE Ezekial Ansah, BYU
Umenyiora has just one more year on his deal, and Justin Tuck has practically disappeared. Ansah draws similar comparisons of Pierre-Paul as a raw athlete. The Giants have no problems rolling the dice on those guys (Osi was similar), and will hope Ansah can give them another top pass rusher up front.
20. Chicago Bears - OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Fisher hails from CMU, which also produced Joe Staley. The Bears desperately need to improve their offensive line, as J'Marcus Webb has struggled at left tackle, Gabe Carimi has been injury prone and inconsistent at right tackle. Fisher probably gets plugged in immediately at LT, Webb flips back to RT, and Carimi potentially moves inside to RG where he looked a little better late in the year.
21. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) - RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina*
Steven Jackson is going to be gone, and while Daryl Richardson did some nice things as a backup, he doesn't look like he's ready to tote the rock. Fisher had Chris Johnson at Tennessee, and Bernard represents a similar explosive everydown running back that can give them another very good backup.
22. Minnesota Vikings - WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee*
The Vikings need to get a playmaker on the outside. Hunter has some red flags, but his combo of size and speed gives them a dynamic option on the outside to team with Harvin on the inside. This spot is going to be interesting as there is probably going to be a number of guys competing to be the first WR taken after Allen: Terrance Williams, Robert Woods, Cordarelle Patterson, Tavon Austin, etc. Hunter probably has the most upside, although the others could be a bit more polished.
23. Indianapolis Colts - OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU*
Quite a drop for Mingo who entered the year projected as a potential Top 5 pick. But he had a down year. But the Colts aren't upset because they will need some pass rushers for Pagano's defense. Freeney is likely to be gone, and Jerry Hughes has been a bust. Mathis hasn't taken too well to playing with his hand off the ground, but Mingo gives them another guy to mold into a Terrell Suggs/like playmaker.
24. Houston Texans - WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
The Texans don't have many needs with one of the top defenses in the league when they are healthy, and a steady ground attack. But they need to find another guy opposite Andre Johnson that can make some plays since Kevin Walter, Lestar Jean, and whoever else they have are really just overglorified backups. Williams offers good size and speed and likely will be the top senior WR taken.
25. Cincinnati Bengals - DT Kawann Short, Purdue*
Short has been a disruptive pass rusher that can give them another good player in the middle beside Geno Atkins. Domata Peko is a decent rotation guy, but not a real playmaker. Short offers potential both as a pass rusher and run stopper.
26. Baltimore Ravens - ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia*
The Ravens will be looking to get younger and better on defense, and it probably starts with finding replacements for Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, their two leaders. Since there is no real ball-hawking safety that comes close to Reed in this class, the next best thing is to get a good everydown linebacker like Ogletree who can potentially solidify the middle for years to come.
27. Seattle Seahawks - DT Shariff Floyd, Florida*
Alan Branch is a free agent, and the Seahawks love having big, bulky guys up front like with Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane. Floyd should fit well into that group, especially if they can develop his pass-rushing potential as he joins Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, and Jason Jones on their pass-rushing units.
28. Green Bay Packers - DT John Jenkins, Georgia
B.J. Raji looks a little better at end than he did at the nose. Ryan Pickett is on his last legs, and a guy like Jenkins could do well as the heir apparent at the nose spot. Jenkins is massive, disruptive playmaker with the potential to be picked higher, but typically 3-4 nose tackles value dips as we approach the draft.
29. Atlanta Falcons - TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame*
If Tony Gonzalez hangs it up, then the Falcons will have a need to replace him at tight end. Eifert is the classic pick of the Falcons, despite being an underclassman he is a captain, showing his high character that the Falcons put a premium on. Eifert can slide right in and help them offensively, keeping their unit as one of the best in the league.
30. Denver Broncos - CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State*
The Broncos need to find a replacement for Champ Bailey on the outside. Banks has excellent ball skills and tools. He can be a playmaker on that defense and should be a good heir apparent to Bailey.
31. San Francisco 49ers - DE Margus Hunt, SMU
The injuries and increasing age of Justin Smith means that the 49ers would be smart to start developing his replacement. Hunt has a similar skillset and excellent size/tools to become a force up front. Smith has some left in the tank, and Hunt is raw making it a perfect match to still get something from Smith and develop Hunt down the road.
32. New England Patriots - OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
While the Patriots could easily be looking for more playmakers on defense, they also need to continue to beef up their offensive line. Cooper is an athletic and physical player that can play opposite Mankins where they've been plugging and playing with Dan Connolly, Donald Thomas, and Brian Waters the past two years. Cooper should solidify that interior for years.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.