NFL Mock Draft: Joeckel gets nod at No. 1; Cowboys to take DT Richardson

The Chiefs’ choice, assuming they keep the pick, appears to come down to an offensive tackle:

Arlington’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. Jon Gruden said Joeckel would be his choice.

“I don’t know what [new Chiefs coach] Andy [Reid] is going to do, but you’re talking about a left tackle who not only won the Outland Award Trophy as a true junior, he played for two different head coaches, two different systems, helped [Ryan] Tannehill become a first-rounder, helped Johnny Manziel win the Heisman and did it against the best America has to offer in terms of competition,” Gruden said.

1 Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only two offensive tackles have gone No. 1 overall. The Chiefs’ choice is between Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, assuming they don’t trade down.

2 Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon. The Jaguars had only 20 sacks last season. They are expected to take a pass rusher despite getting Jason Babin late last season.

3 Oakland Raiders: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan.The Raiders have only left tackle Jared Veldheer and center/guard Stefan Wisniewski as sure starters. They added Khalif Barnes and Alex Barron in free agency, but Oakland — and quarterback Matt Flynn — could use serious help in its line.

4 Philadelphia Eagles: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida. The Eagles signed nine free agents, including seven on defense, so they are in position to pick the best player on their board. That could be Geno Smith. But Floyd, paired with the No. 12 overall pick from last season, Fletcher Cox, would give Philadelphia potentially the best set of DTs in the league.

5 Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU. General manager Martin Mayhew has said repeatedly this off-season that the Lions are looking for playmakers on defense. Detroit, which ranked 13th in total defense, will have its choice of a handful of players who fit that criteria.

6 Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. The Browns have had nine top-10 picks in 13 previous drafts. They would love to move down, but if they stay, Milliner appears to be the perfect choice. Cornerbacks Chris Owens and Kevin Barnes were signed in free agency, but they are role players on one-year deals.

7 Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama. The Cardinals, who allowed 58 sacks last season, are likely to draft a lineman, but who? Left tackle Levi Brown returns after missing last season with a torn triceps, and tackles Nate Potter and Bobby Massie improved greatly late in the season as rookies.

8 Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. The Bills signed Kevin Kolb, who has had an injury-prone pro career, but he could be a stopgap. The Bills wasted two years with Ryan Fitzpatrick, passing on Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton, among others. They need a franchise quarterback.

9 New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU. The Jets, with only 30 sacks, need a pass-rushing linebacker. Both Mingo and Jarvis Jones have question marks. Scouts question Mingo’s upper body strength, and Jones ran a 4.92 at the combine and has stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column, which ended his time at USC after one year.

10 Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina. The Titans want Warmack. Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard, knows a great guard when he sees one. The Titans signed Andy Levitre to a six-year, $46.8 million deal, but they need a physical guard to battle J.J. Watt for the next few years. Warmack is that guy, but they might have to trade up to get him.

11 San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma. The Chargers released LT Jared Gaither, didn’t re-sign LG Tyronne Green and let RG Louis Vasquez depart for Denver. The Chargers will take the best lineman available.

12 Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State. The Dolphins, who had only three interceptions by their cornerbacks last season, have aging corners in Brent Grimes, Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll.

13 New York Jets: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia. Santonio Holmes is back after restructuring his deal, though he is coming off an injury. Jeremy Kerley is coming off a solid season. But the Jets need another weapon.

14 Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah. If Lotulelei falls this far, he will be a steal. Otherwise, the Panthers are left hoping that Kenny Vaccaro or Xavier Rhodes still is available to help their secondary.

15 New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia. The Saints set the single-season record for most yards allowed in a season with 7,042, which is why they hired Rob Ryan. They have Victor Butler, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson at outside linebacker. Good luck with that.

16 St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. Quintin Mikell was released and Craig Dahl left for San Francisco. The Rams will have to take a safety with one of their first two picks to be assured of getting one of the top players at the position.

17 Pittsburgh Steelers: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. Jarvis Jones, Barkevious Mingo and Kenny Vaccaro may better fit their defense, but Werner is a solid pass rusher. He had 23.5 sacks the past two seasons.

18 Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. If Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are off the board, as expected, look for the Cowboys to go defense. Kenny Vaccaro is a possibility if he doesn’t go earlier. One of the top DTs would allow Dallas to rotate Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff at the 3-technique.

19 New York Giants: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama. GM Jerry Reese said he expects James Brewer to compete with David Diehl at RT, but the Giants have no other experienced players behind them. Fluker would have a chance to win the starting job.

20 Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia. The Bears were active in free agency, but they still are thin at linebacker. They signed free agents D.J. Williams and James Anderson to one-year deals to go with holdover Lance Briggs, but Briggs is 32, Williams will be 31 this season, and Anderson turns 30.

21 Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, SS, Florida. The Bengals might re-sign Chris Crocker out of need as Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles are not good options.

22 St. Louis Rams: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama. The Rams would love to trade down, but getting a running back is a must. With Steven Jackson bound for Atlanta, Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Terrance Ganaway are the only RBs left on the Rams’ roster.

23 Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. It is possible the Vikings could go for a corner after releasing Antoine Winfield, and Desmond Trufant is a possibility. But Minnesota also has a need for a receiver even after signing Greg Jennings. The Vikings can do better than Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton.

24 Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones, OLB, UCLA. The Colts signed Erik Walden and have Jerry Hughes back, but Jones could be Dwight Freeney’s heir apparent. He had 5.5 sacks last season.

25 Minnesota Vikings: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame. The Vikings have no middle linebacker after backup Jasper Brinkley signed with the Cardinals. If they move Erin Henderson, the Vikings will have to draft a strongside starter.

26 Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. The Packers are overpaying Jermichael Finley, who received his $3 million roster bonus and will be fully compensated at $8.25 million this year. It is the last year of his deal, and the Packers could move on without him in 2014.

27 Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson: The Texans have neglected their offense, using only two first-round picks on offensive players since 2003, when they drafted Andre Johnson. (The other was tackle Duane Brown in 2008.) They released receiver Kevin Walter, leaving them with Keshawn Martin and Lestar Jean.

28 Denver Broncos: Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State. The Broncos need another pass rusher after releasing Elvis Dumervil. They have sniffed at Dwight Freeney and John Abraham. But Carradine had 13 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and a team-leading nine quarterback hurries last season and could work out well in a rotation with Robert Ayers.

29 New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington. The Patriots likely will try to trade out of the first round to get a receiver in the second round. Kansas State’s Chris Harper and Tennessee Tech’s Da’rick Rogers are possibilities.

30 Atlanta Falcons: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State. The Falcons could look to move up, as they did two years ago to get Julio Jones. A tight end is a possibility here, as is a linebacker. But Dunta Robinson was released, and Brent Grimes left for Miami, so cornerback is a need.

31 San Francisco 49ers: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina. DTs Justin Smith, 34 in September, and Isaac Sopoaga, 32 in September, are getting up there in age. And Smith is coming off surgery for a torn triceps.

32 Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU. The Ravens seem comfortable with Manti Te’o, and he would be a possibility if he is on the board. Whoever the Ravens draft to replace Ray Lewis will have big shoes to fill.

Information from The Sports Xchange was used in this report.

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