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NFL beat writers mock: Bears trade down, get Fluker
NFL beat writers hold an annual mock draft in which a beat writer who covers each NFL team picks for the team they cover. The Sun-Times represented the Bears pick and traded the 20th overall pick to the 49ers for the 49ers’ first-round pick (No. 31), third-round pick (No. 74) and a sixth-round pick (No. 180).
Here is how the mock draft went down, with analysis from each NFL beat writer:
1. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs would prefer to trade down but assuming that doesn’t happen, they need to secure left tackle for the long term. Branden Albert signed his one-year contract as the franchise player but isn’t happy and has been absent from offseason conditioning and last week’s mini-camp. Otherwise, they filled a lot of their needs in free agency. Not that they couldn’t use an upgrade at a number of spots but they can line up and play a game right now, other than this hole at LT.
2. JACKSONVILLE: Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
The Jaguars have accepted that trading out of the No. 2 spot isn’t going to happen. Like a 2-14 team with a new general manager, head coach and coordinators, the Jaguars are undergoing a major roster overhaul and that makes for so many needs. They could go with a DE at No. 2 to help a pass rush that only 20 sacks last year (worst in the NFL) or a right tackle because the new staff has little faith in incumbent Cam Bradfield. After the first round,they also need a No. 1 corner (right now it’s Alan Ball), a strong safety (Bradley said Monday there isn’t a starter on the roster), Will linebacker who can play all downs and at some point, they should be expected to take a quarterback. They have only two on the roster.
They could make the safe pick and take Fisher, but right tackle can be addressed later with somebody like free agent Tyson Clabo. The Jaguars go with Ansah despite his inexperience.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS: Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon.
The Raiders would love to trade down and get back the second-round pick they lost in the Carson Palmer trade. General manager Reggie McKenzie knows he needs some impact players, and his shredding of the 4-12 roster (38 of the 53 players he inherited are gone) has left Oakland without any pass rush. Not that it had any last year. The Raiders only had 25 sacks in 2012, but players who had 17 of those are gone. If the Raiders are able to trade down, I see them solidifying their front line with DTs Star Lotolelei or Shariff Floyd.
There will be some temptation to take Fisher, who might be the best player on the board, but Jordan fills the biggest need and has more star potential than a left tackle. The Raiders desperately need a star. Jordan has long arms and great athleticism and will immediately give the Raiders an outside rush.
4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan.
Eagles will be getting All Pro LT Jason Peters, C Jason Kelce and RT Todd Herremans back from injuries. But Peters is 31, Herremans is 30 and LG Evan Mathis is 31. They have a hole at RG. The light has yet to go on for 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins. Herremans has spent most of his career as a guard. So he can move inside if Watkins doesn’t cut it. If they don’t get a plug-and-play OT in the draft, they still are interested in unrestricted free agent Eric Winston, whose wife has Philly-area roots.
It still remains to be their transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4. They signed Connor Barwin, who was an edge-rushing OLB with Houston. But the jury still is out on veteran DE Trent Cole and 2010 first-round pick Brandon Graham. So they would like to get another edge-rusher.
Eagles are very interested in trading down and acquiring another pick or two in the second or third rounds. But they don’t want to drop any lower than 11 or 12.
With this scenario, I would expect them to take Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher, a good, athletic fit for Chip Kelly’s offense, who can step in and play immediately at RT. Two other considerations: the other top-rated OT, Lane Johnson, of Oklahoma, and Utah DL Star Loutilelei, who could play both nose and
5-technique for them. But I think he figures into the equation only if Eagles trade down a few spots.
5. DETROIT LIONS: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama.
Going in, the Lions want one of the two OTs – Joeckel or Fisher – with Milliner a strong third. Milliner He fits a need, opposite starting CB Chris Houston, a three-year starter who re-signed as a free agent in March.
At his pre-draft presser last week, GM Martin Mayhew, a starting CB on the Redskins’ 1991 season Super Bowl champs, talked about Milliner’s size and speed.
The Lions drafted three CBs last year – Bill Bentley third round, Chris Greenwood fifth round, Jonta Green sixth round, and while they like them as development players – especially Bentley and Greenwood – Milliner is way above those three. Surgery on labrum an issue, but thinking would be that once it heals, it’s fixed for good. Not like a pitcher with a bad elbow/shoulder or whatever.
6. CLEVELAND BROWNS: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU.
First draft of the regime of CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi. They used free agent to address the switch to Ray Horton’s 3-4 – OLBs Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and LDE Desmond Bryant – but they still have starting vacancies at CB and ILB, and still want to add another OLB rusher. If Horton copies his
hero Dick LeBeau, the Browns won’t take the CB at No. 6. On paper, they could justify one of the OGs, but they already have really good OTs and a solid C. I don’t buy the national perspective that Banner and Lombardi will draft a QB to oust Brandon Weeden. I think HC Rob Chudzinski and OC Norv Turner think they can win with Weeden’s strong arm. Banner and Lombardi are not big fans of Weeden or WR Josh Gordon, who had a real good rookie year after ex-GM Tom Heckert used his No. 2 pick in last summer’s supplemental draft. Banner would like to recoup a
No. 2. If any team is capable of doubling down – trading down twice – it is the Browns, if they could pull it off.
7. ARIZONA CARDINALS: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama.
This is the first draft of GM Steve Keim and Bruce Arians. The most immediate need is the offensive line, but Arians seems to feel better about the group than anyone else, especially his tackles. At the owners meetings, Arians said he is one player away from having a “helluva” offensive line. LT Levi Brown returns after missing last season with a torn triceps. Nate Potter, a seventh-round pick in ’12, took over or D’Anthony Batiste and showed promise over the latter half of the season. Another rookie, fourth-rounder Bobby Massie, started all 16 games at right tackle. He was a liability over the first half of the season but showed remarkable improvement over the second half. Their guards, Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder, signed as free agents over the last two seasons. Colledge had a solid year. Indications are the ardinals would like to upgrade the right side, Snyder’s spot.
New DC Todd Bowles is maintaining the 3-4 and the team still needs 3-4 OLB who can rush. O’Brien Schofield hasn’t stayed healthy enough. Sam Acho is a good all-round player but not a pass rush specialist..
This draft: Lane Johnson has to be tempting here and that could be the pick. If they do that, Brown could move to the right side.
Warmack fills an immediate need. The Cardinals should be able to plug him in the starting lineup for the next 6-8 years.
8. BUFFALO BILLS: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse.
The Bills have plenty of needs, but QB is the biggest. Ryan Fitzpatrick was cut. Kevin Kolb is the favorite over Tarvaris Jackson on the current roster. Need a No. 2 WR opposite Stevie Johnson. But there’s no WR worth taking at No. 8. Could use a starting OG to replace Andy Levitre, who left in free agency. So a good case could be made for Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. But OG is an easier position to fill. Can they wait to No. 41 (their second round pick) and get the QB they want? That’s a risk. Do they want to trade next year’s No. 1 to move up from 41 to the first round? Can’t see that. They can get a quality WR at No. 41. New coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett know Ryan Nassib better than anybody. He could make a smooth transition running their offense.
9. NEW YORK JETS: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia.
The Jets acquired the 13th overall pick in the Darrelle Revis trade and are clearly in a major rebuilding phase under first-year general manager John Idzik. Mark Sanchez is the incumbent at
quarterback, but mostly because of his $8.25 million guaranteed salary. Both starting safeties in 2011 (LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell) are gone. They re-signed OLB Calvin Pace to a one-year deal after initially releasing him. Also released were LB Bart Scott and S Eric Smith. Veteran guard Brandon Moore was not re-signed, and RB Shonn Greene signed with Tennessee. TE Dustin Keller signed with Miami. Santonio Holmes is coming off foot surgery and might not be ready for the start of camp.
This is GM John Idzik’s first draft in the lead role, and he is considered by those he has worked with as a very patient, meticulous executive who prefers to
build through the draft instead. Unlike predecessor Mike Tannenbaum, Idzik does not appear ready to take chances with roster transactions (see: Brett Favre, Tim Tebow, etc.), preferring a more methodical approach. Idzik has been extremely close to the vest throughout the draft process. With our mock falling this way, and with Mingo, Milliner and Warmack off the board, Idzik can any number of ways. They have done extensive work on the quarterbacks, although I don’t know that they value Geno Smith as the No. 9 prospect. They have done extensive work on him, however, and it is possible they take him here. But with Tavon Austin still on the board, and with the team also having examined him closely, there may be a temptation to go higher for him, especially with some interest among other teams in moving up for him.
10. TENNESSEE TITANS: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida.
After signing 12 free agents and spending over $105 million in free agency, the Titans have some flexibility here. Yes, they still need a long-term option at guard opposite Andy Levitre, and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper is available in this mock. But with a difference-maker still around in Floyd, they’d have to take him here. They could then target a guard – Kentucky’s Larry Warford?–in the second round. The Titans also need pass rushers, and one position they didn’t address in free agency was cornerback. Look for them to snag one or two at some point in the draft as well.
11. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma.
This draft will be judged as something of a failure if the Chargers don’t walk out with a starting left tackle. The offensive line was a mess last year, and new general manager Tom Telesco wants to replace at least three starters after
parting with LT Jared Gaither, LG Tyronne Green and RG Louis Vasquez. If LT Lane
Johnson is available at pick 11, the Chargers ought to be jumping up and down,
screaming like Reese Witherspoon at a DUI checkpoint that he fell to them; many
scouts say the draft suffers a drop-off after the position’s top three. Adding
the ex-Sooner allows them to address guard sometime in the two or three rounds.
Will San Diego be so fortunate Thursday to have this option at pick 11? That’d
surprise. But in this mock, it’s an easy call.
12. MIAMI DOLPHINS: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston.
The Dolphins have been working on filling their LT need by trading for KC’s
Branden Albert but they would rather not give up a second-round pick for the
privilege of paying Albert a huge contract. They probably would welcome giving
up a 2014 second rounder. If the Albert trade is made, then the LT need is met.
Otherwise the Dolphins will be hunting the fourth best LT in the draft in the
second round because they aren’t paying the ransom to trade up for Luke Joeckel
or Eric Fisher, and Lane Johnson doesn’t seem to be a team favorite. The club
says it doesn’t need cornerback help but it does. Miami traded away Vontae Davis
last year and let Sean Smith depart in free agency. The addition of Brent Grimes
via a one-year deal doesn’t solve the problem and actually raises the question
whether he’ll be healthy — he’s recovering from a torn Achilles — in time for
training camp or the season. The club also lost starting TE Anthony Fasano in
free agency and although Dustin Keller is on the roster, he’s also on a one-year
contract so that position begs attention. The club loves Reshad Jones at one
safety spot but has an opening at the other. Again, the Dolphins desperately
want to trade down. If not … THE PICK @ 12 is: D.J Hayden, Houston.
13. NEW YORK JETS: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia.
[Miami] took the next best corner, so the Jets would
be reaching here to get the second coming of Revis. If I’m not mistaken, Sharrif
Floyd is still on the board, but he’s more suited for 4-3, and the Jets run a
3-4. Not only that, but they’ve already got two young first-round defensive
linemen in Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. As I’d indicated before, they’ve
done extensive work on Geno Smith, and while the jury is obviously still out on
him around the league, considering the need, he might be tough to pass on.
14. CAROLINA PANTHERS: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah.
Carolina is interested in trading down and getting one of their later-round picks back. But not if Star Lotulelei’s still on the board when they pick 14th.
Panthers first-year GM Dave Gettleman spent 14 years with the Giants, who did
pretty well beefing up their D-line seemingly every year in the draft. Since
cutting nose tackle Ron Edwards this offseason, Ron Rivera has talked about the
need to find a space-eater up front to keep blockers off Defensive RoY Luke
Kuechly. Lotulelei does more than occupy blockers, however. And the Panthers
have experience drafting guys with heart issues/scares. They took Oklahoma DE
Frank Alexander in the fourth round last year after Alexander was sent home from
the combine after doctors thought they found a hole in his heart. The Panthers
checked into it, and it turned out to be a misdiagnosis.
15. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia.
If you have the NFL’s worst ever defense in terms of yards yielded in one season
(7,042), then no job is safe and plenty of holes need to be filled on that side
of the ball. First and foremost for first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is
trying to find someone, anyone, who can apply consistent pressure on the
quarterback. They have lacked a premiere pass rusher for years. They have other
needs as well but this position is important in the big picture. They plan to
give two youngsters shots at OLB, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson. But Jarvis
Jones apparently has answered the medical questions and appears to be the real
deal. Was not asked to drop into pass coverage at Georgia.
Jarvis Jones seems like a safe pick, though his 40 time is unimpressive (4.90-ish). Good athlete, good pass rusher, fills a big need. That
said, this team would consider trading down to acquire more draft picks and RB
Chris Ivory is definitely a player they are looking to move in a trade. The Jets
have offered a fifth, the Saints want more. Don’t we all.
16. ST. LOUIS RAMS: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee.
The Rams seemingly have been searching for wide receiver help since the dynamic
tandem of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt last played in St. Louis. The teams wants
to get faster and more explosive on offense after finishing 25th in scoring
offense and 23rd in total offense. In addition, the team has lost a perennial
1,000-yard rusher in Steven Jackson (voided contract, signed with Atlanta in
free agency), as well as two of their top three wide receivers from last season
in free agent Danny Amendola, to New England, and free agent Brandon Gibson, to
Miami. They have only 3 WRs on the roster who have ever caught an NFL
regular-season pass in Chris Givens, Brian Quick, and Austin Pettis. There are
only two RBs with NFL regular-season carries on their resumes minus Jackson in
Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Quick, the WR, and Pead, the RB, were
seldom-used disappointments as rookies.
They Rams would’ve loved to have gotten Austin, but there are seven or eight picks available to them here that could help the team: DT Sheldon Richardson (more of a luxury pick), LB Alec Ogletree (lots of baggage), OG Jonathan Cooper (need a guard, but signing of LT Jake Long helps shore up line), OT D.J. Fluker (see Jake Long above), RB Eddie Lacy (big back to replace Sjax), WR Cordarelle Patterson (obvious reasons), best S available (Vaccarro or Cyprien). Patterson is considered a project. But he’ll be playing for a veteran staff and a head coach
(Jeff Fisher) who’s got plenty of job security. Patterson has speed, size, and great run-after-the-catch potential.
17. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame.
The Steelers are in a state of transition from their past two Super Bowl teams
(’08, ’10 of which they were 1-1). They released OLB James Harrison and have
little depth either on the outside on the inside, and the linebackers make the
plays in their 3-4 defense. They need more than one. With the loss of Mike
Wallace and with Emmanuel Sanders probably joining him in ’14, they need to
restock their receiving corps. They have no starting running back after Rashard
Mendenhall left. They have two good safeties, but Troy Polamalu is 32 and Ryan
Clark turns 34 in October, and their top two veteran backup safeties left as
free agents. They also could use a tight end. Heath Miller, 30, had major knee surgery to
repair four torn ligaments at the end of the season, including his ACL.
18. DALLAS COWBOYS: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina.
The Cowboys have
spent a lot on their offensive line the past three years, drafting LT Tyron
Smith with a first-round pick, re-signing RT Doug Free to a four-year, $32
million deal, and then signing free agent guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate
Livings in free agency last year for deals with $6.2 million in guaranteed
money. Yet, they could use upgrades to their line. If Chance Warmack or Jonathan
Cooper is there, Dallas will take him. That is doubtful. Safety is a real need
after they cut Gerald Sensabaugh. Kenny Vaccaro is a real possibliity with this
pick, but they also like Eric Reid if they think they can get him in the second
round. That leaves defensive tackle, where Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff both
are better fits at the 3-technique than the 1. Ratliff has had declining
production because of injuries in recent seasons, and he played in only six
games last season. Hatcher is in the final year of his contract.
19. NEW YORK GIANTS: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia.
GM Jerry Reese would prefer not to pick this high, but that’s what happens when
you follow up a Super Bowl championship season by not making the playoffs. The
Giants always seem to need linebacker help — they are a long ways from the days
of LT, Carl Banks and Harry Carson. MLB Chase Blackburn signed with the
Panthers, OLB Michael Boley was released and hybrid LB-DL Mathias Kiwanuka is
apparently being moved back to defensive end to make up for loss of Osi
Umenyiora, who signed with Falcons. Reese loves to stockpile defensive ends, but
the Giants have a greater need at linebacker and have not drafted a linebacker
in the first round since Banks in 1984. Still, DE Tank Carradine is a
possibility. They can also use reinforcements at guard and tackle on the
offensive line. Pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia.
20. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri.
The biggest need is finding a replacement
for starting safety Dashon Goldson, who is now a Buccaneer. However, the 49ers
still have the 34th overall pick and could take care of this there. There’s also
a need for someone to take over Delanie Walker’s role in two tight-end
situations. They could do this later in the second round (No. 61) or with their
other third-round pick (No. 93). However, the trade up in the first round was
for a defensive lineman. Justin Smith turns 34 this year and is signed for just
one more season. The 49ers also are well-aware of the negative ripple effect
that went through their defensive when he was out with an arm injury last year.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Kenny Vacarro, S, Texas.
After Reggie Nelson there is a huge dropoff at safety. Taylor Mays started at
the beginning of the season but things got so bad in the secondary that they
brought Chris Crocker back before Week 4. Right tackle is a need as well with
Andre Smith being unsigned but they still have Anthony Collins and Dennis Roland
on the roster, who have combined for 24 starts. Running back they would like to
get a change-of-pace guy to pair with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Even with the
signing of James Harrison, depth is thin at linebacker and with Michael Johnson
and Carlos Dunlap slated to be free agents next year they could draft a
defensive end much like they did last year when they added two defensive
The Bengals like the fact Vaccaro can play either
free or strong safety and think he can be a younger version of Chris Crocker as
far as keeping things settled down in the secondary.
22. ST. LOUIS RAMS: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama.
Under this scenario, D.J. Fluker, Lacy and Jonathan Cyprien are still available –the first
two are especially tempting for the Rams. Under those picks the Rams take Eddie
Lacy, the Alabama running back at 22. They need a big back replacement for
23. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame.
The Vikings have no one capable of starting at MLB, no receiving weapon of note beyond Greg Jennings and renewed concerns at cornerback after choosing to cut Antoine Winfield, who was their best defensive back, in a cost-cutting move. Jasper Brinkley, last year’s starting middle linebacker, was one of only three
free agents the Vikings didn’t retain or even attempt to re-sign. They’re
looking for a faster, more instinctive three-down playmaker to plug in the
middle of a 4-3 defense that utilizes a lot of Tampa-2 schemes. General Manager
Rick Spielman has stockpiled five former Notre Dame players, three of them
starters, and probably would take Manti Te’o if he’s still on the board.
24. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State.
Ryan Grigson filled a lot of holes in free agency. Signed 10 UFAs for $138
million. I’d rather see Grigson get a stud pass rusher (maybe UCLA’s Datone
Jones) or a receiver (USC’s Robert Woods or Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins) who has
the chance to develop and eventually replace Reggie Wayne. Wayne has two years
left on his contract and turns 35 in November. As for a pass rusher, the only
proven one on the roster is Robert Mathis, and he’s 32. Everyone’s patience is
wearing thin on 2010 first-round pick Jerry Hughes (five sacks in 40 games).
All that being said, if CB Xavier Rhodes slips to them, how do they not take
him? Too good of a value at No. 24 to pass up.
I won’t be a bit surprised if the Colts try to move out of the first round. They
don’t have a second-round pick (traded to Miami last year for CB Vontae Davis)
and might be able to get a player at the top of the second they really like
while picking up an additional third-rounder.
25. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee.
The Vikings could go defensive tackle (Slyvester Williams) or cornerback
(Desmond Trufant), but logic says they have to swing big on a receiver and not
wait for later rounds. If they’re going to determine once and for all whether
Christian Ponder is their QB of the future, they need to surround him with more
receivers. Swapping Greg Jennings in after shipping Percy Harvin out isn’t going
to cut it. Hunter has the size (6-4, 196), the long arms and the top-end speed
(4.49) this team has lacked for a long time now.
26. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Matt Elam, S, Florida.
[The Packers lack] some toughness and some size. This team was punched in the face by the
Giants and, at the divisional level, by the 49ers. I don’t believe they would take T D.J. Fluker here. He is a RT only, and their problem is at LT where
Marshall Newhouse is so-so and Derek Sherrard wasn’t any good before he blew out
his leg in December 2011 and sat out all last year. Their D-line is thin,
especially since DE Jerel Worthy blew out his ACL late and had surgery in
mid-January. RB figures to be another group effort of mediocrity once again.
Safety is a major concern. Morgan Burnett is a good player, but with Charles
Woodson gone it falls to MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian to start. I don’t
think the Packers want that. With Eric Reid a medical risk for several teams
because of bad shoulders, the Packers bypass him and take the fireball Elam. His
reckless style of play will bring back memories of Chuck Cecil and bring a level
of toughness the Packers need badly.
27. HOUSTON TEXANS: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson.
Rick Smith sears the Texans won’t reach, but they always take a first-round
prospect who fits a need. This season, the most glaring need is a receiver to
start opposite Andre Johnson.
Texans need depth at ILB, NT and S. The three ILBs on the roster, Brian Cushing,
Darryl Sharpton and Tim Dobbins, finished last season on IR. They need an influx
of youth, probably in the third round. Starting nose tackle the last four years,
isn’t coming back. He’s recovering from back surgery. Earl Mitchell, who
actually played more than Cody, becomes the starter. They need a backup.
Texans also need a young free safety for Ed Reed to groom. Smith has never
drafted a safety higher than the fifth round and might not this year, either.
28. DENVER BRONCOS: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State.
They’ll be looking to trade down, but so will everybody else from the 23rd
pick on down or so because if the way this board is structured, so the market
won’t be great. They lost Elvis Dumervil in free agency – fax machine, etc… — but [John] Elway
said this week he’s OK with where the defensive line is at the moment. But Elway
will always take best player available, regardless of need, and if the best guy
here is a D-lineman that’s the pick. They’re looking at corners as well even though they signed
Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency. It’s only a one-year deal and they are looking
for someone to help in the dime, which they play plenty under Del Rio, and for
down the road.
They signed guard Louis Vasquez in free agency, but also have four
starting offensive linemen coming back from some kind of surgery in the past
eight months and left tackle Ryan Clady is both coming back from shoulder
surgery and disgruntled that they have used the franchise tag on him.
Under our scenario here they’ll look at DEs like Tank Carradine and Datone
Jones, but the pick will be Werner.
29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Robert Woods, WR, Southern California.
The Patriots haven’t had this few picks since 2002, when they drafted just six
players. So Bill Belichick will be looking to trade out of this spot (like just
about every other team). The Patriots, as part of their philosophy, do like to
go into any draft with glaring needs. They did a pretty good job plugging most
of their holes, but they left one big one: receiver. Danny Amendola and Julian
Edelman will replace Wes Welker, but not much has been brought in to fill the
hole/lack of talent at the X receiver position. Aaron Hernandez’s versatility
gives them some cover, but signing (and not getting) Emmanuel Sanders of the
Steelers to an offer sheet for a third-round pick shows the Patriots are looking
for help at the spot. The question is, do they think a receiver is worth a
first-round pick? They’ve never taken one in the first round. Of course, we were
saying that last year about edge rushers before they traded up and took Chandler
The Patriots have completely bombed drafting receivers because their scheme is so complicated, and Tom Brady is so demanding. Woods wins out over solid fits Keenan Allen and Marcus Wheaton because Woods is
a little more polished and the most plug-and-play ready.
ALSO CONSIDERED: Allen, Wheaton; CBs Desmond Trufant, Johnathan Banks and Jamar
Taylor; DTs Sylvester Williams, Kawann Short; DEs Datone Jones, Alex Okafor.
30. ATLANTA FALCONS: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington.
The Falcons are looking to trade up in order to get a quality starter for the defense, which
finished last season ranked 24th overall. They could go in several directions,
but because they released three of the top five cornerbacks and are a
“needs-based” drafting team keep an eye on the cornerbacks. If there’s a run and
their guy is coming off the board, look for the move. If their guy is slipping
to them at 30, look for them to stand pat. Keep an eye on cornerbacks Xavier
Rhodes and Desmond Trufant. That will dictate which direction they could. They
could stand pat if tight end Zach Ertz slips through. Under this scenario
Trufant, who I believe is their guy, slips through to them.
31. BEARS: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama.
The Bears have filled enough holes for 2013 in free agency (MLB D.J. Williams; SLB James Anderson, LT Jermon Bushrod, G Matt Slauson, TE Martellus Bennett) that they aren’t compelled to find a starter in the first round. So with only 5 picks overall, they are looking to trade down from No. 20 to acquire more picks — presumably an additional second-rounder and a third-round pick to make up for the one they traded to the Dolphins for Brandon Marshall.
Fluker is the best player available and fills a need. The Bears likely will consider him at No. 20 — especially if the real board falls as this one has, with Tyler Eifert, Jonathan Cooper and Alec Ogletree off the board. The Bears need more help on defense, but with new head coach Marc Trestman they are geared toward offense and need all the help they can get in protecting QB Jay Cutler. Fluker has the defensive mentality the Bears need in their offensive line. He’s pegged as a RT in the NFL, which is a weak spot for the Bears with J’Marcus Webb moving over from the left side to make room for LT Jermon Bushrod.
Other possibilities are OT Kyle Long, OT Justin Pugh, TE Zach Ertz, LB Arthur Brown, LB Kevin Minter.
32. BALTIMORE RAVENS: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International.
I can envision one of the prospects who have
already been drafted in this mock unexpectedly dropping to the Ravens, and don’t
be surprised if they use one of their 12 picks to move up for a player they
like. If they stay put at this pick, the two most logical positions they might
address at inside linebacker and strong safety, though I wouldn’t be surprised
if they took a tackle or a wide receiver or even another pass rusher early.
Given who has already been selected in this mock draft, I was basically picked
between LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter and Florida International safety
Johnathan Cyprien. Both are possibilities who could immediately fill a hole in
the starting lineup. Since I’m personally not high on using a first-rounder on a
two-down inside linebacker, I went with Cyrpien, who would bring youth and
versatility to the secondary. But Ozzie Newsome might feel differently and go