This is the fifth of this season's articles on newyorkjets.com about the draft and free agency from the independent personnel analysts at Real Football Services, and Real's initial Round 1 mock draft.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on newyorkjets.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the New York Jets organization, front office staff, coaches and executives.
You can't trust anything anyone says in the NFL in the month of April. However, as you've probably heard since you were young, actions speak louder than words. That is why, as we prepare to undertake the task of guessing what players will be chosen by which teams in the upcoming NFL draft, we have to consider the recent movement of veteran quarterbacks around the league.
Based on our own scouting and research, we don't feel that any of the players in this year's QB class are worthy of a top-10 pick, or maybe even a top-20 pick. Still, recent history has shown that teams with a need at the most important position in today's NFL have been willing to reach for a QB or make a move up the draft board to get one. But a quick look at the actions of the teams in the top 10 who were in need of a QB heading into the offseason shows that things may be slightly different this year.
Kansas City traded for Alex Smith and acquired Chase Daniel. Oakland traded for Matt Flynn. The Eagles re-signed Michael Vick. Cleveland picked up Jason Campbell as insurance for the Brandon Weeden project. The Cardinals traded for Carson Palmer. Buffalo picked up Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson. The Jets added David Garrard. Detroit and Tennessee are set with young, talented passers, which leaves Jacksonville as a potential QB suitor, but their new head coach is a defensive guy who will likely want to build his team from that side of the ball.
Do any of these moves take any of these teams out of the QB business? Not necessarily. But it could take them out of the Top 10 QB business, which is why our first mock draft of the spring looks like this:
1. Kansas City — Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M
The Chiefs have needs at ILB and safety that can be addressed in Rounds 2-3. Joeckel can step in immediately at RT or LT while the team figures out Branden Albert's future role.
2. Jacksonville — Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Jaguars could go QB, OL or CB, but new HC Gus Bradley is going to build his defense around pressure and athletes who can get to the QB. Jordan is a hybrid rusher who will be Bradley's Bruce Irvin (eight sacks as a rookie for SEA in 2012).
3. Oakland — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Raiders have rebuilt their front seven through free agency. Milliner fortifies the back end and is a ballhawk who is an immediate upgrade to the defense. Oakland doesn't pick again until Round 3 and so could be looking at a QB here, or looking to trade down.
4. Philadelphia — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd's versatility shows in his ability to play as a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT. He can two-gap but has the quickness and burst to make plays in the backfield.
5. Detroit — Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan
Jeff Backus retired and Gosder Cherilus is now in Indianapolis. Fisher is considered by some to be a better prospect than Joeckel. This one's a no-brainer.
6. Cleveland — Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Browns may have been hoping for Milliner here, but Rhodes is no consolation prize. He's big (6'2", 217), physical, athletic and instinctive. He's aggressive in coverage and will make plays on the ball. He's a great complement to Joe Hayden.
7. Arizona — Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma
With Levi Brown coming off injury and Bobbie Massey still developing, Johnson could slide into a starting role. With Carson Palmer now at QB, they could also go with a guard here to protect the interior for a QB who throws primarily from the midline.
8. Buffalo — Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The Bills need to replace Andy Levitre, whom they lost to free agency, and though we have Chance Warmack rated higher, Cooper has the versatility to play all three interior line positions.
9. JETS — Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
We've heard all about the endless upside of players like Barkevious Mingo and Ezekiel Ansah, but let's be realistic here. Rex Ryan doesn't have time for projects. He needs production — now. Jones recorded 28 sacks and 44 tackles for loss in just 26 games! That's over 70 plays behind the line of scrimmage, and he did it while playing OLB in a 3-4 defense. He'll walk in the door as a starter and an immediate impact player, which is what the Jets need more than anything else. Our information tells us Jones should be medically cleared by most doctors and will be a player who can dictate protection schemes. He's the best pass-rushing LB in this draft.
*Could the Jets go with a quarterback here? Certainly. But for a fan base that wants results, Geno Smith lost six of his last eight decisions and struggled mightily in the Mountaineers' biggest game of the year, their bowl game at Yankee Stadium. Matt Barkley, as polished and experienced as he is, has questions about arm strength and couldn't lead the Trojans to a winning season as a senior. The truth is, we're not sure any of the available QBs is an upgrade over the current situation. This could also be a spot for Warmack, who could step onto an O-line that is in need of two new starters. *
10. Tennessee — Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
A lunchpail guy who has a non-stop motor and loves football. He's a perfect fit at LDE in the Titans' 4-3 and brings 23½ career sacks to the table. Some compare him to Chris Long.
11. San Diego — Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Quick, name the Chargers two starting offensive guards ... They're two free agents named Ohrnberger and Rinehart. Warmack is a run-blocking beast who some scouts consider the best overall player in the draft.
12. Miami — D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama
At 6'6" and 330-plus, Fluker is a roadgrader in the mold of former Jets G Dwayne White. Tenacious and a workhorse, he's a devastating run blocker who will allow the Dolphins to move Jonathan Martin to LT to fill the void left by Jake Long's departure.
13. Tampa Bay — Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Michael Bennett (team-leading nine sacks) is gone and starting DEs DaQuan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn combined for just two sacks last year. Ziggy Ansah is raw but has rare athleticism, quickness and power. He's also a versatile player who can line up anywhere and get to the QB. If they don't trade for a corner, he can add value right away as a situational pass rusher.
14. Carolina — Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
In a division that includes guys named Brees and Ryan, the Panthers can't seriously entertain going into the season with their current safeties. Vaccaro is smart and athletic, is a fierce run defender, can cover in the slot, and has the range to cover in deep zones.
15. New Orleans — Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The hometown hero brings his athleticism and natural pass-rush ability — the Saints' top need — to their new 3-4 look on defense.
16. St. Louis — Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Simply put, the Rams need to get some weapons for QB Sam Bradford in this draft. Austin has explosive speed, quickness and athleticism, can line up anywhere on the field, and creates mismatches throughout the defense. He's also a dangerous return man.
17. Pittsburgh — Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
A unique combination of quickness, power, and brute strength, Lotulelei can be a dominant lineman at NT, DT, or 5-technique DE in the Steelers' 3-4.
18. Dallas — Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
A high-motor player who has the quickness and burst to disrupt plays in the backfield, Richardson can work in rotation with Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher in the Cowboys' new 4-3 alignment.
19. New York Giants — Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore had 26 sacks in three seasons, including 12½ as a 4-3 DE last season. The Giants love productive D-linemen who can get to the QB and won't worry about Moore's poor combine.
20. Chicago — Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
Ogletree can play all three LB positions in the 4-3. Urlacher is gone, Briggs isn't getting any younger, and FA D.J. Williams is a 10-year vet. Ogletree can rush the QB and drop in coverage.
21. Cincinnati — Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
A versatile player who can play inside or outside on the Bengals' front, Hankins has a big motor and rare size, strength and quickness to play the 3-technique.
22. St. Louis — Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Lacy is surprisingly athletic for being a big, powerful back, and is a capable receiver — the Rams offense just got two playmakers. Defensive needs can be addressed in Rounds 2-3.
23. Minnesota — Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Even with the signing of Greg Jennings, the Vikings still need another receiving weapon. Patterson is a big, tall target with good hands.
24. Indianapolis — Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Minter is smart, instinctive and a sure tackler. The Colts need to shore up the middle of their run D and the undersized Minter will be protected by the big D-linemen in Indy's 3-4.
25. Minnesota — Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
A versatile lineman who can play at DE on run downs but can move inside and be an effective pass rusher on passing downs.
26. Green Bay — Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Though Brown lacks ideal size, you'd have a tough time finding a smarter, more instinctive and physical defender in this draft. He can play inside or outside and that versatility will serve him well in the Packers' multiple fronts.
27. Houston — Robert Woods, WR, Southern Cal
We know some scouts are higher on some other receivers in this draft, but Woods is polished, a great route runner, and ready to play now. He's the ideal complement to Andre Johnson that the Texans have been looking for.
28. Denver — Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Champ Bailey isn't getting any younger. Trufant will probably go higher than this, but if he's here, the Broncos have three solid corners to defend against Philip Rivers and now Alex Smith and Andy Reid's passing attack in KC.
29. New England — Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Vince Wilfork is 31, newly signed Tommy Kelly is 32. Williams is rising up boards because of his size, power and burst off the snap. He can play the nose or the 3-technique, which will help Bill Belichick find snaps for him in the Pats' multiple fronts.
30. Atlanta — Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
There's not much downside to Taylor, described as reliable, smart and instinctive. The Falcons will hope he can step in and start at RCB.
31. San Francisco — Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
A Wilfork look-alike, Williams is a big body who can clog the middle and stuff the run. He came late to the game and is still learning, but he is a force inside.
- Baltimore — Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
A versatile and productive pass catcher who can line up just about anywhere in the formation, Eifert is also a better blocker than given credit for. He's a steal for the Ravens at this point and the best player left on the board.
Tuesday, April 16 — Real's Round 2 Mock Draft
Tuesday, April 23 — Real's Final Round 1 Mock