West Virginia’s Geno Smith has separated himself from the rest of the quarterbacks in the 2013 class, at least according to the analysts in mock draft land.
The Buffalo Bills’ need for a franchise quarterback was apparent even before the team released Ryan Fitzpatrick, but by doing so, the probability of a rookie starting the 2013 season increased. The question for the Bills is whether Smith will be on the board when they go on the clock with the eighth overall pick. The thinking here is that with one team ahead of them with a desperate need at quarterback (Arizona at No. 7) and another four teams who could have a need (Jacksonville at 2, Oakland at 3, Philadelphia at 4 and Cleveland at 6), the Bills won’t be able to wait for Smith to drop to them. They could make a trade to move up a few spots to make sure they get him, but with only six picks in this draft, they don’t seem to have the ammunition to swing such a deal.
The Bills are clearly a team in rebuilding mode, so they should be looking at adding picks – not trading them away. That’s especially true of their 2014 first-rounder, in what’s expected to be a quarterback-rich class. The team needs to value that pick above all else.
With the combine complete, pro days in full swing, and free agency having changed the needs of some teams, here’s The News’ second stab at how the first round will play out April 25 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
1. Kansas City Chiefs. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. By trading a high second-round pick to San Francisco for Alex Smith, new GM John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid believe they’ve found a quarterback who can get them through at least the next few seasons. Now they need to protect him. Pick in last mock: same.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida. No player’s stock has soared more than Floyd’s since the end of the season. He can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3, and can provide immediate help to a defense that finished with just 20 sacks and 30th against the run. Last pick: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia.
3. Oakland Raiders. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. The Raiders are so thin at corner that converted running back Taiwan Jones will compete for playing time. Milliner solidified his spot as a top-10 pick at the combine by running a 4.37-second 40. Last pick: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah.
4. Philadelphia Eagles. Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon. New coach Chip Kelly brings Jordan with him from Oregon to help fix a defense that gave up 27 points per game last year. Jordan, who had only 14.5 career sacks with the Ducks, will be picked this high on potential. Last pick: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M.
5. Detroit Lions. Eric Fisher, LT, Central Michigan: The Lions were well represented at Fisher’s pro day earlier this month, sending three representatives. Fisher would allow the Lions to play 2012 first-round pick Riley Reiff at right tackle, where he’s a better fit. Last pick: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State.
6. Cleveland Browns. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia. I had Jones down a few spots in my first mock because of concerns about his spinal stenosis, but reports since then have said he has been “cleared to play without restriction.” Last pick: G Chance Warmack, Alabama.
7. Arizona Cardinals. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. The board falls just right and the Cards stay put and still land the top-rated QB in the class. Smith threw for 42 TDs in 2012. Last pick: QB Matt Barkley, USC.
8. Buffalo Bills. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. This team needs playmakers – desperately. Patterson is one of the best available in this draft. He’s got some concerns with only one year of major-college experience, but would provide a much-needed second option to pair with Stevie Johnson. It’s a must for NFL teams to have two dependable receiving options. Last pick: same.
9. New York Jets. Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU. The Ghana native is another in the “athletic freak” mode who has flown up mock draft boards. The Jets lost Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito along the defensive line. Fitting Ansah in is a puzzle Rex Ryan would love to solve. Last pick: DE Dion Jordan, Oregon.
10. Tennessee Titans. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. The signing of ex-Bills guard Andy Levitre lessens the need at that position. Werner helps shore up a defense that ranked 27th overall in 2012. Last pick: G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina.
11. San Diego Chargers. Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma: Same idea as the first mock, but with a different player now that Fisher’s off the board. St. Francis graduate Tom Telesco has to protect Philip Rivers. Last pick: LT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan.
12. Miami Dolphins. Chance Warmack, G, Alabama: The undisputed winners of March would do well to add Warmack, one of the draft’s most complete players at any position. Ryan Tannehill will need time to throw to all those receivers the Dolphins signed. Last pick: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State. The Bucs are rumored to be in the running to acquire the Jets’ Darrelle Revis, but if they can’t, Rhodes is an aggressive man corner who should step right in as a starter. Last pick: DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU.
14. Carolina Panthers. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Sat out the combine after doctors were worried about a potential heart condition, but was given clearance to participate in his pro day last week. Reportedly turned in a monster workout. Last pick: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida.
15. New Orleans Saints. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU: Flashes big-time potential as a pass rusher in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, but comes with character questions. Will staying in Louisiana be good for him? Will have to add some muscle to his frame. Last pick: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State.
16. St. Louis Rams. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia. Signing of former No. 1 pick Jake Long gives quarterback Sam Bradford some protection, and Austin, who replaces Danny Amendola, would give him one of the most exciting weapons in the draft. Last pick: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. Troy Polamalu will be 32 at the start of next season and has been injured. Vaccaro is his eventual replacement. Last pick: same.
18. Dallas Cowboys. Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina. Cowboys have been quiet in free agency because of a salary cap crunch. Cooper can start from Day One. Last pick: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri.
19. New York Giants. Margus Hunt, DE, SMU. G-Men showed when they took Jason Pierre-Paul they’re not shy about taking a player with limited experience. That’s true of Hunt, but he’s a physical marvel. Last pick: LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia.
20. Chicago Bears. Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia. Bears filled big holes at tight end and left tackle in free agency, so they turn their attention to the spot vacated by Brian Urlacher. Ogletree’s a converted safety who’s got great cover skills. Last pick: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame.
21. Cincinnati Bengals. Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State. Another project, who like Hunt, has played football for only a few seasons, but is an impressive athlete. Watson makes sense if the Bengals don’t re-sign Andre Smith. Last pick: LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia.
22. St. Louis Rams. Eric Reid, S, LSU. A big hitter in the mold of former Tigers safety LaRon Landry. Reid has the size and athleticism ideal for the position. Rams also lost Craig Dahl to rival 49ers, so Reid plugs a need. Last pick: WR Keenan Allen, Cal.
23. Minnesota Vikings. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State. Has the coverage skills teams crave in today’s linebacker. Vikes have to replace inside ’backer Jasper Brinkley. Last pick: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina.
24. Indianapolis Colts. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M. Free-agent spending spree filled several holes for Colts. Moore drops all the way down from No. 4 in first mock after poor combine and pro day workouts. Last pick: OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama.
25. Minnesota Vikings. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina. Vikes continue to shore up defensive front seven with pick they acquired from Seahawks in trade for Percy Harvin. Last pick: (Seattle) DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU.
26. Green Bay Packers. Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. Pack face a decision Wednesday on whether to pay Jermichael Finley a $3 million bonus. If he walks, Eifert’s a solid replacement. Last pick: S Matt Elam, Florida.
27. Houston Texans. Keenan Allen, WR, Cal. Texans find their eventual replacement for Andre Johnson. Last pick: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia.
28. Denver Broncos. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA: Huge production as a senior and the versatility to play anywhere on the line should make Jones a first-night pick. Last pick: DT Jesse Williams, Alabama.
29. New England Patriots. Jesse, Williams, DT, Alabama. Australian native can spell Vince Wilfork in the middle of the defensive line. Last pick: CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State.
30. Atlanta Falcons. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington. Helped himself by running a 4.38 40 at the combine. Falcons cut Dunta Robinson and haven’t re-signed Brent Grimes. Last pick: TE Zach Ertz, Stanford.
31. San Francisco 49ers. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UConn. High-character player with blazing speed. Had pick-six against UB last year. Last pick: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State.
32. Baltimore Ravens. Kevin Minter, LB, LSU. Super Bowl champs begin rebuilding defense with Ray Lewis’ replacement. Last pick: same.