With the Combine in the rear view mirror and the Draft just on the horizon, what lies ahead for the athletes looking to turn pro are dozens of college pro days and very little time to improve upon their position on the NFL takeoff list. Some players already have their tickets punched, while others will have to be put on standby. In this post, I will lay out my predictions for the first round of the NFL Draft and detail those players whom I believe won’t have to wait too long to get off the ground.
Kansas City Chiefs–1st Overall Pick
4th and Inches Prediction: Luke Joeckel (Offensive Tackle–Texas A&M)
Even though I originally thought Geno Smith was going to be the #1 pick, I did not expect the Chiefs to pick up Alex Smith from San Francisco. Let me be absolutely clear, I hate the idea of the Chiefs expecting a washed up QB to become the future hope of their franchise. It makes no sense when they have the first overall pick and a chance to get a young QB who has been impressing scouts ever since he declared for the Draft. Anyway, back to the business at hand. Due to the team releasing Branden Albert, they are obviously showing signs they need a new offensive lineman. This leads me to believe the Chiefs will use the first pick to take OT Luke Joeckel out of Texas A&M. Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel, owes Joekal partial credit for his trophy because of the outstanding blocking he did for him.
Jacksonville Jaguars–2nd Overall Pick
4th and Inches Prediction: Eric Fisher (Offensive Tackle–Central Michigan)
I believe the Jacksonville Jaguars are very much in need of some help on the o-line. This is proven by poor running and pass protection which gained them only 5 rushing touchdowns and allowed 50 sacks all of last season. If the Jaguars are looking at the draft for some help, I believe Eric Fisher can be the bandage that stops the bleeding. Fisher was part of a Chippewa’s offense that only conceded 14 sacks in 2012. The stats don’t lie, so it would behoove the Jaguars to take Fisher with their first pick.
Oakland Raiders–3rd Overall Pick
4th and Inches Prediction: Shariff Loyd (Defensive Tackle–Florida)
The Oakland Raiders have so many issues that it is hard to single out just one. They need help at RB, WR, on the offensive line, and the list goes on and on. But just for kicks and giggles, let’s discuss the defensive line which was weak and only had a handful of sacks last year. There is one specific prospect the Raiders should consider, and his name is Shariff Loyd. Though his stats have been anything but stellar (26 tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks in his last two years with the Gators), Loyd can help beef up the Raider’s defensive line with his proven athleticism and prevent teams from running with success.
Philadelphia Eagles–4th Overall Pick
4th and Inches Prediction: Jarvis Jones (Outside Linebacker–Georgia)
It’s no secret Philidelphia had a horrible year last year and they ended it by getting stomped by their rival the New York Giants. The needs of the Eagles are at LB, CB, WR, and QB. I feel that they will spend their first pick on an outside linebacker by the name of Jarvis Jones. Over his last two seasons at Georgia, Jones was a sack machine, and that is exactly what the Eagles need. Why? Because they only had 2 total sacks from their starters last year. So it’s obvious they need a lot of help in this area.
Detroit Lions–5th Overall Pick
4th and Inches Prediction: Dion Jordan (Defensive End–Oregon)
The Detroit Lions had a bad 2012–The playoffs of the previous year quickly became a distant memory. It seemed like nothing went right and during most games the team would only show up to play in the 4th quarter. The team recently dismissed their top two pass rushers–Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden-Bosch, so it’s a no-brainer they’re looking for a new defensive end. To fill this rather large void, I believe they will draft Dion Jordan out of Oregon. Jordan is arguably one of the best ends in the draft this year. Last season with the Ducks he had an impressive 44 tackles, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception. With these stats, I deem him worthy of being picked by this pride of hungry cats.
Cleveland Browns–6th Overall Pick
4th and Inches Prediction: Barkevious Mingo (Defensive End–LSU)
The Cleveland Browns had high hopes at the beginning of last season, but those hopes quickly dissipated. Let’s face it, they really struggled on defense-mostly due to a serious lack of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Defensive end is a key weakness and needs a solid pass rusher to balance out Jabaal Sheard. I believe Barkevious Mingo of LSU could do the job. Mingo is rather light for a defensive end, but that shouldn’t be a problem. He is quick enough and strong enough to compete against any offensive lineman in the NFL. His outstanding performance at the Combine certainly didn’t hurt his draft value. His numbers were rather low last year, but that was due to a defensive scheme that did not fit him well. Cleveland shouldn’t pass over this diamond in the rough.
Arizona Cardinals–7th Overall Pick
4th and Inches Prediction: Geno Smith (Quarterback–West Virginia)
Considering they went through three quarterbacks last season, Arizona has put themselves in the position of having no other choice but to draft Geno Smith out of West Virginia. Smith is one of the most highly anticipated quarterbacks in this year’s draft. He had a great season at West Virginia, an outstanding combine performance, and a very good pro day for his school. The Cardinals haven’t had a decent quarterback since Kurt Warner, therefore, I highly expect Smith to go to this team.
Buffalo Bills-8th Overall Pick
4th and Inches Prediction: Chance Warmack (Offensive Guard–Alabama)
Of the Bill’s two major needs: run blocking and passing, I believe run blocking is the most urgent, considering they don’t really have a worthy offensive guard. This is where Alabama’s Chance Warmack could really shine. Warmack is best credited for making holes for Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram, and I believe he can do the same for Bill’s running backs. If coaches want C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to have a good year, then it would be wise to spend their first pick on this young man.
4th and Inches Summary:
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel (OT–Texas A&M)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Fisher (OT–Central Michigan)
3. Oakland Raiders: Shariff Loyd (DT–Florida)
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Jarvis Jones (OLB–Georgia)
5. Detroit Lions: Dion Jordan (DE–Oregon)
6. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo (DE–LSU)
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith (QB–West Virginia)
8. Buffalo Bills: Chance Warmack (OG–Alabama)