Marginal talent makes NFL mock draft a challenge

Anyone trying to complete an accurate NFL mock draft could have a full-time job just following all of the draft rumors.
Who will trade up? Everybody wants to trade down. Is there any player worth trading up for?
This NFL draft class clearly gets no respect. It is being viewed as a yawner compared to last year’s star-studded class that churned out a handful of star NFL quarterbacks. This year’s class is thin on glamour players, but has plenty of beef in offensive and defensive linemen that can be future foundations for their teams.
Here’s our run at the first round of the NFL Draft.

1. Kansas City: Luke Joeckel, offensive tackle.
The Chiefs are trying to rebuild on the fly. There’s an ugly parting of the ways coming with tackle Brandon Albert, so they’ll draft his replacement in Joeckel.

2. Jacksonville: Eric Fisher, offensive tackle.
The Jags haven’t had a Pro Bowl caliber tackle since the days of Tony Boselli. The only prayer Jacksonville has of being competitive is keeping Blaine Gabbert and Maurice Jones-Drew healthy and productive. Giving them a big, nasty tackle to lead their blocking is the best way to achieve that.

3. Oakland: Sharrif Floyd, defensive tackle.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie is trying to rebuild a stronger, more fundamentally sound Raider team. Getting an anchor like Floyd for the defensive line would give them a run stuffer they could build the defense around.

4. Philadelphia: Dion Jordan, defensive end.
The Eagles are another team trying to rebuild their defense. Don’t be surprised if former Oregon coach Chip Kelly uses his first choice as Eagles head coach by taking one of his former Ducks players. Jordan has awesome pass rushing tools, though he never became a dominating player in college.

5. Detroit: Ezekiel Ansah, defensive end.
The Lions are the hinge team for the rest of the draft. They could go in several directions with their pick and teams that follow in the draft will have to adjust. The Lions have pronounced needs at offensive tackle, defensive end and cornerback and they could try to fill any of those spots here. If Ansah is still available, he’s the best value to fit one of their main needs.

6. Cleveland: Dee Milliner, cornerback.
There’s been some hype about Milliner’s injury status, but that won’t frighten off Cleveland. They are looking for another shutdown cornerback to go with Joe Haden. It won’t make the Browns’ defense great, but it will give them an area of strength to build upon.

7. Arizona: Lane Johnson, offensive tackle.
If Detroit doesn’t take Johnson, Arizona will. That is unless Arizona steps up to trade for Kansas City’s Brandon Albert. The Cards’ offensive line is horrible and getting a fixture at tackle would be a big step in revamping their offense.

8. Buffalo: Ryan Nassib, quarterback.
Buffalo has a tradition of unpredictable draft choices. Nassib wasn’t even viewed as a first rounder until recently. He’s more in the classic, pocket quarterback mold and Buffalo desperately needs a quarterback to build around. They are hoping Nassib is this year’s version of Ryan Tannehill.

9. New York Jets: Barkvious Mingo, outside linebacker.
Owning the ninth and 13th picks, the Jets could go in a number of directions. If the Jets go defense, Mingo is a good fit here. He’s got pass rushing skills, which the Jets sorely need.

10. Tennessee: Chance Warmack, guard.
The Titans’ wishes are answered, with both premier guards still on the board. The Titans need to get running back Chris Johnson back to peak level and the best way to achieve that is by bringing in this powerhouse blocker.

11. San Diego: Jonathan Cooper, guard.
The Chargers will snap up whichever guard the Titans don’t take. The San Diegoans would love to see one of the top tackles drop this far, but it won’t happen and they don’t show the inclination to trade up. The Chargers offensive line needs to be upgraded, and this is a fine place to start.

12. Miami: Xavier Rhodes, cornerback.
Cornerback and offensive tackle are the two immediate needs for the Fins. If they pull the trigger on the Branden Albert trade, the tackle need is solved. Rhodes is a tall, physical corner. The Dolphins face some pass-happy opponents and Rhodes would help the Dolphins deal better with them.

13. New York Jets: Tavon Austin, wide receiver.
Teams like Carolina and St. Louis were hoping Austin would drop to them. The Jets’ offense badly needs playmakers and Austin is a darter who would immediately become the Jets’ best slot receiver.

14. Carolina: Star Lotulelei, defensive tackle.
With Austin off the board, the Panthers have their pick of the top defensive tackle prospects. Lotulelei’s stock dropped because of fears about a heart abnormality, but the Panthers will take their chances on this massive lineman. He is one of the better interior line prospects of the past several years.

15. New Orleans: Jarvis Jones, outside linebacker.
The Saints have everything they need on offense, so they’ll pay heavy attention to the defense in this draft. Jones is a highly talented defender with a tremendous upside. He can rush the quarterback and he’s also fully capable of dropping into pass coverage. Linebackers who are complete players are rare these days.

16. St. Louis: Kenny Vaccaro, strong safety.
The Rams were hoping Austin would still be available, so they could plug him in immediately as Danny Amendola’s replacement. There isn’t another receiver worthy of being taken this high, so the Rams address their other main need, safety. The Rams have invested heavily in cornerback. This strengthens their pass coverage over the middle of the field.

17. Pittsburgh: Sheldon Richardson, defensive tackle.
Poor salary cap management has left the Steelers with numerous holes to fill in their starting lineup. They take care of one of those needs by taking Richardson. The Steelers’ defensive front has been ravaged over the past two years and this starts the restocking process.

18. Dallas: Sylvester Williams, defensive tackle.
Williams is another fast riser on draft boards. He’s got the potential to be a beast against the run, if he lives up to that potential.

19. New York Giants: D.J. Fluker, offensive tackle
The Giants have let their offensive line age and wither without finding suitable replacements. Fluker is huge, even by NFL standards. There are questions about his quickness, but he’s got the brawn the Giants are looking to add.

20. Chicago: Tyler Eifert, tight end.
The Bears are looking for more assets in their passing game. Eifert’s addition would give the Bears the best tight end they’ve had, possibly since the days of Mike Ditka. Eifert might not drop this far, because there are several teams looking to add an elite tight end to their passing attack.

21. Cincinnati: (trade) Geno Smith, quarterback.
The Bengals are a team without a glaring need, assuming they re-sign tackle Andre Smith. Geno Smith does a major free fall until this spot, when a team like Philadelphia trades up out of the second round to nab Smith.

22. St. Louis: Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver.
Patterson is a receiver with all the physical tools. His stock has dropped in recent weeks as his attitude and ability to learn offenses have come into question. The Rams can’t be choosy at this point. Patterson is clearly the second best receiving option in the draft.

23. Minnesota: Desmond Trufant, cornerback.
The Vikings face Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and the Green Bay Packer receivers twice each season. Even before losing Antoine Winfield the Vikings needed to upgrade their cornerbacks. Don’t be surprised if Trufant’s a starter by his second season.

24. Indianapolis: Bjoern Werner, defensive end.
With the free agent departure of Dwight Freeney, the Colts have a glaring need for a pass rushing defensive end. They’ll be choosing between Werner and Datone Jones, with Werner winning out. Werner has the motor and instincts to provide the pass rush the Colts desire.

25. Minnesota: Mante Te’o, inside linebacker.
Certainly Te’o comes with baggage. But the Vikings think that they can shelter him from bad outside influences. The Vikings have a desperate need for an inside linebacker. If Te’o proves he can handle the mental aspects of the pro game, he could be a starter from Day One.

26. Green Bay: Matt Elam, safety.
Finding a safety to work along with Morgan Burnett has been necessary ever since Nick Collins’ career-ending injury. The Packers finally address the situation. There are two blue chip safeties, Elam and Eric Reid. We’re guessing the Packers lean toward Elam’s reliability.

27. Houston: DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver.
One of the worst kept secrets of the draft is that the Texans need a wide receiver to go with Andre Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins appears to be the favored choice of the Texans, though Justin Hunter from the University of Tennessee might slip into this slot.

28. Denver: D.J. Hayden, cornerback.
The Broncos are thinking about converting Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey to safety and Hayden would be a quality successor to Bailey’s cornerback role.

29. New England: Justin Hunter, wide receiver.
The Patriots are so unpredictable, they could go just about anywhere and trading up certainly isn’t out of the question. With the veteran wide receivers they lost since the end of the season, restocking the position makes too much sense to pass up Hunter.

30. Atlanta: Jamar Taylor, cornerback.
The Falcons don’t have many needs, but cornerback is the most glaring. Though several corners will have already been taken, it’s a deep draft at that position and they would get a good one in Taylor.

31. San Francisco: Jonathan Cyprien, safety.
The 49ers lost their best safety in the off-season and they don’t waste any time in grooming a successor in Cyprien. He’s an NFL ready safety who should be able to contribute right away.

32. Baltimore: Eric Reid, safety.
The off-season purge done by the Ravens has left a number of immediate needs on the team. They could go with an inside linebacker like Kevin Minter or a wide receiver to replace Anquan Boldin. But after losing Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, the Ravens need to snap up one of the first round safeties. Reid is a hitter, so he’ll fit right in with the Ravens’ tradition at safety.