NFL Draft's first round flush with SEC prospects
With the draft kicking off in a matter of hours and no consensus No.1 overall pick even as late as one day out, experts are left guessing who will go where and when each player’s name will be called.
One thing is certain, though: the SEC will have a great showing. Here are the best guesses on what you can expect in the first round on Thursday night from the top conference in college football:
There is still a chance that the Kansas City Chiefs could pick Joeckel first overall. He is the best pass-blocking, blindside tackle in the offing, although it’s looking more likely that they will go with Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan.
Still, Joeckel will have an immediate impact no matter where he ends up. If Kansas City passes, expect him to go to either Oakland as the third overall pick or Philadelphia in the fourth spot.
The only reason to think Floyd won’t go second overall is the fact that Jacksonville needs a defensive end, and BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah and Oregon’s Dion Jordan will be waiting in the green room. Many experts have Oakland taking him as the third overall pick, but in recent days the Raiders have reportedly been leaning toward Star Lotulelei, another top defensive tackle out of Utah. It is believed that Lotulelei is a safer pick because of his maturity and arm strength, but Floyd is still in the running to end up in Raider black.
If Oakland passes, Floyd could wind up with the Jets as the ninth overall pick, and if he is still around after that, the Titans would almost certainly take him 10th.
Milliner is the best defensive back in this year’s draft and a perfect fit for the Detroit Lions, who have the fifth selection overall. But Milliner is a hot prospect and could go earlier, perhaps to the Jaguars or the Raiders in the second or third spots respectively. That would be a big blow to the Lions, who desperately need to shore up their corners. Wherever he goes, Milliner will have an impact.
For that reason alone, he is not likely to be around longer than the fifth overall pick.
Warmack would be great for Buffalo in the eighth overall selection. A big, fast lineman could shore up the running game, which the Bills need. But new head coach Doug Marrone loves Ryan Nassib, the quarterback he coached at Syracuse. Depending on how much Marrone pushes to get Nassib – and how flexible the front office is willing to be with their new hire – Warmack could still be on the board for San Diego at No. 11. That would be quite a catch for the Chargers, and a great loss for Buffalo.
The best player in the nation at his position, Jones has bounced all over the board since his poor workouts and the recent diagnosis of spinal stenosis. Still, the Jets appear to be the most logical landing spot for this game-changing linebacker in the ninth overall spot.
And even though New York fans will be screaming for a quarterback like Nassib (if he’s still available) or West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Rex Ryan has the 13th overall pick as well, so he isn’t likely to let a defender of Jones’ caliber pass.
If Jarvis Jones’ medical condition scares the Jets away, expect Rex Ryan to push for Mingo in the ninth overall spot. Otherwise, Mingo would be perfect for New Orleans for their first pick, the 15th overall.
His breakaway speed is even more impressive in person than on film, but Patterson didn’t interview well and has bounced around the board in recent days. That hesitation could work out for the Carolina Panthers, who need weapons to support Cam Newton.
Many experts have the Panthers using the 14th pick to take a defensive tackle, though. If, by some twist of Draft Day fate, Sharrif Floyd is still on the board, Ron Rivera will jump at the chance to snatch him up. But the third or fourth best defensive tackle won’t be as important to Carolina on the first day as a receiver like Patterson.
The Steelers really need a good linebacker and Olgetree is the most solid choice for them in the 17th overall pick. There have been some locker room problems with the man Dawg fans call “Tree,” but the Steelers are a stable organization that could straighten out a talented but immature young man. If they pass, expect Tom Coughlin and the Giants to grab Ogletree with the 19th pick.
If Carolina passes on the receiver option and decides to go with the tackle, Richardson would likely be the best prospect on the board by the 14th pick. But if the Panthers pass, Richardson would be a great asset for the Dallas Cowboys as they transition into a 4-3 defense. And at the No. 18 overall pick, he would be a great value.
Minnesota needs a good receiver for Christian Ponder, so don’t be surprised if the Vikings take Hunter with the 25th overall pick. He has good hands and great speed, although the rap on him was his inconsistency. If Minnesota passes, Hunter should still go quickly, probably to Houston at No. 27 where he can be groomed behind Andre Johnson.
Pull for Eddie Lacy, one of the toughest and most driven running backs in this class. The knock on him was his speed during workouts, but Lacy has the sort of character that coaches will weigh heavily. Expect him to go no later than No. 26 to the Green Bay Packers who need some run support for Aaron Rodgers.
Alabama fans will be thrilled to see Lacy doing the Lambeau leap, and he should fit in well with the Green Bay organization.
There will be plenty more SEC players taken as the draft proceeds, but expect this crop to go first. And expect the organizations who draft them to be happy with the quality of the players they get.