Football.com Mock Draft
To fans of the Baltimore Ravens, 1996 was a banner year.
It was the franchise's first season in Baltimore. The team drafted two players in the first round that year: Jonathan Ogden, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer, and Ray Lewis, the last of the original Ravens, who ended his 17-year career with his hands not on a ball-carrier but the Lombardi Trophy.
The 1996 NFL Draft was historic for another reason -- it was the last draft in which not a single quarterback was selected in the first round.
The first QB drafted that year was Tony Banks, who went to the Rams with the 42nd pick. The next quarterback off the board? Bobby Hoying, at No. 85.
Seventeen years and two championships for Charm City later, history is about to repeat itself.
Football.com's inaugural Mock Draft doesn't have a single quarterback going in the first round. And for one very good reason -- no quarterback in the Class of 2013 warrants a first-round pick. At least not as early in the round as the teams who need quarterbacks are picking.
This scenario, of course, may not unfold. Even if no one in the top 10 takes a quarterback, someone is likely to trade up into the late first round, Someone won't be able to help himself.
To be fair, it would be far less egregious of a reach for a team to take Geno Smith or Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib if it were to acquire, say, No. 26 from Green Bay or No. 29 from New England.
But as it stands today, three weeks before the Chiefs officially go on the clock, the first round will be quarterback-free.
Here's how the first round will play out:
1. Chiefs LUKE JOECKEL T Texas A&M
Joeckel can step in right away at LT if the Chiefs decide to trade Branden Albert or spend a year as an upgrade at RT if they don't. Either way, he's a starter from Day 1 for a team that was fifth in the league in rushing in 2012 (but also allowed the fifth-most hits on its quarterbacks). Or ... could you imagine Albert moving back to his natural guard position and these two playing alongside each other for the next five-plus seasons?
2. Jaguars DION JORDAN DE/OLB Oregon
When you're recruited to play an offensive skill position at Oregon, you're an explosive football player. Ultimately, Jordan's explosiveness was unleashed from the defensive side of the ball, and now he's the most dynamic pass rusher available in the draft. New Jags coach Gus Bradley is looking for a DE/OLB hybrid who can play out of a two- or three-point stance like the weapons he had in Seattle. Well, this Duck's his Leo.
3. Raiders SHARRIF FLOYD DT Florida
The acquisition of Matt Flynn took the Raiders out of the running for a quarterback -- at least at this point in the draft -- and gave them a chance to select one of the top two prospects available. Floyd can play anywhere along the defensive line and be a force. At Florida, he played everywhere from the three technique (his best position) to two-gap end to nose tackle. He'll have to develop his pass rush repertoire, but he's an immediate boost to the Raiders' interior run defense.
4. Eagles ERIC FISHER T Central Michigan
Could this be the landing spot for Geno Smith? I don't think so. In three of Chip Kelly's four seasons at Oregon, his quarterbacks had at least 93 rush attempts. It's not that Smith is immobile, he's just not that effective with his legs. That eliminates him from consideration if Kelly is looking to bring his signature style to Philly. What was often overlooked at Oregon was the importance of having the right kind of linemen. Fisher has the athleticism to play in Kelly's pedal-to-the-metal system. It sounds counterintuitive, but the tackle is a better fit here than the quarterback.
5. Lions LANE JOHNSON T Oklahoma
The retirement of Jeff Backus and the departure of free agent Gosder Cherilus make offensive tackle a priority. Riley Reiff, Detroit's first-round pick last year, will take one of those spots. Adding another top-tier tackle would go a long way toward keeping Matthew Stafford upright and healthy for a third straight season. Other pressing needs -- DE and CB -- can be addressed with the next two picks.
6. Browns DEE MILLINER CB Alabama
It has to be tempting for a guy with an offensive pedigree like Rob Chudzinski to take Chance Warmack here, plug him in next to Joe Thomas and watch what that does for the development of Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden. But when a talent like Milliner falls to you at No. 6, you take him, start him opposite Joe Haden, and suddenly Cleveland may have as good a pair of corners as anyone in the league.
7. Cardinals CHANCE WARMACK G Alabama
When you bring in a starting quarterback and a backup you like, you don't take another one with the seventh pick in the draft. Not when you have other pressing needs -- like keeping those quarterbacks alive. If any of the top three tackles fall, they won't get past Arizona here. If not, look for Warmack, a guard who probably grades higher than any of the three tackles. Warmack will not be bull rushed, which will help him secure the pocket for Carson Palmer. And he's even better in the run game, which would be a boost to the league's least productive attack last year.
8. Bills JARVIS JONES OLB Georgia
Like the Chiefs, Raiders and Cardinals before them, the Bills addressed (however temporarily) their quarterback situation by bringing in a veteran (Kevin Kolb). With their second-round pick (No. 41 overall), they likely will have a chance at Smith, Barkley or Nassib -- whom head coach Doug Marrone and o.c. Nathaniel Hackett had at Syracuse. But Buffalo would be well-served to address its biggest defensive need here. The transition to a 3-4 under new coordinator Mike Pettine requires they find an edge rusher for the opposite side of the field from DE Mario Williams. Jones can bring the heat. He led the nation in sacks (14.5) and TFL (24.5) last year, and his seven forced fumbles were tops in the SEC.
9. Jets BARKEVIOUS MINGO OLB LSU
The glass-half-full approach suggests that wherever the Jets go with this pick, it will fill a need. But an edge rusher is a tool Rex Ryan has never really had to work with, and Mingo will be a disruptive force for the Jets -- in a good way. They could go with Star Lotulelei here, but it seems unlikely they'll spend a third straight No. 1 pick on a defensive lineman.
10. Titans EZEKIEL ANSAH DE BYU
Few players have seen their stock rise during the pre-draft evaluation process more than Ansah. The comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul -- both in terms of his freakish skills and how he found his way to a football field -- are not a stretch. Ansah might take some time before he's an upgrade over veteran Kamerion Wimbley, but his long-term upside gives the Titans plenty of reason to invest in this raw talent.
11. Chargers JONATHAN COOPER G North Carolina
If no quarterbacks are taken in the top 10, no one will be more disappointed than the Chargers. They need someone to nab a QB and allow one of the top four offensive linemen to live on the board just a little longer. If not, they'll just have to settle on the fifth-best lineman available -- and there are those who think Cooper may be better than Warmack at pulling and getting out in front of screens. Bottom line, San Diego must address its offensive line issues (fifth-most sacks allowed, second-worst yards-per-rush).
12. Dolphins STAR LOTULELEI DT Utah
Miami won't find a replacement for Jake Long at this point in the draft. But the Dolphins were among the busiest teams in free agency and have 11 draft picks, giving them the flexibility to take the best player available. That's Lotulelei, who was widely considered a top-five pick before a heart condition was detected during a physical at the Combine. On April 2, he reportedly was given the green light to resume all football activities, which should erase (or minimize) the concern a lot of coaches had about his health. If he's good to go, Lotulelei would be a steal at No. 12. He's probably a more natural fit in a 3-4 front, but his unique combination of power and quickness would translate to the three-technique.
13. Buccaneers XAVIER RHODES CB Florida State
After landing the premier safety available in the free agent market (Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson), the Bucs continued to look to upgrade their secondary by trying to work a deal for Darrelle Revis. If that deal gets done, Tampa could have one of the league's top defensive backfields (quite an improvement from a pass defense ranked dead last in the league) and likely would look up front with this pick. If not, the Bucs still target a corner -- in this case, a physical, versatile corner in Rhodes, who has some experience at safety and could even see some snaps there.
14. Panthers SHELDON RICHARDSON DT Missouri
If somehow Lotulelei were still on the board here, Carolina would have its pick of two of the draft's top defensive tackles. More likely, the Panthers wind up with Richardson, who proved a reliable run-stopper during his first season as a starter (and Mizzou's first in the SEC) and flashed some ability to create an interior pass rush.
15. Saints KENNY VACCARO S Texas
When a team transitions from a 4-3 front to a 3-4, one of the first big pieces -- literally -- it needs to find is a nose tackle, someone on the inside of the defensive line who commands a double team on every snap. There isn't one on the board worth taking with the 14th pick (Johnathan Jenkins or Jesse Williams would be too much of a reach here). So, the Saints continue their defensive overhaul with the best safety in the draft. Vaccaro can play either safety position and do anything a safety is asked: support the run, play deep middle coverage, cover half the field in a two-deep zone and blitz.
16. Rams KEENAN ALLEN WR California
The Rams used free agency to check items off Sam Bradford's wish list. They got him a left tackle and a tight end. Now, the draft will deliver what he's needed most: a true No. 1 receiver. Make no mistake -- Allen isn't the dynamic threat that Cordarrelle Patterson has the potential to be. What he lacks in remarkable he more than makes up for in reliable.
17. Steelers ALEC OGLETREE LB Georgia
Pittsburgh needs a hammer, someone who not only could replace James Harrison's reps but his rep. Ogletree could be that punishing presence the Steelers now lack. Ogletree still has some maturing to do (on the field and off). But he's versatile enough to play Mike backer, as he did at Georgia, or step out and learn to play Will.
18. Cowboys D.J. FLUKER T Alabama
It's safe to say that Doug Free wasn't the answer at RT that Dallas hoped he would be. He could become a cap casualty or moved inside to play guard. That would strengthen the Cowboys' interior O-line and create the need for a right tackle. It just so happens the best one in the draft is sitting here when Dallas is on the clock. One of three Tide linemen likely to go in the first two rounds, Fluker is, by far, the least polished. He has some footwork and balance issues in pass protection, but he is a force in the running game.
19. Giants BJOERN WERNER DE Florida State
The Giants have never been shy about loading their plate with pass rushers. Osi Umenyiora exits for Atlanta; enter perhaps the most complete 4-3 end in this year's draft. Werner is more experienced than either Jordan or Ansah, and could probably play on either the strong or weak side. And we know how Tom Coughlin feels about versatile defensive linemen.
20. Bears MANTI TE'O ILB Notre Dame
It will be awhile before his name stops being used as a punch line. But could there be a better fit for a promising middle linebacker than that sleepy South Bend suburb and Mike Backer Mecca of Chicago? Few scouts doubt Teo's talents or his leadership. If his maturity remains a question, the Bears are still the right landing spot. They signed LBs DJ Williams and James Anderson to one-year deals. Te'o would have some time to develop before taking over Brian Urlacher's vacated role at the heart of the Bears' defense.
21. Bengals MATT ELAM S Florida
It would not be a surprise to see Cincinnati go with a linebacker here (Arthur Brown, perhaps). But safety is a significant need, and Elam would give them the playmaker they hoped Taylor Mays would become. Elam has the athleticism to cover slot receivers, and he reacts quickly once he picks up the ball in flight. But his calling card is the big hit -- perhaps to a fault. Too often, Elam would rather drop his shoulder and deliver the knockout than merely tackle a ball-carrier. It doesn't appear to be a lack of tackling technique as much as a questionable heat-of-the-moment indiscretion.
22. Rams (from Washington) JOHN CYPRIEN S Florida International
Having already addressed their No. 1 offensive need, the Rams use their second pick to solve their top defensive concern. Don't be fooled by the Sun Belt home address; he's every bit as ready as Elam from that slightly more high-profile Sunshine State school. Cyprien's physicality is a great fit in a division with two of the league's top running attacks (Seattle, San Francisco).
23. Vikings TAVON AUSTIN WR West Virginia
Ever since the Vikings agreed to trade Percy Harvin to Seattle on the eve of the new league season, this has been the easiest pick to predict. Of course, Austin is a top-10 talent and could be snapped up by now. But if he's still on the board, the draft's best slot receiver steps right into Harvin's old role in the Vikings offense.
24. Colts CORDARRELLE PATTERSON WR Tennessee
Indianapolis has been very active in the free agency market, particularly on defense. This affords the Colts the luxury of taking the best player available -- and that, almost inarguably, is Patterson. He is a home run threat with the ball in his hands, but he operates at this point primarily on pure ability. Indy could line him up immediately at the Z receiver spot; with Reggie Wayne at the X and T.Y. Hilton in the slot, Patterson would instantly become a huge factor in Andrew Luck's growing arsenal.
25. Vikings (from Seattle) DESMOND TRUFANT CB Washington
When you have six games a season against quarterbacks named Rodgers, Stafford and Cutler, you better have a full complement of corners. This pick would bolster the back of the Vikings defense, giving them a reliable slot corner in the league's pass-happiest division. And it would give the NFL its third active Trufant brother -- this one a physical, press-bail corner who occasionally relies more on his athleticism than technique.
26. Packers EDDIE LACY RB Alabama
No quarterback in the NFL was sacked more in 2012 than Aaron Rodgers. There are a few ways to address that problem. The Packers could take a tackle (Menelik Watson, most likely), since Bryan Bulaga has started only 21 games the last two seasons and Derek Sherrod has been on the field for only five games in his whole career. It's probably too early for any of the guards or centers. They could take a tight end, but neither of the top prospects are valued for their blocking skills. So, how about taking a hard-nosed running back who could give Green Bay something it's lacked for years -- a run threat. The Packers haven't been higher than 20th in rushing since 2009. That's been by design, but the presence of a back like Lacy could keep defenses on their heels and off Rodgers' back.
27. Texans DEANDRE HOPKINS WR Clemson
Andre Johnson's 10th NFL season was perhaps his most impressive: 112 catches, career-high 1,598 receiving yards and 79 first downs. But he needs help in Houston, and Hopkins could be an ideal complement. Hopkins lacks elite speed and size, but he has the hands and the big-play ability to give Matt Schaub another legitimate option. He's also a willing and capable run blocker -- an often overlooked job requirement of a Z receiver.
28. Broncos CORNELLIUS CARRADINE DE Florida State
If it weren't for an ACL injury suffered in a November, "Tank'' would have been the target of teams in the top half of the first round. He's a talented pass rusher, who can take on a tackle with a variety of moves (an essential at the NFL level). At 6-foot-4, 276 pounds, no one will confuse him with the speed rusher Denver just lost in free agency. But he's a perfect plug-in opposite Robert Ayers, now that Elvis has left the building.
29. Patriots DATONE JONES DE UCLA
It should surprise no one if the Patriots -- who have only four picks in this draft -- trade down from this spot, perhaps swapping places with a team atop the second round looking to move up to get a quarterback. But if the Pats stay here, look for them to take a guy comfortable playing defensive end no matter whether the Patriots line up in a 4-3 or 3-4 front (with Bill Belichick, they change between the two from series to series or even play to play).
30. Falcons DAMONTRE MOORE DE Texas A&M
Texas A&M teammates called him "DaMonster," but to NFL decision-makers, he's "DaMystery." Which guy is an NFL team going to get? The one who had 21 sacks and 38.5 TFL in two seasons? Or the guy who ran a 4.95 40 at the Combine after putting up just 12 reps on the bench press (worst among the 37 DEs who lifted in Indianapolis)? Fortunately for the Falcons, they're drafting for depth. Instead of taking a third corner or Tony Gonzalez's eventual replacement, they can roll the dice on a player whose game film suggests big-play potential.
31. 49ers MARGUS HUNT DE SMU
The measureables alone are tantalizing: 38 bench press reps (tied for most at the Combine), 4.60 in the 40. Sounds like a workout wonder, but Hunt had eight sacks in his one season as a college starter and he blocked 17 kicks in the course of his career. Oh, and he's 6-foot-8, 277 pounds. The 49ers have 14 picks in this draft -- more than anyone. They can afford perhaps a slight reach for a player that could impact the game in so many ways.
32. Ravens ARTHUR BROWN LB Kansas State
Whose legendary cleats should the Ravens try to fill with this pick? Ray Lewis? Ed Reed? What about Anquan Boldin or maybe even Matt Birk? Had they not signed free agent safety Michael Huff, the pick here would've been Eric Reid. But Baltimore lost not just Lewis but also Dannell Ellerbe, the presumptive replacement for Lewis. So, the Ravens retool with the relentless if slightly undersized (6-1, 241) tackling machine. Behind a loaded D-Line that now includes Elvis Dumervil and Marcus Spears and tackle Chris Canty, Brown should have plenty of room to roam as either the new Mike or Will backer.