Mel Kiper Throws Out Wildcard Picks in Latest Mock Draft

Kiper’s never been known for going with the rest of the bunch in his mock drafts, for better or worse.

His latest mock draft is no exception.

Some of these wildcards include top-15 picks, so it makes for one interesting mock.

As usual, Kiper’s mock as been added to the Mock Drafts Comparison page, which will be updated within the next several days with a new NFL DR mock and several from CBS Sports and NFL.com.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in to Kiper’s two-round projection.

1. Kansas City Chiefs – Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel

What’s there to say other than he’s a clear fit and the favorite for first-overall?

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah

Ansah is an interesting pick here, as most mock drafts have Dion Jordan going ahead of Ansah at second-overall. It’s still a good fit, as Jacksonville has had a deficient pass-rush for years now. The Jaguars could still go for a tackle or corner at this spot as well.

3. Oakland Raiders – Florida DT Shariff Floyd

Floyd has been another consistent pick at third-overall over past weeks. Floyd would be the centerpiece of a rebuilding defensive line, and offers versatility for Oakland’s hybrid defensive front.

4. Philadelphia Eagles – West Virginia QB Geno Smith

The Eagles selecting Smith is as much of a wildcard as seen in other mocks that have Jacksonville or Oakland selecting Smith–while he could addition for any of these teams, it’s unlikely he’ll be taken in the top-five. It’s more likely Philadelphia will go with an offensive tackle or defensive player to shore up a team that already has a starter in Michael Vick.

5. Detroit Lions – Alabama CB Dee Milliner

It’s been made pretty clear thus far in the draft process that Detroit is enamored in Ziggy Ansah. However, in this situation Ansah’s no longer on the board. Detroit has a clear need at defensive end, so it wouldn’t be unrealistic for the Lions to take Dion Jordan over Milliner. Kiper rationalizes that Detriot can grab a pass-rusher in the second-round and get the best corner at fifth-overall.

6. Cleveland Browns – Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan

The Browns would love to get a corner, but Milliner’s already off the board. Instead, Cleveland could pick up the best defender on the board and shore up the pass-rush for the future. The Browns may have shelled out for Paul Kruger in free-agency, but he’s not a long term solution. Jordan and Jabaal Sheard would form a lethal pass-rushing duo.

7. Arizona Cardinals – Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher

The Cardinals are trying to put together a stronger offensive line, and Fisher offers them the best solution here. Fisher’s addition would solve a long term need at tackle and allow veteran Levi Brown move inside as a mauling guard. Arizona could look to add Chance Warmack to reinforce the guard position, but the drafting of Fisher could solve needs at both tackle and guard in one move.

8. Buffalo Bills – North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper

Andy Levitre is no longer with Buffalo after signing with the Titans, leaving a hole at guard. Cooper would solve the only problem on the Bills offensive line. Buffalo can still get a quarterback in the second-round.

9. New York Jets – LSU DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo

The Jets have been looking for help at pass-rusher for seasons now, taking chances on the likes of former first-round bust Aaron Maybin in the process. Mingo gives New York a big body who can play both outside ‘backer in the Jets’ 3-4 scheme or end if he puts on some weight.

10. Tennessee Titans – Alabama OG Chance Warmack

It’s rare that you’ll see two guards go in the top-ten, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t buy Kiper’s picks for the top-ten. Warmack would improve the Titans offensive line–which already added Andy Levitre–hopefully kick-starting the run game. There’s not much Tennessee needs other than guard.

11. San Diego Chargers – Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

The Chargers are looking for a tackle, and in this situation Johnson fell out of the top-ten–meaning the Chargers get the tackle they need. Johnson’s addition could give Philip Rivers the protection he needs if he’s going to succeed in San Diego.

12. Miami Dolphins – Alabama OT D.J. Fluker

Here’s one of the wildcard picks. The Dolphins may need a tackle, but they also have a clear need at corner–and Xavier Rhodes is still on the board. Fluker won’t go this early, and if Miami was determined to get a tackle in the first-round they’ll either trade up or trade down instead of overdrafting Fluker.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Lotulelei was once considered a favorite for the top-five, and after a bit of a stock free fall dude to health concerns the big-bodied Utah product would be a steal for Tampa Bay. While the Bucs could go with Rhodes to reinforce corner (that’s if the Darrelle Revis trade falls through), the defensive line could use some help–the pairing of Lotulelei and Gerald McCoy would give Tampa Bay a dominant interior for a young defensive line.

14. Carolina Panthers – Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson

The defensive line is a clear need, and Richardson would offer the Panthers a run-stopper for the interior line. Currently Richardson is a favorite among pundits to go to Carolina, even if he’s a bit undersized for the Panthers’ 3-4 defense.

15. New Orleans Saints – Georgia DE/OLB Jarvis Jones

Concerns about Jones’ athletic abilities have pushed him from the top-ten in many mock drafts, and the same can be said about Kiper’s latest mock (Kiper had Jones going to the Bills at eighth-overall in his previous mock draft). The Saints are moving to a 3-4 defense in 2013, so Jones offers a productive pass-rusher for the conversion from 4-3. While the Saints could go with an interior ‘backer instead, Jones is still a good value pick here.

16. St. Louis Rams – West Virginia WR Tavon Austin

Austin is another pick many have been projecting for weeks. Austin would help lessen the loss of Danny Amendola in free agency as a deadly receiving threat out of the slot. If Austin is available at sixteen he won’t get past the Rams.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert

Kiper’s reasoning for this pick is that Eifert is a playmaker that could make up for the loss of Mike Wallace. I’m simply not buying Eifert going this high, especially when there are so many pass-rushers that could help out Pittsburgh’s defense.

18. Dallas Cowboys – North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams

Dallas is moving away from a 3-4 scheme, and it’s aging line needs a youth infusion. Williams may be a bit of a reach in the top-20, but defensive line is a need for the Cowboys.

19. New York Giants – Washington CB Desmond Trufant

Before fans start criticizing Kiper for choosing Trufant over Rhodes here, at least hear out his reasoning. Trufant is a versatile corner who should succeed in any scheme, and even play safety should events make it necessary. The Giants may need help at linebacker, but corner is also a source of concern.

20. Chicago Bears – Notre Dame ILB Manti Te’o

The Te’o selection is inevitable in most mocks these days. I’m simply not buying that Te’o will go in the first-round.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Georgia ILB Alec Ogletree

Ogletree is an enticing prospect, having played both linebacker and safety at the collegiate level. He’s already good in coverage and a decent run defender–Marvin Lewis’ defensive acumen could be what’s necessary to bring out the most in Ogletree.

22. St. Louis Rams – Texas S Kenny Vaccaro

Vaccaro is an excellent candidate for the Rams due to the lack of starting safeties on the roster. He’s athletic and flexible, able to play both safety positions–something especially valuable for a team that is rebuilding their secondary.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson

The departure of Percy Harvin hurts, even with the addition of Greg Jennings. Patterson will immediately upgrade on free-agent bust Jerome Simpson opposite Jennings.

24. Indianapolis Colts – Florida St. CB Xavier Rhodes

The Colts defense is in the process of a revamp following a season in which the offense performed and the defense fell apart when needed. Rhodes would step in immediately at starter.

25. Minnesota Vikings – LSU ILB Kevin Minter

Would you rather have a first-round pick starting or Brandon McKenzie? Kiper tends to take the former with this pick.

26. Green Bay Packers – Alabama RB Eddie Lacy

Running back is a definite need for the Packers, but there’s plenty of options in later rounds while there are needs at offensive line and the defense that could be solved at 26.

27. Houston Texans – USC WR Robert Woods

Woods combined with Andre Johnson makes for an improved receiving corps for Matt Schaub and the Texans. Houston is in win now mode, and Woods boosts the offense.

28. Denver Broncos – Houston CB D.J. Hayden

While I would support Denver taking a corner with this pick, Hayden’s a reach and not much of a fit–Denver’s looking to upgrade on size at corner (adding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie). Hayden could be a pick for the future, but Denver is more likely to look at a pick to upgrade the defensive line than take Hayden.

29. New England Patriots – Tennessee WR Justin Hunter

New England lost both Wes Welker (free-agency) and Brandon Lloyd (released) this offseason, and while Danny Amendola’s signing helps make the Welker loss hurt a bit less, he’s injury prone and is can’t make up for both former Pro Bowl receivers’ departure. Hunter’s addition could be an investment both for the present and for the future.

30. Atlanta Falcons – Oregon G/T Kyle Long

Long’s versatility could make him a target for Atlanta, as he played both guard and tackle at Oregon and Atlanta has a need at both. The release of Tyson Clabo could open a starting spot for long at tackle immediately, or he could shift inside and help out at guard. The addition of Osi Umenyiora makes the pass-rush less of a concern in the short term, so Atlanta can stand to draft for offense early on.

31. San Francisco 49ers – SMU DE Margus Hunt

San Francisco’s defensive line is aging, and although Hunt wouldn’t contribute in the short-term behind the likes of Justin Smith and Glenn Dorsey, Smith is 34 and the 49ers need to find a successor soon.

32. Baltimore Ravens – Florida International S Jonathan Cyprien

Baltimore needs help at corner, safety, inside ‘backer and a few other spots, so it’s a safe bet they’ll draft defense first. Cyprien bolsters the defensive backfield and offers versatility in the safety group with the ability to play at either free or strong.

Second Round:

  1.  Jaguars – USC QB Matt Barkley
  2. 49ers – Florida S Matt Elam
  3. Eagles – Florida St. OT Menelik Watson
  4. Lions – Florida St. DE Bjoern Werner
  5. Bengals – Syracuse S Shamarko Thomas
  6. Cardinals – UCLA DE Datone Jones
  7. Browns – PICK EXERCISED IN 2012 SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT
  8. Jets – Stanford TE Zach Ertz
  9. Titans – California WR Keenan Allen
  10. Bills – Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib
  11. Dolphins – Florida St. DE Cornellius Carradine
  12. Buccaneers – Boise St. CB Jamar Taylor
  13. Panthers – South Carolina S D.J. Swearinger
  14. Saints – PICK FORFEITED DUE TO BOUNTY INVESTIGATION
  15. Chargers – Kansas St. Arthur Brown
  16. Rams – Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
  17. Cowboys – Syracuse OG Justin Pugh
  18. Steelers – Georgia Cornelius Washington
  19. Giants – Connecticut LB Sio Moore
  20. Bears – Alabama DT Jesse Williams
  21. Redskins – Connecticut CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
  22. Vikings – Purdue DT Kawann Short
  23. Bengals – Mississippi St. CB Johnthan Banks
  24. Dolphins – S.E. Louisiana CB Robert Alford
  25. Packers – Georgia Southern S J.J. Wilcox
  26. Seahawks – Ohio St. DT Johnathan Hankins
  27. Texans – Georgia DT John Jenkins
  28. Broncos – Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore
  29. Patriots – LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu
  30. Falcons – Rutgers LB Khaseem Greene
  31. 49ers – San Diego St. TE Gavin Escobar
  32. Ravens – Arkansas-Pine Bluff OT Terron Armstead

The most interesting of the picks in the second-round is Barkley to the Jaguars. Rumors have Barkley dropping down the quarterback draft board below the likes of Ryan Nassib and E.J. Manuel–so it’s a bit interesting that Manuel is nowhere to be seen in the second-round here.

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