By Tarik El-Bashir
After losing Ray Lewis to retirement, will the Ravens be thinking linebacker in the first round of the NFL Draft?
While we wait for Commissioner Roger Goodell to step to the podium, let’s have a little fun with the possibilities, shall we?
(Editor’s note: We’ve made several changes from the original mock draft published April 16, including our first overall pick.)
Pick: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Comment: Andy Reid has been mum on what he intends to do with the first overall selection. He’s already got Alex Smith. Now he needs long-term solution at another key position on offense.
Pick: OLB/DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Comment: No team had fewer sacks than the Jag’s 20, which for comparison’s sake was 32 fewer than Denver’s league-leading total. Jordan should help fix that.
Pick: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Comment: By trading for Matt Flynn, the Raiders probably have ruled out taking a quarterback this year. Floyd is the next best player and will make an immediate impact for a unit that allowed 27.7 points per (28th).
Pick: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Comment: We’ve got no idea what Chip Kelly’s got in store. But how could he go wrong with a strong-armed, mobile quarterback like Smith, who presumably could replace Michael Vick when he’s ready?
Pick: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Comment: Although there’s a chance Fisher will go to the Chiefs at No. 1, he’s definitely a top-5 pick. It would address one of the Lions’ biggest needs, and Fisher is a local product, too.
Pick: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Comment: Considered the top available player at his position, the 6-0, 201-pound Milliner would start opposite Joe Haden and help shore up a pass defense that ranked 25th in yards allowed and 21st in touchdowns.
Pick: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Comment: Widely tapped as the third best tackle on the board, Johnson would fill the Cards’ biggest need. If Fisher, Joeckel and Johnson are all gone, Alabama G Chance Warmack would be a good consolation prize.
Pick: QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Comment: Since we’ve got the Eagles taking Smith, and USC’s Matt Barkley would be a reach, the next best signal caller is Nassib. Oh, and did we mention that Bills Coach Doug Marrone coached Nassib at Syracuse?
Pick: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Comment: If the Jets can get past his reported heart condition, the 6-3, 311 pound nose tackle could complete one heck of a front three lining up between ends Quintin Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson. But will Lotulelei fall to them?
Pick: DE Ezekiel Ansah, Brigham Young
Comment: The Ghana native has only been playing football for a couple of years, so he’s extremely raw. But he’s widely projected as a top-10 pick and the Titans need an edge rusher.
Pick: OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Comment: If they can’t get Ansah, Mingo is arguably the next best pass rusher in the top tier. He was the second fastest D-lineman at the combine (4.58 40-yard dash).
Pick: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Comment: The O-line needy ‘Phins would be fortunate to have Warmack fall to them here. Only one problem: There’s a good chance he’ll already be wearing someone else’s hat by then.
Pick: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Comment: After dealing Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers (and getting this pick in return), the Jets need a blue chip corner. And Rhodes – if he’s still there – could be just that. Washington's Desmond Trufant is also a fit here.
Pick: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Comment: A strong inside pass rusher who displays a high motor, the 6-4, 295 pound Richardson could help Carolina improve from a middle-of-the-pack defense to a solid one.
Pick: S Kenny Vacarro, Texas
Comment: In a draft deep with defensive backs, Vacarro stands out as the most complete safety. He can play free and strong safety and will no doubt help strengthen the NFL’s worst defense.
Pick: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Comment: Austin would be the perfect replacement for Danny Amendola, who signed as a free agent with the Patriots. If the speedster lasts until No. 16, that is.
Pick: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Comment: If medical concerns cause Jones to drop, he said recently that he doesn’t expect to slide past the Steelers. Jones is a potentially elite rusher with a high compete level.
Pick: OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Comment: Bolstering the O-line is a top priority for Jerry Jones, and without any cap space, drafting well is the only way to do it. Florida State tackle Menelik Watson could be an option, as well.
Pick: OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Comment: The Giants’ pick figures to be influenced greatly by what the Cowboys do. If Fluker is still available, he’d be a nice, versatile addition for an O-line that’s in need of an upgrade.
Pick: OLB/DE Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Comment: They signed D.J. Williams and James Anderson, but both got one-year deals. The versatile Ogletree could be a long-term solution.
Pick: S Eric Reid, LSU
Comment: Excellent in pass coverage, Reid, who was scheduled to visit the Bengals earlier this month, will fill a need and could develop into a cornerstone player.
Pick: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Comment: If Eric Reid goes to the Bengals, the Rams could turn to the corner with excellent bloodlines. Trufant is the younger brother of NFL corners Marcus and Isaiah Trufant.
Pick: LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Comment: With all the questions surrounding the girlfriend hoax, the Vikings have reportedly been doing their homework on Te’o. If the questions are answered sufficiently, he’ll slide immediately into the starting lineup.
Pick: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
Comment: Good size (6-3, 314) and good at getting to the quarterback, which is what Indianapolis needs after ranking 23rd in sacks.
Pick: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Comment: Signing free agent Greg Jennings was a good start. But Christian Ponder could use another weapon, like Patterson, to resuscitate the league’s 31st ranked passing offense.
Pick: S Matt Elam, Florida
Comment: Hey, someone’s got to replace Charles Woodson. The small but hard-hitting Elam would appear to be an excellent choice. His older brother is NFL safety Abram Elam.
Pick: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Comment: The prefect complement to Andre Johnson. Hopkins owns Clemson records for career receiving yards (3,020) and touchdown receptions (27). Justin Hunter (Tennessee) and Robert Woods (USC) could fit here as well.
Pick: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Comment: With Elvis Dumervil gone, the Broncos need a replacement. With some fine-tuning, Werner could eventually be that player. UCLA’s Datone Jones or Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore could be in play.
Pick: DE Margus Hunt, SMU
Comment: Depending on how the other ends shake out, Hunt could be an outstanding pick for the Pats. A former track and field athlete, the 6-8, 277-pound Hunt runs an eye-popping 4.6-second 40.
Pick: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Comment: Tony Gonzalez had to be talked into coming back for another year. If Eifert drops this far, it would be a perfect handoff. If Eifert is gone, Stanford’s Zach Ertz could be the answer.
Pick: S John Cyprien, Florida International
Comment: With Dashon Goldson now in Tampa, it’s time for the 49ers to reload on the back end. Cyprien and Florida’s Matt Elam are widely regarded as the being among the top safeties available.
Pick: LB Kevin Minter, LSU
Comment: With Te’o off the board, the Ravens will reach for the next best option. Given Ray Lewis’ retirement and now Rolando McClain’s legal trouble, it’s the Ravens’ most pressing need.