There hasn’t been a draft like this in quite some time.
Plenty of uncertainty remains at the top of this year’s NFL Draft just days before the Kansas City Chiefs come on the clock Thursday night.
This draft class lacks a surefire prospect like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Heck, there isn’t even a Ryan Tannehill. But this year’s group is loaded with depth across the board – that could make things as dramatic and exciting as ever during the annual three-day event.
Expect a ton of movement in the first round – which makes this mock draft exceedingly challenging.
With that in mind, sportsnet.ca gives their best guesses at who could land where in our final mock draft before Thursday’s first round.
Note: The following picks are from sportsnet.ca contributors Jim Lang, Geoff Lowe and Jeff Simmons.
1) Kansas City Chiefs
Lang: Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M) – With the Chiefs going through an extensive makeover, new head coach Andy Reid will want a personal bodyguard to help keep his new quarterback, Alex Smith, healthy.
Lowe: Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)- With Branden Albert’s future in question, Joeckel makes the most sense for Andy Reid to ensure Alex Smith’s blindside is protected in 2013.
Simmons: Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)- Andy Reid and the Chiefs need a standout at left tackle to help protect Alex Smith and stabilize their new offence.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars
Lang: Dion Jordan (OLB, Oregon) – The Jaguars are in no position to pass up any talent that comes their way. Jordan, who ran a 4.60 40 at the combine, had shoulder surgery in the off-season but it should be healed in time for the start of training camp.
Lowe: Dion Jordan (OLB, Oregon) – The Jaguars’ ailing pass rush needs a boost and Jordan is the answer. The former Duck blew scouts away at the Combine with his athletic ability.
Simmons: Eric Fisher (OT, Central Michigan) – Pairing Fisher and Eugene Monroe would give Jacksonville one of the league’s best tackle tandems. Maurice Jones-Drew would approve.
3) Oakland Raiders
Lang: Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida) – With Tommy Kelly signing in New England, the Raiders are desperate to add some talent along their defensive line. Then again, because of salary cap issues the Raiders are desperate to add talent anywhere.
Lowe: Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)- The Raiders defensive line took a big hit with the loss of Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly and Floyd’s combination of size and speed make him a great pick for Oakland at No. 3.
Simmons: Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)- The Raiders need help across the board but after losing Tommy Kelly, and Desmond Bryant in free agency, they need a quality starter at defensive tackle.
4) Philadelphia Eagles
Lang: Eric Fisher (OT, Central Michigan) – The Eagles allowed 48 sacks and a staggering 118 quarterback hits in 2012. Chip Kelly will help address that situation with the selection of Fisher.
Lowe: Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)-The new-look Eagles lost both of their starting cornerbacks in the off-season and adding Milliner would be a good start for Chip Kelly in rebuilding the secondary.
Simmons: Dion Jordan (OLB, Oregon) – In a league that requires pass rushers, Chip Kelly brings in a familiar face that would greatly boost the Eagles’ speed off the edge.
5) Detroit Lions
Lang: Ziggy Ansah – (DE, BYU) – With Cliff Avril in Seattle, Martin Mayhew will do the right thing and provide Jim Schwartz with another stud for his defensive line.
Lowe: Eric Fisher (OT, Central Michigan)- With the departure of Gosder Cherilus and retirement of Jeff Backus, the Lions have big needs on the offensive line and Fisher could step in as a starter right away.
Simmons: Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU) – Ansah is a bit raw but is an athletic freak that offers the most upside of any defensive player in the draft. Typical Lions pick.
6) Cleveland Browns
Lang: Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama) – The addition of Milliner will make an emerging Browns defence just that much better. Milliner will be a nice compliment to corner Joe Haden and safety T.J. Ward.
Lowe: San Diego Chargers (mock trade with Cleveland) – Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma)- The Chargers trade up to ensure they draft some much-needed protection for Phillip Rivers. San Diego allowed 49 sacks last season (fourth most) and the 6-foot-7 Johnson would do wonders for Rivers’ confidence.
Simmons: San Diego Chargers (mock trade with Cleveland) – Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma)- The Chargers couldn’t risk missing out on one of the top tackles and jumped ahead of Arizona to secure their man to protect Philip Rivers.
7) Arizona Cardinals
Lang: Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma) – The Cardinals turned the act of allowing their quarterback to get sacked into an art form. They need to take an offensive lineman.
Lowe: Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU) – Arizona would have liked Johnson here so the Cardinals go in a different direction and add Ansah, a raw but athletic freak that would add much-needed explosiveness to the defence.
Simmons: Chance Warmack (OG, Alabama) – It may not be popular to pick guards in the top 10 but the Alabama mauler would fill a gaping hole on a Cardinals line that was amongst the worst in football last season.
8) Buffalo Bills
Lang: Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia) – Assuming he’s still on the board, there is no way the Bills should pass on Smith. With Kevin Kolb in the fold, coach Doug Marrone will be able to allow Smith to learn the offence and how to play quarterback in the NFL.
Lowe: Chance Warmack (OG, Alabama) – There’s no need for the Bills to take a quarterback this high, but don’t count it out. The bigger need is on the offensive line after the loss of Andy Levitre and Warmack’s size and skill make him a smart pick.
Simmons: Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse) – I don’t buy Geno Smith going here and the Bills instead go with a quarterback the coaching staff is very comfortable with and already is used to the climate in western New York.
9) New York Jets
Lang: Barkevious Mingo (OLB, LSU) – Rex Ryan is all about defence and Mingo should be able to immediately step in and help a rebuilding Jets team.
Lowe: Barkevious Mingo (OLB, LSU)- Rex Ryan is reportedly “smitten” with the explosive pass rusher, who could wreak havoc in the AFC East if utilized properly.
Simmons: Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah) – Rex Ryan sees his own version of Haloti Ngata in Lotulelei, who would team up with Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples to form a pretty scary three-man front. Wow, an actual strength on the Jets.
10) Tennessee Titans
Lang: Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina) – Chris Johnson will love this pick after complaining about the Titans offensive line in the off-season.
Lowe: Jonathan Cooper (OG, North Carolina) – Tennessee needs to address the issues on the inside of the offensive line as Chris Johnson’s talents are being wasted with the Titans.
Simmons: Jonathan Cooper (OG, North Carolina) – The Titans continue the run of offensive lineman in the top 10 and can now form a potentially elite guard combo with Cooper and free-agent signee Andy Levitre.
11) San Diego Chargers
Lang: Chance Warmack (G, Alabama) – The selection of the 320-pound Warmack will make Philip Rivers the happiest man in San Diego Thursday night.
Lowe: Cleveland Browns (mock trade with San Diego) – Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State) -The Browns trade down and address their need at defensive back. Rhodes’ size and straight-line speed make him a good fit opposite Joe Haden to help solidify Cleveland’s secondary.
Simmons: Cleveland Browns (mock trade with San Diego) – Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama) – The Browns move down and still get their top target in Milliner, who would provide a huge upgrade across from Joe Haden.
12) Miami Dolphins
Lang: Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State) – The Dolphins have a strong defensive front seven, but need help in the secondary. The addition of Rhodes will make a good Miami defence even stronger.
Lowe: Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington) – Miami was the most active team in free agency but failed to address two needs: cornerback and offensive tackle. While the pick of Trufant – who ran a 4.38 40 – may be a bit high, the Dolphins need improvement at the position.
Simmons: Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State) – With the top tackles off the board, the Dolphins look to upgrade their secondary and Rhodes could step in right away and provide a solid replacement for Sean Smith.
13) New York Jets (via Tampa Bay)
Lang: Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah) – Mike DeVito’s departure for Kansas City leaves a big hole along the Jets defensive line. The 325-pound Lotulelei is more than big enough and skilled enough to fill that hole.
Lowe: Kenny Vaccaro (FS, Texas) – The Jets have a definite need in the secondary but it isn’t necessarily at cornerback. New York lost both starting safeties and picking the draft’s best at the position makes sense.
Simmons: Geno Smith (QB, Syracuse) – A pass rusher like Barkevious Mingo could make sense here but the Jets may be tempted to find their long-term answer at quarterback. It sure isn’t Mark Sanchez anymore.
14) Carolina Panthers
Lang: Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri) – The Panthers have a need at defensive tackle and Ron Rivera is banking that Richardson can fill it.
Lowe: Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah) – The Panthers need help stopping the run and the 6-foot-3, 320-pounder would do just that. Lotulelei is versatile and is highly effective in both run and pass defence.
Simmons: Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri) – The Panthers have a lot of holes but none are bigger than defensive tackle where Richardson would add the size and athletic ability needed in the middle of their defensive line.
15) New Orleans Saints
Lang: Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia) – The Saints need an impact player on defence and Jones is too good to pass up. The 240-pound Jones had 14 1/2 sacks in 12 games with the Bulldogs in 2012.
Lowe: Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia) – Jones didn’t perform well at his Pro Day but is still the best rush linebacker available in the draft, and would fit nicely in Rob Ryan’s new 3-4 scheme.
Simmons: Menelik Watson (OT, Florida State) – In my first real surprise pick, Watson is flying up draft boards and fills a major need for the Saints after last year’s starter Jermon Bushrod left via free agency.
16) St. Louis Rams
Lang: Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia) – Already paper thin at receiver, the Rams lost Danny Amendola to the Patriots in the off-season. They have no choice but to take the best receiver available.
Lowe: Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia) – After losing Danny Amendola to free agency, Sam Bradford and the Rams desperately need a playmaker and, despite size concerns, Austin is just that.
Simmons: Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia) – The Rams get their man at wide receiver and the dynamic Austin gives Sam Bradford a much more dangerous weapon out of the slot than Danny Amendola ever was.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers
Lang: Keenan Allen (WR, California) – Even with the Steelers matching the offer to Emmanuel Sanders, the loss of Mike Wallace to the Dolphins gives them little choice but to draft a receiver in the first round.
Lowe: Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee) – The Steelers have to find a way to replace the departed Mike Wallace and Patterson can bring the same explosiveness to Pittsburgh’s passing attack.
Simmons: Jarvis Jones (OLB,Georgia) – The Steelers need to restock their defence with youth and speed and Jones is widely considered to be most consistent outside rusher in this draft class.
18) Dallas Cowboys
Lang: Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina) – Since Jerry Jones is still calling the shots in Dallas, the Cowboys’ draft choice is really anybody’s guess.
Lowe: Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri) – The Cowboys could take an offensive lineman but need help on the defensive side as well. Some have compared Richardson to Warren Sapp, who flourished under defensive co-ordinator Monte Kiffin’s defence in Tampa.
Simmons: Kenny Vaccaro (FS, Texas) – With Monte Kiffin coming in to run the defence, the Cowboys need a dynamic playmaker at safety and can’t get by with Barry Church and Will Allen.
19) New York Giants
Lang: D.J. Fluker (OT, Alabama) – The Giants offensive line is getting old and is dire need of an upgrade. In a division that features players like DeMarcus Ware, Eli Manning will be thrilled to see the Giants select Fluker.
Lowe: D.J. Fluker (OT, Alabama) – The Giants need to solidify the right side of their offensive line and powerful Alabama run-blocker Fluker could step in and make a difference alongside Chris Snee right away.
Simmons: D.J. Fluker (OT, Alabama) – The Giants consider a pass rusher here but instead go with the monster lineman from Alabama to shore up their right tackle position.
20) Chicago Bears
Lang: Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia) – With the end of the Brain Urlacher era in Chicago the Bears have a need for inside linebacker. So drafting Ogletree is an obvious move for the Bears.
Lowe: Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame) – Despite the addition of Marcellus Bennett, selecting the draft’s best tight end would make sense as the Bears have struggled at the position since trading Greg Olsen in 2011.
Simmons: Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State) – Even after adding James Anderson and D.J. Williams in free agency, the Bears nab their replacement for Brian Urlacher with the rangy, athletic linebacker.
21) Cincinnati Bengals
Lang: Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas) – Just what the Bengals defence needs, more youth and talent. Vaccaro will be a nice addition to the sixth ranked defence in the NFL last season.
Lowe: Alec Ogletree (OLB, Georgia) – Ogletree’s off-field issues won’t deter Marvin Lewis, as the loss of Manny Lawson means the Bengals have a big void at outside linebacker that the Georgia product could fill nicely.
Simmons: Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU) – Mingo could end up going much higher but the Bengals stick to their best-player-available mold and continue to add to their fearsome pass rush.
16) St. Louis Rams (via Washington)
Lang: Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama) – After taking a receiver with their first pick this round, the Rams will grab their replacement for Steven Jackson six picks later.
Lowe: Eric Reid (S, LSU) – The Rams have a desperate need at both safety positions and, after addressing receiver concerns with their first pick, they take the aggressive, hard-hitting safety here.
Simmons: Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International) – The Rams need a young safety to patrol the back end of their defence – especially after releasing Quintin Mikell as part of a cap purge.
23) Minnesota Vikings
Lang: Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington) – With Antoine Winfield’s off-season departure for Seattle, the Vikings need to draft the best cornerback available here.
Lowe: Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina) – Other than the aging Kevin Williams, the Vikings are lacking at the defensive tackle position and the UNC product has good quickness and power to be disruptive against both the pass and the run.
Simmons: Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee) – Christian Ponder needs weapons and adding the high-upside big-bodied receiver to team up with Greg Jennings would be a wise move.
24) Indianapolis Colts
Lang: Datone Jones (DE, UCLA) – The Dwight Freeney era has come to end in Indianapolis so the Colts will attempt to replace him with the selection of Jones.
Lowe: Buffalo Bills (mock trade with Colts) – Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse) – Word is the Bills are targeting Doug Marrone’s former quarterback but No. 8 may be a bit high so, the Bills trade back into the first round to land Nassib.
Simmons: Datone Jones (DL, UCLA) – The Colts spent big in free agency on some peculiar players but Jones’ versatile skill set perfectly fits what Chuck Pagano wants from his defensive linemen.
25) Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle)
Lang: Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame) – Stop laughing, Te’o can play. With 241 tackles in his last 26 games at Notre Dame, Te’o will be a good fit for the Vikings linebacking corps.
Lowe: Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame) – Minnesota has a big need at middle linebacker and will invest in Te’o as the future leader and tackle machine of the Vikings defence.
Simmons: Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame) – The Vikings continue their recent trend of drafting Notre Dame players and add Te’o and his imaginary girlfriend to play middle linebacker.
26) Green Bay Packers
Lang: Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame) – The loss of Greg Jennings and the emergence of the twin tight end offence in the NFL makes this an intriguing option for the Packers.
Lowe: Menelik Watson (OT, Florida State) – The Packers have serious depth issues on the offensive line and with Derek Sherrod and Bryan Bulaga both coming off injuries, drafting the versatile Watson would be a smart move.
Simmons: Matt Elam (S, Florida) – Charles Woodson was basically playing safety the last few years and the Packers need a young, physical player to start right away in the nickel defence.
27) Houston Texans
Lang: DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson) – Andre Johnson is 31 years old and has been in the NFL for 10 years. The Texans need a complement to Johnson and a possible No. 1 receiver for the future.
Lowe: Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee) – Outside of Andre Johnson, the Texans have squat at the receiver position. Both players and fans alike are calling for an upgrade and the 6-foot-4 Hunter would be a great addition opposite Johnson.
Simmons: DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson) – The Texans are looking for a compliment to Andre Johnson and Hopkins offers the smooth route-running and speed that is lacking in the passing game.
28) Denver Broncos
Lang: Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State) – The Broncos will look to address the loss of Elvis Dumervil with the selection of Carradine. If his knee is sound, the Broncos will have grabbed a real gem late in the first round.
Lowe: Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State) – The loss of Elvis Dumervil still stings the Broncos and now they’ll have to use their first-round pick to replace him. The former Seminole is raw, yet explosive and athletic, and impressed scouts last week, running a 4.70 40 just 135 days after ACL surgery.
Simmons: Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State) – The Broncos are still burned from losing Elvis Dumervil and they appear to prefer to young rusher to an aging veteran like Dwight Freeney or John Abraham.
29) New England Patriots
Lang: D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston) – After Joe Flacco’s three touchdown performance in the AFC Championship game, Bill Belichick will decide to add more talent and depth to his secondary.
Lowe: Jamar Taylor (CB, Boise State) – New England only inked Aqib Talib to a one-year deal and with
Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling the other options, cornerback is a big present and future need for the Pats.
Simmons: Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington) – Trufant has the bloodlines and coverage ability that would immediately impress Bill Belichick.
30) Atlanta Falcons
Lang: Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State) – With the Falcons turning the page on veteran defensive end John Abraham, GM Thomas Dimitroff will add depth along his defensive line with the selection of Werner.
Lowe: Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama) – The Falcons brought in Steven Jackson to replace Michael Turner, but only as a band-aid solution. Lacy will bring Turner’s skills, power and explosiveness, to Atlanta for the future.
Simmons: D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston) – If Hayden’s medical checks out, he has as much upside as any corner in this draft and the Falcons have already lost Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson this off-season.
31) San Francisco 49ers
Lang: Eric Reid (S, LSU) – Losing safety Dashon Goldson to free agency hurts, so grabbing a potential placement in Reid is an easy decision for the 49ers once they’re on the clock.
Lowe: Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International) – The 49ers’ secondary was their biggest weakness in the playoffs last season and Cyprien, who excels against the run and in pass coverage, could help fill the void for Dashan Goldson.
Simmons: Jesse Williams (DL, Alabama) – The 49ers defence fell apart when Justin Smith went down last season and Jim Harbaugh understands they need to get younger at the position.
32) Baltimore Ravens
Lang: Kevin Minter (ILB, LSU) – The Ravens needs to replace Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe, so grabbing the 245-pound Minter will be an easy choice for Ozzie Newsome.
Lowe: Kevin Minter (ILB, LSU)- Te’o won’t be around at No. 32 as Ray Lewis’ replacement, but the Ravens have to address the void left at linebacker after being decimated by the offseason.
Simmons: Kevin Minter (ILB, LSU)- Ozzie Newsome always finds gems and while Minter may not be Ray Lewis, the LSU product is tough, physical and a nice replacement in the middle.