Since the last CBA went into effect, which included the change in the rookie wage scale, trades at the top of the draft have become commonplace. For those of us who do mock drafts, this makes it much more difficult. As a matter of fact, it makes it damn near impossible to get 10-12 right, which is usually regarded as a good showing.
In the past, I haven't take trades into account, but there's one in particular that I think benefits both teams, and still gives them the player they really want. You'll see what I'm talking about below.
Furthermore, with the quarterbacks being pushed down in this draft, I think there's a strong possibility that at least three or four trades will take place from picks 25 to 32, with teams trading back into the first to select one of them.
1. Kansas City - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
I kept hearing that Joeckel was a lock, but that all changed tonight. Personally, this is the pick I would have made. Fisher has a higher ceiling.
2. Jacksonville - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The difference between Joeckel and Fisher is minimal. I think Joeckel's better prepared right now, because of the competition he's faced.
3. Oakland - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd has the tools and motor to be a dominating player at the next level. I think Lane Johnson could be another possibility here, as well.
4. Philadelphia - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Chip Kelly needs athletic offensive linemen to run the up-tempo scheme he's know runs. Johnson is perfect in that he's a physical freak.
5. Detroit Lions - Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
With the premiere tackles off the board, Cliff Avril leaving, and Kyle Vanden Bosch being released, it's down to Ansah or Dion Jordan here. I think they go Ansah, because he's better suited for the wide-9 defensive alignment.
6. Cleveland Browns - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Teaming Milliner with Joe Haden gives the Browns one of the best young cornerback tandems in the league. Geno Smith could be the surprise pick here.
7. Arizona Cardinals - Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
The Cardinals are upset the tackles are gone until they see that the most versatile player in the draft falls right into their lap.
8. St. Louis Rams (trade with Buffalo) - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Rams definitely need to get in front of the Jets for Austin. Like New York, they absolutely need playmakers and they love Austin.
9. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The buzz on Mingo has been deafening over the last few days, and he could go earlier than this, but I think Rex Ryan finally gets the dynamic defensive player he's needed in the Big Apple.
10. Tennessee - Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The Titans need help all over the place on the defensive side of the ball, but I think Cooper is too enticing for Mike Munchak to pass up.
11. San Diego - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Another team that's upset about all of the premiere offensive tackles being off the board, the Chargers take the next best thing with the Crimson Tide's road grader.
12. Miami - DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
Last year, the Dolphins found out how horrible life can be with Jonathan Martin at left tackle. I think they're desparate enough to take Fluker a little earlier than he should go.
13. New York Jets - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith is a real wild card, because I can see him going to a couple of teams ahead ofthis pick. However, I'm still not sure that teams are sold on him. Owner Woody Johnson loves to make splashes, and taking Mark Sanchez's replacement would do just that.
14. Carolina - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Panthers need help in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Once again, with most of the elite lineman gone, they go with a guy that only dropped this far because of medical concerns discovered at the Combine.
15. New Orleans - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Sean Payton realizes that in order to get back to a Super Bowl-calibur team, the defense absolutely has to be upgraded. I wouldn't be surprised is they only take one player on the offensive side of the ball.
16. Buffalo (trade with St. Louis) - Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
The Bills would love to trade back again, because they really want Nassib and they know that they could still get him in the early twenties. Forget the Barkley rumors, his arm would never stand up in the Buffalo weather.
17. Pittsburgh - Jarvis Jones, OLB, GeorgiaAnother player who only fell this far because of medical issues (spinal stenosis). However, with the loss of James Harrison and an aging Lamarr Woodley, Dick Lebeau needs the next outside pass rusher and Jones fits the bill.
18. Dallas - Kenny Vacarro, S, Texas
And the Cowboys' war room rejoices! One of the worst-kept secrets in this draft is Jerry Jones' love for Vacarro. His only concern is that someone might trade up in front of him to get him.
19. New York Giants - Menelik Watkins, OT, Florida State
With David Diehl and Chris Snee not getting any younger, help is needed on the offensive line. Watkins is most people's highest-rated lineman left (not mine), and I think he's a pretty good fit here.
20. Chicago - Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
I originally had Tyler Eifert going here, but I hear that the Bears' brass is very impressed with Te'o. Like being a quarterback in New York, there's no bigger position in Chicago than middle linebacker - hopefully, the Golden Domer is ready for that pressure.
21. Cincinnati - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
OK, OK, Ogletree's an absolute knucklehead, but he's still a great player. In addition, we all know that Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis have no aversion to taking on headcases.
22. St. Louis - Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Another of the Rams' big needs is at safety, and outside of Vacarro, they have their pick of the litter. I think it's Cyprien, but Eric Reid and Matt Elam are options, too.
23. Minnesota - Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Leslie Frazier would love for Te'o to fall here, and they might consider trading up in front of Chicago to get him. But, even after the signing of Greg Jennings, wide receiver is still a big need. Patterson this late in the first is a steal.
24. Indianapolis - DJ Hayden, CB, HoustonChuck Pagano was a great story last year, and he'll feel a kinship with Hayden and the rare heart disease that almost killed him. Cornerback isn't the biggest need on defense, but he's the highest-rated defensive player at this point.
25. Minnesota - Sylvester Williams, DT, TennesseeKevin Williams won't be around much longer, and another Williams could step in immediately to take his place.
26. Green Bay - Eric Reid, S, LSU
After allowing Charles Woodson to walk, the Packers are in desparate need of getting a safety that can step in from day one. Depending on their board, Matt Elam could be the pick here, too.
27. Houston - Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
I almost dread making this pick, because the Texans rarely do what people expect or think they should do. However, Andre Johnson is literally begging Rick Smith to get him a complement, and Hunter is the most physically impressive receiver in this draft.
28. Denver - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
After losing Elvis Dumervil in that bizarre fax machine debacle, the Broncos can use some depth at the defensive end position. They might be leaning towards Bjoern Werner, but I like Jones.
29. New England - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Bill Belichick has to go with a wide receiver or cornerback here, because he's very, very thin at both positions. It's hard to argue against defense being the priority, and Rhodes is a better value than any of the receivers left on the board.
30. Atlanta - Desmond Trufont, CB, Washington
For a 13-3 team last year, the Falcons have a lot of needs on defense. Replacing John Abraham's pass rushing ability is also a possibility, but they're really thin on the back end.
31. San Francisco - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
I feel really bad about this pick. Sure, the 49ers would love to replace Delanie Walker, but I can't see Eifert still being here. However, I just couldn't see tight end being the bigger need for the teams in front of them.
32. Baltimore - Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Let's face it, the biggest need for the Ravens is replacing Ray Lewis. Not because he was still a great player, but because they need a leader after losing Lewis and Ed Reed as well.