Yet another mock draft with Tyler Eifert as the Packers selection, but …


Florida State Seminoles safety Philip Doumar (57) and offensive linesman Menelik Watson (71) react following the win over the Northern Illinois Huskies at the 2013 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. The Seminoles defeated the Huskies 31-10. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks provides us with an updated first round mock draft that surprises in spots, but not with the Green Bay Packers first round projection – Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert.

He explains that because of the Packers outward estrangement, if not just plain strange fascination with the mercurial Jermichael Finley, Eifert might just be the best possible future replacement.

To a degree, I can agree with Banks, but as I wrote yesterday, too many mocksters are playing the Finley card in considering the Packers’ first pick.

The good thing about Banks’ mock today is that he gives an alternative – Florida State’s Menelik Watson – who would be a much better selection in my mind. Like Banks says, protecting the NFL’s highest paid player should become focus number one by the team. If Ted Thompson doesn’t select an offensive lineman in the first two picks, something is wrong – there are too many talented linemen in this draft not to partake.

As for the other NFC North teams, Banks has the Lions taking Central Michigan grad Eric Fisher as a replacement for the retiring Jeff Backus; the Chicago Bears taking linebacker Alec Ogletree of Georgia – a definite possibility considering the loss of Brian Urlacher; and the Minnesota Vikings, with two first-rounders, selecting Sheldon Richardson, a defensive tackle from Missouri at number 23 and turning around and picking much-maligned Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o at 25.

The Detroit selection is a no-brainer for the Lions in picking home state boy Fisher, Ogletree would be an excellent pick for the Bears’ defense, and the Vikings’ first selection of Richardson would fill a hole for that franchise … but Te’o in the first round? I think that’s a stretch that even the Vikings wouldn’t touch.

Banks’ complete first round is below.

Let us know what you think.

Luke Joeckel
OTTexas A&M
I suppose the Chiefs could still surprise us late in the game and opt for Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, but it has been made crystal clear by their other moves that they’re targeting one of the top two offensive tackles in this year’s draft class. I’ve had Joeckel in the No. 1 spot since my 1.0 mock in late January, and he’s looking rather wire-to-wire-ish from this vantage point.
Sharrif Floyd
I’ve been a bit all over the map with the Jaguars, giving them Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner in January, Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner in February, and West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in last week’s 3.0 mock. I suppose that can happen when you have a team with as many obvious needs as Jacksonville. I’ve been told the Jags like Smith quite a bit, but probably not enough to move on from 2011 first-round quarterback Blaine Gabbert even before he has a chance to prove himself under new head coach Gus Bradley and GM David Caldwell. So, it’s Floyd, because the need for a disruptive, Warren Sapp-like presence in the middle of the defensive line trumps all. At least this week.
Dion Jordan
Really like the Matt Flynn in, Carson Palmer out maneuver the Raiders executed this week. That’s a definite upgrade on my scorecard. I do believe that frees Oakland to address its defensive needs in the first round. With Floyd gone, the choice would seem to come down to taking the best available pass rusher, either Jordan or BYU’s intriguing Ziggy Ansah. Jordan is probably the safer selection given how Ansah’s talent often gets described as “green” or “raw.”
Dee Milliner
I’m not ruling out the possibility the Eagles are Geno Smith’s landing spot, but I’m also not convinced of it by any stretch. Maybe the next three weeks will help clarify that question. Offensive tackle Eric Fisher would be an easy card to turn in, but with both Jason Peters and Todd Herremans returning from injury in 2013, I keep coming back to the notion that the draft’s top cornerback might have more rookie impact in Philly than drafting a future starter/insurance policy at left tackle.
Eric Fisher
OTCentral Michigan
A no-brainer for the Leos. Detroit needs a long-term replacement for the retiring Jeff Backus, and here sits Fisher, who has his Michigan connection and a draft grade that puts him in the same neighborhood as the No. 1 overall pick, Joeckel.
Ziggy Ansah
With both Milliner and Jordan selected above them, the Browns would continue their offseason upgrade of the pass rush, taking the talented but relatively inexperienced Ansah. He has obvious potential that equates to a top 10 draft slot, but he requires a bit more projection than many of his highly regarded classmates.
Lane Johnson
Johnson moves into my top 10 for the first time, and I may be the last known mocker to arrive at that conclusion. With both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton having arrived, and Kevin Kolb having exited, the Cardinals won’t be doing any first-round quarterback research the next three weeks. Johnson’s positional value as a tackle appears to have pushed him higher than top-rated guards Chance Warmack of Alabama and Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina.
Geno Smith
QBWest Virginia
OK, so Matt Barkley didn’t turn in a boffo Pro Day performance and vault himself firmly into the top 10 as I presumed he would in last week’s 3.0 mock. That puts me back in the mindset of matching up Buffalo and Smith. With the signing of Kevin Kolb representing a short-term starting option, the Bills had best pounce on Smith unless they are certain they can get either Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib or Barkley later in the draft.
Jarvis Jones
If the Jets pass him medically with his spinal stenosis condition, it’s hard to imagine Rex Ryan passing on a player who has a habit of playing in the opponent’s backfield. Jones is the kind of impact player for which New York’s defensive front seven has been searching.
Chance Warmack
I’m kind of back where I started from with the Titans, giving them Warmack, the gifted guard from the two-time national champion Crimson Tide. Even with the Andy Levitre signing in free agency, Warmack’s draft grade and value might make him too good to overlook, and give the Titans a chance to field a dominant, control-the-clock running game with Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene.
Jonathan Cooper
GNorth Carolina
In this scenario, the Chargers didn’t even get close to nabbing one of the draft’s top three offensive tackles. Unless they’re convinced Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei is their guy, Cooper would be a quality addition to an offensive line that was in tatters at times in 2012.
Xavier Rhodes
CBFlorida St.
The Fish get their replacement for departed free-agent cornerback Sean Smith. Rhodes continues to solidify his standing as the second-best cover man in this draft class, behind Alabama’s Dee Milliner. A strong offseason of talent acquisition would continue if Miami lands Rhodes.
Tavon Austin
WRWest Virginia
The more conservative pick would be a defensive end (Bjoern Werner of Florida State) or the best available cornerback (Desmond Trufant of Washington), but I could see the Bucs talking themselves into Austin, the matchup nightmare who would give Tampa Bay something of its own version of what division rival New Orleans has in chains-mover Darren Sproles.
Star Lotulelei
The question of how far Lotulelei might slide due to wariness over a heart condition is one of the hotter topics in the first round. Carolina is in need of an athletic and disruptive playmaker in its interior defensive line, and it should have the choice between Lotulelei or Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
Barkevious Mingo
This feels like the mid-round neighborhood where Mingo is going to come off the board, and the Saints are looking for pass rushers who they can plug in and play quickly in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s new 3-4 defensive formation. Every so often, logic reigns in our 4.0 mock.
Cordarrelle Patterson
With the Rams missing out on Tavon Austin, they target another receiving weapon in Patterson, the lightly experienced but hugely talented ex-Vol. With the Steelers perhaps eyeing Patterson at No. 17, the Rams get their receiver here and then take their chances that a safety (either Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro or Florida’s Matt Elam) will be there at No. 22.
Kenny Vaccaro
The Steelers would probably take an impact defensive front seven player like Jarvis Jones or Barkevious Mingo if available. But in this case, Vacarro gets the nod. He’s the draft’s top safety, and other than a disappointing 40 time of 4.63 at the combine, he gets high marks for both his coverage skills and his physicality in run support.
D.J. Fluker
All that money given to quarterback Tony Romo only makes it all the more imperative the Cowboys upgrade their offensive line and pass protection. Fluker at right tackle would make Doug Free expendable, or he could be a mauler at guard.
Bjoern Werner
DEFlorida State
The Giants always collect quality pass rushers, and if Werner lasts this long, New York could easily pounce. But I’ll give you one interesting twist to watch out for as well: New York is playing it coy, but it may well like the other Florida State defensive end, Tank Carradine, a little bit better.
Alec Ogletree
The Bears have added linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson after the Brian Urlacher divorce became final, but they would still happily make room for Olgetree if he convinces them his character issues are a non-factor. Also tempting might be Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, if new head coach Marc Trestman wants to bring Chicago’s offense into the two-tight end formation era.
Desmond Trufant
It’s not a given that free-agent offensive right tackle Andre Smith returns to the Bengals, but it becomes more likely the longer no suitors for him surface. If Smith would leave before the draft, Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson becomes a name to watch in this slot. Barring that, Trufant emerges as a strong option for a Cincinnati defense that could use some youth at cornerback.
Matt Elam
The Rams have plenty of good options here, like taking a top-15 defensive tackle in Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson or pulling the trigger on running back Eddie Lacy of Alabama. But Elam carries a first-round grade and meets an obvious need. St. Louis would do well to just keep stacking bricks and build a foundation that’s going to be around for quite some time.
Sheldon Richardson
Most mocks have Richardson going in the top 15, with a bunch of those to No. 14 Carolina. But if Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei falls to the Panthers, Richardson could tumble all the way to the Vikings. With Minnesota having another first rounder to work with, thanks to the Percy Harvin trade with Seattle, the Vikings are in position to take the explosive and disruptive Richardson as Kevin Williams’ eventual replacement.
Arthur Brown
LBKansas State
I’m still not sure how the Erik Walden signing in free agency made sense for the Colts financially or otherwise, but Brown would upgrade one of the few remaining spots on the roster where Indy is not better off than it was at the start of the offseason. UCLA defensive end Datone Jones, North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson are other options that add talent and depth at positions of need.
Manti Te’o
LBNotre Dame
Te’o comes off this board before top-rated Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert does, and some would say the odds of that happening aren’t good. But the Vikings already have a Notre Dame tight end (Kyle Rudolph) and I’m not convinced they’re targeting Cal receiver Keenan Allen with this pick, as many mockers are. The Vikings seem like a decent fit for Te’o, and Minnesota GM Rick Spielman does have a well-chronicled appreciation for Irish talent. The Vikings could still land a quality receiver along the lines of USC’s Robert Woods at No. 52 in the second round.
Tyler Eifert
TENotre Dame
Given Green Bay’s indecision on Jermichael Finley as he enters the final year of his contract, Eifert would seem a solid first-round investment. But the Packers’ offensive tackle position poses its concerns as well, so Florida State’s Menelik Watson has to be on the radar screen, too. Protecting the franchise better (quarterback Aaron Rodgers) must be a 2013 priority.
Keenan Allen
The Texans’ first-round focus seems as clear as any team: They must find another receiving weapon to pair with Andre Johnson and take their passing game up a notch. Otherwise, they might as well disband the franchise and not even field a team this season. It’s that important.
Sylvester Williams
DTNorth Carolina
The Broncos’ need for an Elvis Dumervil replacement still could be met in the veteran free-agent market, with Dwight Freeney and John Abraham remaining available. But Denver also must improve in the middle of its defensive line, and Williams is a powerful and at times disruptive force as a 4-3 tackle.
Margus Hunt
The Aqib Talib re-signing gives the Patriots more leeway to look at positions other than cornerback in the first round. Hunt is a big, fast and strong talent and the kind of prospect Bill Belichick usually finds intriguing. At 6-8, 277, he’s not your prototypical 3-4 end, but he’s a kick-blocking machine and he has athleticism that could be molded in New England.
Tank Carradine
DEFlorida State
The Falcons are locked in on anyone who can juice up their pass rush, and they had Carradine in for dinner and a day-long visit this week. As I wrote on Tuesday, Carradine’s ACL rehab is ahead of schedule and he’s expected to be ready to start contact drills fairly early in the preseason. Carradine’s draft stock is on the rise and if he moves well at his April 20 private workout, he could interject himself into the top 25.
Datone Jones
The 49ers could use some help at defensive end or tackle, and Jones is a versatile player who NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock considers the third-best 3-4 prospect in the draft. Jones would project as Justin Smith’s eventual replacement in the starting lineup.
Kevin Minter
The Ravens could easily put this spot up for auction and hope some quarterback-needy team comes after it, in pursuit of E.J. Manuel, Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib. But if they stick at No. 32, Minter helps offset the departure of both starting inside linebackers, Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe.

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