1/10/2013

2013 NFL Mock Draft: 1st Edition

It's that time of year again when the twenty clubs that did not make the NFL Playoffs look ahead to building for next year and beyond and that all starts on April 25 with the 2013 NFL Draft. Thus, here is my first attempt at mocking this year's draft. Where will all the top prospects, including the aptly named Utah defensive tackle Stat Lotulelei, land? Let's take a look.

*pending playoff results

1. Kansas City Chiefs - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Let's be honest, Smith is not the best prospect on the board. Heck, he's doubtful to even be a top ten prospect after he disappointed in the snowy Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse. But he is the best quarterback on the board, quarterback prospects always get pushed up the draft board due to the importance of the position and the Chiefs desperately need a franchise quarterback. Plus, the increased likelihood that Andy Reid will be the next coach in Kansas City makes it more likely that they will go for a quarterback due to his skills in developing quarterbacks. Smith has ideal size, a good arm, strong accuracy and mechanics and has plus athleticism.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
Jacksonville has two huge needs. The first is at quarterback but unfortunately for them this quarterback class is very weak and there is no prospect with the caliber to go this high. The second is at defensive end as the team once again had an awful pass rush as they had the fewest sacks in the league and fortunately this is a strong draft for that with two elite prospects in Jones and Demontre Moore. Jones may be a little small to be a 4-3 end but would in all likelihood end up as a 4-3 OLB like Von Miller. Jones is a truly gifted pass rusher with his speed, his pass rush skills and a relentless motor.

3. Oakland Raiders - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Raiders desperately need reinforcements along the defensive line. They were gashed on the ground multiple times (Doug Martin, anyone?) and finished with a paltry 25 sacks on the season. Look for Oakland to address their line with this selection and you know they would be excited to get a player with the caliber of Lotulelei with this pick. Lotulelei reminds some folks with how he manhandles offensive linemen thanks to his strength and quickness. Plus, he can play in either the 4-3 or the 3-4, which would please coach Dennis Allen, who likes to feature multiple looks.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M
The Eagles' offensive line, even after the free agent signing of Demetress Bell after the injury to Jason Peters, was a real disappointment as they allowed the fifth most sacks in the league. Having major problems with the line was a problem with a turnover-prone quarterback like Michael Vick and if they want to develop Nick Foles as their guy, they need to make a real investment into line play and thus taking an elite tackle prospect like Joeckel makes sense. He has everything you want in a franchise tackle with good size, quickness on his feet, athleticism as well as big-game experience.

5. Detroit Lions - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
A key reason why the Lions' defense took a couple steps backward this season was the struggles of the pass rush. The team went from being tied for tenth in the league in sacks last year to being tied for 20th this year. Considering Kyle Vanden Bosch's declining play, the team really needs to find a quality pass rusher opposite Cliff Avril, whose contract is also up after having the franchise tag applied last offseason. Werner is an ideal defensive end for a 4-3 as he a great combination of speed and physicality who also plays with a consistent motor.

6. Cleveland Browns - Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
The Browns really had some problems defending the pass and one way they could improve in that regards in finding a pass rushing complement for Jabaal Sheard, as they have struggled to find another threat opposite him. Moore would be a good fit for the Browns should they go with a 4-3 or a 3-4 as he could play with his hand on the ground or rush off the edge standing up. Moore is a quality athlete and is quick with his hands and his feet plus has long arms, which is always a plus.

7. Arizona Cardinals - Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
Arizona has two huge needs, one at quarterback and the other along the line. As I have noted before, this is an awful draft for quarterbacks and there is not one worth taking at this juncture and I don't know if the Cardinals will be desperate with a new front office and coach taking hold out in Glendale so I think instead they will go about addressing the line and take Lewan. Many think that he is better suited to the right side due to his skills at run blocking but he has a chance to full out a big frame (he's 6'8" at only 304 pounds) and he has the athleticism for the left side.

8. Buffalo Bills - Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
There is no question that Tyler Wilson here is a reach, I am not even sold that he is a first round caliber player. That said, quarterbacks always get overdrafted due to the vast importance of the position and I think that Bills GM Buddy Nix, who barely kept his job after coach Chan Gailey got axed, is desperate enough to reach for a quarterback. Wilson did not have a great season amid the disastrous situation this year in Fayetteville but he is of good build, has a strong arm and is athletic enough to move around in the pocket.

9. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Should be interesting to see what the new general manager of this sadsack club will do this offseason because they have so many needs on both sides of the ball and considering that they may be stuck with Mark Sanchez at quarterback and a tougher schedule next year,  it's going to be a long year and thus a key draft. Fortunately for them, one of their biggest needs is with the pass rush, which has been pretty subpar the last couple of seasons, and this is a deep draft for that. Mingo came back after a great 2011 with a disappointing 2012 but thanks to his great speed and athleticism, he has a high ceiling. He is strictly a 3-4 OLB but he looks to be a quality fit for Rex Ryan's system.

10. Tennessee Titans - DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
We saw in 2012 why the Titans really wanted to draft a cornerback in the first round this past year because their pass defense was completely awful, seventh worst in the league, and a key reason why the team slumped to 6-10 and lost six games by three touchdowns or more. Milliner is a good fit for Tennessee because he is big and physical with solid ball skills but he also has the speed to deal with deep threats down the field.

11. San Diego Chargers - Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan
Among the reasons why Philip Rivers has seemingly regressed, probably the biggest has been the decline of a once stout offensive line, which this past season gave up the fourth most sacks in the league. A real cause for concern has been at left tackle after injury forced Marcus McNeill to retire and thus it is a position that San Diego must address. Fisher is versatile as he has played three positions on the line during his time in Mount Pleasant and has is pretty quick on his feet, an important trait for a left tackle, although he could use some more pounds on his frame.

12. Miami Dolphins - Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
While it certainly was not as great of a rookie campaign as those of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill did show promise this past year and looked like he could be a good quarterback down the line, he was just a bit raw which we knew he would be. And he made use of what he had and Brian Hartline and Davone Bess both had pretty solid seasons at wideout but neither really strikes fear into opposing defenses. Allen has a nice combination of good size and quality speed and is a guy that loves to attack passes in the air.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
You know who had a great secondary last year? The Buccaneers. After all, they were 32nd in opposing passing yardage and were that far away from allowing the most passing yardage of all time. They had to get rid of the malcontent Aqib Talib but that left them worse off, especially since Eric Wright was awful, as expected. So they really have to address the cornerback position and thus, Banks makes sense here. Banks is a pretty big corner who plays the ball well and is also very aggressive in the run game and is pretty good in run support.

14. Carolina Panthers - Johnnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
A reason why I was not as bullish on the Panthers as others were this year was because I knew that the defense was not very good. One key problem with the defense was in the interior of the line, which has not been good since Kris Jenkins left town and they got gashed on the ground multiple times this year, Bryce Brown's performance being first on my mind. That is precisely why you draft a guy like Hankins, who is not going to provide much of a pass rush but he will eat up double teams and be very tough to run on and to move from the point of attack.

15. New Orleans Saints - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Saints really need help across the board on the defensive side. They gave up a record amount of total yardage (7,042), were 31st against the pass and last against the run, giving up an insane 5.1 yards per carry. So yes, they could pretty much use an upgrade everywhere but the defensive line is a good start, especially with the disappointing Sedrick Ellis hitting free agency. Richardson, he of the infamous "old man football" quote regarding Georgia, truly was awesome in 2012 for the Tigers with 75 tackles, four sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. He is an athletic big guy who moves well in the trenches and has the arms to bat down passes as well.

16. St. Louis Rams - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
It may sound crazy to take an interior lineman this early in the draft but Warmack is awesome, just watch him and that entire Crimson Tide offensive line against Notre Dame on Monday night, and the need to protect the  quarterback is so great. Sam Bradford has been beaten and battered around during his NFL career by defenses because he has continually been behind awful offensive lines and if Jeff Fisher wants him to realize his potential, he needs to upgrade the five in front. Where Warmack will also help is in the run game because he is a true punishing blocker in the run game and athletic enough to pass block well.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame
Te'o's stock is going drop following a bad no-show in the BCS National Championship so it would not be surprising at all if he was available at this juncture and I would have a hard time thinking that the Steelers would pass on him because so often they scoop up talented prospects that fall. The Steelers could use an infusion of talent and youth in their inside linebacker corps because Larry Foote's play has really slid in the past couple of years. Te'o has every tool you want from a middle linebacker and has the high character and leadership skills that the organization loves.

18. Dallas Cowboys - John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Ever since Jason Ferguson was hurt back in 2007, 2005 seventh round steal Jay Ratliff has been used as the Cowboys' nose tackle but it always been an odd fit due to him being undersized and his strengths as a pass rusher, which made him more of a fit at end. They have not gotten great production at end in years but can address the issue by taking the massive Jenkins and move Ratliff outside. After all, there were inklings that they thought about drafting Dontari Poe a year ago. Jenkins is a massive presence and does a solid job pressing the pocket from the interior.

19. New York Giants - Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
If there is one thing that the Giants have shown a tendency to do in the draft, it is to select talented pass rusher and quite frankly, in such a passing league, why not. And now more so than in years past, with Osi Umenyiora's contract expiring and Justin Tuck coming off a season with only four sacks, look for New York to draft a pass rusher. With Jordan being the best one on the board, this selection makes sense. Jordan may be a little light to be a 4-3 end and he is pretty raw, his combination of speed, length and athleticism make him a tantalizing prospect to some. Some are comparing him to Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks.

20. Chicago Bears - Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia
The Bears really need to find some reinforcements for their offensive line, which is what got Lovie Smith fired. Unfortunately, the prospects that would be available in this mock would also be reaches, so I think that the Bears would be off taking one of the best players on the board and a guy who would eventually replace Brian Urlacher. Ogletree had himself a great season and was a key reason why Georgia came pretty close to getting to the national championship. He is a great athlete who can cover the field from sideline to sideline and he is sound in coverage and in run support.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Yes, the Bengals had the third most sacks in the NFL this season with 51 but one of the big reasons for the high sack number, end Michael Johnson who had 11.5, is a free agent and there are rumblings that the team may not be willing to fork out a large wad of cash to bring him back in, therefore, some insurance could be needed. Ansah is raw and only started one year in Provo but he is drawing comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul  due to his freakish athleticism and his high ceiling, which may be enough for the Bengals to take a chance on this Ghana native.

22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) - Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Rams were much improved on defense this past year under Jeff Fisher's first year in town and a big reason was from the secondary, with one clear exception, at safety. New corners Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins did a solid job on the outside and while Quinten Mikell is a capable strong safety, Craig Dahl is garbage at the other safety spot and needs to be upgraded. Elam may not be a huge guy but he plays bigger as he is very good in run support and also good playing in coverage, and does good work covering tight ends.

23. Minnesota Vikings - Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
There is no question that Christian Ponder was far from being a consistent starting quarterback, especially considering he failed to take advantage of an unbelievable season from Adrian Peterson, but the team has no threats at receiving outside of Percy Harvin, who has had a decent number of injuries during his career to boot. So it is clear that the Vikings need to upgrade their receiving corps and can do so by drafting a guy like Patterson. Now while Patterson does not have a whole lot of FBS experience as a junior college transfer but he has shown a lot of talent when he has the football in his hands that he and Harvin could make for a dangerous pairing.

24. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Cooper, C/G, North Carolina
If you have been Andrew Luck this season, it really has been impressive for him to do what he has done with what can be described as a subpar offensive line, one that gave up the ninth most sacks in the league. Not to mention this line struggled to run block all season long, as the club had the seventh lowest average yard-per-carry. A versatile lineman like Cooper would be a good selection. Cooper is very experience and has started every year in Chapel Hill. He is quick when blocking in the run game and is athletic enough to pass protect as well.

25. Baltimore Ravens* - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
As has been noted all season long, particularly during their late season swoon, the Ravens have been aging rapidly defensively. And with the chance that this may be Ed Reed's final season, the Ravens really should take advantage of a solid safety crop to inject some youth into the backend of their defense. What coordinator Dean Pees will appreciate from Vaccaro are his instincts in both the run game and against the pass as he has a good head for where the ball is.

26. Seattle Seahawks* - Terrence Williams, WR, Baylor
Russell Wilson has been a revelation this season as a rookie third-rounder and has grown to be a real threat and a key reason why the Seahawks were on a roll down the stretch. But for him to take another leap forward, Seattle is going to have to upgrade their receiving unit, which is nothing special (even though I like Golden Tate). Williams was under the radar last year in Waco with Kendall Wright in the mix but he is a heck of a receiver in his own right. Williams is a receiver with above-average size and has also shown better speed than expected this year.

27. Green Bay Packers* - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Once Packers tight end Jermichael Finley figured out how to catch the ball again, he put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2012. However, he still is a pretty inconsistent tight end and considering he is due around eight million next year, with two talented tight end prospects worthy to be selected in the first round, look for the Packers to pounce. Eifert has all the tools to be a real weapon in the passing game as he has got great hands, can take a hit and runs good route.

28. Houston Texans* - Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
What has made Andre Johnson's career all the more impressive is that Houston has consistently failed to find a legitimate receiving threat opposite him. That had led Matt Schaub to throw interceptions because in passing situations, defenses generally have an idea of where he is going with the ball. Not to mention the fact that Johnson is 31 so the team should have a potential replacement ready for when Johnson's play declines. Hunter is a big and physical wideout with good hands and the ability to jump up and get the football, which sounds like a certain Texan.

29. San Francisco 49ers* - Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The 49ers already have themselves a great pass rush thanks to the tremendous play of Aldon Smith and Justin Smith, if they added another dominant rusher opposite the former Smith, their defense would become completely unfair. That is why I could see them taking a chance on a raw guy like Jordan with huge upside. Jordan has only played defensive end since 2010 but he has shown the athletic ability to not just rush the passer but to drop back into coverage as well. Who knows, maybe the 49ers will see this long-armed rusher like they saw the dominant force they have right now.

30. New England Patriots* - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
You would not know it when watching Tom Brady this season but there are concerns with his receiving unit. The team never found a threat opposite Brandon Lloyd and while Wes Welker piled up the catches as usual, he is a free agent this offseason and I am not sold that the team will overpay for a guy they may consider to be expendable. Austin is a guy that many teams would love to have in the slot and just as a gamebreaker type of player when he has the ball in space. He may be tiny but he is a guy that can do great things with the ball, wherever he gets it, kinda like Percy Harvin.

31. Atlanta Falcons* - Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Tony Gonzalez has had a Hall of Fame career and has been vital for the Falcons offense these past few years and for quarterback Matt Ryan and thus he will be hard to replace once he retires as expected after the season. So why not take advantage of a strong tight end class to bring in a replacement? Ertz is a pretty big tight end at 6'6 and since he has deceptive speed, he is a dangerous deep threat for a tight end. He has great hands, runs good routes and while he is not a great blocker and will have to develop as a blocker to become a true every-down player, the Falcons would not ask him to take on a large responsibility as a blocker.

32. Denver Broncos* - Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Don't get me wrong, the Broncos have themselves a pretty good defense. A sore spot would probably be at defensive tackle, where Justin Bannan and Kevin Vickerson are decent and nothing more. The bigger concern is that both guys are free agents and while they did just draft Derek Wolfe last year and like him, bringing in another talented tackle would be a wise move. Short's strength is that he is a pretty good pass rusher from the interior of the d-line but he is also a good run defender as well because he is very strong at the point of attack.

Check out even more mock drafts courtesy of the fine folks at Walter Football.

2 comments:

  1. Other than the fact that Taylor Lewan just announced he is staying at Michigan for his Red-Shirt senior year, this is a good mock.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks and since I did this last night, it obviously was not updated for the Lewan announcement. I could update it but honestly, I've been busy with other things.

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