2013 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition
Players to watch at the Combine
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M
Now as you have noticed, I have been mocking Geno Smith to the Chiefs since the first 2013 mock that I made. But with the Eagles restructuring the contract of Michael Vick and bringing in Dennis Dixon, as well as the clear notion that Nick Foles is not a good fit for Chip Kelly's offense, that leaves me thinking that the Eagles and the Chiefs are going to strike a deal for Foles, who Andy Reid drafted a year ago. Now if they are not taking a quarterback, they should take the best player on the board and a clear franchise left tackle in Joeckel, particularly with Brandon Albert being a free agent. He has everything you want in a franchise tackle with good size, quickness on his feet, athleticism as well as big-game experience.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Jaguars really could not go wrong with this selection as they are lacking in talent at almost every position, and particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line could really use some talent infusion as they were last in the league in sacking the quarterback, and especially as Terrence Knighton is a free agent this offseason. Lotulelei impresses 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 new coach Gus Bradley, who likes to feature multiple looks.
3. Oakland Raiders - Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan
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 and with Chip Kelly bringing in his new spread, they need to make a real investment into line play and thus taking an top tackle prospect like Fisher makes sense. 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. And he was tremendous at the Senior Bowl, slowing down even the best of pass rushers in dominant fashion.
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 pass rusher for the 4-3 as he a great combination of speed and physicality who also plays with a consistent motor.
6. Cleveland Browns - Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
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. Ansah was awesome at the Senior Bowl and his stock has been on the rise since. He is pretty 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. Plus due to his size, he is a better fit for a hybrid scheme than is Barkevious Mingo.
7. Arizona Cardinals - Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Alabama
With no tackles available at this juncture that would not be a reach, I think the Cardinals will look into taking a pass rusher, something they really need. Arizona was tenth in the league in sacks this past season but a lot of that pass rush was due to their strong defensive line. Meanwhile, Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield are decent and nothing more off the edge. Jones projects to be a similar player to Von Miller. He is a truly gifted pass rusher with his speed, his pass rush skills and a relentless motor. I do think his stock will slip a little due to concerns about the spinal problem he developed at USC as well as beliefs that he will not workout well in the coming months.
8. Buffalo Bills - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
I am pretty certain the Bills would be happy if Smith fell to them at eight because I think they would be sticking their necks out if they took Mike Glennon, as I had been projecting them to do. They do seem set to take a quarterback based off of what GM Buddy Nix has said about the position and we have all figured out that Ryan Fitzpatrick is not good. Smith has ideal size, a good arm, strong accuracy and mechanics and has plus athleticism.
9. New York Jets - Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Should be interesting to see what new general manager John Idzik 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. 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. And we all know that teams love pass rushers with long arms.
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 - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
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. With Fisher off the board, I think the Chargers will look to address their guards, as both starters from a year ago, Louis Vazquez and Tyronne Green, are free agents. Warmack should immediatly help a mediocre Chargers run game because he is an absolute mauler in the run game and he is athletic enough to pass block well.
12. Miami Dolphins - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Miami's defense has been fortunate to have a guy like Randy Starks in their interior, as he has been tremendous rushing the passer from the inside of the defensive line. Heck, he was even in the Pro Bowl this year as a replacement for Vince Wilfork. But Starks is also a free agent this year and given the fact that he is likely to command a big salary, as well as the team having a few key free agents on the market, means that he may not be in Miami Gardens next year. Floyd is a great fit as a replacement for Starks due to his disruptive style. He is physical and faster than you would think out of a defensive tackle.
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 - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
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. 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.
15. New Orleans Saints - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The Saints were at their best on defense when they will attacking the opposing quarterback with aggressive blitz schemes and thus they were not a good fit for Steve Spagnuolo's scheme. Now as the team will switch to a 3-4, they need to bring in some edge rushers as they make the transition and it is a very good 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.
16. St. Louis Rams - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
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. What Fisher 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.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Mike Wallace had his worst season since his rookie campaign and he was an overall disappointment in 2012. Fortunately for the Steelers, he is a free agent and barring something surprising, he will not be a Steeler next year. Therefore, the Steelers have to find a replacement and another good deep threat that can take advantage of Ben Roethlisberger's big arm. Allen is a nice combination of good size and quality speed and is a guy that loves to attack passes in the air.
18. Dallas Cowboys - Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
You know rumor has it that the Cowboys were looking pretty hard a couple of years back at taking J.J. Watt but they passed, taking USC tackle Tyron Smith instead. Now with some holes on their defensive line, look for the Cowboys to push the action on a lineman here. Short may be the best pass rushing tackle in this draft class as he uses his strength and athleticism very well to press the pocket. He is also a not too shabby run defender, which Monte Kiffin would appreciate as well so he could keep Short on the field for three downs.
19. New York Giants - Johnathan Haskins, DT, Ohio State
We all know the Giants for having a great defensive line, but they do have some questions at the defensive tackle position. Rocky Bernard is a free agent this offseason and the club recently cut Chris Canty, leaving a hole at tackle. Not to mention that the Giants really struggled at times to defend the run, finishing 25th statistically. 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.
20. Chicago Bears - Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame
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. Yes, the whole weird and incredibly bizarre story will cause Te'o to drop but I don't think it will cause him to drop as much as I thought it would in the eye of the story. Even with his awful performance against Alabama, I still think he is a talented linebacker with not that many flaws.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Alec Ogletree, MLB, Alabama
Would you look at what Vontaze Burfict did last year, coming out after a disastrous draft process and developing into a solid linebacker for the Bengals. Good stuff. Meanwhile, the team has questions at the other two linebacker spots and thus they should look to find some help early in this draft. And they will not be scared by Ogletree's off the field issues. He 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.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) - Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma
If there is one thing the Rams have needed over the last several years, it is help with the offensive line. They've invested money and picks into the position but they still had a second-rate line a year ago, and it certainly is not helping Sam Bradford's development. Johnson was a borderline first rounder going into Mobile but after a very impressive performance, he has solidified his stock in the first round. He had a very good senior season in Norman protecting Landry Jones and he fares very well against athletic pass rushers due to his own plus athleticism as he used to be a tight end and a defensive end.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
By no means is Christian Ponder a solid quarterback right now but to be fair to him, he has nothing to work with the exception of Percy Harvin, who could be potentially moved this offseason. The team didn't get much out of Jerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins is a scrub. Patterson looks to potentially be the most physically gifted wideout this year, perhaps even more than Keenan Allen, but what may draw teams away from him is how raw he is. Considering that if you want Ponder to become a franchise quarterback, you need to find him a No. 1 and I think Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier would take the risk.
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 experienced 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. Seattle Seahawks - D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama
The Seahawks have themselves a quality offensive line but they have one glaring hole and that is at right tackle. Breno Giacomini may be a friend of the blog and he may have a great name but he is not much more than a scrub and the team should look to find an upgrade. Fluker may not be the greatest pass protector in the world but he is an all-out mauler in the run game, which would come in handy with a team that features the run like Seattle does. Plus Fluker is also versatile and he should be able to be a pretty good guard as well.
26. Green Bay Packers - Barrett Jones, C/G/T, Alabama
It seems like it has been years since the Packers last had a consistent and a good offensive line. Their fans must be thankful that Aaron Rodgers is very mobile and that he can make something out of nothing, whereas Brett Favre would either throw in triple coverage or scramble five yards and throw it regardless. That said, Jones would be a very good fit for the Packers because he can play all over the line. Most importantly, he will be a good replacement at center for Jeff Saturday who was a disappointment, and somehow he was elected to the Pro Bowl despite being benched.
27. Houston Texans - Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU
The Texans have themselves a really good defense but one spot with some questions marks is at inside linebacker, a crucial spot in their 3-4. Brian Cushing tore his ACL in early October against the Jets and Bradie James is a free agent this offseason, so utilizing their first round selection may very well be in play for some reinforcements. Minter is a guy that Wade Phillips will love as he is very physical and plays with a lot of intensity that his fellow players feed off of.
28. Denver Broncos - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Denver may have had the third best pass defense in the league in 2012 but it was one of the top reasons why they lost in the Divisional round to the Ravens as they struggled all night to slow down Cotton Eyed Joe Flacco and the Ravens' deep passing game, especially on that pass to Jacoby Jones to force overtime. With Tracy Porter and Tony Carter both being free agents, and Champ Bailey looking like his age against Baltimore, it would make sense for a corner to be selected here. Trufant was tremendous in Mobile and seemingly shut down whatever wideout he covered all week. He, who has a pair of brothers in the NFL, was tremendous in his senior season at U-Dub and he has the skill set that you desire from a corner.
29. New England Patriots - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Speaking of teams that struggled against Joe Flacco and the Ravens, the Patriots really missed Aqib Talib in the AFC Championship as they were trash and got punished as a result. And the icing on the cake is that Talib is a free agent this offseason and not let's forget Alfonzo Dennard being convicted for assaulting an officer. So the team really needs to find some help for the secondary. Rhodes is a big corner that plays pretty physical against both the pass and the run and has the speed to deny receivers separation on vertical routes.
30. Atlanta Falcons - Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
It really should be a prerogative for the Falcons this offseason to find some pass rush, because they were really awful rushing the passer in 2012. They only sacked opposing quarterbacks 29 times this past season and the only guy that could provide any consistent pressure, John Abraham, who had a third of the team's sacks, is turning 35 within months. Montgomery has great athleticism and speed for an end but may have to add some weight to play in a 4-3 and he would also have to improve his run defense, but they'll definitely take his pass rush skills.
31. San Francisco 49ers - John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The defensive line is something that needs to be a priority for the 49ers this offseason if they want to get to East Rutherford next February. Justin Smith is still a hell of a player at end but he is not getting any younger and he was brutal in the Super Bowl. And the other two spots may have new faces next season because nose tackle Issac Sopoaga and end Ricky Jean-Francois are both free agents. Jenkins would be able to fill the void at the nose very well, thanks in part to his girth at over 350 pounds. A guy that many compare Jenkins to is Shaun Rogers, although I don't think he will try to carry a loaded gun in his luggage.
32. Baltimore Ravens - Matt Elam, S, Florida
Not many think that Ravens great Ed Reed will be back with the team next year as there have been rumors that he may retire and he is also a free agent. Even if he does return to the club next year, the Ravens need to find themselves a potential replacement to take over when he does go. 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.
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