11 April 2013

2013 NFL Mock Draft: 13th Edition

We are counting down now to two weeks until the Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock at Radio City Music Hall and the 2013 NFL Draft commences. We are seeing a lot of movement for a variety of players, including Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson, which should make it quite interesting to see how the draft plays out. In the meantime, here is my 13th mock.

Grading the 2012 Draft, One Year Later

1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke JoeckelTTexas A&M
I am going back to Joeckel for the top selection for the Chiefs. Yes they did franchise Brandon Albert but they did also cut right tackle Eric Winston, opening a hole at one tackle slot. And considering Albert is now only signed for next year, if he were to depart, the Chiefs would have a franchise left tackle in place. Joeckel has every skill that you want out of a franchise left tackle and he was brilliant this past season, playing a key role in Johnny Manziel's Heisman campaign. I think he is a little bit better of a prospect than Eric Fisher and thus he is the top pick as of right now.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dion JordanDE/OLBOregon
Jacksonville needs talent across the board, and I am not buying the Geno Smith talk just yet, particularly on defense and especially on the line with the team finishing last in the league in sacks. Jason Babin was a late addition and he showed he still has some juice but with Jeremy Mincey disappointing and nobody else, the team needs more help at end. Remember when we all thought that Jordan's shoulder injury would make him drop his stock? Well his shoulder checked out just fine and he absolutely tore up the combine across the board. He may still be raw and should put on some weight but his stock is on the rise big time.

3. Oakland Raiders - Sharrif FloydDTFlorida
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. It looks like Floyd can play either the 4-3 or the 3-4, which coach Dennis Allen will appreciate as he likes to feature multiple defensive looks. Floyd is a very disruptive presence from the interior of the line and he showcased tremendous athleticism for a lineman.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - Eric FisherTCentral Michigan
You may have mentioned that I included Fisher's name in the discussion for the top overall pick and it is a discussion over whether Fisher or Luke Joeckel is the top offensive tackle in the draft. His stock was on the rise going into the Combine and he looked better than Joeckel in Indianapolis. Fisher has the athleticism and the flexibility needed for a big guy at tackle and he has got the skills you look for out of your blindside protector. Nobody knows for certain Chip Kelly is doing in Philadelphia and especially at quarterback but one thing he needs is to upgrade the offensive line and they have had troubles at tackle for years.

5. Detroit Lions - Ezekiel AnsahDEBYU
The Lions have invested money and draft picks into building a good defensive line but it disappointed a year ago as they only tied for 20th in sacks. Not only that, both of their defensive ends from a year ago, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, are both gone. Therefore, even though they will certainly consider Eric Fisher and possibly DeMarcus Milliner even after re-signing Chris Houston, I have them taking Ansah. 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, which was on display in Indianapolis, and his high ceiling and we all know how that combination has tantalized personnel guys before.

6. Cleveland Browns - DeMarcus MillinerCBAlabama
Milliner may not be Joe Haden, who Cleveland knows very well, nor is he Morris Claiborne, but he is still an excellent cornerback prospect. He likes to play physical with receivers and can effectively play in man and in zone, as well as shut down the run on the edges. I think the Browns would be excited to team up Milliner and Haden and put together a potentially great cornerback tandem for a defense that saw a lot of money being invested in it this offseason.

7. Arizona Cardinals - Lane JohnsonTOklahoma
You want to hear a joke? The Cardinals' offensive line. You want to hear another joke? No you don't, but anyways, the Cardinals have themselves a truly pitiful offensive line that was statistically speaking the worst in the league with allowing the most sacks in the league with 58 and having the worst rushing attack as well. With the way Johnson has been rising, I probably should have put him in the top ten sooner, eh? Johnson's stock soared after the Senior Bowl and it has continued to do so in Indianapolis after he showcased his impressive athleticism and agility. He also had a very good senior campaign in 2012 in Norman.

8. Buffalo Bills - Geno SmithQBWest Virginia
I am pretty certain the Bills would be happy if they had the opportunity to take Smith at eight, even as many speculate they are looking at Ryan Nassib for the early second or possibly late in the first. They do seem set to take a quarterback based off of what GM Buddy Nix has said about the position and while Kevin Kolb is a solid stopgap option, by no means is he a long-term solution for the club. Smith has ideal size, a good arm, strong accuracy and mechanics and has plus athleticism and I think it is pretty clear that he is the best quarterback in what is a mediocre quarterback crop.

9. New York Jets - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The Jets could really use some reinforcements on their offensive line. Both of their guards, Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, were free agents this offseason and Slauson has already left town while Moore is in his mid-30s. While they did sign Willie Colon, who is a solid player when healthy, he has had his fair share of injury issues the past few years. New York would be wise to take one of the top players on the board here in Warmack. He should immediately help the Jets' second-rate run game because he is an absolute mauler in the run game and he is athletic enough to pass block well. He projects to be a stud.

10. Tennessee Titans - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Titans used to have one of the top defensive lines in football but that was then and this is now as that is not the case as the team struggled to stop the run and rush the passer as well. They made a quality signing in Sammie Lee Hill from Detroit and taking a talent like Lotulelei would help to further improve their line. Lotulelei saw his draft stock drop after a heart issue was discovered at the Combine but he has tested out to be fine, with the result likely an effect of a virus, and he kicked butt and took names at his Pro Day. There is no denying his skill set and his tape at Utah is impressive. I have him creaking back into the top ten.

11. San Diego Chargers - Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
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 last year are free agents, and Louis Vazquez is heading to Denver. Cooper is another draft prospect that has been on the rise. He looked very good in the field drills at the Combine and he ran a very good 40. 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.

12. Miami Dolphins - Xavier RhodesCBFlorida State
Miami was very aggressive in attacking their needs at the start of free agency but one spot that is still a big concern is at cornerback. Sean Smith was the corner on the club who was really any good, and he is now a Chief. Therefore, why not take a (somewhat) local guy to fill a big need? Rhodes is another guy that helped himself at the Combine as he overcame fears that he lacked speed with a strong 40-yard dash time of 4.43 seconds and a strong 10-yard split of 1.47 ticks as well. He has impressive size and is physical against not just the pass but against the run as well.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bjoern WernerDEFlorida State
For years, seemingly, the Buccaneers have really struggled to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks, again finishing near the bottom of the league in sacks in 29th. And that was even with Michael Bennett putting up nine sacks and all the draft picks the team has invested along the line. So with Bennett signing with the Seahawks, the team has a big hole to address now at end. I think Werner's stock may drop a little because he showed in the Combine that he would be a poor fit for a 3-4 and he isn't an amazing athlete. However, you cannot deny this guy's talent for rushing the passer.
NOTE: I am not mocking the Jets here yet even with the Darrelle Revis rumors but I will once a deal is done or close to being done.

14. Carolina Panthers - Sheldon RichardsonDTMissouri
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 MingoDE/OLBLSU
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 - Tavon AustinWRWest Virginia
The Rams just lost Danny Amendola in free agency to the Patriots and that leaves their already weak receiving corps in a bigger hole. The team really has to find some help for Sam Bradford at receiver, particularly in the slot, and the rising Austin looks to be a good fit. Austin smoked it in the 40-yard dash with a very impressive 4.34 40 and he quelled fears about his small frame by looking tremendous in the drills. Therefore, there is a reason why he was considered to be one of the winners of the Combine. His Pro Day was considered to be excellent, with some thinking this may be the low-end to where he goes.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jarvis JonesDE/OLBGeorgia
In a stat that may surprise you considering their history, the Steelers only sacked opposing quarterbacks 37 times this year, tying for only 15th in the league. In fact, their disappointing pass rush was one reason why the Steelers missed the playoffs. Pittsburgh should look to find some youth for their pass rush and taking the talented Jones would be smart. Many folks are thinking that Jones will fall due to the fact that his medical tests did not go very well at the Combine and while I think his stock will fall a little right now, the tape for Jones is simply too good for him to fall out of the first. Of course, that could change but I wouldn't count on it.

18. Dallas Cowboys - Kenny VaccaroSTexas
In a good draft for safeties, Vaccaro is the cream of the crop. The Texas native has the ability to play both safety positions who has a good combination of athleticism and strength. He has great instincts, is aggressive and is good in both coverage, particularly man, and run support. The Cowboys could really use a talent like him as they have some major holes at safety as Gerald Sensabaugh was inexplicably cut a few weeks ago to save a little bit of money and Barry Church is coming off an Achilles tear. Monte Kiffin will love this kid.

19. New York Giants - Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
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. Even though he tore his ACL back in November, Carradine's store is soaring right now and he looks like he may go in the middle of the first. Carradine is a end of solid size at 275 pounds and he is faster than you think. Plus, he may be one of the top pure pass rushers in this draft class.

20. Chicago Bears - Arthur BrownOLBKansas State
For years, the linebacking unit of the Bears could have been considered to be the class of the league but now, it is time to find some reinforcements at multiple spots. Brian Urlacher has struggled with injuries and is a clear shell of himself, that is why the team will not bring him back. Outside linebacker Nick Roach signed with the Raiders, leaving two holes at the position. Brown has seen his stock soar of late after an awesome Pro Day performance and save for his relatively small frame, he has everything you want out of a linebacker. He is a true sideline-to-sideline guy who is an excellent tacklers and can shed blockers relatively well.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Alec OgletreeOLBGeorgia
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 - Jonathan CyprienSFlorida International
One position that needs a lot of attention for St. Louis is at safety, which was a mess in 2012 and helped to bring down a solid cornerback pairing of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. The team cut Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl, who was really awful, signed with the 49ers. Cyprien has been making a big jump up many draft boards and he could very well go here. He has tremendous ability in pass coverage and he can cover a lot of ground thanks to his speed. Cyprien is also very good in run support as well and he does hit hard, which Jeff Fisher will love.

23. Minnesota Vikings - Cordarelle PattersonWRTennessee
Christian Ponder is still a ways to go to become a good NFL quarterback, but to be fair, who the hell is he throwing to? Particularly now that the club traded Percy Harvin, their only threat at receiver, to the Seahawks. They really need to use their early picks for some receivers and could even double dip at the position with their two first rounders. Patterson may be raw but he is the most physically gifted wideout in the draft, with some folks comparing him in that regard to Julio Jones.

24. Indianapolis Colts - Datone Jones, DE/OLB, UCLA
The Colts' transition to a 3-4 defense did not result in a great pass rush as the team finished tied for 23rd in the league with 32 sacks. Robert Mathis has eight of those sacks and he was the only guy that could consistently apply any pressure on quarterbacks, and Dwight Freeney was recently cut. If the team wants to build a strong 3-4, they need some juice on the edge of their defense. Jones is a very athletic end who has a great motor from the point of the snap and he has a very good first step. He is a little raw but his talent is undeniable.

25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle) - Sylvester WilliamsDTNorth Carolina
Kevin Williams may be getting older but he still provides very solid production at tackle and is still the anchor of their defensive line. Unfortunately, the team has absolutely nothing besides him at the tackle position. Addressing the position is a must this offseason and they can do that with their second selection in the first round. Any defensive coordinator will appreciate Williams's versatility along the defensive line and he will also like Williams's stoutness in the run game as well as his underrated pass rush ability.

26. Green Bay Packers - D.J. FlukerTAlabama
It appears that the Packers have had struggles with their offensive line for years now, going back to the Brett Favre days (and they seem so long ago). And I always say, the Packers are fortunate that Aaron Rodgers is pretty mobile. But they also have lacked a consistent running game and bringing in a guy like Fluker will immediately help in that regard. Fluker may not be the greatest pass protector in the world but he is an all-out mauler in the run game. Plus he is also versatile and he should be able to be a pretty good guard as well, and we all know Green Bay needs depth on the interior as well.

27. Houston Texans - DeAndre HopkinsWRClemson
Hopkins can help stretch the field with his good downfield speed and he also gets good separation on defensive backs. He runs very good routes and knows how to catch, which you would think would be important for a wideout. He makes sense for the Texans, who have seemingly been in pursuit of a threat at receiver opposite Andre Johnson for many years and they do not seem so willing to bring back free agent Kevin Walter. It is time they used a high selection to fill the need.

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 has made himself a lot of money with brilliant performances in Mobile and Indianapolis and has shown tremendous coverage skills in man-on-man situations, which is valuable for a defense that plays a lot of man due to their aggressive pass rush.

29. New England Patriots - Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Remember when the Patriots traded away Richard Seymour to the Raiders way back when and nobody really knew why. Well, the team has struggled since to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks from their defensive front and they never really found an adequate replacement for Seymour, which they can find here. Hunt had himself a tremendous Combine and has seen his stock rise into the end of the first round. He is a prototypical 3-4 end and has even gotten comparisons in his playing style to Justin Smith.

30. Atlanta Falcons - Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Many folks are looking for the Falcons to go tight end with this selection but with such a big need at cornerback, they have to address that position early and it must be a priority. The team lost both Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson in free agency, which leaves them with Asante Samuel and some scrubs in the mix. Taylor was a late bloomer in Boise but he is a tough and physical corner that can play both man and zone. He has solid ball skills and helped his cause with solid performances in Mobile and Indianapolis.

31. San Francisco 49ers - Matt ElamSFlorida
The 49ers may have themselves one of the elite defenses in football, but they currently have a big need at the safety position. Dashon Goldson, who was very good in 2012, signed with the Buccaneers for big money and opposite him, Donte Whitner struggled last year. They signed Craig Dahl, which means nothing. In a draft deeo with safeties, I highly doubt that Kenny Vaccaro will be available but there are quality prospects on the board, like this one. 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.

32. Baltimore Ravens - Kevin MinterMLBLSU
The Super Bowl champions are going to have rebuild their defense as they suffered a lot of losses in free agency across the board, but nowhere bigger, and probably more important, than at linebacker. Baltimore has to replace both of their inside linebackers as Ray Lewis retired and Dannell Ellerbe signed with the Dolphins. Given how crucial the position is to their 3-4, look for the Ravens to address it early and if Minter is available, he will be the guy. Minter is a guy that John Harbaugh will love as he is very physical and plays with a lot of intensity that his fellow players feed off of, not unlike a certain notable Ravens linebacker.

Check out more mock drafts courtesy of the great Walter Football.

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