NFL Mock Draft
The 2013 NFL draft is just about a month away, and it’s time to start looking into which players teams are going to draft. Free agency and trades have filled holes on some teams, and opened needs up for others. The whole draft process is changing daily, but as of this writing, I’m going to go through and provide a mock draft based on all of the information I have gathered. Without further ado, here is how I see the first 32 picks playing out.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Joeckel is the safest option for the Chiefs in a pressing position of need with the No. 1 overall pick. The most interesting part about Joeckel going to the Chiefs is what they’ll do with Brandon Albert. They’ll either have Joeckel play left tackle, or ease him into the NFL by letting him play on the right side.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
The top pass-rusher in the class, Jordan fulfills a need for the Jaguars with the No. 2 pick. He has excellent range in coverage as well from a two-or three-point stance. He is the perfect fit at LEO in new defensive coordinator Bob Babich’s scheme.
3. Oakland Raiders – Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders were absolutely gashed by the run last year, which is why I believe they’ll take arguably the No. 1 overall prospect in the draft in Floyd. He is a dynamic young talent who can play inside and on the edge. Floyd uses his leverage and power to drive blockers into the backfield to disrupt plays.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Eagles have done a good job of addressing needs up front on defense this offseason. Now, they must find help along the offensive line to try and give Michael Vick and company more time and room to operate. Both Jason Peters and Todd Herremans are returning from injury last season, and Philadelphia would be wise to not bank on them both staying healthy. Fisher’s movement skills make him a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s new up-tempo scheme.
5. Detroit Lions – Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
With Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril headed elsewhere, the Lions will certainly be looking to fill some holes at defensive end. Ansah is still a bit raw, but he has explosive pass-rusher skills and an elite burst off the edge. He also has the power to hold up against the run, and he’ll have a chance to wreak havoc on the outside as Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley require a lot of attention inside.
6. Cleveland Browns – Dee Millner, CB, Alabama
There’s no question that cornerback is the top priority for the Browns heading into the draft, making Millner a no-brainer here if he’s available. His instincts and discipline are unmatched at the position in this year’s class. Put him opposite of Joe Haden, and the Browns could have one of the best 1-2 punches at corner in the league.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Lance Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
While the Cardinals clearly need a quarterback, I don’t see them reaching for Geno Smith here. First, they must upgrade their offensive line to give whoever is under center time to operate in the pocket. The Cardinals simply gave up too many sacks last year, which had their quarterbacks playing musical chairs due to injury. Johnson fulfills a big need at tackle.
8. Buffalo Bills – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
I look for the Bills to take a chance on Smith here. They are in desperate need of a quarterback, and they must try and find a way to keep their fans happy after last year’s disaster. Smith is used to poor weather having played at West Virginia, and he’s the best quarterback in the year’s class by a long shot.
9. New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The Jets need an edge rusher, and that’s precisely what Mingo does best. While he didn’t have a huge year at LSU in 2012, a lot of that had to do with the attention he drew from opposing offenses. Mingo will be an elite pass-rusher at the NFL level, and his coverage skills are actually better than they get credit for.
10. Tennessee Titans – Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The Titans need an upgrade in the interior of their offensive line to try and open up holes for Chris Johnson and company. Cooper packs a big punch, and he actually moves very well for his size. He’ll be great as a pulling blocker both in the running game and the screen game.
11. San Diego Chargers – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
While the Chargers really need an offensive tackle here, there won’t be one worth of taking with the No. 11 pick. That means they’ll go with the best player available, which is clearly Lotulelei at this point. His ideal fit is as a 3-4 end, but he’s versatile enough to play nose tackle, which will create some flexibility up front alongside Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget.
12. Miami Dolphins – Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Sure, the Dolphins need to find a replacement for Jake Long at tackle, but like the Chargers, they can’t reach for one here. That’s why I look for them to go after an excellent blocker inside such as Warmack. He’s big, strong and nasty, and he has excellent feet in pass protection. He’s probably a top-10 worthy pick, but I like him to fall to the Dolphins here.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
With Lotulelei off the board, the next-best defensive tackle is certainly Richardson. Tampa Bay was one of the worst teams in the league defensively last year, so improvement on this side of the ball is a must. He brings explosiveness and playmaking to a defensive line that lacks both.
14. Carolina Panthers – Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Panthers have been looking for a No. 2 receiver to compliment Steve Smith for years. If Austin falls to No. 14, there’s no way they can pass him up. He’s the biggest playmaker in the 2013 class, and he’ll help open things up for not only smith, but the running game as well. Carolina has spent the last few years trying to shore up its defense, and now it’s time to make a big splash on offense.
15. New Orleans Saints – Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Jones has fallen pretty far on many draft boards due to posting marginal workout results in the combine. However, his production on the field cannot be ignored. The biggest need for New Orleans is to improve its pass rush, and there aren’t many better than Jones in this year’s class at getting after the quarterback.
16. St. Louis Rams – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Arguably the biggest risk/reward prospect in this class, Patterson is coming off a great season in Tennessee. His learning curve is very steep, but his incredible ability to maneuver in space is hard to ignore. If he can learn how to get open and read coverages at the pro level, the sky is the limit for this kid in St. Louis.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Ogletree has an ability to cover more ground than any other linebacker in this class. The Steelers are certainly in need of linebacker help in their 3-4 scheme as they are parting ways with James Harrison, and they are getting long in the tooth here as well. This sideline-to-sideline run defender can also bring the heat when turned loose on the blitz. He is an impact player that would start right away.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The only knock on Vaccaro is his 4.63 40 time, but the Cowboys can look past that knowing he’s excellent in coverage, can drop down on slot receivers, and he’s physical in run support. Dallas has been searching for a do-it-all safety for years, and Vaccaro is their man.
19. New York Giants – Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
The Giants need an upgrade at middle linebacker, and they’d be getting that with Te’o toward the bottom of the first round. He has slipped due to his 40 time and off the field problems, but the tape doesn’t lie. Te’o has football speed because he makes faster reads than most others at his position.
20. Chicago Bears – D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Fluker will fit in at right tackle in Chicago and start from the outset. He is a mauler in the run game with decent pass-blocking skills. Not only do the Bears need protection, they also need more push in the running game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Corner is certainly the top priority for the Bengals on defense. Trufant verified his top-end speed in workouts, which goes along with his excellent balance and closing burst. He’ll be a solid man-cover corner at the next level.
22. St. Louis Rams – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
After nabbing a wide receiver earlier in the draft, the Rams now need to shift their focus to the other side of the ball. No team can ever have too much depth along the interior of their offensive line, and Williams will fit in perfectly with Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Dendall Langford.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Keenan Allen, WR, California
After trading away Percy Harvin to Seattle, the Vikings have a glaring weakness at receiver. Sure, they went out and signed Greg Jennings to be their No. 1 outside, but now they need a No. 2 inside that can move around. Allen fits perfection as a possession receiver who can line up all over the field.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Colts were very poor against the pass last season, and a lot of it had to do with their play at cornerback. Rhodes’ combination of height and long arms allows him to be physical with receivers in man coverage. He’s also got top-end speed and is very fluid for his size. He’s an instant upgrade at corner for Indianapolis.
25. Minnesota vikings – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Vikings are certainly in a sweet spot late in the draft as a number of players could fall into their lap. Werner would be an absolute steal at No. 25 to add depth behind Jared Allen and Brian Robinson. With a relentless motor, great hands and the ability to convert quickness into power, Werner will be an excellent pass-rusher at the next level.
26. Green Bay Packers – Eddy Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Packers have certainly lacked a workhorse at running back to compliment their tremendous passing game over the last few years. Lacy offers a great combination of power and open-field shiftiness. He’s the top back in the draft, and his pass-catching skills will be a bonus for Aaron Rodgers.
27. Houston Texans – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
While Andre Johnson continues to get it done despite getting up there in age, the Texans have been lacking a true No. 2 receiver for years. Hopkins fits the bill as a receiver with strong hands in traffic, and big-time explosiveness after the catch. He’ll make an already dangerous Houston offense even more dynamic.
28. Denver Broncos – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
It’s hard to see Eifert falling this far, but I just couldn’t find another place for him. There’s no question that the Broncos will have to consider nabbing him if he does make it to them. Eifert would give Peyton Manning yet another weapon, which would make this offense nearly unstoppable.
29. New England Patriots – Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
The Patriots certainly have needs at receiver, and Quinton Patton fits the bill. He’s one of the most underrated receivers in the draft since he comes from Louisiana Tech, and the Patriots are notorious for finding diamonds in the rough. He’ll work well with Danny Amendola.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
Sure, the Falcons just signed DE Osi Umenyiora, but this team will face the likes of Cam Newton and Drew Brees four times every season. Having a rotation that features Umenyiora, Kroy Biermann and Carradine will give Atlanta a solid pass-rushing attack at defensive end. Carradine has rushed the passer from both sides in his career while flashing strength and toughness throughout.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
With Justin Smith turning 34 in September, the 49ers need to start looking for a long-term replacement. Jones provides an interior pass-rushing presence. He has a solid burst and has shown a great knack for taking on blocks while using his leverage to find seems in the offensive line. John Jenkins from Georgia is another option here.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Ravens have a gaping hole to fill at safety with the departure of both Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard. That makes safety their top priority, and they could go with either Elam, D.J. Swearinger or John Cyprien. Elam is the best of the bunch. He likes using his instincts at the line of scrimmage to blow up plays. He can also cover the slot well, and he has pretty good speed to be able to run with all but the fastest of receivers. Solid blitzing skills are another attribute.