Super Bowl Edition: 2-Round 2013 NFL Mock draft
2013 NFL Mock Draft-Super Bowl Edition
The NFL draft is fast approaching. We are less than two months away from the beginning of the largest sporting event that doesn't involve a game in the world. So with that, it's time to amp up the draft coverage with a weekly update to this one-round NFL mock draft.
Trying to project the first round of this year's draft has become increasingly more challenging. This is due in large part to the depth of talent in this draft. What it lacks in elite talent, it more than makes up for with the sheer volume of excellent players. There is very little consensus among the draft community as to who the best players are at most of the positions. This is a sentiment among all 32 teams as well. Because of that, it makes trying to plug in the correct player harder than usual.
It is also the time of great misinformation. Hearing too much about how much a team likes a player most likely means that they really aren't that interested at all. There are so many smokescreens right now as far as which teams like which player.
And even though the specific order of players is still a mystery, it is becoming more and more clear about which positions are going to be in greatest demand in this first round. Defense will rule the day as defensive tackles, hybrid rush outside linebackers and cornerbacks could comprise half of the picks in the first round. You figure in wide receivers and offensive linemen and that will just about round out the entirety of the first round picks. If you need any of those positions, you are in great shape.
1.1-Kansas City Chiefs-Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M
The Chiefs are in a tricky spot. They've been making some big moves this offseason, including slapping the franchise tag on offensive tackle Branden Albert. At that point, most marked Joeckel off the list, but once they released starting right tackle Eric Winston, it became clear that Joeckel is fully back in play. Albert is adamant that he's playing on the left, but for what he's getting paid, he'll play where they tell him to. Joeckel and Albert would be an exceptional tandem of tackles.
1.2-Jacksonville Jaguars-Barkevious Mingo, LB LSU
Speed kills and for Mingo, speed is his ultimate weapon. For the Jaguars, he’d plug in immediately as a rush defensive end where his explosion and elite speed could be utilized. He needs to do better with his hands because he’s going to have to shed blockers in the run game, but with his speed, he’s going to be able to chase down the play from anywhere on the field.The Jaguars can try and find a quarterback later, but Mingo is the best player on the board at this point and fills a significant need.
1.3-Oakland Raiders-Geno Smith, QB West Virginia
I never claim that I can predict what the Raiders are thinking when the draft comes around. Depending on what happens with quarterback Carson Palmer, quarterback could certainly be a top priority. The value of Smith as a top three pick has been a point of great debate among the draft community for this entire offseason. But I continue to contend that you cannot win without a great quarterback, and so if you don't have one, you must try and draft one. I have no problems with Smith going this high, but I do have concerns about if he's a good fit with the Raiders.
1.4-Philadelphia Eagles-Dion Jordan, DE/LB Oregon
The Eagles have a new head coach in Chip Kelly, who is bringing a great deal of innovation to the team, particularly on offense. On defense, it appears all signs point to a switch to the 3-4. Assuming that happens, getting a rush outside linebacker is going to be key. This is where Kelly's former player Jordan comes in. He's a long, explosive athlete who comes off the edge as well as any in this draft. While I have been critical of Jordan's shortcomings, he appears to be a perfect fit for the Eagles at this point.
1.5-Detroit Lions-Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan
Fisher was all the rage at the Senior Bowl and with good reason. He went head to head against some of the top defense linemen in the country and for the most part, he stoned them all. As long as he keeps his anchor low, he’s almost impossible to get around. He sets up quickly and uses his hands very well to keep defenders out of his numbers. He will need to be sure to mind his posture when he has a 300lb 3-4 defensive end who chooses to just bull rush him off the snap and come across his face, where he can get stood up and lose his leverage.
1.6-Cleveland Browns-Ezekial Ansah, DE BYU
Ansah had a very good Senior Bowl and that’s really got people buzzing about his potential. You cannot deny he’s a freakish athlete, but he’s very raw and inexperienced as well. He still has a lot to learn about the position, but he’s very smart and has a closing burst that you just can’t coach. The Browns are a perfect landing spot for a player like Ansah. They are going to be moving to an attacking 3-4 style defense and in that case, they can just sort of set him loose to go after the ball carrier, whether it's a running back or quarterback.
1.7-Arizona Cardinals-Matt Barkley, QB USC
This is one of those picks I make because I have bought into the hype and I want to be right about it, but I strongly disagree with it. If the Cardinals are convinced that Barkley is their guy, so be it. But as much as I believe in working hard to get a great quarterback, this isn't how you do it. I'm not as hard on Barkley as many are, but he's not a top seven pick under any circumstances.
1.8-Buffalo Bills-Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
While I consider Keenan Allen a better all around prospect, Patterson is the hot name right now and for a team in desperate need of a pass catcher, this pick makes sense. Patterson reminds me a lot of a bigger Percy Harvin, but make no mistake--that’s a very good thing. He is very good at getting open and is deadly in the open field. If the Bills do pass on Patterson here, they could pursue a linebacker or help on the offensive line.
1.9-New York Jets-Jarvis Jones, LB Georgia
When all the hype started up about Jones and his Spinal Stenosis, I warned people to temper their panic and that he'd be fine. The latest news is Jones has actually checked out clean and anyone who reported otherwise was wrong. The Jets need a player fans will come out and watch and Jones is that guy. He's a terror playing as a stand up pass rusher. He can slide around, rush from different spots and is totally relentless.
1.10-Tennessee Titans-Sharrif Floyd, DT Florida
I'm sure most draftniks have Floyd off the board well before now, but I just don't see it. The Titans defensive line is solid on the outsides, but they really need a greater presence in the middle. Floyd is an exceptional pass rusher from the 3-technique and would be able to free up the Titans defensive ends.
1.11-San Diego Chargers-Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma
The Chargers are desperate to improve their offense line. Johnson is a former quarterback and tight end who flashes excellent athleticism at the tackle position. He’s got ideal length to play left tackle and has a lot of potential, but he just needs to be sure he hits the weights so he can improve his run blocking to match his pass protection. The Chargers had to shuffle linemen during the season to account for lack of talent and injuries, so adding a player with such high potential as Johnson is a no-brainer at this point.
1.12-Miami Dolphins-Dee Milliner, CB Alabama
It certainly appears as if the Dolphins are going to let cornerback Sean Smith walk. That puts cornerback at the top of their team needs. Milliner is accepted by most as the top cornerback in this draft, and while I don't share that opinion, he's got great size and measureables and for the most part has had an excellent career in college. I question if he's peaked in terms of potential, but I put him here as a prediction, not a preference.
1.13-Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas
Vaccaro really seems to be working his way up draft boards. His mix of size and speed paired up with very good zone coverage skills, and big hitting makes him an enticing package. The Buccaneers need help all over their defensive secondary and Vaccaro grades out higher than the next best cornerback, so he gets the nod here.
1.14-Carolina Panthers-Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri
The Panthers have been trying to find a good mix at defensive line for several seasons, but what has been missing is that pass rushing 3 technique tackle. Richardson might not be as well known a prospect as some others, but make no mistake, he has a ton of potential in the right scheme and would be a great fit for the Panthers. If Richardson makes it to 14 by draft day, the Panthers need to scoop him up.
1.15-New Orleans Saints-Bjoern Werner, DE FSU
Werner slips a little here for me, mainly because I question his work effort, particularly when he has to trail the play. Compared to Jones or Mingo, Werner gives up on the play far too quickly. He is a dynamic athlete who can put his hand on the ground and get around most tackles with his excellent first step and leverage, but he just needs to bring it on every play. The Saints are a team in dire need of help on the edge, whether it's at defensive end or outside linebacker, and Werner appears to have the build and game to do either.
1.16-St. Louis Rams-Chance Warmack, OG Alabama
If you can point to a single spot on the Rams team that has been the biggest disappointment, it's along the offensive line. They have tried multiple high picks on players that just haven't worked out and it's really put their team's development behind. But if they are staring down no top offensive tackle at 16 but the top guard prospect, they have to consider making a move on him. Warmack is a mauling run blocker and more than adequate pass protector.
1.17-Pittsburgh Steelers-Tank Carradine, DE/LB FSU
With the recent release of linebacker James Harrison, the need for a pass rushing outside linebacker is a definite high priority. Carradine is coming off a significant knee injury, but all reports are he is on track to be ready to play in 2013. If Carradine is 100 percent, he is the best all around pass rusher in this draft, so getting him at 17 would be a steal.
1.18-Dallas Cowboys-Jonathan Cooper, OG North Carolina
The Cowboys look like a team that could make some noise in free agency, but I'm not sure guard is going to be one of those spots, so Cooper here makes a lot of sense. Cooper is the best athlete at guard of the top prospects, where Warmack is more of a mauler. He can pull and kick out and does a great job getting to the second level. If the Cowboys choose not to go offensive line here, look possibly for a safety or some help on the defensive line.
1.19-New York Giants-Desmond Trufant, CB Washington
Trufant is the most complete all-around cornerback in the entire draft. There's no scheme he can't play in and he plays with tremendous confidence. For the Giants, they have multiple needs, so it makes sense to go best player available here. If the Giants don't go with a cornerback here, they could look at possibly a tight end or defensive lineman.
1.20-Chicago Bears-Menelik Watson, OT FSU
This is another of those picks that I am putting in because I believe it could happen. I concede that Watson is a tremendous athlete, and if you are going strictly off triangle numbers, his potential is vast. But the film on Watson doesn't match, so drafting him this early is a huge risk for a team desperate to upgrade at offensive tackle. If Watson can learn how to play football at a much higher level, he will be able to utilize that athleticism, but if not, he could end up a bust.
1.21-Cincinnati Bengals-Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama
I have gone back and forth on the Bengals and this pick. I really don't see running back as their top need, but the other positions of need really don't have the talent at this point to warrant the pick. So instead they go with the player that would most likely have the greatest impact right out of the gate and that's running back; and that means Lacy. Lacy is an impressive combination of size, speed and agility and with the amount of 6 and 7 man boxes the Bengals will see, Lacy should be able to exploit those lanes.
1.22-St. Louis(from Washington)-Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia
With it almost a certainty that wide receiver Danny Amendola is leaving via free agency, the Rams must find quarterback Sam Bradford a new target for the underneath and middle of the field. Austin is so quick and so explosive as both a receiver and running back, he'll be impossible for the Rams to pass on. He can line up in the slot and work the middle of the field, has the deep speed to get behind nickel cornerbacks and safeties and is so hard to tackle in the open field.
1.23-Minnesota Vikings-Keenan Allen, WR Cal
The Vikings need to address their quarterback situation, but I don’t see them committing a first round pick to it at this point. Instead, they add a playmaker in the passing game. Allen is so good at getting open down field and stretching a defense that he should take some of the heat off the running game. There's still uncertainty as to whether or not wide receiver Percy Harvin will be returning next year, so a new WR1 could be a top priority. Allen gets a bump for me because he was so productive in college with so little talent around him.
1.24-Indianapolis Colts-Star Lotulelei, DT Utah
There seems to be a lot of debate about the health of Lotulelei. If his heart condition is something of significant concern, then he could fall much further. But if it's still unclear, as I suspect it will be, a small tumble is possible. If he is on the board at 24, the Colts need to snatch him up. Lotulelei's quickness and leverage makes him an ideal 5 technique end in the Colts 3-4 defense and would give them a player who can stuff the run and rush the passer rather than just take up blockers.
1.25-Seattle Seahawks-Datone Jones, DE/DT UCLA
The Seahawks defense needs an injection of strength and athletic ability on the defensive front. Jones is a monster at both a 5-technique end, or inside as a 3-technique pass rushing defensive tackle. He's be perfect in the Seahawks scheme, where he would be able to be moved around to maximize the disruption he could cause.
1.26-Green Bay Packers-Xavier Rhodes, CB FSU
The Packers might consider a wide receiver here, but a player like Rhodes, who is a solid man corner, would give the them much needed depth at the position. The Packers secondary was an area of weakness, along with offensive line, so at this point I give the nod to Rhodes here over the next best offensive lineman based on best player available. He is a big physical corner who can defend the boundaries and has excellent ball skills.
1.27-Houston Texans-Arthur Brown, LB Kansas State
After watching the Texans lose in the playoffs, it became clear that the defense needs an injection of athleticism. Brown is a heat seeking missile. He's one of the fastest linebackers in the country and can work sideline to sideline with ease. He can play either linebacker position on the inside in a 3-4 or can move to WLB in a 4-3. Brown is a smart player with excellent leadership skills and a high football IQ. The possibility is always there for the Texans to take a shot on a wide receiver instead with this pick.
1.28-Denver Broncos-Sylvester Williams, DT North Carolina
When I go back and watch the Broncos play, I keep thinking how much they could benefit from a pass rushing defensive tackle. Some might consider Williams a little early here, but for what he does and his level of athletic ability he is a very good fit for the Broncos as a 3-technique rush player. Williams is pretty underrated by the draft community, but I am very comfortable putting him in the first round.
1.29-New England Patriots-David Amerson, CB NC State
Amerson has been all over the map this season. He started the year as one of the top cornerbacks in the country and started to slide as he struggled. But his game improved as the year went on and he's wowed teams in the offseason with his athleticism. He's the kind of play that would be a perfect fit with the Patriots considering how they like to move players around. I think Amerson's best fit may be at safety, but as a slot cornerback, his athleticism and size would be a real plus as well.
1.30-Atlanta Falcons-Damontre Moore, DE Texas A&M
There was a point during the season where I considered Moore a top five pick. But as the year wore on, the problems with Moore's game started to surface and he slid. His offseason hasn't been great either and that's pushed him a little lower still. I still think he has the potential to be an excellent pass rusher in the league and solid run defender. He could stand to be a little bigger or faster and more explosive off the edge. But he's strong and a hard worker who finds a way to be productive week in and week out. The Falcons need a pass rusher in the worst way so if they don't address it in free agency, Moore makes perfect sense.
1.31-San Francisco 49ers-Jesse Williams, DT Alabama
The 49ers are in a nice spot because they really don't have a huge number of needs and they have a giant pile of draft picks. I put Williams in this spot now as a potential upgrade at the nose tackle position, but I won't be at all shocked if the 49ers don't use some of those picks to move up, possibly for one of the elite wide receivers in this draft. But assuming they sit tight, Williams is hard to pass up as he's a massive nose tackle prospect with a very high ceiling if he's not asked to do more than that.
1.32-Baltimore Ravens-Markus Wheaton, WR Oregon State
Not sure if anyone else has Wheaton as a first round pick, but this late in the round to a team like the Ravens, who love to throw deep, he makes perfect sense. Wheaton is breakaway field speed, excellent athleticism and is accustomed to tight coverages. The Ravens look to be losing wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Wheaton and all his tools would be a very viable replacement.