That’s right readers, it’s “Mock Draft Time” here at N.P.C.. Just like last year, I will be coming out with N.F.L. Mock Drafts over the next three and a half months to keep all of us fans updated and keyed in during this extremely crucial offseason. Just for prefacing purposes, today’s Mock will be a 1st Round-only edition with zero trades.
In addition, I must add that the teams currently not eliminated from Super Bowl contention will be slotted according to my own projections of how I believe the 2012-2013 postseason will all unfold. Don’t worry everybody, I’ll add trades and move prospects up and down the draft board once The Scouting Combine, Pro Days, and Free Agency get underway. But for now, let’s get started on this second installment:
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel OT (Texas A&M)
Could the Chiefs use a Quarterback right now? Of course they could, but sadly for them, the 2013 Draft Class does not seem to be as full of top-tier “franchise Quarterbacks” as last year’s. If Kansas City does not elect to trade down or select a Quarterback, they could definitely use an upgrade along their Offensive Line next year. Not only did the Chiefs’ O-Line surrender 40.0 Sacks during the 2012 campaign, their Left Tackle Branden Albert will be an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) this March. Kansas City would be wise to address their QB-needs through Free Agency or later Rounds in the Draft while they shore up their Left Tackle spot with the Aggies’ blind-side protector throughout his three-year stint in College Station (39 Games, 39 Starts). The 6’6″ 310 lb. Joeckel was the 2012 Outland Award winner, a 2012 consensus All-American, and could be just the player the Chiefs need to begin their rebuilding process under Andy Reid and his pass-heavy Offense.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith QB (West Virginia)
The Jaguars have a new G.M. and a new Head Coach in town, and both have zero allegiance to the top two signal-callers already on the roster: Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. If Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley believe that Gabbert and Henne are not the long-term answers at the Quarterback position, I could definitely see Jacksonville selecting West Virginia’s Geno Smith with the 2nd overall pick. The accurate and athletic Smith (369 for 518 (71.2%), 4,205 Yards, 42 TD’s, and 6 INT’s) would give the Jaguars an immediate upgrade at a position of need, and hope for the future of their Offense.
3. Oakland Raiders: Jarvis Jones OLB (Georgia)
The Raiders’ Defense is in need of some serious reconstruction, and this year’s Draft will be key. Oakland needs depth and future starters at almost every position, but they could really use an upgrade at Strongside Linebacker and along their Defensive Line. Their pass rush was anemic last year (T-31st last year with only 25.0 Sacks), and they should look to add some players to help in that department on Days 1, 2, and 3. Oakland might benefit from a player like Jones who racked up 24.5 TFL’s and 14.5 Sacks during his Senior season. At 6’4″ 242 lbs., Jones reminds me a bit of Von Miller in terms of his ability to pass-rush, and pass-rush well, from different spots on the field.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei DT (Utah)
With Michael Vick likely to stay in Philadelphia and zero Offensive Linemen left on the board in this Mock, I can see the Eagles addressing the Defensive Tackle position yet again in Round 1 of this Draft. If Philadelphia can line up Fletcher Cox and Lotulelei on the interior of their Defensive Line, they have the potential to absolutely dominate future opponents in the trenches. Despite being double-teamed and keyed on for much of the season, Lotulelei was a 1st Team All-Pac-12 performer in 2012 when he amassed 42 Tackles, 5.0 Sacks, 11.0 TFL’s, Forced 3 Fumbles, and Recovered 4.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner DE (Florida State)
Detroit will likely need some serious help at Defensive End if they fail to do anything in Free Agency. Kyle Vanden Bosch will be 35 next season, while Cliff Avril will likely be a high-priced UFA and playing elsewhere in 2013. I can see either Damontre Moore or Bjoern Werner as the Lions’ 1st Round selection, and the team would be wise to select Werner if he fell to #5. Although the German-born Werner is relatively new to football, he continued to improve this past year as he put up 18.0 TFL’s and 13.0 Sacks with the Seminoles. Werner’s speed and strength could force teams to single Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley on the interior and create matchups-galore for the Lions as they try to come back after a disappointing 2012 season.
6. Cleveland Browns: Damontre Moore DE (Texas A&M)
Jabaal Sheard (7.0 Sacks) and Juqua Parker (6.0) could use some help attacking the passer, and the Browns could definitely use a more formidable pass-rush when they face Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Ginger Spice 6 times per season. With Ray Horton in town, the Browns will look to improve their blitz, and a player like Damontre Moore could be just what Cleveland’s Defense needs to ramp up the pressure. At 6’4″ 250 lbs., Moore led the Aggies last year in Tackles (85), Tackles for Loss (TFL’s) 21.0, Sacks (12.5), and even blocked 2 Kicks, and I believe that he possesses enough athleticism to become a larger stand-up Outside Linebacker like LaMarr Woodley used to be before he got fat.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Mike Glennon QB (North Carolina State)
If a player like Joeckel slides to Arizona at #7, or they are confident in reaching for an Eric Fisher, then I can see the franchise going in said direction. But because Bruce Arians is in town, I can see Arizona selecting a Quarterback in Round 1 like Mike Glennon from North Carolina State. I liken Glennon’s skill-set to a combination between Joe Flacco and Nick Foles. And with his bigger yet athletic frame, Arians could see a bit of “Big Ben” in the North Carolina State prospect (4,031 Yards Passing and 31 TD’s in 2012) as well. Although Glennon’s Completion Percentage from last season (58.4%) might be a cause for concern, his rifle arm, and surprising athleticism could drive him up draft boards around the League.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley QB (Southern California)
With Manti Te’o’s recent “99 Problems and the Girl being Non-Existent,” I am not sure who to project to the Bills right now in Round 1. What I do know is that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been inconsistent at best since he signed that $50 million dollar deal in the middle of the 2011 campaign. Doug Marrone could elect to wait until Round 2 to fill his need for a Quarterback with his own collegiate signal-caller Ryan Nassib, or he could fill the need in Round 1 with a player like Matt Barkley from U.S.C.. I believe that Matt Barkley’s stock will rise once he comes back from his shoulder surgery and teams begin to look at more film of him and his successful collegiate career as a whole (246 for 387, 3,273 Yards, 63.6%, 36 TD’s & 15 INT’s was a “down year” in 2012). Although Barkley might not be considered the most athletic Quarterback, he ran a Pro-Style system at Southern Cal, he possesses a strong arm and can make every throw on the field, and can do so in an accurate fashion.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo DE/OLB (Louisiana State)
First of all, let me say that 2012 1st Round pick Quinton Coples (5.5 Sacks) and 2011 1st Round pick Muhammad Wilkerson (5.0 Sacks) did a fine job last season as they supplied heat from their 5-Technique Defensive End spots, positions I might add which are not supposed to generate many Sacks. Unfortunately, the Jets lack speed outside of Coples and Wilkerson, and could use an upgrade over veteran Calvin Pace at Outside Linebacker. The athletic Barkevious Mingo (6’4″240 lbs) could be just the player the Jets enlist to provide some extra speed and heat off of the edge. Although he was slowed a bit last season (4.5 Sacks, 8.5 TFL’s), Mingo could instantly upgrade one of New York’s Outside Linebacker spots.
10. Tennessee Titans: DeMarcus Milliner CB (Alabama)
Cortland Finnegan left for St. Louis last season, Ryan Mouton will be a UFA this offseason, and Alterraun Verner is set to reach UFA status in the Spring of 2014. While it might be a bit early, the Titans could decide to bolster their Secondary by selecting the most talented “Shut-Down” Corner in this year’s draft class. The 6’1 198 lb. Milliner had a terrific 2012 season with the Crimson Tide as he put up an incredible 22 Passes Defended over the team’s 14 games, and added 54 Tackles and 2 INT’s to his statline as well. The addition of Milliner would give the Titans’ beleaguered Secondary (31 Pass TD’s allowed tied for 2nd last in 2012) a tremendous insurance policy at Cornerback. Plus it can never hurt a Defense to have too many Cornerbacks on their roster, especially those who can excel in Man-Coverage.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher OT (Central Michigan)
Philip Rivers was bludgeoned last season with Jared Gaither manning the Left Tackle spot and an assortment of backups doing their best to stop opposing pass-rushers. San Diego gave up 49.0 Sacks last year (4th most in the League), and could definitely use as many talented Offensive Linemen as they can get as Rivers enters his 10th season in the N.F.L.. The 6’7″ 305 lbs. Fisher was a 1st Team All-MAC performer last year, and also possesses some versatility to his game. Although he played most of his collegiate career at Left Tackle, he did start games earlier during his time with the Chippewas at Right Tackle and Right Guard. So even if the Left Tackle spot is not in Fisher’s future, he could fill in at either of those two other positions. And for an O-Line desperate team like the Chargers, his presence at Right Tackle or Right Guard would be an upgrade nonetheless.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen WR (California)
Do not get me wrong, Davonne Bess is a fine slot Wide Receiver, and Brian Hartline is a solid #2 target. But if the Dolphins are serous about taking Ryan Tannehill’s game to the next level, they could stand to draft their franchise Quarterback a legitimate play-making #1 pass-catcher like Keenan Allen (6’3″ 215 lbs.) from California. The Dolphins ranked 22nd in the League last year with a 6.8 Yards per Pass Attempt Average and only 30th in Total Pass Touchdowns with 13, thus they could use an upgrade at the Wide Receiver position. Allen had a terrific career with the Golden Bears (totaled 1,343 Yards Receiving during 2011 and 737 during 9 games last year) and possesses a size-speed skill-set which would make him a solid fit in the League.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnathan Hankins DT (Ohio State)
Tampa Bay must fill needs at multiple spots on Defense, and if they elect not to take a Cornerback in Round 1, I could definitely see them taking the best Defensive Tackle available with the 13th overall pick. A wide-bodied, yet athletic gap-clogger, Hankins (6’3″ 320 lbs.) shined during his Junior season with the Buckeyes as he logged 55 Tackles, 4.0 TFL’s, 1.0 Sack, and earned All-Big-10 honors. The addition of Hankins could allow him and Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy to develop into a pair of formidable Defensive Tackles for the Buccaneers.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson DT (Missouri)
Although the Panther’s Defense improved this past year, they could still use some upgrades along the interior of their Defensive Line. Carolina’s Run Defense could be helped by an impact player like the athletic and potential 3-Technique prospect Sheldon Richardson from Missouri. After two years at the Junior College level and a year in a non-starter role with the Tigers, Richardson (6’3″ 295 lbs.) burst on the scene in 2012 when he racked up 75 Tackles, 10.5 TFL’s, and 4.0 Sacks over Missouri’s 11 Games. Drafting a player like Richardson would be a solid move for Carolina as Dwan Edwards will be a UFA after the 2013 season, while Sione Fua and Frank Kearse could be pushed for playing time as well.
15. New Orleans Saints: Ezekiel Ansah DE (Brigham Young)
Overall, the Saints’ Run Defense was downright terrible last season. New Orleans ranked last in Yards Per Carry Allowed (5.2), Total Rushing Yards Allowed (2,361), and Total Rushing Yards Per Gamed (147.6). The Saints will also need help rushing the passer (T-25th last season 30.0 Sacks) and an athletic player to help rotate in with Cameron Jordan and Will Smith. The raw yet talented Defensive End/Outside Linebacker prospect Ezekiel Ansah out of Brigham Young could be an option for the Saints at #15. Although he is newer to the game of football, Ansah had a fine 2012 season as he made 62 Tackles, 13.0 TFL’s, 4.5 Sacks during his first year as a starter, and is projected by some to be a “Jason Pierre-Paul” type of “high-risk, high-reward” prospect.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson WR (Tennessee)
The Rams have the luxury of possessing two 1st Round picks, and could be willing to go B.P.A. with one, and fill an enormous need with the other. With the 16th overall selection, St. Louis could look to add a weapon for Sam Bradford to help in the passing game, especially if Eric Fisher is off of the board when they go on the clock first. Patterson was a phenomenal Kick Returner and Wide Receiver at the Junior College level before he came to Knoxville this past year, and boy did he make a splash in 2012. Over 11 Games, Patterson caught 42 passes for 690 Yards and 4 TD’s, he rushed for 270 Yards and 3 TD’s, and returned 1 Kickoff and 1 Punt for Touchdowns. The Junior possesses not only incredible speed but a large frame (6’3″ 205 lbs.) to boot, and could be just the #1 option Sam Bradford is in need of at this point in his career.