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 & 2nd 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 third installment:
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel OT (Texas A&M)
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 in later Rounds of 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: Bjoern Werner DE (Florida State)
Although the Jason Babin signing helped, Jacksonville would be wise to bolster their pass-rush early in this year’s Draft. The Jaguars ranked last in the League with a total of 20.0 Sacks last year, and had their fair share of issues putting consistent pressure on opposing Quarterbacks. Jacksonville’s pass-rush was so anemic that Defensive Tackle Tyson Alualu led the team with 3.5 Sacks. Although the German-born Werner is relatively new to the game football, he continued to improve this past year as he logged 18.0 Tackles For Loss (TFL’s) and 13.0 Sacks with the Seminoles during his Junior campaign.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei DT (Utah)
Without Al Davis running things, General Manager Reggie McKenzie will be able to upgrade the interior of Oakland’s Defensive Line with the best Defensive Tackle in this year’s class. Tommy Kelly has proved to be an absolute disaster since he signed his 7-year $50.125 million dollar contract, and the Raiders could also lose Desmond Bryant to Free Agency this offseason as well. Despite being double-teamed and keyed on for much of the season, Lotulelei was a 1st Team All-Pac-12 performer in 2012 as he amassed 42 Tackles, 5.0 Sacks, 11.0 TFL’s, Forced 3 Fumbles, and Recovered 4.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Damontre Moore DE (Texas A&M)
The Eagles could use someone to replace the recently released Jason Babin, and will definitely be in the market to find someone to push the underachieving Brandon Graham. Last year, Philadelphia’s once potent pass-rush only led to 30.0 combined Sacks over the entire season (T-25th overall). If the Eagles want to get after the likes of Eli Manning, RGIII, and Tony Romo, they would be wise to add someone like Damontre Moore At 6’4″ 250 lbs., Moore led the Aggies last year in Tackles (85), TFL’s 21.0, Sacks (12.5), and even blocked 2 Kicks while he emerged as one of the S.E.C.’s best pass-rushers.
5. Detroit Lions: DeMarcus Milliner CB (Alabama)
Detroit’s Defense is in need of some play-makers at the Cornerback position. If the Lions, who had the 4th fewest Interceptions in 2012m are not interested in any of the pass-rushers who fall to them in Round 1, they could use a shutdown Corner like DeMarcus Milliner. 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 Interceptions to his statline as well.
6. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo DE/OLB (Louisiana State)
New Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton will want to improve the Browns’ pass-rush as the team transitions to a 3-4 scheme. Luckily for Horton, he will likely get to choose from Barkevious Mingo or Jarvis Jones once Cleveland is on the clock. 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 six times per season. The athletic Barkevious Mingo (6’4″240 lbs) could be just the player that Horton wants to bolster the pass-rush. While Mingo’s stats last season were not “eye-popping,” 4.5 Sacks, 8.5 TFL’s, he has the potential to turn into a terror off of the edge.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith QB (West Virginia)
If the Cardinals are not confident in taking Eric Fisher, then I can see the franchise going in the direction of a Quarterback with their 1st Round selection. Because the Quarterback cupboard is basically bare for new Head Coach Bruce Arians, Arizona could take a chance on the accurate and athletic Smith (369 for 518 (71.2%), 4,205 Yards, 42 TD’s, and 6 INT’s). The Kolb-Skelton-Lindley-Hoyer combo. was ineffective last season, and the franchise must fix the most important position on the field.
8. Buffalo Bills: Alec Ogletree ILB (Georgia)
I mocked Manti Te’o to the Bills in my 1st version because Buffalo could be moving to a 3-4 under the new Coaching Staff, and because of the fact that the franchise will need to find a replacement for Nick Barnett in the near future. I know it is early, but I have a gut feeling that Alec Ogletree will skyrocket up teams’ draft boards once he flashes his athleticism at The Combine. A former Safety, Ogletree possesses an incredible mix of size and speed (6’3″ 232 lbs.), and led the Bulldogs this past year in Tackles with 111, and registered 11.5 TFL’s and 3.0 Sacks to go along with 6 PD’s and 1 Interception. I should also add that he did all of this in 10 games, as he spent the first four on the bench as he served a suspension. Ogletree’s off-field issues might slide him down in Round 1, but his talent is undeniable.
9. New York Jets: Eric Fisher OT (Central Michigan)
If the Jets do not look for a pass-rusher in Round 1, it might behoove them to target a Right Tackle to replace Austin Howard. Eric Fisher has had himself quite the Senior Bowl Week, and he could be an instant upgrade on the Right side for the Jets or wherever he lines up for them. 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 or Right Tackle spots are not in Fisher’s future, he could fill in at either of those two other positions.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack OG (Alabama)
The Titans must bolster the interior of their Offensive Line, and they could decide to fill that need early in Round 1 with the best Guard in the Draft Class. Left Guard Steve Hutchinson will be in his 13th year when the season begins, while Right Guard Leroy Harris will be a UFA this offseason, and both players ended last year on Injured Reserve. Tennessee would upgrade their O-Line’s interior if they selected Chance Warmack (6’2″ 322 lbs.) out of Alabama. Warmack started 40 games during his collegiate career with the Crimson Tide and is a fantastic road-grading mauler with some nice pass-protection skills to boot.
11. San Diego Chargers: Jarvis Jones OLB (Georgia)
Spinal-stenosis or not, if Jarvis Jones falls to the Chargers at #11, and San Diego’s brass is not sold on Lane Johnson, they should seriously consider selecting the talented Georgia pass-rusher. While the Chargers added Melvin Ingram in Round 1 last year, their leading Sack-man from 2012, Shaun Phillips (9.5), will be 31 this offseason and an Unrestricted Free Agent. In addition to Phillips’ UFA status and age is the fact that 2009 1st Round pick Larry English has been nothing short of a bust. Thus, San Diego 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.
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 TD’s 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: Alex Okafor DE/OLB (Texas)
The Saints will be employing a 3-4 Defense this year, and the biggest task for them to accomplish this offseason will be acquiring players who can fit the system. New Orleans’ Defense tied for 25th in the League in Sacks last year with 30.0, and they might target a pass-rusher with their 1st Round pick. Okafor had a fantastic career with the Longhorns which was capped off by an extremely productive Senior campaign. Overall, Alex racked up 68 Tackles, 18.0 TFL’s, and 12.5 Sacks over 13 Games, and did so with his talented pass-rushing mate Jackson Jeffcoat sidelined for most of the year with a pectoral injury. Equipped with a nice burst upfield for a bigger guy (6’5″ 265 lbs.), Okafor could shine with the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams: Lane Johnson OT (Oklahoma)
Lane Johnson of Oklahoma could be the Left Tackle prospect the Rams are looking for to protect Bradford’s blind-side. Plus, Johnson’s selection would allow the Rams’ current Left Tackle, Roger Saffold, to take the place of soon-to-be UFA Right Tackle Barry Richardson, or kick in to Left Guard to replace the soon-to-be UFA Robert Turner. Johnson (6’6″ 303 lbs.) is an athletic prospect who played Quarterback in High School and at Junior College, and spent time at Tight End and Defensive End during his first year with the Sooners. For the last two years though Johnson has manned both the Right (12 Starts) and Left (11 Starts) for Oklahoma and could be a fantastic player and pass-protector down the road.