That’s right readers, it’s “Mock Draft Time” at N.P.C.. As the title states, today’s 2013 NFL Mock Draft will feature each and every selection in Rounds 1-3, plus Pittsburgh’s projected picks in Rounds 4-7. I should also add that this particular installment will feature zero trades. But don’t fret, my next installment will have some. For now though, let’s get on to the Mock:
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel OT (Texas A&M)
Kansas City’s brass could instantly upgrade their “tackle situation” with Texas A&M’s former blind-side protector. The 6’6″ 306 lb. Joeckel was the 2012 Outland Award winner, a 2012 consensus All-American, and was three-year starter with the Aggies (39 Games, 39 Starts). While the nimble Joeckel is not a “road-grading” type of tackle, his quick feet and sound blocking technique will help him to be a fantastic blind-side pass-protector for years to come.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Fisher OT (Central Michigan)
2009 1st Round pick Eugene Monroe will be a UFA when the 2013 season ends. If the Jaguars want to have insurance in case their starting left tackle leaves, they could elect to go the “safe route” and take Eric Fisher at #2 overall. The 6’7″ 306 lb. Fisher was a 1st Team All-MAC performer last season, and also possesses some versatility to his game. Although he played most of his collegiate career at left tackle, he did start games at right tackle and right guard earlier in his career with the Chippewas. So even if Fisher doesn’t pan out on the blind-side, Jacksonville’s coaching staff could find another place for him along their porous offensive line.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd DT (Florida)
Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant are gone, and the Raiders need help at defensive tackle. Floyd (6’3″ 297 lbs.) has become of the Draft’s hottest commodities as of late, and he played both defensive end and defensive tackle at Florida. Last year, Floyd played his best football last season on the interior as he displayed a surprising combination of agility, power, and quickness for a man his size. Overall, Sharrif notched 46 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and a team-leading 13.0 tackles for loss during his junior season, and will garner interest from teams who employ 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes in Round 1.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan DE/OLB (Oregon)
Now that the Eagles are switching to a 3-4 Defense, they would best served to acquire an athletic pass-rusher to team with Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. If that is the case, it would lead me to believe that new head coach Chip Kelly has his sights set on one of his former college players in the form of Dion Jordan. Last year, Jordan put up 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, and forced 3 fumbles, and has a unique frame (6’6″ 248 lbs.), and an athletic skill-set (surprisingly in pass-coverage) which could make him an attractive option for the Eagles to target at #4 if he recovers well from his recent shoulder surgery.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah DE (Brigham Young)
Detroit will likely need some serious help at defensive end position if they wish to create any pressure off of the edge in future seasons. Cliff Avril left for a new deal in Seattle, and Kyle Vanden Bosch was just recently released as well. Ezekiel Ansah has turned heads throughout the offseason, and could inevitably find himself in the Top 5 when “Draft Weekend” rolls around this month. Despite the fact that Ansah is newer to the game of football, the 6’5″ 271 lb. defensive end had a fine 2012 season as he made 62 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks during his first year as a starter with the Cougars.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner CB (Alabama)
Because the Browns signed Paul Kruger, Cleveland’s brass should be able to focus on other needs at the top of the Draft. If Dee Milliner falls to them at #6 overall, I cannot see new defensive coordinator Ray Horton passing on him. Milliner solidified his status as a Top 5 pick after a great showing at The Combine, and could be in contention to be taken at the very top of the Draft. The 6′ 200 lb. cornerback had a terrific 2012 season as he logged 22 passes defended over the team’s 14 games, and added 54 Tackles and 2 Interceptions to his statline as the Crimson Tide won the national championship.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson OT (Oklahoma)
Arizona’s offensive line surrendered a League high 58.0 sacks last year, and Bobby Massie and D’Anthony Batiste looked lost at the tackle positions numerous times in 2012. If they cannot trade down, the Cardinals might be best served to take Lane Johnson at #7. The former Sooner (6’6″ 303 lbs.) is an intriguing prospect who played quarterback in high school and at junior college, and spent time at Tight End and defensive end in Norman as well. For the last two years though Johnson has manned both the right (12 Starts) and left (11 Starts) tackle spots, and has the potential to be a stable pass-protector down the road at either tackle position.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith QB (West Virginia)
Kansas City’s decision to trade for Alex Smith is huge for Buffalo, as they will likely be able to select a quarterback they want in Round 1 without having to give up a large amount to acquire one by moving up from #8. Even though the franchise signed Kevin Kolb, I cannot see how they view him as a long-term answer. In the event that Geno Smith (6’2″ 218 lbs.) falls to Buffalo, I believe that the Bills’ new Head Coach Doug Marrone will be interested in acquiring him. The strong-armed, accurate, and athletic former Mountaineer (2012: 369 for 518 (71.2%), 4,205 Yards, 42 TD’s, and 6 INT’s) would be a solid fit in Marrone’s offense as the Bills begin the long process of rebuilding.
9. New York Jets: Cordarrelle Patterson WR (Tennessee)
2013 could be the “Last Stand” for both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez in New York. If the Jets wish to make their anemic passing offense better, they could roll the dice on Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee. The 6’2″ 216 lb. Junior 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 TD’s. Although his skill-set is still very raw, Patterson just makes plays when he has the football in his hands, and teams must respect his speed.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei DT (Utah)
If the Titans elect to not find upgrades at cornerback and offensive guard in Round 1, then I believe that they will try to draft a defensive tackle at #10 overall. Sen’Derrick Marks is an impending UFA and Tennessee could stand to use another stout defensive tackle to add to the mix with Jurrell Casey and Mike Martin if Marks indeed leaves. Despite being double-teamed and keyed on for much of the season, Lotulelei (6’2″ 311 lbs.) was a 1st Team All-Pac-12 performer in 2012 as he amassed 42 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 11.0 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries. If teams shy away from Lotulelei due his heart issue, the Titans might still snatch him up in a “Best Player Available” scenario.
11. San Diego Chargers: Barkevious Mingo OLB (Louisiana State)
The Chargers need to improve their pass-protection, and their pass-rush. If Lane Johnson is off of the board by the time San Diego goes on the clock in Round 1, the Front Office might want to take a chance on the ultra-athletic Barkevious Mingo of Louisiana State. Sporting a 6’4″ and 241 lb. frame, Mingo possesses a tremendous amount of speed (4.58 40 Yard Dash) and agility (6.84 3-Cone Drill) off of the edge which should help him translate well to the professional level. The biggest issues with Mingo however deal with how raw his skill-set is and his limited production (4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss) at Louisiana State last season.
12. Miami Dolphins: Bjoern Werner DE (Florida State)
After their Free Agent spending splurge, the Dolphins still need to find an outside pass-rusher to pair with Pro Bowler Cameron Wake (15.0 sacks in 2012). Bjoern Werner’s stock could be falling after his pedestrian showing at The Combine, but if Werner is available at #12, I would have to believe that Miami would make him their 1st Round selection. Although the German-born Werner (6’3″ 266 lbs.) is relatively new to the game football, he continued to improve his pass-rushing skills as he logged 18.0 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks from his defensive end position last season.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes CB (Florida State)
The Buccaneers need help at cornerback, and need it there probably more than at any spot on the rest of their roster. Aqib Talib is long gone, the team is trying to trade Eric Wright, and E.J. Biggers has left for Washington. Xavier Rhodes (6’1″ 210 lbs.) was a 1st Team All-ACC Cornerback as he racked up 39 tackles and 3 interceptions during the 2012 season as the most talented player in the Seminoles defensive backfield. A team can never have too many corners in today’s N.F.L., and Rhodes is terrific in man-coverage situations because he can use his physical stature to his advantage.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson DT (Missouri)
Although the Panthers’ defense improved this past year, issues still exist along the interior of their defensive line. Carolina’s run defense could be helped by an impact player like 3-technique prospect Sheldon Richardson from Missouri. After two years at the junior college level, and one year in a non-starter role with the Tigers, the agile and powerful Richardson (6’3″ 295 lbs.) burst on the scene in 2012 when he racked up 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 4.0 sacks over Missouri’s 11 games.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones OLB (Georgia)
The Saints could stand to acquire a 3-4 pass-rusher this offseason. New Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan could be intrigued to take Georgia’s Outside Linebacker Jarvis Jones. Although Jones’ “spinal stenosis” condition and poor Pro Day workout could scare scouts away, some teams in need of an athletic pass-rusher are sure to be willing to gamble on the former Bulldog. Last season, Jones (6’2″ 245 lbs.) racked up 24.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks, and would be a bargain for the Saints if he falls all the way down to #15 overall.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin WR (West Virginia)
Danny Amendola is now a Patriot, and the Rams could try to find his replacement early in the form of a slot receiver like Tavon Austin (5’8″ 174 lbs.). Not only did Austin top the 100 catch mark during his Junior season, he had an even more productive Senior campaign as he recorded 114 grabs for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns. But Austin not only shined in the passing game for the Mountaineers, he also was effective in the run-game as he rushed for an incredible 643 yards and 3 touchdowns.