Only forty-eight hours remain until the holiday known as the NFL draft is upon us. What was once a two day event has now turned into a three day, primetime extravaganza. Of all the major sports, it’s the most dissected, anticipated, analyzed and attended draft of all. While I must admit I do at times miss the days of the ten hour marathon first round, I do like the truncated Thursday evening version that exists today.
The 2013 draft is, in my opinion, the most difficult to predict in recent memory, very short on top QB prospects, but long on impact defensive playmakers and offensive lineman. There will be the usual share of reaches and trades, perhaps more so than recent years. There are no franchise quarterbacks in this draft such as in 2012 with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Most draft experts in fact, feel the 2014 draft will more than make up for this year’s lack of elite QBs; however one of two QB needy teams will surely deal back into the round. With so much OL and Defensive talent available this year we may see the fewest amount of skill position players ever picked. There is so much fun and intrigue to this draft, I saw Mel Kiper Jr. skipping around outside Radio City Music Hall singing “The Most Wonderful time of the Year”.
So, without further buildup here is my mock draft :
1) Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel T (Texas A&M)
Rumor has it the Chiefs want to trade down and while that may be a possibility, I see them sticking with the pick and adding another body to their O-line.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd DT (Florida)
Another team I can see trading down. I think they give the Blaine Gabbert experiment one more year and address their QB need next year if it still exists. If they stay at #2, they take some much needed defensive line help with the 6-2 297 athletic tackle from Florida.
3) New York Jets: Geno Smith QB (West Virginia) (trade with Raiders)
At first I had the Raiders simply taking the fastest player on the board regardless of position but then I realized Al Davis was no longer running the show. Following the theme of trading down, I think the Raiders make the first of many draft day trades downward, letting the Jets move into this spot and acquiring some extra picks to boot. I blame this trade on my butcher, who tells me he thinks the Jets end their QB debacle with the mobile, big armed West Virginia signal caller. Mark Sanchez simply isn’t an NFL QB and Tim Tebow really should be in the CFL applying his trade. While Sanchez’s contract is an albatross around their necks, the Jets could spend draft weekend trying to trade him (yes Oakland, I’m looking at you). Rex Ryan would love a CB here, but he’s in a lame duck season and I see him with little say in matters (except perhaps when it comes to the Baltimore Orioles). I could see the Jets moving up to grab DE Dion Jordan of Oregon as well, but I think they continue to go for headlines instead of wins with Smith.
4.) Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan DE/OLB (Oregon)
Why? Three reasons: The Eagles are moving to the 3-4, Jordan is from Oregon and so is Eagles coach Chip Kelly. That’s why. Besides, Jordan is not only a great pass rusher but he can drop into coverage as well. Alright, that’s four reasons, but Eagle fans will be hoping if Jordan is the pick that he doesn’t turn out to be the next Mike Mamula.
5.) Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher OT (Central Michigan)
This is a perfect marriage between player and need. Which means the Lions will somehow blow it.
6.) Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner CB (Alabama)
Another spot where I can see someone (hello San Francisco) try to trade into. The Browns could take Geno Smith if he’s still here or take some pass rushing help such as LSU’s Barkevious Mingo or BYUs Ziggy Ansah. However, I see them taking the draft’s top corner and pairing him with Joe Haden, giving them one of the top young tandems in the league.
7.) Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson OT (Oklahoma)
Much like with Fisher and the Lions, this aligns nicely for the Cardinals. However, something tells me of the three top tackles; Johnson will be the one who fails to make an impact in the pros.
8.) Buffalo Bills: Barkevious Mingo DE (LSU)
Yet another spot where I can see a team move up into, but I think the Bills take the second of many impact pass rushers whose best football is still ahead of him. I do believe Buffalo will be in play near to the end of the first round addressing their QB need.
9.) Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei DT (Utah) (trade with Jets)
I think Lotulelei’s heart condition may scare some teams near the top, but not the Raiders who address a major hole in their defense with the Utah product. The nimble giant can play anywhere along the DL while injecting the team with some much needed youth.
10.) Tennessee Titans: Kenny Vaccaro S (Texas)
Way too high for him, but have you seen the Titans secondary? So has the rest of the league which is why the Titans will take the hard hitting, versatile safety. Vaccaro does has some off the field issues, but Tennessee desperately needs to upgrade the position and will roll the dice with the former Longhorn standout.
11.) San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack G (Alabama)
For weeks I had either the Chargers moving this pick to the 49ers or sticking and taking DE Ziggy Ansah. However, word out of San Diego is that this is QB Philip Rivers last chance and rumor has it he is still running from NFL defenders in his sleep. To make his life a little easier, the Chargers take the physical, difference making guard who may be the best prospect at his spot since John Hannah. Warmack could be special.
12.) San Francisco 49ers: Matt Elam S (Florida) (trade with Dolphins)
Finally the 49ers find a trading partner with the newly logoed ‘Fins. The Dolphins still have needs that need addressing and they pick up a bevy of picks from San Francisco to fill them. Meanwhile, the 49ers get a replacement for the departed Dashon Goldson with the second best safety in the draft who will be a starter and impact player from day one.
13.) New York Jets: Alec Ogletree LB (Georgia) (trade with Buccaneers)
Up until Sunday afternoon I had the Revis trade not happening in time for the draft and had the Bucs taking the fast rising CB DJ Hayden from Houston. But the much ballyhooed trade finally went through, forcing me to revisit this pick. Quite simply, the Jets are a mess, devoid of difference makers at nearly every position, and thanks to Mark Sanchez’s less than deserved salary, they have very little room to maneuver. While Rex Ryan may be salivating for the team to pick a corner, they instead grab another one of the draft’s impact defensive players in Ogletree. Yes, there are character red flags galore but when has that ever stopped the Jets?
14.) Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson DT (Missouri)
The Panthers have many needs on both sides of the ball and while it is tempting to give QB Cam Newton more weapons with either WR Tavon Austin or WR Cordalle Patterson, they must address their defensive line which has been bad for years. Richardson may lack ideal size at just 294 pounds, but he makes up for it with passion for the game and elite athleticism. Richardson can be dominant and will keep blockers off last year’s first round pick MLB Luke Kuelchy. Much like Warmack with the Chargers, Richardson could be special for the Panthers.
15.) New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones OLB (Georgia)
Defense is what the Saints need. They were historically bad last year and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will be seeking playmakers everywhere. They get one with Jones who can be as disruptive as anyone as long as his health issues check out. He can play inside and out and is adept at beating 1 on 1 blocking. The lone curveball to this pick is that these are the Saints and scoring points is their name so don’t be shocked if they grab Austin or WR Keenan Allen or replace the departed Jermon Bushrod with North Carolina G Jonathon Cooper.
16.) St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin WR (West Virginia)
If Vaccaro is still on the board here, the Rams will grab him to continue to upgrade their secondary and replace departed S Craig Dahl. However, with Vaccaro and Elam both gone, the Rams grab the first WR in what may be a run on the position with Austin who can create mismatches with his speed and explosiveness. Sam Bradford needs weapons and he gets a good one in the small but dynamic playmaker.