The NFL Free agency frenzy is pretty much behind us now, with most of the top available free agents finding new places to call home. For those needing a recap, check out Gridiron Experts Fantasy Football FA Tracker to see who went where.
Bring on the NFL Draft!!
The following mock draft has been put together with team needs in mind and assumes that no trades are made as it’s too early yet to predict such deals.
#1 Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
After making a big commitment to Alex Smith and with Dwayne Bowe resigned long term, the Chiefs need to make sure that they can keep their new face of the franchise upright. Joeckel is the best player in the draft and could spend next year at right tackle across from Brandon Albert but figures to be the Chiefs left tackle for the next decade.
#2 Jacksonville Jaguars – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jacksonville needs to get to the quarterback more in 2013. Last year they recorded only 20 sacks but acquired Jason Babin late in the season and may want to give him and Jeremy Mincey a chance at defensive end. Rumours are circulating that Jones’ spinal stenosis is not as serious as first thought. He had arguably the best production of any player in this draft and was influential in Georgia’s success this season. In his two seasons at Georgia, Jones recorded 28 sacks, 44 tackles for loss and nine forced fumbles.
#3 Oakland Raiders – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Raiders were another team to struggle to get to the quarterback in 2012. Quarterback is another huge need but the team is intrigued by Terrelle Pryor and the success of other mobile quarterbacks could persuade them to give him a shot next year. Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was considered the best defensive player in the draft before his health scare at the Combine. If rumors are true this is a non-issue then he has the talent and tape to go top 5, Lotulelei registered five sacks in 2012 despite seeing almost constant double teams.
#4 Philadelphia Eagles – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Eric Fisher is the best player available and fits a huge need here for Philadelphia. The return of Jason Peters could mean Fisher will playing at right tackle for the Eagles in 2013 but Fisher has the talent to become a multiple Pro-Bowler and should eventually become a fixture at left tackle for many years.
#5 Detroit Lions – Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Detroit has lost both of it’s starting defensive ends in 2012. Jason Jones was recently signed but a young, dynamic pass rusher is needed across from him. The Lions staff coached Ansah at the Senior Bowl where he excelled in their defensive scheme. Ansah is very raw but has huge potential and his rise up draft boards in the last 8 months has been meteoric.
#6 Cleveland Browns – DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
Cleveland have done a superb job of upgrading their defensive front seven through free agency. Their only other major need on defense is to find a cornerback to play opposite Joe Haden. Fortunately for them, in this mock the best in the draft class has fallen to them. Milliner defended a huge 22 passes as a junior last year at Alabama, he also intercepted two passes.
#7 Arizona Cardinals – Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Cardinals appear content to let Drew Stanton and Brian Hoyer battle to win the starting quarterback job in 2013. On defense a pass rushing outside linebacker is required as inside linebacker Daryl Washington can’t be expected to record nine sacks again in future seasons. In his final two seasons at Oregon, Dion Jordan had 23.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks.
#8 Buffalo Bills – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Buffalo needs a quarterback, even their General Manager Buddy Nix acknowledges it. Fortunately Geno Smith has fallen to them in this mock and in such a scenario I’m sure they won’t be on the clock for very long. Geno Smith finished 2012 with a completion percentage of 71.2%, he threw for over 4,000 yards and 42 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Smith also has the mobility required to buy extra time in the pocket if required and can if pressed rush for first downs though his preference is to throw the ball.
#9 New York Jets – Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry both left New York as free agents this offseason. This has created a need at both safety positions for the Jets. Kenny Vaccaro is versatile and can play either safety position. He is solid against the pass and the run and in his four years at Texas he recorded 14.0 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 24 passes defended and four forced fumbles.
#10 Tennessee Titans – Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Chris Johnson has recently announced that he plans to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing yardage record in 2013. For him to even get close Tennessee will have to upgrade the interior of it’s offensive line. Chance Warmack helped Alabama to win three National Championships in his four years there on teams renowned for their elite running game.
#11 San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
New Chargers head coach Mike McCoy will need to figure out whether Phillip Rivers has the ability to win a Super Bowl. In order to see what Rivers has got, he first needs to be given better protection. Lane Johnson is a high risk, high reward selection. He has a rare combination of speed, fluidity and strength but his lack of experience at tackle may result in him suffering a rocky rookie year in the NFL.
#12 Miami Dolphins – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Cornerback Sean Smith has left the Dolphins in free agency and after trading away Vontae Davis prior to the 2012 season the Dolphins are now left with a need at the position. Xavier Rhodes is a new age cornerback, he has great size (6’1”, 210lbs), physicality and athleticism.
#13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Tampa Bay needs to find more sacks from it’s defensive line. An upgrade at defensive tackle is needed next to Gerald McCoy. Sharrif Floyd is viewed by some as a top 5 talent and maybe the best defensive player in this draft class, in 2012 he recorded 13.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks from defensive tackle.
#14 Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Sheldon Richardson is the definition of a high motor guy, he doesn’t stop until the play is done and has made plays 20+ yards downfield. Carolina needs to improve it’s run defense and pressure from the defensive tackle spot. In 2012, Richardson had 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks for Missouri.
#15 New Orleans Saints – Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
New Orleans are switching to a 3-4 defense in 2013 and will need a dominant pass rusher on the outside that is going to generate pressure on the quarterback. Damontre Moore was considered a top 5 pick prior to his poor performance at the Combine. His 12.5 sacks in 2012 are exactly what New Orleans is looking for from it’s rush linebacker position in 2013.
#16 St Louis Rams – Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
1st overall pick in 2010, Sam Bradford, has failed to live up to expectation so far into his NFL career. It is time for St Louis to start surrounding him with talent so that they can see whether he is the right man to be the face of their franchise. Guard Jonathan Cooper has the tools to be a perennial Pro-Bowler, he would immediately upgrade the Rams’ ground game and would help to keep Bradford upright.
#17 Pittsburgh Steelers – Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Prior to the 2012 college football season, Mingo was being suggested as a top 10 pick. His productivity dropped in 2012, recording only four sacks, but his athleticism shows his very high potential. Pittsburgh recently released long-time rush linebacker James Harrison and now need someone to play across from LaMarr Woodley.
#18 Dallas Cowboys – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The switch to a 4-3 defense means that a partner is required next to Jay Ratliff. Sylvester Williams is a dominant force from the interior of the defensive line. He excels at putting pressure on the quarterback but he is also a good run stopper. In his senior season at North Carolina, Williams had 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks from defensive tackle.
#19 New York Giants – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Osi Umenyiora is a free agent and will likely not return. New York like to have a three man rotation so another defensive end is required. German Bjoern Werner had 13.0 sacks last year, he also batted 8 passes and would form a formidable partnership opposite Jason Pierre-Paul.
#20 Chicago Bears – Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU
Middle linebacker is now a pressing need for the Bears with longterm starter Brian Urlacher looking likely to leave via free agency. LSU product Kevin Minter is a tough tackling linebacker, last year he made 130 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss with four sacks. He has great leadership skills and was a team captain for LSU as a junior in 2012.
#21 Cincinnati Bengals – D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Cincinnati needs to ensure that it continues to protect Andy Dalton so that he can keep getting the ball to superstar wideout AJ Green. Andre Smith is a free agent and may move on and so the Bengals may need to replace him. Fluker lacks the skillset to play left tackle however he is an excellent run blocker and could start immediately at right tackle.
#22 St Louis Rams (from Redskins) – Keenan Allen, WR, California
Sam Bradford had his protection improved with the earlier pick and here he gets himself a new weapon to throw too. Poor quarterback play limited Allen’s production at California but it has not stopped some comparing the junior to Larry Fitzgerald.
#23 Minnesota Vikings – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings traded Percy Harvin away for a 1st and 7th round pick and 2014 conditional pick. They now need to replace him in the rushing, passing and returning game and fortunately for them, Patterson is a player that excels in all three, scoring a touchdown rushing, receiving, punt returning and kick returning last year for Tennessee.
#24 Indianapolis Colts – Jonathan Jenkins, NT, Georgia
Indianapolis struggled against the run in 2012 and their nose tackle position needs upgrading. Aubrayo Franklin is a good stopgap but a long term option is required. Senior Jenkins made 50 tackles for Georgia in 2012. He offers little pass rush but is a huge presence that can effectively fill holes and stop the opposition’s interior run game.
#25 Minnesota Vikings (from Seahawks) – Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Antoine Winfield being released has created a need for the Vikings at cornerback. Desmond Trufant’s stats in 2012 aren’t overly impressive however the tape has the answer for that. Most teams in 2012 chose not to throw towards him, a respect that he hopes to earn in the NFL as well.
#26 Green Bay Packers – Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
With Greg Jennings having left to the Vikings, Aaron Rodgers needs a new weapon. Austin is a little undersized (5’8”) but he is very dangerous with the ball in his hands. The big play ability of Austin and Randall Cobb along with the accuracy of Aaron Rodgers would make Green Bay very difficult to stop on offense.
#27 Houston Texans – Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Houston require another weapon for Matt Schaub to play opposite Andre Johnson and eventually succeed him as the WR1. Hunter is a big (6’4”) wide receiver with good speed. Prior to his ACL injury in 2011 he was unstoppable and after a long recovery period he began to show glimpses of his potential when he returned to 100% towards the end of 2012 and at the Scouting Combine.
#28 Denver Broncos – Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Wow, what a mess the Elvis Dumervil situation turned into. A veteran is likely to be brought in but a young understudy is also needed. Alex Okafor had 12.5 sacks in 2012 and seven the previous year, he has a good motor and looked impressive at the Senior Bowl against Eric Fisher before his hip injury.
#29 New England Patriots – Robert Woods, WR, USC
Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd have left the Patriots and from their current wide receiver corps, only Danny Amendola has the talent to start for the Patriots in 2013. Robert Woods appeared to regress in his junior year but his fall in production was a combination of inconsistent quarterback play and niggling injuries. As a sophomore, Woods caught 111 passes for 1,296 yards. He also has the skill set to return kicks and punts effectively, this offers good special teams value and shows versatility.
#30 Atlanta Falcons – Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Atlanta recently released John Abraham, their sack leader in 2012 with 10. The next highest contributor was Kroy Biermann with four showing that a pass rushing specialist is required. Prior to the 2012 college season, Sam Montgomery was being touted as a top 5 draft pick. A solid but not spectacular junior campaign and rumours of a poor work ethic may put some teams off Montgomery, however he is too talented to slip too far down the draft.
#31 San Francisco 49ers – Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
San Francisco has the luxury of an outstanding roster and a lot of early round picks. They are in the perfect position to take the best player on their draft board. Johnthan Bank’s slow 40 yard dash time has some concerned that he could be abused by speed wide receivers in the NFL. Banks defended 41 passes and intercepted 15 during his time at Mississippi State, this production in the SEC suggests that his 40 result was nothing more than an anomaly.
#32 Baltimore Ravens – Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
Ray Lewis retiring and Dannell Ellerbe leaving via free agency has created a need for Baltimore at inside linebacker. Alec Ogletree is a fantastic athlete in 2012 as a junior he made 111 tackles, 11.5 of which were for a loss. His speed also allows him to be effective in coverage which is very beneficial in allowing him to match up well against a new era tight end like Aaron Hernandez.
#34 San Francisco 49ers (from Kansas City) – Johnathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State
#35 Philadelphia Eagles – David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
#36 Detroit Lions – Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
#37 Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) – Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
#38 Arizona Cardinals – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
#39 Cleveland Browns – Used in 2012 Supplemental Draft (Josh Gordon, WR)
#39 New York Jets –E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
#40 Tennessee Titans – Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
#42 Miami Dolphins – Cornelius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State
#43 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
#44 Carolina Panthers – Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
#45 New Orleans Saints – Selection Forfeited (Bounty Punishment)
#45 San Diego Chargers – Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
#46 St Louis Rams – Jonathan Cyprien, FS, Florida International
#47 Dallas Cowboys – Matt Elam, SS, Florida
#48 Pittsburgh Steelers – Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
#49 New York Giants – Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame
#51 Washington Redskins – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
#52 Minnesota Vikings – Kwann Short, DT, Purdue
#53 Cincinnati Bengals – Eric Reid, FS, LSU
#54 Miami Dolphins (from Indianapolis) – Justin Pugh, OT/G, Syracuse
#55 Green Bay Packers – Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB, Auburn
#56 Seattle Seahawks – Bennie Logan, DT, LSU
#57 Houston Texans – Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas – Pine Bluff
#58 Denver Broncos – Bacarri Rambo, FS, Georgia
#59 New England Patriots – Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
#60 Atlanta Falcons – Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut
#61 San Francisco 49ers – Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
#62 Baltimore Ravens – Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
#64 Jacksonville Jaguars – Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
#65 Detroit Lions – Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State
#66 Oakland Raiders – Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
#67 Philadelphia Eagles – Jamie Collins, DE/OLB, Southern Miss
#68 Cleveland Browns – Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
#69 Arizona Cardinals – Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
#70 Tennessee Titans – Will Davis, CB, Utah State
#71 Buffalo Bills – Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida
#73 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State
#74 San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina) – Kyle Long, OT/G, Oregon
#75 New Orleans Saints – D.J. Swearinger, SS, South Carolina
#76 San Diego Chargers – Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
#77 Miami Dolphins – Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M
#78 St Louis Rams – Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
#80 Dallas Cowboys – Dallas Thomas, OT/G, Tennessee
#81 New York Giants – David Bakhtiari, OT/G, Colorado
#82 Miami Dolphins (from Chicago) – Marc Anthony, CB, California
#83 Minnesota Vikings – Jonathan Bostic, MLB, Florida
#84 Cincinnati Bengals – Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
#85 Washington Redskins – Tony Jefferson, FS, Oklahoma
#86 Indianapolis Colts – David Quessenberry, OG/C, San Jose State
#88 Green Bay Packers – Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
#89 Houston Texans – Sean Porter, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
#90 Denver Broncos – Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State
#91 New England Patriots – Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
#92 Atlanta Falcons – Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas State
#93 San Francisco 49ers – Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
#94 Baltimore Ravens – T.J. McDonald, FS, USC
#95 Houston Texans – Kiko Alonso, ILB, Oregon
#96 Kansas City Chiefs – Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
#97 Tennessee Titans – William Gholston, DE, Michigan State