NFL Mock Draft 2013
With picks likely to change as the process moves closer to draft day, expect many updates after the Super Bowl and the Scouting Combine. The following NFL Mock Draft has been put together with team needs in mind and assumes that no trades are made, as it’s too early to yet to predict such deals.
Kansas City have struggled hugely at quarterback this year. Both Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn were given the opportunity to prove themselves as the franchise’s future but neither showed themselves to be anything more than a backup. The Chiefs have hired Andy Reid as their new head coach and rumours suggest that Reid has complete control over all personnel decisions so a new starting quarterback is extremely likely. The last four NFL Drafts have seen a quarterback selected with the first pick and despite suggestions that this year’s quarterback crop is not very strong, the Chiefs biggest need is a quarterback and with this selection they have their pick of the players. Geno Smith is an accurate pocket passer with the ability to buy time with his legs should he need to. He is a three-year starter with a career completion percentage of 67.4% and this year he threw for 4205 yards, 42 TDs and 6 interceptions with a completion percentage of 71.2%. Smith appeared to struggle down the stretch which has resulted in some questioning his worthiness of being the #1 pick but his top college production coupled with his fantastic attitude and other intangibles make him too good for Kansas City to pass on.
Jacksonville had the fewest sacks in the NFL this year (20). The acquisition of Jason Babin late in the season appeared to improve the situation and gives the Jaguars a good pass rush threat from defensive ends Jeremy Mincey and Babin. Jarvis Jones followed up his 13.5 sack sophomore season with a 12.5 sack junior season and is the best pure pass rusher in the draft. Adding Jones and allowing him to pass rush from outside linebacker similar to Von Miller in Denver would upgrade the pass rush significantly.
Defensive tackle is likely to be a major need for Oakland with current starters Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour candidates to be cut due to their age and high 2013 salaries. Coincidentally, Star Lotulelei is the best player available. The giant defensive tackle recorded 5 sacks this season for Utah despite seeing double teams on the most plays. He would be a fantastic piece to build around on defense as he will contribute in stopping the run, as shown with his 21.5 career tackles for loss, and getting after the quarterback, 7.0 career sacks.
The Andy Reid era in Philadelphia is over. Reid has left the team with several holes to fill but the biggest is at offensive tackle. Last year the Eagles gave up 48 Sacks, the 5th highest in the league. In 2012, Philadelphia used King Dunlap and Demetress Bell at left tackle but both struggled to prove themselves at the position and an upgrade is needed in the offseason. Some analysts consider Luke Joeckel the best player in the draft and he is almost unanimously seen as the best left tackle prospect in a strong class. Joeckel gave up no sacks this year despite playing a strong SEC schedule though this was aided by Johnny “Football” Manziel’s unbelievable athleticism.
Detroit have shown in the past few years that their draft strategy is to ignore need and go BPA and in this mock draft they are extremely fortunate that Damontre Moore is BPA and fits a need. Detroit only recorded 34 sacks this season and the futures of defensive ends Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch are uncertain. Moore has been superb during his college career at Texas A&M and in his three years the junior has recorded 192 tackles, 44.0 tackles for loss and 26.5 Sacks. He would be a great acquisition for Detroit and would see great one-on-one opportunities with Ndamukong Suh commanding double teams next to him.
Cleveland need to upgrade the exterior of their defensive line. Jabaal Sheard is solid at defensive end but the Browns lack a pass rush threat opposite him. Jordan is the best defensive end available. He moved to defensive end from wide receiver in his sophomore season and has been a revelation for Oregon’s defense. In three years at defensive end he has 121 tackles, 29 for a loss and 14.5 sacks, with the potential to become even more devastating.
Anyone who has watched Arizona this season knows exactly what their biggest need is. The Cardinals finished the season playing a 7th round rookie at left tackle and a 4th round rookie at right tackle. Both of these rookies showed inexperience during the season and if Arizona want to avoid another injury to Kevin Kolb a left tackle upgrade is needed, even with Levi Brown returning from injury. Taylor Lewan has had a great season in Michigan; he concluded it with a very solid performance against Jadeveon Clowney who is potentially the best player in college football. Lewan would be able to play immediately and would be considered a huge upgrade over Nate Potter and D’Anthony Batiste, the Cardinals’ left tackles last year.
Buffalo are known as the most forthcoming organisation when it comes to the draft. General Manager Buddy Nix often gives the media hints regarding the players they are targeting and this year he has made it clear that a quarterback upgrade is required. Two years ago, Matt Barkley was considered a challenger to Andrew Luck to be the #1 pick in 2012. After a solid junior season he decided to stay at USC for his senior season passing on becoming a probable top 5 pick. Barkley struggled at times in 2012 due to poor offensive line play and USC struggled to a 7-6 record despite having lots of talent on offense. Barkley is a four-year starter with a career completion percentage of 64.1%, he also has a school record 12,327 passing yards with 116 TDs and only 48 interceptions. He is arguably the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft and can start from day one if required.
Quarterback is the New York Jets main need but due to the structure of Mark Sanchez’s contract it is all but guaranteed that he will return next year, most likely as the starting quarterback. If he continues to struggle Greg McElroy will be given another opportunity to show the Jets that he is a capable starter. For any of these quarterbacks to have a fair chance more talent is needed at wide receiver. Justin Hunter was considered a huge talent in 2011 until he suffered a season ending ACL injury. Some feared his explosiveness may have been lost when he scored only 4 touchdowns in his first 8 games back, including a 3 TD outing against Georgia State, but he finished the season strong with 426 yards and 5 touchdowns in his final 4 games of the season. Hunter’s draft position will be affected greatly by how he performs at the Scouting Combine and based on the opinions of each franchise’s medical teams but his talent warrants selection here.
Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner had a torrid end to the 2012 season and the team may want to bring in another outside cornerback and moving Verner back to nickleback. Dee Milliner has been a key player for Alabama this year defending 20 passes and intercepting 2 passes. He has good height for a corner standing at 6 ft 1 in and is physical so can match up well against taller receivers, this was shown when he won matchups against tight end Tyler Eifert in the National Championship game.
Shaun Phillips is due to hit free agency this offseason. He will be also be 32 when the season begins so even if he is retained a successor is needed at outside linebacker. Bjoern Werner is by far the best player on the board with the junior recording 13.0 sacks this year for Florida State.
Miami are heading in the right direction under Ryan Tannehill but if he is to continue to progress then he needs playmakers on offense around him. Keenan Allen’s statistics this season, 61 receptions 737 yards and 6 TDs, won’t wow anyone. Allen is a big, talented receiver that can also return punts. He would immediately become Miami’s best wide receiver and could develop a rapport with Tannehill as fruitful as some of the best QB-WR combinations in recent years.
Tampa traded cornerback Aqib Talib to the Patriots during the season and struggled to find a true successor for the rest of the season. Johnthan Banks has been productive in all four years at Mississippi State and last year defended 11 passes and intercepted 4 passes. Banks is a threat when he gets the ball in his hands and has three picks sixes and one punt return for touchdown in his career. Banks has great height for a corner standing at 6 ft 2 in.
Johnathan Hankins is a big nose tackle who thrives at blocking up running lanes. He is unlikely to provide much of a pass rush threat that may not bring him much acclaim but Hankins projects to be a very solid interior defensive lineman in the NFL. Carolina had great difficulty stopping the run through its interior defensive line towards the end of the year and Hankins would be a big upgrade over Sione Fua.
New Orleans need a playmaker on its defense to help stop opposing defenses and get the ball back into Drew Brees’ hands. Manti Te’o has been instrumental in helping Notre Dame to get to the National Championship and though his play on Monday night was not up to his usual standards, he has produced enough good tape to chalk this down as a bad day out. He is a fantastic leader on defense and has a habit of making plays at important moments in games. Te’o would also help to upgrade the Saints’ 32nd ranked rush defense.
Sam Bradford has so far been a disappointment in St Louis since being selected number 1 overall in 2010. This is not entirely Bradford’s fault though as he has had no weapons to work with on offense and a poor offensive line protecting him so far in his career. Warmack is a huge talent who can plug straight into the line of whichever team drafts him. With another first round pick later the Rams can make this selection in the knowledge that they can still grab a top playmaker for Bradford later on in the round.
Pittsburgh’s top aim for the offseason should be finding a way of generating more pressure on the opposing quarterback. This year the Steelers were only able to generate 37 sacks, placing them 15th in NFL in sacks. LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison both missed games this season and with Harrison entering next season at 35 years old, an upgrade at outside linebacker is needed. Prior to the 2012 season Barkevious Mingo was being touted as a top 10 selection. He did not quite live up to the lofty expectations set for him, but he appears to have the perfect frame to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Sheldon Richardson has been a beast for Missouri this year. He finished the season with 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 4.0 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. He has an outstanding motor and always gives 100% on every play; this results in him contributing when rushing the passer and in run defense. Dallas struggled for consistency from their defensive ends this year; they allowed 17 rushing touchdowns this year, 5th most in the NFL.
New York need to improve their right tackle. Neither David Diehl nor Sean Locklear have shown themselves to be the unquestioned starter at right tackle and with both past 30 years old, the Giants should look to sure up the position long term through the draft. Eric Fisher is a player whose reputation has increased as the 2012 season has progressed. Standing at 6 ft 8 in, Fisher has the ideal size to play tackle and although he looks currently to be a right tackle prospect, he has the potential to develop his game to become a solid left tackle.
8 time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is a free agent this year. Unfortunately age has begun to take its toll on Urlacher and his performances have failed to impress, particularly when defending the run. Kevin Minter would be a great replacement for Urlacher. The junior from LSU had 130 tackles last year, 15 of these were for a loss with 4.0 sacks.
The Bengals desperately need a quality running back who will force defenses to respect their running game. With a dangerous running game Cincinnati would be able to more effectively use the play action pass which would help Andy Dalton to perform more consistently. Redshirt sophomore Giovani Bernard is the top running back available. In his two years at North Carolina he has rushed for 2,481 yards and 25 TDs. He is a good pass catcher, last year he finished 3rd on the team for receptions and joint 1st for receiving TDs. Bernard is also a dangerous punt returner and last year averaged 16.4 yards per return as well as taking two for touchdowns.
The Rams acquired this selection from Washington as part of the deal for the second overall pick in 2012. Sam Bradford will be entering his fourth NFL season in 2013. In his previous three years he has shown continuous development however his development has been held back by the lack of talent at receiver for the Rams. Williams has great size and speed, he has also been very productive during college and this year caught 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 TDs. A habit that Williams must be coached out of is his reliance on body catching the ball as it could lead to unnecessary drops.
Defensive tackle is clearly Minnesota’s greatest need. They need to find a starter to play immediately and a player that they can develop who will become capable of replacing 32 year old Kevin Williams when the team decides to move on from him. Johnathan Jenkins is a hugely talented nose tackle prospect who can contribute to a franchise immediately by improving their interior run defense. There are character concerns regarding Jenkins, this has been most recently evidenced when he was suspended from the Capital One Bowl for failing to achieve his grades.
This year the Colts were 4th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed with an average of 137.5 yards per game. Against Baltimore in the Wildcard round they allowed 172 yards and twice in the 4th quarter they allowed the opposition to convert rushing the ball on 3rd down helping to run down the clock. Big, run-stuffing nose tackle Jesse Williams only began playing football when he was 15, since then he has developed quickly to become a key member of Alabama’s ferocious defense. Williams will offer very little as a pass rusher and has recorded only 1.5 sacks in two years at Alabama but his skills in the run game is exactly what Indianapolis needs.
Ray Lewis announced his retirement last week; a move that while sad was to be expected from the 13-time Pro Bowler. Next season, Baltimore will need a young player to step up and try to fill the cleats of Lewis, a task that can be done well only by a few. Andrew Jackson was one of the most physical football players in college football last year. He attended the same high school as Ray Lewis and models his game on the future Hall of Famer. In 2012 “Angry” Andrew had 122 tackles, 16.5 for a loss, 2.0 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Jackson has also been commended by his coaches for his terrific leadership and great work ethic.
Seattle has a very good roster but has a huge weakness at wide receiver. Rookie Russell Wilson has been superb this year and if he is given effective weapons then the sky is the limit for this Seahawks team. Stedman Bailey was arguably the most dangerous wide receiver in college football for the past two years. In 2011 and 2012 he had 185 receptions, 2,906 yards and 37 touchdowns for West Virginia and every time he touched the football he was a threat to go the distance. A revolution is currently sweeping the NFL with teams looking for small, explosive playmakers to move around the football field and exploit favourable matchups with the defense; Bailey has the skill set desired for this type of receiver.
Green Bay’s number one priority this offseason is to find an effective way to stop Adrian Peterson without completely exposing themselves to the play-action pass. They can begin to address this by bringing in extra defensive line help. The best run stopping 3-4 defensive end on the board is Florida’s Sharrif Floyd. Floyd has been a hugely influential member of Florida’s defense this year; he made 11.0 tackles for loss in 2012 and finished his career with a very good performance against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
The Texans need to give Matt Schaub more targets to throw to, as he currently has to rely heavily on Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and Arian Foster. Adding extra downfield threats will force defenses to play more conservatively and will open up the already efficient run game even further. The Texans are quite high on rookie wide receiver DeVier Posey and may not wish to give up on him yet and the rise of the two tight end offense could see Houston wanting to implement it in their own offense. Tyler Eifert is the top receiver on the board; he has good height and speed though his blocking leaves a lot to be desired. A top performance at the Scouting Combine could push Eifert up into the top 20 picks.
New England need to improve their depth at cornerback, Aqib Talib is a free agent whilst Devin McCourty’s skills best suit him to playing free safety. Rookie Alfonso Dennard showed glimpses of being a good cover corner but he has very limited experience of covering top wide receivers and may suffer a sophomore slump. The best corner on the board is Xavier Rhodes. The junior has ideal height to compete with the larger receivers; he also has the speed to keep up with faster receivers. He burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman and, since his sophomore year, teams have mainly avoided throwing the ball in his direction. Despite this, in 2012 he defended 10 passes and intercepted 3 passes. Rhodes’ best college performance came in his sophomore year when he shut down receiver Michael Floyd, a first round selection last year.
John Abraham has had another fantastic year for the Falcons, finishing the season with 10 sacks but at 34 there is always a risk that his play will begin to drop off. This would be disastrous for Atlanta’s defensive line as they are already still looking for a top pass rushing defensive end to play opposite Abraham. The Falcons are fortunate that this draft is very deep for pass rushing defensive ends. The best left on the board is Sam Montgomery from LSU. The junior has posted 26.5 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks in his last two years with the Tigers. He added weight prior to his junior season and looks to be a great fit at 4-3 defensive end.
San Francisco’s roster is filled with talent, having said that an upgrade could be made at strong safety. Donte Whitner struggled in coverage this year and may not be back considering his $3.75m salary. Kenny Vaccaro is the best strong safety in the draft and is unfortunate to fall this far due to this year’s safety class being considered quite deep. Vaccaro is a great run and pass defender, he recorded 92 tackles this year, four tackles for a loss, 7 passes defended, two interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. He also is a very good special teams player.
Denver is a team with very few holes. This gives them the luxury of deciding whether they want to use the pick to go BPA, fill a need or trade it to a team desperate to move up. Ultimately I think Denver trades this pick to a team looking to select Matt Elam or Alex Okafor but I am not predicting trades. Right guard has been a problem area for Denver this season as starter Chris Kuper suffered through several injuries and his replacements have not performed well. Jonathan Cooper is a great at both pass protecting and run blocking. He is very athletic and has great experience, entering the NFL as a four-year starter at North Carolina.
#33 Jacksonville Jaguars – Bennie Logan, DT, LSU
#34 Kansas City Chiefs – Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
#35 Philadelphia Eagles – Eric Reid, FS, LSU
#36 Detroit Lions – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
#37 Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)– Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
#38 Cleveland Browns – Used in 2012 Supplemental Draft (Josh Gordon, WR)
#38 Arizona Cardinals – Matt Elam, SS, Florida
#39 New York Jets –Barrett Jones, OG/C, Alabama
#40 Tennessee Titans – Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
#41 Buffalo Bills – Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
#42 Miami Dolphins – Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
#43 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – David Amerson, CB/FS, North Carolina State
#44 Carolina Panthers – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
#45 San Diego Chargers – Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
#46 New Orleans Saints – Selection Forfeited (Bounty Punishment)
#46 St Louis Rams – Kwann Short, DT, Purdue
#47 Dallas Cowboys – Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
#48 Pittsburgh Steelers – Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
#49 New York Giants – Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn
#50 Chicago Bears – Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
#51* Washington Redskins – Tony Jefferson, FS, Oklahoma
#52* Minnesota Vikings – Robert Woods, WR, USC
#53* Cincinnati Bengals – Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers
#54* Miami Dolphins (from Indianapolis) – Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
#55* Baltimore Ravens –Sylvester Williams, DE/T, North Carolina
#56* Green Bay Packers – Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
#57* Seattle Seahawks – Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
#58* Houston Texans – Bacarri Rambo, FS, Georgia
#59* New England Patriots – Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
#60* Atlanta Falcons – Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
#61* San Francisco 49ers – Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
#62* Denver Broncos – TJ McDonald, SS, USC