NEPD Staff Writer: Dan Hope
Read the latest 2013 NFL Mock Draft – what position do you think the Patriots will target?
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (Jr.) (SCOUTING REPORT)
A lot has gone wrong for the Kansas City Chiefs this season, but the No. 1 reason why they are projected to be picking No. 1 overall is the poor quarterback play they have had all season. The Chiefs should be focused on selecting the best available quarterback in the 2013 NFL draft, and that quarterback is West Virginia’s Geno Smith.
There are many better prospect in the 2013 draft class than Smith, but the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and the Chiefs have to get better under center. With a strong arm, a great release and good accuracy and mobility, Smith is the best franchise quarterback option this draft class has to offer.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (Jr.) (SCOUTING REPORT)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have numerous needs on both sides of the ball, but they are in a position where they can select the best player available on the board and make their team better. That is certainly the case in this situation, where the draft’s best overall prospect, Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, can give them the playmaker they need at the linebacker position.
The Jaguars certainly need pass-rushing help, but having claimed defensive end Jason Babin from the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, they can benefit most by adding Jones. As an outside linebacker, Jones can do everything from shutting down the run to dropping back in coverage, but is also a terrific pass-rusher who can line up on the end in pass-rush situations.
3. Oakland Raiders: Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame (SCOUTING REPORT)
In the aftermath of Rolando McClain’s falling-out with the Raiders, he may still be a member of the team for now, but is unlikely to remain their middle linebacker going forward to 2013 and beyond.
Because of that, the Raiders shouldn’t pass upon the opportunity to select one of the elite prospects of the draft in Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o. Te’o has a complete physical skill set to excel as an NFL middle linebacker, while he is also a cerebral player who can become an immediate and much-needed leader of the Raiders’ defense.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (Jr.)
The Arizona Cardinals absolutely cannot pass up the opportunity to draft Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel if they have it. The Cardinals have a desperate need at the offensive tackle position, and Joeckel may be the only true franchise left tackle prospect in the 2013 draft class.
The Cardinals also need a quarterback badly, but Joeckel is much more worthy of a top-5 draft pick than any quarterback available. Given that both are desperate areas of need, it doesn’t make sense to pass up Joeckel here.
5. Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (Jr.)
The Philadelphia Eagles’ “dream team” quickly turned into a nightmare, and as a result, the Eagles have major needs on both sides of the ball. The defense, however, has been the Eagles’ undoing this season, and their biggest issues have been in the secondary, as big-name cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have horribly underperformed.
Alabama’s Dee Milliner is a slight reach as a top-5 draft pick, but he is the best cornerback in the 2013 draft class, and could bring some much-needed stability to the Eagles’ secondary. It is hard to believe the Eagles would make such a big investment in a cornerback considering the acquisitions of Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie just two offseasons ago, but it is time for them to move in a new direction at the position.
6. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Tennessee Titans have bigger needs than defensive tackle, but the value of Utah’s Star Lotulelei would be tough for them to pass up at the No. 6 overall pick. The Titans lack a single star on their defensive line, and could really benefit from the addition of a massive, explosive and powerfully disruptive interior lineman like Lotulelei, who is one of the elite prospects of the 2013 NFL draft class.
7. Carolina Panthers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State (Jr.)
The Carolina Panthers may miss out on the draft class’ best defensive tackle in this scenario, but that shouldn’t stop them from addressing this position of need. Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins, a massive nose tackle with explosive quickness, announced Monday he will enter the 2013 draft and can be the impact player the Panthers lack on their interior line.
8. Cleveland Browns: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (Jr.)
The Cleveland Browns’ defense has made major strides this season, but they lack a premier pass-rusher at defensive end.
The Browns could fix that by selecting the draft class’ most complete defensive end prospect and an explosive pass-rusher in Florida State’s Bjoern Werner. With great length and athletic ability, Werner is a difference-maker not only as a pass-rusher but also in run defense.
9. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M (Jr.) (SCOUTING REPORT)
The Detroit Lions are likely to lose star defensive end Cliff Avril as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and if that happens, they need to find another pass-rusher to replace him.
Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore is the best player available in this scenario, and he would be a perfect fit and potentially an upgrade to replace Avril. Moore is an athletic rusher with a knack for getting into the backfield and making plays, and would give the Lions another terrific playmaker on their defensive front.
10. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
This year’s Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks have shown how big a difference drafting the right quarterback can make for a team. That could very well be the rationale for the Buffalo Bills in the 2013 NFL draft.
Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t panned out to be the franchise quarterback the Bills expected him to be, and in order to make the next step to playoff contention, they need to find the answer under center. At the end of the top 10, USC’s Matt Barkley may be slipping on draft boards, but he is still very hard to pass up here as a quarterback with all the tools to be a franchise quarterback.
11. San Diego Chargers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan (Jr.)
The San Diego Chargers desperately need to upgrade at left tackle, so if Michigan’s Taylor Lewan manages to fall to them outside the top 10, he should be an easy choice and one they would be elated about.
Lewan isn’t an elite prospect, but he is a very well-rounded left tackle with very good footwork and pass blocking technique. He would be an immediate upgrade over Mike Harris.
12. Miami Dolphins: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (Jr.)
The Miami Dolphins found their franchise left tackle with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft with Jake Long, but Long’s rookie contract is coming to an end this offseason, and the Dolphins have not moved toward re-signing him yet. That could leave the Dolphins in need of drafting another offensive tackle with their 2013 first-round pick.
Having drafted Stanford’s Jonathan Martin in the second round of the 2012 draft, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews would be a great choice here. By drafting Matthews, who has the upside to play left tackle but is a collegiate right tackle at A&M, the Dolphins would have flexibility between the two young tackles as to which player would start on which side should Long leave.
13. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU (Jr.) (SCOUTING REPORT)
The New York Jets had hoped to draft West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin, a boom-or-bust pass-rusher with freakish athleticism, in the 2012 draft. The Jets could get a very similar prospect, and fill one of their biggest needs for a pass-rushing outside linebacker in the process, by selecting LSU’s Barkevious Mingo in this scenario.
Mingo, a defensive end at LSU, is best suited to play in a 3-4 defense and dropping back to outside linebacker at the next level, so the Jets’ scheme would be a perfect fit for him.
14. New Orleans Saints: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama (Jr.)
The New Orleans Saints need to add a playmaker at the linebacker position, and Alabama’s C.J. Mosley is a perfect fit. The best player available in this scenario, Mosley is an outstanding athlete who can do it all from run stopping to pass-rushing to pass coverage, and could be an immediate upgrade at outside linebacker.
The Saints need help at all three levels of their defense, so drafting the best available defensive player would be a great strategy, and that would have them drafting Mosley here.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded away cornerback Aqib Talib earlier this season, which leaves them in need of a new No. 1 cornerback to replace him. Add in the fact that the Buccaneers could release Eric Wright after a suspension that voids future guaranteed money in his contract, and it is likely the Buccaneers will draft a cornerback early in the 2013 draft.
Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, who has dominated SEC competition with his size, physicality and coverage ability, is one of the best all-around cornerbacks in the 2013 draft class. He would be a great choice for the Buccaneers at the No. 15 overall pick.
16. St. Louis Rams: Eric Reid, FS, LSU (Jr.)
The St. Louis Rams need to add a playmaker who can cover well at the safety position, which is exactly what they would be getting from LSU’s Eric Reid. Reid is a very athletic safety who is a ballhawk in deep pass coverage, but also a very solid run support safety.
Drafting a safety would fill one of the Rams’ top needs, and Reid is great value in the middle of the first round.