NEPD Staff Writer: Dan Hope
Last Updated: Dec. 5, 2012
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (SCOUTING REPORT)
In the wake of a horrific situation that affected the Chiefs organization on Saturday, quarterback Brady Quinn led his team to a win with a very strong performance on Sunday. Quinn isn’t, however, the long-term answer at quarterback, and neither is Matt Cassel.
If the Chiefs hold the No. 1 overall pick, they have little choice but to draft the best quarterback on the board, even though there is no elite signal-caller prospect in this class. At this point, the top quarterback prospect is West Virginia’s Geno Smith, who combines prototypical size and athleticism for a pocket passer with a strong arm, quick release and the accuracy to make even the toughest of throws.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (Jr.)
The Jacksonville Jaguars already added one pass-rusher to their defense last week when they claimed veteran Jason Babin from the waiver wire. The Jaguars could still use more playmakers in their defensive front seven, however, so instead of looking for a defensive end, an outside linebacker with pass-rushing ability in Georgia’s Jarvis Jones now makes a lot of sense.
Jones can do it all as an outside linebacker, from making run tackles in space to dropping back in pass coverage. While Jones is not a down lineman, he has the pass-rushing ability to line up as an end/edge rusher situationally, in order to best utilize his speed and ability to get after the quarterback.
3. Oakland Raiders: Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame (SCOUTING REPORT)
Rolando McClain may still be an Oakland Raider for now, but after his falling out with the organization last week, it seems very unlikely that he will be a member of the organization much longer. Even if they don’t formally move on from him, they could certainly use an upgrade at middle linebacker anyways, as he has failed to live up to expectations since he was selected No. 8 overall in the 2010 NFL draft.
Character has been McClain’s biggest issue, but the Raiders could replace him with a natural leader with no character issues in Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. Character is one of many strong qualities Te’o has, in addition to being a tremendous run-stopping middle linebacker with prototypical size and athleticism, while also being very solid in pass coverage.
Te’o may very well be the best overall prospect in the draft, and is a safe selection who can lead their defense for many years to come.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (Jr.)
The Philadelphia Eagles’ biggest problem in their eight-game losing streak has been the play of their defensive back seven, but the value at that position is not on the board in a top-five pick. The Eagles, nonetheless, need to rebuild all over their roster, and a great place to start in the 2013 draft would be selecting a franchise left tackle prospect in Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel.
The Eagles have sorely missed Jason Peters’ presence at left tackle this season, and coming off of multiple injuries to the same Achilles tendon, his future is uncertain. Even if Peters returns and plays well next year, Joeckel can be an immediate upgrade at right tackle and the heir apparent on the blind side.
5. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Carolina Panthers have a major need to improve their power run defense by upgrading at defensive tackle. They can get that upgrade by drafting a true difference-maker in Utah’s Star Lotulelei.
Lotulelei is a massive, powerful lineman with the size of a pure run-stopping nose tackle, but with the quickness and athleticism that makes him a three-down force and a great fit for any scheme. He is a true difference-maker who fills gaps consistently and is an explosive interior pass-rusher.
6. Arizona Cardinals: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan (Jr.)
The Arizona Cardinals are desperately in need of a new quarterback, but before they can fix the rest of their offense, they must rebuild what is currently the NFL’s worst offensive line. The Cardinals should be focused on selecting an offensive lineman with their first-round pick, and the best choice in this scenario would be Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan.
The Cardinals’ current starting offensive tackle duo of D’Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie have been beaten consistently this season, but the addition of Lewan with the return of a healthy Levi Brown next season would give the Cardinals more stability. A great technician blocker with very good feet, he can be a franchise player for the offensive line, something the Cardinals certainly do not currently have.
7. Cleveland Browns: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (Jr.)
The Cleveland Browns lack a premier pass-rusher at the defensive end position, and there is value on the board at that position. The Browns could immediately fill that need by drafting the best pure pass-rushing defensive end in the class, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner.
Werner is a long, explosive pass-rusher, and is also very good at getting out in space to play the run. He is a true three-down lineman, and is a great fit to be a leading playmaker on the Browns’ four-man defensive front.
8. Tennessee Titans: Eric Reid, FS, LSU (Jr.)
Opposing quarterbacks have a combined 70.4 completion percentage, the highest of any pass defense in the NFL, against the Tennessee Titans. One big reason for that is a lack of playmakers at the safety position, which leaves too many open targets on the field.
The Titans need to add another playmaker to their secondary, and LSU’s Eric Reid is the best defensive back in the 2013 draft class. He is a rangy athlete and also a big hitter, and he can be a much-needed upgrade and difference-maker at safety.
9. San Diego Chargers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (Jr.)
The San Diego Chargers could seriously use upgrades at either offensive tackle position. Jake Matthews is a terrific right tackle at Texas A&M who could be an immediate starter at that spot for the Chargers, but also has the upside to make the jump to left tackle at the next level.
It is rare for a collegiate right tackle to be a top-10 draft pick, and Matthews may be a slight reach this high in the first round. He really isn’t too far off, however, from his teammate Luke Joeckel; like Joeckel, Matthews has great length, feet and leverage for an offensive tackle.
10. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M (Jr.)
Cliff Avril, the Detroit Lions’ best defensive end, is likely to leave as an unrestricted free agent after being franchise tagged in 2012. If so, the Detroit Lions need to find another starter at the position to replace him, and the best available pass-rusher on the board is Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore.
Moore has had an outstanding junior season, and has a true knack for making plays and getting into the backfield. He is a difference-maker who is great value at the end of the top 10, and would be an immediate replacement for Avril to give the Lions a premier pass-rusher.
11. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The best pick for the Buffalo Bills here would be Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, who would add a big-time playmaker at their biggest position of need. For the Bills, however, it will be awfully difficult to pass up a potential franchise quarterback in USC’s Matt Barkley.
NFL Draft Countdown’s Scott Wright tweeted on Thursday that he has heard “rumblings” that the Bills will look to draft a quarterback early in 2013, and that certainly makes sense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is inconsistent, and not a franchise quarterback. Barkley’s stock has slipped to the point where he may not be a top-10 draft pick, but he is a very gifted pro-style passer with the tools to be a very good NFL starting quarterback.
12. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU (Jr.)
The New York Jets are probably going to need a new quarterback before they can come close to being a contender again, but there simply is not a quarterback worthy of being selected at this point. Rather than reaching on Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, the Jets should address another major need, which is for a pass-rushing outside linebacker.
LSU’s Barkevious Mingo is a tremendous athlete and explosive pass-rusher who is a great fit to drop from defensive end and play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He needs to get stronger and improve as a run defender, but he has huge upside and could make an immediate impact situationally on passing downs.
13. Miami Dolphins: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (Jr.)
The Miami Dolphins need to find another starting cornerback to line up across from Sean Smith. If they have the opportunity to draft the best cornerback in the 2013 draft class, that being Alabama’s Dee Milliner, he will be tough to pass up, especially outside of the top 10 draft picks.
Milliner is a big, athletic cornerback who has the skills to be a big upgrade over what Davis was, and fortify the back end of the Dolphins’ defense as a shutdown cover corner and solid run defender as well. The Dolphins may be looking for offensive reinforcements at wide receiver or at offensive tackle, but they should go with the value of Milliner here.
14. St. Louis Rams: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama (Jr.)
Few draft prospects have risen faster this season than Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, and as he has emerged as the star of the Crimson Tide’s loaded defense this year, he now looks like he could be a steal as a mid-first-round selection. For the St. Louis Rams, who are very thin at linebacker outside of James Laurinaitis, they should not pass up Mosley’s value here.
Mosley is a versatile linebacker who can play any linebacker position in a 4-3 scheme, but would be a very good fit as a weakside linebacker in the base defense and to play next to James Laurinaitis in the nickel package. Mosley is a complete all-around linebacker who is a difference-maker in both run defense and pass coverage, and would be an asset to the Rams’ defense at a position of need.
15. Dallas Cowboys: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
The Dallas Cowboys seriously need to get better on the interior offensive line. Alabama’s Barrett Jones, a very good offensive lineman who has the polish and skill to start right away at any interior line spot, would be a perfect fit.
After being an All-American left tackle at Alabama as a junior, Jones should earn the same recognition as the nation’s best center in his senior season. Jones could be an immediate and much-needed upgrade at center, but could also be a quick fix at just about any spot on the offensive line.
16. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame (Jr.)
The St. Louis Rams could certainly still use another weapon in their passing offense, and upgrading with a tight end who can be both a big playmaker as well as an asset as a run blocker. Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert can be both of those things, a tight end who fits the modern prototype and may very well be the best skill-position prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Eifert is a big, athletic tight end who has the potential to be a Rob Gronkowski-like weapon in an NFL passing offense, while he is also a solid blocker. The Rams’ offense is still one that lacks a go-to playmaker, but they have to draft one in Eifert.