NEPD Contributor: Joseph Curtis
The Patriots get some help in the defensive backfield, while the Chiefs choose not to pull the trigger on a quarterback. Check out the rest of the picks in my new 2013 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs face the dilemma of whether to reach for a quarterback or draft the best player available. Without a stud signal caller, GM John Dorsey will go with Luke Joeckel. Joeckel is arguably the best tackle to come out in a long time and with Dorsey being a best player available guy, he can’t pass on him.
Joeckel displays outstanding athleticism, balance and technique against both the pass and run.
This would likely mean parting ways with upcoming free agent Branden Albert, but with an elite prospect depth charts have to go out the window. Albert also missed four games in 2012 and does not have the potential Joeckel has.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Jaguars have plenty of holes including quarterback, so they’ll have a similar decision as Kansas City. Like the Chiefs, they’ll look to the best player available and grab Bjoern Werner who also fills a big need as well.
Werner, originally from Germany, was one of the best defensive linemen in the country in 2012 recording 13 sacks in the process. He’s still raw but with only a handful of years on the gridiron, it’s impressive where he’s at as a player.
As a team who addressed their pass rush last offseason yet got worse (recording only 20 sacks in 2012), Werner’s pass rush abilities will be welcomed with open arms.
3. Oakland Raiders
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Salary cap issues devastated the Raiders last offseason and GM Reggie McKenzie will continue to rebuild this offseason. With as many holes as they have, they’ll take the most dynamic player who can contribute right away. At this point, it’s Jarvis Jones.
Jones led the nation in sacks in 2012 and finished second in 2011. He is arguably the best defensive player in this draft but medical issues have raised concerns. A condition known as spinal stenosis forced him to transfer from Southern Cal to Georgia when the USC medical staff would not clear him to play. If medical issues don’t get in the way, he could be the first defensive player off the board.
Jones has drawn comparisons to Denver linebacker Von Miller. Head Coach Dennis Allen is familiar with Miller having coached him in Denver, so the possibility of having Jones would delight Allen and the whole Raiders defense.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
New head coach Chip Kelly will have a hard time getting the right personnel for his system. Likely converting to a 3-4 will be difficult so they’ll take the best player who can play in that scheme. Star Lotulelei would be a fantastic defensive lineman in a 3-4.
Lotulelei is freak with power and rare athleticism for his size. He’s one of the best run defenders I’ve scouted which makes him an ideal fit in an odd front. He is scheme versatile should a 4-3 be employed even showcasing the capability of dropping into coverage at Utah.
Despite two years in the Pac-12, Lotulelei never faced Kelly and the Ducks, but I’m sure he’s heard the rave reviews throughout the conference. If his comparisons to Haloti Ngata hold true, this is a steal.
5. Detroit Lions
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Lions GM Martin Mayhew has stayed with philosophy of taking the best player available but sometimes an issue arises which needs addressing. Cornerback has long needed addressing and could no longer be ignored, so Mayhew gets clearly the best corner in the draft, Dee Milliner.
Milliner is far from a finished product but his instincts and athleticism will allow him to start from day one and learn on the fly. He’s great at supporting the run and will bring some physicality in the secondary that Detroit has lacked.
This pick isn’t that much of a reach and it addresses the biggest area of concern. He’ll immediately improve their defense and hopefully help get them back to the playoffs.
6. Cleveland Browns
Damontre Moore, OLB, Texas A&M
The Browns are likely to move to a 3-4 new defensive coordinator Ray Horton so they’ll spend quite a bit of their resources to help. They’ll grab the best player available who can be a dynamic contributor to that scheme and here that is Damontre Moore.
Moore began his career at Texas as a linebacker before switching to end. He had a breakout season in 2012, recording 12.5 sacks and 21 tackles-for-loss. He may not wow athletically, but he always seems to be getting into the backfield and making plays.
Cleveland will ask him to stand up once again and play outside linebacker where he will immediately contribute and be a fantastic complement to Jabaal Sheard.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
No area was more of an issue for the Cardinals than the offensive line. An offensive tackle would greatly help Bruce Arians installed his offense no matter who is under center. Eric Fisher would be the best pick lineman for Arizona here.
Fisher is just as good if not better against the pass as top prospect Luke Joeckel. He lacks the mean streak you’d like to see especially in the run game but has the potential to get stronger and become a top tackle.
Right away Fisher would solidify the blind side for Arizona. A quarterback will be intriguing here, but a solid blind side protector is a better selection than reaching for a QB.
8. Buffalo Bills
Barkevious Mingo, DE, Louisiana State
Despite signing Mario Williams and using their first pick to draft Stephon Gilmore, the Bills defense struggled for most of the season. Adding an end like Barkevious “Keke” Mingo across from Williams, would potentially give them one of the most feared pass rushes in the league.
Mingo is a long and extremely quick athlete who is a dangerous rusher off the edge. He is still raw yet still shows good block shedding abilities against the run. He’s a versatile player who can play standing or with his hand in the ground.
The Mark Anderson project was a failure in its first year and there’s no reason to think it’ll improve. Mingo may not be an immediate solution but with his amazing athleticism and potential, he could end up making him a steal.
9. New York Jets
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Mark Sanchez saga came to an all-time low this past season and with one year left on his contract, the Jets have to decide what to do. With the top quarterback in this draft, Geno Smith, falling to them this is the time to move on.
Smith has good size and athleticism to go with excellent arm strength. He shows the ability to put touch throws and fit them into tight windows. He’ll have quite a transition to make though playing out of the shotgun in West Virginia’s Air Raid offense.
Smith is very talented and may very well be gone by this time, so if he’s still here they should pull the trigger as quick as they can.
10. Tennessee Titans
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Improving the interior offensive line was one of the biggest areas of concern for the Titans last season, but they were only able to bring in Steve Hutchinson as an interim solution. While spending a top ten pick on a guard is rare, Chance Warmack is an elite player at the position.
Warmack has outstanding quickness, strength and balance which he displays with great pass and run skills. He’s by far the best interior lineman in this draft and arguably the best since Hutchinson to come out.
If Warmack is available, Head Coach Mike Munchak should be salivating to get him on the team. It’s not the flashiest pick to make here, but it’s one that makes a lot of sense.
11. San Diego Chargers
Ezekiel Ansah, OLB, Brigham Young
The Chargers offensive line needs addressing but it’d be a reach to get one, so they’ll grab the best available. The past few drafts an emphasis has been put on improving the defensive front seven and they’ll continue that trend by taking Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah here.
Ansah has elite athleticism to go with his 6’6”, 270-pound frame. Originally from Accra, Ghana and having only played gridiron football for a few years, his abilities on the field are astounding considering his experience and the sky is the limit. Despite his size, he is a versatile player having lined up at end, tackle and outside linebacker at BYU.
This is a bold move considering they have Shaun Phillips, Jarret Johnson and Melvin Ingram. Yet with the athleticism and upside Ansah shows, it’ll be hard to pass on him here.
12. Miami Dolphins
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Ryan Tannehill showed lots of promise his rookie year which is impressive considering he had Brian Hartline as his main receiver. Getting a playmaking receiver in free agency or the draft has to be at the top of their list. Cordarrelle Patterson has the ability to become a number one receiver in the NFL.
Patterson showcases the best combination of size and explosiveness of any receiver. Playing only one year of FBS football, he still has lots of room to grow and become an All-Pro caliber wideout.
The Dolphins look to have made the right move going with Tannehill last year and they now have to give him some guys to throw to. They start here with Patterson.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The Bucs invested two high picks on defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price and while Price is already gone, McCoy has begun to flourish. He needs someone who can take up blockers and allow him to take on offensive linemen. Jesse Williams can be that guy.
Williams started at nose tackle but played all over for Nick Saban at Alabama. He possesses the strength to take on double teams while possessing the quickness to get in the backfield and get to the quarterback. He’s a guy Saban had to find a way to get him on the field and that’s saying a lot with Bama’s talent.
The improving the pass defense has to be the biggest concern for Tampa this offseason and while this doesn’t appear to do that, Williams’ ability to collapse the pocket and allow McCoy to run inside will be a great help.
14. Carolina Panthers
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Carolina defense improved thanks to Luke Kuechly and the emergence of Greg Hardy but the job is still not done. The interior line has been an issue for years and they’ll have to address again it this year. Sheldon Richardson could be the guy who wreaks havoc from the inside.
Richardson is a very quick, explosive interior player who seems to constantly be in the backfield making plays. He showcases a great range and motor to even make plays downfield.
He’ll be a good disruptive player inside that gives them an outstanding young foundation in the trenches and will hopefully solve their defensive tackle issues.
15. New Orleans Saints
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Saints had by far the worst defense in football this season and improvement starts with getting someone to help in the passing game. After letting Tracy Porter go a year ago, the depth at corner is terrible. Bringing in Johnthan Banks should help remedy the issue.
Banks may not be an elite corner prospect, but he shows off good coverage skills and makes plays. He’s tall with room to add weight which should help him support against the run.
Banks will be a solid addition for the Saints, maybe not an elite player but will improve a defense that needs lots of help.
16. St. Louis Rams
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Jeff Fisher’s first season in St. Louis was very promising and after getting lots of talent in the 2012 Draft and should do that with two first-rounders in 2013. After spending several picks on the secondary last year, they should continue that trend by grabbing Kenny Vaccaro.
Vaccaro is a good all around player that can start at either free or strong safety. He has good coverage skills being able to move into the slot as the nickelback and is very good in run support.
Improving the safety position will move them towards the top defenses of the NFC West. Fisher liked Texas products while in Tennessee and will continue that in St. Louis by grabbing Vaccaro.