NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
The Patriots’ season is over and Senior Bowl practices are underway, meaning it’s time for another examination of some of the 2013 NFL Draft’s first-round possibilities, with due attention paid to recent stock fluctuations.
Last update: January 24th
1. Kansas City Chiefs – QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Based on draft history, it’s difficult to believe that Kansas City’s new management will eschew drafting a quarterback in favor of the “best player available” approach; the Chiefs are likely more inclined to try and sell their fans on the idea that a passer such as Smith is 2013’s top talent.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida St.*
Jeremy Mincey’s disappointing 2012 campaign suggests that his starting role may be up for grabs this offseason, especially considering he has already received the $9 million in guaranteed money contained in his contract; Werner is a well-rounded, safe pick at this point.
3. Oakland Raiders – DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M*
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen cannot be happy with Oakland’s pass-rushing production in 2012; sweeping changes appear incoming for Oakland’s defense, particularly in the front seven. Adding a versatile rusher should be a priority; Moore could potentially provide pressure.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Fisher’s Senior Bowl appearance could skyrocket him into the top five or ten picks; Philadelphia looks particularly appealing as a potential destination. Left tackle Jason Peters tore his Achilles twice, substitute Demetress Bell will almost certainly be released, and Chip Kelly’s offense favors quickness.
5. Detroit Lions – LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia*
Jones’ spinal stenosis may cause him to slip behind Werner and Moore in terms of draft positioning, but he remains the most consistent playmaker in the class; Detroit must consider replacing left end Cliff Avril, right end Kyle Vanden Bosch, and weakside linebacker DeAndre Levy.
6. Cleveland Browns – WR Keenan Allen, California*
Mike Holmgren and Cleveland’s previous regime may have already invested a second-round pick in wide receiver Josh Gordon, but new Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner will demand more talent at the position in order to improve an incompetent passing game.
7. Arizona Cardinals – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M*
The perfect situation for Arizona: a decision between left tackle Luke Joeckel and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, both of whom would be ideal fits in the Cardinals’ defense; Joeckel seems more likely to be favored by new head coach Brian Arians in a division packed with dangerous pass rushers.
8. Buffalo Bills – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama*
Mike Pettine has been charged with rebuilding what was ultimately an underperforming 2012 defense; if his defensive philosophy resembles his most recent work with the New York Jets, Pettine will require a physical press coverage cornerback to start opposite Stephon Gilmore.
9. New York Jets – DE Barkevious Mingo, Louisiana St.*
Last season, the Seattle Seahawks surprised many onlookers by drafting hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker Bruce Irvin; in an attempt to uncover pass-rushing talent this offseason, don’t be surprised if former Seahawks executive John Idzik, Jr. targets another variable player in Mingo.
10. Tennessee Titans – OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
It’s painful to pass on a player of Star Lotulelei’s caliber at this point in the draft, but Warmack is considered among the draft’s top prospects; adding a devastating inline blocker to the interior of their offensive line would do wonders for the Titans, who need to get younger, better guards.
11. San Diego Chargers – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Quarterback Philip Rivers’ offense in San Diego is currently in the process of crumbling around him, but there’s no way San Diego can pass on arguably an elite prospect in Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, especially with many of the top offensive tackles opting to return to school.
12. Miami Dolphins – WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee*
Patterson’s combination of size, strength, and athleticism has led to a meteoric rise up draft boards; he is in serious consideration to be among the draft’s top fifteen picks. Miami’s only consistent receiving option is impending free agent Brian Hartline; they could use a more dynamic target.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
It would be wise to be too hasty in picking sides regarding the recent outrage surrounding Manti Te’o’s character; even if Te’o was somehow complicit in the alleged scheme, it remains relatively safe to project a long, productive career as a professional inside linebacker.
14. Carolina Panthers – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri*
Three intriguing options are available for Carolina at this point: defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and nose tackles John Jenkins and Johnathan Hankins. The Panthers need to improve their interior run defense, but Richardson makes the most sense this high in the draft.
15. New Orleans Saints – DE Datone Jones, UCLA
Jones has been one of the Senior Bowl’s most impressive prospects; despite his relative lack of pass-rushing production (6.5 sacks in 2012), his versatility (left end, defensive tackle, right end) would allow him to move around in Steve Spagnuolo’s diverse defensive fronts.
16. St. Louis Rams – SS Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
A versatile free safety/strong safety option, Vaccaro would fit in well with Jeff Fisher’s physical, aggressive roster. The Rams must consider releasing costly safety Quintin Mikell, and their opposite starter, Craig Dahl, is probably better suited to a reserve role; Vaccaro could slide into either spot.