NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
My latest mock draft incorporates all the combine results and latest transactions around the league. Free agency is two weeks away and once it opens team needs will change dramatically. As it stands today, the draft is gaining a little more clarity as we now have an idea or who could be the first overall pick in the draft.
However, at this point in the draft process it’s still an entire educated guess as to who goes where. Here is my best shot.
Last Updated: March 4, 2013
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs completed a trade with the 49ers for QB Alex Smith, meaning they won’t be picking a Quarterback with the #1 pick. Luke Joeckel is the consensus best prospect in the draft and makes the Chiefs better all-around. There is still a question of what to do with Branden Albert, but all the signs are point towards Joeckel being the pick here. Other options for the pick are Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei or even Dee Milliner.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Jaguars need to address their pass rush and one of the ways to do it, is by adding the best Defensive Tackle in the draft. Floyd is too good of a player to pass up for one of the edge rushers at this point in the draft. Terrence Knighton is a FA leaving a big hole on the DL. Floyd projects to the 3-Tech and could develop into a disruptive force. He can pair with Tyson Alualu, giving the Jaguars two young interior tackles to build Gus Bradley’s defense around.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
With Alex Smith becoming a Chief, the Raiders are now the front runner to land Geno Smith. The Raiders have lacked a “QB of the future” for a long time now and Smith has plenty of tools to get scouts excited about. His combination of arm talent, athleticism and accuracy make him the top QB prospect in this year’s draft. A backfield of McFadden and Geno Smith is fun to think about.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Even with Jason Peters returning from Achilles injury the Eagles need to rebuild their offensive line. Chip Kelly’s offense will put a lot of stress on the OL and be geared toward leaner and more athletic linemen. Fisher is a stud who projects to the left side, but shouldn’t have trouble playing on the right for a season or two. With a great Senior Bowl and impressive combine Fisher has closed the gap on Luke Joeckel with a great post season.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12)
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions play the Packers and Bears high-powered passing attack a combined four times a year. If the Lions have any hope of getting back to the playoffs they need to sure up their secondary. Milliner is the best corner in the draft and has the size to match up with the big receivers in the division. Milliner answered all speed questions running a 4.38 forty at the combine and firmly established himself as the top corner in the draft.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Browns are switching to a 3-4 under new DC Ray Horton and are in a perfect spot to have their choice between a couple very talented 3-4 OLBs. Jordan would be a great fit in Horton’s defense. His versatility to drop into coverage as well as pass rush make him a coaches dream. Jordan is coming off a fantastic combine where he firmly established his stock as a top 10 player. By draft day he might not make it to the sixth pick, but I know the Cleveland brass is high on Jordan.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Fresh off his dominating Senior Bowl performance and one of the best combine efforts from an offensive lineman ever. Johnson has elevated his stock into the top ten. The Cardinals absolutely must find a left tackle in this draft and it would be a huge mistake to pass on such an athletic tackle, who has an unlimited upside. With a LT in the fold, they can turn their attention to a QB later in the draft.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Bills have a new Defensive Coordinator in Mike Pettine, who comes from the Rex Ryan school of defense. I think Buffalo needs to continue to amass pass rushing assets and become more disruptive as a defense. If Jarvis Jones’ back checks out alright, he could be a steal here. He can play SLB, 3-4 OLB, 4-3 DE or a hybrid role. Either way he is a disruptive presence who paired with Mario Williams would form a scary combination.
9. New York Jets (6-10)
Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The aging Jets linebacker and pass rush corps gets a major boost with the addition of Mingo, who I believe is the best pass rusher in the draft. He has the ability to play a hybrid rush position in Rex Ryan’s defense. Mingo showed off his athleticism at the combine running a 4.58 forty and one of the best 3-Cones in a long time. He also looked fluid in OLB drills, which will only improve his draft stock.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Titans are able to fill a huge need by landing the best OG in the draft. Warmack has the ability to play at a high level right away. The Titans are at their best when they are able to run the ball effectively. Getting a dominating run blocker like Warmack, should open up some better run lanes for CJ2K and limit backfield disruption, which was a problem last year in Tennessee.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Chargers desperately need to improve their offensive line play and with a run on talented OL, need to pull the trigger early. Cooper is an elite prospect with unreal movement skills for a 311 pound player. His ability to pull, get to the second level and play in space will make him highly sought. Coming off a near perfect combine, Cooper’s stock is rising quickly.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
It’s painfully clear the Dolphins need at least one play-maker at the WR position. QB Ryan Tannehill showed enough promise in his rookie season to feel optimistic about the future, but he’s going to need some help. Patterson is a big, physical athletic specimen. He has the ability to stretch the field vertically and impact the run and return games. Patterson has an upside as high as any player, but may take sometime to adjust to NFL route tree.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Buccaneers really struggled to rush the passer last season and their best rusher is a free agent. Thanks to a run on offensive linemen, some of the top defensive ends slide down the draft board. Werner is NFL ready and can be plugged into the Buccaneers 4-3 front. While his upside isn’t as high as other pass rushers, his floor is higher in my opinion.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers really need to address their poor run defense early on in this draft. There is so much talent at the defensive tackle position and the Panthers will get their choice. Richardson ability to get into the backfield and disrupt plays is needed in Carolina. He also offers pass rush upside and a great motor. If he keeps his head screwed on straight, he will be a stud in the NFL.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Making the change to a 3-4 front isn’t easy when most NFL teams are switching with you. Adding a player like Star Lotulelei will make that transition much easier. He can be a dominate NT with his ability to play with power and quickness. He can also play in the 5-Technique where he can take on blocks and let the LB make plays. If his heart condition checks out, I expect Star to go much higher on draft day.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Rams would love to get their hands on one of the five elite OL in this draft, but that appears unlikely as of now. Instead the Rams are able to get one of the best safeties in the draft and one of the most versatile defenders. Vaccaro’s ability to play FS, SS, and slot cornerback will make him a good fit in a young and rebuilding Rams defense. A secondary with Janoris Jenkins, Kenny Vaccaro and Cortland Finnegan is going to be good for years to come.