NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
With just over two weeks remaining until the 2013 NFL Draft, it’s time to take another look at which direction teams may be looking to go in over the draft’s first three rounds. Read on to find out where this year’s top prospects are being projected.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M*
Although there has been some buzz surrounding Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher as a possibility here, it still appears that Luke Joeckel, a more polished prospect, is the front-runner for the first overall pick.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
The Jaguars claim to be happy to give Blaine Gabbert another chance at the starting job, but they have also been dedicating quite a bit of time to Geno Smith; new management may want a new quarterback.
3. Oakland Raiders – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida*
According to recent reports, it now appears likely that Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has supplanted Utah tackle Star Lotulelei; Oakland could use new personnel to replace Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
The Philadelphia Inquirer has identified Eric Fisher as the most likely option here, although additional possibilities include Dion Jordan, Star Lotulelei, Lane Johnson, and possibly Dee Milliner.
5. Detroit Lions – DE Ezekiel Ansah, Brigham Young
Dee Milliner would be a fantastic pick here, but after losing Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency, an additional pass rusher is needed; Ansah’s freakish combination of size and speed could give him the edge.
6. Cleveland Browns – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama*
Miami has quite a bit of ammunition to trade up into this slot for Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson; Cleveland could move down to the number twelve overall pick in order to stockpile extra picks.
7. Arizona Cardinals – OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Johnson could also go number six via trade, most likely to the Miami Dolphins as part of a move up; however, it may be more attractive for Miami to stay put and trade a second-round pick for Branden Albert.
8. Buffalo Bills – DE Barkevious Mingo, Louisiana St.*
Offensive help is needed, but Buffalo has shown interest in Barkevious Mingo as well, who could provide an upgrade over starter Mark Anderson, who was very underwhelming last season.
9. New York Jets – LB Dion Jordan, Oregon
A versatile player who could realistically project to either defensive end or outside linebacker, Jordan would fit well in Rex Ryan’s creative defensive fronts, particularly as an upgrade to New York’s pass rush.
10. Tennessee Titans – OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Star Lotulelei may be a slightly better value, but it’s possible that Mike Munchak, a former guard himself, could fall in love with either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper for the right side of the line.
11. San Diego Chargers – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Incoming head coach Mike McCoy is a master of putting together offenses, so it’s possible that he could pass on Cordarrelle Patterson for a nose tackle to finish San Diego’s defensive line rebuild.
12. Miami Dolphins – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri*
D.J. Fluker has received some recent hype with this pick, but Sheldon Richardson also represents a strong value; Randy Starks is on a one-year franchise tender and could be replaced at the end of the season.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida St.*
A trade involving this pick as part of a package for Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis remains a possibility, but if the Buccaneers retain their first-round choice, they could still target a cornerback such as Xavier Rhodes.
14. Carolina Panthers – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Carolina should be salivating at the possibility of pairing a versatile playmaker such as Tavon Austin with another superior athlete in Cam Newton; the pairing could make for some interesting spread option plays.
15. New Orleans Saints – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida St.*
Werner’s ability to transition to a 3-4 defense has been questioned, but he has some experience working out of a two-point stance dating back to his time at Florida State; he could remind the Saints of Paul Kruger.
16. St. Louis Rams – FS Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
It’s somewhat difficult to imagine St. Louis going with a defensive tackle such as Sheldon Richardson here, considering they invested heavily in Kendall Langford (free agency) and Michael Brockers (draft) last offseason.