I’ve adopted a more Mike Mayock and Greg Cosell approach to mock drafts of late, not really starting to place players until much later. The number of changes people like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay do does not really help the process of guessing where players fit until all the rumors subside. In that respect, it’s more important to maintain a board of players perceived talent level and adjust it as information comes in.
I have done that this year and done more work for these prospects than perhaps in any past year, a fact that I am quite proud of, though by no means would I classify myself as a true talent evaluator due to lack of real coaches tape and knowledge of what NFL teams really covet. For those aspects, I treat myself as a GM, and the general media draft-niks as scouts reporting players to me. This gives me a sense of where to position players on a large board, as well as start to feel out who certain teams might prefer.
My hope is that this will result in a more meaningful mock. I have also speculated on trades. Some I feel strongly about, others are a result of players I believe teams covet.
I will also be doing a live twitter mock on Thursday. As each team comes to the clock, I will attempt to project their pick, or project a trade. I feel this may be a true mock in the sense that it will require a firm knowledge of the prospects as well as team needs and analysis of team abilities to maneuver. I am certain I will be wrong and look forwards to the surprises.
And without further ado, the NFLAm 2013 Mock
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
I am speculating that Brandon Albert and his agent are putting up much more of a private fuss than their public image about the potential move to LG or RT. He is a capable LT in the NFL if not elite. I believe Joeckel is an upgrade here, and that Albert will be shipped off to Miami. Joeckel is the pick over Fisher for me because Andy Reid is a passer first and Joeckel’s pass protection is phenomenal. Gruden told him that he could “block out the sun” if he wanted.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
While most people believe the Jaguars will select Eric Fisher here, I believe Gus Bradley is searching for a more physical, fast defense. He has said that Pete Carroll taught him that team speed is crucial, and has seen how drafting those types of players creates problems for opposing teams. Jordan is somewhat raw when it comes to rushing the quarterback, but may have the potential to match up with “Joker” type players such as Gronkowski. He is phenomenal in pass coverage for a linebacker.
3. Oakland Raiders – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The rumors that the only team not looking to move is Oakland say a lot about how much they like at least 3 players in this draft. My guess is they look at Floyd as a potential Warren Sapp or Geno Atkins. His pass rushing potential as a 3-technique is a perfect fit for Oakland.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
While most mocks project Eric Fisher here if not at number 2, I believe Chip Kelly will continue to put size on his defense. While Andy Reid sought faster players for the Wide-9, Kelly wants bulk up front to allow his linebackers to move. He has spent a large portion of free agency working towards that goal. Lotulelei projects as both a 5-technique pass rushing end or a 0-tech. He has a little Vince Wilfork in him in that he can collapse the pocket from that position, and his jump is excellent. The question might be better focused on if he can stand up two blockers in the run game like Wilfork. If he can’t, he can make a living on the end.
5. Detroit Lions – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
With several of their seasons derailed by Matt Stafford injuries, and a large void at LT in the wake of Jeff Backus’ retirement, the Lions have a large need at tackle. Fisher is very sound both run and pass, which will help them work more towards a balanced attack that does not have Stafford dropping back as much. As one draft-nik put it, “It’s the Matt Millen era all over if the Lions take anyone here besides LT or DB”
6. TRADE San Diego Chargers via Cleveland Browns – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Chargers move up here to select Johnson, the last top flight left tackle in the first round. They know that Rivers needs time to throw and their line has been atrocious. Gaither, while talented, cannot stay healthy and gets complacent with big money deals. The Chargers, I project, send their 1st round pick (11th overall) and either their 3rd this year (76) or 4th (110) and a 4th next year( 1 and 3 or 1,4, and 4). Cleveland has shown a willingness to drop in the draft more recently to accumulate picks while finding decent talent. They’re in a perfect position here with a limited number of perceived elite tackles in the draft and several teams behind them desperate for one.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Cardinals are likely upset to lose Johnson, and could make the move up one slot to take him if they really like him, but I believe that Bruce Arians is comfortable with the talent they have currently, and can find value later at tackle. I know, however, that Arians likes to stretch the field, and that with a 5’9″ T.Y. Hilton he attacked the NFL last season. Tavon Austin is wildly more talented than Hilton with similar styles. Cosell called him “cartoonish” when watching him, and two seconds of watching him vs Clemson is enough to verify that remark.
8. Buffalo Bills – Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The loss of Andy Levitre to the Titans leaves a hole on their offensive line. Cooper has a higher upside, and some positional versatility. He could potentially play center or guard, though I believe guard is likely his best spot. Buffalo is a team that I believe could be interested in moving back into the first for a quarterback, either Ryan Nassib or Matt Barkley.
9. New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Rex Ryan has been long searching for a pass rusher for this team. I’m torn between Mingo and Jarvis Jones here because Mingo flashes burst and speed on a terrifying scale, while Jones is a much more polished pass rusher at this moment. Both have a very high ceiling. I’ve also heard reports that Rex Ryan loves both. Mingo for his raw talent and Jones because of his Suggs-like skills.
10. Tennessee Titans – Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
While the Titans have already signed Andy Levitre to bolster their run game, former offensive lineman and Titans coach Mike Munchak has to love watching Warmack dominate in the run game. They have Chris Johnson and signed Shonn Greene and giving both of them this mauler in the middle should bring this unit back to its 2,000 yard glory.
11. TRADE Atlanta Falcons via Cleveland Browns – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Here’s the thing. I’m confident this is a trade that could be done. These two have partnered big deals in the past, and in this scenario it would likely be the 30th this year, a 1st round pick next year and a fourth, or potentially the 30th, 60th, 127th and maybe a 2nd next year. (30, 127, 1st or 30, 60,127, 2nd). Either way, the Falcons have the horses to make a move of this caliber again, and the desperation to win now. Here’s the problem. I’m not sure who they would move up for. They have a huge hole at corner after losing Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes, so Milliner is the most likely option after Kaepernick torched them. Likewise they lack an elite pass rusher, but I don’t see the name here for them to get. If they like Richardson (DT) or value Jones or Carradine as an end maybe they are the pick. There’s also a chance they’re looking at Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame as an heir to Tony Gonzalez and match-up nightmare. Many options.
12. Miami Dolphins – D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
Mike Mayock and Greg Cosell both have Hayden rated as their best corner in this draft. He’s likely the most ready to start now as a man cover corner. Most people agree his near-death experience was a fluke, so the injury concerns should be minimal and the Dolphins have a pressing need at corner since losing Sean Smith and trading Vontae Davis. If they don’t move to secure Brandon Albert, I expect this pick is D.J. Fluker out of Alabama.
13. New York Jets via Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
While the Jets would love to address some of their offensive woes at this point, passing up on Vaccaro would be crazy. Rex Ryan will see glimmers of Ed Reed with tackling ability and his versatility will also intrigue Ryan. Offense will have to wait as Rex builds a defense to stop New England.
14. Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers have long been rumored to like Richardson’s pass rushing ability from the interior and at worst case should be able to snag Sylvester Williams if Richardson goes before this point. In either case, they need to get a big body on the inside in this draft.
15. New Orleans Saints – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Rob Ryan, on the other hand, will need a pass rusher for this new 34 scheme. Jones doesn’t test well, but on film he’s a terror and probably the most complete pass rusher in this draft. This is a steal for the Saints at 15.
16. St. Louis Rams – Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
This is the first time I’ve moved Hunter ahead of Patterson, but the buzz seems to follow that line. While Patterson, with the ball in his hands, is a menace, Hunter is the more polished receiver right now, with incredible upside. He could potentially be a number 1 type guy which Bradford desperately needs.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Pittsburgh needs a big press corner who can compete for the ball in the air. With Dick LeBeau’s zone blitz scheme generating a lot of errant passes, Rhodes should thrive going up and attacking the ball. His man coverage skills are a little lacking, but that shouldn’t hurt his stock in Pittsburgh.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Cowboys need to transition to a 43 front and will need someone who can collapse the pocket from a 3-technique. Williams is a big man, but very light on his feet. He has shown flashes of ability to collapse the pocket and his burst through the hole to disrupt plays in the backfield will appeal to Monte Kiffin.
19. New York Giants – Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
I’m less high on Ansah than most due to his lack of serious production. The potential is there and if there is one team that can coach up a defensive end it’s the New York Giants. Ansah is considered a boom or bust type player, but the Giants have enough of a rotation to allow him to develop while utilizing his skills in ideal situations.
20. TRADE San Francisco via Chicago Bears – Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
The 49ers have made it known they’re looking to move up for a specific player. While I think they’d like Vaccaro, they may not be able to swing that. Cyprien is a good second option. They were torched in the playoffs by Ryan and Flacco and are definitely looking to improve their secondary. They’ll send the 31st pick and the 95th pick to make this jump, or if the Bears are a little greedy, the 76th pick.
21. Cincinnati Bengals -D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Bengals would really like Vaccaro or Cyprien to fall, but the 49ers are aggressive and snag him before they can get to him. Instead they’ll look to replace Andre Smith with Fluker, who has more versatility and potential than Andre Smith, and if they do resign him, can slide inside to make this physical group even stronger.
22. St. Louis Rams – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
While the Rams would like a big DT or S to fall to them, snagging a very versatile linebacker here is a solid consolation prize. Ogletree is a converted safety, so his reaction time to the point of attack is lacking, but he makes up for it in speed and burst. He also can cover most any tight end which is a position that is increasingly causing match up issues in the NFL.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Vikings signed Greg Jennings, but he is a stop-gap solution with the injury bug. Keenan Allen has drawn Reggie Wayne comparisons and could develop that type of chemistry with Christian Ponder. He runs good routes with solid hands, both benefits for a young quarterback.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
I think Chuck Pagano will see some Haloti Ngata in Williams with his position versatility and brute strength. He can rush from a 5-technique or play a 0, both of which are needs for the Colts.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
This is a reach for me personally, but I will defer to the buzz about Te’o not slipping out of the first. Rick Spielman like’s his Golden Domers and selects another one to fill a big hole at inside linebacker here.
26. Green Bay Packers – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
When the Bears moved down, Eifert was put back in play. Not wanting to face him twice a year, and knowing Jermichael Finely is on the ropes with them, they’ll snag Eifert to give Aaron Rodgers another vertical weapon.
27. Houston Texans – Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Texans need to help Andre Johnson, and an explosive Patterson will make sure defenses cannot key on Andre alone. Bubble screens and slants will pull coverage up, allowing Johnson to work deep.
28. Denver Broncos – Cornellius Carradine, Florida State
Carradine is the better of the two defensive ends from Florida State in my opinion. He drew the double teams and showed more consistent pressure than Werner, who is another very raw athlete. The Broncos would also like to continue to support Von Miller with a threat from the opposite side.
29. TRADE Buffalo Bills via New England Patriots – Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Buffalo sends New England either a 1st next year (which the Patriots have been known to find ways to get) or their second, a 3rd, and maybe a 6th this year (1 (2014) or 42 & 73 & 167). The Patriots are looking to accumulate picks in this draft, which makes them more likely for me to accept a little less this year than usual. With the flat talent level, I think two mid round picks might appeal to them. Buffalo meanwhile snags their quarterback and a top guard to protect him.
30. Cleveland Browns via Atlanta Falcons – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Falcons already sent this pick to the Browns who have managed to work their way down the draft again, securing several picks and getting a quarterback more suited Norv Turner’s style.
31. Chicago Bears – Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
If the Bears wish to continue to run their Tampa 2 style defense, they need to replace Urlacher’s drop back speed. Enter Brown who is one of the fastest linebackers in this draft and can even cover some receivers.
32. TRADE Philadelphia Eagles via Baltimore Ravens – E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
The Ravens continue their strategy of dropping out of the first round by swapping the 32nd pick for the 35th and the 100th pick. The Eagles snag a quarterback Chip Kelly has liked since high school and is a good fit for his offense. They get him at minimal cost for 5 years and can now shop Foles to a team that missed out on a quarterback.