2013 NFL Mock Draft (Full First Round)
With only one game left in the 2012 NFL season, most of us are looking forward to an offseason devoted to improving our teams' rosters. The biggest event of the year for struggling franchises is the NFL Draft, when teams get to pick from the world's greatest collegiate football players in an attempt to find a game changing presence on the field. Here is what I expect teams to do when April's draft comes around, as of now - we have a long process to go through before teams make their selections:
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
With a new general manager, a new head coach, and a poor quarterback draft class, what better way to start a new era than to secure a cornerstone for the core of your offense? The Chiefs' biggest need is obviously at the quarterback position, but none of the signal callers in this draft are worth this coveted draft pick. Joeckel will provide protection for whoever is behind center in KC this year and blow open holes for the electrifying Jamaal Charles.
* I understand that the Chiefs have some solid offensive linemen, but I've heard some people ranking Joeckel as the top overall player in this draft class. If the Chiefs view him that way, they can always shuffle around the offensive line to open a spot for a potential beast that could solidify the unit for years to come. With no clear cut, top flight players (like an Andrew Luck or RG3), it will be difficult to trade out of this spot for a good return.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Damontre Moore, OLB/DE, Texas A&M
With 14 sacks in 2012, the Jaguars got to the quarterback less than any other team in the league. This team has plenty of holes on the offensive side of the ball as well, but with new head coach Gus Bradley coming from a defensive background, he'll probably want to address the defensive side of the ball first. Moore is versatile, able to play either outside linebacker or put his hand in the dirt and play defensive end. He's a sensational athlete, and can provide the Jaguars' pass rush with an immediate, much needed boost.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Raiders defense was quite porous yet again this season, and it was not really one specific weakness that allowed opponents to gash them. Lotulelei is a player who can make an impact on any play, blowing up holes in the run game and not allowing the quarterback to step up in the pass game. As a Raider fan, I've watch a lot of tape on this guy, and he gets an exceptional push on almost every play - sometimes too much of a push. He could really help the Raiders' defense improve in several areas.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Bjeorn Werner, OLB/DE, FSU
I'll probably waver on who the Eagles pick here quite a bit, as their offense and defense were both ranked 15th in yards and 29th in points - meaning they were both very bad. Werner is a dynamic defensive end, as he can really help out the pass rush, but also improve the Eagles' run defense, which was their biggest weakness in 2012. I also like Kenny Vaccaro, a safety out of Texas, in this spot if he has an impressive combine.
* A lot of people are thinking about Dee Milliner here for the Eagles. I think that Nnamdi Asomugha can still be an elite cornerback and that he was sinfully misused by the Eagles the past two seasons. With a new coaching staff in Philadelphia, I hope to see them realize Asomugha's abilities and fill a bigger need.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions had only one cornerback start more than nine games in 2012, and it wasn't due to injuries. They were picking up cornerbacks that the Raiders released, and the Raiders had one of the league's worst secondaries. Two players were tied for the team-high in interceptions with two. Milliner is a potential shutdown corner, and could force quarterbacks into uncomfortable reads by taking away their top options, which could give other players more opportunities to create turnovers. The Lions were ranked 27th in takeaways this season.
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, OLB/DE, Georgia
Jones is Mel Kiper's top ranked player in this draft, but he's expected to slide because of injury concerns and expected mediocrity in an overhyped pre-draft process. Some people consider him a risk due to his spinal stenosis and subpar work ethic, but I think this is a good time for the Browns to take a chance on him. The Browns haven't been too aggressive in the draft lately, often taking "safe" picks or trading down. This year, with a new coaching staff, they should take a chance on an extremely talented young man whose combine numbers won't reflect his on-field potential.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Cardinals were one of the three final undefeated teams this season, but their season fell apart when opponents began abusing their offensive line. Their defense is solid, and they have some decent skill position players (led by the spectacular Larry Fitzgerald), so they should undoubtedly address their biggest weakness. I think they'll be praying that Warmack falls to them at this spot.
8. Buffalo Bills: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Bills have a monstrous defensive line with recent first-round pick Marcel Dareus and the understated Kyle Williams. While Mario Williams may not have quite lived up to his huge contract, he still managed 10.5 sacks in 2012. This front line can funnel running backs into areas to make easy plays for linebackers, but the Bills don't have enough talent at linebacker, resulting in their 31st ranked run defense. Ogletree can line up at any linebacker position, and could lead the Bills in tackles as a rookie.
This would have been a great spot for Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, but I'm not sure the Bills will take him here given the recent fake girlfriend scandal.
* The more the Te'o scandal develops, the more it seems like he's innocent in the whole situation. I'd imagine the Bills will at least look into Te'o. If they speak with him and feel that he was honestly tricked by a convincing hoaxer, they may take a shot at him here.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU
The Jets have a ton of holes on the offensive side of the ball, but I don't think that any offensive playmakers are worth taking here over a potentially game-changing defender like Mingo. The LSU product can provide an immediate boost in the pass rush as a 3-4 outside linebacker, while young studs Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples require a good deal of attention inside. If a receiver or running back lights up the combine, the Jets could draft for offense, but right now there's no one on that side of the ball who outweighs to the value of Mingo.
10. Tennessee Titans: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Titans can really address either side of the ball, but I think they'll try to improve their defense, which gave up the most points in the league in 2012. I think the way to go is with a player in the middle of the field, who can make an impact on any play. Vaccaro is a dynamic safety that can play both the run and pass at a high level, which could really help the Titans' defense improve overall next season.