We had a 2013 NFL mock draft back in May. Then we had one in late August. Around the middle of the college football season, in October, we did another mock. Then we did a 4th mock for the 2013 draft during Thanksgiving week. Since then, a lot of players have declared for the draft or decided to stay in school. With the NFL regular season over, here’s the bulk of the draft order, with the playoff teams yet to be determined.
1. Kansas City Chiefs 2-14 – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah. Last in scoring offense, 2nd-to-last in passing offense. There’s no QB to draft this high – unless, like many other college football fans, you fell in love with Tajh Boyd’s performance against LSU – so the smart move (assuming they don’t trade down) is fortifying the 26th-rated run D. Not familiar with Star’s work? Watch him manhandle the USC o-line and ring up six solo tackles against BYU.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-14 – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia. Another team with QB uncertainty, but also massive defensive issues (30th in ypg, 30th in rush defense, 22nd vs. the pass, last in the NFL in sacks with 20). Jones, a poor man’s Von Miller, would be ideal in a 3-4 defense, which might be the only way he falls in the draft.
3. Oakland Raiders 4-12 – Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M. I didn’t think he’d come out early, so he only appeared in the Thanksgiving mock, when it became apparent his season was dominant enough to maybe leave College Station early. He had three sacks and three tackles for loss in the season opener vs. Florida and was a beast all year, picking up All-American honors. He’s probably the most buzzy player in the draft right now. Oakland had 25 sacks last season, 2nd-to-last in the NFL.
4. Philadelphia Eagles 4-12 – Luke Joeckel, OL, Texas A&M. Nick Foles and Shady McCoy will be thrilled with a guy who will probably be considered the best offensive lineman in the draft.
5. Detroit Lions 4-12 – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. Feels like offensive line or secondary, and with no safety of value here, I lean cornerback. Milliner had a better season than UA’s Dre Kirkpatrick, who went in the 1st round in 2012. I would listen to an argument for an OL or DE in the event Cliff Avril leaves.
6. Cleveland Browns 5-11 – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. The Browns, who will soon have a new GM and coach, need a QB, but picking one here seems like a reach. Surely, they’ll entertain trade offers for the pick. Why Geno? Because whoever takes this job will need a QB, and it ain’t gonna be Mike Vick. Going to be an interesting few months for Cleveland.
7. Arizona Cardinals 5-11 – Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU. Speedy, hard-hitting (ask Sammy Watkins), and as I’ve written, in the mold of the great Lawrence Taylor. The Cardinals offense was putrid (31st in scoring, 32nd in yards per game), but if Andy Reid gets the job, you know Kevin Kolb will be his guy.
8. Buffalo Bills 6-10 – Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame. The defense made improvements last offseason, but it was a colossal failure on the field, finishing 31st against the run despite 1st round anchors in the middle (Dareus, Kyle Williams). Gosh I hope the Bills don’t take him. Because …
9. New York Jets 6-10 – Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan. Can’t imagine the pick being anything other than LB or offensive line, unless something nutty happens in free agency. The case for Te’o: Bart Scott is done, and if you pair Harris and Te’o in the middle, you begin to get back to your 2009/2010 defenses. The case for OL: The running game sucked, and Sanchez was frequently under duress. Slausen is likely gone, and Austin Howard had his struggles. Sleeper pick? Tajh Boyd, the Clemson QB who against LSU, kind of, sort of, reminded folks of Russell Wilson, the sudden Seattle star.
10. Tennessee Titans 6-10 – Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State. The Titans were 24th against the rush. 26th against the pass. The defense is … bad. There’s talent – Morgan, Ayers, Brown, Wimberly to name a few – but the middle is soft. If T’eo falls this far, the Titans will grab him. Hankins is a solid run-stopper, not a stat-sheet stuffer.
11. San Diego Chargers 7-9 – Chance Warmack, G, Alabama. Pick an offensive lineman, any offensive lineman. Rivers was sacked 49 times, 2nd highest in the NFL. The new coach/GM combo could clean house and start over, but the guess today is they go OL.
12. Miami Dolphins 7-9 – Keenan Allen, WR, California. Anemic offense (18 ppg) hurt an impressive defense. Receiver makes sense, but when free agency hits, there are plenty of viable options (Jennings, Wallace, Bowe, to name a few). Philbin was with the Packers when they got Jordy Nelson in the 2nd round. Maybe he subscribes to the “rarely take a WR/RB in the 1st unless he’s can’t miss.” Love Allen, but not sure he’s “can’t miss.”
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-9 – Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State. The worst secondary in football needs help. Trading Talib created a hole. This isn’t a strong CB class, so options could be thin later. It is a deep pass-rushing draft (Tampa had just 27 sacks last season, tied for 3rd worst in the NFL), so that need to be filled later.
14. Carolina Panthers 7-9 – Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama. Second year in a row the Panthers go into the offseason with people thinking, “well, maybe next they’re playoff material.” I’ll be interested to see how they improve the defense.
15. New Orleans Saints 7-9 – Matt Elam, S, Florida. According to history, this is the worst defense the NFL has ever seen. Remember, the Saints took defensive players in the 1st round in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Scary. Elam, a hard-hitter, adds toughness to a putrid secondary. LSU fans know his work well.
16. St. Louis Rams 7-8-1 – Jonathan Cooper, G, UNC. Jeff Fisher loves to go defense in the first round (in Tennessee and last year, too), but the Rams have a rapidly-improving D and their offense remains a disaster. So pick a lineman, and then grab a skill position player with the 1st round pick from the Redskins.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8 – Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon. Offensive line? Heir apparent to Roethlisberger? This time around, we’ll opt to improve an aging defense (five of 11 starters are 31 or older). At 6-6, 243, I could see Jordan replacing Harrison or Keisel in a year or two.
18. Dallas Cowboys 8-8 – Matt Barkley, QB, USC. Jerry Jones is calling the shots. Would you really be shocked if, given Romo’s last game, Jones took Barkley? As we guessed in November, he’s going to win over everyone during interviews and convince people that he wasn’t the problem for USC’s awful season. Barkley feels like a Cowboys’ QB.
19. New York Giants 9-7 – Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers. The defense was porous, and it cost them a playoff spot. Top priorities are linebacker and secondary. I know you can’t read too much into bowl games, but Greene was terrific against Virginia Tech, and had nice games against Cincinnati and Louisville, too. His stock is rising. Here he is forcing three fumbles against Syracuse, to go with 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss.
20. Chicago Bears 10-6 – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. Want to win the Super Bowl? Add this stud tight end, and dare defenses to single cover Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffrey. Eifert will catch anything. Worth nothing: Four of the front seven defenders are 32 or older. Also, given Cutler’s injury history, and ornery personality, perhaps a QB (Geno Smith?) will be considered. Yes, I’m aware the offensive line remains leaky.
21. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. I know Tavon Austin of West Virginia is rapidly becoming the most popular receiver in the draft, but I can’t wait until Patterson dominates the combine. Kid is a freak. Sort of reminds me of AJ Green.
22. Cincinnati – Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia. If the Bengals make a run this postseason (I don’t think they will), then add another playmaker like Austin and a cornerback and maybe another running back, they probably open 2013 as a top three team in the AFC.
23. Minnesota – Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor. The receiver run continues. That the Vikings made the playoffs with no receiver to speak of since Percy Harvin went down, is very impressive. Williams is a burner who had 97 catches and over 1800 yards after RG3 left.
24. Indianapolis – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. Freeney could leave as a free agent, but even if he stays, this defense needs help. A lot of people like Werner in the top 10. Sorry, just not as in love with him as others.
25. Baltimore – Alex Okafor, DE, Texas. When we spoke with Herman Edwards last month, he made an interesting note that the Ravens were starting to look like the fading Jets. Quick fix? Well, besides getting the ball to Ray Rice, they really need to bolster the defense. Okafor was part of a dreadful Texas defense, but had 4.5 sacks against Oregon State in a bowl game and five tackles for loss.
26. Green Bay – Jake Matthews, OL, Texas A&M. Aaron Rodgers was sacked a league-high 51 times. The other primary need is defense, anywhere.
27. Houston – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson. In the shadow of Sammy Watkins in 2011, but broke out this year, big-time.
28. Atlanta – Kevin Minter, LB, LSU. When Marshawn Lynch gashes them for 150 in a home playoff loss, you’ll be on board with this pick. Minter played one of the great halves of football I saw this year against Florida.
29. Seattle – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia. Feels like a luxury pick, no? Looked up and down the roster, spoke to Seattle fans, read Seahawks reports … there is no gaping hole that needs to be plugged. The way Ogletree flies around the field, he’d be a perfect fit there.
30. Denver – Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama. He just seems like the type of guy who can play anywhere and protect Peyton Manning.
31. New England – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. The next Vince Wilfork? Ha. There won’t be another Wilfork, but Richardson could slide in there as Big Vince gets up there in age (he’s 31). The need is in the secondary, but as you’ve read, and will continue to read, nobody has any clue what Bill Belichick will do in the first round. If I had to guess … trade.
32. San Francisco – Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson. Didn’t think I’d go there, did you? Well, this is under the assumption that Alex Smith leaves town, and Harbaugh will want a backup. This is akin to the Patriots drafting Ryan Mallet … who could be a trade piece this offseason.