By Kyle Casey, Staff Writer
There are less than two months until the 2013 NFL Draft. While teams have many parts of their draft boards solidified, many things can change between now and April 25.
With free agency and pro days yet to happen, several aspects of the draft can change before April. Until then, mock drafts can be a good guess of what could happen.
Here is my latest mock draft:
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs officially won’t be taking a quarterback with this pick after they agreed to acquire Alex Smith from the 49ers. Right now Joeckel appears to be the most ideal selection as they could let Branden Albert walk in free agency. If Kansas City opts to retain Albert, then a defensive player could be a possibility here.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
New coach Gus Bradley will certainly look to add impact defenders with speed in the draft this year, so why not start that process with Jordan? The 6’6 pass rusher is as versatile as any player in this draft, as he can use his speed to get to the quarterback and even cover slot receivers. Jordan is an ideal pick for Jacksonville and could turn out to be the best defensive player in this draft class if used properly.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Even though the Raiders would ideally want either Carson Palmer or Terrelle Pryor to be a true franchise quarterback, it doesn’t appear as if that’s the case. The Raiders are rumored to have Smith rated quite high on their boards and would jump at the opportunity to draft a true franchise signal caller. The Raiders have been irrelevant in the NFL for the past decade but Smith could help change that quite rapidly.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
After cutting Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins, the Eagles suddenly have a huge need at defensive tackle. Enter Richardson. The quick, agile lineman is one of the most dynamic defensive tackles in the draft, and is perhaps the most talented. A young combo of Richardson and Fletcher Cox would be a serious threat to opposing offenses.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Lions have needs all along the offensive line and could use multiple picks to fix that problem in April’s draft. To help bolster an old offensive line, the Lions take Fisher, a 6’8 true left tackle who is as good as Joeckel, if not better. Adding Fisher automatically upgrades the pass-happy Detroit offense.
6. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Switching to a 3-4 defense, one of the top priorities for the Browns in the draft is to get a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Mingo can be that impact edge rusher that the Browns have desperately needed for years.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The Cardinals are said to have serious interest in Barkley and they can’t risk waiting until later in the draft to get him. Barkley may not be ideal for Bruce Arians’ vertical passing attack, but he’s the most talented quarterback available and could help lead Arizona to a winning record next season.
8. Buffalo Bills: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
While the Bills desperately need a franchise quarterback, they may have to get one in the second round or by trading into the first round. Getting either Tyler Wilson or Ryan Nassib with this pick would be a reach, so they opt to take an impact defender in Floyd. Defensive tackle isn’t a major concern for Buffalo, but Floyd could help improve a defense that ranked second to last in run defense last season.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
Like the Bills, the Jets will likely target a quarterback in the draft but may opt to take an impact defensive player with their top pick. The Jets already have a talented defensive line, so adding Ansah as a threat on the outside would help improve a team that has several holes that need to be filled. Ansah’s forte is his run defense, which will help a Jets team that ranked 26th in stopping the run last season.
10. Tennessee Titans: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Titans ranked 27th in total defense in 2012, so several picks in this year’s draft need to be used on the defensive side of the ball. Milliner can make an impact right away as a starter for Tennessee’s defense. He could go higher than this pick, but if he’s available, the Titans wouldn’t think twice about drafting him.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
While this pick has become the most cliché prediction in almost every mock draft, it also makes a lot of sense. The Chargers need a franchise left tackle and Lane Johnson can be that guy. He’s nowhere near as polished as Joeckel or Fisher, but he can still be a starter in the NFL. His inexperience at the position will likely lead the Chargers to think he can become better than the other two tackles, but that’s a highly unlikely end result.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Adding multiple receivers is at the top of Miami’s wish list this offseason, but all signs point to the team addressing that need in free agency. If the can improve the receiver position prior to the draft, then the next priority will be at cornerback, making Rhodes a solid pick. He’s the most physical cornerback in the draft and could end up being a better NFL player than Milliner.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
After Da’Quan Bowers’ arrest, the Buccaneers suddenly have a cloud of uncertainty hovering over a position that wasn’t that good for the team in 2012. Adding Werner here would help improve a Tampa Bay pass rush that managed to record a dismal 27 sacks last year.
14. Carolina Panthers: Chance Warmack, OL, Alabama
Offensive guard isn’t perceived to be a major need for the Panthers, but in order to take the next step and be a playoff contender in 2013, the offensive line must be as good as possible. Warmack would help improve a line that needs to protect Newton as he develops into the talented passing quarterback that he can be.
15. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, SAF, Texas
The Saints need all the help they can get on defense. With no 3-4 edge rusher worthy of being taken with this pick, the Saints take a do-it-all safety in Vaccaro who is as good roaming the back end of the defense as he is covering in the slot and as a run defender. Right now Vaccaro figures to be the first safety taken in the draft, but Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien could challenge Vaccaro for that role.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
While Patterson isn’t even first round material in my opinion, many NFL teams will be intrigued by his speed and agility. The fact that he can be a playmaker will lead to a team thinking that he can become a top-tier receiver in the NFL. With two first-round picks, the Rams can afford to use one of them on a receiver who may not make a huge impact in 2013 on offense, but could be a star on special teams.