2013 NFL Mock Draft: Defensive Players Who Will Make Immediate Impact
Baseball playoffs, football and chilly weather are all things that come to mind in October, not the NFL draft.
The draft doesn't happen until April, but it's not too early to evaluate which college players are playing well and which professional teams could use them next season.
The 2013 draft class features a number of talented players on both sides of the ball who will make their new team very happy next season.
Let's mock the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. Defensive players who will make an immediate impact are in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Even if Matt Cassel is healthy, he's turning the ball over left and right. The Chiefs have a ton of talent at the skill positions, they just need someone to get it there.
Smith has thrown for an absurd 24 touchdowns this season without an interception. Look for him to make an immediate impact at the next level.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
This is tough. I expect general manager Gene Smith to be fired this offseason. Even so, Blaine Gabbert must be protected. He's been sacked 12 times so far this season, making his maturation very difficult.
3. Cleveland Browns—Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, Louisiana State
Jabaal Sheard is solid, but the Browns could use another edge rusher. Mingo only has one sack this season and he's a bit of a project, but his explosive first step makes him a handful for offensive tackles to handle.
4. Oakland Raiders—Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California
If Barkley is here, Oakland will take him. Carson Palmer is having a fine year, but, at 33 years old, it's time to seek his replacement.
5. Tennessee Titans—Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
Jones will start immediately for the Titans, wreaking havoc off the edge with his ferocious array of techniques.
The Georgia product reminds me a lot of Terrell Suggs. He's equally productive standing up or putting his hand down.
Jones already has 36 tackles (9.5 for a loss), 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles this season. He's an absolute menace to opposing defenses, something the Titans' unit sorely lacks.
He will get on the field and play well from day one.
6. Carolina Panthers—Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Panthers have plenty of pass-rushers. They don't have a run-stopper up the middle.
Hankins will fix that problem with his 6'3'', 317-pound frame and explosive first step into the gap. He's strong enough to command double teams, but quick enough to penetrate the interior line.
7. New Orleans Saints—Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The Saints must put more pressure on the quarterback. Will Smith is a consistent player and Cameron Jordan is a solid run-stuffer up front, but this team needs a dynamic presence.
Montgomery has two sacks for the Tigers this season, but his numbers don't testify to his talent.
He's a 6'5'', 260-pound athlete, not some slow, clumsy lineman. He has excellent speed off the edge with enough strength to complement that as well.
New Orleans has to deal with Matt Ryan twice a year and beating Ryan is tough, unless you get him on his back.
Montgomery will help New Orleans pin its ears back and attack.
8. New York Jets—Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Jets can't run the ball and they can't stop the run. Lotulelei's 300-plus pound frame will alleviate that problem and give the Jets a desperately needed impact player up front in the upcoming years.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
Ronde Barber has to retire someday, doesn't he? Whenever that ever happens, Milliner will be there waiting in the wings. He has two interceptions this season and a 6'1'' frame that will translate nicely to the NFL.
10. Indianapolis Colts—Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Andrew Luck is the real deal, now you must keep him upright.
Warmack is a dominant run blocker with above average pass-protection skills to boot. His versatility will make him a Pro-Bowl talent for years to come.
11. Buffalo Bills—Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Bills need to move on from Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's inconsistent, turnover prone backup material on a serious contender.
Wilson's stock has dropped throughout Arkansas' tumultuous season, but he has the prototypical size and arm of an NFL signal-caller.
12. Detroit Lions—David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
Amerson's 6'3'' frame and 12 interceptions in 2011 make him a tantalizing cornerback prospect, despite the weaknesses that he's shown this season.
Either way, Detroit can't afford to pass here. The Lions must find impact players in the secondary, especially with Chicago and Green Bay on the slate four times a year.
Amerson could eventually move to safety. He's huge for a corner and has excellent ball skills, but he lacks elite speed on the outside.
This may be a bit of a reach, but it's a position the Lions absolutely need.
13. St. Louis Rams—Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Sam Bradford doesn't have a dangerous vertical threat to work with.
Hunter's lanky frame would solve that immediately. He's a long-striding receiver who could stretch St. Louis' offense out.
14. Miami Dolphins—Keenan Allen, WR, California
Miami needs a receiver as bad as the Rams do. Ryan Tannehill has developed nicely in his first NFL season, but he doesn't have a true No. 1 target to throw too.
Allen is athletic and elusive in the open field. He has reliable hands and his vertical ability makes him more attractive than Robert Woods at this point.
15. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)—Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
In order to throw the ball deep, you must give your quarterback time. Enter Jones, the man who has played every conceivable position for the Crimson Tide during his career.
He's a dominant, two-way lineman who is used to working in a pro-style system.
16. Seattle Seahawks—Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Seahawks' defense is good to go, as is their run game. That leaves the passing attack as one glaring weakness for Pete Carroll's crew.
Woods isn't a home-run threat like the two receivers taken before him, but he's as consistent as it gets.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Steelers fans, rejoice. Pittsburgh hasn't addressed its secondary in the first round since Troy Polamalu was taken 16th overall in 2003.
Reid is capable of playing in coverage or laying a player out in the box. It will take some time, but the Steelers get younger and more athletic on defense in a big way here.
18. Dallas Cowboys—John Jenkins, NT, Georgia
Dallas' pass defense has improved drastically since adding Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in the offseason, but they still lack impact players up front.
Jenkins' girth will plug a needed hole in the Cowboys' 15th-rated run defense.
19. New York Giants—Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
This is an unfair value pick, leaving the Giants no choice but to pounce on the draft's best middle linebacker.
Te'o is as NFL-ready as they come. He's big, instinctual, fast and plays with a mean streak.
The Giants can play him behind Chase Blackburn if they wish, but he's an immediate starter based on skill.
New York's defense has taken a step back this season, making Te'o's leadership in the middle necessary for the future.
20. Minnesota Vikings—Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Kevin Williams is almost 33 years old. The Vikings have no other answers in the middle.
Short can attack a single gap because of his speed and high motor.
21. Denver Broncos—Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Lattimore is a man. He had an NFL-ready body from the moment he stepped foot onto Steve Spurrier's squad and he's shown no ill effects from his ACL injury last year.
This is a great way to preserve Peyton Manning and slowly replace Willis McGahee, although don't be surprised if the latter happens faster than you think. Lattimore is that good.
22. San Diego Chargers—Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer are both free agents after this season, leading the Chargers to an intriguing project.
Rhodes is 6'3'' and fast, but he must become more consistent.
23. Arizona Cardinals—Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Werner has 6.5 sacks this season, although the Seminoles don't play many tough opponents.
Nonetheless, his size and speed combination will make him an intriguing down lineman for Arizona's emerging defense.
24. Philadelphia Eagles—D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Michael Vick doesn't stand a chance behind the Eagles' offensive line. Yes, injuries have played a role in that, but the depth must be improved so this situation doesn't pop up again.
Fluker is massive and raw, but he has tremendous upside.
25. Cincinnati Bengals—Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Banks is 6'2'' with above-average ball skills, showcased by his three interceptions so far this season. He isn't strong enough to make an impact in run support, but he's a solid cover corner for a mediocre Bengals defense.
26. Green Bay Packers—Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Rather than do something crazy, like reach for Le'Veon Bell or Eddie Lacy, the Packers should focus on improving their strengths.
Aaron Rodgers is taking more hits than usual this year, which should lead them to the Aggies' second-best offensive lineman.
Mattthews is a solid run blocker, but he will make his money protecting Rodgers' flank.
27. Baltimore Ravens—Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Ravens would love to see Warmack or Jones fall into their laps, but that's not going to happen. Lewan is a talented right tackle who could eventually overtake for Kelechi Osemele at that spot.
28. Atlanta Falcons—Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Ray Edwards hasn't been productive and John Abraham is 34 years old. Okafor has six sacks this season because of his upper-body strength.
29. Chicago Bears—C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
An offensive-line selection would be ideal here, but Mosley works as well.
He won't be dubbed as Brian Urlacher's successor, however, he will provide Chicago with a young, athletic player where they will eventually need one.
30. New England Patriots—Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Deion Branch, Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker are fine, but why not add another to the mix? Williams stands 6'2'' and he's used to playing in a pass-happy offense.
31. Houston Texans—Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
Rogers is as talented as any receiver that's already come off the board, but he carries more baggage than all of them combined.
Being dismissed from Tennessee's program could have killed his first-round hopes. Instead, the Texans get the No. 2 receiver they've desperately needed for the past few seasons who also has No. 1 potential.
32. San Francisco 49ers—Jackson Jeffcoat, DE/OLB, Texas
San Francisco has an embarrassment of riches defensively, making Jeffcoat a ridiculous luxury pick. He's 6'5'', athletic and capable of playing opposite Aldon Smith for a long time. At worst, he's a dangerous situational pass-rusher behind Smith and Ahmad Brooks.
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