2013 NFL Mock Draft: The Jacksonville Jaguars Are on the Clock
As we approach the mid-season mark in the NFL, fans of teams beginning to lose hope can take solace in one thing: the NFL Draft.
Lots of questions will still need to be answered between now and draft day, but let's do our best Mel Kiper Jr. impression and take a look at what the draft might look like come April anyway.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith QB (West Virginia)
Well into his second year as the starting quarterback for the Jaguars, Blaine Gabbert isn't faring much better than he did as a rookie.
Even after picking up some more weapons for Gabbert to utilize this offseason, he is proving that he can't be a winner at the NFL level. Factor in the early success of so many other young quarterbacks in the league, and Jacksonville may find themselves starting over again sooner rather than later.
Despite stumbling a bit against Texas Tech last week, let's assume that Geno Smith will bounce back and continue what could be a historic Heisman run.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Barkley QB (USC)
As shameful as Chiefs' fans cheering at a Matt Cassel injury was, it should tell you how bad the quarterback situation in Kansas City is.
Brady Quinn hasn't fared any better in Cassel's absence, despite being surrounded by talent on both sides of the ball.
Matt Barkley hasn't been quite as impressive as expected so far this season, but he's still one of the clear-cut top quarterbacks in this class.
3. Cleveland Browns: Tyler Wilson QB (Arkansas)
The Browns will likely announce Mike Holmgren's "retirement" this offseason as the franchise is now operating under new ownership.
Second year head coach Pat Shurmur and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden definitely have a shot to stick around in Cleveland, but if they can't make a legitimate case for themselves by the end of the season, management will probably look to clean house yet again.
This may seem like a bit of a reach for Wilson at this point, but he should be able to climb up draft boards by the end of April.
If the Browns do opt to continue with Weeden, look for a linebacker like Jarvis Jones (Georgia) or defensive end like Barkevious Mingo (LSU) in this spot.
4. Oakland Raiders: Barkevious Mingo DE (LSU)
Jarvis Jones is arguably a better prospect here, but the Raiders' pass rush has been virtually non-existent this year. Currently, Oakland is ranked 31st in the league with only four sacks through five games.
The Raiders could also use some help in the secondary at this spot, but Mingo will help improve cornerback play by getting some pressure on opposing QBs. He's also a better value here than the nation's top cornerback, Dee Milliner (Alabama).
5. Indianapolis Colts: Jarvis Jones OLB (Georgia)
The consensus No. 1 overall prospect in this year's draft class, Jones would be a tremendous value here for a struggling Colts defense.
Playing in Georgia's 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker, it won't be difficult for Jones to transition to the NFL.
Defensive lineman Star Lotulelei (Utah) should draw a lot of consideration here as well.
6. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei DT (Utah)
The Panthers passed on Dontari Poe in the 2012 Draft in favor of linebacker Luke Kuechly. While that decision has seemed to pan out so far for Carolina, they still lack a dominant anchor along the defensive line.
Lotulelei is a big, versatile lineman that projects well at multiple positions. He should be able to improve a less than impressive Carolina run defense next season.
7. Tennessee Titans: Dee Milliner CB (Alabama)
The departure of cornerback Cortland Finnegan has left a gaping hole in the Titans secondary, as they rank 29th in total passing defense in the NFL so far this season.
While much of that has to do with a weak pass rush, cornerback also remains an issue.
Alabama's Dee Milliner has surpassed former No. 1 cornerback prospect David Amerson (NC State) with stellar play so far this season. He should come off the board early in the 2013 NFL Draft.
8. St. Louis Rams (From WAS): Luke Joeckel OT (Texas A&M)
The Rams get this pick from the Redskins after they traded up in the 2012 draft to land RGIII.
With two first-round picks in 2013, they could very well use both of them to bolster one of the NFL's worst offensive lines.
Drafting Luke Joeckel, the premiere tackle prospect of this class, would give them an immediate starter at left tackle and allow them to move Wayne Hunter to the right side and Barry Richardson to the bench where he belongs.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bjoern Werner DE (Florida State)
The Bucs always seem to be adding pass rushers in the draft and this year will be no different. Injuries to former high-draft picks Adrian Clayborn and Da'quan Bowers haven't exactly helped matters, but with only eight sacks so far this season, adding another pass rusher is a must.
Bjoern Werner is a powerful defensive end with a good motor and deceptive speed. He could certainly make an immediate impact for Tampa as rookie.
The Bucs may also be thinking cornerback in this spot, but, at this point, Werner has more value than a cornerback like Jonathan Banks (Mississippi State).
10. Buffalo Bills: Manti Te'o LB (Notre Dame)
Despite some big off-season signings, the Bills have struggled defensively this season. They certainly have a lot of talent on that side of the ball, but, for some reason, have yet to harness it.
What they really need is a leader on that defense that can put it all together.
Manti Te'o is a having a Heisman-worthy season.
11. New York Jets: Corey Lemonier DE/OLB (Auburn)
The Jets are far from the dominant defense that they once were, and haven't hit on a draft pick in quite some time it seems like.
One area of concern should be their lack of a pass rush, so nabbing one of the last premier-pass rushers in this class should seem like a no-brainer.
Corey Lemonier has the athleticism to convert to a 3-4 outside linebacker at the NFL level, but let's hope he doesn't join the ranks of former high-draft picks gone terribly wrong such as Vernon Gholston.
12. Miami Dolphins: Justin Hunter WR (Tennessee)
The Dolphins are looking a lot better than anyone expected, but they still have some big holes to fill—the most concerning being a legitimate threat wide receiver.
Davone Bess and Brian Hartline have shown flashes of production, but drafting a potential big-time deep threat like Justin Hunter would not only benefit them, but aid rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill in development as well.
Hunter's 2011 season was wiped out with an injury, but his 2012 campaign has been strong enough to surpass USC's Robert Woods as the top receiver in this class.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Taylor Lewan OT (Michigan)
The Cardinals have given up 22 sacks in the past three games. That's just not very good.
Part of that has to do with starting tackles Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges on injured reserve, but that offensive line wouldn't be what it needs to be either way.
Taylor Lewan is a massive offensive tackle at 6'8", 309 pounds. He is virtually everything you look for in a franchise left tackle and could eventually surpass Texas A&M's Joeckel as the premiere tackle in this draft class.
He'd be an instant upgrade to the Cardinals offensive line and would allow Jeremy Bridges or Brown to move to the right side while the other is used for much needed depth.
14. Detroit Lions: Jonathan Banks CB (Mississippi State)
The Lions have taken a big step back this season and should be picking in the middle of the pack.
Defensive end could be an area to address depending on what happens with Cliff Avril-contract negotiations this offseason, but, at this point, Banks would be a better value than the defensive ends left on the board.
Banks' stock has been shooting up as of late, and he should see considerable playing time, if not, a starting role should he be drafted by Detroit come April.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sam Montgomery DE (LSU)
The Saints have mustered only 11 sacks so far this season, an area that needs to be improved if their defense is going to step up to the level it once performed at pre-bountygate.
Sam Montgomery has been overshadowed a bit by teammate Mingo, but he still remains one of the nation's top defensive-end prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft. He should be able to make an early impact for a struggling Saints defense.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Jenkins NT (Georgia)
For a team expected to finish around the .500 mark, the Cowboys have surprisingly few holes on paper.
They could add some offensive line help here, but Jonathan Jenkins may just be too much to pass up.
You'd never know that Jenkins weighs over 360 pounds the way he plays as he is surprisingly athletic. Drafting Jenkins to take over nose-tackle duties for Jay Ratliff would allow Ratliff to move over to end in the Cowboys' 3-4 defense making their defensive front that much stronger.
17. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack OG (Alabama)
Drafting two first-round offensive linemen may seem a little over the top, but considering the current state of the Rams' offensive line it could be completely necessary.
If St. Louis can't land any viable starters at guard or tackle in free agency, they'll have to acquire them somehow.
Chance Warmack is Scout's Inc.'s sixth overall ranked player. Normally, this would seem a bit high for a guard, but considering Warmack's upside and the Rams' desperation don't be shocked to see it happen.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Lattimore HB (South Carolina)
Once thought of as a consensus top ten pick, Marcus Lattimore hasn't looked quite the same since missing most of the 2011 season with a knee injury.
He may even miss this week's matchup against #2 Florida with a bruised hip, but either way he's still the top running back in this class.
That may change by April, but for right now the Bengals could use a more talented back to make their offense less one dimensional.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Alec Ogletree LB (Georgia)
This may not seem like an Andy Reid-pick, but, then again, if the Eagles are picking at 19, it means they missed the playoffs and Reid likely isn't calling the shots.
Philadelphia is currently rotating Akeem Jordan and Jamar Chaney at weak-side linebacker, and while neither has necessarily been a liability, Ogletree would be an upgrade.
Ogletree, along with last year's second round pick Mychal Kendricks and free-agent acquisition DeMeco Ryans would make for a fantastic young linebacking core.
20. Minnesota Vikings: Johnathan Hankins DT (Ohio State)
No one thought the Vikings would be picking this high at the beginning of the year, and while it looks like they have a legitimate chance at making the playoffs, let's assume that the Packers and Seahawks edge them out.
With Kevin Williams getting up there in age, and LeTroy Guion playing serviceable, the Vikings could stand to inject their defensive line with some youth and talent.
Hankins is a massive defensive lineman that is ranked higher on most boards than selecting him at pick-20 would suggest, but, with a lot of defensive tackle options this year, a few of them are going to fall.
21. San Diego Chargers: Xavier Rhodes CB (Florida State)
The Chargers are thin along the offensive line, and could certainly stand to add some depth and a potential future starter at offensive tackle. But with both Lewan and Joeckel off the board here, it may be a bit of a reach for Wisconsin's Ricky Wagner.
They could, instead, look to add some depth at cornerback, and Xavier Rhodes would be an excellent choice in that case.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eric Reid S (LSU)
The Steelers like to draft players to be eventual replacements to their current starter at the position a year or two in advance. Eric Reid would be that player for Ryan Clark, but with Troy Polamalu's battle with injury this year, having another starting-caliber safety on the roster could be all the more necessary.
There is no question that Reid is this year's top safety prospect, and he may not even be available at this point. If he is, however, the Steelers should pounce on him.
23. Seattle Seahawks: Robert Woods WR (USC)
Once looked at as a potential top-10 pick, Woods has since been surpassed by Tennessee's Hunter as the nation's top wide-receiver prospect.
Woods may not have the upside of Hunter, but he is certainly a more polished receiver and should still be a first-round pick.
The Seahawks could use an upgrade to Golden Tate, despite how many more Hail Mary's he pulls down this season.
24. Green Bay Packers: Barrett Jones OL (Alabama)
Jeff Saturday has played well replacing Scott Wells so far this season, but approaching 38 years old you have to think he won't be back next season.
Barrett Jones is a versatile offensive lineman now playing center, his third position along Alabama's line in the past three years.
If drafted by the Packers, he may be asked to start at center right away.
25. Denver Broncos: Kawann Short DT (Purdue)
The Broncos have needed help at defensive tackle for some time now, and 2013 may be the year that they get it.
If Denver does indeed end up picking around No. 25, there will certainly be talented tackles to choose from, including not only Kawann Short but LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan.
26. Chicago Bears: Ricky Wagner OT (Wisconsin)
Is it finally safe to say that the J'Marcus Webb experiment isn't going to pan out in Chicago?
The Bears should look to the draft or free agency this offseason to finally find a franchise left tackle. Webb is probably better suited as a backup, rather than continuing to struggle as a starter.
There is currently a lot of uncertainty as to who the best tackle prospect behind Joeckel and Lewan is, but right now it appears to be Wisconsin's Wagner. If he can prove to scouts to be worthy of a first-round pick by April, he'd be a potential solution to the Bears offensive line woes here.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen WR (California)
The Texans added some youth to the receiving core in last year's draft with the addition of DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin.
However, with Andre Johnson not appearing to be the threat he once was, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see them take a receiver with more upside with an early pick in this year's draft.
Keenan Allen has the size, speed, and athleticism looked for in a potential No. 1 receiver at the NFL level. He could be more polished as route runner, but would be an excellent addition to a Texans team with some question marks at receiver going into next season.
28. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor DE (Texas)
With John Abrams approaching his mid-30s, and no clear successor making themselves known on the Falcons depth chart, it may be time to add a pass rusher early in the draft.
Alex Okafor should easily surpass teammate Jackson Jeffcoat after Jeffcoat suffered a pectoral injury that will sideline him for the rest of the year, and may even sneak into the first round.
29. Baltimore Ravens: T.J. McDonald S (USC)
The Ravens have been decimated with injuries this season, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Ed Reed is coming up on the last year of his contract, and his continuous flirtations with retirement should be the most alarming factor for them this offseason.
They drafted Christian Thompson to possibly be Reed's eventual successor last year, but he is nowhere near where he needs to be to take over at this point.
If Reed does retire, or heads elsewhere next season, the Ravens need to draft a potential immediate starter and T.J. McDonald is as close to Reed as this class has to offer.
30. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert TE (Notre Dame)
Martellus Bennett has been better than the Giants probably expected this season, but he's on a one- year contract.
Even if the Giants can come to terms with the former Cowboy problem tight end, adding another young talent at the position could open up an already potent offense even further.
31. New England Patriots: David Amerson CB (NC State)
A consensus top-10 pick going into this season, Amerson's inconsistent play has him shooting down draft boards.
The Patriots may over look a less than stellar 2012 campaign for obvious raw talent in hopes of being able to get the most out of the young cornerback.
Considering how pitiful New England's pass defense is this year, he certainly couldn't make them any worse in that area.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Tony Jefferson S (Oklahoma)
The San Francisco 49ers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, which is why they're projected here at pick-32.
However with both of their starting safeties approaching free agency, they'll need to bring in a rookie to fill the void if they aim to keep it that way.
There is a chance that both safeties could be back, but with nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga also approaching the end of his deal, they're unlikely to be able to bring back all three.