Buying or Selling Mel Kiper's 2013 NFL Draft Projections
Mel Kiper is the godfather of the NFL draft, which means the entire draft world anxiously awaits his projections, analysis and mock draft each year. Now that we've seen a first look at Mr. Kiper's 2013 NFL draft analysis, how does it compare to the scouting and analysis done by Bleacher Report this season?
Kiper was clear to point out that his recent projections are not a mock draft, but rather, a look at team needs and a player who would be a good fit to fill that need. I'll do the same. Again, this isn't a mock draft.
How do my needs and rankings look compared to the godfather's? Not all that different.
Mel's Projection: WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
It's clear that the Buffalo Bills need help at wide receiver—assuming the top quarterbacks are all off the board by the time they select or that they don't like a Matt Barkley-type prospect. If quarterback isn't the pick, wide receiver should be.
While Terrance Williams is a fine prospect, he's more of a late first or early second round type of player. The Bills won't be drafting late in the first round, though they'll likely be in the top 15. That means focusing on a more polished product, like Robert Woods.
My Projection: WR Robert Woods, USC
Mel's Projection: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Mr. Kiper nails it here.
The Miami Dolphins desperately need a wide receiver to line up opposite Brian Hartline, and they need someone with the size and speed to challenge defenses deep. Hunter has that, and once he's fully recovered from a knee injury suffered in 2011, he'll show that he has the metrics to be a game-changing wide receiver.
My Projection: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
New England Patriots
Mel's Projection: CB Xavier Rhodes, FSU
You can't argue with the New England Patriots drafting a cornerback, but Xavier Rhodes would be a reach at the end of the first round. Perhaps Mel is thinking the Patriots will trade back and try to recover some of the draft picks they've traded away, but if they hold tight at the end of Round 1, there are better values on the board.
One such player would be North Carolina State's David Amerson—he of the 13 interceptions in 2011. Amerson has struggled this year, but his film shows a playmaker who just needs polished. If Bill Belichick can develop Amerson, he'll have a star.
My Projection: CB David Amerson, North Carolina State
New York Jets
Mel's Projection: DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The New York Jets need pass-rushers. That much is obvious. If Rex Ryan's club doesn't address their need at outside linebacker in the first round, they've more than likely made a mistake.
Kiper has the Jets going with Barkevious Mingo from LSU. That's a tough pick to argue against. While I have Mingo as a mid-first-rounder at this time, he has the athletic ability to shoot up boards after the NFL Scouting Combine.
The better prospect at this point would be Dion Jordan of Oregon. He's similar to Mingo, but a more finished product and a more explosive athlete.
My Projection: DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Mel's Projection: ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Alec Ogletree is one heck of an inside linebacker, but it's unlikely at this time that the junior will leave Georgia. If he does, there's a great chance that the Bulldog will find himself in the first round.
Based on today's rankings, Alabama's C.J. Mosley is a safer bet—and better prospect—than Ogletree. Mosley's athleticism, versatility and alma mater are all traits that point to Ozzie Newsome falling in love with the Crimson Tide 'backer.
My Projection: ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Mel's Projection: S Matt Elam, Florida
Matt Elam is a first-round prospect, but he's an interesting pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. With a 3-5 record, the Bengals are looking more and more like a top-15 draft pick. Elam is good, but not that good.
One player who is—and who fits a huge need—is Damontre Moore. The Texas A&M pass rusher would give the Bengals a consistent presence next to Geno Atkins on the defensive line. While Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and others have flashed solid ability, they've yet to be consistent. Moore would give Cincinnati the right defensive end it needs.
My Projection: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Mel's Projection: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
We're buying this pick, and in a big way.
Chance Warmack will have a good chance to emerge as the top overall senior prospect in the 2013 draft class. He's one of the most talented offensive linemen I've scouted in my 10 years of evaluating draft prospects.
Warmack's dominance in the run game makes him an instant fit in the NFL, but he's athletic enough to be a solid pass protector too. Unlike David DeCastro or Kevin Zietler in the 2012 draft, Warmack's game isn't dominated by one aspect. He's a balanced, dominating guard who will have a huge impact on the Browns offense.
My Projection: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Mel's Projection: DT John Jenkins, Georgia
Tough to argue with this one. The Pittsburgh Steelers need to get younger on defense, especially in the middle, and John Jenkins is a perfect fit for the team's 3-4 defense.
Jenkins' 354-lb frame will be a much-needed asset in replacing Casey Hampton at the zero technique position. The team had hoped Alameda Ta'amu might fill this spot in 2013, but his off-field issues are adding up, leaving the team pressing to re-asses this position in the 2013 draft. Landing Jenkins will make them all forget about Ta'amu.
My Projection: DT John Jenkins, Georgia
Mel's Projection: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
The Houston Texans are a well-oiled machine, so it's a surprise to see Mel's projection of right tackle Jake Matthews here. The Texans haven't seen a huge drop-off with Derek Newton manning the right side, so spending a first-round selection on an area that's not a need is a bit strange.
The Texans are close to winning a Super Bowl, and they need to shore up potential holes in the depth chart while that window is still open. Drafting a right tackle doesn't help. Drafting a wide receiver does. The team needs someone to bring attention away from Andre Johnson, and Tavon Austin's speed will do just that.
My Projection: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Mel's Projection: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
I like the position, but not so much on the projection.
Kiper nails it. The Indianapolis Colts need help on the offensive line, especially at right tackle. Eric Fisher is a very good prospect—carrying a late Round 1 grade on my board—but I can't see him excelling as a right tackle.
One player who already excels on the right side is Texas A&M's Jake Matthews. As one-half of the best tackle duo in college football, Matthews has shown the strength and agility to be a longtime starter on the power side of the offensive line.
My Projection: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Mel's Projection: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Buy, buy, buy. Mr. Kiper has it right on this pick, and it's one you'll see projected many times between now and the 2013 NFL draft.
The Jacksonvile Jaguars have a lot of needs, and depending on who the general manager is after the season, this could change, but as of Week 10, their biggest need is to add a playmaker on defense who can get to the quarterback.
Jones would be an instant star in Jacksonville. I've compared his skill set to Von Miller, and it's reasonable to expect a similar impact in his first season.
My Projection: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Mel's Projection: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
I like Damontre Moore, but not where the Tennessee Titans will be drafting, and not when they already have Kamerion Wimbley on the roster.
Moore is a quick-edge pass-rusher who needs to line up in space to get maximum push. That's the same role Wimbley fills. Unless the Titans are going to a Wide-9 set on defense, they need more of a traditional defensive end opposite Wimbley.
Sam Montgomery isn't as hyped as his teammate Barkevious Mingo, but his play is arguably better from an all-around perspective. No. 99 has the size to line up on the left or right side, and he's shown good enough run defense to be a three-down player early on.
My Projection: DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
Mel's Projection: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
At some points in a projection, it comes down to personal preference. Such is the case here.
Both Sylvester Williams and Sheldon Richardson would fit well in the Denver Broncos defense. It's more about which player has a higher value on your individual board. For me, that's Richardson, but for Kiper, it's Williams. No harm done.
It's clear that Denver does need help in the middle of the defense, and really, it became clear the minute Brodrick Bunkley left for New Orleans. The team is getting by with underrated veterans in the spot now, but drafting a high-impact prospect is the most likely option for John Elway in Round 1.
My Projection: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Kansas City Chiefs
Mel's Projection: QB Matt Barkley, USC
The Kansas City Chiefs seem poised to draft a quarterback. The question is, who will it be?
On Mel's board, that player is Matt Barkley. On mine, it's Geno Smith. The Chiefs have a Barkley-clone in Matt Cassel. Same college, same weaknesses (arm strength, downfield vision) and same ceiling in the NFL. While Barkley may seem safer, Geno Smith brings more upside, a stronger arm and a playmaking ability that this offense (and franchise) desperately needs.
My Projection: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Mel's Projection: ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
I love Manti Te'o as much as any green-and-gold wearing, Touchdown Jesus praying Notre Dame fan, but he shouldn't be the pick for the Oakland Raiders here.
The team is likely to move on from Rolando McClain after this season, but when you watch the Oakland Raiders, do you really think, "Man, these guys need a better inside linebacker!"? Most fans and scouts watching Oakland can clearly see that this team needs a new quarterback.
Te'o would be a popular pick, and I have no doubts that he'll be an Pro Bowler, but the Raiders need to address their issues at quarterback. Tyler Wilson has the production, talent and skill set to be a franchise passer for the silver and black.
Reggie McKenzie knows that quarterbacks—not middle linebackers—win Super Bowls.
My Projection: QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
San Diego Chargers
Mel's Projection: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
There's no doubting that Antonio Gates has been in decline, and the San Diego Chargers need to look into replacing the future Hall of Famer, but not here. There are bigger needs on the San Diego depth chart.
Adding a tight end this year would be wise, but in the first round, the Chargers have to look at getting better on the offensive line. Left tackle Jared Gaither has been a free-agent bust, and even on the right side, the team made a terrible decision in paying Jeromey Clary top dollars. Improving the offensive tackle position is priority No. 1.
My Projection: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Mel's Projection: OG Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
The Dallas Cowboys do need help along the offensive line—badly—but with a 3-5 record this is a team projected to be drafting in the top-15. A much smarter pick would be invested in quarterback Matt Barkley.
I've said before that Barkley is the type of quarterback who can play well with talent around him. He's not going to elevate the talent level around him as much as an Andrew Luck might, but with a good team, he can win. The Cowboys have a good team, but they can't win with Tony Romo at quarterback. It's time for Jerry Jones to find a successor for No. 8.
My Projection: QB Matt Barkley, USC
New York Giants
Mel's Projection: DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
If Dion Jordan is still on the board for the New York Giants, Jerry Reese should have someone sprinting to the podium. That said, it's unlikely that Jordan is still available, at least based on my board.
A nice consolation prize would be Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. His athleticism off the edge has been impressive over the last two seasons, and now he's showing the finished technique to be an early contributor once in the NFL.
My Projection: DE Bjoern Werner, FSU
Mel's Projection: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of needs, but most of those needs are right now dictated by injury. Where does Taylor Lewan fit into a depth chart with a healthy Jason Peters and Todd Herremans? Lewan is talented, so if this is a best player available type pick, it changes things, but the Eagles have other, more pressing needs.
Watching the team play this season, it's evident that the defensive line needs help. The team drafted Fletcher Cox in the 2012 first round, but it should look to add his counterpart this year. Star Lotulelei has the size, strength and quick first-step to work wonders on the Eagles defensive line.
My Projection: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Mel's Projection: OG Johnathan Cooper, North Carolina
With no first-round selection due to their trade up to get Robert Griffin III during the 2012 draft, the Washington Redskins will look to fill their first need in Round 2.
The team has several areas to focus on in the upcoming draft, but chief among them is the play at safety. Unless you're a big fan of Reed Doughty, you'll agree that getting better at the strong safety position is a major need for this team.
Kenny Vaccaro has shown an ability to play as a deep safety or as a nickel cornerback against spread sets. His versatility and playmaking ability would be a great add for the Redskins.
My Projection: SS Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Mel's Projection: CB David Amerson, North Carolina State
This one I'm not so sure of.
The Chicago Bears have two of the best cornerbacks in the NFL—Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings—so, why would they be drafting a cornerback here?
The obvious need for the team is along the offensive line. Jay Cutler has been sacked 28 times this year—second most in the league. The Chicago offensive line is the biggest weakness on the team by far. Phil Emery should have an easy decision to make here.
My Projection: OL Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
Mel's Projection: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Great minds must think alike. That, or it's just painfully clear that the Detroit Lions need to add talent at the cornerback position.
Dee Milliner has taken over as the top cornerback in the 2013 draft class with his physical, aggressive play in the Alabama secondary. Milliner has the size and speed to be a No. 1 cornerback, and with his experience in a pro-style scheme like Alabama's, he is looking better and better each week.
My Projection: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Green Bay Packers
Mel's Projection: RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon
First-round running backs are a hard sell in general, but coming from a system like the one in place at Oregon makes Kenjon Barner a very tough pick to wrap my head around. Barner is talented, but how well does he fit in the NFL? That's the question that will loom over his draft prospects.
The Green Bay Packers are a talented team, but they're also a team with needs. A running back can be added after the first round, but a game-breaking tight end is tougher to find outside the first 32 picks. Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert would be the no-brainer pick for Green Bay as they look to replace Jermichael Finley, whose contract runs out after the 2013 season.
My Projection: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Mel's Projection: WR Keenan Allen, Cal
This is an easy one.
The Minnesota Vikings need a wide receiver to line up opposite of Percy Harvin, and they've shown a love for versatile prospects who can make impacts from multiple positions on the field. Keenan Allen, like Harvin, can be an impact from the backfield, in the slot, out wide and as a return man. That's more of what the Vikings offense needs.
My Projection: WR Keenan Allen, Cal
Mel's Projection: DE Bjoern Werner, FSU
Once again, Mel Kiper and I have the same idea in terms of position, but the player is different.
If Bjoern Werner is on the board for the Falcons, he should be the pick, but with an 8-0 record right now, it's looking unlikely that Werner will be there when Atlanta comes up on the clock. One defensive end who will be is Alex Okafor.
Okafor is a complete defensive end—able to line up as a right or left defensive end and control the edge in the run game. The Falcons will be looking to replace John Abraham at some point, and Okafor is the right type of athlete to help them do just that.
My Projection: DE Alex Okafor, Texas
Mel's Projection: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
When the Carolina Panthers are on the clock early in the 2013 NFL draft, their new general manager has an easy decision to make—which defensive tackle should they draft?
It's no secret that the team both wants and needs better talent on the inside of the defensive line. The fact that Charles Johnson has been so good without a solid presence next to him on the inside speaks to his individual talents, but also goes to show just how great he could be with a tackle drawing the guard away from helping on the edge.
Whether it's Star Lotulelei or Johnathan Hankins—two prospects with nearly identical grades on my board—the Panthers can't go wrong.
My Projection: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
New Orleans Saints
Mel's Projection: DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
The New Orleans Saints have managed to move their record to 3-5, but the defense is still one of the worst in the NFL. Their need to add talent on defense will be the focus for Micky Loomis in the offseason.
Sam Montgomery is a good player—and a top 10 prospect—but the defense could really benefit from a solid leader in the middle who can replace Jonathan Vilma. Manti Te'o is that guy. In fact, Te'o would be an upgrade on the field.
This choice will be easy if the Saints find Te'o still on the board.
My Projection: ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mel's Projection: DE Cornelius Carradine, FSU
The selection of a defensive end does make a lot of sense for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I'm not sure Cornelius Carradine is the best value in the early-to-mid first round.
The Buccaneers will likely be a top-15 team when the draft order is unveiled—as of today, they'd pick No. 16 overall—and my No. 14 overall prospect would be a damn good fit. LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo, welcome to Tampa.
Mingo and Carradine aren't that different, but Mingo is the more finished prospect. The way he disengages from blockers and his lean, explosive frame show both his immediate ability and his potential. A mid-first-rounder today, Mingo could shoot into the top five by April.
My Projection: DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Mel's Projection: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The Arizona Cardinals will need to make plenty of changes in the offseason, but no one position needs more attention than left tackle.
Levi Brown was re-signed in the offseason and then injured, weakening an already weak position. With Brown coming back in 2013, the team would be wise to shift him to right tackle and then draft a true blindside protector for Kevin Kolb on the left side.
Luke Joeckel is the best tackle in college football. He's handled premier pass-rushers in the SEC while also showing a toughness in the run game that will have NFL general managers excited come April.
My Projection: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
San Francisco 49ers
Mel's Projection: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
The San Francisco 49ers' draft strategy during the 2012 draft was to build up the talent level for future years. A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James have yet to even see the field for the 49ers, but they're there for the future. In the 2013 draft, expect more immediate impacts.
One area where San Francisco can look to improve is in the secondary. Carlos Rogers turns 32 this summer, and while he's been good this year, he's not replicated his 2011 success. The team loves Chris Culliver (as do we), but it needs to keep adding talent at cornerback.
Sheldon Richardson is a good player, but he's likely a five-technique defensive end in the San Francisco scheme. With Justin Smith and Ray McDonald in place for the foreseeable future, getting better at cornerback has to take precedent.
My Projection: CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Mel's Projection: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
I'd love to see Tavon Austin in Seattle, but the team may already have a similar player there in Golden Tate. Depending on where the Seahawks are selecting, Austin may not be the highest player on the board—not that Seattle's board has matched the rest of the NFL's since Pete Carroll arrived.
Austin is a stud, and I'm a big fan, but Terrance Williams is a better fit here. He's five inches taller than Austin and still has the speed and agility to separate from defenses. He's also a very nice threat to run after the catch.
Austin would be a good pick, but Williams would be better.
My Projection: WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
St. Louis Rams
Mel's Projection: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
BUY and SELL
A wide receiver is definitely a need for the St. Louis Rams, but they also really need to add an offensive tackle. It's easier to get by with Danny Amendola and Chris Givens than it is with Barry Richardson and Wayne Hunter.
Thankfully, the Rams have two picks in the first round (thanks, Washington!) and can focus on both left tackle and wide receiver. Lewan is a prototypical left tackle and could be an instant impact for the St. Louis offense—as good Hopkins split out wide for Sam Bradford.
My Projection: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan and WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson