NFL Mock Draft 2013: Playmakers Who Will Rescue Struggling Offenses
While the 2013 NFL draft class figures to produce more game-changers on the defensive side of the ball, there are still several offensive dynamos who figure to help their teams out tremendously.
What will the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals do about their ailing offenses? Will the Chicago Bears ever find someone to keep Jay Cutler upright?
Here's my latest 2013 NFL mock draft, complete with playmakers who will rescue struggling offenses (shown in italics).
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
By now we all know quarterback is the greatest position of need for the Chiefs. Geno Smith is the best quarterback in the class, given his arm strength and pocket mobility, and he would be an instant upgrade for Kansas City under center.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
With a great need for a 4-3 defensive end, Bjoern Werner is a perfect fit for the Jaguars. His instincts, motor and ability to be a difference-maker against the pass and against the run would be welcomed with open arms in Jacksonville.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
With a great need for a 4-3 outside linebacker and pass-rusher, Barkevious Mingo stands to make an immediate impact for the Raiders' ailing defense. Possessing elite pass-rushing skills and a non-stop motor, Mingo is a player any team would love to have.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Anybody who has witnessed Philadelphia's horrendous offensive line this season knows they need a game-changer at offensive tackle. Luke Joeckel is widely considered to be the best OT out there, with the awareness, toughness and pass-blocking abilities to be a big-time player at the next level.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Nabbing a 4-3 defensive end like Damontre Moore would be a dream come true for the Lions. There is nothing this guy can't do and he figures to be a star in the NFL. Watching game tape of this kid's 2012 campaign is downright scary.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
This isn't a sexy pick (a guard rarely is), but Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden need help on the line. Chance Warmack is not only an elite run-blocker, but his athleticism and lateral agility also make him a strong pass-blocker, as well. He stands to be a good one for a long time.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The Cardinals are almost as bad as the Chiefs under center. They need an instant upgrade, and Matt Barkley would be just that. Barkley's decision-making has been questioned lately, but he has all the tools and intangibles to be a solid starting quarterback at the next level, including leadership.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
With a strong need at inside linebacker, the Bills will gladly nab Manti Te'o if he falls to them. Not only is Te'o a fantastic run-stopper and tackler, but he also improved his coverage skills this season at Notre Dame. He has the potential to be a Pro Bowler at the next level.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
If Jarvis Jones falls to the Jets, they will be jumping up and down. He's the perfect fit for them, a complete player who can blow up the run and get to the quarterback. He could be a disruptive force in the NFL.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Titans are still missing Cortland Finnegan, and Dee Milliner—the best cornerback in the class—could be that replacement. Milliner is a complete player, exhibiting strong coverage skills and run support while at Alabama.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Philip Rivers needs better protection in the pocket. Where have you heard that before? Jake Matthews is a physical, tough run-blocker. He needs to develop his skills a bit against speed-rushers, but he will certainly be an upgrade on the line right away for San Diego.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
The Dolphins need a game-changer at the receiver position and Keenan Allen could be just that. The Cal product has the size, athleticism and ball skills to be a No. 1 receiver at the next level.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes is a little bit of a reach at No. 11, but the Buccaneers are in desperate need of a cornerback and the Florida State product could be a solid defensive back at the next level. Rhodes not only displays the quickness and footwork to be a strong cover corner, but he's also a very physical player, never backing down from anyone. The Bucs could use some attitude in their secondary.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Look at the way teams have run on the Panthers this season and it's no secret they need help at defensive tackle. Star Lotulelei is widely considered to be the best run-stuffer in the class, and his motor and quickness for his size project him to be a difference-maker in the NFL.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Saints got got destroyed on the ground this season. Johnathan Hankins, who I see as the No. 2 DT in the class, is big and strong and has the quickness and motor to match. Rarely will you see Hankins driven back one-one-one. In fact, he figures to occupy a couple blockers at a time in the NFL.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
You can't completely evaluate Sam Bradford until he gets a respectable offensive line. The Rams desperately need an offensive tackle who can stand up to the point of attack, and Taylor Lewan is equally adept pass blocking and run blocking. He has the strength and technique to protect against power-rushers and speed-rushers.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Steelers need a replacement for 35-year-old Casey Hampton, and Sheldon Richardson has the strength, technique and closing burst to be a very disruptive player. Richardson also hits very hard and is the kind of player you expect to cause a lot of fumbles as he progresses.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
It's safe to say 2013's defensive tackle class has plenty of first-round prospects. The Cowboys need to bolster the interior of the line and John Jenkins—at 6'4", 363 pounds—is a behemoth who will clog the lanes and even possesses the ability the shed blocks quickly.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Giants need to do something about their secondary. Johnthan Banks is not only an elite cover corner with tremendous ball-hawking ability, but he also supports against the run and he's adept at press coverage.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Do I really need to tell you what Chicago's greatest area of need is? Jay Cutler has been batted around so much, defenders go for "the cycle" every time they face him. Fisher's length, lateral agility and technique make him an elite blocker against speed-rushers, and he can hold his own against bigger defenders.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Bengals need to find a 4-3 defensive end and Dion Jordan could be a steal here. A versatile player who can play in multiple schemes, Jordan's length, natural strength, explosiveness and quickness could make him a nightmare as a pass-rusher.
22. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Three defensive tackles in a row? Don't be surprised. Plopping Jesse Williams next the aging Kevin Williams would be a great addition for the Minnesota defense. With incredible strength and great length, Williams plugs up holes and makes a statement doing so.
23. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Eric Reid, S, LSU
Eric Reid is the prototypical player for Jeff Fisher. He's a physical, tenacious player who hits hard and his instincts are well above average. Combine that with his ball-hawking ability, and Fisher will be drooling if Reid lands here.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Colts could use a cornerback, but with the top three corners selected, I expect them to beef up their run defense with a defensive tackle. Sharrif Floyd had a monster campaign in 2012. He possesses the run-stopping ability and motor to be an instant asset for Indianapolis.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Just imagine what Russell Wilson and the Seahawks could do with an impact receiver like Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson's speed, explosiveness, fluidity and physicality on the line could make him a big-time player at the next level.
26. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
A versatile player, Ezekiel Ansah is a formidable pass-rusher whose burst can get him to the quarterback in no time. Beyond that, he's exceptionally tough and he plays hard every snap. His toughness and motor remind me of J.J. Watt coming out of Wisconsin. Not saying he's going to be Watt, but I do think his focus and work ethic will make him a better player than generally expected.
27. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Sam Montgomery isn't a prototypical 3-4 defensive end, but he has the ability to be a versatile player given his technique, motor and stamina. Adding another elite run defender to San Francisco's defense will only make the club more formidable on that side of the ball, and it's hard to pass him up here based on sheer talent.
28. New England Patriots (12-4): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
At this point, grabbing Tavon Austin would not be a bad idea at all, even if receiver isn't a primary need for New England. The explosive, lightning-quick Austin could not only be another weapon for Tom Brady, but he could also become a dynamic return man for the Patriots.
29. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
This isn't a primary need for Green Bay, but Jonathan Cooper is most definitely a first-round prospect and he has the quickness and strength to fit into the Packers' blocking scheme. You can never have too many solid offensive linemen.
30. Denver Broncos (13-3): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
With a need at defensive tackle, I could see the Broncos going with Kawann Short out of Purdue late in the first round. Short's combination of upper body strength and quickness makes him a solid pass-rusher and run-stopper.
31. Houston Texans (12-4): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
With great ball skills and hands, strong top-end speed and burst and surprising fluidity for his size, Justin Hunter would be a great complement opposite Andre Johnson.
32. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
It wouldn't be a bad time to find a successor to Tony Gonzalez at this point. Tyler Eifert is the best tight end in the class, with the ball skills and versatility to cause problems for opposing defenses.
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