2013 NFL Mock Draft: Players Will Turn Around League's Worst Defenses

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2012

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jordan Rodgers #11 of the Vanderbilt Commodores is sacked on a 4th down play by Jarvis Jones #29 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Quarterbacks aren't going to be the stars in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Granted, the NFL is becoming a quarterback-driven league, this year's group of prospects looks a little underwhelming when it comes to signal-callers. While QBs are always the most coveted position in the draft, CBS only grades three as being worthy of first-round material.

The draft could very easily be dominated by defensive players. With the rule changes in the league, it's becoming easier on the offensive side of the ball. As a result, a solid defense is becoming even more vital.

One of the easiest and cheapest ways for a poor defense to upgrade is through the draft.

Here is a projection of the first round and defensive players who could be key as soon as they enter the league. The draft order is based on that of NFLDraftScout.com and subject to change.

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Geno Smith is almost the universal choice to go first in the upcoming draft. You can certainly see why.

As of right now, he's the top-rated quarterback on everybody's board. Kansas City has arguably the NFL's worst quarterback situation. The Chiefs aren't going to stick with Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn in the long term. Drafting Smith is the logical choice.

Kansas City could trade down because it would be reaching to select either Matt Barkley or Tyler Wilson with the first overall pick. Even if Jacksonville gets the first pick, it's unlikely it will draft a QB.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 31st in the league in defense. They're giving up 391 yards a game.

With Tim Tebow's arrival in Jacksonville apparently imminent (via NFL.com), the Jags will probably not pursue a quarterback, leaving plenty of defensive options.

Jarvis Jones is a great all-around player. He'll help what is already a steady Jaguars pass rush, but Jones can also be a very dependable player against the run as well.

3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Good defense has never been too synonymous with the Oakland Raiders recently. The franchise hasn't had a first-round draft pick in the past two years.

Star Lotulelei can provide a huge presence in the defensive line. It was clear after Doug Martin's 251-yard performance that something needs to be done in Oakland.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

The Philadelphia Eagles offensive line has been incredibly porous this season. Football Outsiders ranks the unit 26th in the league.

Luke Joeckel might only be a junior, but the 2012 Outland Trophy winner is the best offensive lineman on most people's boards. Some even rank him the best prospect in the draft.

5. Detroit Lions: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame

Here's a team that doesn't need much help offensively. The Detroit Lions sit second in the league in total offense, although they only average 23 points a game. Much of that could be down to the team's horrible turnover differential of minus-12.

Manti Te'o is the biggest defensive name on the board. He has the ability to change a game all on his own.

6. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

The Buffalo Bills need a quarterback to complement running back C.J. Spiller. With Barkley's tumble down many people's draft boards, Wilson will be the best option available.

7. Cleveland Browns: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Bjoern Werner has been a beast this season. A consensus All-American, Werner recorded 18 tackles for loss and 13 sacks during the 2012 season.

8. Tennessee Titans: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

The Tennessee Titans have had a below-average pass defense this season. They've given up an average of 247 yards a game, good for 26th in the league.

Dee Milliner would do a lot to improve the Titans secondary. He hasn't racked up a ton of interceptions at the collegiate level, but Milliner has all the tools to excel in the NFL.

9. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

You can count on either Matt Barkley or Taylor Lewan being selected here if the Arizona Cardinals trade out of the position.

It doesn't appear that either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton will be the long-term choice at quarterback for Arizona. The Cardinals missed with one USC QB (Matt Leinart), but Barkley appears to be a much more NFL-ready prospect despite his fall down many draft boards.

10. San Diego Chargers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Philip Rivers deserves plenty of blame for the San Diego Chargers' offensive problems, but he's not the only reason the team has failed.

Lewan can improve what has been a very shaky offensive line this season.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Almost every draft scout around seems to be in unison that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need secondary help in the draft. With Josh Freeman and Doug Martin, they're set in the key positions offensively.

If Milliner is off the board, Jonathan Banks is a solid second choice.

12. New York Jets: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Some fans might want a new quarterback this offseason. It's unlikely that management will bring somebody else in for Mark Sanchez.

The New York Jets are in need of a pass-rusher, and Damontre Moore provides athleticism that he can come off the edge and hassle the quarterback.

13. Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Defensive tackle is the biggest need for the Carolina Panthers. Lotulelei could drop this far, but that's unlikely. Jonathan Hankins and Sheldon Richardson will be their likely options.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU

The Pittsburgh Steelers are an aging football team. They'd probably love Barkevious Mingo or another outside linebacker for their 3-4 defense.

15. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, California

Ryan Tannehill needs some weapons. He's had a very good rookie season overshadowed by the spectacular years of Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

Keenan Allen would be an immediate upgrade at wideout.

16. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

It's clear that the New Orleans Saints are going to look to defense. They have the worst unit in the league, averaging 434 yards a game. Jesse Williams will be a much better option than Sedrick Ellis was this past season.

17. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Guards don't generally go in the middle of the first round. The St. Louis Rams need help on the offensive line, and with Joeckel and Lewan off the board, Chance Warmack warrants the high selection.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

The Dallas Cowboys need some serious help on the offensive line. Their situation is very similar to that of St. Louis, and while taking a guard here might not be the norm, Jonathan Cooper is worth the pick.

19. New York Giants: Sam Montgomery, DE, New York Giants

As good as the New York Giants have been over the past few years in getting after the quarterback, Sam Montgomery is a much-needed prospect.

20. St. Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

The Rams will shore up their line for the next five years by selecting Jake Matthews. With he and Warmack together, Sam Bradford should feel pretty safe.

21. Minnesota Vikings: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

The Minnesota Vikings need a passing game, otherwise the superb production of Adrian Peterson will all be for naught. Terrance Williams will give Christian Ponder a weapon.

22. Chicago Bears: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

If the Chicago Bears don't solidify their offensive line, Jay Cutler could very well break down physically in the next few years with all the punishment he has taken. They need to look to the offensive line.

23. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia

Running back is one of the biggest positions of need for the Cincinnati Bengals. However, they'd be reaching by selecting one in the first round. Alec Ogletree will help improve what has been an average linebacking corps.

24. Indianapolis Colts: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

The Indianapolis Colts need to improve in the front seven. They are 30th in the league against the rush. Jesse Williams will be a run-stopper for years in Indianapolis.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, SS, Florida

Ed Reed is entering the twilight of his career and publicly contemplated retirement before. Matt Elam gives the Baltimore Ravens a backup option and replacement for Reed.

26. Seattle Seahawks: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

The Seattle Seahawks could be hit hard by free agency in the upcoming offseason. They have two defensive tackles who can become free agents, meaning the Seahawks could be looking for at least one replacement in the draft.

27. San Francisco 49ers: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

It's not as if the San Francisco 49ers are in desperate need at any position. Dion Jordan can provide some depth on what has been, at times, a thin defensive line.

28. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Jermichael Finley has been poor this season. If Tyler Eifert or another good tight end is available, the Green Bay Packers should pounce.

29. New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

The New England Patriots have been gutted at times through injury in their receiving corps. Tavon Austin could vastly improve the depth available to Tom Brady.

30. Denver Broncos: Sharif Floyd, DT, Florida

There aren't too many holes in this Denver Broncos team. One area that could use improvement, though, is the defensive line.

31. Houston Texans: Robert Woods, WR, USC

Andre Johnson is a beast, but he doesn't have much around him. Robert Woods gives Johnson some relief.

32. Atlanta Falcons: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

The Atlanta Falcons might be 13-2, but their defense is only 23rd in the league when it comes to yards per game. Ezekiel Ansah is the kind of guy who has all the potential in the world, but it's a matter of him turning that into real production.


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