2013 NFL Mock Draft: Underrated Prospects Who Will Prove General Managers Wrong
Hindsight is definitely 20/20, and that is never more true than when we discuss past sports drafts.
We always look back at NFL drafts from the past and say: "Wow, I can't believe Team X passed on this guy."
In five years, we'll look back at the 2013 NFL draft and dissect some since fired general manager's decisions, and disgruntled fanbases will fantasize about what would have happened had their team drafted this guy or that guy.
In this mock draft, I'm highlighting the players that will prove general managers wrong for undervaluing them. They will make many teams and their fans sorry they didn't select them when they had the chance.
(The highlighted players will have a feature image.)
1. Kansas City Chiefs: LT, Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
However, the smart pick is Joeckel.
The Chiefs should certainly use their second-round pick, or even create a package of picks to add a second first-round selection to take a QB, but they can't let an opportunity to solidify the left tackle position slip by them.
Joeckel is the closest thing to a can't miss prospect in this draft. The Chiefs would be wise to make him the top pick.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB, Jarvis Jones, Georgia
The Jags probably don't have the heart to take Smith, Tyler Wilson or Mike Glennon here—even though they should.
Their need for a QB should trump all.
That being said, Jones is the best defensive prospect in the draft. He's a dynamic pass-rusher and stands to make an immediate impact wherever he goes.
Even with that, this team needs an offensive identity soon, and this obviously doesn't help them in that regard.
3. Oakland Raiders: DE, Bjoern Werner, Florida State
The Raiders' defense ranked 31st in the NFL in sacks. Drafting a pass-rusher is a no-brainer. Though they would probably prefer Jones, the Jaguars won't let him slip to the Raiders.
Werner is no slouch, though.
He had 13 sacks as a junior for the Seminoles and is the type of player that can improve the Raiders' pass rush immediately.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: QB, Geno Smith, West Virginia
The Eagles will be bitten by the lack of solid offensive tackle prospects. That would be their ideal position to target, but Smith is far from a flimsy consolation prize.
He's the best QB prospect in the draft, and he has the athleticism to play in newly-hired head coach Chip Kelly's system (ESPN's Chris Mortensen).
Smith could have great success in Philly, but much of that would depend on the health of oft-injured tackle Jason Peters.
No matter what happens, the Jaguars will wish they took him with the No. 2 pick.
5. Detroit Lions: MLB, Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Te'o is still a superb prospect, despite a less-than-stellar performance in the BCS title game. Alabama was a better team, and you'll be hard pressed to find any Notre Dame player that played well in that game.
The Lions need leadership and second-level run support. Te'o can deliver in both areas.
His intangibles are off the charts, and if there is a team in the NFL that could benefit from a positive locker-room presence, it's the Lions.
Te'o will prove all the critics that overreacted to his final collegiate game wrong.
6. Cleveland Browns: DE, Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
I love Moore's upside as a pass-rusher, and I love the Browns' young defense.
However, the team could use another playmaker on offense most of all. This draft class doesn't have a player at this stage worthy of selecting with that skill set.
Because of that, the Browns seem like a solid candidate to trade down. If they keep the pick, you can't have too many young and capable pass-rushers.
7. Arizona Cardinals: QB, Mike Glennon, N.C. State
Even though the Cardinals' O-line is terrible, they need a QB more.
Kevin Kolb could get another shot, and Ryan Lindley could improve, but the team can't afford to waste any more of Larry Fitzgerald's career.
The Cardinals will be better off looking to Branden Albert, Ryan Clady or Jake Long in free agency to address the O-line needs.
Glennon is a rising prospect with prototypical size at 6'5" 232 pounds, and ample arm strength.
He would finally represent a future at the position for the Cardinals.
8. Buffalo Bills: QB, Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB just hasn't worked for the Bills.
Wilson's stock seems to be on the rise, and it could go even higher by April. If they have the chance, the Bills have to draft Wilson here.
New Bills head coach Doug Marrone needs a QB that can make deep throws, and Fitzpatrick's biggest weakness is his lack of arm strength.
Look out for Ryan Nassib, Marrone's QB at Syracuse to leap up draft boards, and possibly become an interesting choice here.
For now, I'm going with Wilson.
9. New York Jets : OLB/DE, Barkevious Mingo, LSU
This has to be the Jets' pick.
Mingo could save Rex Ryan's job with his ability to rush the quarterback. Sacks and pressure are directly linked to Ryan's success in New York, and Mingo is a natural for the 3-4 OLB spot.
The Jets' sack total and wins have declined since 2010 when they had 40 as a team. Mingo instantly upgrades the team in that area.
10. Tennessee Titans: DT, Star Lotulelei, Utah
When your defense gives up 30 or more points nine times, something has to give. The Titans have to take the best defensive player available, and in this scenario, that would be Lotulelei.
I've seen him projected to go throughout the top 10, but he would be a steal for the Titans here. Lotulelei has definite star potential.
In 2012, he had 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles. He is simply a disruptive force that the Raiders and Jaguars would regret not selecting.
11. San Diego Chargers: OT, Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Fisher will benefit greatly from Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews pulling out of the draft, per BoltBeat.com.
His stock will rise considerably because the tackle crop is a lot less attractive with Lewan and Matthews going back to school.
Fisher is a good prospect and the Chargers need a LT, so it makes sense from that standpoint.
12. Miami Dolphins: WR, Keenan Allen, California
Brian Hartline was the Fins' leading receiver in 2012 with 74 receptions for 1,083 yards, but he's best suited as a complementary option.
Allen has the skills to be a true No. 1 receiver. The team could go with an offensive tackle here, but getting Ryan Tannehill weapons is more important for them.
Allen's speed and playmaking would be a nice addition to the Miami offense.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB, Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Bucs have to draft a cornerback. The secondary is a joke, and they just drafted safety Mark Barron in 2012.
They were last in passing yards allowed in 2012; The absence of Aqib Talib (now with the New England Patriots) was felt.
The team could look at a pass-rusher, but a cover guy trumps the need for a defensive lineman.
Milliner comes from a great college defense, and he would be reunited with former Crimson Tide safety Barron.
14. Carolina Panthers: DT, Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
The Panthers finished the season with four wins in a row, Cam Newton was playing like a future superstar again, but the Panthers still need a nasty run-stopping presence on the D-line.
Hankins could make an immediate impact.
He could easily be a Vince-Wilfork type for the Panthers.
With so much athleticism in their linebacking corps (Jon Beason, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis), and on the edge (Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson), Hankins could key a very good run defense.
15. New Orleans Saints: DT, Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
The Saints allowed a staggering 7,042 yards to their opponents this season. They have to address their defense.
Richardson fits in the Saints' 4-3 scheme as the under tackle. His stock could rise after combine workouts, but if he remains a mid-first-rounder, the Saints should pounce on him.
They need more than just one player, but this is a good start.
16. St. Louis Rams: G, Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Rams have built a solid young defense, and they have stockpiled draft picks. They are in position to be a good team in the very near future. To get there, they must improve their offense, and bolstering the O-line is a great start.
When it's all said and done, the player from the 2013 draft class with the most Pro Bowl selections could very well be Warmack.
He's an excellent guard prospect, but many will pass on him because the position is undervalued.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT, Johnathan Jenkins, Georgia
The Steelers will need to replace DT Casey Hampton.
He is 35 years old and set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. I would be surprised to see the Steelers bring him back.
Jenkins is the type of big, strong presence the Steelers need to anchor their run defense.
18. Dallas Cowboys: DE, Ezekiel Ansah, Brigham Young
The Cowboys' biggest problems are on the defensive side of the ball.
They were 19th against the pass and 22nd against the run. Those aren't stellar defensive numbers, and it puts too much pressure on Tony Romo and the offense to win shootouts.
Ansah is a young and big defensive end that can play in the 3-4 or the 4-3.
Rob Ryan has been fired, and the Cowboys could moving away from the 3-4, per Pro Football Talk. Taking players that can excel in a different system is a smart approach.
19. New York Giants: DE, Dion Jordan, Oregon
With Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora showing decline, and set to become free agents soon (Umenyiora is set to become a free agent after the season, and Tuck's contract is up after 2013), the Giants have to retool the defensive line.
A prospect like Jordan could help New York maintain depth on the defensive line.
Jordan did suffer a torn labrum that will keep him out of the Senior Bowl. No word yet if that will impact his draft status.
20. Chicago Bears: OT, Lane Johnson
With the Bears hiring Marc Trestman as head coach and Aaron Kromer as offensive coordinator (NFL.com), the team finally has some new offensive direction.
Johnson is a bit overrated in my opinion, but drafting him him makes sense. Barrett Jones of Alabama would be the best selection, though.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: RB, Giovanni Bernard, North Carolina
QB Andy Dalton needs a running back with more playmaking ability, and Bernard fits the bill.
This is a perfect match of team need and player skill-set. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has played admirably, but he is not the type of RB that can make people miss in the open field, or break off huge gains.
At North Carolina, Bernard averaged 6.67 yards per carry, and had nine rushes of 20 yards or more. That proves his ability to turn a four- or five-yard gain into something bigger.
Adding that element to the Bengals' offense would be huge. The play-action pass will become an even bigger weapon for the team.
Bernard could win offensive rookie of the year if the Bengals draft him, and he stays healthy. If he goes here, the Dallas Cowboys will be sorry they didn't draft him to step in for the oft-injured DeMarco Murray.
22. St. Louis Rams: TE, Tyler Eifert
The mission to put a formidable offense around Sam Bradford will continue with this selection. Some people like Stanford's Zach Ertz as the top tight end, but I like Eifert's ball skills a bit better.
The Rams really can't go wrong either way. Both players would give Bradford a valuable weapon up the seams.
23. Minnesota Vikings: WR, Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
The Vikings need another receiver whether Percy Harvin is with the team or not. Harvin missed seven games and was still the team's leading receiver.
Pro Football Talk reports that Harvin and head coach Leslie Frazier could be on the outs.
In any case, a bigger and capable receiver like Patterson makes the Vikings better.
Because of Minnesota's weak receiving corps, Patterson could land on a team that allows him to start from day one.
24. Indianapolis Colts: DT, Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Floyd has big-time potential as a pass-rushing DT. As far as versatility, he could fit as a DE in the Colts' 3-4 defensive system.
On talent alone, he could easily be a top 10 pick, but there are concerns about his character (CBS Sports).
The Colts have a strong locker room, and that would aid them in getting the most out of Floyd.
25. Seattle Seahawks: WR, Tavon Austin, West Virginia
No team has a brighter future than the Seahawks. They have a strong defense, a solid running game and a young quarterback in Russell Wilson that will only get better.
Austin is only 5'9", but he could be an excellent slot receiver in the NFL. More importantly, he could be an invaluable weapon as a kick and punt returner.
He is simply a playmaker.
As a senior, Austin had a total of 2.917 yards as a receiver, rusher, kick and punt returner. He scored 17 total touchdowns.
The Seahawks are already a potent team on both sides of the ball. Getting an explosive player like Austin would only make them better.
26. Green Bay Packers: C, Barrett Jones, Alabama
Aaron Rodgers can not get sacked 51 times in 2013, and the Packers' running game must be more consistent if the team wants to advance further in the postseason.
Jones is perhaps the most versatile O-lineman in the draft, and the Packers could play him at center or guard. While a few players projected as tackles may be drafted higher, none will be better pros than Jones.
The Bears will be sorry they didn't add him to their make-shift line.
27. Houston Texans, WR, DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
It is time for the Texans to draft Andre Johnson's replacement. Johnson stayed relatively healthy this season, but his long-term durability is still a concern. The 31-year old missed 12 games combined in 2010 and 2011.
After a big game against LSU in the Chick fil-A Bowl, Hopkins' stock is as high as it's ever been. He's a solid 6'2" 205 pounds and he caught 18 touchdown passes for the Tigers in 2012.
28. Denver Broncos: CB, Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Torrey Wilson's absolute destruction of Champ Bailey in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game proves the Broncos need to get younger at the cornerback position.
Rhodes is 6'2" 217 pounds, and his size is a major plus with big receivers dominating in the NFL.
He had just three interceptions in 2012 for the Seminoles, but his ability to be physical with receivers will be valuable.
Dee Miliner may be the top-rated corner in the draft, but Rhodes will be the best pro. Teams like the Buccaneers will be sorry they didn't draft him.
29. Baltimore Ravens: SS, Matt Elam, Florida
The Ravens need to get younger on defense. They will probably allow Dannell Ellerbe the first opportunity to replace the great Ray Lewis at mike linebacker, so grabbing a safety makes sense.
Bernard Pollard is a big-hitter, but sometimes he abandons common sense.
He has become a personal-foul and/or unnecessary-roughness penalty magnet. He was called for seven such penalties this season per NFLPenalties.com.
Elam could step in and play right away. It would give the Ravens a younger, less expensive and possibly more disciplined option in the secondary.
30. San Francisco 49ers: WR, Robert Woods, USC
Despite Michael Crabtree's very solid 85 catches and 1,105 yards in 2012, the offense would still benefit greatly from a vertical threat like Woods.
Randy Moss is a good mentor to young Niners' receivers, but he clearly isn't the player he once was. He had only 28 receptions during the regular season.
Woods can be the deep threat the Niners wanted Moss to be.
He had 76 receptions for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012 for the Trojans. He was sometimes overshadowed by super-sophomore Marqise Lee, but Woods is a talent as well.
31. New England Patriots: WR, Terrance Williams, Baylor
New England has a knack for drafting gems late in the first round. It's a product of successful seasons, good scouting and excellent culture. Those factors would serve them well here.
Brandon Lloyd had a good regular season, and he played well against the Houston Texans on Sunday, but he's 31 years old and the team could upgrade their outside receiver positions.
Williams' 17-catch, 314-yard, two-touchdown performance against West Virginia was no fluke, even though it came against a less-than-stellar defense.
Baylor receivers have fared pretty well in the NFL recently (Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright). Williams will be the best receiver from this class, and the Rams, Vikings and 49ers will be sorry they didn't draft him.
32. Atlanta Falcons: DE, Sam Montgomery, LSU
The Falcons defeated the Seahawks to reach the NFC title game, but their defense in the second half was shaky. Giving up 28 second-half points was excessive, but not surprising considering the mediocre play of the defensive line.
This team doesn't generate a consistent pass-rush. They recorded only 29 sacks this season, and their leader in that area is 34-year-old John Abraham.
He had 10 sacks, but the Falcons need to get younger and better on the defensive line. Montgomery projects as a legitimate NFL pass-rusher, and he tallied eight sacks for the Tigers this season.
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