With only the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens left alive in the postseason, fans of every other franchise in the league have only the offseason and, more specifically, the 2013 NFL draft to look forward to in the coming months.
There are plenty of teams that have a number of major needs, but it seems that offensive linemen are in high demand this year.
Fortunately, there is a great selection of big bodies and many look to be just the fit for desperate organizations.
Let’s focus on some offensive lines that direly need a new piece installed along the front five in our latest mock draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Joeckel is a longtime starter for the Aggies and proved over and over that he’s capable of handling any pass rush thrown at him.
The 6’6”, 310-pound monster has faced off against the best of the Big 12 and SEC with little trouble and easily one of the top prospects on the board in 2013.
The Chief may have a lot of needs—most notably at QB—but they will not be able to find a more skilled left tackle in the draft. Joeckel looks like a player who will earn the starting position in training camp and not relinquish it for over a decade.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
This is another team that needs to address the QB situation but can’t afford to gamble on one of the sub-par signal-callers available. Lotulelei will immediately help them rush the passer, stop the run and command double teams.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
With Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly likely out of the picture in Oakland, getting a talented, young pass-rusher is crucial. Moore is the best on the board and promises to make an impact immediately.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Philadelphia is now running a new offense with Chip Kelly coaching, but we imagine it will upgrade on defense with the No. 4 overall pick. Jones is an elite pass-rusher, a solid run-stopper and overall athlete that will make plays on D.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Detroit secondary wasn’t able to get many stops in 2012, so we foresee that void getting filled with the top talent on the board. Milliner is physical, smart and sizeable (6’1”, 199 lbs.), and, in the right situation, would immediately push to start as the Lions' top corner.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU
Werner is a machine that will come in and start making ridiculous plays for whichever team drafts him. If the Browns get a chance at this raw but talented prospect, they have to pull the trigger. He’ll improve their defense tremendously and is well worth the No. 6 selection.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Geno Smith, QB, WVU
Ever since Kurt Warner retired, this group cannot catch a break at the QB position. We foresee the Cardinals trying their luck once again, this time taking the highest-graded passer in the class and hoping to finally get some production under center.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Bills know that Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the answer, and ignoring that once again in 2013 will only cause more pain to the fans and franchise.
If they take a shot on the Razorbacks' QB, at least there will be a glimmer of hope for the organization to turn things around.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Barkevius Mingo, DE, LSU
The Jets are an absolute mess when it comes to the QB position, but we can’t see them taking a chance on Matt Barkley or any of the remaining signal-callers.
Rex Ryan is playing for his job and needs a perfect pass-rushing fit to help return his defense to one of the most feared units in the league. Mingo has the upside and physical tools to get this done.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Warmack grades out as one of the best guards in the last 15 years, and it wouldn’t be a shock at all to see him come off the board this early.
He’s an absolute beast (6’3”, 320 lbs.) that mauls defenders, clears running lanes, doesn’t let interior pass-rushers by and looks to be a Pro Bowl candidate from the moment he steps onto the field to the day he retires.
The Titans could use this type of player along their line, as they struggled to find lanes for RB Chris Johnson and QB Jake Locker needs more time to be throw if he’s going to develop into a franchise signal-caller.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Fisher is a big boy that is more of a finesse tackle than a power blocker. He hasn’t played against the best competition, but looked phenomenal during his stint with the Chippewas.
At 6’8”, 305 lbs., this kid shows a real balance that many linemen his size just can’t seem to find. He’s athletic enough to handle some of the quickest and fastest pass-rushers, while big and strong enough to clear running lanes when need be.
If the Chargers take a chance here, they will likely have a franchise tackle that will help keep Philip Rivers upright and able to throw the ball downfield. That is the team’s only chance of competing with Peyton Manning and the Broncos for the AFC West title.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
If the Dolphins want to develop Ryan Tannehill into a franchise signal-caller, they have to get serious about surrounding him with weapons.
Patterson is a high-upside beast that will quickly become a top target in South Beach.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
This is a high spot to draft an interior linebacker, but Ogletree isn’t your average player at the position.
The Bucs would benefit greatly from his sheer athleticism, versatility and power—giving them plenty of options to keep him on the field in most situations.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers need to stop the run and adding a big body to the middle of their D-line will do exactly that. Richardson is absurdly fast for his 6’4”, 295-pound frame, racks up tackles and doesn’t let ball-carriers past.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams is a tough player that uses a mean streak along with incredible size to help blow up offensive lineman, clog lanes and stop running plays.
The Saints were as awful as they come in allowing opposing RBs to decimate them for big gains and TDs, so addressing the DT situation is priority No. 1 in NOLA.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Sooners' 6’6”, 303-pound tackle is slowly gaining steam as a solid first-round pick and could go as high as No. 16 to the Rams.
With Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews returning to school, he’s one of the highest-graded OTs after Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher. A team that truly needs some help at the position could take a stab early and that’s why we have the Rams taking him here.
Johnson would immediately help the re-emerging Sam Bradford continue his ascent back up the elite QB rankings, while his presence would aid in reestablishing a running game in St. Louis.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Ezekiel Ansah, LB, BYU
Ansah has a ton of upside, but the Cougars' prospect is extremely raw. Going to the Steelers—a team with a veteran defense and a history of producing extremely great linebackers—would be the best possible scenario for both parties.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Barkley finally ends his free fall by landing in Big “D”, as the Cowboys' organization realize the Tony Romo era must come to an end soon. Unless Romo somehow guides this squad on a deep playoff run, we could see Barkley starting in 2014 after learning the ropes this coming campaign.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The G-Men used to be able to rely on elite pass-rushing and plenty of it, but will likely lose Osi Umenyiora this offseason. Replacing him with a young, high-potential athlete like Jordan would be a great idea and would help keep the Big Blue defensive front among the league’s best.
20. Chicago Bears (9-7): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Jay Cutler needs more options besides Brandon Marshall—one of the most targeted wideouts in the league—and Eifert would be great from the TE position. The Bears could always use another O-lineman if they don’t elect to go with the Notre Dame standout here.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Bengals are a good but not great team, evidenced by their back-to-back defeats in the Wild Card Round of the AFC playoffs. They need some better safety play to stop big-time receivers from breaking the game open against them, and Vaccaro is the best on the board in 2013.
22. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1, via Washington Redskins): Eric Reid, S, LSU
The Rams' defense improved drastically from 2011 to 2012, but still needs some better players in the secondary, specifically at safety. With Vaccaro off the board, Reid is the best option and could immediately push to start with the dearth of talent at the position.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Keenan Allen, WR, California
Adrian Peterson dragged the Vikings into the postseason, but this team isn’t going to find consistent success until Christian Ponder is making an impact throwing the ball. With Percy Harvin the team’s only consistent WR, it would make perfect sense to take a talented young wideout like Allen late in the first.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
If Andrew Luck continues to get bruised and battered like he did during his rookie season, the Colts aren’t going to have him playing at a high level for long.
Fluker is a high-upside prospect that will likely man the RT position and help clear paths for the run, while keeping edge rushers away from the young signal-caller.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio St.
Seattle was one of the best overall teams in 2012, but had a notable hole at DT. Hankins has a ton of potential as a prospect and could go much earlier than No. 25 come April. However, we have him slipping no further than No. 25 to a team that covets a sizeable, skilled young defensive lineman.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The Packers let Aaron Rodgers take hits and had barely any semblance of a running game, which is why they need to address that issue by taking an elite interior lineman like Cooper.
The Tar Heels' product will help boost a non-existent ground game in Green Bay and keep Rodgers upright in order to make it back to the postseason and further than the divisional round.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Robert Woods, WR, USC
Andre Johnson isn’t going to be around forever and the Texans need more help at WR outside of a No. 1. Woods could be a solid No. 2 for his career and projects to be a good possession receiver.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
The Broncos are a complete team that had some back luck against the Ravens, but need to keep their chins up in order to come back with a vengeance in 2013. Because of this, they can afford to take a gamble on someone who may not be ready right away.
Rhodes is raw but talented and looks to be a natural successor to the aging Champ Bailey.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
With Wes Welker the goat of the AFC Championship Game and the previous Super Bowl, there is a growing distaste between the fans of the Patriots and the diminutive receiver.
If they elect to let him go, expect a solid wideout like Hopkins to come off the board to the Pats.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Should Tony Gonzalez retire, Atlanta will have a huge hole at the TE spot and would need to use a first-round pick to acquire a replacement. Ertz ranks as the second-best in the class and should be a great value at No. 30.
31. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Speaking of retirements, Ray Lewis is set to end his 17-year career after the Super Bowl. Minter wouldn’t come close to replacing the leadership that Lewis provides, but has a ton of pure linebacker skills and knows how to tackle.
32. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Niners could always use some more skilled safeties and Elam looks to be a nice pick late in the first round.
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