2013 NFL Mock Draft: How New Coaching Hires Will Shake Up the Draft
The NFL is full of new blood at the coaching position this season. Chip Kelly will try his hand at the NFL game. Hot coordinators like Mike McCoy, Gus Bradley and Bruce Arians were given head-coaching gigs. Heck, even Andy Reid switched teams.
But how will all of this turnover affect the draft?
Excellent question, my fellow draftniks. While some teams atop the draft will stick by their "draft the best player" strategy—despite the fact that many of those teams still fail to, you know, draft the best player—new strategies and coaching tendencies promise to shake things up in April.
Let's take a few stabs at how those changes will affect the first round.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
When Andy Reid took over for the Philadelphia Eagles, the first thing he did was select quarterback Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick, despite many people clamoring for running back Ricky Williams.
That turned out to be the right decision.
Now, Geno Smith may not impress folks between now and the draft, but I have a hard time believing Reid will pass him up if he believes the West Virginia quarterback is capable of being a franchise quarterback. Matt Cassel is not the answer.
Smith may never be the player McNabb was, but I'd be surprised if Reid passes him up nonetheless.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
I would be very, very surprised if a defensive coach like Gus Bradley didn't select a defensive player with so many talented options to be had here. And Lotulelei seems like the best and safest pick of the bunch.
The Jaguars don't do anything particularly well, but they are terrible against the run, giving up 141 yards per game (30th in the NFL).
Bradley is coming from a team that won by running well, playing solid defense and getting surprising quarterback play from Russell Wilson. He can't transform the Jags' offense overnight, but he can make the defense much better by adding Lotulelei.
3. Oakland Raiders: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M, DE
The Raiders desperately need a playmaker. Remember, this is a team that had its kicker and punter as its finalists for this year's Madden cover contest. The team also needs someone to get after the quarterback, and Moore can certainly do that.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
There are so many ways this pick could go. The most logical move if the draft plays out as I have it going above is the team selecting Joeckel to solidify the line, a major weakness this year.
But there are plenty of unknowns here. If Geno Smith drops, he seems like a far better fit to run a Chip Kelly scheme than Nick Foles. If Kelly hires a defensive coordinator that wants to install a 3-4 defense, there are plenty of players the Eagles could look at here.
At No. 4, the Eagles are one of the biggest wild cards in this entire draft. No matter what, however, selecting Joeckel would be a smart and safe selection.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions desperately need to upgrade at corner, and Milliner is easily the best at the position in this draft. This pick seems the logical selection for Detroit.
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Browns may switch to a 3-4, and the team really needs a dangerous edge rusher. Jones is absolutely the perfect fit for the Browns in that case.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Bruce Arians did wonders with Andrew Luck this past season for the Indianapolis Colts. No, I'm not comparing Wilson to Luck, but I do think Arians and the Cardinals will add a quarterback with this pick.
There's no way Kevin Kolb or John Skelton can handle the vertical passing attack Arians will bring to Arizona. I would be surprised if Skelton was even on the team next year. Arizona needs to bring in a new quarterback, even if he sits behind Kolb for a season.
I promise you, Larry Fitzgerald will be okay with this pick.
8. Buffalo Bills: Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB
If there was a quarterback or wide receiver worth selecting this high, the Bills could go this route. But I think they'll focus on defense, and I think they'll focus on a big need at linebacker. A lot of people think Te'o will drop after his lackluster performance at the BCS Championship game, but he's still the top inside linebacker on the board.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB LSU
The Jets need a new quarterback, we all know that, but they can wait until the second round for that. What Rex Ryan really needs is a threatening rusher off the edge, and thankfully, there are plenty of those to go around in this draft.
10. Tennessee Titans: Bjoern Werner, Florida State, DE
To me, the Titans are either going to select a guard or a defensive end here. But I think with Werner still on the board, the team will look to bolster a toothless pass rush and hope to improve 2012's awful defense.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
If there is one thing new coach Mike McCoy knows, it's that he'll only be as successful as Philip Rivers allows him to be. And if there is one thing Rivers knows, it's that he desperately needs a left tackle in place that can actually keep him protected. There's no way the Chargers pass on Fisher if he's on the board.
12. Miami Dolphins: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Dolphins really, really need an upgrade at wide receiver, but there just isn't a player worth drafting this high at the position. Luckily for them they also need an upgrade at guard, and Warmack might be the best guard prospect in the past decade.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Some might say this is a reach for Banks, but the Bucs need an upgrade at cornerback badly, and they'll gladly reach slightly to fill the void.
14. Carolina Panthers: Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State, DT
It's not much of a secret that the Panthers need to improve at defensive tackle. This could be any number of talented tackle prospects, but for now Hankins tops my board.
15. New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
I'm getting nervous just imagining all of the creative ways Steve Spagnuolo will unleash Jordan on opposing quarterbacks. This could end up being one of the sneakiest yet best picks of the draft.
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
It's hard to imagine the Rams passing up on the top safety on the board when the team needs to upgrade both the free and strong safety position. The Rams are one of the teams that will be really disappointed that a few of the top tackles decided to return to school rather than hit the draft this year.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Steelers are going to be very annoyed that Vaccaro went one pick ahead of them.
No matter—the team will reach slightly to nab Elam, a talented player that will give the team some much-needed depth behind veterans Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The Cowboys have plenty of talent on this roster, but the team needs to improve the guard position. Dallas fans will be disappointed Warmack doesn't drop to them, but Cooper is a mauler in his own right.
19. New York Giants: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
I'm fairly certain Osi Umenyiora is once again angry with the New York Giants for, like, the 1,234,530th time. And one of the biggest disappointments for the Giants this season was a pass rush that seemed to disappear. Okafor is a versatile end, and a much-needed addition for the Giants.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
If only there were better offensive line prospects, that would be the obvious pick. But Chicago's vaunted linebackers are getting up there, and Ogletree is the sort of physical, athletic linebacker that Da Bears' faithful will love.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The team's biggest need is probably at strong safety, but there is no value at the position at this point on the board. But needing to bolster the cornerback position, the Bengals will reach ever so slightly to land the shutdown man from Florida State, Xavier Rhodes.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Keenan Allen, WR, California
Sam Bradford desperately needs a weapon out wide. If there is one thing that Allen is, it's a dangerous weapon. Bradford is going to love this guy.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Vikings will resist the urge to recreate the Williams Wall—passing over two defensive tackles with the last name of Williams—and will go with Jenkins from Georgia instead to improve the run defense.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The Colts were the league's best story this season, but their run defense was like that one really dumb plot line on your favorite television show that nearly ruins an entire season.
Williams is a run-stuffing beast, and he'll instantly help the Colts slow down opposing backs.
25. Seattle Seahawks: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Seahawks are a team on the rise, but the team could still use an upgrade at the tackle position. Fluker will slot in at the right tackle position and improve one of this year's most surprisingly effective offenses in the league.
26. Green Bay Packers: Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama
You can never go wrong protecting Aaron Rodgers. Jones can play anywhere on the line for Green Bay, and he's a high-character guy to boot.
27. Houston Texans: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Andre Johnson needs a running mate out wide, and Matt Schaub needs another reliable weapon. Patterson is a solid value at this slot and should seriously upgrade this team's passing game.
28. Denver Broncos: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Richardson drops a little more than people might expect since I think some folks will judge him to be a better 3-4 defensive end than 4-3 defensive tackle. But in Denver, he'll contribute by stuffing the run and rushing the passer effectively. This is a great value for the Broncos.
29. New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Yeah, yeah, I know, this team needs to upgrade at cornerback. But I don't think Wes Welker is coming back to New England, and Austin would be a scary weapon for Tom Brady to utilize in the slot.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
So long, Tony Gonzalez—you were the best tight end in NFL history.
You're up, Eifert—no pressure or anything.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
What do you get the team that surprised the entire AFC by making the Super Bowl? Well, they could use an upgrade at edge rusher. Enter Montgomery.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid, S, LSU
The one thing this defense could really use is an upgrade at the free safety position. You can throw the ball down the field on San Francisco. Reid is a nice value here and fills a major need.
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