2013 NFL Mock Draft: Players Who Will Get Massive Boost from Combine
Every year before the NFL draft we hear about players who are "workout warriors." These are the players who look great in shorts and a t-shirt but may require more development out of college than other stars who will be taken ahead of them.
Teams know there is a certain value you can put into on-field performance in college. But there are certain tangible things that also warrant a player moving way up draft boards.
Of course, workout warriors are like every other player taken in the draft. You are going to miss a lot more than you hit, though it can look worse with these particular players because all you based their talent on is what they did without pads.
Regardless, the number of players who will get a boost in this year's draft because of the Scouting Combine looks to be substantial. Here is a look at our latest mock draft, with special emphasis on the workout warriors.
Players getting a boost are in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Geno Smith, QB, WVU
This year's quarterback class is a crap shoot that could lead to one or two being taken in the first round, though it's entirely possible that teams go for better value selections early and address the position later.
Since the Chiefs are so desperate to address their need at quarterback, Smith could easily end up being the player they have their eyes on. He has good size and the body to add more bulk so he can absorb hits at the next level.
What the Chiefs will fall in love with is poise in the pocket, ability to throw on the run and arguably the best arm strength of any quarterback in this class. He will need to prove that he can put touch on the ball, but everything else will make him too difficult to pass up.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Lotulelei is a prototypical defensive tackle. He has the huge frame that you can plug into the middle of the line, let him eat up blockers and create space for pass-rushers off the edge.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore is the best pure talent avaiable in this draft. He has great power to bull rush offensive lineman, with plenty of speed to come around the edge and make life miserable for quarterbacks. The fact he is a force against the run is an added bonus.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Eagles should throw a party if Joeckel makes it to this spot. Chip Kelly's offensive system doesn't require a lot of blocking and scheming up front, but this franchise has been so putrid in the trenches for years that it needs to make significant upgrades now.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Following a season that can only be classified as a disaster, the Lions are in a spot where they can make a significant upgrade and get right back into contention in 2013. Milliner has the potential to be a true shutdown corner at the next level.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU
While not their most pressing need, the Browns do need to address their pass-rush and Werner provides the most bang for their buck at this spot. He gives them speed off the edge that can help a very good secondary so that group doesn't have to do quite as much.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Even though there will be calls to find a new quarterback, I am still interested to see what Kevin Kolb can do behind a good offensive line. Warmack is a great talent at the guard position, with the ability and experience to step in right away and be the Cardinals' best offensive lineman.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
If the Bills are serious about shedding their label as a soft, underachieving defense, adding Jones to their linebacker corps will give them a player with the instincts and tackling ability to provide this defense a much-needed spark and identity.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Barkevius Mingo, DE, LSU
While not as productive as fellow LSU teammate Sam Montgomery, Mingo is going to be one of the most-talked about players when he works out for scouts and evaluators.
Already regarded as a top 10 talent, Mingo will solidify his spot with his workout. He is a great physical specimen at 6'5", 240 pounds and arguably the best pure pass-rushing skills of anyone in this draft.
The Jets still have plenty of pieces on defense to be one of the best units in the NFL, but they need that spark on the line to get back to where they were in 2009 and 2010. Mingo has the physical ability to be that piece.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Titans are a mess defensively, so there are a number of directions they could go. One of the easiest ways to mask a deficiency is by finding a defensive tackle. Richardson is a do-it-all tackle with the ability to break through the line to blast the quarterback, stuff the run and make an occasional open-field tackle.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Fisher is the kind of pick the Chargers need to make. New head coach Mike McCoy knows that a quarterback is only as good as the offensive line allows him to be, and Fisher has the upside to be worthy of a pick this high.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Now that we know, at least to some extent, that Ryan Tannehill can play, it is time for the Dolphins to add weapons around him. Patterson is the kind of big-bodied playmaker teams look for on the outside who can create matchup problems.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
While a cornerback would be ideal for the Buccaneers, there isn't one worthy of being taken at this spot. Instead, the team can add one of the best pure athletes at linebacker.
Ogletree is not close to a finished product, though his performance at Georgia in 2012 was terrific. He had 99 total tackles, two sacks and one interception. His speed and ability to move laterally allows him to make plays all over the field.
The Buccaneers really need to establish an identity on defense. The simplest way to do that is finding a leader at the linebacker position.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio St.
With the Panthers finding the leader the defense needed with Luke Kuechly last year, they need to get the big body in the middle of the defensive line that can help them get consistent stops and allow the offense to play from ahead a lot more than it has the last two years.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Jordan is a bit light for an NFL defensive end, but he can add more muscle to handle bigger defenders. What he doesn't need to worry about is speed, as he is fantastic at getting off the line and rushing off the edge. The Saints need help in every area on defense, so Jordan will be just one piece of what should be a full-blown remodeling.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
While it was not exactly an historically great season, the Rams' turnaround in 2012 was a huge step for this franchise. The biggest area of need is on the offensive line and keeping Sam Bradford upright.
Johnson is a bit raw, but he has evolved into a solid tackle prospect who can be a consistent starter for a long time.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Ezekiel Ansah, LB, BYU
One of the reasons the Steelers fell apart in 2012 is injuries brought on by having an older team. They need to start building the defense with younger, explosive players. It is hard to think of a more exciting raw talent in this class than Ansah.
When you play for a team like the Steelers, you have to be versatile and play multiple positions. Ansah has the speed to play outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme and the power to lineup on the edge in the 4-3.
The Steelers are just a piece here and there from getting back into the postseason and competing for Super Bowls, so adding Ansah should not be viewed as them taking a new approach to building that still-stout defense.
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18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Despite their best efforts in the draft and free agency, the Cowboys haven't been able to put together a competent secondary. They have a few pieces in place, like Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.
What they need is a big, hard-hitting safety who can go get the ball anywhere on the field. Vaccaro is the best safety in this year's class and a perfectly valid choice at this spot.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Montgomery is more NFL-ready than LSU teammate Barkevious Mingo, but he doesn't have the same upside. He can be used as a replacement for Osi Umenyiora and add more impact to one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
20. Chicago Bears (9-7): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
I know the Bears need to figure out what they are doing with their offensive line, but all of the good options are gone. Instead, they could add some youth to the middle of their defense with Short. He was an incredibly productive, albeit inconsistent, player with 14.5 tackles for loss in 2012.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Keenan Allen, WR, California
A bit of a reach here, but the Bengals need another playmaker on the outside to take some pressure off A.J. Green. Allen is more of a possession receiver than true No. 2, but he has good hands and gets good separation from defenders by being physical.
22. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1, via Washington Redskins): Eric Reid, S, LSU
After stabilizing their offensive line with the No. 16 pick, the Rams will look to bolster their secondary with Eric Reid.
Reid is a player who sees the field incredibly well and has the closing speed to make all the plays, which is what you want in a strong safety. The Rams are building a foundation, and every team needs an impact safety on defense in order to establish their identity.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Williams strikes me as a sleeper heading into this draft. He has incredible straight-line speed and is big enough to overpower cornerbacks at the next level. The Vikings need to add receivers who can help Christian Ponder continue to evolve as a passer.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Fluker comes from Offensive Line U., and the Colts need to find ways to protect Andrew Luck if he is going to become everything they expect him to be.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
While the Seahawks have an incredible defense already, they are not a perfect unit. They need help in the middle, and Jenkins will make them better against the run, which was the one area they had some problems in.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Aaron Rodgers deserves a medal for having the success he did in 2012 behind that offensive line. Cooper is a powerful lineman with smooth technique and does not need a lot of seasoning to reach his ceiling.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Robert Woods, WR, USC
While the play-action pass is nice, the Texans need to find more playmakers on the outside to help Andre Johnson so they don't always have to rely on the fake to move the ball down the field. Woods is not a burner, but he has speed and the ability to go get the ball in mid-air.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
As Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith proved numerous times against this team in the playoffs, the Broncos' age in the secondary is going to become a problem sooner rather than later. Rhodes has great speed to line up opposite fast receivers and keep up with players like Smith.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Trying to figure out what the Patriots are going to do in the draft is always a painful exercise. Hopkins is the kind of vertical threat this offense has been lacking since Randy Moss left town, so he will be the pick.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Tony Gonzalez was terrific in the postseason, but he sounds like a player ready to call it a career. That leaves a huge hole in the middle of this offense. Ertz is an aggressive, sure-handed tight end who can make the transition easier on everyone.
31. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Matt Elam, S, Florida
As great as Ed Reed is when he plays, he is getting older and has been fragile for the last few years. Elam obviously doesn't possess the same kind of talent, but he is ready to play and makes up for his lack of speed with great instincts.
32. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Justin Smith is getting older and won't be around forever. Considering how important he is to that defense, it is imperative the 49ers find a young defensive lineman that can play multiple positions and handle himself in run and pass coverage.
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