NFL Mock Draft 2013: Injury Risks Who Will Be Major Steals

Austin GreenCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2013

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

Football is a violent sport, and injuries can often ruin an NFL player's career before it even starts.

However, each year a few prospects fight through injury problems to become highly successful NFL players. They are the minority, but there are inevitably a few of these players in every draft class.

In this week's mock draft, I will highlight some players who will still make a major impact despite their injury history.

*Prospects who will overcome injury problems are marked with an asterisk


1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

There isn't a sure-fire franchise quarterback in this class, but the Chiefs would be wise to select one as soon as possible.

Right now, it's looking like Geno Smith is the top QB on the board. That could change after pre-draft workouts and interviews, but for now, Smith should be the Chiefs' man.


2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Jacksonville desperately needs an elite pass-rusher, and Werner certainly fits that bill. The German-born player had 13 sacks this season for Florida State


3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Like the Jaguars, Oakland needs somebody who can get after the quarterback. Moore isn't completely polished, but he has amazing speed off the edge. He is perhaps the most explosive defensive end in this class.


4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

After finishing last in the league in touchdown passes allowed (33), the Eagles must address their secondary.

Milliner is the best corner available, and he would be a good fit in Philly. His size (6'1", 197 pounds) and speed (4.48 40-yard dash) are valuable assets, and he won't have any problems playing in the spotlight after winning back-to-back national titles with Alabama.


5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

Mingo is incredibly explosive, and he would fill a need for the Lions. With several key contributors heading for free agency, Detroit should select Mingo here.


6. *Cleveland Browns (5-11): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Jones is the top prospect who could slide because of his injury history. Jones suffered a severe neck injury in his freshman season at USC, which forced him to transfer to Georgia.

According to, doctors told Jones that "one or multiple hits could lead to severe nerve damage with potentially life-threatening ramifications."

Despite the injury, Jones went on to have a great career with the Bulldogs. This season, he was one of the top defensive players in the country, registering 78 tackles, 12.5 sacks and one interception.

With his speed and range, Jones is the top linebacker in this class. He may slide a few spots because of injury concerns, but I'm expecting him to be a perennial Pro Bowler.


7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

The Cardinals desperately need a quarterback, but they should select Joeckel if he's available here. Joeckel is the top offensive lineman on the board, and he could end up being the best player from this class.


8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse

The Bills recently hired former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone to the same position. Now, it only seems natural for them to add Nassib.

Nassib is quick decision-maker with a strong arm. If he improves his touch and accuracy, he will be a very good quarterback in this league.


9. New York Jets (6-10): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

New York could also go quarterback here, but I doubt Rex Ryan will reach for one.

Instead, look for them to add Warmack. The Alabama product is a dominant run-blocker, and he excels in pass protection as well. He would be a great addition to the Jets' offensive line.


10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

I don't have Lotulelei ranked as high as a lot of people, but the big defensive tackle is definitely a top 10 pick as of now. He has great size, is very mobile for his position and would instantly improve the Titans' poor run defense.


11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

The Chargers have a new coach and general manager. Now they need a new offensive tackle to keep Philip Rivers on his feet. With Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews returning to school, Fisher is the best tackle available.


12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Keenan Allen, WR, California

Allen is a fearless competitor with good size, speed and separation skills. He could be exactly what Ryan Tannehill needs to improve as a quarterback.


13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Tampa gave up the most passing yards per game (297.4) this season, so it should definitely upgrade its secondary. Banks isn't an elite cornerback, but he is the best available after Milliner.


14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Hankins is massive (6'3", 335 pounds) and has very impressive quickness for a man his size. He has the potential to be one of the best run-stoppers in the league.


15. *New Orleans Saints (7-9): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

Jordan suffered a shoulder injury against Colorado in October, and he was forced to leave the game. However, he was able to play the following week, so this isn't the most serious injury.
Although he did miss the Senior Bowl, Jordan is likely just being cautious. He wouldn't have been able to improve his stock much in the Senior Bowl anyway, and he has much more important events coming up.

Jordan might be the most athletic player in this draft, so he will look to impress scouts at his pro day and the NFL Scouting Combine.


16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

The Rams have a lot of options since they are the only team with two first-round picks. One thing that's certain is they need to address their offensive line and wide receiver positions to help out Sam Bradford.

Look for them to go with Cooper here, then pick up a receiver at No. 22.


17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame

Te'o's draft stock won't be affected by the Lennay Kekua fiasco. It will be affected, however, by his awful performance in the BCS National Championship Game. Te'o missed multiple tackles in that game, as he struggled against Alabama's speed and size.

Despite that game, Te'o is still worth a first-round pick. He would be a good addition to Pittsburgh.


18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Jay Ratliff recently got a DWI and Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter, so Dallas should definitely add a defensive tackle. 

Floyd would be the perfect fit in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme.


19. New York Giants (9-7): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

The Giants' pass-rushers disappointed this season, and they could use some fresh legs along the D-line.
Ansah is very raw, but he is one of the most impressive athletes in this class. If he lands in the right situation, he could end up being a dominant force in the NFL.


20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee

Like San Diego, the Bears suffered with the news that Lewan and Matthews would be returning to school.

Even though the crop is thinned, Chicago should still pick up a new offensive tackle. Thomas is a solid pass-protector who could prevent Jay Cutler from taking so many hits.


21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Matt Elam, SS, Florida

The Bengals have several needs on the defensive side of the ball, so they should take the best player available. Elam, a bone-crunching safety with good coverage skills, should be their pick.


22. St. Louis Rams (from Redskins): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

The Rams should definitely draft a receiver with their second pick of the first round. Patterson's height (6'3") and speed (4.48 40-yard dash) make him an attractive option.


23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

Christian Ponder needs another weapon, and Adrian Peterson needs someone to take some of the offensive burden off him. Austin would be the perfect option, as he is one of the fastest and most dangerous playmakers in this class.


24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Sheldon Richardson, DT/DE, Missouri

Richardson's versatility should appeal to the Colts, as he can play defensive tackle or defensive end in their 3-4 scheme. He is very mobile for his size, and he's strong at both run-stopping and pass-rushing.


25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

The Seahawks were one of the most complete teams in football this season, but they could still use another receiver. I will likely have a few different players here leading up to the draft, but for now, I'm going with Hunter.

He's a big receiver and he has some of the best hands in the class.


26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

After getting shredded by Colin Kaepernick in the NFC playoffs, the Packers clearly need to add a defensive player.

Williams, with his ability to stop the run and free up his teammates, would be a solid option.


27. Houston Texans (12-4): Robert Woods, WR, USC

The Texans won't be a true Super Bowl contender until they give Matt Schaub another receiver. Woods, who can play in the slot or the outside, would be a great addition to Houston.


28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU

The Broncos lost to the Ravens in the AFC playoffs because of mishaps in their secondary. Champ Bailey is getting awfully old, and Denver could use some fresh legs in the defensive backfield.

With Milliner and Banks off the board, the Broncos should go with Xavier Rhodes.


29. *New England Patriots (12-4): Barrett Jones, C/OG Alabama

Barrett Jones needs surgery after playing the BCS National Championship Game with torn ligaments in his left foot (h/t Associated Press, via Huffington Post).

Although this isn't an ideal development, I doubt this injury will have much effect on Jones' career. He was able to play against Notre Dame, and he led the dominant performance put on by Alabama's offensive line.

Jones is a versatile lineman who has played in three national championship games. He would be a great fit in New England, especially since they know he can successfully play through pain.


30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

The Falcons could use some youth along the defensive line. Montgomery, with his speed and relentless motor, would be a great addition to their team.


31. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

The Ravens made it to the Super Bowl with their old defense, but they likely won't be as lucky next year. They will need to add a strong young player on the defensive side of the ball, and Jenkins looks like the perfect option.

Jenkins is a huge lineman (6'4", 363 pounds) who excels at stuffing the run. He would be a good pickup for the Ravens, who ranked 20th in opponents' rushing yards (122.8 per game).


32. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas

San Francisco doesn't have many holes, but they could use a cheap and effective replacement for Dashon Goldson. Vaccaro, with his strong coverage skills and willingness to stop the run, would be an ideal option.


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