2013 NFL Mock Draft: Biggest Priorities for Teams with New Regimes
Many franchises have new regimes in place keen on improving by making smart picks in April, and have certain needs at the top of the draft that are necessary to fill. Thankfully, a lot of talent—particularly on the defensive side of the ball—defines this impressive crop of prospects.
Here is a full first-round mock draft, with a specific focus on the organizations that are most in flux.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)—Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M
The Andy Reid coaching era in KC starts with the No. 1 overall pick. Reid has been criticized intensely for the personnel moves made at the end of his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, so going safe here would not be surprising.
Should the Chiefs not trade down, Joeckel is the best prospect to go with. Highly praised as one of the best tackle prospects in recent years, the Aggies' standout would immediately fortify the Chiefs' offensive line.
RB Jamaal Charles had a spectacular season coming off of a serious knee injury, but whoever is under center for the Chiefs in 2013 will need all the protection they can get.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)—Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
This pick is a no-brainer as far as need, regime and position are concerned. New head coach Gus Bradley will want to immediately upgrade the defense, but he will first need to get more pressure on the quarterback.
The Jags had an NFL-low 20 sacks this past season, so selecting a strong pass-rushing defensive end makes a lot of sense. The dilemma here will be which player to choose between the Aggies' Moore and Florida State's Bjoern Werner.
Both should be neck-and-neck coming down the stretch. However, with Moore's deeper football background and experience in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes in college, he should get the nod.
Moore still has room to improve himself, and shows exceptional speed and lateral quickness already. Bradley will be eager to plug him in from Day 1 to see what he can do.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12)—Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Richard Seymour is a free agent, and the Raiders' defense has been absolutely abysmal. Especially if Seymour doesn't return, Lotulelei is a strong selection here. He has the ability to command double teams even as a rookie, and should help Oakland immensely on that side of the ball.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)—Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Warmack is a big, physical guard prospect that is surprisingly agile for his size. New head coach Chip Kelly needs to have a strong offensive line to implement his innovative offensive concepts with success.
Offensive line play was a big reason for the Eagles' trials and tribulations in 2012. Poor protection led to a ton of hits taken by QBs Michael Vick and Nick Foles, and now the situation under center is very convoluted in Philadelphia.
The prospective return of All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters and the addition of Warmack would help whomever is taking the snaps substantially. Warmack is widely considered one of the best guard prospects in the past decade, and the best one ESPN's Todd McShay has ever evaluated.
That's very high praise, and it shows just how good Warmack is to stand out to that extent on a Crimson Tide offensive line that is always so huge and so good.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12)—Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
There isn't a lot of promise in the Lions' secondary. Even if Milliner is considered a bit of a reach at this point, he has emerged as the consensus No. 1 corner at this juncture, and it doesn't look as though it will change.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11)—Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
It's a totally new-look Browns team that is looking to win right away. New defensive coordinator Ray Horton would love to have a player with Werner's upside to put on the Browns' young, promising line and implement his attacking scheme with.
Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin anchor the interior of the line, while Jabaal Sheard has flashed nicely in his first two seasons. But Cleveland needs a premier pass-rusher, and Werner could be just that.
Werner is a bit of a risk due to his lack of football background, but has shown that he is an absolute freak of an athlete and produced enough in college to warrant such gaudy draft status.
Horton loves to blitz, and Werner can not only get to the quarterback effectively in those situations, but also has the ability to drop back into coverage.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)—Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Bruce Arians has had success developing young quarterbacks. He coached up Peyton Manning in his early days with the Indianapolis Colts and most recently did the same with last year's No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck.
Between then, Arians called the plays in Pittsburgh for Steelers Pro Bowl QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Although Wilson is not as hyped or necessarily of the caliber of those players, the Cardinals are in desperate need of a tough, smart quarterback to get their team back on the winning track.
It's a tall task for Wilson to fill in right way and succeed, especially if the Cardinals don't improve their horrific pass protection in a division facing the likes of St. Louis, Seattle and San Francisco.
But if any QB in the draft has the proper combination of high-level competition in college, pro tools and toughness to succeed right away in a pro style offense, it's Wilson.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10)—Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
As special as Jones is as a player, it's almost impossible to fathom him slipping to this point. As is evident in the previous picks, though, other teams have more pressing priorities to address.
Jones is an outstanding fit in any scheme, and should fill in as a pass-rushing linebacker should new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine—who just coached the New York Jets—stick with a 3-4.
There isn't anything Jones can't do, really. He is stout against the run, amazing at applying pressure to the quarterback and underrated when he drops into coverage.
Pettine learned under Rex Ryan in New York, and should no doubt have far more exotic schemes than his Buffalo predecessor Dave Wannstedt. The more free rein that Jones can be given as a rookie, the better.
Imagining a 3-4 OLB combo of Jones and Mario Williams along the edge of the Bills' front seven is scary.
9. New York Jets (6-10)—Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
This is a precarious position for new GM John Idzik to be in. Speculation is now rife that superstar CB Darrelle Revis will be traded, and that may net the Jets another top draft pick.
But Idzik doesn't have the leverage to trade up, and selecting a quarterback at this juncture would be a costly reach. Defense is already the strength of this team, but there are no skills players to take in this spot, either.
Don't be surprised to see Idzik trade down to garner more picks and get the roster rebuilding project underway. If the Jets do stay at No. 9. though, the best-player-on-the-board philosophy should be at work. That would lead to the selection of Mingo.
New York has a strong offensive line, Stephen Hill developing as a No. 2 receiver to go with Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley in the slot. The secondary is stellar, and the past two first-round picks have been used on the defensive line.
Hence, although Mingo's college numbers aren't as impressive as some, he is an outstanding, versatile athlete that would fit in immediately as a dynamic pass-rushing linebacker in the Jets' 3-4 scheme.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10)—Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
In a draft littered with eye-popping athletes, Ansah is no exception. According to NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, the Cougars' defensive end is drawing comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul from various talent evaluators.
For a Titans defense that struggled against both the run and the pass, Ansah has the potential to be a future star.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9)—Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
After dominating individual drills against the likes of Texas' Alex Okafor and whoever else he matched up with, Fisher has seen his stock explode at the Senior Bowl, and deservedly so.
Despite hailing from the MAC, there is nothing to indicate that Fisher won't succeed right away at the professional level despite the diminished level of his collegiate opposition.
QB Philip Rivers has experienced a decline in his past two seasons, particularly in 2012. Much of that was due to the Chargers' inability to protect him.
Head coach Mike McCoy has tailored offenses to the strengths of very diverse quarterbacks, this past season with Peyton Manning and the previous year with the ever-polarizing Tim Tebow.
New offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will have more of a ground-based attack, and Fisher is athletic enough to push opposing defenders to the next level and also lead-block on screen plays, as the Chargers should get Ryan Mathews more involved as the focal point of the offense.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9)—Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Last year's No. 1 receiver Brian Hartline is a free agent, but the Dolphins should be able to re-sign him. Still, the team is in need of a true top target for young QB Ryan Tannehill, and Patterson is the brightest talent in the class with outstanding size and ability to start right away.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)—Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
As poor as the Bucs' corners are, there is no one this early on in the draft that is worth taking a swing at.
That leaves Te'o, a smart, hard-nosed football player that head coach Greg Schiano would love. His ability to play coverage and disrupt passing plays would be invaluable with a corner not a viable option at this stage in the draft.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9)—Keenan Allen, WR, California
Receiver may not be the most pressing need. However, Steve Smith doesn't have many years left, and outside of Brandon LaFell, the Panthers don't have another strong prospect on the roster. That prompts the selection of Allen, who is one of the premier playmakers in this draft.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9)—Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Well, quarterback Drew Brees and the offense aren't the problem in New Orleans. There is a reason that Steve Spagnuolo is no longer calling the shots for the defense—it was a disaster in 2012.
There are a number of ways the Saints could go here, but Floyd is an agile run-stopper with a relentless motor that would give the defense a big boost even as a rookie.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)—Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
It remains to be seen what the fate of RB Steven Jackson will be. He has been admirably loyal to the Rams despite how awful they have often been in his career, but the offensive line could definitely use work.
Cooper is the best run-blocker on the board, and could help Jackson avoid a decline in production on the wrong side of age 30.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)—Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Jordan can excel in Dick LeBeau's 3-4 as an outside linebacker, and would learn from the likes of Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison. There wouldn't be much pressure for him to succeed right away, and he could simply come in on passing situations and be an instant force.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)—Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
Monte Kiffin is implementing the Tampa 2 defense as the team's new coordinator, which means the Cowboys need an impact middle linebacker to anchor the defense.
Sean Lee may be the player to do that, but Dallas should get some insurance at the position. Ogletree has to put on a little more weight, but is exceptional in coverage and has the range sideline-to-sideline to be a good fit in Kiffin's system.
19. New York Giants (9-7)—Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Cornerback is a huge need for the Giants, who failed to qualify for the postseason to defend their Super Bowl title largely because of frequent breakdowns in coverage. Corey Webster played particularly awful down the stretch.
Enter Banks, the best corner on the board at this juncture who plays outstanding coverage and can pack a punch against the run.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6)—Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Jay Cutler could use another possession target and better blocking to have a more consistent year as the Bears' quarterback. Ertz would help out that cause, and Chicago would kill two birds with one proverbial stone with this pick.
Not only is Ertz an extremely dangerous pass-catcher, but he can block very well, too. That could help him sneak out on play-action passes, which would be particularly valuable in the red zone.
He is a great fit for head coach Marc Trestman's West Coast offense, as he thrived in a similar system under David Shaw with the Cardinal.
The Bears' defense has been solid for years, and got off to a record-setting takeaway pace at the beginning of 2012. That core should still have one good year left, so it makes sense for Chicago to draft offense here.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)—D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Andre Smith's recent arrest and free-agent status may force the Bengals to draft another Crimson Tide offensive lineman to replace him.
RB Eddie Lacy is also a possibility here with the Bengals thin at running back, but with how sporadic the backfield production is, Cincinnati can search elsewhere for help in that regard.
22. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) (via Washington Redskins)—Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The Rams have already built an extremely strong defense and All-Pro Quintin Mikell had several years of experience in his Philadelphia days playing strong safety.
By selecting Vaccaro in the first round, moving Mikell to the strong side and combining those two with the corner tandem of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, the Rams might have the best young secondary in the NFL besides the division rival Seahawks.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)—Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
As outstanding as Percy Harvin is, he lines up in the backfield at times and doesn't have the size to be a true No. 1 receiver on the outside. That role could be filled by the talented Williams, who shined for the Bears with the graduation of Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)—Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
GM Ryan Grigson must protect his massive investment in QB Andrew Luck by supplying him with adequate pass protection.
Johnson protected Landry Jones' blindside well with the Sooners, and would form a strong tackle tandem along with 2011 first-rounder Anthony Costanzo.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)—Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Sure to be a workout warrior, Hunt is arguably the most intriguing prospect in the class. He stands at a towering 6'8" and weighs in at 280 pounds, and would give Seattle yet another terrifying athlete for opponents to deal with in its defensive front seven.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5)—Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
Pending free agent Brad Jones may be the odd man out in Green Bay, with many decisions needing to be made.
Dom Capers' defense needs a smart, sure-tackling 3-4 linebacker on the inside, and Brown has the speed to chase down dual-threat quarterbacks that should make him an attractive prospect late in Round 1.
27. Houston Texans (12-4)—Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Freeing up even more space for DE J.J. Watt would be huge for the Texans' defense, who fell short in the playoffs against more up-tempo offenses. If Williams lives up to his potential, opponents may have to double-team two players on Houston's defensive front.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3)—Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Rahim Moore's infamous play on the ball in the divisional round should trigger a move to free safety by veteran Mike Adams, or a draft pick spent on a younger prospect to keep Adams on the strong side.
Reid had a monster 2012 campaign as a first-team All-American, racking up 91 tackles and two interceptions for yet another prolific Tigers defense.
29. New England Patriots (12-4)—Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Aquib Talib helped fortify the Pats secondary, but the lack of depth was once again exposed in the AFC Championship Game when Talib left with a hamstring injury.
Rhodes has outstanding size at 6'2" and 211 pounds, and would give the Pats a potentially dynamic, physical CB duo.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)—Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Okafor is a huge need for the Falcons, who will lose all-time franchise sack leader John Abraham any year now. Defense is what essentially kept Atlanta from making the Super Bowl this season, and its unit registered just 29 sacks during the regular season.
31. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)—Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The legendary Ray Lewis is retiring, and Dannell Ellerbe may be departing in free agency. That makes inside linebacker a huge need for the Ravens, and Minter is a flat-out playmaker who could develop into a strong player in Baltimore for years to come.
32. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)—Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
As has been on display since Justin Smith's injury, the Niners have a bit of a depth issue on the defensive line. Richardson has some issues off the field and a history of injuries himself (h/t Pro Football Talk), but is an outstanding talent and would be a great fit in San Francisco.
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