2013 NFL Mock Draft: Which Teams Need a Defensive Upgrade?
The Super Bowl is over. That means it's time for teams to turn their attention to the 2013 NFL draft with hopes of finding players that can help the franchise follow in the footsteps of the Baltimore Ravens and win a championship in the near future.
The focus has shifted in recent years toward high-powered passing attacks and new formations like the pistol that can cause headaches for opponents. Due to that, teams should be focused on upgrading their defense to counteract the offensive firepower.
Front offices looking to accomplish that task in the draft are in luck. There are plenty of defensive prospects worth taking in the first round that should make an immediate impact. Here's a complete mock draft of Round 1, including deeper looks into three players that would shine in their new homes.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Kansas City still has a couple months to figure out of there's a quarterback worth taking first overall. It's the team's biggest need, but nobody is standing out quite yet. Joeckel is the best choice if a QB doesn't emerge.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Jacksonville's direction with this pick should be clear. The Jaguars finished with five fewer sacks than any other team. When you are getting that little pressure on the quarterback, it's extremely difficult to have a successful defense.
Werner is an outstanding prospect who's still growing as a player. His combination of quickness and strength makes him a nightmare matchup for opposing. Once he gets to the NFL and learns the finer points of playing end, he will be a major piece of the Jags' defense.
While the team has other needs it will want to address, including quarterback, defensive end should take precedent after a dismal pass-rushing season. That gives Werner that advantage here over the other possible options.
3. Oakland Raiders: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Raiders gave up nearly 28 points per game and one of the main reasons was a lack of pass rush. They took down the opposing quarterback just 25 times, which allowed their coverage to get picked apart on a regular basis.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Don't be surprised if picks No. 1 and No. 4 end up flipping before draft day if the Chiefs fall in love with Smith's upside. Otherwise, he would be a good fit for Chip Kelly in Philadelphia as he looks to get the Eagles back on track.
5. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore was often overshadowed by Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel with the Aggies, but should make a name for himself at the next level. He's a prototypical edge rusher and will be a major asset for Detroit's lackluster defense.
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Cleveland has serious needs on both sides of the ball, which means it will probably opt for the best player available with this pick. That would be Jones, who would finally give the Browns the top pass-rusher they need.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The next two picks are likely to be quarterbacks. It just comes down to which ones the Cardinals and Bills prefer when draft day arrives. As for now, Wilson's arm gives him the edge and a potential spot with Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona.
8. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Since the Bills have basically become Syracuse West with the hiring of former Orange coaches Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett it makes sense that Nassib would follow them down the thruway. He might not be there in Round 2.
9. New York Jets: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
It's impossible to play a ground-and-pound style if the offensive line isn't opening holes for the running back. That's been the case in New York for the past couple seasons, making Warmack a wise target with its first pick.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Titans gave up nearly 130 yards per game on the ground. Adding a defensive tackle like Lotulelei, who can take on multiple blockers and make plays in the backfield, to the mix would be a big step in the right direction.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
San Diego must do a better job of protecting the pocket. Philip Rivers was sacked more than three times per game this season, and it's hard to build a reliable passing game when the opponent is constantly getting hits on the QB.
12. Miami Dolphins: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Although the Dolphins could opt to go wide receiver with this pick, Milliner presents more value and should be able to make his presence felt right away. The same can't be said for the available wideouts this high in the round.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Just like the previous highlighted player—Bjoern Werner—Rhodes played at Florida State. The Seminoles have a lot of work to do in order to replace the two stars, but the Buccaneers would be ecstatic if Rhodes is available when they are up.
His ability to play close to the line of scrimmage will attract attention from a lot of defensive coaches. Being able to give a receiver issues at the line and then having the ability to go stride for stride down the sideline is the hallmark of a top-notch corner.
Not only has Rhodes shown those skills, but he also has the potential to be a great asset in run support. He likes the contact, so he's willing to attack the ball-carrier and make sure he can't break off a long run to the outside. Very impressive across the board.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Few positions are deeper in the draft class than defensive tackle. It means Carolina has a couple different options to fill one of their main offseason needs. Ultimately, Richardson seems like the best fit after a terrific junior season.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The Saints must focus on revamping the defense if they are going to complete a turnaround after a challenging 2012 season. Montgomery is an underrated prospect that has a good chance to rise during the draft process.
Would Allen be a good fit for the Rams?
16. St. Louis Rams: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Allen is slowly, but surely, starting to solidify himself as the top wide receiver on the board. Since so many offenses, including St. Louis', are in need of another playmaker, he shouldn't have to wait too long on draft day.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Finding a spot for Te'o isn't easy. The need for inside linebackers is limited this season, which will impact his landing spot. It would be smart for the Steelers to take him if he falls this far to help add some youth to an aging defense.
18. Dallas Cowboys: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Cowboys must place an emphasis on finding run stoppers this offseason. Jenkins' ability to plug the middle makes him an ideal target. He's the type of player who should be able to handle the pressure of playing for "America's Team."
19. New York Giants: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
After ranking 27th in passing yards allowed, the Giants need to add some depth to the secondary. Banks is a solid, reliable player that can step right into a key role for a defense that forced plenty of turnovers but made too many mistakes.
20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Johnson is a very intriguing prospect. He isn't generating nearly as much hype as his fellow top offensive tackles, but he could step right into a situation like Chicago's and transform the entire line with his rock-solid play.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Jordan's athleticism and ability to rush the passer would give him a tremendous opportunity to succeed playing alongside Geno Atkins and Domata Peko in Cincinnati. The Bengals are in need of another edge rusher.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WSH): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
The Rams were probably hoping this pick would be a lot higher up the board when they acquired it from the Redskins, but it all works out in the end. Ertz is a good pass-catcher and should provide further support for Sam Bradford.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
Adrian Peterson is amazing. Even he can't be expected an entire offense on his back every season, though. Adding Patterson should ensure the offense has at least a little more balance to take some pressure off the MVP.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney combined for just 13 sacks this season. That's well off the pace the duo has set in recent seasons and is a sign that Colts should target a young pass-rusher in the draft. At this point, Okafor is the top choice.
After a season where he was viewed as a fringe first-round selection, Okafor probably solidified his status inside the top 32 with 4.5 sacks in Texas' bowl game win over Oregon State. It was one of the top individual displays of bowl season.
The arrival of Andrew Luck puts the offense on the right track. So the Colts should spend this offseason trying to get the defense upgraded to the point where they are capable of making a deep playoff run next season.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Russell Wilson's rookie season was even more impressive when you consider the wide receivers he was working with. Austin would give him a solid slot target to work with, and help the Seahawks' offense continue to grow.
26. Green Bay Packers: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Green Bay needs some help along the defensive line. Jones is a player that's not getting the type of respect he deserves quite yet, but the Packers will probably be very happy if he's on the board when they pick in April.
What should the Texans address in Round 1?
27. Houston Texans: Eric Reid, S, LSU
The Texans are likely hoping that one of the top wide receivers will slide to them with this pick. Andre Johnson needs some help. But since that's no the case, Reid presents good value and would help the secondary.
28. Denver Broncos: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
By deciding to go with Peyton Manning before last season, the Broncos opened the championship window, but only for so long. They have to keep upgrading the defense while Manning is still a top-tier quarterback.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
New England's secondary has been a constant source of concern in recent seasons. The team swung and missed on a couple picks, and Trufant isn't a sure thing, but he's the best option on the board given the Patriots' needs.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
This pick could obviously change depending on the final decision made by Tony Gonzalez. The tight end plays a critical role in the Atlanta offense, so it's important for the Falcons to replace Gonzalez immediately if he doesn't return.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
San Francisco's defense is very good, but the Super Bowl proved its not perfect. Hankins would add some much-needed depth along the defensive line, which wasn't able to put enough pressure on Joe Flacco in key moments.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Ravens were an afterthought when the playoffs started and now they're champions. There are holes on defense that will need to be addressed if they plan on making another run next year, though. Starting at safety.
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