2013 NFL Mock Draft: Players Sure to Rise After the Scouting Combine
The NFL combine will take place from Feb. 20-26 and it's a golden opportunity for draft prospects to improve their respective stocks before April comes.
Ever year we hear of certain players that aren't highly touted, yet after the combine their draft stock soars to unexpected levels.
There are some candidates who could do the same this year with a strong showing at the NFL's most highly-anticipated tryout.
Let's take a closer look at which players qualify.
*Note: Players piece focuses on are in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith hasn't been given much respect as a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, but a strong showing at the combine will quickly change that. The former Mountaineers signal-caller started off the 2012 campaign on fire, but cooled off toward the end of the season and that hurt his draft stock considerably.
Smith has great arm strength for the position and his accuracy with the deep ball is even more impressive. Smith can also make touch passes effectively, so it's clear he has the ability to make all the throws at the next level.
Along with his pocket-passing skills, Smith has excellent size and strength for the position, as well as enough speed to extend plays when necessary.
There's no question that Smith has the goods to be a solid NFL quarterback, but he still has plenty to prove to NFL scouts. The combine will be Smith's best and last chance to show he's worthy of a No. 1 pick, and the Chiefs will no doubt be watching since they don't have an answer behind center.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
One of the biggest problems Jacksonville's defense had last season was its inability to get to the quarterback. Werner is one of the best pass rushers in this year's draft and is no doubt the logical choice with this pick.
3. Oakland Raiders: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Oakland could really use that stud in their linebacker corps to help add some credibility to their front seven. Jones is a sensational athlete with great pass-rushing skills and that makes the NCAA's sack leader a great fit for the Raiders.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Eagles' offensive line couldn't stop a nose bleed last season and that is a major problem if they hope to have a passing attack next season. Joeckel could potentially go with the No. 1 selection, but if he should fall this far, Philly has a no-brainer pick on its hands.
5. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Lions were unable to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season and desperately need someone on the edge to help that. Moore might not be the most athletic defender in this draft, but he will still do damage on the edge in the NFL.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Cleveland didn't do a particularly good job at stopping either the run or pass last season. Milliner will be the Browns best chance at landing an elite corner in this year's draft and they should go ahead and take him with this pick.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The biggest weakness Arizona has on the defensive end is stopping the run. Lotulelei is a big, strong defensive tackle who can clog up running lanes and make it difficult for opposing offenses to move the ball up the middle.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
With a new head coach in town, the Bills may look for a new quarterback for the future and Barkley could be that fit. Granted, he won't be at the scouting combine this year, but he will have plenty of time to show what he can do in the month to come.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
After the failures of Mark Sanchez, I just can't see the Jets taking a chance on a quarterback in this spot, especially when plenty of them will be available later on in the draft. Instead, Rex Ryan will look to bolster his struggling defense with a pass-rusher like Mingo, who could make an immediate impact on the edge.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Now that the Titans seem committed to keeping Chris Johnson, they need to make a key addition to their offensive line. A big prospect like Warmack is perfect to play up the middle for the Titans and that will aid the inside element of CJ2K's game.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
With a weak schedule while playing with Central Michigan, there are some questions as to just how good Fisher will be against some of the best the world has to offer at the next level.
Aside from that, Fisher has the physical attributes to make him a good offensive lineman in the NFL and there are plenty of teams who could use his services.
His length will help him keep pass rushers at bay in the passing game. Also, Fisher's athleticism will allow him to pull with success and his overall strength can keep defenders moving backwards—both key components to being a great run blocker.
Fisher had a great showing at the Senior Bowl and is well on his way to being one of the most coveted offensive linemen in this draft. However, if he can impress at the combine, he could move up even further than where's he's already slated to go.
12. Miami Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
There isn't one clear-cut top receiver in this year's class, but Patterson could change that later this month.
Patterson is undoubtedly the best combination of size and speed in this draft. He can be a threat up the middle or he can line up on the outside and be a deep-ball threat. He also has a solid pair of hands on him, so anything thrown his way will be caught.
The biggest knock on Patterson is that he's a bit thin and isn't physical enough to bang with NFL cornerbacks. That is something he can fix as he adds more bulk to his frame at the pro level.
But the combine is as good a time as ever to prove not only his skills, but to show he is big and strong enough to hang with opposing defenders on the physical end.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Ronde Barber's future with the team is uncertain, but the Bucs can't wait for him to make a decision about their secondary. Vaccaro can play both safety positions and that gives Tampa Bay the versatility it needs moving forward.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Carolina found themselves a gem in the first round last season thanks to Luke Kuechly. Can lightning strike twice for the Panthers in 2013? Nobody can tell for sure, but if Richardson lives up to his potential, the Panthers will be good to go up the middle with these two studs.
15. New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
We know what the Saints can do on offense and despite the fact that they need an offensive lineman, defense is a much more pressing need for New Orleans. Jordan will be the best pass-rusher left on the board here and that makes him an ideal fit for the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Rams need some better protection from their offensive line and they simply can't wait for the players on their current roster to either perform better or heal up. An infusion of a young talent like Cooper will add some much-needed depth to their frontline.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Few players in this draft have seen their stock fall further than Te'o. His off-the-field issues have been nauseatingly well documented and character questions have arisen as a result.
However, the bigger issue was Te'o's performance in the National Championship Game against Alabama. In that game, Te'o looked overmatched against bigger and stronger offensive linemen and running backs.
Te'o certainly didn't look like the same linebacker who had compiled over 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons.
The combine will be a huge opportunity for Te'o to prove that the negative perspective of his game that is out there simply isn't true. Scouts thought he was once a top-10 pick and there's a good chance he still has the skills to go that high.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
If the Cowboys are to improve on their lackluster run defense from a season ago, they need to draft a big prospect who can clog the running lanes up the gut. At this point in the draft, Floyd will be their best bet to do just that.
19. New York Giants: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
It's no secret the Giants need help on defense, namely their secondary. If this team is going to rely on Corey Webster to be the answer year in and year out, New York will continue to have issues. Rhodes will be the Giants' best option at picking up an impact corner in the first round and they should draft accordingly.
20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Bears have problems all over their offensive line, but they only have one pick in the first round to address this major need. Johnson had a stellar career as a tackle at Oklahoma and he's a perfect fit on either side of the line for Chicago.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
If the Bengals are to improve their defense from last season, they need to make an upgrade at the outside linebacker spot. Ogletree has the versatility to play any linebacker position and can even drop back into coverage with his experience as a former safety.
22. St. Louis Rams (From Washington): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
St. Louis can kill two birds with one stone at this spot. Not only is Eifert a talented receiver who can make plays over the middle, he's also improved as a blocker and that will make him a huge asset to the Rams.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
With or without Percy Harvin next season, the Vikings need a playmaker on the offensive end who can give a boost to their passing attack. Allen is a talented receiver who can line up in multiple spots and that's exactly the type of versatility Minnesota needs.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Colts could look to upgrade either side of the ball with this pick, but cornerback is the most glaring need for this team. Banks is a solid prospect with plenty of potential at the next level, so the Colts would be foolish not to select him if he falls to this spot.
25. Seattle Seahawks: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Seattle is rock solid on defense, so the attention will likely be turned to the offensive line with this pick. Fluker is a talented tackle who can make an immediate impact at the next level, now all the Seahawks have to do is draft him.
26. Green Bay Packers: Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
Forgetting everything else, the Packers biggest need is on the offensive line. You can pick just about any spot upfront to improve, so a versatile lineman like Jones is exactly what the Packers needs.
27. Houston Texans: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Texans are lacking depth in their receiving corps with Andre Johnson being their only real threat. In order to take some pressure off of Johnson, the Texans must add a talented receiver like Austin to get it done.
28. Denver Broncos: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Broncos are doing just fine on the offensive end, so an upgrade on defense should be their primary concern. Minter would be the perfect addition to an already stellar front seven and will help secure the middle of the field for Denver.
29. New England Patriots: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
New England will look to the offensive side of the ball with this pick and Hopkins is just the guy they should choose. Whether they line him up inside or out, Hopkins is a solid receiver who can make big plays in the Pats' high-powered offense.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The biggest need for the Falcons is a pass-rusher on the edge who can make opposing quarterbacks sweat. Montgomery is a beast who has no problem taking on bigger blockers and that makes him perfect for what the Falcons are lacking.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The 49ers have just about everything they need on both sides of the ball with the exception of depth. After all the walking wounded they put on the field at the end of the season, San Fran should add Williams to their roster in order to bolster their reserve unit.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
Baltimore's aging defense obviously isn't getting any younger, so adding some youth should be their first order of business. Elam is the infusion of young talent that the Ravens need and could be a future replacement for Ed Reed.
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