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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Picks That Will Put Teams on Path Toward Contention

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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Picks That Will Put Teams on Path Toward Contention
USA TODAY Sports
Keep a close eye on who selects Damontre Moore for next fall.

There's a lot of immediate pressure put on every prospect selected in Round 1 of the NFL draft.

And it's one of two things:

1. Getting said team back to the playoffs after missing the previous season(s)—see Andrew Luck—or

2. Keeping that specific team as a postseason contender to make a run at the Super Bowl.

The amount of pressure on the 2013 class will be no different than any other. Because if there's one reason why the draft process is so intense, it can be traced back to trying to win the Super Bowl.

 

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

Kansas City could certainly take any other top prospect here or go the route of trading down. But with a sound rushing attack and a playmaking receiver in Dwayne Bowe, Geno Smith is a solid fit. Although, his combine and pro day will really determine whether or not he's a drastic reach at No. 1 overall.


2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)

Jacksonville's pass rush was horrendous throughout 2012. Jarvis Jones solves this issue immediately and his overall athleticism bodes better in coverage than given credit.


3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)

The Raiders aren't getting any younger along the defensive line. So, not only does Star Lotulelei fix this problem, but he's an excellent gap-controller to stuff the run. At the same time, he can defeat single blocks to apply quarterback pressure and force turnover opportunities.


4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)

Luke Joeckel is a supremely athletic lineman capable of walling off the edge of the pocket and getting upfield to extend running lanes. His quickness and ability to maintain balance will thrive in Chip Kelly's offense.


5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)

We know the Lions can score at will, because Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson is one excellent quarterback-to-receiver connection. It's the defense that must find a way to get more quarterback pressure, stuff the run and lockdown in coverage.

Bjoern Werner is the perfect solution to all of Detroit's defensive issues, because of his instincts, agility and awareness. With 20 sacks, 17 defended passes and 79 tackles the past two seasons, Werner is a complete player.

He'll be an excellent complement to Ndamukong Suh along the line, because the Lions now present two sound rushers and a reliable perimeter run defender. Werner constricting the edge will force running backs more lateral, which allows the safeties to roll up and fill a lane.

Against the pass, quicker releases from the quarterback won't fly to Werner's side. In short, opposing play-calling becomes a bit more predictable and Detroit generates more turnovers.


6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)

The Browns are not far off from becoming serious postseason contenders. Adding Dee Milliner ensures locked down coverage and better edge run defense. The ultimate impact then allows the front seven a tad more time to apply quarterback pressure.


7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)

As long as the Cardinals address the offensive line, then it's a great draft pick. Chance Warmack simply suits best as a complete player. Arizona needs a reliable interior run-blocker in the NFC West and he'll make this offense more efficiently balanced.


8. Buffalo Bills: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)

Courtesy of reliable versatility, Damontre Moore will be able to contribute in multiple ways for Buffalo.

Obviously being a 4-3 defensive end is a key aspect, but he can also line up at defensive tackle in strict passing situations. Moore's size and athletic combo here is an advantage when needing a quicker pass-rushing route to the quarterback.

And just for the purpose of presenting multiple schemes and various looks, Moore allows Buffalo to occasionally utilize a 3-4 front. There, he could play end or outside 'backer. Having this dynamic luxury is great for the Bills, because they allowed an average of five yards per rushing attempt and managed only 36 sacks.

Playing opposite of Mario Williams, the two will complement one another quite well. Not to mention this tag team duo would be a distinct competitive advantage in the AFC East.


9. New York Jets: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)

Controlling the line of scrimmage was a problem for the Jets defensively in 2012. Taking Dion Jordan quickly presents a stronger outside pass rush and his length will squeeze the edge against the run. Doing so gets the solid coverage more turnover opportunities.


10. Tennessee Titans: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)

The pass defense cost Tennessee more than anything in 2012. So, drafting Johnthan Banks generates more blanketed coverage at a consistent rate behind a decent front seven. In the defensively weak AFC South, especially regarding coverage, Banks becomes a competitive advantage.

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11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)

Eric Fisher is a beast and he is certainly worthy of being a top five selection. Given the aforementioned needs, though, Fisher drops to San Diego at No.11.

The Chargers have to get Philip Rivers more reliable protection, because his playmakers can only do so much when turnovers are constantly cutting drives short. Fisher's add reduces sacks and lost fumbles.


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

Miami's offense displayed sparks of potential throughout 2012. One missing element is a true No. 1 receiver. Enter Keenan Allen who can make plays downfield and go over the middle. The end results are widened zones and stretched secondaries for Ryan Tannehill to spread the field.


13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)

Whether it's corner or safety, Tampa Bay must upgrade its pass defense.

Ranking last in coverage and giving up a 65.4 completion percentage will cost anyone, but especially the Bucs since they reside in the NFC South. Kenny Vaccaro brings the ability to slip to the underneath coverage and sit back in Cover 1 or 3. Either way, Tampa improves in the secondary.


14. Carolina Panthers: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)

Fielding a strong defense is an immense advantage in the NFC South. Fortunately for Carolina, the Panthers are on the brink of completion.

With studs in Luke Kuechly and Charles Johnson in the front seven, secondary players rush as Charles Godfrey and Josh Norman are reliable. It's upgrading the interior pass rush, because Dwan Edwards needs a complement up front.

In the pass-oriented NFC South, quarterback pressure becomes astronomically vital. At the same time, the Panthers gave up 4.2 yards per rush and that impacted those in coverage.

Landing Sharrif Floyd is the next piece to fit, as he will get interior pressure and quickly close running lanes. Play-action then becomes increasingly difficult for opponents to set up and the Cats blanket better in coverage.

Factor an offense with dual-threat Cam Newton and Carolina flirts with the playoffs next season.


15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)

The Saints proved how great their offense can carry the team in 2012 without any help from the defense. Well, bringing Sheldon Richardson to the mix bolsters the run defense and interior pass rush.

In turn, New Orleans forces more punts to get off the field on third down.


16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)

Don't be surprised if Jonathan Cooper gets selected sooner, but no one after San Diego needs offensive line help as bad as St. Louis.

Without question could the Rams attempt to trade up here, but with so much talent and depth along the offensive line this draft season, Cooper becomes available at No. 16. He's basically a replica of Warmack, because Cooper can pass protect and drive defenders back to open up lanes.

He can also pull outside for waggles, bootlegs and counters to lead upfield.


17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)

Pittsburgh needs youth and talent in its front seven to make a quick turnaround. This is where Ezekiel Ansah comes in, because his athleticism and knack for finding the ball will immediately benefit the Steelers.

Not to mention the Steel Curtain still presents solid talent elsewhere defensively, so Ansah will quickly develop in a limited role courtesy of excellent versatility.

 


18. Dallas Cowboys: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)

Barkevious Mingo NFL Player Comparison

With solid size and quickness, Barkevious Mingo can play defensive end or outside linebacker for Dallas.

Factor in the pass rush of DeMarcus Ware and Mingo can remain to his side and knife through the interior offensive line gaps. Mingo's duty in filling lanes and simply disrupting designed plays in the backfield will get the Cowboys to also improve against the run.


19. New York Giants: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)

The Giants must find a replacement for Chris Canty on the defensive line's interior. Because according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com in early February:

The New York Giants continued to slice payroll by parting ways with veteran running back Ahmad Bradshaw and defensive tackle Chris Canty on Wednesday.

In addition, Big Blue gave up an average of 4.6 yards per rushing attempt last season. Selecting John Jenkins fixes that problem, as the beast defensive tackle knows how to quickly clog lanes and draw double-teams.

 

20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)

Chicago can go a few ways at No. 20, because Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert would complete the receiving talent for Jay Cutler. Lane Johnson, though, significantly improves the pass protection as Cutler was sacked 38 times in 2012.

Having to face Clay Matthews and Jared Allen twice a year, providing Cutler with a bit more time in the pocket will do wonders for Chicago.


21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)

Matt Elam may be a reach for Cincinnati at No. 21, but the Bengals have to complement their front seven with better coverage.

Elam supplies the talent to read in Cover 3 and roll down for a blitzing 'backer when needed. Plus Cincy isn't getting any younger in the secondary and the future is now.


22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)

St. Louis is getting the entire package of talent with Cordarrelle Patterson.

Although he was just a one-hit wonder for the Tennessee Volunteers last season, Patterson accounted for 1,858 all-purpose yards between receiving, rushing and returning. He also scored 10 total touchdowns and averaged 16.9 yards per reception.

The Rams need a guy capable of attacking defenses downfield, because that will help set up the run. Sam Bradford has other dependable receiving targets as well, which will allow Patterson to face mostly single coverage schemes.

Include his rushing threat and St. Louis can opt to widen defenses and mix in some receiver screens. Already possessing a sound rushing attack and defense, Patterson propels the Rams into becoming NFC playoff contenders.


23. Minnesota Vikings: Terrance Williams: WR (Baylor)

Imagine the dominance of Adrian Peterson if the Vikings had a stronger passing game. It would be epic.

This brings us to Terrance Williams who possesses the acceleration to split deep zones and accumulate yards after the catch. And with him stretching the coverage, Peterson faces fewer defenders in the box.


24. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)

Upgrading the defense is the next step for Indianapolis to improve. Alex Okafor ensures better reactions against the run and more quarterback pressure around the edge. Even better, his skill set allows for dependability as a 3-4 defensive end or outside linebacker.


25. Seattle Seahawks: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks have the defense to shut down anyone, but a minute weakness is defending the run. Allowing an average of 4.5 yards per rush last season, that inability did affect the pass rush to a certain degree.

As a result, Jesse Williams comes in at No. 25 to plug gaps and bull rush into the backfield. Seattle then gets an interior run defense and the exterior players apply more quarterback pressure.


26. Green Bay Packers: Barrett Jones, Center (Alabama)

Because of his excellent versatility, Barrett Jones can impact anywhere along the Packers' offensive line. Considering that Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times and Green Bay lacked a rushing offense, improving the trenches is required.

Jones has the quickness to seal running lanes, but his experience also creates heightened awareness as a pass-blocker.


27. Houston Texans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)

Until the Texans prove to lockdown against the better passing offenses, Houston will have trouble making a run at the AFC title. Fortunately, Xavier Rhodes is capable of making an immediate impact. Presenting solid man coverage and zone awareness skills, Rhodes will get physical in coverage and help with perimeter run support.


28. Denver Broncos: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)

Alec Ogletree is a great selection for Denver at No. 28, because the Broncos are missing one piece to the defensive front seven's puzzle. Given Keith Brooking's age, Ogletree can suit up at middle 'backer or opposite Von Miller.

His lateral speed and agility will close running lanes and help with a coverage shield at the intermediate level.


29. New England Patriots: DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Clemson)

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In an article by Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe earlier in February:

If I’m the Patriots, I let Welker walk, I don’t pay Brandon Lloyd’s $3 million option (making him a free agent), and I use that money to find the best X receiver on the market to threaten defenses down the left sideline.

Well, New England can also address that situation with DeAndre Hopkins in the draft. Hopkins is a reliable deep threat and has the speed to make plays against any coverage scheme. Not to mention he'll benefit with single coverage as the Pats still present Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.


30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)

Offense is what drives the Falcons and they must get younger at tight end. Regardless of what happens with Tony Gonzalez, selecting Tyler Eifert will keep the passing attack quite relevant.

Given his ability to draw double coverage, Matt Ryan then spreads defenses with ease. Ultimately, Atlanta just becomes unstoppable.


31. San Francisco 49ers: Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)

In order to keep the run defense stout, San Francisco has to get Kawann Short. With aging defensive linemen, the 49ers get a backfield menace in Short, as his knack for collecting sacks and tackles for loss will pay extreme dividends down the road.


32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o, LB (Notre Dame)

Although it wouldn't be surprising to see Manti Te'o get selected sooner, the linebacker was exploited against Alabama in the BCS title game. Then again, Baltimore has the defensive talent to let Te'o develop within a confined role.

Make him a one-gap run defender and let him contribute in passing situations, and that will keep the Ravens solid. Te'o's best aspect is arguably in coverage and reading, so the rest of his instincts will come through more NFL experience.

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