2013 NFL Mock Draft: Top Notch Stars Who Will Impact Contenders
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Despite the pressure that comes with being a top NFL draft prospect, we will see some make an immediate impact.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were prime examples throughout the 2012 draft process and season.
And with each new offseason the process rewinds back to the next class of rookies. It's simply now on the following stars to adopt that pressure and attack it with full force.
Otherwise, the phrase "draft bust" will start floating around and no prospect wants that prefix to their name.
Note: All highlighted players are in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
The good news for Kansas City is it can go multiple directions at No. 1 overall. Trading back, reaching for Geno Smith or taking Luke Joeckel are all great fits.
Smith remains here, though, because the Chiefs need a quarterback more than anything.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
Jacksonville needs Jarvis Jones to upgrade its pass rush. When a defense records a measly 20 sacks, more quarterback pressure is required. Not to mention the fact that Jones will help generate turnovers as well.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Not only was Oakland's pass rush miserable in 2012, but the Raiders lacked a run defense. See Doug Martin in Week 9.
So, getting Star Lotulelei ensures clogged running lanes up front and his impact will control the line of scrimmage to get more interior quarterback pressure.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT (Texas A&M)
For the Eagles to field a more balanced offense and reduce quarterback sacks, Luke Joeckel is the answer. He'll easily seal the blindside and his athleticism can get upfield to extend running lanes.
Given all of Philadelphia's offensive talent, Joeckel's impact takes the Eagles to new heights.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
The Lions have to get a more reliable pass-rushing presence on the outside. Bjoern Werner is the future, because along with the agility to slip blocks, he possesses the instincts to knock down the quicker passes.
Include his ability to control the edge against the run and Detroit's defense finally assists the offense.
What should the Browns do at No. 6 overall?
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
The Browns are headed in a positive direction. And to maintain down that path, selecting Dee Milliner solidifies dependable coverage opposite of Joe Haden. Cleveland's front seven is decent, but the addition of Milliner creates more consistent lockdown coverage.
As a result, the pass rush is provided a bit more time to apply quarterback pressure.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, OG (Alabama)
It doesn't really matter who the Cardinals draft at No. 7, just as long as it's an offensive lineman. Here, we see Chance Warmack because of his talent to bulldoze defenders for more polished running lanes.
At the same time, Warmack is a wall of a pass-blocker, which seals the interior of the pocket for more reliable quarterback protection.
8. Buffalo Bills: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
Damontre Moore's athleticism is a competitive advantage for the Bills. Certainly he'll impact as a 4-3 defensive end opposite Mario Williams, but his quickness and strength bodes well at defensive tackle in strict passing situations.
That alone will create a faster pass rush on third down and Moore's length also helps Buffalo improve against the run.
9. New York Jets: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Last season Rex Ryan's defense lacked a dominant pass rush and rush defense. Well, Dion Jordan fits perfectly with the size and athletic combo to squeeze the edge and apply exterior quarterback pressure.
Additionally, according to Kimberly Martin of Newsday.com:
The Jets' salary-cap purge began Tuesday when the team dumped linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, safety Eric Smith and offensive tackle Jason Smith -- and their hefty contracts.
So, the Jets need defense and Jordan's versatility is a great place to rebuild.
10. Tennessee Titans: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
Pass defense was the catalyst that constantly hurt Tennessee last season. Needing a quick rebound, Johnthan Banks provides the man coverage quickness and zone coverage awareness to get the Titans back on track.
And his playmaking skills will be an advantage in the defensively vulnerable AFC South.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT (Central Michigan)
Unless the Chargers get Philip Rivers better pass protection, expect 2013 to echo the frustrations of 2012. Meaning: Turnovers, sacks and failed red zone opportunities.
Therefore, enter Eric Fisher who is much more athletic than at first glance. He sits in a solid base and possesses the smooth footwork to seal the edge. A byproduct of his impact also improves the running game and San Diego fields a balanced attack.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
Miami is extremely close to emerging as an annual AFC playoff contender. The offensive tools are provided around Ryan Tannehill, but a true No. 1 receiver is needed to bolster the attack.
Keenan Allen of California is just what the Dolphins need, because he can stretch secondaries downfield multiple ways. Whether it's splitting a Cover 2 zone, slicing between Cover 3 or out-muscling a defender man-to-man, Allen will take Miami's passing game to another level.
Having caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards in 2011, Allen was on a nice pace in 2012 before getting injured, which according to NFL.com:
Keenan Allen will not work out at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, his agent told NFL Network on Wednesday.
J.T. Johnson, who represents the Cal wide receiver, said Allen will be re-evaluated by Dr. James Andrews for a second-grade posterior cruciate ligament sprain suffered during the season
Still, Allen possesses the raw skills to go deep and make plays in traffic underneath. His overall impact will get the Dolphins into the AFC postseason mix this fall.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Vaccaro, S (Texas)
Ranking last in pass defense and giving up 30 passing touchdowns, Tampa Bay must address the secondary. Kenny Vaccaro plays physical in man-to-man and his field awareness will help the Bucs blanket better in zone.
Plus he can fill running lanes anywhere in the front seven to deliver some hits and make key tackles.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
Carolina's defense came around toward the end of 2012, but it still needs a stronger pass rush and run defense. Sheldon Richardson brings the toughness and strength to control gaps and disrupt anything in the backfield.
This results in the secondary not having to cover as long, which then leads to more forced turnovers.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
New Orleans was basically half of a team in 2012, because the Saints defense gave up many yards and points.
Picking Sharrif Floyd in the middle of Round 1, though, ensures an improved interior pass rush and the constant draw of double-teams. In turn, the linebackers are given more playmaking opportunities and New Orleans allows fewer big plays.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper is worthy of a top 10 pick, but fortunately for St. Louis, this draft is overloaded with talent along the offensive line.
So, expect Cooper drops to the middle of Round 1 and the Rams address a dire need.
Needing to establish a more punishing running game, Cooper has the attitude and power to quickly create lanes. He can seal a defender one-on-one or chip-block to the second level and extend a lane.
Either way, Cooper's lateral quickness and wherewithal of his surroundings fits perfectly in the NFC West. And because of that blocking ability, Cooper also brings the determination to pull outward for tosses, sweeps, counters, quarterback waggles and bootlegs.
In short, St. Louis fields a strong balance to its offense and the Rams keep opponents honest throughout 2013.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Ezekiel Ansah is a great solution to get Pittsburgh's defense back to normal. He's laterally agile, can apply a pass rush and brings the size to contain against the run.
Lest we forget, but the Steelers need some top talented youth in Dick LeBeau's front seven as well.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
Barkevious Mingo is an interesting selection for Dallas, because he can contribute as a defensive end or outside linebacker. With the explosiveness to challenge pass-protectors through any gap, Mingo's presence will be a solid complement to DeMarcus Ware.
19. New York Giants: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)
Last season the Giants gave up 4.6 yards per rushing attempt. Include the release of Chris Canty per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com in early February and John Jenkins will fill that void.
Just by his size alone Jenkins will dominate against the run. Even better, though, he's a solid pass-rusher capable of consistently flushing the quarterback out of the pocket when not double-teamed.
20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT (Oklahoma)
Jay Cutler needs help along the offensive line and Lane Johnson supplies the athleticism to take on the NFC North's premier pass-rushers.
Transition that athleticism to the Bears' ground game and the Windy City's offense moves more effectively in 2013.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, S (Florida)
For one, Cincinnati needs to get some top talented youth in its secondary.
And two, the Bengals must improve the coverage to complement an already reliable front seven. Although Cincy ranked No. 7 in pass defense, it gave up a 61.8 completion percentage and recorded a mere 14 picks.
The addition of Florida's Matt Elam quickly blankets seemingly open receivers in Cover 1 or 3, and he also provides speed to isolate slot receivers one-on-one. Combined between 2011 and 2012 Elam intercepted six passes and made 154 tackles, so he'll find the football regardless.
Include three forced fumbles and Elam's hitting ability allows Cincy the option of blitzing linebackers. In doing so, he can fill underneath and close running lanes to keep the Bengals sound against the run.
Cincinnati now has more dependable coverage and the front seven takes control of the line of scrimmage more consistently.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
St. Louis has to get Sam Bradford one more receiving target. Cordarrelle Patterson is that needed target, because the Rams don't present a reliable deep threat of Patterson's skill set.
As a big receiver, Patterson won't get jammed at the line so he'll stretch defenses to keep the Rams balanced. And that size also helps for blocking downfield to create extended running lanes.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Terrance Williams: WR (Baylor)
Minnesota is on the brink of fielding one dangerous offense. Regardless of the passing game, we know Adrian Peterson will produce. But with a receiver in Terrance Williams, Christian Ponder now has a player to target downfield.
Simply put: Opponents won't be able to constantly stack the box against Peterson, as Williams' acceleration will capitalize against Cover 1 and Cover 2.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
The Colts have to get better defensively to take that next step as an AFC contender. Alex Okafor is a dynamic player capable of lining up at defensive end or outside 'backer in a 3-4. His speed and agility also allows Indianapolis the luxury of utilizing a 4-3 as well, which Okafor can contribute at end or defensive tackle.
Either way, his pass-rushing ability and knack for finding the rock will enhance Indy's front seven.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)
Allowing an average of 4.5 yards per rushing attempt cost Seattle in 2012. It affected the pass rush's potential, so landing Jesse Williams immediately solves this conundrum.
Possessing a knack for filling lanes and drawing blockers, Williams will also disturb the backfield to get the edge defenders to face favorable blocking situations.
26. Green Bay Packers: Barrett Jones, C (Alabama)
Barrett Jones' versatility will help Green Bay's offense right away. Providing great awareness and technique to handle any defender on-one-one, Jones' impact significantly reduces the pressure on Aaron Rodgers.
By the same token, the Packers have a stronger rushing attack to maintain balance.
27. Houston Texans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Houston's pass defense was atrocious when facing elite quarterbacks during 2012. And that exploitation even allowed Chad Henne to thwart them in Week 11.
This susceptibility makes Xavier Rhodes a great selection, as his physical play and size will take away half the field. The end result is an even better pass rush and more reliable coverage behind the front seven.
28. Denver Broncos: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
Alec Ogletree is a great athlete with top 10 draft pick talent. But, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk late last week:
Former Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, a likely first-round pick in the 2013 draft and one of the top prospects at inside linebacker, was arrested recently for DUI.
It’s not the first red flag on Ogletree’s record. During the 2012 college football season, Ogletree was suspended four games by the Bulldogs after a positive drug test.
So, because of Ogletree actions his draft stock will take a hit to the lower spots of Round 1.
It's also reasonable to call Denver selecting him a risk, but Ogletree's dynamic ability is worth the investment. Factor veteran Keith Brooking being 37 years old and Wesley Woodyard possessing the talent to play inside, Ogletree suits nicely opposite of Von Miller.
And if needed Ogletree's athleticism is capable of contributing at inside to let Woodyard play opposite Miller. With 163 tackles, six sacks, eight defended passes and three forced fumbles over the past two years, Olgetree will impact every defensive aspect.
The Broncos need to upgrade the pass defense at the intermediate level and his quickness will shield in zone and take on slot targets man-to-man. Count his ability to pass rush and fill lanes and Denver solves its line of scrimmage woes that got revealed from Baltimore in the postseason.
29. New England Patriots: DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Clemson)
New England needs a better pass defense, but with Vaccaro and Elam off the board addressing the offense with DeAndre Hopkins helps the need for a young deep threat.
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.
Instead of free agency, though, Hopkins is just as solid of a choice in the draft.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
Source says Tony Gonzalez wavering on retirement. A player close to him: "I think if the circumstances are right, Tony will come back.''— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) February 19, 2013
Tony Gonzalez speculation aside, though, Atlanta's future at tight end is with Tyler Eifert. Eifert has proven to beat double coverage and his underrated run-blocking ability will help the Falcons establish a stronger balance.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Sustaining a dominant run defense and pass rush is the backbone of San Francisco. Considering the 49ers' aging defensive linemen in Justin Smith and Isaac Sopoaga, Kawann Short is here to replenish up front.
The guy has a nose for causing turbulence in the backfield, which lets the linebackers make more plays. Despite Short being a bit undersized, his effort and tenacity will pay dividends through development.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o, LB (Notre Dame)
Checking out Baltimore's front seven talent and adding Manti Te'o keeps the Ravens technically sound on defense.
Te'o will impact nicely given a restricted role as a 3-4 inside 'backer, and his field awareness benefits Balitmore in coverage. Ultimately, the Ravens don't slow down next fall.
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