The Best Team Fits for Top NFL Draft Prospects
Regardless of how talented a draft prospect is, there is usually an ideal situation for the player. There is always that one team that could develop him into a star. Among the 2013 NFL draft's top players, several of these situations exist.
What makes for an ideal situation? The most important factor is coaching and scheme. Some defensive players were made for a 3-4 defense; others are best in a 4-3. Another important factor is the team's talent. The players already on a team can make or break a young prospect's career.
In determining these players' best fits, scheme, coaches and current talent were all considered in addition to a player's own strengths and weaknesses.
Where should the draft's top prospects go if they want to excel in the NFL? Is your team the right fit for your favorite player? Remember: This is the best fit for the player, not necessarily the team.
10. Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
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Best Team Fit: Houston Texans or Washington Redskins
Lane Johnson is the only player on this list with almost no shot of going to his team match.
Both the Texans and Redskins are well-known for their zone-blocking schemes, and Johnson was practically born to play in such a system.
As his 4.72 40-yard-dash time suggests, Johnson is a terrific athlete who excels in space. Few linemen are better at getting to the next level and picking up defenders.
That is essentially the basis of Houston and Washington's schemes. Both Gary Kubiak and Mike Shanahan would love to have Johnson on their offensive lines.
9. Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
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Best Team Fit: New York Giants
Like Jason Pierre-Paul, Cornellius Carradine is a powerful pass-rusher with length. The Giants successfully developed JPP, and they could do so again with Carradine.
New York's defense is built around its pass rush. However, the team is currently in need of another defensive end. As was already mentioned, Carradine fits the profile New York has already proven it looks for.
With the Giants, Carradine would develop into a star. A torn ACL will likely keep him out of the Top 10, but he is a legitimate top-10 talent in this draft. Opposite of Pierre-Paul, Carradine could dominate.
8. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
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Best Team Fit: Arizona Cardinals
There really isn't a best fit for Luke Joeckel. He can play just about anywhere, and it won't affect him as a player. The only scheme that isn't ideal for Joeckel is a pure power offense, which hardly exists in today's NFL.
Joeckel is an athletic left tackle with great feet and solid technique. He should be able to immediately step in as a left tackle wherever he goes.
Why the Cardinals then?
Because they have a huge hole at left tackle and would start Joeckel there immediately. He would get playing time and develop into the player he should.
7. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
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Best Team Fit: Detroit Lions
There is no denying Ezekiel Ansah's talent. The 6'5", 271-pounder is shockingly fast and explosive to go with his excellent strength and power.
However, Ansah isn't overly flexible and isn't meant for a 3-4 defense. He is, on the other hand, perfect in a Wide 9 scheme like the Lions'.
At the Senior Bowl, Ansah excelled in Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz's Wide 9 scheme, which allows Ansah to work the edge better than when he's in tight. He looked better in this defense after just a few days than he ever did at BYU.
With the Lions, Ansah would not only be a terrific run defender, but he'd be a dynamic threat off the edge.
6. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Arthur Brown NFL Player Comparison
Best Team Fit: Cincinnati Bengals
Mike Zimmer is one of the NFL's best defensive minds. Few coaches are better at using their personnel, and Zimmer is more than willing to innovate, constantly adapting his scheme.
Arthur Brown is exactly the type of player Zimmer could use. Brown isn't projected as a Top 20 pick, but he should be. The speedy linebacker can play sideline to sideline. He can attack against the run or pass, and he can drop back in coverage.
There is little doubt that Zimmer would find a way to utilize Brown's obvious talent. It is easy to imagine the Kansas State product making plays all over the field in a Bengals uniform.
5. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
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Best Team Fit: Jacksonville Jaguars
New head coach Gus Bradley will be transitioning Jacksonville's defense to the scheme he ran in Seattle. Barkevious Mingo is a perfect fit as Bradley's "Leo."
In 2012, Bruce Irvin was drafted to play the position for the Seahawks. Mingo is a similar player to Irvin—only more talented.
Mingo's burst, quickness and length all make him a perfect fit as he rushes off the edge in Bradley's scheme. His dominant pass-rushing ability would be perfectly utilized, and he could be an instant star for the Jaguars.
4. Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon
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Best Team Fit: Cleveland Browns
Dion Jordan's skill set requires a creative defensive coordinator, and Cleveland has one of the league's most innovative minds in Ray Horton.
Jordan is a perfect fit in Horton's 3-4 scheme. The former Cardinals defensive coordinator is smart enough to move the athletic Jordan around the field, taking advantage of his natural ability in space.
However, Horton is also smart enough to not play Jordan in coverage too often, which is what happened at Oregon. The 6'6", 248-pounder has serious pass-rushing ability, and he could become a quarterback's worst nightmare.
3. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
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Best Team Fit: Tennessee Titans
Chance Warmack is one of the best guards to ever enter the NFL draft. He plays with incredible power and surprising quickness.
Though Warmack isn't great in space, he is quick enough to pull and attack the second level. Any team that asks him to do this too much would just be wasting his talent, though.
Tennessee has a huge hole at guard. That alone makes the Titans a great fit for Warmack. Chris Johnson needs some more room to run, and quarterback Jake Locker struggles with interior pressure. Warmack is a logical option.
2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
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Best Team Fit: Kansas City Chiefs
Since the Chiefs are apparently trading for Alex Smith, this pick looks unlikely to happen. That doesn't make it any less of a great fit.
If Kansas City retains Branden Albert and Dwayne Bowe, the team will have significant talent on offense. That is a great start for a rookie quarterback.
Geno Smith is talented, and he possesses excellent pocket mobility to go with good accuracy and mobility. Andy Reid, if you haven't heard, is a bit of a quarterback guru. He could design the perfect scheme for Smith's abilities, just as he has done for years with lesser quarterbacks.
Under Reid, Smith would be a star.
1. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei NFL Player Comparison
Best Fit: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles appear to be switching to a 3-4 defense. Fletcher Cox will play at one of the defensive line positions, and Star Lotulelei would be a perfect fit at the other.
That could be nose tackle or defensive end.
Lotulelei is great at handling double-teams, as he plays with great power and leverage. He could develop into one of the NFL's best nose tackles.
On the other hand, his athleticism could make him a perfect fit as a 5-tech. Lotulelei could hang strong against the run or collapse the pocket rushing the passer.
There is almost nothing Lotulelei can't do. But a 3-4 defense like Philadelphia's could take advantage of his skill set by moving him around.
Playing next to a dynamic player like Cox doesn't hurt, either.