2012 NFL Mock Draft: 5 Teams That Need To Toughen Up Against the Run
Despite the NFL becoming more reliant on the passing game, thus forcing defenses to beef up the coverage, running the ball and stopping the run consistently are vital to consistently winning.
Now, we know teams like Cleveland, Tampa Bay,and St. Louis need to significantly improve their run defenses. However, they also need to improve many other areas.
As for the following five teams, their need to stop the run is extremely important as it's one of their few weaknesses. Whether it's a DE, DT or ILB, as long as the player can help improve the run defense it doesn't matter.
That said, here are five prospects to help them toughen up via the 2012 NFL draft.
Eagles: Manti Te'o, ILB (Notre Dame)
Notre Dame's Manti Te'o is arguably the best ILB in this year's draft and although he's playing on an improved Irish defense, they'd be lost without him.
He recorded 133 tackles in 2010 along with 9.5 for loss, and has 115 through 12 games in 2011 including 13 for loss.
This season stopping the run has been killing the Eagles every game. It's been arguably the single biggest issue, because lacking that ability allows the opposing offense to keep Philly's explosive offense off the field. Additionally, that lulls their strong pass defense to sleep as well as their pass rush.
The Eagles rank No. 21 in allowing 4.4 yards per carry and No. 17 in allowing 115.6 rush yards per game. May not sound like a lot, but when the clock is running it doesn't matter if it's 80, 90 or 100-plus rush yards allowed.
Te'o will significantly boost this area because of his quick process of read-to-react, which then allows him to make plays. He has great size and has excellent lateral quickness to beat RBs trying to hit the holes off tackle, inside and on the edge.
Panthers: Brandon Thompson, DT (Clemson)
It definitely hurt the Panthers this season when their defensive leader Jon Beasom went down. He's one of the more underrated (but solid) ILBs in the NFL but nonetheless, getting him some help in the middle is necessary.
Clemson's Brandon Thompson is a solid choice because he's forcing offenses to throw the ball. Last season and this season Thompson recorded 6.5 tackles for loss and has 18.5 for his career.
Not bad for a DT on a team with a weak overall defense. In addition, the Tigers still have their BCS bowl game, so be sure to check out Thompson against a good West Virginia offense in the Orange Bowl.
As for Carolina, they allow an average of 4.6 yards per carry (ranked No. 25) and allow 132.5 rush yards per game (ranked No. 27). Not to mention they've allowed 15 rushing TDs.
Fast-forward to 2012 and if you put Thompson on the line in front of Beasom, the Panthers will force teams to run on the outside. That said, regardless of the passing game, if an offense can't have success running the rock between the tackles it's going to be a long day.
This is what the Panthers need because they have a respectable pass defense as a nice complement.
Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE (South Carolina)
The Packers may rank No. 13 in rush defense, but a big part of that is because their offense is virtually unstoppable. And because of that, opposing offense have no choice but to throw the ball for most of the game.
What's interesting, however, is that Green Bay ranks No. 29 in allowing 4.9 yards per carry and allows 105.1 rush yards per game. So it's safe to say that when teams have run the ball against them, success has occurred.
The problem though, is that Green Bay has only had 258 rushing attempts against them all season (ranked No. 1), which is attributed to their offense. But in allowing almost five yards per attempt, there's clearly a weakness.
And whoever can control the clock against the Cheese has an excellent shot at winning. As for improving that area, South Carolina's Melvin Ingram would be a great addition.
Not only would he be a solid pass-rusher opposite of Clay Matthews, but Ingram gives great effort and has a knack for finding the football. Those instincts will boost in stopping the run because he can stunt inside or shoot off the edge quick to run down the RB from the backside.
Plus, he's versatile. With his size and quickness, Ingram could line up as a DT to help with support against trap blocks and he's laterally fast enough to slice between any zone-blocking scheme.
Raiders: Josh Chapman, DT (Alabama)
This is the one area that has been Oakland's Achilles heel all season. Currently the Raiders rank dead last in allowing 5.2 yards per carry as well as allowing 141.4 rush yards per game (ranked No. 28).
The problem, however, is mainly due to the DTs and DEs getting themselves out of position. The Raiders have three defensive linemen with four or more sacks, so their aggressiveness if being used against them.
Now include their age, and youth is needed. Richard Seymour is 32, Tommy Kelly is 30 and John Henderson is also 32, all of which are DTs.
Therefore, when they finally draft in the second round (traded first-rounder to Cincinnati), Alabama's Josh Chapman is a perfect fit.
Chapman has been the man in the middle for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide and is the next dominant defensive lineman coming from Alabama. Chapman's best attribute is stuffing the run as he's not a sack-master.
However, that's exactly what Oakland needs. He's a guy who can hold a gap (or two), take on multiple blocks and make plays or free up the LBs to make plays. In addition, although he's a very good 4-3 DT, he allows the Raiders to go with a 3-4 front to mix it up.
There, Chapman is actually better when stacked over the center, but his 4-3 ability is solid as well. So any way you slice it, Chapman will significantly improve the Silver and Black.
Saints: Emmanuel Acho, ILB (Texas)
With the Saints having traded away their 2011 first-rounder to New England, they must wait until Round 2 as well.
Here, New Orleans needs to take middle linebacker Emmanuel Acho from Texas. Currently the Saints may rank No. 16 in rush defense by allowing 114.6 yards per game, but they also allow 4.9 yards per carry (tied with Green Bay for the No. 29 ranking).
And much like the Packers also, the Saints are ranked highly (No. 5) in rushing attempts against them (278). So, to stop New Orleans you must run the ball and keep their explosive offense off the field by milking the clock.
Therefore, if you're a Saints fan a dominant ILB is needed. Acho has recorded 102 tackles in 2011, as well as three sacks and one forced fumble. In addition, New Orleans needs some depth at the MIKE position.
Acho could only help and even as the only solid defensive player on Texas, the Longhorns do have a good rush defense. Give him the liberty to control the A-gaps and limited success will happen between the tackles in the Big Easy.
2012 First Round NFL Mock Draft
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stan.)
17. New York Jets: Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)
2. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR (Okla. St.)
18. Tennessee Titans: Jeff Fuller, WR (Tex. A&M)
3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, DB (LSU)
19. Detroit Lions: Zach Brown, LB (UNC)
4. Miami Dolphins: Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
20. Cincinnati Bengals: David DeCastro, G (Stan.)
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devon Still, DT (Penn St.)
21. Cleveland (From ATL): Vontaze Burfict, LB (ASU)
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR (ND)
22. Cincinnati (From Oak): Jonathan Martin, OT (Stan.)
7. Arizona Cardinals: Alshon Jeffery, WR (S. Car.)
23. Chicago Bears: Nick Toon, WR (Wisc.)
8. Seattle Seahawks: Matt Kalil, OT (USC)
24. Denver Broncos: Alfonzo Dennard, CB (Neb.)
9. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB (Ala.)
25. Dallas Cowboys: Quinton Coples, DE (UNC)
10. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin, QB (Baylor)
26. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, OG (Georgia)
11 .Philadelphia Eagles: Manti Te'o, LB (ND)
27. Houston Texans: Jerel Worthy, DT (Mich. St.)
12. Carolina Panthers: Brandon Thompson, DT (Clem)
28. NE (From NO): Cam Johnson, DE (Virginia)
13. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, LB (Ala.)
29. New England Patriots: Mark Barron, S (Ala.)
14. Kansas City Chiefs: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Ala.)
30. San Francisco 49ers: Chase Minnifield, CB (UVA)
15. Buffalo Bills: Janoris Jenkins, CB (N. Ala.)
31. Baltimore Ravens: Luke Kuechly, LB (BC)
16. New York Giants: Mike Adams, OT (Ohio St.)
32. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE (S. Car.)