NFL Mock Draft 2013: Teams in Dire Need of Impact Defenders

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent IFebruary 16, 2013

Johnthan Banks was a key playmaker for Mississippi State.
Johnthan Banks was a key playmaker for Mississippi State.Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Pro football is an offensively-dominated league, which inflates the emphasis of appeal towards impact defenders.

Appropriately, the 2013 NFL Draft is overloaded with a plethora of prospective talent.

From the defensive tackles through specialized pass-rushers and shutdown corners, this draft season fulfills across the board. And as expected, there are plenty of teams in great need of a playmaker at each level of defense.

Here, we check out those taking an impact player in another complete Round 1 mock draft.

Note: Highlighted prospects are in italics.

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

As long as the Chiefs cut down on turnovers, a few more wins will occur.

Geno Smith has the reliable decision-making skill set, not to mention the arm capable of hitting every NFL throw. He'll spread the field and K.C. becomes a more balanced offense. 

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

Jarvis Jones and Jacksonville will be a perfect fit because the Jaguars desperately need a stronger pass rush.

Applying quarterback pressure is Jones' forte and he's also solid against the run.

In the defensively vulnerable AFC South, Jones shines in Jacksonville.

3. Oakland Raiders: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)

Last season the Raiders recorded a mere 25 sacks and 11 picks and only forced 10 fumbles.

Clearly the Silver and Black need a front seven defender capable of revving up the engines to generate more favorable plays. Florida State's Bjoern Werner is the perfect solution this draft season.

For one, Werner racked up 20 sacks and 79 tackles over the past two seasons. Even more impressive were the displayed instincts. He defended 17 passes in that span despite lining up as a defensive end.

The guy just knows when to raise a paw and obstruct the quarterback's vision. Against teams who like quick-hitting passes, Oakland possesses a competitive edge with Werner anchoring the defensive line.

His overall impact from getting pressure, squeezing running lanes and deflecting passes provides more turnover opportunities for cover players. Werner becomes a significant advantage for the pass defense at consistently breaking up passes, which makes opposing play-calls a bit more predictable.

We'll then see the Raiders snag more picks and pile more sacks in 2013 and act as a postseason sleeper.

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

Luke Joeckel is a complete offensive lineman for the Eagles.

His ability to pass protect obviously bodes well for reducing turnovers and quarterback pressure. But Joeckel's quickness to get upfield from the backside and immediately drive at the snap will get LeSean McCoy and the ground game back to normal.

5. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)

Damontre Moore's knack for making plays in the backfield will significantly improve Detroit's run defense.

Fortunately, he's also a sound pass-rusher, which benefits the production of Ndamukong Suh.

The end result will be better control of the line against pass-first or run-oriented offenses.

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

Cleveland nearly fields a complete defense, so adding Dee Milliner helps upgrade the coverage opposite Joe Haden.

As a dependable edge player, Milliner can suffocate in man-to-man, shield in zone and press at the line. Ultimately, the Browns get more from their front seven since the coverage blankets at each level.

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

Quarterback protection and a more effective rushing attack will get Arizona back in the NFC postseason mix.

Chance Warmack supplies each to the Cardinals, because he's fluid laterally and becomes a force when run-blocking. Warmack is a great solution for Arizona in a strong defensive division.

8. Buffalo Bills: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)

Buffalo has a few needs this draft season, but it's too much of a risk right now in reaching for a quarterback.

Therefore, Dion Jordan is the next best alternative to fix its run defense and enhance the pass rush.

Presenting great size and quickness, Jordan will close running lanes and get quarterback pressure opposite of Mario Williams.

9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)

Combine the need for youth and speed at the linebacker spot and Barkevious Mingo suits well in New York.

The Jets lacked a consistent pass rush last season and Mingo provides the acceleration to bolt around the edge. Plus, he is a sound run defender to quickly disrupt the designed play.

If anything, that impact assists the secondary for easier coverage and Gang Green forces more turnovers.

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

This past season Tennessee gave up a 66.3 completion percentage and 31 passing touchdowns.

Unsurprisingly, the Titans ranked No. 26 in pass defense and gave up an average of 29.4 points per game (ranked No. 32). Although Tennessee had been vulnerable in coverage in recent seasons, collectively it was never this horrendous.

Obviously the impact of Cortland Finnegan from 2006 through 2011 played a key role, because 2012 was virtually rock bottom. Combine everything and the Titans have to land Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks.

Banks is a sound playmaker who defended 41 passes and recorded 15 picks in his college career. Not to mention Banks took three back for scores and forced five fumbles.

He sports the physical nature to lock down in press coverage and assist with edge run support. By the same token, that ability to jam receivers at the line transitions nicely when sinking into a zone scheme.

Banks possesses the talent to take away half the field, and Tennessee's decent pass rush finds inflated production as a result.

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

Philip Rivers was a turnover machine in 2012 courtesy of unreliable pocket protection.

As a result, San Diego didn't get much from its ground game either. So, enter Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, who is capable of anchoring the offensive line.

Fisher is a great athlete and will be a wall on the edge of the pocket. He'll also seal blocks to create polished running lanes, which allows for a balanced approach.

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

The AFC East is not extremely well-versed in coverage right now from an overall perspective.

Miami drafting Keenan Allen is then a competitive advantage next season. With the size and leaping ability to split Cover 2 zones and win man-to-man inside the red zone, Allen gets a defense on its heels.

In turn, Ryan Tannehill develops faster and the Dolphins become a more efficient offense.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)

The Buccaneers struggled to dominate up front defensively in 2012. Sure, the run defense was solid, but that's also because opponents were eviscerating Tampa Bay's horrendous defense as well.

Star Lotulelei helps generate an interior pass rush and a force within the trenches. His power alone will stifle any ground game; however, he will also draw double-teams to let the edge defenders make more plays in the backfield.

14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)

Carolina is close to becoming a sneaky dangerous team in the NFC. The offense is capable of scoring at will, although the defense continues to struggle with inconsistency.

Sheldon Richardson is a stud for the front seven, because he'll knife into the backfield from possessing impressive explosiveness at the snap. Already fielding other sound defenders in Charles Johnson and Luke Kuechly, Richardson won't be totally isolated from opposing blocking schemes.

In short, playmaking opportunities are consistently presented to spruce up the Cats' defense.

15. New Orleans Saints: Johnathan Hankins, DT (Ohio State)

In the pass-happy NFC South the Saints must significantly improve their pass rush.

New Orleans does have reliable rushers such as Will Smith and Cameron Jordan, so adding Johnathan Hankins to the interior is a great complement.

With a nose for bursting into the backfield and capable of halting blockers at the snap, Hankins' impact allows the edge players to dominate more. Otherwise, he'll take advantage of slipping blocks instead.

Either way the Saints improve defensively.

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

Running back Steven Jackson can remain a reliable impact player for the Rams offense. But St. Louis needs to provide him with top tier talent up front.

North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper is an athletic guard who brings the agility and tenacity to run block all over. Meaning: He will pull outside with effectiveness and drive upfield to extend lanes.

The underlying effect is a better ground attack that sets up play-action, which makes St. Louis balanced.

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

Pittsburgh was uncharacteristically suspect on defense last season.

The Steelers recorded under 40 sacks for a second straight season and gradually regressed against the pass. Allowing only 15 touchdown passes in 2011, Pittsburgh gave up 19 in 2012 and managed just 10 picks.

Not to mention the Steel Curtain gave up 20-plus points eight times.

Factor in the aging front seven and Ezekiel Ansah of BYU will be a quick fix. His supreme level of athleticism will impact as a defensive end or outside 'backer, which solidifies a more consistent pass rush and perimeter run defense.

His size combined with excellent lateral movement reacts well against tosses, quick screens and for sinking into coverage. Considering that Ansah accounted for 62 tackles and nine defended passes last fall, he'll close running lanes and prevent opponent's from getting cheap yards versus Pittsburgh.

Troy Polamalu and the secondary then benefits, because quarterbacks attack the Steelers downfield more. This just translates to more pressure and turnover chances en route to a potential postseason run.

18. Dallas Cowboys: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)

Dallas will not make the postseason without improving against the run.

Selecting John Jenkins pits an immovable force in Big D's front seven, and the linebackers are free to make more plays. Jenkins is also a reliable pass-rusher to flush the quarterback out of the pocket.

DeMarcus Ware then sees more sack and turnover opportunities.

19. New York Giants: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)

In order to continue protecting Eli Manning the Giants have to get talented youth in their offensive line.

Lane Johnson provides the athleticism to sleek laterally and pick up delayed blitzes, which increases Manning's time in the pocket. Johnson's quickness will also help keep the ground game working, because Big Blue must set up play-action to properly utilize its playmaking receivers.

20. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)

There's an abundance of reliable talent around Jay Cutler in Chicago.

Landing Tyler Eifert simply completes his go-to playmakers, as Brandon Marshall resides out wide and Matt Forte in the backfield. Eifert, though, is a smooth route runner and capable run-blocker to give the Bears more balance.

And he'll always face a coverage mismatches, because of his size is an advantage against any linebacker or safety.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)

Although Cincinnati fielded a solid pass rush in 2012, the coverage immensely underachieved.

Failing to generate turnovers and giving up a 61.8 completion percentage, Kenny Vaccaro will help turn things around.

He's a physical defender and reliable tackler. That reliability makes for better man coverage, as well as bolstering the run defense.

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

Possessing a solid running game, St. Louis amplifies its offense with Cordarrelle Patterson.

Cooper enhances the rushing attack to set up play-action and Patterson is the main beneficiary. He won't consistently receive double coverage, and he has the size and speed to win against man-to-man.

This results in bigger plays and the Rams getting a few more wins next season.

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

The Vikings have to get Adrian Peterson some help in their passing attack, because opponents will continue stacking the box until Minnesota can stretch a defense.

Ironically, stretching defenses is just what Terrance Williams does. Having acceleration and top speed, Williams will burn anyone man-to-man and siphon zones downfield.

Christian Ponder then challenges opponents and Peterson faces fewer defenders up front. 

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

Indianapolis is extremely close to becoming a legit Super Bowl contender.

Fixing the defense is required, though, and Alex Okafor is the first step. Courtesy of excellent size and athleticism, Okafor is versatile and a dependable playmaker.

He will escalate the Colts pass rush and run defense and will occasionally draw an extra blocker to free up fellow front seven defenders.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Sam Montgomery, DE (LSU)

Pete Carroll is on the brink of fielding a complete team.

The offense is well-balanced yet high-powered when needed. The defense locks down in coverage and is physical against the run. But selecting Sam Montgomery drastically helps the pass rush with talent and depth.

Given that the Seahawks ranked No. 1 in average points allowed per game (15.3), Montgomery's explosiveness and speed take this defense to an unreal level.

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

Regardless of his pass protection Aaron Rodgers will pick apart defenses. At the same time, Green Bay needs Barrett Jones to provide a better offensive line.

Jones is dynamic and has proven reliable consistency across the line for Alabama. The Packers must also improve their ground game to take pressure off Rodgers, which will get Titletown back into the Super Bowl fold.

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

Wade Phillips' defense was diced up by the likes of Tom Brady (twice), Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford last season.

Even Jacksonville's Chad Henne got into the mix by nearly pulling a road overtime upset.

So, the pass defense proved to be Houston's Achilles' heel in 2012. With a strong front seven for a pass rush and run defense, though, an upgraded secondary will take the Texans deeper in the playoffs.

Xavier Rhodes of Florida State not only has the field awareness skills, but he's a big cornerback capable of suffocating receivers at the line. Having defended 31 passes in three seasons for the Seminoles, Rhodes also recorded eight picks and 140 tackles.

Given J.J. Watt and Co. up front, Rhodes' drafting will pay immediate dividends in coverage. An escalation in turnovers will occur, along with fewer yards allowed after the catch. Now Houston is prepared to consistently square off against the upper echelon of NFL signal-callers.

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

For as susceptible as the Broncos were against the pass last season, the front seven is missing one piece.

Von Miller needs a complement opposite him at linebacker and Alec Ogletree is just the answer. A complete player, Ogletree has the lateral agility and awareness to blitz, cover and fill running lanes.

As a result, Denver becomes more consistent at controlling the line.

29. New England Patriots: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)

New England is just fine offensively; however, the defense must absolutely improve against the pass.

Florida's Matt Elam is a great addition in the end of Round 1, because he can contribute in multiple ways. Whether it's sitting back in Cover 1 or 3, rolling down for a blitzing 'backer, isolating the slot or lining up as a nickel/dime back, Elam brings the discipline and quickness to shield at any field level.

Plus, he'll help with run support by rocketing downfield to fill an outside lane.

30. Atlanta Falcons: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)

The impact of Jesse Williams doesn't spring off the stat sheet. He collected only 37 tackles for Alabama last season.

Where he makes a significant contribution is by drawing extra blockers. To that end, linebackers and edge rushers have the luxury of constantly facing mismatches when reading and reacting.

Williams will clog running lanes, flush the quarterback out of the pocket and create pileups in the trenches. In essence, his impact will interfere with the developing play and force the quarterback or running back to redirect.

And when they redirect, Williams puts them on a path right to his teammates. Otherwise, he'll make a play when blocked man-to-man. Atlanta gave up 4.8 yards per rushing attempt in 2012 as well as 16 rushing scores, and only managed 29 sacks.

So, opposing quarterbacks were setting up shop comfortably in the pocket and ball-carriers slammed the trenches. With Williams' jump at the snap and tenacious knack for powering into the backfield the Dirty Birds greatly enhance their front seven.

Already presenting an opportunistic secondary, just imagine the turnovers against a flustered quarterback consistently leaving the pocket. Atlanta astronomically increases its odds of winning the NFC.

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

San Francisco must stay true to its identity for remaining an NFC Super Bowl contender. And that's by remaining an elite run defense that asphyxiates the line of scrimmage.

Well, the 49ers are also aging in the trenches, which brings us to Kawann Short.

Short is a quick defender who will constantly find himself crashing the backfield. Because of that capability, Patrick Willis and Co. at linebacker can fill the disrupted running lanes with ease. 

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

In a limited capacity from the start, Baltimore will quickly develop Manti Te'o.

His cerebral approach to the game thrives on instincts and awareness, which bodes well for inside linebacker. The Ravens can also restrict his responsibilities because of edge players such as Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw.

Therefore, Te'o needs only be quick within a narrow width of space and get his coverage depth when needed. Given his improvements in coverage, Baltimore won't miss a beat next season.


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