Thursday, December 25, 2014

2013 NFL Mock Draft: Fourth Edition

With the NFL draft roughly a week away, the rumor mill is in full swing. It is hard to take at face value many of the reports that originate in the final weeks leading up to the draft, generated by agents, scouts, general managers and professional and amateur writers alike.

2013 NFL Mock Draft: Fourth Edition

Geno Smith drops back to pass during West Virginia University football Pro Day in Morgantown, W.Va., on Thursday, March 14, 2013. (David Smith/AP)
Geno Smith drops back to pass during West Virginia University football Pro Day in Morgantown, W.Va., on Thursday, March 14, 2013. (David Smith/AP)

With the NFL draft roughly a week away, the rumor mill is in full swing. It is hard to take at face value many of the reports that originate in the final weeks leading up to the draft, generated by agents, scouts, general managers and professional and amateur writers alike. Instead, one should pay attention to who teams have in for visits - and who they cancel visits with, such as the Eagles deciding against bringing in Dee Milliner. The needs for teams remain more or less the same, so now it’s about deciding whether to draft by that criteria or by best player available - and then to figure out who that best player is. This, as evidenced by several franchises, is the most difficult part.

Here’s our latest mock draft that is entirely free of any expert opinion:

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

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The Chiefs stick with Joeckel here, who’s been pushed by Eric Fisher as the top tackle - and maybe even overall prospect - in the draft.

Previous mock: Joeckel

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

It’s only been two years since the Jaguars took a quarterback too high in the draft, so look for their new regime to end that trend. The reality is that Smith, on talent alone, is not a top-five pick. He is the best quarterback in the draft though, so Jacksonville will roll the dice.

Previous mock: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

3. Oakland Raiders

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

The Raiders finished 31st in the NFL in sacks last season, then subtracted Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant and Tommy Kelly from the defensive line. Enter Floyd, whose stock has risen in recent months and would give Oakland an anchor to

Previous mock: Floyd

4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

Fisher’s stock has risen continuously since the end of the college football season. Many view him as an equal prospect to the consensus top tackle Joeckel, and some even rate him better. The Eagles will be happy to get either of the two, and thus land the one from Central Michigan.

Previous mock: Fisher

5. Detroit Lions

Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

The Lions have a lot of talent up front in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but not much of it at defensive end. Jordan had a great combine and should allow the Lions to generate pressure from the outside.

Previous mock: Milliner

6. Cleveland Browns

DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama

Cleveland already has a very solid corner in Joe Haden. They take the opportunity to add another possible shutdown cornerback in Milliner.

Previous mock: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU

7. Arizona Cardinals

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

Carson Palmer is the Cardinals’ new starting quarterback, so they will need an athletic offensive tackle like Johnson to chase down Palmer’s interceptions. And also to protect him.

Previous mock: Johnson

8. Buffalo Bills

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

This is quite the jump for Austin, but versatility is the name of the game in today’s NFL, and Austin fits the mold. With potential but questions among the other receiver prospects, Austin’s ability to catch passes and return kicks and punts is valuable.

Previous mock: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

9. New York Jets

Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU

Ansah has earned comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul, as he was also a late arrival to the game. Few can match Ansah’s athleticism, and even i

Previous mock: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

10. Tennessee Titans

Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

The Titans’ stick with Warmack, as their situation at guard has not markedly improved in the offseason. Warmack, if he’s not the best overall player in the draft, is likely the safest pick.

Previous mock: Warmack

11. San Diego Chargers

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Lotulelei’s heart condition ended up not being an issue, but it might be too late for him to regain his top-five status. The Chargers would be getting great value here.

Previous mock: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

12. Miami Dolphins

Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

With the top three tackles off the board and the best guard, the Dolphins elect to go with Cooper, a versatile lineman who can play either guard or center.

Previous mock: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Unless the Bucs trade for Darrelle Revis, this pick pretty much has to be a cornerback. Tampa Bay had the worst pass defense in the NFL last season. Rhodes will provide an immediate upgrade.

Previous mock: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

14. Carolina Panthers

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

The Panthers struggled against the run for the majority of the season. Richardson is a definite upgrade in the middle of their defensive line

Previous mock: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

15. New Orleans Saints

Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

One of the reasons why the Saints’ defense was so bad last season was the lack of a pass rush. Mingo can provide that as an outside linebacker in Rob Ryan’s new 3-4 alignment.

Previous mock: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

16. St. Louis Rams

D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

The Rams have needs along the offensive line and at wide receiver. It may be early for Fluker here, but teams obviously covet depth on the offensive line, so the Rams may be forced to make a needs-based pick.

Previous mock: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

After parting ways with James Harrison, the Steelers need a pass-rushing linebacker. Jones is a top-five talent with health questions whose stock is down after a poor pro day. Sounds like a Steelers pick.

Previous mock: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

18. Dallas Cowboys

Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

Vaccaro is still the pick for the Cowboys, who had a need at safety even before cutting Gerald Sensabaugh.

Previous mock: Vaccaro

19. New York Giants

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Werner does not have as much upside as some of the other rushers taken earlier in the draft, but the Giants snap up an undervalued player here to help replace Justin Tuck.

Previous mock: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M

20. Chicago Bears

Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

Offensive line remains the Bears’ biggest need, but they’ll also have to replace Brian Urlacher, at least in part. Ogletree has good range and can do a good deal to help fill the void.

Previous mock: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

The Bengals need some help in their secondary. With Vaccaro off the board, they go with a cornerback in Trufant, who has moved into the first round after a strong Senior Bowl and

Previous mock: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins)

Keenan Allen, WR, California

With their first pick, the Rams got an offensive lineman. Now, they give Sam Bradford someone to throw to in Allen, whose stock is down a bit after running a slow 40-yard dash but showed big-play potential at Cal.

Previous mock: Allen

23. Minnesota Vikings

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

The Vikings need help in the middle of their defensive line, with Kevin Williams aging. They get it in Sylvester Williams, who is great value at this point.

Previous mock: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

24. Indianapolis Colts

Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M

Moore was considered a top-10 at one point. He then performed poorly at the combine and has had some off-the-field issues that have hurt his draft position. The Colts take a chance on him here, hoping to improve their pass rush.

Previous mock: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks)

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

With the pick they acquired for Percy Harvin, the Vikings take Patterson, a big receiver from Tennessee who gives Christian Ponder a deep threat - provided he can get it there.

Previous mock: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

26. Green Bay Packers

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Jermichael Finley has forgotten how to catch a football the past few seasons, so the Packers need to replace him. The tight end class is strong, with Eifert considered by most the top player at the position.

Previous mock: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State

27. Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

Andre Johnson rebounded in 2012 but isn’t getting any younger, and the Texans lack secondary receiving options. Hopkins is sure-handed and can take pressure off Johnson immediately.

Previous mock: Hopkins

28. Denver Broncos

Cornelius Carradine, DE, Florida State

The Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil in a contract snafu. They could look to address their underwhelming secondary (re: Joe Flacco), but with plenty of good defensive linemen left on the board, they go with Carradine.

Previous mock: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

29. New England Patriots

Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

The Patriots seem to be in a perpetual search for secondary help. Though they re-signed Aqib Talib and brought in Adrian Wilson, they need to find longer-term help, which leads them to Taylor.

Previous mock: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

30. Atlanta Falcons

Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Atlanta could go either with defensive line help or address their secondary. Jones is yet another pass-rushing threat who is also pick enough to slide inside.

Previous mock: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut

31. San Francisco 49ers

Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

It’s hard to improve the 49ers’ defense, but they could do worse than to draft Williams to plug the middle.

Previous mock: Matt Elam, S, Florida

32. Baltimore Ravens

Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International

Ed Reed is now in Houston, just one of the several losses endured by the Ravens’ defense this offseason. They could find another long-term starter in the hard-hitting Cyprien.

Previous mock: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

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