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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NFL Mock Draft: 11/14/12

1) Kansas City Chiefs (1-8): Matt Barkley, QB, USC

The combination of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn has been awful. The Chiefs actually have a few playmakers, but it doesn’t mean much if you can’t get those playmakers the ball in big situations. This could either be Barkley or Geno Smith, but for now, the USC senior gets the slight nod.

2) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Blaine Gabbert is awful, and the Jaguars won’t waste a third year on him. The Jags will likely clean house in the front office, and new regimes generally mean new quarterbacks. Smith is the best one available at this point, and while he isn’t the answer for all of their problems, he’s certainly an upgrade under center.

3) Cleveland Browns (2-7): Robert Woods, WR, USC

I could easily see Cleveland trading down. No defensive player really makes sense for them this high in the draft, and as bad as Brandon Weeden was in week one, he’s been more effective since then. For now, I’ll give them the best wideout in the draft, even if it’s highly unlikely they’ll keep the pick.

4) Carolina Panthers (2-7): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Probably the most dominating lineman in the draft this year, Lotulelei has emerged as a force in the PAC-12. Carolina’s defense is inconsistent, especially late in games, and this selection gives them stability up the middle as well as one of the best players in the draft.

5) Oakland Raiders (3-6): Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

Bottom line is that the Raiders can’t stop anyone, including, apparently, the Baltimore punter. Jones is the top pass-rusher in the draft, and instantly upgrades the Oakland front seven.

6) Buffalo Bills (3-6): Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame

The Bills’ defense is atrocious. At 32nd against the run, they need help. Fortunately, Te’o slipped a bit in this mock, as he could have easily been a top-five pick. He can do anything on defense, from playing the run to dropping back in coverage, and he gives them a stabilizing force in the middle that they’ve been lacking since Paul Posluszny left.

7) Philadelphia Eagles (3-6): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Philadelphia let Michael Vick get massacred behind the line, and without reinforcements, the same thing will happen to Nick Foles. You need to protect quarterbacks, and here, the Eagles are in position to take the best offensive lineman in the draft.

8) St. Louis Rams (3-5-1): DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama

The Rams may make a move to trade up for Joeckel, because O-line is a pretty big need. However, you can never have too many corners in the current NFL. Janoris Jenkins hasn’t really panned out yet (though he’s still very young), and here, St. Louis can potentially get the top defensive back in the draft. Not a bad consolation prize.

9) New York Jets (3-6): Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

If the Jets are picking this high, then chances are Rex Ryan is a goner. New regimes usually mean new quarterbacks, and I’m much, much higher on Landry Jones than most are. He’s a prototype quarterback that can make all the throws, and he’d give Jets fans a chance to get excited about the man under center.

10) St. Louis Rams (3-5-1): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

This is a little bit of a reach, but St. Louis does need a tackle, as outlined earlier. They don’t get Joeckel, but if they hang on to both picks, they could easily snag Taylor Lewan, the #2 lineman in this year’s crop.

11) Tennessee Titans (4-6): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Moore wasn’t in my first mock draft because he was pretty adamant about staying in school. However, he recently said he’s keeping his options open, and that could prove to be a wise financial decision. Tennessee needs a ton of help defensively. Their performance against Miami was an aberration, not the norm, and Moore is the top defensive player remaining.

12) Cincinnati Bengals (4-5): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Originally, I had the Bengals taking a running back, but Werner is too good to pass up at #12. He needs to get a little bigger, but if he does, he’ll give Geno Atkins relief on the defensive line. There’s a surprising amount of depth at running back in this draft, and the Bengals may go that route in rounds two and/or three.

13) San Diego Chargers (4-5): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

Mingo’s an excellent fit for San Diego’s defense. He can wreak havoc rushing the passer, and is also solid in pass coverage due to his freakish athleticism. If Landry Jones is still around, he may draw attention, but with the teams that may have new offensive regimes next year picking above San Diego, he may be gone.

14) Miami Dolphins (4-5): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Miami is 28th against the pass this year, and that needs to change in this pass-happy era of football. Rhodes is the second-best cornerback prospect in the draft behind Milliner, and definitely fills a need in the defensive backfield.

15) New Orleans Saints (4-5): Johnathon Hankins, DT, Ohio State

New Orleans’s porous defense has been a big problem all year, and they can’t get pressure on the quarterback, either. Hankins can fill plenty of holes on the defensive line, and his 6’4”, 325-pound frame gives him plenty of leverage.

16) Dallas Cowboys (4-5): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

Montgomery’s 20 pounds bigger than teammate Barkevious Mingo, and a bit more consistent despite probably not being a linebacker at the next level. Either, though, would provide a solid pass-rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware, which would open up the defensive playbook considerably.

17) Arizona Cardinals (4-5): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

Arizona needs offensive line help in the worst way. Fisher’s probably the last first-round caliber tackle available in a bad year for offensive linemen, and while he’s probably a bit of a reach at #17, he definitely fills a need.

18) Detroit Lions (4-5): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

Detroit may end up trading up to grab one of the two rush ends from LSU, as there’s a pretty big drop from them to the rest of the defensive ends in this year’s class. However, they could stand to upgrade at linebacker as well. Ogletree has some character issues, but it’s not like that’s ever stopped the Lions from taking someone they like, and he’s a force when his head’s screwed on straight.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Tampa Bay traded Aqib Talib, and their cornerback situation wasn’t rosy to begin with. Banks and Xavier Rhodes are very close to each other in terms of talent, and with Ronde Barber possibly retiring after the season ends, it’s highly likely the Bucs take one or the other.

20) Minnesota Vikings (6-4): Keenan Allen, WR, Cal

The Vikings could really use an upgrade opposite Percy Harvin. Allen is a bonafide playmaker, and one that could have gone way before this. Instead, he goes to Minnesota, giving Christian Ponder another downfield weapon.

21) Seattle Seahawks (6-4): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

Seattle needs someone to grow with Russell Wilson, who’s been improving steadily in his rookie season. Hunter’s not as good as Allen, but he’s still a solid value pick this late in the first round for a team in need of an impact wide receiver.

22) New York Giants (6-4): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

The Giants only have two guards on their roster, and several of their offensive linemen are getting older. Warmack could go much earlier than this, and he provides necessary depth at the interior line spots.

23) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3): Eric Reid, S, LSU

Troy Polamalu isn’t getting younger or healthier, and it may be time to start grooming a replacement in the defensive backfield. Safeties don’t usually go early, but Reid presents a solid value at #23 and could fill a need if Pittsburgh’s determined Polamalu has lost a step.

24) Indianapolis Colts (6-3): Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

You can run on the Colts, whose front seven ranks 22nd in the NFL. Their defensive tackle situation isn’t promising, and while the defense as a whole has overachieved this year, they need reinforcements, which Jenkins helps provide.

25) Denver Broncos (6-3): Giovanni Bernard, HB, North Carolina

Willis McGahee isn’t getting younger, and Ronnie Hillman, while explosive, may not be an every-down back. I had Bernard going much, much higher in my first mock, and for good reason. He’s a big-play threat who has averaged 7.4 yards per carry, and I think he’s the best running back prospect in this draft.

26) New England Patriots (6-3): Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

Wes Welker is in a contract year, and an over-the-hill Deion Branch is playing a ton of snaps. This could be a real need position for the Patriots this coming offseason, and Williams is the best wideout available at this point. I could also see the Pats taking a defensive lineman, but that position is very deep, and there’s a substantial drop from Williams to the other wideouts in this draft class.

27) Green Bay Packers (6-3): Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma

Green Bay needs help in defending the pass, especially with Charles Woodson getting older. The cornerback depth isn’t there, but Jefferson is a versatile safety who plays both the run and the pass pretty well. He’s a little undersized, but he plays with a high motor and has good fundamentals.

28) San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

San Francisco relies very heavily on their front seven, but their defensive backs could stand to improve. I’m a fan of Trufant, who has played very well the past two seasons in establishing himself as a shutdown corner, and he fits here.

29) Baltimore Ravens (7-2): C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

Baltimore needs to find a replacement for Ray Lewis, who may end up retiring following his season-ending injury. Mosley isn’t quite the player Alex Ogletree is, but he’s easily the best one available at this point.

30) Chicago Bears (7-2): Barrett Jones, OG/OT, Alabama

As good as Chicago is when everything is clicking, their offensive line is still a question mark. Jay Cutler needs time to throw, and Matt Forte could use better blocking. Jones is the most versatile lineman in the draft, and can fill in anywhere he’s needed.

31) Houston Texans (8-1): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

Short has a rare blend of size and athleticism. Unlike some defensive tackles, he can get to the quarterback pretty well, and that’s an asset from the nose tackle scheme the Texans run.

32) Atlanta Falcons (8-1): Joseph Randle, HB, Oklahoma State

Michael Turner is getting older, and Jacquizz Rodgers hasn’t been effective in spell duty this year. The Falcons may trade down, but if they don’t, a running back wouldn’t be a bad idea. Randle could easily go much earlier than this. He has great hands out of the backfield, and with how often Matt Ryan goes to his running backs in passing situations, that could end up being a real asset.


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