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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.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NFL Mock Draft: 11/6/2012

Half of the 2012-13 NFL season is over. With the halfway point comes a time of resignation for certain teams, times where they start looking ahead to next year. The best opportunity to rebuild is the NFL Draft, and we’ll be providing mock drafts every now and then between now and the 2013 Draft. With that in mind, let’s kick off the first one.

1) Kansas City Chiefs (1-7): 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 (1-7): 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 (2-6): 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) St. Louis Rams (3-5): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

It’s a down year for offensive linemen, which is a shame for St. Louis because that’s been their biggest need since Orlando Pace began declining some years ago. Joeckel has plenty of experience, and is probably the best option for them at this point.

6) Tennessee Titans (3-5): Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

Tennessee is another team that could use help up front, but there’s nobody worth taking at this point. Still, Jones is the best player available, and he could have gone as high as #3 to Cleveland. He’s probably the top pass-rusher in the draft, and has the potential to be a defensive game-changer.

7) Cincinnati Bengals (3-5): Giovanni Bernard, RB, North Carolina

BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been ineffective this year, and it’s put way too big a burden on second-year QB Andy Dalton. Dalton’s been fine, but he could really use an every-down back capable of scoring every time he touches the ball. Bernard has had a phenomenal senior season, averaging well over seven yards per carry, and while he may be a reach, the fit here is really, really nice.

8) Oakland Raiders (3-5): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Oakland needs a ton of help on the defensive line. They can’t stop anybody on the ground, and Doug Martin had a field day against them last week. Werner needs to get a little bigger, but has a lot of tools you look for in a defensive end at the NFL level.

9) Buffalo Bills (3-5): Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame

The Bills’ defense is atrocious. At 31st against the run and 24th against the pass, 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.

10) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5): DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a free agent, and Nnamdi Asomugha may be cut after the season. If both happen, the Eagles desperately need help in the secondary. Milliner has a ton of experience in the best defense in college football, and is far and away the top defensive back prospect in this year’s draft.

11) New York Jets (3-5): Keenan Allen, WR, California

Mark Sanchez can’t succeed if he has nobody to throw to. Allen is a great athlete with size (6’2”, 215), and he provides a solid downfield target opposite a healthy Santonio Holmes. The Jets could also target a quarterback if the higher-ups are fired, but I don’t foresee that happening.

12) Dallas Cowboys (3-5): Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU

The Cowboys have their pick of rush ends from LSU, as Barkevious Mingo could also go here. However, Montgomery’s 20 pounds bigger, just as athletic, and a bit more consistent. Either, though, would provide a solid pass-rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware, which would open up the defensive playbook considerably.

13) New Orleans Saints (3-5): 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.

14) St. Louis Rams (3-5): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

The Rams get lucky with their second pick of the first round, as Mingo could have been a top-10 pick. Instead, he adds teeth to a front seven that already boasts Chris Long and James Laurinaitis. This isn’t a need pick, but Mingo’s potential makes this a no-brainer.

15) Arizona Cardinals (4-5): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Again, it’s unfortunate this is such a down year for offensive linemen, because Arizona needs some in the worst way possible. Lewan is the best available, but while he’s certainly a welcome addition, the Cardinals need much more.

16) San Diego Chargers (4-4): Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Don’t be surprised if the Chargers look for a quarterback prospect. Philip Rivers turns 31 next month, and doesn’t have the same zip on his deep ball that he once did. If Norv Turner and/or A.J. Smith get fired, the new higher-ups may want someone else under center. Jones can make all the throws, has prototypical size and arm strength, and could be seen as a steal this late in the first round.

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

Miami is 30th 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.

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

Tampa Bay traded Aqib Talib, and their cornerback situation wasn’t rosy to begin with. Banks and 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.

19) Detroit Lions (4-4): Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

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. It’s one of their few need positions, as Kyle Vanden Bosch likely won’t be back, and Okafor’s probably the best one available at this point.

20) Minnesota Vikings (5-4): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

Hunter may go higher had it not been for a knee injury he suffered in the 2011 season. He’s slowly but surely recovered since then, and Minnesota could use another playmaker alongside Percy Harvin.

21) Seattle Seahawks (5-4): Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

Seattle may end up grabbing a wide receiver, but with Hunter off the board, it can be argued that none left are worthy of being taken this high. Instead, I’ll give them Jenkins, the best player available. Right now, you can run on Seattle, and Jenkins could bolster the front seven.

22) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

What a shock. Once again, Pittsburgh’s offensive line is banged up. At some point, one would think the team would draft to protect Ben Roethlisberger. Until then, I’ll keep mocking offensive tackles to them and hope they listen.

23) Indianapolis Colts (5-3): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

You can run on the Colts, whose front seven ranks 25th 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 Williams helps provide.

24) 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.

25) Denver Broncos (5-3): Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State

Willis McGahee isn’t getting younger, and Ronnie Hillman, while explosive, may not be an every-down back. Randle is a decent value late in the first round, and is also a very good pass-catcher out of the backfield as well, something Peyton Manning should like.

26) New England Patriots (5-3): 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.

27) New York Giants (6-3): 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.

28) San Francisco 49ers (6-2): 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 (6-2): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

There are character issues here, as Ogletree was suspended four games due to a positive drug test. However, this is a perfect fit. Ogletree is a force inside, and can either learn from Ray Lewis for a year or two or replace him immediately.

30) Chicago Bears (7-1): 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 (7-1): 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 (8-0): Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida

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. Gillislee is a solid runner, and has turned heads with his ability to block out of the backfield.


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