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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, December 4, 2012

2013 NFL Mock Draft (12/4/2012)

1) Kansas City Chiefs (2-10): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

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. I had Matt Barkley here for a while, but his recent shoulder injury probably cost him a ton of money.

2) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10): Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

I had Jacksonville taking a quarterback here for a while, but Barkley’s stock dropped and Chad Henne’s been playing surprisingly well. As such, the Jaguars grab one of the best defensive players available, and since they already have a quality middle linebacker in Paul Posluszny, Manti Te’o isn’t a great fit.

3) Oakland Raiders (3-9): Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame

The Raiders could also plug their defensive line with Star Lotulelei, but defensive line is loaded in this year’s draft class and they can address that need later. Instead, they use the #3 pick on the safest prospect around. Rolando McClain wants out, and Oakland desperately needs young leadership on defense, which is exactly what Te’o provides.

4) Philadelphia Eagles (3-9): 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.

5) Carolina Panthers (3-9): 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. I’ve had them taking Lotulelei for a while, and with their struggles defending against the run, that’s not going to change unless their record does and they pick too late to grab him.

6) San Diego Chargers (4-8): Matt Barkley, QB, USC

New regimes usually mean new quarterbacks. Norv Turner is likely gone, and with Philip Rivers turning 31 this month and becoming more turnover-prone, whoever gets put in charge will likely want to draft a big prospect under center. Barkley’s injury should heal up in plenty of time, and as a local product, he could sell plenty of tickets and jerseys. All in all, he could wind up a steal at #6.

7) Cleveland Browns (4-8): Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M

Cleveland winning a couple of games took them out of the Manti Te’o Sweepstakes, which stinks for the Browns because he would have been an excellent fit there. Instead, they at least get a decent consolation prize in Moore, who upgrades the front seven and provides versatility. He could easily fill the void at strong-side linebacker left when Scott Fujita was injured.

8) Tennessee Titans (4-8): DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama

Tennessee’s defense can’t stop anyone, and in the current pass-happy era of football, you can never have too many talented corners. Milliner should provide an instant upgrade. He’s the best player on one of the best defenses in college football, and his potential is excellent.

9) Arizona Cardinals (4-8): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Lewan is a reach here, but there’s no denying Arizona has gaping holes on their offensive line. The Cardinals could easily trade down and get Lewan in the 12-15 range, but I can’t account for that in a mock draft. Here, they at least get someone who can produce immediately and give whatever quarterback they start a little more time to make decisions.

10) Detroit Lions (4-8): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Rhodes isn’t too far behind Milliner in terms of his skillset, and Detroit needs a ton of help in the secondary. Any team so talented on offense shouldn’t be 4-8, and a big reason for that this year has been their struggles against talented passing attacks.

11) Buffalo Bills (5-7): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

Mingo gives the Bills a presence at outside linebacker that they don’t have right now. Besides, an extra pass-rusher could give a talented defensive line some help in overloading offensive lines.

12) New Orleans Saints (5-7): 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.

13) Miami Dolphins (5-7): Keenan Allen, WR, California

Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been bad in his rookie season, but his arsenal of weapons isn’t stellar. Brian Hartline is a fine #2 receiver, but he shouldn’t be a #1. Allen is the best wide receiver prospect in the draft, and he can grow with his quarterback.

14) New York Jets (5-7): Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Mark Sanchez was benched, and when the ensuing quarterback controversy involves Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy, there’s a problem. Sanchez clearly doesn’t have the confidence of the coaching staff and upper brass, and the Jets need to rectify the situation by taking Landry Jones. Jones can make all the throws, as he’s shown during a very good, under-the-radar career at Oklahoma.

15) St. Louis Rams (5-6-1): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

I could see St. Louis trading draft picks with Arizona and moving up to grab Keenan Allen, as they could use another big play threat. However, the offensive line is still a big need, and Fisher is the best offensive tackle left on the board.

16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Tampa Bay traded Aqib Talib, and their cornerback situation wasn’t rosy to begin with. With Ronde Barber likely retiring, they need to restock the defensive backfield, and Banks is a solid pick at this point in the first round.

17) St. Louis Rams (5-6-1, from Washington): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Chris Long is a very solid pass-rusher, but the Rams could use some help across from him. Werner slipped a bit in this mock and needs to bulk up a bit, but if he does, he’ll be a significant upgrade on St. Louis’s defensive line.

18) Dallas Cowboys (6-6): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

Like St. Louis, Dallas could use some reinforcements on the defensive line. They could take a tackle and move Jay Ratliff outside, but in this scenario, Montgomery is one of the best players available and fits Dallas’s defensive schemes.

19) Minnesota Vikings (6-6): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

Minnesota is dead-last in the NFL in passing yardage. Part of that has to do with having arguably the best running back in the league, but Christian Ponder doesn’t have much to work with outside of Percy Harvin. That changes with this pick, as Hunter quickly adds a quality #2 threat.

20) Cincinnati Bengals (7-5): Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

Geno Atkins is a stud at defensive tackle, but he could use help coming off the edge. Jordan is a bit of a tweener, but there’s no question he can get to the quarterback and wreak havoc in the backfield.

21) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Pittsburgh’s offensive line always seems to be banged up, and their run game hasn’t been great this year. Warmack is a versatile player and easily the best lineman left at this point. Even though the Steelers drafted David DeCastro a year ago, this is a really nice pickup for a team that needs health up front.

22) Seattle Seahawks (7-5): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Unfortunately, the only wide receiver that makes some sense here is Terrence Williams, and he’s a reach here at #22. Richardson, however, is an absolute steal. His stock is at an all-time high after a big senior season, and he provides quality defense against the run.

23) New York Giants (7-5): Alex Okafor, DE/OLB, Texas

Osi Umenyiora enters free agency at the end of this year. If the Giants don’t keep him, Okafor could slide in as a replacement. Even if they do, he provides versatility and is one of the best players available.

24) Indianapolis Colts (8-4): 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) Chicago Bears (8-4): 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.

26) Green Bay Packers (8-4): Eric Reid, S, LSU

Green Bay needs help in defending the pass, especially with Charles Woodson getting older. I’ve mocked Reid to the Steelers before, but he fits here as well. He can defend against both the run and the pass, and can learn from one of the best if Woodson decides to play another year.

27) Denver Broncos (9-3): Giovanni Bernard, HB, North Carolina

Willis McGahee just suffered a bad MCL injury, and Ronnie Hillman, while explosive, may not be an every-down back. Bernard is a big-play threat every time he touches the football. He averaged 214 all-purpose yards per game, good for third nationally, and if he declares for the draft, he’s probably the best back in the draft class.

28) Baltimore Ravens (9-3): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

Baltimore needs to find a replacement for Ray Lewis, who may end up retiring following his season-ending injury. Ogletree has some character issues, and could go from anywhere between the middle of the first round to the beginning of the second, but he’s a great fit here at #28.

29) San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1): 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.

30) New England Patriots (9-3): 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.

31) Atlanta Falcons (11-1): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

Atlanta’s run defense hasn’t been good, especially in the last several weeks. Ansah is a high-upside player with a knack for getting into the backfield. The Falcons have had problems at defensive end, and this takes a step towards addressing them.

32) Houston Texans (11-1): 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.


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