With the NFL Draft just days away, it is time for Red Cup Sports to unveil their official mock draft. Last year’s draft was packed with can’t miss prospects headlined by Andrew Luck and RGIII, and was a godsend for the bottom dwelling teams in the NFL. A strong case could be made that every player drafted in the top 10, at the very least showed flashes of the stars they could become. This year’s draft is the yang to 2012’s ying. Every QB this year has glaring question marks surrounding their potential, mobility, football IQ or some other critical factor of their game. In fact, there is a good chance Ryan Tannehill would be the first player taken this year and he went eighth overall last year. And for those thinking that there could always be a Russell Wilson lying around in the third round, well think again. That was an anomaly and no team should bank on those results from a mid-round prospect at any position, let alone the toughest position in the NFL. This is all very important to the draft on Thursday April 25th because the difference between the 4th and 14th pick is slim to none. Every team drafting in the top 5 is going to be begging to trade down and accumulate more picks where this draft is strongest, rounds 2-4. Despite the aforementioned lack of “star power” in this year’s crop, there is an enormous amount of depth, especially in the trenches. The 2013 NFL Draft is going to be unpredictable, volatile, and really dam fun. And without further ado, I present my mock draft.
Also, I will be live tweeting the NFL draft @RedCupSports. Give us a follow and enjoy the draft along with me.
#1: Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
I personally believe that Eric Fisher fits the mold of an Andy Reid left tackle better than Luke Joeckel but all of the pundits have been saying that Joeckel is a near lock at this spot. Dating back to his Eagle days, Reid values the O-line as much as any position out there with the exception of quarterback. It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that the first pick of the Andy Reid era in KC is an offensive lineman
#2: Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
One of the most integral parts of any Gus Bradley defensive is the “Leo” position. This is an explosive, quick twitch, athletic freak who can rush the passer from any spot on the field. This lead me to picking Dion Jordan as he would simultaneously addresses both a need for Jacksonville and potentially the “best player available” mantra. However, everyone in the “know” is saying that whichever OT the Chiefs don’t take, the Jaguars will. So I will mock Eric Fisher here. Although Eugene Monroe is their best offensive player outside of MJD, and is only 26, following the “best player available” strategy is something that I commend and is a sign that Jacksonville’s new leadership has the right idea.
#3 Oakland Raiders: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
After losing Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant, and Tommy Kelly, there is a glaring need for a DT to man the middle in Oakland. The only other defensive tackle who would make sense here is Star Lotulelei but Floyd is 3 years younger than Star. However, for those in Oakland or anywhere else who is comparing Shariff Floyd to J.J. Watt, keep dreaming. Players like J.J. “Swat” don’t come around every year and if Floyd makes half the impact Watt is making this early on in his career, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen should be absolutely thrilled.
#4 Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
This is easily the hardest pick to project in the 2013 draft. Nobody outside the NovaCare Complex has any clue as to what Chip Kelly is looking for in a prospect. Does he want Geno Smith, who would be his franchise quarterback to build around? Does he want the most athletic offensive lineman in this year’s draft, Lane Johnson? Does he want the most explosive offensive player to come out this year, Tavon Austin, who he could move around like a queen in chess? How about an athletic marvel like Ziggy Ansah, Barkevious Mingo, or Dion Jordan, for his front seven on defense? After much deliberation I am going to hedge my bets and say he takes the top rated player on his big board, Jordan. Ol’ Chipper and Jordan have a history (Kelly coached Jordan at Oregon) and it is well known how much Kelly likes Jordan. The Eagles are transitioning to some sort of hybrid defense and Dion Jordan is probably the most hybrid player in this draft class. In fact, he is so perfect for a hybrid scheme; his nickname should be “Prius”. Jordan did everything from rush the passer to cover the slot receiver at Oregon and will be invaluable in Bill Davis’ defensive scheme.
#5 Detroit Lions: Ziggy Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
Ah, it seems like just yesterday that the Lions had broken through their proverbial glass ceiling and were ready to take the league by storm. Now, they are right back to owning a top 5 pick in the draft. Once upon a time (2 years ago) it seemed that the defensive line of Detroit was soon going to be the most fearsome in the entire league. Now their best defensive end is… Jason Jones? How did that happen? Ansah’s upside is RIDICULOUS and with the right tutelage he could become a demon who dwells at the blindside of quarterbacks.
#6 Cleveland Browns: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Mizzou
I think it’s pretty obvious that I am not a huge Star Lotulelei fan. Although his versatility would be great for the 3-4 the Browns are transitioning too, his motor is not always in high gear and I don’t believe he is the run-stopper everyone says he is. In my personal opinion, I believe Mike Lombard, Joe Banner, Ray Horton, and Rob Chudzinski will decide that Richardson’s long arms, explosive first step, and potential to wreak havoc from the 3 or 5 technique will be well worth the 6th pick in the draft. O, and if it is true that Jabaal Sheard can be had in a trade, he will be a steal for some team who runs a 4-3 that buys him low.
#7 Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line couldn’t protect Fort Knox from a group of weaponless pacifists. If Bruce Arians has any aspirations of Carson Palmer throwing deep downfield to Larry Fitzgerald, he might want to make sure Palmer has more than two seconds in the pocket to throw. Lane Johnson ran the 40 yard dash in 4.72 seconds, or in other words, he is as fast as Anquan Boldin. I think Johnson could end up being the best LT in this class, and it’s a really good LT class.
#8 Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Yes, Nassib before Geno Smith. Although most experts agree that Smith is the best QB in this draft class, there are some outside factors that will push the Bills to take the Syracuse product over the WVU alum. The most important of which is that Nassib’s college coach is Doug Marrone, who now heads the Bills. Ryan’s familiarity with everything Marrone is trying to establish in Buffalo will be priceless in quickly shaping the culture of that franchise. Ryan’s ability to run the K-Gun style offense, understand the verbage, and know the playbook inside and out will make the transition seamless. Also, I tend to like QB’s who do more with less. For example, give Ryan Nassib Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey on the outside and I think he is more productive than Geno Smith.
#9 New York Jets: Tavon Austin, WR/RB/KR/PR/Offensive Nightmare, West Virginia
The Jets don’t have a dynamic playmaker on their roster, period. Tavon “Awesome” would immediately change that. The WVU speedster is capable of playing in the slot, taking a jet sweep to the house, gaining chunks at a time on WR screens, running in-between the tackles, and will be a legitimate deep threat from day one. While he will never be confused for a bulldozing ball carrier, he doesn’t go down easily and fights for extra yards. This is uncommon for people of his stature. Also, he is extremely durable. Austin is my favorite player in this draft class. It was very hard for me to bypass Barkevious Mingo here. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit to see Rex Ryan take him here.
#10 Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Hmmm, I wonder if one of the best offensive guards in the history of the NFL will draft the best offensive guard in this draft class who by all accounts would be the “best player available”. I’m going to say yes. Mike Munchak won’t hesitate to pair the stud Warmack opposite of newly acquired Andy Levitre to form one of the best guard tandems in the league. It also doesn’t hurt that Titans GM Ruston Webster is open to the idea of a Guard at pick ten.
#11 San Diego Chargers: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
With Peyton Manning and the pass-happy Andy Reid in the AFC West, the Chargers should put a premium on cover corners. Milliner may not be an extraordinary playmaker but he is well-rounded, comes from a great program, tested surprisingly well at the combine, and has great game tape. This is a solid pick.
#12 Miami Dolphins: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Back-to-back ‘Bama ballers being bought by businessman. O, alliteration at its finest! But seriously, Jonathan Martin, last year’s second round pick, does not have the foot speed or wingspan to be a left-tackle. If the Dolphins do put Martin there, he will quickly become a human turnstile. D.J. Fluker will allow Martin to be pushed back to his natural RT spot, and bench Will Yeatman. Who, apparently, is the Dolphins starting RT if the season started today and not your local mailman.
#13 New York Jets (from Tampa Bay): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
After trading Darrelle Revis, the Jets now have two top thirteen picks. Why not take the high-scoring combo of Austin and Smith and pair them in the NFL. Acquiring the best WR and QB in the same draft, who just happened to play together at WVU is too good of an opportunity to pass up. I’m sure this will make new offensive coordinator Marty Morningwheg very, very happy.
#14 Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Carolina Panthers are currently planning to start Dwan Edwards and Sione Fua at defensive tackle. This is one of those moments organizations dream of, where the top player on their board is at a dire position of need. Kenny Vaccaro was also tempting here but I think Lotulelei is a better fit.
#15 New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
In Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme the sacks are going to have to come from somewhere right? Victor Butler? Junior Galette? Where? Mingo was borderline unstoppable as a stand-up rusher at LSU. His lightning quick first step and surprisingly good spin move made him a very effective pass rusher. He uses his hands well and is not just a “speed rusher”. The team that was best at stopping Mingo was actually his own team. By utilizing the “mush rush” to stop opposing QBs from scrambling, Mingo became very ordinary. I think Mingo could end up being the best defender from this class if he bulks up and learns how to finish plays.
#16 St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Jeff Fisher’s squad needs safety help. After addressing the CB position ad nauseum last year, Vaccaro can take their secondary to new heights. A secondary of Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Darian Stewart, and Vaccaro does sound pretty darn good. Also, Vaccaro’s versatility against the run and the pass could be a huge aid in game planning for guys like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson who just so happen to be in the Rams division.
#17 Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The most productive defensive player in the nation falls to the team who makes a living out of producing outside line-backers. After the departure of James Harrison, there is actually a hole to be filled across from Lamarr Woodley. As I’ve said seemingly a thousand times in this post, filling need + BPA = Great Pick. Nobody should be shocked if Jones turns into a stud under Dick LeBeau.
#18 Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC
Somehow Cooper (one of my favorite players in this draft) falls all the way down to pick eighteen. The Cowboys offensive line is abysmal and plays as if they have a bounty on their own quarterback. Cooper would come in, immediately start, and I think eventually be a pro-bowl player. This would be one of the steals of round one.
#19 New York Giants: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
The Giants always draft the highest rated player on their big-board making this pick really difficult to mock because I have no clue what their board looks like. Since I understand the Giants well-documented affinity for cornerbacks, I’ll take my favorite corner in this draft. I believe that in 3 years, Hayden is going to infuriate every team who drafted Milliner, Trufant, Rhodes, or any other CB ahead of him. The dude has a great skill set.
#20 Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Yeah I know that the Bears just signed Martellus Bennett but I don’t really care. Eifert is big, physical, a willing (albeit not great) blocker, with hands so soft that the bear in the Charmin Ultra Soft Toilet Paper commercials would be proud. The Bears goal should be to find help for Jay Cutler, and Eifert will do just that. Arthur Brown and Xavier Rhodes were also tough to pass up considering the age of the Bears CBs and the need to replace Brian Urlacher, but I am going with my gut here, and my gut says Eifert.
#21 Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU
If there was a running back of value available, I would slate him here in a heartbeat. However, the value of the running back position has decreased tremendously in the new pass happy NFL and I am not currently on the Eddie Lacy bandwagon. As a result, Cyprien who has been flying up draft boards since January would make a really nice fit here. A secondary with Dre Kirkpatrick, Leon Hall and Cyprien is equally talented and promising.
#22 St. Louis (from Washington): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Sam Bradford needs help. Sam Bradford needs help. Sam Bradford needs help. I’m very confident that one of their two first round picks is going to be a WR, and I’m between Tavon Austin and Hopkins. If Austin makes it to pick 16, the Rams will snatch him up than take a safety here. If not it will be a safety or offensive lineman at pick 16, then Hopkins here. Why Hopkins? He reportedly crushed both of his workouts with the Rams.
#23 Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams, DT, UNC
The Vikings defensive tackles are a joke. Seriously, go look at them and try not to laugh. Their starting NT (Letroy Guion) sounds like the head chef at a bakery and his two back-ups may or may not be his sous chefs. Williams is an incredible penetrator (insert sex joke here) and should disrupt many plays while wearing Purple and Gold. Also, against Stafford, Cutler, and Rodgers six times a year, you better be able to collapse the pocket and get pressure up the middle. Williams should provide that.
#24 Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Ah ha! Not so easy this year Ryan Grigson. You don’t get to pick Andrew Luck, the closest thing to a sure thing since sure things were sure things. Now you actually have to take a chance in the first round. *gasp*. The Colts need a 5-technique defensive end in Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 alignment. Jones is well suited for that role and can slide over to tackle in pass rushing situations to take advantage of slow footed interior lineman. This is a good fit.
#25 Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks): Lenny Kakua, MLB, Narnia
Ok so this pick is obviously her loving boyfriend/victim/liar Manti Te’o. Despite all of the media hoopla surrounding a college kid’s romantic history (this is what the world has come to), Te’o is still a really good football player. Amazing instincts, improved coverage ability, sound tackler, great effort, uses hands well, etc. And before this whole scandal, I would have put “great leader” at the top of that list. Also the Vikings starting middle linebacker right now is Tyron McKenzie, who may or may not have seventeen tackles in his whole career. SPOILER ALERT: he does.
#26 Green Bay Packers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Although it may have seemed like the Packers have a thousand good offensive targets last year, they really just had 5. Now, one of them , Greg Jennings, is playing for the team who just took Te’o, and two of them, James Jones, and Jermichael Finley aka Sir Michael Finley, may not be on the team this time next year. Therefore, there is definitely a place for Patterson in Green Bay, and the thought of him, Cobb, and Nelson is a scary one.
#27 Houston Texans: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Two tall Tennessee titans taken by two teams. O, alliteration at its finest! Wait, I already made that joke (rapidly hitting backspace). It is no secret that the Texans need a wide-out to pair with and eventually replace Andre Johnson. Hunter has awesome measurables, and could end up being the best receiver in this class. Now if only they had a better quarterback…
#28 Denver Broncos: Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, FSU
I really don’t know how Werner fell this far in my mock draft. I really like him and I’m sure some team will snag him before this. But, Mike Mayock did say he could envision Werner falling to the Broncos at 28. So, assuming he is here, Werner could help replace Elvis “still uses a fax machine” Dumervil and join an impressive group of pass rushers in the Mile High City.
#29 New England Patriots: Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
This draft slot screams TRADE to me. Is it bad that draft slots talk to me? I may need help. Anyways, in a draft where depth defeats all, expect the cutting edge Patriots to take advantage of it. Some team will trade up to this slot looking for a QB, pass rusher, whatever, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they will overpay and 99% of NFL fans out there will instantly get pissed. If the pats do stay, the need a long term answer at cornerback. Rhodes is great value and fits a long term need.
#30 Atlanta Falcons: Tank Carradine, DE, FSU
STEAL ALERT! Once upon a time, Carradine was a potential top 5 pick. Unfortunately he tore his ACL. Five months later this freak of nature is running a 4.75 forty yard dash. The Falcons are clearly trying to improve their pass rush, evidenced by signing Osi Umenyiora. In the short term, Tank could add great depth to the DE rotation and spark the pass rush out of both the nickel and dime defenses. Many people expect the Falcons to trade up, but if they stay put, this is a home run.
#31 San Francisco 49ers: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
What gift do you give to the man who has everything? This same dilemma applies to the 49ers. They have an insanely stacked roster, no glaring needs, and FOURTEEN picks this year. Yikes. Sorry NFC West. Safety would be the most desperate hole to fill for the 49ers but they could easily get Matt Elam, Eric Reid, DJ Swearinger, etc. in round two. Also, it can’t be overlooked that Jim Harbaugh knows he will be in San Fran for the next five plus years, so he can therefore draft for the future without having to worry about job security. This is critical. Hunt ceiling is practically limitless. I love him as a DE in a 3-4, and could be Justin Smith’s replacement in a couple of years. In the meantime, he will take the 49ers special teams to new heights. Hunt blocked 17 (!!!!) kicks in his college tenure.
#32 Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
With the last pick of the first round in the 2013 NFL Draft, Ozzie Newsome tries to fill the shoes of one of the best
murderers linebackers in NFL history. Since
Dannell Ellerbe took his talents to South Beach and Rolando McClain took his
talents to the District Attorney’s office, Brown makes a lot of sense here. If
Brown were a couple of inches taller and a couple of pounds heavier, he could
be a top 10 pick.