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2015 NFL Draft – Final Mock Draft (v.2) – Round One

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB. Florida State
2. New York Jets (f/TENN): Marcus Mariota, QB. Oregon
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr., OLB. Florida
4. Oakland Raiders: Leonard Williams, DL. USC
5. Washington Redskins: Vic Beasley, OLB. Clemson
6. Tennessee Titans (f/NYJ): Amari Cooper, WR. Alabama
7. Chicago Bears: Danny Shelton, DT. Washington
8. Atlanta Falcons: Bud Dupree, DE/OLB. Kentucky
9. New York Giants: Ereck Flowers, OT. Miami (FL)
10. St. Louis Rams: Brandon Scherff, OG/T. Iowa
11. Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB. Michigan State
12. Cleveland Browns: Kevin White, WR. West Virginia
13. New Orleans Saints: Shane Ray, DE/OLB. Missouri
14. Miami Dolphins: Breshad Perriman, WR. Central Florida
15. San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead, DL. Oregon
16. Houston Texans: Kevin Johnson, CB. Wake Forest
17. San Diego Chargers: Todd Gurley, RB. Georgia
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron Erving, C. Florida State
19. Cleveland Browns: Jordan Phillips, DT. Oklahoma
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Agholor, WR. USC
21. Cincinnati Bengals: D.J. Humphries, OT. Florida
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Jones, CB/S. UConn
23. Detroit Lions: Malcom Brown, DT. Texas
24. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Fisher, OT. Oregon
25. Carolina Panthers: T.J. Clemmings, OT. Pittsburgh
26. Baltimore Ravens: Devante Parker, WR. Louisville
27. Dallas Cowboys: Melvin Gordon, RB. Wisconsin
28. Denver Broncos: Randy Gregory, OLB. Nebraska
29. Indianapolis Colts: Damarious Randall, S. Arizona State
30. Green Bay Packers: Shaq Thompson, ILB. Washington
31. New Orleans Saints (f/SEA): Devin Smith, WR. Ohio State
32. New England Patriots: Laken Tomlinson, OG. Duke

2015 NFL Draft – Final Top 50 Player Rankings

1. Leonard Williams, DL. USC
-No physical limitations and full scheme versatility.
2. Amari Cooper, WR. Alabama
-Polished route runner and a workhorse in the passing game.
3. Shane Ray, DE. Missouri
-Violent hands, bad intentions, and a relentless motor.
4. Todd Gurley, RB. Georgia
-Alpha male from a physical standpoint with great instincts. Durability?
5. Dante Fowler Jr., OLB. Florida
-Scheme versatile edge player with much of his upside untapped. No more weight fluctuating.
6. Kevin White, WR. West Virginia
-Specimen with soft hands. Few corners aren’t over-matched by him physically.
7. Trae Waynes, CB. Michigan State
-Long, potential shut-down corner with man-coverage capabilities. Watch the grabbing!
8. Marcus Mariota, QB. Oregon
-Meticulous worker who can create with his feet. Pin-point short/intermediate accuracy.
9. Vic Beasley, OLB. Clemson
-Quickness is a matchup nightmare in 1v1s. Excellent athlete who can play in space.
10. Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE/OLB. Kentucky
-Immense upside regardless of system. Physical specimen with experience and production.
11. Danny Shelton, DT. Washington
-High motor, 4-3/4-3 versatile, nose tackle with natural leverage and impressive movement skills.
12. Breshad Perriman, WR. UCF
-Explosive, height/weight/speed prospect with ‘score from anywhere’ abilities.
13. Brandon Scherff, OG/T, Iowa
-Typical plug and play Hawkweye lineman; guard who can play right tackle.
14. Malcom Brown, DT. Texas
-Prototype 3-tech, slipper pass rusher. Loves playing in opposing backfield.
15. Jameis Winston, QB. Florida State
-Impressive footwork, pocket presence, and arm talent. Why will the turnovers lessen though?
16. Devante Parker, WR. Louisville
-Comfortably makes adjustments with excellent body control. Wins 50-50 balls. Linear runner.
17. Marcus Peters, CB. Washington
-Talented headcase with confidence in man coverage and upper-echelon ball skills.
18. Ereck Flowers, OT. Miami (FL)
-Powerful finisher in the run game with length and pedigree as a pass blocker.
19. Shaq Thompson, S/LB. Washington
-Remarkable football player with instincts in the secondary or in the box. Find him a role.
20. Arik Armstead, DL. Oregon
-Long, physically imposing 3-4 end who could potentially revolutionize the nose tackle position
21. Ronald Darby, CB. Florida State
-Track speed with fluidity and elite change of direction abilities. Could be more physical.
22. Randy Gregory, OLB. Nebraska
-Imposing size and length + range to get outside and re-direct runs; raw talent. Off-field concerns.
23. Eddie Goldman, NT. Florida State
-Excellent movement for a 6’3″ 336-pound nose tackle. 4-3 or 3-4 versatile and offers a pass rush.
24. La’El Collins, OG/T. LSU
-Experienced blocker who had success against good defenders; guard who can play right tackle.
25. Melvin Gordon, RB. Wisconsin
-Explosion and footspeed with good size. Slowly become more well-rounded as a blocker/receiver.
26. Cam Erving, OG/C. Florida State
-‘Plus’ size for a center and was immense at the position in 2014. Also left or right guard capable.
27. Jordan Phillips, NT. Oklahoma
-True 0-gap nose tackle with tremendous size and width. Not a pass rusher, but experienced + pro ready.
28. Kevin Johnson, CB. Wake Forest
-Balanced boundary defender who’s willing to get physical and tackle.
29. Jaelen Strong, WR. Arizona State
-Box-out receiver who provides a reliable safety valve both out wide and in the red zone.
30. Landon Collins, S. Alabama
-Aggressive downhill defender with a nose for finding the football.
31. D.J. Humphries, OT. Florida
-Aggressive and physical left tackle type with good foot for the position.
32. Phillip Dorsett, WR. Miami (FL)
-Undersized, but has elite speed and runs good routes. Might be a slot, but can score from anywhere.
33. Jalen Collins, CB. LSU
-If you can get over the maturity concerns, he’s a long boundary corner with speed and smooth hips.
34. Byron Jones, CB/S. UConn
-Specimen with safety potential. Plenty of experience and conceded no touchdowns in 2014.
35. T.J. Clemmings, OT. Pittsburgh
-Experienced captain who made a quick adjustment from defense. Potential pro-bowl left tackle.
36. Eli Harold, DE/OLB. Virginia
-Regularly gets pressure as a pass rusher and showed the fluidity to play in space if need be.
37. Nelson Agholor, WR. USC
-Not overly flashy, but great route runner with true speed. High volume catcher.
38. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT. Texas A&M
-Susceptible to sacks in bunches, but tremendous skill-set & talent foundation. Patience required.
39. Owamagbe Odighizua, DE/OLB. UCLA
-Active hands, high energy, and a strong base. A 3-4 versatile edger who wins with leverage.
40. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR. Missouri
-Freakish dimensions and ‘plus’ athleticism. Very rough around the edges, but highly intriguing.
41. Brett Hundley, QB. UCLA
-Athletic passer with remarkable ball security. Under-appreciated talent.
42. Laken Tomlinson, OG. Duke
-Four year starter with excellent technique and strength. Intelligent, high-character player.
43. Chris Conley, WR. Georgia
-Outstanding athlete, just scratching the surface of his upside. Physical and fast.
44. Andrus Peat, OT. Stanford
-Only two sacks of 2014 came in same game; pro bowl upside, but inconsistent technique.
45. Jake Fischer, OT. Oregon
-Former tight end with impressive athleticism. Joe Staley-esque.
46. T.J. Yeldon, RB. Alabama
-Decisive, yet patient. Can run with power and also turn off-tackle and win the corner with quickness.
47. Danielle Hunter, DE/OLB. LSU
-Height/weight/speed defensive edge. Immense talent base. Projects to be a versatile disruption.
48. Eric Kendrick, ILB. UCLA
-Stat freak who finds the football in pass or run defense. Undersized, but holds tough against big OLs.
49. Donovan Smith, OT. Penn State
-Intelligent, strong, good footwork. A plug and play right tackle from day one.
50. Tevin Coleman, RB. Indiana
-Quick accelerator with an eye for holes. Over-performed despite playing with a lesser offensive line.

NFL Mock Draft (2015) v.1

In effort to avoid saturating the fragile minds of those who over-exert themselves reading through weekly mock drafts each year, I’ve made a concerted effort to limit myself to only a couple in 2015. The perceived lateness was intended, so I apologize in advance to those who thought I was neglecting this part of the process. Dion’s always got you – C’mon now.

Oregon's Marcus Mariota is a candidate for a draft day slide. // COURTESY Scott Enyeart, via Wikimedia Commons

Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is a candidate for a draft day slide. // COURTESY Scott Enyeart, via Wikimedia Commons

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB. Florida State

“Famous” Jameis is meticulous in preparation for games and has the top-end skill set required to warrant early consideration. However, his antics have called his maturity into question, though I’ve personally taken more issue with his erratic stretches on the field where curious interceptions are periodically evident. An excellent combine proved how far along his footwork is, coupled with his experience in a pro-style offense. Regardless of how they feel about either of the top two projected passers, the hapless Bucs will be forced to take a quarterback and start all over again.

2. Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DL. USC

I’m not yet ready to believe the Titans are prepared to go back on their commitment to ‘The Mettenberger Project’ – warranted or not. Instead Tennessee will opt for perhaps the most dominant player, regardless of position, in this draft. Williams is a thick-bodied lineman with an undying electric motor, possessing tremendous scheme versatility and upside. He’s my number one rated player from the 2015 class and can effect the game as well as any defender taken in the top 5 over the past decade.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler, OLB. Florida

Admittedly, I’m not overly impressed by Fowler despite doing an abundance of work on his game. Quality athlete, but I view him as something of a tweener. Reminds me some of Mark Anderson coming out of Alabama in 2006, including similar combine measurables – though Fowler possesses more explosiveness. I will say, Gus Bradley’s eccentric front seven would have a clearly defined role for a conversion like Fowler.

4. Oakland Raiders: Kevin White, WR. West Virginia

The new, Del Rio-led Raiders did okay to chip away at areas of concern through free agency, but James Jones won’t eliminate the need for more receivers by himself. Even if you aren’t yet sold on Derek Carr’s future, you have to give a young quarterback a fighting chance by surrounding him with options. Kevin White’s game is comparable in many ways to Julio Jones and could be the game-breaker Oakland’s passing game so desperately lacks.

5. Washington Redskins: Shane Ray, DE/OLB. Missouri

A new, Brian Orakpo-less era has dawned in Washington and Shane Ray is likely to available at the perfect time. High-motor, power player with an abundance of explosiveness. He possesses a quality skill-set to make the 3-4 conversion and his ability to relentlessly pursue the quarterback translates well regardless of where he plays. Certainly on my shortlist of favorite 2015 prospects.

6. New York Jets: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB. Clemson

Calvin Pace couldn’t recreate his double-digit sack total from 2013 and will be 35 in October, while Quinton Coples has yet to become a major pass-rushing threat. Beasley is a twitchy athlete who brings a lot of speed and short-area quickness off the edge. As a rookie in a defense that features what should be a strong secondary, he can focus almost exclusively on getting to the quarterback. Laugh away, but Geno Smith ended the season okay and a new regime may not feel on the hot seat if the team struggles again next year as they continue re-tooling.

7. Chicago Bears: Danny Shelton, DT. Washington

Although Jay Ratliff was re-signed, the Bears did make a mid-March attempt to sign nose tackle Terrance Knighton before he ultimately wound up in Washington. Currently without a viable presence in the middle of its new 3-4 defensive line, Chicago could be left with its hands tied on draft day, and this would be decent compensation. A space-eater with impressive movement skills and the ability to play a lot of consecutive snaps despite his weight. “Plus” defender in the pass game as well for his role. Chicago needs players now, not to stash a young quarterback for half the season when there is still work to be done.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB. Nebraska

While it is worth noting that the Falcons don’t mind investing higher draft picks to reinforce the secondary, they were near-last in the league in sacks (22) last season. Pass rushers will be coming off the board early and teams could be stuck without viable options if they wait. Amidst his marijuana revelation (and failed Combine test), it’s likely that some teams will have taken Gregory off their board, but Atlanta needs help and the talent is palpable.

9. New York Giants: Landon Collins, S. Alabama

I’m eternally in favor young players getting opportunities to prove their worth, but the Giants are currently in a position where they may have to start two safeties without any starting experience in the NFL. While Landon Collins offers even less NFL experience, the team could certainly stand to infuse additional talent into the position after the departure of veteran Antrel Rolle. Arik Armstead is a major sleeper here if the board shakes out as it.

10. St. Louis Rams: Brandon Scherff, OG. Iowa

The board and team needs don’t match up ideally in any particular way, to me, but the Rams could stand to continue improving the offensive line. Scherff can provide cover at either guard spot, as well as right tackle, and St. Louis has shown an interest in bolstering the trenches through the draft. For what it’s worth, unlike some, I don’t see the value in negating the addition of a relatively proven young quarterback in Nick Foles by drafting the still-available Mariota.

11. Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB. Michigan State

Mike Zimmer had success in Cincinnati by being able to lean on good cornerbacks like Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall. Xavier Rhodes looks like a gem, but the Vikings lack a reliable option on the other side of the field. Waynes is an ideal complement with great speed and length. A competitor in man coverage who can become a special player if he cuts down on penalties. Zimmer also has an evident affinity for specimens in the front seven and Bud Dupree possesses a number of Anthony Barr-esque traits.

12. Cleveland Browns: Amari Cooper, WR. Alabama

In many ways a better receiver than Kevin White, the Browns would be adding a very complete, well-balanced pass catcher in Amari Cooper. Decent size + speed is good enough, but the real upside comes in his ability to separate and make catches at a high percentage consistently. Josh Gordon can’t be relied on and may never play for Cleveland again, while the team only features a stable of depth-caliber players at the position.

13. New Orleans Saints: Bud Dupree, OLB. Kentucky

Tremendous athleticism wrapped up into a very well put together frame equates to an intriguing prospect. A seek + destroy pass rusher, Dupree has accrued success despite being unpolished and still a ways from his ceiling as a player. Not overly instinctual when diagnosing plays, which suggests an exclusive 3-4 edge role is his ideal fit. Some project him lower, but immense potential helps him crack the top 15.

14. Miami Dolphins: Devante Parker, WR. Louisville

Though the Dolphins jettisoned Mike Wallace and replaced him with young blue-chipper Kenny Stills, the team could still stand to add a new element to the position. Parker plays linear + lacks elite agility or change of direction, but makes play-saving adjustments and possesses immense body control. Ryan Tannehill has consistently improved each year of his career and adding a long, big-bodied target only makes the Phins offense more dynamic.

15. San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead, DL. Oregon

Few franchises have witnessed the mass exodus the 49ers have, and are, experiencing this spring. Chief among their losses in the short-term could be Justin Smith, who is considering retirement. Whether he stays or goes, it’s clear the team must begin preparing for life without “The Cowboy”. Armstead one of the most interesting blends of size and athleticism we’ve seen in recent years and coupled with his three-position DL versatility, could develop into a 3-4 star.

16. Houston Texans: Jalen Collins, CB. LSU

The team hasn’t invested too heavily in the corner position through the draft in recent years and adding a new dimension could be a welcomed addition. Collins features ideal blend of overall size and speed, coupled with tremendous length. At this point he remains a raw due to inexperience, but talent is undeniable. A perfect piece of clay, ready to be molded by the NFL.

17. San Diego Chargers: Todd Gurley, RB. Georgia

After what would have to be at least minor consideration to a certain sliding quarterback, the Chargers likely lean on their most pressing need at running back. Though there isn’t an overload of positional value with this selection, San Diego’s 2014 season embodied that of a team with a toothless, lifeless rushing attack — 30th in the league. It’s a deep rushing class and while they could be better off waiting until mid-round two to accommodate the need, San Diego hasn’t had a back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing performer since Ladainian Tomlinson in 2007/2008. Time for a new horse.

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron Erving, C. Florida State

At face value, it appears too easy to peg Erving to the Chiefs as a natural replacement for Rodney Hudson — another FSU alum — but considering KC’s protection woes in 2014, a blocker is justified. Erving, much like Hudson, has interior versatility, but offers a tremendous amount of value in the middle. A ‘plus’-sized center, capable of physically matching up with modern, mammoth interior defenders and the lateral quickness to handle a first-step. Receivers concerns were quelled, at least for now, after investing so heavily in Jeremy Maclin. This selection is far from sexy, but it’s far from a mistake.

19. Cleveland Browns: Marcus Mariota, QB. Oregon

By no means an indictment of his abilities, Mariota’s potential draft day slide is predicated on the lack of teams being as desperate as the Buccaneers are for a horse to hitch their franchise quarterback carriage to. A trade up is likely to end the Oregon star’s slide before this point, but for now he falls into the lap of Cleveland. It’s incredibly difficult to justify having any vested faith in Johnny Manziel when jobs could be on the line next season. Meanwhile, Mariota’s lack of need to ‘save the franchise’ makes the situation ideal for all parties, due to McCown’s short-term presence. I’d expect the team to strongly consider the offensive line in the early portion of the draft as well.

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Breshad Perriman, WR. UCF

From a personal standpoint, it’s become very difficult to predict what Chip Kelly’s next move will be. With this selection I’ve shortlisted receiver and offensive line as my likeliest of conclusions with the former winning out due to Maclin’s departure. While the Iggles still have a solid crop of pass catchers, they now lack a more vertical dynamic which is replenished with the addition of Perriman. No part of the field is off limits and he runs a full route tree with explosion + quickness. Were it to happen in reality, I’d be very intrigued to see the results.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: La’El Collins, OG/RT. LSU

Cincy lacks many glaring holes, but the organization has wisely shown its willingness to build an offensive line through the draft. Entering a contract year in 2015, right tackle Andre Smith dealt with injuries last year and ultimately wound up on the IR after a rather ineffective season. La’El Collins offers the ability to play right tackle at the next level, while also capable of slotting in at either guard spot if need be. There’s a lot to be said about the fact that in Cincinnati, he wouldn’t be required to fill an immediate void as he grows either.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronald Darby, CB. Florida State

Track speed with a high ceiling as a cover-corner, with above-average length. Ron Darby has flaws, but his skill set offers a tremendous amount of clay to work with. Pittsburgh is eternally looking to get young on defense and currently needs more help on the boundary. Darby is slot-capable and offers special teams qualities from day one as he grows. No available safeties warrant consideration in the wake of Troy Polamalu’s retirement and there is more value here than reaching for an edge rusher.

23. Detroit Lions: Malcom Brown, DT. Texas

Something of a need/value bargain at this point. The Lions put together a very strong defensive performance last season, yet suffered great loss to the interior defensive line. Coupling the rising Malcom Brown with veteran Haloti Ngata adds some much needed grit to Detroit’s cause. Brown is a beefy 3-tech with the ability to win one vs. one with leverage and quickness. Really came into his own with the Longhorns in 2014 and may be hitting his stride at the perfect time.

24. Arizona Cardinals: Eddie Goldman, DT. Florida State

Amidst the loss of Dan Williams to Oakland, the Cardinals are still in need of new blood along the eternally-important 3-4 defensive line. Goldman is a riser with excellent size and the ability to manhandle opposing blockers in 1 v. 1’s. Not enough a pass rushing factor to be more than a 2-down tackle in a 4-3, but coaches of 3-4 defenses are likely to be salivating at the thought of an active nose tackle who doesn’t just hold ground at the point of attack. For what it’s worth, with no edge defenders of value here, a right tackle has to at least be a consideration.

25. Carolina Panthers: T.J. Clemmings, OT. Pittsburgh

Were you to ask me if I care all that much about Carolina adding Michael Oher and Jonathan Martin – I’ll immediately tell you I don’t. The team greatly struggled in the early portion of the year to protect Cam Newton, as he sustained a laundry list of injuries that luckily weren’t harmful in the long-term. While there may be more polished blockers available at this point, Clemmings unquestionably offers the highest potential as a right-sided pass protector and is athletic enough to accommodate Newton’s tendency to scramble. If the former defensive end puts it together, he could have a similar career trajectory to Tyron Smith.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Jaelen Strong, WR. Arizona State

When scoping the Ravens roster, it’s difficult to justify any position that requires more immediate attention than receiver. Torrey Smith is gone and Steve Smith isn’t a long-term solution despite still contributing. Jaelen Strong is a big, physical, box-out receiver who can win 50-50 balls without necessarily gaining separation through his route running. Doesn’t replace Torrey Smith’s downfield ability in the least, but would undoubtedly be the perfect profile for Joe Flacco to turn to on any given play.

27. Dallas Cowboys: Byron Jones, CB. Connecticut

Defensive tackle is an area of concern, but a two-down, 0-tech nose tackle like Jordan Phillips doesn’t satisfy the need like a pocket pushing 3-tech would. The Cowboys cornerback position has been marred by unfulfilled expectations ranging from Morris Claiborne in the draft to the exorbitantly paid Brandon Carr in free agency. Jones’ athleticism at Combine is well documented, but he also boasts plenty of game experience and leadership as well. Couple those traits with ideal bulk, height, weight, length, and perhaps some safety versatility – you have yourself a potential top 20-25 player. Byron Jones is admittedly yet to reach his peak, but offers a tremendous level of upside without immediate pressure to contribute for Dallas. The value here is hardly based on just a good Combine.

28. Denver Broncos: D.J. Humphries, OT. Florida

2015 will, in all likelihood, be Peyton Manning’s final season in the NFL and limiting his punishment will be the lynch-pin to Denver’s season after his physical break down in 2014. An ideal fit in Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme, Humphries combines grace and quick feet in movement with a mean streak at the point of attack. It’s likely he could be long gone by this point, so the Broncos are happy to see likely their top rated tackle available later on. Jordan Phillips would be an logical piece for Wade Phillips’ 3-4 transition as well.

29. Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Phillips, DT. Oklahoma

When evaluating Indy’s current needs, it’s most logical to point to either spot in the trenches. Obviously the team is going all-in offensively and a young right tackle would provide plenty of insurance for the still-recovering Gosder Cherilus, but the run defense lacked teeth in the playoffs. Phillips is a beefy nose tackle with imposing length. His athleticism is well-documented, as the now-6’5″ 329 pound lineman even played some offense in high school. If NFL coaching can diversify his first/second down pass rushing skills and teach him to avoid relying solely on blocking passes, he could be a major find in late round one. For the record, I do rate Josh Chapman and this potential selection wouldn’t damn him to a career as solely backup.

30. Green Bay Packers: Shaq Thompson, LB. Washington

Surprised? While I do realize it’s an off-the-wall prediction, hear me out. Green Bay needs to address the offensive line at one point or another, but Bulaga-aside, the organization has best reinforced the area with later picks. The prime directive could be to find an interior linebacker that will allow Clay Matthews to line up on the edge more frequently again. While there are others who are more logical for that role, Thompson is a very unique talent who I strongly believe will crack the first round. A total mismatch as a cover-linebacker with twitch and explosion, he also exhibits unmatched range + fluidity. His lack of size makes this a challenging one to buy into, but believe that whomever drafts Shaq Thompson will do so with a plan. As well, the Packers are a unique fit in that this coaching staff might be bold enough to occasionally use him on offense as well. Some say tweener, I see versatile.

31. New Orleans Saints (f/SEA): Phillip Dorsett, WR. Miami (FL)

I’ll preface by saying that this is an unfavorable board for New Orleans and I’d expect them to be proactive in maximizing No. 31 via trade if need be. After hypothetically finding a 3-4 edge rusher in Bud Dupree at No. 13, the Saints could benefit greatly from chipping away at the offensive void left by Jimmy Graham in the passing game. Marques Colston will be 32 in June and young Kenny Stills was dealt to the Phins. Brandin Cooks aside, there is very little promise in the Saints receiving group and pairing him with fellow speedster Phillip Dorsett would make for a lot of matchup problems. Will be a turf All-Star at the next level.

32. New England Patriots: Marcus Peters, CB. Washington

The Super Bowl Champions require a bit of turnover on the roster, particularly at corner due to the devastating departures of Darrell Revis and Brandon Browner. There are a number of very talented second-tier boundarymen available after Trae Waynes and you can argue Marcus Peters’ talent level isn’t far off his classmate either. Something of a prototype cornerback with a visible fluidity to his movement, but doesn’t always respond well after a bad play or penalty. It’ll take both New England being able to accept his expressive personality and Peters committing to become a more coachable team player for the partnership to flourish. He’s a head case with immense talent, but you have to wonder if it’ll be worth the hassle to most staffs.

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Christian Ponder To Rams: Would It Make Sense?

PHOTO: Joe Bielawa // Christian Ponder is the most sensible option for the St. Louis Rams in wake of Sam Bradford's latest season-ending injury.

PHOTO: Joe Bielawa // Christian Ponder is the most sensible option for the St. Louis Rams in wake of Sam Bradford’s latest season-ending injury.

The St. Louis Rams are now in a minor scramble, surveying the NFL for a suitable replacement after Sam Bradford’s latest ACL injury has shelved him for the 2014 season. The organization has, at least in the early going, conceded that it likes Shaun Hill enough to call him the starter (for now). With few viable options available league-wide at this juncture, St. Louis is left with a host of free agent and second/third-string selections to potentially choose from. Given the short-term circumstance, one of the more sensible routes the franchise could take would be to locate a candidate with the experience to start now and the abilities to offer something different from those currently on the depth chart.

When melding that profile into one, there may not be a better fit than Christian Ponder of the Minnesota Vikings, all things considered.

The former Florida State standout has been reduced to third-string duties in the land of 10 000 lakes after Matt Cassel was named the starter and 1st round draft choice Teddy Bridgewater the understudy. In a new coaching era, the Vikings have clearly defined Bridgewater as its long term solution at the quarterback position, and keeping Ponder on the roster could only perpetuate the unrealistic notion of a battle for that distinction. He’s become something of a spectator in Vikings camp and his West Coast skill-set certainly isn’t a fit for Norv Turner’s offense on a technical level.

Ponder is entering the final year of his rookie deal and set to make a guaranteed salary of $1.76M. Though it’s not a sizable figure, the Vikings would do well to move the player unlikely to play a meaningful snap in 2014 and avoid incurring the salary. Minnesota’s coaching staff has given no indication that it intends to utilize the former 12th overall pick, and third-string quarterback’s could be found at a slightly lesser cost. Should the Rams make a move to acquire Ponder, it would be at a very team-friendly number, on a one-year term, with no obligations past the 2014 season. From a financial and term perspective, the move begins sounding reasonable for both parties.

Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer takes a balanced approach and relies on his ground game, which features the trio of Zac Stacy, Benny Cunnungham, and rookie Tre Mason. Regardless of who the team starts under center this season, it’s likely that St. Louis will be running the ball at a higher clip than it did in 2013. An incoming quarterback wouldn’t be tasked with much, especially early on. Despite how some might feel about Christian Ponder’s skill level, he offers significantly more than Shaun Hill does from a physical standpoint and would make the team’s offense mildly less one-dimensional than it’s currently projected to be.

All things considered, it’s difficult to find a more overall sensible candidate to help the St. Louis Rams replace Sam Bradford at this point of the preseason. Aside from revving up the B.S. machine to kick start another ridiculous “Favre Watch” campaign, we can say that Christian Ponder is among the most viable options in consideration. Valuation of the player could range between a 5th-7th round selection with conditional, performance-based clauses involved. Kellen Clemens spent time as Rams backup from 2011-2013, but he’s the established backup to Philip Rivers in San Diego now, while former Schottenheimer pupil Mark Sanchez just signed a one-year deal worth $2.25M + incentives to backup Nick Foles in Philadelphia.

Everyone wants Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Aaron Rodgers, but in an emergency situation it’s time to be realistic. Christian Ponder offers the right salary, starting experience, least amount of contractual obligation, and still possesses a modicum of potential for growth. Each day that passes we draw a little closer to the season, and it only becomes even more unreasonable to expect a new addition to pick up an entirely new offense. The Rams are on the clock once again.

Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

Draft Grades: AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

1 – Round 1 (32): Matt Elam, S. Florida
2 – Round 2 (56): Arthur Brown, LB. Kansas State
3 – Round 3 (94): Brandon Williams, DT. Missouri Southern State
4 – Round 4 (129): John Simon, DE/OLB. Ohio State
5 – Round 4 (130): Kyle Juszczyk, FB/TE. Harvard
6 – Round 5 (168): Ricky Wagner, OT. Wisconsin
7 – Round 6 (200): Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE. Notre Dame
8 – Round 6 (203): Ryan Jensen, OG/C. Colorado State-Pueblo
9 – Round 7 (238): Aaron Mellette, WR. Elon
10 – Round 7 (247): Marc Anthony, CB. California

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Following the departure of future Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens had the impossible task of finding replacements at the safety and linebacker positions. While it is literally impossible to do so, the team targeted the positions and landed two starting-caliber players with each of its first two picks in Matt Elam and Arthur Brown. Elam is a physical, downhill attack safety with ball skills and Brown, a laterally fluid, productive linebacker who finds the football. Brandon Williams was an interesting pick, but I felt he came off the board too early. Still, he poses an interesting project for defensive coaches and the MSS product has loads of untapped potential as a space eater with some movement skills. Ozzie Newsome added a couple good soldiers on either side of the ball in round four with consecutive picks. John Simon is a high energy, high motor 3-4 OLB type who will provide depth to the teams rotation and can play the run. Juszczyk is bit of a hybrid H-back type with blocking ability and sneaky-good receiving skills. A good underneath player or hands in the flats that can turn it up-field with quickness. Rounds five and six brought more depth aboard. Wagner, is a fundamentally sound run blocker with bulk – albeit possessing limited upside. Lewis-Moore adds size at the 3-4 DE spot with a strong lower-half, some lateral agility, and experience in an unbalanced front. Ryan Jensen is an interesting interior OL projection that offers versatility, but I don’t know that he’ll ever be a starter at the NFL level. Aaron Mellette, the productive Elon wide out with size and get-off speed can be a quality big-slot option early in his career if he can prove his separation skills translate. Marc Anthony is primarily a special teamer who may have to really leave a strong impression to make the team at all. It was a solid, unspectacular draft. The Ravens hit off many needs, were realistic in the later rounds adding depth and potentially key role players. Although there isn’t much true impact potential after the first two-three selections, a nice bunch of players should come from this class.

Grade: B

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Cincinnati Bengals

1 – Round 1 (21): Tyler Eifert, TE. Notre Dame
2 – Round 2 (37): Giovani Bernard, RB. North Carolina
3 – Round 2 (53): Margus Hunt, DE. Southern Methodist
4 – Round 3 (84): Shawn Williams, S. Georgia
5 – Round 4 (118): Sean Porter, LB. Texas A&M
6 – Round 5 (156): Tanner Hawkinson, OT/OG. Kansas
7 – Round 6 (190): Rex Burkhead, RB. Nebraska
8 – Round 6 (197): Cobi Hamilton, WR. Arkansas
9 – Round 7 (240): Reid Fragel, OT. Ohio State

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Cincy’s draft is bunched with potential day one starters at the top. Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham should pose a very formidable pass catching tight end duo for Andy Dalton to utilize as they continue to try and stockpile offensive weapons. Gio Bernard is a quick, shifty rusher with nice vision and big-play ability who could even contribute on special teams. Medical is a question on Gio, but if healthy, he could be a nice yard-getter as a rookie in both run and pass games. The Bengals added another physically imposing defensive end to the stable with the Estonian specimen Margus Hunt. Not much immediate pressure to produce in Cincinnati and he can play/learn off fellow freak athletes Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap as he picks up on the subtleties of the position. Shawn Williams is a hard-hitting in the box safety that may vie for time very early on – should have been a day two player. Sean Porter underachieved a little this past year, but he was still a productive starter and should contribute in a rotation as a rookie as well. Tanner Hawkinson will likely play guard exclusively at the next level and will need to strengthen his base and add to his frame in order to potentially move up the depth chart, but he moves well and has good feet. Rex Burkhead has hands and can be a scrappy scat-back type, but he’s limited. Cobi Hamilton was shear value at No. 197. Another big-bodied pass catcher who can make plays down field and high-point a lot of passes. He, like Tyler Wilson, was victim of a major transition year at Arkansas and saw numerous double-teams this past season. Reid Fragel, a converted tight end is a nice wild card to cap this class. Very raw, but had quality athleticism. Developmental swing-tackle. Value almost all over the board and you can see exactly what Cincinnati was trying to achieve with nearly all picks. On paper, I thought it was a win.

Grade: B+

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Cleveland Browns

1 – Round 1 (6): Barkevious Mingo, DE. Louisiana State
2 – Round 2 (N/A): Used on Josh Gordon, WR. Baylor in Supplemental Draft
3 – Round 3 (68): Leon McFadden, CB. San Diego State
4 – Round 6 (175): Jamoris Slaughter, S. Notre Dame
5 – Round 7 (217): Armonty Bryant, DE. East Carolina
6 – Round 7 (227): Garrett Gilkey, OG. Chadron State

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The Cleveland Browns may have fooled a few teams/draftniks into thinking they truly aren’t sold on Brandon Weeden enough that they may have seriously considered a quarterback. We don’t necessarily know they love Weeden, but perhaps simply nobody available this year. Either way, I do value acquiring future picks – like Cleveland was able to do – in a relatively notable way, as it gives them flexibility next year. Michael Lombardi will be around for two years at the very least, so the organization has some chips entering next year. From the top, I’ve long been a fan of Barkevious Mingo. Whether at defensive end, where he’ll likely play, or linebacker, he’s an athlete who can bend, play in space, locate the football, and finish. He’s barely scratched the surface of his potential and the talent speaks for itself with the LSU product. Josh Gordon’s selection in the Supp Draft meant no second round pick, but he’s proven to be a nice piece for the future. Leon McFadden has good feet for the position + fills a need, but limited upside and average value at best leave me wondering whether the Browns plucked a possible starter with the selection. Jamoris Slaughter, Armonty Bryant, and Garrett Gilkey are depth-caliber players that don’t possess much upside above that distinction. Although the movement set up Cleveland for future success in the 2014 draft and Gordon’s rookie season was encouraging, I’ll grade the picks made. I simply see one potential starter from this class and even though I really like the aforementioned player, it wasn’t enough to warrant high marks overall.

Grade: C+

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Pittsburgh Steelers

1 – Round 1 (17): Jarvis Jones, OLB. Georgia
2 – Round 2 (48): Le’Veon Bell, RB. Michigan State
3 – Round 3 (79): Markus Wheaton, WR. Oregon State
4 – Round 4 (111): Shamarko Thomas, S. Syracuse
5 – Round 4 (115): Landry Jones, QB. Oklahoma
6 – Round 5 (150): Terry Hawthorne, CB. Illinois
7 – Round 6 (186): Justin Brown, WR. Oklahoma
8 – Round 6 (206): Vince Williams, LB. Florida State
9 – Round 7 (223): Nicholas Williams, DT. Samford

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Hard to dislike what the Steelers did overall. Jarvis Jones is an immediate plug and play defender who continues the youth turnover on defense. Excellent value, to me, in the pick, as Jones is a playmaker that penetrates and disrupts. I’m not as sold as the team obviously is on Le’Veon Bell’s potential as a third-down ‘back, but he suits what the offense tries to do in the ground game, and if he develops further as a blocker, he could indeed be an unquestioned feature running back for Pittsburgh. So many parallels can be drawn between Markus Wheaton and Mike Wallace as prospects. Straight-line burners, who reach top speed with ease, third round selections. Take it for what it’s worth, but the team obviously knew what role they were trying to replace when adding the player, and I like the pick. Shamarko Thomas is a little stiff and maybe not the most natural cover-safety in the draft, but he fills a similar role to that of Troy Polamalu. That being, a downhill, near the line of scrimmage safety that primarily plays in the box and supports the run. He’s a rocked up athlete with impressive speed and strength. Landry Jones was a bit of an odd one, but I see the schematic fit and if he can quietly develop into a nice backup to Big Ben, it’s a fourth round pick well spent. For as tough as he is, Roethlisberger has only played a full 16-game schedule once in his nine-year career. A good secondary option is needed in Pittsburgh. Terry Hawthorne was a strong value in the fifth round, as I felt he could have gone a round or two earlier based purely on his talent, physical ability, and upside. He’s a fluid athlete with good hips and will fit nicely into a depth role in the short term. Justin Brown never really developed into the potential No. 1 receiver he could have been at Penn State, but flashed. At Oklahoma he was a support option and displayed some YAC ability. He could be a decent fourth or fifth option in time. There’s still some untapped ability there. Vince Williams is another athletic interior linebacker from FSU with fluidity and football IQ, much like Lawrence Timmons. Plays laterally and can hold his own at the point of attack, should be a good special teamer as well. Pittsburgh capped its 2013 draft with 6’5” 310 lbs. 5-tech Nicholas Williams. A decent bargain, as his movement skills and upside had him in the mid-round discussion to some. Top to bottom, I can appreciate Pittsburgh’s ability to draft value and talent when filling primary needs. Another solid one, on-paper.

Grade: B+

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Draft Grades: AFC East

Buffalo Bills

1 – Round 1 (16): E.J. Manuel, QB. Florida State
2 – Round 2 (41): Robert Woods, WR. USC
3 – Round 2 (46): Kiko Alonso, LB. Oregon
4 – Round 3 (78): Marquise Goodwin, WR. Texas
5 – Round 4 (105): Duke Williams, S. Nevada
6 – Round 5 (143): Jonathan Meeks, S. Clemson
7 – Round 6 (177): Dustin Hopkins, K. Florida State
8 – Round 7 (222): Chris Gragg, TE. Arkansas

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The Bills’ draft grade generally will hinge on how the evaluator feels about E.J. Manuel’s potential to be a franchise quarterback. While it certainly was the unconventional choice and shocked many, there’s little reason to think – especially in a trade down – that it was a bad pick. Manuel has all the physical tools and confident (not cocky) mindset needed to be an impactful NFL passer. Although his pocket presence and completion consistency are areas of concern, they can be developed, unlike the positives of his game. Aside going earlier than expected, there’s no reason to outright slam the pick. Landing Robert Woods, a perfect potential compliment receiver at the NFL level with some Reggie Wayne elements to his game was a strong, value selection. Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso has the ability to potentially start from day one – coverage savvy, fluid lateral mover, good schematic fit. Buffalo went a little off the board with Marquise Goodwin… few really understood the pick from a ‘helping E.J. Manuel’ standpoint, but the slot-WR and potential return ace has speed to burn and if used properly could be the wild card of the Bills’ 2013 class. Duke Williams was a nice bargain pickup in the fourth round and could’ve justified a late second day call. Jonathan Meeks has the look of a special teams player for the most part and better players were left on the board. Similarly, albeit a bit of a nit-pick considering it was round six, Dustin Hopkins wasn’t the player I’d have pegged with more potential contributors, particularly on defense, still available. That said, he’s a good kicker and we saw the value of good rookie legs in 2012. Chris Gragg is a balanced player and very well should secure a roster spot.

Grade: B

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Miami Dolphins

1 – Round 1 (3): Dion Jordan, DE. Oregon
2 – Round 2 (54): Jamar Taylor, CB. Boise State
3 – Round 3 (77): Dallas Thomas, OG. Tennessee
4 – Round 3 (93): Will Davis, CB. Utah State
5 – Round 4 (104): Jelani Jenkins, LB. Florida
6 – Round 4 (106): Dion Sims, TE. Michigan State
7 – Round 5 (164): Mike Gillislee, RB. Florida
8 – Round 5 (166): Caleb Sturgis, K. Florida
9 – Round 7 (250): Don Jones, S. Arkansas State

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The Dolphins had an excess of early picks and used it to acquire their guy at No. 3 in Dion Jordan. They obviously had a vision of Jordan bookending Wake going into the draft and while I prefer him to be a 3-4 edge rusher as opposed to a downed end at the next level, the potential is there for stardom in either role. Jordan will reach his ceiling if he’s able to successfully fill out his frame over the first two seasons of his NFL career and adjust to his targeted playing weight. If he doesn’t make a significant impact as a rookie, nobody should panic. He is a bit of a projection player who’s still raw at the position – still, boom or bust type prospect. Miami ended Jamar Taylor’s medically related slide at No. 54 and hope to acquire a better player than the one it traded away to land the respective pick in Vontae Davis. The team lacks depth at cornerback and Jamar Taylor is physical in press and a reliable tackler who can play sticky coverage. Dallas Thomas was a good pick – guard/swing tackle with good pass pro skills and strong hands at the point of attack. Will Davis is a raw athlete with upside who went a round early to me. Projection player who was added to infuse some talent and depth, but better players were available. Jelani Jenkins is another projection player, who flashed at UF, but his best days are ahead of him – he’s just scratching the surface. Tough, fast, sideline-to-sideline player with upside. The Michael Egnew experiment isn’t one I’ve ever been in favor of because I don’t believe he can handle NFL contact in the block or pass game. Dion Sims won’t have such a problem at the next level. Upside is a little limited, but he should become a reliable blocker that can find soft zones and make catches underneath. Potential to be a decent chain mover or No. 3/4 receiving option at the position, especially in double TE sets. Running backs fell and Miami got a very good one later in Mike Gillislee. Similar role to what the Phins lost in Reggie Bush, Gillislee is an all-around adept player with hands out of the backfield. His style compliments the contrasting thunder/lightning that Lamar Miller and Dan Thomas offer. Miami went back to Gainesville to find its future kicker in Caleb Sturgis. Doubles as a potential kickoff specialist. Dan Carpenter’s time in Miami should be up after this selection. Don Jones is a freak athlete who will have to prove he can play football at the NFL level before getting reps on defense. Nice ST’s potential early. A lot of the Dolphins’ draft grade is based on potential as the class is primarily projection-based, more-so than most teams.

Grade: B

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New England Patriots

1 – Round 2 (52): Jamie Collins, LB. Southern Mississippi
2 – Round 2 (59): Aaron Dobson, WR. Marshall
3 – Round 3 (83): Logan Ryan, CB. Rutgers
4 – Round 3 (91): Duron Harmon, S. Rutgers
5 – Round 4 (102): Josh Boyce, WR. TCU
6 – Round 7 (226): Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB. Illinois
7 – Round 7 (235): Steve Beauharnais, LB. Rutgers

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New England did the usual dance and moved back in order to acquire picks. Rutgers was a common theme throughout, but impressive athlete Jamie Collins, who rose well in the pre-draft, leads the class. A big-bodied athlete who can rush the passer and play in space, Collins could be a legitimate piece on the New England defense for years to come if his final year at Southern Miss translates moving forward. Aaron Dobson is a reliable red-zone weapon that wins many 50-50 balls. He should add a new dynamic to New England’s short-yardage passing game with his mismatch skills on the boundary. Good footwork and ball-skills + nice size are the staples of Logan Ryan’s prospect evaluation. He’s a bit of a projection, as the player needs to continue to add strength to his frame, but lots of upside. Duron Harmon is not a bad football player, and his versatility is likely what made him a commodity to New England, but it’s difficult to justify selecting him as high as he was taken despite some rumblings he’d been a slight riser going into the draft. Conversely, Josh Boyce was a good value selection that most may have viewed as a late day two prospect. Another bigger target with some downfield speed and playmaking ability. Michael Buchanan in round seven may be the steal of the 2013 draft. Although there are character issues, Buchanan was considered by some to be a pre-season top 10 talent. Inconsistencies and underachieving play contributed to the slide, but he is a quality pass rusher who can bend and play in space. Similarly, Steve Beauharnais could’ve gone early on day three and nobody would have blinked. Could be a starter down the road who will immediately help on special teams. An up and down draft overall, but features a couple gems.

Grade: B

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New York Jets

1 – Round 1 (9): Dee Milliner, CB. Alabama
2 – Round 1 (13): Sheldon Richardson, DT. Missouri
3 – Round 2 (39): Geno Smith, QB. West Virginia
4 – Round 3 (72): Brian Winters, OG. Kent State
5 – Round 5 (141): Oday Aboushi, OT. Virginia
6 – Round 6 (178): William Campbell, OG. Michigan
7 – Round 7 (215): Tommy Bohanon, FB. Wake Forest

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Overall, the New York Jets did pretty well for themselves, but how you perceive Geno Smith can drive this class’ grade up or down. At the top, Dee Milliner was a bit of a gift at No. 9, if healthy. Although the Revis comparison/replacement conversations could prove counterproductive to Milliner as a rookie, if there is one player mentally able to handle it, it’s him. Sheldon Richardson is a super-talent. He is an impressive 1-gapper with a quick and disruptive first step. More 5-tech ability means he was a better fit than other DT/3-4 DEs available. There is lots of boom or bust potential in Richardson, as I personally don’t see much in between. Geno Smith was the right pick for New York. Whether Geno’s presence makes or breaks Sanchez is irrelevant at this point – you need to improve the position and stop-gaps like David Garrard wouldn’t have cut it mid-season if a change does happen. Smith is a wild card that could easily be the premier piece of this class, despite the fact that he’s hardly a sure thing. The talent and drive is there though. Brian Winters is an intriguing athlete with upside, but I’d have preferred to see the Jets go against their nature and look for more polish to improve the guard-play. Still, theoretically, Winters is a proper scheme fit. Aboushi is interesting in round five – I pegged him to come off the board a round earlier, so the value was right. He won’t play the left side with Ferguson on the roster, but he has that sort of potential. A big bodied Brooklyn-native who could be a down-the-road starter. William Campbell is a negatively received pick and it will take some convincing as far as his full-time transition at the position before I believe he can ever be a contributor. On the other hand, seventh rounders don’t often contribute much, but Tommy Bohanon is a hard nosed, true lead-blocking type that loves contact. He developed minor receiving ability this past season and should wind up being a good bargain late in the draft for Gang Green. As I said, what puts this class over (or under) the top is how Geno Smith’s selection is perceived. I don’t see a franchise cornerstone, but I see a good quarterback and a good value in the second round.

Grade: B+

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Final 2013 NFL Mock Draft (w/trades)

Here’s a for-fun attempt at predicting a few potential trades heading into the first round that I believe are possible:

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher, OT. Central Michigan
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Joeckel, OT. Texas A&M
3. Detroit Lions (f/OAK): Lane Johnson, OT. Oklahoma
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, OLB. Oregon
5. Oakland Raiders (f/DET): Sharrif Floyd, DT. Florida
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB. Alabama
7. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, OG. North Carolina
8. Buffalo Bills: Tavon Austin, WR. West Virginia
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB. LSU
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG. Alabama
11. San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OT. Alabama
12. Miami Dolphins: Ezekiel Ansah, DE. Brigham Young
13. New York Jets (f/TB): Star Lotulelei, Utah
14. San Francisco 49ers (f/CAR): Kenny Vaccaro, S. Texas
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB. Georgia
16. St. Louis Rams: Johnathan Cyprien, S. FIU
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: D.J. Hayden, CB. Houston
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT. Missouri
19. New York Giants: Menelik Watson, OT. Florida State
20. Carolina Panthers (f/CHI): Tyler Eifert, TE. Notre Dame
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Eric Reid, S. LSU
22. St. Louis Rams (f/WAS): Justin Hunter, WR. Tennessee
23. Minnesota Vikings: Manti Te’O, ILB. Notre Dame
24. Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB. Florida State
25. Minnesota Vikings (f/SEA): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR. Tennessee
26. Green Bay Packers: Margus Hunt, DE. SMU
27. Houston Texans: Robert Woods, WR. USC
28. Denver Broncos: Bjoern Werner, DE. Florida State
29. Cleveland Browns (f/NE): Geno Smith, QB. WVU
30. Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB. Washington
31. Chicago Bears (f/SF/CAR): Alec Ogletree, LB. Georgia
32. Baltimore Ravens: DeAndre Hopkins, WR. Clemson

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Final 2013 NFL Mock Draft (no trades)

Here it is – no commentary. Trades ensure that any and all mocks are ruined with relative ease, so take it for what it’s worth and enjoy.

NFL Draft Update’s final 2013 NFL mock:

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher, OT. Central Michigan
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Joeckel, OT. Texas A&M
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT. Florida
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson, OT. Oklahoma
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE. Brigham Young
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB. Alabama
7. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, OG. North Carolina
8. Buffalo Bills: Tavon Austin, WR. West Virginia
9. New York Jets: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB. Oregon
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG. Alabama
11. San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OT. Alabama
12. Miami Dolphins: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB. LSU
13. New York Jets (f/TB): Star Lotulelei, DT. Utah
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT. Missouri
15. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, S. Texas
16. St. Louis Rams: Johnathan Cyprien, S. FIU
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB. Georgia
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sylvester Williams, DT. North Carolina
19. New York Giants: Menelik Watson, OT. Florida State
20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te’O, ILB. Notre Dame
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Eric Reid, S. LSU
22. St. Louis Rams (f/WAS): Justin Hunter, WR. Tennessee
23. Minnesota Vikings: Xavier Rhodes, CB. Florida State
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB. Washington
25. Minnesota Vikings (f/SEA): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR. Tennessee
26. Green Bay Packers: Margus Hunt, DE. SMU
27. Houston Texans: Robert Woods, WR. USC
28. Denver Broncos: Bjoern Werner, DE. Florida State
29. New England Patriots: D.J. Hayden, CB. Houston
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE. Notre Dame
31. San Franciso 49ers: Zach Ertz, TE. Stanford
32. Baltimore Ravens: DeAndre Hopkins, WR. Clemson

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NFLDraftUpdate’s Top 5 Players By Position

Quarterback:
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
3. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
4. E.J. Manuel, Florida State
5. Matt Barkley, USC

HM: Mike Glennon, NC State

Geno Smith peaks this years somewhat pedestrian quarterback class. After the top dog, perhaps the only one among secondary passers capable of developing into a reliable franchise player is Ryan Nassib. The Syracuse product possesses all the physical ability needed in order to be an impact player at the next level – something of a rarity in comparison to others in this class at the position. Tyler Wilson and E.J. Manuel are a pair of projection players that have flashed ability at the college level, but have struggled to solidify early consideration due to a lack of polish and turnover concerns. Wilson could be a steal if take late day two or early day three – scrappy passer with few holes… this season was a transition year for his team and he handled it as well as he could have. Matt Barkley is a cerebral threat to defenses but lacks the power arm to consistently make NFL stick throws. I view him as an overall better prospect than that of, say, Colt McCoy coming out of the draft in 2010, but there are physical limitations that are comparable between the two. Glennon features both a big frame and arm to match his proper delivery, but lack of even average athleticism and sub-par pocket presence must be worked through. Fit will be the determining factor in which pivots are successful from this class more-so than most years, as there isn’t much in the way of blow-your-socks-off natural talent at the top of the board. Lots of work to do with this group.

Running Back:
1. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
2. Knile Davis, Arkansas
3. Eddie Lacy, Alabama
4. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
5. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA

HM: Christine Michael, Texas A&M

It’d surprise many if there was a running back selected in the first round this year. Lots of talented players but none that will give war rooms a tough time passing on, on day one. The group is led by productive Big Ten ‘back Montee Ball. Although he lacks the second gear that you’d prefer from a true impact rusher, he is well-versed in all aspects of the position and can be a work horse in the right situation. Were it not for injury, Knile Davis would be one of the more touted in this year’s running back group, but he’s missed a significant amount of time and plays a position that withstands a hefty amount of punishment on a down-by-down basis. Still, his intriguing blend of size, lateral fluidity, and straight line speed are tough to dismiss despite the medical. Eddie Lacy lacks the natural fluidity and short-area movement skills that former Tide runners Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson have, but he’s a between-the-tackle banger with deceptive speed and quick feet. 3rd down ability isn’t what it could be, but there is room for improvement. Gio Bernard is a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands and will be able to contribute on special teams while being integrated into an NFL offense. Size is a bit of a concern, but when touting the rock, he can make things happen. UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin has bolstered his value greatly in the pre-draft. His highly productive senior season and overall reliability as a feature ‘back are noteworthy, as are his close-quarter creativity skills and ability to make tacklers miss. Lots of players in the next tier are capable of contributing in some way to an NFL offense, such as UF’s Mike Gillislee, Clemson’s Andre Ellington, Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor, and Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, amongst countless others. However, the one player who could really become one of the draft’s best rushers down the road, health-providing, is Christine Michael. Former blue chip recruit who’s struggled mightily with injury, he is a thickly built off-tackle runner with no physical limitations. Speaking of former blue chippers, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore may be the ultimate wildcard of this group – coming off his second major knee injury in as many years, he was once perhaps the most coveted rusher eligible for this class. This year’s running back class offers a copious amount of complimentary + specialty runners and very few who are capable of being true, feature players. That said, there are many who should contribute effectively in some capacity right away.

Fullback:
1. Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard
2. Tommy Bohanon, Wake Forest
3. Zach Line, SMU
4. Lonnie Pryor, Florida State
5. Mike Zordich, Penn State

HM: Dan Moore, Montana

There is an array of different fullbacks available depending on what you are looking for. Harvard man Kyle Juszczyk is a better ball carrier than he is as a pure lead blocker, but has the capabilities of a three down player – a complete fullback. Tommy Bohanon is a bulky lead blocking type with a strong lower half, but also doubles as a capable outlet receiver who’s not lost with the ball in his hands. Zach Line is the premier running fullback from this group. Three consecutive seasons with 1,000+ rushing yards, he can take on the role of a bigger tailback or 3rd down option at the next level. FSU’s Lonnie Pryor is an athletic ‘back with a particular savvy for short-yardage situations – even managing to score 18 TDs on the ground throughout his collegiate career. Conversely, Mike Zordich of Penn State is a true lead blocking type. The former linebacker added both a receiving and short-yardage rushing element to his game – he’s also hailed for his notable leadership qualities. Finally, honorable mention Dan Moore is a scrappy player who exhibits a high level of compete, and can contribute on special teams.

Wide Receiver:
1. Keenan Allen, California
2. Justin Hunter, Tennessee
3. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
4. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
5. Robert Woods, USC

HM: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia / Kenny Stills, Oklahoma

Like the other offensive skill positions in the 2013 class, this year’s wide receivers lack the obvious standout among the bunch. Kennan Allen of Cal, once considered a blue chip high school safety, has dealt with injury all throughout the pre-draft. A true athlete with the ability to adjust and track passes, he also doubles as one of the best blockers out wide in this class. There are knee concerns, but Allen has the look and makeup of a No. 1 receiver. Justin Hunter is an explosive athlete with a big, projectable frame and wide catch radius. If this red-zone threat can overcome injuries and the one year wonder concerns, he could wind up being a premier player from this class – limitless upside. There is no more versatile weapon available in this year’s draft than Tavon Austin. A dynamic, versatile slot player who can stretch the field, he has also spent a fair amount lined up at tailback. If teams can overlook the size/strength questions, someone could very well wind up with a player defenses must specifically game plan against. Another one year wonder gaining notable consideration is former JUCO transfer Cordarrelle Patterson. The Volunteer wide out possesses a big frame with plus speed to match. He only played one season at Tennessee but flashed enough playmaking ability to warrant early consideration. Patterson still has much to learn as it’s evident he is not the most polished natural catcher among this group. Conversely, USC’s Robert Woods is one of the draft’s best route runners and gains separation nicely. Proper, off-body catching technique and the versatility to play in the slot or out wide, Woods is a solid prospect who has a bit of Reggie Wayne to his game. I’d be doing a disservice by not mentioning Tavon Austin’s partner in crime, Stedman Bailey.  A thinner bodied target who doesn’t physically impose himself over DBs, but exposes his true value when being forced to adjust and make tough catches. A personal favorite prospect of mine from any position in this class is Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills. Not a physically gifted receiver who will make a living as a mismatch threat, but simply knows the particulars of the position. Natural, off-body catcher with a knack for winning in jump ball situations.

Tight End:
1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
2. Zach Ertz, Stanford
3. Travis Kelce, Cincinnatti
4. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
5. Joseph Fauria, UCLA

HM: Vance McDonald, Rice

It’s all about the passing game these days, and nobody high-points the football and make NFL caliber catches better than Tyler Eifert. A big-bodied, potential mismatch receiver in the passing game who has projectability as a blocker. Zach Ertz is a smooth route running tight end that can find soft zones and make tough catches. Has a bit of work to do in order to become a truly competent blocker, but will contribute to any passing game from day one. Travis Kelce, brother of Eagles center Jason Kelce, is another well-put-together tight end prospect. Strong at the point of attack as a blocker and possessing a highly intriguing blend of size, speed, and physicality, Kelce has all the tools needed to be relied on at the next level. Health has prevented him from contending for earlier consideration in the pre-draft process. Gavin Escobar possesses a long, athletic frame with an impressively wide catch radius and the ability to stretch the seem, overmatching linebackers with his straight line speed. A really raw blocker and a lacks a step when getting to top speed. Joseph Fauria, a Notre Dame transfer, is an absolute red zone threat. A thick, tall frame with long arms, he’s another high-point catcher who physically outmatches most defenders in the passing game. Although he’s not overly effective as a route runner, nor will he run past many linebackers, he can be reliable when catching the ball underneath coverage. One of the players who’s helped himself the most in the pre-draft process is Rice’s Vance McDonald. A balanced prospect with quality receiving skills. He’s able to make routine catches and turn up-field without losing much speed. It will be interesting to see just how much he’s bolstered his value – later day two, early day three projection.

Offensive Tackle:
1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama
5. Menelik Watson, Florida State

HM: Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Topping many rankings since the day he declared, Luke Joeckel has drawn rave reviews as the potential top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Eric Fisher the most athletic blocker to come out of CMU since Joe Staley in 2007, one of the best blindside protectors in the NFL today. He projects to be as good or better than his Chippewa counterpart. While I can’t condone a team selecting Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson in the top 10, it’s tough to question his unmatched athletic ability and explosion off the snap. He has the makeup to neutralize speed rushers off the blind side at the next level. D.J. Fluker is an interesting case – potential to be a guard, may be a right tackle only of team’s are set on keeping him outside, but has the tools to play the left as well. Regardless, he’s a strong, balanced blocker who doesn’t play with heavy feet like most players of his stature occasionally do. Menelik Watson and honorable mention Terron Armstead are two more freakish athletes that round out my rankings. Watson is raw unlikely to effectively step in and contribute right away, but possesses comparable physical skills to Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, a fantastic young tackle. Small schooler Terron Armstead flashed his athleticism at the combine and has been steadily rising ever since. He’s second day projection, but could remind some of Texans All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown – a shock first rounder in 2008.

Offensive Guard:
1. Chance Warmack, Alabama
2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
3. Larry Warford, Kentucky
4. Kyle Long, Oregon
5. Earl Watford, James Madison

HM: Eric Herman, Ohio

The guard class is pretty stocked up at the top end. A pair of potential top 10 selection in Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper with very different styles – it’s essentially pick your fit with the two players. Warmack is a leverage blocker with a strong lower half and solid get off at the snap. He’s a plug and play guard who should fill a need for five to ten years for the team that selects him. Cooper is a much more athletic interior blocker with excellent lateral quickness needed to be an effective pulling guard – very similar to that of the Bucs’ Davin Joseph. One of the more powerfully put together guards in the draft is Larry Warford of Kentucky; a natural fit in a power, man-to-man blocking scheme. Kyle Long, brother of Rams defender Chris Long and (obviously) son of Hall of Famer Howie Long,  is a guard/right tackle with quality bending ability. He will be an interesting, versatile addition to whomever lands him. James Madison guard Earl Watford has flown under the radar, but he’s a quick-footed, strongly built project with a fair amount of upside. Another mild sleeper worth keeping tabs on is Ohio’s Eric Herman. Good technique and a pretty fluid lateral mover.

Center:
1. Barrett Jones, Alabama
2. Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
3. Khaled Holmes, USC
4. Brian Schwenke, Cal
5. Braxston Cave, Notre Dame

HM: Mario Benavides, Louisville

Both Jones and Frederick are versatile interior blockers who can project to either guard position or center depending on where they wind up. Jones, a fundamentally versed veteran, Frederick , a wide bodied and balanced “Wisconsin lineman.” Khaled Holmes dealt with a right shoulder injury during the combine bench press and lost his opportunity to rise in the pre-draft, but his athleticism and quickness off the snap are undeniably impressive, in addition to his prototype size. Cal’s Brian Schwenke has perhaps the best movement skills of any interior blocker available – very fluid off the snap. Braxston Cave is an intelligent football player and individual. Certainly a projectable NFL blocker, but he will need development time prior to being relied on for first team snaps. Mario Benevides is an experienced player who’s worth a late round flier in my books – agile mover with some natural bend.

Defensive End:
1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
2. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
3. Margus Hunt, SMU
4. Bjoern Werner, Florida State
5. Datone Jones, UCLA

HM: Stansly Maponga, TCU / Mike Catapano, Princeton

Pass rushers are an annual premium in the draft, and the top two are potential-packed. Jordan, a former tight end, locates and tracks the football well, always playing around where the action is. At 6’6″/6’7″ with lots of bend and an impressive first step off the snap, he’s an imposing pass rusher and potential 3-4 conversion rusher. Ansah is a raw talent who will require developmental time – a bit of a boom or bust prospect – but oozes potential. There may not be a more freakish physical specimen than Margus Hunt this year. The Estonian-born defender is a huge, well-built, high motor rusher. The 6’8″ frame forces him to get a little high off the snap, but if coached up, Hunt could become a force in the NFL – potentially as a 5-tech in a base 3-4. Bjoern Werner has slipped in the pre-draft, but the one-time potential top 10 pick is a powerful strong side end who can hold the edge in the run game and reach home on some blitzes. If he isn’t over drafted, Werner should be a solid starter at the next level. Datone Jones is a bit of a tweener in that he may not be a natural 5-tech and he may be over sized as a 4-3 end, but simply put… he can play. Stansly Maponga of TCU is a squatty, leverage rusher who can bend around the edge. A good project despite leaving school a year too early in his development. Another honorable mention that’s drawn some recognition is Ivy League defender Mike Catapano. Strong at the point of attack and vs. the run, Catapano emerged as a disruptive pass rushing force this season, notching 12.0 sacks and an impressive 15.5 tackles for loss. Long, athletic Devin Taylor of USCar and Utah’s Joe Kruger are a pair of interest too.

Defensive Tackle:
1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
2. Star Lotulelei, Utah
3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
4. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
5. Kawann Short, Purdue

HM: Josh Boyd, Mississippi State

This year’s crop of defensive tackles will garner a fair amount of early selections. The days of a bulky nose tackle type who can play two downs vs. the run are all but gone and the players who can disrupt in the passing game are of major value at the top of the draft. We start with Sharrif Floyd, whose athleticism has enabled him the flexibility to even line up at defensive end in Gainesville. He’s similar in ways to Raiders DT/DE Lamarr Houston – fluid mover, low base, plays with leverage, athletically gifted – but possesses significantly more upside as a prospect. Star Lotulelei isn’t a fire-rushing 3-technique, but his massive frame and plus movement skills will offer a new dynamic to a multitude of base defensive formations. Featuring some qualities that make Haloti Ngata one of the most coveted 3-4 lineman in the NFL, Star is a difficult talent to pass on if you’re seeking an interior presence. Sheldon Richardson has similarities to Eagles 2012 1st round pick, Fletcher Cox. Disruptive 3-technique with size and excellent lateral movement skills. Sly Williams of UNC is a natural 3-technique who offers a blend of size and 10-yard quickness. Much like Williams, Big Ten defender Kawann Short is another 3-technique with a strong base and the ability to get upfield. A bit of a squatty 4-3 nose tackle who can push the pocket, Short is a natural fit in balanced fronts. Honorable mention goes to Miss. State nose tackle Josh Boyd. While he may be a two down-type, he exhibited impressive movement skills at the combine and carries his large, wide frame, very well. He could be a nice value in the mid rounds.

Outside Linebacker:
1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
3. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
4. Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi
5. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers

HM: Trevardo Williams, UConn / Ty Powell, Harding

While not an elite cover linebacker, Jarvis Jones is a true playmaker. Diagnoses plays very well and finds the football as good as anybody, closing well. The USC transfer lives in opposing backfields (44 TFL, 28.0 sacks at UGA) and thrives when he’s able to read + react. A defensive rookie of the year candidate from week 1 of his rookie season. Kiki Mingo has become a polarizing prospect in the pre-draft among pundits, but while his natural pass rushing ability as a downed end is sub-par at this point, he – to me – has some of the capabilities that Von Miller did coming out of A&M. He’s not nearly the complete prospect Miller was, but Mingo’s niche is playing in space and has the athleticism to play east and west. If a team is patient, they could wind up with a true defensive stalwart. Arthur Brown is a supremely talented athlete who moves with great fluidity. Another read + react linebacker with closing speed. Jamie Collins is an explosive athlete with an impressive first step. A sure tackler and a developing knack for hitting home on blitzes.  Khaseem Greene is a natural Tampa 2 linebacker. Sideline to sideline player with smooth movement skills, Greene is a tackling machine and has improved his pass rushing skills notably over the past two seasons. Trevardo Williams caught my eye at the combine – a rocked up pass rusher with long speed. Another combine notable is Harding’s Ty Powell. Versatility and strength to hold up at the point of attack. He will help on special teams and can line up at end, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and perhaps at defensive tackle in some nickel packages.

Inside Linebacker:
1. Manti Te’O, Notre Dame
2. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
3. Kevin Minter, LSU
4. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
5. Kiko Alonso, Oregon

HM: A.J. Klein, Iowa State

Te’O made waves after the catfish situation, but purely as a football player, he’s one of the more reliable overall players available at any position. A high level of football IQ, he’s able to diagnose plays and instinctually locate where the ball is going. While not the most fluid or fastest linebacker around, he’s able to still be effective in short coverage. Somewhat limited physically, but will that prevent him from ever contributing? On the other end of the spectrum, UGA’s Alec Ogletree is gifted athlete with size whose speed enables him to make plays anywhere on the field. Off-field concerns are noteworthy, as are questions surrounding his ability to hold at the point of attack against big, strong lineman. A little undersized, but very smart at the position, Kevin Minter of LSU is one of the more unsung underclassmen in the 2013 bunch. Plays hard and tough when attacking downhill and relishes contact. Kevin Reddick is a strong, big bodied interior linebacker with long speed. Oregon’s Kiko Alonso is fluid when dropping and moving in coverage, he is a nice fit for most zone schemes. Last but not least, A.J. Klein does not have the intriguing physical skills to warrant early buzz, but he’s a well-versed football player who doesn’t miss tackles and is capable of leading a defense.

Cornerback:
1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
3. D.J. Hayden, Houston
4. Desmond Trufant, Washington
5. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

HM: Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana

Milliner lacks the elite ball skills of a Morris Claiborne from last April, but simply plays sticky coverage as good as anyone. Possessing size and thickness, he’s able to step up and make tackles with relative ease. Teams veered away from him in the passing game, yet he was still able to accumulate a staggering 20 pass breakups as a junior last season. Xavier Rhodes is a natural zone corner with intimidating physicality and press coverage skills. Occasionally lets receivers cross his face too easily when covering the boundary, but he’s a presence out wide and makes tackles while generating a fair bit of pop behind them. Houston’s D.J. Hayden is a long armed athlete with impressive speed and press coverage ability. He’s proven to be a reliable tackler as well. Desmond Trufant is a natural man-cover corner but needs to improve his tackling willingness and form. Final determination on Tyrann Mathieu: off-field concerns aside, I like him. Whether he’ll play strictly as a nickel or vie for time on the boundary in some coverage schemes, he has potential for stardom. A player with his caliber of ball skills is not an every day commodity. If the Honey Badger stays clean, he will be a very good slot defender. Lastly, Robert Alford is a playmaker with impressive leaping ability. Wins in many 50/50 situations and can create with the ball in his hands – a good day two.

Safety:
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
2. Johnathan Cyprien, FIU
3. Eric Reid, LSU
4. Matt Elam, Florida
5. Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse

HM: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma / Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

Featuring no physical limitations and the ability to cover and tackle, Kenny Vaccaro is the unquestioned top dog at his position in this class. His ball skills are not elite and he can get a little stiff in the hips due to his plus size, but he still moves fluidly. Johnathan Cyprien was once a sleeper – not anymore. A rock solid, 6’0 217 lbs. sure-tackler who has the physicality to matchup with fast or big NFL tight ends. Matt Elam is undersized and it may hurt his value, but he is an athletic hit-safety who attacks and flashes ball skills when defending passes. Eric Reid needed to adjust to life without Claiborne in Baton Rouge this year, but he’s a deep safety who can play center field effectively and make tackles. Shamarko Thomas is a specimen whose physicality and strength allows him to play effectively near the line of scrimmage, but can get a little stiff in tight areas. OU underclassman Tony Jefferson has had periods of spotty tackling on tape, but he’s a very willing downhill defender who hits hard and with purpose. TJ is solid in all facets of the position. Another quick hit – UGA safety Bacarri Rambo. Character concerns, coupled with some spotty tackling form, but he’s a natural in coverage and features impressive ball skills.

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NFL Draft Update: 2013 Mock Draft (v.1)

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Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, it is that time of year again. With Summer Christmas less than 100 days away, countless wide-eyed, ambitious young men will hope to make their life-long dreams of playing in the National Football League a reality this April based on years of hard work and dedication. The NFL draft is intriguing and pulse-pounding to those who follow it due in large part to the unknown. We don’t know who will wind up in what colors, what scheme a player will be pieced into, who fell in love with who in pre-draft evaluations, or simply identifying who the annual shock-picks will be. That said, keep in mind this is a January mock and a lot of the process remains before we can lock in a number of player evaluations or projections. Take it for what it is and have fun with it.

Now – enough talk. Lets get to it.

 

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1. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

-Quarterback is undeniably the Chiefs primary need after an abysmal 2012 season which saw Big Red post the league’s worst passing offense. With that said, despite a manageable rookie wage scale now in place, a poor selection at the top of the draft will always have potential to set an organization back, and I strongly question whether any passer currently warrants top pick consideration. Chiefs’ left tackle Branden Albert is a good, occasionally very good blocker, but set to become a free agent this offseason. A&M Jr. Luke Joeckel has both the physical makeup and natural athleticism to become one of the best overall blindside protectors in the NFL and merits consideration at the top of the draft. Choosing the draft’s premier blocker with the first overall selection gives Kansas City the flexibility of letting Albert walk if the market dictates his price is too steep, or — if he is retained at a reasonable cost — plug him into a guard spot where he projected as a pro bowler to many evaluators back in 2008. Many will call for the quarterback here, and rightfully so given the glaring inefficiencies displayed last season. But first overall is not the place to take that type of dangerous risk, nor is quarterback the position for it. Joeckel to KC would be an excellent start to the Andy Reid era, and there will be numerous passers of interest available at the top of round two.

 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

-An intimidating force, Werner possesses well-above average strength and utilizes his hands very well when engaging blockers. The Florida State product routinely makes plays in the backfield and accumulated an impressive 17 pass deflections over the past two seasons. Jacksonville ranked dead last in 2012 with a porous 20.0 combined team sacks. Best of all, Werner is a competent all-around defender, not a one-dimensional pass rusher. His presence up front should immediately be felt. With a solid array of options on defense available, the smart money should be on the Jags opting to improve that side of the ball with No. 2 overall.

 

3. Oakland Raiders: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

-Like many teams picking at the top of the draft, the Raiders have needs in a number of areas. Although linebacker isn’t an absolutely glaring position of concern, Jarvis Jones is a two-fold improvement to any team. Like Von Miller did for the Broncos, Jones has the ability to not only play the position effectively all-around, but pose a legitimate, disruptive force as a pass rusher. The former USC transfer is not an elite cover ‘backer, but displayed nice coverage skills this past season and bolstered his stock. Jarvis Jones has quickly developed into a reliable playmaker, notching 28.0 sacks and nine forced fumbles over the past two seasons between the hedges at UGA. Jones would certainly help instill a new attitude in the Oakland defense, and it’d create some interesting new options for the defensive minded Dennis Allen.

 

4. Philadelphia Eagles: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah

-What a change this would be. The Eagles, known primarily for seeking smaller, 1-gap type defensive tackles, opt for the massive space-eating Lotulelei? With lots of turnover set to hit Philly, I see it as a very legitimate possibility. Star Lotulelei has the dimensions of a natural nose tackle, but possesses excellent movement skills for someone his size (6’4″ 320 lbs.). Highly scheme versatile, excellent strength, and impressive burst off the snap. Defensive tackles of Lotulelei’s size typically aren’t on the field in passing downs, and players of his caliber who can are a pretty rare commodity. Also, you have to think Chip Kelly will be tempted to grab an offensive player to help kickstart a potentially fruitful initiation to the NFL.

 

5. Detroit Lions: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama

-The draft’s top cornerback to the team who may need him the most in the top ten. A seemingly slam dunk pick despite lots of pass rushing options still on the board, it would be the right selection. Detroit has had difficulties finding legitimate help in the secondary and Milliner’s ability to matchup with various types of receivers, in various coverage schemes on the boundary make him a valuable commodity to any team even remotely needy for corner help. Milliner adds size, aggressiveness, and a level of football IQ to a Lions defense that could quite obviously benefit from it.

 

6. Cleveland Browns: DE/OLB Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

-The Browns are another organization experiencing some turnover off-field with Mike Holmgren out as president, new ownership in place and a new coach on the way. With Cleveland reportedly shifting to an attack-based 3-4 defense, Damontre Moore would be an excellent building block. An athletic, scheme-versatile pass rusher who displays an innate ability to play with leverage. Productive, proven sack artists are a premium at any level. Book ending Jabaal Sheard in Cleveland’s new unbalance front-7 offers interesting possibilities and poses a legitimate threat from either side of the field.

 

7. Arizona Cardinals: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

-Arizona’s offensive tackle situation is far an away the worst in the NFL. Former UDFA D’Anthony Batiste struggled mightily on the blindside in pass protection prior to being replaced and right tackle Bobby Massie is a highly talented young blocker, but should not have seen the field as a rookie. Suffice it to say, improvements at either spot can easily be made, and it’s tough to justify plugging in the quarterback with no protection already on the roster. Chippewa tackle Eric Fisher is a tall, athletic edge protector with NFL-ready pass pro abilities. 6’7″/6’8″, lineman with quick feet are of great value at any level, but Fisher needs more polish, as he he can occasionally struggle with smaller, quicker rushers. Still, the overwhelming point is he can contribute immediately and has the talent to become a long-term fixture on Arizona’s offensive line.

 

8. Buffalo Bills: QB Mike Glennon, North Carolina State

-Again, while at the moment I don’t believe the available quarterback class warrants top ten praise, there is talent at the top of the group. Mike Glennon isn’t currently on everyone’s radar as a top player at his position, but of the passers included this year, he has as intriguing a makeup as anyone. Glennon occasionally flashes some Joe Flacco-like qualities, both in look and skill. The NC State product doesn’t have the type of deep-ball ability, and may not be ready to step onto the field from day one, but could easily be the best quarterback from this year’s class down the road if given the time to develop. Glennon would be an interesting fit in new head coach Doug Marrone’s offense, and Buffalo lacks an apparent long-term answer despite Ryan Fitzpatrick playing  more efficient in 2012 than the previous season.

 

9. New York Jets: DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon

-Gang Green wound up tied for 25th in sacks last season with a combined 30.0 — pass rushing re-enforcements are required. Aaron Maybin’s 2011 resurrection was a mirage, 33-year old Bryan Thomas has accumulated a mere 18.5 sacks over the past six seasons, and Calvin Pace hasn’t been effective at getting to the quarterback since 2009. Last April, Rex Ryan showed significant interest in then-Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones. Dion Jordan has as much upside as any pass rusher available this year, and although he is far from a finished product, could draw some minor comparisons to the defensive rookie of the year candidate New England landed a year ago. Jordan’s long frame, coupled with dynamic athletic ability could intrigue teams earlier in the first round than expected. Call it a bit of a surprise selection, but they happen annually. If Rex Ryan is around, which looks to be the case as of this moment, I fully expect him to have interest in the Oregon product. Unless anyone believes he and the front office will go to the well and draft Matt Barkley to be Mark Sanchez’s replacement for the second time.

 

10. Tennessee Titans: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama

-If anyone knows the value in having strong guard-play, it’s Mike Munchak. Alabama’s Chance Warmack is one of, if not the safest player available in the 2013 NFL draft, and the Titans situation at both positions are a little unstable. 35-year old Steve Hutchinson is a shell of his former All-Pro self and has not played a full 16-game season since 2009, while the combination of Deuce Lutui and Kyle DeVan are easily upgradable. Warmack possesses a tremendous blend of both size, toughness, and football intelligence. A true anchor. He’s not your prototype zone-blocker, but has the athletic ability to adjust.

 

11. San Diego Chargers: CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

-Banks improved notably in 2012. A good cover corner with length, he features the ability to step up and make tackles or blitz. Playing softer off-coverage as a Jr., Banks managed to become more aggressive this past season, leading to a greater rate of success. Quinton Jammer is getting long in the tooth and although Antoine Cason is talented, coverage is not always consistent. In the modern-day NFL, you can never have enough good defensive backs anyways, and Johnthan Banks is an all-around corner who can help immediately. When you face Peyton Manning twice a year, it’s not a bad thing to have a few options in the secondary. Although new coach Mike McCoy could look to bolster the offensive tackle position, the top two available are off the board and the need will have to be addressed later.

 

12. Miami Dolphins: WR Keenan Allen, California

-Despite dealing with some injuries this past season, Golden Bears’ Jr. receiver Kennan Allen continued to display the type of game-breaking ability he flashed during his coming out party as a Soph. An aggressive route-runner not afraid to go over the middle under any circumstance, Allen utlizes his thicker frame to shield off defenders and make off-body catches. Another box to check off is Allen’s knack for creating after the catch and picking up extra yardage. He possesses above-average acceleration when running deeper routes and has the versatility to line up all over the field. Miami must make it a priority to add weapons for Ryan Tannehill moving forward, and a big-bodied target capable of making tough catches would be a welcomed addition.

 

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

-Head case or not, when Tampa dealt Aqib Talib to New England, it traded away its top cover man. Consider that long-time secondary stalwart Ronde Barber will be 38 by the the time the draft rolls around and the Bucs defense allowed a league-worst 297.4 yards per game through the air. Improvements are imperative. Xavier Rhodes looks and plays like a safety but has the tools to be a fantastic matchup boundary corner at the NFL level. Arguably the most physical defensive back in the draft, Rhodes’ success in press-man looks make him an intriguing fit to a number of base coverage schemes. Doubles as an effective and strong tackler. Although he’s drawn some loose comparisons to ex-Alabama corner Dre Kirkpatrick, Xavier Rhodes possesses more upside.

 

14. Carolina Panthers: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida

-The Panthers are a team who’ve been seeking help on the interior defensive line for a couple years now, and with good reason. After failed selections of Terrell McClain and Sione Fua in recent years, Carolina’s front lacks a true presence. Such is the rule when drafting any defensive tackle in the first round, he must be a three-down player and not come off the field in passing situations. Check that box with Sharrif Floyd, giving him the nod over Johnathan Hankins — who’s less effective at disrupting the passer. Floyd, has excellent get-off speed and exhibits an aggressive hit at the point of attack. The Jr. Gator features an impressive motor and the ability to disengage blockers quickly. The Philadelphia native must gain a better understanding of playing with a low pad-level. That said, he is just beginning to realize his potential, and should parlay it into a fairly high selection on day one of the draft.

 

15. New Orleans Saints: DE Barkevious Mingo, Louisiana State

-Talent-wise, Barkevious Mingo is one of the standout players available in this April’s draft, but a somewhat disappointing Jr. season, his stock has taken a hit. Nevertheless, the player with arguably the best name in the class of 2013 has the potential to be an elite speed rusher at the next level, possessing a long frame with plenty of room to grow. The versatility to rush from either defensive end spot or a two-point stance, Mingo should effectively contribute as a situational pass rusher while he matures physically. New Orleans struggled everywhere defensively, but bolstering pressure off the edge will only help the secondary. As everyone knows, pass rush and pass defense go hand in hand. Barkevious Mingo would be nice value at No. 15, despite some questions regarding his ability to develop as a run defender.

 

16. St. Louis Rams: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

-While St. Louis desperately needs to improve all over its offensive line, the franchise has options after acquiring the Washington Redskins first round pick (No. 22 overall) as part of the RG3 deal last year. With Jeff Fisher at the helm, the Rams have taken a step forward in becoming relevant again. Fisher, a former defensive back, has shown in the past he has no qualms in opting for a playmaking safety, as evidenced by his choice of Michael Griffin (another Texas alum) in 2007 while with Tennessee. Kenny Vaccaro is a longer, but bulky safety who’s adept in all forms of coverage. Tape evaluation says Vaccaro has smooth movement skills for someone of his stature, changing direction nicely and maintaining balance with good hip-work. The Longhorn standout is susceptible deep on occasion, as he lacks top-end speed and also must also improve on angling to the football. Ball skills are only average, but Vaccaro’s impressive level of compete and ability to effectively matchup with today’s big + fast tight ends make him an appealing prospect.

 

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

-In recent years the Steelers have begun overhauling the defensive side of the football, drafting replacements at both defensive end spots in Dick LeBeau’s traditional base 3-4 front. Long time nose tackle Casey Hampton’s career is winding down and the organization could be poised to finish compiling its defensive line of the future (and now). Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins is a space-eater with excellent strength and get-off burst. A terrific run-defender, and in Pittsburgh, being a primarily two-down lineman isn’t problematic or damning to his value. Hankins is relatively pro ready and should see rather extensive time as a rookie.

 

18. Dallas Cowboys: S Eric Reid, Louisiana State

-2011 in Big D was all about improving the secondary; more specifically cornerback. Signing Brandon Carr to a lucrative contract and trading up in the draft to select Morris Claiborne put Dallas in a much better position on the boundaries moving forward. However, while the Cowboys have a small collection of serviceable safeties, the position could certainly stand to be upgraded. Claiborne’s college teammate Eric Reid has a high ceiling and can play physical coverage. Unfortunately, Reid suffered from a down year as a Jr. and was a liability at times. Still, he’s an instinctual safety with an ideal blend of bulk and size to his frame, complimenting his natural speed. Bottom line is if Eric Reid reclaims his 2011 form, selecting him No. 18 overall is a steal. Once again pairing him with Claiborne can only reassure the Cowboys brass they would be taking a worthwhile risk.

 

19. New York Giants: MLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia

-New York has gotten by in the post-Antonio Pierce era at middle linebacker, but as inspiring as Chase Blackburn has been on occasion, it could be the time to finally plug the hole long-term. UGA’s Alec Ogletree has spent time at safety prior to finding his niche at linebacker, and plays above-average coverage — an absolutely necessary trait for anyone at his position nowadays. Although bulking up a relatively unfilled frame is imperative to Ogletree’s pro success, he is a sideline-to-sideline player with full-field range. This pick works if Alec Ogletree can continue developing physically and get strong enough to handle playing in the box.

 

20. Chicago Bears: OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama

-The failed J’Marcus Webb experiment has gone on long enough and although D.J. Fluker isn’t a natural left tackle by trade yet, he is the type of imposing + brutishly physical tackle Chicago is missing. A strong pedigree to his name, Fluker is known for stepping up and performing in big games against playmaking edge rushers. While Chicago’s offensive line preferences could change depending on what philosophy new head coach Marc Trestman employs, there are few better options available to help aid Jay Cutler and the Bears offense here. D.J. isn’t much of a dancer in terms of footwork, and his pass protection technique isn’t polished, leading some to believe he is a right tackle only. Whether he sticks on the right or not, Chicago must prioritize protection.

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

-Cincy hit a home run in A.J. Green two years ago. Although he’s become one of the league’s best receivers in that short period, Jay Gruden’s offense could really benefit from an injection of more talent out wide. Andy Dalton has also developed into a quality starting NFL quarterback, but more weapons never hurt. Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson has the all-around ability, size, and movement abilities to crack the top 10, if not higher, so the value is here. The former JUCO is wise enough to know when to catch into his frame or pluck off-body. A reliable playmaker who’s established himself as a legitimate scoring threat every time he touches the football. Patterson would function as a frightening compliment to Green, creating a new dynamic to the Bengals passing game.

 

22. St. Louis (f/WAS): OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

-With pick number two in round one, St. Louis grabs its offensive line help. Of course, reinforcements at offensive tackle would be preferred in many ways, but Cooper is too highly rated here.  Highly athletic for his size — getting to the second level smoothly and projects to be an upper echelon pass protector. Despite Chance Warmack grading out as the better prospect, Cooper is the more scheme versatile of the two, possessing the ability to line up competently in a zone or power-man scheme. A plug and play blocker at either guard position for the Rams.

 

23. Minnesota Vikings: LB Kevin Minter, Louisiana State

-Like the Giants, it may be about time the Vikings also look to finally shore up the middle linebacker position. Kevin Minter is a true cornerstone defender who fills each and every role needed from a player at his position. A sturdy, thickly built run defender who plays strongly within all three gaps, remaining tough and strong at the point of attack. Plays an attacking downhill style that suits the rough and tough NFC North. I expect Kevin Minter to contend for a rise into top 25 consideration after the combine. Minnesota needs to upgrade on Jasper Brinkley; defensive tackle (Sheldon Richardson) and wide receiver (Justin Hunter) are possibilities being considered here, but neither prove to be options as valuable as this one.

 

24. Indianapolis Colts: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

-A priority for the Andrew Luck-era Colts will be continuing to add pieces to their 3-4 base front. Now — their are a couple quality nose tackles available in both Georgia’s John Jenkins and Alabama’s Jesse Williams. However, the more impactful 5-technique position is also bare of a difference maker, and Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson has all the tools necessary to potentially be dominant in the role. A disruptive penetrator who rushes the passer with fire off the snap, Richardson is excellent value at this point and could very well be gone by No. 24 overall.

 

25. Seattle Seahawks: WR Deandre Hopkins, Clemson

-The board available doesn’t necessarily cater to Seattle, but conversely the Seahawks have few pressing needs after an excellent season. Too many times have we seen rookie quarterbacks put together memorable first seasons only to falter or regress in year two or three for a multitude of reasons. In order to help avoid that from happening, it wouldn’t hurt anyone if Russell Wilson were given another playmaker out wide. Hopkins is a high-point, pluck-catcher, but must improve on his route running ability.

 

26. Green Bay Packers: OG/C Barrrett Jones, Alabama

-Ted Thompson has proven in the past he does not mind spending high draft choices on building his trenches. Jeff Saturday was signed on a short-term deal to help the Packers make a title run. After bowing out early, with a banged up Saturday on the sidelines, the team will be left without a long-term answer at the position. Although Evan Dietrich-Smith was serviceable, he best serves as a platoon man. Barrett Jones, like his linemate Chance Warmack, is one of the draft’s safest prospects. Very coachable, very versatile, Jones is the consummate team player, shifting from position to position all along the offensive line for the good of his team during his collegiate career. He will settle inside at the next level and should step into a starting role from day one.

 

27. Houston Texans: DT Jesse Williams, Alabama

-Like most defensive linemen from Alabama, Jesse Williams is a natural 3-4 player. Although he possesses enough movement ability to play end, his skill set and body type easily project him to the nose, where he’d undoubtedly play in Houston, between Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt. Williams is a wide-bodied, block occupying presence capable of collapsing the pocket. For as good as Houston’s front seven has been, it’s lacked a legitimate nose tackle. Jesse Williams alleviates that need quite well and does it with less risk than John Jenkins would.

 

28. Denver Broncos: CB/S David Amerson, North Carolina State

-John Elway has shown a commitment to building talent on defense, and he’s done a nice job at that. While it could be highly beneficial to grab an available DT (Kawann Short) or continue adding to the pass rush (Sam Montgomery, Ezekiel Ansah), but in this situation, they opt for NC State’s David Amerson. Why? Denver needs help in the secondary as a whole with Champ Bailey finally beginning to show signs of age and the safety tandem of Raheem Moore/Mike Adams upgradable. Amerson entered this year as perhaps the nation’s top defensive back following an explosive 12 interception season in 2011. Given, this past season he expectedly regressed a touch and saw his numbers decrease as he was not sneaking up on anybody this time around. After another season of evaluations, I can project him cleanly at either cornerback or safety spots, as he has the necessary size, ball skills, and savvy coverage intelligence to be successful at either.

 

29. Baltimore Ravens: MLB Arthur Brown, Kansas State

-The elder brother of Eagles running back Bryce Brown has always been a touted defender, but really hit the draft scene when he made the move from Miami (FL) to KSU. Posting two consecutive 100+ tackle seasons for the Wildcats, Brown is the quintessential run and tackle linebacker. Does a very nice job locating the football and takes good angles. Excellent speed and quickness; change of direction skills are top notch. Aside from occasionally hitting ball carriers a little high, Brown is a sure-tackler, wrapping with proper form. Speed is his asset both in coverage or when tasked to spy quarterbacks, but a little undersized in the weight category. Will he carry additional NFL bulk weight? Simply put, you cannot replace Ray Lewis, but that’s not to say the Ravens should neglect the position moving forward. There may be a great opportunity to address the inside linebacker position long term, and it’d be a wise, correct decision for GM Ozzie Newsome to make.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

-As we near the end of round one, you’ll typically see teams without many pressing needs (if any at all). With that said, everyone can always get better, and San Francisco is in a luxury position to select depth to groom for future use. Not your prototypical 3-4 defensive end like some others in this class, but Sylvester Williams exhibits impressive movement skills for a man of his stature (6’3″ 305 lbs.), carrying his weight very well. He is a high motor athlete who’s renowned for his quick hand usage while engaging with blockers. Williams doesn’t often come off the field and can help add depth to a relatively empty cupboard along the 49ers defensive line.

 

31. New England Patriots: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia

-There are few teams more difficult to predict picks for than New England, and it’s fair to assume Bill Belichick will opt to acquire more picks in a trade down. For the sake of the mock, logic dictates that with Wes Welker pushing 32 years of age and set to hit free agency in 2013, the organization will at least begin looking for a replacement. Tavon Austin is small at 5’9″ 171 lbs., but the jack-of-all-trades is an electric DeSean Jackson-esque talent who’s even produced large at running back in spot duty. A quarterback’s favorite, Austin makes excellent adjustments and tough catches of all sorts. Elusiveness is key to his game; routinely makes the first defender miss.

 

32. Atlanta Falcons: DE Sam Montgomery, Louisiana State

-Tied for 29th in the league in sacks while featuring an aged John Abraham and Kroy Biermann — who’d be better suited to a situational role, Atlanta is needy for a pass rushing upgrade. Fluidity and acceleration are his claim to prospect fame — Sam Montgomery has some explosive elements to his game; primarily a speed rusher but capable of mixing it up, as he exhibits a variety to his move repertoire. Like his linemate Barkevious Mingo, Montgomery is strong though the mid-section and thickly built, but lacks ideal NFL bulk. In the meantime, he can contribute on passing downs. The Falcons defense took a big step forward in a number of areas in 2012; imagine if there was more help from the pass rush.

 

-DC

 

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