The 2013 NFL Combine is upon us. The Nation’s top football players will be in Indianapolis the next five days, showcasing their skills and improving their draft stock. This is Gamedayr’s mock draft going into the combine. We will see what changes are made after we see the big surprises and the no names that jump to the front.
1. Kansas City (2-14): Geno Smith / QB / West Virginia – It has been thirty years since the Chiefs last used a first round pick on a quarterback and the Chiefs desperately need a young signal caller to build around. West Virginia’s Geno Smith got off to an insanely hot start as a senior and is considered by most to be the top quarterback prospect in this class despite cooling off down the stretch. Smith is a very good athlete with adequate size, excellent arm strength and impressive accuracy to go along with the maturity, leadership ability and work ethic that you look for. Smith will have to make the transition from a shotgun-based, gimmicky college system but all the physical tools and intangibles are there.
2. Jacksonville (2-14): Demontre Moore / DE-OLB / Texas A&M – Damontre Moore of Texas A&M gets the nod over Bjoern Werner of Florida St. due to his versatility since he could project to either defensive end or outside linebacker. Moore was tasked with replacing Von Miller in College Station and even though those were big shoes to fill he was up to the challenge. Moore racked up 38.5 tackles for a loss and 21.0 sacks the past two seasons for the Aggies and was arguably the nation’s most explosive pass rusher.
3. Oakland (4-12): Star Lotuleilei / DT / Utah – The Raiders have issues up front, especially with Richard Seymour set to become a free agent. Star Lotulelei of Utah is a freakish physical specimen with outstanding size (6-4, 320) and power but he also possesses rare athleticism and movement skills. In fact, the guy even dropped into coverage at times for the Utes! Lotulelei has drawn favorable comparisons to Haloti Ngata and should be one of the first players off the board on Draft Day
4. Philadelphia (4-12): Luke Joeckel / OT / Texas A&M – Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M is a fantastic technician who has also proven to be more than athletic enough to protect the blindside against some of the most talented defensive linemen in the country after the Aggies moved to the SEC. It’s not a stretch to suggest that Joeckel is every bit as good of a prospect as Matt Kalil was a year ago. With Jason Peters sidelined and now labeled injury prone and the offensive line being ignored for years when it comes down to elite talent, this would be a great start for new coach Chip Kelly
5. Detroit (4-12): Dee Milliner / CB / Alabama – Even though the Lions had an obvious need at the cornerback position last offseason they failed to add a significant free agent, then waited until the third round to draft a cover guy. That decision came back to haunt Detroit as they were forced to play musical chairs in the secondary with a bunch of journeymen and off-the-street free agents. The Lions won’t make that mistake again and adding a top-flight corner will be a priority. Dee Milliner of Alabama is the next in a recent string of top defensive backs produced by the Crimson Tide and is clearly a cut above former teammate Dre Kirkpatrick, who was selected 17th-overall last year himself. A battle-tested corner with a lot of experience against elite competition, Milliner may not be blazing fast but he is big, physical and instinctive with a nose for the ball.
6. Cleveland (5-11): Barkevious Mingo / DE-OLB / LSU – Mingo is an interesting prospect. He is a tweener and with the Browns switching away from the 3-4 defense, this may not be the best fit. However, from a talent standpoint, Mingo is a stud. I have been high on him since his freshman season. He is the prototypical speed rusher and has the ability to stand up. He is a little undersized but makes up for size with athleticism and more. With Jabal Sheard leading the Browns with a mere seven sacks in 2012, another pass rusher would be a great asset in Cleveland.
7. Arizona (5-11): Matt Barkley / QB / USC – USC’s Matt Barkley entered the year as the presumptive favorite to be the No.1-overall pick but a nightmare senior campaign has significantly impacted that standing. There has even been chatter that Barkley could slide out of the first round completely. In the end that probably won’t happen, if for no other reason than there are just too many teams in need of help under center to let a polished, accurate passer with top intangibles fall too far on Draft Day. There are some legitimate concerns with Barkley though, most notably a lack of ideal height (6-1⅞) and average arm strength. Barkley also dealt with a handful of minor injuries during his college career. Barkley has the stigma of being the typical USC quarterback but he has great leadership qualities as well as great anticipation. In the right system he can succeed. The need at quarterback that a team like the Cards will have makes the seventh selection a difficult choice. Take the young signal caller or select a Tackle like Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan and hope a guy like N.C. State QB Mike Glennon or Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson is still there in the second round.
8. Buffalo (6-10): Manti Te’o / LB / Notre Dame – A big, smart, explosive ‘backer with sideline-to-sideline range and top-notch instincts who hits like a ton of bricks, Te’o is also a true team leader both on and off the field. Te’o was recently the victim of a cruel hoax but that controversy probably won’t affect his draft stock much, if at all — Scouts and GM’s will place little to no emphasis on the situation if Te’o interviews well at the Combine. However, he could slide a bit simply because teams don’t usually place a huge emphasis on inside linebackers in the first round. Te’o lost 10 to 15 pounds before the season and improved his speed and fluidity. His dedication to getting better will resonate to scouts and coaches. Ultimately Te’o isn’t an elite athlete and won’t run a blazing 40 time but he will impress with instincts, ability to turn his hips and run in coverage and hands. Bill’s GM Buddy Nix has stated that Te’o is one of their top prospects and when talking to him at the Senior Bowl he placed an emphasis on the fact that best player available will be the direction that they go in. If Te’o is on the board at this point, while not fitting a great need, gives them the best value. If Geno Smith of West Virginia and Matt Barkley of USC were to slide they would be prime selections for Round 1, although the organization has shown interest in North Carolina State QB Mike Glennon too. Buffalo could also wait until the second round and attempt to reunite their new head coach Doug Marrone with Ryan Nassib, his former protégé at Syracuse. If Georgia’s Jarvis Jones were to slide he is exactly the type of impact linebacker they are searching for.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Ezekiel Ansah / DE / BYU – Young, Raw, Long and Athletic. Drawing the comparison to Giants stud defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul, Ansah possesses the same freakish blend of size and speed, along with a motor that never stops. The Jets are lacking in pass rush and off the edge, Ansah could really give the Jets that spark. Rex Ryan is a defensive guy and there is no quarterback worth taking at this point with Barkley and Smith off the board.
10. Tennessee (6-10): Bjoern Werner / DE / Florida State – Werner burst onto the scene last season but was in the shadow of teammates Tank Carradine and Brandon Jenkins. Both suffered injuries but the play of Werner stayed consistent. Young and raw, Werner does not have elite speed but with his combination of top end strength with the maturity of a 10-year veteran, the native German bolsters an above average line as well as adds a little flash to a team who desperately needs it.
11. San Diego (7-9): Eric Fisher / OT / Central Michigan- After Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M Tackle Jake Matthews both decided to go back to school for their senior seasons, Fisher’s eyes went “cha ching”. Similar in many ways to 49ers All-Pro Joe Staley, who also played for the Chippewas, Fisher is super athletic with nimble feet and a long projectable frame and appears perfectly suited to protect the blindside at the next level
12. Miami (7-9): Kenny Vaccaro / S / Texas – Rangy, athletic and coming from a long list of defensive backs hailing from the Longhorn program Vaccaro is regarded as the top safety in this draft by far. Texas might as well be known as “Defensive Back U” considering all of the cornerbacks and safeties the program has produced and Kenny Vaccaro will help to carry on that proud tradition. A well-rounded player who is a factor in both coverage and run support.
13. Tampa Bay (7-9): Jonathan Banks / CB / Mississippi State – The Bucs are forced to reach a bit for Jonathan Banks of Mississippi State. A terrific athlete with great length and good speed, Banks is a playmaker in the secondary and that has been a calling card of Tampa’s defense for more than a decade.
14.Carolina (7-9): Jonathan Hankins / DT / Ohio State – Johnathan Hankins of Ohio St. is an enormous 322-pound space-eater in the middle with surprising quickness and athleticism. Hankins has shown the ability to be a dominant force as a run stuffer and is more disruptive in the backfield than his pedestrian sack totals would lead you to believe.
15. New Orleans (7-9): Sheldon Richardson / DT / Missouri – Sheldon Richardson of Missouri is a former top prep recruit who was forced to go the junior college route due to academic issues but he was certainly worth the wait for Mizzou. A quick, athletic, explosive penetrator with excellent range, Richardson profiles as a disruptive three-technique and could be the difference-maker that Carolina needs on the interior.
16. St. Louis (7-8-1): Jonathan Cooper / OG / North Carolina – North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper may be too good to pass up. Cooper isn’t going to physically manhandle opponents but he is super athletic with excellent mobility and carries a consensus first round grade which is not that far off from Alabama’s Chance Warmack. This may not address the Loo’s greatest need but the organization can’t go wrong protecting their franchise signal caller.
17. Pittsburgh (8-8) Jarvis Jones / OLB / Georgia – Once a top 5 prospect, Jones’ medical history could lead him to potentially fail a physical. Anything dealing with the spine is worth concern. If his medical checks out, a dynamic pass rusher who can wreak havoc off the edge and that is exactly what Jarvis Jones of Georgia does best. In the past two seasons Jones has racked up an eye-popping 44.0 tackles for a loss and 28.0 sacks against elite competition, drawing favorable comparisons to Von Miller. However, there is that medical issue that could potentially send Jones freefalling down draft boards. Jones actually began his college career at USC, where he was diagnosed with a case of spinal stenosis and advised to retire by the Trojans. Needless to say, Jones will be heavily scrutinized in the medical checkups at the Scouting Combine.
18. Dallas (8-8): Chance Warmack / OG / Alabama – It has been 15 years since a true guard was selected in the Top 10 overall. However, it looks like Alabama’s Chance Warmack could be the exception and that really speaks volumes about how highly regarded he is in the scouting community. A wide-bodied, powerful blocker with surprising athleticism, Warmack can anchor at the point of attack in pass protection but is at his best clearing holes in the run game. This wouldn’t be a sexy choice but Warmack would step directly into the starting lineup and stay there for the next decade.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Lane Johnson / OT / Oklahoma – Johnson is a former junior college quarterback who also played defensive end and tight end for the Sooners. Obviously athletic, Johnson isn’t a finished product but possesses all of the tools to protect the blindside in the NFL.
20. Chicago (10-6): Tyler Eifert / TE / Notre Dame – Eifert is essentially a wide receiver in a tight end’s body and a matchup nightmare for defenses. He plays in the mold of Jermaine Gresham but can hold his own as a blocker as well. The addition of a weapon like Eifert would help ensure the continued success of Atlanta’s already potent passing attack, especially in the red zone. Chicago could also stand to upgrade on the interior and while Alabama OG Chance Warmack will more than likely be off the board, North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper could be a possibility. It might be wise to at least consider a linebacker such as Manti Te’o of Notre Dame or Alec Ogletree of Georgia too since Brian Urlacher is nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career.
21. Cincinnati (10-6): Alec Olgetree / MLB-OLB / Georgia – Alec Ogletree will follow in the footsteps of guys like Will Witherspoon, Boss Bailey, Odell Thurman, Dannell Ellerbe, Rennie Curran and Akeem Dent. Even though Ogletree is a tad undersized he compensates with great speed, athleticism and range and he could realistically project either inside or outside at the next level. Ogletree has minor off-the-field issues but character concerns have certainly never bothered the Bengals in the past
22. St. Louis – from Washington(10-6) D.J. Fluker / OT / Alabama – Alabama’s D.J. Fluker is a mountain of a man (6-6, 335) with the ability to stonewall defenders at the point of attack and maul in the running game. Fluker lacks the nimble feet required to play left tackle at the next level but offers elite potential on the right side, especially in a power blocking scheme. With Rodger Saffold and Fluker holding down the edges the Rams will have a quality set of bookends capable of keeping quarterback Sam Bradford upright. Based on their first pick, the Rams could consider drafting OG Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina or Safety Kenny Vaccaro to shore up the backend.
23. Minnesota (10-6): Keenan Allen / WR / Cal – The Vikings are clearly on the right track in their rebuilding effort but it’s imperative that Minnesota juice up their anemic passing attack and provide young quarterback Christian Ponder with some weapons to throw to other than Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph. Cal’s Keenan Allen does not get the type of national media attention that he deserves but pro scouts believe he profiles as a potential go-to target at the next level. A big, smooth athlete with a well-rounded skill set and the ability to create after the catch, Allen would be a perfect fit in Minnesota’s West Coast Offense.
24. Indianapolis (11-5): John Jenkins / DT / Georgia – John Jenkins of Georgia is simply a massive presence up front, checking in at 358 pounds. Jenkins isn’t going to offer much from a pass rush perspective but he is stout at the point of attack with excellent strength and power. As an added bonus, he has experience at both tackle and end in an odd front. Jenkins would be a perfect fit with the 49ers, providing quality depth while being groomed for a starting job down the line. The Colts were predicted to be the worst defense in the league but instead showed to be a lot better than advertised. Along with a young explosive offense, they found their way into the playoffs. In the new 3-4 defense, the Colts will need a big, tough guy lining up at the nose tackle position. Someone to eat up space and that’s exactly what Jenkins gives. If the Colts do opt to go in another direction it will probably be a defensive lineman for their odd front since they don’t currently have any true difference makers up front.
25. Seattle (11-5): Sam Montgomery / DE / LSU – Sam Montgomery of L.S.U. was overshadowed at times while playing on the country’s most talented defensive line but he is a great athlete and disruptive pass rusher with a terrific motor who also has the bulk and strength to be a factor against the run. Montgomery could come off the board much earlier than this but would be a great value if available. Don’t rule out a top wide receiver either because there should be some talented pass catchers available in this range
26. Green Bay (11-5): Eddie Lacy / RB / Alabama – I typically don’t project many running backs into the first round due to their value and shelf life. Eddie Lacy, aka “Circle Button”, really was a workhorse for the Crimson Tide and one of the main reasons they won yet another BCS National title. He is big, strong, and while not overly fast, has deceptive quickness for a bigger running back. Green Bay wants to throw the ball early and often but you have to take pressure off Aaron Rodgers to be perfect no matter how good he is. Rodgers has been the most sacked QB in the NFL. They don’t have a great offensive line, but a solid running game that gets some kind of effective yardage and keeps pressure off Rodgers and the passing game is always a good thing. Montee Ball of Wisconsin could be an option as well. Green Bay will have to find a replacement for the 37-year-old Jeff Saturday at center sooner rather than later. Watch out for either Barrett Jones of Alabama or Travis Frederick of Wisconsin to possibly be taken at this spot as well.
27. Houston (12-4): Deandre Hopkins / WR / Clemson – It’s clear that age is beginning to catch up with Andre Johnson, who is still a very good player but not nearly the dynamic threat he was just a few years ago. At the very least Houston needs to find another pass catcher to compliment Johnson and draw some of the attention from opposing defenses. There are other wideouts in this class that are bigger and faster than DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson which is why he may still be available late in round one. However, Hopkins is a tremendous athlete with reliable hands and terrific ball skills, who also runs excellent routes and can create big plays after the catch. “Nuk” also earns high marks for his competitiveness and overall football intangibles
28. Denver (13-3): Desmond Trufant / CB / Washington – Athletic, confident cover guy with pro bloodlines is exactly what the doctor ordered, especially with Champ Bailey finally showing signs of being long in the tooth. The Broncos need to replenish the secondary. Trufant is a very scrappy, tough, physical player and is able to play up in press as well as off zone. He has a very competitive nature that will take a bit of coaching. Should the Broncos choose to look elsewhere for defensive backfield help, Xavier Rhodes of Florida St. or perhaps even a safety like Eric Reid of LSU would make great fits out in Mile High. Don’t rule out a linebacker either with Kevin Minter of LSU and Arthur Brown of Kansas St. as possible options. One way or another this will more than likely be a defender.
29. New England (12-4): Sylvester Williams / DT / North Carolina – Sylvester Williams of North Carolina isn’t a household name but there are many who feel he is firmly in the first round mix. A terrific athlete with great quickness who explodes off the ball, Williams would be a great fit and value. The Patriots are always looking to get better in the trenches. The Pats could also be in the market for a wide receiver since Wes Welker is a free agent and there are rumors that Brandon Lloyd could be sent packing as well. Some options at wide out could include DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson, Justin Hunter of Tennessee and Terrance Williams of Baylor. Don’t rule out the diminutive but electric Tavon Austin of West Virginia either, who might be a slight reach but would be an ideal replacement for Welker as a dynamic weapon out of the slot. It’s time for New England to bring in some reinforcements at defensive tackle too and there should be a number of enticing options late in round one including Williams, John Jenkins of Georgia, Jesse Williams of Alabama and Kawann Short of Purdue. The Patriots are notoriously active on Draft Day so trading up or down is always a distinct possibility as well.
30. Atlanta (13-3): Zach Ertz / TE / Stanford – With Hall Of Famer Tony Gonzalez most likely retiring, there will be a new era in Atlanta as far as the tight end position is concerned. Ertz is a H-Back type. He has good hands, so you can split him out wide. Such playcalling will result in a big match up problem for defenders on the perimeter. The tight end position was heavily used by Stanford, which got Ertz the attention. Will not give you much as a blocker but his smarts, awareness and ability to be a match up problem will be something teams will deal with for years to come.
31. San Francisco* (11-4-1): Jesse Williams / DT / Alabama – Issac Sopoaga has been injured but a solid inside presence. Giving him a breather as well as putting an inside pass-rusher in as Sopoaga’s rotational backup will be huge for the 49ers.
32. Baltimore (10-6): Kevin Minter / LB / LSU – Ray Lewis has retired and GM Ozzie Newsome has always been great at finding good players — but finding the next Lewis is going to be tough. Kevin Minter is a big solid ‘backer who showed his worth for LSU this season. Great in pass and run coverage. Minter is big enough to fill the hole in the 3-4 defense behind Haloti Ngata. Defensive playmakers at the linebacker and safety spots are critical and will need to be addressed.