Around this time of year, creating mock drafts becomes nearly as exciting as filling out your March Madness bracket. Everyone wants to have the perfect mock draft. Each team selects the player they slotted them to select, with zero mistakes. Perfecting a mock draft is nearly impossible, and almost a waste of time. That’s not a discredit to those of us who spend hours upon end creating them, it’s a credit to how wildly unpredictable the NFL Draft itself has become. We’ve seen the Atlanta Falcons trade up from the very back of the first round, to inside the top 10. The Dallas Cowboys also traded themselves into the top 10 in last year’s draft. These trades, unless predicted in your mock, completely erase any chance of your mock draft being successful.
Let’s not waste any more time, the best and most fun part about this all, is actually seeing the mock draft itself. Below is Draft Insider’s Mock Draft: 2.0. Enjoy, and be sure to engage in conversation via the comments section if you feel you have a better pick.
Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M
While many Chiefs fans will cringe at the sight of their team passing up West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, new Head Coach Andy Reid may very well have to let go of his veteran left tackle Branden Albert. Albert reportedly wants top five type money for his position, all while having back injury concerns. Joeckel is my best available player in this year’s NFL Draft, and Kansas City would be wise to protect whichever quarterback they choose to move forward with, with a durable and athletic player who could start for them for over a decade.
Bjoern Werner DE Florida State
The Jaguars have had a revolving door at defensive end for quite some time now, and claiming for Eagle’s star Jason Babin off waivers did not do them any good. Babin did not produce in the fashion they had hoped when they brought him in, and now Jacksonville finds themselves looking to fill the same need they had just a few months ago. While questions about quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s future continue to circulate around the league, new Head Coach Gus Bradley should look to fortify his defensive unit, and hope that one of the top quarterbacks are still available at the top of round two. Werner is the most versatile defensive end in this year’s Draft, and can either put his hand in the dirt and rush off the edge, or play in a role similar to what Bruce Irvin played for the Seahawks last season.
Geno Smith QB West Virginia
Carson Palmer’s days as a starting quarterback in the NFL are over. If they aren’t, then someone needs to do us all a favor, and make sure that becomes a reality. Palmer began to decline far before he came to Oakland and was only doing himself an absolute disservice by sitting out and demanding a trade while with the Bengals. Terrelle Pryor is not a starting quarterback at the next level, and Geno Smith can come in immediately and turn around what has been an embarrassing franchise over the last decade.
Dee Milliner CB Alabama
Nnamdi Ashomuga and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie turned the “Dream Team” into an absolute nightmare for Eagles fans last season. From their dramatic inconsistencies, and their inability to make any sort of impact on what on paper looked to be a stout defense, Nnamdi and ‘DRC’ have shown no signs that they should be handed a starting job under new Head Coach Chip Kelly in 2013. Dee Milliner could strap up and start in Philadelphia immediately, and would be an immediate upgrade from either Nnamdi or Rogers-Cromartie.
Dion Jordan DE/OLB Oregon
The Lions are only one season removed from their most recent playoff appearance. Why they managed to finish 4-12 this season is a mystery to most. Defense wins championships in the NFL, and the Lions did not have a very good one at all. Cliff Avril may be leaving via free agency, and Kyle Vanden Bosch is not the player he once was. Jordan has the ability to put his hand in the turf, or stand up and rush the edge in Detroit. While Jordan does come with injury concerns, his ceiling is extremely high, and would be a good value pick for Schwartz, and an ailing defensive unit.
Barkevious Mingo DE/OLB LSU
Mingo is one of the nastiest defensive players in this year’s draft, and I am personally excited to see what he does on the field next season. Picture Mingo paired with Jabaal Sheard, now that is something teams will grow to fear over the next few seasons. Mingo’s versatility would bring a scary dynamic to a young and fiery defense. The Browns are on the up and coming, and Mingo only adds to the probability of their future success.
Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan
Before Bruce Arians even thinks about who his starting quarterback will be next season, he needs to make sure he has someone that is going to keep them from having their face in the ground every single play. The Cardinals desperately need a quarterback, which they will be able to find in the second or third round, but they cannot think for a minute that they can walk onto an NFL field in 2013 without upgrading at the offensive tackle position. Fisher is ranked by some as the best tackle in the draft, and would be able to start in Arizona immediately.
Jarvis Jones DE/OLB Georgia
Jarvis Jones is regarded by some around the league as the best defensive player in this year’s draft. My biggest concern with Jones is his neck injury history, that makes me very concerned if i’m an NFL team that’s about to offer him a multi-year contract. Jones is a freakish athlete, with a knack for finding himself around the football. Pair him with Mario Williams, Marcel Dareus, and Jaryius Byrd, and the Bills could begin to compete in the AFC East.
Ezekiel Ansah DE/OLB BYU
Ansah is a scary pick here for me at nine. He is more potential than production, and that is something I rarely ever favor. However, if any team is going to reach this far on a player, it’s going to be Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. The Jets are desperate to turn around a team that once made two consecutive AFC Championships. While drafting a quarterback is certainly an option, Rex will look to excite the fan base with a player that can be a star. Ansah is that player, but always remember, potential over production is a very, very high risk. One that not always comes with a high reward.
10) Tennessee Titans
Chance Warmack OG Alabama
The Buffalo Bills have an absolute need along their offensive line, and it’s at the guard position. Chance Warmack is a bulldozer, and will be able to easily handle himself with the big hog mollies he will face six times a year inside the AFC East. Warmack is a player you can plug into play immediately, and you will see Pro-Bowl caliber production from as soon as he straps on his helmet.
Johnthan Banks CB Mississippi State
Quentin Jammer is not getting any younger, and the Chargers need to find a viable option to replace him with. Banks is a player that could be a top flight corner in the league, in the right system and under the right coaching and mentoring. Jammer would be a great asset to keep around until the bolts think that Banks is ready to lead the secondary on his own.
12) Miami Dolphins
Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee
Ryan Tannehill has shown fans in Miami that is he capable of being their stater for the next decade. Now all Miami has to do is surround their franchise quarterback with play makers. Patterson is a play maker in every sense of the word. He will become Tannehill’s favorite, and most reliable target well before week one.
Star Lotulelei DT Utah
Head Coach Greg Schiano wants to have a tough, physical defense to compete in the NFC South. Drafting Star Lotulelei to pair with Gerald McCoy, who is highly regarded by many people within the organization, would set the bucs up for a huge upswing season in 2013. Star is the best available defensive tackle in this year’s draft, and my second best overall player. His slip is due to positional need, and value. He will be a great fit in Tampa.
Johnathan Hankins DT Ohio State
Defensive Tackle is the biggest position of need for the Panthers, and Johnathan Hankins is now the best available player at his position after seeing the division rival Buccaneers take Star Lotulelei just one pick prior. Hankins is a thumper with great upfield vision who can be slotted in the starting line up immediately, and wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage.
Alec Ogletree LB Georgia
Without a leader in the middle of your defense, you’re not going to go anywhere. The Saints had no voice in the heart of their defense, vocally or by example. Ogletree is a passionate player who can be the leader of this defense for years to come. At this point, any one in the middle would be an upgrade on what was an absolutely putrid defense in 2012. Saints fans should rejoice at the thought of seeing a linebacker here.
16) St. Louis Rams
Kenny Vaccaro S Texas
The Rams are heart broken to see Warmack and Eric Fisher off the board when they select at 16th overall, but they do have other needs that they can address here. Kenny Vaccaro is hands down the most versatile safety in the draft, and has the ability to start at either strong or free safety in St. Louis. Coming off of a stellar Senior campaign, the well rounded Vaccaro will look to carry that momentum into his rookie season, and become an impact player on a young defense looking for talent.
John Jenkins DT Georgia
The Steelers are not expected to sign veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton, and could look to fill that need here in the first round. While the Steelers could look for help at cornerback, or possibly wide receiver if they lose Mike Wallace, Jenkins is a player that can contribute early and often in Pittsburgh.
18) Dallas Cowboys
Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri
With the hiring of former USC Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys will now be running a base 4-3 defense. Sheldon Richardson is the perfect fit in any 4-3 defense, and the Cowboys are lucky to see him fall right into their lap to be the player they can build around for years to come. Richardson is an absolute monster who will cause problems in the NFC East for over a decade.
19) New York Giants
Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma
There is no question that the Giants need a new left tackle. Lane Johnson has gained a tremendous amount of momentum after having a solid week in Mobile during the Senior Bowl. Johnson is a player that is still raw in comparison to players like Joeckel or Fisher, and may need some coaching up before being able to become a start at the next level. However, with that being said, his potential is what has boosted his stock into the first round, and he is worth the 19th overall pick for the Giants to protect Eli Manning.
20) Chicago Bears
Jonathan Cooper OG North Carolina
The Chicago Bears need a savior, and they find theirs in Cooper with the 20th pick. The Bears can’t possibly tell their fan base that they have searched far and wide to find players to protect Jay Cutler. They drafted Gabe Carimi, who turned out to be a complete bust, and also signed a few journeymen veterans who didn’t make even a menial impact. Cooper is regarded by some as the best guard in the draft, and will be able to start immediately in Chicago.
Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M
Moore is projected by some to go in the top five. I agree that he very well could, but out of all of the good pass rushers in this year’s draft, I think Moore could be the one to slide the furthest. Moore would be a great fit with the Bengals on a defensive line that already has an anchor in Geno Atkins.
22) St. Louis Rams (Via Trade w/ Redskins)
Keenan Allen WR California
It’s no secret the Rams need to give quarterback Sam Bradford play makers. Allen is a deep threat that can be what Percy Harvin never was for the Minnesota Vikings. Allen would most likely become Bradford’s main target next season, and for years to come down the road.
23) Minnesota Vikings
Xavier Rhodes CB Florida State
Antoine Winfield is still a viable starting corner in the NFL, but he isn’t getting any younger. The Vikings are in a similar situation to the Chargers, who need to find a player that can be coached up to replace their long time veteran corners. Rhodes is a player that needs mechanical coaching, as well as the right scheme to succeed. Winfield could be the player to coach and mold him to be his successor a few years down the road.
DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson
Andrew Luck had a stellar season in 2012, leading the Colts to the playoffs. Reggie Wayne was his most used play maker, and while the tandem had success, Luck may have very well just burnt whatever tread was left on Wayne’s tires. Hopkins would be in a great situation learning and playing along side one of the most productive wide receivers of the past decade.
25) Seattle Seahawks
Sam Montgomery DE LSU
Pete Carroll loves his pass rushers. His best pass rusher, Chris Clemons will be recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in the latter part of the season. Montgomery fits Carroll’s rush attack system perfectly, and could start in place of Clemons until is healthy enough to return, and then find himself in a similar role to Bruce Irvin’s once Clemons regains his starting job.
Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame
The Packers saw Aaron Rodgers not use Jermichael Finley as often as he’s used his reliable tight end in the past. Finley does have a durability concern, and Eifert is the better overall athlete of the two. Eifert is a tremendous receiving threat and is an asset more than he’s a liability in the run game. He can be a dangerous weapon for a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers.
27) Houston Texans
Tavon Austin WR West Virginia
Andre Johnson is aging, and the Texans need to insert some young talent in the line up at key skill positions if they want to continue to compete with the high octane offenses that are being birthed around the league. The Texans could go offensive line here, but Austin a good value pick here, and could end up being a threat for them in year one.
28) Denver Broncos
Kawaan Short DT Purdue
The Broncos need to address the interior of their defensive line. Short is a player that fits a need here, on a team that doesn’t have many holes. Short can be plugged in to play immediately and any production he offers would be an upgrade from what Denver has had over recent years. Short is a thick body that can bull rush his way into the pocket, and will become a problem for opposing offensive units early in his career.
Sharrif Floyd DT Florida
Vince Wilfork is getting up in age, and needs a player to spell him when his lack of conditioning kicks in. While Floyd does come with unwanted baggage, his versatility to play either nose tackle or defensive end in a 3-4 scheme is why I believe Belichick would reach for him in the first round. Floyd possesses top ten talent. His off the field concerns and questions about his laziness is what attributed to his fallen stock.
30) Atlanta Falcons
Zach Ertz TE Stanford
Tony Gonzalez announced this past summer that 2012 would be his final season, and he stuck to his word after the Falcons lost in the NFC Championship game. Ertz would be a viable option here at 30 for the falcons, although there is talk that they want to upgrade their defensive line.
31) Baltimore Ravens
Kevin Minter LB LSU
Ray Lewis will retire after the Super Bowl, regardless of whether or not he holds up the Lombardi Trophy one more time. The Ravens will be smart to fill that need as fast as they can. Minter is the second best available linebacker in this year’s draft, and would be around a ton of veteran talent that will help him be an asset from day one.
David Amerson CB North Carolina State
On a stout defense, one of the weakest areas is the corner back position for the 49ers. Amerson would be an immediate upgrade and would fill a need as well. As the possible defensing Super Bowl Champions, the 49ers won’t find themselves with very many needs heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, but instead will have the luxury of taking the best player available. They get both by drafting Amerson.
Many people were surprised to see Manti Te’o did not make it in the first round when we live tweeted our mock draft. Te’o to me is nearly untouchable. I know some team will overlook his hoax scandal because of the talent he possesses. However, I personally feel Te’o is a cancer to a locker room and is not worth a first round selection. There was also backlash about only having one quarterback projected to go in the first round. There are a plethora of viable veteran quarterbacks who will be hitting the market for Free Agency, and with a weak quarterback class, teams may look to use those veterans as “band aids” until a stronger quarterback class is available.
As we mentioned before, no mock draft is perfect, and no one that creates them is trying to be perfect. This is one of the best parts of the NFL Draft, and it’s exciting to see so many different ideas on one topic. We hoped you enjoyed reading Draft Insider’s Mock Draft: 2.0 and we hope you will continue to check back often here at NFL Mocks as we look to consistently provide you with the best NFL Draft news there is to offer.