Chris Gross sits down with former Denver Broncos’ General Manager Ted Sundquist for part 2 of their NFL Draft discussion.
Welcome back to part 2 of our 2013 NFL Draft discussion with former NFL General Manager Ted Sundquist. If you missed part 1, be sure to check that out here, while learning more about the work Mr. Sundquist has done throughout him time in the league.
Today, we talk impending contract situations, “boom or bust” prospects, drafting value over need & vice versa, draft planning, and General Manager/Head Coach dynamic in relation to the NFL Draft.
Chris Gross sits down with former Denver Broncos’ General Manager, Ted Sundquist, to discuss the ins and outs of all things NFL Draft.
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with former Denver Broncos’ General Manager, Ted Sundquist, of TheFootballEducator.com and Eye-Draft.com to discuss the ins and outs of the NFL Draft. We talked about topics ranging from scouting, strategy, evaluating, and beyond. Mr. Sundquist has provided us with some fantastic, first hand, insight that you will not find anywhere else.
The Turn On The Jets Draft Team takes a look at potential Inside Linebacker prospects for the Jets in the 2013 NFL Draft.
In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that, although may not seem as bad as it looks on the surface, could still benefit from some depth additions, while building toward the future. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of potential inside linebackers that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best additions to New York’s interior linebacking corps. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, offensive linemen, defensive tackles, and defensive ends/outside linebackers.
Also, be sure to look for part 1 of our 2 part draft interview with former Denver Broncos’ General Manager, Ted Sundquist, of TheFootballEducator.com and Eye-Draft.com. Mr. Sundquist was kind enough to sit down with us and provide some excellent insight on all things NFL Draft. This will be a must read for any of our draftniks and New York Jets/NFL fans. If you aren’t already doing so, be sure to give Ted a follow on Twitter and to check out TFE and Eye-Draft for more fantastic NFL Draft insight and interaction.
In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position in dire need of a substantial upgrade. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential 3-4 defensive end/outside linebackers that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York’s defensive edge and pass rush. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, offensive linemen, and defensive tackles.
The TOJ Draft staff looks at what interior defensive lineman the New York Jets should consider in the upcoming NFL Draft
In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that, although very promising, will almost surely need some added depth this offseason. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential interior defensive linemen that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York’s defense to add up front. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and offensive linemen.
The interior defensive line situation for the Jets is quite interesting heading into the offseason. New York surely has young staples up front in Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, as well as Kenrick Ellis, who flashed brilliance at times last season but struggled to stay healthy. Conversely, the Jets face questions regarding key players on the defensive front. Mike DeVito is an impending unrestricted free agent, and his price tag could end up driving him out of New York. While he is certainly not as flashy as the defensive ends aforementioned, DeVito is the blue collared, lunch pale type player that is a necessity to any defensive line. While it will be difficult to replace a player like DeVito, there are certainly a good amount of players of his mold at defensive tackle in this year’s draft class.
On a similar note, the Jets have uncertainty with nose tackle Sione Po’uha. Po’uha had arguably his least productive season as a Jet last year, largely due to a lingering back issue that hampered his ability to get off the ball and maintain leverage throughout the season. A release of Po’uha is seemingly imminent as it would clear some much needed cap space for Gang Green, while paving the way for Ellis to take over as the full time starter.
The situations of DeVito and Po’uha leave the Jets with some subtle needs along the defensive line. While it would be ill advised for New York to select a defensive tackle in the first round, considering the immense amount of need throughout the entire roster, do not be surprised to see one or two picks used on a defensive lineman this year, depending on how free agency plays out. With that being said, let’s take a look at who could be on the Jets radar come April. Continue reading “New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Defensive Tackle”
Chris Gross with his second big board of NFL Draft Season. Who is rising and falling?
With the Senior Bowl in the books and the NFL Combine just two weeks away, we are beginning to get a better idea of where each NFL Draft prospect will rank among draft boards leading into April. Although there will likely be a few dramatic changes following Combine and Pro-Day performances, there are still an abundant amount of prospects whose value remains relatively clear at this point. Today, we bring you our first update of the Turn On The Jets 2013 NFL Draft Big Board. As more of the events aforementioned run their course, this board is surely subject to change, but for now let’s look at where each prospect ranks to current date.
1.) Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama – 6″3″ 320 lbs: No change at the top for now, as Warmack is still the best player at his position in the entire country. He was the best offensive lineman on a team that ran for an average of 224 yards per game out of a pro-style offense in the SEC. Warmack has excellent strength at the point of attack, and combined with his fantastic footwork and ability to get to the second level. Warmack will be NFL ready from day one and should start right from the get go for whichever team selects him this April. It is a bit unclear where he may go, considering the value of the Guard position, but make no mistake, Warmack is one of the most talented players in the draft pool this year. Previously: 1
2.) Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia –6’3″ 241 lbs: Jones is probably the most balanced linebacker in this year’s class. While he has the ability to be an effective 4-3 OLB, his combination of strength, explosiveness, and pass rushing technique make him an ideal fit as a 3-4 DE/OLB. Jones has the size and long frame to become a nuisance to offensive tackles in the NFL, and combined with his speed, agility, and relentless motor, he will be ready to come in and start for whichever team he ends up with from day 1. He has been declared by some to not have the ideal bend around the corner in his pass rush, but his film shows these notions to be untrue. Outside of Texas A & M’s Damontre Moore, Jones is the most dynamic pass rusher in a class that is full of them, but also displays a superior ability in coverage. Against the run, he struggled at times when facing the double team at Georgia, but in a 3-4 scheme with quality lineman in front of him, this should not be a concern, as he will likely see more isolation blocks against the tight end, and with his ability to set the edge, he should excel against the run, as well. Previously: 3
3.) Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M –6’6″ 310 lbs: Joeckel leads a very strong class of offensive tackles this year. A stalwart to the Aggies offense that yielded 2012′s Heisman Trophy winner, Joeckel fits the Matt Kalil, Jake Long, and Joe Thomas profiles as one of the NFL’s next great offensive tackles. While his size and strength are a key factor to what make him so great, it is his tremendous footwork that will allow him to be a day 1 starter when he enters camp. Joeckel will be NFL ready from day 1, like Warmack, but will face some competition for the top tackle spot after a strong Senior Bowl performance from Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. Previously 4
4.) Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M –6’4″ 248 lbs: Moore has the rare versatility to play standing up or with his hand on the ground, making him a perfect fit for any 3-4 defense in need of a pass rusher. However, he certainly has the frame and technique to be a stellar 4-3 end, where he may have more success at the next level, depending on how much weight he will be able to add. Either way, Moore is an extremely versatile prospect with a natural ability to rush the passer, something that is of high priority in today’s NFL. He accumulated 12.5 sacks this season largely due to his arsenal of pass rush moves and great ability to dip his hips and shoulders to get by opposing offensive lineman. Previously: 5
The TOJ Draft Staff looks at what offensive lineman the New York Jets can target in the NFL Draft
In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that will certainly be needed to added to via the draft. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential offensive linemen that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York to add up front. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterback targets and potential running back targets, for the Jets.
Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama – 6’2″ 325 lbs – Warmack is arguably the best player at his position in the entire draft class. With New York likely losing at least one of last year’s starting guards to free agency, this position is among their greatest needs. Warmack would be an incredibly safe pick at 9th overall, but could possibly be attained if the Jets decide to trade down a few spots, considering the guard position isn’t normally valued as a top 10 pick. However, Warmack could be an exception to that notion considering his immense strength, footwork, hand placement, and ability to both drive defenders off of the ball and get to linebackers at the second level. Warmack is the total package. He is big, strong, quick, and incredibly tenacious. Selecting him in the first round would give New York stability at guard for the next decade.
Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina – 6’3″ 320 lbs –Cooper, although not quite the player Warmack is just yet, is undoubtedly the second best guard in the draft this year. Although Cooper does not possess the overall strength that Warmack does, he is incredibly quick for the position, slides his feet very well in pass protection, and uses his hands like a polished NFL veteran. Cooper will likely be a late 1st, early 2nd round pick, and if the Jets decide to pass on Warmack in the 1st, look for Cooper to be the guy with the 39th overall selection. His agility and strength in zone blocking will make him an ideal fit in Marty Mornhinweg’s system.
Barrett Jones, Guard/Tackle/Center, Alabama – 6’5″ 302 lbs – Jones is the only player in the history of the NCAA to win a National Championship while starting at each position on the offensive line. His versatility up front is unparalleled, which would give a team like the Jets some much needed flexibility in terms of depth on the offensive line. He is extremely intelligent, but has all the physical tools, as well with great strength, leverage, footwork, and overall quickness. His leadership is above and beyond any other lineman in the draft, and his toughness is unheard of, as was displayed by his admission to having played in the National Championship game while suffering from a Lisfranc injury. Jones could end up being a 3rd-4th rounder, with a chance of going in the late second. If the Jets decide to focus on positions outside of the offensive line with their first two picks, Jones is a player that must be on the radar in round 3.
Brian Schwenke, Guard/Center, California – 6’3″ 311 lbs –Although not quite as versatile as Jones, Schwenke proved to be effective at both guard and center last week at the Senior Bowl. His quickness is among the best at the position this year, and although he isn’t necessarily the most physically strong player, he makes up for it with his excellent technique and tremendous use of leverage. He shows very good feet in pass protection, and a very good ability to chip off of double teams onto linebackers at the second level. Like Jones, his versatility will be a plus moving forward. Schwenke is likely more of a 4-6 round player.
Larry Warford, Guard, Kentucky – 6’3″ 325 lbs – One of the heavier guards of the class, Warford certainly is not the typical immobile big man. As put on display in the Senior Bowl, Warford is deceptively quick, with a much better ability to get to the second level than the eye would tell upon initial impression. He has shown to be effective as a puller, as well, as he has an uncanny ability to maintain his feet and balance when blocking defenders in space. The combine will be big for Warford in terms of where he ends up being selected, but as of now he would hold solid value in rounds 3-4.
The Jets have an issue on the interior of their Offensive Line. No starting caliber Guards are on the roster. Slauson and Moore and Unrestricted Free Agents, and Vlad Ducasse isn’t starting caliber. Austin Howard was better than some people thought. His run blocking is really good. His pass protection is about average and there is room for improvement. Another thing is that he became a victim of Mark Sanchez holding onto the ball too long. With the switch to the West Coast offense, it should simplify things for Sanchez, thus making the O-Line not have to block for a full 8 seconds. You can’t expect linemen to block for that long without holding or giving up a sack. Just like you can’t expect much from a CB when plays break down and the WR improvises to meet the QB.
Based on need, the Jets need to leave this draft with 2 Guards, a Tackle and a Center for depth. Let’s look at the top 5 Offensive linemen the Jets should look at and where they should draft them:
Chance Warmack- Guard- Alabama- 6’3” 320 lbs- Quite simply, Warmack is the best. He is the best Guard in the draft and the Jets would be wise to use the 9th overall pick on him. Putting him between Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson would be incredible. The left side of the offensive line would be excellent and the running backs would have absolutely gaping holes to run through. Warmack will be a Pro Bowler sooner rather than later in his career. Not to mention, having a really, really good Offensive Line is at the foundation of every team that is a contender. 1st round. 9th pick.
Johnathan Cooper- Guard/Center- University of North Carolina- 6’3” 310 lbs- Cooper is the second best guard in the draft. He gets set quickly, has active feet and great hands. He is a really good run blocker and an even better pass blocker. He will be a starter in the league next year barring anything unforeseen. Since he is the second best guard in the draft, he will be taken in the 1st round, it is just a matter of when. If the Jets manage to trade down or get another 1st round pick, they can take Cooper in the middle to end of the 1st round and that would be a good get. You can still smack him between Feguson and Mangold and have an incredibly dominant left side. The drop off between Cooper and Warmack isn’t big enough where getting Cooper is “settling.”
Larry Warford- Kentucky- Guard- 6’3” 336- Warford was really good the whole week of the Senior Bowl and in the game itself. He was moving linemen all over the field, showing glimpses of Brandon Moore in his prime. Above average at run and pass protection and best suited as a Right Guard. He has a good lower body to drive defenders off the ball and can get out quickly when pulling. For his size, he has good straight-line speed, as well. Some cons are that he falls off blocks because of lunging occasionally, but that is a tendency that can be broken. He also dips his head in open space at times. He has a lot of experience with 25 starts and 35 appearances. After the Senior Bowl, his stock shot up a bit. He can likely be had in the late 1st round to the middle of the 2nd round. Once again, taking him with the Jets current 2nd round pick would only happen if they addressed a different need in the 1st round.
Barrett Jones- Alabama- Guard/Center/Tackle- 6’5” 311-Barrett Jones was probably the most experienced and versatile person on the best O-Line in the country at Alabama. I say more versatile because he has played at every spot on the line. On the three championship teams in ’09, ’11, ’12 he played Right Guard, Left Tackle, and Center, respectively. He is the ultimate depth-machine and would hold great value with the Jets. I saw a lot of grit and toughness from him while I watched him this last year. He played really well, and apparently, he was playing with a Lisfranc injury that he just recently got surgery on. Drafting Jones is a tough question to answer because we haven’t seen him since the Championship game because of his foot surgery. I think at latest he will get drafted by the second round.
Joe Madsen- West Virginia- Center- 6’4” 310 lbs-Throughout the week at the Senior Bowl, Madsen looked real good. He was moving D-Linemen all over the place and looked technically sound. For the Jets, he could be drafted to acquire depth. Madsen can sit behind one of the best Centers in the league and learn. Not only that, he can also learn other positions so he can be more helpful to the Jets as a team. I can see him getting drafted in the 4th or 5th round. He still has some work to do to be a starting caliber lineman in the NFL, but I can assure you he is already better than Vlad Ducasse.
Free agency is forcing the Jets to make a decision on the interior of the offensive line heading into the offseason. Brandon Moore isn’t getting any younger, and Matt Slauson was so bad in run blocking situations that Vlad Duccasse was actually seen as an improvement. With those questions looming, finding at least one guard in April’s NFL Draft has got to be a focus for the Jets.
While there’s the perceived notion that the Jets offensive line stinks, the truth is that it’s easily the most noticeable strength of a pathetic Jets offense. Austin Howard improved at right tackle throughout the season, and D’Brickashaw Fergusonand Nick Mangold both continued playing at a high level. The real issues on the line include a lack of depth, Slauson’s limitations as a blocker, and Moore’s age and contract concerns.
Personally, I can’t justify using the ninth overall pick on a guard—but anything goes on day two and beyond. Here’s a few offensive lineman that should be on the Jets radar moving forward:
Justin Pugh, Guard, Syracuse –6’5″ 301 lbs: Pugh spent three years playing the left tackle position for Syracuse, but after a very impressive showing at guard during the Senior Bowl, he’s now ranked among the top interior lineman in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Coming into the Senior Bowl the biggest knocks on Pugh were tied to his physical drawbacks and his struggles protecting the edge against some of the more ferocious pass rushers. But with the move inside, those deficiencies become less significant, allowing his more impressive attributes to boost him up draft boards.
As a guard, Pugh’s speed and movement help him reach the second level in a hurry, and while he still needs to add some size and refine the use of his hands, he is certainly an intriguing option to replace Matt Slauson at left guard.
Barrett Jones, Guard, Alabama- 6’5″ 302 lbs:– As Jets fans have seen in recent years, when Nick Mangold goes down, things get ugly…and fast. Although Jones would be best suited as a guard in New York, his résumé at Alabama illustrates extreme versatility on the offensive line; including two years at guard, one year at tackle, and another at center.
Versatility like that is tough to ignore, and it would certainly be convenient to have a viable option to move around the offensive line if need be.
Brian Winters, Offensive Tackle, Kent St– 6’4″ 310 lbs: Winters is another college tackle that appears better suited to play guard at the next level, mostly due to his wide base and good body control.
A blocker that on relies more on brute strength and toughness than anything else, Winters is quick off the snap and does a good job of using his hands to engage the defender. Although Winters likely has the size to play right tackle in the NFL –and while he lacks experience playing on the interior- developing as a guard may be his best bet moving forward. Projected to go sometime in the third or fourth round, Winters could be an interesting project for the Jets.
Jonathan Cooper, Offensive Guard, North Carolina –6’3″ 320 lbs: He’s the highest-rated lineman on my list, but in no way do I condone this selection with the ninth pick in the draft. Realistically, there’s no way Cooper falls into the second round, but he could be an option for the Jets if a “trade down scenario” plays out in April.
Cooper is so highly touted mostly due to his impressive speed, lateral movement, and footwork, along with his enormous frame. Cooper’s explosiveness and balance also are very apparent when watching tape, as he’s able to get to the second level with ease. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him climb into the top 20.
The TOJ Draft staff looks at what wide receivers the New York Jets could target in April’s draft
In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that, although is not a top need, wouldn’t hurt from the addition of a playmaker. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential wide receivers that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York at wide receiver. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterback targets and potential running back targets, for the Jets.
Keenan Allen, California, 6’3″ 206 lbs –While it is highly unlikely that Allen will fall to the Jets in the 2nd round, crazier things have happened on draft day. If Allen were to slip down to the 39th overall pick, it would be extremely difficult for New York to pass up on him, despite having taken a wide receiver in the 2nd round of last year’s draft. While Stephen Hill hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential yet, the new front office in New York is in no way married to him as a piece of the puzzle moving forward. While there is no reason to give up hope on Hill yet, Allen is a tremendous talent that would hold excellent value as an early 2nd rounder.
Allen is a big body at 6’3″ and possesses above average top end speed, with very good ball skills and athletic ability. He has some of the strongest hands out of any player at his position in this year’s class and does a very good job of getting to the ball at its highest point.
Most importantly, however, is Allen’s character. He has been highly praised by coaches and teammates alike for his work ethic and overall coach-ability. He puts in an extensive amount of time studying film, as well as in the weight room. Everyone that has been close to him during his career at California seemingly cannot say enough about his drive and desire to better himself everyday. On an offense that is in dire need of attitude like Allen’s, combined with what can become elite playmaking ability, he would be an excellent selection at the 39th overall pick, despite the improbability that he falls that far. Still, a name to keep an eye on.
Robert Woods, USC, 6’1″ 190 lbs – Woods has flown a bit under the radar as of late, but his immense production as a Trojan should not be forgotten. Woods has adequate size, but the top end speed that can certainly stretch a defense and give his offense a real home run threat. Woods has sure hands and demonstrates a very quick initial burst off the line of scrimmage. He isn’t the most polished route runner, but he shows an ability to adjust his routes based on coverage and has knack for finding the holes in a zone, something that could allow him to thrive in an offense like Marty Mornhinweg’s. He is an extremely competitive player who will always fight for extra yards after the catch and, like Allen, puts in numerous hours in film study and in his physical training. Depending on how he performs at the combine, Woods could end up being a 2-3 round pick.
Tavon Austin, West Virginia, 5’8″ 173 lbs –While Austin certainly does not have the size of the previous two players, his speed and quickness are nearly unparalleled. He needs some fine tuning in his overall route running and ability to get off of press coverage, but Austin has the tools to be a weapon in a scheme like Mornhinweg’s. Picture him in a role similar to what DeSean Jackson had in Philadelphia under Mornhinweg, but a bit more versatile, as he has experience running the ball as well.
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 5’11” 182 lbs – Wheaton, like Austin, doesn’t have tremendous size, but is another receiver with big play ability. He does a good job of finding holes in zone coverage, and his excellent footwork and agility allow him to come in and out of his breaks with great fluidity, making curls, hitches, and comeback routes seemingly painless for him. Wheaton is also a very tough player, reportedly having played through some significant bumps and bruises at Oregon State. A fairly strong week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl will likely help his stock.
Terrance Williams, Baylor, 6’2″ 201 lbs – The size and talent are certainly there for Williams, who can create excellent separation while maintaining an ability to properly adjust his routes when needed. The biggest question marks with Williams are his character. He has been cited for immaturity, and although has the ability to run good routes, can tend to get lazy at times. This will likely cause him to fall into the mid-late rounds, but if New York feels that his talent is good enough to take a chance on getting his mind and work ethic right, he could be worth a flyer in rounds 4-6.
The Jets can likely go into camp next year with a healthy and hopefully motivated Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Jeremy Kerley and have a group that can be sufficient, while continuing to develop 2012 2nd round pick Stephen Hill. Behind the receivers aforementioned, Hill can play without pressure to perform and get better naturally instead of being forced into a role beyond his capacity. Other than these 4 receivers, the Jets should build WR depth with 1 or 2 late picks in the draft.
Late 1st – Early 2nd
4th – 5th
4th – 5th
5th – 6th
If DeAndre Hopkins (82 rec, 1405 yds, 18 TDs) is available in the 2nd round, the Jets should snag him and not look back. Hopkins and Sammy Watkins were supposed to lead Clemson’s receiving corps, but Hopkins ended up outshining Watkins for the majority of the season. As far as receiving goes, he runs great routes, has great hands, and is a burner. He has the ability to beat a defense with precise routes or the deep ball. With the Jets going to a West Coast offense, this will be slam dunk if they can snag him. Watching film on Hopkins, he flashes some talent that resembles that of Julio Jones. Watkins will be tough to get, but if he falls to the Jets, there is a good chance New York looks long and hard at him.
Kenny Stills (82 rec, 959 yds, 11 TDs) was always a very consistent receiver for Oklahoma and quarterback Landry Jones. He is a decent blocker and needs to work on attacking the ball in mid air. Stills has great hands and can develop into a good NFL receiver. He can get separation from defenders and has deceptive speed. He had a small issue with a DUI but it was an isolated incident so I don’t believe it should be considered a major issue. He has average size but can make a play after the catch and is superbly athletic and flexible, which is important for WRs.
Quinton Patton (104 rec, 1392 yds, 13 TDs) was electric in his senior year at Louisiana Tech. He went against Mississippi State corner Johnthan Banks (possible 1st round pick) and after the game; Banks said he was the best WR he played against. Against Texas A&M, a team out of the SEC, he had 21 catches for 233 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is a strong receiver who can get separation and is also good enough attacking coverage to separate and create with the ball in his hands. He is very good at tracking the ball in the air, has quick feet and good coordination. He won’t test extremely well at the combine and coming from a smaller school may hurt his stock, but he can take the next step and play at an NFL level. There is a chance he is taken within the first 4 rounds, but if he slips, he could hold great value in rounds 5-7.
Tavarres King (42 rec, 950 yds, 8 TDs) has consistently jumped off of his college film at Georgia. While his stats aren’t over the top, he has the skill set to be an NFL caliber receiver. From going up to pluck the ball out of the air to getting separation, he can seemingly do it all, he just needs to be more consistent. This would be a developmental pick, but would give the Jets decent depth at the position in 2013. He can beat defenders over the top with straight-line speed and shows good stop, start, go type elusiveness to make defenders miss. He is above average at getting off press coverage, which makes sense because he played in the physical SEC. He would be a good get in the 5th or 6th round to help out the current Jets receiving corp.
The Jets wide receiver group has a number of questions that need to be answered as they prepare for the 2013 season, highlighted by a new-look offense and the continued absence of a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
The biggest challenge the group of wide receivers face coming into the season will be transitioning into Marty Mornhigweg’s “West Coast Offense”, which hinges on precise route running, sure handedness, and the ability to gain yards after the catch. Santonio Holmes, who essentially assumed No. 1 receiver duties by default, should thrive in the system—assuming he’s able to return fully from Lisfranc surgery, and stay motivated. The Jets will likely need to make it work with Holmes considering questions surrounding his rehab and his bloated salary will certainly limit trade options.
With Holmes injured, Jeremy Kerley emerged at the position to lead the Jets with 56 receptions and 827 yards in 2012. Kerley will likely continue building on his success in the pass-happy WCO, able to line up both at the flanker and slot position. But fans will have to wait to see what recently hired GM John Idzik decides to do regarding Braylon Edwards, although it makes sense to bring him back on a one-year deal, especially considering Stephen Hill’s infinite number of issues as a rookie.
With little wiggle room in the salary cap, the most likely scenario for the Jets is to select a receiver in April.
Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech, 6’0”, 202 lbs: Currently slotted to go somewhere in rounds two or three, Patton could find his way into the Draft’s top 40 picks by the time April comes around—especially considering the attention that he’s garnered during the first few days of Senior Bowl practice.
While he may lack the ideal strength and top end speed of an elite NFL receiver, the Louisiana Tech senior is still quick off the line of scrimmage, a very good route runner, and has the ability to consistently gain separation from defenders with his shiftiness and head fakes.
Patton will likely need to add strength in the coming months, as he has shown a tendency to have the ball stripped out of his hands before he can secure the catch.
Conner Vernon, Duke, 6’1”, 200 lbs: Vernon is a very interesting Day 2 option that displays reliable hands, crisp route running, and the versatility to play multiple receiver positions in the NFL.
The ACC’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards lacks ideal speed to thrive consistently on the outside in the NFL, but makes up for it with his precise route running and shiftiness in traffic, as well as his ability to find space in the defense.
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 6’1”, 183 lbs: Wheaton is another receiver likely to go early in Day 2. The Oregon State all-time leader in receptions boasts tremendous speed and solid route running, but his overall strength and the reliability of his hands are concerns.
Wheaton’s speed is clearly his biggest selling point and will certainly help him gain attention from NFL teams looking to stretch the field. But it’s his route running and ability to break tackles that help him turn short passes into long gains, making him a very interesting option for a team running a WCO.
Chris Harper, Kansas State, 6’1”, 228 lbs: Harper is a big-bodied receiver who possesses deceptive speed and is sure to get comparisons to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin (6’1”, 220lbs) as April approaches.
While he lacks some quickness at the line of scrimmage, as well as the quick twitch some like to see in the NFL, it’s his deceptive buildup speed that allows him sneak behind defensive backs downfield.
Never afraid to go up and fight for the ball, the former Oregon quarterback also uses his size as an advantage, regularly punishing tacklers.
Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Washington, 6’4”, 214 lbs: Projected as a Day 3 selection, Kaufman boasts consistent and precise route running as well as reliable hands. While he lacks elite speed, he is deceptively fast considering his build, and has no problems lowering his shoulder into an oncoming defender.
His consistency on the field is what has most scouts impressed, despite playingagainst a lower level of competition at Eastern Washington. If still on the board in Round 6, he’s certainly an interesting option.
Chris Gross breaks down the Senior Bowl as he further previews the 2013 NFL Draft
With one of the most important events in the pre-draft process officially in the books, future NFL hopefuls will now return to their respective regions of training with intentions to get themselves in the best physical shape possible for the upcoming NFL Combine. While prospects are sure to see their stocks rise and fall in the coming weeks, mostly for a variety of factors that will be taken into account in the months leading to April, the 2013 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama told us a lot about the names to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Some players solidified notions that were already established, while others went above and beyond the expectations many had for them entering last week’s practices, and ultimately through the game on Saturday. Others, unfortunately, may have hurt their stock by either not participating or by disappearing on the stage.
Let’s take a look at some names that were undoubtedly the top performers from Saturday’s Senior Bowl, followed by a brief overview of some other names we are likely to discuss in the coming weeks.
Ezekiel Ansah – DE, BYU – There has been a good amount of buzz surrounding Ansah in recent weeks. A very intriguing prospect due to his superior athleticism and physical prowess, Ansah certainly has his question marks as an inexperienced player, having played the sport for the first time just two years ago. However, there is no denying that Ansah was the best player on the field on Saturday.
While he showed some signs of struggle during the week of practice, Ansah put a lot of questions to bed by showing that he may not be as raw as the popular perception seems to be. The presumption that Ansah is a physically gifted, but extremely raw player, has stemmed primarily from his lack of experience. While he is by no means fundamentally and technically perfect, Ansah showed much more football skill, beyond his superior athleticism, than people have given him credit for.
Aside from using his speed and brute strength to win his battles against opposing offensive lineman, Ansah displayed a consistent ability to maintain leverage against his blocker, while showing excellent reaction time and an ability to shed blocks. During the week of practice, it seemed as though Ansah was trying to get by solely on physicality, as he was repeatedly beaten on technique and fundamentals. However, during the game, Ansah showed that, not only is he as physically gifted as many have thought, but he is a much closer to becoming a complete football player than what is perceived.
Ansah repeatedly reacted to blocks as if he had been playing the game to a time-span closer to a decade, rather than two years. When the opposing tackle would block down, Ansah would play it perfectly by striking the outside shoulder and reacting to what was coming next. If it was a pulling offensive lineman coming down hill to kick him out, Ansah did not waste a second to spill the play by attacking the inside shoulder of the blocker. If it was boot or sprint out to his side, Ansah would settle in after striking the offensive lineman, remain patient, rather than getting lured upfield, and pounce on the passer.
Ansah should a tremendous ability to set the edge against outside runs and fantastic strength and leverage against inside runs, often times driving the opposing offensive lineman into the backfield, while rarely giving up any ground. In short, he is much more NFL ready than we thought a week ago.
Being such a physical freak will now only benefit Ansah in the coming weeks. He will likely have a tremendous combine, and after he posts what is expected to be head turning numbers for his position, scouts will take a closer look at the tape and realize he is very close to being the total package. A top ten selection is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities for Ansah.
Eric Fisher – OT, Central Michigan –We knew a lot about Fisher’s ability going into last week, but he did even more to surpass the high expectations. All week in practice, Fisher displayed excellent technique in his footwork, hand placement, and ability to play low and get underneath defenders. He is extremely quick, has excellent balance, possesses a tremendous combination of both upper and lower body strength, and has the tenacity necessary for the position. He showed he can effectively pull with above average speed and ability to locate and block defenders in space. Fisher is undoubtedly going to challenge Texas A & M’s Luke Joeckel for the top offensive tackle in this year’s class. Barring some drastic unforeseen disaster at the combine, he is a sure top ten selection.
Kawann Short – DT, Purdue – A lot of people will talk about North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams as being the player to rise up draft boards and challenge Star Lotulelei and Sheldon Richardson as the top defensive tackle in this year’s class, but Short joined that conversation with a tremendous effort on Saturday. Short has immense size at 6’3″ 315 lbs which contributes to his fantastic strength, but where he really stood out on Saturday was in his quickness and hand speed. Short showed an excellent ability to constantly keep the opposing offensive lineman’s hands off of him, something that can become insanely frustrating to anyone attempting to block him. He can rush the passer from the interior with his brute strength, and just when the guard or center thinks they have his arsenal of moves figured out, he throws in a quick hand strike and club, using their aggressiveness against them, often leaving them falling face first on the ground while Short is wreaking havoc in the backfield. As it stands now, he is on the fringe of the first and second rounds, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him sneak into the bottom half of the first. Still, don’t expect him to fall far if he makes it past the super bowl winner at 32.
Brian Schwenke – C/G, California –Schwenke was one of the most pleasant surprises of the afternoon. Not only was his versatility as both a guard and center on display – he took significant reps at each position – but he displayed some of the best footwork out of every interior lineman in the contest. Schwenke has a very good initial first step, very good short yardage quickness, and a fantastic ability to get off of double teams and get to the second level. When matched up against North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams, a projected first round pick, Schwenke held him in check the majority of the time, particularly against the pass. Schwenke did drop his head a couple of times, once that resulted in a quarterback sack, but he played an overall outstanding game. His ability to play both center and guard will only help his stock moving forward.
Larry Warford – G, Kentucky – Warford was certainly one of the biggest bodies at the Senior Bowl all week (6’3″ 343 lbs), but he is deceptively quick for that immense size. He showed the ability to pull a few times, but also displayed excellent footwork in the five yard box in the trenches. He is more of a power player, but his ability to get to the second level should not be discounted one bit.
Vince Williams – ILB, Florida State – Williams was a late invitee to the game, but certainly took advantage of the opportunity to showcase himself. He was arguably the toughest player on the field for the majority of the time, something obviously crucial to the position he plays, and brought a level of intensity to his defense that seemed to inspire the play of those around him. Williams lacks the elite top end speed of an inside linebacker, but makes up for it with tremendous instincts, quickness, and ability to shed blocks. His drive and tenacity are among what makes him stand out as well. The combine will tell more about where Williams will likely be drafted, but as a mid-round prospect, he could end up being a steal.
Jonathan Cyprien – S, Florida International –In the absence of Texas S Kenny Vaccaro, Cyprien made his case as one of the top safeties in this year’s class. Cyprien showed very good awareness, ball skills, and an ability to get in and out of his breaks at a level need for success at the next level. Coaches raved about his work ethic and football IQ all week, something that will help his stock as scouts do their research on him. While he may not come from a top NCAA program, Cyprien could surprise many at the next level. Like so many others, the combine will be big for him.
Marquise Goodwin – WR, Texas – While Goodwin does not have the size of a primary receiver in the NFL, he made his case as someone who could become a very good slot receiver/utility man in the NFL. Goodwin was constantly finding ways to make plays with the ball in his hands, something that speaks volumes when considering the abysmal quarterbacking that was on display. With many NFL teams looking for players to put in versatile roles, like Green Bay’s Randall Cobb or Minnesota’s Percy Harvin, Goodwin is sure to peak the interest of many as we head into April.
OL – While they did not play to the level of the offensive lineman aforementioned, Alabama’s DJ Fluker, Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson, and Kent State’s Brian Winters played very solid games. These guys have the tools and experience that will make them each quality players at the next level.
Players who still have a fair amount of question marks surrounding them moving forward include Justin Pugh of Syracuse, Oday Aboushi of Virginia, and Notre Dame’s Braxston Cave. Pugh is seemingly struggling to find his niche on the line against top level talent, while Aboushi, although tremendously built, seems to lack the overall strength and aggressiveness needed at the position. Cave has continued to struggle when competing against elite level defenders.
DL – Datone Jones of UCLA made a very strong case to sneak into the top performers. He has a very good combination of short area agility and overall body strength, something that can make him a very effective 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He is versatile enough to play standing up or with his hand on the ground, and has experience in such a scheme from his career as a Bruin. He will almost certainly begin to shoot up draft boards, presumably a late first or early to mid second rounder.
Jordan Hill of Penn State was another very impressive defensive lineman. Although he does not have great height (6’1″), he makes up for it by using very good leverage, hand speed, footwork, and overall technique. He is a gritty player who seems to play with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, the kind of mindset that can separate good defensive linemen from the average ones.
Other names that did things well include UConn’s Sio Jones, who has a motor that ranks among the best in the draft, Milliciah Goodman of Clemson, and Cornelius Washington from Georgia. LSU’s Lavar Edwards proved to be a very tough player, but lacks the overall quickness and physical strength that would be needed to make up for the amount of flaws in his technique. John Jenkins of Georgia is a massive body that can certainly clog holes and occupy blockers in the NFL, but has a very inconsistent motor. Everett Dawkins of Florida State also did some good things, but nothing significant enough to turn heads.
Possibly the most interesting defensive lineman was North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams. Williams flashed brilliance at times, but completely disappeared at others. He has all the physical tools to be great, but showed a tendency to get locked up with his blockers, rather than shedding and finding the ball. The talent is certainly there, but the consistency needs to be improved.
LBs– Outside of Williams, Zaviar Gooden of Missouri showed some tremendous speed, sideline to sideline ability, and very good range in coverage. He will likely need to go to a 4-3 scheme where his speed can be utilized as a SAM linebacker.
Khaseem Greene from Rutgers certainly was not bad by any means, but its tough to declare that his performance lived up to the production he achieved in college. He is unquestionably talented, but an average performance in this game could be a red flag to teams who may look to him having played the majority of his games against marginal competition.
Kevin Riddick (UNC) and Nico Johnson (Alabama) weren’t bad by any means, but were anything but extraordinary. Riddick made some nice plays, as did Johnson, but both of them struggled to get off of blockers at times, often finding themselves sealed to create run lanes.
RBs– It’s difficult to declare who the best running back in the game on Saturday was. Johnathan Franklin of UCLA was probably the most consistent of the contest, and showed that he can do a little bit of everything. Florida’s Mike Gillislee showed off his great speed and burst, and an overall good performance should have him climbing up some boards.
Stepfan Taylor was also very effective in limited reps. He showed arguably the best patience of all of his counterparts, including solid pass protection, and ability to be useful in the short passing game. Taylor, however, does not seem to have that top end speed to be a game breaker at the next level.
Kenjon Barner of Oregon surely has the speed and elusiveness to be a weapon, but he struggled mightily between the tackles. To his credit, it was a very unfamiliar offense to him. It will be interesting to see how team’s view Barner going forward. Based on the offense he came from at Oregon, and his play from Saturday, he will likely be looked at as a developmental back who can contribute immediately in certain packages. Barner could be very effective if placed in a stable of backs with a bruiser or two ahead of him.
One name that got some serious attention this week was Robbie Rouse out of Fresno State. While he is rather short for the position (listed at 5’7″), he is put together very well and runs with a low center of gravity. Rouse showed very good vision and patience, as well as a very solid burst through the hole. He has a very good motor and keeps his feet going until the whistle, or when brought to the ground on every play. It will be interesting to see where Rouse ends up.
WR – Somewhat difficult position to gauge based on how mediocre the quarterback play was, but the names that stood out most, other than Goodwin, were Markus Wheaton of Oregon State and Terrance Williams of Baylor.
DB – Overall impressive collective performance, but again, tough to gauge based on the quarterbacking. Overall, Desmond Trufant was the most impressive CB of the game. He put together a very strong week of practice which translated over to Saturday’s game. His has very fluid hips, comes in and out of his breaks well, has very good top end speed (see opening kickoff), and is deceptively physical.
Other defensive backs that did some good things include Duke Williams, Jordan Poyer, Jamar Taylor, Bacarri Rambo, and Robert Alford, who looked very good on Special Teams and in the return game as well. TJ McDonald flashed some quality play and is certainly a name to keep an eye on moving forward. Looks the part of a smaller Taylor Mays, but with much better overall coverage skills.
QB – Not much to say here. All were underwhelming, aside from EJ Manuel who was really the only one to show some type of consistency. Manuel can make plays with his feet as well as his arm, and has excellent size for the position.
Ryan Nassib of Syracuse continued to exhibit an inability to throw on the run, something that may hurt him in the NFL considering his height. North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon made some excellent throws, but more often than not was off target and wildly inconsistent. Like Glennon, Tyler Wilson, Landry Jones, and Zac Dysert were also inconsistent, but none of them made some of the throws that Glennon was able to. If it were any other year, it is highly likely that not one of these players would be selected in the first round, but with such a depleted class, in a quarterback needy league, some of them are sure to be over drafted. The lackluster performances will likely help solidify West Virginia’s Geno Smith as the first quarterback off the board, while USC’s Matt Barkley, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, will begin to sneak back up draft boards as well.
Chris Gross with his first mock draft of 2013, who will the Jets take at #9?
Welcome to our introductory NFL Mock Draft here at Turn On The Jets. As we move closer to April, we will periodically update this series based on a variety of factors including Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and Pro Day/Individual Workout performances, as well as adjusting to any free agency signings and trades, once the new league year begins. For now, let’s take a look at how the first round could shake out based on where each prospect, and NFL team, currently stand. Be sure to check back tomorrow, as our draft team breaks down the top 5 Wide Receiver prospects in this year’s class from a New York Jets perspective.
Note: Picks 31 and 32 are subject to change based on Super Bowl Winner/Loser. For now, we will use each team’s overall regular season record to position their draft order. From this, San Francisco would get the 32nd pick, with Baltimore selecting before them at 31. This by no means indicates a Super Bowl prediction.
1.) Kansas City Chiefs –Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M: This is a very interesting spot for the Chiefs. Kansas City has a quality tackle in place in Branden Albert, but he is set to hit Free Agency this offseason. The Chiefs could opt to resign him, but letting him walk and selecting Joeckel, a player that can perform just as good, if not better than Albert next season, would make sense financially, and would give Kansas City a solid cornerstone to begin the Andy Reid era, as Joeckel is the cream of the crop in this year’s group of offensive tackles. Quarterback is certainly a need for Kansas City, but unfortunately for the Chiefs, there isn’t a player that has emerged as being worthy of the first overall selection just yet. Look for Reid to target a signal caller early in round 2.
2.) Jacksonville Jaguars –Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M: Jacksonville, like Kansas City, has a great need at quarterback, as former 1st round selection Blaine Gabbert has performed rather miserably in his short NFL career. However, no quarterback has emerged as a safe pick here for the Jaguars. Conversely, newly hired Head Coach Gus Bradley comes from a defensive background, and surely understands the value of having top notch pass rushers to send after quarterbacks. Coming from the Seattle Seahawks, Bradley has seen first hand how important pass rushers are to the success of a defense, having utilized rookie Bruce Irvin and veteran Chris Clemons significantly last season. With Bradley likely sticking to a 4-3 defense in Jacksonville, Moore makes perfect sense. Justin Babin will likely be back with the Jaguars, but at 32 years old, Jacksonville needs to think long term at the position.
3.) Oakland Raiders –Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah: Lotulelei may very well be the best defensive player in this year’s draft. He is versatile enough to fit in any scheme, having the explosion and agility to be a playmaking 3 technique, while also possessing the size and strength to be a run stuffing 0/1 technique. Oakland is very thin in the defensive front seven, and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly could be a cap casualty, as he is slated to make $19.5 million over the next three seasons. Kelly has certainly underperformed his contract, and could be the first to go in the cleansing process that is likely to take place in Oakland. Lotulelei would provide an immediate upgrade from Kelly, at a much cheaper cost, while giving the Raiders defense a building block for the coming year.s
4.) Philadelphia Eagles –Bjoern Werner, Defensive End, Florida State: Many expect the newly hired Chip Kelly to choose an offensive player with this selection. While that is certainly a good possibility, there aren’t any offensive skill players worthy of this selection. A lot will depend on how Philadelphia approaches free agency, but they certainly cannot ignore how abysmal their pass rush was last season, finishing on par with the Jets for 25th in the league in sacks, recording just 30 over the entire season. Justin Babin was released late in the season as a casualty of such a fault, and Werner would provide a tremendous upgrade almost immediately. He is extremely tough, has a tremendous motor, and shows excellent awareness regardless of where he is lined up. Depending on how Philadelphia moves forward, from a defensive philosphical stand point, Werner could end up being a perfect fit. He transitioned from primarily a 6I technique (inside shoulder of the TE) during his junior season, to more of an edge rusher for his senior year. He would provide great versatility to Philadelphia’s pass rush moving forward.
5.) Detroit Lions –Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama: While Detroit is another team in need of adding offensive playmakers outside of Calvin Johnson, the defensive secondary in the motor city can certainly be upgraded. While they did not rank horribly in passing yards surrendered per game last season, they had an abysmal 11 interceptions throughout the whole year. Detroit has lacked a true ball hawk defensive back for years. With the strength of their defense coming from the defensive line, they need to finally complement Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Cliff Avril with a CB who will strike fear into opposing quarterbacks. Milliner is by far the best of the bunch this year. At nearly 6’1″ 197lbs, he has the size to match up with any opposing wide receiver, and having come from a collegiate career coached by defensive backs guru Nick Saban, he will be NFL ready from day 1.
6.) Cleveland Browns –Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, LSU: Cleveland, like so many other teams, have struggled to find a premier pass rusher in recent years. Newly appointed defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, will be installing a very aggressive defensive scheme, according to recent statements. This bodes well for a player like Mingo, a guy with a bit of boom or bust potential, but also with an extremely high ceiling. With Horton proclaiming he will not be married to any particular scheme on defense, he can look to Mingo’s versatility to provide him with a weapon in the front seven. Mingo is athletic enough to play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, and has the frame to add some weight if asked to put his hand on the ground in a 4-3. Cleveland could also look to add a starter on the interior offensive line, such as Alabama’s Chance Warmack, pairing him with former teammate Trent Richardson.
7.) Arizona Cardinals –Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan: It is no secret that Arizona has struggled up front in recent years, particularly last season, having surrendered a league high 58 sacks. Is it a secret as to why Kevin Kolb has struggled to find success in the desert? Opinions on Kolb will vary, but few quarterbacks can have success when they are constantly under that amount of pressure. Enter Eric Fisher. Fisher is a prospect who is quickly rising up draft boards, having put together some very impressive practices for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. While quarterback is still a need for Arizona, there is no reason to reach for someone with the 7th overall selection while there are still so many holes up front.
8.) Buffalo Bills –Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia: Jones is, to me, the premier linebacker in this year’s draft class. He is extremely aggressive, shows excellent bend and ability to turn the corner, while most importantly displaying a very high motor. This pick makes sense for a number of reasons. First, Buffalo needs a quality linebacker to put behind Mario Williams, who they paid a ridiculous amount of money to in free agency last year. Like the Jets, Williams was hampered by a lack of supporting cast, but still managed to accumulate 10.5 sacks on the year. Imagine what he could do if teams suddenly had to account for Jones’s ability to rush the passer as well? Secondly, look who selects directly behind the Bills. Do you think Buffalo wants to see New York select a player who could wreak havoc on whoever their quarterback may be in the coming years? Newly appointed Bills, and former Jets defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine knows a good deal about Rex Ryan and his desire to find his next Terrell Suggs. Combine that with his desire to attain versatile linebackers, and this pick becomes a no brainer for Buffalo.
9.) New York Jets –Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama: This may not be a popular pick among some Jets faithful, but considering the board at this point, as well as the Jets poor play on the interior of the offensive line last year, the value for Warmack here is tremendous. There may not be a better player at their position in the country than Warmack, and with guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson set to hit free agency, the Jets will need to add at the position. Considering what will be available in the free agent market, Warmack is easily the best option for New York at the position. He will likely perform better than any free agent guard, while coming in on a low cost rookie contract. Place him on the line with Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Austin Howard, who has shown improvement with more playing time, and a guard to be named later, and all of a sudden the Jets have put together an offensive line that has the potential to rival what they had in 2009 and 2010.
10.) Tennessee Titans –Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame: By the time the draft comes around, all of the recent nonsense regarding Te’o will likely be overlooked by his strong career resume, and an expected strong combine performance. This is certainly a bit of a risk, considering the mental issues that need to be taken into account, but from what it seems, Te’o has a good team of advisors that will steer him in the right direction during the interview process. From Tennessee’s standpoint, the Titans need a player who can anchor their defense for years to come. They have promising pass rushers up front in Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, but the defense has lacked a true force in the middle since losing Keith Bulluck a couple seasons ago. While Te’o may not possess the sideline to sideline ability of some of his counterparts, he is a natural downhill player with the a knack for finding the ball.
11.) San Diego Chargers –Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma: San Diego, like many other teams drafting this early, have been poor on the offensive line over recent years. Phillip Rivers is still a very good quarterback, but one whose game desperately relies on protection. Johnson has put together a very good string of practices at the Senior Bowl this week, and is expected to run a sub 5.0 40 yard dash at the Combine. At 6’6″ and over 300lbs, numbers like that will cause his draft stock to soar. Considering Joeckel and Fisher are off the board at this point, Johnson becomes the best tackle available, and an immediate upgrade to a Chargers offense that will be looking to reclaim its old ways under new Head Coach Mike McCoy.
12.) Miami Dolphins –Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas: Miami is a very intriguing team to watch this offseason. With around $40 million in available cap space along with 10 draft picks, including 5 in the first 100, expect the Dolphins to be very active when the new league year officially starts. That being said, this selection is extremely subject to change with their expected plethora of moves coming prior to the draft. Miami is in need of a big play wide receiver, but with so much available cap space, there is a high likelihood of them signing Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, or Greg Jennings in free agency. That takes us to Miami’s defense. While this unit is surely nothing to laugh about, they have struggled at times to defend the pass. A cornerback would be ideal here, however with Milliner off the board, there is not much value in selecting a player like Johnthan Banks or another corner with the 12th overall selection. Vaccaro, on the other hand, is the top safety in this year’s class. He has great instinct, and has shown much better range than I had originally given him credit for in our initial big board. Depending on how he performs at the combine, Vaccaro could be very valuable in this spot. A pass rusher to place opposite Cameron Wake is another option for Miami.
13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers –Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon: Middle Linebacker is another position of need for Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers are desperate for an explosive pass rusher to complement the emerging Gerald McCoy. Michael Bennett has been solid, but the other side of the defensive line remains an issue. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Da’Quan Bowers combined for just 7 sacks last season, partially causing the Buccaneers to finish 29th in the league in sacks, with just 27 as a team. Jordan could provide immediate upgrade in this area, as he has tremendous athleticism and the long frame to be a very good 4-3 defensive end in this league. Tampa Bay can then look to add to their linebacking corps in the 2-3 rounds.
14.) Carolina Panthers –Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee: Outside of Steve Smith, the Panthers group of wide receivers is rather lackluster. While running back may be a need, particularly if the team decides to part ways with Deangelo Williams, Cam Newton needs a target other than the aging Smith. Patterson has great size at 6’3″ 205 lbs, and is expected to run somewhere in the 4.4 range at the combine. This could end up being a great weapon for Newton, who struggled mightily at times last season, and a solid combination in the coming years.
15.) New Orleans Saints –Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri: New Orleans had an extremely poor season from a defensive standpoint last year, particularly against the run, having surrendered a league high 147.6 YPG on the ground. While their secondary was also lackluster, there are few, if any, teams that can have defensive success while giving up so many yards on the ground. Richardson has the quickness and overall speed to be a very disruptive 3 technique in the Saints’ 4-3 scheme, while possessing enough power to be a pure run stuffer in the middle.
16.) St. Louis Rams –Giovani Bernard, Running Back, North Carolina: St. Louis has done a tremendous job of bolstering their defensive personnel over the past few drafts. Offensively, they have been able to put a decent cast of playmakers on the field, but many of their top performers are often hampered by injury. Steven Jackson is set to hit free agency this offseason, and his asking price could be out of the range of what St. Louis is willing to pay him. Bernard would provide an excellent, young replacement for Jackson. While he should not be expected to produce at a level that Jackson might next season, he is extremely versatile, and has shown he can be an every down back. This would be a very nice transition for the Rams at the running back position, and they could address their other needs, namely Tight End, later on.
17.) Pittsburgh Steelers –Ed Lacy, Running Back, Alabama: Like St. Louis, Pittsburgh will have RB Rashard Mendenhall hitting free agency this offseason, who is very unlikely to return after a 2012 season that was hampered by lingering injuries and sudden character issues. Jonathan Dwyer and Issac Redman were solid last year, but neither have truly been tested as an every down back, and both will be restricted free agents. Conversely, the Steelers parted ways with Chris Rainey earlier this month following a domestic battery charge. One way or another, the Steelers’ backfield is poised for an overhaul, and Lacy is just the type of hard-nosed, downhill runner that Pittsburgh has valued as a vital piece of their offense over the years.
18.) Dallas Cowboys –Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida: Dallas has players all over the roster, but have not been able to put anything together over the past few seasons for a variety of reasons. While there are still issues on the offensive line, the Cowboys have had recent off the field issues with their interior defensive lineman. The team could very well end up parting ways with Jay Ratliff, who was recently arrested for a DWI following a very poor 2012 campaigned highlighted by a reported argument with Owner/GM Jerry Jones in the locker room following a December 2nd win over the Eagles. If the Cowboys do, in fact, part ways with Ratliff, Floyd could provide an immediate replacement at defensive tackle. Floyd is an ideal fit as a 3 technique in Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme, and has taken tremendous strides to repair his public image since facing NCAA violations early in his career at Florida.
19.) New York Giants –Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU: Ansah is tremendously gifted athletically, but is probably the most raw prospect in the entire draft. Having just over a year of experience playing the sport, Ansah was able to produce at BYU because of his superior athletic ability. However, his technique is very poor, as shown by his struggles during this week’s practices at the Senior Bowl. While there is certainly some bust potential here, there aren’t many teams who can grow pass rushers quite like the Giants, making this an ideal fit. With Osi Umenyiora likely leaving this offseason, and Justin Tuck beginning to age, Ansah could serve as an understudy to Jason Pierre-Paul and Tuck, and could potentially develop into the next great Giants pass rusher in a few years.
20.) Chicago Bears –Alec Ogletree, Inside Linebacker, Georgia: It is no secret that Chicago has some serious issues on the offensive line. However, Brian Urlacher is aging rapidly, and is set to hit free agency this offseason. Whether or not the Bears opt to move on from the player who has been the foundation of the franchise for over a decade remains to be seen. Regardless, if Urlacher is retained by Chicago, odds are it will be on a short-term, low cost deal. That will pave the way for an incumbent, Ogletree, to be groomed underneath him and progressively take over as the full time starter. Ogletree, like Urlacher, is a converted safety, so there may not be a better player to learn the position from. Offensive line is certainly another option here, but with the depth of the class, the Bears can address that need in the following rounds.
21.) Cincinnati Bengals –Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State: Cincinnati has put together a tremendous defensive front seven over the past few years. The back end of the defense has been solid as well, but Adam Jones will turn 30 next season and is entering free agency on the gradual decline of his career. Cincinnati can opt to let him walk, while drafting the young and promising Banks from Mississippi State to place opposite Leon Hall. At 6’2″ Banks has excellent size, and is best in man coverage, something Head Coach Marvin Lewis could use as a weapon. Banks would give the Bengals one of the most well rounded, youngest defenses in all of football.
22.) St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) –Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame: St. Louis certainly needs some offensive help to provide Sam Bradford with the best chance to succeed. Starting Matthew Mulligan at Tight End isn’t necessarily the best way to go about doing that. While Mulligan can be a decent backup TE, Bradford needs a reliable weapon in the passing game. Eifert is arguably the best in his class this year, with tremendous size and athletic ability. He has a knack for getting to the ball at its highest point, and has proved worthy as a blocker in the run game as well.
23.) Minnesota Vikings –Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia: The first curveball of this draft. While the Vikings have some holes across the roster that need to be addressed, it is difficult to see them confidently believing that Christian Ponder can take them where they want to go. While Ponder is signed through the next 2 years, his rookie contract makes him expendable, giving Minnesota flexibility at the position. Smith would provide a very interesting dynamic to the Vikings’ offense. His accuracy and playmaking ability would give them an entirely new dimension to work with. It’s very difficult to not get excited about an offensive core of Smith, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Matt Kalil.
24.) Indianapolis Colts –D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, Alabama: While the Colts offensive line wasn’t a complete disaster last year, it can certainly be upgraded. Andrew Luck was sacked 41 times last season, the 9th most out of any other starting quarterback. Luck is without question the key to success in Indianapolis, so the Colts would be wise to protect their investment by adding Fluker, who would likely start at either tackle spot right away.
25.) Seattle Seahawks –Zach Ertz, Tight End, Stanford: Seattle had a tremendous season, one that certainly exceeded most expectations. Russell Wilson was fantastic during his rookie campaign, and looks poised to be an excellent quarterback for years to come. One dynamic that was missing from Seattle’s offense, however, was quality play from the tight end in the passing game. The Seahawks added Zach Miller last offseason, but injuries limited him to just 38 receptions for 396 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Seahawks would be wise to add a playmaker at tight end, and Ertz would be just the guy. Rivaling Eifert for the top TE in the class, Ertz would see significant reps right away, while adding another dynamic to Seattle’s already dynamic offense.
26.) Green Bay Packers –Le’Veon Bell, Running Back, Michigan State: The Packers have lacked a quality running back for years and have been able to succeed solely on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. It is about time for Green Bay to add their every down back, and establish a true running game, something that would give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. While Bell certainly has his question marks, he is very underrated in terms of his elusiveness and agility. He is also the type of bigger back (6’2″ 240 lbs) who will provide a brutal downhill running style when it gets cold in the later months at Lambeau Field. Bell can also contribute as a receiver out of the backfield as well as a blocker in pass protection.
27.) Houston Texans –Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia: While solid offensively, Houston needs a dynamic playmaker on offense to pair with Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. The Texans’ receiving corps, beyond Johnson, is rather abysmal. Kevin Walter and Keshawn Martin aren’t terrible by any stretch of the word, but neither of them have the big play ability of Austin. Austin would bring an immense amount of versatility to an offense that is slowly becoming stale. His ability in the return game would also provide an added dimension to how the Texans could use him.
28.) Denver Broncos –Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington: After seeing Torrey Smith roast Champ Bailey numerous times in Denver’s divisional round loss to Baltimore, it is no secret that the Broncos desperately need help in the secondary. Trufant, brother of Jets defensive back Isaiah and Seattle’s Marcus, could contribute immediately, either as an understudy to Bailey on the outside, or as the nickel corner. Beyond that, Trufant has the athleticism and fluidity in his hips that can allow him to become a starting perimeter defender in this league. As he has shown this week at Senior Bowl practice, he is certainly not afraid to be physical when asked to be.
29.) New England Patriots –Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, California: While it is hard to proclaim that the Patriots need any help offensively, there are certainly some issues within the receiving corps that need to be addressed. Wes Welker is still a very dynamic playmaker, but his future in New England is currently uncertain. Beyond Welker, Brandon Lloyd is entering the twilight of his career, and although New England has two excellent tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, they need players who can take some pressure off of them. Hernandez was banged up for a bit of this past season, and Gronkowski has been used so heavily in each of the previous two years, that he has been injured during the post season. For New England to have success in the playoffs, they need a healthy Gronkowski, and that starts with providing him with a supporting cast in the passing game that will not subject him to so much wear and tear. Allen is a very intriguing prospect, having the size (6’3″) that Tom Brady really hasn’t had in a receiver since Randy Moss. Allen has above average separation ability, decent top end speed, and good ball skills, but his character is what will make him a great fit in New England. Coaches at Cal have praised Allen for his work ethic and competitive drive that keeps him humble and hungry. Seemingly a perfect fit for Bill Belichick’s club.
30.) Atlanta Falcons –Sam Montgomery, Defensive End, LSU: Atlanta certainly put together an impressive defensive campaign in 2012, finishing 9th in the league in overall defense, however they finished 28th in team sacks, with just 29 total. Defensive End John Abraham is coming off of another double digit sack season, but will be 35 on opening day next year. The Falcons need to begin to think about his long term replacement, and Montgomery could very well be that player. While he is not nearly as athletic as his LSU counterpart, Mingo, Montgomery shows flawless technique on tape, and is much more balanced as a player. He shows a good motor on film, but the primary concerns are his off the field work ethic. Still, at pick number 30, he holds good value.
31.) Baltimore Ravens –Kevin Minter, Inside Linebacker, LSU: Baltimore will be saying goodbye to the face of their franchise for its entire history after the Super Bowl, and will need to find a replacement for the soon to be retired Ray Lewis. Minter is the prototypical 3-4 Inside Linebacker at 6’2″ 242 lbs and is a tackling machine, posting double digit tackles in 5 contests this year, including an astounding 20 in an October loss at Florida. Minter has the range, tenacity, and instinct to start for Baltimore right away next season.
32.) San Francisco 49ers –Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina: It’s difficult to find needs on a team that has played as well as San Francisco over the past couple of years. That being said, the interior defensive line of the 49ers is beginning to get a little long in the face. Williams would be of great value at this point in the first round. He has an insatiable motor, tremendous hand work in his pass rush, excellent lateral speed and agility, and the strength to be a force against the run. With Justin Smith getting older, Williams would be a great selection that would allow the 49ers to make the transition from Smith, when the time is right, rather seamless.