NFL Draft 2013: Frank Giasone’s Mock Draft 1.0

Turn On The Jets NFL Draft writer Frank Giasone with his first mock draft for 2013

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1.) Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M: While it’s already nearly impossible to predict the No.1 overall selection this early in the draft process, a new regime in KC only complicates the forecast further. Although the Chiefs used back-to-back picks on the offensive line (second and third round) in the 2012 NFL Draft—and signed right tackle Eric Winston to a four-year, $22M contract last offseason— the Kansas City decision makers will find it hard to pass up a talent like Joeckel on draft day. We all know Andy Reid loves his quarterbacks, but I think the most likely scenarios include Reid finding one through a trade or sometime on the second day of the draft—as he did with both Kevin Kolb and Nick Foles.

2.) Jacksonville Jaguars- Bjoern Werner, Defensive End, Florida State: Another tough selection to gauge this early in the process, especially considering the juxtaposition of recently hired head coach Gus Bradley’s defensive background and general manager Dave Caldwell, who comes from the offensive-minded Atlanta Falcons organization. There’s a good chance the Jags stick with Chad Henne at quarterback this season—and assuming the current crop of QBs doesn’t improve drastically by April, I don’t see Jacksonville selecting one to groom for the future in this spot. Werner is arguably the most gifted defensive player in this draft, with tons of upside considering he only started playing the game at 15. He’ll have an immediate impact on the Jaguars defensive line.

3.) Oakland Raiders- Star Lotuleli, Defensive Tackle, Utah: Oakland has issues all over the place, and while Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher is certainly an option here (even with promising LT Jared Veldheer already on the roster), Lotuleli is just too good for Dennis Allen to pass up. Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly hasn’t performed well, and both Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant are unrestricted free agents. Lotuleli is the best player left on the board at No. 3 and fills a huge need for Oakland.

4.) Philadelphia Eagles- Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan: While Luke Joeckel is the trendy name for top tackle in the draft, it’s Fisher –whose stock will continue to soar as April approaches- that may end up being the best of the bunch. The Eagles are in a great shape to improve an offensive line that has completely fallen apart the past two seasons with Fisher, who would immediately start at left tackle for Chip Kelly & Co.

5.) Detroit Lions- Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M: With Cliff Avril likely testing free agency, and Kyle Vanden Bosch no guarantee to return to the Motor City in 2013, Moore looks like the most logical pick for a Lions defense that finished last season tied for 20th in sacks. The decisionmakers in Detroit have to figure out a way to maximize Ndamukong Suh’s presence up front and adding a threat like Moore to the line is as good a way as any.

6.) Cleveland Browns- Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia: Jones is the likely option for Cleveland at No. 6 following defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s confirmation that the Browns will switch to an “attack-minded 3-4 scheme” next season. Considered the best 3-4 OLB in the draft by some, Jones will give a boost to a defense already equipped with middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, cornerback Joe Haden and defensive tackle Phil Taylor. It’s too early to know if Jones’ injury concerns are severe enough knock him out of the top 10, but for now he’s the perfect selection for the Browns at No. 6.

7.) Arizona Cardinals- Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama: The Cardinals have issues-on-top-of-issues when it comes to the offensive line. With the two top-rated offensive tackles off the board, it’s Warmack –not Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson—who jumpstarts the Arizona rebuild. The seventh spot may be considered too high to select a guard, but Warmack is a special talent worth reaching for.

8.) Buffalo Bills- Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, LSU: This selection could likely turn into a quarterback on draft day, depending on head coach Doug Marrone’s stance on Ryan Fitzpatrick. But in this, my 1.0 mock draft, the selection goes the way of the defense. While Mingo has, in my opinion, the highest bust potential of any OLB in the draft, it’s his versatility and intangibles that will likely get him drafted early on Day 1.

9.) New York Jets- Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon: The moment you’ve all been waiting for: Dion Jordan is the first pick of the John Idzik regime in New York. Versatile enough to play standing up in 3-4 front or at defensive end in 4-3 schemes, Jordan is the multitalented defender of Rex Ryan’s dreams. While he has a lot of developing yet to do—and is currently dealing with an injury that could certainly alter this selection in the coming months—the addition of a young, athletic outside linebacker like Jordan is something the Jets have been trying to accomplish for years. Combine the pick with the possible addition of OLB’s Conner Barwin or Paul Kruger via free agency, and the Jets once weak LB corps instantly morphs into a strength.

Note: Although some people see the Jets going offensive line here, we’ve seen time and time again the ability to secure a solid interior lineman late in the draft or through free agency. The Jets did it with Brandon Moore (who I believe will be back in ‘13) and they’ll have the opportunity to do it again this year.

10.) Tennessee Titans- Johnathon Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State: Hankins’ versatility makes him an intriguing option at No. 10 for Tennessee. Another team with lots of concerns, Tennessee could go in a number of different directions here. And while the tenth spot may be a little high for the Buckeye standout, it’s Hankins’ versatility, combined with the production from starting defensive ends Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, that could make the Titans defensive line a real force moving forward.

11.) San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma: Another offensive lineman who will continue trending upward as April approaches, Johnson is one of the most versatile big men in this draft. While he’s settled in a No. 11 today, he very well could find himself a top 10 prospect in the coming months. A former quarterback and tight end, Johnson has shown the ability to play left and right tackle, despite still being a neophyte on the offensive line. His long arms and elite athleticism will certainly garner a warm welcome from quarterback Phillip Rivers, who appears to have developed some happy feet over the past two years.

12.) Miami Dolphins- Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, Cal: They’re stocked with picks and cap space in 2013, and while a free agent wide receiver like Gregg Jennings remains a very likely option for Miami, selecting the highest rated receiver certainly won’t hurt the development of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama: You probably didn’t expect to see the highest rated cornerback fall this far (truthfully, neither did I), but you better believe the Bucs will be more than happy reap the benefits of Milliner at No. 13. The best all around cornerback in this draft, Milliner’s size and physicality will be a welcomed addition in Tampa as a replacement to Aqib Talib.

14.) Carolina Panthers- Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri: The Panthers have a bevy of athletic linebackers, but they lack a big body in the middle of the defensive line to help stop the run and eat up blocks. Richardson will help address those issues, and will also provide another pass rushing option up the middle.

15.) New Orleans Saints- Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas: The Saints defense needs a lot of help, and while they could likely target a linebacker here, not know the scheme they intend to use next season makes Vaccaro the pick for now. Touted as the highest rated safety in the draft, Vaccaro is a rangy prospect with the body-type and athleticism to play both safety positions.

16.) St. Louis Rams- Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee: The Rams need to give Sam Bradford more offensive weapons in 2013. With Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson the top receivers in St. Louis, Patterson would provide offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer more flexibility in his offensive schemes. Patterson, who is one of the most complete receivers in the draft, could also have an impact on special teams.

17.) Pittsburgh Steelers- Johnathan Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia: The Steelers have gotten very old, very quickly on the defensive side of the ball, as its linebackers, defensive line and secondary have all seen better days. That means, with a rare top 20 pick, Pittsburgh is in good position to start retooling. Casey Hampton is older than dirt (sorry Casey), and Jenkins has an enormous frame capable of taking on multiple blockers. While he may lack versatility up front, his strength and frame make him a great fit for the Steelers 3-4 defense.

18.) Dallas Cowboys – Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida: Jay Ratliff isn’t getting any younger, and after his most recent run-in with police (he got popped for DWI a few days back) a defensive tackle to Dallas at No. 18 is looking even more likely. Monte Kiffin is in as defensive coordinator in Dallas now, and Floyd fills a big need in his Tampa 2 scheme.

19.) New York Giants- Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame: His recent “issue” may steer the Giants away from making this selection, but the fact remains that Jerry Reece just can’t ignore his needy linebacker corps any longer. When Chase Blackburn is arguably your best ILB over the past two seasons…it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

20.) Chicago Bears- Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina: You only needed to watch a few offensive series to recognize Chicago’s biggest need is on the offensive line. Cooper is my second-rated guard in the draft, and boasts impressive speed, lateral movement, and footwork. I’m sure Jay Cutler will be ecstatic with the addition fo Cooper to the Bears offense.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals –Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Alabama: The Bengals have a solid core and will eventually need to address some issues on defense (notably the overwhelming disappointment of Rey Maualuga at the MLB position). But as the cliché goes, “it’s an offensive league” and the Bengals can’t rely on BenJarvus Green-Ellis to carry the load in 2013. Lacy is a power back with some speed that would fit well with young up-and-coming offensive stars like Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.

22.) St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)- Giovani Bernard, Running Back, North Carolina: Confession time: It pains me to write this because of an obsession I’ve developed with Jets grabbing Bernard in the second round. But, with that dream quickly fading, I’ve conceded that the Rams will once again address the offensive side of the ball in an attempt to recreate the days of “The Greatest Show on Turf”. Goodbye, Giovani.

23.) Minnesota Vikings- Alec Ogletree, Inside Linebacker, Georgia: The Vikings need help at linebacker in a bad way, and Ogletree boasts the speed and athleticism to make plays all over the field. A converted safety, Ogletree will likely need to add size to his frame, and will certainly deal with questions regarding off the field issues during interviews. But for now, he’s a great pick for Minnesota at No. 23.

24.) Indianapolis Colts- D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, Alabama: It’s pretty simple: Andrew Luck is your meal ticket; make sure you protect him accordingly. While Fluker isn’t as highly touted as some of the other offensive lineman in this draft (as part of one of the best OL units in college football last year Fluker was, at times, overlooked), he does possess the physical skills to play both tackle positions in the NFL. Of course defense is an option here, but lowering Luck’s sack number from 40 should take precedence.

25.) Seattle Seahawks- Larry Warford, Guard, Kentucky: Similar to the situation in Indy, the Seahawks need to protect their investment at quarterback. Warford turned some heads at the Senior Bowl and will likely continue to do so in the coming months. With defense a strength in Seattle, No. 25 is a great spot to lock up one of the top interior lineman in the draft.

26.) Green Bay Packers- Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU: Ansah is an extremely raw prospect (after only one year starting at BYU) who has garnered obvious comparisons to the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul due mostly to his untapped potential. The Packers’ defense is lacking and Ansah could provide Green Bay with another weapon alongside Clay Matthews.

27.) Houston Texans- DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson: Matt Schaub is Gary Kubiak’s guy at QB so the best chance for success in Houston is to improve the weapons around him. Kevin Walter isn’t a consistent enough weapon as a No. 2 receiver, and Hopkins possesses the skillset that could see him eventually develop into a replacement for Andre Johnson in a few years.

28.) Denver Broncos- Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State: The pick makes sense for a Denver team that really doesn’t lack much on either side of the ball. John Fox could go running back here, but the presence of Peyton Manning at QB automatically improves whatever ‘back the Broncos trot out on the field. With Champ Bailey showing his age in the playoffs this season, Banks fills a big need in for the Broncos.

29.) New England Patriots- Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia: With Julian Edleman likely gone, and Wes Welker possibly right behind him, the Patriots offense may need to be tweaked in the offseason. Austin looks to be a great fit for the Pats offensive scheme and should flourish with Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick.

30.) Atlanta Falcons- Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame: Tony Gonzalez says he won’t be back—despite still being arguably the best receiving TE in the league—and Eifert is the ideal replacement. It won’t be easy to replace one of the best TE’s in NFL history, but Atlanta could certainly do much worse than the top-rated tight end in the draft.

31.) Baltimore Ravens- Kevin Minter, Inside Linebacker, LSU: Just like in Atlanta, Baltimore will have to deal with the absence of an icon in 2013. Ray Lewis is retiring and Ravens defense is getting older. Despite playing well late this season and during this postseason run, Baltimore has a lot of work to do this offesason. Minter is capable to step in as a starter and should provide Baltimore with more versatility in the middle of the field.

32.) San Francisco 49ers- Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington: San Francisco boasts the most impressive roster in this league, but if there’s one issue with its defense it’s the absence of a true cover corner. So with pick No. 32 it’s a case of the rich getting richer, as arguably the best defense in football walks away with a big, physical corner who recently impressed during the Senior Bowl.

Turn On The Jets NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Chris Gross with his first mock draft of 2013, who will the Jets take at #9?

Goodell

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.

Check this out listed at DC Sports NFL Mock Draft Database 

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.

Joeckel1.) 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.

damontremoore2.) 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.

Star3.) 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

bjoern4.) 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.

Milliner5.) 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.

Mingo6.) 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.

Fisher7.) 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.

Jarvis Jones8.) 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.

chance-warmack9.) 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.

Teo10.) 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.

Bernard16.) 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.

dnews 0929fbccougars.spt   ja19.) 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.

Alec Ogletree, Synjyn Days20.) 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.

Smith23.) 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.

Bell26.) 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.

Minter31.) 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.

Sylvester Williams32.) 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.

New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Running Back

The Turn On The Jets draft staff looks at what running backs the New York Jets could target in the upcoming NFL Draft

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In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position of great need for a team that struggled mightily to generate any type of offensive excitement in 2012, running back. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential targets 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 running back. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdown of potential quarterback targets for the Jets. 

Chris Gross

The running back position for the New York Jets in 2012 was, to put it nicely, abysmal. Shonn Greene flashed some quality against inferior defenses, but when put to the test of a contending defensive unit, he revealed himself as having nothing more than the ability of an average secondary option, capable of complementing a strong lead back. Greene will enter free agency when the new league year begins in March, and will likely be looking for a contract that exceeds his actual value to a team. Since the Jets are going to be operating on a relatively tight budget this season, it is more than likely that Greene will be allowed to walk to another team. While he is surely a capable 1B option, Bilal Powell remains under contract with the Jets at a much cheaper cost and is essentially just as effective, if not more so, than Greene in that role. Financially, depending on Powell to fill the 1B role, while letting another team pay Greene is the smartest, most realistic option for Gang Green this season.

So the question remains, where do the Jets turn to fill the void for that coveted 1A back? Earlier this week, we took a look at some potential scenarios that could play out as we move into the coming months. Looking ahead to the 2013 NFL Draft, the class of running backs may not posses a name that jumps off the sheet as the next Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, or any other premier NFL running back, but this group is deceptively deep, with a very good amount of talent throughout. Running backs in today’s NFL, with the exception of the players aforementioned and a few more, are generally viewed as one of the most disposable pieces of the roster.

However, as we saw this past season, a quality lead back can help an offense that struggles in a variety of places to overachieve. Minnesota had a very subpar passing game, but was able to earn a playoff bid on the back of Adrian Peterson. Marshawn Lynch aided the development of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson by giving the youngster a strong running game to lean on. Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, and a few others has similar effects on their respective offenses. An emergence of a strong running game in New England has made the Patriots offensive attack arguably the greatest we have seen in recent years, while the lack thereof in Green Bay handcuffed a team with an exceptional quarterback. While the league is certainly driven by quality signal callers, the running back position is still very much a vital piece to a successful offense.

That being said, the direction that the Jets decide to go in at the position, personnel wise, remains dependent on the hire at offensive coordinator, as does the majority of the offensive roster. However, there are certainly some names to keep an eye on as of right now that are sure to be appealing to any coordinator, regardless of scheme.

Lacy1.) Eddie Lacy, Alabama – 2012 stats: 204 attempts, 1322 yards, 6.5 YPC, 17 TD – Lacy has put together a very impressive career at Alabama, netting nearly 7.0 YPC over his three seasons as a member of the Crimson Tide. Having spent his first two seasons underneath Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram, and 2012 3rd overall pick Trent Richardson, respectively, Lacy emerged this season as a dominant force leading the Tide to a national championship. At 6’1 220 lbs, Lacy has the size of a prototypical power back, but possesses the top end speed and elusiveness of a dangerous speed back. In short, Lacy is arguably the most well rounded running back in his class. He maintains elite balance, while showing great vision and patience in waiting for his blocks to develop, giving him an excellent advantage. A very strong showcase in the National Championship game has boosted Lacy’s draft status over recent weeks, and an expected impressive showing at the scouting combine should propel him even higher. Depending on how the next few weeks play out, Lacy could be out of the Jets reach, unless, perhaps, New York trades down from the 9th overall selection to select him in the later half of round one, where he would currently hold more value.

2.) Giovani Bernard, North Carolina – 2012 stats: 184 attempts, 1228 yards, 6.7 YPC, 12 TD – Bernard has put together an impressive two seasons at UNC, having averaged over 5 YPC in each of them, including the astounding 6.7 this past year. Bernard is widely regarded as the top back in this class, and for good reason. Bernard has excellent speed and lateral quickness, coupled with fantastic vision and burst. Beyond that, he is a very capable pass blocker, while remaining a viable option as a passing target. He has the ability to take a check down pass for a larger chunk of yards than most backs would, and is certainly not afraid to stick his nose into pass pro. These aspects of his game cannot be valued. A back with the ability to be effective as both a blocker and receiving option in the pass game will keep defenses honest and unsure of any tendencies. Bernard certainly has the body of someone who will be a durable NFL back, displaying tremendous bulk, particularly in his legs. Bernard should perform very well in each of the pre-draft events, and is poised to be one of the first three backs taken this year. He would be a reach for the Jets at the 9th pick, but perhaps a trade down in the first, or a trade back into the bottom half of the first round would allow New York to get their hands on him.

3.) Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State – 2012 stats: 382 attempts, 1793 yards, 4.7 YPC, 12 TD – Bell is a player who may fly under the radar a bit, coming from a conference like the Big Ten, but make no mistake, Bell is a premier name in this year’s crop of running backs. His immense size (6’2″ 244 lbs) combine with fantastic strength, making him a nightmare to bring down in the open field. Conversely, he is deceptively elusive which gives him an edge that most backs at his stature do not posses. These tangibles give Bell a rare skill set, one that could translate tremendously to the NFL. He is one of the rare prospects, like Lacy, that has the ability to run through defenders, or make them miss with his surprising agility. The pre-draft events will be crucial for Bell. While his film shows a highly productive player with great potential, there are certainly questions on his top end speed, primarily concerning whether or not he will be able to break through the second level for a big gain in the NFL. If Bell, a known workhorse in his training regiments, can post a good 40 yard dash, while displaying the elusiveness and agility that his film shows in the combine drills, he may find himself as an early to mid second round pick, among the first few backs taken. He could very well be available when the Jets select in the 2nd round. His performance over the next few weeks will determine whether or not he will be worthy of that selection.

Ball 4.) Montee Ball, Wisconsin – 2012 stats: 356 attempts, 1830 yards, 5.1 YPC, 22 TD – Similar to Bell, Ball is a back who may get a bit overlooked due to the school he played his collegiate football for. However, Ball has been immensely productive throughout his career as a Badger, totaling an astounding 77 rushing touchdowns over his four seasons. At 5’11” 210 lbs, Ball certainly has the size of an NFL lead back, with elite speed and elusiveness separating him from the average player at his position. While Ball doesn’t have elite strength to carry defenders for extra yards, he does have great tenacity as he has shown he is not afraid to initiate contact with a defender, and will always fight for extra yards after contact. He is average at best in the passing game, but his intangibles will allow him to be coached up in the area at the next level. Ball should available anywhere between the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and depending on how the board plays out, could be a great selection for New York. He has the ability to step in as the opening day starter next season, with Powell or a free agent addition serving the role as the 1B back.

Barner 5.) Kenjon Barner, Oregon – 2012 stats: 278 attempts, 1767 yards, 6.4 YPC, 21 TD – Barner faces question marks surrounding how he may translate to a pro-style offense, having come from Chip Kelly’s read option system at Oregon, but he very well may be the fastest of all of this year’s backs. Barner is a tremendous big play threat in both the running and passing games, as he has displayed countless times during his tenure at Oregon, where he posted a 6.0+ YPC average in each of his four seasons as a Duck. A dual-sport athlete in college, Barner also excelled on the track team, while maintaining a strong enough training regiment to prepare him for each year’s football season. Coaches and teammates rave about his work ethic on and off the field, and for a team in need of offensive leaders, Barner could fit the bill. While it is unlikely he will be able to be an every down back at his size, he would be an excellent complement to a bigger running back, perhaps a free agent addition (Chris Ivory, anyone?), while growing into a larger role down the road. As it stands now, Barner is likely grading out in the 2nd-4th round range, but his 40 time at the combine could blow scouts away and propel him toward the top of the 2nd round.

Wild Card – Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina – 2012 stats: 143 attempts, 662 yards, 4.6 YPC, 11 TD – Lattimore was widely regarded as the premier back in this year’s class, however a gruesome knee injury ended his 2012 campaign short. Despite potentially being a mid to late round pick, as a result of concerns over how well his knee may heal, Lattimore has decided to enter the 2013 NFL Draft. This is a very intriguing situation. When healthy, Lattimore is head and shoulders above any of his counterparts. He has the prototypical size needed for an elite every down back at the next level, with top end speed far above average. Lattimore is extremely tough, and has a tremendous amount of versatility. He is very elusive for a back with his size, and his vision and patience is second to none. He has the best natural running instincts out of anyone in this class, and has a combination of size, power, agility, and speed that can make him an elite back in the NFL. The knee concerns are very real, however. It is unclear how far along he is with his recovery at this point, but rest assured that NFL scouts will be paying close attention to his medical progress as April draws near. With his stock likely to fall due to concerns over his knee, Lattimore could potentially be the biggest steal of the draft if he gets back to full strength next season. If he is there in the middle rounds, the Jets would be wise to take a flier on him, if he shows promising recovery progress.

 Zev Sibony

Rankings Based On Talent

Name Height Weight Projected 40 Round(s)
Eddie Lacy 6’0” 220 4.55 2nd round
Giovanni Bernard 5’10” 205 4.52 2nd round
Stepfan Taylor 5’11” 208 4.58 3rd round
Le’Veon Bell 6’2” 238 4.63 3rd or 4th round
Marcus Lattimore 6’0” 218 ?? 6th, 7th, FA

 

 

 

 

Rankings Based On Value 

taylor1 – Stepfan Taylor has been a 3 year starter at Stanford while accumulating some impressive stats. As a true sophomore, he had 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns. His Junior and Senior years he exploded with 1330 yards and 1530 yards, respectively. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry over his junior and senior years while marching in for 23 touchdowns. He shows some versatility out of the backfield while catching passes, along with a good mix of speed and strength, and is definitely capable of being a 3 down back. Taylor has the best chance of being a true workhorse for the Jets next year. Taylor is also good in pass protection, which is clearly a benefit. For value, I think the Running back from Stanford will provide the best results. He is somewhat of a sleeper  and can be had in the 3rd, possibly 4th round

2 –  If Eddie Lacy is available in the top of the 2nd round, the Jets should draft him.. Lacy is, in my opinion, the best running back available in the draft. He played in the hardest conference and rushed for 1,322 yards, averaged 6.4 a carry and had 17 touchdowns. That is impressive, but he was running behind one of the best, if not the best, offensive line in the country. (That is all well and good because hopefully we can draft Chance Warmack at #9 and find a solid right tackle to shore up the O-line for next year.) Lacy also caught 22 passes for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns this past year. He has good speed and even better strength. If he is available at #39 overall, yes please.

3 – Le’Veon Bell is the same guy in stature as Shonn Greene. But that is where the similarities end. Bell weighs about 10-15 pounds more than Shonn but is much quicker. Not only is he quicker, he is stronger and actually makes people miss. He is quite the anomaly.  Another 3rd or 4th rounder that will provide great value.

4 – Giovani Bernard has carried the UNC Tar Heels the last two years. Both years he had at least 1.200 yards and 45 receptions out of the backfield. He averaged 5.24 and 6.7 yards per carry over the past two years, respectively, while having at least 14 total touchdowns each year. Not only being consistently good, he has the speed and ability to break off big runs and make people miss in open space. He can also return punts and did so with success this past year.

5 – Marcus Lattimore. While recovering from another gruesome knee injury, The Jets should consider taking a flier on Lattimore. When he is healthy, he has been one of the best, if not the best running back in the NCAA. He really has it all but just has to stay healthy.

Frank Giasone

With Shonn Greene and Gang Green likely parting ways this offseason, April’s NFL Draft is the perfect time for the Jets to find a versatile running back with big play speed. Bilal Powell should be back, and after a vastly improved 2012 season he’ll likely return with some anticipation. While he may or may not be feature back material, it’s fairly obvious to anyone watching that he can, at the very least, do what Greene has done in the No. 1 role. But Powell clearly won’t be able to do the job alone, and Joe McKnight hasn’t proved capable of an increased workload thus far, which means the Jets must address the running back situation either in free agency or the Draft.

1 – Giovani Bernard (UNC, 5’10”, 205 lbs): The sophomore RB might be off the board when the Jets get ready to pick in the second round, thanks in large part to his big play ability out of the backfield both as a runner and a receiver. Bernard is a hard runner who keeps his legs moving and consistently gains yards after first contact. The UNC ‘back shows patience at the line of scrimmage, a quick burst through the hole, and devastating moves in open space.

Despite some questions regarding the level of competition in the ACC, racking up over 1900 all-purpose yards (6.7 yards per carry, 10.4 yards per catch) and 19 touchdowns, is hard to ignore. Combine his abilities out of the backfield with great punt return skills and Bernard could be one of the most versatile Jets since Leon Washington.

He’s my No. 1 RB in the 2013 Draft, and it’s my guess that lots of scouts feel the same way. While he’s currently projected as a second round pick, a solid showing at the Combine or individual workouts could easily propel him up draft boards and into the first round.

2 – Eddie Lacy (Alabama, 6’1”, 22 lbs): After devastating the Notre Dame defense to the tune of 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the BCS Title Game, Lacy’s name has shot up Draft boards. One of the top running backs in the ’13 Draft, some experts are so enamored they have him projected to go in the first round.

A hard runner who keeps his feet moving and shows some quickness, Lacy is decisive when hitting the hole and flaunts an impressive jump cut and spin move. Not afraid to lower his shoulder into a defender, Lacy also shows promise as a receiver out of the backfield.

Lacy dominated the SEC racking up 1332 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns, along but some question the impact of rushing behind the best offensive line in the nation. Some other concerns include his top end speed and injury concerns.

Andre Ellington3 – Andre Ellington (Clemson, 5’9”, 190 lbs): Smaller than some of the other top running backs in the ’13 Draft, Ellington’s most impressive traits are his tremendous balance and footwork, as seen in his ability to break tackles and pick up yards after contact.

While the Clemson senior faces the same ACC questions as Bernard, he also boasts similar versatility as a runner, receiver and kick returner. Ellington shows the acceleration and explosiveness to create big plays, as well as patience running behind blockers, good vision and the ability to make strong cuts.

At only 190 pounds Ellington struggles with blitz pickup, tending to dive at a defenders knees rather than fully committing himself to the block, and has some questions regarding his durability. He’ll likely have to put on size to survive in the NFL, but his natural ability and highlight reel moves certainly make him an attractive option for the Jets after Round 2.

4 – Kenjon Barner (Oregon, 5’11”, 192 lbs): Barner also lacks the ideal size for a running back in the NFL and can sometimes struggle hanging on to the ball, but boasts some of the best big play ability at the position.

While Chip Kelly’s scheme may have enhanced his numbers over the past two seasons, his quick, shifty moves are undeniable and will likely translate in the return game. Certainly a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, Barner is projected to go sometime in the Round 4 or later and should garner lots of interest.

 5 – Johnathan Franklin (UCLA, 5’11”, 198 lbs): Franklin is another speedy prospect who capable of breaking a big gain at any time. Projected to go somewhere in the fourth round, the UCLA senior is similar to Barner in that they both share smaller builds, big play ability, and struggles with fumbles.

A patient runner with good vision, Franklin also struggles in pass protection (although showed progress in ’12) and lacks experience as a return man. Franklin emerged as a receiving threat in his senior year, finishing with 33 catches for 323 yards and two touchdowns (his previous season high was 10 catches in 2009).

Scouting Notre Dame’s Top NFL Draft Prospects in 2013

Frank Giasone looks at the top NFL prospects from Notre Dame and if any of them would fit with the New York Jets

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A big welcome to Frank Giasone who is going to assist Chris Gross and Zev Sibony with the Turn On The Jets NFL Draft Coverage. In the aftermath of the National Championship Game, Frank takes a look at Notre Dame’s top NFL prospects, while Zev will be looking at Alabama’s (coming soon)…Both will also take into consideration if any of the prospects could be a good fit for the New York Jets – 

While Monday night’s National Title Game was certainly nothing short of awful, the team that found itself on the losing end – the No. 1 ranked (please, try not to laugh) Notre Dame Fighting Irish- really does have some NFL-ready talent coming out in the 2013 Draft this April. Although some Draft stocks may have fallen with Monday’s performance, the overall sentiment remains that this Irish team has a few prospects that appear talented enough to help the Jets in the future.

Today we’ll take a look at the top six potential Notre Dame draft picks in 2013, and see which ones, if any, the Jets should target this April.

Manti Te’o (ILB) – Drafting Te’o has been a highly debated topic within Jets circles the past few months. The middle linebackers’ impressive senior season has led some to deem him the Draft’s “best pick”, while others have gone as far as  comparing him to Ray Lewis. His performance on Monday night will surely temper the enthusiasm of a lot of people, as questions now arise regarding Te’o’s ability to shed blocks against the behemoths up front in the NFL. Although Te’o may turn out to be a successful inside ‘backer in the NFL, organizational needs make him a doubtful option for the Jets in Round 1.

Tyler Eifert (TE) – Eifert is another one of the guys that lots of Jets fans are clamoring over. Arguably the highest rated player coming out of South Bend (as far as the Jets needs and system), Eifert boasts the natural ability and size that should translate in this, the ever-evolving world of the tight end. With Dustin Keller’s “Injury Tour” (also known as his Jets career), likely coming to an end, April’s Draft is the perfect place to find his replacement. This time around, Jets fans everywhere are hoping Rex & Co. can find a more complete TE, versatile enough to contribute both in the passing game and as a run blocker. Eifert looks like that guy.

Standing at 6-foot-6, 255 lbs. the Notre Dame TE’s most prevalent attributes are his skills as a receiver. Efiert shows terrific hands and quickness, the ability to go up and catch the ball at its highest point, and solid route running. While most Jets fans want to hear that Eifert will still be on the board when the Jets hit the podium in Round 2, the truth is that he will most likely hear his name called sometime late on Day 1. There’s also the possibility that Eifert could go as high as the top 20 (a team like Chicago may have interest, although glaring needs on the OL make the selection debatable), or at No. 22 to St. Louis. The most likely scenario – assuming he slides past No. 22- is that he’ll find himself as a late Day 1 selection, possibly as Jermichael Finley’s replacement in Green Bay or as the heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta. If the Jets really like him, they’ll probably need to sneak back into the first 20-26 picks or – the less likely option – trade down from No. 9

Interesting Note: Only one TE has been taken in Round 1 since 2010 (Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati, Pick No. 21).

Zeke Motta (FS) – The possible departures of Laron Landry and Eric Smith (the latter more highly anticipated than the former) means the Jets, once again, need to figure out the safety position. Motta doesn’t project as a starting FS in the pro’s, but he does exhibit great size, and is a sure tackler who makes his presence felt on the field. Motta’s strengths are his physicality and intelligence, but his fit in a two-safety system at ND  -and his flaws in coverage – make some nervous that he’s susceptible to getting beat deep by NFL wide receivers.

With that being said, his open field tackling and special teams potential make him an interesting Day 3 option.

Prince Shembo (OLB)- While the talented junior has yet to declare for the ’13 NFL Draft, Shembo’s intangibles make him an intriguing prospect as a 3-4 OLB. Impressive speed, quickness off the ball and a high motor, in addition to his sure tackling and ability to fight through blocks, helped him to 52 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2012, as he seemingly came out of nowhere to shine for the second-ranked run defense (seriously, stop laughing) in college football. The junior also shined at DE when the Irish defense switched to 4-3 looks, increasing his overall value. Shembo may decide he’s better off heading back to school for his senior season, as he’s currently projected to be a Day 3 pick. If he does declare, he’s another interesting option for the Jets ever-needy linebacker corp.

Cierre Wood (RB) – Wood, another Notre Dame junior who has yet to declare for the draft, is a one cut runner who exhibits quickness getting to the second level. Never afraid to lower a shoulder into a defender, the ND ‘back is at times too indecisive behind the line of scrimmage, meaning his decision-making and instincts will need to improve if he wants to have success in the NFL. Another concern with Wood is the absence of breakaway speed that many teams covet in a running back. Doubtful that the Jets will have interest if he declares, especially with Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell on the roster.

Kapron Lewis-Moore (DE) – Lewis-Moore saw his draft value plummet Monday night, after a torn ACL in his right knee took him out of the game in the first half. The injury occurred on the same knee that cut Lewis-Moore’s 2011 season short with a torn MCL. Before the injury, Lewis-Moore was projected as a fifth or sixth round prospect at the DE position, capable of having success at both the three and five techniques in the NFL. With the severity of the injury, and the probable 1-year rehab following surgery- Lewis-Moore may find himself undrafted.

Turn On The Jets 2013 NFL Draft Big Board 1.0

Chris Gross with his first big board for the 2013 NFL Draft

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Turn On The Jets is going to have the NFL Draft covered from every angle in the coming months. Chris Gross will lead our coverage along with Frank Giasone and Zev Sibony. Make sure to check back for daily updates. When the site redesigned (February 1st) we will have a separate page archiving all our draft coverage, so it easily sorted amongst the rest of our content. Take it away Chris —

To kickoff our draft coverage here at Turn On The Jets, we bring you our initial TOJ Big Board – An overall look at who we feel are the best 20 college prospects poised to enter this year’s NFL Draft. As the draft process unfolds, this board is sure to have some changes to it on a week-to-week basis, so be sure to check for updates as we enter the days leading to the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and individual workouts heading into April. This list will expand to 25 and eventually 30 players in the coming weeks as we review more film of potential prospects. Let’s jump right in.

1.) Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama6″3″ 320 lbs: It is extremely rare to have an offensive guard ranked at the top of college prospect rankings, but Warmack has been a stud on the best offensive line in the nation this year. The Crimson Tide ran for an average of 224 yards per game out of a pro-style offense in an a conference that yields NFL caliber defenses in terms of personnel and scheme. Warmack has excellent strength at the point of attack, and combined with his fantastic footwork and ability to get to the second level, he is surely a can’t miss prospect this year.

2.) Star Lotuleli, Defensive Tackle, Utah6’4″ 325 lbs: Lotuleli may not get the exposure that he would if he played on a team in the SEC, but he is the surest defender in this year’s class. A rare combination of size, strength, and quickness will make him a fit in any scheme at the next level. He is big and strong enough to be an effective Nose Tackle in a 3-4, while possessing the explosiveness and agility to be a playmaking 3-technique in a 4-3. There hasn’t been an interior defensive lineman this versatile since Ndamukong Suh came out of Nebraska a few years ago.

3.) Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia – 6’3″ 241 lbs: Jones leads a loaded class at outside linebacker this year. 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.

4.) 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. Like Warmack, Joeckel is a can’t miss prospect.

5.) Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M – 6’4″ 248 lbs: Moore has drawn comparisons to the last great Texas A&M defensive prospect, Von Miller, and for good reason. He has that 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. Moore 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.

6.) Bjoern Werner, Defensive End, Florida State – 6’4″ 255 lbs: Werner is one of those prospects that immediately jumps off of the film due to his unstoppable motor. Having moved from primarily a 6I technique in his junior season, Werner has shown his athelticism and ability to be an excellent edge rusher this year. In terms of pure strength, Werner may be the best at his position this year, which will make him an appealing prospect for either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. The combine will be key for Werner’s stock as a 3-4 OLB as there are some concerns about whether or not he possesses the athleticism needed to make the transition from having his hand on the ground for the majority of his reps. Intellectually, Werner has shown over his career at Florida State that he has no problem grasping new concepts in terms of his position.

7.) Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, LSU – 6’5″ 240 lbs: Surely some boom or bust potential here, Mingo has the upside that can allow him to develop into a stud at the next level. While his 2012 production took a bit of a hit, Mingo’s athleticism and elusiveness to evade blockers are what stand out on film the most. At 6’5″ he certainly has the frame that NFL scouts look for in pass rushing prospects, and should be able to add some weight that will make his size adequate in the pros.

8.) Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama – 6’1″ 197 lbs: Milliner may be a bit underrated on most boards right now, but make no mistake he is the clear cut leader of the cornerback class this year. There are some concerns about his man coverage abilities, but having played his entire collegiate career under defensive backs guru Nick Saban, there should be little doubt about his knowledge of the position and coachability. Like most players in his category, the combine will be an effective tool to measure how far his stock rises or falls as we head closer to April.

9.) Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan – 6’7″ 302 lbs: Lewan is poised to be the next great Big 10 lineman at the NFL level, and for good reason. Aside from his immense size, Lewan shows excellent footwork and hand technique that will allow him to contribute almost immediately next season. His tenacity is something that cannot be coached, but is surely required to play the position.

10.) Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame – 6’1″ 248 lbs: While Te’o will likely see his stock fall in the next few weeks due to a rather lackluster performance in the BCS National Championship, remember he was going against the best interior lineman in the entire nation. His performance against Alabama will certainly raise some red flags and question marks about whether or not his productivity from Notre Dame can translate to the NFL, but let’s not forget his impressive overall body of work as the foundation of his defense for the past 4 seasons. Te’o has the rare intangibles that will make him a sure upgrade for any team in need of an interior linebacker.

11.) Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State – 6’3″ 335 lbs: It is surely tough to gauge how Ohio State defensive lineman will translate to the NFL due to the poor track record in recent years (Vernon Gholston!), but Hankins has immense size and strength that make him a force at the point of attack. He certainly is not as versatile as some of the other defensive lineman in this year’s class, but he has the potential to be a very productive pro.

12.) Jonathan Cooper, Offensive Guard, North Carolina – 6’3″ 320 lbs: Cooper is a bit of an underrated player in my opinion, but the agility he possesses at his size will make him a very good pro. He consistently shows the ability to blow defenders off the ball at the point of attack, as well as having arguably the best range, in terms of getting to the second level, out of any interior lineman in this year’s class.

13.) Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU – 6’6″ 273 lbs: Ansah is a prospect who is sure to see his stock soar following the combine and his individual workouts. An extremely raw prospect, having finished just his second year of playing football, Ansah flashes very unexpected instinct and recognition. While there is serious boom or bust potential here, having seen his growth in his very small sample of time playing the game, I feel very comfortable about how he will grow in the NFL. Ansah was originally recruited to BYU to run on the track and field team, and his athleticism is evident on film, particularly considering his immense size.

14.) Alec Ogletree, Inside Linebacker, Georgia – 6’3″ 237 lbs: A converted safety, Ogletree has the top end speed that NFL teams are looking for in interior linebackers that is needed to match up with the league’s new wave of athletic tight ends. His superior sideline to sideline ability allow him to be a menace on the field as he has great ability to tally up a large number of tackles on any given day. The biggest concerns for Ogletree will be how well he can adapt to becoming a downhill player at the next level. However, given his size and athleticism, he has the potential to end up being the best at his position in this year’s class down the road.

15.) Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame – 6’6″ 250 lbs: Eifert comes from a school that has consistently produced quality NFL tight ends throughout their history, and there is no reason to believe he is not the next to join that class. A massive target, Eifert shows tremendous ball skills, and a great ability to leap over defenders. His overall top end speed is the only concern as of right now.

16.) Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri – 6’4″ 295 lbs: Richardson accumulated an astounding 75 tackles and 4 sacks this past season, eye-popping numbers for an interior defensive lineman. A very physical player, Richardson flashes excellent technique in terms of both hand and footwork, along with a relentless motor that is vital to the position.

17.) Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon – 6’7″ 243 lbs: Jordan is very high on some boards out there, but to me he has the biggest bust potential out of any player at his position this year. While he certainly has the range and athleticism to be a very effective OLB in a 3-4, Jordan does not show as consistent a level of tenacity as I like to see out of defensive lineman. Durability will be a concern moving forward as well, as he is poised to missed the Senior Bowl due to an injury sustained in his last game.

18.) Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas – 6’1″ 218 lbs: Vaccaro is very intellectually impressive, as his film reveals his great ability to recognize routes and react to them. He has the long frame that NFL scouts look for in an early round safety, and he has shown he can be effective in the run game as well. His range does not scream “elite” by any means, but in the right scheme, Vaccaro can excel.

19.) Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia – 6’3″ 208 lbs: Smith is probably the most athletically gifted quarterback in this year’s class, but is any quarterback truly worthy of a first round grade this year? I am not sold on that notion one bit. However, Smith put together a very impressive season at West Virginia, that is being forgotten due to his poor performance in the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse. Smith may be more of a developmental prospect, but his size, athleticism, and overall body of work at WVU, particularly his completion percentage, will make him an intriguing player for a team in need of a quarterback in the late first/early second round.

20.) Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Alabama – 6’1″ 220 lbs: Lacy flew a bit under the radar this season as a major beneficiary of the nation’s best offensive line, however, he has put together an extremely impressive body of work over the course of his career at Alabama, having averaged nearly 7 yards per carry throughout his three seasons with the Crimson Tide. Lacy has excellent size and strength, combined with fantastic balance and vision that should translate well to the NFL. His top end speed will be the biggest concern, but a strong combine performance will put those questions to bed, further boosting his draft stock.