By: Steve Balestrieri
With the 2013 NFL Draft nearing and free agency playing out the New England Patriots have solidified their roster during the pre-draft period and now sit in the position of being able to draft the best player available rather than looking toward need.
So with this Mock Draft 3.0, the needs of most teams are beginning to take shape. While there is still plenty of time for more maneuvering in free agency, one can expect some last minute wheeling and dealing, the big splash moves are about over.
The question most New England Patriots fans want to know is what will the team do with the #29 pick? I believe that they may opt to trade down in the first round and pick up an extra 2nd round pick and a mid-round pick since they have no 4th, 5th or 6th round picks. The Patriots have signed WR Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet. The Steelers have until Monday, April 15 to either match the offer or decide to let him walk.
Should Pittsburgh decline that would leave the Patriots without a 3rd round pick either and a pretty clear path to trading back in either the first or second rounds, perhaps both.
So with Mock 3.0 let us take a look at some changes from the previous mock draft:
1. Kansas City — Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M – no change
With the Chiefs releasing T Eric Winston it opens the door for Andy Reid to step in and draft his replacement. And with Alex Smith in the fold, Joeckel will eventually be protecting his blindside.
2. Jacksonville — Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Jaguars are either putting on the most elaborate smoke screen in history, or are really interested in Smith as they had their entire front office to see his Pro-Day.
3. Oakland — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida- no change
The Raiders have lost Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant along the DL and need a player that can come in and make his presence felt. Originally had Star Lotulelei here, he has been medically cleared and was strong at his pro day.
4. Philadelphia — Eric Fisher, T Central Michigan
Philly lost both its starting corners in free agency but have signed Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. With those players in the fold, they’ll add another corner later but need help keeping their QBs upright and on the field.
5. Detroit — Dee Milliner, CB Alabama
The Lions need help at Tackle, DE but in the secondary especially. They can’t have Aaron Rodgers shredding them twice a year, and Milliner is a step in the right direction.
6. Cleveland — Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama- no change
I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Browns trade down here and pick up some extra value. This could be a prime spot for them to do it. Had them going in Mock 1.0 with Dion Jordan but with them bringing in Paul Kruger and journeyman Quentin Groves, they have addressed this issue for now. Warmack will allow them to really upgrade their offensive line.
7. Arizona — Barkevious Mingo, DE/LB LSU
The Cardinals could use some help rushing the QB from the edge and Mingo would be a great candidate for them. An athletic, talented player who will step in and start from Day 1 at training camp.
8. Buffalo — Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
The Bills released Ryan Fitzpatrick and brought in Kevin Kolb, and his comments aside, he will be the QB only until they feel Nassib is ready.
9. NY Jets — Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon- no change
The Jets need help rushing the passer and have already signed Antwan Barnes. This will help them get the edge rusher that they’ve been lacking. They could also reach a bit and bring in some offensive line help…Cooper would fit.
10. Tennessee — Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah- no change
The Titans have addressed some of their issues at OL during free agency, where we had them taking Warmack in Mock 1.0. Either Warmack is he’s still available or Lotulelei is a great fit for the Titans here at #10..
11. San Diego — Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma – no change
The Chargers could still go for defense as we pointed out in Mock 1.0 but the protection across the board in the Bolts OL has been poor and Johnson is a good place to start.
12. Miami — Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State- no change
In earlier mocks we had them taking WR Coradelle Patterson but that was prior to Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, as well as the re-signing of Brian Hartline. With Sean Smith gone in free agency, the Fins need a big, physical corner and Rhodes (6’2, 215) will be that guy.
13. Tampa Bay — Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
This pick may end up being the property of the New York Jets in the Darrelle Revis talks that refuse to die, and if not the Bucs could go with Austin or with another CB if they do not land the Jets elite corner.
14. Carolina — Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri- no change
They could also opt for a safety here, Vaccaro would be a good fit, but with both Floyd and Lotulelei off the board, the Panthers opt for the athletic Richardson who can play 3-technique and could be a double-digit sack producer from the inside.
15. New Orleans — Ezekial Ansah, OLB/DE, BYU – no change
Plenty of options here for New Orleans, OT, DT or S but the Saints need a guy that can provide the edge rush from the OLB or put their hand on the ground from DE. Ansah, if he lasts this long in the first round has freakish athletic potential, and was recruited to run track.
16. St. Louis — Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
With a very young roster with only a handful of players over thirty years old, the Rams are getting younger and more athletic. Both of 2012’s starting safeties Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl are gone and Vaccaro fills a big need.
17. Pittsburgh — Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Steelers need help at OLB replacing James Harrison as well as for a WR here, as Emmanuel Sanders has signed an offer sheet to New England after they already lost Mike Wallace to Miami. But both Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are on the wrong side of 30 and the S position needs a shot in the arm. Elam is a good physical presence who likes to take risks….he should fit right in.
18. Dallas — Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
If Vaccaro or Elam is still on the board Dallas might jump at either to upgrade the safety position. But after handing Tony Romo a big extension the Cowboys need help in the interior of the offensive line protecting their investment and Cooper would immediately help and start.
19. NY Giants — Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Giants suffered from the dearth of a pass rush last season, a stark contrast to their latest two Super Bowl wins. Jones from the outside edge will free up some room for JPP to rush from the DE position.
20. Chicago — Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Bears could easily go for a LB here, in fact Kevin Minter may be their choice, but Eifert is a too tempting target to pass up and gives QB Jay Cutler a favorite target in the middle of the field. Eifert is a big, versatile, athletic option at tight end with very good ball skills.
21. Cincinnati — Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
The Bengals big needs are in the middle of the field on their defense at linebacker and safety, Brown gives them an immediate upgrade.
22. St. Louis (from Redskins) — Corradelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
With the Rams initially addressing the S position with Vaccarro earlier in Round 1, they turn to their WR position. Patterson is an exciting prospect at 6’2, 215 he has the combination of size, speed and vision that make him a great fit.
23. Minnesota — Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
One of the Vikes biggest need is at tackle, Williams is versatile and will step in and play from Day 1. He’ll team up with the aging Kevin Williams to clog the middle for Minnesota.
24. Indianapolis — Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Werner is versatile and play either DE position or line-up at OLB in the 3-4. Werner is more than just a pass rusher, he’s shown good run defense and has an above average football IQ.
25. Minnesota (from Seahawks) — Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Vikings add another talented WR for Christian Ponder in Minnesota. Allen is a big, 6-2, 205 WR who should pair well with Greg Jennings. Good size and speed, sure-handed and makes plays for the ball in the air.
26. Green Bay — Eric Reed, S, LSU – no change
The Pack need help at safety and Reed is the guy I’ve had there all along. Could see them also addressing the RB position, but not in Round 1.
27. Houston — DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson- no change
The Texans addressed their most critical need on defense at safety, look for them to add an LB in Round 2. Hopkins provides them an excellent target opposite Andre Johnson.
28. Denver — Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington – no change
Still sticking with Trufant here although with Dumervil gone that could be an edge rusher, if Werner or Short is available….can see them going there too.
29. New England — Datone Jones, DE, Purdue
With the additions of Tommy Kelly and Armond Armstead, the Patriots have addressed the depth they’ve needed at DT, something we picked for Short in Mock 2. With the Sanders offer sheet pending, I really see them trading down here. If they don’t , then they’ll address an extra body in the pass rush with another corner coming later.
30. Atlanta — Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford – no change
The Falcons will look to upgrade its long term prospects at TE with Gonzalez coming back for one more season. Eifert would be the choice possibly, but Ertz is a very good TE that comes from a good college offense.
31. San Francisco — Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama
The Niners have tons of draft picks and can afford to move up or around this season. With the best two tight ends off the board, I can see them beefing up the defensive line with Williams who would be a NT for the Niners.
32. Baltimore — D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Huge, 6’4, 355, physical, run blocker that can be a mauler for the Ravens running game as a RT or a G. Pass blocking skills can be improved but has a ton of upside.