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Profetta’s 2013 NFL Mock Draft: Surprise, Surprise at No. 1

Posted by Micheal Profetta On November - 10 - 2012
"A.J. McCarron"

Shocker at the top of Profetta’s first 2013 NFL Mock Draft

1. Kansas City Chiefs- A.J. McCarron QB Alabama (Jr.)

Just like the Redskins in the ’12 NFL Draft, the Chiefs absolutely cannot leave Radio City Music Hall without a franchise quarterback in tow. The question is no longer whether Geno Smith or Matt Barkley is worth the first overall pick. Smith is potentially a franchise QB, but #1 seems a reach at this point. Barkley is more Jimmy Clausen than Andrew Luck. The new question is whether there’s a college QB who could emerge late and fill the void at the top of the 2013 NFL Draft, ala Sam Bradford in 2010.

The answer is as obvious as a punch in the mouth, yet most of us have overlooked it. It’s not Tyler Bray or Tyler Wilson. It’s definitely not Logan Thomas. It’s McCarron. He isn’t a noodle-armed Alabama game-manager like Jay Barker or Greg McElroy. McCarron is a former blue-chip recruit with ideal size, deadly accuracy, a strong-enough arm, and a Manningesque feel for the game. He has ample experience in a pro-style offense and is carved from wood thanks to brutal SEC competition and weekly practices vs. a defensive unit that might make a few NFL teams envious. Most importantly, he’s a flat-out winner. What’s not to like?

Also considered: QB Geno Smith, DT Star Lotulelei/Johnathan HankinsIn the event that K.C. swings a trade for a young veteran QB with some upside (Ryan Mallett, Kirk Cousins, Matt Flynn), the next order of business for the new Chiefs braintrust would be to let Pioli mistakes Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson hit the bricks. The D-line could be in need of rebuilding.     

2. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jarvis Jones OLB Georgia (Jr.)

The Jags are last in the NFL in sacks…again. It seems that I’ve been typing the previous sentence since the days of Jeff Lageman and Tony Brackens.

Gene Smith is a dead man walking in Jacksonville, so it’s unclear who will be calling the shots in the war room come April 25th. One of Smith’s fatal flaws during his tenure in Jacksonville has been his habit of getting too cute with his Draft Day decisions, i.e., reaching to fill needs (Tyson Alualu) and investing too many premium picks on slow-to-develop small school guys (Will Rackley, D’Anthony Smith, etc.). Whoever the new GM may be, he would be wise to distance himself from his predecessor’s mistakes by simply selecting the BPA. Jones is arguably the top prize in the 2013 NFL Draft and the most explosive pass-rushing prospect. Need meets value.

Also considered: QB Geno SmithBlaine Gabbert has been a disappointment, but in fairness to him, he’s been given very little to work with and is barely 23 years old. Aside from anomalies like Luck and Griffin, it usually takes three years to get a solid read on a young QB. Gabbert has showed some improvement and even a little grit this year. Let’s give the kid a healthy shoulder, more to work with, and one more season before we put him on a cross. DE/OLB Damontre Moore…I still think that Jones is the top pass-rusher available, but Moore is nipping at his heels. DT Star Lotulelei/Johnathan HankinsTerrance Knighton has one foot out the door and first-rounder Alualu has been a relative disappointment. The Jaguars have no hope of competing with Houston in the AFC South if they can’t stop the run.     

3. Cleveland Browns- Geno Smith QB West Virginia

Tom Heckert seems convinced that Brandon Weeden is the long-term answer at QB. Whether Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner agree and whether Heckert is still around in ’13 remain to be seen.

Weeden has flashed some promising glimpses, but, overall, his season has been defined by the typical struggles of a rookie QB. The problem is that Weeden is not your typical rookie QB. Taking into consideration the three-year learning curve for the average QB, Weeden will be 31 years old and in physical decline just as he’s expected to blossom. There just may not be enough light at the end of the tunnel to satisfy Haslam/Banner. In the wake of Holmgren and Heckert’s tragic refusal to simply bite the bullet and move up for RG3 in the ’12 Draft while they had the chance, I have a hard time imagining that Haslam/Banner wouldn’t push for Geno Smith if he’s available.

Also considered:  DE/OLB Damontre MooreThe close runner-up. Moore could serve as run-stopper Frostee Rucker’s tag team partner for a little while before taking over the RDE job full-time. DT Star Lotulelei/Johnathan HankinsThere’s no need for a DT in the Browns 4-3 scheme, but who’s to say that Haslam/Banner won’t clean house this offseason? Maybe the new D-coordinator installs the 3-4, in which case a D-line of Lotulelei or Hankins/Rubin/Taylor (with Winn in reserve) would have the potential to dominate the LOS. ILB Manti Te’oRemaining with the hypothetical 3-4 scenario, how about Te’o as D’Qwell Jackson’s inside partner? Inside linebacker is traditionally a low-value position, but Te’o is truly exceptional.    

4. Carolina Panthers- Star Lotulelei DT Utah

Nobody will ever confuse Carolina’s “Edwards Wall” with the Minnesota’s old “Williams Wall”. Ron and Dwan Edwards are journeymen stopgaps on the wrong side of thirty. Lotulelei could be the interior disruptor the Panthers have lacked since parting ways with Kris Jenkins. With Lotulelei the designated bull in a china shop and a healthy Jon Beason teaming up with Luke Kuechly to form a deluxe clean-up crew, the Carolina defense could be cooking with gas in 2013.

Also considered: DE/OLB Damontre Moore…Greg Hardy has really stepped up opposite Charles Johnson, but Moore still has to be a consideration. Never enough pass-rushers. DT Johnathan HankinsHankins is every bit the disruptor as Lotulelei, but there seems to be a growing sentiment that Lotulelei is the safer prospect of the two. Expect a photo-finish in the pre-draft race for the #1 DT ranking. 

5. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)- Luke Joeckel OT Texas A & M (Jr.)

Barry Richardson…Wayne Hunter…Chris Williams…the Rams have been scraping the bottom of the barrel in search of warm bodies to occupy the OT spots on their depth chart this season. Rodger Saffold is no great shakes when he’s healthy (which is rarely).

Recent whispers have Joeckel potentially emerging as the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. If no QB emerges from the pack, Joeckel could pull a Jake Long 2008. That kind of value and the pressing need for a blindside protector in St. Louis makes a Joeckel/Rams marriage a deluxe no-brainer at #5. Even if the Redskins win a few more games and drop the Rams out of range to grab Joeckel, the Rams could reverse their 2012 Draft strategy and trade up for Joeckel come Draft Day.

Also considered: None  

6. Tennessee Titans- Matt Elam S Florida (Jr.)

Tennessee’s safeties are awful. There’s no way on earth that SS Jordan Babineaux will be around to collect the $1.6 million he’s due in 2013, while ’07 first-rounder Michael Griffin is on very thin ice at FS. Robert Johnson is a helluva blues player, but not a starting NFL safety.

An aggressive, do-everything whirlwind cut from the Earl Thomas mold, Elam is a rapid riser. He would make an instant impact in a Tennessee secondary sorely in need of a tone-setter.

Also considered: DE/OLB Damontre Moore…Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley have come on as the season has progressed. Despite lingering criticism, Morgan has been quietly productive (3rd in NFL in TFL). DT Johnathan Hankins…Talented youngsters Jurrell Casey and Mike Martin are an unheralded duo. ILB Manti Te’o… I suppose that you could move Colin McCarthy to the weakside to make room for Te’o, but the Titans didn’t invest a 2nd-rounder in Zach Brown to have him ride the pine.

7. Cincinnati Bengals- Manti Te’o ILB Notre Dame

The high-profile All-American from the Big School…Te’o just strikes me as a Mike Brown first-rounder. It just so happens that Te’o would also help fill one of Cincinnati’s greatest needs. Undrafted free agent Vontaze Burfict has been the Bengals best linebacker this season…and it’s not even close. ‘Nuff said.

Also considered: DE Damontre Moore…Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers and Carlos Dunlap comprise a nice rotation at DE, but Johnson and Geathers are free agents after the season and Dunlap is due to hit the open market in ’14. DT Johnathan HankinsDomata Peko is overrated, but Cincy just drafted Devon Still and Brandon Thompson.

8. Oakland Raiders- Damontre Moore DE/OLB Texas A & M (Jr.)

The Oakland interior D-line is a poop sandwich. My first instinct was to slot Johnathan Hankins here and call it a day. I decided against it for two reasons; firstly, GM Reggie McKenzie seems intent on rebuilding the Raiders with high-motor guys. I love Hankins’ upside, but “high-motor guy” isn’t a phrase that comes to mind when I watch him play. Secondly, Oakland already has a gap-shooting DT-in-waiting in current DE Lamarr Houston (6-3/305).

What the Raiders really need is a dominant pass-rusher. Through eight games, the Oakland defense has amassed a measly 11 sacks (2nd-worst in the NFL). Jarvis Jones may be the most explosive pass-rusher in this draft, but Moore’s motor, consistency, and elite production (#1 in the SEC in sacks & TFL, #1 among FBS D-linemen in tackles) could push him ahead of Jones as the pre-draft process unfolds. Moore has an On/On button, which should appeal to McKenzie. Moore’s versatility should intrigue DC Jason Tarver, who likes to employ a wide variety of alignments.

Also considered: DE/OLB Bjoern Werner…The runner-up. DT Johnathan Hankins, CB Dee Milliner…A lot depends on whether Michael Huff remains at CB.    

9. Buffalo Bills- C.J. Mosley ILB/OLB Alabama (Jr.)

Buffalo’s selection will hinge on whether GM Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey are retained after the season. Owner Ralph Wilson has been preaching patience in Buffalo, which is surprising when you consider that he’s at an age (94) where “next year” isn’t guaranteed. Nix is married to Ryan Fitzpatrick (who should really be holding a clipboard), but a new GM could mean a new QB. That makes Matt Barkley a consideration when mocking the Bills pick, but I just don’t think that Barkley is worth a top-ten spot…or even a first-round pick. A more likely scenario is Buffalo trading up from the second round into the late first round if they like Barkley enough.

Buffalo’s defense has been historically awful through half a season. Dave Wannstedt’s predictable scheming…injuries and underachievment from free-agency prizes Mario Williams and Mark Anderson…painful inexperience at cornerback…there’s plenty of fault to go around. The main culprits, however, have been the linebackers. They simply can’t get off blocks and are regularly chewed up and spit out in coverage. Upgrades are needed.

Mosley is the alpha dog of Alabama’s dominant defense and arguably it’s best player. He’s wildly productive, versatile, and perhaps the best coverage LB since Derrick Brooks. I think that Mosley could make a Jerod Mayo-type rise as the draft nears. Buffalo is a logical landing spot.

Also considered: QB Matt Barkley, WR Justin Hunter…Hunter’s upside is tempting, but the Bills already have an injury-prone track guy with a case of butterfingers in T.J. Graham. DE/OLB Bjoern Werner…Chris Kelsay could be a cap-casualty in ’13 and there are no guarantees with Mark Anderson. CB Dee Milliner…Terrence McGee won’t return in ’13 and Aaron Williams has regressed. Consecutive first-round SEC corners is a possibility for Buffalo.

10. Philadelphia Eagles- Johnathan Hankins DT Ohio State (Jr.)

Honestly, I don’t believe that Hankins will slip this far or that the Eagles will be drafting at #10. Philadelphia will actually be drafting higher.

The train has come off the track in Philly. Vick is a lost cause and the only alternative at QB is an untested rookie. The O-line has been a dumpster fire and now the best of the bunch (Herremans) is out for the season. Chronic eyebrow-tweaser Jason Babin has lost his LDE job to Brandon Graham. The Asomugha signing has been a disaster. The best player on the team (McCoy) doesn’t get enough touches because the soon-to-be-fired HC still labors under the delusion that the WCO is undefensable. This is a team with no chemistry, antiquated schemes, overrated talent, and a lame-duck coach. Things will only get worse.

Cullen Jenkins will never see that $1 million bonus he’s due in March. Mike Patterson was recently activated from the PUP, but his future is tenuous following brain surgery. Rookie DT Fletcher Cox is the only DT certain to be salvaged when the inevitable overhaul begins next season. A Hankins/Cox interior duo could be the cornerstone of the defensive rebuilding.

Also considered: QB Matt Barkley…Vick is history. The new GM may want his own guy and not Foles. DE/OLB Bjoern Werner…Babin could be a cap-casualty and Trent Cole isn’t getting any younger. CB Dee Milliner…Asomugha is expensive and in decline. The Eagles don’t seem in a hurry to offer DRC a contract extension. He may bolt after this season.  

**Because of the length of the draft, the remainder will be out in separate pages, so not to disturb the load time of one large mock draft.

  • Dse333

    That’s the stupidest speculation of a No. 1 pick I’ve ever seen. McCarron will be lucky if he goes in the first round. The guy has played with a stout defense and has been asked to be nothing more than a game manager.

    • Mprofetta

      Thanks for the comment, Dse333. Your reply was about what I expected from most folks. I realize that mocking McCarron is a long-shot, but we’re still half a year away from the draft; when it’s this early in the game, I’m more about trying prospect/team matches on for size than some futile attempt at pinpoint accuracy.

      I disagree with your assessment of McCarron. Firstly, the fact that he plays for a team with a great defense means nothing when evaluating him as a QB prospect. He just happens to be from Mobile and opted to play for his favorite team…who happen to have a great defense. McCarron was ranked anywhere from #4 to #9 in the 2009 pro-style QB rankings by Scout, Rivals, et al, and was heavily recruited by the likes of Florida State and Oklahoma before committing to Alabama. He’s not some walk-on level prospect who is limited to a game-manager role due to a lack of talent. Secondly, I don’t think that being an excellent game-manager should be a knock against McCarron. You can’t be a successful QB unless you can see the field, make the correct decisions, and know when to take what the defense gives you. McCarron has played the role to near-perfection since arriving at Alabama, and has evolved into much more of a play-maker as the coaches have loosened the reigns. It’s not as if McCarron is Tee Martin. McCarron can push the ball down the field with the best of them.

      Will McCarron be the first pick in the ’13 NFL Draft? Probably not (especially after last night’s game), but he deserves consideration. If you have any better suggestions for the Chiefs, I’m all ears.

      • bradc11

        Dse333,

        Speculation is the business we are in. I completely agree with Profetta in the fact that we are hitting the 6 month mark until draft day and one underclassman has declared for the draft (Rogers, yesterday). It’s all a crap shoot at this point. The only reason we do mock drafts at this point is for fans of the site that look forward to them.

        Profetta is also right in that being a game manager is not something to knock a QB for. If McCarron blows up last night, no one is commenting today on this selection. Reality is that he struggled, so it’s a hot topic.

        At NFL’s Future this is what we do. I took heat in September of last year for calling Robert Griffin a top five pick. Then in February, I was a genius. It’s all speculation based on a little knowledge of the prospects. As Micheal said, McCarron probably won’t be the first pick but it’s worth looking at as a possibility with no QB’s emerging as worthy of the top pick.

  • Mr. J

    I can’t even take this serious now. McCarron MIGHT be a 4th rounder.

    • iheartkyleboller

      Outside of the obvious McCarron criticism, it’s a nice start to the mock draft. I like Matt Elam this early. The Earl Thomas comparison is a good one and I think he winds up going higher than expected. Still waiting for the rest of the mock.

  • Mr. J

    I can’t even take this serious now. McCarron MIGHT be a 4th rounder.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Almty/100000084401257 Bruce Almty

    Nothing I like better than independent thinking and all the draft mockers suddenly ranking AJ McCarron to KC Chiefs….esp. the day after Alabama loses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Almty/100000084401257 Bruce Almty

    Bills GM Buddy Nix is looking to draft a “franchise” QB …. There are 3–one in Oregon, one at Texas A&M & one at Notre Dame, but he’ll have to wait 3 years, they are all Freshman.
    No franchise QBs in this class….only wasted picks.

    • bradc11

      There’s one in Louisville right now as well. Not sure I would call Golson a franchise QB just yet. There’s a lot to be desired with his game projecting to the next level. Some would argue against Johnny Football because of the transition to the NFL. His size and arm strength will be called into question but I personally love his game. Mariota is the real deal.

    • Mprofetta

      Geno Smith needs more polish, but I wouldn’t call him a wasted pick. He has franchise QB potential. Bridgewater and Mariota are the truth. Golson…not sure about that. I think that Manziel is one of the guys who thrives in college, but may lack the tools to continue that success at the next level. Gary Danielson’s comparison to Ty Detmer was apt. Could be a Jeff Garcia-type, which isn’t bad. Jeff Driskel and Brett Hundley could emerge as top-of-the-draft guys with more development. You make a good point…the college ranks aren’t exactly brimming with franchise QBs these days.

  • sisusydan39

    Good analysis on the Oakland pick. totally okay with it.

    • Mprofetta

      Appreciate it. Oakland should be in good shape this offseason. Lots of guys coming off the books. McClain’s salary jumps from $970,000 to $4 million and Seymour’s jumps from $925,000 to $7.5 million. Those two will have to restructure or hit the bricks. Expensive dead weight like Kelly and Curry are as good as gone. McKenzie should have plenty of room to extend Veldheer and Houston, then begin restructuring the roster with his kind of guys. The strength area of the ’13 draft class (D-line) lines up with the Raiders needs. They should be able to sit tight and come out of the first round with an impact defender. I hope that McKenzie can turn Oakland around; the NFL doesn’t seem right when the Raiders aren’t competitive.

  • The_Strategy_Expert

    But who will the Lions take?

    • Mprofetta

      The best player available; like they usually do. My revamped, McCarron-free mock will be out shortly. I have Detroit at #14. Someone like Milliner, Werner or Montgomery could slip into Detroit’s lap. Elam and Christian Jones are guys who could make a late rise and fit well in Detroit.

      • Reggie

        The Lions are starting to dwindle down their needs. On offense it is a speed RB and Interior OL talent. I doubt they take an interior OL men since Mayhew has not put any value on them or taken on in any draft. He loves versatile players so someone like Barrett Jones might be tempting but will not be the BPA. I think DE, LB, CB, and Safety are the needs so Werner and Montgomery would be a welcome. Our DT talent might be the best or near the best so they would have a great situation. If Te’o is there I would snag him and get a leader on the defense. Tulloch is decent but not special. Banks, MIllner, Rhodes, and Elam would really help out as well but I think 2nd and 3rd Round can find good safeties. Maybe a Te’o and Tony Jefferson draft?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Almty/100000084401257 Bruce Almty

    MP…may I suggest, KC select BPA in the 1st round and QB 2nd. Just seems like such a stretch of a premium pick on a less than certain QB. There are plenty of mediocre QBs available in the 2nd round.

    • Mprofetta

      I’m finishing up my new mock right now. No Mccarron this time around…it looks like it’s Geno Smith or bust for the Chiefs.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Almty/100000084401257 Bruce Almty

        I was referring to all QBs not Mccarron specifically. KC can draft a QB in the 2nd round.

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