2013 NFL Mock Draft: Star vaults himself back into top five contention
The Dolphins were aggressive in free agency in filling holes. But there remains significant needs to address in the draft. The Dolphins lost cornerback Sean Smith to the Chiefs, Jake Long to the Rams, and don’t have a pass rusher opposite Cam Wake. I fully expect the Dolphins to be in on Branden Albert as securing the left side for Ryan Tannehill is a must. But with Jeff Ireland doling out huge contracts to Mike Wallace and Dannell Ellerbe they are going to have work to do to not cash strap themselves for years to come.
Xavier Rhodes makes a ton of sense here as the corner situation is abysmal. But there’s plenty of depth at the position that they should be able to find starters in the 2nd and even 3rd round. Defensive end is a position they could target with this pick but I think they find a vet in free agency to man that spot in the short-term.
Listen, I like Rhodes as much as the next guy but the reality is that this team needs to strike on playmakers as they have soaked up a ton of cap room this offseason. Koa Misi is a solid player but doesn’t give you the impact that Jarvis Jones does. Jones’ neck appears to be a thing of the past and shouldn’t fall much further than this spot. Trust me Dolphins fans, I know this isn’t the biggest need but a LB corps of Jones, Ellerbe, and Wheeler offers a little bit of everything. Jones’ versatility is a major plus as well as he can play multiple spots in multiple fronts.
The Bucs were linked to Darrelle Revis but until the cost comes down, I don’t expect that to happen. There are needs in Tampa Bay. Most notably at CB, DT, and DE. So why take Tavon Austin?
It’s a bit of a luxury pick, as they picked up Kevin Ogletree in free agency but he adds a dimension to this offense that it sorely lacked in 2012. There are a handful of teams that will value Austin this highly and my guess is Greg Schiano may be one of them as he saw him first hand for three seasons at Rutgers.
14. Carolina Panthers – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Panthers could look in a couple of directions with this selection. The OL needs help, WR, CB, and DT could all be options. Cordarrelle Patterson could be an intriguing option here but looking at their future cap mess, they have to hit on an immediate need.
Rhodes gives the Panthers a very solid trio of young corners with Josh Norman and Josh Thomas. That said, Thomas isn’t ready to step into the starting lineup and Rhodes should be ready from day one. The Panthers brought in Drayton Florence as a possible stopgap but Rhodes would instantly serve as an upgrade.
15. New Orleans Saints – Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The Saints filled a major hole with the Keenan Lewis signing. They still have needs at OT, DE, NT, S, and OLB. The defense was dismal in 2012 and needs to find ways to create pressure on the QB.
With Rob Ryan taking over the defense they will try to create pressure with multiple looks. Mingo is an elite athlete that didn’t produce at LSU as expected or up to his talent level. Some of those issues may have been schematic but there’s no doubt that he underperformed and at times played down to his competition. That said, he offers elite upside as a pass rusher that could create havoc on the edge in Ryan’s defense.
The Rams would love for Tavon Austin to fall to them but I can’t see him making it down this far. There’s going to be a team in the top 15 that value him very highly. That team in our mock is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Rams addition of Jake Long will significantly help this offensive line and offensive unit. That said, guard remains a major need area for this team and Jon Cooper is a great value with the 16th pick. Too good to pass on at this point as he can step in from day one at LG.
Mike Wallace is no more, leaving a need at the receiver position. It’s very unlike the Steelers to take a receiver this early but Patterson has special written all over him and is an excellent value at No. 17. The Steelers need to add some juice to the position as they are left with Plaxico Burress and Jericho Cotchery behind Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. The kicker is that Steelers still aren’t out of the woods on Sanders, who is a RFA and the Pats flirted with.
Patterson gives Big Ben a big option on the outside that he lacks and a guy that can change the game with the ball in his hands. I know defense is the bigger need but there’s no doubt that they need a game changer on offense.
Not surprisingly, the Cowboys have been inactive early on in free agency. They don’t have the cap to be aggressive in free agency but have plenty of holes to fill. The offensive line is a sore spot and needs to be addressed for Tony Romo’s future. On defense they have nothing at safety. Matt Johnson and Barry Church are solid depth players but the Cowboys will be sorry if they if they go into 2013 with Johnson or Church as starters.
Jerry Jones would have to be ecstatic if Vaccaro was available when they are picking in the first round. They are rumored to really like Vaccaro and he fills their biggest need on defense.
19. New York Giants – Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida St.
The Giants find a steal in the draft as Carradine slides down to them at 19. I believe if healthy, Carradine was a sure-fire top 15 and possibly top ten pick.
Carradine turns raw power to speed as well as any DE in the draft. He has shown significant progress in his rehab, giving scouts a glimpse at his power at the FSU pro day when he repped out 32 times. Carradine isn’t running but appears to be on a collision course with an early recovery.
The Bears did a solid job of filling holes on offense with the additions of Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett. Now they need to focus on the defense. Geno Hayes is gone and Brian Urlacher is up in the air and clearly not the player he was. Addressing the linebacker spot is an absolute must.
Arthur Brown checking in at 240 pounds and having a very good pro day will jump him into the region he needed to be selected. I think he’s a top 15 player in the draft and shouldn’t fall much further than this point.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – John Cyprien, SS, FIU
I have been a proponent of the Bengals taking a RT here. Assuming that Andre Brown may fetch a bigger offer. But as the days go it appears more likely that the Bengals will be able to retain Smith. The tackle market is drying up, especially at RT and Sebastian Vollmer and Eric Winston remain unsigned. My guess is that the Bengals come in with a decent offer to keep Smith.
The Bengals, as expected, haven’t seriously been in on any major free agent signings. They have a need at safety opposite Reggie Nelson. Cyprien is ready to step in immediately at strong safety and gives the Bengals an upgrade in the box and in the backend.
22. St. Louis Rams (f/Washington) – Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
The Rams have addressed their offensive line woes with signing Jake Long and taking Jon Cooper with No. 16. Now it’s time to look at the WR, S, and LB positions. With Kenny Vaccaro and John Cyprien off the board, the Rams wouldn’t be wise to reach on a Matt Elam/Eric Reid type. The most obvious hole is at WR and taking Keenan Allen is a pretty logical fit.
Allen was viewed as the top receiver in the draft by many but his inability to workout has taken hit on his draft stock. Allen is a solid receiver that fits in this range. He doesn’t possess great speed but reliable hands and run after the catch ability will make him a solid bet for the Rams.