Final 2013 Draft thoughts
As some you know, I spent far too much time over the last few weeks compiling NFL mock draft after NFL mock draft. Fortunately, for my sanity anyway, we have reached the pencils down part of the process for those participating in the Huddle Report's contest; entries were due by midnight. However, since I had more draft thoughts stuck in my head, thought it best to unburden myself.
*After weeks of speculating that the Jaguars would go with a pass rusher with the second overall pick, the collective national media now has Jacksonville targeting an offensive tackle. That would be either Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, depending on which one the Chiefs select at No. 1. I won't argue about OT being a safer play, but the Jaguars finished with a league-low 20 sacks last season. In addition, Jacksonville currently has a decent left tackle option in former UVA star Eugene Monroe. Granted, Monroe is a free agent after this season, but what if everyone wants to keep the marriage together? That means the Jaguars just used the No. 2 overall pick on a right tackle. Tougher debate is which defensive end to slot here. Oregon's Deon Jordan fits in Gus Bradley's defensive scheme. Combined with his experience over BYU's Ezekiel Ansah gives him the nod.
*Another team apparently hot and heavy for an offensive tackle: the Eagles. If this means they pass on Utah DT Star Lotulelei, Redskins fans should rejoice. Philly's defensive front-7 needs players for their new 3-4 scheme and Lotulelei, arguably the best player in this draft, would be a tremendous anchor.
*My mock has two quarterbacks among the top-8 picks, Geno Smith to the Browns at 6, and Ryan Nassib to the Bills at 8. Realistically the projection is those players to those teams, but not in those slots. The Bills should be able to trade down if they really want to reunite Nassib with his college coach Doug Marrone, now Buffalo's head coach. Ignore the Jets' supposed interest. They are just bluffing, so the Bills do not select West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin or trade the pick to another team that might. As for the Browns, somebody will take Smith in the first and Cleveland appears most logical even after drafting Brandon Weeden last year.
*Austin is a tremendous threat that will keep defensive coordinators up at night and have his new team crafting new chapters in the playbook just to ensure they maximize his shifty talents. However, Austin is not a true No. 1 receiver, not at all. That is why he's more of a luxury pick than an offensive staple. Even though they play different positions, think of Austin as Reggie Bush earlier in his career. Fun toy, but one you can't use as often as you like and therefore the notion of value becomes tricky.
*I really wanted to mock Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert to the Dolphins at 12 or the Jets at 13. New York could certainly select two offensive players in the first, though I believe Rex Ryan's desire to finally add a pass rusher like LSU's Barkevious Mingo. Miami is trickier to project because of reports of a deal for Kansas City's left tackle Branden Albert, also a former UVA product.
*The Giants have not drafted a linebacker in the first round since selecting Carl Banks in 1984. If they can get past the sketchy vibe surrounding Georgia's Alec Ogletree or believe Manti Te'o dealing with the New York media is doable, that streak might end. Something tells me the call ends up with them taking an offensive lineman (Alabama OT D.J. Fluker) for their aging line or a pass rusher (Florida State's Bjoren Werner).
*With needs at safety, offensive guard and defensive tackle, the Cowboys are in solid shape with the 18th overall pick. If all the viable options were available, Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson is the best bet followed by Texas FS Kenny Vaccaro and North Carolina G Jonathan Cooper (my call), who could go anywhere from 7-18.