Point/Counterpoint: First Annual Captain’s Blog NFL Mock Draft!

Less than a week left until the beginning of 2013 NFL Draft. Needless to say, we are all getting a little antsy. With big news coming out yesterday with the NFL schedule release, we at least have something to tide us over for the long week of waiting ahead.

However, since we have already speculated about which opponents we are most excited about seeing and which game we want to see for our opener, I say we spend this week working out just how this draft might go down.

Since January, we’ve been seeing and reporting on the experts from ESPN, NFL.com, and countless other mock draft about who the Buccaneers could potentially snag with the 13th selection. So, I propose that we make our own.

Ladies and gentlemen: the First Annual Captain’s Blog NFL Mock Draft (FACBNFLMD)! One-by-one, pick-by-pick, let’s conjure up our own 2013 NFL Draft opening round.  As a gentleman, I’ll let you get the first overall pick with the Kansas City Chiefs. I’ll take the Jaguars at number two and send it back to you with the Raiders at pick three. Et cetera, et cetera.

Without further ado… With the first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs (via Scott Smith) select…

Scott Smith: Wow, this is quite an honor because – little known fact – I was once a Chiefs employee.  Having been around the likes of such great K.C. draft picks as Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and even (once) Buck Buchanan, I’m feeling some pressure to get this right and add to that pantheon of stars.  Not to mention, I want to get the FACBNFLMD off to a good start.  I mean, it’s the FACBNFLMD, for goodness’ sake!  So…

(SS) 1. Kansas City Chiefs: T Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
I assume we have to keep our explanations short, but let me just say that I don’t believe for a minute the Chiefs will consider anything but a left tackle here.  That narrows it down to Fisher or Luke Joeckel, and I’m guessing Kansas City will go with the player thought to have more “upside,” allowing Fisher to replace fellow tackle Joe Staley as the highest-drafted Chippewa ever.

(AN) 2. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Interesting pick at number one, giving the Jaguars a play at Luke Joeckel. If this is how it plays out, because tackle is not a huge position of need for the Jags, I would imagine they trade this pick. But, for the purpose of a mock draft, in which we’re not considering trades, I’ll have them grabbing Dion Jordan. This pick gives them a massive pass-rusher, which surely helps their defense that ranked last in the league in sacks for the 2012 season.

(SS) 3. Oakland Raiders: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
It has been really entertaining watching the defensive tackles move up and down the draft board the last two months; I remember when Star Lotulelei was considered a possible first-overall pick.  I can’t claim I know for sure that Floyd is the best of the bunch, but he seems to be the consensus top DT at this point, and that hits an Oakland need perfectly.

(AN) 4. Philadelphia Eagles: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The Eagles are hurting on the defensive line, and take a long look at both Lotulelei and Ziggy Ansah. I think they opt for the solid presence in the middle over the limited tape of Ansah here. This pick instantly improves their 126 rushing yards per game number.

(SS) 5. Detroit Lions: T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
I sure hope the Lions’ rep in New York doesn’t break a leg rushing this pick up to the stage.  You won’t see a lot of mocks with Joeckel still around at #5, but if he is Detroit will be the happiest team in the league.

(AN) 6. Cleveland Browns: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
If Milliner slips this far, this pick is all but a lock. Paired with Joe Haden, this selection instantly gives the Browns one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. There will be growing pains, but this will be a defense that quarterbacks don’t look forward to.

(SS) 7. Arizona Cardinals: T Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Even if we didn’t get the first half-dozen picks exactly right, I still think Joeckel and Fisher are both gone by this point and the Cardinals are fortunate (and thrilled) that this draft happens to have three top-10 talents at a position of great need.  Wouldn’t shock me if Johnson ends up as the best of the bunch.

(AN) 8. Buffalo Bills: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Bills invest in their quarterback of the future. There is talk of other quarterbacks visiting them, and they can feign interest all they want. When it comes down to it, Smith is the guy they want. You’re welcome, C.J. Spiller.

(SS) 9. New York Jets: G Chance Warmack, Alabama
It’s good thing you broke the seal on the QBs, because I wasn’t going to do it.  I’m still not convinced Smith goes in the top half of the round.  On the other hand, Warmack, who plays a position that is rarely valued in the top 10, is just too good at a position of need to get by the Jets.  I think Jets fans will boo the pick, however.  (Really going out on a limb with that prediction.)

(AN) 10. Tennessee Titans: G Johnathan Cooper, North Carolina
And there goes who I was going to give the Titans. Certainly though, they will follow Warmack to the Jets with a guard of their own. Suddenly, the offensive line that has been giving Chris Johnson migraines doesn’t look half bad; especially with star free agent Andy Levitre on the other side of center.

(SS) 11. San Diego Chargers: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Oooh, new G.M. Tom Telesco (great name, by the way…sounds like a superhero’s alter ego) and the Chargers are hopping mad right now.  Looks like both of us think the guards will be valued more highly than usual, Andrew, and somehow San Diego misses out on both of the guys they covet thanks to your last pick.  Richardson is a pretty nice consolation prize, though.

(AN) 12. Miami Dolphins: DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
While this is partly because I enjoy typing and subsequently saying his name 4-5 times, a pass rusher definitely makes sense here for the ‘Phins. With Cameron Wake rushing from one side, Mingo could see a lot of single blockers in his rookie year, which sits quite nicely for the Miami defense. They could really stand a cornerback though.

(SS) 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
I can’t say I was thrilled to get the Bucs’ pick.  It just means I get to be the one to make the obvious disclaimer: This in no way is intended to reflect the thinking of the Bucs’ actual draft decision-makers, nor could it reflect that thinking since they haven’t shared it with me.  Shocking, I know.  I’m just taking the safe route here, though I think Tavon Austin, Ziggy Ansah or Alec Ogletree would be lovely, too.

(AN) 14. Carolina Panthers: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
All the love pre-draft is going to the speedy Tavon Austin, but Patterson is a great pick here for a team that is desperate for a number two to Steve Smith. Patterson gives QB Cam Newton a big target to throw to and just might open up more big plays for Smith and the Carolina running game.

(SS) 15. New Orleans Saints: DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
It seems like the Saints need mostly defensive help, and some pass-rushers in particular, even after signing LB Victor Butler.  They are probably fortunate to see Ansah still on the board here.  Is he the right fit for the new scheme being installed by Rob Ryan?  It says here that the Saints will see Ansah as an Aldon Smith type – similar height, weight, speed and explosiveness profile – and Smith has excelled in San Fran’s 3-4.

(AN) 16. St. Louis Rams: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The Rams said goodbye to the impressive yet oft-injured Danny Amendola. They drafted both Brian Quick and Chris Givens last year, so they will be working with a pretty young group of receivers, but surely QB Sam Bradford is thanking his lucky stars for an incredibly speedy replacement to his previous favorite target.

(SS) 17. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
The Steelers are absolutely masterful at drafting linebackers for their 3-4 scheme.  It’s time to grab the next star-in-the-making.

(AN) 18. Dallas Cowboys: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
He didn’t have the best of offseasons, so this end, who was once mentioned as a possible top-5 pick slides to the late teens. Cowboys see the upside and understand the need for a strong pass rusher to stand opposite DeMarcus Ware for new DC Monte Kiffin’s defensive scheme to work.

(SS) 19. New York Giants: LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more Georgia linebackers.  If we allowed trades in this exercise, I’d be tempted to have the Bucs trading back five or six spots and targeting this player, who could give the Bucs a very good and very young trio of starters.  As it is, he goes to the Giants, who had their sights set on Ansah.

(AN) 20. Chicago Bears: OL D.J. Fluker, Alabama
I would argue that the Bears’ biggest need is inside linebacker. But Alec Ogletree has fallen off the board just one pick too soon. The Bears turn their interest to offensive line, drafting massive tackle D.J. Fluker. He could certainly be the answer to keeping Cutler happy. Huge talent that they are happy to see fall to slot 20.

(SS) 21. Cincinnati Bengals: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
So the Bears take a tackle even after signing Jermon Bushrod to play on Cutler’s blind side.  I don’t know, man, there are a lot of other holes for the Bears to fill.  Anyway, as for this pick, I like the value.  I’ve seen some recent mocks with Vaccaro going in the top 15 or so.  That seems too high to me, but this is a nice matchup of needs for the Bengals.

 (AN) 22. St. Louis Rams: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Once again, you have stolen my pick. The Rams are pretty desperate for a safety, but with Vaccaro off the board, they opt to wait until round two to grab their man. They add their second offensive weapon of the draft with Eddie Lacy to come in and potentially fill the gaping hole left by the loss of Steven Jackson.

(SS) 23. Minnesota Vikings: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
This guy has really gone up and down the draft boards over the past two months; it’s like the mock drafters can’t get a true feel for how teams view Trufant.  The Vikings really, really need a cornerback, though, and I like him more than D.J. Hayden or Jamar Taylor.  Barely.

(AN) 24. Indianapolis Colts: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
The Colts were 29th in the NFL last season defending the run. Williams presents as a solid and deceptively quick nose tackle candidate. He is quietly climbing up the draft boards as one of the best DTs available. The Colts don’t let him get any farther than 24. Could be the steal of the draft.

(SS) 25. Minnesota Vikings: WR Keenan Allen, California
If I’m the Vikings’ G.M., I have to do a little acting in my press conference after the first round, because I’ve just had a double dose of buyer’s remorse.  I’m not sure I got the best available cornerback in Trufant and I’m not sure I made the right pick with Allen.  I worry about his speed, or lack thereof, and there are obviously some off-field red flags.  Of course, the real Vikings G.M. will surely have every confidence in his picks, which is why he’s there and I’m writing in a blog.

(AN) 26. Green Bay Packers: DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
The Packers could play this a lot of ways. They can use a safety and some good choices are available, they could gamble on a RB that they seem to need desperately, they could even grab the first TE of the draft. Montgomery gives them another pass rusher who could potentially help either the line or the linebacker corps.

(SS) 27. Houston Texas: WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
I took a long hard look at Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins and Tennessee’s Justin Hunter.  I just think Williams might be the most dynamic playmaker of the bunch and I want to pair that with Andre Johnson before Johnson’s career starts to move down the other side of the peak.

(AN) 28. Denver Broncos: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Broncos have a few needs, but not many and Moore could definitely be a steal here. They have some big shoes to fill after all that Elvis Dumervil jazz that went down and they get him in this defensive end/linebacker hybrid.

(SS) 29. New England Patriots: S Matt Elam, Florida
Oh, man, you stole my next pick…not!  (Been saving up that 1980s-style burn just for you, whippersnapper.)  Good luck lighting a fire under Moore.  Meanwhile, the Patriots seem to be perpetually looking for secondary help and have good success in recent years with SEC players.  Elam joins fellow Gators Brandon Spikes and Aaron Hernandez in Foxborough.

(AN) 30. Atlanta Falcons: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Things have gone so well with Tony Gonzalez, why not invest in a “tight end of the future” with the 30th pick of the draft. Falcons have a lot of holes on their defensive line, but want to add one more weapon for Matt Ryan to play with.

(SS) 31. San Francisco 49ers: S Eric Reid, LSU
Obviously, the 49ers have a Goldson-sized hole to fill in the secondary, and there are a couple of nice possibilities sitting here at the end of the first round.  Reid’s a rangy guy who can make the big hit and plays aggressively.  He should fit right in.  49ers take him over the riskier John Cyprien, even though Cyprien has the far more entertaining name.

(AN) 32. Baltimore Ravens: LB Kevin Minter, LSU
Could go safety, could go receiver, but I think that fan chants might dictate this one. After seeing LB Ray Lewis go in perhaps the longest and most televised retirement in history (discounting Brett Favre’s 85 retirements), the Ravens need a new man in the middle. Minter is extremely confident and could easily become a leader on this defense, which is seemingly something they desperately need.

Scott Smith: Well, that was fun and probably about 10% accurate.  I’m not really ripping on our efforts, it’s just that it takes just a little ripple at the top to throw even the most well-researched mock drafts into total disarray when the picking actually begins.  Personally, I felt like I was fishing – and not with particularly effective bait – with most of my last four or five picks.

A couple interesting things I take away from this exercise:

- No Manti Te’o.  You could have given him to the Ravens right there at the end but went with Minter instead.  Is there any chance that his draft stock has become too depressed and he’ll end up as a second-round steal?

- Only one QB.  I’m underwhelmed by the pickings and think that teams should wait until the second or third rounds to start picking off the passers.  However, in reality, the last couple years should probably tell us we’re wrong.  Who saw Locker going eight, Gabbert 10 and Ponder 12 in 2011?  How about Tannehill eight and Weeden 22 last year?  In the end, guys like E.J. Manuel, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon and Ryan Nassib are probably going to go higher than we think.

- The front lines rule.  Between us, we picked 10 linemen among the first 12 picks, including the first five selections, plus two guards going higher than usual.  I’m not saying we’re wrong.  That’s where the depth is this year.

- The receivers are a mystery.  I took two of the four who went in the first round, and I have absolutely no confidence in those picks.  I agree that there’s just too much smoke around Tavon Austin right now not to believe that some team is going to bite in the first half of the round, but I would not be at all surprised if the rest of the receivers went in any order.

- BarKEEEEEvious MIIIIIIIIIINgoooooo!  Who says you get to have all the fun, Andrew?

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