Omar’s 2013 NFL draft 11-21…
11. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Cooper, G, UNC
Mike Harris has been the worst tackle in football since D’Anthony Batiste was benched, and it appears as though that Jared Gaither will never be able to stay healthy for a season. It is a shame because he is so talented. Part of Phillip Rives’ struggles are because the Chargers’ line has not been able to protect him properly featuring one of the worst offensive tackle duos in the league with Mike Harris and Jerome Clary. Jonathan Cooper could certainly change that and give San Diego a rock-solid pass protector as well as an elite run blocker, which would help Ryan Mathews to finally live up to his potential—if he stays healthy, of course. This is a bit of a reach, but is a movement the Chargers have to do.
12. Miami Dolphins: Tavon Austin WR West Virginia
Ryan Tannehill has enjoyed a really promising rookie campaign, but he clearly needs a better receiving corps, and while Brian Hartline has shown he can be a reliable starter for Tannehill, they do not have anyone across from him. With the success Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb have recently had, Tavon Austin stock just raises as every team will be looking for their own do-it-all offensive stud, and that is what Austin brings to the table. I imagine Ryan Tannehill would be thrilled to have such a dangerous weapon as Tavon Austin.
There is not a more dangerous player with the ball on his hands in this draft than Tavon Austin. It is a delight to watch this player with the ball on his hands eluding opposing defenders at will. Austin is not the most polished route runner out there, but what he does after catching the football makes up for that. My only concern with Austin is his size (5-09, 172 pounds), which would make him really injury-prone. His size also diminishes his skills to beat coverage off the line of scrimmage. He needs to bulk up at least 15 pounds and keep his elusive skills. Do yourselves a favor and watch his game against Oklahoma this year.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri
Tampa Bay cut Brian Price this season, and is starting Roy Miller next to Gerald McCoy. Miller is not the worst defensive tackle in the NFL, but the Buccaneers should be looking for an upgrade, especially considering this is the first season Gerald McCoy has been able to stay healthy. Sheldon Richardson, along with Gerald McCoy would form one of the best defensive tackle duos in the league. Richardson is a fast-rising prospect, who recently declared for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Sheldon Richardson comes with some character concerns, but his talent level is undeniable. This year, Richardson has played as well as any defensive tackle in college football, and what is even more important; he has done it on a consistent basis. You will not be able to fins one single bad game from Richardson in the whole year. He reminds me a lot of Nick Fairley two years ago, and if his character concerns clear up, he could go even higher than the Auburn product (13th overall). Moreover, the Buccaneers have never been concerned about prospects’ character issues.
14. Carolina Panthers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Watching this pick makes me want to be a Panthers fan. The Panthers’ interior defensive line is pathetic as they make everyone against them look like an all-pro. Sione Fua cannot get any pressure on the quarterback and has been a disappointment as a run-stuffer, Meanwhile, Dwan Edwards has been acceptable, but if you are planning to start him another year, it would behoove you to have stud next to him. That is exactly what Jesse Williams is.
Williams belongs to an exclusive group of elite defensive tackle prospects joined by only Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, and Marcell Dareus in recent years. He is capable of single-handedly overwhelming a whole interior line, and if you do not believe be, watch his performance against a talented USC’s interior line. He completely dominated them in one of the best individual performances by a defender this year. Williams is incredibly quick for such a massive man, so I would not be surprised if he posted outstanding numbers at the combine.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Ming DE LSU
Cameron Jordan has been great against the run, but he has been unable to consistently put pressure on the opposing quarterback. Martez Wilson and Junior Gallette are nice rotation options; however, the Saints still need a reliable pass rusher that can put pressure on the quarterback on a consistent basis for Steve Spagnuolo’s system to work. I am sure he would like this pick. Mingo has struggled a lot this season to create pressure and to turn that pressure into sacks. There is no denial of his natural talent and athletic ability though.
As I mentioned, Mingo has great, great athletic ability, but he is also has really good technique off the snap when, and only when rushing the passer. The problem with Mingo, though, is that he needs to gain a lot of weight because he is constantly overwhelmed by heavy offensive tackles, as you can see on his battle against DJ Fluker on the Alabama game. Mingo is great attacking the offensive tackle’s right shoulder, but if the tackle is able to mirror his steps, he has little ability to cut to the inside. Those are little technique issues that a good defensive coordinator as Steve Spagnuolo could solve.
16. St. Louis Rams: Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan
There is little doubt that one of the Rams’ first round selections should be used on an offensive lineman. Even though Rodger Saffold has been great in pass protection since coming back from an injury, Barry Richardson continues being terrible. Besides, Rodger Saffold has not been able to stay healthy, so the Rams must make sure that if he goes down, the offensive line does not become a mess as it happened this year. Jake Matthews could play at right tackle for the Rams, and then move to the blind side depending on what happens with Saffold.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Manti Te’O, ILB, Notre Dame
Even with Manti Te’o’s issues with his girlfriend he is still a very good player. He will be a perfect fit for the Steelers defense to replace the younger interior defensive lineman. The Steelers could really use a new face to the linebacker crew as he is a top tier player and a motivator. Look for this pick to maybe upset some people at first but then pay dividends in the long run.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Johnathan Hankins DT Ohio State
Rob Ryan loves mammoth nose tackles, which is probably why he was trying to move Jay Ratliff to defensive end last offseason. Here, Ryan would be getting what he so thoroughly covets. With Ratliff on one side, Sean Lissemore on the other rotating with Jason Hatcher, and Johnathan Hankins on the middle, you suddenly have a really strong defensive line. Johnathan Hankins is another player who has been dropping because of his late season struggles and the depth at offensive line, but it suffices to look at his early-season tape to realize the level of potential this guy has.
Johnathan Hankins entered the season ferociously competing with Star Lotulelei to be the top defensive tackle in this class, but his recent struggles have separated them. There are some rumors that Johnathan Hankins has poor work ethics and that he is incapable of controlling his weight. If inspired, however, there are few defenders in college football that can wreak as much havoc as Hankins does on opposing offensive lines, as you will see if you watch his tape against Cal.
19. New York Giants: Dee Milliner CB Alabama
Sometimes I just cannot understand the Giants. Even though his best player available strategy has worked for Jerry Reese, there are some needs that a team just has to address. Here I am giving the Giants the best player available, which provides some needed help at cornerback, but does not fill such a glaring need as OL or ILB for the Giants. Prince Amukamara has been great this year, but Corey Webster has really declined and has become somewhat of a liability on that defense. Meanwhile Terrell Thomas cannot stay healthy and Jayron Hosley has not shown he can be a starter in the NFL.
Dee Milliner is a really good cover corner with big-time athletic ability. I actually expect him to be one of the fastest times at the Combine. Milliner is not just speed though; he has really good range and is very physical off the line of scrimmage. The main problem with Milliner, in my opinion, is the same that Dre Kirkpatrick had last year. Both Alabama corners have certain stiffness of their hips, which make them difficult to follow their receiver when they make their first cut. Milliner has more fluid hips than Kirkpatrick had, but it is still a concern to me.
20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Bears offensive line is a mess right now as they have not been able to protect Jay Cutler. J’Marcus Webb and Jonathan Scott are currently starting for them, so an upgraded is definitely needed. Even thought Gabe Carimi is outstanding against the run, he simply cannot protect his quarterback, which prompted Mike Tice to bench him, and eventually move him to the right guard. Eric Fisher is a great fit for Mike Tice’s offensive scheme, which lacks a good pass protector.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU
Michael Johnson will probably leave after this season while Carlos Dunlap has not been able to stay healthy and consistently play to his talent level. Cincinnati’s top priority this offseason should be a defensive end. Ezekiel Ansah could go even higher than this as he is, hands-down, the top athlete in the whole class. By the way, I refuse to call him “Ziggy” because when you have such a great name, you should not ruin it which stupid nicknames.
Ezekiel Ansah is expected to break the combine and with good reason, but even if he does not impress as much, do not have any doubt he is an elite athlete; much like Aldon Smith in 2011, which is, by the way, is a good comparison for the Ghanaian product. Ansah is not the best technician pass-rusher out there, but he will join an exclusive group of elite athletes in the NFL, which includes Jason Pierre-Paul, Calvin Johnson, and Dontari Poe. His stock hinges on what he can be rather than on what he is right now. It is scary to think what Mike Zimmer could do with this guy.