In this article, I will be giving my predictions for picks 9-16 in this year’s NFL draft.
New York Jets–9th Overall Pick
Prediction: Cordarrelle Patterson (Wide Receiver–Tennessee)
The New York Jets’ 2012 season can be summed up in one word: really? The Jets had a lot of hope going in, but that hope didn’t produce much winning. The season was so bad, even Fireman Joe couldn’t stand to watch them play anymore. The main problems were a coach with a lack of trust in his QB and a QB with a lack of trust in his wide receivers. What didn’t help was that most of the starting receivers were injured in both the pre-season and early regular season, leaving only 3rd and 4th stringers to do the starters’ jobs. Due to the lack of talent at this position, it’s a good possibility the Jets will select WR Cordarrelle Patterson out of Tennessee. Strong-handed Patterson has done nothing but blow the minds of scouts with his excellent receiving and kick returning. I believe this kid could be a major star wide for the green and white.
Tennessee Titans–10th Overall Pick
Prediction: Arthur Brown (Inside Linebacker–Kansas State)
Arthur Brown, ILB from Kansas State, is who I believe the Titans will take with their first round pick. Why? Inside linebacker is one of the main areas Tennessee is struggling with. And though Brown didn’t exactly “wow ’em” at the Combine, you can’t deny the great senior year he had with the Wildcats with 100 tackles. That’s why I think the Titans will have their eyes on this future key inside linebacker.
San Diego Chargers–11th Overall Pick
Prediction: Lane Johnson (Offensive Tackle–Oklahoma)
If you could play back every game the Chargers played last season, you would see one continuous disturbing trend: QB Philip Rivers on the ground, covered in grass stains, over and over again. The San Diego coaching staff absolutely despised seeing this. So, considering the Chargers allowed almost 50 sacks last year, I believe they will beef the o-line up a little bit by acquiring OT Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma. Johnson has definitely caught the attention of scouts everywhere. He had an awesome 2012 season with the Sooners and an amazing performance at the Combine. All these factors lead me to believe he will soon be heading to the West Coast.
Miami Dolphins–12th Overall Pick
Prediction: Star Lotulelei (Defensive Tackle–Utah)
It’s no secret the Miami Dolphins were pretty much carried on a stretcher through the entire NFL season. When the inexperience of Ryan Tannehill reared its ugly head, the defense had to make up for what the offense couldn’t do. Reggie Bush was the only highlight of the team, which makes it amazing how they scraped together a 7-9 season. If Miami insists on keeping the main components of a “do nothing” offense, which I believe they will, then the defense will have to carry the load again this season. It would help their defense if they would fix a huge problem that’s been like a hook in the fin — one of their defensive ends is playing in a defensive tackle spot. Therefore, the player I think they will draft is DT Star Lotulelei out of the University of Utah. This Ute has put worry in teams interested in him because of some heart issues found before the Combine, which he didn’t participate in. However, he had a good career at Utah and an awesome pro day, which without a doubt increased his draft stock. The Dolphins could pick anyone, but this one makes the most sense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers–13th Overall Pick
Prediction: Bjoern Werner (Defensive End–Florida State)
It is safe to say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on an uphill climb — finally. After several seasons of struggling, it seems as if they are on the path to success. QB Josh Freeman is turning into a dangerous passer, RB Doug Martin (a.k.a. the Muscle Hamster) had an outstanding rookie year, and the secondary had quite a few interceptions. However, during the offseason they lost one of their best pass rushers to free agency (Michael Bennett). With Bennett’s loss, I believe they will select Bjoern Werner, a German DE, out of Florida State. Werner is an unbelievable specimen for the defensive end position. He has a great football IQ, he can get to the QB, and when he can’t, he gets his hands in the air. The Bucs shouldn’t let this one slip by them, because I have a feeling he is going to be a great defensive end for years to come.
Carolina Panthers–14th Overall Pick
Prediction: DeAndre Hopkins (Wide Receiver–Clemson)
The Carolina Panthers had a very interesting year. They kept most games close except against the Giants and the Broncos. Cam Newton learned how to be more mature, Luke Keuchly won Defensive Rookie of the Year and they ended the season on a four game win streak. However, it was too much too late. Their roster screams three areas that need to be focused on: WR, CB and DT — with the most important of these being WR. They are very low on talent at this position, and let’s face it, Steve Smith doesn’t have very many years left in the NFL. Based on this, I believe the Panthers should select DeAndre Hopkins, a WR out of Clemson. Hopkins is arguably the best WR in the Draft. He had an amazing year last year with over 1,000 receiving yards and 18 TDs, which made him the #1 receiver in the ACC. I can only imagine what Cam Newton and the Panthers could do with this guy.
New Orleans Saints–15th Overall Pick
Prediction: Dee Milliner (Cornerback–Alabama)
The New Orleans Saints’ 2012 season had its highs and its lows. Of the highs, the highest moment was Drew Brees breaking Johnny Unitas’s record for the most consecutive games with a TD. And just below that was their victory over the bounty scandal that ballooned into a media circus just before the start of the season. Two of their memorable lows were losing to their South Division rivals, the Carolina Panthers, twice and just missing the playoffs with a 7-9 record. What didn’t help their season was their run and pass protection, which was ranked last in the league. Drafting Dee Milliner out of Alabama would certainly help. Last year Milliner had only 2 INTs for the Tide, but he had an amazing 22 pass deflections and 52 tackles. Even though Milliner had an average Combine performance, he had an excellent pro day. After looking at the other prospects and their stats, Milliner is the only one that makes sense for the Saints to draft.
St. Louis Rams–16th Overall Pick
Prediction: Tavon Austin (Wide Receiver–West Virginia)
I believe the biggest need for the Rams is a WR for QB Sam Bradford to throw to. Other than WR Danny Amendola, he really needs a better target. My bet is that they will give their pick to WR Tavon Austin out of West Virginia. Austin reminds me a lot of Steve Smith and Percy Harvin. He is short, feisty, quick and explosive. He had a great career at West Virginia partially due to some guy named Geno Smith. He has impressed scouts with his great quickness and hands; however, there is a question of if he can handle any big hits that might come his way. I do believe he can be a franchise WR with the right team, and if he remains healthy.