With the 2013 NFL Draft fast approaching in late April, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all have decisions to make regarding early-to mid-round picks in the opening round. If a couple of recent mock drafts are right, practically all three teams should be looking to add players that could bolster their respective defenses.
In his post-Super Bowl mock draft on Rotoworld, Josh Norris has the Jaguars going with LSU Tigers junior defensive end Barkevious Mingo, the explosive pass-rusher who could try to help improve a Jacksonville defense that registered 20.0 sacks in 2012, the lowest total in the league.
Here's what Norris had to say about Mingo:
This is all based on a guess for scheme fit. Gus Bradley's scheme featured a run stuffing defensive end in Seattle, likely role Tyson Alualu can play. On the opposite side, the Jaguars need a pass rusher whose main goal is to get to a point in the backfield and disrupt while penetrating. Mingo can line up from the 7 or 9 technique and do this quite well. Don't get caught up in his dip in production, since it appeared Mingo was asked to take less aggressive lines at the QB in order to keep contain.
SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn also released an updated mock draft after the Super Bowl, and also sees the Jaguars taking Mingo with the second overall pick in the draft:
The Jaguars' pass rush has been a sore spot for quite some time. Barkevious Mingo would be a huge upgrade for a defense in need of playmakers. New coach Gus Bradley will need some pieces for his defense, and Mingo would make an ideal LEO in Jacksonville. He is a lengthy pass rusher with incredible burst off the snap.
As for the Dolphins, where one mock believes Miami should add to their offensive line unit and protection for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, another thinks they need to address the other side of the ball, attacking the quarterback instead of defending the position.
For Rotoworld, Norris projects the Dolphins selecting senior offensive tackle Lane Johnson of the Oklahoma Sooners with the 12th overall pick, possibly due to an upcoming need:
Jake Long's contract situation could dictate this selection, but without him the Dolphins are left with an adequate at best right tackle in Jonathan Martin. Johnson is not a finished product and will likely add weight to fill out a growing frame in order to absorb first contact more efficiently, but his agile feet to mirror pass rushers will keep evaluators optimistic. His posture versus power rushers could use some work.
SB Nation's scouting report on Johnson
Alternatively, Fairburn sees Miami going with junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, the disruptive force from the Georgia Bulldogs, to add to a Dolphins defense that racked up 42.0 sacks in 2012, good for seventh in the NFL:
With only Cameron Wake to get after the passer, the Dolphins need to find another weapon. Jarvis Jones slips a bit because of his past spinal injury and lack of a counter move once he's initially stopped on the pass rush. Still, the upside warrants a top-15 pick.
The Buccaneers have the next pick in the draft at No. 13 overall, and, for a team that ranked last in the league in passing yards allowed per game (297.4 yards per contest), the position of need was obvious in both of the aforementioned mock drafts.
Rotoworld's Norris has Tampa Bay taking junior cornerback Xavier Rhodes from the Florida State Seminoles:
The Bucs have a good number of talented and young defensive players, and Rhodes fits the bill as an overly physical edge corner with speed to stick with receivers down field. He can be a bit unorthodox at times, but I definitely consider Rhodes a first-round talent, especially for a scheme that utilizes physical edge defenders.
SB Nation's scouting report on Rhodes
Rhodes is the second-ranked cornerback prospect on SB Nation's position rankings, behind only Dee Milliner of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Fairburn believes Milliner will fall to the 13th pick, and that the Buccaneers will take him off the board here:
Dee Milliner will be a dangerous cornerback in the right scheme, but he's not a lock to be dominant in the NFL. He plays the boundary well and has the ability to read and react on the football. Given his size, Milliner also plays the game with a physical edge. Does he have the ability to dominate in man coverage? Maybe not. But after losing Aqib Talib, cornerback has become one of Tampa Bay's biggest needs.
Milliner left the Crimson Tide as a junior this season after winning the national championship.