August 15, 2014

2013 NFL Draft: Jarvis Jones emerging as No. 1 prospect

The Browns are 2-7. Although hope was high after the first win of the season just a few weeks back over the Bengals, pessimism has slid back into the minds of the Cleveland football fans.

With that being the case, we’re now right around five months away from the 2013 NFL Draft. And while plenty more could happen for the Browns in these final seven games and in the college football world, I thought it’d be helpful to do an overview of what to expect, as of now, when April arrives soon.

The fellow pictured to your right will be the star du jour. Jarvis Jones, a playmaking, ball-hungry outside linebacker from Georgia, has been dominating the SEC of late since returning from early injury issues. He’s also been dominating big boards and as I look toward the best fits for the Browns, he’s the guy that stands tall immediately.

Cleveland needs more playmakers, on both sides of the ball. Josh Gordon helped with the receiving corps, but we could still use more warm bodies catching balls from Brandon Weeden. Offensive guard also is a notable weak spot, but I think after investing so many resources on offense (2 first-rounders in 2012 and Gordon’s supplemental pick for 2013), it’s time to go back to defense.

Joe Haden, D’Qwell Jackson, Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are likely your four cornerstones in terms of Browns defensive production. T.J. Ward has shown flashes in his young career, but safety depth remains an issue. The biggest weaknesses here are then linebacker and the end skill positions — both defensive end and outside linebacker. We need someone who can apply significant pressure to the quarterback and who can partner with Taylor/Rubin to compose a fearsome front line.

So when you start dreaming of a talented sack master at the top of the draft, it all has to start with Jones. His performance against previously unbeaten Florida three weeks ago could turn out to be one of the best on either side of the ball this season: 13 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was all over the place and caused nearly every notable big play for UGA on defense.

While I’ve now fully professed my love for Jones, here’s a look at what four major big boards (Scouts Inc., ESPN, CBS Sports and Walter Football) have as your near-consensus top 13 as of yesterday:

Player Scouts ESPN CBS WF AVG
Jones 1 1 4 1 1.75
Loutulelei 2 3 3 2 2.50
Joeckel 6 5 1 3 3.75
Hankins 7 9 2 5 5.75
Moore 5 4 10 4 5.75
Te’o 4 2 9 8 5.75
Milliner 11 11 5 6 8.25
Mingo 8 6 12 9 8.75
Smith 9 15 6 11 10.25
Werner 10 10 8 14 10.50
Warmack 3 7 7 28 11.25
Montgomery 18 13 15 7 13.25
Barkley 20 14 16 10 15.00

 

The Browns at 2-7 right now are tied with the Carolina Panthers for the third-worst record in the NFL. Kansas City and Jacksonville are both 1-8. there are then four 3-6 teams, St. Louis is 3-5-1 and then there should be several 4-6 teams by the end of the week.

Following Dallas and Pittsburgh, the Browns still do have a very winnable three-game stretch: Oakland, Kansas City and Washington. The season then ends with back-to-back difficult road games against Denver and Pittsburgh.

Right now, I’d put my odds on the Browns finishing with 3-5 wins. I think all of those additional 1-3 victories will come in that middle stretch remaining, while we’ll slump to 2-9 and then finish the year with two more losses. Based on the current NFL standings, I’d expect the Browns to finish no worse then eighth in the draft order for April.

So targeting the top eight or better, let’s analyze some of those key guys from the draft boards:

The Undoubted Early Picks

Jarvis Jones, OLB, 6-2, 242, Georgia (junior)

Great athlete, great pass-rusher and has stood out despite there being several other impressive defensive prospects on the Bulldogs as well. His biggest weakness is obviously durability, as he missed five games in 2009 with USC and then another two games in 2012.

Star Lotulelei, DT, 6-2, 320, Utah

Huge run defender who has sneakily produced big numbers for Utah, he’s also a lock for a top five pick. Unfortunately he’s clearly not a good fit for the Browns because of their existing strength at DT. But he’ll make some team really happy for his elite run-stopping ability up the middle.

Luke Joeckel, OT, 6-5 3/4, 306, Texas A&M (junior)

Your top offensive line prospect for 2013 has been protecting Johnny Football in College Station this year. He might not be a top three pick because of the QBs expected to pass him, but he’s a sure thing for a steady LT for years to come for another bad team in need.

Johnathan Hankins, DT, 6-3, 335, Ohio State (junior)

Hankins has shown flashes of excellent play at OSU during the past three years, and boy, is he one big dude in the middle. Tends to disappear in the pass rush occasionally, but still very, very good against the run. Most mock drafts and big boards have him just slightly behind Lotulelei.

Damontre Moore, DE, 6-4, 248, Texas A&M

The next-best pass rusher after Jones, Moore could be the Browns’ top target on their draft board if they fall closer to the 5-6 win range. He’s near the top in the nation in tackles for loss and sacks, and has worked his way up after not being a very highly touted recruit.

Manti Te’o, ILB, 6-1, 248, Notre Dame

Finally, the other star top six prospect is the most talked-about linebacker in the nation. Te’o has helped the Fighting Irish ascend to the No. 1 spot as their defensive leader this season. Great tackler with good instincts and run protection, he’ll probably find his way to stay in the top 10.

The Polarizing QBs

Geno Smith, QB, 6-2 3/4, 208, West Virginia
Matt Barkley, QB, 6-1 3/4, 228, Southern Cal

Odds are for now that one of these guys will go No. 1 overall next April. Smith likely will measure out to be the top QB prospect after a much more productive college season and better size/arm strength. Barkley was the early favorite to be No. 1 this season after staying in school, but has been inconsistent to say the least for four-loss USC. His lack of ideal size could drop him farther than expected.

The Next-Best Things

Dee Milliner, CB, 6-0 3/4, 197 Alabama
Barkevious Mingo, DE, 6-5, 240, LSU (junior)
Bjoern Werner, DE, 6-4, 255, Florida State
Chance Warmack, OG, 6-2 3/8, 325, Alabama
Sam Montgomery, DE, 6-4, 245, LSU (junior)

Mingo and Montgomery have composed a deadly, young defensive line for the Tigers this season; both players could conceivably wind up in the top 10. Milliner is the highest-profiled secondary prospect – that’s a huge weakness of this year’s draft class. Werner is one of the highest risers thus far in the 2012 college football season and he’s a big kid.

Other Likely First-Round Picks

Sylvester Williams, DT, 6-2, 320, North Carolina
Alec Ogletree, ILB, 6-3, 237, Georgia
Sheldon Richardson, DT, 6-2 7/8, 290, Missouri
Johnathan Jenkins, DT, 6-4 1/8, 363, Georgia
Taylor Lewan, OT, 6-7, 302, Michigan
Johnthan Banks, CB, 6-2 1/8, 185, Mississippi State
Keenan Allen, WR, 6-3, 206, California
Jonathan Cooper, OG, 6-3, 320, North Carolina
Cornelius Carradine, DE, 6-4 1/2, 255, Florida State

Williams has been climbing up draft boards, while Ogletree is falling. Lots of defensive tackles again mark this list. Lewan-Hankins should be a great battle, if that ever occurs during “The Game” next Saturday. Banks is likely the next-best secondary prospect. The Buckeyes had their problems containing Allen and the Golden Bears earlier this season. Meanwhile, Cooper and Carradine have shined quietly in the ACC.

 

Overall, this draft is deep with defensive line prospects, but pretty weak on secondary and offensive players. We might not have a RB/WRs go in the top 15 this season, as Keenan Allen is the only one of those type of players that got mentioned here today. But there could be as many as eight DT/DE/OLBs go in the top 15.

For the Browns, it appears for now that targeting Jones, Moore or possible a guy further down like Mingo, Werner or Montgomery will be the way to go. As things get closer, I’m sure we’ll have more here at WFNY breaking down the draft, but this was an early primer to get things started and fans comfortable with analyzing top talent in the final part of the college football season.

 

(Photos: Daniel Shirey/US Presswire and Thomas Campbell/US Presswire)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Te’o KO fan here but yes a linebacker please! Just say no to another DT that is unless it’s round 4 or 5.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tre.franchise Trevor Jackson

    no mention of jadeveon clowney? guy beasts. but i dont follow the draft this early, too many ifs at this time of the year, so im not sure where he’s slated to go

  • Dee P

    CB to pair with Haden is our #1 need by far. You have to sack the QB in today’s NFL and we are one more second away from doubling our sack totals. Another shut down corner causes the other team’s QB to have to wait that one more second. To me it is a no brainier. Milner all the way, and we can trade down to get him which makes the fit even better. Choice is crystal clear.

  • http://twitter.com/007EthanLange Ethan Lange

    He’s only a sophomore if my memory serves me correctly.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    CB is a definite need but LB is more pressing IMO. Give me a young, fast, strong linebacker who can do multiple things first then I’ll take a cover corner.

  • http://www.cinpleweb.com/ stin4u

    I would love to see Te’o in a Browns uniform. We’ve spent so many picks on the defensive line it’s time to address other defensive areas. We’ve got patterson coming back to play opposite Haden and I think that leaves LB as the most important position to fill on the defensive side of the ball. Te’o paired with the big guys in the middle could be a fantastic A gap pass rush.

  • Jon

    I love Jarvis Jones’s game, but he has Spinal Stenosis, which as we get closer to the draft, I think will drop him down into the late first round/early second just because of the extreme risk that he’s going to be out of the league medically in 5 years.

    Love Da’Montre Moore, the guy destroyed the BIG 12 as a 3-4 OLB last year and this year he has absolutely owned the SEC as a 4-3 DE. I love that amount of versatility.

    Another guy I think y’all missed is Dion Jordan DE/OLB from Oregon. This is a 6’7 245 guy who sometimes drops to cover TEs. Yes, he’s their pass rushing DE AND their cover LB, crazy athleticism and I think makes a Jason Pierre Paul type rise on draft day.

  • Jon

    Correct. JaDaveon Clowney has a reserved sign on the #1 pick in 2014.

  • Jaker

    Assuming we don’t trade down, DE or LB is definitely what we draft. With no 2nd rounder we absolutely need to make this 1st rounder a stud defensive impact player. We’re in good shape considering this is a weak draft of what we already have and a strong draft of what we need, meaning we won’t be forced to take someone too high because we need his position, we can just sit back and take the Best Available.

    I’d even be ok with trading down into the mid first and pick up more picks, AS LONG AS we get our stud defender. I like Jones Teo and Werner as great fits for us

  • NonDairyKreemer

    The pass rush makes the coverage look better far more often than the “coverage sack.” Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Secondary, please, for the love of all that is holy. For evidence, see “every game Joe Haden has missed this year”

  • NoVA Buckeye

    “Weak on secondary and offensive players”
    Sheeeeooooottt………. those are the kinds of players we need!!!!!!

  • Kildawg

    We need that OLB like a Ware, Suggs, or even Headhunter Harrison. OLB is our most in-need position defensively, but overall the Browns weakest spot is Head Coach.

  • TheRobot57

    It’s Te’o or Loutulelei. Sure, we have DT’s, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pick the next star DT who can give some A gap pressure in our system. You can’t pass up players that good. Te’o makes sense since he will be a solid pro but not sure if he will be the All-Pro Loutulelei will be. Jones isn’t likely to be as good at the next level. Too many injury issues, not that good of size. He can’t play end every play and he isn’t an OLB in a 4-3.

  • JK

    We had 7 sacks yesterday… How many do you need?!

  • JK

    Sign me up for Te’o

  • woofersus

    More QB pressure would be nice, but DE isn’t exactly a glaring weakness for this team, and our talented DT rotation still has rookies on it, so the DL will get better and we’ll see more interior pressure going forward. Unless somebody really dropped I think I’d be disappointed if they took one in the first 2 rounds. LB, CB, and FS are all bigger needs IMO.

  • @ScottyB330

    I’d be very pleased with either an elite DE or Te’o. Yes, we have D’Quell at MLB, but Te’o’s coverage skills and athleticism point to a guy who could hold down the fort at OLB until Jackson loses a step. Along these same lines, I’d be interested to see numbers/tape on Te’o’s success as a blitzer. Especially in any situations where ND put him on the edge to rush. His versatility might be a trump card for him in April.

  • @ScottyB330

    Also, Te’o might be one of those culture change kind of guys in a locker room that’s desperate to turn around a losing mentality. That being said, I have no idea what kind of personality Jarvis Jones has (or any other prospect, for that matter. Te’o just gets more behind-the-scenes publicity) . He could be more inspiring than Ray Lewis for all I know.

  • Yup

    Pretty sure Eifert, the ND TE, will go in the first round as well, though likely past pick 20.

  • mgbode

    I want defense with our first pick.

    As far as QBs, AJ McCarron is a junior. Yeah, he says he is going back, but if they do win back-to-back what else does he have to play for? He’s been really good anytime Saban has loosened up on those reins.