For the first time in generation, there is hope in the Queen City. Unlike previous decades of what seemed like continuous series of unfortunate events, horrific injuries and front office debacles, one begins to wonder if some degree of greater design is at work within Paul Brown Stadium. A year ago, the Bengals pulled off for the second consecutive time one of the most heralded NFL Drafts and continued its steady trajectory out of public obscurity and general mediocrity. This year’s Draft is one of the most fundamentally uncertain in recent memory. Brimming with highly subjective talent throughout most non-skill positions, mock drafts have never been so widely varied, leaving many intrigued as to the true nature of rumors that seem to be coursing through the NFL. While greater Bengaldom waits patiently to see if the final pieces fall into place, it is time for the 6th Annual Never In The ‘Nati Mock Draft – 2013 Pre-Draft Edition. Enjoy.
1. Kansas City – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. One way or another, Luke Joeckel will probably come off the board number one overall. The Chiefs kept hold of Brandon Albert, but fueled talks between the Chiefs and the Dolphins about a trade may make this selection even more of sure thing if they turn out to be true. Nonetheless, a void remains across the offensive line with the departure of Eric Winston that has to be filled if KC wants to make good on its rather considerable gamble on Alex Smith. Having two quality offensive tackles is certainly one way to do it. Also, the paveway that Joeckel could be with Albert for Jamaal Charles is frightening. While Kansas City does have a fairly substantial need to get better at inner linebacker as well, there is no talent worth taking with the first pick of the Draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon. Dion Jordan has steadily crawled up the draft boards over the past several weeks, and he continues to make more and more sense at number two with the Jaguars. Disregarding the obvious fact that Jacksonville desperately needs to figure out how to put more pressure on the quarterback, in which case Jordan ranks high among the pure pass-rushers in this Draft; nonetheless, he also provides the Jags the most ‘player’ and versatility at the position. While Jordan will improve as a ‘fingers in the dirt’ outside linebacker in Jacksonville’s 3-4 defense, he can still start with already established ability to diagnose plays and cover hybrid-tight ends and slot receivers, something that is required when sharing a division with an immerging Andrew Luck and the juggernaught Houston Texans.
3. Oakland Raiders – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida. Probably the first pure lock of the Draft, Sharrif Floyd is just too much of a talent to pass on. Oakland’s whole defensive front is a mess, and with players like Haoti Ngata, Geno Atkins and Vince Wilfolk getting significant pressure on quarterbacks coming right up the gut, Floyd is going to make all other pass rushing Raiders’ jobs that much easier, especially when paired with the newly acquired Pat Sims in a 4-3 formation. A breath of fresh character into the Black Hole and a pure talent at a position of need, Floyd should see starting time in silver right away and significantly bolster Oakland’s run-and-rush defense.