NIT-NATI Mock Draft 2013

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4.  Philadelphia Eagles – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan.There are more than a few options for Head Coach Chip Kelly with this pick.  Michael Vick is a huge voice in the locker room and an extremely respected leader on this football team, so being the guy that bursts into the NFL and ousts the heart of a team already going through some heavy soul-searching would have put Coach Kelly under the gun from his own players from the start.  That’s not to say that Vick can’t be the quarterback Philadelphia needs, but he’s going to need more protection if he’s to do so and stay healthy.  However, there is another line of thought: why not snag Geno Smith?  Didn’t see that one coming?  You should’ve.  While the argument to strengthen their offensive line is sound, the reasoning isn’t fool proof.  Sure, Vick is perhaps the spiritual center for the team, but he is also on a very short string contractually and will be lucky to survive the year; and Coach Kelly knows it.  Further, Nick Foles does not work within the offense likely to manifest in the City of Brotherly Love so why not simply add more toys if you’re not going to keep the ones you have from breaking?  Lastly, while Star Lotulelei could make sense here as well now that he is medically cleared, Fisher is the most likely choice as he is arguably a better prospect than Luke Jockel.

Dec 20, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Ezekiel Ansah (47) hoists the Poinsettia Bowl Trophy after the Cougars beat the San Diego State Aztecs 23-6 at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

5.  Detroit Lions – Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU. Word around Rock City is that the Lions are smitten with Ziggy Ansah, and with the departure of Cliff Avril on the outside, getting a raw monster to replace him does make the idea fairly palatable.  However, common logic also states that further protecting the franchise’s quarterback, Matthew Stafford, isn’t a bad option either.  It’s highly likely that only Lane Johnson will be available by the fifth pick, and while he’s certainly a value at this point, Head Coach Jim Schwartz is going to half to figure out if it likes the idea of Stafford’s potential increase in production, something that despite back-to-back seasons right around 5K total yards, did see a 17.4 point drop in his overall QBR; more than having one of the most feared defensive fronts in the NFL.

6.  Cleveland Browns – DeMarcus Milliner, CB, AlabamaThere are a number of scenarios that would have Lane Johnson on the board at number six, and should that be the case, the Browns’ phone will be ringing off the hook with offers to trade up and snag the tackle – Arizona, Miami and San Diego being the obvious front runners.  Nonetheless, there is an equal chance that Johnson will be gone as well.  If that is the case, Dee Milliner is the fan favorite for this pick, and why not?  Milliner is a powerful corner who would complement Joe Haden and immediately improve Cleveland’s secondary, making the Browns even more of dark horse in the AFC North.  The outside consideration with a trade back is a huge upgrade at guard in Chance Warmack.  Keep in mind that Norv Turner is the Browns’ Offensive Coordinator now, and uncle Norv has produced the top running back in the NFL 5 of the last 20 years.  Reuniting Trent Richardson with his old plow might be intriguing for the Browns, but still, with the amount of new blood on the coaching staff and in the front office, Milliner is the safer and more prudent pick.

7.  Arizona Cardinals – Lane Johnson, OT, OklahomaAn absolute best case scenario for the Cards, Lane Johnson is a future Pro-Bowler that slides right into a position of serious need.  With Carson Palmer looking to ascend to the starting quarterback role at 33 years of age, Arizona must find a way to keep the pocket as secure as possible.  However, with the amount of jockeying for the third offensive tackle in this Draft that is likely to occur, the reality of Johnson sliding to number seven is less than one-in-five.  The Cardinals are going to have to trade up if they want to snag this boomer Sooner, otherwise they will have to settle for one of the two top guards in the Draft and rework their offensive line from the inside out.  It’s highly unlikely that Arizona will spend this pick doing anything else.