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NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Offers First Projections

Posted Jan 16, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — ESPN senior analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicted Wednesday during a media conference call that defensive players will be chosen frequently in the first round, but added that interior offensive linemen have chances to be selected higher than most years when the 2013 NFL Draft commences on April 25.

Kiper also foresees multiple options for the Tennessee Titans with the 10th overall pick, but his Mock Draft 1.0 projected that Oregon defensive end/outside linebacker Dion Jordan would be selected. Kiper also said the Titans may opt to choose a player on the other side of the line of scrimmage such as Alabama guard Chance Warmack or North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.

“You could look at the offensive line. You could look at the defensive end spot and get more sacks than they were able to get from the two starters (Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley),” Kiper said. “That’s why I thought Dion Jordan of Oregon, Barkevious Mingo from LSU, one of those two guys would be possibilities.”

Morgan led the Titans with 6.5 sacks in 2012, and Wimbley had six sacks, finishing tied for second on the team with linebacker Akeem Ayers. It marked the second straight season a Titans player did not have double-digit sack totals, but Tennessee did increase its sacks from 28 in 2011 to 39 in 2012.  

The draft is less than 100 days away, but much will happen between now and then. There are scheduled events like all-star games and the NFL Combine in February, plus free agency when the new NFL year begins in March and many variables between now and April that can impact decisions by NFL personnel executives.

Titans coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard who was taken with the eighth overall pick in 1982, said “we know we’re going to build the offensive line” in his season-ending press conference.

“That’s exciting to me, to get some young guys,” Munchak said. “We haven’t done that since we drafted (tackles Michael) Roos and (David) Stewart back in that year when we got them (2005).”

Although Kiper predicted that front seven defensive players (defensive linemen and linebackers) will account for about half of the first 32 picks, he also said the group of eligible interior offensive linemen is “outstanding” and “as good a group as you’ll find in terms of the early portion of the draft” before touting Cooper and Warmack.

“Obviously if you’re looking at the guard position, you can look at Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina or Chance Warmack from Alabama, so those would be possibilities there,” Kiper said of potential options for the Titans. “It’s too early to think about a safety, and obviously with (Alabama cornerback Dee) Milliner gone, you’re not going to take a corner at that point. At wide receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee, you’d have to think of adding him.

“So I would think the defensive end spot, whether it be Jordan or Mingo or even (Florida State’s) Bjoern Werner if he dropped down that far or a guard like Warmack or Cooper or the wide receiver Patterson.”

NFL.com also released its Mock Draft this week. NFL analysts Bucky Brooks (click here to see Brooks' podcast predictions) and Daniel Jeremiah projected Warmack to the Titans, while Albert Breer has Cooper slotted in the spot. Charles Davis predicted Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, Gil Brandt projected Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and Josh Norris projected Texas strong safety Kenny Vaccaro. Click here to see Round 1 of NFL.com’s Mock Draft.

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