|Tony Dejak/Associated Press|
|Barkevious Mingo recorded five sacks and 42 tackles in 15 games (three starts) for the Cleveland Browns last fall.|
Take a quick glance back at the top 10 picks of the 2013 NFL Draft:
1) Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher, offensive tackle
2) Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Joeckel, offensive tackle
3) Miami Dolphins: Dion Jordan, pass rusher
4) Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson, offensive tackle
5) Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, pass rusher
6) Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, pass rusher
7) Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, offensive guard
8) St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, wide receiver
9) New York Jets: Dee Milliner, cornerback
10) Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, offensive guard
But a new season, generally speaking, brings new hope. With that in mind, take another look at the list. Which guy do you still believe in the most?
Pettine's arrival in Cleveland = Big things for MingoWow. What a relatively sad debate topic, based upon the early failures of this group. I like both offensive guards and cornerback Dee Milliner, but I'm rolling with Barkevious Mingo.
I like Mingo's ability to rush the passer, and new Browns head coach Mike Pettine is perfect for him. Pettine is a defensive guru who maximized the talent available to him as defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.
Pettine will move Mingo around, putting him in position to succeed. I think he sacks the quarterback 10 times this year.
Both offensive guards have Pro Bowl potentialThe 2013 NFL Draft had decent depth, but it lacked star power at the very top. That was the talk leading up to the event, and I don't think it's shocking that several of these players have experienced growing pains early on.
The two top-10 picks who have the best chance to emerge as Pro Bowl talents are the two interior offensive linemen. Jonathan Cooper suffered an injury in the preseason, forcing him to miss the entire 2013 campaign. However, he does have an elite skill set, and I expect him to play at a high level for the Cardinals. Chance Warmack played solid football last fall in Tennessee; he's a people-mover in the run game.
Ansah's in position to feast on quarterbacks in 2014Honestly? It's absurd to judge these players so early into their careers. Everyone on this list has a chance to alter opinions.
If you're looking for immediate production, though, I'll go with Around the League "Making the Leap" candidate Ezekiel Ansah.
The defensive end sits in good position to generate sacks and pocket disruption with so much attention devoted to Lions teammates Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Ziggy's freaky physical gifts are off the charts, and the technique will come. It also helps that Ansah won't face a top-10 left tackle (per Pro Football Focus) until taking on New England's Nate Solder in Week 12.
Add it all up, and Ziggy's set to go off.
With good health, Joeckel and Cooper should be just fineMy choices are Luke Joeckel and Jonathan Cooper. Although Joeckel suffered a season-ending ankle fracture in Week 5, he showed me enough in the early goings to reinforce my belief that he has the potential to be a quality offensive tackle in the NFL. All rookies will have some struggles, but I didn't see anything from Joeckel that should spark great concern. I thought he showed natural pass-protection ability, enough to indicate he will be a solid bookend for the Jags.
Meanwhile, Cooper went down last preseason, and considering he has yet to take his first regular-season snap, it would be unfair to say he hasn't lived up to expectations. Cooper still should be a very good offensive lineman, with the athletic ability to excel at either center or guard.
Warmack has the skills to be the best of the bunchIt's not a sexy pick, but I believe Chance Warmack is the guy capable of making the biggest mark in the league. The Titans guard has all of the tools to be an elite player at the position, and he should get a chance to showcase his skills in new coach Ken Whisenhunt's scheme.
If Tennessee commits to running the ball more between the tackles, Warmack should shine as a mauler at the point of attack and erase any concerns skeptics have about his ability to excel as an interior blocker in the NFL.