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NFL Mock Draft 2013: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams

April 24th, 2013 at 12:07 PM
By Donald Lappe

Now entering the middle of the first round in our 2013 NFL Mock Draft, the Carolina Panthers are on the clock. The Panthers have a quarterback they believe in, Cam Newton, and added a middle linebacker in the first round of last year's NFL Draft in Luke Kuechly. This year we have the Panthers going back to the defense again in the first round, selecting Sheldon Richardson of Missouri. The New Orleans Saints follow that pick with Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson, and the St. Louis Rams address the back end of their defense by selecting Kenny Vaccaro from Texas.

14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri – Jesse Collin of Panthers 101 made the pick for the Carolina Panthers. Sheldon Richardson has a combination of good feet, agility and length not often seen at the defensive tackle spot. That rare athletic ability allows him to do things most defensive tackles can't such as rushing off the edge and dropping into coverage zones on occasion. Combination of size and athletic ability similar to Sharrif Floyd.

15. New Orleans Saints: Menelik Watson, Offensive Tackle, Florida State – Darsh Patel of Sports Law 101 made the selection for the Saints: "The Who Dat Nation is rightfully hyped for the 2013 season and the return of their patriarch Sean Payton from his draconian season-long suspension. The team has restructured its defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 under new DC Rob Ryan and made some apt defensive signings; after all, the 2012-13 Saints defense allowed the most yards in league history. But New Orleans still has a glaring weakness on offense: no one to protect their nine-figure quarterback’s blindside.

In a minor coup, Chicago signed Brees’s trusted left tackle Jermon Bushrod to a 5-year, $17 mil deal on the first day of free agency. Jason Smith and Charles Brown are competing for the starting spot, but at pick 15, the Saints should pick Menelik Watson in a classic biggest need over best available pick. Watson is a raw talent from England who showed flashes of brilliance at Florida State. At 6’5’’ 310 lbs, he could compete for the starting spot immediately; if not, he can be groomed over a season to take over the reins the following season. The team logically wants to protect their biggest investment, and Watson has the potential to do that over the next half-decade. Brees agrees. "

16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas – Chuck Chapman of Colts 101 made the selection for the St. Louis Rams: "Having let Quintin Mikell go to create cap space, the Rams have a glaring need at safety. Vaccaro is a big hitter who will strengthen the back end of the Rams defense immediately. "

While we are still in the middle of the first round, the overall strength of the 2013 NFL Draft is starting to shine through. These are three players that teams are going to be thrilled to walk away from the NFL Draft with, taken after 13 players have already come off the board. As we get deeper into the first round, that trend will continue. Once the NFL teams get into the middle rounds, there are going to be some insane values that continue to showcase the strength of this draft class.

Also…

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft, 2013 NFL Mock Draft, Carolina Panthers, Kenny Vaccaro, Menelik Watson, mock draft, New Orleans Saints, NFL, NFL Draft, Sharrif Floyd, Sheldon Richardson, St. Louis Rams

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