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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Looking ahead to the draft

By Pat Yasinskas

With a postseason berth appearing unlikely for three of the four NFC South teams, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2013 NFL draft.

Check out this Insider post in which Todd McShay rolls out his first mock draft. Obviously, the final draft order is a long way from being set, so McShay goes on current record.

At No. 5, he has the Carolina Panthers taking Ohio State defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins. I’m all for it. Defensive tackle has been Carolina’s biggest problem spot since Kris Jenkins departed after the 2007 season. It’s time for the Panthers to finally fix this area.

At No. 13, McShay has the New Orleans Saints taking Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones. There’s no question the Saints could use more athleticism at linebacker and Jones can rush the passer and drop in coverage. He wouldn’t be a bad fit, but I’m thinking the Saints might help their pass rush more with a defensive end and Oregon’s Dion Jordan could be available. Heck, I’m thinking the guy McShay has going right after the Saints’ pick could be a perfect fit in New Orleans.

That’s LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, who McShay has going to Tampa Bay at No. 14. Tampa Bay’s pass rush hasn’t been great, but the Bucs will get Adrian Clayborn back from injury and I’m sure they’ll make a strong attempt to keep Michael Bennett from entering free agency. I’d much rather see the Bucs get a cornerback like Mississippi’s Johnathan Banks.

At No. 31, McShay has the Falcons taking Stanford tight end Zach Ertz. There’s no doubt the Falcons need to get either an immediate or an eventual successor to Tony Gonzalez, but I’m not sure you need to use a first-round pick on a tight end. Let’s see what the Falcons do as far as keeping -- or not keeping -- Brent Grimes and Sam Baker. If they walk into free agency, cornerback and left tackle could become much bigger needs.