Panthers at Chiefs Sunday, 1 p.m., WCCB

An early look at a potential 2013 NFL mock draft

jjones@charlotteobserver.comNovember 30, 2012 

Ga Southern Georgia Football

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones (29) is shown against the Georgia Southern in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

JOHN BAZEMORE — AP

Wide receiver Steve Smith dubbed last week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles as the “battle of the bads.”

This week, as the Carolina Panthers go to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs, it could be a battle for draft positions.

The Chiefs (1-10) have the NFL’s worst record, and the Panthers hold a two-game edge at 3-8. If the season ended today, the Chiefs would get the No. 1 overall selection and, after tiebreakers, Carolina would pick sixth, marking the third consecutive year in which the Panthers had a top-10 pick.

Here’s a look at who could go where by the time April’s draft rolls around:

1. Kansas City (1-10)

The Chiefs need help on offense, averaging an NFL-worst 14.6 points per game. But the Chiefs have a lot of money in Matt Cassel and this draft isn’t ripe with skill position players.

Best available: Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones could be the best fit for the Chiefs, who run a 3-4 defense. He has 10.5 sacks this season for the Bulldogs.

2. Jacksonville (2-9)

The Jaguars seem to have struck out in drafting Blaine Gabbert last season, and Chad Henne may be the starting quarterback going forward. Maurice Jones-Drew has been hurt most of the season, keeping Jacksonville’s offensive numbers down. The Jaguars just picked up defensive end Jason Babin off waivers.

Best available: Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei out of Utah would give Jacksonville a strong inside push to help Babin on the end. The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder has 41 tackles and one forced fumble this season.

3. Philadelphia (3-8)

The Eagles were without their leading passer and rusher against the Panthers on Monday night. Midway through the game they lost their leading receiver. They’ll all be back next year, but coach Andy Reid likely will not.

Best available: Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel would be able to protect Michael Vick next year should the junior offensive tackle decide to come out. The Eagles’ offensive line has allowed 34 sacks this season, tied for fourth-most in the league.

4. Oakland (3-8)

The Raiders could use a boost on defense while working in the offseason to make Carson Palmer the quarterback he has sometimes shown he can be.

Best available: Notre Dame linebacker and potential Heisman Trophy winner Manti Te’o could fit the Raiders’ defense, which is minus-7 in takeaways. Oakland is averaging just more than a sack a game, too.

5. Cleveland (3-8)

If only this draft had a wide receiver worth a No. 5 pick. Josh Gordon averages 18.9 yards per catch, but he’s flanked by Greg Little, who still struggles with drops. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is 29 and still figuring out the NFL.

Best available: The Browns could get a lift from LSU’s Barkevious Mingo, a defensive end on a unit that held opponents to 103 rushing yards per game.

6. Carolina (3-8)

The Panthers’ first-round pick will be one of the new general manager’s first big decisions come April.

Best available: The draft is heavy with defensive tackles, and the Panthers could have their choice. Florida State’s Bjoern Warner will be playing at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night, and Johnathan Hankins from Ohio State and North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams deserve looks. Ron Edwards and Dwan Edwards, the Panthers’ starting tackles last week, have a combined 21 seasons of experience.

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