Not as shiny near the top of the draft board as Kansas City, Jacksonville and other teams would like it to be, the demand for a Top 10, let alone a Top Five overall pick will be significantly lower in the 2013 draft then in years past. There is no Andrew Luck or Cam Newton or even Sam Bradford in this class.
In working this mock draft, I had been assigned to write this "With trades"; although I was only able to pull off one trade (which I'm very confident could happen if the order stayed the same), I will have a number of picks highlighted as "Potential trade-down, trade-up slots".
There was a wide discrepancy between offensive linemen and skilled positions, with five more offensive linemen being taken. After the combine, I envision only one quarterback and one receiver being selected in the top round and who those two are may surprise you.
With many months left in the process, this is more of a refresher for fans to see the best that is available in the draft and their respective team fits.
Comment below with your thoughts on how your team came out in my first mock draft the season.
While Geno Smith is by no means locked into the top spot of the 2013 NFL Draft, it seems highly unlikely that Kansas City would pass on a potential franchise quarterback.
Smith is anything but a perfect prospect; however, his combination of determined work ethic, accuracy across the board and ideal physical tools make him the highest rated quarterback in what could end up being a very weak quarterback class.
Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli cannot afford another losing season and needs to stockpile picks, however there simply is not going to be a demand for this year's No. 1 overall pick.
Pioli will be handcuffed into taking the top quarterback available, as anything other than a Matt Cassel replacement will cut severely into the next season's ticket sales.
The Jaguars have taken their lumps and bruises with Blaine Gabbert for a season and a half now, and to be completely honest, the reason this team continues to lose games has more to do with the supporting cast than the signal caller.
This team must improve along the front 7 defensively and without a clear-cut, elite pass rusher in this class, Star Lotulelei appears to be the right man for the pick.
Utah's Lotulelei should be at or near the top of every NFL team's draft board, due to his rare combination of size, athleticism, and brute strength. The best defensive tackle prospect to come out since Ndamukong Suh in 2010, Lotulelei has improved each season, trimmed down to a healthy weight and developed the proper technique to handle double teams and occupy multiple gap responsibilities.
Star Lotulelei is one of the true "stars" of the 2013 draft class.
While this may be a surprise Top Five pick for Cleveland Browns fans, after the season and combine come to a conclusion, Sheldon Richardson will certainly be among those considered near the top of the 2013 draft class.
Having rare quickness, foot speed and explosion off the football, Sheldon Richardson whips opposing guards with his first step and developed hand usage. At defensive tackle, Richardson compares to a longer-armed Warren Sapp; that being said, I feel his skill set would be best served as a 4-3 RDE where he can incorporate his speed and power to knock opposing tackles off balance.
Aside from Jabaal Sheard, the Cleveland Browns have no real pass rushing threat at defensive tackle or at defensive end. With that being the case, Richardson provides versatility to slide across the front, having experience as a 1-tech and 3-tech at Missouri and be an impact player upfront.
Improving short term at a position of need and preparing for future need, the Carolina Panthers get a day one starter at right tackle and the future replacement for an aging Jordan Gross by drafting Texas A&M right tackle Jake Matthews.
Jordan Gross is due 8.7 million and 7.7 million over the next two seasons, so he's secured through 2014. Jake Matthews can come in, learn the NFL game from a veteran like Gross and assume the starting left tackle position in 2015.
Matthews, who measures in at 6'5" tall with a svelte 295 pound body type, is essentially a more explosive, sudden and athletic version of Gross. The Texas A&M tackle has displayed his elite foot speed, lateral quickness and an aggressive attitude to win both in extended pass sets and a variety of run blocking schemes.
The starter from day one at Texas A&M at left tackle, junior Luke Joeckel, should be the day one starter for whichever NFL team gets the opportunity to select him.
St. Louis needs to keep Sam Bradford upright and bring in the Aggie blindside protector who meets that immediate need.
Joeckel proves why he should be considered the premiere left tackle prospect in this draft class by putting on a pass setting clinic versus highly touted LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery. Joeckel play with outstanding bend and leverage for a 6'6 310 pound tackle, and more importantly showcases the foot speed and balance to hold up on 5-step pass drops that leave him on an island.
As polished a tackle prospect as you will find, Joeckel's technician-like hand usage and consistent footwork make him the best left tackle in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Continuing the trend of offensive linemen, the Titans sprint to the podium to announce their selection of the highest rated senior on my draft board, Chance Warmack of Alabama.
While offensive guards are rarely seen in the top 10, Chance Warmack has a chance to be the highest guard selected in recent memory, due to his physicality, ideal body type and overall fundamentally sound style of play.
Combined with having a thick trunk, wide base and powerful upper half, Warmack has the sudden hands and hips to explode up and through defenders. And not only can Warmack be seen snapping back defenders at the point of attack, but the big 'Bama blocker can also sink his hips, open up to either side, get to and through the hole, locate a defender and complete difficult, on-the-move blocks.
The clear-cut No. 1 guard in a very talented class of guard prospects, Chance Warmack is as close as there is to a "Can't Miss" prospect in this 2013 draft.
The face of Notre Dame football and leader of their incredible run at a national championship game, Manti Te'o has taken his game to an entirely new level in 2012.
Returning for his senior season and foregoing an opportunity to declare early for the 2012 draft, Manti Te'o is clearly the leader and defensive quarterback for the Fighting Irish. Where he struggles to disengage himself off of uncovered linemen, Te'o more than compensates for with field vision, instincts, open field closing burst and fluidity and range in coverage.
Impacting the game with takeaways, sacks or tackles for loss, Manti Te'o is just a playmaker. He'll be best suited at weakside linebacker, and the Bengals need all the help they can get at linebacker. It wouldn't surprise me to see him play at both middle or weakside linebacker, but he is certainly more suited outside in space.
- Oakland Raiders to trade 1.8 and receive 1.16, 2.19 and 2014 third round picks
- San Diego to trade 1.16, 2.19 and 2014 third round picks for 1.8
After seeing the two Aggie bookend tackles selected in back-to-back picks, the San Diego Chargers furiously put together an appealing trade offer to Oakland in order to secure Taylor Lewan. The Chargers, who have struggled mightily this season without former left tackle and now retired Marcus McNeil, get one of the three franchise left tackle prospects in this draft—a blue chip prospect at that—and only surrender their second rounder from this year's draft.
Taylor Lewan plays the game with a noticeable mean streak and physicality, all the while maintaining ideal knee bend, balance and coordination in space. Having the plus size, strength and movement skills to anchor the left side of the line, Lewan should develop into a better pro than college player.
This type of investment will only happen if Phillip Rivers finishes the season out strong, as it would be a major vote of confidence in the long-time Charger moving forward as the starter.
*Note that it is possible for a team, even Oakland, to in some way select USC quarterback Matt Barkley at this juncture of the draft; however, neither Barkley's play as of late nor his physical tools warrant this high of a selection.
A blessing in disguise for the Buffalo Bills may have been the Bengals selection of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
In taking the "Golden Domer" off the draft board, the Bills have no war room debate on their first round selection, as the best middle linebacker in the class, Kevin Minter, is sitting right there at pick No. 9 overall.
Minter, who's been on a tear this season, is a no-nonsense cat who is quick to diagnose, aggressive to fill and consistent in his technique to disengage from blockers to make the play. While some credit his production to the 4-man front that LSU fields each and every snap, I would argue that Kevin Minter has not received any additional help, and due to the aggressive nature of the defensive ends Montgomery and Mingo, he is faced with more uncovered blockers than most linebackers in the country.
Showing the 3-down ability and a playmaking skill set of a top flight prospect on a weekly basis Minter should be shoo-in top 10 pick; he has no problem working himself free of blockers, running sideline-to-sideline with plus closing burst and long speed for his position or holding up in coverage down field.
Expect big things from Minter if declared for the upcoming draft.
LIKELY A TRADE OUT SLOT:
Narrowly missing on the offensive tackle sweepstakes that included the Texas A&M tackles and Taylor Lewan, the Eagles, who desperately need offensive line help, attempt unsuccessfully to trade out of pick 1.10.
Again, I don't anticipate much movement in the first round as a whole, due to lack of elite talent in this year's draft class. With so much value in the second, third, and even fourth round range, teams will be less willing to climb the ladder and surrender valuable picks in the middle rounds.
Despite being unable to trade out however, the lack of movement could prove beneficial, as Sharrif Floyd is only beginning to scratch the surface of his elite potential. Big, thick, nasty and powerful with his hands, Sharrif Floyd is the ideal complement to the Eagles' 2012 first round pick Fletcher Cox.
Sharrif Floyd, if he declares, can be expected to soar up draft boards, as his plus physical tools should wow NFL coaches and decision makers at the combine. He'll need to shave off some bad weight, but Floyd is remarkably explosive for his size and should test very well.
Everyone's bet to blow up the combine next year, Dion Jordan could be the apple of Rex Ryan's eye come April.
Capable of playing all across the front seven and wreaking havoc as a speed rushing specialist, Dion Jordan more importantly adds the space playing ability lacking in the Jets' 3-4 outside linebacker corps.
And while he's still figuring out the pass rushing aspect and incorporating an effective repertoire, Jordan is the perfect counter to the Patriots' tight ends as he can press at the line with his length, drop fluidly into coverage and cover space with his impressive range. His movement skills at the combine will be the story of the weekend, and he could even rise into the top 10, considering the lack of certainty near the top.
After seeing D.J. Fluker cut off Barkevious Mingo's speed rush, power step inside to combat counter rushes and dominate at the point of attack, I am absolutely sold on this massive mauler's abilities as a right tackle in the NFL.
Fluker is finally showing the trust in his length, kick slide and hand usage to stay coordinated, balanced and locked on with his opponent throughout his pass set, which only serves as to boost his draft rating around the NFL.
The Cowboys, who will likely do whatever is necessary to dump Doug Free's overpriced contract at season's end, add a right tackle, day one starter in Fluker to bring a physical, dominating presence in the run game and better consistency as a pass protector.
In terms of foot speed, Fluker and Free aren't separated by much at all. What separates the two are length and strength, both of which Fluker wins by a landslide. Although most have Fluker pegged to the latter half of the top round, I very much anticipate this right tackle to steadily rise up draft boards.
Now this was a huge surprise to me too. Hankins, who ought to be considered as one of the premiere prospects in the 2013 draft, slides out of the top 10 and into the waiting hands of the New Orleans Saints. Going through team needs, I simply had a hard time finding a home for this nose tackle, until I came across the New Orleans Saints
Before I talk about Hankins as a prospect, the Saints could very well trade up to nab this Buckeye bruiser; in the nature of mock drafting, however, we'll just assume he slides.
As for Hankins, we're talking about an extremely wide, powerful and light-footed nose tackle that can scrape laterally and remain productive from a 1-tech or 0-tech alignment. Better suited to be a shade nose and movable piece inside, Hankins immediately fills the lack of strength and beef inside at defensive tackle.
With ball carriers like Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Michael Turner, and Doug Martin, the Saints have to improve against the run and the quickest way to do that is to add the best true nose tackle in the 2013 draft.
Staying put and following their value board, the St. Louis Rams continue to stockpile talent with the picks they received from last year's blockbuster trade with the Washington Redskins. This being the second of two first round picks, the Rams continue to bolster their offensive line with the addition of North Carolina offensive guard Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper, who is a better athlete than Chance Warmack, can sink and bend into a good-looking pass set, is capable of adding another dimension as an on-the-move blocker and is very good at reaching the 2nd level. A smooth, fluid mover, Cooper does an excellent job of maneuvering through the interior trash, adjusting his angles to scraping backers and finishing at the point of attack.
Another starter and improvement to the offensive line for the St. Louis Rams gives Sam Bradford even more breathing room as the franchise quarterback.
The Cardinals have been patient. They know they lack the firepower to trade up for a top flight left tackle prospect, so they waited for Central Michigan senior Eric Fisher.
Not as highly regarded in scouting circles as Joeckel or Lewan, Eric Fisher has proven himself more than capable of a starting left tackle position at the next level. By bringing a legitimate starter on the left side, the Cardinals can now expedite the evaluation process of their two quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, both of whom have suffered from porous blocking.
Fisher isn't a finished product but has great flexibility throughout his framework and reacts laterally very well to cutoff rushes to the inside or outside. The senior Chippewa is experienced, still developing and talented enough to sell a Top 15 selection with a strong outing at the combine.
"Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!"
Oakland, who has their eyes set on the German-import Bjoern Werner, manipulates the draft board while adding a second this year and a fourth next year to draft their top rated pass rusher.
Werner has come into his own as a junior and has developed a beautiful speed rush element to his game. Coiling into his stance, Werner fires off the line of scrimmage with great speed and pad level, effectively knocks down the blocker's hands and bends his rush to the inside at an optimal rushing angle.
Having the size, speed and explosive burst you want in an NFL edge rusher, Werner gives the Oakland defense some punch in the passing game. Werner's combine will likely determine whether or not a team can trade out of the Top 10 or has to jump into the Top 10 to secure his services.
The most NFL-ready defensive back prospect Johnthan Banks has experience at both safety and cornerback and has a high understanding of route concepts, pattern reading defensive schemes and route landmarks to anticipate the receiver's movements.
A long, lean-bodied ball hawk, Banks utilizes great technique and driving angles to get his hands on the football for pass breakups or interceptions. He can turn, run and mirror downfield, press at the line of scrimmage, or read through the route into the quarterback's eyes in zone coverage.
Miami upgrades at a position of need, combats the pass heavy teams in their division with a secondary weapon of their own, and also adds a potential return man, as Banks served as Mississippi State's punt returner for a majority of his career.
It shouldn't be a shock when Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo begin their free-fall down the first round. Montgomery's ultra competitive, fiery style of play made him appear much more explosive and dynamic off the snap. The confusion of his skill set can be accredited in large part to the type of offensive tackles he was faced with because when matched up with Texas A&M's left tackle Luke Joeckel, there was nothing beyond a simple bull rush attempt.
Still, Montgomery understands leverage, how to work his hands inside and plays with ferocious intensity off the edge to rush the passer. Somewhere between 6'3" and 6'4", along with bulking up to 260 pounds with no loss of lateral burst, range, or open field speed, Montgomery is an ideal 4-3 defensive end, able to play as the right or left end as need be.
In the same way that the Bucs had Adrian Clayborn slide down in the 2012 draft, expect the NFC South team to get a similar gift next April with their choice of Barkevious Mingo or Sam Montgomery. For reasons specified later in this mock draft, give me the latter of the two.
With starting free safety Louis Delmas set to hit free agency in 2013, the Detroit Lions replace and upgrade with the tremendously explosive, fiery and aggressive safety Matt Elam out of Gainesville, Florida.
If you want to see an explosive tackler, Matt Elam is the player to watch. Flying all over the field with plus effort, plus football instincts and elite closing speed to the football, Matt Elam often looks like Troy Polamalu without the flowing dreadlocks.
Elam can be seen playing a single high, deep safety alignment in cover one or three, a back half alignment in cover two, down in man coverage with the slot receiver, or in the box as the robber defender. Wherever he is, Elam will find a way to get to the football and deliver a hit. The type of "football player" that Jim Schwartz would love to have on his team, Matt Elam serves as the perfect fit in Motown.
We know that left tackle isn't the issue for the Viking's offense any longer, so what's the problem? For one, a lack of any consistency in the deep and intermediate passing game allows defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage.
As such, the Vikings add the NFL-ready Robert Woods from USC to complement slot dynamo Percy Harvin. Woods, who runs sharp crisp routes and understands route conversions at a high level, can be that consistent force downfield in the intermediate levels, while also having the vertical ability to occasionally stretch the defense.
The Vikings have to open up the playbook in year three of the Christian Ponder era, and by adding Robert Woods, they have a much higher chance of being successful in doing so.
The real wildcard of the draft may end up being Jarvis Jones, the standout rush linebacker from Georgia. Despite his lacking in the length department, I have a strong feeling that the same coach that recruited him to USC a number of years ago in Pete Carroll finds a way to get him into Seattle as the third wheel of an explosive pass rushing attack featuring Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons.
Though not perfectly suited to play the LEO position in Seattle's unique defense that features aspects of both 4-3 and 3-4 principle, Jarvis Jones will be a high impact player for this defense as a movable, stunting linebacker that can put his hand in the dirt or work the standup game.
Jarvis Jones' stock will not be readily apparent until after pre-draft workouts and interviews, as some team will likely fall in love with him at the combine. Health concerns that forced him out of USC must be checked and cleared, but otherwise you're looking at a very solid and productive player.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have expiring contracts with Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis among others, forcing them to look long and hard at this year's crop of cornerbacks. With Dee Milliner still on the board, this is an easy pick for the Steelers, as value meets need.
Milliner has fluid hips, ideal length and speed to stay stride for stride in deep zone or man coverage, and locates the football at an extremely high level to consistently break up the throw when in position.
Will he take some chances? Sure. But know this, Milliner is an excellent fit in Dick Lebeau's multiple and attacking defensive scheme. Steel curtain fans ought to love this pick, as they finally get a game changer at corner.
Sticking with the tune of "Sweet Home Alabama", the Colts return to the SEC draft pipeline to add a defensive lineman Jesse Williams.
Williams has brutish strength, impressive quicks for his size and a bowling ball build to hold the point of attack. Thick and wide-bodied with great feet, Williams has proven capable of playing both the 5-tech defensive end and 0-tech nose tackle positions for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Likely to set a combine record on the bench press, Williams also holds the 'Bama weight-lifting record with a 600 pound bench press. An excellent nose tackle option, the Colts further work to rebuild their new 3-4 defense.
Green Bay drafted Morgan Burnett a few years back and have yet to reap the benefits.
This season, they find themselves with the opportunity to draft Eric Reid, a physical specimen and highly productive safety from the SEC. I don't see them passing up the opportunity to land an athlete like Reid.
Reid, who has struggled in comparison to 2011, plays the game with the on-field physicality, presence and leadership you want in your safety. Reid is a "bright lights" performer that plays bigger on a bigger stage and will certainly feed off the Lambeau Field crowd.
The LSU safety strikes fear in opposing receivers over the middle, attacks the alley with violence and balance, and roams the back half with ideal range. A great pick for a team that somehow, someway always leaves the draft a winner.
LIKELY A TRADE OUT SLOT:
Likely to fall down boards due to his still very raw game, I expect a 3-4 defensive team to trade back into the first round to select Barkevious Mingo. Considering the fact that there are no middle linebackers available that worth a first round selection, the Broncos would be best served taking the best player available approach.
Adding another freak athlete to a defense that features Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, Mingo could thrive with the ability to be a rotational guy, learn the game and further hone his skills. This LSU Tiger should rip the NFL Combine apart, but the fact will still remain that he's an unfinished product and not an elite pass rusher.
Watching Mingo versus Texas A&M, I finally got a true sense of how raw Mingo really is. Sam Montgomery, while equally neutralized in that game, did a much better job of converting consistent power with his hand usage and hip firing, and has shown throughout the season that he's a much more consistent run defender.
It is very early in the process and the draft is as fluid as Presidential elections; that being said, I see Mingo's draft stock falling on the first day.
The ultimate "team player", Alabama's Barrett Jones started at right guard for two seasons, left tackle for one, and center in his senior season.
Yes, this four-year starter has literally done it all upfront for the Crimson Tide. The mentality to make such conversions and the combined talent to succeed as an All-SEC player cements Jones' versatility and skill as a well-rounded offensive lineman.
The only hindrance to becoming a first round pick will almost certainly be Jones' limited upside, as he's fully developed as a prospect from a physical standpoint.
What cannot be stressed enough, and what could bump him into the back end of the 1st round, however, is that Jones has a tremendously high football IQ, a developed understanding of line protection calls and the on-field leadership to command the starting five.
A safe pick that can be counted upon to start right away and be a positive influence in-house, Barrett Jones will be a solid and reliable NFL player for years to come, whether as guard, or center. Jones plays the game, "The Patriot Way" and would be a great fit in that locker room.
The freak of all freak athletes in this draft class, Ezekiel Ansah is just beginning to fully understand how to play the game of football. Taking to coaching extremely well in his first season as a starter, Ezekiel Ansah has showcased raw power and forceful hands to stack, shed and free himself of multiple blockers before turning to run down the ball carrier.
In terms of speed, consider this: Ezekiel Ansah began his collegiate career as a runner for BYU in the 200 meters. Yeah, he is only 6'6" and 270 pounds large.
Being the talk of NFL scouting circles, Ezekiel Ansah should continue to make his meteoric rise up draft rankings until his name is called at the end of round one.
The New York Giants, probably better than anybody in the draft, know how to gauge the draft board in terms of overall value and future upside. Drafting what many consider to be a Jason Pierre Paul clone in Ansah, the Giants continue to stockpile pass rushers in an attempt to field the most athletic, explosive and dangerous 4-man front in football.
One of my personal favorite prospects for the past two seasons, Kenny Vaccaro finally will enter the NFL field to impact the game in a variety of ways.
First, as a deep safety, Vaccaro shows trust in his footwork, angles and instincts to cover either the middle third, back half, or even roll down into the flats late in the snap count. To that point, Vaccaro's ability to disguise coverages with pre-snap alignments and quickly rotate into position before the snap is something that you normally only see at the NFL level. Scouts and defensive coordinators love to see that attribute, and I am positive that Jim Harbaugh also likes what he sees in the Texas safety.
Vaccaro can man cover the slot, play in the box, play deep in coverage, or blitz with a high level of effectiveness. This versatile, multi-faceted skill set translates immediately to the NFL game and should make Vaccaro a prized possession in the back half of the first round.
Replacing the soon-to-be free agent Paul Kruger and improving the front seven for the Ravens, Alex Okafor provides the well rounded, balanced skill set that Ozzie Newsome likes to see in his players. Okafor is an every down player, can be effective with his hand in the dirt or from a standup position, and has developed hand usage to work free from blockers.
Alex Okafor underachieved for a time at the University of Texas but has finally begun to hit his stride as a senior, showcasing the leveraging ability and heavy hands to jolt offensive linemen out of their pass sets.
Very physical, strong and developed in terms of upper, lower, and core body strength, Okafor appears ready to handle the rigors of the NFL game. He'll be a productive player for many years at the next level.
The Chicago Bears desperately need to improve their offensive line play, and that begins with replacing J'Marcus Webb.
Adding Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh, the Bears get another strong-bodied and light-footed pass protector to pair with 2011 draft selection Gabe Carimi. Though a bit stiff moving laterally, Pugh has the footwork to cut the edge off and win with physical punches in his pass set.
Pugh certainly fits the aggressive mold that Mike Tice would like to coach and will help create better movement upfront in the run game. This pick is all about need, and the Bears address a big need by doing so.
The finishing touches on Wade Phillip's 3-4 defense can be found here with the drafting of John Jenkins out of Georgia.
Maintaining elite athleticism for his size, Jenkins carries his 358-pound build like a man 50-75 pounds lighter, moving and flowing to the football in pursuit. Standing a shade above 6'3", Jenkins also possesses the length needed to punch and lock out at the point of attack to stack, shed, and disengage.
He dominates blockers with his heavy hands, wide body and bull-like motor off the snap and has shown the skill set to be productive despite playing as the unheralded nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive system. Powering through double-teams, combo blocks and attempted chip blocks from running backs, Jenkins at times can be unblockable.
Great pick for what could be the best defense in all of football.
Rounding out the first round is a player that many see as a top of the first round prospect in Damontre "DaMonster" Moore.
Yes, the nickname is awesome, and yes, the production is remarkable.
With that in mind, I do not see elite bend, low pad level and consistent hand countering in No. 94's game. What I do see is ridiculous effort and motor in pursuit of the football on a per-snap basis. Remarkably in shape, well conditioned and elite in open field pursuit, Damontre Moore has the skill set and mental makeup to be the future replacement of Atlanta Falcon's defensive end John Abraham.
Learning from that type of veteran will only better prepare Moore for a highly productive career; in learning from Abraham, it's very possible that this Aggie could end up being an All-Pro type of player down the line. At this point, I see more effort than pass rushing polish.