2013 NFL Mock Draft: First Round with Team Needs
The NFL season is almost over, and as teams begin to look toward the future, they are beginning to tip their hands as to what the offseason may have in store.
The most notable change in this edition of the mock draft features a certain golden boy from Southern Cal serving as a potential replacement for another former Trojan in New York.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Team needs: quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback
I would hate to be Scott Pioli right about now.
Geno Smith isn't the best player in the draft and might not even be among the top 10. But the Chiefs aren't going anywhere without a quarterback, so there will be immense pressure to address that need with their first-round selection.
Ultimately, Smith needs to be the pick if Pioli wants to keep his job. Passing on Smith guarantees the Chiefs another miserable year with little hope for the immediate future. Adding Smith, however, buys Pioli some time to build up the roster around him—even if Smith ultimately doesn't pan out.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Team needs: defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver
If the Jaguars are looking to excite their apathetic fan base, Werner isn't their guy. But if they're interested in winning football games in the near future, this is a no-brainer.
Werner is the arguably the most NFL-ready prospect—regardless of position—and fills the team's most glaring need. He isn't necessarily a dangerous pass rusher, but he is as consistent as they come in all aspects of the game.
Werner would start from day one in Jacksonville and may be their best defensive player from the time he sets foot on the field.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Team needs: cornerback, defensive line, linebacker
Lotulelei doesn't fill the Raiders' biggest need but he is the biggest difference-maker on the board.
Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly have formed a nice duo on the Raiders interior defensive line, but both are on the wrong side of 30. Adding Lotulelei would give the Raiders a deeper rotation, allowing them to keep both veterans fresh.
Additionally, Lotulelei would give the Raiders a true nose tackle who requires the attention of multiple blockers on every play. That type of presence in the middle of the line would free things up for their edge rushers.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Team needs: quarterback, offensive line, cornerback
When fully healthy, the Eagles have a formidable offensive line. But with so many injuries over the past season, the Eagles can't be sure who they can count on in 2013.
Joeckel has the potential to develop into a franchise left tackle and the Eagles can't afford to pass up the chance to add one of the few sure-things in this year's draft class.
If Joeckel joins a healthy Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis, the Eagles offensive line may emerge as one of the elite units in 2013.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Team needs: cornerback, offensive tackle, safety
Adding Milliner is an absolute must if he's on the board. He's head and shoulders above the other defensive backs in this class and the only cornerback that is ready to step into an impact role immediately.
One man won't solve all of the Lions defensive woes, but Milliner has the tools to send them down the right path.
6. San Diego Chargers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Team needs: cornerback, offensive tackle, wide receiver
While Philip Rivers is partially blame for his own failures, the Chargers offensive line hasn't done him any favors. They're in desperate need of a right tackle and the left tackle situation is up in the air as well.
I'm not sold on Lewan as an elite prospect, but it's impossible to ignore his raw talent. He's among the most athletic linemen in this year's class and has the potential to develop into a franchise left tackle.
6. Buffalo Bills: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Team needs: quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker
Due to the distribution of talent in this year's draft class, the Bills will have a difficult time addressing their needs on offense if they remain in the top 10. If they turn their attention to defense, however, there are plenty of options to bolster the defensive front seven.
Nigel Bradham has done an adequate job in his rookie year at strong-side linebacker, but Jarvis Jones would offer the Bills a significant upgrade. Manti Te'o would also be an intriguing option, but this may be too early for the Notre Dame linebacker.
8. Cleveland Browns: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Team needs: guard, outside linebacker, wide receiver
Selecting a guard in the top 10 is definitely a bold move, but the Browns are closer to being contenders than they tend to get credit for and Warmack would fill their most glaring need.
If the Browns are going to establish the power running game, they desperately need to upgrade their interior offensive line. Trent Richardson simply deserves better than Shawn Lauvao and John Greco.
The addition of Warmack to a line already featuring Joe Thomas and Alex Mack would give the Browns the foundation of a potentially dominant unit.
9. Carolina Panthers: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Team needs: defensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback
This is early for Jenkins, but the Panthers' desperate need for an interior lineman may necessitate such a move.
2011 third-round pick Sione Fua hasn't gotten the job done at nose tackle and his struggles have been a key reason for the Panthers' inability to stop the run. Jenkins is a big body who can plug the holes in the middle of the defensive line while freeing things up for Luke Kuechly and Jon Beason to make plays behind him.
10. Tennessee Titans: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Team needs: defensive line, cornerback, running back
After a sub-par junior year, Hankins' stock has fallen slightly. However, 330-pound nose tackles with his athleticism don't come around often and his rare skill set could still land him in the top 10.
The Titans would be able to pair Hankins with Jurrell Casey, giving them one of the better young defensive tackle duos in the league. Hankins' presence would also free up Derrick Morgan on the edge and allow him to continue to develop as a pass rusher.
11. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Team needs: offensive line, quarterback, cornerback
Matt Barkley will definitely be in the conversation, but don't be shocked if the Cardinals decided to give Kevin Kolb/John Skelton another shot behind an improved offensive line.
Fisher would step in immediately at left tackle and the Cardinals may not be done there. With so many holes to fill, they could spend two or three early picks on offensive linemen in an effort to rebuild in the trenches.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Team needs: cornerback, wide receiver, defensive line
How far will the Bucs go to upgrade their secondary? It's painfully clear that they need to add a cornerback, but will they reach for a guy like Banks in the upper half of the first round?
This is a reach for any corner other than Dee Milliner, but if the Bucs believe they are one or two pieces away from contention (which isn't too far fetched), it may be a necessary risk.
13. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Team needs: wide receiver, cornerback, tight end
Brian Hartline and Davone Bess are both reliable receivers who have served Ryan Tannehill well in his rookie season. But if the Dolphins offense is going to take the next step, they'll need a true No. 1 receiver.
Unfortunately for the 'Phins, this is a relatively weak class. At least four or five receivers will be in the first-round discussion, but only Allen has established himself as a first-round lock. Taking him in the top 15 may be a reach, but the Dolphins can't let this draft go by without bringing in a young receiver to develop alongside Tannehill.
14. New York Jets: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Team needs: quarterback, linebacker, wide receiver
The thought of another USC quarterback might make some Jets fans cringe, but it's an option the team will have to consider unless Greg McElroy impresses down the stretch.
While I have my doubts about Barkley in the NFL, I'm confident that he is a better option than anyone currently on the Jets roster. And if Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum return for 2013, they'll need to make some significant moves to ensure their job safety.
Drafting Barkley might be a desperation move, but the Jets offensive struggles have reached the point where it is now a strong possibility.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Team needs: defensive line, cornerback, linebacker
Predicting the Saints' selection is fairly simple—just plug in the best available defensive player.
The Saints rank 31st in both run and pass defense and have holes at nearly every position on the defensive side of the ball.
Sheldon Richardson is coming off of a breakout junior year and has established himself as one of the most well-rounded interior linemen in this year's draft class. While the Saints may prefer a true nose tackle, such as Johnathan Hankins, Richardson would be a perfect replacement for Sedrick Ellis who may depart as a free agent this offseason.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Team needs: offensive line, wide receiver, running back
The Rams' priority this offseason, as it has been for the past three years, is to upgrade the talent around Sam Bradford.
Jake Matthews lacks the upside of the elite offensive linemen in this year's class, but he is as close to a sure thing as you'll find the draft. His lack of athleticism may limit him to playing on the right side of the line, or even guard, but he should be a significant upgrade for the Rams regardless of where he's plugged in.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Barkevious Mingo, LB, LSU
Team needs: cornerback, offensive line, wide receiver
The Steelers have a few holes that need to be addressed this offseason, but GM Kevin Colbert rarely limits himself to his needs early in the draft.
This is an incredibly deep class in the front seven and the Steelers have an aging group on their roster. Colbert has always done an excellent job filling holes before they open up and often snags an elite talent who has fallen down the board.
Mingo is arguably the most talented all-around athlete in this year's draft class, but he is a developmental prospect who could fall to the latter half of the first round due to the depth at his position.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Team needs: linebacker, wide receiver, running back
Te'o concludes his college career as one of the most decorated defensive players of all time, but there are legitimate concerns about his ability to jump to the next level.
In terms of his ability to diagnose plays and be a leader on the field, Te'o receives elite marks. But does he have the athleticism to play at a high level in the NFL?
Te'o is expected to post modest—if not below-average—numbers at the combine which will likely lead to a slight slip in his stock compared to his perceived top-10 status. A team like the Bengals, who need a leader in the middle of their defense, will be quick to end his slide if he reaches the second half of the first round.
19. St. Louis Rams: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Team needs: offensive line, wide receiver, running back
The Rams need to add another receiver early in the draft, but deciding on who to select will be a difficult task. There are at least five receivers who could sneak into the late first round, but none of whom are exciting first-round prospects.
Hopkins' blend of size and speed may set him apart from the group, especially for a team like the Rams who need to develop a true No. 1 receiver for Sam Bradford.
20. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Team needs: offensive line, safety, defensive line
The Cowboys' decision to address their offensive line with Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings was one of the most questionable moves of the 2012 offseason. Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray are both suffering as a result.
Upgrading the interior line is a must this offseason and it should start with the first round of the draft. Jonathan Cooper is the type of big body the Cowboys need up front and should be plugged into the starting role at left guard immediately.
21. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Team needs: offensive line, linebacker, tight end
This is a tough position for the Bears, who desperately need to upgrade Jay Cutler's protection. Unfortunately, there may not be any first-round locks on the board by the time they're on the clock.
Lane Johnson is an impressive athlete with the upside to develop into a quality left tackle. But he's still raw and somewhat of a developmental prospect. Bringing in an unproven rookie like Johnson would be risky, but could pay huge dividends down the road.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Team needs: wide receiver, defensive line, cornerback
Christian Ponder has been a roller coaster ride this season, but it's difficult to blame him for the ups and downs considering the limited amount of talent around him. Percy Harvin is a great weapon to have, but he isn't the big target that every young quarterback needs.
Williams has the size and speed to be a true number-one receiver. He's still developing, but at times he reminds me of a young Andre Johnson.
23. New York Giants: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Team need: offensive line, linebacker, tight end
The Giants have survived with below-average linebackers for years due to their dominant defensive line, but it may be time to finally invest in the position.
Anthony Barr has risen up draft boards all season and may sneak into the late first round. 30-year-old Michael Boley is only under contract through 2013, and the Giants would be wise to groom a replacement to add to their depth before losing him.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Team needs: defensive line, linebacker, cornerback
Damontre Moore could come off the board in the top five, or he could tumble to the late first round. How he tests at the combine will play a significant role in determining his draft stock, especially considering the depth at his position in this year's class.
With so many elite defensive linemen available in the first round, someone is likely to fall to the Colts, who will jump at the chance to upgrade their front seven.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Team needs: linebacker, defensive line, cornerback
Ray Lewis can't play forever and, as the Ravens have learned this year, they don't have the depth to replace him from within.
Ogletree is somewhat raw, but has demonstrated the skills to be a playmaker at the next level. His experience in Todd Grantham's defense at Georgia will prepare him for Balitmore's hybrid scheme.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Team needs: wide receiver, offensive tackle, tight end
Russell Wilson needs a No. 1 receiver, but in a draft with limited options at the position, targeting an elite tight end may be the better option.
Eifert can't stretch the field, but he is an elite red-zone target and would immediately become one of Wilson's go-to options on short and intermediate passes.
27. Green Bay Packers: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Team needs: running back, cornerback, tight end
It's no coincidence that the Packers offense has taken a step back the same year Jermichael Finley inexplicably disappeared from the offense. The tight end played a key role in the system and was a go-to target for Aaron Rodgers.
Ertz has the skills to fill that void, especially if Finley (owed a roster bonus in March) isn't brought back for another season.
28. New England Patriots: Ezekiel Ansah, LB, Brigham Young
Team needs: cornerback, defensive line, linebacker
The Patriots took steps toward improving their front seven in last year's draft, but there is still work to be done.
Ansah likely won't be ready for a full-time role in 2012, but the Patriots have the depth to use him as a pass rush specialist, which should allow him to make an immediate impact. In time, he could develop into one of the more dangerous pass rushers in the game.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Team needs: defensive line, cornerback, wide receiver
The 49ers have impressive depth at receiver, but they could still use another weapon like Tavon Austin to add a new dimension to the offense.
Austin will never be a typical No. 1 receiver, but he offers a unique skill set, similar to Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings. With the athletic Collin Kaepernick taking over for Alex Smith, the 49ers could further expand their offensive playbook with Austin in the fold.
30. Denver Broncos: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Team needs: defensive line, tight end, cornerback
The Broncos have so few holes, it's tough to predict which direction they'll go in the draft. But with such a deep class of defensive linemen available, it's safe to assume a great player will be on the board.
Justin Bannan has done a nice job at nose tackle this year, but he's a 33-year-old journeyman and an upgrade could certainly be found in the draft. Williams is a stout run defender who would fit perfectly into John Fox's defense.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Team needs: defensive end, tight end, cornerback
The Falcons are set at defensive end for now, but John Abraham is 34 and there isn't much depth behind him.
Sam Montgomery is a well-rounded lineman, but is coming off a somewhat disappointing year and lacks the elite explosive athleticism to make up for his struggles. However, he is still among the many first-round prospects at his position and would be a perfect fit in Atlanta where he could learn behind Abraham.
32. Houston Texans: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Team needs: wide receiver, safety, right tackle
Glover Quin has been a weak link in the Texans secondary for too long and with a number of potential late first-round prospects available at the free safety position, it may be time to move on.
Vaccaro is a hard hitting safety who has put himself in the first-round discussion with a strong senior year.