NFL Draft Order 2013: Predicting the List of First-Round Selections
This is it. This is the order. Week 17 is in the books, and these 20 teams are now turning their full attention to the NFL Draft.
As an NFL coach or executive, there truly is no offseason. This winter and spring will prove to be a case in point. With no clear-cut, consensus first-overall player to be selected, the evaluation process that lies ahead becomes that much more critical.
I personally don't like doing mock drafts until after I get home from Senior Bowl practices because so much starts to change as we see these prospects live and in person.
It was at last year's Senior Bowl where I identified Kellen Moore as being entirely undraftable (too much Boise backlash) and where my eyes were opened to the player I just placed on my PFWA ballot as defensive rookie of the year, Janoris Jenkins.
Workout warriors like Dontari Poe will emerge, and "surefire stars" like Dwight Jones will completely fall off.
We have a long road ahead, and looking back, some of these estimations will seem foolish. But as draft analysts, calculated speculation is our business.
We now know the order of the first 20 picks of the 2013 NFL Draft. If the draft were to occur today, these are my picks for who each team would choose.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
PICK: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Chiefs were absolutely horrible in 2012, and their fans will be the first to admit it, I'm sure. Between OC Brian Daboll's head-scratching use of Jamaal Charles and the complete absence of any sort of serviceable QB play, the KC offense was inept at best and miserable at worst.
The defense actually has some good young parts in Tyson Jackson, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe along the front. Poe is a lion in the weight room but a bit of a lamb on the field. He showed improvement through the season however, and what is obvious is that the Chiefs need a quarterback.
I think that guy is Geno Smith. As much as I have tried, I can't get on any Mike Glennon bandwagons, and I certainly don't trust Tyler Wilson who reminds me of a poor man's Tony Romo until further notice.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
PICK: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
This pick should be easy for whoever ends up taking Gene Smith's job. Bjoern Werner has few flaws as an overall defensive player and has regional appeal.
He is a very safe pick for a new GM to make on behalf of a franchise that is hurting badly in a lot of departments. If you have to choose one to address, however, I will always address pass rush first. Werner has some growing to do with certain moves and reaction to initial contact, but we are splitting hairs at this point.
The NFL game will come to him, and the Jags will start the 2012 season with a star "hometown" product on defense in Werner and one on offense in Tim Tebow.
3. Oakland Raiders
PICK: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The fate of Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is up in the air, and I think the Raiders would be fools to fire him after one season—unless GM Reggie McKenzie has a master plan to bring in Andy Reid.
The Raiders need a corner, a linebacker and a defensive end and should be in position to take their pick of the best available at each of these positions.
Jarvis Jones has a huge medical question mark in his spinal stenosis affliction, and defensive linemen (as a group) represent one of the hardest groups to gauge as far as "bust potential." I can't see taking Manti Te'o this high either.
It isn't like the Raiders haven't tried—Phillip Buchanon, Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt. They need to get back to the days of Eric Allen and Charles Woodson in the defensive backfield.
Banks is the most physical corner in the draft, and I will have to see him live at the Senior Bowl before my opinion is completely cemented. I don't think he gets enough credit for his coverage skills from the film I have seen thus far, but I know one thing. I like open field skills in my punt returner, and I like tall, physical ballhawks at the corners in today's NFL.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
PICK: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
This would be a dream scenario for the squad that Vince Young once called the "Dream Team." Their offensive line has been decimated by injury and lacks identity heading into 2013.
There was reason for optimism heading into the 2012 season in Philly regarding the O-Line. Upon offensive line coach Howard Mudd's arrival in 2011, their play was resurgent, paving the way for LeSean McCoy to score 20 touchdowns, and the group allowed 17 less sacks in 2011 than they did in 2010.
Throw all that out the window. Everything is about to change in Philly, and one of the best ways to build a foundation is through a player like Joeckel, who can be the cornerstone of your line unit for a decade.
He's one of the best I've ever seen—B/R's own Matt Miller told me this week that he has a higher grade on Joeckel than he did on Joe Thomas or Jake Long.
Talk about a coup for the Eagles.
5. Detroit Lions
PICK: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
The Detroit Lions already have too much invested in their defensive line, and LB Stephen Tulloch thinks the team needs to do a little growing up this offseason regarding their player conduct.
Manti Te'o is a leader, a character-guy and a presence on the defensive side of the ball that makes everyone better. I think Tulloch would love lining up next to him.
Te'o is an unselfish thinking man's linebacker, and he has a very obvious gift for making the correct reads off play action and counter-looks.
Te'o is never fooled, and while he was not the tackling machine in college that Luke Kuechly was last year, he would be a tackling machine at the NFL level behind the brutally physical defensive line the Lions currently have in place.
6. Cleveland Browns
PICK: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
There are going to be a lot of changes in Cleveland this offseason, and the guys over at DraftBrowns.com did a great job projecting what would be happening with imminent head coach and GM change.
No matter who is in charge, they will be thrilled to have Jarvis Jones fall into their lap. If Bjoern Werner is the most "safe" edge threat in the draft, Jones is without a doubt the most exciting and seems to possess the highest upside.
A lot will depend on the imaging and other tests that teams will employ with their every resource in evaluating the seriousness of his spinal stenosis which he has reported as being "mild."
Jones has upfield motor for days, is dominant in setting the edge and establishing the point of attack and is a fast, physical athlete with naturally functional conversion rush skills.
The Browns pass rush is the only part of a young, talented defense that needs upgrading. Getting Jarvis Jones on the other side of Jabaal Sheard represents a best-case scenario and a home run for whoever will be calling the shots as the Browns enter their next chapter.
7. Arizona Cardinals
PICK: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jake Matthews has an NFL pedigree which has produced best-in-show contestants for decades. With the glaring issues at offensive line, this should be a no-brainer.
Cardinals GM Rod Graves gets a lot of heat and rightfully so. He could end up canned any day. He doesn't watch film and focuses on the business side of the GM role while allowing most of the complicated personnel evaluations to Player Personnel Director Steve Keim.
Keim will not draft a quarterback here despite the absolutely horrid state of the position. Taking Matt Barkley here stinks of Matt Leinart. By adding a probable future All-Pro who hasn't even got to show off his skills at LT yet, you give yourself a key building block and an ace up your sleeve when trying to attract any high-profile free agent QBs.
Russ Lande actually has Matthews ranked higher than his slightly-more heralded teammate, Luke Joeckel. I don't, but I have trouble thinking of a more incredible, safe pick for Arizona.
8. Buffalo Bills
PICK: Mike Glennon, QB, Buffalo Bills
We know what the Bills want and what they need. A quarterback. Despite recently delivering a truckload of cash to Ryan Fitzpatrick, GM Buddy Nix has recently said that the team plans on drafting a QB.
If I owned the Bills, Nix would have been fired yesterday. If he is around to oversee this draft process, one can be sure that they will draft a QB in this spot, and when they do, it will be a reach.
We know the Bills do not want a weak arm because they've already paid $50 million for another weak arm in Fitzpatrick. Mike Glennon has shown that he has the ability to sling it. His prototypical size is intriguing enough to pull the trigger at this spot for a true need.
He is inconsistent however, and I'm not buying the hype until I get my eyeballs on him at Senior Bowl practices next month.
Glennon's mechanics go out the window in the face of an inside rush. He struggles to get the ball in tight spots outside of the hash marks, and he is horribly immobile. I also do not think his arm is as strong as he thinks it is. He throws off his back foot, throws his body into his passing motion and generally looks either really good or really bad. He struggles against zone coverage, while he seems to be better against man which seems so illogical to me.
In the best case with Glennon, you will be getting a productive, statue-esque player in the mold of Drew Bledsoe. In the worst case, one team will end up with the sluggish, less mobile and weaker-armed poor man's Joe Flacco.
Sorry, Bills Mafia.
9. New York Jets
PICK: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Tyler Wilson is another guy I'm going to need to get my eyeballs on in Mobile, but what my eyeballs see from watching him in college is a poor man's Tony Romo.
He has a good arm, good size, good accuracy and basically—pretty good across the board. His awkward delivery is a concern, and I worry about his complete lack of ability to escape a collapsing pocket. He is the opposite of Blaine Gabbert. Instead of fleeing the pocket at a comically early time in the play, he sticks in there.
And gets drilled constantly. Wilson has a dash of "gunslinger" to him that makes the comparison to Romo easier. As we have seen in guys like Romo, Favre and Brandon Weeden, this QB mentality can lead to great plays but also to crucial mistakes.
10. Tennessee Titans
PICK: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB- LSU
Mike Martin was one of my favorite prospects in the 2012 Draft, and he has predictably brought a solid inside presence to the Titans defensive front.
This frees things up for the pass rush in all sorts of ways, and Mingo has a body unlike any I have ever seen out of a 4-3 DE that will likely end up a sub-package situational star on pass rush downs.
Mingo will get compared to Aldon Smith and Bruce Irvin, but he is a different breed of cat than those guys in many ways. He possesses the length that allows him to exploit the outside shoulder of right tackles with his speed rush and can come down the line in pursuit on a dime.
He is lanky but possesses enough core strength to hold up at the point of attack when not being double-teamed with a tight end. He is constantly aware of his position, and when he realizes he will not get to the passer, he uses his length (much like J.J. Watt) to get his hands in the air and disrupt the play.
It only takes one game-changing play on defense to put a "W" in the column as opposed to a "L." Mingo needs to get stronger and possibly put on some weight along with further refinement to be an every down player at the next level, but he can be a game changer.
If I'm the Titans, I want Andrew Luck and Blaine Gabbert to have this sort of thorn in their side two times a season in division matchups.
11. San Diego Chargers
PICK: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Chargers have missed their window.
They have needs all over the place, and they have left the cupboard virtually bare. The biggest question mark is at the offensive tackle position in a division where you have to face Tamba Hali and Von Miller twice each.
Gaithers is obviously hard to trust given his penchant for not passing physicals. Hue Jackson knew him from Baltimore and tried to bring him to Oakland because he thought he was awesome, but Gaithers never could check out medically. When he plays, he's great.
Lewan gets overlooked because of the incredible duo from Texas A&M, but if Lewan walked into any room in America, he would be noticed immediately. At 6'8", he is a mountain of a man but manages to keep excellent pad level, using his long arms for leverage.
He doesn't run like a "fat lineman," either. He bursts off the ball and is a smooth operator. A pick that may seem less flashy to some but does address a serious need with a really good player.
12. Miami Dolphins
PICK: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Most people have Miami taking a WR here, but I think that Greg Jennings ends up in Miami before the draft even occurs. It seems too perfect for both sides.
A fair likelihood exists that Jake Long might end up elsewhere sooner than later due to the fact that the Dolphins are highly unlikely to structure a—well deserved—new deal for Long. Jake Long signed a rookie deal that was one of the last true monsters before the CBA changed to the slotted rookie wage scale.
He'll want his new contract to be based on that one, and it makes things tough on Miami. At this point, I want the best available player, and that is Chance Warmack, the best guard I have ever scouted and a player at a position of need as Richie Incognito is terrible.
A solid, powerful and fundamental presence in the interior of the offensive line makes the eventual melding of the "new guard" in post-Jake Long Miami a much easier process.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
PICK: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
I asked every wide receiver I interviewed in 2012 at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine who the toughest corner they faced in college was. The overwhelming common response was two players: Janoris Jenkins and Leonard Johnson.
Leonard Johnson ran a slow as molasses 4.7 that was misleading. Worrisome? For a corner? Yes. Very much so. I was guest hosting a radio show with former All-Pro QB Jeff Blake the week after the Combine, and he told me there was no way a corner could play in this league running a 4.7.
But, Johnson has been a playmaker. Mark Barron has been a fantastic addition, Ronde Barber is old, they got rid of Talib and the unit as a group reminds you of, well, basically Tampa Bay's secondary recently. They need to stick with the theme of building that unit early in drafts.
Milliner is widely thought of as the best man-cover corner in college football and comes in with an on-field chemistry already built with Barron.
14. Carolina Panthers
PICK: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Panthers are a doormat for opposing running backs and have been for years.
They'll address the defensive line early in 2012, and Star Lotulelei will be the best defensive lineman on the board. At 6'4", 320 pounds, he is an obviously monstrous presence along the defensive front.
Although I have not been witness to it in his game tape, some analysts have expressed concerns that he may be an on/off switch type of player which is your worst fear when investing an early pick on a defensive lineman.
It's a risky proposition. An on/off switch defensive lineman can end up like Shaun Rodgers or Tommy Kelly. That's not a solution.
15. New Orleans Saints
PICK: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Citizens of New Orleans, rejoice.
The "Lost Season" is over and now everyone can turn their attention to a hopeful and much more clearly focused 2013.
If Sam Montgomery falls to this spot, you can bet your last batch of crawfish that the Saints will take the LSU defensive end off the board.
If I learned one thing at Saints training camp this Summer, I learned that a Steve Spagnuolo defense is a tough one for players to catch onto; it's a defense that utilizes every piece of talent a given group happens to have in it.
Montgomery is a grinder and will be a great run-stopping, edge-setting piece in the NFL game. He seems to like the run coming at him, and Spagnuolo will love this attribute when thinking about facing Cam Newton read-action looks twice a season.
16. St. Louis Rams
PICK: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
At the commencement of the 2012 NFL Draft, I declared the St. Louis Rams victors. I still stand by that call, too.
I think they continue in much the same fashion. I don't think the Rams need a WR here. I like Brian Quick and said from Day 1 that his development would come slowly coming out of Appalachian State where the offense was far from refined. Chris Givens has been a dynamic threat while Danny Amendola is Sam Bradford's favorite target. All this without mentioning Brandon Gibson or Austin Pettis.
The keys have been handed to Sam Bradford, and the cupboard is anything but bare at WR.
I'm taking Kenny Vacarro. Keep with the plan. When trying to connect a burgeoning DB corps with a similarly promising defensive front as an entire division-winning unit, a playmaking safety is the glue. No pick spent is too high.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
PICK: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
He's a much more powerful, physical wrecking machine as a runner than Mark Ingram and has a violent style similar to Trent Richardson.
Both of the Alabama running backs referenced above have been taken in the first round of the previous two NFL drafts. My dream destination for Lacy would be Atlanta. I think he would be the absolute perfect fit in that offense, but something tells me he won't fall that far.
While Lacy has not officially declared, it seems to be a formality at this point. The Steelers have not established a run game, and Lacy is the kind of runner that can change an offense the minute he walks in the building.
18. Dallas Cowboys
PICK: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Cowboys need guards because Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings are awful.
Interior disruption is the worst form that an offensive line can allow, and Livings leads the NFL amongst guards in sacks allowed with seven while Bernadeau is tied for second with five.
Chance Warmack is not available for this mock draft, though, and the Cowboys can target this position later. At this pick, it is time to get some insurance in the receiving game for Miles Austin and his fragile hamstrings.
While I nearly always err on the side of bigger, more physical WRs in today's NFL, Dallas has one in Dez Bryant. Tavon Austin would be the ultimate complement to the Cowboys WR corps.
He's a slot machine. Plain and simple. Look at the highlights below.
19. New York Giants
PICK: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Who knows if Osi Umenyiora will ever play another game as a Giant.
The Giants need to keep in line with the identity they have created for themselves: a winning identity that prides itself on athletic pressure from not only the outside but from the interior of the defensive line.
The Justin Tuck effect.
The Giants would be thrilled if Damontre Moore falls to them here. An instinctive pass rusher and powerful body at the point of attack, his college productivity and obvious understanding of gap integrity make him a perfect fit for Big Blue.
20. Chicago Bears
PICK: Eric Fisher, OT- Central Michigan
Eric Fisher is the kind of pass-blocking left tackle that frustrates opposing rushers, and you need this type of weapon in the NFC North. Especially if you are depending on J'Marcus Webb to protect the guy that throws the ball to Brandon Marshall.
Fisher can set his hips without getting his feet in cement, then use his length to keep the opposition at bay while he decides what it is that they are doing. At 6'7", he is a smothering presence and immediate upgrade to Chicago's most glaring deficiency.
What a great class for offensive tackles.