NFL Mock Draft 2013: First-Round Predictions Following Alabama vs. Notre Dame

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2013

With Alabama's domination of Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game, the college football season has come to a close.

In other words, there's no more game film for front offices around the NFL to accumulate.

Sure, there's still the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine scheduled for Feb. 20-26, but by and large, scouting directors, head coaches and general managers around the NFL have all the information that they need in order make educated decisions when their teams' names are called at the 2013 NFL draft.

What did those decision-makers learn in the BCS National Championship Game that might have altered their thinking?

Let's see how—and if—the outcome of this game changed anything for the top prospects involved.

(Note: Highlighted players following the game shown in italics.)


1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

It's no secret that the Chiefs need a franchise quarterback, and Geno Smith is the best quarterback in the draft, given his strong throwing arm and mobility.

The chance to draft and groom a quarterback along the lines of Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick most definitely played a part in Andy Reid's decision to take the job as the team's new head coach.


2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

The Jaguars have multiple needs on both sides of the ball, but addressing a pass rush that recorded an NFL-worst 20 sacks during the regular season is something the team must address.

Werner, one of college football's elite pass-rushers, is a perfect fit on Jacksonville's defensive line opposite Jason Babin. He can step in and contribute immediately, both in getting after the quarterback and against the run.


3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Richard Seymour is an unrestricted free agent, and between his salary, age (33) and injury history, his best days are behind him. Oakland must look to replace him with a younger, more reliable force on the defensive line, and they would get that in Lotulelei.

An intimidating physical presence at 6'4", 320 lbs, Lotulelei does it all. He can rush the passer, stuff the run and engage multiple offensive linemen, freeing up his teammates to get into the backfield and make plays.


4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Regardless of who replaces Andy Reid as the head coach in Philadelphia, the Eagles must address an offensive line that struggled to protect either of its quarterbacks during the regular season. 

Luke Joeckel is the best offensive line prospect in the draft, someone that the Eagles can plug into the left tackle spot from the get-go. Even as a rookie, he's a better option than Jason Peters, who is on the wrong side of 30 and recovering from a torn Achilles tendon (h/t ESPN). 


5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

The Lions need a playmaker in the secondary, and Alabama's Dee Milliner is the best cornerback in the draft. 

He showed off his all-around game on the biggest of stages against Notre Dame, stepping up to stuff the run and staying with Notre Dame receivers all night, essentially taking them out of the contest.

His strong performance in the BCS Championship Game caps off a tremendous year for the young corner. At 6'1" and 200 lbs, he has ideal size and plays physically enough to compete with the NFL's bigger wide receivers.

Already considered to be a top pick this year, it wouldn't be surprising to see Milliner go as early as No. 5.


6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Cleveland's offensive line has a pair of great bookends in tackles Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz, but quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson need more blockers in front of them.

Warmack was fantastic against Notre Dame, moving Irish defenders to create holes for running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon while having enough strength and balance to keep the Irish pass-rushers in front of him.

In fact, Warmack's strong performance elevated both running backs in the national spotlight. Their impressive running had a lot to do with Warmack's physical presence up front.

He's not a sexy pick, but he's the best choice for the Browns and should be an anchor for many years.


7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Arizona's offensive line was the absolute worst in the NFL when it came to protecting the quarterback, surrendering a league-high 58 sacks on the season. 

Lewan's performance against South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl proved that the Michigan tackle can hold his own against elite pass-rushers, something the Cardinals desperately need.


8. Buffalo Bills (5-11): Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame

Manti Te'o didn't have a good game against Alabama, but neither did the rest of his teammates. Te'o wasn't terrible either, and one game doesn't change the fact that he's still an excellent football player.

Doug Marrone, who left Syracuse to take over for Chan Gailey in Buffalo as head coach, inherits a Bills team that has plenty of flaws—and needs—on both sides of the ball.

Adding an impact inside linebacker is near the top of that list, and as he has shown all season long, Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o is as good as any linebacker in the nation.

A natural leader and a dynamite tackler, Teo's natural instincts, coupled with his ability to defend against the run or drop back into coverage make him the perfect fit for the Bills defense.


9. New York Jets (6-10): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Mike Tannenbaum might be out as general manager in New York, but Rex Ryan remains the head coach—which means that defense still rules the day for Gang Green.

The Jets desperately need to inject talent and youth into their group of linebackers, and Jones fits the bill. A dynamic pass-rusher, Jones can blow up the run, and his combination of athleticism and explosiveness is exactly what the Jets need.


10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Damontre Moore fits Tennessee's 4-3 defensive scheme like a glove. 

With neither Derrick Morgan or Kamerion Wimbley providing much of a pass rush from the outside, Moore's ability to attack the quarterback would be a welcome addition. He is more than a pass-rusher, though, as he's also stout against the run, making him an all-around stud on the defensive line.


11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Protecting Philip Rivers is an absolute necessity in San Diego, and adding Matthews to the offensive line is a big step in the right direction.

A phenomenal athlete with excellent footwork, Matthews could be slotted into either tackle spot on San Diego's offensive line and provide an immediate upgrade over what the Chargers currently have to work with.


12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

The Dolphins need to give quarterback Ryan Tannehill more playmakers on the outside, and Hunter, at 6'4", 200 lbs, is a huge target who would thrive in Miami's system.

He needs to add some size and work on his short routes, but as far as being a red-zone target or someone to look to in the intermediate or deep passing game, there may not be a better receiver in the draft than Hunter.


13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

The addition of safety Mark Barron in last year's draft was a step in the right direction, but Tampa Bay's pass defense was the worst in the NFL in 2012, and strengthening the unit is a must in this year's draft.

Banks is a natural ball-hawk who excels at locating the ball when it's in the air and adjusting to make a play. He has the size and speed to stay with the top receivers in the NFL, but he's a capable tackler that isn't afraid to step up and defend against the run.


14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

Carolina has been trying to replace Kris Jenkins since the former All-Pro left the team prior to the 2008 season, and it could finally achieve that goal with the addition of Williams.

A beast at 6'4", 320 lbs, Williams can get after the quarterback and stuff the run. He's not quite as dynamic a player as Star Lotulelei, but he's more than capable of filling the gaping hole in the middle of Carolina's defensive line.

Williams had a solid all-around game against Notre Dame, even getting a chance to show off his skills as a fullback in goal-line situations to a national audience. His performance only secured his draft stock heading into the offseason.


15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Johnathan Hankins would bolster a Saints defensive front that struggled in all aspects of the game in 2012.

Built like a tank, Hankins is nearly impossible for one man to block thanks to his size, strength and agility. He can cause havoc in the backfield, stuff the run and will engage multiple blockers, creating easier matchups for his teammates to exploit.


16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee

Thomas has been steadily moving up draft boards thanks to his strength and versatility, having played both tackle and guard during his time at Tennessee.

While the Rams need to give quarterback Sam Bradford additional playmakers on the outside, keeping Bradford upright and healthy is of the greatest importance. Thomas will help the Rams achieve that goal.


17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

If you want to talk about guys who are physically imposing, look no further than Jenkins, who is a behemoth at 6'4", 363 lbs. 

Casey Hampton isn't going to play forever and the Steelers need to find his eventual replacement. Jenkins is an excellent choice, someone who can learn from Hampton as the Steelers bring him along slowly.


18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

The Cowboys secondary improved by leaps and bounds in 2012, but there's still work to be done. 

Vaccaro, the best safety in this year's draft, is a versatile playmaker that can play either safety spot. Strong enough to defend against the run yet fast enough to cover receivers one-on-one, there's not much to dislike about his overall game.


19. New York Giants (9-7): David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State

Saying that the Giants need help in the secondary is like saying that you need to wear sunglasses when looking at the sun—it's painfully obvious.

Amerson, a natural ball-hawk (18 career interceptions), provides the Giants with a reliable playmaker that will take some of the pressure off of Corey Webster, who regressed badly in 2012. 


20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

Jay Cutler needs more than a split second to throw the ball, and Eric Fisher will help him to get the extra time that he needs under center.

Fisher's combination of strength, footwork and ability to move laterally makes him the obvious choice for an offensive line that needs significant help.


21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

Jordan is athletic enough where he could line up as either a defensive end or outside linebacker, but it's his ability to rush the passer that makes him a perfect fit in Marvin Lewis' defense.

With the potential departure of dynamic pass-rushing defensive end Michael Johnson via free agency, Jordan could step in and replace him on the right side of the defensive line. If Johnson stays, Jordan's ability to move around the field would add yet another dynamic to a solid Bengals defense.


22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Barrett Jones, OG/C, Alabama

Even though Barrett Jones and quarterback A.J. McCarron had a little "spat" during the game (h/t Yahoo! Sports), it only showed how tenacious and competitive this guy really is.

The Rams should stick to the offensive line with their second first-round pick, taking Jones, one of the more versatile offensive linemen in the draft.

With the ability to play center or guard, Jones is solid in all aspects of the game and has held his own against the best pass-rushers in the country playing in the SEC.

Really, all you needed to know about Jones you learned against Notre Dame, when Jones, playing with an injured left foot, kept Notre Dame's dynamic nose tackle, Louis Nix III, out of Alabama's backfield for the bulk of the night.


23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

The Vikings need to strengthen the middle of their defensive line, and Sheldon Richardson has the strength, technique and closing burst to be a very disruptive player.

A hard-hitting tackler, the combination of Richardson and Kevin Williams will make opposing offenses think twice about trying to run the ball between the tackles against Minnesota.


24. Indianapolis Colts (10-6): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis aren't getting any younger, and Mingo is the kind of dynamic pass-rushing phenom who is a perfect fit with the Colts, whether it be as a defensive end or outside linebacker.

Still incredibly raw, the chance to soak in as much knowledge as he can from the pair of outstanding veterans will only make Mingo a more complete player as his development continues.


25. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

Ansah is a pass-rusher with an explosive first step and a motor that doesn't stop running.

His ability to shed blocks and make a play in the backfield would be a valuable addition to an aging Ravens defense that needs to add more explosive playmakers.

Ansah also became incredibly adept at knocking passes down at the line of scrimmage, breaking up eight passes for BYU this past season. That ability will certainly help a Ravens secondary that struggled at times against the pass.


26. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are fine receivers, but neither one is the big-time playmaker that Russell Wilson needs on the outside.

Patterson's combination of size (6'3", 205 lbs), speed and agility makes him an excellent fit for the Seahawks and gives Wilson another reliable target in the passing game.


27. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Isaac Sopoaga could be leaving the Bay Area as a free agent after the season and the 49ers are ill equipped to replace him in the middle of their 3-4 defensive scheme.

Enter Floyd, who has the strength and speed to get past offensive linemen and into opposing backfields, causing havoc for quarterbacks and running backs alike. 

Floyd's athleticism and speed could allow the 49ers to slide him to defensive end, where he would have been a useful addition this season after Justin Smith missed the last two games of the regular season due to injury.


28. Houston Texans (12-4): Keenan Allen, WR, California

Simply put, the Texans need another playmaker on the outside besides Andre Johnson, and Allen fits that profile.

Allen has the size, speed and hands to make an immediate impact with the Texans offense. With Matt Schaub throwing him the ball and Arian Foster carrying much of the offense, Allen would be set up to succeed with Houston.


29. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Sooner or later, the Falcons are going to have to find a replacement for Tony Gonzalez, and they get that player in Eifert, the best tight end in this year's draft.

Prior to the BCS game, Eifert totaled 44 catches for 624 yards and four touchdowns in 2012. He also hauled in six balls for 61 yards on Monday night. Now that he has officially declared for the draft, he should start rising on many teams' boards.

His combination of size and speed makes him a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses, and he has the smarts to soak in everything he possibly can from Gonzalez while the future Hall of Famer is still around.


30. New England Patriots (12-4): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

The Patriots could go a number of different ways with this pick, but Austin is a dynamic playmaker that they can't pass on.

Whether it's as another receiver for Tom Brady to target in an already explosive Patriots offense or as a dynamic return specialist on kickoffs and punts, Bill Belichick will find creative ways to use this versatile speedster.


31. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Jonathan Cooper OG, North Carolina

Green Bay's offensive line continues to do its best to make quarterback Aaron Rodgers' job incredibly difficult, surrendering 51 sacks on the season, second only to Arizona in terms of futility.

Cooper has the size, strength and agility needed to bolster a shaky Packers blocking game.


32. Denver Broncos (13-3): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

Denver doesn't have many weaknesses on defense, but adding talent to the middle of the defensive line is never a bad thing.

Short is a big body at 6'3", 315 pounds, who is a well-rounded prospect.

His combination of strength and speed allows him to be an effective run-stopper and also shed blocks to get after the quarterback.


Rick Weiner is a Featured Columnist and member of B/R's Breaking News Team.


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