2013 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting All 32 First-Round Picks
Believe it or not, but the start of the 2013 NFL draft season is technically less than a month away. For the majority of NFL teams, the shifting of focus towards the draft has already begun.
Just eight teams remain in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy in 2012-13, which leaves 24 teams to start preparing their boards for April's draft.
Of course, that means an influx of mock drafts are headed your way in the coming months. While some despise the idea of mock drafts, when taken as a tool for ranking players and identifying team needs—instead of accuracy of picks come April—the practice makes plenty of practical sense.
In the following slides, we'll run down a mock draft by projecting all 32 first-round picks for the 2013 NFL draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
With his first pick in Philadelphia, former Eagles and current Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid took a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick. Although Donovan McNabb came into the 1999 draft with question marks and Reid's pick was widely criticized, the marriage ended up working out for both parties.
Reid will find his McNabb 2.0 in Geno Smith, who could end up being the best quarterback in the class come April.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The Jacksonville Jaguars have depth on the defensive line, but the true difference-makers are lacking. Tyson Alualu had a down year, and the entire unit failed to get consistent pressure on quarterbacks.
Add Star Lotulelei, who has dominating qualities nearing Ndamukong Suh at Nebraska, and the Jaguars defensive line immediately becomes better across the board.
3. Oakland Raiders: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie knows the kind of impact just one star pass-rusher can have on an entire defense. In Green Bay, McKenzie helped orchestrate a trade back into the first round in 2009 to grab Clay Matthews.
There's no need to do any draft-day movement this April; McKenzie can take Jones, who has the most complete pass-rushing skill set in the draft, at No. 3 overall.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
In this scenario, would the Philadelphia Eagles even hesitate to send a card with Luke Joeckel's name on it up to the podium?
The best player in this draft on many boards, Joeckel is a top prospect at a position of great need for Philadelphia. The Eagles offense won't get any better unless the quarterback is better protected in 2013 and beyond.
5. Detroit Lions: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
A position that looks strong on paper for the Detroit Lions in January could be depleted by the time April rolls around.
Cliff Avril and Lawrence Jackson are free agents, and 34-year-old Kyle Vanden Bosch looks like a prime candidate to be cut. While all three aren't expected to be gone, adding Bjoern Werner ensures that a strength in Detroit—the pass rush on the perimeter—stays a strength heading into 2013.
6. Cleveland Browns: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
With a young, improving roster, the Cleveland Browns can afford to look at several different positions at No. 6 overall. Defensive end could be one such position.
Getting Damontre Moore, a high-ceiling pass-rusher who tore up the SEC in 2012, would be a huge addition. The Browns currently lack a dynamic player on the edge of the defense.
7. Arizona Cardinals: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
The Arizona Cardinals might be fascinated with a pass-rusher or quarterback here, but offensive line is such a glaring need that it probably can't be overlooked with the team's first pick in April.
Taylor Lewan is considered a top-20 talent, and his work against South Carolina's Jadaveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl was widely praised. He's a good fit here.
8. Buffalo Bills: LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
New head coach Doug Marrone is eventually going to have to find a quarterback in this draft.
But at No. 8, the Buffalo Bills can address one of their other biggest needs: a play-making linebacker. Manti Te'o brings leadership, toughness and a potential ceiling of a Brian Urlacher to a team that needs all three.
9. New York Jets: OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The New York Jets got old fast at outside linebacker, and it's possible that a guy like Calvin Pace won't be back with the team in 2013.
Enter Barkevious Mingo, who has top-five potential and could remind Rex Ryan of San Francisco's Aldon Smith. New York can't afford not to beef up its pass rush this April.
10. Tennessee Titans: G Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Tennessee Titans play in the same division as Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, so there's always going to be a need for interior blockers who can keep Watt out of the backfield on passing downs.
Drafting Chance Warmack, the best guard in this class, could also give a sizable boost to Tennessee's best offensive player, running back Chris Johnson.
11. San Diego Chargers: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
The San Diego Chargers are one of just a few teams who have serious question marks at both tackle positions. Jared Gaither remains, but his injury history is too long to depend on him.
At some point, San Diego needs to add a starting-caliber player at the position, and No. 11 overall in the first round might be the time to do it. Eric Fisher, unknown by most, is a player who has top-20 potential come April.
12. Miami Dolphins: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Most have penciled in Keenan Allen as the first receiver to come off the board in April, but don't sleep on Cordarrelle Patterson.
He's big (6'3"), with jumping ability, hands to make the tough catches and athleticism to get yards after the catch. If the Miami Dolphins strike out on Greg Jennings in free agency, Patterson is a fine consolation prize.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
There's no team in the NFL that needs cornerback help more than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Dee Milliner might be the top player at that position in this class.
He has length (6'1") and can bump receivers at the line of scrimmage, both of which are attractive qualities considering some of the receivers in Tampa Bay's division (Julio Jones, Roddy White, Marques Colston).
14. Carolina Panthers: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
The Carolina Panthers received strong play from both Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson at defensive end in 2012. But missing in the defensive line mix has always been a defensive tackle, and it's an area that Carolina will likely address at some point this April.
Johnathan Hankins, a 6'3", 335-pound mountain of a man, should demand a double team on most snaps. If that's the case, Hankins could make both Hardy and Johnson more disruptive in 2013.
15. New Orleans Saints: LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
The New Orleans Saints are coming off a season in which they allowed more yards than any other defense in the history of the NFL, so there's no question which side of the football the No. 15 pick should be used on.
Alec Ogletree isn't the thumper that Te'o is, but he's instinctive and always flies to the football. New Orleans could use a lot more of both attributes on its defense.
16. St. Louis Rams: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
The St. Louis Rams would love to get an offensive tackle here, but there's no mid-first-round talent available unless Texas A&M's Jake Matthews enters his name into the draft.
Instead of reaching (especially with two first-rounders), St. Louis grabs Kenny Vaccaro, a play-making safety who can replace Craig Dahl at the back end of an improving secondary.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT John Jenkins, Georgia
The Pittsburgh Steelers were still a top defense in 2012, but the time on Casey Hampton's playing clock is running out.
Does Pittsburgh have a suitable replacement on the roster? That's debatable. But adding John Jenkins, a 358-pounder from Georgia, adds both beef and competition on the defensive line.
18. Dallas Cowboys: DL Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
The fit for Jonathan Cooper, UNC's first-round-quality guard, exists here for the Dallas Cowboys. But it's difficult to see them making a splash with an offensive guard after another heartbreaker of a season.
Taking Sheldon Richardson isn't a much bigger splash, but teams in the top-20 are going to have a hard time passing up his versatility on the defensive line.
19. New York Giants: DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
The comparisons between Ezekiel Ansah and Jason Pierre-Paul will be strong and heavy over the next few months.
Considering the New York Giants are likely to lose Osi Umenyiora, what better team is there for Ansah to fall to? The Giants have won Super Bowls in large part because of their ability to draft and develop All-Pro defensive ends.
20. Chicago Bears: G Jonathan Cooper, UNC
What about this scenario for Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery this offseason? Sign Chiefs tackle Branden Albert to a deal in free agency, then draft Jonathan Cooper—a powerful, athletic guard—to help shore up the interior.
While the two moves might not fix all Chicago's problems up front, it'd be hard to say the line wouldn't look considerably better on paper heading into 2013 with Albert and Cooper on board.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
The Cincinnati Bengals have draft capital (thanks to the Carson Palmer trade), and adding a speed rusher on the perimeter might be one area Cincinnati tries to address with a top pick. Also, defensive end Michael Johnson is scheduled to be a free agent.
Dion Jordan has a high ceiling, even if he can't play all three downs early in his NFL career.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse
The assumption is that the Rams will use one of their two first-rounders on an offensive tackle, and Justin Pugh might be the one that makes the most sense at No. 22.
He's not a sure thing, but he moves better than Alabama's D.J. Fluker and has left-tackle potential at the NFL level. Fluker might be tied down on the right side.
23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Keenan Allen, Cal
The Minnesota Vikings could very easily make a run at a free-agent receiver this spring, but there's no way to predict that process.
If Minnesota doesn't get a game-changer in free agency, Keenan Allen isn't a bad option in the draft at No. 23. He wasn't dominant in 2012, but he brings size (6'3") and experience to the table.
24. Indianapolis Colts: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
The Indianapolis Colts really need to upgrade an offensive line that gave Andrew Luck almost no help during his rookie season> But is there an offensive lineman at No. 24 (in this scenario) that makes sense?
Probably not. Xavier Rhodes, however, does. A physical, in-your-face corner, Rhodes can be an immediate starter for Chuck Pagano's improving defense.
25. Baltimore Ravens: S Matt Elam, Florida
The retirement of Ray Lewis could be followed by the departure of veteran safety and fellow future Hall of Famer Ed Reed.
If that's the case, the Baltimore Ravens will need to start the process of rebuilding the defense. Matt Elam, a 5'10" safety who packs a punch, can help start that rebuild at the back end of the secondary.
26. Seattle Seahawks: DE Alex Okafor, Texas
The knee injury that Chris Clemons suffered Sunday in Washington may be a serious one, so the plans to help ease his potential loss to begin 2013 start by drafting Alex Okafor.
A prototypical 4-3 defensive end, Okafor has three years of starting experience for the University of Texas. He's a safe pick at a position that might now be a need for 2013.
27. Green Bay Packers: OL Barrett Jones, Alabama
While a consensus pick on most mocks, it's hard to shake Barrett Jones, from Green Bay. The Packers have had so many injury issues on the offensive line, and Jones' ability to play any of the five positions will be very appealing to a general manager like Ted Thompson.
The problem is, if the Packers like Evan Dietrich-Smith as the starting center in 2013, drafting Jones means taking a backup player in the first round.
28. Houston Texans: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
No longer is the slot receiver a gimmick position. In fact, a wide range of elite offenses depend on a dominant slot receiver to function.
The Texans, however, lack such a weapon inside. Austin, despite his small stature, brings an explosive element to the Houston offense that should compliment the mix of talent already on that side of the football.
29. San Francisco 49ers: CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
The San Francisco 49ers haven't exactly struggled in the secondary since Jim Harbaugh entered the head-coaching picture, but a guy like Carlos Rogers isn't going to be around forever.
San Francisco has shown an ability to build depth at positions that look like strengths (see: receiver, running back in 2012 draft). Adding Johnthan Banks would be an example of this smart, forward-thinking way of roster building.
30. New England Patriots: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
A long, smooth athlete, Justin Hunter will remind some of an unpolished A.J. Green.
The New England Patriots, who might still need receiver help before the start of 2013, can see that big-play potential, especially with a guy like Tom Brady throwing the football. Hunter is a risk worth taking at the end of the first round for New England.
31. Atlanta Falcons: DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
Defensive end John Abraham isn't getting any younger, and the depth behind him at the position is suspect.
Add Sam Montgomery, a try-hard 4-3 defensive end, and the Atlanta Falcons might have the eventual replacement to the aging Abraham.
32. Denver Broncos: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Denver Broncos have an elite defense on the perimeter, with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil representing one of the best combination of edge pass-rushers in the NFL.
However, Denver could use more beef in the middle of the defensive line. Insert Sharrif Floyd, a 303-pounder with quickness inside, and the Broncos would be adding another piece to an intriguing defense.