NFL Mock Draft 2013: Defensive Studs Bound for Round 1
The 2013 NFL draft might be overflowing with offensive linemen, but there are plenty of defensive game-changers to be had at a bargain.
Without unique offensive stars like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III highlighting this class, teams will be looking to shore up their defenses. Fortunately, there is depth and impressive talent on that side of the ball this year.
And finding those players starts in Round 1.
From pass-rushers to cover corners, we've got it all in this 2013 NFL mock draft.
(Note: Defensive studs are italicized.)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
It takes desperation to take a guy like Geno Smith No. 1 overall, but desperate is exactly what the Chiefs are. Smith has the tools to succeed at the next level, but his flaws and inconsistencies make him anything but a lock.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Jacksonvillle had the worst pass-rush in the league last season, and they need a franchise defensive player to build around. Bjoern Werner isn't the draft's best pass-rusher, but a solid all around defender who will get his sacks.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei was phenomenal at Utah, and he'll transform into a stud at the NFL level.
Despite his massive size (6'4", 320 pounds), Lotulelei has amazing explosiveness and quickness. He can solidify any defense and will work well as a pass-rusher as well as a run defender.
The Raiders have lost some depth up front, and need to find a solid defensive tackle to build around. There's no better start than drafting Lotulelei at No. 3 overall.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
With the emergence of Nick Foles, Philadelphia will probably avoid a QB here. But the Eagles need to shore up their offensive line. Fortunately, the draft is deep in that department, and no one is better than Luke Joeckel.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
With Cliff Avril set to become a free agent, the Lions could look to upgrade their pass rush in the draft. The explosive Moore would give them possibly the best D-line in the league.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Cleveland had one of the worst passing defenses in 2012, and it needs to find some support downfield. Dee Milliner is the best cornerback in the draft and a perfect fit for the Browns.
With Milliner paired up across from Joe Haden, teams will think twice before throwing against Cleveland.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Arizona has struggled with the passing game, and Kevin Kolb doesn't appear to be the answer. In their desperation, expect a reach for Matt Barkley here. He was once considered a lock for the No. 1 pick, and he still has upside.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Bills need to turn their attention towards the quarterback issue, and could find a solid steal with Wilson.
He was solid in his senior season, and put up good stats in Mobile during the Senior Bowl week. If Buffalo is going quarterback here, Wilson is the best pick.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The Jets struggled on defense up front in 2012 and need to start finding support. Who better than Barkevious Mingo? He can be explosive as a pass-rusher and is solid at tracking the ball.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Titans need to find some fixes on defense, which includes getting some pass-rush on top of support to stop the run. The athletic Sheldon Richardson is a good pick here.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Chargers could use a tackle, and Eric Fisher has generated plenty of buzz leading up to the draft so far. He's the perfect pick here, and arguably a steal this late.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Keenan Allen, WR, California
Miami seems to have its quarterback of the future in Ryan Tannehill. Now it's time to give him some weapons. Allen would be a great playmaker for the Dolphins.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Tampa Bay needs support at the corners, especially after trading away Aqib Talib. Banks would be a solid pick for the Bucs, and according to Charlie Campbell of Walterfootball.com he's already caught their attention.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Matt Elam, SS, Florida
Carolina has a great pass rush, but now it needs to find support down the middle of the field in the secondary. Matt Elam would give them plenty of that.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
New Orleans needs to find some sacks. Ansah may be raw, but he's a freak of an athlete. In the right system, he'll blossom into a star.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Now that Sam Bradford is stepping up, it's time to provide him with some protection. This is a deep draft for offensive linemen, and Warmack is a steal at this point in Round 1.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Pittsburgh needs to start getting younger on defense. Jarvis Jones' aggressive style of play and pass-rush abilities will pair perfectly with the Steelers.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The Cowboys need help in the secondary, especially at safety. Vaccaro may be a reach, but he's one of the best on the board.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Dion Jordan is a solid pass-rusher. He may move to linebacker, but either way he'll fit in well with the Giants.
According to Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline, Jordan "will have surgery to repair a torn labrum." That shouldn't stop New York from selecting him, though.
Jordan has been explosive at Oregon, racking up 14.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss over his last three seasons with the Ducks.
If they lose Osi Umenyiora, the Giants will need some support on the pass-rush, though move Jordan to lineback isn't ideal. Either way his aggressive speed is going to make an instant impact.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Even this late in the draft, any one of the top offensive linemen is a solid pick. Lane Johnson is the beneficiary and would be a nice fit in Chicago.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The Bengals like to substitute their lineman, and adding more depth isn't going to hurt. Jones had a solid senior season, and put on a good show in Mobile to up his stock.
22. St. Louis Rams* (From 10-6 Washington Redskins): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
With their second first-rounder, the Rams have to find a weapon for Bradford. Patterson is a solid start at a position the Rams definitely need to bolster.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Christian Ponder needs another weapon outside Percy Harvin. Tavon Austin would give the Vikings one of the speediest groups of receivers in the NFL. And that should only help open more room for Adrian Peterson.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Colts had a fantastic turnaround season in 2012, but they need some aid on defense. Hankins provides depth up front and should help shore up the run defense.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
In order to help Russell Wilson improve, Seattle needs some more weapons on offense. Tyler Eifert is the draft's best tight end and would give the Hawks a great target in the flats.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Green Bay needs depth and support along the offensive line. In a lineman-heavy draft such as this one, Jonathan Cooper is a very good pick.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Houston's pass-rush was superb last season, but mostly because of the efforts of J.J. Watt. Montgomery would help add some balance and depth to the Texans front line.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
This late in the draft, why not find an extra weapon for Peyton Manning? Zach Ertz could use some polishing with his blocking, but he's a great overall threat as a receiver.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Trufant is a physical corner with very good competitive drive. He's exactly the kind of guy New England wants in its secondary—especially if the Pats lose Talib to free agency.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Falcons need to find help against the run, and Floyd should provide instant support. There aren't a ton of other holes for this talented team.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Dashon Goldson is set to head to free agency, and without a lot of cap room the 49ers could be looking for a replacement.
Eric Reid was a standout at LSU, notching almost 100 tackles last year as well as a pair of interceptions.
He may not be the flashiest name on the board, but he'll be a solid contributor on any squad. And without a lot of options this late in the draft, San Francisco could certainly do worse.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame
Notre Dame had one of the best run defenses in the nation this year, and that was led by Manti Te'o. The linebacker racked up over 100 tackles in his senior season and also had an impressive seven interceptions.
With Paul Kruger a free agent and Ray Lewis retiring, the Ravens need to start looking at rebuilding their linebacker corp.
A disappointing showing in the BCS Championship game, combined with the fallout from the Lennay Kekua hoax, has seen Te'os stock take a hit.
But he's still a solid choice here—perhaps even a steal. He tracks the ball well and possesses a perfect combination of aggressiveness and intelligence. He'll be the right fix for Baltimore.
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