2013 NFL Mock Draft: First Round Picks That Will Make a Major Impact as Rookies

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 29:  Damontre Moore #94 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates a sack during a game against the Missouri Tigers at Kyle Field on October 29, 2011 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

By the time the seven rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft have come to an end, teams around the league will believe that many of the selections that they made will be able to step in and contribute right away.

Of course, we know that this simply isn't the case.

Whether it be the speed of the game, the size of the opposition or something else, more than a handful of players struggle in their first year or two in the NFL before something finally clicks.

But some of those players hit the ground running, becoming integral pieces of a team's success from the minute they walk into training camp.

This year's draft will be no different.

Let's take a look at the first-round picks that will make an immediate impact as they get their first taste of what it's like to play football professionally.

Note: Players that will make the biggest impact are italicized.

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M

I've had Geno Smith as the pick here in each of my mock drafts, but with the hiring of Andy Reid as head coach, I'm switching gears.

In his introductory press conference with the Kansas City media, Reid told reporters that he "hopes to find the next Len Dawson" (h/t USA Today), referencing the Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Chiefs to three AFL Championships and a victory in Super Bowl IV.

There isn't a Len Dawson in this year's draft, which makes me think that Smith won't be the pick here.

Instead, the Chiefs will add the best offensive lineman in the draft, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel. Joeckel can step in and start from the day he arrives at Arrowhead Stadium, entrenching himself as a bookend on the Kansas City offensive line for the next decade, and protecting the quarterback's blindside.

Who winds up under center for Kansas City?

I'm putting my money on Michael Vick.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia 

Jacksonville has issues on both sides of the ball, but the biggest need for the team is under center, as neither Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne are long-term answers.

The team's new GM, while not totally dismissing the incumbents, seems to agree with that sentiment (h/t Yahoo! Sports):

We plan to address the quarterback situation, obviously. Blaine is the second-youngest quarterback in the NFL, but we're going to have open competition. We'll bring in, whether it's through draft or through free agency, we'll bring in some more people to compete at the quarterback position.'

Geno Smith is the best quarterback available in this year's draft, and with Kansas City passing on him, it's inconceivable that the Jaguars would let him slide any further.

3. Oakland Raiders: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Oakland doesn't have a second-round pick in this year's draft, courtesy of the Carson Palmer trade, so Raider Nation had better get it right with the first overall pick.

Adding a dynamic defensive end like Bjoern Werner is the move to make.

Werner, who picked up 13 sacks for Florida State this past season, is not only a dynamic pass-rusher, but he can defend against the run as well.

He's an immediate upgrade over either Matt Shaughnessy or Lamarr Houston, depending which side of the line the Raiders choose to put him.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

I could easily see Philadelphia trading this pick, as offensive line is the most glaring need, but with Joeckel off of the board and no Lewan or Matthews to snag, there isn't another tackle worthy of such a high selection.

Should they keep the pick, Philadelphia will address it's putrid pass rush by adding the most dynamic defensive playmaker in the draft, Jarvis Jones.

Jones led the nation in sacks with 14.5 in 12 games, and his speed and athleticism will come in handy having to chase down RGIII twice a year in divisional action.

5. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Kyle Vanden Bosch isn't getting any younger and Cliff Avril could depart via free agency, which would leave the Lions woefully thin at defensive end.

Damontre Moore is the kind of dynamic, impact-making stud that would complement defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley nicely. 

Not only is Moore adept at getting to the quarterback (12.5 sacks on the season), but he has the ability to wreak havoc in opposing backfields, as evidenced by his 80 tackles and 20 tackles for loss on the season.

6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Cleveland's defense has some solid pieces in place but would benefit from the addition of another shutdown corner opposite Joe Haden in the secondary.

Alabama's Dee Milliner fits that description.

While Milliner has prototypical size (6'1", 199 lbs) and the speed to stay with faster receivers, he's a complete football player.

Unafraid to step up and defend the run, physical enough to give opposing tight ends fits (just ask Notre Dame's Zack Eifert), and experienced enough playing in the SEC, Milliner can step onto the field and make an immediate impact in Cleveland.

7. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

Arizona needs help along the offensive line, but the team will address that in later rounds, focusing on adding a quarterback who can make Larry Fitzgerald relevant once again.

Despite losing his top three receivers from the previous year to the NFL and dealing with the distractions caused by former head coach Bobby Petrino, Wilson had a solid season, completing more than 62 percent of his throws for 3,387 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

And he did it playing the vaunted defenses in the SEC.

8. Buffalo Bills: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame

Buffalo is looking for its quarterback of the future, but Matt Barkley doesn't have the arm to cut through the swirling winds in Buffalo during the winter.

Instead, the Bills get the quarterback of its defense for the next decade in Manti Te'o.

Yes, Te'o didn't have a good game against Alabama for the BCS National Championship, but one poor performance does not make Te'o any less of a football player.

His instincts on the field are off the charts, he's a sound tackler with great lateral movement and he's a natural leader—all things that Buffalo can use in the middle of the field.

9. New York Jets : Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

With Rex Ryan still calling the shots in New York, it's not a question of if the Jets will use this pick on the defensive side of the ball, only on which defensive player they'll take.

That pick is Mingo, a prototypical pass-rusher in a 3-4 defensive scheme, just like Rex uses.

He is still incredibly raw, but his combination of speed, strength and athleticism makes him incredibly difficult to block. 

Gang Green's pass rush ranked 25th in the NFL with only 30 sacks on the season.

Mingo can step in and increase that number immediately.

10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DE/DT, Utah

Tennessee's defense struggled in all aspects of the game in 2012, ranking 26th against the pass, 24th against the run and allowing 471 points on the season, the most in the NFL.

A behemoth of a man at 6'3", 320 pounds, Lotulelei moves very well for someone his size, and his combination of strength and agility makes him a nightmare to block.

He can step into any spot on the Titans defensive line and represent an immediate upgrade over what the team currently has.

11. San Diego Chargers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

San Diego would prefer to take an offensive tackle here, but with Loeckel off of the board and both Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan staying in school, there isn't a tackle worth taking.

Instead, the Chargers look to bolster the middle of their defense, adding Hankins, who is a disruptive force that occupies multiple blockers, freeing up his teammates to attack the opposing backfield.

12. Miami Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

As the season progressed, it became evident that Ryan Tannehill was in desperate need of weapons on the outside that could stretch the field.

At  6'3", 210 lbs, Cordarrelle Patterson does just that.

Blessed with excellent size, body control and soft hands, he has the speed needed to get separation and make plays down the field.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

After having the NFL's worst pass defense during the regular season, the Bucs are in desperate need of a shutdown cornerback.

Banks is a well-rounded player who can step up and defend against the run, but it's that he's a natural ball hawk that makes him a perfect fit for Tampa Bay.

While he doesn't have elite speed, his ability to locate the ball in the air and make a play on it more than makes up for whatever he'd give up to the fastest receivers in the NFL.

14. Carolina Panthers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

Jesse Williams is the big, disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line that Carolina has lacked for years.

Athletic with a quick first step, Williams has the ability to stuff the run and get after the quarterback.

15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DE/DT, Missouri

The Saints need help all over their defense, and adding Sheldon Richardson to the mix is a great place to start.

Incredibly athletic, Richardson can slide all over the Saints defensive line, much in the way that Justin Tuck was utilized by the New York Giants early in his career.

His ability to get into the backfield and disrupt all aspects of what the opposing offense is trying to do would have a ripple effect on the rest of New Orleans' defenders.

16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Keeping Sam Bradford healthy and upright has to be St. Louis' priority in the first round, and they land the best guard in the country in Warmack.

Warmack absolutely dominated in the BCS National Championship Game, routinely getting into the second level of the defense and eliminating would-be tacklers, allowing Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon to run freely.

He has great lateral movement and the strength and footwork to defend against oncoming pass-rushers.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT, Johnathan Jenkins, Georgia

While the Steelers defense was once again an excellent group in 2012, the core of the defense isn't getting any younger, especially Casey Hampton, who at 35, is closer to the end of his career than many would like to believe.

Standing 6'3" and weighing 358 pounds, Jenkins is a load for any offensive lineman to handle simply because of his bulk.

When you add in his athleticism and ability to get into opposing backfields, he's a perfect pick for the Steelers. With Hampton still in the fold, Jenkins can learn from the veteran as Pittsburgh eases him into action.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

While the Cowboys pass defense was better in 2012, there's still room for improvement.

Kenny Vaccaro is the best safety prospect in this year's draft, and he's a versatile player as well.

He's got the size and strength to cover tight ends and make life miserable for slot receivers, the natural instincts and closing speed to get to the ball quickly, and the ability to play either safety spot or as a cornerback in sub-packages.

19. New York Giants: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young

Justin Tuck is getting older, Osi Umenyiora won't be back and the Giants vaunted pass rush was nowhere to be found for much of the 2012 season.

Ansah is raw, but he's incredibly athletic and has tremendous upside.

The comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul are uncanny—and will grow even louder once he lands in New York.

20. Chicago Bears: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

It goes without saying that left tackle is a major issue for the Bears, and Eric Fisher is the best tackle left on the board at this point.

Fisher (6'7", 305 pounds) has the strength and footwork to step in and help keep Jay Cutler on the field immediately.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Giovanni Bernard, RB, North Carolina

This year's draft is fairly weak when it comes to running backs, but the Bengals desperately need a game-changer in the backfield and Bernard is that player.

An explosive runner, Bernard attacks the hole and has the burst to get through and into the second-level of the defense, where he can use his ability to stop on a dime and change direction to make linebackers look foolish.

Bernard is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield, giving Andy Dalton another option when A.J. Green is drawing double coverage down the field.

He could also be a game-changer in the return game as well.

22. St. Louis Rams: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama

St. Louis continues it's run on offensive linemen, taking Warmack's partner-in-crime for the Crimson Tide, Barrett Jones.

Jones has played all over the line for Nick Saban, whether it be as a tackle, guard or center—and he succeeded wherever he was asked to play, doing so against the best defenses that the nation had to offer in the SEC.

That experience and versatility makes him an ideal pick for the Rams, as Jeff Fisher can slot Jones in wherever he believes the team has the greatest need.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California

Percy Harvin's ankle injury completely eliminated Minnesota's passing game in the second half of the season, and chances are that the Vikings would prefer to not expose Harvin to the constant pounding he takes as both the team's top receiver and returner extraordinaire.

Keenan Allen has many of the same traits Harvin does, with the ability to stretch the field with his speed but the versatility to impact the game as a receiver, runner and returner.

Consider him Percy-lite.

24. Indianapolis Colts: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

Indianapolis needs to start preparing for life without Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, and adding Oregon's Dion Jordan would be a great place to start.

A dynamic athlete with great size (6'7", 241 lbs), Jordan has elite pass-rushing ability but is quick and coordinated enough to drop back into coverage as an outside linebacker.

He's a bit of a project, as he isn't going to be a three-down player right away, and, as Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline reported via Twitter, it looks like he's headed under the knife to repair a torn labrum.

With that being said, Jordan has an incredibly high ceiling and has a chance to be a dynamic playmaker in the NFL.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

Baltimore's defense isn't getting any younger, and with Ray Lewis set to retire, his long-term replacement is nowhere to be found on the current roster.

Ogletree hasn't gotten a ton of attention, but he's an athletic freak who closes fast on the ball. He is a sound tackler and could be a fixture in the middle of Baltimore's defense for years to come.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Zach Miller is a fine tight end, but he lacks the big-play ability that other, more athletic tight ends around the league have been flashing recently.

Tyler Eifert does.

He runs crisp routes, has excellent hands and is a mismatch for defenders—he's too big for most defensive backs and too quick for linebackers.

He's fearless when it comes to going over the middle and would give Russell Wilson another target in Seattle's passing game—especially in the red zone.

27. San Francisco 49ers: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

While Michael Crabtree had a solid season, Randy Moss was basically a non-factor while Mario Manningham was relatively unimpressive before blowing out his knee (h/t USA Today).

Tall (6'3"), fast and athletic, Williams has good hands and speed, but he excels on deep routes and has a knack for picking up big chunks of yardage after the catch.

He needs some polish, but Williams has a chance to be a real playmaker at the next level.

28. Houston Texans, DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

The Texans need to find another wide receiver to play opposite of Andre Johnson, and Hopkins fits the bill.

An excellent athlete, his ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point makes him a natural red-zone target, while he has great hands and isn't afraid to catch the ball in traffic.

With Johnson commanding the defense's attention on the other side of the field, Hopkins has a chance to step in and make an impact immediately.

29. New England Patriots: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

New England's pass defense still needs work, and Rhodes is the best cornerback still on the board.

He has great size (6'2", 215 lbs) and long arms that make it difficult for wide receivers to get off the line cleanly against him.

Rhodes doesn't have great top-end speed, but his ability to locate the ball in the air and his length are things that you just can't teach.

He's big enough to play strong safety, but cornerback is ultimately where I think he'll stay for the Patriots.

30. Green Bay Packers: Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee

Green Bay did a terrible job of protecting Aaron Rodgers in 2012, allowing the reigning NFL MVP to be sacked 51 times. Only the Arizona Cardinals' offensive line did a worse job when it came to protecting the quarterback.

Thomas is versatile enough to play guard or tackle, allowing head coach Mike McCarthy to slide him in wherever he believes the biggest need to be. Ideally, he'd be lined up on the right side of the offensive line.

31. Denver Broncos: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

Denver's defense doesn't have many holes, but adding an interior pass-rusher certainly couldn't hurt.

Short's combination of strength and quickness allows him to not only get after the quarterback, but shed blocks and disrupt the running game as well.

He'd be a perfect fit on an already talented defensive unit.

32. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

John Abraham isn't getting any younger, and while he had 10 sacks on the season, his best days are behind him.

Montgomery isn't quite as refined a pass-rusher as some of the other defenders in this year's draft, but he has a combination of speed and athleticism that gives him a chance to be a major impact player once he refines his overall game.

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


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