2013 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections for College Football's Top Stars
As one season wraps up, another is just getting underway. Teams across the NFL have already begun preparing for the 2013 NFL draft, and this week scouts from across the league will gather in Mobile for the 2013 Senior Bowl.
How players perform in practices and the game in Alabama could shake up draft boards quite a bit, but as things stand right now, here's an updated look at how the first round at Radio City Music Hall could shake out.
(1.01) Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
There really isn't a quarterback prospect in the 2013 draft class that screams "No. 1 pick" like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin a year ago, but the new regime in Kansas City is all but certainly desperate to upgrade over Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn at the position.
That should lead them to West Virginia's Geno Smith, who is widely considered the top prospect under center this year after throwing for nearly 4,200 yards and 42 touchdowns at West Virginia in 2012.
(1.02) Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State
Much like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jacksonville Jaguars are badly in need of quarterback help, but there's a dropoff after Smith. The Jaguars might trade down here, but if they stand pat, it makes sense to upgrade a pass rush that was among the NFL's worst in 2012.
Florida State's Bjoern Werner, a 6'4", 255-pound first-team All-American, would instantly bolster a Jacksonville defense that had fewer sacks in 2012 as a team than defensive end J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans had by himself.
(1.03) Oakland Raiders: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
The Oakland Raiders need help all over the defense, and in a draft class that's very top-heavy on that side of the ball, it makes sense for general manager Reggie McKenzie to address those deficiencies first.
Texas A&M's Damontre Moore was a big part of the Aggies' successful first year in the SEC, as the 6'4" 250-pound junior racked up 85 total tackles and 12.5 sacks en route to being named a second-team All-American.
(1.04) Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
With a pair of potential top-five draft picks and a Heisman Trophy winner, it's not hard to see why 2012 was kind to fans in College Station.
However, it wasn't kind to the Philadelphia Eagles, whose offensive line was a mess. Left tackle Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles and the man brought in to replace him, Demetress Bell, was a flop.
Luke Joeckel would go a long way towards stabilizing that line, as the 2012 Outland Trophy winner isn't just considered the top offensive line prospect by many, but also the top overall player in this year's draft class by some.
(1.05) Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
This pick may be considered a reach by some, but the simple fact is that if the Detroit Lions are going to rebound from a disastrous 2012 campaign, then they have to address a secondary that was the Achilles' heel of the defense last year.
Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner was a first-team All-American for the Crimson Tide last season, and the 6'1" 199-pounder is the perfect blend of size, speed, physicality and technique.
(1.06) Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
With the hiring of defensive coordinator Ray Horton, it appears that the Cleveland Browns will making the switch to the 3-4 defense in 2013, which presents the team with a number of holes to fill personnel-wise.
That includes the "rush" outside linebackers, and All-American Jarvis Jones of Georgia, who racked up 14.5 sacks for the Bulldogs in 2012, would be an excellent fit in that regard.
(1.07) Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Arizona Cardinals are starting over with new head coach Bruce Arians, and the biggest issues that Arians faces early on in the desert are upgrading the offensive line and finding the team's quarterback of the future.
The team would no doubt love to get their hands on Luke Joeckel, but Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, who has all the tools to be a successful quarterback in the National Football League, isn't a bad consolation prize, especially if he performs well at the Senior Bowl and combine.
(1.08) Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
This pick will turn some heads, but hear me out.
There's little doubt that the Buffalo Bills need a quarterback, and general manager Buddy Nix has made it clear that the position is a priority for the team in the draft.
In Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, the Bills would get a player with the requisite size, arm strength and athleticism, and one who is intimately familiar with new Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone's offense from their time together at Syracuse.
Some mocks have the Bills targeting Nassib in the second round, but the fact of the matter is if they wait that long he could well be gone, especially should his stock improve over the next couple of months.
(1.09) New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
I'll be the first to admit that it's very hard to gauge what the New York Jets will do at any given time, especially with a new general manager in town.
The team would like to address the quarterback position, but with two signal-callers going off the board just before them here, that would involve a considerable reach.
Many may say the same about the selection of LSU's Barkevious Mingo, whose production has never really matched his potential, but Mingo is an incredibly gifted athlete who could provide a boost to a mediocre New York pass rush.
(1.10) Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The interior of the Tennessee Titans' offensive line was a sore spot entering last year's draft, and the team's failure to address that need showed in the unit's play last season.
Alabama's Chance Warmack was a first-team All-American and one of the stars of the Crimson Tide's BCS title game win, and while 10th overall may seem high for a guard, it's not for this 320-pound mauler.
(1.11) San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
If new head coach Mike McCoy is going to reverse the fortunes of the San Diego Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers, then upgrading his blind-side protection is an absolute necessity.
The decisions by Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan to stay in school were blows to those plans, but the Chargers can look to a small school for their Plan B in Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, who was a third-team All-American in 2012.
(1.12) Miami Dolphins: Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Miami Dolphins made some strides in 2012 under first-year head coach Joe Philbin and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Tanehill's development was stalled somewhat by a lack of viable receivers in Miami.
Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson is a somewhat raw prospect, but at 6'3" he has great size and his over 17 yards a catch last year demonstrates the athletic ability that the Dolphins' offense sorely needs.
(1.13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
The Buccaneers saw fit to jettison cornerback Aqib Talib during the 2012 season, and as the team heads into the spring, there's no more glaring hole on their defense than at that position.
I've been back and forth quite a bit here between Florida State's Xavier Rhodes and Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks, but the 6'2" Rhodes may possess the slightly higher upside even if he's not quite as polished as Banks is.
(1.14) Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
If Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei drops all the way to the 14th pick, the Carolina Panthers would snatch him up in a heartbeat and then look around for Santa Claus.
Because they just got a gift.
In Lotulelei not only would the Panthers be filling one of their biggest needs on defense, but in the 320-pound first-team All-American the team would be doing so with a top 10 talent and the best prospect at his position in this year's draft.
(1.15) New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Just in case you didn't pay much attention to the New Orleans Saints in 2012, their defense was, um, not so good.
Among the many areas defensively in which the Saints need to improve is the pass rush, as the Saints ranked 25th in the National Football League in that category a season ago.
At only 243 pounds, Oregon's Dion Jordan will need to add some bulk if he's going to play with his hand down in the NFL, but there's plenty of room on his 6'7" frame to do that without sacrificing explosiveness.
(1.16) St. Louis Rams: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The St. Louis Rams improved quite a bit in their first season under head coach Jeff Fisher, but there are still a few holes to be filled on the roster.
The Robert Griffin trade gives the Rams two first-round picks with which to fill those holes, and with the first, the team could look to bolster the offensive front with D.J. Fluker of Alabama.
Granted, Fluker's up-and-down performance at times at Alabama makes this something of a speculative pick, but the 6'6" Fluker is undeniably talented and could probably start at right tackle from day one.
Fluker weighed in at the Senior Bowl at an eye-popping 355-pounds, but according to Rotoworld's Josh Norris, he's carrying it well.
(1.17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Of all the picks on this list, this one is probably the most subject to change depending on what happens next regarding the firestorm surrounding Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake dead girlfriend.
However, giving Te'o the benefit of the doubt for the moment can allay doubts about his character and intelligence, his resume and accomplishments speak for themselves at the combine.
If Te'o emerges from the scandal with his reputation not entirely shredded, then the Pittsburgh Steelers would be a great fit, as Te'o could slide in next to Lawrence Timmons on the inside of the Steelers' 3-4 where his lack of elite athleticism won't be a huge issue.
(1.18) Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Dallas Cowboys are another team making a defensive switch in 2013, as the arrival of Monte Kiffin in Big D signals a switch to the 4-3.
That means that the team will be very busy in both free agency and the draft filling holes, among them at defensive tackle, where 31-year-old Jay Ratliff was hurt much of last year and will need a battery mate even if does stick in Dallas.
Sheldon Richardson of Missouri is cut from the Ratliff mold, a smaller, penetrating tackle who could either play next to Ratliff or even replace him altogether if the Cowboys also wish to add a beefier tackle beside him.
(1.19) New York Giants: Ezekial Ansah, DE/OLB, Brigham Young
If you want to see just how quickly things can change in the NFL, look no farther than the New York Giants' defensive line.
As recently as 2011, that line was considered among the best in the NFL, but with Osi Umenyiora set to hit free agency and Justin Tuck coming off an injury-marred 2012 campaign suddenly, it's an area of need.
That need could be filled quite nicely with the addition of Ansah, a 270-pound senior who Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has as his top-ranked player at this week's Senior Bowl.
(1.20) Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Chicago Bears chose to go with an offensive-minded head coach in Marc Trestman, but if Trestman is going to work his magic with quarterback Jay Cutler, it might be a nice idea to keep Cutler upright.
The addition of Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson, who had at least one scout raving at the Senior Bowl, would no doubt be of assistance in that regard.
(1.21) Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
The Cincinnati Bengals have advanced to the playoffs each of the past two seasons, the first time in 30 years that the team accomplished that feat.
However, if the team is going to take the next step and win a postseason game, then it needs to get better, and with Rey Maualuga's future in the Queen City very uncertain at this point, middle linebacker may be an issue for Cincinnati this spring.
The team could flip Vontaze Burfict inside, but if it chooses to leave Burfict on the weak sidem Georgia's Alec Ogletree, who racked up 111 tackles in 2012, would be a more than adequate replacement.
(1.22) St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Among the holes on the St. Louis Rams, the largest may lie at wide receiver. Outside of Danny Amendola, the team lacks consistent options, although Brandon Gibson has shown flashes of promise.
With Amendola set to hit free agency, the Rams could be scrambling to fill a big void on offense, and although Cal wideout Keenan Allen's draft stock was hurt a bit by an injury-plagued 2012 season, there's no denying the 6'3" 210-pounder is a physically gifted and smart player.
(1.23) Minnesota Vikings: Mike Glennon, QB, NC State
There are two schools of thought with Mike Glennon.
Some pundits see a prototypical NFL quarterback whose production was limited by the talent around him at North Carolina State.
Others see a player who is too tall, too skinny, has bad mechanics and isn't even a first-round prospect.
How Glennon performs at the Senior Bowl and in workouts will answer some of the questions surrounding him, and if he performs fairly well, it's not hard to envision the Vikings adding him as potential competition for Christian Ponder.
(1.24) Indianapolis Colts: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
As the Indianapolis Colts continue their transition to a 3-4 defensive front, one of their biggest needs is at nose tackle, where Antonio Johnson graded out as one of the worst players in the NFL in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus.
At 6'3" and 322 pounds, Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins has the bulk to hold the point of attack in the 3-4, and Hankins showed himself to be stout against the run last year in Columbus.
(1.25) Seattle Seahawks: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The Seattle Seahawks were a surprise playoff team in 2012, but the torn ACL suffered by defensive end Chris Clemons in the Wild Card Round may leave the team without their top pass-rusher to begin the 2013 season.
Add to that the fact that Clemons is well the wrong side of 30, and the team may look to the future up front with the 6'5" Montgomery, who tallied eight sacks for the Tigers last year.
(1.26) Green Bay Packers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Green Bay Packers' defense was absolutely shredded by the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs, and given his hefty salary for 2013 and age, it's entirely possible that safety Charles Woodson has played his last game for the team.
Should that prove to be the case, the Packers don't have to look far for his replacement, as Kenny Vaccaro of Texas is this year's top prospect at the position coming off a 96-tackle 2012 campaign in Austin.
(1.27) Houston Texans: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Houston Texans began the 2012 season with one of the top defenses in the NFL, but after star linebacker Brian Cushing tore his ACL, the defense began a steady slide that culminated with an embarrassing loss to the New England Patriots in the playoffs.
With Cushing coming back from injury and Bradie James an impending free agent, inside linebacker is a priority for Houston.
Kevin Minter of LSU, who notched 130 stops and four sacks in 2012, would be an excellent fit.
(1.28) Denver Broncos: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
If there's one thing that became evident in the Denver Broncos loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, it's that age spares no one.
Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey was once as good as they come at his position, but Bailey was beaten like a drum in that game, and at 34 years of age, it's time for the Broncos to start looking towards the future in the secondary.
Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks was the Thorpe Award winner in 2012 as college football's top defensive back, and the 6'2" 185-pounder would make a fine heir apparent for Bailey in the Mile High City.
(1.29) New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Sunday's AFC Championship Game loss to the Baltimore Ravens not only marked a disappointing end to the season for the Pats, but it may mark the end of an era for the team, as wide receiver Wes Welker will hit free agency this offseason.
It's a very real possibility that Welker won't be back with the Patriots, and if that proves to be the case, then New England could look to replace him with a player like West Virginia's Tavon Austin, who caught over 100 passes in 2012.
(1.30) Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Sunday all but certainly marked the end of an era for the Atlanta Falcons, as after their loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game tight end Tony Gonzalez told reporters that his NFL career was "probably" over according to ESPN.
The future Hall of Famer will leave behind some very large shoes to fill, but in Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame, the Falcons would be filling them with the top prospect at the position in this year's draft class.
(1.31) Baltimore Ravens: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin was one of the stars of Sunday's win over the Patriots, but that big game aside, the fact remains that Boldin is a 32-year-old player who has yet to record a 1,000-yard receiving season in Baltimore.
Terrance Williams of Baylor was ridiculously productive in 2012, topping 1,800 receiving yards, and the 6'3" Williams would be an excellent young compeiment to Torrey Smith in Baltimore.
(1.32) San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Safety Dashon Goldson of the San Francisco 49ers was a first-team All-Pro in 2012, but Goldson is also a free agent-to-be who is likely still smoking after repeatedly being burned in coverage against the Atlanta Falcons.
In Eric Reid of LSU, the 49ers would be getting a hard-hitting 212-pounder who was solid in coverage a season ago for the Tigers en route to tallying over 90 total tackles.
Younger, cheaper and potentially better.