NFL Mock Draft 2013: High-Risk Players Who Will Crack 1st Round

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2013

Every NFL draft is loaded with high-ceiling guys whose potential propels into the first round. The 2013 NFL draft will be no different.

With the Senior Bowl and combine especially offer prospects to put their physical skills on display. For some, it's a sign of things to come. Others are just workout warriors whose physical skills don't translate whatsoever to the NFL.

Risk can sometimes pay off. If every single team avoided the players who didn't come with a bit of risk, nobody would be drafted.

Here is how the first round could shake out. The draft order is via


1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs could go with the much safer option in Luke Joeckel. The Texas A&M Aggies' offensive tackle is arguably the best player in the draft whereas Smith is the best quarterback.

With a new head coach and general manager, it makes sense the Chiefs would want to start over with a new QB rather than offensive lineman. Geno Smith, despite his knocks, would be a solid upgrade over either Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn.


2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

The pass rush of the Jacksonville Jaguars was horrid last season, ranking dead last in the league in sacks. Without the kind of can't-miss quarterback who could possibly replace Blaine Gabbert, a defensive end makes the most sense.

It's either going to come down to Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore. Of the two, Werner looks to be the better prospect.


3. Oakland Raiders: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Much like the Jags, the Oakland Raiders had a difficult time rushing the passer. They're in need of a linebacker or end who can be a major threat off the edge.

With his size and athleticism, Damontre Moore has all the tools that scouts will be looking for. The main issue is whether he can contribute enough against the run. Moore would also greatly benefit by bulking up.


4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Luke Joeckel will be able to anchor an offensive line for a decade. The Philadelphia Eagles will be able to get the best guy on the board and fill their biggest need.

The Eagles' offensive line was a shambles last season. It can't go unaddressed this offseason. Whoever the quarterback is needs some protection in order to thrive.


5. Detroit Lions: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

Cliff Avril holds the key to what the Detroit Lions do in the draft. If he leaves as a free agent, it will leave a huge hole on the Lions' defensive line.

Barkevious Mingo has a ton of potential, but he'll need the right kind of coaching in order to succeed. He has that kind of freakish ability that's simply too good to pass up. Even if Avril stays, Mingo is a much better option than Kyle Vanden Bosch.


6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

If the Cleveland Browns add Dee Milliner to Joe Haden, they'll have one of the best secondaries in the league. Milliner is the best corner on the board, and with the selection, the Browns wouldn't need another one for years.


7. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Few prospects have fallen farther than Matt Barkley in the eyes of scouts. Going into the season, he was almost the consensus best quarterback in the draft. Now it wouldn't be a surprise to see him drop out of the first round.

With Bruce Arians' mentorship, though, Barkley could flourish with the Arizona Cardinals.


8. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

Tyler Wilson is far from a sure thing. With the strongest arm in the draft, though, he's a very tantalizing option for teams. His decision-making is a bit of a question mark right now, but that could improve as he gets NFL coaching.


9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

The physical tools of Ezekiel Ansah weren't necessarily in doubt. With a stellar Senior Bowl, he's shot up many experts' draft boards. If Ansah can follow through on his potential, he'll be one of the best pass-rushers in the league.


10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

The Tennessee Titans weren't terrible against the run, but they did finish 24th in rush defense so there's room for improvement. Star Lotulelei is the best defensive tackle on the board and will be great at plugging the holes in the middle of the line.


11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

Philip Rivers needs some pass protection if he's going to be the top-level quarterback he's been in the past. The San Diego Chargers had one of the worst offensive lines in the league last year. 

They aren't going to be lucky enough to have Luke Joeckel fall this far, but Eric Fisher really did well in the Senior Bowl. He's a great pick here.


12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, California

There are a few different receiver options the Miami Dolphins could go with. Of course, Miami could look at a different position. Receiver, though, is a major hole with neither Brian Hartline nor Davone Bess a big-play target.

Keenan Allen isn't the fastest receiver in the draft. He does, though, have the size and physical tools to excel in the NFL.


13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

With Dee Milliner off the board, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to go after the best corner available. Desmond Trufant might be a reach right now, but his stock is only rising after a very good showing in the Senior Bowl.


14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Sheldon Richardson is more than just a run-stopper. With his size, he can help the Carolina Panthers against the rush, yet also help to collapse the pocket when the quarterback drops back.


15. New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

Durability could be a bit of an issue with Dion Jordan. He's got fantastic size and athleticism, but his lanky frame could be trouble. Jordan needs to pack on some pounds in order to become a more complete pass-rusher.


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

Chance Warmack is one of the best players in this draft. He just happens to play a position (offensive guard) that isn't valued very highly by teams across the league. The St. Louis Rams would get a very solid player here should Warmack last this long.


17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia

Jarvis Jones has seen his stock drop quite a bit recently. With his back issues, it's certainly a risk to take him too high. He'd be good value here for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are looking at an aging defense.


18. Dallas Cowboys: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

With Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense, the Dallas Cowboys are going to need a solid interior lineman. Jesse Williams is big and strong. He's a very one-dimensional player. That shouldn't be a big problem for the Cowboys.


19. New York Giants: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

Sam Montgomery put up very good numbers in college. The question is whether that will translate to the pro level.


20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

It's no secret the Chicago Bears could use some help on the offensive line. Lane Johnson would be able to protect Jay Cutler much better than those who occupy the line now.


21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia

Linebacker is one of the few weak spots on the Cincinnati Bengals' defense. Rey Maualuga has been particularly dreadful. Alec Ogletree would help bring some much needed help to Cincinnati and let the team move Maualuga on.


22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

If Chance Warmack is off the board by No. 16, the St. Louis Rams would be smart to wait for Jonathan Cooper. In a perfect world, the Rams can get Warmack early and Tyler Eifert here to get some help for Sam Bradford.


23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

Until the Minnesota Vikings upgrade their receivers, Adrian Peterson's greatness will continue to be wasted. Cordarrelle Patterson would go a long way in helping Christian Ponder continue to develop.


24. Indianapolis Colts: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

Kawann Short is a bit of an oddity. He's got the prototypical run-stopper's size, so that's nothing too special. What Short does posses is freakish arm length. He can swat balls down at the line of scrimmage without ever leaving his feet.


25. Seattle Seahawks: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Chris Clemons' injury in the playoffs showed how thin the Seattle Seahawks are in the pass rush. Datone Jones has a boatload of potential. If it weren't for his inconsistency, Jones would be going much higher.


26. Green Bay Packers: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

Aaron Rodgers can only do so much with the kind of line he has to rely on. Jonathan Cooper can play either guard position, thus giving the Green Bay Packers some options as to what they could do with him.


27. Houston Texans: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU

With Tim Dobbins and Bradie James both looking at free agency, it makes financial sense for the Houston Texans to let one of them go and draft an inside linebacker in the first round.

They could go with Manti Te'o, but Kevin Minter has a much higher ceiling at the pro level.


28. Denver Broncos: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Sharrif Floyd has some nice versatility for a defensive tackle, having played on the end a little bit at Florida. Although he's not an elite run-stuffer, Floyd would address what is one of the few weaknesses on what is a very strong Denver Broncos defense.


29. New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

Why not try and replace Wes Welker with a possible younger version of Welker? Tavon Austin is a very compact, slot receiver who could prove to be a very reliable target for Tom Brady.


30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

If the Atlanta Falcons want a pass-rusher. Alex Okafor might not be their guy but he can be a very reliable defensive end. He just lacks the speed to be able to consistently get off the edge.


31. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, SS, Florida

With Ed Reed getting up there in age, the Baltimore Ravens are going to need to work on a long-term replacement. Matt Elam is a very good player and could really benefit from Reed's wisdom next season.


32. San Francisco 49ers: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas

The San Francisco 49ers would be quite pleased to have Kenny Vaccaro fall to the end of the first round. They wouldn't even have to worry about Dashon Goldson leaving in the offseason.


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