The 2013 NFL Recruiting Mock Draft
Every April the NFL holds it's Annual Player Selection Meeting that is more commonly known as the NFL Draft. Teams chose players that are eligible for the draft by being three years removed from their senior season in high school. It's a rule that the NFL is rock solid and firm on and the league doesn't bend it for anyone.
But what if they did? What if the NFL Draft was for high school recruits and not college players? For this read, let's use the top 2013 recruits as the draft pool for this year's 2013 NFL Draft.
This will be a first round mock draft where NFL GM's and head coaches draft high school recruits to come in and help them. We'll still weigh each team's needs vs. the best player available so the picks will still be logical.
This is a special mock draft that should be a ton of fun to read!
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: Christian Hackenberg, QB
Andy Reid runs the football operations is KC now and we all know how much Reid likes signal callers. It's doubtful Matt Cassel is Reid's guy and the same goes for Brady Quinn.
Reid struggles between Hackenberg and Max Browne, but with Hackenberg's superior arm strength, mobility and bigger upside, Reid takes the 6'4", 215-pound field general to be his trigger man for the Chiefs.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: Robert Nkemdiche, DE
It's flat out obvious that Jacksonville needs to get to the QB better. This team needs pass rushing help and GM Dave Caldwell knows his squad needs someone who will be able to menace Andrew Luck in the AFC South for years to come.
Easy pick here, as the Jaguars take the best player in the draft in Nkemdiche. The 6'5" DE is over 270 pounds and will able to rush the passer on the edges and inside while also being a dominant run stopper.
3. Oakland Raiders
Pick: Carl Lawson, DE
The Raiders also need pass rush help and more speed on the defensive edges. Lawson falls into their lap at this slot and Reggie McKenzie scoops him up.
The Silver and Black land a 6'2", 252-pound pass rusher that can play standing up or with his hand down. Lawson also is a better run defender than many think and gives the Raiders a potential Vonn Miller-type of player.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB
Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman come down to Hargreaves and Laremy Tunsil with this pick. Tunsil would give them a top flight LT, but Hargreaves grades out higher and also helps fill a need.
The CB position in Philly is a bit overrated and Hargreaves is among the best players in the draft regardless of position. With WRs like Hakeem Nicks, Dez Bryant, Victor Cruz and Pierre Garcon in their division, the Eagles take the instinctive cover man.
5. Detroit Lions
Pick: Eli Apple, CB
Weighing need vs. best player available leads the Lions' board to Apple. Jim Schwartz could opt for a pass rusher but realizes he could be able to land Elijah Daniel in the second round.
Martin Mayhew takes the 6'0" Apple to help shore of the secondary in Motown. Apple's size, instincts, athleticism and awareness should make him a hit in Detroit.
6. Cleveland Browns
Pick: Jaylon Smith, OLB
The fact that Smith can stop the run, cover the pass and rush the passer in the same series has to have the Browns giddy.
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton runs a varying scheme so adding the versatility of Smith will help him implement that.
The 6'3", 220-pounder can play all three downs and do just about everything. Once this pick is made, Smith immediately makes the Browns' defense better.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Pick: Max Browne, QB
Kevin Kolb and John Skelton don't appear to be long-term answers in the desert. I think as the draft process rolls along, Bruce Arians falls in love with the 6'5", 215-pound Browne.
Browne's work ethic, natural leadership, sharp release, solid arm strength and accuracy make him a potential franchise QB. Steve Keim takes Browne while keeping Kolb or Skelton and let's one of them start in 2013 before Browne takes over in 2014.
8. Buffalo Bills
Pick: Reuben Foster, LB
Once they see Arizona take their man in Browne a pick before them, the Bills turn to both Robert and Reuben Foster. They have needs at both positions and both players have high grades.
After going down to the wire, the pick comes in of Reuben Foster, as he gives the Bills a 6'2", 245-pound stud MLB. Foster's instincts, toughness and range will be of much use on Western New York.
9. New York Jets
Pick: Laquon Treadwell, WR
Treadwell gets the nod over Robert Foster for Gang Green due to the former's superior blocking ability. Foster may be more electric, but Treadwell compares favorably to Larry Fitzgerald.
Adding playmakers and weapons on offense has to be the aim for Rex Ryan and John Idzik, no matter who their QB is. Treadwell immediately becomes the Jets' best WR.
10. Tennessee Titans
Pick: Su'a Cravens, S
The Titans see the 6'1", 205-pound Cravens fall into their lap at pick No. 10. With his instincts, size, speed and athleticism, Cravens gives the Titans a player that can match opposing wits with Andrew Luck for years to come.
Whether patrolling the deep middle or enforcing in the box, Cravens will be a difference maker in Nashville.
11. San Diego Chargers
Pick: Laremy Tunsil, LT
Even though he hasn't played like it the past season or two, I'm still convinced Phillip Rivers is still a top 10-caliber QB in the NFL. The Chargers are going through a coaching change and that should help No. 17.
How about getting him better protection? That sounds like something that would help and that is why the Bolts take the 6'6", 300-pound Tunsil. They plug him at LT and see him shadow top notch pass rushers for 10 years.
12. Miami Dolphins
Pick: Robert Foster, WR
The 'Phins hear their fans chanting "Matthew Thomas" all around the city, as keeping the Miami native home would go over well with the fan base.
Yet, Jeff Ireland knows he has a budding star in QB Ryan Tannehill and needs to start giving him some weapons with which to work. Ireland takes the speedy Foster, who at 6'2" and 190-pounds, gives Tannehill a deep threat also helps the return game.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: Kendall Fuller, CB
The Bucs' staff is made up of mostly college coaches, including Greg Schiano who was at Rutgers and knows about Fuller from their Atlantic-Northeast connections.
Schiano presses Mark Dominik to take Fuller as he fills a need and grades out in this range. The 5'11", 190-pounder is a fantastic man-to-man cover guy and has great athleticism.
14. Carolina Panthers
Pick: Montravius Adams, DT
If I know my old boss and new Panthers' GM Dave Gettleman correctly, he's going to make sure the Panthers are tough, physical and big. Gettleman loves trench players and with the Panthers needing help on the DL, Adams is the pick.
The 6'3", 310-pound DT can come in and help penetrate gaps, anchor to make messes in the middle and rush the passer from the interior front. If he wants to, Adams could be a perennial Pro Bowler.
15. New Orleans Saints
Pick: Matthew Thomas, OLB
With Sean Payton switching the Saints to a 3-4 defense this year, they need personnel to fit that alignment. Thomas is so versatile that he can fit anywhere on the defense and still make plays.
Payton and Mickey Loomis take the 6'3", 210-pounder and ask him to rush the passer and hawk runs from the backside in NOLA.
16. St. Louis Rams
Pick: Tony Conner, S
Craig Dahl probably should not be starting in the NFL and needs to be replaced. With both Treadwell and Foster off the board, the Rams use their first or two 1st round picks on the 6'1", 200-pound Conner to team with Quintin Mikell.
His range, speed, instincts, transition quickness and willingness to attack the line of scrimmage vs. the run adds to a surging secondary that already has Cortland Finnergan, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.
Suddenly the Rams secondary is now formidable with Conner now in the mix.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: Jonathan Allen, OLB/DE
The Steelers could go in an array of directions with this pick, as RBs Kelvin Taylor, Derrick Henry and Greg Bryant all get consideration. DTs Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Bigelow also are seriously considered.
Yet, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert opt for a pass rusher. James Harrison is nearing the end of his road and the 6'3", 250-pound Allen has the potential to do similar things to what Harrison did in his prime.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Pick: Kenny Bigelow, DT
The 'Boys are going to a 4-3 alignment this year and not just any ol' 4-3 scheme, but the Tampa-2 under Monte Kiffin. The key cog in making the scheme work is having a great three-technique under tackle, like say a Warren Sapp.
Bigelow fits that mold as the 6'3" DT is close to 300 pounds, has excellent snap quickness, athleticism and strength. Jerry Jones takes Bigelow and Kiffin has his man to make his scheme more effective.
19. New York Giants
Pick: Tim Williams, DE
The way the board is stacked, there won't be many potential great pass rushers in the second and third round. If Jerry Reese wants to get Osi Umenyiora's and eventually Justin Tuck's replacement, he needs to get him now.
So Reese takes the 6'4", 230-pound Williams to pair with Jason Pierre-Paul and assures that the G-Men will have a great pass rush for years to come.
20. Chicago Bears
Pick: Jalen Ramsey, CB
Some may have Mackensie Alexander higher on their boards, but Ramsey's bigger size and almost equal athleticism fits the Bears' defense better. The 6'0" CB is over 190 pounds and can match up and be physical with NFC North WRs.
The Bears opt for Williams since they want a true LT and are eyeing Austin Golson with their next pick.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: Kelvin Taylor, RB
Hoping Tony Conner falls here, Marvin Lewis takes Taylor.
The Bengals like Benjarvus Green-Ellis, but they get another weapon with Taylor. He can be paired with Green-Ellis, while also helping Andy Dalton as a receiver out of the backfield.
Taylor is destined to be productive, as the 5'11", 216-pounder has ran for more yards than anyone else from Florida.
22. St. Louis Rams (From Washington Redskins)
Pick: Darius James, OL
Jeff Fisher isn't a big fan of taking OLs in the first frame but I think he knows he needs to make sure Sam Bradford is kept clean. When he has time, Bradford has elite QB ability.
So Les Snead convinces Fisher on the 6'5", 320-pound James, who can play center, RT, both OG spots or even LT. James' size, strength, athleticism and versatility immediately makes the Rams' OL unit better.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Pick: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT
Minnesota wants to add some speed at the WR position and I think they feel they just might be able to wait for Stacy Coley or James Quick with their next pick or, if they're lucky, Robbie Rhodes.
They take the best player available in Vanderdoes, as the 6'3", 310-pounder has excellent strength. He'll be able to learn the ropes from Kevin Williams.
24. Indianapolis Colts
Pick: Dorian Johnson, OT
Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano want to upgrade their defense, but the chance to help protect Andrew Luck can't be passed up. Making sure Luck is kept upright will be on the mind of the Colts for the next 10-15 years.
The 6'6"Johnson weighs nearly 285 pounds and can play both LT or RT. He's quick off the ball and works well as a pass blocker.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Pick: Ricky Seals-Jones, WR
Remember, Pete Carroll loves big wideouts. He had Mike Williams, Dwayne Jarrett and Patrick Turner at USC and even gave Williams a chance in Seattle.
Heck, Carroll even signed Braylon Edwards and took a look at Terrell Owens.
With Russell Wilson now the QB in the Pac-Northwest, giving him a 6'5", 230-pound target to work with would be dynamite. Seals-Jones' athleticism, size and deceptive long speed should make him a good fit for the Seahawks.
26. Green Bay Packers
Pick: Derrick Henry, RB
The Packers could go with Greg Bryant or Derrick Green here, but they pick the 6'3", 240-pound Henry.
With an outstanding passing game, Green's size, speed and improving strength adds a new dimension to Mike McCarthy's offense.
27. Houston Texans
Pick: O.J. Howard, TE
Owen Daniels is a solid TE, but the Texans have to get another pass-catcher. Howard can play with Daniels as the former can be flexed out, align in the slot, motion out from the fullback position and even play a little WR.
Howard's 6'5", 225-pound frame along with his length, speed and remarkable athleticism should help Gary Kubiak's offense become more potent. Rick Smith takes Howard and is happy with it.
28. Denver Broncos
Pick: Mackensie Alexander, CB
Somehow, Alexander is still left on the board when John Elway and John Fox are on the clock.
They know it's time to start thinking about life sans Champ Bailey and what better to do than to draft the 5'11", 175-pound Alexander? Bailey will take the young buck under his wing and show him the ropes.
Alexander has the potential to be a premier NFL No.1 CB.
29. New England Patriots
Pick: DeMarcus Walker, DL
Bill Belichick likes switching up his defensive fronts quite often, so getting versatile front seven defenders is crucial for him. Walker and his 6'4", 280-pound frame fit the versatile mold.
Walker can play the five-technique when Belichick runs a 30-front and then kick inside to DT when New England plays a 40-front. His raw strength and quickness should be harnessed well by the Patriots' coaching staff.
30. Atlanta Falcons, DE
Pick: Chris Jones, DE
Years ago, the Falcons took Jamal Anderson in the first round and he was a huge bust, as it seemed like the DE was allergic to NFL QBs. Thomas Dimitroff does his homework on Jones and comes away convinced the 6'6", 260-pounder will be a good one.
While he still needs some technique refinement, Jones' size, snap quickness and raw athleticism give him the potential to be a Jason Pierre-Paul-type of player for the Dirty Birds.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Pick: Caleb Brantley, DT
Brantley fits the 49ers' defensive scheme extremely well. He's a 6'3", 304-pound DT that can anchor vs. the run, is strong at the point of attack and tough. He shows solid snap quickness and can play DE or NT in Frisco.
The 49ers have a talented roster and this pick could certainly go in a lot of directions, but I like the fit with Brantley.
32. Baltimore Ravens
Pick: Max Redfield, S
Perhaps the best GM in the league, Ozzie Newsome always thinks ahead.
Most will be expecting Newsome and assistant GM Eric DeCosta to take Ray Lewis' replacement with their first pick, but the Ravens know that they'll need to replace living legend Ed Reed too.
They go with the 6'3", 195-pound ball-hawking safety in Redfield. With his size, range, athleticism and speed Redfield will be a classic FS for the champs.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.