2013 NFL Mock Draft: Full First Round Predictions as We Enter NFL's Offseason
With the Super Bowl in the books, it is officially draft season for all 32 teams in the NFL.
How teams prepare for the draft will determine their success not only for the upcoming year, but also potentially for the decade to follow. Championships are won and lost in the draft prep season as scouts and personnel managers convene for a series of marathon meetings that will set a team's draft board, only to change it a thousand times over the next few months.
With the season growing smaller in our rear-view mirrors, let's take an updated look at the full first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—Luke Joeckel (OT Texas A&M)
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Everything about this draft depends on what the new Chiefs' brass decides to do with Branden Albert. If they keep him around and give him left-tackle money, this pick is going to be a quarterback—there's just no other way to look at it.
Still, Albert isn't worth the money he'll want as an LT, so the Chiefs would be wise to go with Joeckel and pick up a Band-aid at quarterback—someone like Alex Smith or Matt Moore. It isn't ideal, but it's better than swinging and missing on a quarterback that isn't worth the top pick in the draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—Star Lotulelei (DT Utah)
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The hype has settled down on Lotulelei a bit, but one could easily make the argument that he is one of the most impactful players available in this class. He's a big body who can eat up space, but he's athletic enough to collapse the pocket and rush the passer.
The Jaguars need playmakers on both sides of the ball and don't have the luxury of drafting for team need. Yet, even though defensive tackle might not be their biggest need, Lotulelei would start from Day 1, be an impact player and give their defense a whole new look.
3. Oakland Raiders—Geno Smith (QB West Virginia)
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This is a reach for Smith, but the Raiders can't roll with Carson Palmer for another year. Honestly, with people already calling for Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen's heads, they need something to shake up the stagnation on offense and take advantage of the quantity-over-quality receiver talent on the roster.
Smith doesn't have the astonishing accuracy that his eye-popping completion percentage might indicate, but he's got pro-level arm strength, more than enough accuracy to make all the throws and great athleticism within the pocket. This isn't the second coming of RGIII or Russell Wilson, but he can extend plays and make special things happen.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—Bjoern Werner (DE Florida State)
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The Eagles thought they had the defensive-end position covered, but here they are again grabbing a top athlete and hoping they can finally stop one of the opposing quarterbacks in the NFC East. Put Werner next to Fletcher Cox and maybe the defensive backs have a few more chances at poorly thrown balls.
Werner's best days of football are likely ahead of him. Good productivity plus awesome potential means scouting departments are lining up.
The Eagles pull the trigger and hope he pays dividends.
5. Detroit Lions—Eric Fisher (OT Central Michigan)
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While the Lions certainly need some help on the defensive line as well, Martin Mayhew has shown an affinity for thinking outside the box when it comes to team needs and remains a staunch proponent of taking the best player available he thinks the Lions could use.
Fisher may seem unnecessary with Riley Reiff on the roster, but Fisher is better suited for left tackle. The Lions will need all the help they can get as Stephen Peterman is already gone, and Dominic Raiola, Gosder Cherilus and Jeff Backus may not be far behind.
6. Cleveland Browns—Dee Milliner (CB Alabama)
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For a team that is setting up with a new coaching staff and general manager, the Browns have a lot of great young talent. Unless they fall in love with a quarterback, they're allowed a bit of a luxury pick here, and Milliner lands with a team where he doesn't have to be "the" guy in the defensive backfield right away.
It also means the Browns don't have to overpay on a free-agent cornerback to make up for the loss of Sheldon Brown.
With the addition of Milliner (along with coordinator Ray Horton), look for the Browns defense to be a lot more physical and in-your-face in 2013.
7. Arizona Cardinals—Tyler Wilson (QB Arkansas)
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This is a reach, but my No. 1 maxim of drafting is that teams that don't have a quarterback need to find one. Fans love to say things like, "wait until Round 2 and so-and-so will be there." Well, what if so-and-so isn't? What then? Teams without a legitimate quarterback aren't going anywhere, and that perfectly describes the Arizona Cardinals during the "Kevin Kolb era."
Wilson has all the tools to be a great NFL starter. Pair him with Bruce Arians and even better things could happen. He's got good arm strength and solid mechanics, but he tends to trust his arm a little too much. He's also gutsy—almost to a fault.
Arians will nail him down to the pocket and teach him how to take better risks on the way to a long and successful NFL career.
8. Buffalo Bills—Damontre Moore (DE Texas A&M)
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When the Bills are able to get after the passer, their defense doesn't look nearly as lackluster as people make it out to be. With good pressure up the middle and Mario Williams penetrating from the other side, the addition of Moore means that the Bills have four blue chippers coming after the AFC East's passers on every single play.
Do the Bills have more glaring needs? Yes—especially if Jairus Byrd finds a new home—but a pass-rusher is never a wasted pick if he pans out.
9. New York Jets—Jarvis Jones (OLB/DE Georgia)
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Jones is one of the biggest risks of the draft. Once told to never play football again because he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, he is sure to get poked, prodded and tested more than anyone else in the predraft process.
Without that condition, he could easily be in the mix to be selected in the top five and still might be regardless. Will he play five years? Ten years? Maybe. Or he could deteriorate rapidly, suffer a preseason injury and never play a down in the pros.
The Jets are in a position to swing for the fences. They're considering trading away Darrelle Revis and need playmakers along the defensive front to pair with their good coverage in the backfield. If Jones gives them five good years, he might save Rex Ryan's job .
10. Tennessee Titans—Kenny Vaccaro (S Texas)
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Speaking of teams that desperately need playmakers to save a coach's job...
The Titans are boring to watch, just flat-out boring. They're not a terrible team, but they're certainly not good.
They have plenty of good young talent but zero players who look like they're capable of putting a team on their back and carrying them past mediocrity. Chris Johnson had a resurgence in 2012, and his teammates wasted it.
The best cover safety in the draft, Vaccaro can play closer to the line of scrimmage as well. He'll stop the bleeding that the Titans' defense has seen in recent years, and he'll give it someone who can make plays on balls thrown over the middle.
11. San Diego Chargers—Chance Warmack (OG Alabama)
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If the Chargers are going to win anything, they need Philip Rivers to get back to what he was as a passer two to three years ago. If they're going to get anything out of Rivers, they need to protect him better.
That means they should select a tackle somewhere in this draft, but they'd be crazy to reach for one here with such a great guard prospect on the board.
Warmack doesn't solve the Rivers problem, but he helps as a pro-level pass protector and also gives the Chargers a dominant run-blocker to get tough yards on the ground.
12. Miami Dolphins—Keenan Allen (WR California)
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Ryan Tannehill needs some help, period.
Teams (and their fans) talk themselves into their younger players and borderline talents. When push comes to shove, however, the Dolphins don't have a No. 1 receiver on their team and they may not have a No. 2.
Maybe it was the right decision to let Brandon Marshall (and his emotional baggage) walk, but if they don't get Tannehill a consistent weapon, he's not going to grow as a passer.
Allen is a stud. He's got size, speed, route running and hands—otherwise known as "it all." He'll give Tannehill an elite option when everything else breaks down to catch contested balls and take over games.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Xavier Rhodes (CB Florida State)
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The Buccaneers have a solid defensive front, but the seven players behind them (those not named Lavonte David or Mark Barron) could use some work. The Bucs had to let Aqib Talib go, and the rest of the Bucs' defensive backs (again, besides Barron) are so nondescript that Tampa Bay might be fielding a whole new unit in 2013.
Xavier Rhodes wouldn't have to move far to go from Tallahassee to Tampa. He's got the size and athleticism to star at the next level and the ball skills to slow down opponents' slew of passing against the Bucs.
14. Carolina Panthers—Sheldon Richardson (DT Missouri)
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Don't know how many times it needs to be said (I suppose as often as it takes for someone to listen)—the Panthers need to improve the interior of their lines. Both defensive tackles and offensive guards could be upgraded this offseason, and a lot of the young players on this team would be better off for it.
Richardson is a stud with great athleticism, a non-stop motor and good hands. He'll take up blockers for the Panthers' excellent defensive ends and keep those blockers off Luke Kuechly.
15. New Orleans Saints—Dion Jordan (DE Oregon)
Dion Jordan NFL Player Comparison
Jordan is coming off an injury and isn't the most prototypical defensive end, but the Saints need pass rushers who can actually apply real pressure and slow down teams from marching down the field on them. Last season, the Saints were drawing up good blitzes, but there just wasn't enough physical talent to get there.
What Jordan lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and tenacity. He may not be an every-down end in his first couple years in the league, but he'll give the Saints what they lack.
16. St. Louis Rams—Lane Johnson (OT Oklahoma)
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This is a bit of a reach for the Rams, but they need an offensive tackle in the worst way possible. When a team turns to Wayne Hunter and he's an improvement, it's time to get a little desperate.
Johnson is athletic enough to play left tackle and could refine his technique a little bit, but he is pro-ready. Sam Bradford will love this selection, and it might help save his job.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—Cordarrelle Patterson (WR Tennessee)
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Patterson doesn't always show up, but when his head is in the right spot, he's one of the best receiving prospects of the last few years.
He's big, has great straight-line speed, runs decent routes and can pluck the ball out of the air with the best of them. He'll provide the Steelers with a clear No. 1 receiver to pair with their already deep corps.
18. Dallas Cowboys—Johnathan Hankins (DT Ohio State)
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If Monte Kiffin is going to install a pressure defense, he's going to need an elite lineman prospect to pair with Jay Ratliff and give DeMarcus Ware clear one-on-one shots and open pass-rushing lanes.
Hankins is a bit of a "dancing bear," meaning that he's an immense athlete who moves more nimbly than he should. He'll give the Cowboys' new-look defense a much meaner look.
19. New York Giants—Johnthan Banks (CB Mississippi State)
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The problem with "leaning" on an elite cornerback is that sometimes the deficits become too massive to overcome with the frequency that his teammates seem to depend on him. Eli Manning had plenty of great moments in 2012, but he clearly needs a defense that can get stops if he wants to return to the Super Bowl.
Banks has prototypical size for a cornerback, but he plays with the physicality of a much larger prospect. He loves to stay in a receiver's hip and shut down separation—something the Giants gave up too much of in recent years.
20. Chicago Bears—Jonathan Cooper (OG North Carolina)
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The Bears, like the Chargers earlier, would love some of the runs of this draft to go a different way. If Lane Johnson or Eric Fisher were to fall here, the Bears wouldn't hesitate, but it's "best offensive lineman" here and Cooper fits that bill.
He might be the best pass protector on the Bears from the moment he steps onto the field.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—Ezekiel Ansah (DE Brigham Young)
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Ansah is a bit of a "gamer" who can show up in a big way but disappear for long stretches. He doesn't have a ton of technique to his game, but he's a dynamic athlete who can turn up the heat when he wants.
The Bengals tend to collect guys like this who fall to them because other organizations don't want to take the chance. He'll add another layer of pass-rushing ability to an already great young defense.
22. St. Louis Rams (From Washington)—Zach Ertz (TE Stanford)
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With the offensive line shored up a bit with their earlier pick, the Rams need a playmaker to pair with Bradford.
They swung big with Brian Quick (a move that is looking more and more like a miss, but we'll give him some time). Chris Givens was better—especially as a deep threat—last season and now the Rams are taking a shot on Titus Young.
Ertz is a fantastic all-around tight end who can help protect Bradford, block in the run game and press the seam vertically.
23. Minnesota Vikings—Terrance Williams (WR Baylor)
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Adrian Peterson is quickly approaching GOAT territory for the running-back position, and he could clearly carry this team back to the playoffs as long as he stays healthy and the defense keeps it in games.
That said, if the Vikings are going to get over the hump, Christian Ponder will need a deep threat to pair with Percy Harvin and his awesome group of tight ends. Williams would make the Vikings' offense a lot more dangerous right away.
24. Indianapolis Colts—Jesse Williams (DT Alabama)
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Running a 3-4 defense without an impactful player at nose tackle is equivalent to sending opponents an engraved invitation to the end zone. Williams showed the world just what kind of impact he can make on a game in the National Championship.
He can beat double teams, dominate one-on-one, collapse or knife into the pocket and bring running backs down in their tracks.
25. Seattle Seahawks—Alec Ogletree (OLB Georgia)
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The Seahawks are a hard team to mock for a couple of reasons. First, their draft board clearly bucks a lot of trends every single season. Second, they have a ton of great young talent.
They'd love a top guard to fall to them and might take a shot on a defensive tackle or right offensive tackle depending on their rankings, but if Ogletree falls to them, it might be the first no-brainer pick they've made in years.
A converted safety, Ogletree would fit in nicely for Leroy Hill and give the Seahawks another young playmaker who can chase Colin Kaepernick all over the field twice (or three times) a season.
26. Green Bay Packers—Datone Jones (DT/DE UCLA)
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Jones is a bit of a "tweener" in that he doesn't really fit the mold of a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 DE. His best fit is probably as a strong-side guy, but do you "waste" his array of pass-rushing ability at a position where the quarterback will always see him coming? He's a bit of an enigma, but he's a helluva player.
The Packers need more "helluva players" on defense and (overall) more athletes who can press the pocket and flow in the run game.
Jones may be a "square peg," but look for a team like the Packers to carve out one of their round holes for him. He's that good.
27. Houston Texans—Barkevious Mingo (OLB Louisiana State)
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I'm not a fan of Mingo. He plays when he wants to and is (mostly) a linear athlete who can get thrown off track by bigger linemen. While he has the athletic tools to be dominant, he benefited from a great team around him at LSU and rarely shone as brightly as he is capable.
The Texans need more pass rushing. It might sound crazy and I know they just drafted Whitney Mercilus last year, but aside from J.J. Watt, the rush was pretty lackluster last season—especially once Brian Cushing went down.
28. Denver Broncos—Manti Te'o (LB Notre Dame)
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Te'o's fall stops here as the Broncos bring him in to replace the aged Keith Brooking, who played better than expected for Denver but could certainly be upgraded this offseason.
Te'o is decent in coverage, has great athleticism for the position and is generally good through traffic. He struggles to take on blocks, but he will be an immediate asset for a Broncos team headed right back to the playoffs.
29. New England Patriots—Kawann Short (DT Purdue)
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The temptation for the Patriots is going to be resting on their laurels after a season that featured their running game improve immensely and their defense cease to be a liability week in and week out.
A "luxury" pick here, however, would be a mistake because the Patriots need to continue to build that defense, put more protection around Tom Brady and get him weapons if they're not going to bring back Wes Welker.
The addition of Short gives the Patriots more flexibility on defense and a stout body to put next to Vince Wilfork in either the 3-4 or 4-3 front.
30. Atlanta Falcons—Alex Okafor (DE Texas)
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Eventually, the Falcons need to figure out what to do with the gaping hole Tony Gonzalez is going to leave when he retires, so Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert might be targets with this pick. A great slot receiver would be a nice complement to the Falcons' offensive puzzle as well.
The Falcons' defense was a much bigger problem in 2012, though, and a polished pass-rusher like Okafor would be a boon to Mike Nolan's ability to dial up pressure.
31. San Francisco 49ers—Matt Elam (S Florida)
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The 49ers were fourth against the pass in 2012 (along with fourth against the run), so a defensive back might not be the most glaring need, but Dashon Goldson is going to command a pretty penny and may not be worth the coin he'll demand.
Matt Elam lacks the size to be an elite safety in the pros, but he's more than capable against both the run and pass.
32. Baltimore Ravens—Tavon Austin (WR West Virginia)
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Some Super Bowl champions just seem to have it all, but the Ravens are going to try to repeat while also building a new-look offense around their soon-to-be highly paid quarterback. They also have to make some serious additions to an aging defense.
Here, they add Austin as a shifty, dynamic receiver to take advantage of all the space created while Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones push defenses vertically. If you're going to pay Joe Flacco all that money, you better give him some toys to play with.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.