2013 NFL Mock Draft: Analyzing Which First Round Picks Can Start from Day One
The 2013 NFL draft process is officially in full swing. And that, of course, means mock drafts.
Most mock drafts give a simple projection of who will go where. Here, though, we will look at whether each pick is ready to start as soon as he hits the field.
Obviously, a few factors go into this. How strong the team is at the position, the player's own skills and abilities and the team's readiness to compete. For example, a rookie quarterback for the New England Patriots probably isn't going to start.
So what rookies will be playing where, and just how much will they be playing?
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Geno Smith didn't play in a pro-style offense at West Virginia, but his skill-set translates well to the NFL. He already utilizes solid footwork, and he's adept at going through progressions and finding the open receiver.
Given Kansas City's lack of competition on the roster and Smith's own skills, it seems likely that he would start Week 1 for the Chiefs.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Barkevious Mingo, LB, LSU
Jacksonville's lack of a pass rush was a huge issue in 2012, and the team will be transitioning to new head coach Gus Bradley's defense. Barkevious Mingo is a perfect fit at Bradley's Leo position.
Mingo (6'5", 240 lbs.) is an outstanding athlete with great speed and burst. He has the ability to drop back in coverage or rush the passer, and his lack of size isn't a huge issue in Bradley's scheme.
Though he may not be great as a rookie, Mingo will probably play given Jacksonville's complete absence of talent at the position.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei is perhaps the best player in the 2013 NFL draft. And the Oakland Raiders just so happen to have a huge hole at defensive tackle.
Lotulelei plays with incredible power and is a solid athlete as well. The 6'4", 320-pounder can play either the 1-tech or 3-tech position in Oakland and could also play in a 3-4 scheme.
There are few players in this draft more ready to excel than Lotulelei. With the Raiders' huge need at defensive tackle, he should make an immediate impact.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Philadelphia Eagles' needs don't match up too well with the value available, and they seem likely to go for the consensus best player available in Luke Joeckel. With Jason Peters back in 2013, the team would have a set of bookend tackles.
Joeckel is technically sound and incredibly athletic. He should step in from day one as an above-average player, be it at left or right tackle.
Regardless of where Joeckel goes, he will start as a rookie. Peters' presence at left tackle doesn't change anything here.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Cliff Avril is entering free agency, and the Detroit Lions recently released Kyle Vanden Bosch. In other words, Detroit is essentially without a single defensive end.
Bjoern Werner isn't a perfect player, but he has an incredible skill set. Few pass-rushers at any level have as explosive of a first step as he does. His first step alone will lead to sacks.
Werner's explosive ability and Detroit's need make this an easy pick. It's extremely unlikely that the Florida State defensive end wouldn't start as a rookie.
6. Cleveland Browns: Damontre Moore, OLB, Texas A&M
As the Cleveland Browns transition to a 3-4 defense, they will need to add linebackers. Damontre Moore could be one of many.
Moore possesses an incredible motor and above-average power. He has already played in a 3-4 defense at Texas A&M and seems to possess the skill set Mike Lombardi values.
Right now, Cleveland has a single pass-rusher in Jabaal Sheard. This leaves an easy opening for the NFL-ready Moore to fill.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
It's no secret that Arizona's offensive line is among the worst in the NFL. The team doesn't have a single solid starting tackle, and the unit as a whole requires multiple upgrades.
Eric Fisher didn't play against great competition at Central Michigan, but he's obviously talented. The 6'8", 305-pounder is an excellent athlete with quick feet and long arms.
It shouldn't be difficult for Fisher to supplant one of Arizona's current starting tackles. He may have some early struggles, but he should win the job.
8. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
At this point, Buffalo has to be pretty tired of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He isn't the world's worst quarterback, but he isn't a legitimate starter either.
Tyler Wilson had his struggles during his final season at Arkansas, but he is talented. Wilson has a strong arm and is willing to take chances downfield. His athleticism will also appeal to new head coach Doug Marrone.
Though he is talented, Wilson isn't ready to start right now. His footwork needs some work, and he needs to improve his decision-making as well.
9. New York Jets: Mike Glennon, QB, NC State
Does anyone still think Mark Sanchez is the answer?
It's time for a new quarterback in New York, and Mike Glennon is the one available. Glennon is a big-armed quarterback, standing at 6'6" and 232 pounds.
Glennon has plenty of ability, but his accuracy and decision-making need improvement. However, there is natural talent that can be developed.
Because Glennon is raw, he likely won't start right away and will instead be left on the bench to develop.
10. Tennessee Titans: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Tennessee Titans' biggest weakness is their pass rush. With no great defensive ends available, the Titans go with the next best option—a defensive tackle.
Sheldon Richardson is a terrific athlete with excellent pass-rushing potential. The 6'4", 295-pounder penetrates the backfield with ease and has significant upside as a pass-rusher.
Because of his own talent and Tennessee's need for a playmaker along its defensive line, Richardson should be able to start as a rookie.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
San Diego's offensive line isn't doing Philip Rivers any favors. The San Diego Chargers need upgrades across the entire line, but they really need help on the outside.
Lane Johnson doesn't get quite the reviews Luke Joeckel does, but Johnson is actually a better athlete. The 6'7", 303-pounder has incredibly quick feet and does a great job of getting to the second level in the run game.
Johnson has some things to work on, but San Diego's offensive line's ineptness and his natural talent make him a good bet to start day one.
12. Miami Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Beyond Brian Hartline, a free agent, Miami doesn't have a single solid starting wide receiver. Unless the team upgrades its offensive talent, Ryan Tannehill will struggle to develop into a solid starting quarterback.
Cordarrelle Patterson is an incredible talent. The 6'3", 205-pounder is a great deep threat with solid burst and good speed. He has legitimate No. 1 receiver upside.
However, Patterson is still raw as a route-runner, and he needs some work. He may not quite be ready to start on the outside, but he should be able to contribute.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
In 2012, Tampa Bay had the NFL's worst pass defense. A large part of that was the team's dreadful secondary, which lacks a single starting-caliber cornerback.
Dee Milliner isn't quite the star cornerback that some people make him out to be, but he's an all-around solid player with few weaknesses. He seems unlikely to bust in the NFL.
Milliner should be able to join Tampa Bay and provide an immediate upgrade. There is little question that he could start as a rookie.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Considering its excellent linebacking corps, Carolina's run defense was surprisingly average in 2012. The reason? Its awful defensive tackles.
At 6'3" and 303 pounds, Sharrif Floyd combines length, power and quickness. His best fit may come in a 3-4 defense, but he is more than capable of playing in a 4-3 scheme.
Floyd's physical ability makes him an immediate starter for the Carolina Panthers. Carolina's interior defensive line would be much better off with his presence as well.
15. New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
New Orleans is switching to a 3-4 defense, and it needs to add pass-rushers for the scheme. Dion Jordan is perfect for the job.
At 6'7" and 241 pounds, Jordan is a bit undersized, but he is an incredible athlete. He is already excellent in coverage, and his burst and length are rare.
If Jordan is big enough to adequately defend against the run, he is good enough in the other aspects of the game to start as a rookie. The Saints' lack of other options doesn't hurt either.
16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The St. Louis Rams have some talent on offense, but their offensive line is covering it up. Ideally, St. Louis would add an offensive tackle here, but with the top three gone, it turns to the interior offensive line.
Chance Warmack is a good backup plan. The powerful guard would immediately improve the Rams run game while helping in pass protection as well.
Guards of Warmack's caliber don't come around too often, and there's no question that he would start as a rookie. In fact, he would probably be the Rams' best lineman.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
With James Harrison likely out in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to add a pass-rusher. Jarvis Jones is in the mold of previous Steeler pass-rushers, and he's a great value here.
At 6'3" and 241 pounds, Jones is an explosive threat off the edge with experience in a 3-4 defense. He plays with surprising power for a guy of his size, and though he isn't strong against the run, he isn't terrible either.
With the Steelers needing another pass-rusher, Jones should be able to step in and start with positive results.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The Dallas Cowboys are another team switching defenses, this time to a 4-3. With Anthony Spencer likely leaving in free agency, Dallas needs someone to play defensive end opposite DeMarcus Ware.
Ezekiel Ansah may not have the refinement of some defensive ends, but he is a physical specimen. The 6'5", 275-pounder has played defensive end, linebacker and defensive tackle in the past.
Ansah's physical play and upside make him a great value here. He may not be great right away, but his natural ability will get him on the field.
19. New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The New York Giants signed Michael Boley as a coverage linebacker, and now that he's gone, it's time to replace him. Alec Ogletree is just the guy.
Ogletree is an excellent athlete with great speed and coverage ability. He needs to improve against the run, but few linebackers at any level are better in coverage.
New York's defense needs to improve, and though Ogletree isn't great now, he has terrific upside. He probably isn't ready to start, but he can play in pass situations and develop into a star down the line.
20. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Chicago's offensive line is well-known for being terrible. The unit has consistently held back an otherwise-talented offense.
Though Chance Warmack gets the bulk of the publicity, Jonathan Cooper is an excellent guard in his own rights. The 6'3", 310-pounder is terrific in open space and demonstrates superb athletic ability.
The Bears would prefer to add an offensive tackle, but Cooper would provide a huge upgrade along the interior offensive line. He would immediately help the team's pass-blocking and run-blocking alike.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Cincinnati has an overall talented defense, but it has some holes. One of those holes is at safety. And it just so happens that Kenny Vaccaro, an incredible value in the 20s, is still available.
Vaccaro is a good all-around linebacker with excellent coverage ability. He is more than capable of covering receivers in the slot.
The Texas star is a complete player with few glaring flaws. He is ready to play in the NFL and may be the Cincinnati Bengals' best safety as a rookie.
22. St. Louis Rams (from WAS): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Even after adding an offensive lineman, the St. Louis Rams need further help. This time, they go with a tackle, and their earlier pick's teammate.
D.J. Fluker isn't great in pass protection, but few offensive linemen possess his type of power. The 6'6", 335-pounder will struggle in pass protection at tackle, but his run-blocking will make up for it.
With Rodger Saffold at left tackle, Fluker should be able to slide in at right tackle. He will have some struggles, but expect him to play.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Percy Harvin is the Minnesota Vikings' only legitimate wide receiver, and his future with the Vikings is in doubt. And with Christian Ponder at quarterback, the Vikings need to add some weapons.
If it weren't for terrible quarterback play, Keenan Allen would likely be ranked much higher. The 6'3", 210-pounder is a smooth athlete who excels with the ball in his hands.
Allen's advanced route-running ability and size make him a good candidate to start. The Vikings' lack of other options doesn't hurt either.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Indianapolis is still adjusting to the 3-4 defense, and it needs to add talent throughout the entire front seven. The defensive line is no different here, and Chuck Pagano was used to an excellent one in Baltimore.
Datone Jones weighs in at just 6'4" and 275 pounds, but he is capable of gaining weight to play the 5-tech position. In fact, he compares favorably to Pernell McPhee, whom Pagano coached with the Baltimore Ravens.
Jones' pass-rushing ability and strength against the run bode well for his chances of immediately contributing. Of course, the Indianapolis Colts' need for defensive line help doesn't hurt.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
Seattle already has a solid offense, but it could use a weapon at wide receiver. The Seahawks have proven that they will make unconventional moves, and Markus Wheaton would fit that description.
Small at 6'1" and 182 pounds, Wheaton isn't a conventional wideout, but his speed is rare. The explosive receiver stretches the field and displays the ability to catch the ball and run routes as well.
It's unlikely that Wheaton would start immediately, but he would certainly contribute. The Seahawks coaching staff would find a way to get this type of talent on the field.
26. Green Bay Packers: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Green Bay's defense needs work against both the pass and run. The team's inside linebackers are one of the defense's bigger issues.
An excellent talent, Arthur Brown is possibly the best player left on the board. The 6'1", 228-pounder is a great athlete and surprisingly good at shredding blocks considering his size.
Brown is ready to play right now, and the Packers aren't offering anything great at inside linebacker. Green Bay doesn't typically start rookies right away, but Brown could break the trend.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
For years, Houston has needed a receiving threat to play opposite Andre Johnson. It still hasn't added one, and given the offense's average play in 2012, it is time.
DeAndre Hopkins is an explosive talent with excellent quickness. At 6'1" and 200 pounds, he doesn't have great size, but he is big enough to play on the outside.
The Houston Texans have several decent receivers, but none of them are really starting-caliber. This should help Hopkins break into the starting lineup as a rookie.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Denver had a superb defense in 2012, but it has the ability to be much better. All the team needs to do is add some talent along the interior defensive line.
Johnathan Hankins is a great talent, but he rarely performs up to his ability. The 6'3", 317-pounder has the ability to play either the 1-tech or 3-tech position, and he could be dominant. It's a question of potential versus probability.
Given the Broncos' lack of defensive tackles, Hankins would have a legitimate chance at starting, even though he probably shouldn't. If he puts in the effort, he could be a star, even as a rookie.
29. New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
New England may be losing Wes Welker to free agency, and even if it doesn't, Tavon Austin is a great fit for the team's offense. The Patriots utilize spread looks, and Austin is a perfect fit.
Austin lined up all over the field with West Virginia, and Bill Belichick loves versatile players. Few players are as dynamic with the ball in their hands, and Austin can stretch the field vertically as well.
Though Austin is a terrific talent, he is unlikely to start as a rookie. He will contribute in multiple facts of the game, but he won't be a part of the Patriots' base lineup.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
With Tony Gonzalez likely retiring, the Atlanta Falcons need to find a replacement. Many are projecting the athletic Tyler Eifert here, but Atlanta values Gonzalez just as much for his blocking as his receiving ability.
Travis Kelce is a terrific blocker who would immediately be one of the NFL's best in the run game. He isn't as athletic as Eifert, but he possesses consistent hands and is a great safety net.
Kelce's blocking ability makes him a likely immediate starter. He already plays a complete game, and there's no reason he can't play as a rookie.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
San Francisco's secondary was one of its biggest weaknesses throughout the 2012 season. It cost them in the Super Bowl, and it isn't improving with the team's current talent.
Xavier Rhodes is actually one of the most talented players in the draft. The 6'2", 217-pounder is an outstanding athlete with great size. He can press in coverage and has the ability to run downfield with receivers.
It's unlikely that Rhodes would start as a rookie, given his raw technique. Rarely do cornerbacks start as rookies anyway, and Rhodes is especially unready. His future potential is through the roof, however.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Cornellius Carradine, OLB, Florida State
Baltimore will probably lose Paul Kruger to free agency, leaving the team with a need at outside linebacker. The Ravens defense is in need of a defensive overhaul in general.
If he hadn't torn his ACL, Cornellius "Tank" Carradine would be gone well before now. The 6'5", 265-pounder plays with terrific power to go with his excellent length and closing speed.
As a rookie, Carradine would still be recovering from his injury. He may be able to play later in the season, but at that point, he would be too far behind to start.