2013 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting Home Run Hits for Every NFL Team
The 2013 NFL draft season is upon us. We've entered the first weekend without football.
As we inch closer to the draft, the first-round picture begins to come into focus. But there are still major questions to be answered.
Will the Chiefs gamble on a quarterback?
Will another signal-caller sneak into the top 10?
While these questions will be hotly debated over the next few months, my answer to both—at least for now—is yes.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
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It's difficult—maybe even impossible—to make a strong argument that Geno Smith is the best player in this year's draft. In fact, some will argue he isn't even the best quarterback.
But teams treat quarterbacks differently, especially since the inception of the rookie wage scale.
In 2012, top pick Andrew Luck signed a four-year contract worth a total of $22.1 million. Considering the contract the Ravens are discussing with Joe Flacco (reportedly in the range of $20 million per year), the going rate for a No. 1 pick is relatively inexpensive.
As a result, if the Chiefs' front office views Smith as a future starter, he will be the No. 1 pick.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
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As a team, the Jaguars recorded just .5 more sacks than 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith. With that stat in mind, it should come as no surprise that the team is expected to address the defensive line with the No. 2 pick.
Bjoern Werner isn't the most explosive pass-rusher in this year's class, but he is the most well-rounded lineman.
Werner compares favorably to Chris Long, who has quietly developed into one of the game's elite lineman in St. Louis.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
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The Raiders defensive line is in full rebuilding mode this offseason.
Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant are both unrestricted free agents, and signing both will be a difficult task considering the money likely to be involved.
On top of potentially losing Seymour and Bryant, veteran Tommy Kelly is owed $13.5 million over the next two seasons and is a strong candidate to be released.
Unless the Raiders find a way to keep the defensive line intact, Star Lotulelei should be at the top of their draft board. He is the consensus top available defensive tackle and would fit perfectly into Seymour's role on the line.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel
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In theory, the Eagles offensive line should return to form in 2013. Jason Peters and Todd Herremans are expected to return from injuries, which could solve their issues at both left and right tackle.
But what can the Eagles realistically expect from two aging lineman returning from season-ending injuries?
Since the Eagles are in rebuilding mode, it would be wise to cut their losses and move on. Peters is due to earn over $20 million over the next two seasons and has multiple serious injuries in his past.
Joeckel would give the Eagles a fresh start at left tackle. At this stage in his career, he is also a much better athlete than Peters, making him better suited for Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense.
5. Detroit Lions: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
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The Lions have already parted ways with Kyle Vanden Bosch this offseason. And if unrestricted free agent Cliff Avril signs elsewhere, the team would be without both starting defensive ends from 2012.
There are a number of defensive ends worthy of consideration with this pick, including Barkevious Mingo, Damontre Moore and Dion Jordan.
Of those three ends, Mingo seems to fit Jim Schwartz's defensive philosophy best.
Schwartz prefers linemen who can pin their ears back and get after the quarterback—much like Ndamukong Suh.
Mingo is a fairly raw prospect whose production at LSU left a lot to be desired. But there's no denying his athleticism. He would be an ideal candidate to upgrade the Lions pass rush.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
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The Browns are transitioning to a 3-4 defense this year under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. But don't assume they'll target a linebacker with the sixth pick based on this information alone.
Jabaal Sheard will shift from end to one of the outside linebacker positions. The other outside spot is in doubt, but 2012 fourth-round pick James-Michael Johnson should be given an opportunity to win that job.
If Horton is content with Sheard and Johnson, the Browns' attention should turn to Dee Milliner.
In a division that features quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, who love to throw the ball downfield, the combination of Milliner and Joe Haden would be a nice asset for the Browns defense.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
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The Cardinals offensive line allowed a league-high 58 sacks in 2012, so major changes are coming this offseason.
Eric Fisher would give the Cardinals their first prototypical left tackle in years, ending a string of Leonard Davis, Mike Gandy and Levi Brown being forced into the position despite being better suited to play elsewhere.
By adding Fisher, the Cardinals could shift Brown back to right tackle, where he started from 2007 through 2009. This would allow Bobby Massie, who led the NFL in sacks allowed in 2012, to shift inside to guard.
8. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
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There have been a number of vague rumors floating around that the Bills aren't interested in Ryan Nassib.
But it's a little too early for a team to have a definitive stance on a prospect, which makes me wonder if head coach Doug Marron and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett—both of whom worked with Nassib at Syracuse—weren't the ones planting the misinformation.
The top 10 may seem early for Nassib, but he is arguably the most NFL-ready quarterback prospect in this year's class. A team in need of a quick fix, such as the Bills, may be willing to pull the trigger.
9. New York Jets: Dion Jordan, DE/LB, Oregon
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Rex Ryan's veteran linebackers simply aren't getting the job done anymore.
In 2012, the Jets' primary outside linebackers, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, combined for just 5.5 sacks.
Dion Jordan is still somewhat raw, especially in run support. But his athleticism will allow him to make an immediate impact as a pass-rush specialist for the Jets.
Jordan is also an above-average coverage linebacker, especially considering his size, which will allow the Jets use him in a variety of roles in their hybrid defense.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
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Chris Johnson's regression in recent years isn't entirely his fault. The Titans interior line has struggled to create the holes he needs to run between the tackles.
The addition of Steve Hutchinson last offseason was a decent attempt to fix the issue, but the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer was only a marginal upgrade.
Warmack is the premier interior lineman in this year's class and would be a perfect fit in Tennessee.
Head coach Mike Munchak, a former offensive lineman, is sure to appreciate Warmack's nasty run blocking.
While it's rare for an interior lineman to be selected in the top 10, the rookie wage scale now makes it feasible.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
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It's difficult to imagine the Chargers going in any direction other than the offensive line with this selection.
At right tackle, Jeromey Clary has been a weak link for years. Both starting guards, Tyronne Green and Louis Vasquez, are unrestricted free agents. And left tackle Jared Gaither is expected to be released.
Lane Johnson is one of the few prospects in this class with the athleticism to play left tackle. If he's on the board, the Chargers should jump at the chance to call his name and immediately plug him into a starting role.
If Johnson and Chance Warmack are both gone, the Chargers would likely turn their attention to Jonathan Cooper or D.J. Fluker.
12. Miami Dolphins: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
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Cameron Wake is among the most dangerous pass-rushers in the NFL, but the Dolphins are severely lacking the depth around him.
Jared Odrick played out of position at end this past season and should be shifted back inside to tackle.
Damontre Moore isn't the most explosive athlete on the defensive line, but he is a well-rounded prospect who would fit well in Miami playing opposite Wake.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
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After two subpar years from Mason Foster as the starting inside linebacker in Tampa, the Bucs are likely heading in a new direction.
This is a deep class of inside linebackers, so the Bucs have plenty of options. But Alec Ogletree stands out as the cream of the crop.
A former safety, Ogletree has elite coverage skills, which perfectly suits him for today's NFL. His ability to matchup with tight ends and running backs in man coverage will be an asset at the next level.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
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Former general manager Marty Hurney put the Panthers in a tough position when he spent two third-round picks on defensive tackles in 2011.
Both Sione Fua and Terrell McClain have failed to live up to expectations, and the Panthers now have a gaping hole in the middle of their defensive line.
Richardson would fill the Panthers' need for a three-technique tackle and could start next to Fua if a suitable replacement at nose tackle can't be found this offseason.
If the Panthers would prefer to add a nose tackle, Johnathan Hankins and Jesse Williams are options here.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
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If there's one guarantee in this entire draft, it's that the Saints will address the front seven with this pick.
Transitioning to the 3-4 defense won't be easy if they can't find the right personnel by August.
Jarvis Jones would be a perfect fit in New Orleans due to his experience in the 3-4 at Georgia.
He is an explosive pass-rusher off the edge and would give the Saints at least one player on defense that can wreak havoc in the backfield.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
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The 16th pick is early for Jonathan Cooper, in my opinion. But the Rams can't afford to let the first round go by without adding an immediate starter to their offensive line.
Cooper isn't quite in Chance Warmack's class, but he has the ability to start immediately and improve the protection for Sam Bradford.
The Rams should also consider D.J. Fluker with this selection. Fluker could start at either right tackle or guard in St. Louis.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
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Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has a long history of addressing needs before they open up.
Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu are expected back in 2013, but both have shown signs of slowing down.
Vaccaro is a versatile safety who would be an ideal long-term replacement for the 33-year-old Clark.
The Steelers may also be in the market for an outside linebacker, especially if veteran James Harrison is cut loose this offseason.
18. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
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It's tough to fault Tony Romo for his struggles in 2012 considering the Cowboys' porous offensive line.
D.J. Fluker is the type of oversized offensive lineman the Cowboys front office has always loved. They could plug him in at right tackle, or potentially shift him inside to guard.
The Cowboys may also consider a defensive lineman to help ease the transition to Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense.
19. New York Giants: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
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Significant changes are coming to the Giants defense, and it started this past week with the release of defensive tackle Chris Canty.
For the Giants to rebuild their defense, they need to start with a leader at inside linebacker.
Chase Blackburn has failed to establish himself as a quality starter, and Minter would give the Giants a significant upgrade at the position.
Minter is one of the most well-rounded linebackers in this year's class. He will help the Giants in both run support and in coverage.
20. Chicago Bears: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
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Bears quarterbacks targeted their tight ends on just 12.3 percent of their pass attempts in 2012—the lowest rate in the NFL.
But with new offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer coming over from the Saints, where he worked with Jimmy Graham, that trend is likely to change.
Ertz isn't the most well-rounded tight end in this class, but he is the most dangerous weapon in the passing game.
He would immediately help take some of the attention off of Brandon Marshall.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
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The Bengals always seem to be the team to grab the talented player who slips down the draft board.
Ezekiel Ansah is among the most talented prospects in this year's class, but his limited experience raises some questions about his readiness for the NFL.
Ansah is actually a very similar player to Bengals end Carlos Dunlap. Both lack the elite athleticism to be a consistent pass-rush threat, but have enough size and speed to be solid contributors in every aspect of the game.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
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The recent addition of Titus Young will have no impact on the Rams' draft plans. Sam Bradford still needs an elite weapon, and Young does not come close to qualifying.
Patterson is still developing as a receiver. He'll drop some easy ones, as he is far too much of a body-catcher at this stage of his career.
But what he lacks in fundamentals, Patterson makes up for in raw athleticism.
If the Rams can find ways to get the ball in Patterson's hands, he will make plays and jump start their struggling offense.
23. Minnesota Vikings: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
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If Christian Ponder is going to live up to his first-round status, the Vikings must upgrade the talent around him on offense.
Ideally, the Vikings would address their need for a receiver in free agency to avoid grooming a young prospect. But if they are forced to turn to the draft, DeAndre Hopkins would be the perfect fit.
Hopkins lacks the size or speed of a typical No. 1 receiver, but he is the most polished prospect in this year's draft class. His crisp routes help to make up for his limited speed, and he possesses the best hands of any receiver in this year's class.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
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Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky are building a hybrid defense in Indianapolis, but they lacked the personnel to run it effectively in 2012.
Datone Jones would be an ideal fit for the hybrid defense due to his versatility and his experience in multiple schemes during his career at UCLA.
Jones has the ability to line up at end or tackle in 4-3 sets, and he is athletic enough to play with his hand off the ground in 3-4 sets.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
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Alan Branch has played the role of nose tackle in the Seahawks defense the past two seasons, but he is an unrestricted free agent and Seattle is likely to look for an upgrade this offseason.
Johnathan Hankins has the potential to be a more effective version of Branch due to his combination of size and athleticism.
While Hankins has the strength to be a space-eater and take on multiple blockers, he also possess unique athleticism for a lineman of his size.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
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The recent news that 2012 second-round pick Jerel Worthy may miss the entire 2013 season may force the Packers to address the defensive line with this selection.
Sharrif Floyd would be an ideal fit at end in the Packers' 3-4 scheme.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers tends to prefer oversized ends in his scheme, and Floyd has both the size and athleticism to excel in such a role.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen, WR, California
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In 2012, the Texans had the third-largest gap between their No. 1 and No. 2 receivers in terms of target percentage.
That type of unbalanced attack can work at times, but 31-year-old Andre Johnson deserves more support.
Keenan Allen is a difficult prospect to evaluate because he doesn't always use his best attribute—his size—to his advantage. But Houston would be an ideal landing spot, allowing him to learn from one of the best in the game.
28. Denver Broncos: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
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The Broncos relied heavily on Champ Bailey in 2012, asking him to cover A.J. Green, Andre Johnson and other elite receivers.
But Bailey is 34 and has clearly lost a step. It may be time for the Broncos to move on.
Even if Bailey returns—which is no guarantee given his expensive contract—the Broncos would be wise to take advantage of this deep class of cornerbacks and bring in a young replacement.
Xavier Rhodes is a tall, physical corner who has the skills to match up with the game's elite receivers.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
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The Patriots have struggled to find the right combination of cornerbacks for the past few seasons.
In 2010, they spent a first-round pick on Devin McCourty (he's since been moved to safety).
In 2011, they spend a second-round pick on Ras-I Dowling (he's played just 176 snaps in two years).
And in 2012, they traded for Aqib Talib (he's now a free agent).
So it's time for the Patriots to dip back into the draft pool and find themselves another corner.
Desmond Trufant put himself in the first-round conversation with a strong Senior Bowl, but plenty of others (Jordan Poyer, Johnthan Banks, Logan Ryan, Darius Slay, etc) could be in the mix as well.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
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Unless Tony Gonzalez unexpectedly returns in 2013, the Falcons absolutely must find an adequate replacement.
Just over 20 percent of Matt Ryan's throws were targeted at Gonzalez in 2012. And it's not easy to find a tight end capable of equaling Gonzalez's production.
While there are other quality pass-catching tight ends in this draft, Eifert may be the only one capable of fully filling Gonzalez's shoes.
According to Pro Football Focus, Gonzalez was on the field for 91.4 percent of the Falcons' offensive snaps this past season. Eifert has the skills to be that type of every-down tight end in Atlanta.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
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The 49ers spent a first-round pick on A.J. Jenkins in 2012, but Jenkins saw the field for just 37 snaps this past season. That doesn't exactly bode well for his future in San Francisco.
Even if the 49ers have plans for an expanded role for Jenkins, Markus Wheaton would be nice complement.
Wheaton has the skill set to play on the outside or in the slot, making him an intriguing option for the 49ers, who like to get creative with their offensive play calls.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
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But as I detailed in a previous article, Te'o wouldn't be a great fit for the Ravens defensive scheme.
The smaller, more athletic Arthur Brown is better suited to play inside linebacker in Baltimore's hybrid scheme.
Brown possesses the speed to be an elite coverage linebacker in the NFL, the type of linebacker the Ravens lacked this past season.