2013 NFL Mock Draft: Highlighting the Surest Bets of Round 1
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Although the 2013 NFL draft is a bit of a crap shoot, there's still plenty of first-round prospects who look assured to be solid producers in their rookie seasons.
You can never predict with 100 percent accuracy which prospects are going to be stars. There have been countless examples of players who looked like franchise cornerstones, only to flame out in two or three years.
As hard as it may be to accurately predict how the draft may fall into place, it's always fun to speculate what players teams may be targeting come April.
Here's a mock of the first round, with the safe picks italicized.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Rebuilding the franchise, it makes sense that Andy Reid would start at the quarterback position. Geno Smith is far from being a lock, but he's the best QB on the board.
Many experts were very skeptical as to whether Cam Newton would be an NFL quarterback as well. While their games aren't anything alike, Smith has the tools to succeed at the next level. Plus, his impact would be much greater than that of Luke Joeckel or one of the top pass-rushers.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Speaking of elite pass-rushers, Bjoern Werner is one of the best on the board. He would fill a huge hole in the Jacksonville Jaguars defense, which registered the fewest amount of sacks in the league.
Werner is an athletic freak who should only improve the longer he's in the league. He's got a good combination of skills that allow him to either beat tackles off the edge or power them off the line.
3. Oakland Raiders: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore looks to have everything necessary in order to have a long career in the NFL. He's got good size and speed off the edge, and his strength should come along as his career goes on.
As a pure pass-rusher, he's still a bit unpolished when it comes to getting off the line of scrimmage. As with bulking up, Moore should be able to pick up that skill as he gets more experience.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
If you're looking for the safe bets, Joeckel looks to be by far the safest pick in this draft. He's the perfect guy to help anchor the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line.
Joeckel is a solid blocker in both the run and pass is very athletic for his size. Unlike some other tackles who have been drafted high in the past, Joeckel has great footwork, which will serve him well in the NFL.
5. Detroit Lions: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Detroit Lions have already cut Kyle Vanden Bosch (h/t ESPN.com). That isn't a huge loss for the team as Vanden Bosch really struggled last year. His departure just accentuates the Lions need for a good pass-rusher to pair with Cliff Avril.
Barkevious Mingo might look like more of an outside linebacker, but he's got the tools necessary to play well if slotted in on the defensive line.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Dee Milliner looks like the kind of corner who can shut down an entire half of the field. If you were to combine him with Joe Haden, the Cleveland Browns would have a great young combo in their secondary.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Arizona Cardinals should look to a quarterback in the draft. It doesn't matter whom they take at this stage; they'll reach if they don't trade out of the No. 7 slot.
With Bruce Arians, the Cardinals have a head coach who can help mold a rookie quarterback and accelerate his development. Tyler Wilson is a good choice here because he has the tools. He just needs the right coach to ensure that those tools are used to their fullest extent.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Matt Barkley is going to have a productive NFL career. He may not reach the heights some thought he might prior to his senior season, but Barkley can be a very dependable quarterback in the league.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ezekiel Ansah might be one of the best players in this draft. In order to reach that level, though, he will likely need a few years in the league. Plus, there are plenty of freakish athletes who have failed to translate their abilities into production on the field, so Ansah is a bit of a risk in the first round.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei is one of the best players in the draft, but he isn't helped by the fact that teams need pass-rushers over run-stuffers. The Tennessee Titans would be solidifying their defensive line by drafting Lotulelei.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
One of the prospects who's seen his stock jump the most is Eric Fisher. The San Diego Chargers might see him off the board by the 11th pick. He would be a huge get for the Chargers, as their offensive line was horrid in 2012.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Ryan Tannehill needs a big-play threat in his receiving corps. Keenan Allen is the type of option that Brian Hartline and Davone Bess aren't. Allen would bring a different dimension to the Miami Dolphins offense and help Tannehill develop next year.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary was extremely poor last year. They'll be hoping that Milliner slips down this far, but Xavier Rhodes is still a very good pick.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Sheldon Richardson is far from just a space-eater. He offers a little bit in the pass rush along with being able to stuff the run. His consistency is a bit of an issue, though.
15. New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Dion Jordan has good physical tools. His height could be a major advantage in the NFL. However, there are some durability concerns. Jordan would be a huge help to a New Orleans Saints defense that was awful last year.
16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Sam Bradford would no doubt be smiling on draft day should the St. Louis Rams get Chance Warmack. He's one of the best players in the draft, period. Warmack's draft status is just hurt by how little teams value guards in comparison to tackles on the offensive line.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia
Jarvis Jones will continue to fall the more teams work him out. He's got definite health issues, and as the scouting combine goes on, teams will forget the player he was last year with the Georgia Bulldogs.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Sharrif Floyd is another defensive tackle who brings a bit more athleticism to the position. The Cowboys will implement the 4-3 defense next season, and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin needs at least one new defensive tackle to bolster his line.
19. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tyler Eifert will be a very reliable pass-catcher in the NFL. He's not going to wow anybody with his physical tools, but he can be a good tight end.
20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Chicago Bears continue to struggle in providing Jay Cutler with adequate pass protection. Lane Johnson would bring some solidity to what has been a rather poor offensive line over the last few years.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
The Cincinnati Bengals should snag the best linebacker on the board. Alec Ogletree would allow the Bengals to part ways with Rey Maualuga, who in recent years has been one of the worst linebackers in the league.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro would do a lot to shore up the St. Louis Rams secondary. He's the perfect blend of ball hawk and run-stopper.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Christian Ponder needs to improve, otherwise Adrian Peterson will continue to wallow in a poor offense. Cordarrelle Patterson would give Ponder one more target to throw to next year.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
With his long arms, Kawann Short can be a nuisance for opposing quarterbacks because he can get those big paws up in the air and swat down passes. Short's also got the size to be able to plug up the middle of the defense.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Bruce Irvin did very well last year. On the other side, though, there's major issues surrounding Chris Clemons. Datone Jones is a bit of a risk, but he can be the pass-rusher the Seattle Seahawks need.
26. Green Bay Packers: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Aaron Rodgers needs to get some more pass protection. Jonathan Cooper should be a solid pick, as his versatility means the Green Bay Packers could move him around on the offensive line.
27. Houston Texans: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Kevin Minter might not be the best inside linebacker in the draft, but he's got the highest ceiling.
28. Denver Broncos: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
In order to succeed in the NFL, Jesse Williams is going to need to rely on more than just brute strength to overpower opposition linemen. There are few players as strong, but Williams needs to be a little less one-dimensional.
29. New England Patriots: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
Tavon Austin could be an option here, but he is very similar to the receiver the New England Patriots already have. Matt Elam would help improve a Patriots secondary that has fallen off in recent years.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Alex Okafor is very far from a sure thing. If the Atlanta Falcons want an elite pass-rusher, management will need to show the kind of acumen that led the team to select Julio Jones in 2011.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The San Francisco 49ers would love to get a safety here, but the best two are off the board. Desmond Trufant would help to improve a secondary that was really exposed in the Super Bowl.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
It's clear Ray Lewis leaves a huge hole in the Baltimore Ravens defense. Manti Te'o is the most NFL-ready inside linebacker in the draft, but his ceiling isn't all that high. He's a solid pick here.
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