2013 NFL Draft: Mocking the First Round
The 2013 NFL draft promises to be one filled with a slew of linemen at the top of the board and relatively few skill players. As a result, it makes it that much harder to figure out where players may go.
Will the few great skill players end up going much higher in the draft, or will they fall as teams pick up pass rushers? Will a slew of quarterbacks fly off the board early or will this be a rare year where we only see one or two in the first round?
In this mock draft, each team's needs and tendencies will be looked at to figure out the most likely selection for them.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs have the hardest first overall selection that we have seen in several years. They could certainly take a quarterback in Geno Smith, but they could easily take the best player available in Luke Joeckel.
Mock drafts are split on this, and I am 50-50 as well on which way they should go. In the end, though you have to pick the sure thing. Joeckel reminds me of Joe Thomas and is the only person in the draft this year who I would call a sure thing.
Yes, this is a quarterback-driven league, but there's no quarterback this year worth taking first overall.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Jaguars are going to pick the player they want, regardless of value; they haven't had a non-reach pick in my mind since Eugene Monroe in 2009. That trend continues this year.
Werner is not the best pass rusher in the draft, nor the best defensive lineman for that matter, but he has a high ceiling and can grow with the Jaguars.
This will be their pick unless Damontre Moore absolutely blows them away at the combine, and even then, Werner seems to be the clear choice.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Raiders need help on the defensive front big time, so it's a good thing this draft is built for that. They have their pick of a slew of pass rushers and run stoppers, so who would be the best fit, as hard as it may be to pick a first-rounder for the Raiders?
They have a first cornerback in Michael Huff, so Dee Milliner is out. since they're a 4-3, that knocks out players like Damontre Moore and Sheldon Richardson. That leaves either Star Lotulelei or Jarvis Jones as the likely pick.
As much as the Raiders like speed, they need someone alongside Tommy Kelly to at least start addressing the front seven, and Lotulelei will have no trouble fitting in.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Eagles could either have an easy choice or a very difficult one in the draft. Should Kansas city take a quarterback, then they will spend about three seconds discussing their pick before selecting Luke Joeckel.
Should the Chiefs take him, however, the choice is far tougher. Now that they re-signed Michael Vick, a QB is out with this pick. If they want to add more offense, then trading down here would not be a shock, especially if they wanted Eric Fisher for the blind side.
Barring trades and wants, though, Jarvis Jones seems to be the best fit, as he can be explosive and get to the quarterback. Should he have a good combine, I can see Chip Kelly taking someone he knows and selecting Dion Jordan as well.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
We go from two very tough picks to an obvious one. The Detroit Lions have a decent front seven, but the secondary needs a leader big time, and despite letting Kyle Vanden Bosch go, cornerback is still a much stronger need.
Dee Milliner is the one cornerback in the draft with shutdown capabilities. He's honed his craft in the SEC, and he would easily be a Day One starter.
Should he be taken or if they add a corner in free agency, Damontre Moore or Barkevious Mingo is likely here since they also could use some pass-rushing help.
6. Cleveland Browns: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Presuming Milliner is off the board, the Browns have the easy task of picking a pass rusher in the top six. Even limiting it to 3-4 OLBs gives them a great variety to pick from here.
Barkevious Mingo has been a popular pick here, and my personal favorite is Dion Jordan due to both his versatility and motor.
That being said, if Damontre Moore falls to sixth, then it would be difficult for the Browns to pass on him just based on his ability, even if he is a better fit in a 4-3 DE scheme.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
All right, now we get to a bit of a quarterback run. The Arizona Cardinals badly need a franchise QB, and even the top batch in a weak class is better than what they have now.
Geno Smith's the best one available, and more importantly, he is a QB who I could see hooking up well with Larry Fitzgerald. Eric Fisher is a possibility here too, but I don't think the Cardinals have a choice here, even though no QB is really worth a first-round pick.
Even if Kevin Kolb were to bounce back and put together a great year, Smith is still miles better than John Skelton or Ryan Lindley.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Inside linebacker is the popular choice for Buffalo in this spot, but it's a weak draft for that position, and any would be far too much of a reach. Buffalo has to decide if any quarterbacks are better than Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The fact that it's a new regime tells me they'll select a quarterback, and on draft day, they'll probably trade down and select Ryan Nassib since new coach Doug Marrone knows him.
Nassib's not going eighth overall though, and I could also see them taking Matt Barkley. I'm not high on him, but he has a rather high floor compared to other quarterbacks in this year's draft class.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The New York Jets are a disaster, and even three Top 10 picks wouldn't be enough to start fixing things up.
In this draft, grabbing a pass rusher is as good a choice as any, and knowing them, they'll grab the flashy guy who doesn't have the track record yet, making it a high-risk high-reward.
Unless another team grabs him first, Mingo seems like an obvious choice for New York, especially with the old outside linebackers they have, as well their quarterback situation being something not even a Top 10 pick can fix.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The Titans could use some help on both sides of the trenches, and they have plenty of options to choose from at No. 10, no matter who the first nine teams pick.
Michael Roos has been a good blind-side tackle, so Eric Fisher's out. Both Chance Warmack and Dion Jordan would make excellent picks here, as would fast riser Sharrif Floyd.
Warmack would not only be able to solidify the line further, but that would make Jake Locker and Chris Johnson better, something the Titans need in 2013 and beyond.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
If Eric Fisher actually falls this far and the Chargers have the ability to get him, then this is the easiest selection of the first round.
The Chargers' offensive line is just bad, and it's no wonder that a team with some solid talent seems to be unable to get it going when they have players in the trenches who can't make plays.
Fisher would be a massive improvement to the line and would get the Chargers back on the right track. Then again, Lane Johnson and Jonathan Cooper would be, too; the Chargers just need to take the best offensive lineman available.
12. Miami Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The big thing that Miami needs is a top-tier wide receiver. In most drafts, this would be a perfect spot for one, but there is no wideout worth a top 20 pick in this draft.
I like Kenny Vaccaro here personally, and he has risen up draft boards quickly enough that he's a good value pick here.
However, Cordarrelle Patterson is the best wideout on the board, surpassing Keenan Allen, and I can't see the Dolphins passing one up.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Buccaneers have a tough choice based on what they need. Pass rushing is a need stat-wise, but that may remedy itself with Adrian Clayborn's return.
I'm not buying the mocks that have Xavier Rhodes here at all. After Milliner, the cornerback class is solid for Day 2, but no one stands out as a top 15 pick, certainly not Rhodes. Still, it's not impossible for the Bucs to reach.
Dion Jordan is versatile enough that the Bucs can use him even if the front seven step up and Michael Bennett continues to produce, even if it's not a perfect fit. Alec Ogletree is not out of the question either to boost the linebacker group.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Here's where the second batch of defensive linemen should start coming off the board, if it didn't start already with Tampa Bay, based on the needs of the next few teams.
Their pass-rushing ends are much better than they are given credit for, with Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson both having double-digit sack totals. The interior could use some work, though, and Sharrif Floyd and Sheldon Richardson would both fit perfectly.
Between the two, Richardson fits the 4-3 a bit more and Floyd the 3-4, and since Carolina is the former, Richardson would make the better selection here unless Floyd makes as strong an impact on the Panthers as he has on writers of late.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Even with the shift to a 3-4, the Saints need help on the defensive line, and two names stand out here in Sharrif Floyd, the rising nose tackle, and Ezekiel Ansah, the versatile athlete.
Between the two, Ansah will need some more work, while Floyd is more likely to contribute immediately, making this pick an easier one than in might seem, especially since they don't have a second-round pick and can't afford to experiment with this one.
16. St. Louis Rams: Keenan Allen, WR, California
The question for the Rams is not if they'll draft a wide receiver, but which of their first-round picks they'll use to draft one. They need both a wideout and improvements to the offensive line.
Given that several first-round pieces remain on the offensive line at this point while the wideouts are slim, I can see the Rams fixing the skill position first and grabbing Keenan Allen.
He could be available with the 22nd pick, but the gap after Allen at WR is rather large, so why risk it?
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
This is where it gets interesting. The Steelers are going to use this on the best available defensive player to inject some youth into it, but who knows who will go there.
When Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and the four NFL.com guys have six different players going for a team, then that says a lot. I have a gut feeling that they'll surprise everyone and skip a lineman, taking Kenny Vaccaro.
Vaccaro has shot up draft boards and could be a Top 10 guy. They don't have an immediate need at safety, but Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are on the wrong side of 30. If any of the top-tier DL slip to here, though, that's whom Pittsburgh will take.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The Cowboys could use a true 4-3 defensive end, but there aren't too many of those left: most defensive linemen are interior ones for the first round at this point.
Nonetheless, one sticks out, and that is Ezekiel Ansah. He's raw, but he's a force and could make the front seven that much better when paired with DeMarcus Ware.
Besides, the Cowboys have been playing against Jason Pierre-Paul twice a year; they'll want one of their own.
19. New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
The New York Giants have a few needs, but none that are absolutely necessary for them, and if they see a great athlete available with the 19th pick, they're going to take that player.
This is what they'll do should Alec Ogletree be on the board. He's a great athlete and, in terms of raw talent, has now established himself as the best interior linebacker. He would be an immediate upgrade over Chase Blackburn.
20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
I can understand why the Chicago Bears might not take a left tackle with their first-round pick, as Chris Williams failed, as did Gabe Carimi, who I figured would be a steal for the Bears two years ago (can't get them all right).
The third time is the charm, though, and with Ogletree taken a pick before this one, Johnson seems like the sensible option.
They need to protect Cutler to have any shot at competing in the NFC North, and Johnson's been a fast riser who will probably be available anyway when the Bears pick if the chips fall right.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
This is a pick that is a head-scratcher for many reading I'm sure. After all, the Bengals have Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga, and they have a hole in the secondary that could certainly be addressed here.
Well, it's unlikely Maualuga will remain a Bengal, since he's an unrestricted free agent. Te'o would fill that hole well.
Admittedly, there are better picks the Bengals could make here, but Te'o's a guy who can rush the passer while also dropping into coverage, and the Bengals would look past his National Championship performance and look at the positives here.
22. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Looks like the Rams were lucky enough to get the last of the first-round offensive-line batch after all while still getting their wideout. Sure, it's a guard instead of a tackle, but it's a quality one in Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper could be a Day One starter on the Rams line and help out big time. He made the North Carolina rushing attack a powerful one, and anything that can make Steven Jackson last longer is no bad thing.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
There's no question that the Vikings could use wide-receiver help, but with both Allen and Patterson off the board, it would be a huge reach to pick one up now.
As a result, the Vikings will grab someone on defense, most likely cornerback to pair up with Antoine Winfield or Josh Robinson, who looks promising so far. They have several options here, but which one works?
I'm slightly higher than Johnthan Banks than I am on Xavier Rhodes, Desmond Trufant or Blidi Wreh-Wilson, so for that sole reason, he's going here.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
I could see the Colts going a lot of different directions with this pick, and a lot of it will likely be based directly on who the previous few teams draft with their own picks.
Just going on the available talent and the need for an extra lineman, Sylvester Williams seems to be a solid fit. He's a great run stopper, and while he won't get many sacks, he'll relieve some pressure for the front seven.
25. Seattle Seahawks: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Seahawks are one of the few teams that I struggle to figure out in the draft, but they make the playoffs despite their first-round picks, so I can't exactly argue against it.
They could use a body to fill up space, and while Johnathan Hankins is the top guy on the board, I have a gut feeling that they'll go with John Jenkins out of Georgia instead, who has a similar skill set, yet is more solidly built.
26. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
As was the case two drafts ago, no running back is first-round quality, though the guy from Alabama is borderline as an end-of-the-round guy.
Lacy is a solid running back who would be a nice addition to a team that could use a 1,000-yard rusher to make their offense even more dynamic.
I don't like this pick personally, as an extra lineman would suit them better, but I could see the Packers going for it and adding him.
27. Houston Texans: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
There aren't any wideouts left that are first-round quality, but the Texans need a field-stretching wideout to go alongside Andre Johnson, and they need it now.
Both Tavon Austin and Quinton Patton fit the bill, and I have a gut feeling Patton's stock will rise to this level post-combine.
In the meantime, Austin has proven he can be a playmaker in the West Virginia offense, and it should be able to translate to Houston.
28. Denver Broncos: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Denver Broncos don't have too many gaps to fill, but one of them is an interior lineman to help stop the run. That's precisely what Kawann Short brings to the table.
Short's not the most consistent defender out there, but there's no question that he has first-round quality. Justin Bannan's getting up in years, so a young guy stepping in should beef up that defense.
29. New England Patriots: Matt Elam, S, Florida
At long as the Patriots get someone on defense, they can't really go wrong. A slot receiver like Tavon Austin would be nice, but there's no reason to use a first-round pick on that given the Patriots' offensive weapons.
Matt Elam is a versatile safety who's a value pick at this point. He can further solidify the secondary with his speed and athleticism. He's the type of safety that can be used for a lot of different schemes, and that would certainly appeal to Bill Belichick.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Everyone has the Falcons picking a tight end here, which I get since Tony Gonzalez is retiring. However, watching them this year, I was shocked at how such a good team had such a nonexistent pass rush.
I considered putting Sam Montgomery here, but he's a run stopper and the Falcons need a pass rusher. The only first-round talent player left is Alex Okafor, who put up double-digit sack numbers, so the Falcons may finally have two players who can sack the quarterback.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The only needs San Francisco really has are wide receiver and nose tackle. Both WR Quinton Patton and NT Johnathan Hankins feel like great fits here, and it was tough picking just one.
The 49ers still have Michael Crabtree and can get a second wideout later on. They need someone to take up space on the defensive line, something Hankins can do with ease. Jesse Williams is a possibility too, but Hankins is more durable.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter: LB, LSU
Ray Lewis is now retired, and the Ravens need someone to fill that spot on the defense. There's a first-round talent who is an aggressive hitter available for the Ravens at the end of the first round.
Kevin Minter seems to be an ideal fit, and he would help the Ravens minimize the loss of Lewis.