2013 NFL Mock Draft: Risky Players Teams Will Gamble On in 1st Round

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IFebruary 15, 2013

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Barkevious Mingo #49 of the LSU Tigers celebrates a tackle for a loss of yards against the North Texas Mean Green at Tiger Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  LSU would win 41-14.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Barkevious Mingo is one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, but it's all but certain one team will gamble on him in Round 1. 

Mingo is far from the only first-round prospect who will be selected despite a certain amount of risk, though. 

The Kansas City Chiefs took a gamble on Dontari Poe—one of last year's top workout warriors at the NFL Scouting Combine—drafting him No. 11 overall, but it appears he may not pan out. 

The Seattle Seahawks did exactly the same thing taking Bruce Irvin with the No. 15 overall pick, and he turned out to be a highly effective player as a rookie. 

Big risks can lead to great rewards, but they can also sink your battleship. Here are the riskiest players likely to be gambled on in Round 1 in April.

Note: Risky players teams will gamble on will be highlighted like THIS*

1. Kansas City Chiefs—QB Geno Smith, West Virginia*

Any time you take a quarterback at the top of the draft, it carries a certain amount of risk. 

Smith is much more of a risk than Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were last year, and if the Chiefs do decide to draft this young man, there's no doubt they'll do it with fingers crossed.

Smith has an NFL-caliber arm, and he possesses good mechanics. He is athletic and can make plays inside and outside the pocket, but he isn't nearly as fast as RG3.

His biggest weaknesses are his lack of accuracy on mid-to-long-range passes and his extremely raw abilities as a progression passer.

He's a risk, but if you need a quarterback, he's a risk worth taking.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

Jacksonville suffered through a miserable season on both sides of the ball last year, and the team has many needs—one of which is a pass-rusher. Werner is a rock-steady player on the edge who will be able to step in and start immediately.

3. Oakland Raiders—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah

The Raiders are essentially rebuilding the roster from the ground up, and as we know, football games are won and lost in the trenches. Lotulelei will give Oakland a much-needed boost against the run on defense and will be a cornerstone player for the team for years to come.

4. Philadelphia Eagles—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

Who knows if Jason Peters will be the same player he once was? After rupturing his right Achilles for the second time, he may or may not be able to play at a high level in 2013. Joeckel is an athletic, mobile offensive tackle who fits the mold as a left tackle in Chip Kelly's offense to perfection.

5. Detroit Lions—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

Riley Reiff was taken in Round 1 last year so, many Lions fans might be wondering why Detroit would consider taking another offensive tackle in Round 1 this year. The answer is simple: Reiff will be much better on the right side, and on a team that depends on its passing game as much as the Lions do, you can't have too many good offensive linemen.

6. Cleveland Browns—OLB/DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

Cleveland brought in Ray Horton to coordinate its defense in 2013, and he'll be installing the same 3-4 scheme that brought him success with the Arizona Cardinals. The Browns need pass-rushers to make the scheme work, and Moore fits the bill.

7. Arizona Cardinals—QB Mike Glennon, North Carolina State*

It's no secret that the quarterback situation in Arizona is one of the worst in the NFL. Four different players threw passes for the Cardinals last year, throwing a combined 11 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. 

This year's class of quarterbacks is not strong, but given the way teams reach for quarterbacks every single year, nobody will be shocked to see Arizona reach for Glennon in Round 1 this year.

Glennon possesses a strong arm, and when his feet are set and he isn't under any pressure, he can deliver passes with accuracy to any part of the field. He's really mechanically flawed, though, and he'll need to be broken down and built back up from the ground up.

Bruce Arians has a history of getting the most out of his quarterbacks, though, and he may be convinced that Glennon has the tools to become a franchise signal-caller in the NFL. 

8. Buffalo Bills—QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Taking Wilson here feels a bit like when the Miami Dolphins took Ryan Tannenill last year with the same pick. He could become a terrific quarterback, and since we know Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't going to be the man for Doug Marrone's offense, Buffalo might as well take a chance on a strong-armed kid with excellent leadership skills.

9. New York Jets—OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU*

The Jets are reportedly ready to release Calvin Pace (h/t the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta), which opens up a big need at outside linebacker.

And if playing the outside linebacker position was defined by pure athleticism, Mingo would be a lock as a Hall of Famer. 

Unfortunately, much more is required of players to dominate the edge in a 3–4 scheme than pure athleticism, which is why taking Mingo here with the No. 9 overall pick comes with a certain amount of risk.

Mingo will likely be one of the fastest of all the linemen and linebackers at the NFL Scouting Combine this month, and he has the raw tools teams look for to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He must develop more strength and a repertoire of moves, though, or he'll be a bust in the NFL.

10. Tennessee Titans—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama

If Chris Johnson is going to become a dynamic running back again, Tennessee must get him help by drafting offensive linemen. There isn't a more punishing run-blocker in this year's draft than Warmack, and he'll improve Johnson's quality of life exponentially in 2013. 

11. San Diego Chargers—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama

The Chargers could reach for an offensive tackle here, but given the state of the team's secondary drafting Milliner here is a better option. Milliner is the most pro-ready cornerback in this year's draft, and he'll drastically improve the team's secondary.

12. Miami Dolphins—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

Nothing helps a young quarterback develop more than providing dynamic receivers for him to target in the passing game. Patterson will need to get stronger and improve his route running to become a dominant No. 1 receiver, but he has all the tools to make it happen.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

Tampa Bay featured the worst passing defense in the NFL last year, despite a career resurgence by Ronde Barber as a safety and despite the fine play of rookie safety Mark Barron. A cornerback is needed, and Rhodes' ability to lock down one side of the field as a man-to-man specialist will help the Bucs become a competent pass defense in 2013.

14. Carolina Panthers—DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

The Panthers feature a formidable linebacking corps, but the defense lacks a run-plugging defensive tackle. Adding Hankins to the roster to dominate the middle would create a dominant front seven for Carolina in 2013. 

15. New Orleans Saints—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia*

Rob Ryan was brought on to be the new defensive coordinator for Sean Payton's new-look 3-4 defense this upcoming season, and the team needs pass-rushers who can play in space.

Jones led the nation with 14.5 sacks in 2012, and he is already an experienced 3-4 outside linebacker who will add an element of explosiveness to any 3-4 defense.

The reason Jones is a risky pick is that he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis back in 2009 while he was still at USC, and the school's doctors believed his condition was significant enough that they wouldn't clear him to play (h/t ESPN The Magazine's Jordan Conn). 

Granted, Jones has played the past two seasons at Georgia without any physical troubles, but NFL teams might be wary of his condition, which is why he might slip into the middle of Round 1, despite being a top-five talent.

16. St. Louis Rams—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

Sam Bradford has been beaten up like he's a red-headed stepchild since joining the Rams a few years ago, and it's about time St. Louis finally brought in some protection for its franchise quarterback. Johnson wasn't thought to be a clear-cut first-round talent until the Senior Bowl, but he certainly showed his critics up that week with a stellar performance.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers—DT John Jenkins, Georgia

Casey Hampton isn't likely to return to Pittsburgh in 2013, thanks to the team's precarious salary-cap situation (h/t CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora), so the Steelers need to draft a nose tackle to replace him. Jenkins is this year's top nose-tackle prospect, and he'd be an instant starter.

18. Dallas Cowboys—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

Tony Romo can't continue to get swarmed by defenders before he even completes his drops. The Cowboys have a couple of decent tackles, but the interior of the line is atrocious. Adding Cooper to the mix would significantly improve things in that regard.

19. New York Giants—DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU*

The Giants suffered a significant drop off in production last year in terms of sacks. The team logged 48 sacks in 2011 but only managed 33 last season, and many of the team's stalwarts are aging. 

Time to bring in fresh blood.

Ansah reminds many people of Jason Pierre-Paul. Both young men are freakish athletes with excellent speed for their size. Ansah measures in at 6 feet, 6 inches and 270 pounds, and adding him to play opposite JPP would make for an impressive duo.

The reason taking Ansah is a risk is that he's really inexperienced, with only three years of football under his belt to date. He has the physique and athleticism to become a dominant pass-rusher, but nobody should expect instant success.

20. Chicago Bears—TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler have some serious chemistry, but the Bears need more weapons on offense. Adding a dynamic pass-catching tight end like Eifert would make teams defend more of the field, allowing Cutler to find more open windows.

21. Cincinnati Bengals—ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia

Rey Maualuga is a free agent, and the Bengals would be wise to let him walk. He was a serious liability in coverage last year, and drafting Ogletree would give Cincy a linebacker who can play all three downs with skill.

22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

The Rams already have plenty of talent in the secondary, with Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan, but adding a dynamic safety like Vaccaro would really make St. Louis' secondary imposing. Adding strength to strength, the Rams would feature one of the best, young corps of defensive backs in the NFL.

23. Minnesota Vikings—WR Terrance Williams, Baylor

With or without Percy Harvin in the lineup, Minnesota needs to add a playmaking wide receiver. Williams was highly productive in college, catching 23 touchdowns the past two seasons, and he'd give the Vikings much-needed balance on offense.

24. Indianapolis Colts—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

One of the offseason priorities for Indianapolis will surely be adding pieces to its 3-4 defense. Richardson is an ideal 3-4 defensive end convert, and he'll be a boon against the run and against the pass, thanks to his ability to penetrate into the backfield to disrupt plays.

25. Seattle Seahawks—DE Dion Jordan, Oregon

Pete Carroll wants pass-rushers to add to his collection (h/t the News-Tribune's Eric Williams), and Jordan is one of the most dynamic in this year's draft class. He might very well be taken far earlier when April rolls around, but should he fall, Seattle will take him.

26. Green Bay Packers—OG/C Barrett Jones, Alabama

Aaron Rodgers was sacked more than any other quarterback in the NFL last year, and much of the pressure he faced came right up the middle. Adding a diverse interior lineman like Jones would go a long way towards fixing what ails the Packers offensive line.

27. Houston Texans—WR Keenan Allen, California

Andre Johnson can't do it all on his own, and the Texans would be well served by bringing in a talented receiver to play opposite him on Sundays. Allen was once thought to be the top receiver in this year's draft class, and he still might prove to be just that. 

28. Denver Broncos—S Eric Reid, LSU

After Rahim Moore infamously let Jacoby Jones get behind him on an obvious hail-mary play, it became increasingly clear that Denver needs to draft a safety to make up for the loss of Brian Dawkins. Reid can cover ground in center field, and he's a willing in-the-box defender against the run.

29. New England Patriots—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Even if Wes Welker is re-signed, the Patriots need to get younger at the wide receiver position. Austin is like a younger, much faster version of Welker, and he'd absolutely thrive with Tom Brady slinging him passes on a regular basis.

30. Atlanta Falcons—TE Zach Ertz, Stanford

As much as the Falcons would love to see Tony Gonzalez return for one final season, he seemed resigned to the fact that 2012 was his last year as a pro. Adding Ertz would significantly soften the blow of losing the future Hall of Famer.

31. San Francisco 49ers—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

Carlos Rogers is getting old and expensive, and the 49ers clearly could use an upgrade at the cornerback position after getting torched in the playoffs and Super Bowl XLVII. Trufant is an underrated player who has a real nose for the ball and terrific instincts as a cover corner.

32. Baltimore Ravens—ILB Kevin Minter, LSU

After losing Ray Lewis and potentially losing Dannell Ellerbe to free agency, the Ravens are in need of new blood at middle linebacker. Minter is an instinctive player who hits like a freight train, and he'd be an instant starter for Baltimore in 2013. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 


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