NFL Mock Draft 2013: Which College Studs Are Sure Things in the First Round?
There are many things to look for in an NFL draft prospect, but college success goes a long way.
Being a productive college football player does not necessarily mean that a player will be a good pro. Heisman finalist Collin Klein is unlikely to be taken until the last day of the draft if he selected at all.
However, there are still a number of men who will parlay success with their schools into a very successful NFL career.
There are few "sure-things" in the draft, but the emphasized players in this mock will almost certainly be successful.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Geno Smith had 42 touchdowns and only six interceptions this year. While this touchdown-to-interception ratio will be tougher to obtain in the NFL, the Chiefs need a quarterback with this type of efficiency.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Bjoern Werner might be a better pass-rusher, but Damontre Moore is a better all-around player from the defensive end position. For a team that ranked No. 30 in total defense, Moore would be a better fit.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Raiders need more consistency on the defensive line, and Star Lotulelei can provide it. He can clog the middle of the field and he has enough athleticism to get into the backfield and break up plays.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
There is no safer pick in the 2013 draft class than Luke Joeckel.
The offensive tackle was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press this season as the blindside blocker for Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.
In addition, he has the size, strength and technique necessary to continue his level of play in the NFL.
Philadelphia had one of the worst offensive lines in football last season. Joeckel will solidify the line without any risk.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
With Kyle Vanden Bosch no longer with the team, the Lions need to draft a defensive end to fill his spot. Fortunately, there are plenty of those available in this class. Bjoern Werner has the skill to be a great pass-rusher for a long time.
Who will be the best pass-rusher in the NFL?
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jarvis Jones has been the best pass-rusher in college football for a few years. Finally, he will take his talents to the NFL and to a team that needs help at outside linebacker.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Arizona allowed the most sacks in the NFL last season. Before drafting a new quarterback, the Cardinals need to see what they have with a solid left tackle like Eric Fisher.
8. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Among the quarterbacks available in this draft, Tyler Wilson has the best combination of arm strength, accuracy and production. Every quarterback in the class comes with risk, but Wilson would be the best selection.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Barkevious Mingo is a force on the outside edge, regardless of whether or not he reaches the quarterback. The Jets need this type of player to fix a defense that has lost its way over the past couple of years.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The offensive line for the Tennessee Titans was a mess last season, and that is something that must be solidified immediately.
While the No. 10 pick is usually high for a guard prospect, Chance Warmack is the exception.
Warmack was a major reason for Alabama's offensive success last season, as he helped pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers. He is strong enough to step into a starting lineup right away and handle NFL defensive tackles.
Teams should only draft interior linemen in the first round if they are sure about the prospect. Warmack is safe enough to take with a Top 10 pick.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Although Philip Rivers struggled all season in 2012, his lack of time to throw the ball was a big reason. Lane Johnson is very raw for the position, but he has a high ceiling as a solid left tackle.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Miami has been linked to a few free agent wide receivers, but drafting Keenan Allen would give the Dolphins an elite talent at the position for years to come.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
It is rare that a cornerback can be considered a "safe" selection. More times than not, the position is defined by its inconsistency.
However, Dee Milliner does not fit into that category. He has great size and athleticism that will allow him to stay with the bigger receivers in the NFL. He also utilizes a good amount of speed in coverage to make him a true shut-down type of player.
Tampa Bay had the worst pass defense in the league because the cornerbacks could not cover anyone. Milliner would at least fix that problem a little bit.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
If Cam Newton plays like he did at the end of the season, the offense will be fine. That means that the focus in the draft should be on defense, and Sheldon Richardson would fill a big hole in the middle of the defensive line.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Sharrif Floyd has great versatility that will allow him to play anywhere on a defensive line. For a Saints team that struggled at pretty much everywhere on the defensive side of the ball, this would be a good fit.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
St. Louis was No. 19 in rushing last season and only two teams had fewer rushing touchdowns. You can blame part of it on the decline of Steven Jackson, but the weak interior offensive line played a bigger role. Jonathan Cooper will help in this area.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ezekiel Ansah might be the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in the draft. He has the tools to be an elite player, but he has not turned that into production. The Steelers will be a good place for him to learn.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Although Dallas needs help on the offensive line, there are not many good options available. This leaves Dion Jordan, a very talented defensive end prospect that can be very impressive if he puts on more weight.
19. New York Giants: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Johnthan Banks is the second-best cornerback in the draft. He will be needed to improve a secondary that could not cover anyone last season.
20. Chicago Bears: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Like the Cowboys, this is a spot where the Bears would like to draft an offensive lineman. Unfortunately, it does not make sense to reach for a spot player that might not end up helping the team.
The Bears got very little receiving production out of anyone not named Brandon Marshall last year, but Zach Ertz could change that.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, S, Florida
With a solid safety, Cincinnati could end up with one of the best defenses in the AFC. Matt Elam is the best available and would be a solid pick.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
The Rams were pretty good defensively last season, but another linebacker would make a huge difference.
Alec Ogletree is as solid as they come at this position. Last season, he led Georgia with 111 tackles despite only playing 10 games.
As a former safety, he has incredible closing speed and is very impressive in coverage. Still, he can tackle as well as any linebacker in the class.
Ogletree can play at any spot in the linebacking corps and is almost certain to be able to finish with more than 100 tackles in most years of his career.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Even if Percy Harvin stays with the team next season, the Vikings would then only have two players that scare defenses on the offensive side of the ball. Cordarrelle Patterson would provide another dimension at receiver.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Colts roster does not look like a team that went 11-5 this season. There are a lot of needs, and Xavier Rhodes fills one big one at cornerback.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Even with the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL, there are still ways to improve on that side of the football. Johnathan Hankins can be a solid defensive tackle that takes on blockers and frees up space for the rest of the team to make plays.
26. Green Bay Packers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
After releasing Charles Woodson, the Packers need help in the secondary to play with an improving defensive front. Kenny Vaccaro is versatile enough to play either free or strong safety and will also be able to help in nickel packages.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Houston prides itself on balance, but No. 2 receiver Kevin Walter had less than one-third of the yards of Andre Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins is the best deep-threat in the draft and will make the Texans an incredibly dangerous offensive team.
28. Denver Broncos: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
John Jenkins can use all of his 360-pound body to clog up the middle of the field and make the opposing run game virtually non-existent. This would help the Broncos, who allowed Ray Rice to rush for 131 yards in the playoff loss.
29. New England Patriots: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Even with solid pass-rushers Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, the Patriots were unable to put enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Sam Montgomery is the best available at a deep position in this class and should contribute a lot next season.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
There are a few talented running backs in this draft, but Giovani Bernard is the best of the bunch.
The North Carolina star has the perfect mix of strength to run inside and top speed to break off big runs on the outside. In addition, he excels as both a receiver and returner, both of which make him more valuable to an NFL team.
While Bernard does not have as high of a ceiling as Trent Richardson did in last year's draft, his ability to produce in many ways makes him a safe pick in the first round.
Atlanta needs more production from the running game, and will be able to do that as quickly as next season.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
San Francisco is fortunate that arguably the deepest position in the draft is also a position of need. Jesse Williams will provide plenty of depth on the defensive line and be the future replacement of an aging group of players.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Manti Te'o has his problems, but he can cover the run and the pass as well as anyone else at his position. The Raven's defensive struggles during the season were masked in the playoffs. However, they will return next season unless they get a player like Te'o in the draft.
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