With the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine behind us and a rash of individual workouts on the way, it finally feels like the Kansas City Chiefs are officially on the clock.
As the combine oftentimes does, it gave us a pretty good indication on which way the Chiefs and plenty of other teams are leaning early in the process. There are obviously smokescreens and false rumors bandied about up until the final moments in April, but as we learn more things about these teams the picture gets clearer.
As such, things like mock drafts become easier as time goes by. Every NFL team has its stable of coaches in place now, giving our prognostications a pretty strong sense of the schematic changes and shifts teams will be making.
It doesn't mean anything is a lock—we're still one paradigm-shifting trade away from the whole ship sinking—but we can finally evaluate the first round with some level of comfort.
With that in mind, here is a look at the latest mock draft, where we will highlight the best studs and sleepers in the first round. Italics denote "studs" while underlines denote "sleepers."
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
While I've been steadfast in saying the Chiefs would take Geno Smith with the first pick, general manager John Dorsey put that belief to rest. Kansas City's draft board doesn't have any of the quarterbacks with a first-round grade in this year's draft, which pretty much rules out taking one here.
In addition, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported on Twitter that the Chiefs do indeed have a trade in place for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.
That could make Luke Joeckel one very lucky man. Very few draft pundits have the Texas A&M product outside of their top five overall players, and he may well be the best offensive line prospect since Joe Thomas.
An absolute mauler who stands a shade under 6'6", Joeckel is built like a prototypical blindside protector, and his performance with the Aggies more than backs that up. He was Johnny Manziel's most pivotal teammate throughout the season in both facets of the offense and projects as an instant starter at the next level.
With incumbent starting tackle Branden Albert hitting free agency this offseason, the Chiefs should consider trading him in for a newer (and likely better) model.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
With Joeckel off the board, the Chiefs make Jacksonville's decision pretty darned easy. The Jaguars finished the 2012 regular season last in the NFL with 20 sacks, a figure .5 fewer than Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had himself.
Though Jason Babin came over at midseason and helped improve Jacksonville's penetration a bit, he's still an aging veteran whose form took a noticeable dive last year.
Damontre Moore is a dynamic pass-rusher with a motor that almost never stops. He rarely gives up on plays, and game tape shows him making plenty of tackles on plays not even run to his side of the field.
Though his combine performance indicates there is still some work to do, Moore will be a good start to a defensive rebuild in Jacksonville.
3. Oakland Raiders: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Like Jacksonville, Oakland is in desperate need of an upgrade on the defensive line. The Raiders were the second-worst pass-rushing team in the league, and Richard Seymour is likely on his way out of town.
That means this pick will come down to Werner and Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. While Lotulelei is a more traditional replacement for Seymour, Werner's versatility ultimately gets him the nod here for now.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
If Joeckel is off the board as he is in this scenario, the Eagles are a team that screams trade back. They have plenty of needs that could be addressed at No. 4, but the most glaring comes at tackle. And while Eric Fisher is a nice young prospect, he's not anywhere close to having fourth overall value.
On the other hand, if Chip Kelly decides to stay at this spot, look for Lotulelei to come off the board. He's a prototypical mauler on the inside, a guy who should be a starting nose tackle for the next decade. The emergence of a possible heart problem leaves Lotulelei's stock up in the air a bit, but his talent is undeniable.
With the Eagles switching over to a 3-4 defense in 2013, they could do a whole lot worse than finding their centerpiece with this pick.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Milliner's shoulder surgery could be a red flag for some teams, but those squads are nowhere near as desperate for secondary help as the Lions. They ranked 14th in passing yards allowed, but were a below-average secondary by both Football Outsiders' and Pro Football Focus' advanced measurements.
Milliner is by far the top corner in this class and a guy who is polished enough to start Week 1. That's more than good enough for a team that has a ton of free-agent issues awaiting them this offseason.
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
I've had Jones in this spot for months, but the Browns' hiring of Ray Horton as their defensive coordinator sealed the deal. Horton ran a 3-4 defense in his time with the Arizona Cardinals, and while he's been non-committal about sticking with that in Cleveland, it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
That means if he lasts to No. 6 Jarvis Jones will be going from the Bulldogs to the Dog Pound. Arguably the best edge-rusher in this class, Jones is an instant starter in 3-4 sets. His initial burst off the ball is already at an elite NFL level, and he has an array of moves that flustered SEC offensive tackles his entire collegiate career.
Cleveland is also in need of a face-of-the-franchise type sacks artist. Jabaal Sheard led the team last season with just seven sacks, and the Browns haven't had a player get double-digit sacks since Kamerion Wimbley in 2006.
Jones is still very much a work in progress as a run defender and does come with some health risk, but his value is way too good to pass up here.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Many still view Smith as a massive risk, but the Cardinals would be giddy to have him fall to No. 7. Their untenable quarterback situation was poked fun at by NFL fans across the world last season, and management cannot in good faith try to sell Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley to fans again.
Smith isn't a perfect prospect, but he has enough potential that some are still touting his praises as a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick.
8. Buffalo Bills: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
A character question-mark heading into the 2013 draft process, Ogletree has not done himself any favors. He was arrested for DUI on Feb. 17, which fits in rather disconcertingly with his failed drug test and theft charge while at Georgia.
The old saying goes, "Once bitten, twice shy," but what happens when a young man gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar a third time?
Well, the Bills could find that it proves to be a charm. For all of his off-the-field problems, Ogletree was the best linebacker on a team that included Jarvis Jones last season. He averaged 11.2 tackles per game, only going below double digits twice, and had a fine showing overall at the combine.
With teams emphasizing versatility more than ever at the linebacker spot, Ogletree is a guy who could play the outside in a 4-3 or either inside spot in a 3-4 scheme. If Ogletree is able to put his past behind him, the Bills may stumble upon one of the first round's best values.
9. New York Jets: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Is it still fair to call Patterson a sleeper after his solid performance at the scouting combine? I think so, especially considering there is the very distinct possibility he could be the draft's best offensive player.
Remember, Patterson is still a guy who spent exactly one year in college as a second receiving option. He had just 46 receptions for 778 yards and five touchdowns, as Justin Hunter outshone him just about every Saturday.
Nonetheless, Patterson's physical gifts are inescapable. He's an exceedingly versatile talent, gifted with the ability to not only out-leap and outrun opposing defenders, but also take carries out of the backfield.
For a team with a complete dearth of skill-position talent, Patterson is exactly the type of versatile prospect the Jets need.
10. Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
To put it simply, players with Mingo's potential just do not drop out of the top 10. He's one of the more athletic defensive end prospects in recent draft history and now has the titillating combine numbers to prove it.
Tennessee lacks a playmaker like Mingo on its defensive line (he can also play outside linebacker in a pinch), so while there is some bust potential here, the Les Miles protege is a pretty strong pick.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Much has been made about the descent of Philip Rivers from the "elite" quarterback conversation. His play has dipped precipitously over the past two seasons, almost to the point where some have suggested a change of scenery was in order.
Those pundits are forgetting one thing: The Chargers have done an abhorrent job of protecting their franchise signal-caller the past couple years. Only Michael Vick and Russell Wilson were pressured on more dropbacks than Rivers last season, per Pro Football Focus, and San Diego's line isn't going to get better without sweeping changes.
That starts with Fisher. He was a borderline first-rounder when the draft proceedings started, but has slowly creeped up into a lock for a top-half selection.
12. Miami Dolphins: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The Dolphins may have drafted their franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, but they seemingly forgot last season that he, you know, needs people to throw the ball to. Miami's top two receivers combined for just two touchdowns, as finishing drives through the air emerged as a problem all year long.
With nine touchdowns and over 1,000 yards receiving last season, Hunter is a pretty solid prospect who could give Tannehill his first real red-zone threat.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The Bucs need plenty of help in just about every facet of pass defense after ranking dead last in 2012, so it's possible that they reach a little for the top cornerback available.
But Montgomery is a far safer pick, a versatile player who can help solve Tampa's woes on the defensive line and help create pass-rushing pressure. He should be an immediate asset for the Bucs in his rookie year.
14. Carolina Panthers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Panthers struck gold last season in this pick range with Luke Kuechly last year and may well do the same with Hankins this April.
Heading into the draft process, Hankins was getting some buzz as a top-five possibility. That has subsided as teams have understandably wondered about his ability to rush the passer. It's a valid concern that the Panthers likely have as well, but their main priority needs to be clogging the middle of the defense.
Kuechly was put in untenable positions by Carolina's porous defensive line last season, and Hankins is big and strong enough to draw double-teams in run situations.
15. New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
No one is quite sure whether Jordan will play defensive end or outside linebacker at the next level, but he's an athletic freak whose trajectory will only point upward once he adds some bulk. The Saints are going to undertake a massive defensive overhaul this offseason, so expect them to stick pretty hard to that side of the ball.
16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
You can't walk five seconds with NFL scouts without them singing the praises of Warmack. He's quite possibly the best player in this class and a near-guarantee to be starting Week 1 barring an injury.
The holes in his game are minuscule and it would be a shocker to see him not become a perennial Pro Bowler. Warmack's only "problem" is that he plays a position (offensive guard) that goes consistently undervalued on draft day.
That he's going inside the top half of the first round in just about every mock you see should be a strong indicator of just how strongly scouts feel about Warmack.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ezekiel Ansah DE/OLB, BYU
You'll hear the word "project" thrown around when pundits are talking about Ansah—and for good reason. He's an absolute physical menace, gifted with the type of strength and speed that makes him a prototypical five-technique or rush linebacker at the next level.
With the Steelers' core of linebackers aging and showing signs of wear in 2012, Ansah could be a building block for the next generation.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
With only a select few roster weaknesses staring them in the face, the Cowboys will get to address arguably the biggest (defensive tackle) at No. 18. Floyd's value varies pretty strongly based on whom you're talking to, but Dallas would be foolish to pass on him this late in the draft.
19. New York Giants: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
While it would be a bit of a reach for the Buccaneers at pick No. 13, Banks seems to fall right into place six slots later. The Giants secondary cratered last season, and their offense's descent in the second half made those woes against the pass even more critical.
Banks is at his best in man-to-man coverage and will certainly need some work to learn New York's zone schemes. Still, outside of investing heavily on the free-agent market, the Giants aren't going to do better than the former Mississippi State star.
20. Chicago Bears: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Jay Cutler has seemingly gotten hit on every drop back he's made since arriving in Chicago. Lane Johnson is the best offensive tackle prospect left on the board.
Sometimes it's that simple, folks.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
The Notre Dame standout did struggle in the national championship game versus Alabama, but so did plenty of his teammates. It was more of an overall drubbing than the failure of one player.
After his poor combine performance, the linebacker's stock took another hit. Te'o, though still the most consistent interior linebacker in this draft, is now considered a borderline first-rounder.
As the Bengals look into their questionable linebacker situation, he becomes an awfully attractive option at No. 21.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
After getting someone to protect Sam Bradford with their first selection, the Rams grab the best receiver on the board here. Allen isn't likely to emerge as a superstar at the next level due to his mediocre top-end speed, but he does just about everything else at an elite level.
Considering what Bradford had on the outside last season, Allen would be a more than welcomed addition to the fold.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Percy Harvin situation continues to linger in Minnesota, and until that's solved, the Vikings are in a precarious position. Christian Ponder's efficiency immediately went south after Harvin went down with an injury last year, and Minnesota cannot count on a 2,000-yard season from Adrian Peterson every year.
Austin may never reach Harvin's level, but he's good insurance. In other words, Austin is the Toyota Camry you buy just in case your Mercedes gets stolen and you accidentally allowed your insurance to lapse.
24. Indianapolis Colts: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Colts finished the 2012 regular season dead last against the run in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric and have plenty of holes that need to be plugged defensively. Jenkins isn't much of a versatile prospect, but he's one of the strongest players in the class and could be a great two-down lineman.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Simply put, Williams is a victim of his draft class. If this were any other season, his all-around excellence would likely land him a virtual lock as a top-10 selection. But with so many elite prospects on the defensive line this year, the North Carolina product has gone somewhat underappreciated.
Something tells me the Seahawks won't mind here.
26. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Packers may have feigned excitement about the emergence of DuJuan Harris down the stretch, but let's be real. He was mostly a warm body whose uptick in play shifted far more toward a fluke than an actual ascent.
On the other hand, Lacy was an underrated back every season at Alabama and finally got to shine last season. Combining with T.J. Yeldon to form the best duo in the nation, the Crimson Tide scampered over defenses the entire season en route to a national championship.
Lacy needs some work, particularly in the passing game. However, he's easily the best pure running back in this draft, and Aaron Rodgers has never really been enamored with check-downs to running backs to begin with.
Offensive tackle is obviously a bigger need here, but D.J. Fluker doesn't project as a blindside pass-protector—and certainly not one you can reasonably take in the first round. With his teammate on the board at a different need position, the Packers would be foolish to pass on this opportunity.
27. Houston Texans: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Andre Johnson has been on an island since Kevin Walter's short prime. And while his utterly brilliant 2012 season may fool some into thinking he can defeat Father Time, Johnson isn't getting any younger. He will turn 32 years old in July and won't be able to shoulder the sole burden in the Texans' passing game for much longer.
Woods won't be a No. 1 at the next level, but he excelled as a secondary option last season at USC and has become a bit underappreciated.
28. Denver Broncos: Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
When your team's playoff hopes end because Knowshon Moreno was injured, then you probably need to do something at the running back position. Willis McGahee will likely be back in 2013, but at 32 years old, he's a backup. Nothing more.
Bernard is a complete package. Both a great runner and brilliant pass-catcher out of the backfield, Bernard is built in the Matt Forte or Ray Rice mold and could be the best back Peyton Manning has had in nearly a decade.
29. New England Patriots: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
This scenario plays out almost perfectly for the Patriots. Not only do they land a player at a huge need position, but he also happens to be the best overall prospect at this juncture.
Something tells me that if Vaccaro winds up dropping this far, though, a team will trade up for his services.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Tony Gonzalez may have one last ride in his system, but the Falcons cannot hinge their success to his wagon for much longer. Taking Ertz here is a luxury pick, but Atlanta would be hard-pressed to find a better heir apparent to the greatest tight end in NFL history.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Wide receiver and defensive line are the only two areas where the 49ers need help, and it seems unlikely that Jim Harbaugh is willing to risk taking another A.J. Jenkins. Richardson is a great value in this spot, and his maturity would skyrocket by spending his days playing alongside consummate professional Justin Smith.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Has anyone heard that the Ravens had an inside linebacker retire this offseason? Oh, well, it happened. His name was Ray Lewis and he was a pretty decent player for the Ravens franchise during his career.
And Minter? Baltimore should hope that he's one-third as good as his predecessor.
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