2013 NFL Mock Draft: Combine-Takeaway Edition
My time at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is done, and while I'm about five pounds heavier due to the excellent restaurants in downtown Indy, I've also gained a ton of information about the draft's top prospects and the teams that will draft them.
Some of the picks might surprise you, starting with No. 1 overall:
No. 1: Kansas City Chiefs
In my last mock draft, I had the Chiefs selecting Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel first overall.
But, based on everything I heard at the combine, I'm changing the pick to Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher.
Fisher is skyrocketing up draft boards, and many people I spoke to like Fisher more than Joeckel.
I've also heard that the Chiefs don't want a situation like the one at the top of the 2008 draft, when the Miami Dolphins selected Jake Long ahead of Matt Ryan. The difference here: The top quarterback in this class, Geno Smith, isn't the prospect that Ryan was coming out of college.
Expect the Chiefs to complete a deal for Alex Smith or Nick Foles and select Fisher to anchor their offensive line.
The Pick: Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher
No. 2: Jacksonville Jaguars
I had the Jaguars selecting Jarvis Jones in my first mock draft, but because of his injury history (more on this later) and what I heard in Indianapolis, I'm dropping him down.
The pick for Jacksonville now becomes LSU pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo, who impressed both on the field and with the media.
For a Jaguars team in dire need of impact players on defense, Mingo fits the bill and would feature in new coach Gus Bradley's defense.
The Pick: LSU DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo
No. 3: Oakland Raiders
The biggest riser according to everyone I spoke with in Indianapolis is Florida DT Sharrif Floyd, whom I now expect to go in the top five. He is a great fit for Dennis Allen's defense, which is in major need of rebuilding.
Personally, I believe Geno Smith should be the pick here. But, from what I'm hearing, it appears that the Raiders are going to roll with Carson Palmer at quarterback for another season.
The Pick: Florida DT Sharrif Floyd
No. 4: Philadelphia Eagles
Nothing changes here from my last mock draft. Alabama's Dee Milliner is the best corner on the board, and the Eagles are in desperate need of help in their secondary.
The Pick: Alabama CB Dee Milliner
No. 5: Detroit Lions
One player who really helped his draft stock was Oregon pass-rusher Dion Jordan, who had a ridiculously impressive workout over the weekend.
With the Lions in need of pass-rushers, Jordan makes a ton of sense here. He would be a terror on the turf at Ford Field.
The Pick: Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan
No. 6: Cleveland Browns
Based on what I've heard, Florida State DE Bjoern Werner solidified his status as a top-10 pick with his performance at the combine.
While there are differing opinions on Werner's upside, one thing is certain: The Browns need help with their pass rush, and Werner represents the best option at this point. Werner does have 3-4 experience while at Florida State, so that shouldn't scare off the Browns' new brass from making him the pick.
The Pick: Florida State DE Bjoern Werner
No. 7: Arizona Cardinals
While I expect the Arizona Cardinals to select a quarterback early in the draft, I don't believe it will be at seventh overall, especially not with Luke Joeckel still on the board.
There's no way that the Cardinals can pass on Joeckel with the value he represents at this point. Arizona must improve its offensive line, and Joeckel will be plugged in at left tackle immediately.
The Pick: Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel
No. 8: Buffalo Bills
A quarterback will almost certainly go in the top 10, and it will happen when the Bills hit the clock at pick No. 8.
Geno Smith has the skills to play in new Buffalo coach Doug Marrone's offense and will inject life into a severely jaded and angry Bills fanbase.
There's no way Buffalo can enter 2013 with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tarvaris Jackson as its quarterbacks. Smith will end up starting in Week 1.
The Pick: West Virginia QB Geno Smith
No. 9: New York Jets
While questions persist about the experience and football knowledge of BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah, his raw ability won't allow him to last past the top 10.
Make no mistake about it: The Jets must win in 2013, or Rex Ryan will lose his job. The team isn't selecting a quarterback or a project at wide receiver like Cordarrelle Patterson.
For all his huff and bravado regarding his defense, Ryan still must add pass-rushers, and Ansah is the pick here.
The Pick: BYU DE Ziggy Ansah
No. 10: Tennessee Titans
Although I did hear that some people prefer UNC's Jonathan Cooper to Warmack, I'm not buying it. I fully expect Warmack to be the first guard off the board on draft day.
The Titans must solidify their offensive line to help both Jake Locker and Chris Johnson, and Warmack will be a starter from day one.
The Pick: Alabama G Chance Warmack
No. 11: San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers' top priority in this offseason needs to be finding linemen to protect Philip Rivers, period, end of story.
Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson is a stud, and if not for the ascendance of Fisher and the ability of Joeckel, he'd likely be the first lineman selected.
He's the perfect fit for the Chargers and would protect Rivers' blind side as a rookie.
The Pick: Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson
No. 12: Miami Dolphins
There's no question that Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson helped his draft status with excellent workouts in Indianapolis, including a sub-4.4 second 40-yard dash.
While he's a bit of a project, there's no way that the Dolphins can pass on him at 12. I expect the Dolphins to add another receiver via free agency and a pass-rusher in Round 2.
The Pick: Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson
No. 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While Damontre Moore probably dropped out of the top 10 with a disappointing weekend at the combine, he won't make it past Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers are in need of pass-rushers. With Michael Bennett a free agent, Adrian Clayborn coming off injury and Da'Quan Bowers in trouble with the law, Moore is the pick here.
The Pick: Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore
No. 14: Carolina Panthers
One of the scariest moments of the weekend was the announcement that Utah DT Star Lotulelei has a heart condition. While he's expected to work out at his pro day, I had to drop him a bit down my board as a result.
It's quite possible that Lotulelei will move back up if given a clear bill of health, but things are too much up in the air right now for me to leave him in the top 10.
Carolina would be thrilled to grab him at 14.
The Pick: Utah DT Star Lotulelei
No. 15: New Orleans Saints
Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes has been a fast-riser in the past few weeks. While some believe he's actually better than Dee Milliner, I don't, but Rhodes will still go in the top half of the first round.
The Saints defense gave up the most yards from scrimmage in NFL history in 2012, and their secondary was horrendous. Rhodes is the pick.
The Pick: Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes
No. 16: St. Louis Rams
Perhaps no player helped his draft status more at the combine than West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin, who ran a blazing 40 time and showed confidence in his interviews with the media and teams.
Austin easily catapulted himself into the first round, and I wouldn't be shocked if the Rams take him with their first of two selections.
St. Louis is in dire need of playmakers for Sam Bradford, and Austin would be a handful on the turf of the Edward Jones Dome.
The Pick: West Virginia WR Tavon Austin
No. 17: Pittsburgh Steelers
With the Steelers' salary cap situation being in a tenuous position and the team likely needing to cut starters on defense (James Harrison and Troy Polamalu could be released), I expect the team to go defense with their first pick.
Missouri's Sheldon Richardson can rush the passer from the 3-4 defensive end spot and would provide youth and energy to a Pittsburgh defense in need of both.
The Pick: Missouri DE Sheldon Richardson
No. 18: Dallas Cowboys
I'm a huge fan of Georgia pass-rusher Jarvis Jones. I believe he has the ability to be the best defensive player in the draft.
However, after speaking with many people at the combine, I believe that many teams are scared to death of his spinal stenosis. Can Jones handle multiple collisions per game? He's a guy with a tremendous motor who plays recklessly with his body, and that makes teams weary.
While many teams will likely remove Jones from their board altogether, I believe he'll be too much for Jerry Jones to pass up. The thought of pairing Jones with DeMarcus Ware is quite sumptuous.
The Pick: Georgia LB Jarvis Jones
No. 19: New York Giants
I had the Giants selecting Manti Te'o here in my last mock draft, but after Te'o's slow 40 time, I don't see that happening anymore.
Big Blue needs help on their offensive line, and FSU's Menelik Watson is shooting up boards. He would be plugged in at right tackle for the G-Men.
The Pick: Florida State OT Menelik Watson
No. 20: Chicago Bears
After my weekend in Indianapolis, I now believe the Bears will target the offensive line with their first-round pick.
Some people actually like UNC's Jonathan Cooper better than Alabama's Chance Warmack. While I don't share that sentiment, I'm high on Cooper. He's a road grader who would help keep Jay Cutler upright.
The Pick: UNC G Jonathan Cooper
No. 21: Cincinnati Bengals
After my time at the combine, I don't believe Alec Ogletree's recent DUI will prevent him from going in the first round. There are concerns about his character, and he didn't sparkle in interviews, but his talent is severe, and he'll go in the first round.
With Rey Maualuga no lock to return to the Queen City, Ogletree will be the pick, as the Bengals continue to add young talent throughout their roster.
The Pick: Georgia LB Alec Ogletree
No. 22: St. Louis Rams
The Rams' main priority must be to add playmakers around Sam Bradford.
With their first pick in this mock draft, I had them selecting West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin. Now, it's time to address another skill position: running back.
Alabama's Eddie Lacy is the best back on the board. I don't expect Steven Jackson to return to the Rams, which makes the Lacy pick even more of a no-brainer.
The Pick: Alabama RB Eddie Lacy
No. 23: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings need to add receiver help for quarterback Christian Ponder, and at this point, Cal's Keenan Allen is the best wideout available.
The Pick: Cal WR Keenan Allen
No. 24: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts need to bolster their pass rush, and while I expect them to target Paul Kruger in free agency, I believe they'll take a defensive end in Round 1.
UCLA's Datone Jones will be the pick, and he'll help replace Dwight Freeney.
The Pick: UCLA DE Datone Jones
No. 25: Seattle Seahawks
When Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons went down with a torn ACL in the team's wild-card victory over the Redskins, it exacerbated their need for more pass-rushers.
Florida State's Tank Carradine has helped himself along this process, and I now expect him to go in the first round.
The Pick: Florida State DE Tank Carradine
No. 26: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers need lots of help on the defensive side of the ball.
With many of the premier pass-rushers off the board, the Packers will address their secondary here, adding the best safety on the board.
The Pick: Texas S Kenny Vaccaro
No. 27: Arizona Cardinals (from Houston Texans)
At least two quarterbacks will go in Round 1, and here's where the second will land, as the Cardinals trade back into the first round to select Florida State's E.J. Manuel.
This completes Manuel's meteoric rise, which started at the Senior Bowl and stretched into the combine. Many people I spoke with expect Manuel to be the second quarterback off the board.
With Baylor's Terrance Williams and Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins still on the board, the Texans would trade down and acquire picks.
The Pick: Florida State QB E.J. Manuel
No. 28: Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos will be a threat to win the Super Bowl yet again in 2013, but there's no question that they must upgrade their secondary, the team's weak link.
Mississippi State's Jonathan Banks is the best corner available. He's the pick.
The Pick: Mississippi State CB Jonathan Banks
No. 29: New England Patriots
Washington corner Desmond Trufant is rising up draft boards, and we know Bill Belichick likes drafting defensive backs early.
The Pick: Washington CB Desmond Trufant
No. 30: Atlanta Falcons
I don't think that Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert makes it in the first round, meaning that Stanford's Zach Ertz will be the only tight end selected in the top 32.
With Tony Gonzalez unsure to return, Ertz makes a ton of sense of Atlanta.
The Pick: Stanford TE Zach Ertz
No. 31: San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers roster is an embarrassment of riches, meaning San Francisco will be able to select the best player available. That's Alabama DT Jesse Williams.
The Pick: Alabama DT Jesse Williams
No. 32: Baltimore Ravens
With Ed Reed not a lock to return to Baltimore and the Ravens needing some youth on defense, Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien will be the pick.
The Pick: Florida International S Jonathan Cyprien
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