2013 NFL Mock Draft: How Bold Moves will Shape Entire First Round
The Kansas City Chiefs made a bold move to acquire quarterback Alex Smith in a reported trade (h/t Fox Sports' Jay Glazer) with the San Francisco 49ers—a move that impacted the top pick of Round 1 in the upcoming 2013 NFL draft.
That won't be the last big decision that will shape the first round, either. When the draft kicks off on April 25, there are sure to be some gutsy moves by teams as they attempt to land the draft's biggest stars.
There are sure to be trades, questionable selections (from our perspective) and players who were supposed to be locks as first-round picks that end up falling into the second round (it happens every year).
Here's one version of how the first round might play out, with bold moves that will shape the first round in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
No surprise here. The Chiefs took care of their biggest need by making the reported trade for Smith, and by selecting Joeckel the team gets an upgrade over Branden Albert at a discounted rate.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Floyd's incredible showing at the combine, paired with the news of Star Loutulelei's heart condition, has this impressive young defensive tackle climbing up draft boards faster than a scared bear cub climbing up a tree.
3. Oakland Raiders—QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
The Raiders are reportedly attempting to restructure Carson Palmer's bloated contract (h/t ESPN's Adam Schefter), but the team would be better off just letting him walk and drafting Smith to compete with Terrelle Pryor for the starting quarterback gig.
This is a bold move because Smith, while he's proven to be the best quarterback of this year's draft class, doesn't appear to be ready to lead an NFL offense from day one like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III did last year for their respective teams.
It would also mean that the Raiders would enter the season with two of the rawest quarterbacks in the league. Both players have the upside to become great, but dumping Palmer in favor of the young Smith would mean Oakland would be banking on the future, rather than trying to win the AFC West in 2013.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Jordan was phenomenal at the combine, putting together a strong performance in the measured drills and looking smoother than any other pass-rushing prospect in the on-field drills.
Chip Kelly's new defense, led by Billy Davis, is likely to move toward a 3-4 scheme, though the team hasn't yet revealed its plans (h/t the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane). Adding Jordan here is a no-brainer.
5. Detroit Lions—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Another gimme pick. The Lions drafted Riley Reiff last season, and he did a decent job protecting Matthew Stafford's blind side, but taking Fisher would allow the team to move Reiff to the right side and give Stafford two bookends for added protection.
6. Cleveland Browns—OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Mingo put on a terrific show for scouts at the combine, posting a blazing-fast 40 time of 4.58 seconds. He also looked great during the field drills and solidified his stock as one of the top pass-rushers in this year's draft. He'll be a perfect fit for Ray Horton's 3-4 defense in Cleveland.
7. Arizona Cardinals—QB Matt Barkley, USC
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller broke some interesting news during the combine, tweeting that the Cardinals wouldn't let Barkley fall past them at No. 7, per a source. Provided Barkley puts on a good show at his pro day, this is a move that makes sense for the quarterback-strapped Cardinals.
It doesn't come without risk, though. Barkley, like Smith, isn't the kind of can't-miss player Luck was last year, and unless the Cardinals fix their horrible offensive line, he isn't likely to have much success as a rookie.
Lane Johnson may be the better choice here at No. 7. He's an athletic tackle who could help Arizona in both the passing game and the running game, but quarterbacks are valued higher than any other position, which is why Johnson will slide.
8. San Francisco 49ers (via Buffalo Bills)—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The first trade of the draft.
The 49ers have acquired a whopping 15 total picks to work with in this draft, provided the deal with Kansas City goes through. According to Blogging the Beast's Jimmy Kempski:
If KC's 2 to SF accurate, here are the Niners' picks: 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7. Also projected to get 4, 7, 7 comp picks. Unreal.— Jimmy Kempski (@Jimmy_Beast) February 27, 2013
The Bills would trade their first-round pick overall (No. 8) and their fifth round pick (No. 136 overall) to San Francisco for their first-round pick (No. 31 overall) and their two picks in the second round (No. 34 and 61 overall).
Should the 49ers trade up for Milliner?
The 49ers would acquire one of the top players in this year's draft, adding a dynamic cornerback to the team's already dominant defense.
Milliner proved he's more than just a cover corner by posting a 4.37-second 40 time at the combine, and adding him would allow the 49ers to continue building what appears to be a team with dynastic potential.
This trade also allows wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to fall a bit, which will benefit an up-and-coming team, as you'll soon see.
9. New York Jets—OLB/DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Rex Ryan's defense needs a pass-rusher, and Ansah's stock continues to surge after an excellent showing at the combine. His ability to play multiple positions, given his athleticism, will allow the Jets to be more creative in their approach in 2013.
10. Tennessee Titans—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Perhaps no team is in need of safety help as much as Tennessee. Michael Griffin was one of the worst safeties in the NFL last year (per Pro Football Focus; subscription required), and an upgrade is necessary. Vaccaro is this year's top safety, and his presence in the secondary will stabilize this weak unit.
11. San Diego Chargers—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
After the Cardinals took Barkley instead of drafting Johnson, San Diego lands its man. The Chargers need a left tackle in the worst way, and Johnson will be a cornerstone pick for new general manager Tom Telesco.
12. Miami Dolphins—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Patterson could have been selected by the Buffalo Bills at No. 8, but after they traded their pick to the 49ers, he falls to the Dolphins, who couldn't be happier. Patterson put on a show at the combine, displaying elite speed to go along with his size. He looks the part of a No. 1 receiver, and he'll help Ryan Tannehill's development in major ways this upcoming season.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—DE Tank Carradine, Florida State
Carradine showed up at the combine with some welcome news: He expects his knee to be fully healthy by the time the draft kicks off in late-April (h/t the Denver Post's Jeff Legwold). Carradine posted 11 sacks in 11 games last year, and he's one of the top players available in this year's draft.
14. Carolina Panthers—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
If Cam Newton is going to develop into a pocket passer, Carolina must develop a running game to complement him. Last year, Newton led his team in rushing. This can't happen again in 2013, and the best way to improve the team's running game is to draft the best offensive guard in this year's class.
15. New Orleans Saints—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Is Jarvis Jones too risky to take in Round 1?
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio first reported, "Per a league source, Jones’ neck has prompted multiple teams to shy away from considering him, especially in round one."
That won't stop the Saints from taking a gamble on Jones—one of the best pass-rushers in this year's draft class. Rob Ryan needs pass-rushers to make his 3-4 defense function properly, and Jones will be an instant impact player for the Saints in 2013.
16. St. Louis Rams—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Cooper showed up to the combine having added some weight, and his 35 reps on the bench press was an unexpected treat. His pass-blocking prowess will be a boon for Sam Bradford, and adding him will allow the Rams to make strides towards having a competent offense in 2013.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—OLB Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Moore's poor combine numbers dropped him down draft boards, but his college production cannot be overlooked. He may not be as explosive an athlete as some, but he'll get the job done for the Steelers in 2013 and beyond.
18. Dallas Cowboys—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Richardson didn't shine like some others in the measured drills, but when he hit the field, his true value was revealed. The 297-pound big man moves around as naturally and smoothly as men half his size, and his penetrating abilities as a defensive tackle are perfect for Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense.
19. New York Giants—OT Terron Armstead, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
The first, "what the heck are they thinking?" pick.
Armstead was the biggest star of Saturday's combine events. The little-known tackle from a small school wowed scouts with his unbelievable athleticism. He ran the 40 in 4.71 seconds (a new combine record for offensive linemen) and showed rare explosion for a man of his size in both his jumps.
The 6'5", 306-pound tackle possesses NFL size, athleticism and speed. It remains to be seen if he can handle NFL pass-rushers, but his potential for greatness will inspire a team to take him in Round 1.
With this pick, the Giants will have analysts buzzing and the crowd in New York booing. It will also mean that cornerback Xavier Rhodes continues to fall, making him an exceptional value pick for one lucky team later in the draft.
20. Chicago Bears—TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
If Jay Cutler is going to make the improvements his team hopes he can make under Marc Trestman, he'll need more weapons. Adding the best tight end in this year's draft class would give him a huge boost next season and beyond.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
It didn't seem to matter whom the Bengals plugged in last year, the team didn't find consistent production from its receivers not named A.J. Green. Hopkins isn't as fast as many of the receivers in this year's draft class, but he may end up becoming the most productive rookie receiver in 2013.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Austin's blazing-fast 40 time at the combine only proved what we already know: This young man is a special athlete with a bright future in the NFL. Adding such an explosive weapon to St. Louis' offense will help Bradford become the dynamic quarterback the Rams envisioned when he was drafted.
23. Minnesota Vikings—WR Keenan Allen, California
The run on receivers continues, as the Vikings need to fill their roster with talented offensive weapons so Adrian Peterson isn't facing eight- and nine-men boxes on every play. Allen's after-the-catch prowess will be a perfect fit for Christian Ponder, who doesn't possess a strong arm.
24. Indianapolis Colts—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
A heart condition wouldn't allow Lotulelei to work out at the combine, but there's a good chance he'll still be able to play in the NFL, provided he doesn't get some terrible news in the near future. His slide down the board is Indy's gain, though, and he'll be a huge piece to the team's 3-4 defense.
25. Seattle Seahawks)—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
Jones is a defensive end with a ton of upside. He is a big man at 6'4" and 283 pounds, who ran the 40 in 4.80 seconds and has the strength to hold up against the run. He projects as a full-time, three-down defensive end who will bolster this team's already dominant defense.
26. Green Bay Packers—OG/OC Barrett Jones, Alabama
Jones has been sliding down draft boards since his Lisfranc injury required surgery, but that doesn't change the fact that he's one of the best offensive linemen in this draft. The Packers need to bolster the interior of their line, too, and his interchangeability makes him a valuable asset.
27. Houston Texans—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
When Jonathan Joseph went out with an injury last year, Houston couldn't defend the pass. Even when he's in the game, Houston doesn't do well without a strong pass-rush leading the way. Adding a lock-down corner like Rhodes will make Houston's defense downright terrifying.
28. Denver Broncos—DT Kawann Short, Purdue
Denver doesn't have many weaknesses, but the team needs defensive tackles. Short looked dominant at the Senior Bowl, and he's a sleeper pick here at the end of the first round.
29. New England Patriots—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
A man-to-man specialist, Trufant will give the Patriots the ability to be more creative on defense. His combine performance was a revelation, and New England won't hesitate to pick him up here at the bottom of Round 1.
30. Atlanta Falcons—RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Atlanta needs a power-running game to balance out its offense, and Lacy will make the team forget all about Michael Turner, who is expected to be released (h/t ESPN's Adam Schefter). Lacy is a power back with surprising agility and burst, and he'll start from day one.
31. Buffalo Bills (via San Francisco 49ers)—WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
After trading down to the bottom of the first round, while picking up a couple of second-round picks in return, the Bills will pick up the other receiver from Tennessee, Hunter, who showed up well at the combine.
32. Baltimore Ravens—S Eric Reid, LSU
After Alec Ogletree and Manti Te'o both failed to impress at the combine, the Ravens will focus on acquiring a safety to replace Ed Reed, rather than reach for their more obvious need at inside linebacker.
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