In the wake of the NFL combine and preparation for the pro days that are soon to follow, we now know a little bit more about which big-time college studs are going to be locks for teams in the first round.
Luke Joeckel appears to have a hold on the top pick after the Kansas City Chiefs made a trade for a new starting QB, but what does that mean for the rest of the first round?
The numbers are in from Indianapolis, and they were favorable for guys like Tavon Austin, Lane Johnson and Cordarrelle Patterson, all three guys who are expected to end up being first-round picks by the time this draft is done and the dust has settled.
With that in mind, some of college football's top stars now have a better shot at figuring out what their draft stock is really like. From top picks to potential sleepers, here's the latest mock draft—keeping in mind stud players who will likely end up with the team that's the best fit both from a need standpoint and overall value in the draft.
Note: College studs that should be locked in as picks are marked (Like This*).
1. Kansas City Chiefs — OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M*
Now that the Chiefs officially have a starting QB after trading for Alex Smith (via ESPN), it's time that they address the next most glaring need on the roster.
That would be offensive tackle. Although Joeckel didn't blow anyone away at the combine and actually may have put his spot in more jeopardy than he did secure it, No. 1 draft picks have to be a sure thing. While he didn't run particularly fast, the tape speaks for itself.
Eric Fisher might start feeling whispers of his role as a No. 1 pick, but Joeckel is a safer pick, and he played in two of the biggest conferences (Big 12 and SEC) that college football has to offer.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars — DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
After the news of Star Lotulelei's heart condition broke, Floyd immediately gained ground as a clear-cut favorite to be selected in the Top 5. Combine that with a stellar combine performance, and Floyd will be a hot name to be the first DT selected until April 26.
3. Oakland Raiders —DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
With a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash, Jordan took steps toward being the first defensive end selected in the 2013 draft. Although the Raiders have been projected to look at both Bjoern Werner and the best DT available, there's no doubt Jordan would be a fit on their defense.
He drew high praise from NFL Network's Mike Mayock, who compared the rookie-to-be to Aldon Smith (via NFL.com):
"When I see (Jordan) play, I see a raw Aldon Smith," Mayock said. "He needs to gain 20 pounds (to fill out his 6'7" frame)." Unlike Smith, Jordan excels in pass coverage. The question is if he can match Smith's disruptive pass-rushing ability.
High praise for Jordan from a respected NFL personality. That kind of sentiment was felt far and wide after Jordan's performance in Indy. Don't be surprised if he's the first DE taken.
4. Philadelphia Eagles — OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
The Eagles no longer have a need for a QB after failing to trade Nick Foles to the Chiefs and making good with Michael Vick and Dennis Dixon along the way. That being said, the Eagles can choose to go best available or upgrade along the offensive line (the team's biggest weakness in 2012).
Dee Milliner is the pick if it's best available, but Fisher is getting rave reviews after another stellar showing and would be a good tackle to start over with in the Chip Kelly era.
5. Detroit Lions — CB Dee Milliner, Alabama*
Milliner's blazing speed (4.37 40) and college game tape make him a no-brainer for a team that struggled against the pass in 2012. Easily the best CB available, this pick makes too much sense for both sides.
That being said, only a trade down or a Top 4 selection should make Milliner deviate from wearing a Lions jersey next season.
6. Cleveland Browns —DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
If you want potential, athleticism and pure desire when it comes to getting after it, Ansah is your guy.
We all had a close eye on the BYU product at the combine, and he didn't fail to impress with blazing speed and a vertical leap that should make him an automatic candidate to knock down a few passes at the line in 2013.
Cleveland is looking at upgrading other positions of need (WR, 3-4 DE, S) through free agency and later rounds, but Ansah would be a good fit. Cleveland should also be a candidate to trade back with whatever team wants to scoop up Geno Smith.
7. Arizona Cardinals — OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
That's right, folks. Offensive tackles are a rare breed, and Johnson becomes the third one taken in the first seven picks after a strong Senior Bowl and combine.
The QB-turned-OT turned in one of the fastest times during the 40, and he asserted himself capable of handling both power and speed rushers during individual drills.
With three linemen all capable of being quality players at the next level, Arizona won't mind picking an OT over a QB—especially if it decides to go after one like Matt Cassel or Nick Foles in a trade—because of the current QB situation and what Kevin Kolb did during a 4-0 start to the 2012 season.
8. Buffalo Bills — QB Geno Smith, West Virginia*
Although there are plenty of other teams that could use a QB (Arizona, New York Jets among them), Buffalo fits the profile of where Smith played his college ball and desperately needs playmaking at the position after the failed experiment that is Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract.
With Smith and C.J. Spiller in the backfield, defenses in the AFC East just got a little bit more nervous. Buffalo needs to start over at QB, and Smith falling to No. 8 makes that possible. Although a trade could make this pick fail to emerge, Buffalo is the most likely landing spot for Geno right now.
9. New York Jets — DT Star Lotulelei, Utah*
Despite heart concerns, it would be crazy for Lotulelei to drop any further than this spot in the draft.
The Jets need help all over the field, and once they complete a trade for Darrelle Revis, they will have additional draft picks to play around with. As long as doctors clear Lotulelei for football contact long-term, the Jets would get a player to help solve some of the run-defense issues the team had in '12.
10. Tennessee Titans — DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Not many people think Werner will fall this far after a stellar career at Florida State, but he would be a perfect fit in the 4-3 defense in Tennessee. From a run-stopping standpoint to a pass-rushing one, Werner would also help issues along the defensive line that left the Titans as a whipping boy for opposing running backs.
11. San Diego Chargers — G Chance Warmack, Alabama
It's always risky taking a guard this highly in the draft, but offensive and defensive linemen are the big-time names in this year's draft. That in mind, Warmack is the best lineman available after all three top OTs go off the board.
12. Miami Dolphins — WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
After a good performance in Indy, Patterson should be the No. 1 receiver selected in the draft. That makes Miami a likely landing spot, where he and QB Ryan Tannehill would become friends very quickly.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
The Bucs still need an upgrade in the secondary, and Trufant has emerged as the best CB behind Milliner in the draft. With a good blend of speed and ball skills—to go along with an NFL blood line—Trufant would be a solid first-round pick and instant starter in Tampa.
14. Carolina Panthers — DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
So many DTs, so little chance to pick the exact one right now.
Carolina gambles with Richardson, but after a quality season at Missouri during its first season in the SEC, Richardson isn't really a gamble, after all.
His measurables were good in Indy and his strength is off the chart. Carolina's defense could do much worse than nabbing this guy with No. 14.
15. New Orleans Saints — OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The Saints are switching to a 3-4 defense, and that means hybrid pass rushers are needed. While experiments with that position will be had during offseason workouts and training camp, Mingo is a sure thing who has the speed and quickness to be an automatic starter in passing situations.
He would help the transition period in New Orleans along smoothly, giving Sean Payton an outside rusher while the rest of the draft will focus on other positions of need (ILB, DE).
16. St. Louis Rams — G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Even with Warmack off the board, Cooper is a great pick for the offensive lineman-needing Rams at No. 16. As noted by B/R's own Matt Miller, Cooper's workouts and game tape make him a great pick for any franchise looking for interior line help.
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Jonathan Cooper's workout backed up on film. The most agile, fluid guard in this year's class.2/23/2013, 3:07:55 PM
One need down, one more glaring one to go for St. Louis.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers — DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Moore lost a lot of money at the combine, but his fall from grace stops with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Needless to say, Pittsburgh would be raving about themselves for pulling the trigger on a falling prospect.
The Steelers need help along the defensive line with some aging stars getting ready to not hold that designation, and Moore would be a great fit as Pitt tries to figure out what happened last season and never let it happen again on D.
18. Dallas Cowboys — DE Datone Jones, UCLA
The Cowboys, like the Saints and Browns, are changing defenses. With Monte Kiffin bringing his considerable knowledge and 4-3 scheme to town, both DE and DT are areas of need.
While the Cowboys might use their franchise tag on Anthony Spencer and make him the starting weak-side end, they could also save a lot of money by picking up a stud like Jones in the draft. The Victor Butler experiment would also be over, if it isn't already.
19. New York Giants — OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Fluker gets the nod here as the fourth OT taken, partially because he had a stellar career and combine and partially because Eli Manning is as valuable to the Giants as any player in football. That being said, adding Fluker would be a short- and long-term solution in New York.
Pass rusher is also a good possibility here for the Giants, but some of the best names are off the board and Fluker would be hard to pass up.
20. Chicago Bears — TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame*
Eifert and Zach Ertz have battled for this pick so far (hypothetically, of course) but it was Eifert who emerged as the more NFL-looking tight end after workouts in Indy.
After a solid career at Notre Dame and last year's impact season during the Irish's national championship game bid, Eifert established himself as a red-zone threat and a vertical passing game option—exactly what Chicago and Jay Cutler could use.
21. Cincinnati Bengals — OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Medical red flags are being waved on Jones.
He did not work out at the combine, and his spot as a top pick is in question. That being said, he's still a first-team All-SEC selection, and the tape doesn't lie—this kid can flat-out play. The question remains, would you risk it all on Jones in the first?
SI.com's Joe Fortenbaugh has a strongly worded opinion to that question:
If I’m sitting in the big seat come late April, need an outside linebacker and have a highly trained medical staff who has given Jones the green light, I’m pulling the trigger and bringing this guy to town. I have no background in scouting and no advanced training within the discipline, but even a half-wit like me can tell from watching over the last two years that this guy can flat-out play.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) — WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia*
Although Kenny Vaccaro is still sitting on the board and the Rams could use a safety, Austin cemented his status as the clear choice for St. Louis with a brilliant combine. His presence would allow Danny Amendola to make more money elsewhere, and give Sam Bradford a dangerous weapon all over the field.
After a blistering 40-yard dash that put Austin in the Top 5 at the combine, he also showed good ball skills and route-running ability. Visions of Wes Welker and Amendola make Austin a great pick for an offensively challenged team (at times) from 2012.
23. Minnesota Vikings — WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Wide receiver is the choice for Minny if the franchise is committed to Christian Ponder, and it appears they are. Hopkins wasn't highly touted at the beginning of this process, but he'll end up as one of the top five wide receivers after his combine and pro day are both in the books.
24. Indianapolis Colts — CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
I've liked Eddie Lacy here before, but the Colts clearly need help in the secondary and the offensive line, and it seems foolish to add another back to the fold. That being said, Rhodes is a solid cover corner that played against several top wide receivers (Hopkins, among others) in the ACC. Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks is also an option.
25. Seattle Seahawks — DT Kawann Short, Purdue
If there's a missing ingredient from the Seattle recipe to success, it's along the defensive line. Specifically, the Seahawks could use a player that can get to the QB and create havoc in the middle during passing downs.
Enter Short, who plays way bigger than his name and stature. One of the wild cards of the DT class, Short could go anywhere from 14 to the second round. He's a nice pickup in this mock for the Seahawks, too.
26. Green Bay Packers — DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Hankins is a big, physical defensive tackle that could make a dominant one-two punch with B.J. Raji along the GB defensive line.
The Packers may now be in line for a wide receiver or tight end after losing Greg Jennings and potentially Jermichael Finley to free agency, but defensive line would also be a good place to start plugging holes.
Don't be surprised if Green Bay takes a hard look at a guy like Eddie Lacy, or maybe even Robert Woods. Simply put, there's a lot of directions this franchise can go. The only certainty is that a quarterback won't be the first pick.
27. Houston Texans — WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
With only Hopkins and Patterson off the board, Houston will have the pick of the litter with this pick. Keenan Allen, Terrance Williams and Woods will all be available (seemingly), and the Texans are going to need a wide receiver opposite Andre Johnson to take pressure off of Matt Schaub to make perfect throws every snap.
Enter Wheaton, an underrated prospect who has elite speed with good hands and the ability to stretch the field. With so many choices it's hard to predict which wide receiver will be the right choice, but Wheaton is a good bet here.
28. Denver Broncos — DT Jesse Williams, Alabama
Williams might be the last defensive tackle on this board in the first round, but he's far from a consolation prize for a team like the Broncos. A dominant force along the Crimson Tide defensive line, Williams fills a need in Denver and would compete to start right away.
29. New England Patriots — S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
It almost seemed too perfect that Tavon Austin would be around for the Patriots to select in the first round. Now that he's off the board and Ryan Swope ran a sub 4.4 40, there's a good chance New England chooses to address the secondary with its first pick in the draft.
Enter Vaccaro, the No. 1 safety on many draft boards and a true blend of coverage skill and sideline-to-sideline tackling ability. He's exactly the kind of athlete with skill that the Pats need in the secondary next season.
30. Atlanta Falcons — DE Alex Okafor, Texas
Okafor has shot up draft boards, and for good reason. He's a beast that doesn't get much attention, but Atlanta will pay attention after a disappointing season from Ray Edwards and John Abraham pushing the 35-year-old barrier.
31. San Francisco 49ers — S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
Cyprien isn't a big-name safety, but he could help San Francisco in the secondary while also allowing management to not over-spend for Dashon Goldson. If the two sides can work it out on a reasonable deal, great.
If not, draft a guy like Cyprien or Matt Elam that can play relatively soon, and try to rely on a dominant pass rush to help a rookie out while he learns the ropes of the NFL.
32. Baltimore Ravens — ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame*
I know Te'o had a bad combine, but Baltimore needs a linebacker and Te'o is still one of the best in this year's class.
As a 3-4 inside linebacker and leader, there are few backers in this class that have his intensity on the field or ability to find the football and make plays. Sure, he has a lot to prove at his pro day in the coming days. However, the tape also shows a player that can get the job done at inside backer.
Hoax aside, Te'o is still a good player. He's worth a first-round pick, even more so now that Ray Lewis is retiring. This is a good spot and won't qualify as a reach, and Baltimore can re-tool in the process with a college stud.
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