2013 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections for Top College Stars
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine is behind us, and quite soon we’ll be looking ahead to pro days and the draft itself in late April.
There are plenty of big-name college stars working their tails off in order to solidify their status as first-round picks—if they weren’t able to do so already in Indianapolis last weekend.
Let’s project the entire first round in our latest mock. Keep an eye out to see where some of college football’s premier talents wind up landing.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Joeckel should undoubtedly find himself with the Chiefs now, with the organization reaching out to acquire Alex Smith earlier this week.
He’s the top left tackle in the class and should be a player that will come in, take over the starting position in training camp and not relinquish the job for at least a decade.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd had risen dramatically prior to the combine, and his work in Indianapolis solidified his standing as a top-five pick.
Jacksonville needs a versatile, athletic, big lineman, which is exactly what this Gators star can provide.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Milliner crushed it at the combine, running a blazing 4.37 40-yard dash and proving that he’s worthy of coming off the board this early.
Oakland loves to draft athletes and direly needs to improve the CB position, making Milliner a great, safe pick here at No. 3.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
While the Eagles could go with an O-lineman here, we’d be surprised if Jordan didn’t land with his former college coach, Chip Kelly, in Philly.
Remember, many of Philly’s offensive line problems in 2012 stemmed from injury, not poor play. Jordan represents an immediate upgrade as a pass-rusher that could fit at numerous spots on the field, and Coach Kelly will know right where to put this talented player.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Detroit’s line is in shambles, so adding a top-tier left tackle like Fisher couldn’t make more sense.
Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson are the two more important weapons the Lions possess, so look for the franchise to protect and augment its assets with this pick.
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Spinal stenosis is a serious issue, but Jones has major upside and represents a huge upgrade for the Browns’ pass rush.
Cleveland will be switching to a base 3-4 defense in 2013, meaning Jones could be an absolute machine as an edge-rusher if he can stay healthy.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith was clearly the top signal-caller at the draft combine, but his competition wasn’t exactly top-notch.
However, the WVU product did alleviate doubts about his athleticism—which turned out to be far above average—even if he doesn’t project to be any sort of dual-threat QB.
His throws were decent, but certainly left something to be desired. As for now, we have Smith coming off the board at No. 7, but a poor pro day could have him falling down the big board.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Barkley may wind up in Buffalo, as the need for a franchise QB there is so great.
While the Trojans star didn’t exactly have the finest senior campaign, he’s still a top-notch talent with great decision-making skills.
This young man is going to have to prove his arm is strong enough to handle the cold and windy territory the Bills often play in, so expect Barkley to sink or swim at USC’s pro day.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Mingo is a young, athletic pass-rusher that fits perfectly with the Jets—namely because Gang Green can’t get any pressure on the quarterback.
In a division that features Tom Brady as the biggest threat to overcome, Mingo would be a great asset to have.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
From the way scouts rave about Warmack, it seems that there is already work being done on his bust in Canton.
However, Warmack does look to be one of the better guard prospects in recent years and would be able to bolster a flailing Titans running game. We expect a marked improvement in Chris Johnson’s stats if this Crimson Tide standout lands here.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Johnson helped his stock significantly by destroying the drills at the combine and should come off the board in the top half of the first round.
Philip Rivers needs more time in the pocket in order to make his reads and create big plays, something he really hasn’t been able to do in the past two years.
If the Chargers are going to compete with the Broncos in the AFC West, they’ll need to bolster their line and Johnson should be their man.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes is an elite corner prospect that should find a way to contribute early in his NFL career, especially if he lands with the ‘Phins.
The Seminoles star has great athleticism, ball skills, coverage abilities and more—making him an ideal pick for a team that struggled at the position in 2012.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Vaccaro looks like one of the major first-round sleepers, and he should come off no later than No. 13 to Tampa.
The former Longhorn can line up at either safety position and even spend time at corner if necessary, which is great for a Bucs squad that lost Aqib Talib at last year’s trading deadline and may not have Ronde Barber back in 2013.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
There is concern about the blood flow to Lotulelei’s heart, but this mock will assume he’s cleared to play and pronounced fit for the NFL prior to the draft.
Carolina would be a perfect landing destination, as it had trouble stopping everyone from running all over it. Lotulelei is a big, versatile athlete that can play numerous positions on the Panthers line, while helping to sniff out a rush before it gets started.
15. New Orleans Saints: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
While Werner struggled a bit at the combine—wowing no one with his performance—it can’t take away his body of work during his time at FSU.
He came into the draft as one of the better defensive ends and still is on my big board, so it would make perfect sense for the Saints to take a chance here at No. 15.
If Werner lives up to his ability and puts the terrible showing in Indy behind him, New Orleans will have a huge steal on its hands.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Cooper may not be a tackle, but he represents a significant upgrade to the interior of the offensive line.
The Rams need to bolster their running game and give Sam Bradford more time to heave some pretty passes, making Cooper a solid selection at No. 16.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah proved his athleticism at the combine and on-field production at the Senior Bowl, so it’s crazy to think he’s still in the bottom half of the draft.
A lot could change by April, but right now we have the Steelers grabbing the steal of the draft at No. 17, getting a chance to develop this BYU standout into yet another elite LB that dons the black and yellow.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
With the ‘Boys going to a 4-3, they need a beast like Richardson plugging up the middle.
This Mizzou star has the right mix of heart, size and athleticism to stop run plays before they start.
Richardson can even get into the backfield to pressure the QB or record tackles for losses, making him an ideal prospect for “Big D.”
19. New York Giants: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The G-Men missed a chance to defend their Super Bowl title after a mediocre 2012 campaign, and one of their biggest problems was defending the pass.
Trufant has the speed (4.38 40-yard dash) to keep up with anyone, although his 5’11”, 190-pound frame does leave something to be desired.
Regardless, Big Blue sorely needs more depth in the secondary, and Trufant looks to be best available here.
20. Chicago Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Chicago O-line has been an absolute mess, and it’s a large reason why Matt Forte, Jay Cutler and the rest of the Bears' skill position players have been struggling with injuries over the past few years.
Fluker is a skilled tackle that will be able to hold his own against some of the league’s best linemen. He’s a great fit here at No. 20.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
Ogletree’s character issues are a concern—his recent DUI certainly didn’t help his case—but that hasn’t mattered to the Bengals in the past.
The organization gambled—albeit not with a first-rounder—on another potential character concern in Vontaze Burfict last year and came up a huge winner, so don’t be surprised to see it do it again here with a player that fills numerous needs.
22. St. Louis Rams (From Washington): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Rams need to do their best to foster Sam Bradford’s development if he’s ever going to become an elite QB.
Austin had one of the better combine performances and looks like he could be an immediate threat in an offense that may lose numerous receivers this coming offseason.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Patterson has arguably the highest upside of any receiver in this class, but his on-field production has left something to be desired.
Regardless, with his height and pure athleticism, the former Volunteers standout shouldn’t fall any further than Minneapolis—a team that definitely needs another skilled wideout across from Percy Harvin.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore’s combine performance was just plain terrible, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon hope of him becoming an elite NFL player.
The kid was considered a top-10 pick prior to the workouts for a reason, and he may just be a player that produces on the field and not in the gym.
Expect the Colts to either pick a high-upside pass-rusher (Moore) or an offensive lineman to keep Andrew Luck safe here at No. 24.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
As with the Colts, the Seahawks need to address either their O-line (to keep Russell Wilson upright) or D-line (to address a mediocre group in 2012) in this draft.
We like Barrett Jones going to Seattle here, as he seems to be a talented, smart, versatile player that has a long future ahead of him.
26. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Packers could go many directions with this pick, and it seems many believe they will take a lineman on either side of the ball.
However, we have Lacy, a talented, strong, first-round worthy back, going to Green Bay at No. 26.
He could revitalize the rushing game in Lambeau and help keep constant pressure off Aaron Rodgers. It’s tough to make use of an elite QB when there is no semblance of a running attack.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Allen is a top-flight receiver that could play across from Andre Johnson and potentially replace the veteran down the line.
The Texans need to add more options to their passing attack to augment Arian Foster, and Allen seems to be a safe pick this late in the draft.
28. Denver Broncos: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Broncos have decent pass-rushers and outside linebackers, but could shore up the front seven and ILB position by adding Minter at No. 28.
His presence would make a young, stout defense even more fearsome.
29. New England Patriots: Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Pats had to shift around some players in the secondary last year, meaning it’s likely they’ll try to address these issues with their first-round pick—if the team doesn’t trade it away.
Elam is a highly skilled safety with great athleticism, so don’t be shocked to see him wind up in New England.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Falcons have to address either a backup TE to Tony Gonzalez or a potential replacement for the legendary veteran if he decides to hang up his cleats before the 2013 campaign.
Eifert is the best available TE on the board.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The Niners are stocked up with draft picks and have great players all over the field, so bolstering depth with a talented pass-rusher like Montgomery makes perfect sense.
Expect the team to make a ton of moves come April, but for now we have the Tigers' former DE heading to San Fran.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams is the tackle that the Ravens need to help plug the middle of their defensive line.
While an eventual replacement for the retired Ray Lewis will need to be found, there are no worthy first-round prospects to address that hole in 2013.
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