Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel
With the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine out of the way, the 2013 NFL draft is beginning to look more and more clear.
There are few teams in the draft that look to have no chance at making the playoffs in 2013. With the amount of parity in the league, it's very easy to envision the Kansas City Chiefs making the postseason next year. The Indianapolis Colts did it in 2012.
If teams are to maximize their value in the offseason, they should consider following this first-round mock draft.
This mock draft predicts the best possible moves for every first-round team, and takes a closer look at three prospects in particular, which are highlighted in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Kansas City Chiefs are almost assuredly taking Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher here. There's no way the Chiefs would take Geno Smith considering it's only a formality until Alex Smith will be the guy under center (h/t ESPN.com). Between Joeckel and Fisher, the Texas A&M Aggie should get the nod.
Joeckel has everything you look for out of a left tackle. He doesn't look to be very big, but his frame is very deceiving.
Strength and athleticism are two of Joeckel's biggest assets. He has the ability to handle pass-rushers coming off the edge or pull and open some lanes for his running back. Unlike some tackle prospects who have struggled in the NFL, Joeckel's footwork also deserves plenty of praise.
Trading for a veteran QB allows Andy Reid and John Dorsey to draft one of the best players available, rather than a shaky prospect in Smith who comes in with several question marks.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Jacksonville Jaguars have plenty of holes to fill. They're able to draft pretty much the best player on the board, and he'll fill one of their biggest needs as well. Bjoern Werner has fallen off a bit, but that shouldn't make the Jaguars pass on this talented prospect.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Quarterback is a massive need for the Oakland Raiders, but there isn't anybody worth taking with the third pick. It would make much more sense for the team to wait until the later rounds and target somebody like Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon or Matt Barkley.
Avoiding a QB in the first round means the Raiders can draft somebody like Sharrif Floyd. The departure of Richard Seymour leaves a huge hole in Oakland's defensive line. Star Lotulelei's heart condition might worry some teams, so Floyd is a more than capable replacement.
Floyd is extremely athletic for his size. He can clog running lanes or rush the passer on occasion. The problem with Floyd is that he's still quite unpolished and raw.
You would have liked to have seen him play on a much more consistent level rather than having a few great plays a game. Still, Floyd's upside is through the roof, so Oakland would be foolish to pass up on him.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Philadelphia Eagles must address their offensive line this offseason. Both Nick Foles and Michael Vick rarely had much time in the pocket. Eric Fisher wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl and continued through the combine. Much like Joeckel, Fisher is strong enough to handle powerful defensive linemen yet athletic enough to stop quick pass-rushers.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Offense isn't the problem for the Detroit Lions. With Kyle Vanden Bosch getting cut, there's a need for another pass-rusher on defense. Dee Milliner will be too good to pass up, though. He blazed the 40-yard dash at the combine, and he has an uncanny ability to put himself in a great position to disrupt opposing receivers. As the best corner on the board, he'll be a huge upgrade to Detroit's secondary.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Dion Jordan is a freak of nature. You don't see guys his size being able to do the things that he can. He would be a huge help to the Cleveland Browns, who are in need of a pass-rusher. As quick as he is, Jordan needs to get a little stronger, otherwise he'll be bullied off the ball by much stronger and more physical offensive linemen.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Going at the seventh pick isn't quite as glamorous as being the first overall pick, but Geno Smith will cope just fine. Being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals would also be a blessing in disguise for Smith as he would get to work with Bruce Arians.
Smith's 40 time at the combine should be encouraging for scouts. He's not a burner, but Smith has more than enough speed to elude the rush for a few seconds and create some more time for himself. Arians would be able to perfect Smith's rather unrefined passing skills.
Playing out of the shotgun in college doesn't mean Smith is headed for failure as he transitions to taking the snap from under center. He's without a doubt a project. Smith would, however, be a welcome upgrade to Cardinals fans who witnessed the horror that was the Arizona passing attack in 2012.
8. Buffalo Bills: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson's 40 time put to rest any doubts that scouts had as to whether he is the best receiver in the draft. He's extremely fast and athletic and will cause trouble for any opposing secondary.
Patterson is a bit unpolished as his route-running could use some fine tuning. The Buffalo Bills might be tempted to go with a quarterback, but Patterson's physical tools are too enticing to pass up, especially at a position of need.
Who is the best pass-rusher in this year's draft?
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The New York Jets are in need of an elite pass-rusher. If he reaches his full potential, Ezekiel Ansah could be one of the best players to come out of this draft, period. It's crazy to think how far he's already come in such a short amount of time. He can be a serious force on the defensive line.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
As previously mentioned, his heart condition will have some questioning whether Star Lotulelei will be able to handle the rigors of the NFL. It's obviously a concern. However, Lotulelei is the best run-stopper in the draft. Unlike Sharrif Floyd, he doesn't offer much in the pass defense, yet he still has more than enough to warrant a top 10 selection.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The San Diego Chargers had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year. That played a major part in Philip Rivers' struggles in 2012. Lane Johnson would be an immediate upgrade. He's a very good pass-blocker but could help himself by adding some muscle in order to become a more complete tackle.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Keenan Allen was certainly hurt by not being able to perform at the combine. He was forced to watch as Patterson blew scouts away. Still, Allen probably won't fall too much considering the lack of first-round talent at the position. He would be a very good pick for a Miami Dolphins team looking for a wideout who can bring a different dimension to the offense.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes is the kind of corner teams are looking for right now. His speed is the only thing stopping him from being the best on the board. With the way he can jam receivers at the line, Rhodes' physicality will serve him well in the NFL.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Carolina Panthers were soft in the middle of their defensive line in 2012 and struggled when having to defend the run. Sheldon Richardson has all the physical tools to wow scouts, but his consistency is a major issue.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
It seems pretty obvious the New Orleans Saints will be targeting defense in the first round. They were horrible on that side of the ball last year. Barkevious Mingo is a very good athlete and should be a huge help as the Saints move to their 3-4 defense.
16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Chance Warmack could very well be a top 10 pick, but teams might find it difficult justifying taking a guard so high. Their loss will be the St. Louis Rams' gain. Warmack is one of the best players in the draft, period. He will be a rock on the Rams' offensive line for the next decade.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia
Jarvis Jones' medical status will be too much of a risk for many teams but he has all the tools to succeed in both pass coverage and run defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers would be jumping for joy, however, if Jones fell to them at No. 17.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
With the Dallas Cowboys moving to a 4-3 defense, they're going to need to add some depth at defensive tackle. Kawann Short will be able to plug running holes and use his massive wingspan to swat down passes at the line of scrimmage.
19. New York Giants: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore has taken a tumble as a result of his poor combine. He didn't run well or show a ton of strength, the latter of which was the biggest issue coming into the draft. There's no doubt that Moore needs to get stronger. He could be a steal for the New York Giants, though, as he has the technique necessary to succeed.
20. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Chicago Bears should be looking at an offensive tackle. With the three best prospects off the board, though, the Bears would be best served by waiting. Tyler Eifert is the best tight end in the draft and an extremely reliable receiver.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Cincinnati Bengals might not be getting rid of Rey Maualuga after all (h/t Kevin Patra of NFL.com). But Maualuga needs to go, as he's a hindrance more than a help for the Bengals' defense. Kevin Minter could be a very good inside linebacker in the NFL and would help the Bengals keep Vontaze Burfict on the outside.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro illustrated in college that he's the complete package at safety. He's very good in pass coverage and even better against the run. Vaccaro has the instincts to be able to fly around and make a major impact.
23. Minnesota Vikings: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Christian Ponder needs some help. Adrian Peterson can't do it all, which was clearly evident after 2012. DeAndre Hopkins won't be a game-breaker. He does, however, have the kind of tools to become an extremely steady option in the Minnesota Vikings' passing game.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Desmond Trufant can do it all at the cornerback position. He's able to press receivers and defend them in the secondary and is also a competent defender against the run. The Indianapolis Colts could be getting a steal should they draft Trufant.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Datone Jones has been a hot name since the combine, when he put on an impressive all-around performance. When you see his highlight reel, it's evident he has all the skills you look for in a defensive end. After Seattle aced its Bruce Irvin pick last year, it might take another chance on an intriguing player in Jones.
26. Green Bay Packers: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Jonathan Cooper is an extremely versatile interior lineman. Aaron Rodgers needs to have some better protection in 2013 as he saw quite a bit of pressure last season. Cooper will be able to play either guard position and maybe even center if he needs to.
27. Houston Texans: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin really helped himself at the combine. He would be a great partner for Andre Johnson in the Houston Texans' receiving corps, which is something this team certainly needs.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
One of the few weaknesses of the Denver Broncos' defense last year was up the middle. Johnathan Hankins is one of the best run-stoppers in the draft, and he'll be an ideal fit with the Broncos.
29. New England Patriots: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The New England Patriots were dreadful against the pass last year, finishing 28th in the league. Their flaws were really exposed by Joe Flacco in the playoffs. Johnthan Banks will be a solid corner in the league and should be a significant addition for New England.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Alex Okafor isn't going to set the world on fire when he hits the NFL. He doesn't have the kind of speed to beat a lot of tackles off the edge but Okafor is strong enough to be able to hassle opposing quarterbacks in the pocket.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
The Super Bowl exposed the San Francisco 49ers secondary in a big way. Jamar Taylor will be a boost to the unit. He has plenty of experience at the college level and can thrive in any sort of coverage scheme.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Manti Te'o didn't impress at the combine, with his 40 time being underwhelming. Even if he runs for a great time at his pro day, the questions about Te'o's speed will continue to linger. He'll never be able to have a pro career as superlative as his college career, but Te'o can be a very good player at the next level.