With the 2013 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, most fans are hoping that their favorite teams nab top-notch prospects with their first-round selections that fill the most glaring voids.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case—and many organizations elect to go with the best available over filling a need.
Sometimes that makes sense and other times this strategy turns out to be a complete disaster.
Let’s take a look at our latest mock draft, with a focus on players that would be amazing fits for the respective team taking them or represent a value far too great to pass up at the selection.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs arguably nabbed their franchise signal-caller in Alex Smith, so now it’s time to put tools around him so he can find success.
Any discussion in Kansas City on the No. 1 overall pick should start and end with Joeckel, the best player in the class and a great fit for the organization.
There’s no doubting this kid will come in, earn the starting position and hold that job for at least 10 years.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd has been one of the fastest rising prospects in 2013, but it’s hardly a surprise to see him come off the board this high.
The Gators stud is a tremendous athlete, has the versatility to play 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end and should be able to succeed no matter where he is on a football field.
Jacksonville, which had a bit of trouble stopping the run in 2012, direly needs a pass rusher that can put some pressure on the QB. Floyd addresses both issues with one player.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
We’re not sure the Raiders should be 100 percent serious about Smith, but they do have the need for a franchise quarterback.
Great teams know that this is the most important role and should be immediately filled if possible.
Smith’s fate likely depends on if Reggie McKenzie truly believes that the WVU product has what it takes to bring stability to a beleaguered position in Oakland.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Jordan can stand up and play outside linebacker, or get down in a stance at defensive end. Wherever he’s lining up, he’s a huge threat to get into the backfield and sack the quarterback or bust up the run before it even begins.
No one understands this pass-rusher's value more than Chip Kelly, the Ducks' former coach who is now with the Eagles. This pick makes too much sense.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Milliner is too great a talent to pass up here, so we’d be mildly shocked if the Detroit brass decided to go in a different direction if April’s draft plays out like this mock.
The former ‘Bama star is a phenomenal athlete and has the ability to shut down opposing wideouts, but still has to work on his ball skills.
Regardless, Milliner is going to turn into a playmaker and should greatly improve the Lions secondary if they select him.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, OLB, BYU
Ziggy is the perfect 3-4 OLB prospect, which just happens to be the base defense that Cleveland is converting to in 2013.
The former Cougars star is a bit raw now, but could eventually develop into one of the better defenders in this class.
Don’t sleep on the Browns making shockwaves and significantly bolstering their defense with this selection.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Until the Cardinals have a serviceable offensive line, any player that is stuck under center is going to look awful.
The revolving door of signal-callers that took snaps for the organization last year didn’t stand a chance. The Cardinals must begin to address this issue by selecting a rock-solid tackle in Fisher.
8. Buffalo Bills: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Patterson is a great pick because he has the potential to become the best playmaker out of all the skill position players in the 2013 class.
The Bills may be seeking a quarterback, but with Smith off the board, there is no value in any of the remaining prospects.
When the team eventually nabs a QB, they’ll be happy to have Patterson running routes for him.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Like their AFC East brethren, the Jets would love to be able to snag an elite QB project here, but there simply aren’t any available.
With that in mind, expect the organization to address one of its biggest needs—a pass-rusher.
Mingo is a top-tier talent, although it may take him a bit to fully develop.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart issue recently, dropping his stock from the top of the class down toward the middle of the round on our big board.
However, we can’t foresee a situation where the Utah star is cleared to play and falls past Tennessee at No. 10.
The Titans have had numerous problems along their defensive front, many of which a player with Lotulelei’s skills can address.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Johnson came out and lit up the combine, proving that he belongs in the same conversation with the other top linemen in this class.
We suspect San Diego took notice, as the franchise has to do a better job of protecting Philip Rivers. If they go with Johnson, don’t be shocked to see Rivers dramatically improve in 2013, compared to his past two subpar seasons.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes is a great athlete and should have no problem becoming an elite pass defender in the NFL.
The Dolphins could try to surround second-year QB Ryan Tannehill with more talent, but there’s no player worth the No. 12 overall pick available with Patterson off the board.
This Seminoles star addresses just as big a need on the other side of the field.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
With Aqib Talib shipped off at the 2012 deadline and Ronde Barber unsure of his return to the organization, it would be downright mind-boggling if Tampa did not address the secondary with this selection.
Vaccaro is the best safety on the board and could even play nickel corner for the team, if Barber returns to play next to Mark Barron.
Regardless of where he winds up getting snaps, this Longhorns product represents a huge upgrade for the Bucs.
14. Carolina Panthers: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Werner is an interesting prospect that will likely fall anywhere in the top half of the first round, but we’re not sure he could slip past Carolina.
The Panthers defense has to improve in both stopping the run and against the pass.
Werner is a solid pass-rusher and decent run defender, making this pick a no-brainer.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Despite the spinal stenosis issue, Jones is one of the premier defenders in this crop of talent.
He’s not only a phenomenal pass-rusher, but a great player that can stop the run and make plays for a defense as well.
Even if his career has a chance to be cut short by injury—and show me an NFL player that does not hold true for—the Saints would be foolish to pass up on such a great talent here.
16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Warmack is a slam-dunk pick here at No. 16.
Just roll the tape on this young man and you will see one of the best guard prospects in ages. While he may not be the biggest need for the Rams, the former Crimson Tide star represents a major upgrade to the interior of the offensive line.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Richardson would likely be a defensive end in Pittsburgh, but could provide injury insurance and depth along the entire defensive line.
He’s a versatile, athletic D-lineman who could definitely help the Steelers get back in playoff contention.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Cooper is a great guard prospect, but the Cowboys have to be disappointed Chance Warmack went two picks ahead.
Expect the team to try and trade up if they see Chance slipping, while considering this Tar Heels mauler as a suitable second-option.
19. New York Giants: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Okafor is a solid 4-3 defensive end that should help rejuvenate Big Blue’s slumping line.
The G-Men were able to win two Super Bowls in five years, largely due to a ferocious pass-rush giving no time to opposing signal-callers.
This Texas stud should help get that D-line back to winning form.
20. Chicago Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Fluker isn’t the greatest tackle prospect, but he’s the best on the board and represents an immediate upgrade to the Chicago line.
As long as this ‘Bama star’s presence means that Jay Cutler has more time to throw and is taking less hits, plus the running game gets a little boost, Fluker is going to be loved in Chi-Town.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
Ogletree’s recent DUI arrest may concern a number of teams, but the Bengals likely aren’t one of them.
This linebacker has the chance to become a real star in the NFL and Cincy is certainly known for giving second chances to talented prospects.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
With the Rams getting an elite lineman with their first pick, look for them to help out Sam Bradford with the No. 22 selection.
Hopkins is a top-flight wideout that should help ease the possible pain of losing multiple wide receivers this offseason.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Allen is a home-run draft pick for the Vikings, as they need to start developing Christian Ponder.
It’s not possible to do that with Percy Harvin representing the only serviceable receiver on the roster.
We imagine Allen comes off the board here to help the young signal-caller and keep pressure off Adrian Peterson.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Expect the Colts to improve either their offensive or defensive line with this pick.
While Andrew Luck was hit a ton in 2012, the Colts defense was absolutely terrible. Hankins should be able to immediately come in and bolster the struggling defensive line if he’s nabbed here.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore’s poor combine showing has him sliding down big boards everywhere, which is a blessing in disguise for the Seahawks.
This team direly needs to add some defensive linemen to a squad that should be competing for a Super Bowl for the next few years, and they’ll get a great football talent in Moore if he’s available.
Of course, Moore’s stock could shoot back up with a nice pro day, so he’s worth monitoring over the next few weeks.
26. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Packers could use a defensive lineman or offensive lineman, but we have them taking the best running back in the 2013 class here.
Lacy is a big, physical but fast runner that could rejuvenate a nonexistent ground game in Green Bay.
The BCS Championship MVP would keep pressure off Aaron Rodgers and could become a 20-plus touches per game back.
27. Houston Texans: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Austin is a major playmaker with insane athleticism and speed.
He could be penned in as the No. 2 across from Andre Johnson right away, and should have a chance to replace him as the team’s top receiver down the line.
28. Denver Broncos: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Trufant would be a great pick for a feisty Denver defense that needs to start worrying about Champ Bailey’s decline.
There’s no better value on the board here, so don’t be surprised if the team brass pulls the trigger on this underrated prospect.
29. New England Patriots: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Matt Elam is the kind of safety that the Patriots need.
He’s young, athletic, dynamic and versatile, making him a great Bill Belichick prospect. If Elam winds up in New England, he could become dominant in a hurry.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
With John Abraham being cut loose, the Falcons need to worry more about replacing the stout defensive end than finding a backup option for Tony Gonzalez.
Montgomery is a great selection and could be a huge boon for Atlanta’s hopes of making it back to the NFC Championship Game.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
With 15 picks in the draft, the Niners can’t be expected to hold at No. 31.
We believe they will move up and nab a more talented prospect, but wouldn’t be making the worst decision to grab Datone Jones out of UCLA here.
However, it’s just not likely this organization sits still—especially not in the early rounds.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams plays with an edge and seems to be the kind of big run-stopper the franchise is looking for to plug the middle of its D-line.
There’s a ton of great options left on the board if the Ravens decide to go a different way, but Williams seems to be the best available in this mock.