2013 NFL Mock Draft: Complete Guide to Success for Each First-Round Team

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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Complete Guide to Success for Each First-Round Team
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The NFL draft isn’t exactly an objective process, and draft-day success typically takes years to accurately assess. Still, there is a lot of value in breaking down what teams need to do to maximize their efforts in the selection process.

The “need vs. value” discussion is one of the most hotly debated topics in NFL draft circles. The bottom line is this: need and value have to meet in order to find true success in the draft. A team can’t completely ignore positional needs, but it also can’t reach for players just to fill holes.

Each team has a plan formulated for the draft. Free agency will dictate a lot of the fine print, but we already have a pretty firm grasp on what each team must do in April to improve for the future.

In this mock draft, we’ll break down projections for each first-round pick. These selections represent what we feel teams will do in the first round.

We also offer an alternative option for many of the picks, highlighting what teams should do to best utilize their selections and find success through the draft.

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

The Pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

The Chiefs reached an agreement on a new contract with Dwayne Bowe, giving them the option to designate left tackle Branden Albert as their franchise player (per ESPN). With those moves, projecting Kansas City’s direction on draft day got immensely more difficult.

Following those moves, the Chiefs also released Eric Winston (per ESPN), once again opening the door for Joeckel to be the first overall pick. 

Joeckel is the best player in this draft class, and he'll give Kansas City the option of using Albert in another role on the offensive line.There's doesn't seem to be a better option here short of trading back, and the market for that will be limited.

Better Pick: None

 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Pick: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Jacksonville’s pass rush has been nonexistent in recent years. The team’s 20 sacks was worst in the league in 2012, and finding a pass-rushing presence at defensive end should be a top priority on draft day.

New general manager David Caldwell has plenty of options available, but Werner is the best choice with the second pick. He’s the best all-around 4-3 defensive end in this draft class, and he’ll go a long way toward bolstering the worst pass rush in the NFL.

Better Pick: None

 

3. Oakland Raiders

The Pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller reported during the Senior Bowl that the Raiders have serious interest in Smith, as he and Aaron Nagler point out here:

Carson Palmer is nearing the end of his career and Terrelle Pryor didn’t get much of a chance last season. Selecting a new potential franchise quarterback will certainly be an option for them with the third pick.

While quarterback is any team’s position of most importance, the Raiders have a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. New general manager Reggie McKenzie won’t want one of his first big moves with the team to be for a player that doesn’t fill a glaring need or present enough value to be a home-run selection.

Trading back would ultimately be the better choice here, but there’s still a lot of time before that even becomes an option for the Raiders. For now, it looks like Smith is their most likely pick.

Better Pick: Trading Back

 

4. Philadelphia Eagles

The Pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

The Philadelphia Eagles have completely revamped their defense in free agency. With several key additions, Philadelphia will have the option of drafting the best available player with the No. 4 selection.

Lotulelei is extremely versatile in a schematic sense, and he'll offer new defensive coordinator Billy Davis plenty of options. Chip Kelly would probably prefer an explosive offensive weapon with this pick, but it seems the Eagles are intently focused on improving their defense this offseason.

Better Pick: None

 

5. Detroit Lions

The Pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

 

Jeff Backus retired this offseason and finding a replacement at left tackle will be critical for protecting Matthew Stafford and keeping Detroit's offense moving in the right direction.

The Lions have several needs to address in the draft, but offensive tackle is easily their biggest now. Cornerback, defensive end, safety and linebacker are all needs, though, and the Lions may benefit more from moving back to acquire an extra selection or two with which they can plug some of those holes.

Better Pick: Trading Back

 

6. Cleveland Browns

The Pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

This is a dream pick for the Browns. After adding to their pass-rushing element through free agency in Quentin Groves and Paul Kruger, they now have the option of making both a value- and needs-based selection with the No. 6 pick.

Cleveland hasn't had a quality cornerback to start opposite Joe Haden, and adding Milliner would give it one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL.

Better Pick: None

 

7. Arizona Cardinals

The Pick: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

According to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, the Cardinals expressed a lot of interest in Barkley at the combine, and Jeremiah also cited several sources who believed he will be on Arizona’s radar with this pick.

Half of draft prognostication is going on what we know versus what we think. Personal player evaluations are important, but they mean nothing regarding what teams will actually do on draft day.

I don’t think Barkley is the right pick here, but the Barkley rumors are substantial right now. If Arizona decides to go quarterback with this pick, there’s a good chance it’s him.

While quarterback is certainly an option (and a relative need), it’s not going to matter who the Cardinals put under center right now if they can’t repair their offensive line. Arizona’s pass-protection unit was awful in 2012, and no rookie signal-caller will have success  for the Cardinals in 2013 if they can’t find a way to protect him. 

Better Pick: Lane Johnson

 

8. Buffalo Bills

The Pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

I haven’t seriously considered Patterson a possibility here for very long, but it’s starting to make a lot of sense, especially if Barkley is no longer on the board.

Patterson is one of the best offensive weapons in this draft class. He has the size, speed and hands to be a big-time playmaker at the NFL level, and there’s a good chance he doesn’t make it out of the top 10 on draft day.

Quarterback is certainly a need here, but there aren’t any worth a pick at this point. Locking up a potential Pro Bowl receiver with dynamic play-making ability would be an excellent move.

Better Pick: None

 

9. New York Jets

The Pick: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon

With Smith and Barkley off the board, there’s virtually no chance New York even considers a quarterback here. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out, Mark Sanchez’s job is probably safe for another year:

Even if one of the top-two signal-callers were still available, taking a quarterback wouldn’t be the Jets’ best option. Sanchez isn’t the answer in New York, but he’s probably a better candidate than a rookie entering a situation in which there aren’t many offensive weapons to facilitate a smooth transition.

Like several teams in the top 10, the Jets need help in a lot of areas. Finding a quality pass-rusher should be a top priority.

Jordan is one of the best pass-rushers in this class, and he's also more polished than both Barkevious Mingo and Ezekiel Ansah. Jordan can be an immediate producer for a team seriously lacking in the pass-rush department.  

Better Pick: None

 

10. Tennessee Titans

The Pick: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

If the draft plays out as this mock draft has, the Titans will be in an enviable position with the No. 10 selection. Floyd is the best available defensive lineman, and the best available offensive lineman (Chance Warmack) is still available as well.

Positional value plays a big role in first-round drafting, though. Guards aren’t typically coveted in the top half of the first round, and a defensive tackle like Floyd has a lot more value.

Regardless of which they choose, both are positions of need for the Titans. Strengthening their interior offensive and defensive lines should be a top priority in April. 

Better Pick: Chance Warmack

 

11. San Diego Chargers

The Pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

The Chargers are still searching for a good replacement for Marcus McNeill, who retired before last season. There isn’t a better left tackle available at this point, and the Chargers will have a hard time containing their excitement if they can land Johnson on draft day.

Though Johnson doesn't have a ton of experience at the position, he's extremely athletic and surprisingly polished. Given the need and the other options available here, San Diego will get very lucky landing him.

Better Pick: None

 

12. Miami Dolphins

The Pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With Milliner already off the board, Rhodes becomes the Dolphins’ next-best option to shore up their secondary. Wide receiver could also be an option here, but Miami made a big move in that area by signing free agent Mike Wallace.

While selecting Rhodes would be a good decision, a better decision would be to address the left tackle position with Jake Long now in St. Louis. This year’s cornerback class is incredibly deep, and with two picks in the second round, Miami will have a lot of options at the position.

I’ve long believed Johnson to be the Chargers’ future selection at No. 11, but things are now a bit hazy. The entire top half of the draft was shaken up by Kansas City’s offseason moves, and Johnson falling to the Dolphins now seems like a real possibility.

However, in this situation Johnson is off the board. Rhodes gets the nod and would be a solid addition to the secondary.

Better Pick: None

 

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Like Miami, the Bucs need to seriously consider shoring up their secondary in the first round. Tampa Bay finished the 2012 season dead last in pass defense, due in large part to a lack of quality talent in the defensive backfield.

They got off to a good start by adding safety Dashon Goldson in free agency, and while cornerback would be a better option with this pick, it doesn't seem there is enough value to reach for Desmond Trufant.

Richardson is very athletic for his size and has the potential to be an excellent one-gap defensive tackle in the NFL. Paired with Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay could field one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the league. 

Better Pick: Desmond Trufant

 

14. Carolina Panthers

The Pick: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Eric Francis/Getty Images

If things play out in the draft as they have in this mock draft, Carolina will be in an unfortunate situation.

The Panthers need to address their interior defensive line, but the top three defensive tackles are already off the board. Hankins is a terrific prospect, but he doesn't quite compare to Lotulelei, Floyd and Richardson.

Still, need sometimes outweighs value and the Panthers may be forced to address need first if Hankins is available.

Better Pick: DeAndre Hopkins

 

15. New Orleans Saints

The Pick: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU

It’s hard to get a read on Mingo’s draft stock. He has the raw athletic ability to be a premier pass-rusher in the NFL, but his raw football skills and likely transition to outside linebacker will probably push him outside the top five picks—potentially to the Saints at No. 15.

One of New Orleans’ most glaring weaknesses in recent years has been its lack of a good pass-rusher. With a transition to a 3-4 on the horizon, finding some athletic edge-rushers should be near the top of the Saints’ offseason to-do list.

Better Pick: Jarvis Jones

 

16. St. Louis Rams

The Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

The Rams cut Quintin Mikell prior to free agency, leaving at hole at both safety positions. If Vaccaro is available, he'll be a lock to go No. 16 to the Rams.

With a nonexistent receiving corps, they may also consider DeAndre Hopkins or Tavon Austin here, but one of the two should be available when they pick again at No. 22. Vaccaro won't be.

Better Pick: None

 

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Jones has the talent to be a top-five pick on draft day, but concerns regarding his health will likely scare off a lot of teams, as Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reported at the combine:

Jones suffers from spinal stenosis—a condition that may have led to the neck injury that preceded Marcus McNeill's early retirement.

Still, Jones’ immense talent won’t facilitate a fall too far in the first round. The Steelers need to re-tool at the outside linebacker position, and Jones is the best option.

General manager Kevin Colbert has always done well drafting for both value and need. Jones fits both requirements, though it would make a lot of sense for Pittsburgh to trade back with so many holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball.

Better Pick: Trading Back

 

18. Dallas Cowboys

The Pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Dallas applied the franchise tag to Anthony Spencer, meaning one piece of the Tampa-2 transition is in place. He’ll likely play defensive end in the 4-3 scheme, and addressing that position is no longer a major offseason concern.

What is still a major concern is the lack of quality blockers on Dallas’ offensive line. The Cowboys haven’t been able to establish a running game recently, and Tony Romo has constantly been harassed by A-gap pressure. Adding a strong blocker to the interior offensive line will help in both facets of the offense.

Better Pick: None

 

19. New York Giants

The Pick: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

With Osi Umenyiora a free agent and Justin Tuck’s recent struggles at the position, adding another quality defensive end to pair with Jason Pierre-Paul is a necessity for the Giants this offseason.

Ansah is one of the best pass-rushers available in this draft class, but his raw football skills and inexperience may force a slide in the first round. The Giants would do well to take advantage of his potential and select him with the 19th pick.

Better Pick: None

 

20. Chicago Bears

The Pick: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

Chicago’s pass-protection unit was one of the worst in the league in 2012. Shoring up its offensive line will be something Chicago needs to consider early and often in April. They added left tackle Jermon Bushrod in free agency, though, and there isn't an offensive lineman who warrants a top-20 selection here.

Ogletree is an extremely versatile player who would fit well in Chicago's Cover-2 schemes. With speed, quickness, athleticism and awareness, the Bears can lock up a player who has a mile-high ceiling in the NFL.

Better Pick: None

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals

The Pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Right tackle Andre Smith has hit the open market, and he reportedly wants a massive contract (per NFL.com).

If Smith and the Bengals can’t come to terms on a reasonable agreement, they may be forced to look for another option in the draft. Don’t be surprised if they choose to instead fill the void with Fluker.

Fluker is a mauler on the right side, and he has the potential to be one of the league’s best right tackles very early in his career. He’s also a capable pass-protector, though his size will likely relegate him to a right-side role in the NFL.

Linebacker Rey Maualuga is a free agent, but Cincinnati apparently wants to retain his services (via Pro Football Talk). If the Bengals decide to let him hit the open market, finding a replacement should also be a big conern.

Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree’s recent DUI arrest will probably necessitate a slide down some draft boards, but he has the talent to be a top-10 pick. If Maualuga doesn’t return and Ogletree is still available, the Bengals will have a tough decision to make between Maualuga and Fluker.

Better Pick: Arthur Brown

 

22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)

The Pick: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

After getting their safety with the 16th pick, the Rams can look to add an offensive weapon for Sam Bradford.

The Oklahoma signal-caller hasn’t had a lot to work with in St. Louis, and he needs a quality X-receiver to open up the passing game. Hopkins had an ultra-productive 2012 season at Clemson, and he has all the physical tools to be a very good pass-catcher at the NFL level.

Better Pick: None

 

23. Minnesota Vikings

The Pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

With the top two receivers in this class now off the board, Minnesota has to consider West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin with this pick. Defensive tackle and linebacker will be positions to consider, but finding a receiver to take pressure of Christian Ponder should be a top priority.

Austin isn't the type of receiver who can shoulder an entire offense, but he does have the elite skills with the ball in his hand to be an explosive offensive weapon in the slot. Hopkins would be a better option here given his ability to line up all over the field, but the Vikings need to take advantage of being able to select a true playmaker with this pick.

Better Pick: None

 

24. Indianapolis Colts

The Pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

The Colts have several needs, and most of them are on the defensive side of the ball. Ryan Grigson has done well in free agency, though, and the holes are slowly beginning to fill in.

Cornerback is still a position that needs to be addressed to establish depth, and Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant is an exceptional prospect at the position. He hasn't received the hype of Milliner or Rhodes, but his ceiling almost as high.

Better Pick: None

 

25. Minnesota Vikings (From Seattle)

The Pick: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

With Tavon Austin already locked up, Minnesota can turn its attention to the defensive side of the ball.

Williams is a big, strong defensive tackle with the frame and lower-body strength to be a terrific run defender in the NFL. He has a solid base and a strong anchor to hold up against opposing guards and plug the run at the line of scrimmage.

Linebacker could also be in play here, but Williams is an immediate starter. With plenty of quality linebackers still available, the Vikings can wait until the second round to select one.

Better Pick: Trading Back

 

26. Green Bay Packers

The Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

USA TODAY Sports

For being one of the best teams in the league, Green Bay still has a lot of holes to fill.

Safety, defensive end and linebacker could all be in play here, but Cooper is the best player still on the board. He has the talent to be a terrific interior offensive lineman in the NFL.

While Cooper will have to bulk up to play on the right side, he has the versatility to play any of the interior line positions. Green Bay needs to shore up the middle of its line (specifically at the center position), and Cooper is the best choice with this pick.

Better Pick: Jonathan Cyprien

 

27. Houston Texans

The Pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California

Houston's biggest competition for Allen may be Minnesota. With two picks in the first round, the Vikings will no doubt be looking for help at the wide receiver position.

If Allen is still available, the Texans will have a hard time passing on him. He doesn't have the elite straight-line speed NFL scouts would probably like to see, but he's arguably the most complete receiver in this draft

Andre Johnson needs another quality pass-catching weapon to open up the middle of the field for him. He's still a productive No. 1, but he won't continue to be without another option to take the pressure off him.

Better Pick: None

 

28. Denver Broncos

The Pick: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Champ Bailey is nearing the end of his career. He didn’t play well in the playoffs, and finding a replacement will be near the top of Denver’s draft-day to-do list.

Banks didn't run well at the combine (4.61), but he's one of the more complete defensive backs in this draft class. Given the holes that Denver has already filled in free agency, cornerback is on the short-list of needs at this point in the offseason.

Better Pick: None

 

29. New England Patriots

The Pick: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

With Wes Welker headed to Denver and Danny Amendola taking his place, it's clear the Patriots plan to revamp their offense this offseason.

New England's defensive backfield is a bigger area of need, but Bill Belichick loves to give his quarterback new weapons. With Justin Hunter still on the board, he has the opportunity to add one of the most explosive offensive weapons as a potential future No. 1 for Tom Brady.

Better Pick: Jonathan Cyprien

 

30. Atlanta Falcons

The Pick: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

With the surprising release of defensive end John Abraham, the Falcons are now extremely thin at the position. Defensive end will certainly be a position at which the Falcons look to improve through the draft.

Moore didn't perform well at the combine and his stock will likely take a hit as a result. Still, he's never been considered an athletic freak, and his true value is in his high motor and innate ability to get to opposing quarterbacks.

Although the value in this pick is exceptional, Moore doesn't have an extremely high ceiling. Florida State's Tank Carradine offers a little more upside at the position, but an ACL tear last season may scare off some teams in the first round.

Better Pick: Tank Carradine

 

31. San Francisco 49ers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pick: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International

With picks at the end of the first round and beginning of the second round, San Francisco can address a couple positions of need.

Dashon Goldson is now in Tampa Bay (per ESPN), and San Francisco's cornerbacks were exploited in the playoffs. A defensive back will almost certainly be the pick here.

While cornerback may be a more pressing need, Cyprien offers tremendous upside. He's a pro-ready prospect with ball skills and range to match his aggressiveness against the run, and he's the perfect fit in San Francisco.

Better Pick: None

 

32. Baltimore Ravens

The Pick: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame

Baltimore's championship team was gutted this offseason, and Ozzie Newsome is now faced with plenty of work to do.

Ray Lewis retired and Dannell Ellerbe left in free agency, making inside linebacker one of the Ravens' biggest concerns on defense. With Manti Te'o, Arthur Brown and Kevin Minter still available, Newsome will have plenty of quality options to choose from.

If Baltimore can find a trade partner, moving out of the first round may ultimately be a better choice, but trades are difficult to predict this far from the draft. As it stands, Te'o would be one of the best options to fill a position of need in the first round.

Better Pick: Trading Back

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