2013 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting Most Important Moves of First Round
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Every move in Round 1 of the 2013 NFL draft will be quite riveting.
Courtesy of pro football's free agency, there has also been a shake in the first round.
Now before we get ahead, the pool of talent is still dominated by the offensive and defensive lines. Eric Fisher of Central Michigan is right up there with Luke Joeckel because a strong season was followed by an impressive offseason to this point.
We're also still in the midst of pro days, and plenty of evaluating remains.
For now, though, let's dive in and see what changes have occurred since last week.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
Kansas City has the opportunity to land the draft's top prospect, and taking Luke Joeckel upgrades the offensive line. His impact will obviously improve the pass protection and quickly create lanes for Jamaal Charles.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
The Jaguars won't make a turnaround without stuffing better against the run. Sharrif Floyd is the perfect answer here because he can halt blocking schemes at the line and make plays in the backfield.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
An increase of reliable coverage will immediately help Oakland get back on track. Selecting Dee Milliner takes away half of the field against the pass, not to mention he'll be of solid consistence against the run.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
Had it not been for Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher would be this draft's top offensive lineman.
Nevertheless, going No. 4 overall to the Eagles is a great fit. Philadelphia gave up 48 sacks last season and needs stronger pass protection to field a more effective offense.
As for Fisher, the guy offers excellent balance, body control and quickness to the position. His footwork shuffles smoothly, and Fisher knows when to get extension on the faster rushers. He'll also benefit Philly's ground game.
Although Fisher does need to get stronger, his awareness and explosiveness will extend lanes from the backside and seal blocks in the trenches. Factor in a culmination of a strong Senior Bowl week and NFL combine results, and Fisher's pro day only helped.
Cory Butzin of MLive.com wrote on Monday of Fisher:
Fisher chose to stand on those numbers at his Pro Day, choosing to focus on positional drills. And it turned out to be a good decision. He ran through drills that highlighted his athleticism, footwork and fundamentals.
In short, expect the Eagles offense to really drive the rock at a sound rate next fall.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
Detroit needs to field a pass rush that's also capable of playing disciplined against the run. Bjoern Werner offers this to the Lions because his instincts and agility will contain the edge. He's also quick enough to break up quicker passes at the line and rush inside when needed.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Controlling the line of scrimmage to a greater extent will make Cleveland a stronger AFC contender. Drafting Dion Jordan enhances the versatility, as he can contribute at defensive end or outside 'backer. Either way, the pass rush and run defense see improvement to complement the coverage.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Chance Warmack is a dire need for Arizona. The Cardinals presented a weak ground game and unreliable pass protection throughout 2012. Getting Warmack immediately addresses each aspect to bring more potential balance and ball control.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
Although the Bills could also address their defense here, Geno Smith is a great selection for the offense. For one, his strong arm, quick release and decision-making will pay fast dividends. Secondly, Buffalo provides the pass protection and ground game to maintain balance and give Smith time to develop.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Ezekiel Ansah possesses the athleticism and size to make an impact anywhere on the edge of the Jets' front seven. Whether it's defensive end or outside linebacker, New York now has a stronger pass rush and perimeter run defense. In addition, Ansah's quickness makes him capable of dipping inside for a faster rush in strict passing situations.
10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Tennessee's lack of pass defense warrants the drafting of Xavier Rhodes. With the talent to get physical at the line, Rhodes' size and strength also bodes well for man-to-man. Through development, he'll improve in zone, and Rhodes will also have an impact on edge run support.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
As one of the most athletic prospects, Lane Johnson becomes a competitive advantage for San Diego. He can seal the blindside for Philip Rivers and, when needed, get upfield to extend running lanes. His addition simply allows the Chargers to up the tempo while improving efficiency.
12. Miami Dolphins: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
The Dolphins can’t sign Wallace until 4 p.m. Tuesday, but all signs point to him landing in Miami, perhaps minutes after the new league year begins tomorrow.
Include Brian Hartline getting retained, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, and the Dolphins can focus on addressing their defense. Last season, the coverage ranked No. 27 and managed only 10 interceptions.
Well, taking Kenny Vaccaro out of Texas quickly turns the pass defense around for 2013. His instincts and field awareness can shut down slot receivers one-on-one, and Vaccaro can read back deep to make plays in strict passing situations.
Considering how solid Miami's pass rush proved to be despite unreliable coverage, Vaccaro will benefit accordingly. His ability to break up passes, roll down against the run and allow minimal yards after the catch lets the Dolphins get more aggressive up front and on the outside.
The end result will be a strong push toward to postseason.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
It's obvious that Tampa Bay must upgrade its coverage. Competing in the NFC South only makes this more imperative. Desmond Trufant may be a slight reach, but his top speed and instincts will quickly impact Tampa for the better.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Star Lotulelei is a slight risk because, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com, a health concern was known last month:
Star Lotulelei, one of the elite prospects for the 2013 NFL draft, will not be allowed to work out Monday at the scouting combine after an echocardiogram revealed that the former Utah defensive tackle has a heart condition that requires more testing.
Still, Lotulelei's ability is worthy of a Round 1 selection. Carolina needs a tougher front seven, and getting him will have the Panthers controlling the trenches more consistently.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
The pass-rushing skill set and assignment discipline of Barkevious Mingo are huge gets for New Orleans. The Saints lacked in each aspect, but Mingo's athleticism alone will squeeze the edge and apply exterior pressure. In short, New Orleans forces more punts to win the possession battle.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
St. Louis presenting a guard in Jonathan Cooper significantly bolsters the ground game and pass protection. Cooper's agility and strength will quickly create running lanes. Plus, he can pull outside for bootlegs, sprint outs, sweeps, tosses and counters off tackle.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
First, the Steelers released James Harrison late last week:
It's been a great run but all good things must come to a end. Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you all!— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) March 9, 2013
Therefore, drafting Jarvis Jones easily replenishes this role in Pittsburgh. Jones' pass-rushing talent and ability to create turnover opportunities will get the Steelers back to dominating up front.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
Giving up 4.5 yards per rush in 2012 really hurt Dallas' defense. Bringing in Sheldon Richardson, though, inflates this area for Big D. Richardson's ability to menace a backfield will then draw double-teams, which also complements DeMarcus Ware on the outside.
19. New York Giants: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
Just like Dallas, the Giants have to improve against the run. Sylvester Williams is capable of crashing behind the line and interfering with any developing play. And should he draw double-teams, an offense is then at a disadvantage against the presence of Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul.
20. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
The Bears could definitely go with offensive line here, but the best pass-blockers are gone by this point. Getting Tyler Eifert, however, completes the receiving talent for Jay Cutler and allows Chicago to run quicker plays. The ground attack is solid, so featuring Eifert adds stronger balance, and the Bears become more efficient.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
The Bengals have to find more reliable coverage. Matt Elam is the answer here, as his speed and body control will shield well in man underneath and zone over the top. In turn, Cincinnati forces more turnovers, and the pass rush has a bit more time to apply pressure.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
The Rams get a competitive advantage with Cordarrelle Patterson in Round 1. Presenting a combination of size and athleticism, Patterson's deep threat potential will keep St. Louis balanced. This selection also complements Jonathan Cooper because defenses won't blitz Sam Bradford as consistently.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
Tavon Austin fits perfectly for the Vikings because Percy Harvin was traded via Jay Glazer of FOX Sports:
The Seahawks and Vikings have agreed to a trade that send Harvin to Seattle for draft picks, pending Harvin passing a physical— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) March 11, 2013
Austin is a versatile threat who compiled 3,300 total yards between 2011 and 2012 and scored 24 offensive touchdowns in that span. The guy can do everything from the slot, whether it's slants, screens, outs, drags, jet sweeps, read-options or quick tosses.
This impact only creates a more manipulative play action and will widen a defense, which complements Adrian Peterson. Making Austin more marketable, though, are his returning skills.
On kickoffs, he amassed 2,407 yards, scored four times and averaged 24.8 yards per return. On punts, he collected 433 yards and one score over the past two seasons. The Vikings desperately need to bolster the passing game and feature another threat after Peterson.
Then again, Austin did clock 4.34 seconds on the 40-yard dash and 4.01 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle. Just his threat to get open underneath and take it the distance makes Minnesota more explosive.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
Indianapolis remains an AFC playoff contender. Taking that next step simply comes in the form of Damontre Moore. The Colts need to spruce up the pass rush, and Moore's quickness will wreck a backfield.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks): D.J. Fluker, OT (Alabama)
Also according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the Seahawks traded this selection away to the Vikings :
Seattle sends this years first round pick and a 7th rounder as well as a mid-round pick next year for Harvin. Win-win for both teams— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) March 11, 2013
Mesh all that together, and D.J. Fluker fits for Minnesota. He is a run-blocking-oriented tackle who, when needed, also brings the size to line up at guard. This selection comes nicely after Austin as well because the Vikings have stronger balance to keep opponents honest.
26. Green Bay Packers: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times last season. But with the best of offensive lineman off the board here, upgrading the run defense becomes a solid path in Round 1. The Packers allowed 4.5 yards per rush in 2012, and landing Alex Okafor helps cut this down. His explosiveness and lateral agility will contribute nicely as a defensive end or occasionally at outside linebacker.
27. Houston Texans: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
Improving the secondary with Johnthan Banks will get Houston to that next postseason step. The pass defense was exploited by the better quarterbacks in 2012, but Banks' ability to cover space quickly reduces the yards allowed. He'll also generate turnovers and benefit from J.J. Watt and the pass rush.
28. Denver Broncos: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
Unless the Broncos want to reach for a cornerback here, drafting Alec Ogletree is a great add to the front seven. He's capable of blitzing, filling running lanes and sinking into coverage, courtesy of impressive athleticism. Even better, Ogletree can contribute at inside or outside 'backer to assist Von Miller.
29. New England Patriots: Jonathan Cyprien, Safety (Florida International)
With Tom Brady under center, New England's offense is fine. On the contrary, the pass defense needs Jonathan Cyprien to roll down for blitzing linebackers and makes plays in Cover 1 and 3. And until the Patriots lock down better in coverage, a Super Bowl run will only get tougher.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Atlanta is in a similar boat as New England. It must improve defensively. The minute difference just resides in the run defense for the Falcons, which makes Kawann Short a strong selection. The guy simply knows how to disrupt a quarterback's timing, and his nose for the rock will pay immediate dividends.
31. San Francisco 49ers: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)
John Jenkins is a beast in the trenches, and his athleticism will keep San Francisco dominant against the run. The 49ers have to get younger now up front, and Jenkins' size and quickness alone will bulldoze across the line. Ultimately, the linebackers aren't blocked downfield as often, and the overall pass rush gets inflated.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)
After receiving minimal playing time at Miami, Arthur Brown suited up for Kansas State in 2011 and 2012. During his tenure for Bill Snyder, Brown accounted for 201 tackles, 16.5 sacks and nine defended passes.
His size and mobility fills a void for Baltimore because Brown's tackling and coverage skill set can impact at inside or outside linebacker. And in order to make another Super Bowl run, the Ravens will have to stuff the run better.
Failing to do so will set up play action, and Baltimore didn't generate many turnovers in 2012. Brown's keen awareness and quickness first matches well against the run. Although undersized for the position, Baltimore presents the front seven talent around him to succeed.
A bidding war is expected to unfold between the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts for Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.
Even though Brown isn't a true pass-rusher, a 3-4 defense needs an abundance of 'backers to control the line of scrimmage.
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