Every year in the NFL draft, franchises need to decide whether polarizing prospects are worth a high draft pick.
On one hand, their skills may translate well to the NFL. On the other hand, they may come complete with character concerns and/or raw, untapped potential.
It's a tough choice. These prospects can either blossom a la Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers or never live up to the hype.
Here's my latest 2013 NFL mock draft, complete with the biggest potential busts in the class (in italics).
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Luke Joeckel has the skill set to be a Pro Bowler in the NFL. He may not be as agile as Eric Fisher of Central Michigan, but we all know what he did for Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. The Chiefs now have their quarterback in Alex Smith. They need to add some protection for him.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Jaguars are looking for versatile players who can fit the "Leo" pass-rusher position. Not only is Dion Jordan extremely versatile, he's one of the most athletic, explosive prospects in the class. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds at the combine.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Shariff Floyd's combination of power and athleticism was on full display at the combine. The Raiders need help up the middle, and Floyd could become a disruptive force in the NFL. He's also one of the more pro-ready prospects in the class.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
A defensive back hasn't been drafted this high since Charles Woodson in 1998, but the Eagles are in dire straits in the secondary. They could lose Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie this offseason. Dee Milliner is one of the surest things at cornerback this year. He's not only displayed excellent coverage skills, but he also has the tackling skills and tenacity to stack up against the run.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
If you believe in Ezekiel Ansah's potential, this is a no-brainer for the Lions. They need an edge rusher, and Ansah has been compared to New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in terms of explosiveness and athleticism.
On the other hand, Ansah has also been compared to Pierre-Paul because JPP was raw when he came into the league. Ansah doesn't have a variety of pass-rushing moves and he needs work on his technique.
In essence, Ansah is a work in progress who could become a Pro Bowler if he develops his skill set.
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
There are questions about reports that Jarvis Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. On the other hand, Rob Rang of CBSSports.com noted that he passed multiple teams' tests.
Jones was an animal in 2012, displaying the explosiveness, closing ability and hitting power to be an instant difference-maker in the NFL.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Geno Smith may not be consistent at this point in his career—which raises some red flags for some teams—but he does have the arm strength and mobility in the pocket to be a legit starter in the NFL. The Cardinals can't afford to pass up a potential franchise quarterback.
8. Buffalo Bills: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
There are rumblings that the Bills might go after USC quarterback Matt Barkley, but I just don't think Barkley belongs here. There are too many questions surrounding him—ranging from his durability to his arm strength to his decision-making—for the Bills to spend a top-10 pick on him.
Instead, I like the Bills going after a potential difference-maker in Cordarrelle Patterson to plug in opposite Stevie Johnson in Buffalo. Patterson has the tools to be a star at the next level.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Barkevious Mingo has a lean frame—even for an outside linebacker in Rex Ryan's system—but he has too much upside as a pass-rusher for the Jets to pass him up here. Mingo is raw, but his combination of explosiveness and athleticism could make him a Pro Bowler in the NFL.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Chris Johnson won't be complaining if the Titans grab Chance Warmack—it's as simple as that. Warmack is a premier run-blocker and he stands up well against the pass. He showed his mettle in the big and bad SEC last season, and he fills a need for Tennessee.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Chargers (more specifically, Philip Rivers) will be jumping up and down if Eric Fisher falls here. The Central Michigan product very well could based on other teams' needs. Fisher's agility stands out for his size. He ranked second in the broad jump (116.0 inches) and tied for first in the 20-yard shuttle (4.44 seconds) among offensive linemen at the combine.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
With the Dolphins landing free agent receiver Mike Wallace, the next step is to find a cornerback to replace Sean Smith, who could depart via free agency. Xavier Rhodes has the size and skill set to stand up to the bigger receivers in the NFL and be an asset against the run.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Buccaneers could reach for Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant here, but I think it's going to be difficult for them to pass up Star Lotulelei, given his immense potential and the fact that he fills a need in Tampa.
Lotulelei's combination of power and quickness is outstanding, and it's not out of the question that he develops into one of the game's best interior linemen in a short period of time.
On the other hand, there are concerns about a a possible heart condition that could lower his stock.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Sheldon Richardson is one of my favorite players in the class. His combination of speed and athleticism is eye-opening and he has the motor and character to put it all together. The Panthers would love to plug him into the middle of the line.
15. New Orleans Saints: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Lane Johnson could be selected in the first 11 picks, but it's not out of the question that he falls here based on other teams' needs. He ranked second in the 40-yard dash, second in the vertical jump, first in the broad jump, second in the three-cone drill and fifth in the 20-yard shuttle among offensive linemen at the combine. Not a bad guy to help protect Drew Brees' blind side.
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
This is a no-brainer for the Rams. They need help at safety and Kenny Vaccaro is widely regarded as the best safety in the class. He not only has the range to be an asset in pass coverage, he's a dynamic run-stuffer and tackler, which should delight Jeff Fisher and Co.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
There are a lot of questions surrounding Damontre Moore based on his lack of strength (he only managed 12 reps at 225 pounds at the combine), but his ability to bend around the edge and his burst could still make him a nice player. He dominated in the SEC last season.
The Steelers need an edge rusher and Moore could prove to be a nice bargain here.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
Jonathan Cooper posted an official time of 5.07 seconds in the 40-yard dash...at 311 pounds. He has the athleticism, versatility and blocking skills to be welcomed with open arms by Tony Romo and Co.
19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Bjoern Werner doesn't possess elite athleticism, and that could hurt him in the draft. On the other hand, he displayed the football IQ and pass-rushing repertoire at Florida State to boost him past expectations in the NFL.
He's a steal for the Giants at No. 19 overall. It's going to be interesting where he lands on draft day.
20. Chicago Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Yes, the Bears signed former New Orleans Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod on Tuesday, but I'm still not convinced he's the answer for Jay Cutler and Co. Bushrod's 2012 campaign didn't compare to his 2011 performance, as ProFootballFocus.com noted. PFF called him a "serviceable starter."
D.J. Fluker has risen up draft boards, displaying the power and length to be a solid starter in the NFL. He also lost 16 pounds from the Senior Bowl to the combine (via Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com). He has the athleticism to be a tackle in the pros.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Alec Ogletree has all the tools to excel in the pros. He also could be a headache, given his long list of prior scrapes with the law.
Isn't the fact that the Bengals gave Vontaze Burfict a shot last year enough evidence to believe they would draft Ogletree, too?
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin has soared up draft boards after running the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the combine. The slot receiver could be a star if used in the right capacity in the NFL, and he would be a great weapon for Sam Bradford in St. Louis.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
When the Vikings traded Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, it was pretty clear they would be adding a receiver in the draft. Keenan Allen has the height and athleticism to be a Pro Bowler at the next level.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Desmond Trufant is a no-doubter as a first-round selection. What he showed during Senior Bowl week—combined with his combine performance and pedigree—has raised eyebrows throughout the league. He has ideal size, strength and athleticism to translate to the next level.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seahawks): Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
The Vikings have nothing in the linebacking corps beyond Chad Greenway. Arthur Brown could be a steal this late. He's displayed the range, instincts, versatility and toughness to surprise in the NFL.
26. Green Bay Packers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Packers would like a rush linebacker here, but with the top prospects already selected, I see them grabbing Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. He isn't an immediate fill-in, but he provides depth and could become a starter in a year or two. His potential makes him hard to pass up at No. 26 overall.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
What DeAndre Hopkins lacks in explosiveness, he more than makes up for with his route-running, football IQ and fluidity. I really like this kid and he could become a dynamic complement to Andre Johnson in Houston.
28. Denver Broncos: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Possessing the frame to stuff the run and the quickness to make plays behind the line of scrimmage, Kawann Short could fill in nicely in the middle of Denver's line. Given he would probably be facing plenty of one-on-one matchups alongside Denver's superior edge rushers, he could make a difference from Week 1.
29. New England Patriots: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Even if the Patriots re-sign Wes Welker, they need a starting receiver opposite Brandon Lloyd. Robert Woods doesn't possess elite size or speed, but he's fluid in his routes and he's shown he can separate from defenders regardless. A crafty, smart player? Sounds like someone Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Co. would love.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Even with Tony Gonzalez returning, I don't see why the Falcons wouldn't develop Tyler Eifert under the legend. In fact, it makes perfect sense. Eifert displayed the athleticism to shine in the NFL at the combine and learning under Gonzalez for a year could help him explode in 2014.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Yes, the 49ers have Justin Smith, but Smith is aging and the 49ers need depth beyond him, anyway. Plus, Isaac Sopoaga signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday. Jesse Williams possesses the size, strength and motor to be an elite run-stuffer at the next level.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Ravens need help in the linebacking corps with Ray Lewis retiring and Dannell Ellerbe signing with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday. Kevin Minter could be a steal here, given his instincts, tackling ability and toughness.
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