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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Essential Selections for Every First-Round GM

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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Essential Selections for Every First-Round GM
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We're hitting that midway point of the NFL offseason. This is a time when the needs of a team, plus free agency, really come into play when looking at mock drafts for the 2013 event.

While GMs are wheeling and dealing in free agency and impending trades, they are also keeping a close eye on prospects as pro days and meetings across the league commence.

These GMs  know that there are certain players that are can't-miss talents in this year's draft.

That being said, we've got you covered with the freshest mock draft.

It is complete with a look at how some of these free-agent signings have affected the first round, and who are the essential picks.

Any picks in italics indicate a proposed trade.

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

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If the Chiefs had any plans of using their pick before the start of free agency to bring in a franchise quarterback to compete with Alex Smith, signing Chase Daniel to a contract in the opening hours of free agency sealed that fate.

That being said, the team essentially has a choice between Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher.

Fisher played in a smaller conference, but has been impressive on a national stage since the Senior Bowl and NFL combine started. It isn't over yet, but right now I think the Chiefs would lean more towards Fisher on draft night.

 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Dion Jordan, Oregon

At No. 2, Jacksonville can play privy to the highest bidder or select a playmaker that will help them on the defensive side of the ball.

That decision should result in a choice between Dion Jordan and Jarvis Jones.

Jordan doesn't have the injury baggage that Jones does, and could revamp the defensive line in Jacksonville from day one.

Jordan has shot up draft boards after more film study and the combine, and he is a clear choice for this pick if the Jags want to go defense.

 

3. Buffalo Bills (proposed trade with Oakland Raiders): QB Geno Smith, West Virginia

After the Bills released QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on March 12, it's more imperative than ever that they get a new QB into the fold.

Even if it means trading up to do so.

Geno Smith is the best QB available. If the Bills leave it up to chance, they are running the risk of having to decide between Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon and Tyler Wilson. This way everyone wins, and Oakland picks up an additional pick or two in the process.

 

4. Philadelphia Eagles: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It's hard to see Chip Kelly doing anything other than upgrading the offensive line in Philadelphia after last year's shamble.

And he unwittingly has one of the best offensive tackles on the board when the Eagles select at No. 4.

If Joeckel is in fact available, he's a no-brainer pick for a team that basically forced Michael Vick to pack it after about the midway point of the season. With a solid offensive line and a new offense, Philly might be back on the right track with this pick.

 

5. Detroit Lions: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama

To me, this is the most essential pick of the draft for any general manager.

Milliner has been slated to go at No. 5 or higher since right before the NFL combine, and he's done nothing to change that in the three weeks since.

Milliner is this year's Morris Claiborne, and will not get away from the first few teams to pick on April 25.

 

6. Cleveland Browns: DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

Between Ansah and Barkevious Mingo, the Browns have their choice of pass-rushing DEs.

The team already addressed the defensive line on the opening day of free agency by signing Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant.

But there's still room for upgrades under the Rob Chudzinski regime.

One of those guys could be Ansah. Even though he is considered a project by some, he is still a dominating athlete by any measure of his ability.

If the Browns want to upgrade the defensive line by letting this guy loose on the QB in passing situations, they could strike gold.

 

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7. Arizona Cardinals: QB Matt Barkley, USC

If Buffalo does trade up and get Smith, the Cardinals are left with a choice between some of the second and third-best prospects at positions of need.

Do they reach and go get a Lane Johnson or D.J. Fluker for the offensive line, or go get Matt Barkley?

The Cards could surprise us all and take the best player available.

In any event, the team hasn't gotten rid of Kevin Kolb or made an attempt to trade or sign a free agent QB. And can you blame them?

So it's looking more and more like Bruce Arians will have a rookie QB in his camp as the starter for the second year in a row.

 

8. Oakland Raiders (via Buffalo Bills): DT Star Lotulelei, Utah

The Raiders lost Desmond Bryant, have an aging Richard Seymour and appear more likely to upgrade their defensive line than ever.

By trading back and picking up more draft selections, Oakland can afford to grab the best available with this pick.

Lucky for them, that player is Lotulelei. His heart condition that has rocked the draft boards has recently been evaluated and he was given a clean bill of health.

The Raiders need a DT, and Lotulelei fits the bill. Don't be surprised to see Sharrif Floyd drop with this pick, either.

 

9. New York Jets: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

If Jarvis Jones falls to No. 9, the Jets would be wise to select him in this year's draft.

New management is already wheeling and dealing players and picks to replace the misfortunes of previous mismanagement. And if they want real improvement, then they need a strong draft.

Jones is versatile, can rush the passer and drop into coverage and was an All-American for a reason: He's a stud.

And he would be a great fit on Rex Ryan's defense.


10. Tennessee Titans: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida

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The Titans made two of the biggest moves at the start of free agency: plugging a major offensive line hole by signing Andy Levitre, and adding a replacement for the departing Jared Cook with Delanie Walker.

The next problem to address is on defense, where the Titans were shredded last season. Floyd, a monster who scouts continue to rave about, would be a good start to solving the run defense and pass-rushing problems the Titans faced in 2012.

 

11. San Diego Chargers: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama

The Chargers suffered a big blow on March 12.

Louis Vasquez signed with division-rival Denver in one of the earliest moves of the free-agent period. Since Tennessee just spent a bunch of money on a guard, both Warmack and Jonathan Cooper will likely be around.

This pick is certainly a no-brainer given the fact that San Diego has multiple holes to plug along its offensive line.

 

12. Miami Dolphins: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

Some feel that the offensive addition of Mike Wallace and re-addition of Brian Hartline won't affect the Dolphins' ability to draft a playmaker like Keenan Allen or Cordarrelle Patterson.

But I disagree.

Spending that kind of money and then taking another receiver in the draft makes the team seem desperate for loading up on offense when the defense has plenty of holes itself.

One of those holes is corner, where Rhodes could slide in right away.


13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

It remains to be seen what happens in free agency, but secondary is a major concern in Tampa, too.

Even with Dashon Goldson coming aboard as a safety, Trufant has an NFL blood-line, plays the ball well and has all the tools to be a quality CB in the league.


14. Carolina Panthers: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

With the Panthers in position to take a defensive lineman or a talented receiver, there's a good chance Tavon Austin or Sheldon Richardson could be in play here.

However, getting a burner like Hopkins on the outside could allow the Panthers to move Steve Smith around in offensive sets to create more versatility. The ability to stretch the field can not be overstated in Carolina, especially with Cam Newton's huge arm and ability to run.

 

15. New Orleans Saints: DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU

Switching to the 3-4 defense, the biggest concern for the Saints in the draft appears to be finding a pass-rushing outside linebacker and some depth at inside linebacker.

Originally, Manti Te'o would have been a steal here at No. 15, but now it looks like Mingo is going to drop a little bit down the board with Jordan and Ansah rising.

If Mingo is here, he would be a great fit.


16. St. Louis Rams: OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

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No matter what happens in free agency, the offensive line will continue to be priority No. 1 until Sam Bradford goes through a full season while being protected at a higher level than the year before.

That being said, Cooper is the best guard available in the draft. Some even feel he is better than Chance Warmack. From value to team needs, Cooper makes a ton of sense.

 

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

Werner has fallen more than almost any other prospect this year since original projections began after the national championship, but that doesn't mean he's lacking first-round talent.

Pittsburgh is in the market for both pass-rushing and defensive line help. Werner has the strength to play the 3-4 DE, or slide out and play rush end in nickel and dime situations.

 

18. Dallas Cowboys: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

The Cowboys are quietly hoping that one of the premier guards (Cooper, Warmack) falls into their laps here.

But if not, DT is a position that needs a clear upgrade.

Dallas now has two DT holes to fill along the defensive line, and Richardson has been rated as one of the best at that position after a stellar season for the Tigers.

In both the Big 12 and SEC, no less. 

 

19. New York Giants: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

The Giants remain in the market for an offensive tackle, and this would actually be quite far for Johnson to fall.

Projected to be one of the first tackles selected, this uber-athletic tackle from OU has all the skills and speed to handle pass-rushers at the next level. He also provides youth on the offensive line that New York currently lacks.

 

20. Chicago Bears: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

The Bears made Martellus Bennett a rich man on March 12.

And this was a curious decision considering he wasn't a true No. 1 target. He also really struggled to give the Giants what they lacked in the passing game for the final 10 games of the season.

However, signing a TE to a big contract won't stop Chicago from making a decision to look for help elsewhere.

Don't be surprised if the Bears go ahead and draft Eifert anyway simply because he has the talent to be a deep threat while also being a red-zone target. If we've learned anything from New England over the past two years, it's that you can never have enough TEs.

That's something the Bears could take to heart.

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals: OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia

The Bengals kept DEs Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry, and tendered Michael Johnson meaning the defensive line probably isn't a fit here.

However, the linebacker position is since Rey Maualuga is likely getting the boot along with three other unrestricted free agent LBs.

Ogletree is a hybrid linebacker that excels in coverage, but could add a few more pounds to his frame before becoming quite a player. If he falls to the Bengals and there isn't a better option, this could be the pick.

Don't be surprised if the Bengals also try to move up or down in this draft—depending on the board.

 

22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Whether or not the Rams keep Danny Amendola is irrelevant because Austin is a heck of a football player.

He showed us that in his time at West Virginia, and then again at the NFL combine. By running a blazing fast time in the 40 and impressing during route-running, he's positioned himself to be a top draft pick.

Don't be surprised if someone (Baltimore, New England, Minnesota) trade up to try and get this guy on their team in the middle of the first round.

But if he falls to the Rams at No. 22, consider it a good chance he comes off the board.

 

23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennesee

This would be a bit of a fall for Patterson—but a good one at that.

Minnesota just sent Percy Harvin to the Vikings, and now has two draft picks to play with right in the middle of the first round. By addressing a major need (WR) with this pick, it should allow them to be flexible with No. 25 and give Patterson a chance to shine right away in the process.


24. Indianapolis Colts: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

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The Colts shored up a slew of needs at the opening of free agency.

But finding a pass-rushing defensive end this late in the first round with a top-10 grade would be hard to do in any other draft.

Indy has a good history with its last defensive end (Dwight Freeney) and could take steps toward another dominant sack man by taking Moore.

 

25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks): OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama

Minnesota might trade this pick to move up for something else it wants, like Tavon Austin.

But if not, there's no use in upgrading the offensive line.

Aside from Adrian Peterson and a few role players on defense, there's a lot of youth in Minnesota right now. Fluker would be a great option to come in an push for the right tackle job.

 

26. Green Bay Packers: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama

It's hard to consider running back a need in Green Bay, especially if Steven Jackson wants to come to town.

Still, Lacy is in his prime, wasn't a workhorse back in college by any stretch and has plenty of NFL mileage to give an offense that doesn't line up with a fullback and pound away.

The Packers haven't really had a dominant RB in the Aaron Rogers era. Lacy could be the first.

 

27. Houston Texans: WR Robert Woods, USC

When the Texans pick at No. 27, the best WRs will probably be gone. This is one of the reasons why they are a perfect candidate to trade up into the teens. 

As it is, Woods falling into their lap here wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, especially for the offensive skill players he would be helping out on his new team (Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson).

 

28. Denver Broncos: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

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The Broncos addressed the offensive line by adding Vasquez, and can address the defensive line with a slew of guys (Hankins, Johnathan Jenkins, Eddie Williams, Sylvester Williams) that have graded out as solid DTs.

It's clear that with Peyton Manning on offense, there are going to only be a few tweaks made on both sides of the ball. Hankins in the middle of that defensive line would be a nice start.

 

29. New England Patriots: S Matt Elam, Florida

There's no doubt New England could address the secondary through free agency.

But the chances of that happening likely depend on old rivals Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard changing their stripes to come to town.

The more likely scenario would involve the Patriots using a first-rounder on a secondary player. Matt Elam of Florida is one of three guys (Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid the others) that have popped up as potential first-round picks at the position.

 

30. Atlanta Falcons: DE Cornellius Carradine, Florida State

Carradine doesn't get as much press as his Florida State running mate, but that doesn't mean he was any less effective as a pass-rushing defensive end.

Carradine had an ACL injury that kept him from being considered as a top pick, but this draft is riddled with injury concerns that haven't affected our player evaluations of first-round talent just yet.


31. San Francisco 49ers: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

The 49ers already upgraded their WR corp with Anquan Boldin, and now must focus on a defense that needs depth along the defensive line and a new playmaker in the secondary.

Granted, safety or corner might be the more sensible pick, but few DTs left on the board have what Williams brings to the table.

The Niners now own Kansas City's second-round pick (just three picks later via the Alex Smith trade), and could also choose to take the best player available before venturing into team needs with that pick instead.


32. Baltimore Ravens: ILB Kevin Minter, LSU

The Ravens are suddenly in the market for pretty much every defensive position on the field.

Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Bernard Pollard are all headed to a new team after Joe Flacco's massive contract limited the cap situation in town (check out the free agent tracker for Baltimore here).

That being said, the loss of Ray Lewis is quite possibly the biggest hole to fill. With that in mind, Baltimore can address the coverage and tackling aspect of his position with Minter, who has asserted himself as a candidate to be the first ILB taken.

 

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