Every year, after all the workouts and evaluations have been conducted, the top college talent we thought was going to go very high in the first round ends up slipping for one of seemingly thousands of reasons.
Looking at the 2013 crop of talent, we can already see which direction the wind is blowing. That doesn't mean these players won't turn into good, even great, NFL players. But when the ceiling is lowered, teams have to shuffle their draft boards.
Here is the latest of our first-round mock drafts, with a closer look at players sliding on teams boards.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
No surprise here. Joeckel has been the top talent available throughout the process. The team has arranged a private workout with him (h/t The Kansas City Star), which is standard stuff but shows he is clearly in the mix. Alex Smith needs a great offensive line to succeed.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Jordan is the most explosive pass-rusher in this draft. His shoulder surgery has done nothing to cool his hype. He will upgrade the worst defensive line in the NFL right away.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd's stock has shot up throughout this process. An ankle injury (h/t NFL.com) is changing his workout schedule, but he is the best all-around defensive tackle in this class.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Eagles need to add young, explosive talent if they want to get back to the top of the NFC East. Jones has the speed and power to come off the edge as a pass-rusher or drop back in coverage to disrupt passes.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
Ansah is a workout machine with tremendous upside. He will need time to develop, but if he hits, he can be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL for a long time.
6. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Mingo didn't have the most impressive stats at LSU, but that was often because he had to fight off double-teams. On raw talent alone, he challenges Ansah as having the highest ceiling of any pass rusher in this draft.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Cardinals desperately need help on the offensive line. Fisher is being talked about in the same vein as Luke Joeckel, so for Arizona to find him sitting at No. 9 would be the ultimate Christmas present.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
If we are talking about quarterbacks, the Bills are certainly in the market for one after the surprising release of Ryan Fitzpatrick (h/t Bills.com). Smith's pro day has everyone buzzing, which means he could turn out to be one of the great busts in this draft or one of the great success stories.
Putting a ton of stock in a controlled workout seems silly, but for a franchise like the Bills, so desperate for even a decent quarterback, one great workout could be all they need to sway them in his direction.
9. New York Jets: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Almost by default the Jets luck into the best defensive back in this class, which is perfect for them, because they need a new franchise corner after losing Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay. Milliner is fast, physical and reads quarterbacks as well as any cornerback in this class.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
If the Titans want to see what Jake Locker is capable of, they then need to get help for the interior of the offensive line. Warmack is a stud, listed at 6'2", 314 pounds; defenders won't be able to move him one-on-one.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Philip Rivers might be as inconsistent as any starting quarterback in the league, but he has been skittish for the last two years playing behind a porous offensive line. Johnson is a terrific athlete at 6'6" and over 300 pounds. Rivers will love playing behind him.
12. Miami Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The addition of Mike Wallace opens up a number of possibilities for the Dolphins in this draft. But we know that they are more than just one playmaker on the outside from being great. With great hands and leaping ability, Patterson is another receiver who can stretch the field.
13. New York Jets (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
With Geno Smith gone, the Jets need to find a new franchise quarterback. Given their inability to learn from their mistakes, look for them to once again reach for a USC quarterback surrounded by question marks who some think will struggle at the professional level.
While I don't think Barkley will be worse than Mark Sanchez, it remains to be seen whether he can be a star in the league. Even so, this team has to make a QB change, and Barkley is the best QB available at this point.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
There was a time when Lotulelei was in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick. He is a big, physical defensive tackle who can take on multiple defenders and open up things for his fellow linemen to get sacks. And he is a run-stopping specialist.
However, as everyone converged on Indianapolis for the scouting combine in February, it was revealed that Lotulelei had a heart condition (h/t NFL.com). This has since left Lotulelei's stock up in the air.
If a team looks at his medical report and likes what it sees, he could easily go 5-to-10 spots higher. If not, his slide could make Brady Quinn's look like nothing.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The middle of the defense is the most important area for teams to take care of. The Saints' defensive line is a mess, and Richardson will go a long way towards stabilizing the struggling unit.
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The Rams have many needs to address in this draft, with wide receiver being at the top of the list. But based on pure value, Vaccaro is the right choice for them. He can be the enforcer for an improving defense, similar to what Kam Chancellor has been for Seattle or Donte Whitner for San Francisco.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Right after the college season ended, there was talk that Texas A&M could have the top two players in this draft. Joeckel has kept his stock high, as evidenced by his spot as the No. 1 player taken in this mock.
Moore, on the other hand, is just trying to stop the bleeding. His terrible workout at the combine left him "crying" (h/t The Dallas Morning News). He still has time to show teams what made him so well regarded two months ago.
The Steelers are getting older on defense, they have had to make significant changes to free up cap space. Moore has the necessary versatility to play defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
The Cowboys need to get bigger and stronger up front. Tony Romo may not be the quarterback to lead them to a championship, but a more consistent offensive line will help him and the rest of the offense play up to its potential.
19. New York Giants: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes is sliding just a bit, but he was always going to be a mid-first-round pick anyway. The Giants are desperate to find anyone who can cover receivers. Rhodes is as physical as any defensive back in this class. He also has great hands and uses his smarts to play receivers.
20. Chicago Bears: Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
At some point the Bears have to hit on an offensive lineman, right? Pugh will be the next in line tasked with the seemingly impossible challenge of protecting Jay Cutler. He doesn't get too aggressive and, at just 22 years old, possesses more upside than you might think.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Ogletree has made some stupid mistakes in the past that are going to cost him a shot at being a high pick, because on talent alone, he should have no problem cracking the top 10 in this draft.
But when you get suspended four games at Georgia for failing a drug test (h/t ESPN.com), you are immediately placed on close watch by all 32 NFL teams.
The problem was compounded expontentially by Ogletree in February, just days before the scouting combine, when his agent told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com that Ogletree was arrested and charged with a DUI.
Considering the have a history of trying to rehabilitate athletes who have some off-field baggage, the Bengals almost seem like too perfect a fit.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Rams lost Danny Amendola to New England. They have no depth at wide receiver, which makes Sam Bradford's job that much harder. Austin has shown explosive speed and better-than-advertised hands in his workouts, giving the Rams a downfield threat they need on the outside.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Speaking of no depth at wide receiver, we have the Vikings. Sure, they've got Greg Jennings courtesy of free agency, but unless they want him triple-teamed, they need to find some more help at the position.
At 6'2" and 206 pounds, Allen fits the mold of what today's receivers look like. He doesn't have elite speed, but he makes up for it by catching balls in traffic and being the best route-runner in this draft.
24. Indianapolis Colts: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Andrew Luck took a beating last season, which puts his strong rookie campaign in an even better light. For him to improve as a pocket passer, he has to have time to stand in the pocket.
Fluker is a monster at nearly 340 pounds and moves incredibly well for a player that size. He will be Luck's new best friend.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seahawks): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Vikings, by virtue of having two first-round picks, can afford to address an immediate need with one pick and go for the best player available with the other.
Wide receiver is clearly the biggest need for this team and, as noted above, will be addressed with the selection of Keenan Allen. Werner will give the Vikings another explosive athlete to add to an already-strong defensive line. Jared Allen is getting a little older and they need someone who can take up his mantle in a two years.
Werner doesn't have the top speed off the snap that he was expected to, which is why his stock has dropped to the bottom half of the round. But with his power and physical play, he has the upside of being an every-down defensive end.
26. Green Bay Packers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Quality nose tackles are an absolute necessity in a successful 3-4 defense. The Packers have B.J. Raji, so they don't necessarily need Hankins at this spot, but for pure value and upside, it is hard to think of anyone better.
If you saw how this defense got picked apart in the NFC Divisional Round by Colin Kaepernick, you know they can always use more big bodies up front to free up the linebackers.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Hopkins will give the Texans a much-needed No. 2 option to put opposite Andre Johnson and open up their offense, which has been too vanilla for the last two seasons.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Broncos were picked apart in the postseason by Joe Flacco. Champ Bailey is getting closer to 40 than 30. Banks has the size but needs to get better as a pure coverage corner. He plays the ball very well, which should help him as he learns to cover NFL receivers.
29. New England Patriots: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Every year we seem to talk about the Patriots needing help in the secondary. Every year it seems Bill Belichick has other ideas. Elam has enforcer written all over him. He makes huge hits, moves all over the field and has improving ball skills.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez's return could change everything the Falcons do in this draft. But we also know that he is not going to be around much longer, and Atlanta will need a replacement sooner than later.
Eifert is the best pass-catching tight end in this draft. He can catch passes against his body or go up and get the ball. He moves well off the line and isn't afraid to make plays in traffic.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
As great as the defense has been the last two years, the holes in the secondary were finally exposed during their run to the Super Bowl. Trufant has elite speed and good size, moves well and can play on the outside or in the slot.
Jim Harbaugh loves versatility on his defense. Trufant fits that bill to a T. He should fit right in with this defense.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Last but certainly not least, we end with the Ravens and the selection of Manti Te'o to be their next inside linebacker. They have an obvious need at the position after Ray Lewis retired and seemingly everyone else who was part of the Super Bowl team last season.
Te'o is the greatest mystery in this entire draft. His workout at the scouting combine left a lot to be desired. He was run over by Alabama in the BCS Championship Game. Yet when you look at the body of work, his instincts at the position and desire to get better, you see that he has upside.
Don't be shocked to see the Ravens call his name at the end of the first round.
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