2013 NFL Mock Draft: Calculated Choices for Every 1st-Round GM
It has been a busy two seasons in the NFL. But as the free-agency noise finally starts to die down, it's time to once again turn our attention toward the 2013 NFL draft.
One thing we've learned from the first couple days of NFL free agency is that teams are playing things smart this year. The amount of needless money thrown around has been minimal, and teams are spending wisely to fill up their roster holes.
That same level of strategy should translate into the draft.
Here's a new mock draft highlighting changes after free agency, examining the most calculated moves for each team's GM.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Everything the Chiefs have done this offseason has been a calculated choice. They traded for Alex Smith to absolve themselves of having to draft a quarterback and released tackle Eric Winston to free up some money.
Those moves all lead to the draft where Kansas City can now grab Luke Joeckel with a clear state of mind.
Joeckel is the draft's best offensive line prospect. At 6'6" and 306 pounds, he has size, quick feet, great awareness for the blitz and a tenacious attitude on the field.
He has to be the No. 1 pick.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Jaguars had the worst sack total in the NFL last season, and they need to improve the pass rush. Despite a deep free-agent group, the front office has kept its hands in its pockets.
If Jacksonville wants sacks, Dion Jordan is the way to go. The explosive Oregon product provides a lot of speed on the edge with the flexibility to play on the line or at linebacker.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
It's time Oakland got younger on the defensive line, and Sharrif Floyd is a great pick at No. 2. He's a great big body to play inside and will cause plenty of disruption in the back field.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The best way for the team to fill that hole is go after the draft's best corner, Dee Milliner. With fantastic cover skills, he should be an instant upgrade for the Eagles.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The Lions officially lost Cliff Avril, meaning they are even more desperate for some help at defensive end. This pick could fix that.
Ezekiel Ansah is the draft's most intriguing prospect. Despite some initial rawness to the game, he's lanky, quick and athletic, making him the perfect weapon against opposing QBs.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Browns helped fix some of their pass-rush problems by adding Paul Kruger, but can they really pass on a talent like Jarvis Jones?
The aggressive linebacker has the explosiveness and athleticism to be a great edge-rusher.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
You'd be hard pressed to find an offense in more need of a quarterback than Arizona, especially given its reported release of Kevin Kolb (h/t ESPN).
Geno Smith may have some holes in his game, but he has the potential to be a dynamic dual-threat QB. Throwing to Larry Fitzgerald could help cover up some his flaws as well.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
With the release of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the books, this pick seems like a given. Matt Barkley was once considered a No. 1 pick type of talent, and he has tools to grow into a great passer.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Despite the desperate situation at QB, taking anyone other than Smith or Barkley here would be a huge mistake. New York's best bet is to focus on that flimsy defensive line.
Bjoern Werner is a great talent, and he's just as capable at rushing the quarterback as he is clogging holes against the run. He should provide some instant aid to a Jets line that was horrible against the run last season.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Even though offensive line isn't as glaring a need as some of the Titans' defensive problems, they have to take Eric Fisher is he falls this far.
The Central Michigan product has been impressing everyone since the end of the season and could inevitably overtake Joeckel as the best O-line prospect in the draft. That makes him a steal this late.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
With Joeckel and Fisher off the board, the Chargers will have to settle for Lane Johnson to fix their offensive line woes.
Johnson hasn't been playing tackle long, but it's clear he has the tools to be a shutdown protector in the NFL.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Signing Mike Wallace cures the Dolphins' need for a No. 1 receiver, so now they can focus on defense. Rhodes has the size-speed combination you want from a corner and is great at pressing the receiver.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Johnthan Banks may be a reach here, but Tampa Bay has been infatuated with the young man since the Senior Bowl. Banks is still developing his skills, but he's great at pressing receivers and has good size.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei's medical issues have caused some concerns, but he will run through all the tests and trials during his workout day—which should save his stock.
Picking Lotulelei would give Carolina size up front, a stout defender against the run and a huge disruptive force on and behind the line of scrimmage.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore struggled to establish himself at the combine, but he has the tools to be an explosive pass-rusher in the NFL.
Given the Saints' overwhelming need to improve on defense, taking a gamble on Moore could come up huge.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
With things slowly turning around for the Rams defensively, it's time they helped improve the guys around Sam Bradford. That has to start at the line.
Guards remain undervalued compared to tackles, but Chance Warmack—the draft's best guard—is still a great talent. He'll keep Bradford well protected.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Pittsburgh has to look to get younger on defense, and the linebacker situation is in shambles. Adding Mingo not only provides an athletic talent to the pass rush, but also adds flexibility to the Steelers defense.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro could be a reach here, but he's the best safety in the draft and that's a glaring need for Dallas. He has the power and speed you want from a top safety and will be a force in the middle of the field.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
New York needs to start rebuilding it's defensive line, and Richardson is a great starting block. He has no problem being double teamed, and is a force when left unchecked.
Combined with the Giants' other pieces, that pass rush could once again rise to elite levels in 2013.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Despite the aging defense, the Chicago's priority remains on upgrading the offense. It needs some more weapons and better protection for Jay Cutler.
Why not get both in one player?
Tyler Eifert is the draft's best tight end. His body control allows him to make tremendous catches in the flats, and he's well-polished as a blocker.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Bengals don't have any glaring needs, but they could stand to add some more depth on the offensive line. Jonathan Cooper adds a great body on the inside and will add some help to the run game.
22. St. Louis Rams* (from 10-6 Washington Redskins): Keenan Allen, California
With its second pick in the first round, St. Louis can turn its attention towards getting Bradford a new weapon. Especially given the recent departure of Danny Amendola.
Keenan Allen's stock has taken a tumble due to recent knee woes, but as long as he makes his workout day, things should be fine. With soft hands and an uncanny ability to make space for himself, Allen is the most polished receiver of the draft.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Even with Jarius Wright waiting in the wings, the Percy Harvin trade still leaves the Vikings with a need at wide receiver.
Patterson is still developing his route-running ability, but he has the speed and size to be a big downfield threat.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The Colts defense has glaring holes just about everywhere, but none worse than the defensive line.
Datone Jones is a good player to build around. He can play inside, is a solid pass-rusher and knows how to clog up seams.
25. Minnesota Vikings* (from 11-5 Seattle Seahawks): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
With an upgrade at wide receiver in the bag, the Vikings can focus on defense with their second pick of the first round.
Kawann Short is still working to find consistency, but when he's on there's no one else better on the field. He knows how to stop the run and generate pressure.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Green Bay's biggest need remains on the offensive line. Giving Aaron Rodgers more time to throw isn't a bad thing, and hopefully a stronger line can improve that abysmal running game.
Even this late in the draft there's plenty of talent at tackle, and D.J. Fluker is a great pick. He adds size, durability and youth to an ailing Packers line.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Matt Elam, SS, Florida
Houston can go either secondary or wide receiver here, but chances are it won't pass up on Florida's Matt Elam.
Elam is your do everything kind of safety. He can blitz, he can play the run and he can cover the quickest of receivers. He'll provide a lynchpin for that Texans secondary.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Zach Ertz has great receiving skills, and though he's developing his blocking skills, Denver has a good enough O-line that he can learn on the job.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The signing of Danny Amendola won't replace Welker's production, but it makes wide receiver less of a concern in Round 1.
Instead the Pats have to focus on defense, and that means the secondary. Desmond Trufant has the speed and confidence to match up with any receiver, and he's an underrated talent. Sounds like the perfect Bill Belichick pick.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Alex Okafor may not have the overall upside as some of the other pass-rushers in the draft, but he's one of the most polished and NFL ready.
Atlanta has needs everywhere across the D-line. It has to put more pressure on the QB, while becoming more stout against the run. Okafor helps in both areas.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Eric Reid, FS, LSU
With Dashon Goldson gone, safety becomes a major concern for the 49ers. Eric Reid is an underrated talent at the position and should fit nicely into the Niners defense.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Given all that's happened since the end of the season, Te'o is still a first-round talent. He'll provide a stopper against the run game, while providing opportunistic turnovers. Baltimore could certainly do worse here.
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