2013 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions After the First Week of Free Agency
Until now, every 2013 NFL mock draft had that whole "depending on free agency" contingent.
Most of the big free-agency signings are in the past, and we now have a better idea than ever what positions each team will be targeting early in the draft. As much as teams like to talk about best player available, need reigns supreme in the draft.
Now that free agency is largely over, the draft picture will begin to become more clear. Certain players will become obvious fits with teams, and many picks will be deemed easy.
That all starts now.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
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When Kansas City used the franchise tag on Branden Albert, it seemed like the team wasn't going to take an offensive tackle with the No. 1 pick. Then, however, the Chiefs released right tackle Eric Winston, setting up the Luke Joeckel selection.
The 6'6", 306-pounder is a solid athlete with great technique and footwork. He is quite possibly the safest player in the draft.
There are still many out there who feel that Kansas City should go in a different direction by taking either a defensive lineman or Geno Smith. At this point, though, it seems like a given that the Chiefs will go with Joeckel, though fellow offensive tackle Eric Fisher could be an option.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
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Recently, the Jaguars' interest in Geno Smith has become pretty well-known.
And, really, why shouldn't Jacksonville take Smith? There is probably no more than a handful of people who legitimately believe that either Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne is the answer, and Smith has franchise-quarterback upside.
The 6'2", 218-pounder can play in any offensive scheme, and his combination of athleticism and throwing ability makes him especially appealing, as the zone-option trend continues in the NFL.
It looks like Smith won't go No. 1 overall, but he should go No. 2.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
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The salary-cap-strapped Raiders had little choice but to let Desmond Bryant walk in free agency. Oakland's defensive line was nothing extra with Bryant, but it is especially in need of work now.
Sharrif Floyd's athleticism and ability to move around the defensive line makes him a viable replacement for Bryant. The 6'3", 297-pounder is quick, can rush the passer and could immediately make an impact.
With Geno Smith off the board, this pick seems pretty obvious. Floyd is widely expected to be a top-five pick, and the Raiders are a perfect fit.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei NFL Player Comparison
It's hard to predict just where Star Lotulelei will go in the draft. At the scouting combine, it was announced that Lotulelei had a heart defect. However, he was recently cleared for a full workout.
On the field, Lotulelei is a clear top-five pick. His final draft position depends solely on his medical situation. With this latest bit of good news, Lotulelei seems like a great fit for the Eagles.
Philadelphia released Cullen Jenkins before free agency began, though the team did sign Isaac Sopoaga, who can play either nose tackle or defensive end, as the Eagles switch to a 3-4 defense.
However, Philadelphia has just Sopoaga and Fletcher Cox as legitimate starters along the defensive line. Lotulelei is a great talent who could move around the team's defensive line, playing a variety of positions.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Lions lost both of their starting tackles from 2012. Jeff Backus retired, and Gosder Cherilus signed with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.
This leaves an already-weak offensive line in a dire state. Detroit could stand to add either a cornerback or defensive end here, but offensive tackle seems like the priority.
Eric Fisher is undeniably talented, and his 6'7", 306-pound frame is appealing. Fisher's strength, athleticism and nastiness could lead to him being a premier left tackle.
This is a simple combination of need and value. Fisher makes too much sense to not happen.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
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Currently, the Browns have Joe Haden and Buster Skrine starting at cornerback. Haden is great. Skrine, not so much.
In free agency, Cleveland signed Paul Kruger at outside linebacker. With this addition, the Browns are no longer forced to draft a pass-rusher at No. 6 and can afford to look elsewhere.
If he's available, Dee Milliner seems to make too much sense.
The Browns are still interested in Brent Grimes, but no one can tell what will happen there, and Grimes is 30 years old with a torn Achilles tendon.
Milliner is a fast cornerback with quick hips and great size. He has top potential on the outside and could form an incredible duo with Haden.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
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It has long been assumed that Arizona will look to upgrade its offensive line in the draft. Quarterback doesn't seem to be an option, so the Cardinals will go with the most logical pick.
Lane Johnson is an incredible athlete, as his 4.72 40-yard-dash time suggests. The 6'6", 302-pounder plays with intensity as well, so he isn't simply a finesse player.
Johnson's speed and feet make him a potential star in pass protection, but they are also valuable in the run game. He excels at getting to the second level and picking up defenders, playing with a mean streak that eludes most linemen.
8. Buffalo Bills: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
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After releasing Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills will almost certainly add a quarterback within the first couple of rounds of the draft. There just isn't a viable option at No. 8.
So with quarterback out of the picture, Buffalo looks to add weapons for its yet-unknown signal-caller. Stevie Johnson is the team's lone legitimate starting wideout, and the team needs to add playmakers.
Cordarrelle Patterson is certainly that.
The 6'2", 216-pounder is fast with great quickness and strength. Few wide receivers outshine him with the ball in their hands, and Patterson can turn almost any play into a touchdown.
The addition of Patterson would give Buffalo a potentially explosive offense with Johnson and C.J. Spiller already on the roster. Only the quarterback is still missing.
9. New York Jets: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Dion Jordan NFL Player Comparison
The Jets are often projected as selecting a pass-rusher at No. 9, and with good reason. They need one.
New York has plenty of needs, but few are more obvious than its outside linebacker position. It just so happens that Dion Jordan is a perfect fit there.
At 6'6" and 248 pounds, Jordan is a bit undersized, but he has great length to go with incredible athleticism. Few linebackers can play in coverage like Jordan can, and he is a legitimate option to line up in the slot.
The Oregon star has never really been unleashed as a pass-rusher, but he has shown the ability off the edge to be a double-digit sack producer.
In other words, Jordan is exactly the type of player that Rex Ryan loves.
10. Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
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Chance Warmack had been projected here quite often, but the signing of Andy Levitre seems to rule that one out. This isn't the year for a guard to make it into the top 10.
Tennessee's entire defense struggled in 2012, but few areas were as obviously at fault as its pass rush. The Titans' defensive end situation is a bit of a mess with two below-average players in Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley.
While not a perfect fit in a 4-3 defense, Barkevious Mingo is a talented player off the edge who is a threat to sack the quarterback on every play. The 6'4", 241-pounder needs to bulk up to play every down, but his potential is incredible.
There isn't a defensive player in this draft who could transform Tennessee's defense quite like Mingo could. He has the ability to change everything.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
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After losing Louis Vasquez to the Broncos and missing out on Andy Levitre, the Chargers are in need of a guard. The addition of Chad Rinehart doesn't change that.
San Diego has its fair share of needs, but none is bigger than the offensive line. Philip Rivers often lacked sufficient time to throw, and the team's run blocking could use some work.
Chance Warmack would make an impact in both areas.
The powerful guard is a dominating road grader who is quick enough to still perform in pass protection and attack at the second level. The Alabama product could make a surprisingly large impact for the Chargers.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
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Miami went on a signing spree in free agency, bringing in several big names including Mike Wallace and Dannell Ellerbe. However, the team still has several needs it must address.
Without a single solid starting cornerback on the roster, the Dolphins may not have much of a choice but to use the No. 12 pick on the position. Xavier Rhodes is the best option.
At 6'2", the 210-pounder is fast, powerful and quick. He isn't a finished product, but his overall physical ability is among the best in the draft.
This isn't the best value out there, but Rhodes isn't a huge reach, and he helps fill a huge hole.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
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The Buccaneers desperately need to add cornerbacks. Safety seems taken care of between Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, but the perimeter secondary is a whole different issue.
Unfortunately, the top two cornerbacks will be off the board, and Tampa Bay has to look at fixing its pass rush from a different angle.
Defensive end, to be more specific.
Ezekiel Ansah is a freak athlete, measuring in at 6'5" and 270 pounds. He is still raw on the field, but his sheer ability and upside are both phenomenal. His ability against the run is already excellent.
In time, Ansah could become a great pass-rusher who makes an impact on every down. His talent is too great for Tampa Bay to pass up here.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Even with Luke Kuechly and Jon Beason at linebacker, Carolina doesn't have a great run defense. The problem lies at defensive tackle.
The Panthers' interior line is a sieve and needs to be patched.
Sheldon Richardson can help.
The 6'3", 294-pounder has an explosive first step to go with great quickness and penetration ability. He isn't flawless and will sometimes surrender too much ground, but he is a playmaker along the defensive line.
That's never a bad thing to have.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
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As the Saints transition to a 3-4 defense under Rob Ryan, they need new pass-rushers. New Orleans' defensive ends were nothing extra anyway, but now, the position is an even bigger need.
Based on his talent, many believe that Jarvis Jones should be a top-10 pick. Questions regarding his spinal stenosis have him coming off of the board in a wide range of areas, but he is a possible steal at No. 15.
Jones' burst, power and use of leverage make him a dynamic threat off the edge. His run defense is an issue, but if he can put up double-digit sacks, no one will complain too much.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
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St. Louis helped out its draft situation by signing Jake Long in free agency. Now, the team doesn't have to draft an offensive lineman early and can afford to consider other options.
Tavon Austin is one of those options.
The 5'9", 174-pounder is undersized but lightning fast, as is evidenced by his 4.34 40-yard-dash time. He is quick with the ball in his hands and accelerates more rapidly than just about anyone.
Austin isn't conventional—he can line up out wide, in the slot or in the backfield—but he is a playmaker. With the addition of Jared Cook, the Rams seem set on putting some weapons around Sam Bradford. Austin would go a long way there.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Justin Hunter NFL Player Comparison
Mike Wallace is gone to the Dolphins, and Emmanuel Sanders seems to be gathering interest as a restricted free agent. It's tough to say if even he will be back next year.
Either way, Pittsburgh needs to take a long look at drafting a wideout early. Justin Hunter is a completely different player than Wallace is, but he could help fill the void.
At 6'4" and 196 pounds, Hunter is lanky, but he's fast and athletic. He often displays great catching ability, and his upside is that of a No. 1 wideout.
Many would consider Hunter a reach here, but his potential is alluring. Besides, the Steelers don't have many other great options, with Tavon Austin going off the board one pick earlier.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
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Dallas' interior offensive line is a well-known issue, and mid-round picks aren't going to fix it. This needs early attention.
Jonathan Cooper is being looked at as both a center and a guard, and he could play either position for the Cowboys. At 6'2" and 311 pounds, Cooper isn't huge, but he's a superb athlete.
Few linemen can play like Cooper does in the open field, as he quickly reaches the second level and rarely misses his target. He's not a road grader like Chance Warmack is, but his schematic and positional versatility make him an intriguing option.
It wouldn't be surprising if Cooper doesn't last this long, but if he does, he should be an easy pick for the Cowboys.
19. New York Giants: Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
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Osi Umenyiora is a free agent, and Jason Tuck is declining. Jason Pierre-Paul is clearly locked in at one defensive end position, but the other is ready for new blood.
If he hadn't torn his ACL last year, Cornellius Carradine might be a lock as a top-10 pick. As it is, the 6'5", 274-pounder could be a steal in the middle of the first round.
A powerful player, Carradine utilizes his great length, strength, speed and pass-rush repertoire to both attack the quarterback and defend the run. Poor technique hurts his first step, but that can be improved, and when it's addressed, Carradine could be a weapon.
In fact, the Giants just might have another JPP.
20. Chicago Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
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Despite signing Jermon Bushrod at tackle, the Bears could still well be in the market for an offensive lineman. A tight end no longer seems likely after the team signed Martellus Bennett.
D.J. Fluker would give Chicago not only a talented offensive lineman but also positional flexibility. Fluker could step in at either right tackle or guard and play at a high level.
As a tackle, Fluker is a powerful run blocker who will often dominate but will look bad on occasion, too. At guard, his likely position, Fluker is a complete player whose length could be a valuable asset in pass protection.
The Bears could still look at several other positions, but the offensive line continues to be an issue for them, and this is a great chance to address it.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro NFL Player Comparison
Cincinnati is a young team with few glaring needs. It simply needs to retain its current talent and continue adding pieces through the draft. This is why the Bengals have been largely inactive in free agency.
Many expect Kenny Vaccaro to go earlier than this due to the league-wide positional scarcity at safety—and he easily could. This same issue forced Mark Barron up to No. 7 in last year's draft.
However, based on talent, Vaccaro shouldn't go much higher than this. And if he is here, he's a logical fit for the Bengals.
Cincinnati needs a coverage safety to play deep, and Vaccaro is a perfect fit. He would be an excellent complement to Reggie Nelson, and the two would form an excellent duo.
22. St. Louis Rams (from WAS): Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
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This, again, goes back to the Jake Long addition. If the Rams hadn't addressed the offensive line in free agency, they would have almost been forced to draft a lineman and wide receiver in the first round. Now, with wideout already taken care of, St. Louis has even more options.
One of those options is Arthur Brown, arguably the most talented player still on the board. At 6'0" and 236 pounds, Brown isn't particularly big, but he isn't terribly small, either. More importantly, though, Brown is a terrific athlete who attacks against the run and excels in coverage.
There is little that Brown can't do on the field. He can play either weak-side or middle linebacker, and he can be a legitimate star at either spot. He's the type of player who transforms a defense.
With the Rams defense already possessing some considerable talent, Brown could be just the player to push it over the edge into the "great" category.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
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The offseason has been a carousel at wide receiver for the Vikings. First, the team traded Percy Harvin to the Seahawks. Then, it signed Greg Jennings away from the Packers.
Even with Jennings on the roster, Minnesota needs to continue adding talent. Jerome Simpson isn't a legitimate No. 2, and Jennings' health and age are both issues.
Keenan Allen, on the other hand, is a potential 1,000-yard wideout. The 6'2", 206-pounder is a strong player with decent speed and great catching ability. He lacks the athleticism of a true No. 1, but he should be a solid option for any team.
A Jennings-Allen tandem would be nothing to scoff at, though the team's quarterback position might deem it irrelevant.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
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Though it did add Ricky Jean-Francois along the defensive line, Indianapolis could stand to further bolster the unit. No one will confuse any of the team's front three for stars.
Jesse Williams' combination of size, athleticism and power make him a viable option at either nose tackle or defensive end for the Colts. The 6'3", 323-pounder does a terrific job of utilizing leverage and simply overpowering offensive linemen.
Williams isn't a pass-rusher by any means, but he is athletic enough to make plays in the backfield from the five-tech spot. However, he is primarily a stout run defender who will push linemen into the backfield and rarely surrender ground.
That could be exactly what Indianapolis wants.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from SEA): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
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The Vikings cut Antoine Winfield and seem to be struggling at cornerback. There isn't a great option here, but Desmond Trufant is talented enough to go in the first round.
At 6'0" and 190 pounds, Trufant possesses good size, but his athleticism is his calling card. Trufant ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the scouting combine while showing quick hips and great burst.
Trufant's offseason performance has boosted his stock into the first round, as he excelled at both the Senior Bowl and combine. It's unlikely that he will make it much past this, and his upside will appeal to many teams.
The Vikings could take a look at linebacker here, and a defensive tackle would also make sense.
26. Green Bay Packers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
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Green Bay is one of the NFL's best teams, but it could stand to add a first-round pick at a number of positions. It missed out on Steven Jackson in free agency, so running back is an option. A wide receiver, tight end, safety or linebacker would also make sense.
Here, though, the Packers go with a defensive lineman. Analysts are conflicted on Johnathan Hankins. The Ohio State product is clearly talented, but his production didn't always match up with his ability. He is risky.
At 6'3" and 320 pounds, Hankins is big and athletic enough to play either nose tackle or five-tech in Green Bay's 3-4 defense. He could be a star at either position, too.
In time, Hankins could be a true impact player for the Packers, and it could even happen immediately. One thing is for sure—the success of this pick doesn't hinge on Hankins' talent.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
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Before releasing Kevin Walter, the Texans needed a wide receiver. Now, they still need a wide receiver. Andre Johnson clearly has one spot taken care of, but the other is a complete mystery.
DeAndre Hopkins doesn't project as a star, but he looks like a solid starting wideout. At the end of the first round, that is a solid pickup.
The 6'1", 214-pounder is good with the ball in his hands and will pick up yards after the catch. He has strong hands and rarely suffers from the dropsies. Hopkins' biggest problems are his lack of great height and deep speed.
In Houston, Hopkins would likely be a solid contributor who could help bring about significant offensive improvement for the team.
28. Denver Broncos: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
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Denver's additions of Terrance Knighton, Louis Vasquez and Wes Welker gave the team great flexibility moving toward the draft.
The release of Elvis Dumervil does complicate things, though, and Denver could now stand to add another pass-rusher. Fortunately, Bjoern Werner fell way too far here.
Werner has his flaws—he isn't all that flexible, his motor often runs cold, and he struggles against the run—but his strengths are too strong for him to fall this far. For example, Werner has one of the quickest first steps in football.
The 6'3", 266-pounder could easily be a double-digit sack player. He's a risk, but at this point, he's also a huge steal.
29. New England Patriots: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
Markus Wheaton NFL Player Comparison
New England lost Wes Welker to the Broncos in free agency but quickly replaced him with Danny Amendola. However, the Patriots needed a wideout even before losing Welker.
Outside of Amendola, New England doesn't have much at wide receiver, and the team doesn't have a single great deep threat. That is where Markus Wheaton comes into the picture.
The 5'11", 189-pounder plays with great vertical speed, and few defenders are able to run with him. Wheaton isn't just a deep threat, though, as he can also catch the football and gain yards after the catch.
New England could still look at a cornerback here, but it makes sense for the team to give Tom Brady a weapon on the outside who will scare defenses.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Robert Alford, CB, Southeast Louisiana
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The Falcons have plenty of needs moving forward. They addressed running back by signing Steven Jackson, but defensive end, tight end and cornerback are all positions that the team should look to address.
There isn't a great defensive end option on the board, but Tyler Eifert would be a great addition at tight end. However, the team still goes with a cornerback because with Tony Gonzalez returning, the position isn't urgent.
Robert Alford is an excellent athlete who could help fill the void at cornerback should Brent Grimes leave. At 5'10" and 188 pounds, Alford has decent size but can be overpowered. He needs to get stronger in order to stick on the outside.
However, Alford clearly fits a need and could quickly contribute. His upside down the road is simply an added bonus.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
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San Francisco lost two defensive linemen in Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois. It seems likely that the team will look to retool there, though it could also look at safety, where it lost Dashon Goldson.
Datone Jones is a bit undersized in a 3-4 defense, but he's still a good fit as a five-tech. The 6'4", 283-pounder is a solid athlete with good quickness. He is a great fit opposite the powerful Justin Smith.
Jones' pass-rushing ability from the 5-tech position could prove valuable, and if he adds a bit of weight, he should be solid against the run as well.
San Francisco could easily look at cornerback or safety here, but Jones offers a better value and also fills a need.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut
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In 2013, the Ravens will be starting three new linebackers. Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger left in free agency, and the legendary Ray Lewis is retiring.
Sio Moore could play either inside or outside, but he would probably go inside in this scenario. Though he was primarily utilized as a pass-rusher at Connecticut, Moore is stout, instinctive and strong enough in coverage to move inside.
Moore's explosive ability could be dynamic in Baltimore's defense, where he could blitz from the inside or rush from the outside on passing downs.
Regardless of how he is used, though, Moore fits a need and is a solid value at the end of the first round.