The excitement surrounding the 2013 NFL draft (April 25-27) is through the roof, and the only way hardcore NFL fans can get by until the big day is with the help of a full first-round mock draft.
Lucky for you, I have compiled the greatest possible moves for every team selecting in the first round and will now share them. Enjoy!
Highlighted players are italicized.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
New head coach Andy Reid knows all the tricks to play with the media in terms of gauging interest in certain players, but the trade for Alex Smith (h/t Pro Football Talk) and the release of veteran tackle Eric Winston (h/t USA Today) proves the No. 1 overall pick will be Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
When a team only puts up 20 sacks all year, it’s clear what the issue is. The Jacksonville Jaguars need to go huge with their pick at No. 2, and they will not disappoint by taking a huge risk/reward prospect in Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Oakland Raiders have traded away Carson Palmer (h/t USA Today) and traded for Matt Flynn (h/t ESPN) but taking the very talented Geno Smith from West Virginia is not out of the question. The club’s affinity with Terrelle Pryor lends even more credence to this notion.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Philadelphia Eagles and new head coach Chip Kelly have done a great job keeping a lid on the fundamental changes to the team’s schemes, but the coaching staff he hired on the defensive side of the ball is 3-4 oriented (h/t Philly.com).
If Philadelphia were to implement a 3-4 scheme, it would need an elite pass-rushing outside linebacker that could become the face of the defense. That’s where Georgia’s Jarvis Jones comes into play.
The Eagles were sixth-worst in the NFL with 30 sacks in 2012, and Jones registered 14.5 sacks on his own last year with Georgia, as well as 85 tackles and 24.5 tackles for a loss. Jones is the kind of impact-player Philadelphia is looking for at No. 4.
Add in his clean bill of health concerning issues with his spine (h/t Dan Pompei of the National Football Post), and the Eagles’ decision will be quite simple.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Detroit Lions were decimated at times in the secondary last season—allowed 223 yards passing per game—and taking a slight risk with a talented cornerback prospect like Alabama’s Dee Milliner is worth the reward.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The need for an elite pass rush in Cleveland already forced the Browns to sign free agent Paul Kruger (h/t NFL.com), but selecting a skilled player like Ezekiel Ansah to play opposite the newest addition on the defensive line will be a huge offseason upgrade.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Arizona Cardinals let their quarterback get sacked a league-leading 58 times in 2012, and the need for a franchise left tackle is obvious. While Central Michigan isn’t a big-time program, Eric Fisher could become a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle protecting new QB Carson Palmer (h/t ESPN).
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
There is no question that the Buffalo Bills need a savior at quarterback, but with the release of Ryan Fitzpatrick (h/t ESPN) and the acquisition of the oft-injured Kevin Kolb (h/t ESPN), the table has been set for Matt Barkley to be the team’s knight in shining armor. This fairy tale won’t have a happy ending, though.
9. New York Jets: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei’s heart condition was discovered at the scouting combine this year (h/t ESPN), but teams will ensure that the potential NFL star has a long career ahead of him before they select him in the first round. If he gets a clean bill of health, the New York Jets will draft him at No. 9 overall.
10. Tennessee Titans: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Tennessee Titans must get back to fundamentals—the old adage is that NFL games are won and lost in the trenches—and allowing 127.2 yards per game on the ground is awful. That’s where a defensive tackle with the talent to clog the middle like Sharrif Floyd of Florida is the ideal fit.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The San Diego Chargers lost star offensive guard Louis Vasquez to the Denver Broncos via free agency (h/t ESPN), and the team must replenish that position by adding a Day 1 starter in Alabama’s Chance Warmack.
12. Miami Dolphins: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Miami Dolphins franchise left tackle Jake Long left the team via free agency and signed a contract with the St. Louis Rams (h/t ESPN), so when Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson falls into the Dolphins’ lap at No. 12, they’ll have no problem making this pick.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
As much as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need secondary help, the depth in this year’s draft will allow the team to wait until the later rounds to draft a DB. Instead, the Bucs will snag the ultimate partner for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson, in the first round. As if running on Tampa Bay wasn’t hard enough.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
As stellar as the front seven of the Carolina Panthers defensive unit has been, the lackluster play of the secondary at times in 2012—allowed 223 yards passing per game—will result in a major upgrade with Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. The team will expect the rookie to play immediately.
15. New Orleans Saints: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The New Orleans Saints need to find a game-changer on the defensive side of the ball in the first round, and if Florida State’s Bjoern Werner falls all the way to No. 15, the franchise's prayers will be answered.
The Saints defense was the worst in the NFL last year—31st against the pass and 32nd against the run—so drafting an elite pass-rushing defense end like Bjoern Werner that can have an effect in both areas off the edge of the defensive line is the perfect answer for New Orleans.
Werner is still a very raw prospect—born and raised in Germany before coming to America in high school to play football (h/t NFL.com)—but the genuine skill and talent he showed with the Seminoles is enough to warrant a heavy investment from the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The loss of Danny Amendola to New England via free agency (h/t Pro Football Talk) has opened up a serious need for an entirely new wide receiver group in 2013. The long-term answer for the St. Louis Rams should be the dynamic WR Cordarrelle Patterson.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
The release of veteran James Harrison (h/t NFL.com) has left a giant void in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker group, but a dynamic and versatile pass-rusher like Texas A&M Damontre Moore could be the fresh face that will revitalize the aging defense.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
The rebuilding project for the offensive line in Dallas is coming together swimmingly, and the Cowboys will select North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper to play alongside franchise left tackle Tyron Smith for years to come.
19. New York Giants: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The New York Giants will receive the biggest gift of the draft when several positional runs drop raw defensive prospect Barkevious Mingo all the way to No. 19 overall. While some will say he’s better suited as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, Tom Coughlin would turn Mingo into one of the best pass-rushing ends in the NFL.
20. Chicago Bears: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Whether veteran Brian Urlacher returns to the Chicago Bears in 2013 or not (h/t NFL.com), the team has to look toward the future. A versatile linebacker like Kansas State’s Arthur Brown will be a smart long-term investment.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in A.J. Green, but adding a talented speedster like West Virginia’s Tavon Austin could be the secondary weapon Andy Dalton and the team need to succeed.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
For the Rams, mediocre play in the secondary cost the team at key moments last season, and adding a skilled defender is a must at No. 22. St. Louis will grab a safety in the second round and snag Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes as a solid addition to the team here.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
The Minnesota Vikings traded WR Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks (h/t FOX Sports) and signed former Green Bay Packers star Greg Jennings (h/t Vikings.com), but when a future NFL star like Cal’s Keenan Allen falls to Minnesota, the team will have its long-term solution at wide receiver.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
While there is no question that the Indianapolis Colts must draft offensive linemen to protect former No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck, the lackluster play of the defense in 2012—21st against the pass and 29th against the run—is a trend that must be bucked.
There will be several options available at No. 24, both on the defensive line and in the secondary, but the right pick will be Washington star cornerback Desmond Trufant.
Not only does Trufant have the lineage of NFL players (his brothers Marcus and Isaiah currently play in the league), his raw quickness and ability to play in several different schemes (h/t NFL.com) will intrigue a Colts team rebuilding its defense.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seahawks): Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
This is the pick obtained in the trade for Harvin (h/t FOX Sports), and selecting at No. 25 will afford the Minnesota Vikings the luxury of taking a talented prospect like Alabama’s Jesse Williams to clog the middle of the defensive line.
26. Green Bay Packers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Green Bay Packers have no depth on the offensive line and no true left tackle protecting Aaron Rodgers' blindside. The team can solve both of its issues at left tackle by stealing Alabama’s D.J. Fluker at No. 26 overall.
27. Houston Texans: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Houston Texans lost outside linebacker Connor Barwin to the Philadelphia Eagles via free agency (h/t CBS Sports), and they will shuffle the current players around to make room for a talented player like middle linebacker Alec Ogletree.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The slow evolution from a 3-4 defense into John Fox’s prototypical 4-3 scheme has had some growing pains in the middle of the defensive line, but a talented prospect like Johnathan Hankins from Ohio State would be a great addition to the Denver Broncos.
29. New England Patriots: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The New England Patriots lost Wes Welker to free agency (h/t Sports Illustrated), signed Danny Amendola to replace him (h/t ESPN) and cut Brandon Lloyd (h/t Boston Globe), all resulting in quite the tumultuous offseason at wide receiver. New England still needs a deep threat, and Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins is the low-budget answer the franchise wants.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Whether the Atlanta Falcons convinced tight end Tony Gonzalez to return for another season or not—he will stay for one more year (h/t ESPN)—the team must look to the future. Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert is the perfect fit.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The San Francisco 49ers were defensively stout last season, but when a player as talented as Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks falls to No. 31, the team will have no problem adding even more talent and depth.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The loss of Ray Lewis will be felt on and off the field, but selecting a talented college star like LSU’s Kevin Minter is a good start to the rebuilding process. Minter is SEC trained, so the Baltimore Ravens will be expecting big things from Day 1.
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