The 2013 NFL draft is coming closer with every passing week, and our attention focuses in on what the respective 32 teams should do with their top picks.
Should they look to fill a big hole on offense or defense, or will they look to strengthen a certain position or part of their squad? Perhaps they'll be looking to bring in some speed out wide or size in the middle—all questions that we'll know the answers to at the completion of the 2013 NFL draft.
Read on for a first-round mock draft as to what teams should do with their top pick.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, LT
Rationale: Need to fix their offensive line
It's becoming more and more clear now that the Chiefs will be looking to sign Luke Joeckel with the first overall pick, having filled all of their other major holes.
They've got a new quarterback, plus some additional defenders for the year ahead in free agency—leaving them with their offensive line as the biggest need remaining. And given the talent that Joeckel has, it's hard to see Andy Reid passing up the opportunity to sign the star left-tackle.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE
Rationale: Must improve their pass-rush
Jacksonville come into the offseason with a number of big needs, but the biggest one has to be that of their pass rush. Having ranked dead last in that department last season, it's hard not to see them using their first overall pick to fill that here and taking a good pass-rusher.
Bjoern Werner is an extremely talented player whose versatility to play coverage on tight-ends or to pass-rush makes him a very good pick for the Jags.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB
Rationale: Carson Palmer isn't getting the job done
No matter which way you look at it, the Oakland Raiders need a new quarterback in 2013, as Carson Palmer simply isn't getting the job done for them.
Geno Smith is the best quarterback in this year's draft class.
Granted he might not be as solid of a passer as Andrew Luck or as much of a dual threat as Robert Griffin III, but the reality is that Smith is a good dual-threat quarterback who can make plays down the field. He is the block for Oakland to start building upon—perhaps not necessarily a long-term block—but he is definitely one that they need to take in the draft this year.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, OLB
Rationale: Improve their defense, listen to Chip Kelly
With Chip Kelly now in Philadelphia, it's hard not to see the former Oregon head coach lining up a move for Oregon star Dion Jordan in the first round.
The Eagles' front seven didn't offer a lot last year—thus giving the need for athletic pass-rushers to come in and revitalize an otherwise lethargic defense. Jordan appears to be that guy, with his athleticism, versatility and agility making him a great play for Philliy.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT
Rationale: Take the best player on the board
Having lost some of their offensive players at the beginning of the offseason this year, Detroit come into the draft needing to add in some new talent. And given the depth of talent on hand this year, they'll certainly be well equipped to do just that with their No. 5 overall pick.
The Lions are likely to simply take the best offensive line player on the board at the time, and with Eric Fisher up for grabs here, Detroit will gladly take him in the first round.
They need to preserve the Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson relationship more than they need defensive help, so expect the Lions to go O-line here.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB
Rationale: Improve their pass coverage
Dee Milliner is a brilliant defender who could well become one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL at some point in the near future. He is great in man-on-man situations, and while he is going to give you big plays all the time in return, he'll hardly ever allow big catches to be made against him.
Even against some of the best wide receivers that the NFL has to offer.
Cleveland needs to improve its pass coverage, and it desperately needs someone to play opposite Joe Haden in the secondary. They'll likely take Milliner here, knowing how good he can be and how strong that division will be once more in 2013.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT
Rationale: Rectify their offensive line troubles of 2012
There's no doubting that the Arizona Cardinals offensive line stunk pretty badly in 2012 and that fixing it will be their biggest desire in the draft this year.
And while Lane Johnson certainly isn't a top-10 pick (or at least he shouldn't be), he'll find himself going at No. 7 overall here to the Cardinals—simply for the fact that they need to fix their offensive line as well as possible.
Johnson had strong showings at the combine and Senior Bowl, and he can no doubt become one of the strongest offensive linemen in the draft class this year. Having been selected at No. 7 overall, you think he'll kind of have to in order to justify his selection that high.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB
Rationale: Find a quarterback, ASAP
Given all their moves over the offseason so far, there's little doubting that the Buffalo Bills will be looking to add in a star quarterback in the draft this year.
After all, Tarvaris Jackson sits on top of the depth chart right now.
And while Barkley might not be a top-10 pick in terms of talent, his passing strength and game management are both laudable traits and should see him picked here. He was rumored to be a top-10 pick before the free-agency period kicked off, and these latest developments seem to confirm that.
The Bills simply need someone able to move the ball downfield and utilize the weapons they have on offense. Having already acquired a former USC man before in Aaron Corp (who left to Richmond after losing his starting spot to—you guessed it—Matt Barkley), the Bills would do well to select the latest USC star to be their main man under center in 2013.
9. New York Jets: Jonathan Cooper, OG
Rationale: Help Mark Sanchez get better
Offensive guards might not ever go this high in the draft, but with their need for a rejuvenated passing attack, expect New York to head down the offensive line road.
Cooper is a very strong guard who's capable of moving around the offensive line as needed—and that will be a key thing for the Jets in 2013.
10. Tennessee Titans: Sharrif Floyd, DT
Rationale: Take the talent when it's available
Given the solid depth of talent in the first round this year, potential top-five and top-10 picks are going to slide in the draft. Sharrif Floyd will be one of them, and the Tennessee Titans will gladly be the beneficiaries of his deflating draft stock with the No. 10 pick.
Floyd is a day-one starter who can fill any need across the defensive line. That versatility on the defensive line isn't particularly easy to find, and with a seemingly high ceiling ahead of him, look for the Titans to pick him up in 2013.
11. San Diego Chargers: Star Lotulelei, DT
Rationale: Pick up the guy whose stock doesn't reflect his talent
San Diego, given their talent on hand, just isn't winning games it should be winning. Put that down to whomever you want, but the reality is that the Chargers are a good team that just isn't winning.
While bringing in one player isn't going to change that, it will affect how they operate here—taking the strong defensive talent that's slipped down the draft boards.
News about Star Lotulelei's heart condition will likely see him fall down the boards this year, which is great news for the Chargers. The DT is a great run-stuffer who can add good pass rush to the Chargers defense in 2013, which, for a team that plays against the likes of Peyton Manning, Willis McGahee, Jamaal Charles and Darren McFadden twice a year, is a very good thing.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB
Rationale: Replace Sean Smith
Having signed a plethora of players over the free-agency period to help its offense, Miami's biggest need coming into the draft this year appears to be on defense.
Dee Milliner is already off the board, so Miami won't be able to add him as cover for Sean Smith, but they will look to add another cornerback.
That battle will likely be between Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes, and while the former is a great talent, I think Rhodes wins out in that battle. Given his hometown history, it makes sense for the Dolphins to add Rhodes as their top pick for the 2013 draft.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trade Pick to New York Jets
Rationale: How else are they going to get Darrelle Revis?
Tampa Bay is pretty set on picking up Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis, and they're pretty keen on giving up some future draft picks to do it. However, the Jets are reportedly wanting picks this year—something that the Bucs are slowly coming around to.
With no other way to get Revis, expect Tampa Bay to trade this pick to New York, who could pick up a number of other players with this selection. I wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Cordarrelle Patterson selected by the franchise, with Sanchez needing new targets for the year ahead.
At the 13th overall pick, that is an absolute steal.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT
Rationale: Fix pass-rush issues
Carolina hasn't invested a top-50 draft pick on a defensive tackle since Kris Jenkins over a decade ago, but they'll likely do it in 2013 given their need for a better pass rush.
Up against Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees in 2013 (as well as all of their star receivers), the Panthers must get better pressure from their defense—having not gotten the best out of Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy in 2012.
Look for Sheldon Richardson to be picked up here to help fix that.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB
Rationale: Add in linebackers that can play in 3-4
With few linebackers on hand that can adjust to their 3-4 defense change in 2013, expect to see New Orleans pick up Barkevious Mingo in the draft.
Mingo is a raw talent who needs plenty of work but could be a great pick for the future of the franchise and could even become one of the top pass-rushers in the future. That ceiling, I think, sees him picked over Jarvis Jones, and it sees him head to the Saints in 2013.
16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG
Rationale: Fix a struggling offensive line
Sam Bradford showed during the back half of the season that he can be a great quarterback and can move the ball downfield very, very well. However, what the first half of the season showed was that without a solid offensive line, he cannot do anything other than take sacks and big hits.
Warmack is a genuine star at guard and is a great pickup for the Rams here at No. 16 overall, and he will be an instant improvement on their offensive line.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Damontre Moore, DE
Rationale: Get ferocity back into tired defense
With the Baltimore Ravens seemingly picking apart their Super Bowl-winning team piece by piece in free agency, the Steelers will know they have a real chance to win the division again in 2013.
To do that, they'll need to improve their defense (and particularly their pass rush), which didn't offer the usual menace and potency that we've come to expect from Mike Tomlin's men.
Moore can play at either defensive end or linebacker, and his speed and athleticism makes him a great option for the Steelers to pursue. Especially if his youthfulness can make those around him in that front seven play up to their full potential next season.
18. Dallas Cowboys: DJ Fluker, OT
Rationale: Protect Tony Romo
Dallas' offensive line was exposed throughout 2012, and Jerry Jones will no doubt look to fix it in the draft as a result—especially given that Tony Romo's success at the franchise is dependent upon it.
Fluker isn't a sexy pick at all, but he strengthens Dallas' O-line for the year ahead and provides a good long-term replacement for Doug Free when he leaves.
It won't wow anybody, but it's the right move for Dallas to make this year.
19. New York Giants: Sylvester Williams, DT
Rationale: Further solidify defensive presence
It's no secret that Jerry Reese loves to get pass-rushers in the draft, and with Williams still available on the boards, we'll likely see the same thing in 2013.
By bringing in someone like Williams, the Giants can better utilize Jason Pierre-Paul, and they can fill some of the holes that could be seen in 2013 otherwise. He might not get the credit for it, but having Williams in the middle will mean much better production from the Giants' outside guys.
That can only mean good things for New York.
20. Chicago Bears: Arthur Brown, MLB
Rationale: Replace defensive stars
With Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach both departing in free agency, it would be very surprising to see Chicago do anything other than pick up a linebacker here.
Especially when Arthur Brown is available.
The linebacker is a strong and versatile man whose speed and activity mean he can be a huge success in the 4-3 system the Bears employ.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB
Rationale: Strengthen already-dominant pass rush
Ansah is a tremendous athlete, whose athleticism and agility make him a great pick for the Bengals here to add into their already-strong pass rush.
The Bengals will know they have a real chance at winning their division next season and that their defense can lead them there. Adding players like Ansah would only further that strength and gives them cover across their defensive line for the long season ahead.
22. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR
Rationale: Help Sam Bradford be better, fix holes in offense
The Rams will have already added help for Bradford along the offensive line—seemingly setting up the next part of their offensive makeover.
Danny Amendola is gone, and no other receivers on hand are likely to produce the same success that he had, so expect to see the Rams head for a speedy wide receiver here—which shouldn't be a problem at all given the talent on hand in the draft class this year.
Austin impressed greatly at the combine with his athleticism and strength in passing drills. He should see a first-round pick here by the Rams as a result.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Desmond Trufant, CB
Rationale: Close up gaps left by free agency
It was a big free-agency period for the Vikings, who saw star Percy Harvin depart the franchise but also saw veteran receiver Greg Jennings arrive. They also cut cornerback Antoine Winfield, which makes finding a new corner the biggest need for the franchise in the draft this year.
The fact that Trufant is still available at No. 23 is incredible for the Vikings, who will more than happily pick up the star cornerback. He is a ready-made star who has impressed greatly following the combine and will be a big weapon for the Vikings in 2013.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Keenan Allen, WR
Rationale: Develop an offense that has multiple receiving threats
With one of the best future quarterbacks on hand and a number of strong, young wide receivers forthcoming, Indianapolis would do very well to add in another receiving threat in Keenan Allen here.
They did very well over free agency—filling holes that needed filling—and have the potential to be a genuine contender again in 2013 with further receiving threats. Allen would aid that cause, as his speed and solid hands make him a great pick here for the Colts.
He is quick, strong and more than capable of being a target for Luck, which could lead to Allen having a big year in Indy if utilized correctly.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Jarvis Jones, OLB
Rationale: Improve front seven defense
Adding in Trufant does help their defense somewhat, but the reality is that much work still needs to be done on the defensive side of things for Minnesota. Having an extra first-round pick here dramatically helps that, with the NFC North side now able to add in a linebacker that they desperately need.
And while it might not seem like the most logical pick, I think Minnesota could head to Jarvis Jones here, whose stock will fall down the boards following news of his neck injury.
Jones' injury really isn't a big deal, and it won't hinder his success at any potential NFL team. He is strong and talented, and he's a very moldable player for the Vikings to work with in 2013. They'll see him as a future project, but one that could be a real weapon for them in a few years' time.
26. Green Bay Packers: Alec Ogletree, ILB
Rationale: Work on pass rush after getting beaten up by Niners
After being completely outplayed by the 49ers in the NFL playoffs last year, look for the Green Bay Packers to add to their defensive pass rush in 2013.
They'll be getting a host of players back from injuries, and keeping their big names like Clay Matthews—which makes adding in another star like Ogletree a potentiality devastating selection.
Ogletree does have some off-field issues that have clouded his past, but Ted Thompson knows talent when he sees it, and he will take the best player on the board—especially when the tape on Ogletree shows just how much of an impact he can have as a pass-rusher.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR
Rationale: Give Matt Schaub a target other than Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson is very good, but he is double-teamed nearly every big play that the Texans try to run—something they can change with the addition of another great talent at WR.
Hopkins would be perfect for the role that Houston needs—not being the fastest guy but possessing some of the best hands in the draft class this year.
Devier Posey (torn Achilles) is gone, meaning the Texans need a new slot receiver, and Hopkins could be the guy to give Schaub a new target in 2013, as well as help spread the defense for Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos: Manti Te'o, ILB
Rationale: Dominate division with better pass rush
The Broncos showed that with Peyton Manning, they have the ability to be one of the top teams in football—something they'll likely be again in 2013.
Prior to the signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, it seemed like the best option for Denver in the draft was at cornerback, but maybe not so much anymore. And while it would be a stretch and a bold move, Manti Te'o could well be a huge hit at the Broncos.
Regardless of the controversy, Te'o is a very talented player who would have great success running against the offensive lines of the Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders in 2013. Neither possess dominant offensive lines or brilliant quarterbacks, and the addition of Te'o would certainly help the Broncos be even more dominant at getting to the man under center.
The Notre Dame star is a great run-stopper, which would also be a huge benefit against the likes of Jamaal Charles and Darren McFadden in 2013.
29. New England Patriots: Datone Jones, DE
Rationale: Continue to strengthen defense
Jones impressed greatly at the combine and the Senior Bowl, and he should be selected in the first round this year as a result of those performances.
As the Patriots shift between a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense, adding in someone like Jones to dominate off the edge would be a great move for New England to make. It would allow the rest of their defensive line to dominant in the middle, and come pretty close to completely their D-line for 2013.
Which, for a team that has Tom Brady on offense, could mean big things again next year.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE
Rationale: Replace Ray Edwards and John Abraham
Atlanta need pass-rushers, given the departure of Ray Edwards and John Abraham in 2013, and they'll look to the draft to try to find some new talent to do just that.
Okafor will still be on the boards by the later stages of the first round, with his strengths in both the passing and rushing game likely to have great success in Atlanta.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid, FS
Rationale: Fill gaping hole in secondary
The Niners don't appear to have too many holes heading into 2013, but one of their biggest needs remaining is in their secondary. Dashon Goldson has left town, and the NFC West powerhouse would do very well to replace him with free safety Eric Reid in the draft this year as a result.
Reid is a great talent who is big and strong—something that bodes well in San Francisco. He reads the game exceptionally well, and rarely is exposed in coverage. After watching Jacoby Jones in the Super Bowl, that could be good thing for the 49ers to nab here.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Robert Woods, WR
Rationale: Replace Anquan Boldin
Just how big a part of the Ravens offense Boldin really was won't be revealed until the season actually starts, but it's clear that he'll be dearly missed. And while the Ravens will have a number of other needs in the draft this year, replacing Boldin is one that must happen as soon as possible.
Otherwise they'll look very silly for offering Joe Flacco so much money.
There are a number of receivers in the draft this year who could fill this role, but I really like Robert Woods. He has great hands and a keen eye for the ball, and he's very agile to find open space when a route might break down and improvisation is needed.
Look for the Ravens to add in a WR here, with Woods a nice option to have.
What do you think teams should do in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft?
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