2013 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who Are the Experts Picking?
The NFL draft is but a month away, which means it's time for mock drafters everywhere to fire up their mock-drafting machines and start making predictions on which players will land where in this year's first round.
To make it easier, here's a roundup of some of the better-known draft experts and what they think teams will do with their first-round picks.
Our experts for this exercise are:
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Miller: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Kiper: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
McShay: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Brinson: DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Casserly: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Three of the five experts examined here have projected the Kansas City Chiefs to take top offensive tackle Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M first overall. It's hard to argue with it, considering all the moves the team has made in free agency that seem to hint to this pick.
However, McShay and Brinson have the Chiefs going with defense, with McShay saying they will take Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Brinson has the Chiefs addressing their pass rush with Oregon's Dion Jordan, citing their switch to a 3-4 defense as the reason.
Ultimately, while Lotulelei and Jordan are the best two players at their respective position in this year's draft, the Chiefs selecting Joeckel just makes too much sense.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Miller: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Kiper: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
McShay: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Brinson: DE Ziggy Ansah, Brigham Young
Casserly: DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Much like the Chiefs, three of five experts have the Jacksonville Jaguars addressing offense while two take a defensive approach.
Both Kiper and McShay have the Jaguars taking an offensive tackle—for Kiper, it's Central Michigan's Eric Fisher with Joeckel off the board, and for McShay, it's Joeckel, as he has the Chiefs addressing their defense. Miller goes with quarterback Geno Smith, harkening the end of the Blaine Gabbert era.
Again, Brinson and Casserly believe the pick will be defense, and both believe it will be with an eye toward pass rush, with Brinson going with BYU's Ziggy Ansah and Casserly picking Oregon's Dion Jordan.
Offensive tackle may be in play if the Jaguars are standing pat at quarterback this year. Smith seems like a good fit in Jacksonville, but again, it depends on belief in Gabbert. Otherwise, a top-tier pass-rusher makes sense.
3. Oakland Raiders
Miller: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Kiper: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
McShay: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Brinson: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Casserly: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Consensus is the word of the day when it comes to our experts' projections for the Oakland Raiders' third overall pick. All five say they'll be taking Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, noting that the Raiders desperately need to upgrade their defensive line. The physical Floyd certainly would give them the boost up front they are looking for.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Miller: DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Kiper: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
McShay: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Brinson: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Casserly: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
The Philadelphia Eagles did a very solid job of bringing in veteran components in free agency, so it makes sense that the experts' picks for them in the first round are rather all over the place.
Miller has the Eagles seeking a pass-rusher in Oregon's Dion Jordan, while the pair of ESPN draft minds are in agreement about cornerback Dee Milliner. Charley Casserly and Will Brinson think quarterback protection is the Eagles' biggest need and have them drafting Central Michigan's Eric Fisher.
Ultimately, after watching first Michael Vick and then Nick Foles get hammered repeatedly behind a porous offensive line, the Fisher pick makes the most sense.
5. Detroit Lions
Miller: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Kiper: DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU
McShay: DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU
Brinson: OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Casserly: DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU
While the Detroit Lions certainly need to address their offensive tackle position, having lost two starters in free agency, most of the experts we're looking at here have the Lions taking a pass-rusher instead. Three of the four believe that man is BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah while Will Brinson believes it will be LSU's Barkevious Mingo.
The Lions also lost edge rushers in free agency, which makes the Ansah or Mingo picks quite sensible. But losing two starting offensive tackles is a more urgent need. Miller's call of Fisher might just be the best one.
6. Cleveland Browns
Miller: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Kiper: OLB/DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
McShay: OLB/DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Brinson: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Casserly: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Browns picked up two pass-rushers in free agency but haven't addressed finding a starting cornerback to play opposite Joe Haden, so if Alabama's Dee Milliner is still on the board when they pick sixth overall, he'll be hard to pass up.
If Milliner is not on the board, however, they will target another outside linebacker with the ability to get to opposing quarterbacks. Dion Jordan would be the best among them, but there's no guarantee he'll still be on the board. Jarvis Jones is an enticing option, but his health would have to be of no concern for the Browns to take him so early.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Miller: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Kiper: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
McShay: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Brinson: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Casserly: DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Both ESPN experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have taken one look at the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback situation and have come to the same conclusion: Arizona should take West Virginia's Geno Smith with its first-round pick.
Others, however, aren't convinced, with the three remaining experts looking elsewhere. Miller has the Cardinals improving their defensive line by taking Star Lotulelei, Brinson has Luke Joeckel falling all the way to seven and Casserly says pass rush is the pick with Barkevious Mingo.
With Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton and John Skelton at their quarterbacks, it's possible that Smith goes here if he hasn't yet been taken.
8. Buffalo Bills
Miller: DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU
Kiper: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
McShay: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Brinson: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Casserly: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
It wouldn't be surprising if the Buffalo Bills nabbed quarterback Geno Smith at eighth overall if he were available, but they certainly have other needs, especially defensively, that might push them to wait on a passer until the second round.
If they want to add talent in the pass rush, then their best option is obviously the best available player still on the board. Matt Miller says that's BYU's Ziggy Ansah, while Mel Kiper thinks it will be Georgia's Jarvis Jones.
9. New York Jets
Miller: OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Kiper: OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
McShay: OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Brinson: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Casserly: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
The consensus among the experts is that the New York Jets take care of a defensive need in the first round, with all but Will Brinson have them going with a pass-rusher. Barkevious Mingo is the more popular choice; Casserly has the Jets taking Georgia's Jarvis Jones, however, because he already has Mingo off the board.
Brinson's pick of Dee Milliner is predicated on the Jets trading cornerback Darrelle Revis. If they don't, then it's likely a unanimous agreement that outside linebacker is the top priority.
10. Tennessee Titans
Miller: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Kiper: OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
McShay: OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Brinson: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Casserly: OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Three of the five experts have the Tennessee Titans taking North Carolina offensive guard Jonathan Cooper, noting that his superior athleticism gives him the edge over fellow guard Chance Warmack.
The Titans definitely have varying needs, but improving the interior of the offensive line is their biggest. If they choose Cooper here, it wouldn't be surprising.
11. San Diego Chargers
Miller: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Kiper: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
McShay: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Brinson: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Casserly: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Another unanimous selection by our five experts, with all of them saying the San Diego Chargers should take Oklahoma's Lane Johnson with the 11th pick of the first round.
If there's one thing the Chargers desperately need it's to better protect quarterback Philip Rivers; things often fell apart in 2012 when the injuries piled up, so bringing on someone young and exceedingly talented like Johnson is a no-brainer. If he can supplant Jared Gaither, Rivers will be far better off.
12. Miami Dolphins
Miller: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Kiper: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
McShay: WR Keenan Allen, California
Brinson: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Casserly: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
It's pretty obvious that Mel Kiper's and Todd McShay's latest mock drafts pre-date free agency, because the two wide receiver picks here rely—as the two admit—on what the Dolphins do to address the position before the draft.
With the Dolphins adding Mike Wallace, the urgency at wide receiver is diminished, though McShay does note that the position could still be in play in the first round, even with the addition of Wallace.
I think that's less likely, however, and agree with the other three experts that cornerback is the next most pressing position for the Dolphins. Miller says that the pick should be Washington's Desmond Trufant while Brinson and Casserly both think Florida State's Xavier Rhodes is the best choice. Either man would be a positive addition.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Miller: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Kiper: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
McShay: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Brinson: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Casserly: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
While there are only two experts in agreement about a player, three have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking a defensive tackle in the first round. Most believe this will be the direction they go simply because the best defensive player on the board will be a tackle—either Star Lotulelei as Charley Casserly and Mel Kiper believe, or Missouri's Sheldon Richardson, as Matt Miller predicts.
Cornerback could certainly be in play as well, but the Buccaneers are hot on the Darrelle Revis trail. If the Jets trade Revis to Tampa Bay, then the best available defensive lineman it is.
14. Carolina Panthers
Miller: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Kiper: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
McShay: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Brinson: OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Casserly: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
The Carolina Panthers are another team that will have plenty of options in the first round that will allow them to go a number of positional directions. Of the five experts here, two have Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, two have wide receivers and one has an offensive guard and none would be a terrible selection.
If receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is still on the board with this pick, I think he's the Panthers' best option. Cam Newton could certainly use a new weapon to play with.
15. New Orleans Saints
Miller: OLB Tank Carradine, Florida State
Kiper: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
McShay: OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Brinson: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Casserly: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
The New Orleans Saints are switching to a 3-4 defense this year, so it comes as no surprise that all five experts have the team addressing that side of the ball in the first round. Though Richardson would doubtlessly be a good pick here, finding edge-rushers is the bigger priority.
Tank Carradine, Bjoern Werner or the best available pass-rusher still on the board would be the best bet for the Saints' pick.
16. St. Louis Rams
Miller: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Kiper: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
McShay: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Brinson: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Casserly: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
The St. Louis Rams are another team with many varied needs and thus multiple directions they could go in the first round of the draft. They also have two picks in the round, which further extends their options.
When it comes to the best player still on the board, I would have to agree with Kiper and Brinson that safety Kenny Vaccaro should be the Rams' selection if he's still available. Adding another weapon for quarterback Sam Bradford—whether in the form of Cordarrelle Patterson, Tavon Austin or someone else—also would be a smart move. Protecting him, by taking Chance Warmack, is also more than acceptable.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Miller: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Kiper: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
McShay: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Brinson: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Casserly: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The Steelers have enough first-round-caliber needs this year that Will Brinson's pick of Alabama guard Chance Warmack seems like a luxury. That's not to say they won't take him should he fall that far, but finding an outside linebacker capable of competing with Jason Worilds for James Harrison's former job is higher on the priority list. Jarvis Jones, if healthy, would be a steal at 17.
Tight end is also an intriguing option for the Steelers; Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert will likely still be on the board, and the Steelers certainly need to find a receiving tight end option while Heath Miller recovers from a serious knee injury. While defense appears to be the biggest need, Eifert's siren song may lure the Steelers in.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Miller: OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Kiper: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
McShay: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Brinson: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Casserly: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Will Brinson is the odd man out for the Dallas Cowboys' first-round pick, being the only expert among these five to have them going defense. Everyone else seems pretty convinced that offensive line—specifically guard—will be their position of choice this year in an attempt to shore up their pass protection and run-blocking in the middle.
If Warmack is still there, he's the obvious choice. Cooper is a good second-best option; though his pass protection still needs work, he'll be able to start right away and help out the run game.
19. New York Giants
Miller: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Kiper: ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
McShay: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Brinson: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Casserly: OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
The five experts are all over the place when it comes to the New York Giants' first-round pick, with only Matt Miller and Will Brinson in agreement that they take defensive end Bjoern Werner 19th overall.
Werner makes sense considering that the Giants need pass-rushers. Casserly says D.J. Fluker needs to be the pick because the Giants' biggest priority is the offensive line. Te'o could start immediately at middle linebacker, according to Kiper, while McShay wants tight end Tyler Eifert to provide Eli Manning with another weapon.
Defense seems to be the de rigueur pick for the Giants in the first round, and adding a pass-rusher could certainly be the plan. Werner would be a solid pick at 19.
20. Chicago Bears
Miller: MLB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Kiper: OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
McShay: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Brinson: OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Casserly: OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Linebacker seems to be the best position for the Chicago Bears to address in the first round, with both Nick Roach and Brian Urlacher off the roster. Kansas State's Arthur Brown has become a very intriguing first-round option and the Bears might find him to be the perfect match. Alec Ogletree could certainly fit as well. The best available linebacker should be the Bears' first-round choice.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Miller: S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
Kiper: OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
McShay: OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Brinson: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Casserly: WR Keenan Allen, California
Of these five picks, only Charley Casserly's of wide receiver Keenan Allen seems to not make much sense for the Cincinnati Bengals, considering that Mohamed Sanu appears to be the team's No. 2 wideout.
McShay's pick of offensive tackle D.J. Fluker works only if the Bengals cannot find a way to re-sign right tackle Andre Smith. Running back is a priority, to be sure, but the Bengals may get more value out of a middle-round pick at the position. Linebacker—where the Bengals are thin—or safety, if they love Jonathan Cyprien, seems to be the better fit.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins)
Miller: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Kiper: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
McShay: OT Menelik Watson, Florida State
Brinson: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Casserly: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
With their second first-round draft pick, the St. Louis Rams are in perfect position to finally grab another weapon for Sam Bradford to throw to, and three of the five experts we're looking at here also agree. Offensive tackle could be in play if the Rams use the first of their two picks on a receiver, but it makes more sense to save the receiver pick until 22nd overall.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Miller: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Kiper: WR Keenan Allen, California
McShay: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
Brinson: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Casserly: DT Kawann Short, Purdue
The two defensive tackles on this list for the Minnesota Vikings are luxury picks, though Todd McShay does make the case that North Carolina's Sylvester Williams would be a perfect fit in the defensive system, which gives him the edge.
Ultimately, I see the Vikings going after the best available cornerback left on the board when they make their first of two first-round picks—be that Florida State's Xavier Rhodes or someone else. Wide receiver is also still in play despite the team picking up Greg Jennings.
24. Indianapolis Colts
Miller: WR Keenan Allen, California
Kiper: OT Menelik Watson, Florida State
McShay: G Justin Pugh, Syracuse
Brinson: OLB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Casserly: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
The Indianapolis Colts could certainly do worse than adding another receiver for Andrew Luck to get acquainted with, and either Keenan Allen or Justin Hunter would fit.
However, Luck was certainly hit quite a lot in his rookie season, and keeping the investment protected is even more important than keeping him happy with receiving targets. Therefore, Justin Pugh or Menelik Watson would be a good use of this pick.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks)
Miller: OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Kiper: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
McShay: Null (Not updated post-Percy Harvin trade)
Brinson: ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Casserly: ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
With other, greater needs addressed with their earlier first-round pick, the Minnesota Vikings can use their second of the two to improve their defense. Of the four experts (Todd McShay's mock draft hasn't been updated with the Seahawks' traded pick), three have the Vikings going with an interior linebacker while one, Mel Kiper, sees them making a move to improve their defensive line.
Front seven is certainly an area of need for the Vikings this year. If they can get Alec Ogletree at this point, it would be a steal. Manti Te'o could also be in play.
26. Green Bay Packers
Miller: ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Kiper: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
McShay: DT John Jenkins, Georgia
Brinson: DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
Casserly: S Matt Elam, Florida
The Packers have a few options in the first round. They could go after a running back like Eddie Lacy, they could bolster their defensive line for the future, they could add talent—and youth—in the secondary or they can bring on Manti Te'o to help them defend the run.
None of these options is a bad one; what they do will likely be more fluid and heavily dependent on the picks made ahead of them. The only one I doubt is Lacy, with the Packers having other opportunities in later rounds to add running back talent.
27. Houston Texans
Miller: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Kiper: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
McShay: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Brinson: WR Keenan Allen, California
Casserly: WR Robert Woods, USC
This is a pretty straightforward pick for the Houston Texans—take a wide receiver, end of story. They need to add targets for quarterback Matt Schaub.
Any of these four options as outlined by the experts would be just fine. The key is simply that whoever they choose can contribute heavily in his first year.
28. Denver Broncos
Miller: CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Kiper: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
McShay: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Brinson: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Casserly: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
With the departure of pass-rushing defensive end Elvis Dumervil, the idea of the Denver Broncos trying to replace him with their first-round pick this year absolutely makes sense. Barring that, however, best available cornerback is definitely a priority.
Whether that player is Johnthan Banks, Desmont Trufant or Xavier Rhodes, the Broncos would be well-served to draft someone who can play nickel corner this year and transition into Champ Bailey's starting job in the next.
29. New England Patriots
Miller: DE Datone Jones, UCLA
Kiper: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
McShay: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut
Brinson: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Casserly: S Eric Reid, LSU
With Aqib Talib sticking around with the New England Patriots for one more season, Mel Kiper's and Todd McShay's pre-free agency picks of a cornerback to the team in the first round no longer apply. However, safety becomes an interesting option.
Ultimately, Matt Miller's projection that the Patriots more than likely want to make their front seven more tough and intimidating seems to be the safer bet. Datone Jones from UCLA could be in play depending on who is already off the board.
30. Atlanta Falcons
Miller: DE Alex Okafor, Texas
Kiper: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
McShay: TE Zach Ertz, Stanford
Brinson: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Casserly: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
While Todd McShay's latest mock draft doesn't account for Tony Gonzalez returning for one more year, Will Brinson's does. He has the Atlanta Falcons taking tight end Tyler Eifert in the first round, noting that he can have a year behind Gonzalez before becoming the starter in 2014.
This is a clever idea, to be sure, but defense appears to be the bigger priority for the Falcons in Round 1. Alex Okafor or Bjoern Werner—or rather, the best pass-rusher available—makes more sense than a tight end.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Miller: S Eric Reid, LSU
Kiper: DE Datone Jones, UCLA
McShay: DE Margus Hunt, SMU
Brinson: CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Casserly: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
What to get a team that has nearly everything? While all of these selections would be fine—developmental-caliber defensive ends, insurance at cornerback, a tight end to pair with Vernon Davis—safety is the 49ers' biggest hole.
The Niners also have a lot of picks this year—14 at this time—which means their other, more marginal needs can be addressed many times over. It's best that San Francisco grab the best safety available to find a good replacement for the departed Dashon Goldson.
32. Baltimore Ravens
Miller: WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Kiper: S Matt Elam, Florida
McShay: ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Brinson: ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
Casserly: ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
The reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens suffered a lot of offseason attrition this year, with center Matt Birk and linebacker Ray Lewis retiring, defenders Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Ed Reed leaving in free agency, receiver Anquan Boldin being traded and safety Bernard Pollard being released.
That means they'll have a lot of needs to fill in this year's draft, starting with their first-round pick. There are myriad directions the Ravens can go, and any of these players could make a major impact right away. What matters most is who the best player still available by the time the Ravens pick. Kevin Minter would be a great addition as would safety Matt Elam, as long as they are there.