The 2013 NFL draft is rapidly approaching, making this a perfect time to assess the landscape across the league and try to predict which players will land where over the next few days.
Because Round 1 is so important, we’re focusing all our efforts on projecting where the top prospects will land and how each organization will act on the first day of this event.
Let’s take a closer look at the latest mock and see where the top-32 players wind up.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
Kansas City is far from a Super Bowl contender, but it has managed to fill a number of holes this offseason.
With the No. 1 pick, the organization could do much worse than selecting arguably the best player in the class and shoring up the left tackle position for the next decade.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
The Jags were one of the worst teams against the run in 2012 and direly need to restock their defensive line with talented players.
There is perhaps no one with more upside or ability than Utah’s Lotulelei, a multi-dimensional prospect that can not only clog up lanes and contain the run, but also get into the backfield and pressure the QB.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
With Carson Palmer out of the picture, GM Reggie McKenzie should look to nab a franchise signal-caller with the No. 3 pick.
Smith is the best prospect in this year’s class and could be an impact player as early as his rookie season. If the Raiders hit a home run here, they could get back to respectability in the near future.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Jordan’s an elite pass-rushing talent that can play in a stance as a DE or standing up as an OLB.
His versatility and skills were utilized to great effect during his time with the Ducks under Chip Kelly, who just happens to be the newest head coach of the Eagles.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
Milliner is a shutdown corner that will be able to completely take a player or half the field out of play.
The Lions weren’t able to stop the big play and were often torched by wide receivers last year, making this a great selection for the franchise.
6. Cleveland Browns: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
Werner is a prospect that may not have the immense upside as some of the other defensive ends, but he’s the complete package and should be ready to contribute right away.
Because Cleveland’s offense is making strides, it’ll need defenders ready to make the leap in order to be a threat in the upcoming season.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
The Cardinals offensive line is in absolute shambles and has to improve if this team is going to make any progress in 2013.
Until they acquire some capable pass protectors such as Fisher, newly acquired QB Carson Palmer is going to look mediocre—at best—under center out in the desert.
8. Buffalo Bills: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
Patterson is the top receiver on our big board, as he possesses prototypical size, speed, hands and playmaking ability for the position.
The Bills could explore a QB at No. 8, but would be better served trading back if they were to go that route, especially with Smith off the board in this scenario.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Ansah was dominant during the 2012 season, proved himself further at the Senior Bowl and made ripples for his workouts during the combine.
He seems to be a star in the making, which is exactly what the Jets need.
If Gang Green can get a respectable pass-rusher, an area of immediate need, they’ll be much better off—but still a long way from contending.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Warmack is one of the most versatile and talented guards we’ve seen come out of college in a long time.
He’s an absolute mauler in the rushing game and is a more than capable pass protector as well. His presence would be a huge boost to the Titans’ running game and Jake Locker’s continued development as a passer.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
The Chargers biggest issue over the past few seasons has been keeping Philip Rivers protected, which has led to inefficient offensive play.
If the franchise signal-caller remains upright, the Chargers will have a chance to contend in the tough AFC West. Johnson is the best player to assist in that department and looks to be a franchise left tackle.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
With Mike Wallace’s signing, the ‘Phins nabbed the star playmaker they needed to continue Ryan Tannehill’s development in the passing game.
Now they’ll need to focus on shutting down the opponent’s top wideout, making Rhodes a great choice. He’s a high-upside CB with elite athleticism and a knack for breaking up passes.
Brent Grimes is only a temporary stopgap on his one-year contract, so expect Rhodes to take over the starting gig sooner than later.
13. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
After trading Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Jets acquired the No. 13 pick in this draft.
They should use it to take the best pass-rusher available, which is Mingo in this mock draft. The high-upside Tigers product can get to the passer at will and even assist in the running game by squeezing the edge and funneling runners away from the outside.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
The Panthers could improve their defensive line in a number of ways by picking Floyd here, as he’s arguably the best player available.
He’s an excellent run-stopper that possesses the versatility to knife into the backfield and sack the quarterback. The Gators star may not be the best fit need-wise, but he’s a stud that will make an impact for this team.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
The Saints defense was historically bad in 2012, making Jones an obvious choice to upgrade that side of the ball.
The Georgia product is an awesome linebacker and a steal here No. 16, as he not only looks to be one of the better pass-rushers available, but also one of the best defenders in the class.
The Bulldogs star can get into the backfield, stop the run, play the passing lanes and force turnovers with equal efficiency.
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
Vaccaro is the top safety in this class and even has the ability to line up as a nickel corner depending on the defensive look.
He’s a playmaker that won’t concede the big play, offers support against the run and brings all the little things to the table that elite talents at his position provide.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
This is another Georgia linebacker that makes great reads and uses his out-of-this-world athleticism to make the play.
Ogletree could become the next star linebacker to don the Black and Yellow, as defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has the ability to make him a star.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
Dallas needs all the help it can get along the offensive line.
Cooper would immediately help a flailing running game by providing more punch in the trenches and clearing holes for the talented RBs to squeeze through. He’d also assist in keeping Tony Romo from peeling himself off the turf practically every time he drops back to pass.
19. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
The G-Men direly need to bolster their defensive front, making a versatile player like Richardson a wise pick.
He’s primarily a run defender, but his ability to draw blockers and clog lanes will open things up for the pass-rushers on the roster.
20. Chicago Bears: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Bears did some work on their patchwork O-line this spring, meaning they have the luxury to improve the secondary with the No. 20 pick.
Trufant is a high-upside athlete that can press at the line, stick with his mark in man coverage and has no issues in physical Cover 2 schemes.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
Cincinnati continues to play well enough to get into the postseason, but doesn’t have the personnel to stop elite opposing wide receivers from other divisions from torching them.
Andre Johnson and the Texans have burned the Bengals two years in a row, so it’s time for them to upgrade the safety position and work on preventing the big plays.
Elam can create turnovers and breakup passes while providing support all over the field.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): ) Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
Should the Rams nab an elite receiver, they may find themselves contending for the playoffs in the stacked NFC West.
Sam Bradford has regained his form as a top-notch QB and the defense is rapidly improving, leaving the door open for a potential run in 2013. If Austin pans out for this organization, it could be competing for the division crown.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
After trading Percy Harvin to the Seahawks, the Vikings desperately need to add some talent to their receiving corps.
Without doing so, superstar RB Adrian Peterson will continue to face stacked boxes and QB Christian Ponder’s development will stall.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
While Moore’s athleticism may not be elite, he’s productive on a football field and rolling his tape will show exactly that. If it weren’t for a poor combine performance, we’d likely be talking about this young man going in the top half of the first round.
Regardless, if he’s able to stop the run and pressure the quarterback—as he did during his time with the Aggies—the Colts defense will be a much better unit than it was in 2012.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA): Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Short will bolster an already stout defensive line in Minnesota. He can get into the backfield with ease from his interior D-line position and put pressure on the quarterback and stuff the run.
It’s possible the Vikings look at a linebacker here, but Short is a great value at No. 25.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
The Packers need to bolster their defense against the run and Williams looks to be one of the best players available to aid in that area.
He’s a solid 3-4 defensive end that can move over to DT in certain situations due to his ability to draw blockers and create favorable matchups.
27. Houston Texans: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
The Texans inked Ed Reed to a deal, leaving a window for this franchise to improve its secondary even further by selecting a top-tier CB in the first round.
Banks is an interception machine that is also reliable in coverage.
28. Denver Broncos: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Elvis Dumervil’s release makes the need for a pass-rushing defensive end a priority in the Mile High City.
Okafor is an agile end that is able to quickly beat his blocker and disrupt plays before they get started.
29. New England Patriots: Margus Hunt, DE (SMU)
The New England front has been a patchwork unit for a while now and direly needs some stability.
While Hunt is a major project, he could eventually turn into one of the most feared pass-rushers in the entire NFL. He’s a huge, athletic freak, but has to get more physical and develop a mean streak to become a star.
30. Atlanta Falcons: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)
The Falcons defense isn’t quite on par with the team’s offense, making a high-upside player like Jenkins a priority this April.
He’s a stout run defender that has the ability to get to the quarterback if left in one-on-one situations.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
While Vernon Davis is still in San Fran, the Niners could look to recreate the success New England has found with its pair of elite tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.)
Eifert is a star receiver and capable run blocker that would be able to make an impact in his rookie season.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)
The Ravens gutted their Super Bowl-winning defense this offseason, so they’ll need to start rebuilding right away in the draft.
Brown is a great inside linebacker that won’t quite replace Ray Lewis, but should make his absence less notable.
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