The majority of NFL teams will see significant improvements to their roster in 2013 thanks to the impending draft class' outstanding depth at nearly every position.
There isn't a plethora of future franchise quarterbacks available as there was last time around, but struggling franchises selecting near the top will nevertheless be particularly fortuitous when April arrives.
Here is a complete mock of the first round, which is geared toward the more complex scenarios that specific organizations will be in as the action unfolds.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Joeckel is an outstanding prospect, and was able to anchor the Aggies' line even when Heisman Trophy-winning QB Johnny Manziel scrambled around to extend the play. The Chiefs are open to trading Branden Albert, but even no team pulls the trigger on a deal, Joeckel still makes sense at No. 1 overall.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Choosing a quarterback this high seems like a bit of a reach. Plus, the Jags still aren't sure what they have in Blaine Gabbert as he prepares to play in his third offense in three pro seasons. Milliner would provide a huge upgrade to a thin defensive backfield.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders are likely trading for QB Matt Flynn to be their starter, according to Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times. That essentially puts to rest any speculation surrounding that position. Floyd is an outstanding athlete for his size, and should help a defense that was putrid for most of 2012.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
As the Eagles make the transition to a 3-4, adding a defensive end with experience in that alignment makes a lot of sense—especially when it comes to Ansah.
At 6'5" and 271 pounds, he would be a wonderful asset to Philadelphia's vastly upgraded defense. Plenty of playmaker exist in the linebacker corps, which will allow Ansah to be aggressive and subtract from the pressure of his high draft status.
This is a bit of a tricky call given that Ansah is considered one of the rawer prospects. New head coach Chip Kelly will undoubtedly want to make upgrades on offense, too, as he installs his innovative, up-tempo scheme.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Since Gosder Cherilus is no longer in the fold, offensive tackle should be a priority for Detroit. Fisher should be a franchise left tackle, and the Lions can move 2012 first-round pick Riley Reiff over to the right side.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Significant changes have been made in free agency by new general manager Mike Lombardi. The defense should be much improved and suited for Ray Horton's 3-4 alignment, but another playmaker is necessary for the attacking scheme to work.
That leads to the Browns taking Jordan, who at the very least will be a pass-rushing specialist as a rookie and can also cover extremely well for his position.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Arizona had a terrible offensive line in 2012—partially due to injuries, but also due to personnel. Cooper has wonderful technique, and specializes in pass protection. His ability to get to the second level in the running game should help newly acquired RB Rashard Mendenhall return to form and effectively run between the tackles.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Concerns about the spread offense Smith played in for the Mountaineers loom. However, Smith is the best quarterback on the board, and Buffalo desperately needs help at the position.
Only Tarvaris Jackson and Aaron Corp occupy the current depth chart, and head coach Doug Marrone must have a more competent signal-caller to run the offense. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on Friday that the Bills are interested in former Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb, but he's not a reliable long-term answer.
Smith has the potential to be. Due to his high football IQ, gaudy collegiate production and stellar accuracy, this is a logical pick. Although he didn't run a lot in college, Smith has enough athleticism to effectively run a zone-read option alongside explosive RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The past three first-round picks on defense are starting to come around, but GM John Idzik has a seriously tough choice here.
Pressure will be on to enhance the perpetually troublesome offense. There isn't a playmaker at this juncture worth reaching for, though. That results in choosing the former Bulldogs star, who was sensational in his three years in Athens.
Jones' pro day raises a red flag due to his 4.9 40-yard dash time, yet there is not a better, more versatile defender on the board that fits the Jets' needs. With the versatility to rush the passer, defend the run and cover, Jones should be an instant impact player in Rex Ryan's defense.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Speaking of pro days, Lotulelei's was outstanding, highlighted by him bench pressing 225 pounds 38 times. That shows obvious strength from Lotulelei at the point of attack, and he should command double teams immediately at the next level.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Philip Rivers has had serious turnover problems the past two seasons, and a lot of it can be attributed to poor pass protection. The recent release of free agent bust Jared Gaither makes Johnson a smart choice, as he can immediately fill in to protect Rivers' blindside more effectively.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
A lot of mocks have Xavier Rhodes going here to help out the secondary, but a recent development reported by CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora changes that thinking significantly:
Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora
Still sounds to me like the Dolphins are best positioned to land free agent CB Brent Grimes. Should be a conclusion there soon enough3/29/2013, 8:58:24 PM
If the Dolphins do land Grimes, it would be yet another big splash in free agency by GM Jeff Ireland. Thus, there aren't many pressing needs on the roster to fill. Adding depth to the defensive line, though, would not be a bad move at all.
Werner would stay in the Sunshine State and be a fixture in the front four rotation, and provide a second pass-rushing threat along with Cameron Wake.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
After the debacle that was signing Eric Wright to a massive free agent deal last offseason, the Bucs will be thrilled to snag Rhodes here. The physical ex-Seminole has the frame to compete with big No. 1 targets on the outside, and would face Vincent Jackson in practice.
Rhodes would be yet another improvement to 2012's worst pass defense, on top of the acquisition of All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Any pressure the Panthers can take off Cam Newton would be ideal. Steve Smith is the only truly dependable receiver at Newton's disposal, so adding an electric playmaker like Patterson would undoubtedly enhance Carolina's offensive flexibility.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Given the upside that Mingo has due to his length and range on the edge, new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan would have a valuable weapon should the Saints nab Mingo here. Lackluster numbers in college make Mingo a risk. In this aggressive defense, though, Mingo has the potential to be an absolute force off the edge capable of a double-digit sack season.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson migrated to the AFC East, which leaves a lot of questions surrounding the receiver position. Austin is far too explosive to pass up at this point, as he could line up in the backfield, contribute in the return game and most importantly provide Sam Bradford with a security blanket target underneath.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Keenan Allen, WR, California
Now that Mike Wallace has moved to, yes, the AFC East, the Steelers are in need of another dependable target. The route-running precision of Allen makes him a strong fit and one of the more pro-ready prospects available, and he is also big enough to be a viable red zone target.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Cowboys just picked up Will Allen from the Steelers to strengthen the safety position, and Vaccaro can play either spot. Vaccaro is a hard-hitting force against the run, and is good enough in coverage to play in nickel and dime packages on the inside. That would allow Dallas to dial up exotic blitzes and mask pre-snap looks effectively.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
Now that Osi Umenyiora has fled in free agency, the Giants are in even more need of a pass-rusher. Carradine did tear his ACL in the Seminoles' season finale, which is a legitimate cause for uncertainty. However, he has the talent worthy of this spot.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Kevin Minter, ILB, Georgia
One of the greatest athletes in the class, Ogletree does have some off-field questions to answer. The Bears are now strapped at linebacker without Brian Urlacher, Nick roach and Geno Hayes, and Ogletree makes plays all over the field. He should swarm to the ball at the next level and match up well with tight ends and even slot receivers if necessary in the passing game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The defense hasn't been the problem for Cincinnati, no matter who defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has at his disposal. The Bengals should focus on surrounding Andy Dalton with more weapons. Hunter bounced back from an ACL injury to post a 1,000-yard season for the Volunteers. At 6'4" and 200 pounds with great leaping ability, he'd provide a wonderful complement to superstar WR A.J. Green.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
When Brian Schottenheimer called plays for the Jets, the team had a premier power rushing attack. Warmack should be an absolute force from the jump, and should also assist in fostering a clean pocket for Bradford to operate within.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Teaming Richardson with Kevin Williams on the inside would help the Vikings' run defense. Given how quickly Richardson can get off the ball and how well Williams plays the run, Minnesota would be wise to take the former Tiger standout at this juncture.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Cornerback may not seem like the biggest need for Indianapolis in light of the Greg Toler signing, but in the pass-happy NFL of today, teams can never have enough depth at the position. Trufant has excellent speed, is a willing contributor in run support and has wonderful instincts in coverage that should eventually see him star in the pros.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Due to the release of Antoine Winfield, GM Kevin Spielman goes with another sizable corner on the outside. Banks caught some grief with a poor 40 time at the combine, then improved it at his pro day. That should keep him on the back end of Round 1.
26. Green Bay Packers (12-4): Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Lacy is a bruising, 230-pound back who hasn't had as much wear and tear as many who run like he does. That's thanks to his time with the Crimson Tide learning from the likes of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, and the Packers desperately need a No. 1 RB to better balance the offense.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Matt Schaub would love another target to throw to other than Andre Johnson on the outside. Hopkins outshone highly touted Tiger teammate Sammy Watkins this past season, and has the size and speed to be the legitimate No. 2 option the Texans have been searching for.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
This is one of the most stacked rosters in the NFL, but now that Elvis Dumervil is gone, the Broncos must make defensive end the top priority. Jones weighs 283 pounds, which gives him the power to hold his ground against the run. He is also a viable pass-rushing threat, although not on the level of a player like Dumervil.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Patriots' offense certainly isn't keeping them from winning the Super Bowl, so focusing on defense at No. 29 would be wise. Short can shed blocks very well and doesn't miss opportunities to make plays, and he would form an interesting tandem alongside Vince Wilfork in the trenches.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
It's a bit of a reach for the Falcons taking Hunt in the first 32 picks. However, the aforementioned signing of Umenyiora would provide the brute athlete with a valuable mentor, and Hunt's physical gifts are arguably the most intriguing in the entire class.
With so much other talent on the roster, the Falcons are geared up for another Super Bowl run, so they can afford to take a slight risk.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Justin Smith's absence from the lineup showed that the Niners need depth on the defensive front. Hankins is a 320-pounder with a high motor and the stamina to stay on the field for prolonged periods of time. That would translate well in San Francisco.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Minter fills in as an instant starter for Green Bay. Well-versed in the 3-4 scheme in Baton Rouge, he would make life easier for the Ravens as they transition after losing Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. Despite just one year starting at LSU, Minter is prepared to be a starter by Week 1.
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