2013 NFL Mock Draft: Brilliant Moves Your GM Must Make
Chandler Jones was a fantastic pickup by the New England Patriots last year in the NFL draft, and similarly, there are some gems available to general managers in this year's draft.
This year's draft class features incredible talent and depth in the trenches. It won't be shocking to see four offensive linemen and four defensive linemen selected in the top 10.
Unlike last year's draft, it's likely that only one quarterback will be taken at the top of the draft, and the first round might conclude without a single running back being selected.
These are the picks that will pay off for every team in Round 1, with certain selections highlighted with italics for more in-depth analysis.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The NFL is a game won and lost in the trenches. The Chiefs couldn't get anything going on offense last year, and now that they have a quarterback in Alex Smith, it's time to focus on giving him the protection he needs to be successful. Joeckel will be a rock-solid starter right out of the gates on either side.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Lotulelei has been long considered to be one of the top players in this year's draft. He's a powerful defender in the mold of Haloti Ngata who will anchor any defensive line in the NFL.
But when a heart condition surfaced at the combine, the uncertainty of his future caused his draft stock to fall.
He'll be a key contributor to Jacksonville's defense in 2013 and beyond, occupying two or more blockers on most plays, which will give other players a chance to make plays on the ball.
3. Oakland Raiders—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
It will be fun to track the careers of Lotulelei and Floyd, who figure to be the top defensive tackles taken in this year's draft. Floyd is a perfect fit with Oakland, which needs defensive tackles in the worst way.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—OLB/DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
The Eagles are making a switch from last year's "Wide 9" defense to Billy Davis' 3-4 scheme. Connor Barwin was signed to rush the passer from the outside linebacker position, but adding Jordan to the roster would give this defense a huge boost in the first year of this new scheme.
5. Detroit Lions—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
No team in the league passed the ball more often last year than the Lions. And with the retirement of Jeff Backus, the team is in need of a new franchise left tackle. If Joeckel is the No. 1 left tackle in this year's draft, Fisher is No. 1.5. He's a burgeoning star, and he'll anchor Detroit's offensive line for years to come.
6. Cleveland Browns—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Browns are on the cusp of featuring one of the NFL's best defenses, and adding Milliner to the mix to play opposite Joe Haden is a move that would put the team over the top.
7. Arizona Cardinals—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
No matter who lines up behind center this season, he'll be ineffective unless Arizona fixes its offensive line. The Cardinals have allowed 112 sacks the past two years (58 in 2012 and 54 in 2011), and Johnson would be a big upgrade over the players currently on the roster at the tackle position.
8. Buffalo Bills—QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Buffalo currently has Tarvaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb on its roster—neither of whom has been better than average as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Smith is a potential superstar and the only quarterback worthy of being selected in the first round (in my humble opinion). He has plenty of arm strength, excellent accuracy when his feet are set, adequate mobility and is a young man who works his tail off to get better.
His skill set is perfect for playing in Buffalo, where the cold and wind make it difficult for quarterbacks with weak arms to succeed. He'll thrive under the tutelage of Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett, who worked wonders with Ryan Nassib at Syracuse.
9. New York Jets—OLB/DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
New York's defense is going to look a lot different in 2013 after the team jettisoned a handful of veterans, including Calvin Pace and Bart Scott. Ansah's incredible athleticism, speed and tenacity will be a perfect fit for Rex Ryan's 3-4 defense.
10. Tennessee Titans—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Titans already made one big move to upgrade the offensive line, signing guard Andy Levitre in free agency. Adding another big-time player to bolster the offensive line would be the smart move, and Warmack would give Chris Johnson the running room he needs to become one of the NFL's top backs once again.
11. San Diego Chargers—OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The Chargers haven't made any move to re-sign Shaun Phillips, and the news out of San Diego is that he isn't likely to return. Melvin Ingram has a bright future ahead of him, and the Chargers would be extremely dangerous with Mingo playing on the opposite side.
12. Miami Dolphins—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Richie Incognito is the starting left guard for the Dolphins, but his best days are behind him. The Dolphins would be smart to invest in the offensive line to protect Ryan Tannehill, and Cooper is a phenomenal pass-blocker.
13. New York Jets (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers)—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
After trading Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers (h/t John Geiger), the Jets would be smart to draft his replacement with this pick. Trufant isn't as physically imposing at the line of scrimmage as Revis, but his ability to lock down receivers in coverage will be a welcome addition to Rex Ryan's defense in 2013.
14. Carolina Panthers—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Carolina is building a solid defensive front seven, but the team still needs to add a dynamic defensive tackle. Richardson fits that description, and adding him will give the Panthers the ability to be dominant up front against the run and the pass.
15. New Orleans Saints—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
The Saints will be an interesting team to watch on defense in 2013. Rob Ryan will implement a 3-4 scheme, and the roster isn't loaded with players that fit that scheme. Adding a natural 3-4 outside linebacker like Jones, who logged 28 sacks the past two years at Georgia, will make things easier.
16. St. Louis Rams—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
The Rams will be without Steven Jackson on offense for the first time in many years, but that's not the only big change to the team's roster. Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson are both gone, and Jared Cook was added to give Sam Bradford a big target in the middle of the field.
The best thing St. Louis could do at this point to give Bradford a legitimate chance to shed the bust label that's been hovering is to provide him with an explosive weapon outside.
Patterson is one of the most explosive players in this year's draft. He possesses blazing speed (4.42-second 40), excellent size (6'2" and 216 pounds) and jaw-dropping after-the-catch moves in the open field.
Patterson is this year's Julio Jones, and the Rams would be smart to take him off the board at this point.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—OLB/DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
The Steelers need to embark on a youth movement on defense this season. Werner is savvy pass-rusher with a lightning-quick first step, and he'll provide consistent pressure off the edge for Dick LeBeau's defense.
18. Dallas Cowboys—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Dallas features a couple of excellent cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, but the team's defense won't stop the pass with the safeties currently on the roster. Vaccaro is an excellent all-around player who will be a big-time performer for Monte Kiffin's defense in 2013.
19. New York Giants—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Prince Amukamara may end up becoming a terrific cornerback for the Giants, but Corey Webster has been atrocious the past couple of years. The Giants would be smart to add another cornerback who can start in place of Webster, and Rhodes would be a brilliant pickup here.
20. Chicago Bears—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The Chicago Bears have been trying to make Devin Hester into a star receiver for years now, but Austin is the real deal. Adding him to the Bears roster would give Jay Cutler a truly dynamic weapon in the middle of the field.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—S Matt Elam, Florida
The Bengals are in the market for a safety to pair with Reggie Nelson. The team features a handful of solid cornerbacks, but the secondary was burned far too often over the top last year. Elam would give Cincinnati a dynamic duo at safety, and he and Nelson would be interchangeable parts for Mike Zimmer's defense.
Which safety will have a better pro career?
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
After losing Craig Dahl to the San Francisco 49ers and releasing Quintin Mikell, the Rams are in desperate need of help at the safety position. Cyprien is an athletic safety who is just as comfortable stuffing the run as he is making plays deep in coverage, and his hard-hitting mentality will suit Jeff Fisher's squad to perfection.
23. Minnesota Vikings—ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
The Vikings haven't shown any interest in re-signing E.J. Henderson to the roster, but the team needs an inside linebacker heading into 2013. Ogletree is a speedy, athletic player who can cover a lot of ground in the middle of the field. He's a three-down player, and he'll be an instant starter for Minnesota in 2013.
24. Indianapolis Colts—DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
This isn't a sexy pick, but the Colts would be smart to bring in a big run-stuffing tackle like Hankins to anchor their 3-4 defense. Ricky Jean-Francois was signed in free agency, but he's a 3-4 defensive end. Adding Hankins would give Indianapolis the ability to stuff the run.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks)—DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
After acquiring an inside linebacker in Ogletree, Minnesota would be smart to upgrade the interior of its defensive line. Williams is a fleet-footed defensive tackle who can stuff the run and provide a boost to the team's pass rush from the inside.
26. Green Bay Packers—TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that the Packers recently made the decision to retain Jermichael Finley, who is set to earn $8.25 million in 2013. He'll be an unrestricted free agent next season, though, and it'll be tough to re-sign him.
Eifert is the top tight end in this year's draft class, and he has the potential to become a dominant player in the NFL. Blessed with excellent size (6'6" and 251 pounds), plenty of speed (4.68-second 40) and hands of steel, Eifert will be a playmaker at the next level.
Adding Eifert to the Packers offense for the 2013 season would give Aaron Rodgers two incredible tight ends to work with. Tom Brady knows a thing or two about the advantages of that setup, and Green Bay's wide receivers would certainly benefit from the arrangement.
27. Houston Texans—WR Keenan Allen, California
The Texans need a receiver to play opposite Andre Johnson. The team has been searching for an answer to this problem for years now without any results, but adding Allen would be the end of that search.
28. Denver Broncos—ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
The Broncos lost D.J. Williams to the Chicago Bears via free agency, and this team needs to solidify the middle of its defense in the draft. Te'o would be an ideal fit in Denver, which features a nice contingency of defensive linemen. His ability to run to the ball and make plays in both the passing game and running game will only add to what's fast becoming one of the NFL's finest defensive fronts.
29. New England Patriots—DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
The Patriots landed a star in Chandler Jones last year, and this team could do the same thing in 2013 by drafting Moore here at the bottom of Round 1. Moore sacked opposing quarterbacks 21 times the past two seasons with the Aggies, and he'll thrive under the leadership of Bill Belichick.
30. Atlanta Falcons—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
Atlanta let John Abraham go this winter, and it needs to replace him in the draft. Jones is an explosive, big defensive end who is stout against the run and who can make big plays in the passing game. He's a physically imposing player who will boost Atlanta's ability to dominate up front.
31. San Francisco 49ers—DE Margus Hunt, SMU
The 49ers already feature one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL. The team's front seven is peerless, but Justin Smith won't be around forever. Hunt has the potential to become a player who dominates inside, much like J.J. Watt. The 49ers have the coaches and the patience to mold him into a star.
32. Baltimore Ravens—ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
Minter doesn't receive the same fanfare as Ogletree and Te'o, but he's a phenomenal inside linebacker who's ready to step into a starting lineup in 2013. After the Ravens lost Ray Lewis to retirement and Dannell Ellerbe to the Miami Dolphins, they'll be looking to draft at least one inside linebacker in 2013.
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