It's hard to believe that April is already here.
For NFL fans, that means draft month, and the 2013 NFL Draft will be less than three weeks away when you get a chance to relax after another work week is done.
Speculation is a great word to use when it comes to these 2013 mock drafts, in large part because there is no clear indication of what any team is going to do—and it starts at the top. Kansas City holds the No. 1 pick, but unlike the last few years, there's no guarantee the selection will be made by the Chiefs on draft night.
From a fluctuating group of both offensive and defensive lineman and different guys that continue to rise through the pre-draft ranks, it seems mock drafts are changing every day. It will be that way until the first round is over, so take a chance to see where your favorite player/team stands in this latest 2013 mock.
1. Kansas City Chiefs— OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
There’s a growing sentiment that Kansas City may be actively pursuing an auction for the No. 1 pick. It’s a conclusion that stems from the retaining of offensive tackle Branden Albert and the trade for quarterback Alex Smith—shoring up KC’s two biggest offseason needs.
That being said, OT is still the pick at No. 1.
For that reason, there’s a good chance that the Chiefs are going to be looking at Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher with this pick. Many regard Joeckel as the top tackle, including B/R’s own Matt Miller:
Luke Joeckel. RT @im_irie: Who you got Chiefs selecting if they stay in 1 slot?— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 1, 2013
Starting over with an OT might not be the most popular move, but it’s still a solid one for new head coach Andy Reid.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Floyd has emerged as the steadiest defensive tackle in the draft.
Versatile enough to play both in the 4-3 and 3-4, Floyd offers the team that drafts him the ability to play all over the defensive line. He’s good in run support and in getting to the passer—areas that Jacksonville struggled with mightily in 2012. There’s no guarantee the Jaguars don’t start over at QB, but if they don’t, the best option for Jacksonville will be along the defensive line.
3. Oakland Raiders—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Raiders added Tracy Porter on Tuesday (via ESPN), but a major upgrade in the secondary wouldn’t be a bad thing at all in Oakland.
I think the Raiders will be in on Floyd, but if he goes to the Jaguars, adding Milliner to upgrade the secondary wouldn’t be a stretch at No. 3. Milliner is fresh off a sparkling performance both in the national championship game and at the NFL combine, and it’s becoming more clear that today’s NFL defense demands more secondary depth than ever.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Chip Kelly has a major choice to make at No. 4. If his old college prospect, Dion Jordan, is still around, that choice becomes much easier.
Like Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel says on Twitter, as a 3-4 prospect there aren’t many that can beat Jordan in this draft:
However, Dion Jordan is NOT a polished rusher.He rarely ever works on the line.He probably can't set an edge right now. But talented 3-4 guy— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) April 2, 2013
The Eagles still have a need for defensive help after free agency, and added enough QB help to stay out of the mix for Geno Smith (an obvious fit in Kelly’s system). In any event, Jordan’s pass-rushing ability would be a welcome sight to a defense that created just 30 sacks (No. 25 among 32 teams) in 2012.
5. Detroit Lions—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Eric Fisher might not go No. 1 overall, but there’s no way he gets out of the top five.
With Milliner off the board and the Lions still in the market for an OT, Fisher fits the bill. The Lions pay Matthew Stafford a lot of money to be under center each game, something that’s hard to do without quality tackles. If Fisher’s potential wasn’t enough, keeping Stafford healthy and well will be enough to keep Fisher in the first five names selected in March.
6. Cleveland Browns—DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Cleveland has done a complete overhaul of its roster this offseason, adding Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant and Quentin Groves. With those players in tow to help the defense and the offense widely set with a slew of second-year talent (QB Brandon Weeden, RB Trent Richardson and WR Josh Gordon), Ansah is a low-risk, high-reward guy at No. 6.
That might sound strange because Ansah is considered a raw prospect, but stockpiling pass-rushing talent has paid off big time for teams the last few seasons (see New York Giants).
7. Arizona Cardinals—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Arizona might or might not have taken itself out of the running for a QB this week. After signing Drew Stanton and acquiring Carson Palmer (via USA Today), the Cards have two guys set to duke it out for a starting spot next season.
Either, way protecting the QB is still a problem for new head coach Bruce Arians.
Chance Warmack makes sense at this pick for an offense that has typically struggled to run the ball the past few seasons. He’s also a load to get through, and widely considered one of the best guards to ever come through the draft process.
8. Buffalo Bills—QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
With Buffalo’s release of Ryan Fitzpatrick a daily reminder that the draft is the perfect place to pick up a franchise QB, Smith is becoming the lead dog in a long line of candidates.
While he might be gone before this pick, the two sides look like a match made in Heaven. Smith could stay in the upper northeast, play in a spread offense and have plenty of weapons to choose from during his first season.
9. New York Jets—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Despite Lotulelei’s heart condition (via USA Today), he’s still a top-tier DT prospect. He wreaked havoc in the middle at Utah, a trait that should prompt New York to take a flier on him in the first round. The Jets have a clear need to improve along the defensive line, and this pick could end up being a steal if Lotulelei proves that his medical condition will not impact his long-term play.
10. Tennessee Titans—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
The Titans are essentially choosing which offensive lineman prospect is the best fit at this point in the draft.
Warmack is gone in this version, making Jonathan Cooper the best guard (and maybe best overall lineman) available at No. 10.
It’s a lineman-heavy draft on both sides of the ball, and the Titans have already upgraded their skill positions (Bernard Pollard, Kevin Walter, Delanie Walker, Shonn Greene and Ryan Fitzpatrick, just to name a few) to a high degree of success.
That being said, pairing Cooper with new guard Andy Levitre could be just the right button to push to get Chris Johnson back to his 2,000-yard ways.
11. San Diego Chargers—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Like Tennessee, the Chargers are playing a waiting game with the top few picks.
Offensive line is a clear need after losing guard Louis Vasquez to the Denver Broncos, but guard might not be the only upgradable position along that line.
Enter Lane Johnson, the uber-athletic prospect from Oklahoma that was a QB and TE at various points in his career. Protecting Philip Rivers has never been more important after last season’s fiasco in that department, and Johnson at No. 11 would be a gift.
12. Miami Dolphins—OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Speaking of gifts, Barkevious Mingo falls into Miami’s laps here at No. 12.
Like Tennessee and Cleveland, the Dolphins were one of the most active teams in free agency. Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe and Brent Grimes are already on board, making this pick less about offense and more about adding pieces to help the new defensive additions in the back of the defense be more successful.
Miami was the seventh-best team at getting to the QB in 2012 with 42 sacks, but that doesn’t mean Mingo isn’t a fit here. WR seems to be off the board after Wallace and Brian Hartline are now both in the fold, and going defensive line isn’t a stretch here.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
The Bucs have been on and off of Jets CB Darrelle Revis all offseason, and the two sides may start working on a deal again soon (via Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News).
If that deal doesn’t come to pass, adding a CB will be priority No. 1 in the draft. Xavier Rhodes is a lengthy prospect that has extensive experience in the ACC, and should be properly equipped to handle the NFC South talent.
14. Carolina Panthers—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
There’s a lot of buzz about Richardson in this draft, particularly because he did such a great job in all aspects of his position in 2013. His move to the SEC was almost flawless with 73 total tackles and a slew of other QB pressures; Missouri’s was not.
That being said, Richardson would be a fine addition to any team looking for a man in the middle. Expect Carolina to be just one of many teams looking to bring him in for a visit in the next few weeks before the draft commences.
15. New Orleans Saints—DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Considered a fall by some after Werner was a top five prospect to start this process, New Orleans will happily add the Florida State star to its new 3-4 defense.
While Werner played in a 4-3 in college, he has the skill set and versatility to be a DE or outside linebacker in some scenarios. His work ethic and ability are unquestioned, and defensive line is a major concern for New Orleans heading into this new defensive scheme.
16. St. Louis Rams—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
If there’s a pick to lock in during the first round, it might be at No. 16, where Tavon Austin is about as close a prospect as there is to Danny Amendola in this year’s draft (though my Aggie friends who love Ryan Swope would disagree).
Austin is a fluid route-runner, has the versatility to line up in multiple spots across the offensive formation and the speed to make guys look silly in the open field. Add it all up, and St. Louis (barring competition from other teams, which there will be) should be the front-runners for Austin heading into draft night.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Back-to-back WR picks might not seem like the most likely scenario for No. 16 and 17 when looking at mock drafts of months past, but these days the Steelers are automatically in the market for wideout help.
While the depature of James Harrison makes 3-4 OLB a major issue heading into 2013, the loss of Mike Wallace on offense is also a big cut to the team. With Hopkins, the Steelers would have a viable replacement that is shooting up draft boards. Some feel he might not be around at No. 17.
18. Dallas Cowboys—OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Heavy speculation includes Dallas in on guards Warmack and Cooper, but both should be gone at this point in the first round. That being said, the Cowboys are on thin ice with Doug Free, and don’t have a lot of depth behind Tyron Smith, either.
Whether it’s to start or develop for the future, Fluker makes sense as one of the best OT prospects still available at No. 18.
19. New York Giants—OT Menelik Watson, Florida State
Watson is another rapid riser through the offensive tackle ranks, and might end up creeping into the top 10 when this thing is all said and done. With an aging offensive line and Eli Manning not getting any younger, either, the position could be stabilized by adding Watson and letting him take his lumps as the right tackle before deciding if he’s a fit at the blind side spot.
20. Chicago Bears—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jones is the single most difficult player to peg at this point in the draft process.
While he has top-10 talent, not having a definitive position and the lack of information about the extent of his injuries has clouded his true place. While Dan Pompei of the National Football Post reported that doctors have cleared the SEC Defensive Player of the Year to play without any restrictions, questions still remain about long-term ability.
If that’s the case, the Bears could be a potential landing spot at No. 20. With some of the best tackles off the board on both sides of the ball and Brian Urlacher heading elsewhere, the linebacking corp in Chicago could use a rejuvenation.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—OLB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
If you haven’t seen game film on Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, you are missing out.
The young man plays sideline to sideline, and has some (including NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah) convinced that he’s ready to take on a prominent role as a starting linebacker:
Watched 1 more tape on K-State LB Arthur Brown…sideline-to-sideline range, instinctive, productive…inconsistent take-on player. Top 2nd rd— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 2, 2013
Cincinnati lost Rey Maualuga this offseason, and are seemingly in the market for LB help in the draft. Don’t be surprised if Brown, Kevin Minter and Alec Ogletree are all in the mix right here.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
With WR shored up through Austin, the Rams can focus on other positions of need. One of those positions is safety, where the team is looking for an impact guy to put in alongside a suddenly strong cornerback group.
Vaccaro, the hard-hitting safety from Texas, has quality man-to-man coverage skills and can get across the field quickly. He might not be a game-changer from a coverage standpoint, but he’s arguably the best all-around safety in this draft.
23. Minnesota Vikings—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Some like Patterson ahead of Austin and Hopkins in this draft, but Minnesota will gladly take the young star from Tennessee if he falls to No. 23.
The Vikings have upgraded their WR corp with Greg Jennings and the re-signing of Jerome Simpson, and Jarius Wright performed well last season late.
24. Indianapolis Colts—DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
The Colts are quietly putting together one of the most talented young teams in the NFL. Eager to build off of an improbable 11-win season, the Colts have been busy adding free agents that can help keep things young, and a big DT in the middle would be a solid pickup, too.
Williams is one of several DTs in this range (Kawaan Short, Jesse Williams, Johnathan Hankins) that could wind up being a fit for the team.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks)—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
With the receiver position squared away, the Vikings can focus on other areas of need. Cornerback is a position that could be in play here, but Datone Jones as played his way into the first round, and the Vikings should be a fit along the defensive line, too.
With this pick coming from Seattle in the Percy Harvin trade, the Vikings can afford to take the best player available. It might not be Jones, but the UCLA product is a fearsome DE that doesn’t quit, and would help Leslie Frazier’s defensive line re-tool.
26. Green Bay Packers—RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Lacy and the Packers have been a match made in offense Heaven since this process began, and the Packers’ inability to add Steven Jackson or any other free-agent running back would suggest he’s still right in the mix on their board.
With a brash style and surprising speed, Lacy could add an element to the offense that Green Bay hasn’t had in quite some time.
27. Houston Texans—WR Keenan Allen, California
Allen lost some of his draft luster due to injury concerns at Cal, but his place as a top prospect cannot be ignored. With Walter headed for Tennessee and an unproven crop of wideouts behind Andre Johnson, I can’t see Houston doing anything but getting desperate for a WR here. If that means moving up, so be it. If not, the Texans would still get a high-talent guy in Allen.
28. Denver Broncos—DT Jesse Williams, Alabama
Denver is clearly one of the biggest offensive juggernauts in football. Adding Wes Welker to an already loaded WR group should make the Broncos one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL next season.
On defense, cornerback and outside linebacker could be upgraded, but the Broncos have been looking for a DT prospect to anchor the middle of their line since last season at this time. The national champion from Alabama would be a good start to making that happen.
29. New England Patriots—WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
With several wideouts off the board that would be great fits with Tom Brady, Justin Hunter has established himself as a true threat to be taken in the first round at this pick. With long arms, an outstanding vertical leap and a future NFL QB throwing him passes (Tyler Bray), Hunter fits the bill as a candidate to be the next great WR in New England.
30. Atlanta Falcons—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
With Grimes headed elsewhere and TE shored up with the return of Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons have a choice to make between defensive line and in the secondary. If they choose secondary, Desmond Trufant is a guy that made a big move between the Senior Bowl and NFL combine.
His ball skills are top-notch and the ability to get even better is there—always something NFL teams look at when selecting players. Trufant would be a great fit in the city that made Deion Sanders famous.
31. San Francisco 49ers—S Eric Reid, LSU
The big news in San Francisco Tuesday was the signing of Nnamdi Asomugha (via ESPN), but that won’t solve the gaping hole at safety. Drafting Eric Reid would, although there are several safeties here that will be on Jim Harbaugh’s board.
Which Super Bowl team will win more games in 2013?
The LSU standout safety has fallen a little bit after a huge season in 2011, but he’s still considered a quality safety that should start at the next level. With that in mind, San Francisco likely won’t have any problem upgrading what turned out to be the weakest part of their defense for the 2013 season.
32. Baltimore Ravens—S Matt Elam, Florida
In the final pick of the first round, the Ravens are going to have plenty of holes to address if they want to contend in 2013. One such hole is replacing Ed Reed, and Matt Elam from Florida is a free safety candidate to do so.
After declaring for the draft following Florida’s bowl game against Louisville, Elam was immediately considered a first-round candidate. He’s hovered around the bottom of the first round and been down in the second, but should be an obvious choice to leave the board here with secondary an issue—among others—in Baltimore.