It’s hard to describe just how deep this year’s NFL draft class really is.
Quarterback isn’t a particularly strong position, but nearly every other position is packed with NFL starters. Teams in need of a pass-rusher, wide receiver or defensive tackle won’t have far to look in April.
Depth also makes this year’s draft especially hard to project. Perceived value plays a huge role in the selection process, and first-round value is surely going to bleed into the first 10-15 picks of the second round.
That said, expect to see a lot of movement on Day 2 of the draft. The overnight lull between the first two rounds will give general managers a little extra time to plan their strategy and target players still available that have first-round talent—and there will certainly be a lot of them.
Let’s take a look at how the first round may shake out on Day 1 of the draft, highlighting some players that may potentially slide into the second round in favor of any of the 15-20 prospects with a first-round grade and no home in this mock draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Unless something absolutely crazy transpires between now and draft day, there’s little doubt Luke Joeckel will be the first player selected. Kansas City addressed several positional needs in free agency, making this selection all about value.
The Chiefs are reportedly trying to trade Branden Albert, and even if that doesn’t happen, they can’t afford to pass on the best player in this draft class. Joeckel has All-Pro potential and a skill set perfectly suited for an immediate starter at the NFL level.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
I’m not sure I’m buying into the Geno Smith hype involving the Jaguars. A new general manager and head coach typically signals the need for a fresh face at the quarterback position, but Blaine Gabbert hasn’t been given enough of a chance. Adding Smith with the No. 2 pick won’t fix Jacksonville’s offensive issues.
If Dave Caldwell does, in fact, stay away from the quarterback position with this pick, expect a pass-rusher to come off the board here. Jacksonville fielded the worst pass rush in the league in 2012, and in a league predicated on passing the ball and stopping opponents from doing so, that’s an issue that needs to be resolved.
Dion Jordan has the versatility and athleticism to play several positions along the defensive front, and he’d be a perfect fit for Gus Bradley’s LEO role as a disruptive pass-rusher and edge-setter.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Smith is certainly an option, but it’s hard to imagine the Raiders ignoring other needs here. With holes to fill at almost every position on the defensive side of the ball, Oakland would be wise to take the best available player at a position of need.
Sharrif Floyd would be a terrific fit in Oakland’s 4-3 front at either the 1- or 3-technique. He’s explosive as a penetrating defensive tackle with the potential to be a top-tier interior pass-rusher at the next level.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Philadelphia Eagles are in a transitional period right now. With a new front office and coaching staff, projecting their pick is a difficult task.
There are plenty of viable options—offensive tackle, cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle are all legitimate possibilities. Ultimately, value will likely play a big part in Howard Roseman’s decision.
The Eagles will be transitioning to a 3-4 under defensive coordinator Billy Davis, and they could use a couple more pieces to make it work. Defensive end Brandon Graham may be transitioning to outside linebacker, meaning defensive end could be a top priority in the early rounds.
Lotulelei has the size and strength to be a terrific 5-technique defensive end in a 3-4. He lacks elite explosiveness off the snap, but he doesn’t need to be a penetrating lineman to play in a two-gap system. With his frame and solid base, he’ll be a good fit at defensive end in Philadelphia.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
If Eric Fisher falls past the Eagles, there’s little doubt the Detroit Lions will add him here. Jeff Backus’ retirement has left a huge hole at left tackle, and Matthew Stafford hasn’t exactly enjoyed the best pass protection as it is.
Fisher is an excellent pass-blocker with the refined skills and capable run-blocking abilities to play on either end of the offensive line. If he ends up in Detroit, expect to see him starting at left tackle in 2013.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
With the outside linebacker position shored up via free agency, the Cleveland Browns can focus on other positional needs. The list has grown shorter in the last month, but a vacancy at the cornerback position could prompt them to select the best available pass-defender with this pick.
Joe Haden has been superb since he was drafted in 2010 (No. 7 overall), but Buster Skrine was barely serviceable opposite him. The Browns need a quality defensive back to pair with Haden.
Despite Milliner’s terrific speed and awareness, he still needs to work on his man-coverage skills. He played a lot of zone at Alabama (a coverage in which he excels), but he still has some room to grow. Don’t be surprised to see him fall out of the Top Five and into Cleveland’s lap.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
With the addition of Carson Palmer, the quarterback position doesn’t have to be Arizona’s focus in the first round. Given its ineptitude on the offensive line, that’s a very good thing.
The Cardinals fielded one of the worst pass-protection units in the league last season, and waiting to address offensive tackle until the fourth round in last year’s draft certainly proved to be a foolish decision. They shouldn’t make the same mistake this year.
Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson isn’t as refined as Joeckel or Fisher, but he has an incredibly high ceiling. A former defensive end, quarterback and tight end, Johnson has the athleticism, quick feet and solid hands to be a pass-protection specialist at left tackle in the NFL.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
In all likelihood, a team will look to trade ahead of Buffalo if Smith is still available at No. 8. He doesn’t have the tremendous potential of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III from a year ago, but he’s still the best signal-caller in this draft class.
If Smith does fall to the Bills here, they’ll almost be forced to pull the trigger. Kevin Kolb will be a good stopgap option if Smith isn’t ready to start in 2013, but he isn’t the future at the position.
Should Smith be off the board, Buffalo can turn to other positional needs (linebacker, wide receiver) and wait to address the quarterback position until later rounds. Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib has long been linked to the Bills and new head coach Doug Marrone, and he would be a good option in the second round in lieu of selecting Smith here.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Georgia’s Jarvis Jones has been the subject of some skepticism based on his spinal stenosis condition, but he has received good medical reports this offseason and stands to be a high first-round pick in April’s draft.
Jones is the prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker. Despite his lack of elite speed (4.92-second 40-yard dash), he shows many of the abilities teams look for in a pass-rusher and potential three-down linebacker.
A speed-rushing specialist, Jones also has good cover skills for the position and shows some aggressiveness against the run. He needs to improve in every facet, but his ceiling is fairly high.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Tennessee would probably love for Lotulelei or Floyd to be available here, but both are off the board, and Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is much better suited for a two-gap system in the NFL.
With defensive tackle potentially out of play, the Titans can build in the trenches on the offensive side of the ball. They already signed Andy Levitre in free agency, but All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson retired this offseason, and the Titans were already thin at the position.
If Chris Johnson is to have the type of season he’s capable of producing, he’ll need some quality blockers leading the way.
Chance Warmack is the best interior offensive lineman in this draft class. A mauler in the running game, Warmack is arguably the best run-blocking guard to enter the draft since Mike Iupati in 2010.
11. San Diego Chargers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
This is the worst-case scenario for the San Diego Chargers. Losing out on Joeckel, Fisher, Johnson and Warmack would be a disaster, and if two or three are already off the board by No. 10, expect the Chargers to attempt to trade up here.
With none of the four available, addressing another position of need would have to be a serious consideration. The Chargers lost Antoine Cason in free agency, and while they added Derek Cox from the Jaguars, cornerback is still a concern.
It’s hard to envision a scenario in which San Diego doesn’t come away with a top-four offensive lineman here, but that’s the way things have played out so far.
12. Miami Dolphins: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Dolphins loaded up in free agency, shoring up some major positional needs in the process. They still need to strengthen their offensive line, though.
Left tackle would be a possibility if Johnson were still available, but he likely won’t fall out of the Top 10. Instead, Miami can add one of the best interior linemen in this draft class.
North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper has the ability to play any of the interior line positions, and he’d be an excellent fit at left guard next to center Mike Pouncey.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Tampa Bay has been relatively quiet in free agency after signing safety Dashon Goldson to a five-year deal. Safety is no longer a concern, but the Bucs have big holes to fill at cornerback after trading Aqib Talib to the Patriots last year.
The Bucs fielded the worst pass defense in the league in 2012, making cornerback a glaring concern going forward. Milliner and Rhodes are already off the board, but Washington’s Desmond Trufant would be a nice consolation prize.
14. Carolina Panthers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Panthers could easily go defensive tackle here (arguably their biggest need), but the value in selecting Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson is too great to pass on.
With Steve Smith on the wrong side of 30 and no other quality receiving options for Cam Newton, Carolina can take advantage of that value and select the best wide receiver in this draft class.
Patterson still needs a lot of polish, but his upside is tremendous. With an ideal blend of size and speed, he has the potential to light up opposing defenses opposite Smith.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
New Orleans is in a great position here. With needs at outside linebacker and safety, the Saints can select the best available at either position, both of which are incredibly deep this year.
The options would likely come down to Kenny Vaccaro and Barkevious Mingo in this scenario, but Mingo has a much higher ceiling. He has tremendous athleticism and speed to play in space as a pass-rusher in a 3-4 front.
Rob Ryan will be looking for aggressive pass-rushers in his attacking 3-4 scheme, and Mingo is a great fit.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
There’s been a lot of talk of Tavon Austin being selected in the first 10 picks of the draft, but the market just doesn’t seem to be there. Diminutive slot receivers aren’t difficult to find, and they aren’t typically all that valued early in the first round.
That said, Austin isn’t a typical slot receiver, and there will certainly be a team in the middle of the round dying to snatch him up. With tremendous speed, quickness and athleticism, Austin is the most electric playmaker in this draft class.
Sam Bradford hasn’t had many weapons since being drafted in 2010. Austin would be a terrific option and a potential cornerstone for a complete rebuilding of St. Louis’ receiving corps.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Ryan Mundy and Will Allen both departed in free agency, leaving the Steelers extremely thin at the safety positions. Given the questionable durability of Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, addressing both safety positions should be on Kevin Colbert’s to-do list.
Pittsburgh has plenty of positional needs, and this pick is going to come down to finding the best value at one of those positions. Fortunately, Colbert is terrific at doing just that, and Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro fits the bill.
Vaccaro is extremely versatile with the ability to play either safety position or as a slot defender in nickel packages. He needs some work in zone coverage, but he’ll have the opportunity to hone his skills behind two of the best safeties in the league.
18. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Tony Romo was the recipient of a huge contract extension recently, and if the Cowboys were willing to invest so much money in the signal-caller, they have to be willing to get him some better offensive linemen.
Alabama’s D.J. Fluker probably isn’t Dallas’ top choice, but he has the skills to be a good pass-protector at right tackle, and he’s a road grader in the running game—another area of weakness for the Cowboys last season.
Should Warmack or Cooper be available here, Dallas will likely opt for one of the two guards, but Fluker is the best available option here.
19. New York Giants: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah has the size and athleticism to be a tremendous pass-rusher at the NFL level, but he played just three years of football and is still extremely raw in almost every area. Those issues may facilitate a slide down the draft board in April.
Still, New York needs another great pass-rusher to pair with Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ansah is probably better suited for a 4-3 early in his career as it is. Playing defensive end in a four-man front will allow Ansah to avoid pass-coverage responsibilities and, instead, focus on developing his use of leverage in defending the run and beating pass-blockers off the edge.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Gerogia
With the addition of Jermon Bushrod to play left tackle and the potential departure of defensive leader Brian Urlacher, Chicago’s focus should shift to the middle linebacker position in the early rounds of the draft.
If Alec Ogletree is still available, the Bears will have a hard time passing on him. A former safety, Ogletree has the speed, quickness and coverage skills to be a terrific option at middle linebacker, especially in Cover-2 schemes that require deep-middle coverage from the position.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Cincinnati boasts one of the better offensive lines in the league, but right tackle Andre Smith is a free agent, and there’s been no indication the Bengals will re-sign him to the massive deal he is looking for.
Instead, Cincinnati can find a cheaper option in the first round in Florida State’s Menelik Watson. Watson has the potential to eventually slide to the left side in the NFL, but he spent most of his college career at right tackle, and that’s where the Bengals would likely use him.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
With a quality wide receiver already locked up, the Rams can turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball.
St. Louis has vacancies at both safety positions, and addressing that need will have to be an early-round priority in April. Vaccaro is already off the board, but Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien is the next-best option.
Cyprien has the range and aggressiveness to play either safety position, either as a deep-half defender or in-the-box safety. Despite his small-school background, Cyprien has made a name for himself as a versatile, polished safety with tremendous upside.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Minnesota could use another pass-rusher, but that’s not the rationale behind this pick.
Florida State’s Bjoern Werner is extremely talented, and the value he presents is too good to pass on. One of the most talented pure 4-3 defensive ends in this class, schematic fit may force him to slide down the board and give one lucky team a steal in the bottom portion of the first round.
With several quality receiving options still available, the Vikings can afford to wait on a pass-catcher until No. 25. Werner is a terrific value pick here.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Colts transitioned to a 3-4 last season, but they don’t yet have all the pieces in place to make it work. Finding a quality 5-technique end should be a priority in the first couple of rounds.
If Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson is available, 2012 executive of the year Ryan Grigson will have another easy decision. Richardson has the perfect size and skill set for the defensive end position in a three-man front.
With good length and a solid anchor, Richardson specializes in attacking offensive linemen and neutralizing double-teams. He’ll be a great fit in a two-gap system in the NFL.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
After adding Greg Jennings in free agency, Minnesota has the opportunity to continue upgrading its wide receivers with this pick.
DeAndre Hopkins would be a good fit opposite Jennings as a Z-receiver and middle-of-the-field option. He’s not the biggest or fastest receiver in this class, but he runs good routes and has the body control to come down with the ball in traffic.
26. Green Bay Packers: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Green Bay would love for Vaccaro or Cyprien to be available here, but Florida’s Matt Elam is a decent consolation prize.
Elam is a ready-made NFL strong safety. His aggressiveness is exactly what teams look for in an in-the-box safety who can also patrol the deep half and make plays in the middle of the field.
The Packers have several positional needs on the defensive side of the ball, and outside linebacker and defensive end could also be options here.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Texans haven’t had a good receiving option to play opposite Andre Johnson. Kevin Walter was released this offseason, and adding another pass-catcher needs to be a priority for Houston in the early rounds.
If Keenan Allen falls to No. 27, he has to be a strong consideration. One of the most polished route-runners in this class, the California product has a skill set that translates well to the NFL level.
Allen still needs to prove he has the straight-line speed to create separation against NFL defensive backs, but Houston won’t find a better option here.
28. Denver Broncos: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Elvis Dumervil’s departure leaves a big hole at defensive end. Without his pass-rushing presence at the position, Denver will likely look to fill the void in the draft.
Damontre Moore wasn’t impressive in offseason workouts, but he’s the type of player who stands out on tape. With the innate ability to get to opposing quarterbacks, he won’t fall much further than this in the first round.
29. New England Patriots: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
New England could still use some help in its secondary, but the re-signing of Talib and Kyle Arrington and addition of Adrian Wilson in free agency makes cornerback and safety needs the Patriots can address later in the draft.
With the departure of Wes Welker and arrival of Danny Amendola, New England appears poised to reshape its passing attack. To do so, the Patriots must find a viable option at the X-receiver position.
Tennessee’s Justin Hunter has the size and speed to be a deadly receiving threat at the NFL level, especially with a quarterback like Tom Brady getting him the ball.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
Atlanta replaced John Abraham with Osi Umenyiora, but it still needs another quality pass-rusher to fill the other defensive end position. Florida State’s Tank Carradine would be a home-run selection.
Carradine tore his ACL in 2012, but he’ll likely be ready to play by the start of the season. If he is, the Falcons will have a deadly one-two punch at the ends of their defensive line.
Cornerback could also be an option here, but the top three are already off the board. There isn’t enough value here to reach for Johnthan Banks or Jordan Poyer, meaning a defensive lineman could easily be in play at No. 30.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The San Francisco 49ers desperately need depth on the defensive line. Justin Smith and newly acquired Glenn Dorsey are terrific options at defensive end, but nose tackle is still a concern.
Jesse Williams played all over Nick Saban’s three-man front at Alabama, and he has the size and strength to play any of the three positions in San Francisco’s 3-4 front. He has the potential to start right away, but Williams would add some valuable depth at the very least.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
With the retirement of Ray Lewis and the departure of Dannell Ellerbe in free agency, Baltimore needs to shore up its inside linebacker positions.
Safety and wide receiver could also be in play, but the Ravens won’t find better value than in selecting Kansas State’s Arthur Brown.
Brown isn’t especially big or fast, but he’s instinctual and aggressive in both run defense and pass coverage. Paired with a thumper that can specialize in defending the run, Brown can be a tremendous sideline-to-sideline defender in a 3-4 front.
Best Players Still Available: Manti Te'o (ILB, Notre Dame), Matt Barkley (QB, USC), Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina), Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame), Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama), Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State), Datone Jones (DE, UCLA), Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State), Robert Woods (WR, USC), Kevin Minter (ILB, LSU)