Gauging the expected picks of Round 1 in the 2013 NFL draft is riveting.
The disparity of depth at each position combined with team needs will have an interesting effect on how everything unfolds.
Obviously not every team has the exact weaknesses to address, but there are plenty with similarities as well. Plus there's always the threat of a smokescreen, which may bait someone to make an interesting move.
Ahead, though, is another mock featuring the likeliest of selections when late April rolls around.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
The Chiefs are in the midst of the quick turnaround. Selecting Luke Joeckel with the top pick simply puts more emphasis on becoming 2013 playoff contenders. His overall ability to extend running lanes and seal the blind side when pass-blocking gives balance to Andy Reid's offense.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Utah's Star Lotulelei has been given the green light, according to Joe Schad of ESPN.com:
The NFL has been told "it is safe" for Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei "to participate in professional athletics without restrictions," according to a letter provided to teams that was written by Dr. Josef Stehlik of University of Utah Cardiology.
This instantly propels Lotulelei back up to the forefront of Round 1.
Jacksonville ranked No. 30 in run defense last season, recorded a dismal 20 sacks and allowed 19 rushing scores. In addition, the Jaguars have to square off against sound ball-carriers in Arian Foster, Chris Johnson and Vick Ballard.
Counteracting division ground games, however, comes with Lotulelei, who supplies the power, tenacity and energy to quickly disrupt a backfield. With 19 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles between 2011 and 2012, Lotulelei will turn Jacksonville's fortunes around.
When not receiving double-teams he'll slip blocks and apply quarterback pressure or close the lanes. And when given extra blockers, Lotulelei's force in the trenches allows the linebackers to clear a path for the running back.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
The AFC West will feature even stronger passing offenses next fall. Therefore, Oakland needs Dee Milliner to isolate half the field in coverage. Count his physical play to jam receivers at the line and Milliner's impact dominates in Cover 1, 2 and with perimeter run support.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
The Eagles will continue turning the ball over unless the pass protection improves. Eric Fisher provides a solid wall for the outside of the pocket, which will limit the stud pass-rushers of the NFC East. In turn, Philadelphia establishes more balance to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
The Lions gave up an average of 4.5 yards per rush in 2012. Fixing this with Bjoern Werner proves as a great complement to Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, because his lateral agility will control the edge. Factor Werner's knack for disrupting passing lanes and getting pressure and Detroit makes a strong run at January.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Other than trading down to land a cornerback with Milliner off the board, Cleveland adds to the front seven with Dion Jordan. Possessing the size and short-area quickness to constrict against the run, Jordan's explosiveness will also enhance the pass rush.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Arizona simply needs offensive line. Chance Warmack's complete talent as a run and pass-blocker addresses each aspect for the Cardinals. As a punishing blocker to lengthen running lanes, this impact establishes a stronger ground game to set up play action. Then Warmack's power and balance when working inside the pocket allows Arizona to utilize its athletic receiving targets.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
The strong arm, accuracy and quick release of Geno Smith becomes a competitive advantage for Buffalo. For one, the Bills offer him an excellent rushing attack to limit a defense's blitz package. Thereafter, we see Smith benefit off play action; additionally, his decision-making increases overall efficiency.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Rex Ryan won't sniff the playoffs, especially in the improved AFC East, unless the defense receives a drastic upgrade. Well, that begins and ends with Ezekiel Ansah.
New York only logged 30 sacks in 2012; they gave up 4.3 yards per carry and 17 rushing touchdowns.
Ansah, on the other hand, amassed 13 tackles for loss and defended nine passes. His impressive knack for deflecting quicker passes at the line, forcing a running back lateral on the outside and applying pressure significantly benefits Gang Green.
The Jets can now play more Cover 1 press and Cover 2 behind the front seven. Ansah's size and athleticism gets pressure, creates extra turnover opportunities and the defense tightens up on third down.
Ultimately, Ryan's defense asphyxiates the line of scrimmage and narrows an opponent to a one-dimensional attack.
10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Tennessee fields a decent front seven to apply quarterback pressure and stuff the run. But the coverage has to improve before the Titans enter the AFC playoff mix. Xavier Rhodes' body control and size frame helps shield man-to-man and in Cover 2. Ultimately, the pass rush is given a bit more time to wreck the backfield and more turnovers are forced.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
The Chargers have to keep Philip Rivers protected. If not, 2013 will echo the frustrations of 2012. Enter Lane Johnson who is arguably the most athletic lineman in the draft. Supplying the explosive power and footwork to effectively pass block, Johnson's acceleration also creates polished lanes to maintain balance.
12. Miami Dolphins: Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
Even though Miami brought in Brent Grimes (via Mike Garafolo of the USA Today), also adding Desmond Trufant takes care of the pass defense altogether. With top/catch-up speed, field awareness and a playmaking skill set Trufant locks down opposite Grimes to complement the Dolphins pass rush.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
Tampa Bay may have ranked No. 1 against the run in 2012, but the Buccaneers lacked a dominant pass rush to help the secondary. Sharrif Floyd is a force in the trenches courtesy of strength and a fast first step. Tampa then sees greater quarterback pressure and controls the line of scrimmage more consistently.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
Carolina gave up a 66.8 completion percentage in a pass-happy division. So, Kenny Vaccaro gets taken for the Panthers to increase postseason odds. He has a knack for finding the ball, as that bodes well in Cover 2 and 3. Now, the sack numbers are increased and completions are exchanged for generated turnovers.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
New Orleans lacked a pass rush in 2012 and fared even worse against the run. Barkevious Mingo, however, has the initial burst to meet blockers at the immediate point of attack. This halts the opposing ground game and also displays Mingo's ability to apply quarterback pressure.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
The Rams fielding a stronger passing attack will get Jeff Fisher's team into the postseason mix. Cordarrelle Patterson's ability to get a defense on its heels prevents opponents from disguising blitzes up front. In the end, St. Louis can use the pass to set up the run and win the possession battle.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
The pass rush is the cornerstone of Pittsburgh's defensive dominance this century. Well, it did not impact enough last year and the Steelers missed the postseason. To quickly rebound in 2013, Jarvis Jones comes aboard to get pressure and create turnover opportunities. As the season progresses expect the Steel City to see itself in the playoff picture.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
The Cowboys won't take the NFC East without an upgraded rushing attack. Fortunately, blasting defenders at the line and creating lanes is the strength of Jonathan Cooper. His presence in dominating man-to-man and chipping to the second level establishes the run, which in turn, takes pressure off of Tony Romo.
19. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
Despite the acquisitions of Cullen Jenkins, per NFL.com's Kimberly Jones, and Mike Patterson (via Mike Garafolo) Big Blue's best odds at returning as NFC contenders still happens at the line of scrimmage. Sheldon Richardson brings the tenacity to knife into the backfield, as well as eat blocks to free up the linebackers. New York's consistency at stuffing the run improves, while the pass rush is also restored.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
The Bears need some athletic youth at linebacker and Alec Ogletree is the perfect solution. He'll produce nicely as a strong complement to D.J. Williams, who signed as reported by Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com. Ogletree's instincts alone will fill running lanes, and his awareness in coverage is capable of shielding slot receivers and tight ends at the intermediate level.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
Cincinnati electing for Matt Elam ensures more blanketed coverage in various game situations. His speed and ability to quickly redirect suits well when rolling down underneath. In addition, Elam's lateral explosiveness and reactionary skills pays dividends in Cover 1 and 2 to help over the top.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)
The playmaking talents of James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar need to be complemented by Arthur Brown. Offering the field vision to shell in coverage and react fast to the run, Brown's entire repertoire helps the Rams suffocate the line of scrimmage. More possessions are then provided to the offense to control the game tempo.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
Percy Harvin getting traded, per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, opens the door to Tavon Austin. Minnesota gets a versatile and explosive threat offensively, not to mention Austin's impact as a return man. His overall contributions help win the field position battle and limit a defense's chances to stack the box against Adrian Peterson.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
Managing only 32 sacks in 2012 and giving up 5.1 yards per carry calls for defense in the 2013 draft. Damontre Moore's agility and lateral quickness will squeeze the perimeter versus the run, and his knack for quarterback pressure assists the upgraded secondary.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA): Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
The Vikings have an excellent opportunity to challenge for the NFC title in 2013.
To go along with the Harvin trade, Jay Glazer also reported that Minnesota landed Seattle's first-round pick. It gives the Vikings the more momentum entering the fall because Kawann Short is a beast within the trenches.
From 2010 through 2012 for Purdue, Short accounted for 45 tackles for loss, 14 defended passes and 19.5 sacks. Considering that Kevin Williams will be turning 33 years old before next season, Short rewinds Minnesota back to youth up front.
We know that Jared Allen will produce at a high level, regardless of the impact from the rest of the front seven. But Short's constant disruption of the backfield will draw attention from centers and running backs when pass-blocking.
Allen then sees fewer double-teams and darts around the edge to more sacks and tackles for loss. The Vikings control the line on each side of the ball and make a run at Super Bowl XLVIII.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
The threat of Clay Matthews and Co. for Green Bay's pass rush will quicken the development of Sylvester Williams. His knack for menacing a backfield will immediately be known, as the outside rush keeps him facing single block situations. And once established, Williams drawing double-teams frees up the linebackers to fill better against the run.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Clemson)
Getting Andre Johnson a trusty sidekick gives Houston more offensive explosion. DeAndre Hopkins is the answer with the talent to capitalize against Cover 1 and 3. This threat to a secondary also forces the linebackers to get more depth over the middle, which, in turn, widens the running lanes for Arian Foster.
28. Denver Broncos: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Elvis Dumervil jumped ship to Baltimore, so Denver immediately replaces him with Alex Okafor. Displaying the natural quickness and agility to cause havoc in the backfield, Okafor's athleticism also works well opposite Von Miller, because he'll face one-on-one situations and have an easier time constricting the edge.
29. New England Patriots: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
Providing Tom Brady with a playmaking receiver will amplify New England's offense. Already presenting a solid ground game to defenses, the Patriots still line up tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to maintain balance. The addition of Keenan Allen simply gives Brady a downfield option after play action and inside the red zone.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)
Atlanta signed Osi Umenyiora through free agency, per Jay Glazer, and need to get him a complement inside. Jesse Williams fits to a T, because he'll draw extra blockers to minimize the extension of running lanes. As for Umenyiora, Williams' impact wrecks a backfield and causes pileups to redirect the ball-carrier and flush the quarterback outside.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Cyprien, Safety (Florida International)
San Francisco lost a key player in safety Dashon Goldson to Tampa Bay in free agency, according to Adam Schefter. Needing a quick fix at the position the 49ers elect to snag Jonathan Cyprien out of Florida International.
Although he competed in the Sun Belt Conference, Cyprien's level of consistency sticks out the most.
Totaling 365 tackles during his career, Cyprien also defended 28 passes and forced six fumbles. His tackling and hitting ability is great to roll down and zone off at the intermediate level, as well as fill running lanes.
Include his size frame at 6'0", 217 pounds and Cyprien hovering in the box or on its edge gives San Francisco the luxury to constantly blitz the linebackers. His instincts at locating the rock also bode well in Cover 1 and 2.
The 49ers won't miss a beat with Cyprien and maintain their status as Super Bowl contenders.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, LB (Notre Dame)
With Ogletree and Brown gone, Baltimore looks to Manti Te'o at the end of Round 1. Still possessing the nose for finding the rock, Te'o is impressively quick in narrow space and did improve his explosiveness at Notre Dame's pro day. The Ravens need an interior 'backer and Te'o's potential will develop.
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