NFL Mock Draft 2013: How Every Team Can Get Better in Round 1
Teams that consistently miss with their first-round selections are the ones that are forced to endure extended playoff droughts. The Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns are the franchises going through that situation right now.
Every front office that owns at least one pick in the opening round understands finding a player who can make a lasting impact is key to building a success roster. Every time they swing and miss creates one more void which needs to get filled in the future.
A lot is made about free agency and developing players picked in the later rounds, but smart picks in Round 1 are the building blocks. Here's an updated mock draft with each team's best option. Key selections are denoted with italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Nothing has changed for the Chiefs throughout the draft process. Offensive tackle remains Kansas City's most glaring need. It just needs to decide whether Joeckel, the choice here, or Fisher is the right fit.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Jaguars' defensive struggles can be attributed to a virtually useless pass rush. Jordan possesses the athleticism and upside to become one of the league's top pure rushers within a few seasons.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith's stock is on the rise once again after fading for awhile during the workout stage. The Raiders would be wise to take a chance on him with hope he can finally bring an end to the QB carousel.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Philadelphia has a lot of question marks along the defensive line that will need to get answered before next season. Floyd would eliminate one of them as one of the most promising players in the class.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Lions would be pleased if either of the top two offensive tackle are still on the board here. They do have some needs on the defensive side, but making sure Matthew Stafford is protected is crucial.
Would Milliner be a good fit for the Browns?
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
It's hard to imagine Milliner falling any further than the Browns, at least as it stands now. He's the top cornerback in the draft and would give Cleveland somebody who can pair with Joe Haden.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Three offensive tackles in the first seven picks illustrate what type of class it is. The top-end talent is limited, but the depth is there. So the Cardinals simply take the best available player who fills a need.
8. Buffalo Bills: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Bills and quarterback Ryan Nassib seem like a perfect match because of the Syracuse connection to new head coach Doug Marrone, but only in the second round. Buffalo should be focused on upgrading its receiving group in Round 1.
Patterson is the top wide receiver on the board. He's got game-breaking speed, which is a key distinction for the Bills, who already have a No. 1 possession receiver in Stevie Johnson. The Tennessee product would help stretch the field.
It would also give two talented target to whomever emerges from the quarterback battle. The Bills should have a good running game thanks to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. A passing attack that keeps defenses honest is next on the list.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
If the Jets insist on moving forward without a reliable quarterback they better starting working to get the defense back to an elite level. Ansah is a powerful edge rusher with a boatload of potential.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Warmack might end up moving up even further before it's all said and done. He's a rare guard prospect that is worth this type of investment and his arrival would be a welcome sight for Chris Johnson.
11. San Diego Chargers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Chargers' front office would be awfully disappointed if this is how the draft fell. Their offensive line need would have to wait another round unless they wanted to reach. Lotulelei is a solid backup plan.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Since Rhodes has challenged Milliner for the top cornerback spot, getting him seven picks later would represent great value for the Dolphins. The team's secondary is definitely in need of more playmakers.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
A solid, impactful player that would give Tampa Bay solid production right out of the gate. Probably won't develop into a top-tier superstar, but only a handful from this class probably will in the end.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers would benefit from taking a player like Richardson, who would help a rush defense that gave up over 110 yards per game last season. Lotulelei would be the pick if he slid a little bit.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Saints gave up 440 yards per game last season. No other team in the league allowed more than 385. That illustrates how poorly the team's defense played and the need for major upgrades heading into next season if they want to be competitive.
Jones is the most intriguing defensive player left on the board. When in top form, he plays like a surefire top-five pick. Unfortunately for the Georgia star, he's failed to stand out during the pre-draft workouts and it's caused his stock to slip.
If he falls this far, New Orleans should take a chance on him. He's the type of player who could have a major impact on getting the defense turned out if everything works out, and the Saints can't pass up that type of potential given their level of need.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
St. Louis is one of the team with two picks in the first round. As a team on the rise, hitting on both would be a major step toward the playoffs. Cooper would fit nicely to help a shaky line.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Very early in the process Moore was a top-five pick. He wasn't able to sustain that type of hype, but he's still well worth taking a chance on for the Steelers. They need some fresh faces to help on defense.
What side of the ball should Dallas go for at No. 18?
18. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Cowboys have enough flash. They need to use this pick on somebody in the trenches, whether it be on the offensive or defensive line. Fluker is the best choice and should help Tony Romo stay upright.
19. New York Giants: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Another player who was originally ticketed from the early stages of the draft, Mingo shouldn't get past the Giants. He would help fill the team's pass-rushing void and could easily outplay his draft position.
20. Chicago Bears: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Julius Peppers would be more effective with a defensive end on the other side that opposing offenses had to worry about. Jones certainly falls into that category and would learn a lot from his star teammate.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Safety is a need for Cincinnati and Vaccaro is the best one available. While it probably isn't atop the team's to-do list, the lack of depth at the safety spots should lead the Bengals to take him first.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WSH): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
If the Rams go anywhere other than receiver with their first pick of the round (a guard in this case), the second pick must be a wideout. Austin will create matchup problems in the slot for Sam Bradford.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings are the start of a dangerous offense, but there's still work to do. Allen can give Christian Ponder another option on the outside once he gains some experience.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That's what it seems like for the Colts. They finally have the offense back on track courtesy of Andrew Luck, but the defense is still a work in progress.
One of the main needs is a pass-rusher opposite Robert Mathis. It was a spot occupied by Dwight Freeney for several years, first as a defensive end then as an outside linebacker, but he left for free agency during the offseason.
Okafor is a high-upside player that would be worth taking a chance on at No. 24. He's showed flashes of brilliance during his time at Texas, but wasn't able to maintain it on a consistent basis. If he can take it to that next level if the NFL, he'll be a megastar.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA): Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Hunt is the type of prospect who could move into the top 20 or not be taken in the first round at all. It's been hard to get a solid read on his status so far, but the Vikings seem like an ideal fit for the end.
26. Green Bay Packers: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
Another draft where defense should be the focus for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers and Co. are going to put up a lot of points, but finding players who can help prevent them has been an ongoing quest.
What should the Texans address in Round 1?
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Although the names have changed throughout the draft process for the Texans, the position has stayed the same. It's time to draft a wideout in the first round who can help take pressure off Andre Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
Defensive tackle would be the other option for the Broncos here. Elam would be the better selection based on the lack of safety depth and the tackle options that should still be available later on.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
A no-brainer selection for the Patriots if he's still on the board. Trufant would bring some stability to a secondary that has lacked it in recent seasons. The secondary must improve to win another title.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
While the Falcons would love for Tony Gonzalez to play for about five more years––he probably could––they have to start looking toward the future. Eifert would be a smart pick with that in mind.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Cornerback seems like the most likely position for the 49ers after some issues in the playoffs. Banks narrowly edges out Jamar Taylor in order to sneak into the opening round.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Kevin Minter, another insider linebacker, is suddenly the trendy pick here for the Ravens. It's a toss-up between him and Te'o, but the slight advantage still goes to the Notre Dame star.
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