2013 NFL Mock Draft: How Every Team Can Improve in First Round

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIApril 12, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25:  Barkevious Mingo of LSU works out during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Improvement is the whole point of the NFL draft. General managers try to find the right balance between filling holes with prospects, and veterans acquired through free agency and trades.

Most of the high-profile free agents have been locked up and the draft is less than two weeks away. The final touches are being placed on each team's offseason improvement plan.

This mock draft focuses on picks that will allow each team to improve an area of need.

Some players have been highlighted because they are the ideal choice to address the team's most glaring weakness.

Those players' sections will feature an image and their names will be italicized.

1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M

Now that the Chiefs have addressed their quarterback situation with the acquisition of Alex Smith, per Dan Hanzus of NFL.com, this pick should be about protecting their investment.

Eric Fisher has received a lot of attention of late, but I like what Joeckel has done against SEC teams with NFL-level pass rushers. He is the man I'd take to keep Smith healthy.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

Jordan looks a lot like former NFL star Jason Taylor physically. The Jaguars can only hope he has the same type of impact. They had the fewest sacks in the NFL in 2012. It is a complete no-brainer to draft the most explosive pass-rusher on the board.

There are other directions the team could go, but none would make more sense than taking Jordan. The Jags could find a quarterback to develop later in the draft, but a talent with Jordan's potential is too enticing to pass on.

3. Oakland Raiders - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Oakland wasn't much better than Jacksonville when it comes to rushing the passer. They ranked 29th in the NFL in that department.

Though Lotulelei isn't necessarily a Warren Sapp-like presence, he will still command tons of attention that frees up edge rushers.

He'll make those around him better.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - Eric Fisher, LT, Central Michigan

Fisher has been very impressive and he is the smart pick for Philly. With injuries to Jason Peter and a line that gave up 48 sacks in 2012, the Eagles need to go for an O-Lineman. 

Fisher could be the biggest star from a smaller program in this draft.

5. Detroit Lions - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Detroit was ranked just 25th in the NFL in interceptions in 2012. Milliner's cover skills were on display against top competition in the SEC. He would be a great fit in the Lions' secondary.

The Lions need a cornerback that can match up with Brandon Marshall and Jordy Nelson twice a year.

6. Cleveland Browns - Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida

Floyd is an athletic interior defensive lineman that could play the DE in the Browns' new 3-4 look.

The best move for the Browns would be to trade down, but if they keep the pick, Floyd is a smart choice. He'd be the best player available at this point in the draft.

7. Arizona Cardinals - Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma

After the trade to acquire Carson Palmer from the Oakland Raiders, per Mike Garafolo of USA Today, the Cards can now address their poor pass protection.

In 2012, Cardinals quarterbacks were sacked a league-high 58 times. If they hope to do anything in the NFC West against the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks aggressive defenses, they must protect the quarterback.

Johnson is an ultra-athletic left tackle who should also help a ton in the running game as well. At 6'6" 303 pounds, Johnson's stature and athleticism seems ideal to protect Palmer's blind side.

8. Buffalo Bills - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

The aforementioned Palmer trade should make Smith available to the Bills. Kevin Kolb is not the long-terrm answer in Buffalo, and Chris Wesseling of NFL.com believes he may have been signed to play backup.

Buffalo could trade down and take Ryan Nassib out of Syracuse. His former college coach is now the head coach for the Bills, so the connection makes sense.

But Smith's talents are too good to ignore. The Bills need a franchise quarterback and Smith is the best prospect at his position.

9. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

When the Jets get to the quarterback consistently, they make the playoffs. When they don't their season ends early. In 2012, they were ranked 25th in the NFL in sacks.

Their sack total has decreased every year over the last three seasons, and their record has slipped as well.

There isn't a more natural pass-rushing OLB in the draft than Mingo, in my opinion. If the Jets have the opportunity to take him here, they must pounce on him.

Mingo could wind up playing an integral role in saving Rex Ryan's job. Ryan can't afford to have another losing season. The best way to ensure they don't is to add a pass rusher like Mingo.

10. Tennessee Titans - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

When Chris Johnson was known as CJ2K, the Titans offensive line was big and intimidating, but that isn't the case anymore. If this team wants to improve, they have to start with fixing the offensive line.

Their passing yards and rushing yards ranked 22nd and 21st in the NFL, respectively. Warmack is the type of player that will instantly improve the overall play of the unit.

When all of the players in this draft have retired, Warmack have the most Pro Bowl appearances.

11. San Diego Chargers - D.J. Fluker, LT, Alabama

Fluker should make it two Crimson Tide O-Linemen in a row. 

Philip Rivers was yet another victim of poor pass protection in 2012. He was dumped 49 times and the Bolts must get him some help. 

Fluker is a leader and a massive presence on either side of the offensive line.

12. Miami Dolphins - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

With Sean Smith lost in free agency to the Chiefs, per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, the Fins have a hole at cornerback. In a pass-happy league, that is a weakness that must be addressed.

The Fins have to contend with Tom Brady and Andrew Luck twice a year, they need a cornerback they can depend on.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

Ansah has been a hot name over the last three weeks. He could make an impact for the Bucs right away.

This is another team that would be best suited trading down. Their biggest need is at cornerback, but taking one here would be premature.

Rushing the passer was an issue for them in 2012, though. That's what makes Ansah a smart pick. We will soon see if the late rise up the draft boards is justified.

14. Carolina Panthers - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Acquiring a presence on the defensive interior is the best way for the Panthers to improve. Their already solid linebacker corp will only be better with an impact player at defensive tackle.

Richardson has tons of talent and would really help the Panthers. This team is very close to being a serious contender.

15. New Orleans Saints - Bjoern Werner, DE, BYU

Werner may be getting lost in the shuffle a bit lately, but I still love his motor and ability to get to the quarterback.

The Saints certainly need that element on their team. They had just 30 sacks in 2012. Aldon Smith, who is the defensive star of the Saints' NFC rivals the San Francisco 49ers had 19.5 by himself.

16. St. Louis Rams - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

The Rams have an extremely bright future and part of that positive outlook is because of their defense.

They have young pass rushers and solid linebackers, but safety is an area they can improve. Vaccaro has become the top safety prospect and he would fill an obvious need for the Rams.

I love the image Jeff Fisher is building this team in and Vaccaro would fit in quite well.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jarvis Jones, OLB/DE

Jones is going to make a lot of teams sorry they passed on him. He plays with a ferocity that just screams Steelers' pass-rusher.

With James Harrison released, per Brian McIntyre of Yahoo! Sports, Jones could step right in to make a big impact as a rookie. He'll likely play the entire season with a chip on his shoulders. Jones was once thought to be a player who could be among the top five players taken.

Now he could slip out of the top 15. If Jones is taken by the Steelers, he has a chance to be the league's best defensive rookie in 2013.

18. Dallas Cowboys - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

The Cowboys' offense and Tony Romo took a lot of flack last year, but the defense let the team down primarily. The unit gave up 2,003 yards on the ground in 2012.

Drafting a big-bodied DT like Williams would be a good way to address this issue. He can even play in the Cowboys' new 4-3 scheme.

19. New York Giants - Matt Elam, FS, Florida

Elam would add depth to the Giants secondary. He could push for playing time at either safety position as a rookie.

After Kenny Phillips was lost to the rival Eagles, per Jenny Vrentas of the New Jersey Star-Ledger, taking Elam here is the best move for the G-Men.

20. Chicago Bears - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

The Bears need a long-term solution at middle linebacker. Brian Urlacher's successor should be the ultra-athletic Ogletree from Georgia.

He would be in a great position to succeed surrounded by a defensive unit with multiple Pro Bowl players. He's also a fit for the 3-4 in the even the Bears decide to switch to that scheme in the future.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

Eddie Lacy ran a 4.59 40-yard-dash at his pro day, per Alex Scarborough of ESPN. It's not a blazing time, but Lacy proved he was a top back in college. He's the kind of back that always looks better in pads and a helmet.

The Bengals offense is missing a playmaker at running back and Lacy can be that guy.

22. St. Louis Rams - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

Sam Bradford needs more weapons.

Patterson offers great size and run-after-the-catch ability. He has moves like a halfback once he gets the ball in his hands. This would be an excellent selection with the Rams' second first-round pick.

23. Minnesota Vikings - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

The Vikings must add more complexity to the passing game. As great as Adrian Peterson is, Minnesota needs weapons like Austin to move to the next step.

He can be a major impact player as a slot receiver or as a return man. Austin could have the same type of impact that Percy Harvin did.

24. Indianapolis Colts - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Jones’ versatility would allow him to play in the Colts’ 3-4 scheme. Once they start to get defensive players that actually fit what they do, they will be even better than they were in 2012.

Fans must remember, the Colts' success last season came with a hodgepodge of holdovers from a defense that was best suited for the Tampa 2 scheme. This team is certainly headed in the right direction.

25. Minnesota Vikings - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

Along with the passing game, the Vikings need to address their secondary. Trufant has a chance to be the best cornerback in this draft.

Trufant has NFL pedigree as his brother Marcus Trufant is a cornerback most recently with the Seattle Seahawks. This could be a late first-round steal for the Vikings.

26. Green Bay Packers - Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State

With Aaron Rodgers getting sacked 48 times in 2012, the Packers would be wise to make the O-Line their top priority. If Rodgers were to go down, the Packers would be doomed.

I know they won't get a shot at the biggest names at No. 26, but Watson still projects as a starter for the Packers.

27. Houston Texans - Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

I've always liked Minter's pro potential. He's a tackling machine and the Texans need to add depth at linebacker.

When Brian Cushing was injured last season, the team suffered. If nothing else, Minter is an insurance policy. Best case scenario he play along side Cushing as a starter in the 3-4 scheme.

28. Denver Broncos - Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

Denver could take a running back like Montee Ball here, but if they are drafting the best player available they should take Williams.

The team could stand to add some depth on the interior of the defensive line. Williams power and explosiveness would be an asset to the Broncos' defense.

29. New England Patriots - Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

Taylor has moved up a bit on most draft boards. New England's secondary was improved from 2011, but last year's unit could still stand to add depth.

At 5'11" 195 pounds, Taylor has good size to match up with bigger receivers in the NFL. Matching up with the more physical wideouts has to be focus for teams in today's NFL.

30. Atlanta Falcons - Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Moore's stock has fallen quite a bit, but the Falcons should pounce on him if he's available. They had just 29 sacks as a team in 2012.

Moore's skill set is a match for the team's need. With all the weapons the Falcons had in 2012, an impact pass-rusher could have made all the difference in the playoffs.

31. San Francisco 49ers - Eric Reid, FS, LSU

Dashon Goldson left for the Bucs in free agency, per Pat Yasinkas of ESPN.com. That left a huge hole at free safety. Reid is an underrated player in my opinion who could step in a play from Day 1.

I love his instincts and his ability to make plays on the ball. He also has a toughness about him that is appealing.

Some may discredit his play in college because he played on strong defenses throughout his career, but I contend he had a lot to do with how good those defenses were.

Reid is a leader and a smart pick for the Niners.

32. Baltimore Ravens - Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame

With Ray Lewis retiring and Dannell Ellerbe signing to play with the Dolphins, per Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, the Ravens should take Te'o.

I still believe in his ability to be a solid middle linebacker in the NFL. His intangibles and leadership skills will still shine through in a locker room.


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