NFL Mock Draft 2013: Projecting Where Top First-Round Prospects Will Land
The 2013 NFL draft is less than two weeks away, which means that NFL teams are running out of time to settle on their next superstar.
While many experts remain divided on where top quarterback prospect Geno Smith will end up this spring, most agree that Texas A&M stud offensive tackle Luke Joeckel will be the first to have his name called at Radio City Music Hall on April 25.
Here we'll mock up the entire first round of this April's draft, breaking down all 32 selections and highlighting where this year's top prospects will land.
*Top prospects are italicized.
No. 1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, OT
As the first round approaches, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel is looking more likely like the No. 1 selection. Kansas City has already franchised tackle Branden Albert, but can certainly benefit from Joeckel's services for years to come.
Joeckel brings all of the necessary traits to the table and then some. He possesses great awareness, he's durable, productive and shows great instincts at the position.
Add in the fact that he can excel as a run blocker and you have a complete offensive tackle with franchise cornerstone potential.
No. 2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, OT
While Jacksonville could certainly opt for a playmaking defensive end at No. 2, the Jaguars could just as well go for a franchise tackle in Central Michigan's Eric Fisher. At 6'7", 306 pounds, Fisher boasts all the physical traits and abilities you could want in a talented edge protector.
No. 3. Oakland Raiders (4-12) : Sharrif Floyd, Florida, DT
Sharrif Floyd to Oakland is a popular pick considering the Raiders brought in Matt Flynn to play under center next season. Oakland ranked 18th against the run in 2012, and Floyd's versatility should help the Raiders achieve early success on passing downs as well.
No. 4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Dee Milliner, Alabama, CB
It's no secret that defense wins championships in the NFL, and Chip Kelly is wise enough to know that you've got to be able to stop the pass in order to win at this level. Look for former Alabama star Dee Milliner to go No. 4 overall to Philadelphia.
Milliner has blazing speed and tremendous cover skills that cannot be overstated. He didn't pick off a ton of passes with the Crimson Tide, but he's hands-down the best cornerback prospect coming out this spring.
With the Eagles' secondary taking a bit of a hit this offseason, Milliner would be an ideal first-round selection for a team looking to get back in the mix in the loaded NFC East.
No. 5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dion Jordan, Oregon, DE
With leading sacker Cliff Avril now in Seattle, Detroit must look to find a difference maker to play on the outside. At 6'6" with all the physical abilities required, Dion Jordan is just the man the Lions are searching for.
Jordan can be a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen on third down thanks to his quick first step and burst off the line. Plus, Jordan is a sensational tackler who won't fail to wrap up the ball carrier.
Boasting a phenomenal combination of speed, height and weight, Jordan is one of the top talents set to have his name called in the first round on Thursday. He could wind up going a number of different places, but Detroit looks like a likely landing spot given its need on the edge.
No. 6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Ezekiel Ansah, BYU, DE
Brigham Young's Ezekiel Ansah is a freak athlete, and he would be a huge pickup for a team like Cleveland, that must continue to improve on the defensive end in hopes of surviving with Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the rugged AFC North.
No. 7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Jarvis Jones, Georgia, LB
The most talented linebacker in the draft, Georgia's Jarvis Jones looks like a Top 10 pick in 2013. Jones led the nation with 14.5 sacks a year ago and constantly disrupts opposing offenses whether he's rushing the passer or forcing turnovers.
Arizona ranked 28th against the run a year ago, and could really benefit from Jones' presence in the middle of that defense next season.
No. 8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Geno Smith, West Virginia, QB
Despite Buffalo bringing in Kevin Kolb this offseason, I still think the Bills opt to draft Geno Smith in the first round, assuming he's still on the board at No. 8. Kolb has a history of coming up short in this league, and Smith's promise is perhaps too good to pass on for a team like Buffalo with quarterback concerns.
Smith threw for over 4,000 yards in each of his past two seasons in Morgantown, and he boasts an ideal combination of arm strength and pocket presence.
With Kolb and Smith potentially pushing each other in camp, there's good chance Smith will be ready to go as soon as Week 1 barring injury.
No. 9. New York Jets (6-10): Star Lotulelei, Utah, DT
The Jets have got to improve in run defense in 2013 in order to have any chance, and that's why Star Lotulelei looks to be New York's best option at No. 9.
Lotulelei can plug up running lanes but also knock opposing linemen back and help Rex Ryan's club win more often at the point of attack.
No. 10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Lane Johnson, Oklahoma, OT
Andy Levitre was a nice acquisition for Tennessee this offseason, but the Titans still have plenty of room to improve on the offensive line.
Oklahoma's Lane Johnson is incredibly athletic for his size and position and would be an ideal pickup to round out the Top 10.
No. 11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Chance Warmack, Alabama, G
The goal for the San Diego Chargers in 2013 will be to make the playoffs. But first, the Bolts have to keep quarterback Philip Rivers standing upright. He was sacked nearly 50 times in 2012. Former Alabama road grader Chance Warmack won't help on the outside, but San Diego already brought in King Dunlap to do that.
No. 12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Desmond Trufant, Washington, CB
Miami was dreadful defending the pass in 2012, ranking 27th in yards allowed. The Dolphins could go a number of different directions this spring, but Washington's Desmond Trufant is an explosive defender who stands out at No. 12.
No. 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Damontre Moore, Texas A&M, DE
Losing Michael Bennett to Seattle certainly hurts Tampa Bay, but the Bucs could take a risk in the first round with Texas A&M's Damontre Moore, a super-talented pass-rusher who needs a bit of work.
No. 14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Barkevious Mingo, LSU, DE
Carolina played tons of close games in 2012, but can ensure that it wins those tight games in 2013 by improving on the defensive end.
LSU's KeKe Mingo would be a smart pickup for the Panthers, who could use his versatility on the defensive side of the ball.
No. 15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Bjoern Werner, Florida State, DE
The Saints have plenty of needs this offseason, but they must address defense. Drafting a high-motor player like former Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner would be a solid move as he could help out in all facets of New Orleans' defense.
No. 16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Tavon Austin, West Virginia, WR
Tavon Austin's size will be an issue for some NFL higher-ups who will question his ability to hold up under intense punishment in the NFL. Assuming he makes it to No. 16, look for the St. Louis Rams to snatch him up, as Danny Amendola's departure has left an already lackluster offense in even worse shape.
No. 17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Cornellius Carradine, Florida State, DE
A player with sensational instincts and an unrivaled motor, Florida State's Cornellius Carradine, simply known as Tank, would be an ideal fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team built on toughness.
No. 18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, DT
The Cowboys have potential in the secondary. having drafted Morris Claiborne a year ago, but they need to become more dominant up front on that side of the ball.
Missouri's Sheldon Richardson could be the player Dallas targets this spring in hopes of becoming a better run-stopping squad. The Cowboys gave up over 125 rushing yards per game last season.
No. 19. New York Giants (9-7): Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, G
Even a two-time Super Bowl champion in Eli Manning can't produce when he's constantly under pressure. New York could look to bolster its offensive line in the first round. In that case, North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper would be a great fit.
No. 20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Keenan Allen, California, WR
Tight end Martellus Bennett is an excellent downfield target, but Jay Cutler is going to need another weapon this offseason in order to lift the Bears into the postseason in 2013. Cal's Keenan Allen brings a sure pair of hands to the table and the potential to develop into a No. 2 wideout alongside Brandon Marshall.
No. 21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Justin Hunter, Tennessee, WR
At 6'4", Justin Hunter would create A.J. Green-like matchup nightmares for defenses. No, he's no Pro Bowler, but he has potential and could quickly develop into the Bengals' No. 2 option on the outside.
No. 22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) (10-6): Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, S
There's a good chance Texas' Kenny Vaccaro comes off the board before the Rams get to pick for a second time at No. 22, but there's no question that Jeff Fisher would jump at the chance to add talent to St. Louis' secondary.
No. 23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee, WR
Signing a veteran wide receiver like Greg Jennings isn't going to make that big a difference for Minnesota's 31st-ranked passing attack in 2013.
The Vikings will pick twice in the first round this April, which means they can afford to draft a young wideout early. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Paterson looks to be a good fit at No. 23.
No. 24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Sylvester Williams, North Carolina, DT
If there was one glaring weakness a season ago for the Indianapolis Colts it was their rush defense, which was seemingly non-existent for much of 2012.
The Colts surrendered over 137 yards per game on the ground last year, and could look to add a massive, talented tackle in North Carolina's Sylvester Williams.
No. 25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks) (11-5): Alec Ogletree, Georgia, LB
A bit of a controversial prospect, Georgia's Alec Ogletree is arguably the top inside linebacker coming out this year. He's a physical player who can change the game with his intensity.
The Vikings, who picked up an additional draft pick via the Percy Harvin trade last month, could look to draft Ogletree if he's still on the board at No. 25.
No. 26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Eddie Lacy, Alabama, RB
Despite his disappointing pro day performance, I still think Eddie Lacy goes in the first round this spring. The Green Bay Packers must address their lack of talent in the backfield and Lacy is the perfect style of runner to help Green Bay achieve success in the red zone and in short-yardage situations.
No. 27. Houston Texans (12-4): Kevin Minter, LSU, LB
Kevin Minter was one of the most productive linebackers in America last season with LSU, and offers a lot of punch up the middle for a championship contender like the Houston Texans.
No. 28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, CB
Denver's offense is loaded with Wes Welker signing with the Broncos this offseason, and now John Elway and John Fox can turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball, where Denver was beaten up badly by the Baltimore Ravens in the postseason.
The Broncos could look into Xavier Rhodes, a cornerback with lots of potential who can come up and help out in run support.
No. 29. New England Patriots (12-4): Matt Elam, Florida, S
New England's secondary has been its Achilles heel for a few seasons now, and drafting young talent in the defensive backfield is the Patriots' best hope to improve. Florida's Matt Elam would be an interesting acquisition.
The hard-hitting stud has defensive playmaker written all over him and could definitely help change the mindset in New England.
No. 30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Datone Jones, UCLA, DE
Defensively, the Atlanta Falcons have lots of room for improvement this offseason. UCLA's Datone Jones is flying a bit under the radar this spring, but he would be a great fit in Atlanta with a team that looks poised to threaten for the title after making a run to the NFC Championship Game this past January.
No. 31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): John Cyprien, Florida International, S
Florida International's John Cyprien makes plenty of sense for San Francisco nearing the end of the first round with safety Dashon Goldson signing with Tampa Bay this offseason.
The Niners' defense is talented enough already to contend, but if Cyprien can catch on quickly, the sky is the limit for Jim Harbaugh's group.
No. 32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB
Another popular projection, Baltimore's need at middle linebacker gives Manti Te'o a great shot at being selected in the first round in 2013. Although his lackluster combine performance has hurt his stock, he put a ton of great performances on tape at Notre Dame.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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