With a week left until the 2013 NFL draft, it's probably time to remind everyone that "silly season" is going to ramp up to full storm. This is when it's wisest to believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you read.
Conventional wisdom? Throw it out the window. It will become stupidity once picks start flying off the board.
Rumors and whispers? Ignore those, too, as teams try to seed confusion. Everyone is a first-rounder, everyone is being traded and no one is safe—at least, that's what you'll hear over the next seven days.
As for mock drafts, they're not going to be much more accurate today than they were months ago.
So, you might ask, why are you giving us a mock draft?
It's because, out of everything you read over the next week, mock drafts are the one thing that have the most value. At least on its face, a mock draft tells you what it is—a "mock." These aren't lies presented as rumors. This is complete and utter speculation that is meant to present a scenario and provide surrounding information.
At best, mocks are like a NCAA Tournament bracket filled out to perfection and then Cinderellas win every single first-round matchup. Maybe some of the picks were right, but one unforeseen circumstance (in the draft, it is usually a trade) makes you crumple it up and find the nearest trash can.
Here are the first three rounds of the upcoming 2013 NFL draft. It isn't what is going to happen, and it's not even what "could" happen. It is simply a good-faith effort to provide as much information as possible.
If you don't agree with the picks, feel free to leave your preferred selections for your team in the comments below.
According to Mike Freeman of NFL.com, the Chiefs are desperately trying to trade out of this pick.
It isn't because they don't like Joeckel. Rather, it is because they know that they can move down and grab another player they covet (such as Oregon's Dion Jordan or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher) while adding even more talent to their team with more picks down the road.
If they stand pat, though, Joeckel should be the selection.
Branden Albert may or may not be around for much longer, and whether or not the Chiefs can get Joeckel and Albert together for the long term is completely irrelevant. Joeckel can be a stalwart blue chip left tackle for the next decade.
Blaine Gabbert may get another chance in Jacksonville, but he doesn't deserve one. At best, he's a fringe starter in the NFL, and he's rarely been at his best in the past two years.
Smith is a better quarterback right now and he possesses infinitely more upside than almost anyone on the entire Jaguars roster. He's got all the physical tools a quarterback needs. He's not a track star, but he has more than enough speed and agility to move around, both in and outside of the pocket. He doesn't have a cannon, but he can make all the throws and is accurate to boot.
The Jaguars are starting over just about from scratch in 2013. Smith is a fantastic cornerstone to build around.
The Raiders have brought in a ton of players on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, but "best player available" should be the mantra here. Lotulelei plays the same position as Pat Sims and Vance Walker, but neither of those guys are as sure-fire of a talent as the Utah product.
The biggest gripe that critics have about Lotulelei is that he looked like he "took plays off" at Utah. However, he also played a higher percentage of defensive plays (95 percent!) than his peers. So, it wasn't really taking plays off, it was refusing to do so because his team needed him.
That is the kind of player that Oakland needs to build around—someone who is willing to put the team on his back and do whatever it takes to win.
The Eagles have a ton of work to do in terms of repairing the damage done from years of thinking that they were one or two big-name free agents away from a championship. But now there are no more "dream teams" in Philadelphia, just quality players who fit the system that Chip Kelly is bringing in.
On defense, Kelly will want the same sort of attacking 3-4 scheme that he employed in Eugene. Jordan will fit right into the gaping hole that currently exists at strongside linebacker, and he will be able to rush the passer, cover tight ends and create havoc for the Eagles next season.
The Lions could easily use Riley Reiff at left tackle next season, but players like Fisher don't grow on trees. Plus, Fisher is certainly a better blindside protector than Reiff, who could also fit at right tackle or right guard—other positions that the Lions need to address in this draft.
Fisher is more athletic than Joeckel, even more so than Jeff Backus ever was for the Lions. Matt Stafford clearly needs help in front of him, and Fisher can keep him upright for a long time to come.
The Browns are in a pretty unique position. While they have a new head coach and general manager—as well as new direction on both offense and defense—there are a lot of really talented young players on this roster. So, there is little reason to reach for need, and they can just grab the best player available.
Milliner would be the No. 2 cornerback on the team, and No. 2 corners aren't normally drafted within the top 10. It's hard not to get excited by a Joe Haden-Dee Milliner tandem on the perimeter; expect the Browns to pull the trigger on him here.
The Cardinals brought in Carson Palmer, but he's not going to do any better than he did in Oakland without better protection in Arizona.
In Oakland, Palmer had Jared Veldheer, who is an athletic freak. Johnson has similar ability, even if he's not quite as monstrous as Veldheer (pictured on the far left here).
With Johnson protecting Palmer's blindside, Larry Fitzgerald will have more time to get down the field and put up the kind of yardage that head coach Bruce Arians is looking for.
When we talk about "boom or bust" prospects, this is what we mean.
The ceiling is sky-high for Ansah, who just recently started playing football. He is an absolute athletic freak and has a better natural feel for pass-rushing than he is often given credit for. He could easily be as good of a player as Jason Pierre-Paul, who had a similar profile coming out of college.
However, the talent floor is pretty low as well. For instance, Ansah isn't comfortable in space, so a 3-4 scheme isn't a great fit for him. Also, he can get mauled a bit (especially late in games) by double teams, and he may never be the guy unless he adds polish to his game in a hurry.
The Bills got burned with Aaron Maybin a few years ago, but putting Ansah across from Mario Williams has the potential to be something great.
Speaking of "boom or bust..."
Patterson is a great athlete who made an immediate impact on the SEC this season. He supplanted Justin Hunter (a fantastic receiver himself) as the Volunteers' top target and made Tyler Bray look a lot better by bailing him out on a lot of poorly thrown balls. At his best, Patterson can step up to the NFL and immediately make the team that drafts him a lot better on offense.
However, Patterson also needs a lot of work on the finer points of his game. Honestly, that can be said for any receiver coming into the NFL, but he is more behind the eight-ball than most. At worst, he is an above-average return man who may never be a starting wideout at the next level.
The Jets need to get an impact player, and Patterson is worth the risk for a passing offense that was so lackluster last season.
The Titans entered the offseason with a huge need in the middle of the offensive line. Now with Andy Levitre on the team, this pick is less rock-solid than it was a month ago. However, running back Chris Johnson is the bedrock of the team, and signal-caller Jake Locker needs all the help he can get. Solidifying the offensive line for the long term would be a great move.
If all positions were created equal in the NFL, Warmack could be the top player off the board in this year's draft. Thankfully for the Titans, guards typically don't go very high, and the team has a chance of landing the guy who may be the best player in the entire draft.
A lot of media draft experts have Floyd going a lot higher (some even have him in the top three), but the tape on him doesn't reveal a top-10-type player. While he certainly looks like an incredible lineman when he steps onto the field, he has too many pockmarks to his game to make an immediate impact. Until some coach fixes his numerous bad habits—standing up at the snap, overrunning plays and refusing to use counter moves—he should be viewed as a project.
The Chargers should take the chance on Floyd, though, because his natural talent is too enticing to pass up on. At defensive end in a 3-4 defense, Floyd would move the talented Kendall Reyes to the bench and provide a killer rotation up front for the Chargers.
The Dolphins have a solid receiving corps after bringing in Mike Wallace and re-signing Brian Hartline this offseason, but thinking of Austin as a "receiver" is a little misleading. The goal of adding a player like Austin to any roster is to use him as an open-field weapon who will carry the offensive load in a number of ways and from numerous spots on the field.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled last year with little help around him. With the addition of Austin to work underneath the space created by Wallace and Hartline, the Dolphins offense could take shape in a hurry.
The Buccaneers have been trying to add quality defensive linemen pretty much since Warren Sapp left town, but Gerald McCoy is the only sure thing that they've been able to acquire. Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn both have potential, but neither one is as well-rounded as Florida State's Werner or has his incredible upside.
Of course, this pick may end up in the New York Jets' hands if the Buccaneers end up acquiring Darrelle Revis. Honestly, the Jets need a pass-rusher as well, so Werner could be the pick either way.
The Panthers really need help along both trenches, but this pick is too good to pass on for a team that also desperately needs playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Vaccaro has better ball skills than his stats indicate. More importantly, he is both physical against the run and can help keep passes from getting over the top of the Panthers defense.
It's a deep class at defensive tackle, receiver and offensive guard, but the Panthers should grab the top safety prospect in this year's draft. They should make this selection and not look back.
With the Saints switching to a new defensive system, they'll need players who can make an impact in Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme. A few of the Saints pass-rushers (Junior Galette and Martez Wilson, for example) fit the 3-4 very well, but they don't have the potential that Mingo does.
Mingo probably won't be a three-down player right away in the NFL, and the biggest concern is that he never will be. Yet in terms of pure pass-rushing ability, it's difficult to think of a better fit for the Saints' new defense.
The Seahawks made a similar one-dimensional pick in the first round last year (Bruce Irvin), and it paid dividends for them.
Right now, in the Rams linebacking corps, James Laurinaitis is joined by Jo-Lonn Dunbar—a good player but not irreplaceable—and...uh...literally no one of note.
Enter Ogletree, who has the athleticism and the instincts to step right into the Rams' starting lineup and continue to improve a defense that needs to keep pace with San Francisco's and Seattle's new-look offenses.
Ogletree has some off-the-field concerns, but Jeff Fisher has dealt with plenty of troubled young players in the past. He should be able to rein Ogletree in and get the most out of him.
With Mike Wallace gone, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders aren't going to be able to completely carry the passing attack for Pittsburgh.
Allen doesn't have the straight-line speed that those two do, but he is a much more talented receiver. Recent off-field concerns (h/t ESPN) could drop Allen even further, but the team that picks him will be getting a very good and very underrated receiver.
The Dallas Cowboys have added a lot of players on the exterior of the offensive line in recent years, but the interior has been a sieve. Tony Romo always ends up bearing a huge share of the blame for the Cowboys' struggles, but he clearly needs better help in front of him.
Cooper is the best interior pass-blocker in the draft, and he would be a huge asset to both Romo and the Cowboys rushing attack as well.
The Giants' issues on defense, ironically, stem from lack of talent up front. Yes, the talent in the back seven could use upgrades as well, but when the Giants defensive line plays well, there isn't really anything that can stop them (just ask Tom Brady).
Richardson would be the dominant pass-rusher on the interior that could free up Justin Tuck, who had a disappointing 2012 while trying to do too much. With more talented players to rotate in and out, opponents won't know what to do when Big Blue is coming at them from all angles.
James Anderson and D.J. Williams came over to the Windy City in free agency this offseason, but Brown is on a whole other level.
It's too burdensome to saddle an incoming rookie with the title of "heir apparent to Brian Urlacher," but Brown has talent and skills that are reminiscent of the Bears' longtime stud. Like Urlacher, Brown plays a lot bigger than he truly is and can make plays, against both the run and the pass, all over the field.
As of right now, Andre Smith and the Bengals don't appear to be anywhere near a new deal—for a very good reason.
Fluker has much of the same skill set that Smith has and will come at a fraction of the cost. At right tackle, there's little room to break the bank when valuable salary cap space is needed elsewhere. Drafting Fluker ensures that there won't be much of a drop off in the post-Smith era on Cincinnati's rugged offense.
The Rams were fine with letting Steven Jackson walk, and they may be fine with Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson toting the rock next season. Yet neither of them have feature-back potential (or experience), so the Rams might be wise to pair their young and improving defense with an offense that can keep them off the field.
Lacy has had a rough pre-draft season, but the tape screams "talented workhorse," and Jeff Fisher certainly likes his runners.
Rhodes could actually go quite a bit higher as the clear-cut No. 2 corner in this year's draft.
He's tough, physical and has the athleticism to cover NFL wideouts. The Vikings' defensive backfield was a bit of a mess before Antoine Winfield left, and now it could be a real weakness for them. Rhodes stems the tide in that regard and could easily grow into a superstar.
The Colts have had an underrated offseason—one in which they slightly overpaid for a couple of players, but nothing too garish—and they still have the same two goals: help Andrew Luck and continue to build out that defense.
Carradine gives the Colts a legitimate pass-rushing prospect of the future (sorry, Erik Walden) who can set the edge and instill fear in opposing quarterbacks. He might also have the ability to add weight and put his hand down as a lighter 3-4 end, which could really give the Colts an added boost on passing downs.
After helping solidify their defense with the 23rd pick, the Vikings should continue to aid their passing game with their second pick of the first round.
Hopkins has drawn Anquan Boldin comparisons for his tough style of play and reliable hands, but in all honesty, he's a much better athlete than Boldin was when he came out of Florida State.
Still, if he can have the career that Boldin had, Minnesota would be awfully happy with this selection, and Christian Ponder might start to look like the franchise quarterback they believe he is.
With Charles Woodson gone, the Packers are left with a couple of players they like at safety—M.D. Jennings and Morgan Burnett—but neither is irreplaceable if the right person comes along.
Meet the right person.
Elam plays the run as well as any safety in this draft class. He also has the athleticism to cover slot receivers or get sideline to sideline if he is the lone safety over the top. His toughness, leadership and quality play will be great assets for the Packers defense.
The Texans defense ranked 16th against the pass and seventh against the run last season. For a team with J.J. Watt, they should be ranked higher.
A big part of the problem was on the interior of the linebacking corps after Brian Cushing went down—one of the most impactful injuries of last year that no one talks about. Pairing Cushing with this year's top inside linebacker prospect would turn one of last season's weaknesses into a huge strength.
The Broncos have Champ Bailey and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie at cornerback, but neither of those guys should be viewed as long-term solutions. Bailey has one or two solid seasons left, and DRC is a reclamation project, not a sure thing.
Jamar Taylor is starting to get a little more solid press from my peers in the media, but he still doesn't get the recognition that he deserves. He's physical, can play in a number of coverage systems and has an eye for the ball.
Best-case scenario: Taylor and Chris Harris, Jr. are a Pro Bowl-caliber corner tandem for a long time to come.
The Patriots had defensive issues last season, but they still put forth a better unit than they have in years past. This side of the ball is clearly improving, but Belichick and Co. need to continue adding talent if they want the defense to do some of the heavy lifting in Tom Brady's closing years.
Datone Jones is a tweener defensive line prospect who can play tackle in their 4-3 look or end in their 3-4 set. Next to Vince Wilfork, Jones will get a lot of clean shots at opposing quarterbacks and should make the most of those opportunities.
Tony Gonzalez is still a very capable starting tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, but that isn't the point. He's almost certainly gone after this season, and the draft is about adding long-term building blocks, not filling needs for the immediate future. Eifert has the potential to be one of the top tight ends for as long as Matt Ryan is under center for the Falcons.
In the meantime, think about a formation with Steven Jackson, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Tyler Eiftert on the field. That would have opponents shaking in their boots.
The 49ers have the luxury of doing literally whatever they want with these picks. They're a Super Bowl-caliber team with more draft picks than they'll know what to do with. These players are not necessarily needed as immediate starters or even role players, though, so they can take some risks.
Desmond Trufant was a good college corner, but his projection as an NFL pro is a little shaky. He's more of a finesse cover man who could struggle against the bigger, taller receivers he'll find waiting for him on Sundays.
For the 49ers, he would likely start as a subpackage player and really help out when teams try to spread them out with four or five wide.
A lot of people expect Jarvis Jones to go much higher, but the tape shows a one-speed player while his pro day showed that his one-speed is awfully slow. College production doesn't always equal NFL projection, and Jones is a great example of that.
That said, he can help a team win some football games, and the Ravens need to continue to add bodies after their defensive losses in early free agency this offseason. He might start as only their third or fourth rusher (the Ravens typically use a heavy rotation there when everyone is healthy), but he'll be a valuable asset down the road.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars—Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M)
34. San Francisco 49ers (via Kansas City Chiefs)—Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
35. Philadelphia Eagles—E.J. Manuel (QB, Florida State)
36. Detroit Lions—Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International)
37. Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland Raiders)—Quinton Patton (WR, Louisiana Tech)
38. Arizona Cardinals—Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas)
39. New York Jets—Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse)
40. Tennessee Titans—Manti Te'o (ILB, Notre Dame)
41. Buffalo Bills—Matt Barkley (QB, Southern Cal)
42. Miami Dolphins—Menelik Watson (OT, Florida State)
43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Jordan Poyer (CB, Oregon State)
44. Carolina Panthers—Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
45. San Diego Chargers—Terron Armstead (OT, Arkansas Pine Bluff)
46. St. Louis Rams—Markus Wheaton (WR, Oregon State)
47. Dallas Cowboys—Sio Moore (LB, Connecticut)
48. Pittsburgh Steelers—Margus Hunt (DE, SMU)
49. New York Giants—Larry Warford (OG, Kentucky)
50. Chicago Bears—Kyle Long (OT/OG, Oregon)
51. Washington Redskins—Eric Reid (S, LSU)
52. Minnesota Vikings—Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina)
53. Cincinnati Bengals—Johnathan Franklin (RB, UCLA)
54. Miami Dolphins (via Indianapolis Colts)—Sam Montgomery (DE, LSU)
55. Green Bay Packers—Barrett Jones (OC/OG, Alabama)
56. Seattle Seahawks—Justin Pugh (OG, Syracuse)
57. Houston Texans—Robert Woods (WR, Southern California)
58. Denver Broncos—Alex Okafor (DE, Texas)
59. New England Patriots—Aaron Dobson (WR, Marshall)
60. Atlanta Falcons—Giovanni Bernard (RB, North Carolina)
61. San Francisco 49ers—Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
62. Baltimore Ravens—Jordan Mills (OT, Louisiana Tech)
63. Kansas City Chiefs—Stepfan Taylor (RB, Stanford)
64. Jacksonville Jaguars—Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
65. Detroit Lions—Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
66. Oakland Raiders—David Amerson (CB, North Carolina State)
67. Philadelphia Eagles—Philip Thomas (S, Fresno State)
68. Cleveland Browns—Tyler Bray (QB, Tennessee)
69. Arizona Cardinals—Travis Frederick (C, Wisconsin)
70. Tennessee Titans—Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)
71. Buffalo Bills—Khaseem Green (OLB, Rutgers)
72. New York Jets—Trevardo Williams (OLB, Connecticut)
73. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Mike Glennon (QB, North Carolina State)
74. San Francisco 49ers (via Carolina Panthers)—Shamarko Thomas (S, Syracuse)
75. New Orleans Saints—John Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
76. San Diego Chargers—Darius Slay (CB, Mississippi State)
77. Miami Dolphins—Montee Ball (RB, Wisconsin)
78. St. Louis Rams—David Bakhitiari (OL, Colorado)
79. Pittsburgh Steelers—D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston)
80. Dallas Cowboys—Baccari Rambo (S, Georgia)
81. New York Giants—Jamie Collins (OLB, Southern Mississippi)
82. Miami Dolphins (via Chicago Bears)—Brian Winters (OG, Kent State)
83. Minnesota Vikings—D.J. Swearinger (S, South Carolina)
84. Cincinnati Bengals—Zaviar Gooden (OLB, Missouri)
85. Washington Redskins—Robert Alford (CB, Southeast Louisiana)
86. Indianapolis Colts—Terrance Williams (WR, Baylor)
87. Seattle Seahawks—Vance McDonald (TE, Nevada)
88. Green Bay Packers—Logan Ryan (CB, Rutgers)
89. Houston Texans—Corey Lemonier (OLB, Auburn)
90. Denver Broncos—Brian Schwenke (C, California)
91. New England Patriots—Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut)
92. Atlanta Falcons—Dwayne Gratz (CB, Connecticut)
93. San Francisco 49ers—Da'Rick Rogers (WR Tennessee Tech)
94. Baltimore Ravens—Ryan Swope (WR Texas A&M)
95. Houston Texans (Compensatory Pick)—Brandon Williams (DT Missouri Southern)
96. Kansas City Chiefs (Compensatory Pick)—Travis Kelce (TE Cincinnati)
97. Tennessee Titans (Compensatory Pick)—Tyrann Mathieu (CB Louisiana State)
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.