Poor drafting is a career-killer for NFL general managers.
Gene Smith was recently axed in Jacksonville for his poor judgement during his tenure with the Jaguars, as was A.J. Smith, who made many questionable decisions in the draft for the San Diego Chargers.
The 2013 NFL draft is a seven-round affair, but there's intense pressure on general managers to hit a home run in the first round. These are the players expected to make an immediate impact, and they're also the ones who will rake in the most cash.
With that in mind, this mock draft will project players who have the best chance of making an immediate, positive impact on the teams that draft them. Certain selections will by highlighted with italics for more in-depth analysis.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Mark it down—Joeckel will be the No. 1 pick of the 2013 NFL draft.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported on Wednesday, April 17, "...the reality is Luke Joeckel will go first overall, sources said, and Eric Fisher will go in the top five."
There have been rumors that Fisher could be the top pick of the draft. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah recently reported that there was "a lot of buzz" for Fisher as the No. 1 pick.
Don't buy it.
Joeckel may not be as athletic as Fisher, but he more than makes up for it with nearly flawless technique, a solid base and an excellent slide-step. He's strong enough to handle bull-rushers and agile enough to run speed-rushers up the field with ease.
He'll step into the Chiefs starting lineup to protect Alex Smith's blind side from Day 1.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Jacksonville is in dire need of a pass-rusher or three. This team couldn't bring consistent pressure to opposing quarterbacks, posting just 20 sacks on the season. Ansah has the raw tools to become a dominant pass-rusher in the mold of Jason Pierre-Paul, and he'll give the Jaguars defense some teeth in 2013.
3. Oakland Raiders—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Oakland is in rebuilding mode. General manager Reggie McKenzie will build the Raiders through the draft, and he'll start by upgrading his defensive line. Floyd is a big, agile defender who is excellent at penetrating into opposing backfields, and he'll be a young man McKenzie can build around in the years to come.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The Eagles will be implementing a defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator that will feature three-down linemen more often than not. SI.com's Peter King recently reported, "Hear they like Star Lotulelei a lot to play all along the line, even at nose."
This is a move that makes sense for Philadelphia.
Lotulelei isn't a particularly gifted pass-rusher. He only logged seven sacks in his three years at Utah. That doesn't mean he won't bring pressure up the middle, but nobody should expect him to bust out like Geno Atkins with double-digit sack totals in the NFL.
He will thrive in a 3-4 scheme as a defensive end, and the combination of him and Isaac Sopoaga in the middle of the defense for Philly would absolutely stone opposing rushing attacks.
5. Detroit Lions—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Fisher won't fall past the Lions at No. 5. Detroit needs a franchise left tackle to replace freshly retired Jeff Backus. Fisher is a plug-and-play starter on the left side. He and right tackle Riley Reiff will give Matthew Stafford the time he needs to excel in 2013.
6. Cleveland Browns—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
If Cleveland doesn't target a quarterback (we don't think it will) Milliner will be an easy pick. The top cornerback in this year's class, Milliner combines size, speed and undeniable skill. Paired with Joe Haden, he'll give the Browns an enviable young duo at the cornerback position.
7. Arizona Cardinals—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Cardinals could select Lane Johnson here, and he'd be a great choice. That said, adding Warmack would not only help Carson Palmer in the passing game, but his presence on the inside would greatly improve the Cardinals' rushing attack in 2013.
8. Buffalo Bills—QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Geno Smith is the top quarterback in the 2013 draft class, right?
Every team has different ideas about what it's looking for in a franchise quarterback. It is the popular belief that Smith will be the only quarterback taken in the first round, but there's a slight chance he could still be on the board in Round 2, should the Bills believe Nassib is the better choice.
New head coach Doug Marrone had Nassib for four years at Syracuse. It shouldn't shock anyone to see the Bills "reach" for him in Round 1.
He's a quarterback who has a knack for anticipating when receivers will be open—a trait that's rare for rookies in the NFL and one that is absolutely critical for success at the next level. Additionally, Nassib can make every throw on the field and is a leader.
9. New York Jets—OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Rex Ryan will be giddy to see Jordan's name still on the board when the Jets pick at No. 9. An explosive player who began his career as a wide receiver and tight end at Oregon, Jordan has the size and athleticism to become a dynamic 3-4 outside linebacker.
10. Tennessee Titans—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Tennessee was smart to sign guard Andy Levitre in free agency. Chris Johnson has floundered the past couple of seasons without big holes to run through, and Levitre will help him have a big year. The Titans would be wise to continue improving their offensive line. Cooper's talents will be a boon for Johnson and for Jake Locker, who is still developing.
11. San Diego Chargers—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
New general manager Tom Telesco must give Philip Rivers better protection in 2013 than he had last year. If Johnson is still on the board when San Diego picks, it won't take long for Telesco to make the call to draft him. He'll immediately slide into the starting lineup as the team's left tackle.
12. Miami Dolphins—OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
The Dolphins lost Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams, which complicates things on the team's offensive line. Jonathan Martin is a player the Dolphins like at left tackle (h/t Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post). Should he switch to the left tackle spot, it would leave a vacancy on the right side. Fluker is a dominant right tackle who would be able to fill that void and then some.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Gerald McCoy is a terrific player inside for the Buccaneers, but he'd benefit from another big-time defensive tackle playing next to him. Richardson is an athletic big man who moves like a linebacker, and his ability to penetrate into the backfield on any given play will be a big boost to the team's defense.
14. Carolina Panthers—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Carolina's front seven is solid, but the team's secondary is still a work in progress. Adding a skilled safety like Vaccaro would be a great move to give this defense another blue-chip player to build around in the years to come.
15. New Orleans Saints—OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The Saints will struggle to win games if Rob Ryan's defense can't stop opposing teams from scoring through the air. He needs pass-rushers to complement the team's cornerbacks and safeties. Mingo is an explosive athlete who is still raw, but his ability to create pressure off the edge in Ryan's 3-4 scheme makes him a perfect fit.
16. St. Louis Rams—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Austin is a speed freak who possesses video-game moves in the open field. He's a slot specialist who will give Sam Bradford a reliable and consistent target in the middle of the field. The added bonus the Rams get with him is that he's a dynamic punt returner who can change the outcome of a game in one fell swoop.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
Ziggy Hood isn't the answer for the Steelers as a 3-4 defensive end, and Brett Keisel will turn 35 this season. The Steelers must bring in a young player to take Hood's spot, and Jones would be an excellent choice.
18. Dallas Cowboys—DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
The Cowboys have drafted players for a 3-4 scheme for years, and Monte Kiffin will be implementing his "Tampa 2" scheme that features four linemen. Jay Ratliff will struggle in this scheme, and the Cowboys would be wise to draft a three-technique defensive tackle who will be able to start from Day 1. Williams is that man.
19. New York Giants—DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Jason Pierre-Paul only logged 6.5 sacks last year, and he needs help if he's to avoid another disappointing season in 2013. Werner is a natural 4-3 defensive end who features a lightning-quick first step. He'll be a lightning rod for New York's defense in 2013.
20. Chicago Bears—TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Two-tight end sets are all the rage in the NFL these days. Tom Brady has thrived with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in at the same time, and the Bears would be smart to utilize the same strategy in 2013. Adding Eifert to play with Martellus Bennett would be a great move to help Jay Cutler realize his potential.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—OT Menelik Watson, Florida State
If you believe the latest rumor, via PFT, Andre Smith could be on the outs in Cincinnati. The team could send a strong message by drafting Watson to come in and take Smith's starting spot, and in the end, he could become a better overall player than Smith anyway.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—S Eric Reid, LSU
After losing Craig Dahl to the San Francisco 49ers and releasing Quintin Mikell, the Rams must invest in a safety early in this year's draft. Reid is a big, rangy safety who is capable of playing deep in zone or up near the line of scrimmage.
23. Minnesota Vikings—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
The Vikings made a salary-cap decision and released veteran Antoine Winfield earlier this year. He'll be a player that will be tough to replace, but if any player can step in and provide what Winfield did for the Vikings last year, it's Rhodes.
A big, strong cornerback with excellent man-to-man skills and a fearless attitude, Rhodes was considered to be one of the best players at his position before the combine. The biggest question about him was whether or not he had the long speed to keep up with top receivers on the outside.
Rhodes answered that question with a phenomenal time of 4.43 seconds. He also showed excellent explosion in his jumps, which will help him on jump balls against the big No. 1 receivers of the league.
Given his size (6'1", 210 lbs), he could become a lock-down cornerback for the Vikings in the years to come.
24. Indianapolis Colts—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Lucky break for the Colts. Jones is an accomplished pass-rusher who will be a productive player in a 3-4 scheme. He'll start opposite Robert Mathis as a rookie in 2013.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks)—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Should Patterson fall to this point in the draft, he'd be a steal for the Vikings. One of the most explosive players at any position in this year's draft, Patterson has prototypical size (6'2", 216 lbs) to go along with blazing speed and incredible after-the-catch abilities.
26. Green Bay Packers—ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
The Packers have struggled on the defensive side of the ball against the run the past couple of years. Te'o's game against Alabama aside, he's a terrific run defender when he can flow to the ball. He's also a capable coverage linebacker, which means he's a three-down player who could greatly improve Green Bay's defense in 2013.
27. Houston Texans—WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
NFL Films' Greg Cosell believes Hunter is the best wide receiver in this year's draft class. His findings are certainly debatable, but there's no doubt Hunter has the physical tools to become an elite receiver in the NFL. He'd be a big upgrade for Houston, which hasn't had a legitimate No. 2 receiver to pair with Andre Johnson in years.
28. Denver Broncos—ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Ogletree's character concerns are significant enough that he might end up falling in the first round this year. Blessed with top-10 talent, he's an athletic linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed who would give Denver another incredible linebacker to pair with Von Miller.
29. New England Patriots—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
The Patriots feature a burgeoning front seven that is capable of dominating the line of scrimmage—especially against the run. The team's secondary, on the other hand, is still a work in progress. Adding a skilled, speedy man-to-man specialist like Trufant would be a smart move to improve the team's ability to slow down opponents' passing games.
30. Atlanta Falcons—CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State
Atlanta lost Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson this offseason. Mike Nolan needs skilled cornerbacks that can play in both zone and man-to-man coverage. Taylor is one of the players in this year's draft talented and versatile enough to fit this description.
31. San Francisco 49ers—DE Margus Hunt, SMU
There's no doubt that Hunt has more potential than polished abilities. He's a project player who may not pan out in the NFL. That said, should he play up to his potential, he could become one of the most dangerous linemen in the league. The 49ers would be smart to bet on his upside and draft him here at the bottom of Round 1.
32. Baltimore Ravens—ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
Baltimore may have found a starting inside linebacker in newly-signed Rolando McClain. Even if McClain ends up playing well for the Ravens in 2013, however, the team will still be short one starting-caliber inside linebacker. Minter would be an excellent fit in Baltimore's 3-4 scheme, given his instincts and underrated athleticism.
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