NFL Mock Draft 2013: Where Every Team Must Go with First Pick
The 2013 NFL draft is less than a week away, meaning that the Kansas City Chiefs will soon be on the clock and that NFL fans everywhere can celebrate the biggest football-related event of the offseason.
Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel is the popular pick to go No. 1 overall, and why not?
Kansas City could certainly use his talents on its offensive line in 2013 and beyond. Plus, there are no other top prospects that truly stand out in terms of being worthy of the top overall selection this spring. If taken No. 1 overall, Joeckel would be the first offensive tackle to go No. 1 since Michigan's Jake Long in 2008.
With Thursday night's much-anticipated first round at Radio City Music Hall drawing closer, here we'll run down the entire opening round, breaking down where every team must go with their initial picks.
*Impact selections are italicized.
No. 1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, OT
Kansas City has already franchised tackle Branden Albert, but Luke Joeckel is too talented to pass up at No. 1 overall. He has all the attributes to lead the Chiefs out of the cellar in the first year of the Alex Smith-Andy Reid era.
No. 2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, OT
Jacksonville could go a number of different routes at No. 2, perhaps even taking Oregon's Dion Jordan to help bolster its weak pass rush. In the end, though, Eric Fisher, like Joeckel, offers long-term stability up front for a franchise that needs it.
No. 3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Sharrif Floyd, Florida, DT
Florida's Sharrif Floyd fits what the Oakland Raiders want to do defensively and his ability to disrupt opposing offenses up the middle certainly makes him a worthy top-three pick this spring.
He led the Gators with 13 tackles for a loss last season.
No. 4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Dee Milliner, Alabama, CB
The Eagles' secondary took a bit of a hit this offseason, but with Alabama's Dee Milliner likely still on the board at No. 4, Philadelphia can shore up its defensive back field and get younger on that side of the ball with one smart selection.
No. 5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dion Jordan, Oregon, DE
With Cliff Avril now in Seattle, Detroit needs to address its pass rush situation. Oregon's Dion Jordan is certainly capable of developing into a star. He had 10.5 tackles for a loss last season for the Ducks and has an NFL-ready body.
No. 6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Ezekiel Ansah, BYU, DE
Brigham Young's Ezekiel Ansah is picking up some steam this spring as the draft nears, and for good reason. The 6'6" defender is remarkably fast for his size and can become a difference make almost instantly for a team like Cleveland.
No. 7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Lane Johnson, Oklahoma, OT
An athletic offensive tackle like Oklahoma's Lane Johnson would be a smooth fit for the Arizona Cardinals at No. 7. It's no secret that the Cards need to get better up front in order to contend in the suddenly loaded NFC West.
Arizona gave up 58 sacks in 2012.
No. 8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Geno Smith, West Virginia, QB
Buffalo bringing in Kevin Kolb this offseason is certainly a big move, but it doesn't mean the Bills are satisfied with their current quarterback situation.
Drafting Geno Smith at No. 8 would give Buffalo more than one option under center in 2013. Plus, Smith could potentially develop into a franchise player for the Bills. He definitely has the talent to do so.
After all, Smith threw for over 4,000 yards in each of his previous two seasons at West Virginia. He also combined to throw for 73 touchdowns from 2011 to 2012.
No. 9. New York Jets (6-10): Star Lotulelei, Utah, DT
Utah's Star Lotulelei could wind up going much sooner than No. 9, but in this mock he's destined to wind up in New York with the Jets. This guy is a force in the middle of a defense, and could help the Jets rediscover the blueprint that made them so successful early on in the Rex Ryan era.
Which guard will go on to have a better NFL career?
No. 10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, G
Andy Levitre was a nice acquisition, but picking up a young and talented guard in Jonathan Cooper to play across from him would be huge for a team that wants to run the football with Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene in 2013.
No. 11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Chance Warmack, Alabama, G
San Diego would love for Lane Johnson to be available at No. 11, but it's not the end of the world as the Chargers have already brought in King Dunlap to play on the edge. Still, this is an offensive line that needs help if Philip Rivers is going to survive another season.
No. 12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Desmond Trufant, Washington, CB
A solid cover corner out of Washington, Desmond Trufant would be an excellent pick for Miami, a team that ranked 27th against the pass in 2012.
No. 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Tavon Austin, West Virginia, WR
The Buccaneers would love to add the game-breaking speedster that is Tavon Austin, and if he's still on the board at No. 13, they must draft the explosive playmaker.
No. 14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, DT
Carolina must bolster the interior of its defensive line with its first-round pick this year, otherwise the Panthers will continue to give up big chunks of yardage.
Missouri's Sheldon Richardson brings a lot to the table for a team that surrendered over 110 yards on the ground per game a season ago.
No. 15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Jarvis Jones, Georgia, LB
It's possible that college football's leading sacker in 2012, Jarvis Jones, will be off the board at No. 15, but in this mock draft he's available, meaning the Saints would have no choice but to draft him with their first-round selection.
A difference maker on the defensive of the ball is just what the doctor ordered for New Orleans this offseason considering how dreadful it was on that side of the ball a year ago.
Jones recorded 14.5 sacks with the Bulldogs in 2012 and is a turnover-forcing machine. He'd be a welcome sight in the Big Easy.
No. 16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, S
Wide receiver is a huge need for St. Louis this April with Danny Amendola departing for New England. However, safety is also a need for the Rams, who can't risk Texas' Kenny Vaccaro being taken before they find themselves on the board again at No. 22.
No. 17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame, TE
One of several teams that should be looking to draft a young tight end this April, the Pittsburgh Steelers must go after Notre Dame stud Tyler Eifert, who caught 50 balls for 685 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Fighting Irish in 2012.
Given Ben Roethlisberger's ability to keep plays alive with his legs, Eifert has the potential to become a big-time weapon in the Steel City.
Eifert is a monster in jump ball situations and would be the perfect combination of size and athleticism for Pittsburgh's passing attack, which lost Mike Wallace this offseason.
No. 18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Barkevious Mingo, LSU, DE
A versatile talent who can play a number of different positions on the defensive side of the ball, LSU's KeKe Mingo would be an excellent addition for Dallas' D if he's on the board.
No. 19. New York Giants (9-7): D.J. Fluker, Alabama, OT
Adding an offensive lineman in the first round may seem like an odd route for the New York Giants to take, but it makes sense. New York needs to jumpstart its running game and do a better job of creating time for Eli Manning in the pocket, and Alabama's D.J. Fluker would do both.
No. 20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Justin Hunter, Tennessee, WR
Picking up veteran tight end Martellus Bennett in free agency was big for Chicago. Now, the Bears must continue to surround Jay Cutler with talent. Tennessee's Justin Hunter boasts a big frame, solid hands and the ability to make plays opposite Brandon Marshall.
No. 21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Alec Ogletree, Georgia, LB
With Kenny Vaccaro off the board, the Bengals must go linebacker with their first-round selection. While Alec Ogletree has experienced his share of off-field issues, his physical ability is too much to pass up for a team in need of help on the defensive edge.
No. 22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) (10-6): Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee, WR
As mentioned before, the Rams have a huge hole at wide receiver. Enter Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson, a talented wideout who needs to improve as a route runner, but still offers a lot of playmaking ability at No. 22.
No. 23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Sylvester Williams, North Carolina, DT
If Minnesota can win more often up front, it will have a real shot to contend in the NFC considering the way Adrian Peterson has bounced back from his knee injury.
North Carolina's Sylvester Williams looks like an ideal fit at No. 23 overall.
No. 24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): John Jenkins, Georgia, DT
After fielding one of the worst rush defenses in football last season, don't be surprised to see the Colts target a big-time defensive tackle, someone like Georgia's John Jenkins, who can plug up gaps and make Indy's linebackers' lives a whole lot easier.
No. 25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks) (11-5): Keenan Allen, California, WR
Keenan Allen is a bit of a bold pick considering his knee problems, but the Vikings need help at wide receiver after trading Percy Harvin to Seattle for the No. 25 pick, and he'd give them a downfield threat that their passing attack desperately needs.
No. 26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Eddie Lacy, Alabama, RB
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' passing attack have carried Green Bay for long enough. The time has come for the Pack to draft a game-changing running back to help take the pressure off Rodgers from time to time.
Which AFC divisional round loser will have the best first round in 2013?
No. 27. Houston Texans (12-4): Kevin Minter, LSU, LB
LSU's productive inside linebacker Kevin Minter fills a big-time need for Houston at No. 27. The Texans are a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC, and maintaining that status requires staying tough and hard to beat on the defensive side of the ball.
No. 28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, CB
Unfortunately, Champ Bailey isn't getting any younger, and his play against the Baltimore Ravens last postseason was an obvious sign of that.
Denver would be wise to go after a cornerback in the opening round. He's no Champ Bailey, but Florida State's Xavier Rhodes has everything the Broncos could want in a rookie defensive back.
No. 29. New England Patriots (12-4): Matt Elam, Florida, S
New England wouldn't be wrong to draft a wide receiver late in the first round, but considering how disappointing the Patriots' secondary has been in recent years, Florida's Matt Elam looks like the top option for Bill Belichick's squad at No. 29.
No. 30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Jamar Taylor, Boise State, CB
The Atlanta Falcons are a loaded football team, but they are far from invincible. The Dirty Birds must look to bolster their secondary through the draft this year, and that starts with taking one of the top cover guys in Boise State's Jamar Taylor.
No. 31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): John Cyprien, Florida International, S
With Dashon Goldson leaving for Tampa Bay, Florida International's John Cyprien is a no-brainer for the defending NFC champions this April.
No. 32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB
Manti Te'o's performance at the NFL Scouting Combine and against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game has left a bad taste in many people's mouths, but let's not forget that this was one of the most productive inside linebackers in college football last year, recording 113 total tackles and seven interceptions.
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