The first round of the 2013 NFL draft is just five days away and I'm making my final predictions for where the nation's top college football players will land for the 2013 season.
There are plenty of storylines to follow as the draft approaches, with one of them being the offensive line depth of this draft class. I also believe there are a few wide receivers who will be difference-markers in the NFL this season as well.
So who's going where?
Let's take a look at my latest NFL mock draft.
*Players who I feel are extremely wise picks for certain teams are denoted in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
There's a chance that the Kansas City Chiefs look to beef up their defense with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, but ultimately I think they take Luke Joeckel to anchor the offensive line.
With a new quarterback and head coach in town, the Chiefs should have a much improved offense in 2013 and Joeckel will be key along the O-line.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
After posting the NFL's lowest amount of sacks last season, look for the Jacksonville Jaguars to go out and get the best defensive end in the draft in Dion Jordan.
While the 6'6" Jordan may be better utilized as a linebacker, Jacksonville's defense will get an immediate boost with the drafting of the former Oregon Duck.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Highly regarded as one of the best defensive tackles in his class, Sharrif Floyd lands in Oakland to bolster the interior of the Raiders' defensive line, as Oakland has an immediate need for a quick defensive tackle who can stuff the run.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
I'm not completely sold on Geno Smith to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 4, but it certainly makes sense to me.
Smith is the type of quarterback that Chip Kelly needs to run his spread offense, and even if Philly goes with Michael Vick this season, Smith could be the QB of the future for the Eagles.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
I have the Detroit Lions going with either Ezekiel Ansah or Dee Milliner with the fifth overall pick, but I like the idea of pairing Ansah with Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line.
Ansah would bring the necessary grit and production to Detroit's D-line that it needs after losing Cliff Avril to the Seattle Seahawks.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Pairing a the best corner in the draft—Alabama's Dee Milliner—with one of the NFL's best CBs in Joe Haden is the best-case scenario for the Cleveland Browns in the first round, as defense seems to be the key in the AFC North.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
I'm still not sure how long Carson Palmer will last with the Arizona Cardinals, but if Geno Smith is off the board when their No. 7 pick rolls around, I think they take Lane Johnson to bolster the offensive line.
Of course, if Smith is still there, I think Arizona has to take him.
8. Buffalo Bills: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Buffalo Bills are another team that I think will keep Geno Smith in mind, but if they don't think he can handle playing in the cold in Buffalo, they should take an offensive lineman who can immediately make the offense better. That man is Central Michigan's Eric Fisher.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jarvis Jones and Rex Ryan are a match made in heaven.
Ryan and the New York Jets should be looking for a gritty linebacker who can lead the Jets defense in 2013. Jones can certainly do that with his fantastic speed and tackling skills that can improve New York’s defense.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans should be happy with this pick at No. 10, as Chance Warmack excels in the running game, which is where Tennessee’s offensive line struggled last year. With Shonn Greene also in the mix, the Titans should be looking to run the ball more, making Warmack the obvious pick here.
11. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
After being the second-most sacked quarterback in the NFL last season, Philip Rivers should be praying the San Diego Chargers draft Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper’s specialty is in pass protection, which should help keep Rivers safe and help the Chargers offense develop a better rhythm in 2013.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
Shoring up their secondary could make the Miami Dolphins a potential playoff team in 2013.
Xavier Rhodes has the size and speed to cover NFL wide receivers. In a division that includes Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the Fins have to be ready to defend the pass.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
If Xavier Rhodes is still there at No. 13 I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to take him, as their secondary was awful last season.
But since I have Miami taking Rhodes just before the Bucs’ pick comes around, I think they take Sheldon Richardson to clog up the run and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei could be off the board way before the Carolina Panthers’ pick comes up, but if he’s still there, he’ll be playing for the Panthers in 2013. Lotulelei is great at using his quick feet and hands to shed blockers up front, making him one of the best in his class against the rush.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
For the New Orleans Saints to return to contention in 2013, they need to bolster their defense, and there’s no better way to do that with the 15th pick than by drafting Barkevious Mingo.
Mingo displays excellent explosiveness off the defensive line and has been compared to NFL sack master DeMarcus Ware, according to NFL.com.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Out of all the players and teams in the 2013 NFL draft, I think Tavon Austin and the St. Louis Rams are a perfect fit.
After losing Danny Amendola, St. Louis is seeking a playmaking slot receiver who can be a game-changer for the offense, and that’s exactly what Austin brings to the game.
Not only is he deadly in the passing game, but Austin was effective on the ground and as a kick returner during his time at West Virginia, as he rushed for 643 yards and three touchdowns and added a TD as both a punt and kick returner last season.
With NFL-like separation skills and big-play ability, Austin is the ideal selection for the Rams with the No. 16 pick in the draft.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
That said, Cordarrelle Patterson—who can stretch the defense and find holes in the secondary—is the pick for the Steelers to help their offense this season.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas
Seeking a playmaking safety to complement cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, the Dallas Cowboys go out and get safety Kenny Vaccaro at No. 18. Vaccaro has the cover skills to make the ‘Boys legitimate contenders for the NFC East in 2013.
19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU
The New York Giants are one of the toughest teams to predict for the NFL draft, as Jerry Reese loves to keep us guessing, but I like Bjoern Werner to the G-Men, who lost Osi Umenyiora this offseason to the Atlanta Falcons.
Werner is a complete playmaker along the defensive line and could be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines when paired with Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul.
20. Chicago Bears: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
The Chicago Bears have a need for a middle linebacker this season and Arthur Brown certainly fits the mold to be that player for the Bears.
Brown is an instinctive linebacker and sure-tackler who can immediately help to anchor Chicago’s defense in 2013.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Building upon a playoff appearance in 2012, the Cincinnati Bengals go out and get offensive tackle D.J. Fluker to bolster the offensive line, especially after quarterback Andy Dalton was the third-most sacked QB in the league last season.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Matt Elam, FS, Florida
No Quintin Mikell or Craig Dahl means that the St. Louis Rams need a safety for 2013. As the best safety of his class, Matt Elam can get it done in pass coverage and also isn’t afraid to play near the line of scrimmage and make plays off the edge for his defense.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Minnesota Vikings made the right move by acquiring Greg Jennings after losing Percy Harvin, but Jennings isn’t enough for Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense next season.
Keenan Allen uses his 6’2” size effectively to win jump balls and looks to be an excellent No. 2 receiver next to Jennings for Minnesota.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
An Indianapolis Colts defense that ranked 26th in the NFL last season needs a player like Damontre Moore.
Moore is a hybrid player who can play defensive end as well as outside linebacker and has produced at both positions during his time at Texas A&M.
In the Colts’ 3-4 defensive scheme, Moore can play either DE or OLB, but I see him better served as an outside linebacker who can also come off the edge as a rusher for Indy.
Moore is one of the more versatile defenders in the draft and I don’t think the Colts can afford to pass up on him at 24.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
Middle linebacker is one of the biggest needs for the Minnesota Vikings entering the 2013 season and I think they address that need at No. 25 with former Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree.
Ogletree is easily one of the most athletic linebackers of this class and could be a starter for Minnesota as it looks to build off a playoff appearance in 2012.
26. Green Bay Packers: Eric Reid, FS, LSU
The absence of veteran Charles Woodson in the Green Bay Packers’ secondary highlights the need for a safety on defense. LSU’s Eric Reid has the range, size and speed to defend the rush and the pass from the safety spot in the Packers defense this season.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Good luck containing Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins next season.
That could very well be the scenario for opposing defenses if the Houston Texans select former standout wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins with the No. 27 pick in this year’s draft.
Hopkins was dominant for the Tigers in 2012, recording 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns at Clemson. Even prior to his junior campaign, Hopkins was a key contributor to Clemson’s offense, combining for nine touchdowns in his first two seasons.
Drafting Hopkins and owning a complete offense with the likes of Arian Foster on the ground would immediately make Houston the run away favorite in the AFC South.
28. Denver Broncos: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
If you watched the Denver Broncos secondary get torched by Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs last season, I think you’ll agree that Denver needs to bolster its secondary.
The Broncos can do just that if they select Desmond Trufant in the first round, as Trufant has the speed (4.38) to keep pace with NFL receivers and keep big plays to a minimum.
29. New England Patriots: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
I think D.J. Hayden could be on the New England Patriots’ radar, but I think Johnthan Banks is a safer pick for the Pats at No. 29. New England owned the 29th -ranked pass defense in 2012 and could use a talent like Banks to bolster its secondary heading into this season.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Should the acquisition of Osi Umenyiora deter the Atlanta Falcons from adding depth at the defensive end position with a talent like Alex Okafor? Absolutely not.
Look no further than Okafor’s 4.5 sacks in Texas’ bowl game against Oregon State last season as evidence of his potential along the defensive line.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Cyprien, FS, Florida International
The weakest part of the San Francisco 49ers defense is its secondary, as the Baltimore Ravens showed us in Super Bowl XLVII. More importantly, it was the safety positions that let the 49ers down, but they can take a step toward changing that if they draft Jonathan Cyprien, who fits the physical style of defense the Niners already possess.
Will Manti Te'o be drafted in the first round?
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Manti Te’o’s past doesn’t affect the Baltimore Ravens from drafting him in the first round and developing him into their starting middle linebacker when the 2013 season begins.
Te’o’s body of work at Notre Dame should be enough to prove that he’s a reliable tackler and cover linebacker for an NFL defense.
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