Surely trades will play a big part in determining how the first round of the 2013 NFL draft unfolds.
Due to that uncertainty, it’s nearly impossible to predict those trades and how they will pan out in a mock draft.
Below we’ll try to project the best picks for every team without the luxury of factoring in those potential draft-day deals.
(Italicized selections indicate the pick is a key need and a great value for the team with that pick.)
1. Kansas City Chiefs—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The closer we get to the draft, the more certain it is that the Kansas City Chiefs will go with an offensive tackle with the No. 1 overall selection. On Wednesday night, the Chiefs and Miami Dolphins have “heated up” trade talks that would send franchised OT Branden Albert to South Beach, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.
Kansas City could go wither either Joeckel—widely believed the top OT prospect in the draft—or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. Both seem to have massive NFL potential, making this pick as close to a “sure thing” as there is for the Chiefs.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
The worst-ranked Jacksonville Jaguars pass rush from a season ago gets the best potential 4-3 edge rusher in this draft. Ziggy Ansah is raw but there is no denying the potential he has due to his big frame, long arms and explosive first step.
3. Oakland Raiders—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Oakland Raiders have blown it up this offseason, releasing or losing several key players all over their roster. Their defensive front seven got hit the hardest. That makes their selection of DT Sharrif Floyd an excellent call. Floyd is versatile and a proven run stopper who can help stop the bleeding upfront for a Raiders rush defense that desperately needs some help.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Either OT Eric Fisher or OT Luke Joeckel will likely fall into the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. As a team looking to rebuild under new management, it's not likely they pass up landing a top-tier OL prospect to keep whoever is behind center upright.
5. Detroit Lions—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
The Detroit Lions have multiple needs to address in this draft. With both Joeckel and Fisher off the board, they take OT Lane Johnson to fill the void left after losing two offensive tackles this offseason. Johnson is versatile, athletic and could end up being a fantastic blind-side protector for QB Matthew Stafford.
6. Cleveland Browns—DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
The Cleveland Browns, unable to find a willing trade partner, select the best potential fit for their new 3-4 defensive front. Dion Jordan will come in and compete with newly acquired OLB Paul Kruger and converted DE Jabaal Sheard for playing time as the team's rush OLB.
He's athletic, quick and instinctive enough to drop into coverage, too, making him a solid selection for the team with this pick.
7. Arizona Cardinals—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Jonathan Cooper is a dynamic interior lineman that will help open things up for whoever the Arizona Cardinals give the ball to at running back. He’ll also help protect a pocket for new Cardinals QB Carson Palmer. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. labeled Cooper as the "best guard" he has graded in years (ESPN Insider required).
8. Buffalo Bills—QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
The Buffalo Bills shock everyone here by selecting the first quarterback of the 2013 draft. Surprise, it's not former West Virginia QB Geno Smith. Buffalo is reportedly concerned that the New York Jets, who hold the ninth and 13th picks, are interested in and will scoop up Ryan Nassib before they're on the clock again, according to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio.
Nassib’s connection with former college coach and new boss man Doug Marrone is evident. He won't be asked to play from the get-go, either, as freshly acquired Kevin Kolb's presence will allow him time to adjust to the NFL game.
9. New York Jets—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The New York Jets need a playmaker in their secondary and get arguably the best potential defensive-back prospect in the draft with Dee Milliner. After trading away recovering Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis last week, this pick makes a lot of sense for CB-friendly Rex Ryan.
10. Tennessee Titans—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
The Tennessee Titans added OG Andy Levitre during the offseason to improve their offensive line. Bolstering the men upfront further with Chance Warmack here also makes sense, but ultimately they can't deny Kenny Vaccaro's playmaking ability. They need a player who can cover from sideline to sideline and make a difference in the secondary and Vaccaro is that guy.
11. San Diego Chargers—OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The San Diego Chargers have swung and missed on pass rushers more often than not. Have they finally found their guy with the selection of Barkevious Mingo in this mock? Mingo has the physical tools to be a terror in offensive backfields. San Diego lost long-time rusher Shaun Phillips this offseason, so we'll likely get to see that question answered early on in 2013.
12. Miami Dolphins—CB D.J. Hayden, Houston
The Miami Dolphins are apparently in the process of addressing their right tackle question, as mentioned earlier. That leaves CB as the biggest pressing need for the Fins. D.J. Hayden, who Mike Mayock of NFL.com ranked as the best CB in this class after medical reports cleared him, makes a lot of sense for them at No. 12 overall.
Hayden wasn't supposed to survive the heart condition that forced surgery last winter, but with a dynamic skill set and second chance at life, he could be everything the Dolphins need and more in their secondary.
13. New York Jets—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The new-look New York Jets will likely be able to find a quarterback in the second round. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reported that the team was more interested in QB Matt Barkley than Ryan Nassib. With Barkley likely available in the top of the second round, this pick is a solid opportunity to get great value.
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei fills a need and is the best value available player among the current players left. Plus “at least 10” medical exams have cleared the large interior defensive lineman after concerns about his heart sabotaged his draft stock early on.
14. Carolina Panthers—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
The Carolina Panthers need a disruptive force on their defensive line and get one in former Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson. He's big, fast, and strong and will immediately add a presence up front for the Panthers that they've been lacking.
15. New Orleans Saints—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
The long-lasting medical concerns about Jarvis Jones' previously diagnosed case of spinal stenosis and a poor pro day allowed for the Saints to grab the imposing pass rusher in the middle of the first round of this mock.
Make no mistake about it though, Jones plays fast in pads and can get to the quarterback. He will be a key player for the Saints as they attempt to revitalize a putrid defense by transitioning to the 3-4 under new DC Rob Ryan in 2013.
16. St. Louis Rams—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Tavon Austin will more than likely be an exceptional multi-use player at the NFL level. Luckily, the St. Louis Rams get a playmaker at both wide receiver and at running back after losing WRs Danny Amendola and Brandon Gipson along with RB Steven Jackson during the offseason.
Austin played all over the field, including in the offensive backfield, for the West Virginia Mountaineers. He racked up 344 yards rushing and caught four passes for 82 yards while lining up in the backfield against the Oklahoma Sooners on Nov. 17.
Whether he’s in the slot, split wide or in the backfield, the Rams will be able to utilize their new weapon to help open things up offensively.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Tight end has been an integral weapon for QB Ben Roethlisberger since his rookie season in the NFL. Tyler Eifert is a legitimate target for the team here because he presents matchup nightmares that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be able to exploit.
Imagine, if you can, two-tight-end sets with Eifert and Heath Miller while speedy WRs Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders open things up on the outside.
18. Dallas Cowboys—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Cowboys were awful up front in 2012, finishing next to last in the NFL in total rushing, recording just 1,265 yards on the ground. Former Alabama OG Chance Warmack will help them beef up their offensive line.
A better rushing game will open things up for franchise QB Tony Romo to utilize the team's potent receiving options.
19. New York Giants—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Right behind Milliner and Hayden is former Washington standout CB Desmond Trufant. The well-rounded defensive back is “arguably this draft’s top cover corner,” according to CBS Sports’ Rob Rang. He should help the New York Giants, who finished in the bottom third of the NFL in passing yards allowed in 2012.
20. Chicago Bears—ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
The Chicago Bears have the unfortunate task of replacing legendary inside linebacker Brian Urlacher at some point in the 2013 NFL draft. Physical freak Alec Ogletree comes with some character concerns but has the best potential of this ILB class to come in and fill that void for the Bears.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Offensive tackle Andre Smith is still a free agent, making the position a primary need for the Cincinnati Bengals. D.J. Fluker could improve his footwork to become a better pass protector, but he is a mauler as a run blocker and is the best option for the Bengals here.
22. St. Louis Rams—S Matt Elam, Florida
After adding a top offensive playmaker with their first of two first-round picks, the St. Louis Rams can look to solidify a vastly improved secondary with the 22nd pick. This selection will give the Rams a potential game changer on defense. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. highlighted Elam as a fast and versatile safety with “uncanny blitzing skills.”
23. Minnesota Vikings— WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Adding wide receiver Greg Jennings during the offseason isn’t enough to help improve a lackluster passing offense. Cordarrelle Patterson has massive potential at the NFL level due to his playmaking ability after the catch.
He slid here in this mock due to concerns about his route running, but he could be a steal here and end up being a good replacement for departed WR Percy Harvin.
24. Indianapolis Colts—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Former Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes is a big and physical defensive back that can lock down receivers in man coverage. He’s also aggressive and instinctive in run support, making him a very good prospect for an Indianapolis Colts team that could use help in both areas.
25. Minnesota Vikings—CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State
Minnesota finished in the bottom third of the NFL in pass defense in 2012. It also let CB Antoine Winfield walk for peanuts to Seattle during the offseason.
Former Boise State CB Jamar Taylor is a guy who can come in and help from Day 1. He was labeled as “one of the best all-around cornerbacks” in this draft class by CBS Sports’ Rob Rang.
26. Green Bay Packers—RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Inconsistency and injuries plagued the Green Bay Packers’ backfield for much of 2012. While drafting a running back may not be ideal here, the Packers would like to improve on the ground and could do so by picking up a top talent like Alabama’s Eddie Lacy in the bottom of the first round. They could trade down and still target the RB, but he makes sense either way.
27. Houston Texans—WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Ask and you shall receive. Standout Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson wants the team to nab a receiver with the team’s No. 27-overall selection. Justin Hunter has the size and speed to be a matchup nightmare opposite of Johnson and is coming off of two productive seasons as a Tennessee Volunteers pass catcher.
28. Denver Broncos—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
Elvis Dumervil’s agent forced the Denver Broncos into addressing the defensive end position early in the 2013 draft. Former UCLA DT Datone Jones is versatile enough to move to the outside in Denver’s 4-3 scheme. He’s a run-defender first but could also likely provide a rush off of the edge with solid coaching and development.
29. New England Patriots—WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Former Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is a solid route runner and pass catcher that would fit nicely in New England’s fast-paced attack. He is a potential deep threat, too, after demonstrating his speed at his pro day. He vastly improved his NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard dash time of 4.57 seconds with a 4.41-second performance.
30. Atlanta Falcons—DE Bjoern Werner, FSU
Bjoern Werner has fallen out of favor with most draft analysts, but the Atlanta Falcons will likely end his slide here at No. 30 overall. Werner doesn’t take plays off and can provide solid defense against both the run and pass.
31. San Francisco 49ers—S John Cyprien, Florida International
When you’re built like the San Francisco 49ers, you don’t have to pay big money to free agents. Instead, the Niners left safety Dashon Goldson walk during the offseason and can select his eventual replacement at the bottom of the first round.
John Cyprien was a standout during the pre-draft process and has prototypical size and athletic ability to be a difference maker in an NFL secondary. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. lauded Cyprien for his pursuit, awareness and tackling skills (ESPN Insider required).
32. Baltimore Ravens—WR Keenan Allen, California
The Baltimore Ravens need to find a way to replace Anquan Boldin’s production after the WR was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Adding offensive weapons makes sense here after Joe Flacco was rewarded with a big-money contract this offseason. Keenan Allen is a big and well-rounded receiver who could be the guy this team needs to continue competing in the AFC North.
Mike is a league-wide NFL featured columnist and Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for a good convo., analysis, and breaking sports news updates: