After several months of speculation and talk, the 2013 NFL draft has arrived. The first round takes place Thursday night as teams try to solve their biggest problems with one pick.
The entire weekend of the draft is important, but there’s no denying that special buzz surrounding the first round. On the first night of the draft, most teams will make their biggest splash, potentially securing their next franchise player.
The first round is always an exciting show because of all the trades and sometimes curious picks. Some general managers get lucky with sleeper picks, while others reach on big-name busts. The NFL draft is always exhilarating because you never know what you’re going to get.
This first-round mock draft was created to give insight on the direction I think each team will take with their current draft position.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Either Joeckel or Eric Fisher could be taken here. Both are very good tackles who will help solidify a line now protecting quarterback Alex Smith.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Despite ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s report that Fisher and Joeckel will both be chosen in the first two picks, I think Jacksonville goes with Jordan because they desperately need a pass-rusher.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders need plenty of help so a solid defensive lineman is never a bad place to start. Floyd would improve a unit that lost Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant this offseason.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Eric Fisher could very easily be the No. 1 overall pick. Chip Kelly and Philadelphia will be pleased to start their new offense around a guy like Fisher at left tackle if he falls to No. 4.
5. Detroit Lions: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
6. Cleveland Browns: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Although Cleveland used a first-round pick last year to take Brandon Weeden, I still see them landing this year’s top quarterback prospect in Smith. Weeden didn’t have an impressive opening season, and the talent Smith has might be too much to pass on.
The Browns showed an interest in the former Mountaineer when they held a private workout for him. Smith’s athleticism, quick release, and ability to hurt defenses with his legs make him a very attractive option for a team that hasn’t had a quality quarterback for years.
Another real option Cleveland would consider here is Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. However, if Smith is still available at No. 6, I think he’s too good to pass up.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Even though one of the three talented tackles aren’t available, Arizona can bolster their offensive line with Cooper, who’s very good at pass protection.
8. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
This pick makes too much sense. Bills coach Doug Marrone is a Nassib enthusiast and won’t want to risk missing out on his former quarterback.
9. New York Jets: Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
Rex Ryan’s defense needs a high-energy playmaker that can disrupt the quarterback. They’ll be thrilled if Ansah falls to No. 9.
10. Tennessee Titans: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Milliner is one of the best available players at this point in the draft and will instantly make Tennessee’s defense better.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Warmack will be a starter from the first day and Philip Rivers will be thankful.
12. Miami Dolphins: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Miami feels like they’ve got their man at quarterback and will need a new tackle to protect Tannehill for years to come.
13. New York Jets: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense desperately need a playmaker. Last season, New York ranked 30th in passing, due in large part because of their lack of weapons on offense. Once receiver Santonio Holmes went down with an injury, the Jets passing game never had a chance.
The Jets are unsure of whom their quarterback will be next season, but they do know he’ll need someone to pass the ball to. Austin has great acceleration and will give the Jets a vertical threat similar to Victor Cruz.
After dealing away Darrelle Revis, another option for the Jets with this pick is to find a replacement corner. Although, the Jets’ new GM John Idzik will want to change the way things have been lately and add a piece on the offensive side of the ball.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers have had difficulty stopping the run of late, so adding the athletic body of Richardson to the middle of their defense will help.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Barkevious Mingo is one of the most skilled pass-rushers in this draft and will fit in perfectly with Rob Ryan’s new 3-4 scheme in New Orleans.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Even with Tavon Austin off the board, St. Louis takes a receiver to help replace Danny Amendola and a struggling offense.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jarvis Jones is a tough, explosive linebacker and a great fit for a Pittsburgh defense that lost James Harrison in the offseason.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys would love to draft an offensive lineman in the first round to shore up one of the weaker parts of the team. Tony Romo signed a big extension in the offseason and will need a solid O-line to help give him time in the pocket. However in my current mock draft, all of the potential linemen on their first-round boards will be gone by the No. 18 pick.
This leads the Cowboys to their next largest issue which lies in the secondary. Dallas’ corner-play significantly improved in 2012 because of the additions of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. However, they have yet to address the safety position.
Gerald Sensabaugh was cut recently, leaving Barry Church as the only starting safety on the roster. If Vaccaro is still available, Dallas and new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will have a reliable safety that can cause turnovers.
19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The New York Giants use more pass-rushers than just about anyone in the league. Werner is a monster that has enough quickness to get to the quarterback and cause problems.
20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
The Bears need a new middle linebacker to take over the reins with Brian Urlacher no longer with the team.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The only running back taken in the first round will give Cincinnati an offense that will compete for more AFC North titles.
22. St. Louis Rams: Matt Elam, S, Florida
After going offense with their first pick, the Rams take Florida’s Matt Elam to improve their secondary.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Vikings need more help in the middle of their defense and Ogletree would plug that hole instantly.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes has great size and can be one of the next best press-corners in the NFL.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Slyvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Along with their previous pick of Ogletree, Williams would beef-up the Vikings defense for the next decade.
26. Green Bay Packers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei is one of the most interesting prospects in the 2013 draft. The defensive tackle was regarded as one of the best players at the Scouting Combine until doctors discovered an irregularity regarding his heart.
The Packers are one of few teams that don’t have too many glaring needs, so if someone like Lotulelei is still on the board at No. 26, they’ll be happy to take him.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Allen is a physical receiver that would be a fantastic target opposite of Andre Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Jones is the perfect fit to replace Elvis Dumervil after failing to re-sign him.
29. New England Patriots: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Hunter will be the second Volunteer receiver taken and immediately give Tom Brady a big, new toy to play with.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Falcons need a cornerback and Trufant would step right into a starting role.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
San Francisco is loaded at nearly every position. Ertz has a big frame and will add good depth behind Vernon Davis.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State