It's draft season and I've held out long enough! Today I'll be introducing my first of likely three 2013 NFL mock drafts between now and the 2013 NFL Draft. My mock draft will likely look very different than most mock drafts you read around the Internet, but that's because I don't cater to the fan bases' wants or the consensus picks. I learned a long time ago that what I (and everyone else) thinks a team should do is not likely what they will do. Fans don't like to think about it when comes to the 2013 NFL Draft, but there will probably be a good 10 or so fan bases who scratch their heads in the first round in April because they didn't see a pick coming, or flat out hate a pick. That's why I love the draft so much: it's so unpredictable and I can't understand why most mock drafts look exactly the same.
What's even more mind-boggling to me is why people get so worked up if your mock is different. If you don't work for a team's front office, how could you possibly say things like "that'll never happen," or "The X's don't do that in the draft." Remember, above all else this is a big job Interview and sometimes people impress a team so much that they feel compelled to add them to their organization.
If you're looking for a mock draft that has the pick you always see or want feel free to check out the (no exaggeration 1,000+) mock drafts around the Internet. But for me, I like to keep an open mind and try to single out possible matches of players and team you might not have thought about before.
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Andy Reid is now in charge in Kansas City and he, perhaps more than any other general manager or coach in the NFL believes in selecting quarterbacks high in the draft. He pulled the trigger once on Donovan Mcnabb when it was an unpopular pick, and has also selected Nick Foles, Mike Kafka, and Kevin Kolb when most didn't think the Philadelphia Eagles would use picks in the first four rounds of the draft. Right now the Chiefs have nothing at quarterback, but a solid roster otherwise (depending on what they lose in free agency). Reid believes in himself as a QB coach and his system. It's hard for me to imagine that he doesn't feel confident that he could make a very good player out of Geno Smith.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A & M
This one is a tough one for me because the Jaguars have a new general manager and I'm not sure what kind of approach he'll take. If it was former GM gene smith I could tell you with certainty that the first round pick would be ... questionable! In all seriousness, the Jaguars were equally as bad on offense as they were on defense last year and have issues all over their roster. I don't think they're going to take a quarterback and the best player on their team plays left tackle (Eugene Monroe) so I don't think they'll go in that direction either. I think ideally they would like to address the secondary, but not at No. 2 overall, so in this mock they go with one of the top-rated pass rushers. [Scouting Report]
3. Oakland Raiders - Bjeorn Werner, DE, Florida State
Warner's not my favorite player, but he's a very good one. The Raiders were in such a terrible position when Reggie McKenzie took over as general manager a year ago that they could take any position and be making a smart decision. Their best player last year, though, happened to play left tackle, so I went away from that direction. Defensive tackle also makes a ton of sense here. Either way it seems like defensive line is the way to go. The Raiders have a lot of guys set to hit free agency, and the line didn't play that well last year to begin with. The question is probably just which defensive linemen they prefer. [Scouting Report]
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A & M
5. Detroit Lions - Dee Milliner. CB, Alabama
The Lions' secondary is terrible. Their defensive line has some nice players, but they could look at defensive end here as well. The way Gosder Cherilus and Riley Reiff played last year I think they'll go away from offensive line, or offense in general. The value of good cornerbacks continues to rise every year and that'll likely land Milliner in the top 10. [Scouting Report]
6. Cleveland Browns - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Wide receiver Josh Gordon flashed a lot of ability last year, they have a pretty good offensive line, and on defense intriguing secondary talent. I think they need more help in the front seven, though, so they take Lotulelei here. [Scouting Report]
7. Arizona Cardinals - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
I feel confident in saying the Cardinals will go quarterback or offensive tackle at 7th overall. Any other position is a major upset. [Scouting Report]
8. Buffalo Bills - Matt Barkley, QB, USC
They have to draft a quarterback, right? I think Barkley is getting hammered a lot unfairly. I think he can make all the throws in the NFL and has very good anticipation. He's not a player who is a first-round lock, but personally I believe he is worth a first-round pick and quarterback values are always inflated. Barkley, at the very least, is a significant upgrade to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tarvaris Jackson.
9. New York Jets - Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon
I was going to go Jarvis Jones here, but the Jets have to deal with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez for the foreseeable future and Jordan offers an actual chance at matching up in coverage with these two terrific pass-catching weapons. Jordan should also put on a show, provided he is healthy. [Scouting Report]
10. Tennessee Titans - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Titans were okay at rushing the passer last year (39 total sacks), but really bad in coverage (9th worst in the league in passing yardage). The Titans have quality pieces on offense with two intriguing wide receivers in Kenny Britt and last year's first-round pick Kendall Wright. Rhodes is one of my favorite players, and he could solidify himself as a top 15 pick with a good showing at the combine. The combine is actually important for Rhodes (it's not for some players) because there are questions about his deep speed. [Scouting Report]
11. San Diego Chargers - Coradarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee Vols
Patterson is likely going to put on a show at the combine, and has been drawing rave comparisons with the name of Julio Jones being thrown out around a lot. I don't think he's at the same level as Jones, but he has probably the most appealing combination of speed and size in the draft at the wide receiver position. The Chargers have done a major disservice to Philip Rivers letting players like Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson go in recent years and not replacing them with enough talent. I think it's offensive lineman or wide receiver here for the Chargers, unless Dee Milliner falls here as he might be their number one target because their cornerback play was sub-par last season.
12. Miami Dolphins - Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
The Dolphins need a wide receiver, but if Patterson is off the board they could look in another direction. Miami could be very interested in Floyd, who is a local-ish product (same state at least) and whose stock is on the rise more than any other prospect right now because people are beginning to come around on how good he can be. The Dolphins have two of their top defensive tackles preparing to enter free agency and they will need to replaced either in free agency or in the draft. Floyd is an ascending player who started playing his best football the last half of the 2012 college football season, and this will probably be in the range where he lands (between 12-20) on draft night. [Scouting Report]
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Whaaattt? This is my first really out their pick, but the Buccaneers showed last year under head coach Greg Schiano that they are not a team that is concerned with what other teams think about their draft philosophy or belief in players as the selections of Mark Barron, Doug Martin, and Lavonte David were a little unexpected. Last year they started Dallas Clark at tight end -- that has to change. It's very possible that they address this need in free agency and this is a reach on my board, but there is no cornerback worth drafting here. Defensive tackle is also a very likely possibility here because of the depth of talent at the position, but they are okay at defensive tackle right now. [Scouting Report]
14. Carolina Panthers - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Geoff Hangartner started at guard for the Panthers last year. That's not good. Warmack is easily the best value here and if he played tackle instead of guard he might be a top three pick. Warmack plays guard, though, and guards very rarely end up being selected in the top 20, but I think Warmack has a shot at going top 15. [Scouting Report]
15. New Orleans Saints - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
P-O-T-E-N-T-I-A-L. That's really all you need to know about Mingo. The Saints have to go defense in the first round. In this mock they go with Mingo because Mingo will add an immediate pass-rushing threat for the Saints, who definitely need one. [Scouting Report]
16. St. Louis Rams - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Rams offensive line was not that good in 2012, and that's being generous. They have a quality young defense and with two firs- round picks I expect at least one of them to be a pick to upgrade the offense. Offensive tackle seems like a perfect spot to start. They did draft a wide receiver early in last year's draft. [Scouting Report]
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Last year the Steelers lucked out by landing one of the top players in the draft in David DeCastro, and this year they luck out getting Jarvis Jones at 17th overall. Jones has spinal stenosis and there are questions about his coverage. In this mock I didn't feel that Jones fits the systems of the teams ahead of him, so he goes here where he could be a great replacement for James Harrison. [Scouting Report]
18. Dallas Cowboys - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The Cowboys need to upgrade their offensive line, but in this mock four offensive linemen have already come off the board. The Cowboys are also switching to a 4-3 defense and could be looking at adding a more natural 4-3 defensive end to their roster. Right now Anthony Spencer could be a priority to re-sign, but I'm not sure he fits the system and if he leaves they really need another defensive end.
19. New York Giants - D.J. Fluker, RT, Alabama
Is this the pick I would make? No. But I'm just going to play off Tony Pauline at draftinsider.net, who has reported on two different occasions that Fluker and the Giants are being connected. The Giants try to play their draft picks close to the vest, but they have tipped their hands before (most notably with Kenny Phillips and Jason Pierre-Paul).
Fluker does in many ways fit the bill for what the Giants look for in their first round picks. Fluker has unfathomably long arms (87-inch wingspan -- Jason Pierre Paul and his 81-inch wingspan is considered freakishly long). He also plays the position that is perhaps the biggest need for the Giants entering free agency. He also offers unique size at 355 pounds, he doesn't look like a mess.
People often mention James Brewer as the replacement at right tackle but I saw a tweet from one of the beat reporters towards the end of the season (and I can't remember who or find the tweet) that mentioned that the Giants were playing Brewer more at guard in practice. Fluker is not my ideal pick, but it's not a pick I'm going to rule out right now. One more thing about the Pauline report -- in my experience when a player is connected to a team this early in the process it usually means something. [Scouting Report]
20. Chicago Bears - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
One of my favorite players in the draft, he is a perfect fit for the system Chicago has been running. I'm not positive what their system will be now under their new head coach, but Ogletree can, in my opinion, play any position at linebacker with his speed, length, and physical style, though he admittedly has to get stronger. [Scouting Report]
The Bengals have a lot of players in their secondary hitting free agency and it's an area they could definitely address. Vaccaro is likely a top 25 pick. [Scouting Report]
22. St. Louis Rams (Via Washington Redskins) - Jonathan Cooper, G, UNC
Last year the Rams doubled up on cornerbacks by taking Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins because their secondary needed help. In this mock they go with two offensive linemen in the first round. According to Pro Football Focus of the nine offensive linemen who played at least 80 plays for the Rams last year, seven of them had a negative rating. Offensive line is a major need for the Rams. In this mock they revamp their offensive line to see if Sam Bradford can take another step forward.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Kennan Allen, WR, Cal
This was the easiest pick to make in the first round of this mock. The Vikings need wide receiver help desperately even if they keep Percy Harvin, but if they trade Harvin there is not really too many directions to consider here other than wide receiver, unless it's something they address in free agency.
24. Indianapolis Colts - Datone Jones, DE/OLB, UCLA
Jones is a bit like Courtney Upshaw from last year. He doesn't necessarily have a defined position at the NFL level, but is just a guy who can get to the quarterback because of his terrific functional strength. The Colts have very nice young and promising talent on offense, but they need some help on defense. I don't know where they'll go on defense, but I expect it'll be along the defensive line. Perhaps Corenlius Carradine, or Alex Okafor should be considered here as well.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri
Richardson slips in this mock and the Seahawks scoop him up at 25th overall. [Scouting Report]
26. Green Bay Packers - Matt Elam, S, Florida
I wanted to go defensive line, but I didn't love the options for the Packers. I went with a guy who could end up in the first round if he has a good combine and pro-day. Elam made a ton of big plays this year and is my number two safety.
27. Houston Texans - Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
Wheaton is not considered a first-round prospect yet, but I think he has a good shot to get consideration by a team like the Texans at the bottom end of the first round. The Texans are desperate for a second option to complement Andre Johnson. Wheaton could stretch the field and open up things for Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and Arian Foster underneath. I expect a No. 2 wide receiver to be a big priority for the Texans this year. [Scouting Report]
28. Denver Broncos - Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
I think Hankins could easily go much higher than this, but there are reports that Hankins is considered a second-round prospect by the league, and sometimes these reports turn out to be true. The Broncos have a few defensive tackles who are set to hit free agency and could be looking to replenish their roster at that spot, even though their first pick last year was also a defensive tackle. With their slot receiver currently being Brandon Stokley I gave long consideration to mocking Tavon Austin here, but Hankins was still available so that's the direction I chose. [Scouting Report]
29. New England Patriots - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
I know there is a lot of speculation about the wide receivers not making up a great class, but I think that's misleading. I think there are a lot of appealing players at wide receiver, but no elite wide receivers. There are a few guys who can bring a different dynamic to a team, which is why I've mocked three in the first round in this mock draft. Reports are that the Patriots may be without Brandon Lloyd or Wes Welker next year and if that's the case they will definitely look to add a wide receiver at some point. Austin is at his best creating yards after the catch and would fit the Patriots offense very well.
30. Atlanta Falcons - Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Cornerbacks are at a premium in today's NFL and the Falcons don't have a lot of depth at this position heading into free agency (as they are set to have a few free agents at the position) and they also have some age there with Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson. Cornerback, offensive line, tight end and defensive line are all positions the Falcons should consider here in the first round.
31. San Francisco 49ers - Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama
The 49ers defense wasn't the same when Justin Smith wasn't at his best. Williams is not a player I love, but he is well regarded by many others. The 49ers are in a great position, they have so much talent they can easily justify taking the top player on their board.
32. Baltimore Ravens - Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Manti Te'o also makes some sense here, but why not mix it up a bit? With Danelle Ellerbe set to hit free agency and Ray lewis set to retire, inside linebacker makes a lot of sense.
This is my first mock, which will change considerably, I'm sure before I do another one som etime in the middle of March after free agency, and then a final mock were I actually try to predict what will happen (I'm betting I miss more than I get right!). There are some good players who weren't drafted in the first round (Manti Te'o, Sam Montgomery), but it's even more odd that only two quarterbacks were drafted in the first round. This draft promises to be one of the most exciting drafts in a while because there really are no consensus picks at this point.
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