I am going to start doing a few first round 2013 NFL Mock Drafts every so often, especially since it is such a daunting but fun task that allows me to get a better perspective on the draft prospects. I am not a scout, nor do I profess to be some know-it-all football junkie. I just see fits I like, and pick players in spots where I feel they fit best. There are always misses in mock drafts, just like there are misses on draft day. Please leave your feedback in the comments section, as I would love to hear from you. Keep in mind that I cover the New England Patriots, so I don’t know everything about your team. But I would love to be better informed about that team with a great comment to help them out.
Thanks, and I hope you enjoy the mock. Again, I’ll try to do as many of these as possible before April, and this is just the first trial run.
For full mock draft databases, scouting reports, expert mock drafts, and great draft coverage visit Walter Football, DC Pro Sports Report, FF Tool Box, Hail Redskins, and the Sports Jabber Mock Draft Database.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
QB, West Virginia
The Kansas City Chiefs absolutely need to take a quarterback, and the guy with the lowest floor in the draft is West Virginia’s Geno Smith. Even though he benefits greatly from having two incredible receivers and fell off a bit as the season wore on, he is the safest pick for the Chiefs to make here. But make no mistake, Smith also has upside and has shown that he has the accuracy and enough arm strength to make most of the throws necessary to be a possible franchise quarterback. The good thing about the Chiefs is that they have enough offensive pieces to select a quarterback who is more on the “safe” side, as opposed to the “upside” area at No. 1. Jamaal Charles is one of the best running backs in the league, and Dwayne Bowe is an excellent receiver for a rookie QB to have. Add in guys like Tony Moeaki and Dexter McCluster, and you get an offense that can actually be good under Smith next season
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
. Jarvis Jones
. DE/OLB, Georgia
The Jacksonville Jaguars really need a quarterback, because it’s obvious that the whole Blaine Gabbert experiment failed miserably. However, there isn’t anyone to take with the second pick without it being a reach in this spot. Matt Barkley has fallen off much harder than Smith has, and he doesn’t fit the Jaguars scheme well. The Jags have a pair of top deep threats in Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon, but Barkley is more of an intermediate passer who doesn’t fit that vertical passing as well.
The Jaguars need playmakers on defense just as much as they need a quarterback, and Jarvis Jones fills in that void. His ability to rush the passer and play the run at an elite level in any scheme reminds me of current second-year superstar Von Miller. The big concern here is Jones’s health, otherwise he is the best draft-eligible prospect.
3. Oakland Raiders
. Star Lotulelei
. DT, Utah
The Oakland Raiders will have a gaping hole at defensive tackle once Richard Seymour departs via free agency, and I bet we’ll see Tommy Kelly on his way out of Oakland too. Lotulelei is one of the elite prospects in this class due to his incredible mix of size and quickness. The sort of elite power than Lotulelei exhibits is ridiculous, and he is the type of impact player the Raiders would love to have on the inside of the defensive line. With him in the fold, the Raiders defensive line has the chance to be one of the best in the AFC.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
. Jake Matthews
. OT, Texas A&M
I was torn between Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckel with this pick, and I decided to go with the Texas A&M tackle who is rated just a tad below Joeckel by most scouts. It’s because Matthews is the better fit for the Philadelphia Eagles, even if Joeckel is the slightly better player. Jason Peters is one of the best left tackles in the NFL, and he should be back to his best next season after the injury. The big problem for the Eagles is at right tackle, where King Dunlap continues to struggle. Matthews can play at left tackle, but he is best fit at right tackle, which is also the biggest area of need on a poor offensive line for the Eagles. The Eagles also have one of the best left guards in the league in Evan Mathis, and an awful right guard situation. They need all the help they can get on the right side, and that’s help that Matthews can provide.
5. Detroit Lions
.DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Once again, I was torn between two players from Texas A&M, but this time they are on different sides of the ball. Luke Joeckel won’t be taken in the top five, because I have the Detroit Lions taking Damontre Moore and boosting the DE slot. They need that boost badly, but I think the Lions will pick Luke Joeckel if they decide to part ways with Gosder Cherilus. That could involve moving veteran Jeff Backus to the right side, but that’s a little messy. I’ll have Detroit picking up Moore and leave the Joeckel stuff in limbo for now.
6. Cleveland Browns
.DE, Florida State
Bjoern Werner is off the board. The elite Florida State defensive end is one of the elite prospects in this class, and he fills in a huge position of need for the Cleveland Browns. I like Jabaal Sheard, but Frostee Rucker is more of a run-stopper than a pass rusher. The 29-year-old DE is overpaid, and he doesn’t bring anything to the table as a pass rusher. In the 4-3, you need a better pass rushing presence from the defensive ends. Werner will bring just that, and I think he’s the better pick here than someone like Manti Te’o (he also makes sense for the Browns),
7. Arizona Cardinals
.OT, Texas A&M
Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said that he is not ready to give up on Kevin Kolb yet, and I actually agree with him. It’s a little too early to give up on their big investment, especially in a draft that is weak for quarterbacks. Kolb also showed plenty of flashes and has great accuracy, but he also has the worst pass blocking offensive line in the NFL. I mean, De’Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie are two players who should never have to start in this league. Meanwhile, Luke Joeckel has a chance to be an elite left tackle in the NFL and would be a huge upgrade for the Cardinals even as a rookie. The plan in Arizona should be to keep Kolb and build an actual line to help keep him upright. I remember watching their Thursday Night Football loss to the St. Louis Rams and seeing the ridiculous amount of pressure Kolb was subject to. Robert Quinn and Chris Long were beating the tackles right off the bat with incredibly quick pressure, and even Kendall Langford blew bye everyone.
8. Buffalo Bills
To me, this one is a no-brainer. The Buffalo Bills need a new quarterback, and Buddy Nix even stated that Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the answer during the season. That was cold and lacked class, but it is a sentiment that rings true. The Bills are starting afresh (Nix will be nixed soon), and I just can’t see Matt Barkley falling out of the top ten. He will fit the Bills offense well, because receivers like Stevie Johnson, Scott Chandler, David Nelson, and Donald Jones work the intermediate game. That’s the range where Matt Barkley excels with his accuracy, and he would step into a solid situation in Buffalo with a very good line and one of the best running games in the league. Barkley plays an opposite style than Fitzpatrick, which is something that will help the Bills.
9. New York Jets
Dion Jordan is one of my favorite players coming into the NFL Draft, because he did so much more than just rushing the passer for the Oregon Ducks. Jordan is such a physical freak of nature that he can cover slot wide receivers and succeed. Well, he can’t do that at the NFL level, but that’s exactly what he did in college. Rex Ryan loves to get creative with different base packages, blitz packages, and coverage schemes. Jordan is a zone blitzing defense’s best friend, and he could be a huge weapon for Ryan and the Jets. The Jets pass rushing presence is terrible, but that could soon change with two dynamic young pass rushers in Jordan and Quentin Coples.
10. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans love physical corners who excel in man coverage, and I can’t think of a cornerback who can play near the level of Dee Milliner in man coverage. The Titans sorely missed Cortland Finnegan, but they have the makings of an excellent, young triumvirate of corners with Milliner in the fold. Jason McCourty can be a top corner, but his potential will be fully realized in the slot. Milliner and Alterraun Verner (contract runs out after 2013, by the way) on the outside could end up being a daunting tandem for opposing offenses if all goes well.
11. San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers biggest need is at the tackle position, and Taylor Lewan is one of the top prospects in a tackle-rich draft. He would immediately be a vast upgrade over what the Chargers have had at tackle (not much, really), so Lewan is an obvious pick here.
12. Miami Dolphins
Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher would also be a great pick here for the Miami Dolphins, but I think they should try to go in a different direction to nab an elite offensive piece to help out future second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Davone Bess and Brian Hartline are solid receivers, but the Dolphins have an awful tight end situation and need a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver even more. Keenan Allen is the best wide receiver prospect in this league, as he runs incredibly crisp routes, rarely makes mistakes, and some of the speed concerns are irrelevant. He can succeed even with the most inconsistent of quarterbacks throwing it to him, and Tannehill will certainly be a big upgrade over Zach Maynard at Cal. Allen is a playmaker who is almost always open and has the kind of length that offensive coordinators drool at. Tannehill and the Dolphins need an offensive playmaker badly, and Allen can be that guy.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
.CB, Mississippi State
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need for a cornerback is so great that almost everyone has them selecting Mississippi State’s star cornerback Jonathan Banks. Although I think Milliner is the better corner, Banks has a tad more scheme versatility and fits the Bucs better due to his ability in zone coverage. Banks has arguably the best ball skills of any corner in this draft, and his aggressiveness is also something the Bucs could use at CB.
14. Carolina Panthers
.DT, Ohio State
Nobody in this draft has a bigger need for a defensive tackle than the Carolina Panthers, and their need for an interior defensive lineman is so great that even the thought of them making a huge upgrade at guard by picking Alabama’s Chance Warmack isn’t enough to make me think that they should go any other direction other than DT. The Panthers could still pick up an SEC star in Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson at DT, but I think Hankins is the pick here. They desperately need somebody who can beef up the inside against the run, because the DTs have been so bad over these past few years that even a great group of linebackers can’t make the run defense look any better. The Panthers have had to deal with guys like Terrell McClain and Sione Fua getting starts, so Hankins would be an immense upgrade. Most Panthers fans want the team to select Hankins, and it is the best decision for them in my book.
15. New Orleans Saints
Two NFC South teams are picking back-to-back, and I have both of them selecting defensive tackles in this year’s draft. The New Orleans Saints could use a legitimate tackle to put next to Brodrick Bunkley, because Sedrick Ellis is set to become a free agent and the Saints are most likely not bringing him back. Why should they? He is a non-existent pass rusher and doesn’t do enough work against the run to warrant staying. In short, Ellis is a bust. Richardson brings far more to the table as an interior pass rusher, which is something the Saints could really use.
16. St. Louis Rams
For me, the logic here was quite simple. There was absolutely no way that I would allow Chance Warmack to slip past the first half of the first round, especially with the need the Rams have for a solid pass protector on the inside.