Thanks again for checking out the blog. Below you’ll find my mock draft for 2013. The drama, uncertainty and surprises during the draft are what make me love it so much, and this year will be no exception. In fact, with no surefire stars but so many potential starters, this draft could be as wild and unpredictable as any in recent memory. Now usually, I don’t like to include projected trades in mock drafts because my name is not Adam Schefter. I have no clue when the hell a trade will occur, but they happen all the time. However, I do feel so confident about one potential trade that I included it below. The rest is all predictions and players I feel would fit certain teams depending on how the draft plays out. I also try to include “Best available” picks because as Arizona Cardinals GM Steve Keim once told me in an interview, you have to pick the best player available rather than reach for a need. Check out my big board to see my best available players.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckell, OT, Texas A&M — The Chiefs need a solid tackle to be a cornerstone in the rebuilding process. Head coach Andy Reid knows he will need to protect Alex Smith at quarterback, and will get the guy to do just that. The Chiefs are looking into trading offensive tackle Brandon Albert, and will probably use that pick on defense later in the draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan — Even though the Jaguars have a new coaching staff and are left with a still-developing quarterback they didn’t draft, I think they’ll give him another year to prove himself and get some protection for him at this spot. It’s tempting to put Dion Jordan here, but Fisher is arguably the best player in the draft on some boards. Fisher is the pick.
3. Oakland Raiders: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida — The Raiders need a lot of things, so as long as they get someone who can make an immediate impact, it’ll be a good pick. Floyd can do just that for this defense. Even though they traded for Matt Flynn, expect the Raiders to attempt the Seahawks approach of drafting a mid-round quarterback to compete with him.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon — There’s a lot of media buzz about how the Eagles are such a wild-card in this draft and how no one knows what they’re going to do with the number four pick. If Jordan is here at four, it’s simple. Jordan will fit in well with what former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly wants to do on defense. Jordan will also breathe some new life into a defense which was horrendous last season.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU — The Lions will not only be filling a need with this pick since they lost Cliff Avril, but will be getting an extremely athletic player with enormous potential. Ansah could be the fastest rising prospect in draft history. Why is that? This guy didn’t play football until 2010. Now he’s a projected top five pick. His freakish athleticism combined with his ability to learn the game quickly will make head coach Jim Schwartz salivate.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama — This pick could be a possible trade down spot for the Browns, as there are a lot of decent cornerbacks in this draft and could garner a lot of attention from teams looking to get Lane Johnson. It’s too difficult to say who would jump up here though, so I have the Browns taking Milliner to combine with former first rounder Joe Haden. Ignore the recently-surfaced issues about Milliner’s ball skills and past surgeries. Milliner has said he models his game after Haden, and the two will make a great duo to stifle the AFC North passing attacks.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma — The Cardinals luck out that a great player falls into their lap to fill a need. The Cardinals offensive line is arguably the worst in the league, and Johnson is an athletic tackle converted from tight end. He’ll be able to protect newly-acquired Carson Palmer immediately, and whoever the long-term quarterback is in the future.
8. Buffalo Bills: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama — Warmack is one of the best players in the draft, and I don’t think the Bills hesitate if he’s still on the board. Some people this week have been saying the Bills will draft Ryan Nassib in a panic-move to make sure no one else gets him. I think they’ll be fine waiting a few picks and trading back into the round to get Nassib, a move I really think can and will happen. With Warmack, they’ll have a guard to protect Nassib for a decade.
9. New York Jets: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina — Guards are hardly graded at a premium, but they are rarely as talented as Warmack and Cooper. The Jets grab Cooper in an effort to ensure they can protect the quarterback and prevent whoever that may be from butt-fumbling.
10. Tennessee Titans: Barkevius Mingo, DE, LSU — The Titans could go a couple of different ways here, but I have them improving their pass rush to make it one of the best in the AFC. Sure, they need help at guard and safety, but the best guards are gone and this is a deep safety class where one can be picked in the second round. At this point, the Titans go best available with Mingo.
11. San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama — The Chargers had an almost non-existent offense last season, and much of it was because of the poor offensive line play. Fluker may not be as good as the three tackles going before him, but he will help a poor offensive line right away. Maybe with a new head coach and more protection, Philip Rivers can get back to his productive and winning ways.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State — With the Dolphins close to wrapping up a trade for Albert from the Chiefs, they’ll be set at tackle and won’t have to reach for one here. The Dolphins trading down with someone coveting Tavon Austin or Kenny Vaccaro is a possibility, and is probably the better option. If they can’t find a trade partner though, they could benefit from a big corner like Rhodes. He’s a big strong corner who played receiver in high school, and will do well if he takes his talents to South Beach.
13: New York Jets (From Buccaneers): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia — Surprise! Not many people think the Jets will be taking Smith. In fact, the oh-so-great Todd McShay doesn’t even have Smith in the first round. Smith is not elite, but the hundred quarterbacks the Jets have on the roster are average at best. This is where new general manager John Idzik puts his stamp on the franchise. With the pick they get from the Revis trade, which officially started the rebuilding process, the Jets get their quarterback of the future. Smith isn’t elite yet, but he definitely has more potential than the other Jets quarterbacks.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – The Panthers have been suffering at this position for a few years now. Remember, head coach Ron Rivera is a defensive guru. All the attention the Panthers get focuses on the offense because of Cam Newton and his weapons, but Rivera would love to have someone like Lotulelei anchoring his defensive line and helping his group of talented linebackers. Lotulelei may have slipped a couple of spots because of his health concerns, but the Panthers will pounce on him when he does.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia — I imagine Rob Ryan throwing a tantrum in order to have the Saints pick Jones. The offense isn’t the biggest worry except for tackle, but that could be found later. The Saints defense was horrible last year and Jones would be a huge improvement. There are concerns with Jones due to his health, but his explosiveness will outweigh them in the eyes of the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia — The Rams catch a break with Austin still being available, and rush up to the podium to get him. Austin is the perfect weapon for Captain Check-down, AKA Sam Bradford. He’ll be able to run bubble screens, quick slants and hitch routes for Bradford and will be a big time threat for yards after the catch. With Danny Amendola gone, there’s no way the Rams pass on Austin if he’s available.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas — Many draft experts think Vaccaro will conveniently be available for the Cowboys so that the Longhorn can play in Dallas. However, the Cowboys will have to trade up ahead of the Steelers if they really want Vaccaro. Vaccaro could sit behind either Ryan Clark, who gets banged up throughout a season and can’t play in Denver, or Troy Polamalu, who is also injury prone and getting old. Yet if called upon, Vaccaro could contribute right away and would be the first player in a much needed Pittsburgh youth movement.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri — Dallas could use a couple of more picks and trade down a few spots, but Richardson might be too good to pass up here. If the Cowboys are indeed going into a 4-3 defense, Richardson would be perfect under Monte Kiffin. He’s got a good combination of strength and quickness, and could even move to a 3-4 defensive end should Dallas decide to switch back to that.
19. New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia — In my opinion, ever since the Giants acquired Eli Manning, they’ve nailed it every time they had a first round pick. They take an extremely talented player despite questions other teams may have about them. This year won’t be any different. By getting Ogletree, the Giants will not only be addressing the linebacker issues, but getting one of the ten best players in this draft. Questions be damned, Ogletree will be a Giant.
20. Chicago Bears: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee — Didn’t it seem like all the Bears offense was last season was Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall? This left defenses able to focus on Marshall for the entire 60 minutes. With a big-time threat like Patterson, that won’t be happening much longer. Yes, the Bears need to replace Brian Urlacher, but Patterson is too good to take a middle linebacker at this point.
21. Cincinnatti Bengals: John Cyprien, FS, FIU — The Bengals are interested in Cyprien, who would not only fill a need for them, but is a darn good player. People can try to knock Cyprien for playing at Florida International, but he held his own at the Senior Bowl with the other top talent and played well when FIU went up against bigger schools. Plus, the Bengals don’t care where you’re from, what you did, or who you are if you can help them win.
22. St. Louis Rams (From Redskins): Eric Reid, S, LSU — This one is a trickier pick for the Rams. They could go best available after addressing a big time need at number 16, but this pick could be a bit need-based as well. In a division with the 49ers and Seahawks, the Rams need a player who can help against the run, cover tight ends and prevent the deep ball. Enter Eric Reid to replace the loss of Craig Dahl to San Francisco.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame — Picking Te’o is going to get a huge reaction from the crowd at Radio City Music Hall, but the Vikings will also be getting a decent player to step in right away and help a struggling linebacker group. A coach like Leslie Frazier is not going to care about Te’o's fake girlfriend or overblown 40-yard dash time. All he’ll care about is Te’o's ability to keep up with tight ends such as Martellus Bennett, Jermichael Finley and Brandon Pettigrew. Te’o can do that.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Bjoern Werner, OLB/DE, Florida State — Dwight Freeney is no longer a Colt, Robert Mathis is aging, Jerry Hughes is off and on as a pass rusher, and Erik Walden is a linebacker the Packers didn’t care to keep. So how do you solve this? Take Werner, stand him up as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and let him get after the quarterback. The Colts were twenty-third in sacks last season with only 32. Werner can get at least 10.
25. Minnesota Vikings (From Seahawks): Keenan Allen, WR, Cal — The Vikings haven’t had much luck with free agent wide receivers in recent memory (see Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins), and they just signed Greg Jennings away from Green Bay. To avoid another wide receiver letdown, the Vikings could benefit from a young, quick receiver like Allen. Allen could not only act as Jordy Nelson opposite Jennings, but will certainly help Christian Ponder grow into the above average quarterback he can be.
26. Green Bay Packers: Matt Elam, S, Florida — Elam will be able to eventually take over the position Charles Woodson left empty, but will be able to immediately help this team in dime packages too. With his playmaking ability and excellent ball skills, the Packers won’t have to worry about another interception/touchdown debate with the Seahawks. Too soon? Good thing Elam is available then.
27. Houston Texans: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State — All the talk here is that the Texans could draft Andre Johnson’s eventual replacement, or at least a wide receiver to help him immediately. That could happen, but another thing that will help the Texans passing game is keeping Matt Schaub on his feet. Watson could compete for a starting job immediately at right tackle. Houston has been making a habit of drafting someone that leaves people scratching their head on draft day, but working out well for them like Kareem Jackson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Watson could be next in that list.
28. Buffalo Bills (From Broncos): Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse — Since John Elway doesn’t particularly like this draft class, I don’t expect the Broncos to be picking here at all, but rather trading down. This was as close to a logical spot I could envision for the Bills to be trading back into the round to get their quarterback. Nassib’s college head coach, Doug Marone, is of course the new Bills head coach. Nassib will know the offense well, has a strong arm to through in Buffalo, and will beat out Kevin Kolb for the starting job at some point this season. The Bills won’t reach for Nassib at eight, but will get him twenty picks later.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington — It seems as if the Patriots will always need help in their secondary as they consistently have above average cornerbacks. Trufant, however, has potential to be really good and will contribute immediately in nickel/dime situations and on special teams. That, or the Patriots could go back to being the Patriots and trading down for picks in future drafts.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State — Speaking about needing a cornerback, the Falcons are probably hurting the most at the position. All they have is Asante Samuel at cornerback. They’ve lost Dunta Robinson, Brent Grimes and Chris Owens. They could take any one of the available corners and be happy, but with Taylor they’ll get a sound, quick player who will be the number two cornerback from day one.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU — With all the picks the 49ers have, it’s possible they move up from this spot to get a safety. D.J. Swearinger will be available three picks later at 34 though, so they can get him there. They could look at tight end Zach Ertz, a player Jim Harbaugh recruited to Stanford and who has also said his biggest influence is former 49er great Brent Jones. But again, he’ll be available three picks from now, so who do they take? In this great position, I say the 49ers go with Margus Hunt. The guy is freakishly tall and with a year behind Justin Smith to learn and get some bulk, the 49ers won’t have to worry about losing their entire pass rush when Smith is gone. Until then, Hunt can contribute on special teams. He set an NCAA record with 17 blocked kicks. He’s a player Harbaugh will love.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, MLB, Kansas State — He signed with Miami coming out of high school. Draft experts say he is undersized. Instinctive defender who players bigger than he is. Sound familiar? I wasn’t describing recently retired Ray Lewis. Brown is all of these things and would immediately help the Ravens alongside Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw. Sometimes, things work out just right. A lot of times, general manager Ozzie Newsome nails it in the draft. This is one of those times.