2013 NFL Mock Draft: 1st Round Picks and Analysis
Though the 2013 NFL Draft is still five months away, it is never too late to examine the best players in college football and see where they might fit in the NFL. I've assessed every team in the NFL's biggest needs and constructed the my first mock draft for the first round of the draft.
The draft order is based on current records and tie breakers, but the order will obviously change as the season moves on.
I honestly feel sorry for the teams in the market for a quarterback next off-season. The 2013 class is not even close to the level of the 2012 class, and there may not be a single franchise changer this year. The Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals could all be in search of a quarterback early on, but only a couple should pull the trigger.
Of the three potential first-round quarterbacks, I feel Geno Smith has the most upside but Matt Barkley is the most NFL ready. Neither guy had tests against top defenses (maybe Barkley against Stanford), but Barkley played in a pro-style offense all four years of his college career. He can make the NFL throws, but he has to prove to scouts he can move past his shoulder injury.
I'm assuming every player available to declare for the draft early will. I'm not in the business of speculating. As players start to make those decisions I will update the draft accordingly. Feel free to check back for updates and check out our NFL section for more great NFL draft content.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Geno Smith QB, West Virginia
I am pretty confident the Kansas City Chiefs will take a quarterback, but which one is the real question. Matt Barkley had an off year and was recently sidelined with a shoulder injury. Geno Smith put up video game numbers this season and fits the trend of athletic quarterbacks that seem to be taking the league by storm.
Smith has a big arm and the Chiefs need to go in a different direction. I could find about 10 other players the Chiefs should take other than Smith, but the quarterback position is so worth at least the attempted upgrade.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Manti Te’o ILB, Notre Dame
The Jacksonville Jaguars could absolutely upgrade the quarterback position, but they have needs on defense as well. Manti Te'o is not only a leader that could make that entire defense better, but he's got great speed and elite pass coverage skills. Some have compared him as the next Ray Lewis. Maybe Jacksonville will smarten up and take a player that will help the team and sell tickets.
3. Oakland Raiders – Jarvis Jones OLB, Georgia
The Oakland Raiders are just awful defensively and Jarvis Jones is arguably the best defensive prospect in the draft. He's a monster off the edge and the Raiders are desperate for a pass rush. They should go either Jones or Damontre Moore here.
4. Cleveland Browns – Damontre Moore DE/OLB, Texas A&M
The Cleveland Browns could use some help on offense, especially when weapons are concerned, but there are no wide receivers worth taking in the top five. Damontre Moore is an elite pass rusher who can make an impact at the NFL level. He's worked in both the 3-4 and the 4-3 and succeeded in both.
5. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Joeckel OT, Texas A&M
There is no doubting the Philadelphia Eagles need help at right tackle. When Jason Peters comes back, Luke Joeckel can pair with him and the two would be the most dominant one-two punch in the league. Joeckel is that good. He had tests with elite pass rusher all year long and not only passed those tests, but dominated in all of them. He's not a sexy pick Eagles fans will like, but he fits an immediate need.
6. Carolina Panthers – Star Lotulelei DT, Utah
For a 3-9 team, the Carolina Panthers do not have that many holes, but defensive tackle is certainly one of them. They should have taken a defensive tackle early last year, but decided to give the two they took in the third round in 2011 a shot. That experiment is a failure, and Star Lotulelei is a dominant force for Utah. He's played well in the Pac-12 and can be the type of player that improves an entire defense.
7. Buffalo Bills – Matt Barkley QB, USC
The Buffalo Bills have to realize their mistake with Ryan Fitzpatrick and take a quarterback in this draft. They certainly have other needs, but they need a signal caller. Matt Barkley did not have the type of year everyone was expecting, but he started in a pro style offense for four years at USC and should transition well to the NFL level. His stock is down, but it will get better as the season progresses.
8. San Diego Chargers – Dee Milliner CB, Alabama
The San Diego Chargers have two decent cornerbacks in Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer, but both are free agents after this season. You can never have too many corners. Dee Milliner is a top 10 prospect who played very well in the SEC. Easy call here.
9. New York Jets – Sam Montgomery DE/OLB, LSU
It will be interesting to see if the New York Jets fire Rex Ryan this season, but even if they do Sam Montgomery is a good fit as a pass rusher in any system. He added weight to his frame in the off-season and it seemed to help him in run defense. The Jets could use some more weapons for whoever their quarterback is, but none are worth taking here.
10. Tennessee Titans – Bjoern Werner DE, Florida State
The Tennessee Titans are one of the worse defenses in the league, and a quick fix for a lot of their problems can be a great pass rusher. Bjoern Werner is a good fit in the Titans' 4-3 defense and could be a replacement for Derrick Morgan, who has been a bust so far. He'll need to add some bulk to his frame to stop the run on the left side of the defense, though.
11. Arizona Cardinals – Tyler Wilson QB, Arkansas
All three experiments at quarterback have not worked out for the Arizona Cardinals this season, which could lead to them reaching for a quarterback in the first round. They could upgrade their offensive line here, but I think the quarterback being such a dreadful position for them could cause them to reach. Tyler Wilson was expected to be much better in 2012, but then again so was the entire Arkansas team. He should improve his stock at the combine and he can throw the deep ball well, which the Cardinals will like.
12. Detroit Lions – Barkevious Mingo DE/OLB, LSU
Kyle Vanden Bosch is getting up there in age and Cliff Avril will be a free agent at the end of this season. The Detroit Lions need to add a pass rush to go with their dominant defensive tackles. Avril has been solid, but Vanden Bosch has mostly been a disappointment this season. Barkevious Mingo needs to add bulk to become an every down defensive end in a 4-3, but he can be a situational pass rusher in the short term.
13. St. Louis Rams – Taylor Lewan OT, Michigan
The St. Louis Rams are not protecting Sam Bradford well and need to upgrade their offensive line. They have two first round picks and could go a lot of different directions, but offensive line has to be one of the picks. Taylor Lewan has had a terrific season for Michigan besides the Alabama game. He could use some work but he's got a great frame and long arms. He might need to start as a right tackle as he improves his pass blocking.
14. Miami Dolphins – Justin Hunter WR, Tennessee
The Miami Dolphins need to find a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver for Ryan Tannehill, and Justin Hunter looks like the top option to be just that in this year's draft. He's got the NFL height, but may need to add some bulk and strength so he isn't consistently beaten in man coverage. Hunter was dominating in 2011 before an ACL injury took away his season. He's slowly getting back to 100 percent and should be good to go by the time the 2013 NFL season gets underway.
15. St. Louis Rams – C.J. Mosley OLB, Alabama
With this second pick the Rams should look to either shore up their defensive front or get a weapon for Bradford. I like C.J. Mosley as he's been the leader for the top ranked Alabama defense. He has good instincts, can rush the passer and plays well in pass coverage. Against Texas A&M's top offense Mosley had 14 tackles and a sack.
16. New Orleans Saints – Johnathan Hankins DT, Ohio State
The New Orleans Saints have been abysmal on defense this year and need to start improving their defensive front. Johnathan Hankins has been a monster for Ohio State this season anchoring one of the nation's top defense. He is a disruptive force and will open up things for the Saints' linebackers.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Chance Warmack G, Alabama
The Dallas Cowboys are desperate for help on the interior of their offensive line, but could probably upgrade every offensive line position other than Tyron Smith. Chance Warmack is dominant on the inside as a guard and easily the best prospect at the position. Jerry Jones could go a long way in getting the Cowboys back to an elite offensive unit by adding Warmack.
18. Cincinnati Bengals – Alex Okafor DE, Texas
The Cincinnati Bengals are pretty solid across the board, but need to add a pass rusher to team with Geno Atkins, who's a monster inside. Alex Okafor is a smart player with great instincts. He's already got the NFL frame to play defensive end in a 4-3 and a bevy of pass rush moves that will translate to the next level. The Bengals are just a couple pieces away from being an elite contender; it starts with their pass rush.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Xavier Rhodes CB, Florida State
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to upgrade their secondary next season in some way. They've been awful at times in that end, even allowing Eli Manning to torch them for 500 yards at one point. Xavier Rhodes has had a couple good games shutting down top level wide receivers. He played well against Clemson, who boast two possible NFL receivers.
20. Minnesota Vikings – Keenan Allen WR, California
The Minnesota Vikings seem to be set going forward with Christian Ponder, but they need to get him more weapons. Jerome Simpson has not played well this season like they thought he would. Percy Harvin has been good but he's injury prone. Keenan Allen hasn't had much of a test against elite defenses, but he's got a good NFL frame and is strong. The Vikings need a top receiver, and Allen could be the best in this class.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jake Matthews OT, Texas A&M
Jake Matthews could go back for his senior season, but if he's projected to go in the first round (like many believe) he could pass that up and go for the money. The Pittsburgh Steelers took Mike Adams last year, but I view him as more of a right tackle long term. Matthews is an upgrade from Max Starks and played very well in the SEC which is loaded with top defensive ends.
22. Seattle Seahawks – Tyler Eifert TE, Notre Dame
The Seattle Seahawks have tried multiple options at tight end the last couple of years and not found their guy. Zach Miller has mostly been a disappointment in Seattle. Tyler Eifert is an elite level talent at the position as he's drastically improved his run blocking. He's been a consistent red zone threat for Notre Dame and Seattle needs to give Russell Wilson more weapons.
23. Indianapolis Colts – Sheldon Richardson DT, Missouri
The Indianapolis Colts have been torched on the ground multiple times this season and need to get better up front. Sheldon Richardson has the perfect frame and combination of strength and quickness to be a 3-4 defensive end. He missed a few games this season with Missouri and it showed. Richardson had an awesome game against NFL prospect D.J. Fluker when they played Alabama. He reminds me of J.J. Watt in the effort he gives on every play and could be a steal at the end of this round.
24. New York Giants – Barrett Jones OL, Alabama
The New York Giants have an aging offensive line that only has fourth-round picks or worse backing them up. Other than Will Beatty and Chris Snee, the other offensive line spots can be upgraded. The Giants will like that Barrett Jones played all three offensive line positions at a high level. They've ignored the offensive line for the past few drafts, thinking that the sum of the parts is good enough to get by. Frankly, the Giants need to find impact players who can dominate up front, and Jones can be that guy.
25. Green Bay Packers – Johnthan Banks CB, Mississippi State
The Green Bay Packers continue to have problems in their secondary even though Casey Hayward has been a stud in his rookie season. They need to continue to get help in that defensive backfield and Johnthan Banks is a guy who's played well all season against top competition. He's played for three years for Mississippi State and should help Green Bay improve that porous pass defense.
26. Denver Broncos – Jonathan Jenkins DT, Georgia
This is another team without many holes, so they could go best available player that also helps a minor weakness. The Denver Broncos have strong pass rushers, but their defensive line could use some work. Jonathan Jenkins is a monster on the line at 350 pounds and would play well next to 2012 draft pick Derek Wolfe.
27. Chicago Bears – Dallas Thomas G/T, Tennessee
Dallas Thomas played some tackle in college but moved to guard this year and seems to be a better fit. Lance Louis recently tore his ACL and could miss some time next year. With the first-round tackles all gone, they should wait until the second round to take a player at that position. Thomas played well against top SEC competition, and should translate well as a left guard for the Chicago Bears.
28. New England Patriots – Terrance Williams WR, Baylor
The New England Patriots could go either receiver or corner here, but with Wes Welker's future uncertain and Brandon Lloyd not being a reliable option, getting one of the top receivers in college football could be the way to go here. I mean, you and I both know the Pats are going to trade out of this spot, but it's fun to pretend Bill Belichick likes first round picks.
29. San Francisco 49ers – Dion Jordan DE, Oregon
I'm not sure how much longer the San Francisco 49ers can keep their incredible defense together, but this pick could be just a best player available decision. Dion Jordan has a big frame and long arms, but what the 49ers could like is he has a ton of snaps on film where he drops back in coverage. He fits well as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
30. Baltimore Ravens – Kevin Minter ILB, LSU
Kevin Minter is an absolute stud for LSU's top ranked defense. He had 20 tackles against Florida alone, though LSU lost that battle. With Ray Lewis getting up there in age, they need to find a replacement this year. Minter has been all over the field for LSU and will work in any defensive scheme.
31. Houston Texans – Robert Woods WR, USC
Robert Woods did not have the type of year people were expecting at USC this year, but he's still someone you can rely on in the NFL. He's got great speed and elusiveness that will make him a dangerous weapon in the slot. He is not the type of guy you will rely on as a No. 1 target, but they have Andre Johnson for at least a couple more years.
32. Atlanta Falcons – Louis Nix DT, Notre Dame
The Atlanta Falcons could possibly trade up to take Eifert with Tony Gonzalez presumably retiring at some point. The guy keeps proving people wrong in terms of how long he can play, but Gonzalez cannot keep this up forever. We've seen the Falcons trade up for a weapon in the past, but if they stay put they will likely upgrade a position in the trenches. Louis Nix has been dominant up front for Notre Dame and will be an impact player at the next level. This would be a steal here.