With the 2013 NFL Draft coming closer and closer, mock drafts are starting to become more and more common. So why not take a shot at it? I present to you, my 2013 mock draft:
Team Needs: QB, WR, CB, OT
Projected pick: Luke Joeckel, OT - Texas A&M
After releasing Starting Tackle Eric Winston, the Chiefs are now in need of a new anchor in their O-line. So who better than Luke Joeckel, the top O-lineman in the draft? Many are predicting that the Chiefs may look at QB Geno Smith, but ultimately, I think they pass on reaching for Smith, and settle for stocking up their line.
Team Needs: DE, CB, WR
Projected pick: Dion Jordan, DE - Oregon
New Head Coach Gus Bradley met with NFL Network, discussing how under his former boss, Pete Carrol, he learned that you should build a team on speed. Dion Jordan fits this description, as the explosive DE was one of the most impressive athletes at the Combine. Compared to players like San Francisco's Aldon Smith, Jordan immediately improves the Jaguars last-ranked pass rush.
Team Needs: CB, DL, LB
Projected pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Raiders need a CB, and with this selection, they get the best one in the draft. Although he recently announced that he will have to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, he still took part in all of the NFL Scouting Combine events. This injury should not hurt his draft stock. By drafting Milliner, the Raiders receive a player who should be able to anchor their secondary for the future, allowing them to focus on other pressing needs, like their O-line.
Team Needs: QB, O-line, CB
Projected pick: Eric Fisher, OT - Central Michigan
With Joeckel being selected by the Chiefs, the Eagles get a nice consolation prize in Eric Fisher. The consensus number two Tackle in the draft, Fisher will compliment the rising Eagles O-line, providing much needed protection for QB Michael Vick (Or whoever starts under center for Philadelphia in 2013).
Team Needs: DE, CB, O-line, S
Projected pick: Bjoern Werner, DE - Florida State
The Lions have already expressed interest in German born Bjoern Werner, one of the draft's top pass-rushers. As General Manager Martin Mayhew stated about Werner, "(He's) a very talented guy who we think a lot of." By selecting Werner, the Lions solve one of their most glaring problems on defense, while at the same time avoid reaching for anyone.
Team Needs: G, O-line, WR, QB
Projected pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Browns desperately need help on the interior of their line. Warmack fits the bill perfectly. Selecting one of the top O-linemen in the draft, Warmack will immediately help with both the pass and run games of Cleveland. With a solidified line and healthy Trent Richardson, the Browns QB's, Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy, will receive ample support on the offensive side of the ball.
Team Needs: QB, O-line, RB, DE
Projected pick: Geno Smith, QB - West Virgina
Now, before anyone starts an angry mob against me for suggesting that we draft a QB, let me explain this. As of the moment I am writing this, reports are coming in that Kevin Kolb's future with the team is in doubt. He could very well be cut by the new Coaching and Front Office regime. Smith fits the type of QB that new Head Coach Bruce Arians is looking for. From Brad Wells, lead writer at Stampede Blue (Colts Sb nation):
Arians likes his QBs to move in the pocket and extend the play. The goal is to keep looking downfield and gain "chunk yardage." Arians looks for big plays out of his QBs. He isn't a short pass, move the chains kinda guy.
The draft prospect that seems so obviously an 'Arians QB' is Geno Smith. He'd thrive with Arians, in my opinion. I'm not so convinced he'd do as well under Andy Reid in KC. Reid is a bit of a fraud when it comes to developing QBs, but that's simply my opinion.
Smith has been linked to several teams, including the Chiefs, Bills, and Raiders. However, if he drops to the Cardinals, it seems likely that Arians will decide to pick a new QB to start his era as Head Coach. This could easily change if Kolb agrees to restructure his contract, and is kept on.
Team Needs: QB, WR, LB, DE
Projected pick: Ezekiel Ansah, DE - BYU
Ansah is a native of Ghana, and has only been playing football since 2010. Before that, he participated in Track and Field, and at one point wanted to try for the NBA. His inexperience is his only major red flag at this point. However, he has excelled in the short time that he's played football, and was one of the highlights at the combine, despite not training for the event. In the Bills defense, Ansah would most likely be used as a pass-rusher, utilizing his raw speed.
Team Needs: QB, LB, WR
Projected pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB - Georgia
Jones will contribute heavily the Jets pass-rush. Although many have the Jets taking a WR, they really don't need to, unless Santonio Holmes is cut. However, by selecting Jones, they get one of the top LB'ers in the draft, helping the already stacked New York defense.
10) Tennessee Titans
Team Needs: DL, O-line, WR
Projected pick: Jonathan Cooper, G - North Carolina
One of the most glaring holes in the Titans offense is the guard position. With the acquisition of Cooper, who is one of the top Guards in the draft, QB Jake Locker's play will improve greatly, given the improved protection. This could be viewed as a reach, but ultimately, the Titans need to help out Locker, and Cooper gives them a means to do so.
Team Needs: O-line, WR, DT
Projected pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Johnson blocked for Landry Jones at Oklahoma, who has a very similar style of play to QB Phillip Rivers. Also, one of the Chargers most glaring needs is O-line, as Rivers was abused all of last season. Rumors have it that the Chargers already have interest in Johnson, so he could very well go to them at #11.
12) Miami Dolphins
Team Needs: WR, O-line, CB
Projected pick: Cordarelle Patterson, WR - Tennessee
Miami desperately needs a WR for QB Ryan Tannehill to target, and Patterson could provide them with a long-term solution for their #1 WR spot. This selection depends on whether or not Miami can lock up WR Mike Wallace in Free Agency, who was recently released by the Pittsburgh Steelers. If they can sign him, then they will be able to focus on another need in the 1st round. However, Wallace may be looking for more money than Miami is willing to spend, thus turning them to the draft.
Team Needs: CB, S, QB
Projected pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB - Florida State
The Tampa Bay pass defense was ranked dead last in the league last year. By selecting Rhodes, they answer arguably their biggest need. Rhodes will help out a secondary that allowed the most yardage in the NFL, as well as the 5th most touchdowns.
Team needs: O-line, DT, WR
Projected pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT - Missouri
The team's most glaring need is at the Defensive Tackle position, and Richardson solves this. Most drafts have Richardson going to the Panthers (Provided he's still around for the #14 pick). Richardson does a good job of penetrating the interior of an offensive line, providing the Panthers with a much needed pass-rush.
Team needs: LB, WR, DE
Projected pick: Alec Ogletree, OLB - Georgia
The Saints defense was one of the largest reasons the team missed the Playoffs last year, and the majority of mock drafts have them taking a LB'er. With the addition of Ogletree, the Saints get a versatile player who can be slotted at ILB as well as OLB. This may be a bit of a reach, however, but I think that the Saints will ultimately go the route of a LB'er in the 1st Round.
16) St. Louis Rams
Team needs: O-line, WR, S
Projected pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Rams have already parted ways with WR Brandon Gibson, and could potentially lose WR's Danny Amendola and Steve Smith to Free Agency. This leaves the WR-strapped Rams even more desperate than they were before. By selecting Allen, the Rams give QB Sam Bradford a viable #1 option. Plus, by also holding the #22 pick in the draft, the Rams can afford to focus on the offense for this selection.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers
Team needs: WR, DE, LB
Projected pick: DeMontre Moore, DE - TexasA&M
The Steelers could go anywhere with this pick, but post combine, Moore has been linked to Pittsburgh in several mock drafts. Although he had a poor performance at the Combine, Moore is still a good defender who would fit the Steelers 3-4 scheme well. Moore also has experience at the LB'er position, which the Steelers could use to their advantage. (Especially after releasing James Harrison)
18) Dallas Cowboys
Team needs: OT, DT, S
Projected pick: D.J. Fluker, OT - Alabama
Only once in the last 15 years have 5 O-linemen been taken in the first 17 picks (The last time was in the 2008 draft). As you can see, I have that happening again in 2013. This leaves the Cowboys in a situation, as they desperately need help with protecting QB Tony Romo, as well as improvement to a run game that saw its worst season in the 53 year history of the franchise. Fluker is an incredible athlete who can do just that. This may change, depending on his performance at Alabama's Pro Day.
19) New York Giants
Team needs: LB, DL, TE
Projected pick: Shariff Floyd, DT - Florida
Floyd is considered by some to be the top defensive lineman in the entire draft, so having him drop to the #19 pick is a risky prediction. However, if he is still available, it's hard to see the Giants passing him up. Floyd will help out a defense heavily in need of a pass rush.
20) Chicago Bears
Team needs: LG, MLB, TE
Projected pick: Tyler Eifert, TE - Notre Dame
One of the Bears biggest needs is a TE who can stretch the field, and provide a viable target for QB Jay Cutler. By selecting Eifert, the top TE in the draft, Chicago receives just that. Eifert put up an impressive performance at the Combine, where he ran a 4.6 40 yard dash, and showed that his huge frame will be extremely helpful with blocking. However, another glaring need of the Bears is on their O-line. If any of the top O-linemen are available, they could easily go to Chicago.
Team needs: LB, RB, S
Projected pick: Kenny Vaccaro, FS - Texas
Cincinnati needs help with its secondary, and Vaccaro provides a solid solution. With four picks in the first three rounds, the Bengals may choose to help solidify their defense by bringing in Vaccaro, who will anchor the position across from Reggie Nelson. As one of the top rated safeties in the draft, Vaccaro definitely isn't a reach at the #21 pick.
22) St. Louis Rams (From the Washington Redskins)
Team needs: O-line, WR, (Answered by drafting Allen), S
Projected Pick: Matt Elam, SS - Florida
The Rams could go multiple ways with this pick. Ultimately, I have them taking Elam with their second pick in the 1st Round. Elam would most probably be converted into a Free Safety to replace the struggling Craig Dahl, as Quintin Mikell is a solid Strong Safety for the team. However, they could potentially take an O-lineman here, as the protection for Bradford definitely needs to see some improvement.
Team needs: WR, O-line, LB
Projected Pick: Tavon Austin, WR - West Virgina
Reports have surfaced that star WR Percy Harvin has demanded a trade. This puts the Vikings in a bad situation, as they were already in need for a receiver before Harvin expressed his unhappiness. Austin is one of the top ranked WR's in the draft, and would replace Harvin nicely. He has been touted as a great play-maker, and with this selection, the Vikings worries at the receiver position are alleviated (At least a little bit).
Team needs: S, CB, O-line
Projected Pick: Desmond Trufant, CB - Washington
Although QB Andrew Luck was sacked 41 times in 2012, I think the Colts will end up passing on reaching for an O-lineman, and will instead help their secondary by taking one of the top CB's in the draft in Desmond Trufant. Trufant excelled at the Senior Bowl and Combine, and has shot up the draft charts. He also has played at the slot and inside, showing his versatility. It helps that he's the younger brother of two NFL veterans (Marcus and Isaiah Trufant).
25) Seattle Seahawks
Team needs: LB, WR, DT
Projected Pick: Kawann Short, DT - Purdue
The Seahawks' team is pretty solid, to the dismay of their NFC West rivals. However, a player like Short would definitely help out with their pass-rush. He's a great pocket collapsing 3 tech, which is a need for Seattle. They could also choose to take a WR here to help out QB Russel Wilson.
Team needs: RB, DL, LB
Projected Pick: Eddie Lacy, RB - Alabama
This is probably one of the riskiest predictions I'm making in this entire mock draft. It's a well known fact that QB Aaron Rodgers is one of the best at his position, but the Packers really don't have a franchise RB. Lacy is the most powerful back in the draft, and would provide Green Bay with a dependable run game. However, another huge need that the Packers could choose to solve with this pick is their line-backing corps, who were exposed in the Playoffs against the 49ers.
27) Houston Texans
Team needs: WR, DE, ILB
Projected pick: Robert Woods, WR - Southern California
The Texans need a WR, and Woods answers this. Robert Woods has been a name linked to the Texans repeatedly throughout the off-season, and after running a 4.4 40 yard dash, could prove to be the fast-break WR that the Texans are looking for to support QB Matt Schaub.
28) Denver Broncos
Team needs: DT, RB, S
Projected pick: Johnathan Hankins, DT - Ohio State
By selecting Hankins, the Broncos receive one of the top rated talents in this year's draft. Hankins may not even fall to the Broncos at this pick, but if he does, they'd be making a great selection by picking him up. The defensive tackle class of 2013 is stacked, so Hankins falling this far isn't an insult to him by any means.
29) Atlanta Falcons
Team needs: TE, DE, RB
Projected pick: Zach Ertz, TE - Stanford
With future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez contemplating retirement, the Falcons will be looking to replace their long-time star. Ertz, who led the Cardinal in receiving yards, will be able to do this nicely, as the athletic receiver will provide Matt Ryan with yet another option down the field.
Team needs: CB, DT, WR
Projected pick: Johnthan Banks, CB - Mississippi
The biggest need of the Patriots is at the CB position, and with Banks being one of the last top-rated CB's in the draft, I have the Patriots snatching him up. Banks provides New England with excellent run support, and is a big athlete, something the Patriots value heavily. His draft stock has fallen due to his 40 time at the Combine, making him a good selection at the #30 pick.
Team needs: S, DT
Projected pick: Jonathan Cyprien, SS - Florida International
Having played at both FS and SS, Cyprien provides the 49ers with versatility at a position that's one of their biggest holes. An impressive senior bowl shot him up the draft boards into a projected 1st round selection. Cyprien could easily go earlier in the draft, so at #31, the 49ers make out like bandits.
32) Baltimore Ravens
Team needs: DT, LB, S
Projected pick: Kevin Minter, ILB - LSU
With star LB Ray Lewis officially retiring, the Ravens need help soon at the ILB position. By selecting Minter, Baltimore receives a mobile LB'er able to play on slants and screens, as well as a talented athlete who can play the run. It will be difficult to replace a player like Lewis, but Minter is someone who can start immediately, something the Ravens will be looking for.
Now, I know that it's still a little early for mock drafts, and that a lot of this will probably change as the draft nears. I also know it's a little hard to believe that only one QB will be selected in the entire first round. However, it has been repeatedly said that the 2013 QB class is one that leaves a lot to be desired. Of course, there will always be a few teams that decide to take the chance and reach for a QB, but in a draft so stacked with defensive and offensive line talent, there's no wonder that the first 32 picks should be dominated by these positions.
And whoever the Cardinals get, let's just pray that it works out.