Final 2013 NFL mock draft
By Jeff Saukaitis, Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Kansas City Chiefs have been on the clock for nearly four months now, and the 2013 NFL Draft is just a couple of days away.
As teams' scouting departments and front offices spend a few final hours finalizing their draft boards, let's take a shot at predicting how the first round might play out Thursday night:
1. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: LUKE JOECKEL, OT, TEXAS A&M
It's tough to do a mock draft when not even the No. 1 pick is clear-cut. That's the case this year, although Joeckel seems to be Kansas City's likely top selection of the Andy Reid era.
It at least seems probable that an offensive tackle will be chosen here, given the Chiefs released incumbent right tackle Eric Winston and put left tackle Branden Albert on the trading block.
2. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: DION JORDAN, DE/OLB, OREGON
Jacksonville needs plenty, but a quarterback and a defender who can get to the quarterback are the most pressing needs. Since none of the available quarterbacks is worth the No. 2 overall pick, new head coach Gus Bradley will get one of the most scheme-diverse pass rushers in the draft. The Jags will address the quarterback situation later.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS: SHARRIF FLOYD, DT, FLORIDA
Maybe they'll consider an offensive lineman, but Oakland's biggest need is probably defensive tackle. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly both have to be replaced, and either Floyd or Utah's Star Lotulelei would make sense here.
4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: ERIC FISHER, OT, CENTRAL MICHIGAN
New coach Chip Kelly makes the Eagles a really unpredictable team in this draft. Who will Kelly see as the best fits for his unique offensive scheme?
If West Virginia's Geno Smith is available, it's possible Kelly will pick him to be the Eagles' quarterback of the future. If the board plays out this way, though, Fisher would probably be the best offensive player available. It seems likely that Kelly will focus on offense, since free agency was primarily devoted to defense.
5. DETROIT LIONS: EZEKIEL ANSAH, DE, BRIGHAM YOUNG
The loss of Cliff Avril to free agency and the release of Kyle Vanden Bosch have made pass rush a significant need, and Ansah is a freakish talent. Many have compared him to the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul, and the Lions - if they don't opt for an offensive tackle or cornerback instead - will be tempted by his upside.
6. CLEVELAND BROWNS: DEE MILLINER, CB, ALABAMA
If the top-five picks break this way, there are plenty of ways for the Browns to go. There's certainly a chance they'll trade down, perhaps to a team like Miami, which is looking for a left tackle.
If they stay put, though, the Browns could well go with Milliner, and pairing him with Joe Haden would instantly give Cleveland one of the better cornerback tandems in the NFL.
7. ARIZONA CARDINALS: LANE JOHNSON, OT, OKLAHOMA
Best player available is a pretty good way for the Cardinals to go, and that best player could well be Johnson, who has high upside as a franchise left tackle. There's a need for defensive linemen, too, but there's good enough depth in this draft at that position to enable the Cardinals to address it later.
8. BUFFALO BILLS: RYAN NASSIB, QB, SYRACUSE
Maybe this will seem a bit too early to some, but if the Bills believe they have found their franchise quarterback, he would be well worth the No. 8 selection. Nassib just seems too perfect a fit to not end up in Buffalo. After all, the Bills' head coach and offensive coordinator held those same positions at Syracuse, so Nassib knows their system inside and out.
9. NEW YORK JETS: STAR LOTULELEI, DL, UTAH
It's been said owner Woody Johnson is always looking to add stars to the Jets' roster to get the back-page headlines in the Big Apple, so what could be better than drafting a real Star?
In truth, head coach Rex Ryan probably figured he'd get the pass-rushing outside linebacker he's always lacked with this pick, but Lotulelei could be too good to pass up. With him, Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples on board, the Jets would have a young and talented defensive line that would be the envy of every team playing a 3-4 defense.
10. TENNESSEE TITANS: JONATHAN COOPER, G, NORTH CAROLINA
Although the Titans have other needs, improving the offensive line is paramount, because it could result in helping home run-hitting running back Chris Johnson return to top form. There are two can't-miss guards to choose from, but the guess is Tennessee will opt for the more versatile Cooper, who is an outstanding run blocker and probably the better pass blocker.
11. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: CHANCE WARMACK, G, ALABAMA
San Diego really has to upgrade on the offensive line. In this mock, four offensive linemen are already gone. The Chargers probably would have preferred a top tackle, but Warmack, a real mauler who could help rejuvenate the career of running back Ryan Matthews, would be an excellent consolation prize.
12. ST. LOUIS RAMS (from Miami Dolphins): TAVON AUSTIN, WR, WEST VIRGINIA
The Rams send the Nos. 16 and 78 picks to the Dolphins to move up and select Austin, a slot receiver extraordinaire. There's a chance the fast-rising Austin goes earlier than this, though. If he doesn't, St. Louis will gladly take advantage of its extra first-round pick to move up and get a younger, healthier and quicker version of the departed Danny Amendola.
13. NEW YORK JETS (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers): BARKEVIOUS MINGO, OLB,
There will be plenty of Jets fans in attendance Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, and plenty of them probably won't be too happy to see their favorite team fail to help its woeful offense with either of its first-round picks.
However, it's hard to argue with the value of Lotulelei and Mingo at these points of the draft. Pass rush is a huge need for the Jets, who could address tight end, safety and guard in some order in rounds two through four. It would make no sense to draft a quarterback this year, with the Jets' coaching staff in lame duck status. Why force a QB on a potential new 2014 coach who might not like the player?
14. CAROLINA PANTHERS: SHELDON RICHARDSON, DT, MISSOURI
Safety is a big need for Carolina, which would have the pick of the litter at that position. However, there are plenty of solid safety prospects in this draft, so the Panthers can wait until the second round.
The more likely play is to go with Richardson, whose skills as a three- technique pass rusher would be more difficult to find later in the draft.
15. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: XAVIER RHODES, CB, FLORIDA STATE
The Saints' pass defense was dreadful last season, and they lost out in their efforts to sign free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Rhodes would be a nice get for New Orleans because new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will want quality cornerbacks who can hold up in press coverage, so that the Saints can blitz often.
16. MIAMI DOLPHINS (from St. Louis Rams): TYLER EIFERT, TE, NOTRE DAME
Assuming Miami is eventually able to work out a rumored trade for Chiefs left tackle Albert to strengthen the offensive line, Eifert could be the pick here. Dustin Keller was signed to only a one-year contract as a free agent, so Eifert could be the long-term answer at the tight end position and another top weapon for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
17. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: JARVIS JONES, OLB, GEORGIA
He has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis. He ran disappointing 40-yard dash times at his pro day. Those things aren't going to matter that much to the Steelers, who would pick him here because of his impressive college production. Pittsburgh needs to get younger at outside linebacker, and Jones would re-energize the team's pass rush.
18. DALLAS COWBOYS: KENNY VACCARO, S, TEXAS
It's going to be a tough call for Dallas, deciding between the top safety in the draft or a much-needed defensive tackle. The pick here is Vaccaro, who also would fill a pressing need.
19. NEW YORK GIANTS: D.J. FLUKER, OT, ALABAMA
It's always possible the Giants will take the top pass rusher still on the board - and there are plenty of fine options available - but they also need to fix their offensive line. A top-notch run blocker, Fluker would make the Giants quite happy if he's still on the board here.
20. CHICAGO BEARS: ARTHUR BROWN, LB, KANSAS STATE
A fast riser after his impressive pro day, Brown could be selected as the replacement for former Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, whose stellar Bears' career appears to be over.
After missing the NFL Combine with a shoulder injury, Brown has shown that he is healthy, and this pick would not be the reach it might have looked like a month ago.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS: ALEC OGLETREE, LB, GEORGIA
Off-field concerns have usually not swayed the Bengals in a different direction, and they would arguably be getting the most physically talented inside linebacker in the draft. Another possibility here would be a running back, but it should be no problem filling that hole somewhere in rounds two through four.
22. ST. LOUIS RAMS: JONATHAN CYPRIEN, S, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
The Rams need to replace both of last year's starting safeties, so Cyprien would be a solid selection because he is a hard-hitter who also has coverage ability.
23. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: SYLVESTER WILLIAMS, DT, NORTH CAROLINA
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams will be 33 by the start of the season, and the defensive tackle position really drops off after him in Minnesota. The position needs to be addressed this year, and adding a younger Williams to the mix should immediately improve the Vikings' run defense.
24. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: D.J. HAYDEN, CB, HOUSTON
Cleared medically after having suffered a near-fatal heart injury in November, the talented Hayden has been flying up draft boards recently. He'd be a nice fit with the Colts, where he could immediately start opposite Vontae Davis.
25. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: JUSTIN HUNTER, WR, TENNESSEE
Another player who has been getting a positive buzz in the weeks leading up to the draft, Hunter would be the second wide receiver selected overall.
With Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright in contention for the No. 2 receiver job on the Vikings' current depth chart, it wouldn't hurt them to draft a pass catcher early. They'll get one here with excellent size, speed and upside.
26. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (from Green Bay Packers): GENO SMITH, QB, WEST VIRGINIA
The Jags have a head coach, general manager and owner who all came aboard after quarterback Blaine Gabbert was selected in the 2011 draft. What are the chances that Jacksonville's current regime will stand solidly behind Gabbert and forego the opportunity to draft one of the top quarterbacks available?
Although Smith's stock has dropped on the eve of the draft, he'd be a good value here in exchange for the Jags' second-, fourth- and sixth-round picks. They can't wait to take him at No. 33 for fear that another team will make a deal to move ahead of them. Green Bay could drop to No. 33 and still get the draft's top running back.
27. HOUSTON TEXANS: DEANDRE HOPKINS, WR, CLEMSON
Adding a legitimate receiving threat opposite Andre Johnson has been a major need for years in Houston. It's likely that position will be targeted here, so it's just a matter of whether the Texans' brass prefers Hopkins, Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson, California's Keenan Allen or Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton.
Patterson might have more long-range potential, but Hopkins appears to be the most consistent right now.
28. DENVER BRONCOS: TANK CARRADINE, DE, FLORIDA STATE
After losing impact pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos could use someone to help Von Miller get to the quarterback. Carradine is one of the best defensive end prospects in the draft. He's only available this late because he's coming off a November ACL injury. He should be ready for the start of the season, and he'll be one of the better value picks in the first round.
29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: JAMAR TAYLOR, CB, BOISE STATE
There are so many smokescreens during the month leading up to the draft that it's tough to know which rumors to believe, and it's equally difficult to determine whether the interest that teams are showing a particular prospect is genuine.
The Patriots have been linked to Taylor by dozens of media types, scouts and draft analysts. Maybe the interest is real, maybe it's not. Either way, he would indeed fill a major New England need.
30. ATLANTA FALCONS: DESMOND TRUFANT, CB, WASHINGTON
With top tight end Eifert off the board, the Falcons seem likely to focus on the cornerback position. Trufant is ranked as high as the No. 2 cornerback in the draft by some.
If the draft falls this way, Trufant would be the fifth cornerback selected. Still, he'd be an excellent late first-round pick - a great value for a team on the doorstep of a championship, considering he should be an instant starter.
31. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: DATONE JONES, DL, UCLA
The 49ers probably need a safety more than any other position, but great teams often get that way by consistently drafting the best available player. Jones has the versatility to play several positions on the defensive line. He would provide excellent depth in the 49ers' rotation as a rookie, then gradually move into a prominent role.
32. BALTIMORE RAVENS: CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, WR, TENNESSEE
Once thought to be a possible top-10 pick, Patterson has appeared to fall in scouts' eyes in recent weeks. His route running and smarts have come into question, and he reportedly did not interview well at the Combine.
When you're drafting at No. 32, though, you'd be doing cartwheels if you can nab a talent like Patterson. Maybe he won't be polished from the outset of his career, but this would be a great long-term replacement for the departed Anquan Boldin. Jeff Saukaitis has been a professional sportswriter since 1985.
04/23 10:21:25 ET