The suspense of every potential Round 1 selection will continue to heighten as the 2013 NFL Draft closes in.
Key factors that will also impact the draft are obviously free agency, as well the how a prospect performs as their respective pro day.
As a result, this simply adds to the debate of where certain players will/should land. So to mesh everything together, here's another mock draft guide to get prepared for late April.
Note: Highlight players are in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
Now that Kansas City has its quarterback in Alex Smith, per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, selecting Luke Joeckel only makes more sense. And although Branden Albert was hit with the franchise tag, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, adding Joeckel to the line only helps the Chiefs upgrade the pass protection and field a stronger ground attack.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
Bjoern Werner may be a slight reach at No. 2 overall, but the guy fills a dire need for Jacksonville. The Jaguars lack a pass rush and run defense, so getting Werner addresses each. With reliable instincts and agility to control the edge, Werner will make an immediate impact for the Jags.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Despite Star Lotulelei's talent, there was a health concern before the combine took place, according to ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen:
Star Lotulelei, one of the elite prospects for the 2013 NFL draft, will not be allowed to work out Monday at the scouting combine after an echocardiogram revealed that the former Utah defensive tackle has a heart condition that requires more testing.
As for the Raiders, they still need a tough defensive lineman up front. Lotulelei remains a top prospect, though, and his overall athleticism will contribute anywhere along the line to bolster Oakland's run defense.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
Until the Eagles find more reliable pass protection, the postseason will remain out of the question. So enter Eric Fisher, who has the body control and smooth footwork to seal the edge. In turn, fewer turnovers are given up and the Eagles present a more balanced approach.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
One thing Detroit really needs is that No. 1 cornerback to lock down one side of the field. Fortunately for the Lions, Dee Milliner offers this potential. Having the top speed and lateral quickness to blanket in man or zone, Milliner also presents good size to press at the line. Detroit then fields more confidence in Cover 1 and 2, which also helps the perimeter run defense.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
The versatility of Dion Jordan will ramp up the front seven of Cleveland.
After collecting 23.5 tackles for loss and forcing four fumbles the past two seasons at Oregon, Jordan's athleticism was on full display at the combine.
There, he sped to 4.60 seconds on the 40-yard dash and clocked 4.35 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle. With this level of speed for the position and explosive lateral movement, Jordan will immediately squeeze against the run and apply quarterback pressure.
Cleveland was decent up front last season, but Jordan's impact will force ill-advised throws and create numerous turnover opportunities.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Given how much Arizona struggled with quarterback protection and running the rock in 2012, it can't get much worse. Drafting Chance Warmack simply helps fix each aspect, because he provides the strength and explosiveness to dominate as a run-blocker. And in the passing game he'll barricade the interior of the line to form a comfortable pocket.
8. Buffalo Bills: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Buffalo is on the brink of becoming a dangerous postseason contender. Needing to control the line of scrimmage more consistently, though, results in taking Ezekiel Ansah. His size and strength will restrict the edge, and Ansah's short-area quickness and acceleration helps add quarterback pressure. With Mario Williams lining up opposite, the Bills make a run at January next season.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
Although the Jets ranked No. 2 in pass defense last season, part of that comes from New York failing to consistently stop the run. Allowing an average of 4.3 yards per rush, this also affected the pass rush, which recorded only 30 sacks. Well, pass-rushing and creating turnovers are the forte of Jarvis Jones. His presence will squeeze the edge against the run and inflate Gang Green's ability to apply pressure.
10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Tennessee won't sniff the postseason without an improved pass defense. And in a passing league, the Titans' need for better coverage enhances the appeal of Xavier Rhodes. With the agility and physicality to jam receivers at the line, Rhodes also brings the reliable tackling to help against the run.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
Easily one of the most athletic prospects in the draft, Lane Johnson quickly spruces up San Diego's offensive line. Philip Rivers can't be effective without stronger pass protection and the ground game needs extended running lanes. Johnson helps create each, as his balance and agility will wall the edge and get downfield for the running game when needed.
12. Miami Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
Currently the Dolphins are seeking receiver Mike Wallace, per NFL.com's Jeff Darlington:
The Dolphins covet Wallace because of his ability to make plays in the end zone, recognizing their high reliance on field goals in close games last season.
That said, bringing Cordarrelle Patterson to the mix would only amplify Miami's offense. His size alone would continue making plays downfield and open up everything even more underneath. If anything, fielding an array of receivers will keep defenses back. This way the Dolphins can counteract that presentation with an effective rushing attack.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
Ranking last in pass defense and giving up 30 passing touchdowns cost Tampa Bay quite often in 2012. In addition, the Buccaneers gave up a 65.4 completion percentage in the pass-first NFC South.
Well, in order to compete for an NFC playoff spot, Tampa must draft Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. Along with the talent to force turnovers, Vaccaro is a good tackler with sound awareness and impressive quickness.
He can roll down to shield underneath, man up versus slot receivers and running backs or read from Cover 1 and 3. Accounting for 213 tackles and 24 defended passes from 2010 through 2012, Vaccaro will bolster the Buccaneers' coverage.
Given that other NFC offenses such as Green Bay and Seattle are efficient, Tampa can't afford to remain vulnerable defensively.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
Kicking off March, the Panthers let go of defensive tackle Ron Edwards according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com:
The Carolina Panthers released defensive tackle Ron Edwards on Friday afternoon.
Edwards was signed by the Panthers coming out of the 2011 lockout and was supposed to provide the team with a run-stuffer in the middle of the defensive line. But the signing never worked out because Edwards dealt with injuries throughout his Carolina tenure.
Therefore, this leads to Carolina getting Sharrif Floyd in Round 1 this April. Floyd has the force and power to clog lanes and disrupt a backfield, which easily lets the rest of the front seven make more plays at the line.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
No defense can expect to stop anyone when allowing 5.2 yards per rush. Fortunately for the Saints, the 2013 draft class provides excellent depth along the defensive front. Sheldon Richardson is a great fit here because he offers the knack of making plays behind the line. Meshed with strength and power, Richardson will get New Orleans defense back on the right track.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
St. Louis is not far from emerging as an NFC playoff contender. Jonathan Cooper easily spruces up the Rams rushing attack and he's a sound pass-blocker. This total skill set gives more balance to Jeff Fisher's offense and helps Sam Bradford increase his efficiency.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
A younger and faster pass rush will quickly allow the Steelers to rebound in 2013. Barkevious Mingo has the explosive acceleration and top speed to immediately impact, not to mention he plays with sound assignment discipline. Include his size and overall athleticism and Mingo can blitz inside or out for additional quarterback pressure.
18. Dallas Cowboys: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)
Unless the Cowboys look to trade up for a top offensive lineman, addressing the defensive line at No. 18 will suffice. John Jenkins is a force in the trenches and he's quicker than given credit. With great size and strength for the position as well, Jenkins will get interior quarterback pressure and draw double-teams against the run.
19. New York Giants: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
Last season was a rough outing for the Giants defensive line. Giving up 4.6 yards per carry and recording only 33 sacks isn't dominant enough to make a playoff run. Landing Sylvester Williams, though, presents a quicker gap-controller on the interior to disrupt running lanes. In turn, New York gets more production from its linebackers, as well as ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck.
20. Chicago Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT (Alabama)
Getting Jay Cutler better pass protection will really bolster Chicago's offense. D.J. Fluker has potential to develop as a better pass-blocker, but his ability on the ground will give the Bears balance. With a reliable tandem in Matt Forte and Michael Bush, Fluker's talent as a run-blocker will help set up a more threatening play action. A byproduct results in defenses neglecting to increase aggressiveness versus Chicago, and Fluker improves his footwork and base as a pass-protector.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
Although Matt Elam is a reach for Cincinnati in Round 1, the Bengals need to generate more turnovers. Considering that Cincy fields a strong defensive front that recorded 51 sacks in 2012, getting Elam ensures a more opportunistic secondary. His field awareness alone will generate some turnovers and the Bengals pass rush benefits from more suffocating coverage.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Terrance Williams: WR (Baylor)
Presenting an explosive playmaker in the NFC West is a distinct competitive advantage.
St. Louis gets this from Terrance Williams, because he accelerates quickly and possesses the size to split zones and win against man-to-man. Although rival Arizona has a receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals don't get much from their passing game as the pass protection and running game are not established.
The Rams, however, do field a respectable ground game to set up play action. The previous selection of Cooper simply enhances St. Louis' ability to control better up front. Drafting Williams, who averaged 18.9 yards per catch in 2012, provides Sam Bradford with a deep threat to rely on.
Williams can't have an impact without the Rams slamming the gut of a defense and punishing the line of scrimmage. Since Arizona struggles in this regard Fitzgerald is easier to isolate. St. Louis doesn't have this issue, which makes Williams an advantage when attacking opponents downfield.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
Regardless of Minnesota's passing game in 2013 Adrian Peterson will roll. But selecting Keenan Allen does Peterson a favor by occasionally stretching opponents to get defenders out of the box. With Allen's dependability pressing the coverage back running lanes are created that much easier for Peterson. The Vikings then present balance and become stronger NFC contenders.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
Last season the Colts struggled to apply a consistent pass rush and were not dominant against the run. Well, taking Damontre Moore ensures more capable pressure and his lateral agility bodes well to stuff the run. Already fielding an effective offense, Indianapolis improves its odds at making a deep playoff run next season.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Kawann Short is an ideal selection for the Seahawks. Needing to upgrade its pass rush and run defense, Seattle gets a proven playmaker for the front seven. Providing reliable quickness in narrow space and a sixth sense in finding the rock, Short will knife into backfields and interrupt any developing play.
26. Green Bay Packers: Barrett Jones, Center (Alabama)
Green Bay allowed Aaron Rodgers to get sacked 51 times last season. And yet, the guy still put up incredible numbers. As for 2013 the Packers help Rodgers by drafting Barrett Jones. His versatility along the line will improve the protection, and Jones' run-blocking talent gives additional balance to an excellent offense.
27. Houston Texans: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
Andrew Luck also got the best of Wade Phillips' defense. The rookie tossed four touchdowns to zero picks in two games versus Houston. Therefore, enter Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks who possesses the short-area quickness and zone awareness to blanket in Cover 2 and 3.
As for Cover 1, Banks brings the size to jam at the line and the instincts to bail just before the snap to disguise the coverage. In addition to recording 221 tackles throughout his career, Banks was responsible for 41 defended passes and taking three of his 15 picks back for a touchdown.
Although the AFC South is not a division dictated by pass-heavy teams, it is still susceptible defensively. The Texans have the front seven to apply quarterback pressure and stop the run, getting Banks just allows for more dependable coverage against the more high-powered offenses.
28. Denver Broncos: Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
Denver has to get younger in the secondary with top prospective talent. Desmond Trufant is the future and he will develop quickly under the tutelage of Champ Bailey. With explosive speed and ball awareness skills, Trufant allows the Broncos to blitz more in Cover 1 and 3 situations.
29. New England Patriots: Jonathan Cyprien, Safety (Florida International)
It doesn't matter who lines up at receiver or tight end for New England, because Tom Brady will still dice up a defense. What the Patriots need to remain Super Bowl contenders, though, is improving the pass defense. Jonathan Cyprien is a safety capable of forcing turnovers and his ability to shield in multiple coverage schemes will pay immediate dividends.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
Atlanta would definitely do itself a favor by selecting a defensive tackle here. But going with Tyler Eifert keeps the offense's future personnel quite reliable. Plus the defensive line is loaded with talent, so addressing that in Round 2 and/or 3 will suffice. As for Eifert, he's a proven playmaker and the Falcons are controlled by a high-powered offense. His size and complete athletic prowess will keep the Dirty Birds scoring at an efficient rate.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)
To maintain its backbone of being a tough run defense, San Francisco has to land Jesse Williams. The 49ers have two aging veterans in Justin Smith and Isaac Sopoaga up front, so replenishing with Williams will keep lanes closed and offensive lines from chip-blocking to the second level. In short, the linebacking corps continues to make plays all around the line of scrimmage.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
The dynamics of Alec Ogletree make him a sound fit for the Ravens defensive front. He's impressively athletic and brings the talent to impact as an inside or outside linebacker. Also, according to Mary Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, linebacker Paul Kruger is of interest to the Browns:
So, Baltimore retaining depth at the position via the draft helps keep the team as strong AFC contenders. After all, Ogletree is quick in coverage and knows how to find the ball against the run.
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