The 2013 NFL draft is almost upon us, which means that teams are finalizing their draft boards and preparing for all the different scenarios that could play out in April.
With the bulk of free agency now behind us, teams have a clear list of needs to work from. The organizations that are able to pair up talent with needs will find themselves successful come draft time. Those that don't ... well, they'll probably end up with an even better selection in next year's draft.
This mock draft takes a look at where each team is likely to go with their first-round pick, regardless of if it's the right pick or not.
Note: Highlighted picks with more in-depth analysis in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—Luke Joekel, OT, Texas A&M
The Kansas City Chiefs really have a no-brainer here. They went out and brought in Alex Smith to play quarterback so they wouldn't have to draft one. Now they should protect his blind spot with Joekel. He could be an elite left tackle for the better part of a decade.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Jaguars have a lot of flaws, but their inability to get after the passer is the most glaring. The Jaguars had the least sacks in the NFL last year and must improve if they want to take a step forward as a defense next season.
Enter Dion Jordan. He has the length, athleticism and versatility to give offensive linemen nightmares and would immediately upgrade the defense.
3. Oakland Raiders—Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
This pick could (and probably should) be spent on West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, but the Raiders' reported interest in Matt Flynn could be a sign they aren't sold on a quarterback this high.
If Flynn is acquired, that would offer the team the opportunity to go elsewhere with the No. 3 pick. The Raiders could bolster their poor defensive line with Floyd. He's an explosive tackle who can stuff the run and rush the passer on occasion.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
To some, the battle between Fisher and Joekel is just a matter of preference as the draft's top left tackle. Regardless, the offensive-line-needy Eagles will be more than happy to snatch up whichever one the Chiefs don't pick.
5. Detroit Lions—Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
How do you replace the now-departed Cliff Avril at defensive end? By drafting one of this class's most physically gifted pass-rushers, of course. Ansah is raw, but he can develop into a terror on the edge, and Lions need some youth on the defensive line.
6. Cleveland Browns—Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
If the first five picks shake out like this, Milliner will be the pick at No. 6. But that doesn't mean it's the right pick.
The Browns have a need at cornerback. There's no denying that. Joe Haden has become a lockdown corner, but the Browns need someone that can carry their weight on opposite end of the field, and Milliner can be that.
However, teams that load up with two elite corners haven't been guaranteed success. The Browns would be better off loading up on pass-rushers or trading down and stockpiling some extra picks.
With few potential trade partners and both Jordan and Ansah off the board, it would make too much sense from a need-talent standpoint to pass up on Milliner here, even if it may not be the best move for managing the roster.
7. Arizona Cardinals—Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
This is probably a bit of a reach, but the Cardinals are in desperate need of offensive line help.
The fanbase may want to see a quarterback taken here, but new head coach Bruce Arians appears to be confident in Drew Stanton to lead the offense in 2013. If that's the case, he'll need better pass protection than the line offered last year, when they gave up 58 sacks.
Johnson is an athletic tackle prospect who should flourish in pass protection while offering a quality player in the running game.
8. Buffalo Bills—Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
This has to be Bills' dream scenario. It's not very often you get the first choice of quarterback at No. 8, and that's exactly what happens here.
Smith may not come with the same polish that Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III brought to the table last season, but he still has the tools to be a successful starter in the NFL.
9. New York Jets—Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
When the New York Jets have been successful under Rex Ryan, it was because of the pass rush.
Ryan love to get pressure on the quarterback. When you blitz as often as he does, you have to get there, or the offense will make you pay. After Ryan's worst season with the Jets, putting together a fearsome pass rush will be priority No. 1.
Mingo is an athletic pass-rusher who should have the athleticism to transfer to 3-4 outside linebacker. After a disappointing season from Calvin Pace last season, the Jets should be much improved with Mingo coming off the edge.
10. Tennessee Titans—Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Titans already made a huge improvement to the offensive line by bringing in free agent Andy Levitre. Fellow free-agent acquisition Rob Turner will provide depth on the interior too. Throw in a mauler like Warmack, and the Titans will have morphed a dreadful weakness into one of the team's greatest strengths.
This pick would make Chris Johnson a happy man.
11. San Diego Chargers—Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Chargers just need offensive linemen. It doesn't even matter what position at this point.
Phillip Rivers had a scary bad season in 2012. and the offensive line was at least a contributing factor to his struggles. The Chargers just need to take the most talented offensive lineman available when they step up to the podium, and that's Cooper in this case.
12. Miami Dolphins—Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Dolphins entered the offseason with wide receiver as a primary need. They took care of that by signing Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson while locking up Brian Hartline to an extension. Now they can address their need at cornerback.
Milliner won't be available at this point, but Rhodes is a big, physical corner that can develop into a star. Paired with Brent Grimes, the Dolphins would effectively address their two biggest needs.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Buccaneers really need a corner, but if Milliner and Rhodes are both off the board, they won't reach on anyone else. Rhodes' Florida State teammate Bjoern Werner makes a lot of sense as a replacement for the departed Michael Bennett at defensive end.
14. Carolina Panthers—Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
There isn't a more obvious pairing than the Panthers and their need for a defensive tackle.
The Panthers offense is developing as Cam Newton goes, and the Panthers found themselves a future star with Luke Kuechly at middle linebacker. Now they need a stud on the interior to make sure Kuechly roams free for most of his career.
Lotulelei could go as high as No. 3 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but a heart condition could threaten his long-term health and draft stock.
Even with the risk, Lotulelei is worth the selection at No. 14. The Panthers would be getting the space eater they need inside to make this defense a young force to be reckoned with. This is the perfect marriage of talent and need.
15. New Orleans Saints—Kenny Vacarro, S, Texas
The New Orleans Saints were absolutely dreadful in the secondary last season. With this pick, the Saints net the best safety in the draft in Vacarro. He's a rangy player with good ball skills who can tackle well.
16. St. Louis Rams—Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Rams are another team with a clear-cut need that will have their pick of the draft class. Danny Amendola is gone, and the Rams were thin at receiver anyway. Now the Rams get to add an absolute nightmare matchup for defenses in Austin. He's just the kind of speedy,versatile threat that Sam Bradford would love to have.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
The Steelers bid James Harrison adieu this season and will need to upgrade the pass rush if they want to continue to be a dominant defense. Jones was an extremely productive pass-rusher at Georgia and should translate well to the next level. This is a typical high-value pick for the Steelers.
18. Dallas Cowboys—Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Cowboys let Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman walk this offseason. Now that they're running a 4-3 defense, they'll need a penetrating three-technique that can get after the quarterback. Richardson fits the bill and would be a wise pick for the Cowboys here.
19. New York Giants—Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The days of the Giants being stacked with pass-rushers are long gone. Osi Umenyiora is now an Atlanta Falcon, and Justin Tuck isn't what he used to be. In Moore, the Giants would be getting a productive pass-rusher to pair with Jason Pierre-Paul for a long time.
20. Chicago Bears—Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
The Brian Urlacher era is now over in Chicago. By taking Olgetree, the Bears would guarantee that they have another explosive athlete in the middle of the defense for years to come.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Cyprien is a small-school prospect who has generated more and more buzz as draft day draws closer. The Bengals don't have too many holes to fill, but safety is definitely an area of concern.
Cyprien would give the Bengals another young player with upside on a defense that is full of those type of players.
22. St. Louis Rams—Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas State
The Rams could really go in a couple different directions with this pick. A running back like Eddie Lacy would make sense. Daryl Richardson showed good flashes last season, but he's not guaranteed to replace Steven Jackson's production.
Another likely strategy is using this pick on a linebacker to go with James Laurinaitis and JoLonn Dunbar. Brown is an athletic backer who could probably play inside or outside and would give the Rams a young trio to anchor the defense.
23. Minnesota Vikings—Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings made big moves when it came to the wide receiver position, and Patterson would complete the shakeup. Percy Harvin is gone which means that Christian Ponder no longer has a speedy receiver to hit on deeper routes. Greg Jennings was signed but he's much better gaining yardage on shorter routes.
Patterson is an impressive athlete with good quickness and agility in the opening field. This would make the Vikings receiver corps a really dangerous group right away.
24. Indianapolis Colts—Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Colts brought in Greg Toler and re-signed Darius Butler, but they need a long-term starter across from Vontae Davis. Trufant has the size and athleticism to make an impact right away, and Chuck Pagano would take a smart step forward in building up his defense.
25. Minnesota Vikings—Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Vikings will get to make two selections in the 20s and, if they play their cards right, will get two players who can be plugged into the starting lineup right away. In this case, Sylvester Williams would pair up with Kevin Williams on the inside and for a run-stuffing duo that would elevate the play of everyone else around them.
26. Green Bay Packers—Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
DuJuan Harris was a revelation for the Packers during the playoffs, but he's far from a proven commodity at running back. If the Packers get the opportunity to add the year's top running back prospect to the fold, it's an opportunity they almost certainly take.
27. Houston Texans—Keenan Allen, WR, California
Finally Andre Johnson may have a receiver on the other side of the field who allows him for more one-on-one matchups. Receiver depth has been a longtime issue for the Texans, and Allen is the most polished receiver in this class. This would be a great fit.
28. Denver Broncos—Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
What a great situation the Broncos find themselves in. Defensive tackle is one of the few glaring needs on a team that is one of the most well-rounded in all of football, and it's the first round's most plentiful position. Here they get the big man from Ohio State and a run-stuffing starter for years to come.
29. New England Patriots—Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Even with Aqib Talib coming back to New England next season, the Patriots need help in the secondary. Kyle Arrington was signed as a free agent, but drafting Banks would give the Patriots an option they can rely on in the long term.
30. Atlanta Falcons—Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
Tony Gonzalez's return means that taking Tyler Eifert here doesn't make as much sense as it used to. Drafting Carradine to start opposite of Osi Umenyiora on the defensive line makes all kinds of sense, though. Carradine could be a lynchpin of this defensive line for a long time.
31. San Francisco 49ers—Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
This may be a bit of a reach for Hunt. He's still extremely raw and is definitely a project player. However, the Niners are the perfect team to take on a project player. They can afford to take the time to develop him into a monster 3-4 defensive end.
Justin Smith should serve as the perfect mentor for the hulking Estonian.
32. Baltimore Ravens—Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Ravens could replace one linebacker who was always in the media with another by taking Te'o to replace Ray Lewis. Criticism from the national championship game and his subpar 40 time aside, Te'o has an entire collegiate career of production that says he can play.
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