Pretty soon there will be no more mock drafts and it will be go time at the 2013 NFL Draft in New York City. That doesn't mean we're going to stop analyzing and laying out the best potential scenarios for your favorite teams, though.
Draft day is a huge factor in a franchise's ability to turn things around. With that amount of significance surrounding the event there is no wonder it draws the massive following that it does each offseason.
It has become a year-round event. Spring games currently happening throughout college football have become a starting point for next year's pre-draft cycle.
And we haven't even experienced the 2013 draft yet!
There are several directions each team can go when weighing risk versus reward and need versus value. We've attempted to meet those conditions at the halfway point with our latest projections.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The Kansas City Chiefs could do a number of things with the No. 1 overall selection. It’s unusual to have the top pick be so fluid, especially this far into the draft process. Still, Luke Joeckel makes the most for the Chiefs as the Andy Reid era begins at Arrowhead Park. Virtually every expert sees this pick playing out with an offensive tackle despite the team using the franchise tag on left tackle Brandon Albert.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a plethora of needs to address if they hope to get out of the cellar of the AFC South Division. Getting to the quarterback is a huge need for the Jags and Ezekiel Ansah presents the biggest potential impact in that regard. He’s raw, but has the highest ceiling and could be what they need to turn things around for their pass rush which recorded the fewest sacks in the NFL in 2012.
3. Oakland Raiders—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Oakland Raiders need to find an identity on defense. Adding a huge run stuffer in the middle of their defensive line is a must in this draft after losing DT Desmond Bryant via free agency and cutting Tommy Kelly. Signing Matt Flynn may be a temporary fix at the QB position, but they won’t likely address that here after making that commitment. Expect them to look at QB in the later rounds.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
The Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia has begun. Kelly could certainly look at Dion Jordan to improve the Eagles’ pass rush, but solidifying a shaky offensive line should be his first order of business in the City of Brotherly Love. Eric Fisher’s athleticism and power make him arguably one of the best tackle prospects in this draft. He is a great fit in Kelly’s quick-strike offense. Geno Smith is an option here, but the Eagles may really like E.J. Manuel after his impressive workout with the team.
5. Detroit Lions—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Detroit Lions may want to think about an offensive tackle here, but with Fisher and Joeckel gone they will address another big need—cornerback. Dee Milliner is a prototypical corner that will give the Lions some relief in a thin secondary that was picked on in 2012. He will take some coaching, but won’t be asked to step in and cover No. 1 receivers from Day 1 with Chris Houston still on the roster.
6. Cleveland Browns—DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Ideally, the Cleveland Browns would like to trade out of this position. However, if they can’t, it would be hard for them to pass up on a talented pass-rusher like Dion Jordan. Jordan presents an incredible opportunity for the Browns to solidify their pass rush as they transition to the 3-4 defense. They already added Paul Kruger via free agency and Jabaal Sheard will transition to outside linebacker, but the team has little proven depth behind them.
7. Arizona Cardinals—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
It’s hard to imagine the Arizona Cardinals passing on Geno Smith here, but they still have unknown and inconsistent options at offensive tackle. Without a solid pass protector at the QB’s blind side it won’t matter who is leading their offense into the future. Lane Johnson, a converted QB and TE, may not be the best value here, but he has a sky-high ceiling and definitely fills a need for the Cards. Newly acquired QB Carson Palmer will breathe a sigh of relief with this selection.
8. Buffalo Bills—QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Popular belief may disagree with this selection. Another team may take Geno Smith well before the Buffalo Bills are on the clock here. Also, the Bills are under new management and are widely believed to be interested in pursuing new head coach Doug Marrone’s college QB, Ryan Nassib. While they may certainly be interested in Marrone’s college project passer, it would be extremely hard for them to pass on Smith if he falls to them at No. 8 overall.
9. New York Jets—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The New York Jets shed a ton of dead weight over the offseason and have a multitude of needs to address in the 2013 draft. Selecting Star Lotulelei here is a good start to rebuilding a defense that fell apart in 2012. Lotulelei raised red flags at the scouting combine after testing positive for a heart condition. Those concerns have since dissipated after “at least 10” medical exams have cleared the large interior defensive lineman.
10. Tennessee Titans—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Adding OG Andy Levitre may not have been enough to finish the Tennessee Titans offensive line. However, the team needs help in its secondary and Kenny Vaccaro is the best prospect at this point in the draft. He has prototypical size, speed and awareness to be a terror all over the field for a defense that desperately needs a playmaker.
11. San Diego Chargers—OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
With the top three offensive tackles off of the board, the San Diego Chargers will explore an area they have tried to address in several recent drafts. Barkevious Mingo has the potential to be a terror off of the edges at the next level. His addition will help the Chargers mount a fiercer pass rush to go along with a rush defense that has gradually become one of the best in the league.
12. Miami Dolphins—CB Xavier Rhodes, FSU
Taking a right tackle here may be a little too high for the Miami Dolphins, especially with their big need for a standout cornerback. Miami forced just 10 interceptions last season but was near the top of the league in sacks (42).
Xavier Rhodes has the size and speed to play with the top wide receivers in the NFL. He is an ideal corner for the 'Fins because he’s strong at the line of scrimmage and can alter a wide receiver’s routes. That will allow their pass rush to work its magic and get after the QB.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
The jury is still out on Josh Freeman as a franchise quarterback and 2013 could be his last season to state his case. What better way to help him and themselves than for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take the most gifted tight end in this class? Tyler Eifert is a dynamic receiving threat that would give Freeman multiple options to get the football down the field. How can an opposing defense hope to contain Mike Williams, Vincent Jackson and Eifert?
14. Carolina Panthers—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Carolina’s rush defense wasn’t porous in 2012, but it could certainly use a facelift this offseason. Adding Sheldon Richardson, a smart, fast and technically sound defensive tackle, could help them turn things around upfront defensively in 2013.
15. New Orleans Saints—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Questionable medical concerns and a poor pro day pushed Jarvis Jones out of the top 10 and right into the laps of the New Orleans Saints. Jones plays fast and has a knack for beating offensive lineman and disrupting a QB’s progressions. He will be an instrumental piece in turning around a Saints defense that was horrid in all regards in 2012.
16. St. Louis Rams—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The St. Louis Rams lost slot receiver Danny Amendola to the New England Patriots this offseason. This pick is a bit of a no-brainer if Tavon Austin is still on the board here. Austin is shifty, fast, quick and a proven playmaker with the football. He can help the Rams offense take some large strides in 2013. His size, at 5’8”, 174 pounds, isn’t ideal, but he is well-built and surprisingly durable.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost WR Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins via free agency and the New England Patriots signed WR Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet. While the Steelers don’t typically draft wide receivers this high, it’s hard to pass up on a talent like Cordarrelle Patterson. Scoring points will be tough for Pittsburgh in 2013 unless it has a plan to replace its departed receivers.
18. Dallas Cowboys—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Dallas struggled to run the football in 2012 and could definitely use a player like Jonathan Cooper to step in and help them up front. In fact, the Cowboys were next to last in total rushing, recording just 1,265 yards on the ground. Cooper was labeled as the “best blocker” in this draft class by ESPN’s Todd McShay (ESPN Insider required). If still available he would be nearly impossible to pass up.
19. New York Giants—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
The New York Giants were depleted at cornerback last season and must address the position in the opening rounds of the 2013 draft. They make the right call by going with Desmond Trufant—brother of NFL CBs Marcus and Isaiah Trufant—still on the board. Trufant is “arguably this draft’s top cover corner,” according to CBS Sports’ Rob Rang.
20. Chicago Bears—ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
The Chicago Bears shored up their offensive line via free agency and can afford to select Brian Urlacher’s replacement here with their first-round pick. Alec Ogletree is an extremely dynamic option. He can play inside or outside and has the strength and athleticism to take on blockers and prevent plays from developing.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—ILB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
With the top cornerbacks off the board the Cincinnati Bengals will have to look at replacing middle linebacker Rey Maualuga with this selection. The Manti Te’o story is well known, but he is still capable of being an impact player in the middle of the defense. Cincinnati has an established front seven that will free up Te’o.
22. St. Louis Rams—OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
We’re not convinced the St. Louis Rams are comfortable with Sam Bradford’s pocket protectors. D.J. Fluker projects best as a right tackle and that’s exactly what the Rams will select him to do. Running the football will be important too, and Fluker can perform as good as any first-round prospect in that regard.
23. Minnesota Vikings—ILB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Bleacher report’s Matt Miller ranked inside linebacker Arthur Brown as the top middle linebacker prospect and 19th-best prospect overall. It’s hard to argue given Brown’s instincts and ability to finish tackles. Minnesota has the luxury of improving two key needs after dealing Percy Harvin and will get a fine player with their first of two first-round selections.
24. Indianapolis Colts—OLB/DE Cornellius Carradine, FSU
Cornellius “Tank” Carradine is recovering from a torn ACL injury in November. Carradine has a big test to pass during an April 20 pro day, but has been rehabbing with Russ Paine—the miracle worker who helped Adrian Peterson during his remarkable recovery. The Indianapolis Colts could do worse here than picking up a dynamic pass-rusher for their 3-4 defense. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller labeled him as a “dominant pass-rusher” and a top-five prospect when healthy.
25. Minnesota Vikings—CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State
Minnesota ranked 24th in total pass defense in 2012 and lost veteran CB Antoine Winfield via free agency. Cornerback is a no-brainer here for the Vikes, but Jamar Taylor may not be. Taylor was labeled as “one of the best all-around cornerbacks” in this draft class by CBS Sports’ Rob Rang. He fits a need and is definitely capable of stepping in and playing from Day 1.
26. Green Bay Packers—ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
The Green Bay Packers need defensive front-seven help and could address that need in a variety of different ways. We like inside linebacker Kevin Minter as a fix for a rush defense that left much to be desired in 2012. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said Minter is a name many regard to be on par or even above Alec Ogletree and Manti Te’o on draft boards (ESPN Insider required).
27. Houston Texans—WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
The Houston Texans need a reliable option outside of aging WR Andre Johnson. Justin Hunter brings an ability to stretch the field and give the Texans offense an added dimension. Things get stagnant in Houston at times and Hunter could definitely help spark some life for it on offense.
28. Denver Broncos—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
The Denver Broncos should look to fill the void left by the departure of Elvis Dumervil. UCLA’s Datone Jones is a versatile pass-rusher that can play in a variety of techniques in passing situations.
29. New England Patriots—WR Robert Woods, USC
The New England Patriots have completely revamped their wide receiver corps this offseason. Losing Wes Welker via free agency, cutting veteran Brandon Lloyd, signing Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet and inking Danny Amendola are the highlights of that activity. The quick and big Robert Woods will give Tom Brady a receiver he can rely on to get open down the field—completing the new-look Patriots offense.
30. Atlanta Falcons—DE Bjoern Werner, FSU
Can this be a dream scenario for the Atlanta Falcons? If Florida State’s large and imposing defensive end is still available the Falcons will be thanking the football gods on Day 1 of the 2013 draft. Werner has the size, pedigree and first-step that will provide the Falcons with the pass-rusher they have been coveting for some time.
31. San Francisco 49ers—S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
With Dashon Goldson gone the San Francisco 49ers are in a perfect position to draft for both need and value at the bottom of the first round. Jonathan Cyprien is capable of stepping in right away and filling that void. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. lauded Cyprien for his pursuit, awareness and tackling skills (ESPN Insider required).
32. Baltimore Ravens—WR Keenan Allen, California
Anquan Boldin carried the load for the Baltimore Ravens during the postseason and was a huge proponent of their Super Bowl XLVII victory. With Boldin gone, the revamped Ravens need another reliable, big and dynamic target for Joe Flacco. Keenan Allen is a solid route-runner and catches nearly everything thrown in his direction.
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