The 2013 NFL draft is just five days away, and the anticipation is heightening as to where this deep class of promising prospects will fall in the first round. While some prospective rookies are considered rather raw, there are plenty who figure to make a major impact in their maiden pro campaigns.
With the exception of the quarterback position, all other slots are loaded with depth and should lead to many first-year players becoming instant contributors.
Below is a complete mock of Round 1, with a focus on those who have the best chance to stand out the most right away.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
It remains to be seen just how big of an impact Joeckel will have in his first year despite his prospective gaudy draft status. Franchised left tackle Branden Albert may be headed to Miami, but if not, Joeckel will have to fill in on the right side for at least one year, which isn't his natural position.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Although he's considered rather raw, Jordan's versatility to play linebacker or defensive end in any alignment should prove too temping for the Jags to pass up. Defensive-minded head coach Gus Bradley needs an effective pass-rusher, and Jordan is arguably the best in the class.
Former NFL player and B/R draft analyst Ryan Riddle provides his take on Jordan, which is a testament to the dynamic athleticism the 6'6", 248-pounder brings to the table:
Ryan Riddle @Ryan_Riddle
Dion Jordan can start at slot corner in the NFL, no joke.4/17/2013, 10:34:54 PM
Jordan would fill in nicely as a 4-3 outside linebacker in Jacksonville's defense. He could not only frequently serve as an effective blitzer, but also play coverage on tight ends—and even wide receivers.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
If GM Reggie McKenzie wants to upgrade one of the NFL's most porous rosters, he should probably trade back and acquire more assets. However, Lotulelei wouldn't be a bad choice, as his strength and disruption in the trenches would instantly improve the Raiders' struggling defense.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah is a freak athlete in the mold of Oregon's Jordan, but he should find himself as a 3-4 defensive end in Philadelphia. That is the position and scheme he was most frequently in with the Cougars, and which would help him adjust quickly to the pros despite his lack of polish.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Defense should be the priority in Round 2, but until then, the Lions can afford to upgrade the offensive line for the second year in a row at this stage. Fisher is a surefire franchise left tackle, and 2012 first-round pick Riley Reiff can slide over to either guard or the opposite tackle position.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline reports that Milliner is the Browns' top priority in the draft, and there's good reason for that.
Tony Pauline @TonyPauline
Sources close to situation tell me Dee Milliner/CB/Alabama is #1 priority for Cleveland Browns with Barkevious Mingo/LB/LSU the contingency4/16/2013, 3:04:10 PM
Pairing Milliner with CB Joe Haden would give Cleveland one of the most exciting cornerback duos in the league, and Milliner believes they could eventually be the very best in the NFL.
Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal documented a quote from ex-Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson, the 2012 No. 3 overall pick, who states that he would welcome a reunion with his former teammate:
Nate Ulrich @NateUlrichABJ
#Browns T-Rich on Alabama CB Dee Milliner: "I’d love Dee to be here, especially on the other side of Joe (Haden). That’s a powerful thing."4/16/2013, 10:59:25 PM
Ray Horton's new, exotic 3-4 scheme should be filled with complex blitzes, but coverage on the back end will be of optimum importance to ensure the effectiveness of those calls.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
A third premier left tackle comes off the board in the first seven picks, which seems outrageous but perfectly fills a need for what was one of the worst blocking units in football in 2012. New QB Carson Palmer needs his blindside protected, and Johnson will do just that.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Maybe the Bills do have plans to make Kevin Kolb the starter, but given the improvement of the Miami Dolphins and the perennial dominance of the New England Patriots, they need more firepower to be a factor in the AFC East.
Smith provides just that with his lively arm and 4.59 speed in the 40-yard dash. He wasn't counted on to run much in college, but the zone-read-option trend that is taking the NFL by storm should be an element of Buffalo's offense if Smith joins the fold.
The combination of Smith and running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson would bring excitement to the franchise. If the Bills can add a No. 2 receiver in the second round, this team has the potential to fare surprisingly well in 2013.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Utilizing Mingo as a pass-rusher off the edge would give Rex Ryan's 3-4 defense a necessary change of pace. The upside on Mingo is as high as anyone due to his explosiveness off the snap and outstanding lateral quickness, but he does have boom-or-bust potential.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
This is a great value pick for the Titans, who need all the help they can get on the defensive side of the ball. Floyd should start immediately and be disruptive on the interior due to his rare speed and the future-pro-caliber competition he faced with the Gators in the Southeastern Conference.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Philip Rivers has not been himself the past two seasons, turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Part of that has been due to shoddy blocking, and Cooper will help out immensely in giving Rivers a cleaner pocket.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Beyond the 2013 season, the Dolphins aren't guaranteed to have any depth on the defensive line, with Paul Soliai and Randy Starks set to become free agents. Richardson should fill in as a valuable contributor to the rotation as a rookie, but he will ultimately be an anchor for years to come.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
GM Mark Dominik wisely splurged on ex-49ers All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson, but he must redeem his gaffe on Eric Wright from the previous offseason. Wright has thankfully restructured his lucrative deal, but Rhodes is the best corner available, and he will help 2012's worst pass defense immediately.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
A personnel upgrade to the secondary would be ideal for Carolina, and pairing the hard-hitting Vaccaro with Charles Godfrey would give the Panthers a stellar safety duo. Vaccaro covers well enough to be an extra corner in nickel and dime packages too.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
A lackluster pro day should drop Jones' stock a bit, but he is as proven a commodity coming out of college as any of the premier linebacker prospects. Jones can rush the passer effectively, defend the run and play solid coverage, which should help him thrive in Rob Ryan's defense.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Austin snagged over 100 receptions in each of his final two years in Morgantown, but there are questions as to whether he can produce as much as departed standout WR Danny Amendola did. Due to his slight stature, Austin may have trouble adjusting initially, but his playmaking ability is undeniable.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Now that Mike Wallace has left town, QB Ben Roethlisberger could use a new wideout. Patterson only got one year of experience facing top-notch collegiate competition, but he has the skill set to be a superstar at the next level.
What stands out most about him is what he can do in the open field. Although his route-running and grasp of complex offenses could use some work, there is little questioning his talents.
At the very least, Patterson will be a nightmare for opposing special teams coverage units as a returner. Don't be surprised if he emerges as the Offensive Rookie of the Year, though, due to offensive coordinator Todd Haley's expertise at developing receivers.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The former Crimson Tide guard comes from a wonderful program in Tuscaloosa, and it says a lot that he stood out so much on an offensive line filled with NFL talent. Warmack is a force as a run-blocker, which will help improve the Cowboys' rushing attack, which ranked 31st in 2012.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The fact that Ogletree can play inside or outside in the pros makes him a tantalizing option despite his off-field issues. Ogletree can fly all around the field, and his initial experience in Athens as a safety will allow him to cover effectively.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Martellus Bennett was signed in free agency, but he has a history of inconsistency. Eifert is the best receiving tight end in the class, and he may even vie for the No. 1 starting spot in Week 1 with a strong camp. He would be a nice fit in new head coach Marc Trestman's West Coast offense.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Matt Elam, S, Florida
Elam is supremely physical, but he is by no means a player who always goes for the big hit. Under the tutelage of Will Muschamp in Gainesville, the ex-Gator is ready to start from the beginning in the NFL and would give the Bengals an upgrade at either safety position over Reggie Nelson and Taylor Mays.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
All-Pro safety Quintin Mikell was released, so the Rams should use their second first-round selection on Cyprien. Head coach Jeff Fisher will then potentially have a trio of small-school, Pro Bowl-caliber players in the secondary if Cyprien can develop as well as Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins have.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Veteran corner Antoine Winfield is no longer around, which should make the position a top priority for GM Rick Spielman. Trufant has outstanding instincts and an uncanny knack to recover, despite being an unfinished product in terms of technique. He has the upside to be a shutdown corner in the years to come.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Keenan Allen, WR, California
Now that Andrew Luck is better protected, the Colts can focus on surrounding him with a stronger supporting cast of weapons. Allen has the size to be a legitimate factor in the red zone and also possesses the route-running finesse to create separation in the slot on underneath routes.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks): Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The presence of Te'o in the heart of the Vikings defense will help against the pass. Te'o has an undeniable nose for the football. And with the exception of the national championship game against Alabama, he was rarely caught out of position in college.
26. Green Bay Packers (12-4): Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The 231-pounder is a bruising force to be reckoned with. Aaron Rodgers and the passing game will be fine, but striking a better balance on offense is necessary for the Packers. Lacy possesses deceptive agility and obvious power, which will allow him to thrive as a workhorse back.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
At the Volunteers' pro day, Hunter checked in just under 6'4" and at 200 pounds. His 40" vertical leap was particularly ridiculous, and those natural gifts give him No. 1 potential. Pairing him opposite Andre Johnson would make the Texans offense that much more dangerous.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
This is a great value pick for Denver, who is in need of a defensive end due to the unfortunate loss of Elvis Dumervil to the Baltimore Ravens—the very team that devastated the Broncos in the postseason. Werner has the strength and block-shedding ability to be a sack specialist and a factor against the run.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
This continues to be an intriguing proposition, with Williams potentially joining up with Vince Wilfork on the inside of the Patriots defense. The acquisition of veteran Tommy Kelly gives New England even more depth and would provide Williams with two great mentors and minimal pressure as he develops.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
With Eifert off the board, the next best option to eventually replace Tony Gonzalez is Ertz. He has comparable pass-catching ability to Eifert, but he's also an extremely smart football player who thrived with the Cardinal as the team's leading receiver in 2012.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
There's a chance that Hunt will still be around when the Niners pick early in Round 2, but passing on him at this stage may take him off the board shortly thereafter. Hunt is a project player, but he is an absolute beast who can eventually be a star and add immediate depth to San Francisco's defensive front.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Rolando McClain is far from a sure commodity as the team's future leader on defense, which helps explain his modest one-year deal. Minter was wonderful in his only season starting for the Tigers and would provide insurance for the future in the defending Super Bowl champions' linebacker corps.
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