2013 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting How First Round Will Play out

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IApril 21, 2013

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 22:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Maryland Terrapins during the game on September 22, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  WVU defeated Maryland 31-21.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The 2013 NFL draft is just days away, as Thursday night marks the start of the first round, which will feature 30 teams and 32 key selections.

While this year's draft class stands out as one of the more lackluster in recent years, that doesn't mean it won't turn out a few gems. There is seemingly no end to the potential for some of 2013's elite first-round prospects.

Below, we'll run through the entire first round of the 2013 NFL draft, projecting how all 32 picks will shake out.

*Top ideal fits are italicized.

No. 1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, OT

Kansas City could be better suited to trade down considering it franchised tackle Branden Albert this offseason. But assuming the Chiefs stay put, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel is their guy at No. 1 overall. 

Possessing the prototypical tackle size and frame, Joeckel has the potential to step in right away and anchor an NFL offensive line.

No. 2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Dion Jordan, Oregon, DE

Oregon's Dion Jordan is an ideal fit for a Jacksonville team that recorded a league-worst 20 sacks in 2012. The Jaguars could go in several directions at No. 2, but boosting the pass rush would be the smartest.

No. 3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Sharrif Floyd, Florida, DT

There's an excellent chance that Florida's Sharrif Floyd will be available for the Oakland Raiders at No. 3, and oh, what a selection he would be for a team in need of talent on the defensive side of the ball. 

No. 4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, OT

Philadelphia would love to get its hands on one of the top two tackles in this year's draft. In this scenario, Philadelphia takes Central Michigan stud Eric Fisher, who will provide the Eagles an excellent opportunity to steady the O-line.

No. 5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dee Milliner, Alabama, CB

Detroit wasn't terrible defending the pass last season, but the Lions lack a playmaker in the secondary. 

Alabama's Dee Milliner would offer that. A quick cover corner, Milliner is exceptional with the ball in the air and won't shy away from making contact in the running game.

No. 6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Ezekiel Ansah, BYU, DE

Brigham Young's Ezekiel Ansah is gaining momentum heading into draft day considering his rare combination of size and speed. Ansah is a track star in a 6'6", 270-pound body, which means he'll like be a top-10 selection in 2013.

No. 7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Lane Johnson, Oklahoma, OT

This is an easy one for the Cardinals. Oklahoma's Lane Johnson, a super athletic tackle who thrives as a pass protector, would be a tremendous pickup for an offense that surrendered 58 sacks in 2012. 

No. 8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Geno Smith, West Virginia, QB

Kevin Kolb is a nice backup, but the Bills aren't foolish enough to consider moving forward with Kolb as their full-time starter. If Geno Smith is on the board at No. 8, it's hard to imagine Buffalo passing on him given their current situation under center. 

No. 9. New York Jets (6-10): Star Lotulelei, Utah, DT

With Sharrif Floyd off the board, Utah's Star Lotulelei provides exceptional value for the New York Jets at No. 9. New York ranked 26th against the run last season and could use Lotulelei's presence in the middle to disrupt opposing offenses.

No. 10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, G

For a team that wants to run the football with Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene in 2013, boasting a stellar guard tandem is critical. With Andy Levitre already brought over from Buffalo, the Titans can secure another versatile blocker in North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper.

No. 11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Chance Warmack, Alabama, G 

If San Diego is going to compete with the Denver Broncos for the AFC West crown in 2013, it will have to continue to build on the offensive line. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times last season, but Alabama's Chance Warmack would certainly help bring that number down a bit.

No. 12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Desmond Trufant, Washington, CB

As always, Miami will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots twice in 2013, meaning that the Dolphins can ill afford to rank 27th against the pass again. 

That said, the Dolphins should look to draft a talented cover corner like Washington's Desmond Trufant at No. 12. Florida State's Xavier Rhodes is another solid option at this spot.

No. 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Tavon Austin, West Virginia, WR

While Tampa Bay doesn't have a huge need at wide receiver, Tavon Austin's big-play ability makes him an intriguing pick right outside the top 10 for a team like the Bucs, who will compete against three other explosive offenses in the NFC South.

No. 14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, DT

Missouri's Sheldon Richardson is a no-brainer for the Carolina Panthers, who have been bullied up front on the defensive line as of late. With Richardson winning the battle at the point of attack, the rest of Carolina's defenders can excel at what they do best, especially the linebackers, who will be under less pressure to make tackles.

No. 15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Jarvis Jones, Georgia, LB

New Orleans ranked 31st and 32nd in pass and rush defense a year ago, meaning that the Saints have essentially no choice but to draft defense in the first round. If available, Georgia's Jarvis Jones offers the best value.

The nation's leading sacker in 2012, Jones recorded 14.5 sacks for the Bulldogs last season and can change a game on any given play.

Arguably the top defender coming out of college this year, Jones isn't going to whiff on ball-carriers or fail to generate a pass rush on third down. Durability is a concern, sure, but the certain reward outweighs the risk in this case.

No. 16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, S

Safety is an area of need for the St. Louis Rams, and considering they'll pick again at No. 22, they can address that need in the mid-first round before targeting a wide receiver a few selections later. 

Texas' Kenny Vaccaro is the best safety coming out this spring, and he makes tons of sense for St. Louis at the No. 16 spot.

No. 17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame, TE

Tyler Eifert's ability to excel in jump-ball situations and especially in the red zone makes him the ideal tight end to play with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. 

No. 18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Barkevious Mingo, LSU, DE

If the Cowboys are going to turn their fortune around, it's got to be on the defensive side of the ball. At No. 18, LSU's KeKe Mingo offers the right combination of versatility and potential to warrant a selection.

No. 19. New York Giants (9-7): D.J. Fluker, Alabama, OT

New York needs to get more physical up front in order to avoid becoming one-dimensional offensively. Alabama road grater D.J. Fluker is well worth a first-round selection.

No. 20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Justin Hunter, Tennessee, WR

With Brandon Marshall operating on one side of the field and Martellus Bennett set to rule the middle, Chicago still needs to find a reliable No. 2 wide receiver to keep defenses honest on the side opposite Marshall.

No. 21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Alec Ogletree, Georgia, LB

There's a good chance the Cincinnati Bengals have already fallen in love with what Georgia's Alec Ogletree brings to the table at 6'2", 240 pounds.

A physical inside linebacker with length and speed, Ogletree would fill a key need for Cincinnati while providing the Bengals with a play-making defender to unleash on third downs. Ogletree is a phenomenal tackler and is also exceptional playing the run.

His intangibles are a bit of a concern considering some of his off-field baggage, but with time his on-field instincts should improve, making him one of the league's top linebackers. 

No. 22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) (10-6): Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee, WR

With a safety already locked up in this scenario, St. Louis can use its second first-round pick to add to its wide receiving corps. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson is a big-play threat—just what Sam Bradford and the Rams offense need.

No. 23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Sylvester Williams, North Carolina, DT

After acquiring an additional first-round pick from Seattle in the Percy Harvin trade, the Vikings have the luxury of getting younger on the defensive line at No. 23. North Carolina's Sylvester Williams is one of the top defensive tackles in this year's draft class, and he offers a mighty punch up the middle.

No. 24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): John Jenkins, Georgia, DT

The Colts would love to get their hands on Sylvester Williams to shore up their porous rush defense, but Georgia's John Jenkins is another solid prospect who can come in and make a difference right away.

No. 25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks) (11-5): Keenan Allen, California, WR

Greg Jennings alone won't fix what ails Minnesota on the outside. The Vikings need someone who can stretch the field alongside the veteran, and that's why Cal's Keenan Allen looks like a promising fit at No. 25.

No. 26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Eddie Lacy, Alabama, RB

The Packers' back-to-back postseason flameouts should spark change in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is super talented, but he can't continue to do it all for the Pack's offense. That's where Alabama's Eddie Lacy comes in.

Lacy is a bruising style of runner and a reliable option in the red zone and other short-yardage situations. 

The hands-down best running back available this year, Lacy runs with tremendous power and balance. He's agile, he can bounce off tacklers and he can keep the play alive for extra yardage. If he's still on the board at No. 26, Green Bay will be hard-pressed to pass on him.

No. 27. Houston Texans (12-4): Kevin Minter, LSU, LB

A leader and an ideal teammate, Kevin Minter would fit right in with what Gary Kubiak is trying to accomplish in Houston. Plus, the Texans need help at linebacker.

No. 28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, CB

With an aging Champ Bailey showing signs of decline, Denver must address its secondary this April, perhaps drafting a promising corner like Florida State's Xavier Rhodes, who's still on the board in this scenario.

No. 29. New England Patriots (12-4): Matt Elam, Florida, S

New England could target a wide receiver at No. 29, but with most of the topflight prospects already off the board, the Pats could wind up going defense with their first-round choice. In that case, Florida safety Matt Elam is their guy.

No. 30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Jamar Taylor, Boise State, CB

Atlanta will field one of the league's top offensive units again in 2013 with Tony Gonzalez coming back and Steven Jackson carrying the ball on the ground. But the Falcons still have room for improvement, specifically in the secondary, where Boise State's Jamar Taylor would be big-time selection late in the first round.

No. 31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): John Cyprien, Florida International, S

San Francisco will likely target one of the top safeties in the first round this spring considering that the Niners lost a great deal of production at that spot following Dashon Goldson's decision to sign with Tampa Bay.

Florida International's John Cyprien may not be as well-known as Kenny Vaccaro or Matt Elam, but he's right up there in terms of potential.

No. 32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB

Manti Te'o would fill a big need for the Ravens at linebacker. Not to mention, this is a guy who nearly won Heisman Trophy honors last season at Notre Dame, recording 113 total tackles and seven interceptions. 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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