2013 NFL Mock Draft 3.0 (Picks 1-18)
Post-combine and (most of) free agency 2013 NFL Mock Draft (3.0): Picks 1-18
3/19/13 in NFL
With the start of the new league year bringing an abundance of free agent signings and plenty of roster cuts, a lot of teams have different roster needs than they did a month ago. In addition, the NFL combine and college pro days have had a large impact on many of the NFL Draft's prospects. I've taken those changes into consideration, and now have my updated 2013 NFL mock draft:
Note: Changed selections are highlighted in red. If I add further explanation to an unchanged pick, it will be marked with an asterisk.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (previously Star Lotulelei)
This is the second time I have flip-flopped between Joeckel and Lotulelei on this pick, but I believe it will be the last. With the Chiefs trading for Alex Smith, signing Sean Smith, and re-signing Dwayne Bowe, they have filled most of their biggest needs. By releasing Eric Winston - their right tackle who started 16 games in 2012 - the Chiefs opened up a spot for Joeckel to become an immediate starter. The defensive line is the next likeliest area I would expect them to address, but keep in mind they spent a first-round pick on DT Dontari Poe just a year ago.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah (previously Luke Joeckel)
This is assuming that the heart condition discovered at the combine turns out to be nothing serious, of course. I think people are forgetting about Lotulelei because of that heart issue and his absence from the combine, but it was just a few weeks ago that he was considered one of the frontrunners for the first overall pick. A lot of people have Sharrif Floyd above Lotulelei in their DT rankings, but Lotulelei is the superior pass rusher, and that is the Jaguars' biggest area of need on defense. His presence requires double-teams, and makes it much easier for teammates to get to the quarterback. Eric Fisher could also be an option here. If the Chiefs go with Fisher first overall, however, I think the Jaguars will select Joeckel, who is a perfect fit in their new zone-blocking scheme.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
With Lotulelei off the board, I'm simply going with the next dominant defensive tackle. Floyd was a monster on the Gators' front line last season. He can line up in multiple areas, which makes him a nice fit for head coach Dennis Allen's hybrid defensive scheme. He can collapse the pocket and get to the passer, while also blowing up running plays. With the Raiders' defense struggling in multiple areas, it would be wise to draft a player who helps in more than one facet of the game.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB, Arkansas (previously Bjoern Werner)
In my last mock draft, I had the Eagles passing on Milliner under the assumption that Nnamdi Asomugha would return to Philadelphia on a restructured contract. After releasing Asomugha and losing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Broncos, cornerback is once again a position of need. They did sign Cary Williams (formerly of the Ravens), but opposing quarterbacks posted a 91.6 rating when throwing against him in 2012. The Eagles could still use a true No. 1 cornerback like Milliner.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan (previously Dee Milliner)
There is a lot of talk about the Lions selecting a player like Ezekiel Ansah or Jarvis Jones, but I think that tackle is their biggest need, and they'll have an extremely hard time passing on Fisher if he falls to them. After losing right tackle Gosder Cherilus to the Colts, left tackle Jeff Backus retired. If the Lions don't find some viable tackles, their high powered offense could completely flop in 2013.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU (previously Jarvis Jones)
This was one of the hardest prediction for me in the entire first round. The best players on the board are mostly defensive front-seven players, and the Browns are actually pretty strong in that area. I even considered giving them one of the highly touted guards, but assuming Jason Pinkston (blood clot in lung) can return healthy, the Browns have a very good offensive line. Geno Smith could be in play, but Browns officials have not sounded too pressed to add serious competition for Brandon Weeden at quarterback just yet. In Ansah, the Browns would get arguably the most dynamic player on the board with the highest ceiling. However, I believe they are a prime candidate to trade out of this spot.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (previously Eric Fisher)
I originally thought Smith would go late in the first round to a team that would trade up, but a few things have changed since then. First of all, Smith's stock has been on the rise, especially since his pro day when he completed 60 of 64 passes including two drops. In addition, the Cardinals quarterback situation has somehow gotten even worse. They cut Kevin Kolb and only managed to sign Drew Stanton, who hasn't thrown a pass since 2010 and has a career quarterback rating of 63.1. Unfortunately for Smith, I'm not sure any quarterback can succeed behind the Cardinals' putrid offensive line.
8. Buffalo Bills: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon (previously Alec Ogletree)
I'm going with Jordan here for similar reasons to why I originally went with Ogletree. The Bills have some studs on the defensive line, an elite safety in Jairus Byrd, and a 2012 first-round pick at cornerback in Stephon Gilmore. What they lack is talent at linebacker, and their lack thereof resulted in opponents gashing them for 5.0 yards per carry in 2012. Jordan can provide an immediate boost in talent as a versatile, athletic defender, who I envision playing outside linebacker in a 4-3 base for the Bills.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones (previously Damontre Moore)
Like my Star Lotulelei prediction, this pick is under the assumption that Jones checks out medically. The Jets absolutely need a boost in the pass rush. They finished 25th in sacks last season, and released starting outside linebacker Calvin Pace. Jones has the potential to come in and immediately be the Jets' most intimidating pass rusher, providing a significant boost in a huge area of need.
10. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC (previously Kenny Vaccaro)
As I said in my last mock draft, the Titans can address either side of the ball here. I still like the idea of Vaccaro, but the skyrocketing stock of Cooper has me thinking they'll bolster the middle of their offensive line. The Titans' ground game may be struggling, but you can't put all the blame on Chris Johnson. There are rarely holes for Titans' running backs to run through. Though Cooper is a guard (an unpopular position early in the draft), he is considered by many to be a top-ten prospect and could really help the Titans' offense.11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
* Johnson may not be as big of a name as the top two tackles, but he is certainly no slouch. ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both rank Johnson among the top ten players in this draft, and he fills a position need for the Chargers, who need to replace an unproductive locker room scapegoat in Jared Gaither. Offensive line is definitely the Chargers' biggest weakness, and they need Johnson to help prevent Rivers from being pummeled for another season.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State (previously Cordarrelle Patterson)
My first two mock drafts had Miami going after a wide receiver with this pick, but after re-signing Brian Hartline, and acquiring Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson, and Dustin Keller in free agency, I think it's time to address something other than the passing attack. The Dolphins struggled against the pass in 2012, and lost top cornerback Sean Smith to the Chiefs. I don't think that Rhodes' football ability necessarily warrants him being taken here, but he has a rare size/athleticism combination that is sure to get scouts excited.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
* With a promising offense and dominant run defense, the Bucs should either select a player in the secondary or a pass rusher. With their 2012 leader in sacks (Michael Bennett) heading off to Seattle, this team severely lacks a pass rushing presence. Mingo is a high-upside freak athlete who may not make a significant impact immediately, but could very well be a dominant force off the edge in time.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
* The Panthers have a tough decision to make with this pick, as they could really address either side of the ball. I was extremely close to giving them Tavon Austin here, as their lone proven receiver is getting up there in age (Steve Smith, 34 in May). However, I'm very high on Richardson, and the Panthers could create a pretty intimidating front seven by adding him to the middle of their defensive line. Smith is still a viable option in the passing game, and this draft class of receivers is deep.
15. New Orleans Saints: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia (previously Manti Te'o)
The Saints defense could use a versatile player who could impact the game in several ways. Ogletree covers the entire field in run defense, and as a former safety, he covers tight ends very well in the passing game. I think Ogletree may be flying a bit under the radar right now, in part due to off-field concerns, and if the Saints get him here, we could end up wondering how he lasted this long.
16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Rams have focused on defense in the draft for the past few years, and it showed in 2012. Ranked 14th in both scoring and yards, I expect the Rams' young defense to get even better next season. The offense, however, was an issue all year.
* I think this is a good opportunity for the Rams to help out their former first-overall pick Sam Bradford by upgrading his protection. By adding Warmack to an offensive line that now features Rodger Saffold and Jake Long, Rams' running backs should have a much easier time finding room to operate, and Sam Bradford should have significantly more time than last year to go through his reads.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia (previously Ezekiel Ansah)
Everyone is talking about how the Steelers are getting too old on defense, but no one seems to be talking about their diminishing offense. They fielded the top ranked defense in the NFL last season, while their offense was ranked 21st. With Mike Wallace heading to Miami, and the Patriots threatening to sign restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet, the Steelers are in danger of having no dangerous weapons on offense outside of Antonio Brown. By drafting Austin, the Steelers could get a receiver who could explode for a big play at any time. His style of play would fit well in Todd Haley's offensive scheme.
18. Dallas Cowboys: DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Cowboys were terrible at running the football this season, and since they already have a running back they like, I think this is the time for them to address the offensive line.
* The interior of the Cowboys' offensive line is particularly weak, but there are no guards worth taking at this point. Fluker projects to be a strong NFL player at right tackle, where the Cowboys are likely to leave a hole by either cutting Doug Free or moving him to guard.
For the rest of my mock draft, click here.