Andrew Luck, RG3 and the Class of 2012 spoiled us. On the heels of one of the most impactful draft classes in recent memory, the Class of 2013 arrives with significantly less star power. There is still plenty of talent to be found, but no sure-fire top pick; four of the top five picks in one mock could easily be sixth or later in the next.
Free agency will have a large hand in teams’ decision-making process as well, so consider this first mock of 2013 the roughest of rough drafts.
1. Chiefs: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Franchising Branden Albert doesn’t preclude the Chiefs from taking an offensive lineman, but if they’re going to pay Albert tackle money odds are they’re spending the top pick elsewhere.
2. Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Don’t rule out Geno Smith (if the new regime is willing to write off Blaine Gabbert) or a trade up with the Chiefs to secure Milliner; otherwise, new coach Gus Bradley would love a linebacker with pass-rushing skills.
3. Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Maybe the Raiders figure out what they want to do offensively, which brings Geno Smith or Tavon Austin (Oakland still loves fast guys) into play. More likely they look for defensive line help, with Floyd the best fit.
4. Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Will Chip Kelly prefer the athleticism of fast-rising Eric Fisher or the safer selection of Joeckel, as close to can’t-miss as there is in this class. Neither is a bad call.
5. Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Detroit is bummed Milliner doesn’t make it to them, but that does essentially leave them their choice of pass rushers: the upside and athleticism of Ziggy Ansah or Barkevious Mingo, or the proven productivity and high motor of Werner.
6. Browns: Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
Cleveland has some options when looking to upgrade their pass rush, in this scenario opting for the upside and freakish athleticism of Ansah over the upside and blazing speed of Dion Jordan.
7. Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Bruce Arians could give Kevin Kolb one more spin, use free agency or a trade to acquire a quarterback, or hope to get one at the top of the second round. In any of those cases, he needs someone to protect that investment—which is where Fisher comes in.
8. Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Another team with quarterback needs, but Doug Marrone needs to be sold on Barkley’s ability to play in the cold weather; otherwise, expect Buffalo to wait until Round 2—maybe for a Marrone/Ryan Nassib reunion?
9. Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Sure, the Jets need a QB. But Rex Ryan knows defense, and he’ll have plenty of fun turning Mingo loose in his scheme.
10. Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Some consider Warmack the best player in this draft, but guards traditionally don’t go off the board early. With decent tackles already in place, Tennessee is more than happy to add him to their offensive line.
11. Chargers: Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Mike McCoy needs to rebuild the line in front of Philip Rivers, and the fast-rising Johnson is a good fit for the scheme.
12. Dolphins: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Does it seem silly to anyone else that one year after dumping a big, talented yet enigmatic receiver… Miami is chasing after another one? Tavon Austin could be an option as well, and signing Mike Wallace in free agency changes things entirely.
13. Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Pre-combine the hope was that Milliner fell to here; now the Bucs will be happy to get Rhodes and address their defensive line issues on Day Two of the draft.
14. Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Prior to the Combine medical eval that revealed a heart condition, there was talk Lotulelei could go first overall. He still could; this draft is that crazy. But the medical red flag shouldn’t push him any lower than mid-first round.
15. Saints: Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
A speedy edge guy with cover skills is just what the Saints need to smooth their move to Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme.
16. Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
With two of the next seven picks the Rams can fill two needs. So, how do they want to play it: Vaccaro and an o-linemen at 22 or Lane Johnson or Jonathan Cooper here and Matt Elam or Eric Reid later?
17. Steelers: Damontre Moore, OLB, Texas A&M
Moore can become the next in Pittsburgh’s legacy of havoc-wreaking linebackers—assuming the veteran locker room can keep him on the straight and narrow path.
18. Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Several good options remain as Dallas rebuilds its defensive front for a 4-3 scheme, with Richardson getting thenod over Jonathan Jenkins here.
19. Giants: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
A nice, quiet place for Te’o to land, where the media won’t be all over his backstory. Bottom line, the Giants need to beef up their linebacking corps and Te’o seems like a Tom Coughlin kind of guy.
20. Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
In a deep offensive line class Chicago puts off finding help up front for a round in order to land Brian Urlacher’s heir apparent: an athletic middle linebacker who covers plenty of field. The alternative would be Lane Johnson
21. Bengals: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Unless Cincy opts to give A.J. Green a running mate like Tavon Austin, DC Mike Zimmer will make this call—and he has options, including linebacker Arthur Brown or end Datone Jones. Ultimately, Elam gets the nod.
22. Rams (via Redskins): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
If the Redskins still owned this pick they’d be fielding bids from all the QB-needy teams looking to climb back up to take Geno Smith. Instead, the Rams address their other need with a solid tackle prospect.
23. Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Ideally the Vikings keep Percy Harvin, add Greg Jennings via free agency, and still take Allen; they’re that needy at wide receiver. There is also defensive tackle and linebacker help still on the board.
24. Colts: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
There are needs at cornerback and linebacker, and still good talent available, but there’s also a need to protect their investment in Andrew Luck. Menelik Watson is also an option.
25. Seahawks: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Seattle could reach to fill a need for a base defensive end with Sam Montgomery and Alex Okafor still on the board, but sticking Brown on the weak side of this defense is too tempting for Pete Carroll to pass up.
26. Packers: Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
Few teams trade back more often than the Packers, so if the board plays out as above you can bet Ted Thompson unloads this pick for a team chasing Geno Smith. If they keep the pick, Bernard has the pass-catching (and pass-blocking) abilities to solve Green Bay’s running back dilemma.
It will be somewhat surprising if Austin lasts this long; the Patriots could be among the teams looking to move up to grab him. As a complementary target to Andre Johnson, Austin would make a strong case to be the first rookie off the fantasy draft board.
28. Broncos: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Denver wants to beef up its interior defense, so Williams or Johnathan Hankins make sense; so would a middle linebacker like Kevin Minter.
29. Patriots: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Surprisingly good cornerback options still on the board for the Patriots, who could also look for wide receiver help in a deep class or trade back for one of the QB-needy teams to start the run at that position.
30. Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Even if Tony Gonzalez returns for one more season, the Falcons can’t pass up this opportunity to snag a worthy replacement.
31. 49ers: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The Niners have enough picks—vastly exceeding their roster needs—to trade up for a speed guy like Tavon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson. Hunter wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize.
32. Ravens: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
With no obvious heir to Ray Lewis or Ed Reed still on the board, Baltimore beefs up its front line with the massive yet versatile Hankins.