The NFL draft is finally upon us and the league rumor mill is buzzing. This year’s draft should prove to be unprecedented in terms of unpredictability, which should make Thursday night all the more exciting. Here’s how I expect the first round to play out. —

2013 NFL Mock Draft


1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher? That’s the multi-million dollar question. I believe it will be a tackle, and the disgruntled lineman Brandon Albert could be dealt to the Miami Dolphins.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

The Jaguars have a big need for a pass rusher, but they need to protect their quarterback Blaine Gabbert in order for him to have success.

3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DL, Florida

The raiders have a ton of needs, but they have over-hauled their defense this season and continue that process adding the Florida standout lineman.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

There’s no doubt the Eagles have a huge hole at the tackle position. With Fisher and Joeckel likely gone by this point, Philadelphia pounces on Lane Johnson. One has to think Oregon’s defensive prospect Dion Jordan is in play with Head Coach Chip Kelly now at the helm though.

5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU

The Lions have a need at cornerback, but look for them to fill the void left by Cliff Avril with an intriguing pass rusher in Ansah.

6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Milliner is slightly overrated, but pairing him with Joe Haden would turn Cleveland’s secondary into a strong unit.

7. Arizona Cardinals: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

With the run on tackles starting early, Arizona adds a strong pass rusher with a ton of upside.

8. Buffalo Bills: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

Buffalo is a wildcard pick to me, and the possibility of them selecting Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib is in the back of my mind. They could go in a number of different directions, but I look for them to fill the void left by Andy Levitre.

9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

It’s no secret Rex Ryan loves to be aggressive and adding Mingo to their front seven would allow the defensive minded coach to turn up the heat.

10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

The former guard and now head coach, Mike Munchak, takes the best player available at this point. Warmack is tremendous and will bolster Tennessee’s offensive line.

11. San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OL, Alabama

San Diego is another wildcard for me. Does a tackle or guard slide to them? Do they trade out of the pick? It’s a tough call. It’s a bit of a reach, but the Chargers need to upgrade their offensive line.

12. Miami Dolphins: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston

After losing Sean Smith, the Dolphins add a solid cornerback in Hayden who could prove to be the best of the class when it’s all said and done.

13. New York Jets: 
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

Gang Green needs offensive playmakers, plain and simple. Austin is electric and will add an instant spark to a lethargic offense.

14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DL, Utah

The Panthers have a ton of holes, but the defensive tackle position is a glaring need. Star could turn out to be a star in the NFL early as long as he is cleared medically.

15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri

The Saints need help on defense and have an opportunity to add one of the less talked about lineman in this draft class. Richardson adds an interior pass rushing presence and will help the unit get more physical.

16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

The Rams will be most likely disappointed Tavon Austin is gone at this point, but they add an immensely talented receiver who can contribute immediately.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

Jarvis Jones just looks like a Steeler. Pittsburgh needs to add a pass rushing linebacker with James Harrison now in Cincinnati and Jones seems to fit the bill.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

I am not a huge fan of Vaccaro, but he is talented and could help a secondary in desperate need of a playmaker.

19. New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley are no longer on the team, so there’s a big need at linebacker. New York loves to build their front seven and get an intriguing prospect in Alec Ogletree.

20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame

Chicago knows Brian Urlacher isn’t getting any younger and add Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker’s stock has fallen since the national championship game, but he should be a solid pro.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU

Cyprien has been rising up draft boards and the Bengals are rumored to love him. It might come as a shock to most, but he could be very good in Mike Zimmer’s defense.

22. St. Louis Rams: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

Steven Jackson is now with the Atlanta Falcons and Lacy is the best running back in the draft. He is an every-down back that can carry the load in St. Louis.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

The Vikings add another Williams to the middle of their defensive line and get younger in the trenches.

24. Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB/S, FSU

The Colts have been active in free agency addressing their needs in the secondary, but selecting Rhodes would give Chuck Pagano a talented prospect to groom in his defense.

25. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

They signed Greg Jennings, but pairing him with Hunter could be a scary one, two punch. They need to

26. Green Bay Packers: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA

The Packers want to get more physical. Jones is a monster and can play several spots along the defensive line. If Eddie Lacy is available, I would think he would be a candidate too.

27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

Andre Johnson is really the only viable receiver Houston has and they are in need for another talented pass catcher. Several guys could be in play here, but I see Hopkins fitting in nicely.

28. Denver Broncos: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M

The Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil in one of the most bizarre situations in recent memory. Denver would love to get some help in their secondary, but pairing Moore with Von Miller is an intriguing thought.

29. New England Patriots: Robert Woods, WR, USC

It’s no secret I am a huge fan of Robert Woods.Would this be a shock? Nothing surprises me anymore with Bill Belichick in the NFL Draft, but the Patriots have not selected a wide receiver in the first round since Terry Glenn in 1996. It’s time New England develops a young wide out for their offense and it could very well be the USC product.

Woods absolutely screams Patriot and would not only fill a need, but also is a quality selection is this area of the draft. He’s smart, durable, versatile, had great college production at USC and could contribute right away. He is a superb route runner and has some of the best hands in the country. Woods might not be the most talented, but he will have a long NFL career.

I would not be surprised if the Patriots traded back into the mid 30’s and picked up a late third or early fourth round pick.

Two players to also keep in mind are Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones. Both seem to be good fits at other positions of need and all three players would be welcomed additions to New England.

30. Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

The Falcons would be ecstatic if Desmond Trufant slides to them and it also wouldn’t surprise me if Atlanta moved up to target a cornerback. I wouldn’t rule out a defensive end either to help ease the loss of John Abraham.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Jamar Taylor, CB, BSU

I love Taylor as a prospect and putting him in San Francisco’s defense just made too much sense. He is a great fit and his talents will be maximized by the 49ers.

32. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, S, Florida

Elam isn’t the next Ed Reed, but then again, who is? Nevertheless, the Florida safety is a human missile and offers a ton for a defense in need of young secondary help. I could also see a linebacker being under consideration here as well.

Final Thought:

Even though I did not mock any trades into this draft, I would expect a few trades towards the end of the round for teams looking to get a quarterback. For instance I could see the Cleveland Browns potentially looking into West Virginia QB Geno Smith and the Buffalo Bills targeting Syracuse signal caller Ryan Nassib. Should make for some interesting drama at the end of the night.

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