When I used to do this for FanNation.com, it was routinely one of the highest viewed posts regarding the NFL Draft every year. The main reason I feel it was so popular (one post netting me over 19,000 views), is that I not only do a mock draft but I also pit myself against the best of the best. AKA the guys who get paid to do this full time. I’ll post the scoring system sometime early next week, as well as a list of the “challengers” I am competing against. And while I have never “won” the challenge, every year I have done this, I’ve placed respectably, usually averaging about five correct picks in the first round of the draft.
That may not seem like a whole lot, but something I’ve discovered doing this the past few years is that rarely will a Mel Kiper or a Pete Prisco hit on more than five, and certainly almost never more than seven. So believe it or not, but 5-7 correct picks is about the average. Some will have less than that, others could have 8, maybe 9. It really depends on a lot of different factors: Consensus top picks, first round trades, out-of-the-blue risks (Ted Ginn, anybody?), etc. All of that is unpredictable, and really, is what makes this so fun to do.
Regarding consensus top picks, the 2013 draft is different from past years in that, after OT Luke Joeckel, there really is a lot of different things than can happen. OT Eric Fisher, DE Ezekial Ansah, OLB Dion Jordan, DT Star Loutlelei, and DT Sharrif Floyd can all be in play for pick #2, and the picks can change dramatically depending on who goes when. I really struggled with my top 10, and it didn’t get much easier til around pick 24 (oddly enough, my Colts). Which is why it took me so long to get this post up.
A few things to note before I finally get to the picks.
1). I did all of my own team research, looking at teams’ 2012 stats (offensive and defensive), free agent signings and losses, individual player contract statuses (courtesy of www.spotrac.com), and up-to-date depth charts (courtesy of www.ourlads.com).
2). The majority of the information I had on the draft prospects came from ESPN.com and CBSSports.com, but I didn’t just look at the overall rankings, or the numbers assigned to a certain skill set. I read the in-depth information, looking for key pieces of information (for instance, a QB who is highly rated may have “trouble with accuracy”), and tried my best to match up that information based on my team research.
3). At no point did I review any mock drafts on any Web site prior to posting this. And man, that KILLED me, because I love going over the mocks. But I feel that could do one of two things: Make me change my order, or make me over think things way too much. So I just don’t do it.
Now that we’ve cleared that, on to the picks:
1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
– Consensus #1, even if KC trades out of this spot.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
– The Jags need help everywhere on defense. Jordan has the athleticism and ability to help the pass rush (which ranked dead last in 2012) AND the run game (ranked 30th).
3. Oakland Raiders – DE Ezekial Ansah, BYU
– Oakland ranked just behind Jacksonville in sacks last year.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
– Philly could legitimately go Geno Smith here, but I think Chip Kelly will focus on his defense with this pick.
5. Detroit Lions – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
– The Lions only allowed 29 sacks last year, but after losing starting OT Gosder Cherilus to the Colts in free agency, they need an upgrade.
6. Cleveland Browns – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
– Another potential spot for Geno Smith, but I don’t see Cleveland using consecutive 1st round picks on another QB. They go best player available, and that’s Milliner. Trading down is also a real possibility.
7. Arizona Cardinals – OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
– Arizona could go with Chance Warmack, the elite guard prospect as well. Either way, the focus is on improving a terrible offensive line.
8. Buffalo Bills – G Chance Warmack, Alabama
– They lost Andy Levitre to the Titans. ‘Nuff said.
9. New York Jets – QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
– If Geno Smith falls this far, I think the Jets have no choice but to grab him.
10. Tennessee Titans – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
– Tennessee needs to bolster the defensive front after giving up 127.2 rushing yards per game and 16 rushing TDs.
11. San Diego Chargers – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
– Since the most elite O-line prospects are gone, and there’s still plenty of depth to come, San Diego gets a new toy for QB Philip Rivers.
12. Miami Dolphins – G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
– Miami can simply go with the best player available here, or even trade down to get more picks.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
– Another poor pass rushing team grabs another player to help improve that area.
14. Carolina Panthers – WR Keenan Allen, California
– With Cam newton’s cannon arm and and aging Steve Smith, the Panthers take the tall reciever from Cal.
15. New Orleans Saints – ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
– The Saints were terrible on defense last year, but were without Jonathan Vilma. Still, they need some better play from the ILB spot.
16. St. Louis Rams – WR Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee
– The Rams have lost two starting receivers to free agency the past two years. Patterson could be the best receiver in the entire class.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
– With a deep RB class, it’s a little high to take one here, and there are no receivers left worth taking this high. Pittsburgh does what Pittsburgh does best: Defense.
18. Dallas Cowboys – S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
– When your starting strong safety right now is Barry Church, you can understand this pick.
19. New York Giants – TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
– The G-men need more help on defense than they do on offense, but Eifert is too irresitible a pick after passing up Coby Fleener last year.
20. Chicago Bears – ILB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
– For the Bears, it just boils down to which Notre Dame prospect falls to them. With Eifert gone, they take Te’o to replace Brian Urlacher.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
– Another best player available pick. Don’t be surprised if they take a receiver here to line up with A.J. Green though.
22. St. Louis Rams – Eddie Lacy, Alabama
– They need to replace Stephen Jackson, and Lacy is the best option.
23. Minnesota Vikings – WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
– It’s possible the Vikes use their two picks to move up and get Cordarelle Patterson. But for now, they stay put. They need a receiver and a corner, and since they pick on either side of Indy, they know they need to take the receiver first.
24. Indianapolis Colts – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
– With Hunter off the board, the Colts take one of the most well-respected corners in the draft to bolster a major area of need. They could also take Houston CB D.J. Hayden.
25. Minnesota Vikings – CB D.J. Hayden, Houston
– Which ever corner Indy doesn’t take, the Vikes grab here.
26. Green Bay Packers – G Justin Pugh, Syracuse
– Green Bay needs major help on the offensive line. The could also take Florida State OT Menelik Wilson, but I think that’s a reach, so Pugh is the man.
27. Houston Texans – DE Margus Hunt, SMU
– The Texans don’t have any real pressing needs, after the Ed Reed signing. Hunt is big enough to play 3-4 DE, and can develop for a year or two. Houston could also trade down to the beginning of the second round.
28. Denver Broncos – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
– If Werner is available here, the Broncos won’t think twice. An added bonus would be not having to over pay an aging Dwight Freeney post-draft.
29. New England Patriots – DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
– IF New England keeps their first round pick (they’ve traded down several times in the past), they can go with the best player still on the board.
30. Atlanta Falcons – CB Blidi Wreh-wilson, Connecticut
– Brent Grimes took his talents to South Beach, so Atlanta needs a Falcon replacement (see what I did there?).
31. San Francisco 49ers – DT Johnathan Jenkins, Georgia
– Jenkins is a big, space eating body who can play nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. He has some developing to do, but could be a great choice to replace the departed Isaac Sopoaga.
32. Baltimore Ravens – S Matt Elam, Florida
– With all the roster turnover, the Ravens can go any number of directions with this pick. I’m not sold on James Ihedigbo as a starter at safety, even with Michael Huff on the other side.
Well, there you have it: My initial 2013 NFL mock draft. I will likely post at least one more update before the first round begins on April 25th. Keep an eye out for it, and as always, feel free to tell me what I got wrong in the comments section. Just have the facts to back it up.
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