By Zac Bellman
Unlike the 2012 draft, which featured outstanding talent at the skill positions, the 2013 NFL Draft is more likely to produce top picks whose jerseys may not lead the league in sales next year.
There is no Andrew Luck in this class. There is not a consensus number one selection to be had. Matt Barkley might have been that guy, but a shoulder injury early in his senior USC campaign derailed that dream, and some have him falling to the second round.
Several teams in the top ten will have difficulty with their picks, because team needs may not match with what this class offers in terms of talent. This could result in several possibilities. Teams in the top ten could trade down for more picks to teams that want one of the elite linemen set to go early. If no trades can be found, the oldest question in the draft will come into play.
Draft for need, or the best player available?
On the one hand, drafting for need can fill glaring holes in a weak roster. It can also cause teams to pass on some of the greatest players in NFL history because they didn’t “need” a player at that position. On the other hand, drafting the best player available requires great confidence in the scouting that was done prior to the draft. This is risky because it can upset fans who never want to admit this might be a rebuilding year and veteran players who feel they are being pushed out of town by a younger player.
The expectation for rookie quarterbacks in particular has skyrocketed after the success of Luck, RGIII and Russell Wilson last year. Another problem with drafting for need, especially with this class, is that some teams may take a quarterback in the top ten who is really more of a second-round pick who should sit for a year or two. Quarterbacks beyond West Virginia’s Geno Smith who are drafted this high may crumble under the expectations in a similar fashion to the way Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert have in the early going.
With that in mind, this mock draft attempts to strike the balance between the need and best-player-available draft strategies. The first ten picks of the 2013 NFL Draft will be very telling of how the subsequent rounds unfold in terms of runs on certain positions with little depth. Expect several trades in the opening round, but here is how I see it shaking out based on the current order.
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||Luke Joeckel||Offensive Tackle||Texas A&M||6’6”||310|
|2||Jacksonville Jaguars||Eric Fisher||Offensive Tackle||Central Michigan||6’8”||305|
|3||Oakland Raiders||Sharrif Floyd||Defensive Lineman||Florida||6’3”||303|
|4||Philadelphia Eagles||Star Lotulelei||Defensive Lineman||Utah||6’4”||320|
|5||Detroit Lions||Dion Jordan||Outside Linebacker||Oregon||6’7”||241|
|6||Cleveland Browns||Dee Milliner||Cornerback||Alabama||6’1”||199|
|7||Arizona Cardinals||Lane Johnson||Offensive Tackle||Oklahoma||6’7”||303|
|8||Buffalo Bills||Geno Smith||Quarterback||West Virginia||6’3”||214|
|9||New York Jets||Barkevious Mingo||Defensive Lineman||LSU||6’5”||242|
|10||Tennessee Titians||Chance Warmack||Offensive Guard||Alabama||6’3”||320|
|11||San Diego Chargers||Jonathon Cooper||Offensive Guard||North Carolina||6’3”||310|
|12||Miami Dolphins||Bjoern Werner||Defensive Lineman||Florida St.||6’4”||255|
|13||New York Jets||Tyler Eifert||Tight End||Notre Dame||6’6”||251|
|14||Carolina Panthers||Sheldon Richardson||Defensive Lineman||Missouri||6’4”||295|
|15||New Orleans Saints||Jarvis Jones||Linebacker||Georgia||6’3”||241|
|16||St. Louis Rams||Tavon Austin||Wide Receiver||West Virginia||5’9”||174|
|17||Pittsburgh Steelers||Arthur Brown||Linebacker||Kansas St.||6’1”||228|
|18||Dallas Cowboys||Kenny Vaccaro||Safety||Texas||6’1”||215|
|19||New York Giants||D.J. Fluker||Offensive Tackle||Alabama||6’6”||335|
|20||Chicago Bears||Cordarrelle Patterson||Wide Receiver||Tennessee||6’3”||205|
|21||Cincinnati Bengals||Eric Reid||Safety||LSU||6’2”||208|
|22||St. Louis Rams||Alec Ogletree||Linebacker||Georgia||6’3”||232|
|23||Minnesota Vikings||Xavier Rhodes||Cornerback||Florida St.||6’1”||215|
|24||Indianapolis Colts||Damontre Moore||Outside Linebacker||Texas A&M||6’4”||248|
|25||Minnesota Vikings||Ezekiel Ansah||Defensive Lineman||BYU||6’6”||270|
|26||Green Bay Packers||Johnathon Hawkins||Defensive Lineman||Ohio St.||6’3”||335|
|27||Houston Texans||Deandre Hopkins||Wide Receiver||Clemson||5’11”||205|
|28||Denver Broncos||Manti Te’o||Linebacker||Notre Dame||6’2”||255|
|29||New England Patriots||Datone Jones||Defensive Lineman||UCLA||6’5”||280|
|30||Atlanta Falcons||Desmond Trufant||Cornerback||Washington||6’0”||185|
|31||San Francisco 49ers||Jesse Williams||Defensive Lineman||Alabama||6’4”||320|
|32||Baltimore Ravens||Keenan Allen||Wide Receiver||California||6’3”||205|
Check back next week for a draft reaction and follow me on Twitter for live analysis of the draft @ZacBellman_WNY