The NFL draft is like a snowflake, insofar as each and every one is different and can’t be compared to past versions. And while the draft is always a true projection, the 2013 draft has the potential to be more unpredictable – particularly throughout the first round – than any other in the past 15 years.
After several days of surveying scenarios and possibilities based on team needs, possible picks and trades up/down, I finally threw my hands in the air and started laughing. To really to nail down a pattern within this draft admittedly drove me a little crazy. The only conclusion that I came to: I can’t wait to watch this draft unfold and, as always, expect the unexpected.
1. Kansas City: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
A tough and competitive plug-and-play left tackle. Has excellent athletic movement with length, knee bend, balance and feet. Strong UOH (use of hands) to punch and recoil. A three-year starter with outstanding performance.
2. Jacksonville: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Florida
General manager David Caldwell is from the Bill Polian tree of scouting, which is to say he understands the importance of having a quarterback. He also understands protecting a quarterback’s blind side.
3. Oakland: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
With Desmond Bryant now a member of the Cleveland Browns, adding a run-stuffing DT who can also create upfield pressure in passing situations is key for the Silver and Black.
4. Philadelphia: Dion Jordan, ROLB, Oregon
Brings instant pressure as an edge defender and pass rusher. New head coach Chip Kelly knows this player best.
5. Detroit: Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
Replacing defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril is a high priority for a defense that struggled badly in 2012.
6. Cleveland: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
GM Mike Lombardi and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will get the QB situation right – the Browns actually need more help when it comes to defending outside the numbers. Milliner’s injury history is a flashing yellow, no matter where he is selected. Jordan was probably the initial target here, but he’s off the board.
7. Arizona: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Now that Carson Palmer is under contract, effectively solving a longstanding quarterback issue, the focus turns to the defensive side of the ball. Darnell Dockett is going into his ninth season, and there is a significant lack of depth. New coach Bruce Arians understands the strength of a NFL team is its defense.
8. Buffalo: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
A guard would help the Bills’ offensive front, but without a signal-caller on the roster, it won’t matter. Nassib and head coach Doug Marrone reunite by sitting and picking at No. 8 overall or trading back. Either way, Buffalo gets its man.
9. New York Jets: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
When I did a roster analysis of the current Jets team, the receiver position is a glaring need because of the lack of playmakers both in the slot and outside the numbers.
10. Tennessee: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Getting back to the basics of running the football by building the interior of the offensive line is the key. The Titans already signed Andy Levitre as a UFA to play LOG. Warmack will tie down the ROG duties.
11. San Diego: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Moved from quarterback to tight end, where he outgrew that position and was moved to OT because of an injury to a teammate. A one-year wonder who still needs technique work, his athletic skill set and temperament are nonetheless in place.
12. Miami: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Dolphins lost cornerback Sean Smith via free agency and need to replace him on the edge. Rhodes is one of the best man cover corners in the draft – if not the best.
13. New York Jets: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Adding a playmaking receiver at No. 9 in Austin was a steal. Protecting Mark Sanchez’s front side is a major concern, and Fluker’s run-blocking ability will help a team that struggled to run the ball consistently.
14. Carolina: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers needed an upgrade to their present defensive front, and not just in the way of depth. Richardson brings that disruptive force. Safety Kenny Vaccaro is a strong possibility here, too.
15. New Orleans: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Saints are switching to a 3-4 scheme and will add a rush OLB who plays the game with a chip on his shoulder, and displays the desire and passion. His nonstop motor results in premium playmaking production.
16. St. Louis: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Rams get the best cover safety in the draft and a plug-and-play starter, which will improve the back end of a good defense.
17. Pittsburgh: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
An extremely athletic tight end who aligns at multiple spots and brings natural receiving skills; will upgrade the short and intermediate passing game, not to mention stretching the seam.
18. Dallas: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
A much-needed run-stopper in a division where teams pride themselves on running the ball.
19. New York Giants: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
This is slightly high for this player, but the run on the position has started.
20. Chicago: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
Bears are gambling that this player will grow up off the field while delivering dividends as a player. Next to Jordan, Ogeltree’s athletic skill set next closely mirrors that of an oversized safety playing the linebacker position. Kansas State inside linebacker Arthur Brown is also a strong consideration here.
21. Cincinnati: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
There is only one thing missing from the Bengals’ offense: a run game. Lacy adds an important cornerstone to a potential championship foundation in the form of a ball-control run game.
22. St. Louis: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Adding weapons was the off season slogan for St. Louis. Selecting Patterson here has great value, and Sam Bradford is doing cartwheels.
23. Minnesota: Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
The big man ran in the 4.7s at his pro day, proving his knee has healed. His DNA (film) says that he is deserving of a first -round pick. Brings huge upside to a team that needs to upgrade the defensive side of the ball.
24. Indianapolis: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Disruptive pass rusher who has big shoes to fill in replacing Dwight Freeney.
25. Minnesota: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
His DNA (film) confirms that he can play at a high level. Before the fake girlfriend situation and a subpar 40-yard dash at the combine, this player was pegged as the first legitimate defensive contender for the Heisman in several years. Now, he suddenly can’t play? No…
26. Green Bay: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
This hard-hitting safety will lower the boom on receivers in the back end of the Packer defense. Ted Thompson continues to search for a running back, yes, but the value of running backs Johnathan Franklin and Montee Ball doesn’t warrant this slotting.
27. Houston: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The Texans have a great defensive scheme, arguably one of the best runnings backs in Arian Foster and a Pro Bowl receiver by the name of Andre Johnson, who can’t continue to do it outside the numbers by himself.
28. Denver: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
An aggressive DE who hunts like an OLB, he will fit perfectly in the John Fox defense.
29. New England: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
It’s hard to ignore Banks’ size, length and ball skills, not to mention production (16 career interceptions). This CB lacks elite speed, but FBI (football instincts) put him in place to make big plays.
30. Atlanta: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Falcons need to replace cornerback Brent Grimes, lost in free agency. When evaluating this player, I was very impressed. The explosive 40 run at combine shows up in his DNA (film).
31. San Francisco: Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama
Replacing big man Isaac Sopoaga is critical for the 49ers. Don’t be surprised, however, if they pull the trigger on a free safety by the name of Jonathan Cyprien from Florida International.
32. Baltimore: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
This offseason has hit the Ravens’ second level particularly hard, what with the retirement of Ray Lewis and the defection of Dannell Ellerbe to the Dolphins in free agency. While Ozzie Newsome could go in several different directions (wide receivers Robert Woods, Andre Hopkins or Quinton Patton), Minter fits Baltimore’s scheme and fills its greatest need.