Seeing the phrase ”Mel Kiper’s 2013 Mock Draft” elicits feelings of excitement for all NFL fans, along with nearly every fantasy owner. In great part because the anticipation is building for the NFL’s annual extravaganza, which is only days away.
Kiper has been extensively involved with ESPN’s coverage of the draft since 1984, which partially explains why so many people quickly consume every written and spoken word from him. Especially after he releases each update of his mock draft. For that reason, some of us here at Fantasy Knuckleheads have been comparing our predictions regarding which players will be selected by all 32 teams, against the forecast that has been supplied by the ESPN icon.
He has just delivered another updated mock draft, and as a result, I will supply my latest forecast, side by side with that of Mr. Kiper’s.
For the latest mock draft analysis from my colleagues, click here:
1 . Detroit Lions (via trade with Kansas City )
Mel’ Pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
While I do not have the Lions trading up in order to secure Milliner, I do agree that the former Alabama corner will be their selection with the fifth overall pick.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Phil’s Pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
I still believe that Andy Reid and new GM John Dorsey will keep the first overall pick, and will ensure that newly acquired Alex Smith will be well protected during his tenure in Kansas City. That can be accomplished with the selection of Joeckel, who won the Outland Trophy, and started all 25 games at LT during his two seasons with A&M. Even if Branden Albert performs at LT this season, Joeckel can line up at RT, and switch to the left in 2014.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Mel’s Pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Phil’s Pick: Ezekial Ansah, DE/LB, BYU
While Mel’s suggested trade results in Jacksonville selecting Joeckel as the second overall pick, I have him going first overall to Kansas City. Plus, I believe that Ansah will ultimately be selected. Because the Jaguars were dead last with a paltry 20 sacks last season, and could undoubtedly use a DE to bolster their pass rush. Ansah’s impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, followed by his consistently favorable results at the combine, elevated him into consideration for a top five selection. Jacksonville will also be enticed by his athleticism, which should enable him to effectively rush the passer and penetrate versus the run.
GM Reggie McKenzie could easily trade this selection in exchange for a somewhat lower first round pick, and a second round selection. But if the Raiders do remain in this slot, they desperately need to obtain a true impact player for their defensive unit. McKenzie has refrained from spending money on difference makers in free agency, so this will be his best opportunity to acquire one. The CB position was embarrassingly weak last season, and currently does not appear to have improved. Plus, there are significant holes at DE, DT and even S. Bu now that the health concerns have been quelled, Lotulelei will eventually become the selection. His array of skills should enable the Raiders to place him in several slots along the line, and he should provide a dramatic and immediate impact.
There will be many enticing options, but I simply do not envision the Eagles opting for Smith here. Instead, the foundation for this choice will be based upon Philadelphia’s evolving needs defensively after their vigorous activity in free agency. The Eagles have altered their secondary by signing CBs Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, along with Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung at S. Even though a reunion of Dion Jordan with his former collegiate coach remains a distinct possibility here, I believe that it makes more sense for the team to blend Floyd into their renovated mix. He should provide Philly with an active run stuffer, who thwarts opponents with great frequency.
5. Detroit Lions
Mel’s Pick: Eric Fisher OT, Central Michigan (by Kansas City)
Phil’s Pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (to Detroit)
While Mel has moved the Chiefs into this slot for a selection of Fisher, I believe that the Lions can now make that Milliner pick. As well they should. They finished 13th in total defense last season, but that middling ranking masks their desperate need for difference makers on that side of the ball. They were a woeful 27th in scoring defense, while permitting 27 points per game. And their 34 sacks placed them just 20th among all teams. Even though Chris Houston was resigned, the Lions will be extremely fortunate to find a corner with Milliner’s talent available for the taking at this point. As was mentioned here previously, his presence would immediately strengthen the team’s secondary, as he possesses the speed and size to effectively man a corner slot, and improve Detroit’s ability to contain opposing passing attacks.
6. Cleveland Browns
Mel’s Pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma (San Diego via trade with Cleveland)
Phil’s Pick: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Mr. Kiper has forecast another trade, with the Chargers moving up to garner Johnson. Meanwhile I have the Browns remaining in this slot, and grabbing Jordan. Cleveland finished just 23rd in total defense last season. And even with the additions of Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves and Desmond Bryant, the Browns have the luxury of choosing between several appealing options that would further reinforce their defensive unit. But by seizing the 6’ 6” Jordan, Cleveland will further strengthen a pass rush that ranked just 25th last season. He also possesses a valuable combination of size, athleticism and work ethic, which should enable him to thrive in either the 3-4 or 4-3. The addition of Jordan would blend effectively with the recent free agent signings, and vastly improve this defense.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Mel’s Pick: Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU
Phil’s Pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Mel’s revised selection is now an alternative to mine. The Cardinals have now addressed their cataclysmic QB situation, and must endeavor to strengthen their pass protection, so that Carson Palmer has a legitimate opportunity to succeed. Their leaky O-line allowed a league worst 58 sacks in 2012, which marked the third consecutive year in which the Cards have surrendered 50+. This deficiency has persisted far too long, and Fisher’s positive Senior Bowl critiques will help him ascend into this slot. The 6’7”, 305 pound tackle should fortify this position in a way that this franchise has desperately needed.
8. Buffalo Bills
Mel’s Pick: Ezekial Ansah, DE/LB, BYU
Phil’s Pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Buffalo needed an upgrade at QB quite urgently, and chose to address that deficiency by becoming the third NFL team to entrust Kevin Kolb with the starting slot. But the injury plagued and marginally productive veteran is certainly not a long-term answer. While the Bills would have more enticing options by waiting to select a QB from the supremely deep 2014 class, Smith’s physical abilities and leadership qualities will be too appealing to disregard. Even though Smith will not achieve the high level of impact that Andrew Luck, RG3 and Russell Wilson attained as rookies in 2012, he appears to be the lone newcomer who has the ability to start behind center during the 2013 regular season. And he will eventually deliver better results than Kolb, or Tarvaris Jackson.
The Jets also possess their own underwhelming situation at QB, although the team currently has definite shortcomings at multiple positions. Including an urgent need is at OLB, where former starter Calvin Pace will not return and Bryan Thomas’ future is uncertain. Mingo possesses intangibles that will be extremely appealing, including his ability to explode instantaneously at the snap. He also has the quickness to change direction and make plays anywhere on the field. Which makes him a genuine threat to collect sacks… a much needed commodity on a unit that tied for 25th in that category last season.
10. Tennessee Titans
Mel’s Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Phil’s Pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Titans could definitely use Milliner, but will likely need to trade their way into the top five in order to seize him. He won’t be available with the 10th pick, but a partial remedy for their shortcomings in the offensive line should be. Even though it’s unusual for a guard to be selected this early, this year’s draft is atypical. Which is why Mel has them choosing Cooper, while I believe that the pick will be Warmack. He is a hard worker on and off the field, and would fill a massive need.
11. San Diego Chargers
Mel’s Pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama (by Cleveland via trade with San Diego)
Phil’s Pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Anyone who watched the Chargers to any degree in 2012 should be acutely aware that they need to dramatically improve their O-line. It was consistently proven that Philip Rivers is unable to rise above protection issues and perform effectively when the pocket is being decimated. It is essential that San Diego begins addressing this issue at the LT position, and Johnson’s rising stock should elevate him into this section of the first round. His size and overall skills should make him the perfect tonic for what has been a lingering deficiency.
12. Miami Dolphins
Mel’s Pick: D. J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Phil’s Pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The departure of Jake Long has created a massive hole at LT. But with Joeckel, Fisher and Johnson having already departed the board, Miami would be making an extended reach if they addressed that issue here. And while many mocks will persist in displaying a WR as the selection in this slot, I just don’t see it. The Dolphins recently made a $60 million investment in Mike Wallace, resigned Brian Hartline for $31 million, and even added Brandon Gibson. Mix in new TE Dustin Keller, and it is difficult to justify another WR here. Meanwhile, they have lost Sean Smith via free agency, and should address their situation at CB. Rhodes would be a sorely needed playmaker in their secondary, has the size to matchup against the bigger WRs, and the discipline to be an immediate contributor.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mel’s Pick: Star Lotuleiei, DT, Utah
Phil’s Pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Tampa Bay finished 29th in total defense last season, despite having the NFL’s stingiest run defenders. That is how awful they were against the pass. The Bucs ranked dead last in that category, while yielding a whopping 297 YPG, and 30 TDs. Meanwhile, Trufant’s combine results have thrust him into legitimate consideration as a top 15 pick. Not only did he demonstrate his speed by finishing third in the 40-yard dash and second in the 20-yard shuttle, but he placed well in other events. He unquestionably fills a need, and would contribute immediately.
Seemingly every year at this time, the draft projection for Carolina emphasizes their pressing need for a talented and consistent complement to line up opposite Steve Smith. And here we are once again. However, new G.M. Dave Gettleman should finally address this long-term deficiency by selecting Patterson. That will supply Cam Newton with an additional weapon at WR, where his only reliable option has been Smith. At 6’3”, Patterson’s size will blend with his impressive athleticism to make him the preferred wideout to pair with Smith. Despite his current inadequacies as a route runner, he is sufficiently gifted to ascend into the starting lineup ahead of disappointing incumbent WR2 Brandon LaFell.
15. New Orleans Saints
Mel’s Pick: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Phil’s Pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
New Orleans had the NFL’s second most potent offense in 2012, but was dead last in total defense, and surrendered an unbelievable 440 YPG. Therefore, it does not require much imagination to determine where the team’s focus will be. As Kiper has mentioned, Jones temporarily dropped in some mocks due to concerns about his Pro Day performance. But from a talent standpoint, he remains minimally a top 10 choice. The former Bulldog has the combination of size, speed, and instincts to consistently stifle the run. He should also bolster a pass rush that definitely needs it. As the Saints only amassed 30 sacks in 2013, which tied them for just 25th overall.
While a logical argument can be made for selecting a WR, or making further upgrades to the offensive line, those additions will occur with upcoming picks and in free agency. Instead, the Rams would smartly upgrade their safety position by snaring Vacarro with this selection. He is the premier option at safety, and can bolster the team’s ability to contain both the pass and the run. His presence would place the Rams one step closer to possessing an upper tier unit, which will be too tempting to ignore.
And even though the Steelers finished with the NFL’s top ranked defense last season, multiple starters have aged well beyond 30. But the departure of Wallace has created a void at WR that can easily be addressed with this pick. Austin’s combine performance enhanced his stock considerably, and this highly competitive burner simply possesses far too much talent for the Steelers to pass up at this point of the process. He would return a level of explosiveness that would be lacking in Wallace’s absence, and also provide Ben Roethlisberger with another dangerous weapon that the veteran signal caller can depend upon.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Mel’s Pick: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Phil’s Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
You are welcome to argue that the Cowboys should address their defensive line with this pick. However, the offensive line is an area of even greater need. Not only did Tony Romo absorb 36 sacks last year, but protection issues are partially responsible for the 10-year veteran tossing an NFL high 19 INTs. Blocking inadequacies also contributed to shortcomings in Dallas’ rushing attack, as only one team managed fewer yards last season. The availability of Cooper this deep into the round provides Dallas with an outstanding opportunity, since he would upgrade the interior line. He has the strength and mobility to excel, would help make life better for Romo, and bolster the Cowboys’ run blocking.
19. New York Giants
Mel’s Pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Phil’s Pick: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
There are several directions that the Giants could go at this point, which is partially dependent upon who will remain available this far into the round. The team could choose an offensive tackle, but it is more likely that a defender will be selected. That should mean fortifying their arsenal of DEs, particularly now that Osi Umenyiora has migrated to Atlanta. While Werner’s somewhat disappointing combine results will cause him to descend further into this round than originally expected, he is an excellent choice with the 19th pick, and should be an immediate contributor.
20. Chicago Bears
Mel’s Pick: Kyle Long, OG, Oregon
Phil’s Pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Hiring Marc Trestman as the HC indicated a clear commitment to improving the offense, and the signing of Martellus Bennett is another step in that direction. But with Nick Roach’s departure to Oakland, and the potential exodus of Brian Urlacher, it would behoove the Bears to secure a difference making LB in this slot. While off-field concerns do exist, Ogletree’s vast talent should entice Chicago to take full advantage of their good fortune to find him still available. He can fly to the ball, and has the versatility to be effective against both the run and the pass. Plus, he will undoubtedly bolster what had quickly emerged as a problematic area.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Mel’s Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Phil’s Pick: D. J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
It was tempting to forecast Eddie Lacy as the selection for Cincinnati, as he would provide their offense with a highly effective weapon at RB. But the team will have an excellent opportunity to secure another vital position on the same unit. The status of Andre Smith remains in question, and it would be prudent to the Bengals to select a viable talent at OT. Even though Joeckel, Fisher, and Johnson will have already departed the draft board, Fluker can successfully anchor one end of their offensive line. He is a powerful run blocker, who also brings toughness and attitude on every snap.
Divisional rivals Seattle and San Francisco continue to blend additional talent onto their already impressive rosters, and the Rams must continue to make shrewd personnel decisions to have any chance of competing. Since their defense was addressed by the addition of Vaccaro, the focus can return to offense for this selection. The LT and TE positions have been bolstered by the acquisitions of Jake Long and Jared Cook, so St. Louis should now provide Sam Bradford with a WR to partially counteract the losses of Danny Amendola and (to a lesser degree) Brandon Gibson. Allen has size, is a capable route runner, and has satisfactory speed. Those skills would give St. Louis a potential difference maker at the position, which propels him into the selection at this slot.
Minnesota was a pleasant surprise in 2012, as they qualified for the post season. This was accomplished in great part due to their ability to run the ball, while they limited their opponents’ ability to do so. But their passing attack ranked just 31st even with the electric Percy Harvin suiting up for much of the season. Greg Jennings is an excellent acquisition, but the Vikings still need another weapon at WR. Which makes it feasible for them to invest this pick in Hunter. The 6’4″ wideout is fast, and is also an intelligent route runner. Everything that he has exhibited to this point indicates that he will make plays for a passing attack that managed just 18 TD passes in 2012.
24. Indianapolis Colts
Mel’s Pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Phil’s Pick: Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse
GM Ryan Grigson kept the Colts extremely active in free agency, and the team could now proceed in a number of directions with this pick. But even though former Lion Gosder Cherilus was acquired to line up at OT, I do not believe that Grigson has finished fortifying a line that played a critical role in the 41 sacks that Andrew Luck experienced last year. Pugh has the talent and work ethic that would be necessary in order to immediately contribute as an effective blocker. And even though he performed at LT for the past two seasons, he will likely thrive by moving inside. All of which will enable him to help protect the franchise’s most essential commodity.
With this particular selection, I was in total agreement with Kiper before he altered his selection from Williams. Because Minnesota must now address their aging defensive line, after devoting their previous selection and all other recent acquisitions toward other areas. While the Vikings will have multiple options at this point, including several appealing alternatives at DT, Williams would be the most astute choice. He has the strength and overall ability to help neutralize the run, and create issues for opposing passers. Plus, he should be able to do so when the season begins.
26. Green Bay Packers
Mel’s Pick: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Phil’s Pick: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Green Bay had the NFL’s ninth best passing attack statistically, yet finished just 13th in total offense. That was a result of their 20th ranked running game, which hardly instilled fear within the opposition. The Packers were led by Alex Green, who accumulated a mere 464 yards. But Lacy would elevate the potential of Green Bay’s rushing offense immensely. He possesses a multitude of tools, and would instantly provide the Packers with a genuine threat in the backfield. That in turn would open lanes for Aaron Rodgers to launch aerial assaults more efficiently.
27. Houston Texans
Mel’s Pick: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Phil’s Pick: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Andre Johnson just completed an excellent season, but 2013 will be his 11th year as a pro. The team’s other current options at WR do not keep opposing defenders awake at night. We witnessed the negative impact that occurred when Houston’s running game was contained last season, and the team was forced to rely upon Matt Schaub and the passing attack. Having a talented weapon to line up opposite Johnson can only help Schaub’s all important comfort level, and Hopkins has speed and overall competitive nature to accomplish exactly that.
It was very practical to forecast the selection of a CB with this pick, since Champ Bailey will be 35 years old when the season commences. But several recent decisions, including the recent acquisition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, lead me to believe that Denver will upgrade their situation at DT. And in this mock draft, the Broncos will experience the good fortune of finding Richardson still available. His various skills should inflict havoc upon opposing rushing and passing attacks, and Denver will leap at the opportunity to secure a potential difference maker this late in the round.
29. New England Patriots
Mel’s Pick: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Phil’s Pick: Kawaan Short, DT, Purdue
The original thought here was that the Patriots would address their secondary, after ranking just 29th versus the pass in 2012. But CBs Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington were resigned, and former Cardinal Adrian Wilson was secured to start at S along with Devon McCourty. Now, the team will turn its attention toward an upgrade within their defensive interior. Short possesses the potential to be a disruptive force. Not only would his quickness and versatility allow him to make plays in the backfield, but he would enable New England to enhance their pass rush. Plus, his sizable talent might compel the Patriots to pair him regularly with Vince Wilfork, and the newly signed yet highly inconsistent Tommy Kelly.
Even though they ranked an impressive eighth in total defense, Atlanta was just 28th in sacks with a meager 29. 10 of which were generated by John Abraham, who was just released. It is very possible that Sam Montgomery or Damontre Moore could be selected to help fill the DE void at this point. But Jones conducted himself well during interviews at the combine, while Montgomery and Moore negatively impacted their stock in the same forum. Jones has also impressed scouts with both his power and speed, and would provide the Falcons with the opportunity to execute the much needed upgrade at DE.
The 49ers finished third in total defense during the 2012 regular season, and were equally stingy versus both the run and pass. While it might not appear necessary to employ this pick on strengthening this unit even further, Jenkins possesses too many attributes for the team’s decision makers to ignore. Jenkins is 6’4”, 355 pounds, and can successfully obstruct running lanes. Not only would he occupy blockers, but he also possesses solid mobility, particularly given his size. That would enable him to add some contributions to the 49ers’ pass rush, and make their defensive unit even better.
32. Baltimore Ravens
Mel’s Pick: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Phil’s Pick: Matt Elam, S, Florida
With both starting safeties from 2012 now residing on different rosters, it is very reasonable to expect that Qzzie Newsome will seize a capable replacement at this initial opportunity. Cyprien’s stock is rising, and he could easily ascend into this round. But Elam is still the preferred choice here. He is a big hitter, who seems perfectly fitted to wear a Baltimore uniform. He should be a disruptive force, who will attack ball carriers with passion. That should overcome any initial concerns that his height (5’10”) might potentially create challenges against big receivers in pass coverage.