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2013 NFL Mock Draft IV
By Jonathan Hull

The NFL Draft is now just 10 days away and the rumor wire is certainly heating up.

Every hour new rumors about certain teams being high on certain players are surfacing. Probably 85 percent don't hold an ounce of truth. There is more smoke being blown by NFL personnel than out of a Snoop Dogg tour bus.

It's hard to decipher which rumors could prove true and which are complete fabrications, especially when you don't have any sources. That's the one thing I remind all of my readers. I'm just a fan like you. I don't have any sources. I scour the rumor wires and try to take in as much as I can to use some deductive reasoning when it comes to projecting a draft.

When I first started publishing mocks about seven years ago, I wanted to be considered an expert. As I've aged, and have hopefully become wiser in the process, I've given up trying to come off as an expert. Being an expert on the NFL Draft is near impossible. Guys like Todd McShay, Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock spend weeks trying to break down film in order to rank players, and I do respect the opinions of these guys.

But in the end, their opinions don't matter. It's the opinions of the NFL personnel guys who matter. The most accurate mock drafts produced each year don't come from guys who spend a lot of time breaking down the film. It's the guys who best use their sources from within each team that get the most picks right.

For the longest time, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News produced the most accurate mocks that could be found. I promise you he spent little to no time breaking down film of prospects. Gosselin simply had so many sources within the league that he was able to make more accurate predictions than most.

That why when I'm reading draft reports and a reporter gives his own opinion about a prospect, I don't pay much attention to it. I don't really care what their opinion is about a player. I simply want to know what his sources might be saying.

So to my fellow draftniks I say this, stop being consumed with producing your own opinion about players. It's hard for most writers to accept this, but your opinion doesn't matter. NFL teams aren't pulling up my mock and saying, "Oh, Hull really likes Nick Kasa, we should make him a first-round pick." They're not saying that about Kiper's or McShay's or Mayock's mocks, either. They're definitely not saying it about Charles Davis' projections, which are typically just a reproduction of Mayock's feelings anyway.

I think I've gotten my point across. Over the next few days, I'm going to examine different trade rumors involving the draft and give my take on how each one could mix up the way the first round plays out. But before I can do that, I need an original mock to go off of. So here's my latest first-round projection with short explanations for your enjoyment.

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Luke Joekel, OT, Texas A&M

No change here. All reports say it's either going to be Joekel or Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher. Joekel is still getting the edge, according to Chiefs sources.

 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

Still, no change. Peter King reported Monday morning the Jaguars are down to two prospects, and while he didn't give names, he said he believes the Jags will target a "special pass rusher." That makes one think either Jordan or BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah. I'll stick with Jordan until further notice.

 

3. Oakland Raiders

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Again, no change. The Raiders lost too many players along the interior DL and need to restock it. They're said to be very interested in Floyd.

 

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

This is the first change since my last mock. The Eagles could go in a variety of ways, but keep in mind they're switching to a 3-4 scheme under Chip Kelly, who might value Ansah's skill set and versatility to line up as either a DE or OLB in the alignment.

 

5. Detroit Lions

Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

The Lions have a big hole to fill on the left side of the OL with the retirement of Jeff Backus. They won't be able to resist if Fisher falls into their laps.

 

6. Cleveland Browns

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

A bit high? Maybe. But Austin is getting a lot of attention from NFL teams are ecstatic about his athleticism and ability to make plays in open space. He's got a special level of elusiveness, and no team in the league needs a playmaking receiver more than the Browns.

 

7. Arizona Cardinals

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

The Cardinals were a longtime projected landing spot for Geno Smith, but they're apparently not that enamored with the QB. They've needed a LT for some time now and Johnson arguably has more upside than Joekel or Fisher.

 

8. Buffalo Bills

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Of any team, Smith has been linked with the Bills the most. New coach Doug Marrone played against Smith last season with Syracuse, and apparently liked what he saw. They're also linked with Marrone's former QB with the Orange, Ryan Nassib, who could be had in the second round.

 

9. New York Jets

Barkevious Mingo, LB, LSU

The Jets could look at Dee Milliner here with rumors of them trading Darrelle Revis persisting. If they take Milliner and Revis hasn't been traded yet, it might be a forecast of what's to come. But Revis is still on the team, so for now I have the Jets addressing their constant need for a pass rusher.

 

10. Tennessee Titans

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

This is a nice get for Tennessee, which recently met with Milliner. He's going to be selected later than many expect. He'll go closer to 10 than he will five.

 

11. San Diego Chargers

Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

The Chargers are implementing a new defense and new offense, but the priority has to be the OL, which is currently in shambles. Chances are they'll likely use more of a zone-blocking scheme, which makes Cooper a nice fit.

 

12. Miami Dolphins

D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

This is a bit of a reach for Fluker, but the Dolphins seem intent on taking an OT early in the draft in an attempt to replace Jake Long. They are said to be content with Jonathan Martin on the left side, which makes Fluker a great fit on the right.

 

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Lotulelei has been given a clean bill of health, but it seems other prospects have still passed him by. Once the Eagles pass on Lotulelei at No. 4, it's hard to find a spot for him. But that's Tampa Bay's gain.

 

14. Carolina Panthers

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

There might not be another player in the middle of the first round mocked more to a team than Richardson is to the Panthers. It's just the perfect fit of value and need.

 

15. New Orleans Saints

Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

I do think the Saints have bigger needs, particularly at OLB for the new 3-4 scheme and safety, but Rhodes is the type of big, physical CB new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan loves for his defense.

 

16. St. Louis Rams

Kenny Vacarro, S, Texas

The Rams are set to make major improvements to their team with two picks in the middle of the first round. Vacarro would be a stellar addition to a secondary that needs plenty of help.

 

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

This is a typical Steelers' selection. With James Harrison gone, there's a considerable need at OLB. Jones is slipping cause of bad measurables, but the film on him is stellar. The Steelers routinely look past measurables (i.e. LaMarr Woodley) to get great value on good players.

 

18. Dallas Cowboys

Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

I didn't think there was a real chance Warmack would fall to Dallas here. But now it looks feasible with several teams valuing Jonathan Cooper more. The Cowboys value Cooper more as well, but Warmack would still be a great addition to one of the worst OLs in the league.

 

19. New York Giants

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

The Giants didn't fight very hard to keep Martellus Bennett, but it's going to pay off nicely as they can get an even better talent in Eifert, who some think is the best skill position player in the draft.

 

20. Chicago Bears

E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

This is me still projecting a phantom trade. The Bears have two considerable needs at OT and LB. They would be reaching for any player at those spots right now, allowing them to trade back with a QB-needy team. Manuel is the best bet as the second QB to come off the board thanks to his athleticism and strong arm.

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International

Cyprien has been garnering a lot of attention from NFL teams, including the Bengals. He's a hot name right now as a player who could have a Troy Polamalu type of impact in the secondary.

 

22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

It's not going to stun me if the Rams don't go receiver with one of their first two picks, but it is admittedly hard to imagine them not getting a wideout in the first round. Feelings about Patterson are mixed, but he's got too much upside to let fall too far.

 

23. Minnesota Vikings

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

Williams has gained some positive momentum in recent weeks, and he would definitely fill a need for the Vikings.

 

24. Indianapolis Colts

Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

This is another very common pairing. The Colts have a need at CB and Trufant has been impressive in every stage of the evaluation process.

 

25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle)

Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

There isn't a more controversial and, by circumstance, polarizing player in the first round. I think enough teams will view Te'o has first-round worthy, and as more than just a three-down player. I don't get why some say he's limited in pass coverage in some situations. He was arguably the best pass coverage LB in all of college football last season.

 

26. Green Bay Packers

Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

I've had a tough time in past mocks finding the right fit for Green Bay in the first round, but Jenkins definitely is. He's a massive figure to place in the middle of a 3-4 defense, plus he has the athleticism to drive opposing centers and guards crazy.

 

27. Houston Texans

Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech

There are several receivers who have similar grades at this point in the draft. Any number of them could end up going in the late first round to early third round. There's just not much difference between them, and it's going to depend on a team's need and preference at the position. Patton's skill set is a nice fit in Houston opposite Andre Johnson.

 

28. Denver Broncos

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Werner is a steal here. I hate to project him this low. Many still think he's a top 15, or even top 10, selection. He's limited athletically, but has a wonderful motor. If he really fell this far, he'd be the biggest steal of the first round.

 

29. New England Patriots

Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Jones might actually play more on the interior of New England's defense, but he has the type of versatility the Patriots greatly value and often target with their first-round picks.

 

30. Atlanta Falcons

Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State

Atlanta might not have a bigger need than at DE, even with the signing of Osi Umenyiora. Carradine has seen his stock steadily climb throughout the season and draft process.

 

31. San Francisco 49ers

Eric Reid, S, LSU

Some feel this is too high for Reid. He was inconsistent in college, but no one can deny his athleticism and playmaking skills. The 49ers have shown a great deal of interest in Reid, who also fills one of the team's greatest needs.

 

32. Baltimore Ravens

Justin Pugh, OL, Syracuse

I put OL next to Pugh because he seems capable of playing a multitude of positions. He was a LT last year at Syracuse, but his short arms made many in the NFL project him more as a guard -- a position he thrived at during Senior Bowl week. Some have even projected him at center, although he is a bit tall for that position. The Ravens have needs across the OL, which makes Pugh's versatility a nice commodity for them.

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