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Kiper's 1St Mock Draft?


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Radio City is still in the distance, but the prospects are starting to come into focus.

A few things are going to happen between now and the end of April, shifting what you see here:

• A quarterback will rise -- maybe more than one. Based on my current evaluations, and in talking to teams, it's fair to say there's a really lukewarm feeling on this QB class. But the draft process is huge for QBs, and by April, need and draft economics will push some QB (or two) up the board.

• A few skill-position players will leap up. This class is top-heavy with defensive talent, but a good 40 time really could mean something this year. Who breaks through at WR? At RB? At TE? It'll happen.

• A trade will happen. Maybe several. Mock drafts in the age of cost certainty and easier dealing of draft picks? Yeah, it's gotten tougher.

So, while this should give you a very good idea not just of how I view prospects a day after the 2013 NFL draft class is officially set, but where many teams have them lined up -- it's early, folks. But as I do every year once final declarations are made, here's a first mock, and a chance to start the debate. Your big winner right now ? The SEC, with a whopping 14 first-rounders. As always, underclassmen are noted with an asterisk.


Mock Draft 1.0 | Big Board | Top 5 prospects by position

1Luke JoeckelKansas City Chiefs (2-14)

COLLEGE: Texas A&MAGE: 21HT: 6-6WT: 310POS: OT

Analysis: He has started every game at left tackle since he arrived on campus, protects the passer with what could almost be perceived as ease and has zero durability questions after three years against very good competition. Joeckel has been so good, a big question about him at this stage might be whether he's truly nasty enough, a point of pride among elite O-linemen. The kid is a gifted technician at left tackle, and the Chiefs could go with the strategy of drafting their left tackle for the next 10 years here, then taking a shot on the best QB available with the first pick in Round 2. Two needs, two picks. We'll see, but QB value at this draft slot isn't in play right now.


2Damontre Moore *Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)

COLLEGE: Texas A&MAGE: 20HT: 6-4WT: 250POS: DE

Analysis: The Jaguars sacked opposing QBs on a league-low 3.6 percent of drop backs this season. I hear people question where Jacksonville will go at the QB position, but if they really want to make a change at QB in 2013 (and that's absolutely no guarantee), free agency is a better option than this spot in the draft. Meanwhile, I've had a pass-rusher as a top need for this franchise going on four years. Moore is an exceptionally productive defensive end prospect with very good quickness, long arms and elite closing burst as a rusher. The Jags should be a better team in 2013, but it's not just based on whether they get better at quarterback.


3Star LotuleleiOakland Raiders (4-12)

COLLEGE: UtahAGE: 22HT: 6-4WT: 320POS: DT

Analysis: Oakland needs immediate impact from this draft after a season in which they had to shed talent and suffered after the new front office inherited a disastrous salary-cap situation. In Lotulelei, you have a player who can do anything on the defensive line, and all of it well. He can utilize great burst to beat interior blockers and destroy plays, and when a target of double- or even triple-teams, he holds his own and makes everybody else's job easier. Given the positional value and consistency, a very high floor.


4Dee Milliner *Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)

COLLEGE: AlabamaAGE: 21HT: 6-1WT: 199POS: CB

Analysis: People need to forget the idea that Philly is deep at corner. You watch the tape and it simply wasn't true in 2012. I expect changes in a secondary where it's possible that on a per-play basis, the best corner for Philly this season was rookie Brandon Boykin. The top cornerback in the draft is always going to be a huge draw, and Milliner could come out of the draft process worthy of going this high. He will improve as a technical corner, but has elite grades in terms of awareness, and particularly as a physical corner who can push wideouts off routes. He can defend the run and tackle at a very high level.


5Jarvis Jones *Detroit Lions (4-12)

COLLEGE: GeorgiaAGE: 21HT: 6-3WT: 241POS: LB

Analysis: He may not be a perfect fit in a 4-3 on the edge, but Jones is an exceptional pass-rusher, can line up on either side of Detroit's young and talented interior linemen and will flat-out make plays. He led the nation in sacks even as every team brought help to block him, and Jones not only uses great leverage to hold up as a run defender, but is vastly underrated in his ability to drop and cover. He brings a workmanlike effort and will sack quarterbacks, and skip the dance as he helps them up. A mature player and a good fit on any team, and within any system.


6Bjoern Werner *Cleveland Browns (5-11)

COLLEGE: Florida St.AGE: 22HT: 6-4WT: 255POS: DE

Analysis: I've heard Werner compared to J.J. Watt, and while he's not nearly at Watt's somewhat extraordinary level, and doesn't yet have the size to work primarily inside at this point, in terms of his great awareness as a pass-rusher, there might be something to it. Not only does Werner provide immediate impact as a pass-rusher, like Watt, he defends the pass with his eyes and gets his hands up, disrupts passing lanes and swats away throws. A late arrival to football, he has a high ceiling. He's an ideal fit in Cleveland, a team that saw the defense regress in 2012.


7Chance WarmackArizona Cardinals (5-11)

COLLEGE: AlabamaAGE: 21HT: 6-3WT: 320POS: G

Analysis: We haven't seen a true guard land in the top 10 since 1997, but roll the tape on Warmack and it's hard to see how he doesn't end the streak. As a run-blocker, this guy improves what you can do in that area the second he steps on the field. In a word, he's dominant. Arizona's pass protection was a disaster early in the season, but very quietly they may have found answers at tackle in Bobby Massie and Nate Potter, who both played much better late in the year. Add Warmack, and you have a young offensive line that could make huge strides in 2013. Obviously, Arizona could be in the market for a QB here, but free agency (or a trade) could fill that void before April.


8Manti Te'oBuffalo Bills (6-10)

COLLEGE: Notre DameAGE: 21HT: 6-2WT: 255POS: LB

Analysis: The Bills really need help at interior linebacker, where Kelvin Sheppard is a good player, but won't become a great one. Te'o doesn't have elite athleticism, but he has elite instincts, elite intangibles and will become the leader of a defense by the end of training camp. He makes the Buffalo run defense better immediately, and very quietly was second in the nation in INTs, showing great awareness in his drops (and good hands) against the pass. He may not end up this high, but I'm sold on him as a high-level NFL middle linebacker.

Update 8:15 PM Wednesday: Based on the hoax story that circulated today, Te'o will obviously face tough questions in the coming days. At this point, however, it's difficult to determine now what kind of impact any of this might have in April.


9Barkevious Mingo *New York Jets (6-10)


Analysis: Skill position questions are significant for the Jets, who need help at wide receiver, tight end and probably at running back. But the value might not be there at this spot, and for several years the Jets also have lacked a pass-rusher who scares opposing offenses. Mingo could be that player on the edge in Rex Ryan's scheme, strengthening a defensive line that is going to be very good on the interior as Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples develop into a couple of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the league. Mingo must add polish and play with better leverage, but his ceiling is extremely high and Ryan could do a lot with him.


10Dion JordanTennessee Titans (6-10)

COLLEGE: OregonAGE: 22HT: 6-7WT: 243POS: DE

Analysis: He's a little light for a 4-3 defensive end, but Jordan has a long frame and can add some weight. The Titans saw an improved pass rush in 2012, but Jordan could take that unit to another level as he develops. This is a very good athlete, a player who probably could have developed into a draft-worthy tight end, but Oregon made the right call in putting him on defense. There is development left in his game, but his quick first step, long arms and overall athleticism are all high level and he could become a very good NFL pass-rusher.


11Eric FisherSan Diego Chargers (7-9)

COLLEGE: Central MichiganAGE: 22HT: 6-8WT: 305POS: OT

Analysis: The play of Philip Rivers over the past two seasons has raised a lot of questions about whether he really can be one of the best QBs in the league, but part of that is because he's simply not a QB who can thrive if he doesn't get adequate protection, and the San Diego offensive line simply hasn't done the job. Fisher is a tall player, but one that displays very good balance and isn't easily rattled by quickness or pass-rushers who can counter. He reminds you a little bit of Nate Solder, a left tackle who uses athleticism to handle the rush, and can drive effectively as a run-blocker.


12Cordarrelle Patterson *Miami Dolphins (7-9)

COLLEGE: TennesseeAGE: 21HT: 6-3WT: 205POS: WR

Analysis: The Dolphins nailed their quarterback pick in taking Ryan Tannehill in 2012, but when they dealt Brandon Marshall to the Bears, they also left Tannehill without a wide receiver who opposing defenses truly fear as a matchup problem. Patterson had just one year against top competition after spending two years at the junior college level, but he has very good hands, can beat cornerbacks with his height and strength, and will go up and beat defenders for 50-50 balls. He also has big-time ability to run after the catch, and this slot matches up with his current value.


13Alec Ogletree *Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)

COLLEGE: GeorgiaAGE: 21HT: 6-3WT: 232POS: LB

Analysis: He missed the first four games of 2012, but once Ogletree stepped onto the field for the Bulldogs, the defense was immediately better. If you saw Georgia and Alabama in the SEC championship game, perhaps no player made a bigger statement than Ogletree, who looked like the best player on the field that day (which says plenty). He covers the field from sideline to sideline, and I think could play anywhere at linebacker effectively. Line him up behind an emerging defensive line and next to Lavonte David and Mason Foster at linebacker, and this is an extremely formidable front seven for Greg Schiano.


14Sheldon Richardson *Carolina Panthers (7-9)

COLLEGE: MissouriAGE: 21HT: 6-4WT: 295POS: DT

Analysis: The Panthers hit a home run with their first pick in 2012 when they landed Luke Kuechly, and Richardson brings a little bit of what Kuechly does at linebacker, but on the defensive line. Richardson made an unusually high number of tackles from the defensive tackle position because he has a quick burst off the snap, shows great strength in short-yardage situations and knows how to use his hands to get off blocks and make plays. The guy can even drop into coverage and will destroy screen plays. Carolina may need help at wide receiver, but the Panthers really need to strengthen the D-line as well.


15Johnathan Hankins *New Orleans Saints (7-9)

COLLEGE: Ohio St.AGE: 21HT: 6-3WT: 335POS: DT

Analysis: The Saints had a disappointing season, but the problem was mainly on defense. No team was easier to run against consistently than New Orleans, and they need a clogger up the middle, a player who can free up linebackers to make plays. Hankins ran a little hot and cold, and the tape doesn't show a player who will penetrate and use quickness to beat interior blockers, but he can eat up double-teams, move down the line well and make the players around him better. The Saints need help in several spots on defense, but they really need a player who can help deliver more third-and-long situations, and Hankins could be that guy.


16Kenny VaccaroSt. Louis Rams (7-8-1)

COLLEGE: TexasAGE: 21HT: 6-1WT: 218POS: S

Analysis: The Rams have used the draft and free agency to strengthen the defense almost everywhere over the past couple of years. They made big strides at corner last offseason with the additions of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, and the pass rush is in place with the emerging Robert Quinn and steady Chris Long. Getting the best safety in the draft, a player who can both cover and step up against the run, will be one of those finishing touches.


17Ezekiel AnsahPittsburgh Steelers (8-8)


Analysis: If you could hand an exceptional physical talent with an extraordinarily high ceiling but plenty of development required to one defensive coordinator, whom would you choose ahead of **** LeBeau? Ansah is a big-time athletic talent, a guy who at 270-plus pounds has the burst and top-end speed of a track star. He'll get comparisons to a player such as Jason Pierre-Paul between now and April, because his potential to be a star is there, but he needs coaching. The Steelers must get younger on defense, and Ansah makes sense given their track record of development.


18Jonathan CooperDallas Cowboys (8-8)

COLLEGE: North CarolinaAGE: 22HT: 6-3WT: 295POS: G

Analysis: The Cowboys had an uneven season on the offensive line, and Cooper will provide an upgrade immediately. This is a complete guard, a player who is exceptional at delivering blocks and moving in tight quarters, and he moves extremely well for the position. He can deliver an initial blow to eliminate an interior defender and then move easily to the second level where he can line up linebackers and safeties and block in space.


19Sam Montgomery *New York Giants (9-7)


Analysis: It was just a year ago at this time when we considered the pass rush a major strength of the Giants, with an emerging Pierre-Paul and veterans Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. But while JPP is now among the best 4-3 defensive ends in the league, the latter two will both be north of 30 by the time the draft arrives -- Umenyiora may not be around next season, and it could be the final year for Tuck in New York. If the Giants want to keep the defensive line a strength, a proven, high-motor defender with pass-rushing skills such as Montgomery would make a lot of sense.


20Tyler Eifert *Chicago Bears (10-6)

COLLEGE: Notre DameAGE: 22HT: 6-6WT: 251POS: TE

Analysis: When the Bears traded Greg Olsen to the Panthers, they dealt away one of Jay Cutler's favorite targets. Brandon Marshall made a huge impact in 2012, but the Bears lack that second option Cutler can really depend on, particularly at tight end. Eifert is a new-breed tight end, a guy you can split out as an impossible physical matchup for most corners, and is a hands-catcher who doesn't have to create much separation to be open because he can win physical battles and use his strong hands to take the ball out of the air with players hanging on him. He's an ideal target for Cutler.


21Montee BallCincinnati Bengals (10-6)

COLLEGE: WisconsinAGE: 22HT: 5-11WT: 212POS: RB

Analysis: In terms of pure draft value, Ball might be a bit of a reach on my board at this spot, but in terms of fit, it's hard to find a better one among teams drafting in this range. Once fully healthy, Ball showed off a quick burst into and through the hole, and the ability to do major damage on the second level, both making defenders miss and simply running through tackles. If Cincinnati is healthy at guard to start the season (the Bengals weren't in 2012), Ball is a player who could take some pressure off Andy Dalton in 2013 by improving its ground game. A "nose for the end zone" is a bit of a throw-away phrase, but Ball truly has it.


22D.J. Fluker *St. Louis Rams (from WAS) (7-8-1)

COLLEGE: AlabamaAGE: 21HT: 6-6WT: 335POS: OT

Analysis: You can't be below average at tackle in the NFC West, dealing with San Francisco, Arizona and Seattle six times a season, and while the Rams stabilized a little bit in 2012 with Barry Richardson and Rodger Saffold bookending the offensive line, they should use one of their first-round picks to look for an upgrade. Fluker profiles as a right tackle, but he should be a very good one at the NFL level. He can simply overwhelm with size and power as a run-blocker, and could be very good if his ability to deal with speed rushers improves.


23Terrance WilliamsMinnesota Vikings (10-6)

COLLEGE: BaylorAGE: 23HT: 6-2WT: 205POS: WR

Analysis: Last year, we saw both Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright taken out of Baylor, and Williams has the skill set to join them as a player drafted with the potential to make an early impact. Williams is first a player who can use his size and speed to stretch the field and take the top off a defense, but he also can make big plays on the sidelines, where he'll tiptoe and make the catches as well as any pass-catching target in the draft. Williams also will beat you with the ball in his hands as a nifty runner with good size. Minnesota needs a dependable pass-catcher next to Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph.


24Menelik Watson *Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

COLLEGE: Florida St.AGE: 24HT: 6-6WT: 320POS: OT

Analysis: Who? Well, suffice to say, after just one year at Florida State, scouts know all about Watson, and people in NFL front offices are starting to catch up. This is a kid who has played basketball at the D-I level, can really use his hands to swat away rushers given a track record as an emerging boxing talent, and will go to the combine and run in the 4.8 range at around 320 pounds. The Colts have their QB, but while some might assume it's time to address defense, Andrew Luck was hit more than any QB in the NFL this season, and Indy must protect the future of the franchise. Watson's ceiling is deserving of this draft range.


25John JenkinsSeattle Seahawks (11-5)

COLLEGE: GeorgiaAGE: 23HT: 6-3WT: 358POS: DT

Analysis: John Schneider and Pete Carroll showed great instincts in the 2012 draft, adding players they felt could help them immediately, even as analysts (myself included) questioned slot value. The defense was very good this past season, but I think an interior defender who can occupy blockers, occasionally penetrate and even wreck the pocket from the inside is a need. Jenkins was a little uneven at times in 2012, but has the upside of an impact interior lineman.


26Zach Ertz *Green Bay Packers (11-5)

COLLEGE: StanfordAGE: 22HT: 6-6WT: 252POS: TE

Analysis: The Packers have had a tight end in Jermichael Finley who can cause matchup problems in the secondary, but with his long-term future in Green Bay in doubt, they might be ready to target another high-level pass-catching tight end in Ertz. In Stanford's system Ertz has shown an ability to make tough catches all over the field, both down the seam and on the edges, and would be an ideal target for Aaron Rodgers to utilize, further diversifying an offense that can be unstoppable.


27Keenan Allen *Houston Texans (12-4)

COLLEGE: CaliforniaAGE: 20HT: 6-3WT: 210POS: WR

Analysis: If he hadn't become a wide receiver, it's entirely possible that Allen could be a coveted safety in this draft. His experience on defense shows up on offense, where he has a great knack for finding space in coverage, working back to the ball to help his quarterback and using great hands as a dependable pass-catcher. He's dangerous with the ball in his hands. Allen has dealt with nagging injuries during his time at Cal, but is the kind of wideout who can come in and make his mark early, and Houston needs to find another weapon for Matt Schaub, with Andre Johnson on the backside of his career.


28Xavier Rhodes *Denver Broncos (13-3)

COLLEGE: Florida St.AGE: 22HT: 6-2WT: 211POS: CB

Analysis: We've been talking about how old Champ Bailey is for about three years as the draft approaches, and each year Bailey comes back and plays corner at a high level. But the Broncos have to take a look at the depth chart at corner and realize it's time to bring in a young one capable of starting immediately. Rhodes is a good one, a player who uses his strength to jam at the line and disrupt timing, and he can close hard when the play is in front of him, tackling well and taking smart risks in coming off his route to make plays.


29Kevin Minter *Baltimore Ravens (10-6)


Analysis: LSU saw a flood of defenders enter the draft, but Minter is the one who should be taken first. With Ray Lewis on his way to the broadcast booth when the season ends, the Ravens need a strong presence in the middle of that linebacking corps. He's not Lewis, but Minter similarly does a great job of anticipating where the play is going and making offensive linemen whiff as he beats them to the ball. A natural fit in the Baltimore scheme, he's a player ready to start.


30Sharrif Floyd *San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)

COLLEGE: FloridaAGE: 20HT: 6-3WT: 303POS: DT

Analysis: At some point, San Francisco has to assume that the ageless Justin Smith might finally need a breather, and Floyd is the type of versatile defensive lineman who profiles well as a 3-4 defensive end. Florida moved Floyd to the inside during his sophomore season, but he was back at defensive end this season, and just kept getting better. Like Smith, he's a powerful player who can push the pocket with power and will free up other pass-rushers, while making tackles for loss on his own.


31DeAndre Hopkins *New England Patriots (12-4)

COLLEGE: ClemsonAGE: 20HT: 6-1WT: 200POS: WR

Analysis: Overshadowed to start the year by fellow Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, it was Hopkins who often stole the spotlight. Hopkins is a great natural catcher of the football, and can both set up his defender to create space and simply beat cornerbacks for the ball when he's well covered. I'm not sure if Hopkins is going to blow people away with his straight-line speed at the combine, but he has a knack for the big play and could be a reliable target for Tom Brady. The Patriots aren't slipping on offense, but wide receiver will be a big priority for them this offseason.


32Margus HuntAtlanta Falcons (13-3)


Analysis: If you're looking for a player to marvel at when it comes to the Under Armour portion of the draft process, keep an eye out for Hunt's workouts. I'm certainly not the first analyst to point out his remarkable athletic skills, but the former decathlete has extreme power, speed and leaping ability, all in a massive frame. The Falcons need help at defensive end, with the pass rush and age at that position major question marks headed into the offseason, and Hunt's physical prowess and upside will be really tempting in this range.



Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst


ESPN NFL Draft analyst since 1984

Contributes to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio

Writes weekly for ESPN Insider

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Fluker should be a RT all the way in the NFL. He struggles with good pass rushers but he kills it in run blocking. I don't think he will ever be great in pass blocking... but who knows.

If we are picking at 30 and Kevin Minter or Sharrif Floyd are available, I'd be all over them. Can't go wrong with either one imo.

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