The 2013 NFL draft kicks off at 8PM ET on Thursday night. Last year's No. 32 overall pick -- Giants running back David Wilson -- came off the board at 11:06PM ET. So, give or take, expect the first round to last about three hours.
The draft is arguably the most compelling, and definitely the least predictable event on the annual NFL calendar.
Each year, The Huddle Report scores mock drafts from across the nation. Last year's winner -- Ben Standig of CSN Washington -- matched 12 players correctly with their selecting teams. The nation's best hit rate was 37.5 percent. The most plugged-in football writers and journalists have little to no idea what's going to happen in the draft. The NFL teams barely know, and keep each other guessing by spreading pre-draft misinformation to keep other clubs on their toes.
Here's my best attempt to weed through the smokescreens:
1. Chiefs -- Texas A&M LT Luke Joeckel
New GM John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid aren't necessarily making organizational strides by swapping out Branden Albert for Joeckel. Albert was a good left tackle. They're simply saving some money and, in exchange for Albert, attempting to recoup the 2013 second-rounder lost in the Alex Smith trade. While Kansas City strongly considered Central Michigan's Eric Fisher for the past several months, it's become clear as the draft approaches that they have settled on Joeckel. Perhaps because Joeckel blocked superior SEC pass rushers, while Fisher played in the MAC.
2. Jaguars -- Central Michigan LT Eric Fisher
Word surfaced last weekend that Jacksonville was seriously considering a tackle at No. 2. My initial reaction was skepticism, seeing as the Jags already have an elite left tackle in Eugene Monroe and NFL teams don't draft right tackles in top five. But this is rookie GM Dave Caldwell's first-ever draft, and he may err on the "safe" side with his first-ever pick. The Jaguars should also know they'll have their choice of several quarterbacks at No. 33, perhaps including Geno Smith. It can't hurt Fisher's chances that the Jaguars face Texans left end J.J. Watt twice per year. With Fisher bookending Monroe, the Jaguars could regularly block Watt with a left tackle on each side.
3. Raiders -- Utah DT Star Lotulelei
I spoke to a high-ranking Raiders official two weeks ago, and he was adamant Oakland would select the highest-graded player on its draft board. I don't doubt him for a second. GM Reggie McKenzie is attempting to rebuild the league's worst roster, and has a need at virtually every position. While Sharrif Floyd warrants consideration, ultimately the Raiders will lean toward the first-team All-American and team captain senior. With elite run-stopping ability and some pocket-pushing tools, Lotulelei draws Haloti Ngata comparisons for his athleticism on a wide-body frame.
4. Eagles -- Oklahoma LT Lane Johnson
NFL Network's Mike Mayock suggested Tuesday that the Raiders might select Johnson at the third pick. I just don't think they'll have Johnson highly rated because Oakland is transitioning to a power-run scheme and Johnson is more of an athlete than mauling run blocker at this stage. The Eagles could really use Johnson's quick-twitch athleticism and second-level movement skills in Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense. His addition would allow Philly to move Todd Herremans to right guard, with Jason Kelce at center, Evan Mathis at left guard, and Jason Peters back at left tackle.
5. Lions -- BYU DE Ziggy Ansah
I think the Lions really want Fisher and I think they'd probably take Johnson before Ansah, too. But neither of those left tackles is going to make it to the fifth pick. GM Martin Mayhew is a BPA drafter, and the coaching staff can feel very good about Ansah's boom-or-bust aura after coaching him every day at the Senior Bowl. Mayhew's roster is also incredibly needy at defensive end.
6. Browns -- Oregon OLB Dion Jordan
There is only one draft scenario in which I think Browns GM Mike Lombardi would resist making every effort to trade down. And that's if Jordan made it to the sixth overall pick. Drawing Jason Taylor comparisons, Jordan possesses special movement skills as pass rusher and coverage linebacker. He can rush with his hand in the dirt, cover tight ends and slot receivers, and affect offensive action from a two-point stance. He has a real chance to be the best player in this draft.
7. Cardinals -- LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo
Like the Lions, the Cardinals are praying one of the top-three left tackles falls to their first-round slot. It won't happen. Beyond left tackle, outside-edge rusher is Arizona's most glaring weakness after first-team rush linebackers O'Brien Schofield and Sam Acho combined for a mere eight sacks across 25 starts in 2012. Mingo may be the draft's most naturally explosive defender.
8. Bills -- Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib
This seemingly inevitable pick will be widely criticized as a reach, but so was Miami's selection of Ryan Tannehill in the No. 8 spot last year. And that worked out pretty well. Bills personnel chiefs Buddy Nix and Doug Whaley might more strongly consider a trade back into the 20s for Nassib if they were working with more than six picks. Their best bet is to take Nassib at eight and go best-player-available the rest of the way. If Buffalo found a trade-down partner, that'd be even better.
9. Jets -- West Virginia WR Tavon Austin
Assuming rookie GM John Idzik doesn't deem a quarterback worthy of the ninth pick -- and I don't believe he will -- next on New York's lengthy priority list should be touchdown scorers and QB sackers. While the Jets will have a good idea about Jarvis Jones' availability at No. 13, they'll be less confident Austin gets by the Titans, Chargers, and Dolphins. Division-rival Miami might be the biggest threat to take him. Securing Austin at No. 9 would give new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg a sorely-needed versatile offensive weapon capable of both moving the chains and hitting pay dirt.
10. Titans -- North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper
Cooper is a picturesque fit for Tennessee's offense because he is highly athletic and effective on the hoof, capable of washing second-level defenders out of run plays. The Titans are a zone-blocking team. Recent reports have the Cardinals, Bills, and Jets all giving consideration to Cooper, so it's entirely possible he won't be there. If he is, expect Mike Munchak to snap him up.
11. Chargers -- Alabama RT D.J. Fluker
The Chargers are thankful the season doesn't start today, because if it did they'd have the worst offensive line in the NFL. Every front-five position is a major question mark aside from perhaps center, where Nick Hardwick is going on 32 years old. In order to give Philip Rivers any chance at playing competitive 2013 football, rookie GM Tom Telesco must attack the line in the draft, coming away with multiple starters. Able to start at either right guard or right tackle from day one, Fluker offers more value at this draft position than college teammate Chance Warmack.
12. Dolphins -- Houston CB D.J. Hayden
The Dolphins don't like the No. 12 slot. They've tried to move both up and down over the past 48 hours, hinting a draft-day trade may be forthcoming. Regardless of whether he pulls off a deal, admitted needs drafter Jeff Ireland will inevitably select a player at a roster weakness. Ireland is on the hotseat in a contract year, evidenced by his desperate free-agent spending spree. He's sure to cave into the Chiefs' demands for Branden Albert. Corner would then become Miami's greatest need position, and healthy Hayden is a stronger pick than surgery-riddled Dee Milliner.
13. Jets -- Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones
Although he may not be quite as stout in run defense, Jones' best NFL player comparison is Terrell Suggs for his non-stop motor, wide array of pass-rush moves, and sack production. Despite poor pre-draft measurables in 2003 -- Suggs couldn't crack 4.85 in the forty at two separate workouts -- the Ravens made then-alleged "faller" Suggs the No. 10 pick. Rex Ryan reaped the benefits, as Suggs racked up 30.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles with Ryan coordinating Baltimore's 2005-2008 defenses. Edge rusher is now a glaring need in New York. Antonio Cromartie excelled in the Revis Island role last season, but could use help up front.
14. Panthers -- Florida DT Sharrif Floyd
Giants GM Jerry Reese is an ardent proponent of the best-player-available method, and new Panthers GM Dave Gettleman worked under Reese for the past six years. The strategy has paid great dividends for the Giants. Not only would Floyd likely be atop Gettleman's draft board at this pick, he would fill a major void as Carolina's defensive tackle situation is annually problematic. Floyd would give the Panthers an interior up-field penetrator with immediate 5-8 sack potential.
15. Saints -- Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes
Under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the Saints are transitioning to a press-heavy scheme in the secondary with an emphasis on big, long-armed DBs capable of matching up physically with Julio Jones and Vincent Jackson in the NFC South. Rhodes was the fourth tallest corner at the Combine, second heaviest, and had the third longest arms. With Rhodes and Keenan Lewis on the outside and Jabari Greer in the slot, New Orleans could field a formidable nickel package.
16. Rams -- Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins
There's been so much smoke on the Hopkins-St. Louis front since the weekend that it's become impossible to ignore. Plugged-in Yahoo reporter Jason Cole reported Sunday that the Rams would decide between Tavon Austin and Hopkins at the 16th pick. (Austin won't be there.) On Monday evening, the Rams sent multiple assistants to Clemson to put Hopkins through a private workout. A Roddy White-type receiver, Hopkins is a pro-ready route runner with impressive pass-plucking ability in traffic. GM Les Snead has devoted this offseason to helping Sam Bradford.
17. Steelers -- Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert is typically a best-available drafter, but his offensive skill-position corps has eroded so precipitously that Colbert may stray from that approach, at least in the first round. Eifert isn't a slouch, of course, and he'd be a huge upgrade on what the Steelers have at tight end now with Heath Miller's 2013 status in doubt due to three torn knee ligaments. Eifert can create mismatches in the passing game and hold his own as a blocker. He'd essentially be playcaller Todd Haley's new slot presence, with Emmanuel Sanders at X and Antonio Brown at Z receiver.
18. Cowboys -- Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson
In this proposed scenario, the Cowboys would have to think long and hard about selecting Chance Warmack over Richardson. Ultimately, I think they might lean toward addressing a defense in transition as new coordinator Monte Kiffin installs a 4-3. Richardson is a gap-shooting three technique, which is a critical position under Kiffin. Jay Ratliff would then play 4-3 nose tackle.
19. Giants -- Alabama OG Chance Warmack
Giants left guard Kevin Boothe is a sub-average starter working on a one-year deal. Right guard Chris Snee is 31 and coming off hip surgery. The Giants must get younger up front, making Warmack a logical fit in addition to being the best player left. Coordinator Kevin Gilbride heads up a power-running offense. Warmack is a power-blocking guard. While most mock drafts project Warmack in the first half of round one, guards are annually drafted later than mockers expect.
20. Bears -- Kansas State LB Arthur Brown
This pick would be a perfect blend of need and value for Bears GM Phil Emery. Chicago, in fact, has one of the better rosters in the NFL no one is talking about and isn't beholden to one position at the 20th choice. Linebacker is one relatively suspect spot since none of the Bears' current starters (Lance Briggs, James Anderson, D.J. Williams) are signed beyond 2014. Anderson and Williams are on one-year deals. Brown would be Brian Urlacher's long-term successor inside.
21. Bengals -- Florida International S Johnathan Cyprien
The Bengals love Cyprien and will hold their breath he gets by the Rams and Cowboys. They sent defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to Florida International on Monday for a private workout of Cyprien and seem clearly to be eyeballing Reggie Nelson's running mate with this pick.
22. Rams -- Texas FS Kenny Vaccaro
Vaccaro is the quintessential safety for today's NFL game. He can lock down slot receivers one on one -- ask Tavon Austin -- and support the run game attacking downhill. Vaccaro is also terrific in centerfield coverage, leaving him with no noticeable flaws. The Rams have shown a significant amount of pre-draft interest in Vaccaro and have a safety need. He is every bit worth this pick.
23. Vikings -- Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson
The Vikings' signing of Greg Jennings and fast development of third-year tight end Kyle Rudolph allows GM Rick Spielman to swing for the fences in his pass-catching corps. The Vikings badly need a true "X" receiver -- it was Patterson's position at Tennessee -- and his dynamic, game-breaking ability could restore some of the juice lost with Percy Harvin's departure. Patterson's natural talent is top-ten caliber. Concerns about the way he runs routes have been overblown.
24. Colts -- Florida State OLB Tank Carradine
Carradine played right end in Florida State's 4-3, but NFL scouts are confident he is athletic, bendy, and explosive enough to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. I recently watched four games from Carradine's 2012 season and came away highly impressed with his hand usage, tireless energy, and consistency in disrupting pass plays even when he wasn't sacking the quarterback. Carradine is so good that I wouldn't be surprised if he were selected before the 24th pick. If he does last this long, GM Ryan Grigson should view him as an enormous upgrade on Erik Walden.
25. Vikings -- Notre Dame MLB Manti Te'o
I watched Te'o's entire college career and am not convinced his game is first-round caliber, but the Vikings have shown more interest in him than any team during the pre-draft process. ESPN is so confident Minnesota will draft Te'o that they're sending a reporter to the Vikings' Winter Park facility to have it covered live on Thursday night. Minnesota has a big need at middle linebacker, and GM Rick Spielman loves Notre Dame players, selecting four of them over the past five drafts.
26. Packers -- Florida State LT Menelik Watson
There has been buzz in Green Bay that the Packers will move right tackle Bryan Bulaga over to the left side, replacing struggling two-year starter Marshall Newhouse. Watson can play either spot. Though raw, Watson has an ideal build for an NFL tackle and athleticism to fit Green Bay's zone-blocking scheme. The Packers will figure out their two tackle starters in training camp. No matter the sides they play, Bulaga will be one and Watson could easily be the other.
27. Texans -- Tennessee WR Justin Hunter
Hunter is considered a somewhat developmental prospect after his performance slipped last season coming off a torn ACL, but he ran pro-style routes in Tennessee's pro-style offense and can take the top off of defenses. The Texans don't just need a No. 2 receiver; they need a potential long-term No. 1 as Andre Johnson goes on 32. Hunter is talented enough to be both.
28. Broncos -- UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin
Running backs must be able to pass protect to function in Peyton Manning's offense. Blitz pickup is one of Franklin's primary strengths, along with inside running ability, foot quickness, and an impressively competitive playing style. The Broncos realize 2012 third-rounder Ronnie Hillman is a change-up back only. Franklin would replace injured 31-year-old Willis McGahee as the starter.
29. Patriots -- UCLA DL Datone Jones
The Patriots are multiple on defense and place a high value on players capable of filling multiple roles. Jones is at his best as an interior pocket pusher, but also holds his own as a traditional base 4-3 end. Pats defensive end starters Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones were forced to play too many snaps in 2012 because New England had no depth. They'd all play better in a rotation.
30. Falcons -- Alabama CB Dee Milliner
I don't really think Milliner will drop this far, but I do have a sneaking suspicion he'll go to the Falcons. GM Thomas Dimitroff has 11 picks -- his most since 2008 -- and only seven or eight at most will have a realistic chance of making Atlanta's roster. It's no secret Dimitroff is willing to trade up. Following the departure of Brent Grimes and release of Dunta Robinson, the Falcons' largest hole is right corner opposite Asante Samuel. I think a trade could happen anywhere in the Nos. 4-14 range. Dimitroff can dangle the 30th and 60th picks, and a late-rounder to move up.
31. 49ers -- Boise State CB Jamar Taylor
An explosive athlete with 4.39 wheels and a 10-foot-7 broad jump, Taylor is "coverage versatile" with an ability to play both off-man and press-bail techniques. His speed to stay in deep threat receivers' hip pocket stands out on tape. The 49ers are interested in trading up -- and have plenty of ammo with a league-high 13 picks -- so perhaps they'll take that route. If not, Taylor would be a very solid late first-rounder at one of the few positions San Francisco's roster is somewhat weak.
32. Ravens -- California WR Keenan Allen
Terrell Suggs. Anquan Boldin. Even Haloti Ngata had an average Combine. The Ravens don't acquire pre-draft test freaks; they target football players. Allen's 4.71 Pro Day forty time likely sent up a red flag for most teams, but GM Ozzie Newsome will pounce if Allen lasts to the 32nd overall pick. A polished, savvy route runner with outstanding hands and pro readiness, Allen would be an ideal Z receiver complement to vertical stretcher Torrey Smith, with Dennis Pitta manning the slot.
33. Jaguars -- West Virginia QB Geno Smith
The writing on the wall says Geno is sliding. The Jags can't pass on him at 33.
34. 49ers -- Alabama DL Jesse Williams
Physical Williams is a great fit for the physical Niners. He'd start at nose tackle.
35. Eagles -- Florida State QB E.J. Manuel
Michael Vick has a one-year deal. Manuel becomes Chip Kelly's 2014 starter.
36. Lions -- Kentucky OG Larry Warford
The Lions didn't get front-five help at No. 5. They bounce back and get it at 36.
37. Bengals -- North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard
Bernard brings much-needed big-play ability to Cincinnati's plodding backfield.
38. Cardinals -- NC State QB Mike Glennon
At age 33, Carson Palmer is on his last legs. Glennon will be groomed for 2014.
39. Jets -- Stanford TE Zach Ertz
The Jets can pass on Tyler Eifert at 13 because Ertz will be available at 39.
40. Titans -- Mississippi State DB Johnthan Banks
Banks is a bit of a safety-corner tweener at 6-foot-2, 185 with 4.61 speed.
41. Bills -- Florida State DE Bjoern Werner
Werner lacks special pass-rush tools, but he's a great value pick in the 40s.
42. Dolphins -- Syracuse G/T Justin Pugh
Miami will trade for Branden Albert, but also needs help inside at guard.
43. Buccaneers -- Cincinnati TE Travis Kelce
This would be a fantastic fit for a Bucs team in need of a receiving tight end.
44. Panthers -- Washington CB Desmond Trufant
Trufant slips because he plays too soft. Carolina desperately needs corners.
45. Chargers -- Florida S Matt Elam
Elam slips because he's short and lacks discipline. He's a second-rounder.
46. Rams -- Georgia LB Alec Ogletree
Ogletree slips because of off-the-field issues. They don't scare off Jeff Fisher.
47. Cowboys -- LSU SS Eric Reid
Reid is the strong safety Dallas covets in this draft. He would start right away.
48. Steelers -- USC WR Robert Woods
Woods' feet may be quicker than any draft-eligible receiver after Tavon Austin.
49. Giants -- Mississippi State CB Darius Slay
Slay combines terrific size and speed will ball skills. He's the best player left.
50. Bears -- USC QB Matt Barkley
Jay Cutler is in a contract year. At the very least, this sends him a message.
51. Redskins -- Arkansas-Pine Bluff OT Terron Armstead
Armstead is an athletic zone-blocking prototype. He'd play right tackle in D.C.
52. Vikings -- North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams
I think the Vikings would consider drafting Williams as early as No. 23 overall.
53. Bengals -- Ohio State RT Reid Fragel
The Bengals have shown a lot of interest in Fragel over the past 72 hours.
54. Dolphins -- Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell
The Fins can address their pass-rush need with John Abraham after the draft.
55. Packers -- Alabama RB Eddie Lacy
Green Bay wants to become more physical. That's Lacy's bread and butter.
56. Seahawks -- San Diego State TE Gavin Escobar
The Seahawks are in the business of creating mismatches in the pass game.
57. Texans -- LSU ILB Kevin Minter
Minter is a great tackler and would start right away next to Brian Cushing.
58. Broncos -- Georgia FS Bacarri Rambo
A center-field safety, Rambo would put heat on playoff dog Rahim Moore.
59. Patriots -- Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton
New England must find a vertical, field-stretching X receiver in this draft.
60. Falcons -- Ohio State DT Johnathan Hankins
Hankins' motor runs hot and cold. He can still be an effective wave tackle.
61. 49ers -- Tennessee Tech WR Da'Rick Rogers
Anquan Boldin is turning 33 and Michael Crabtree is in a contract year.
62. Ravens -- Syracuse SS Shamarko Thomas
Thomas draws Bob Sanders comparisons because he's a bullet to the ball.
Still on the Board: SMU DE Margus Hunt, Oregon T/G Kyle Long, Tennessee G/T Dallas Thomas, South Carolina S D.J. Swearinger, Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton, Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore, West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey, LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu, Texas DE Alex Okafor, Oregon State CB Jordan Poyer, Georgia DE Cornelius Washington, Clemson RB Andre Ellington, SE Louisiana CB Robert Alford, Rice TE Vance McDonald, Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson.
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