Linemen rule mock draft update
Only four skill-position players make the first-round cut
The Super Bowl is over and the final first-round order for the 2013 draft is set, and the lack of impact offensive players on the board makes for plenty of intrigue surrounding the top quarterback on the board.
However, as scouts continue to break down the game of West Virginia QB Geno Smith, there is no question about where the strength of the 2013 class lies. Seven of the top 11 prospects in my latest mock draft are linemen, including three players each from the defensive end and offensive tackle classes.
Utah DT Star Lotulelei still projects as the top overall pick at this point, but there is plenty of shuffling below. The top cornerback on the board has moved into the top three picks, while a big-name defensive end has tumbled out of the top 10 and a fast-rising defensive tackle has vaulted into the top 15.
As for the skill positions, only four players from the quarterback, wide receiver and running back classes are in this projection, with just one among the top 10 picks.
There is still plenty of film to study, and players will continue to rise and fall as the NFL combine, individual workouts and interviews with teams continue to highlight players' strengths and weaknesses. Here's how things project, though, based on what we know now.Draft-eligible non-seniors are noted with an asterisk.
The biggest question at the top is whether the Chiefs think highly enough of any of the 2013 quarterback prospects to go in that direction with this pick. The second question is whether OT Branden Albert will return to Kansas City. Assuming the answers to those questions are no and yes, respectively, Lotulelei makes most sense. The Chiefs have a need for a 5-technique (DE) in their 3-4 scheme, and he is an ideal fit. Lotulelei has great size and natural tools, especially strength, but he is not just a space-eater. He makes plays versus the run and can help collapse the pocket as an inside power rusher.
The Jaguars might also hesitate to take a quarterback this early, and they need to improve a pass rush that had a league-low 20 sacks last season. Werner is a good overall player who is also strong against the run and would fit well opposite DE Jason Babin, but is he worth this pick? Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore* is a better athlete but could slip a bit due to growing concerns about maturity.
New offensive coordinator Greg Olson brings a power, man-blocking running game to Oakland, which is not a great fit for Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel. Oakland also needs an upgrade along the defensive front, but with Lotulelei and Werner both off the board Milliner make the most sense. He is the most complete cornerback in the 2013 class and would address the team's most glaring weakness.
West Virginia QB Geno Smith is a possibility here, but Joeckel is one of the top three overall prospects in this class and would be tough to pass up. New head coach Chip Kelly favors smaller, more athletic linemen like Joeckel, who would take care of a desperate need for an overall talent and depth upgrade along the offensive line. The question is whether the Eagles would feel comfortable moving Joeckel to the right side to accommodate returning LT Jason Peters.
Cornerback is the Lions' biggest need, but with Milliner off the board the defensive line becomes the focus. With Kyle Vanden Bosch having been released and LDE Cliff Avril an unrestricted free agent, Detroit has a need at end. There is simply too much young talent at defensive tackle to let things deteriorate at end. Jordan is an underrated talent with the length and athleticism to develop into an impact starter in NFL, and he's shown the versatility to play multiple roles along the front seven.
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