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WHEELER: 2013 NFL Mock Draft

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Head coach Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams watches from the sidelines alongside defensive tackle Kendall Langford #98 and quarterback Sam Bradford #8 during the game against the Washington Redskins at Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Head coach Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams watches from the sidelines alongside defensive tackle Kendall Langford #98 and quarterback Sam Bradford #8 during the game against the Washington Redskins at Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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I’ve been doing mock drafts every year for about the last 15-16 years and over time the way I go about doing them has changed. The first few years, in the late 90′s, I’d try to predict what was going to happen (including trades) but I found that was pretty much impossible to do without looking foolish.

So around ’98 or ’99 I changed my approach. Instead of predicting what will happen I simply look at each pick and ask myself “What would I do with that pick?” So this has become more of a means of offering up opinions than an actual attempt at figuring out what 32 teams are going to do.

I do gather a lot of information before doing this. In addition to watching 10-12 hours of college football every Saturday I also watch plenty of the NFL Combine and study the opinions of NFL types that I very much respect. Guys like Mike Mayock, Charlie Casserly, Gil Brandt, Pat Kirwan and Clark Judge are favorites of mine for various reasons and I think Mayock is consistently the best with his information.

So, all of that said, here is my 2013 NFL Mock Draft. It won’t be accurate but it does accurately reflect my take on this year’s draft crop…

1. Kansas City – Luke Joekel, OT (Texas A&M)

This is a no brainer. They’re trying to trade Branden Albert to Miami so the highest rated player, one who played for Mike Sherman in college, is the right call.

2. Jacksonville – Eric Fisher, OT (Central Michigan)

The Jags have lots of needs so I think it’s important to take the highest rated player. They could trade out of this pick with someone like Detroit who desperately needs a tackle.

3. Oakland – Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)

Floyd is a monster and the Raiders could use more of a presence up front. They’re always a wild card on draft day so who knows what they’re really going to do.

4. Philadelphia – Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)

Chip Kelly could use a speed rusher too but there are lots of them in this draft but there aren’t as many game changers on the inside so I’d take Star.

5. Detroit – Lane Johnson, OT (Oklahoma)

Johnson is a freak of an athlete who still has room to get a lot better. Lions have big needs at OT, CB and DE but the tackles are the rarest of those commodities in this draft so they should address that first.

6. Cleveland – Dion Jordan, DE/LB (Oregon)

There are several ways the Browns could go but an athlete like Jordan would really spice things up for them on defense. Might be tempted to go CB here with Milliner. I almost did.

7. Arizona – Jarvis Jones, DE/LB (Georgia)

I know he’s not going here in the real world but this guy is a dominator who would immediately impact Arizona’s defense. The guy just makes plays and Arizona needs a little of that coming off the edge.

8. Buffalo – Chance Warmack, OG (Alabama)

Like most, I don’t normally place guards this high in the 1st round but Warmack is an exception. Their QB (Ryan Nassib) should be waiting for them in the 2nd round.

9. NY Jets – Ziggy Ansah, DE (BYU)

If a projected Top 5 pick falls to #9 and you can use him then you take him. Ansah has as much upside as anyone in this draft.

10. Tennessee – Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)

Again, I know he’s probably not going this high but the Titans need a disruptor on the defensive line and that is exactly what Richardson is. He’s the best upfield rusher at DT.

11. San Diego – Jonathan Cooper, OG (North Carolina)

Same thing I said about guards above – unusual but makes sense here. They need to protect Rivers and run the ball better if they’re going to bounce back.

12. Miami – Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)

The Dolphins need corner help and Milliner is the best in the draft. They could go offensive line instead but it would be a stretch here, might trade down.

13. NY Jets – Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)

I know they need receivers too but they just traded Darrelle Revis and replacing him is key to their defense. I think their current receivers are better than many think, their QB’s just can’t get them the ball. Might address that in the 2nd round.

14. Carolina – Kenny Vaccaro, S (Texas)

Panthers have a lot of needs, including a safety who can cover. This was a tough team to pin down.

15. New Orleans – Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)

I know most people say they’re going OLB but again I think that class is deep enough to get one later. Williams is a heck of a talent in the middle of the 1st round.

16. St. Louis – Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)

Love his speed and explosiveness but not sure he’s a guy that would be the first receive taken in most drafts. He fits the Rams specific needs well, however, and could be an asset on special teams as well as in the slot.

17. Pittsburgh – Justin Hunter, WR (Tennessee)

Again, more 3-4 DE/OLB types later. They could use a game breaker. I like Hunter’s skills better than his teammate Cordarelle Patterson.

18. Dallas – D.J. Fluker, OT (Alabama)

The Cowboys could look at several areas, especially defensive line, but their offensive line has been problematic in the past and Fluker could really impact their running game right away.

19. NY Giants – Barkevious Mingo, DE/LB (LSU)

The Giants don’t necessarily “need” Mingo but they love collecting elite rushers and this guy can do a lot of things. In the real world I don’t see him falling this far.

20. Chicago – Menelik Watson, OG (Florida State)

The Bears have needs at LB and DB for sure but their offensive line has been a huge problem in recent years and it’s about time they fixed that.

21. Cincinnati – Alex Ogletree, LB (Georgia)

Great talent, questionable off-the-field. Fits the Bengals recent draft history, no? Actually, they need a potential game breaker on defense here and Ogletree is a gifted player if he can focus on football.

22. St. Louis – Eric Reid, S (LSU)

I love Reid and think he’s the perfect fit for the Rams. Good athlete who can make plays and a physical guy that fits what Jeff Fisher does defensively.

23. Minnesota – Manti Te’o, LB (Notre Dame)

Vikings have several needs and LB is one of them. Te’o isn’t as good as his press clippings but he also isn’t as bad as he looked in the National Championship game.

24. Indianapolis – D.J. Hayden, CB (Houston)

If not for a freak health concern (heart surgery), Hayden would likely be a Top 10 pick. Colts would do well to take a chance on his talent here.

25. Minnesota – Cordarelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)

After losing Percy Harvin they need someone who can make big plays. Patterson is raw but he is dangerous once the ball is in his hands.

26. Green Bay – Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)

Jermichael Finley has been erratic of late and they need more weapons for Aaron Rodgers with the departure of Greg Jennings. Eifert is a sure thing and Rodgers would put him to good use.

27. Houston – Keenan Allen, WR (California)

Allen is a solid receiver who would make a nice complement to Andre Johnson. Doesn’t have top end speed but is polished from what I saw of him in college. Good for a contending team.

28. Denver – Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)

They need a pass rusher after losing Elvis Dumervil and that’s what Werner is. Reminds me of a slightly lesser version of Jared Allen the way he plays.

29. New England – Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)

The Pats had all kinds of CB problems last year so it makes sense to address that as much as possible since other areas of need aren’t as notable.

30. Atlanta – Jamar Taylor, CB (Boise State)

The Falcons should take the best corner available. They could look to move up, they’ve been aggressive doing so in the past.

31. San Francisco – Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)

I think he’s a great fit for what they do. I know they need DB’s, in particular safety (so maybe Matt Elam here), but Williams just screams “49′er” to me.

32. Baltimore – Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)

The Ravens lost a lot at LB and they need some youth and speed. Brown brings both and is underrated in my opinion. If he were coming out of LSU or Alabama he’d be a Top 20 pick.

NOTE: I realize that I didn’t have any QB’s or RB’s in the 1st round. I also realize that things likely won’t play out that way tonight. In my opinion, there aren’t an QB’s or RB’s that I would take in the 1st round. They can all be had in the 2nd and 3rd round while more sure things can be found at other positions in the 1st.

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