Perhaps more than any other year, the 2013 NFL Draft is proving to be largely unpredictable. With that in mind, we've culled mock drafts from five separate sources -- ESPN.com, NFL.com, ProFootballTalk.com, FOXSports.com, and our own -- to try and get the best handle on what exactly will go down April 25. In addition, we'll take a trip down memory lane and look at the past five drafts in an attempt to see how well the mocks line up with the real thing.
No use for QBs: One thing that's immediately apparent is just how quarterback-heavy past first rounds have been, especially at the top. In each of the last five seasons a quarterback has been taken in the top three, and a signal-caller has been the top pick in the last four drafts. That won't be happening this year, and there is certainly no consensus that a quarterback will be taken before Buffalo at No. 8. Four of the five mocks have West Virginia's Geno Smith going in the top eight, with one having him fall all the way to the Vikings at No. 23.
There are two reasons why the first round will likely be short on quarterbacks. One is fewer teams are willing to spend an early pick on a quarterback, mainly because they don't need one. The second is more obvious: This is a weak quarterback class. Aside from Smith, only Matt Barkley and EJ Manuel show up in the first round of these mocks, and four prognosticators have only Smith getting taken.
RB shutout: This trend extends to running backs, as well. Only Alabama's Eddie Lacy is projected to go in the first round in any of our mocks, and he's only listed in three of them. In the last five years only 2011's draft saw just a single running back go in the first round -- but that appears likely this year.
OL, DL, and linebackers dominate up top: Something else the mocks agree on: The top five picks will be heavy on offensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive linemen. Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel had been the heavy favorite to be taken first overall, with DT Sharrif Floyd, OLB Dion Jordan, DT Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, and OT Eric Fisher falling in somewhere behind.
|Southern California QB Matt Barkley may go early 1st round -- or fall to Round 2. (USATSI)|
There have been rumblings of late, however, that Fisher may leap-frog Joeckel at the top, though we'll see if that holds steady throughout the week.
Star Lotulelei, Matt Barkley all over the board: One interesting case is Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. One mock has him going first overall, while the others have him at 3, 13, 14, and 23. Another is Barkley, who was as high as No. 8 in one draft a week ago but has since fallen out of the first round. He is still 25th in another, but nowhere to be found in the other three. Barkley -- along with Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib -- appears to be a guy that could possibly go top 10 or, more likely, fall to the second round.
Change in stock: Of course, these mocks will ebb and flow with teams' activity in free agency and in the trade market. Aside from that, the health of certain players has been cleared up in recent weeks, therefore guys like Lotulelei and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones may begin to climb up draft boards as we approach the 25th.
What about Te'o: And there's one more guy to keep an eye on: Manti Te'o. ESPN's Mel Kiper is hell-bent on Te'o going in the first round -- he has him going to the Bears at No. 20 -- while just one other draft has him in the top 32. Chances are that will change in coming weeks.