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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Branden Albert could determine early picks

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Having now completed my final mock draft for the year, I'm thrilled to announce how horrible it is. I kid. Kind of. Been rolling with defensive prospects to the Jaguars at No. 2 for a few months now and suddenly I'm changing course.

Of course, I'd feel worlds better about my mock if Branden Albert would hurry up and get traded. Or not. If he sticks in Kansas City I think we could see the Chiefs go defense. Having Albert on board means they can do what Andy Reid does most often: take a defensive lineman with the first-overall pick.

But with Jeff Ireland desperate these days, it makes sense for him to go ahead and pull trigger on the trade that would land the Dolphins a left tackle. You know what else makes sense? The Dolphins then dealing their 2014 first-round pick in order to get back in the second round and grab another player they like.

This isn't happening below because, well, I'm only going one round. Also, it's another story for another day, because if Albert's gone the Chiefs have to go with a tackle up top. Right? Right??

But if I'm just gonna do one more round, I might as well do it good.

1. Kansas City Chiefs -- Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan -- Really want to go defense up top for the Chiefs, but I think they ultimately move Branden Albert to Miami, which means the top pick has to be one of the linemen. Joeckel makes sense, particularly with his history of protecting mobile quarterbacks in college, but I've been on the Fisher-to-Chiefs train since the combine and see no reason to change just because the draft is less than 24 hours away.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M -- I don't like doing this and maybe GM David Caldwell doesn't like doing it either. But the Jaguars have to protect Blaine Gabbert (and whoever else they draft in the future to replace him), they have holes all over their roster (and no right tackle), it bolsters their line, gives them insurance against Eugene Monroe, who enters the final year of his deal, is a "safe" pick and helps protect against having to play J.J. Watt twice a year.

3. Oakland Raiders -- Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida -- In this situation, Reggie McKenzie's doing everything he can to move down. It's just going to be tough to find a suitor even with two tackles off the board. I'm gonna stick with Floyd here, thinking he gives them a much needed defensive tackle presence, a relatively "safe" pick, and a pass-rushing, block-engulfing man in the middle.

4. Philadelphia Eagles -- Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon -- Jordan makes sense in what Chip Kelly wants to do offensively, he's got gobs and gobs of upside, is versatile (Kelly loves that) and is somewhat of a "safe" pick because Kelly coached him at Oregon.

5. Detroit Lions -- Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma -- Not a perfect world for the Lions here as they'd probably prefer Joeckel or Fisher to fall to five. But with Riley Reiff on the roster as well, they've got a little security when it comes to adding a tackle -- if Johnson's not ready to man the left side right away, he can start on the right (like Reiff did).

6. Cleveland Browns -- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama -- Kind of hating the Jags offensive line pick at this point, because it wrecked all my designs on serious early-round trading. Maybe that makes more sense though; it's going to be hard to get out of the top-10 picks this year. Cleveland can't do it either and drafts for talent and need while adding another SEC-caliber cornerback to pair with Joe Haden.

7. Arizona Cardinals -- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU -- If you're a Cards fan, you'll likely want GM Steve Keim to nab an offensive lineman. But with all the premiere tackles off the board, he goes for the guy with the most upside here and brings in a potentially destructive pass rusher who might not even slip all the way down to No. 7 when everything shakes out on Thursday night.

8. Buffalo Bills -- Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse -- Don't like this one bit, but it very well could end up happening. The Bills need a quarterback, Doug Marrone knows Nassib well, he might not last until the second round when they pick and if you've got a conviction on a guy you can't pass him up. Again, I hate this pick. But I think it ultimately happens.

9. New York Jets -- Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia -- The Jets have many needs, but their biggest need is a playmaker on offense who can do things without having to get down the field and catch the ball. And no one in this draft is a playmaker quite like Austin. Giving Mark Sanchez this kind of weapon is kind of like handing your 16-year-old a Ferrari -- he might wreck it, but at least he'll look a lot better doing it.

10. Tennessee Titans -- Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC -- Match made in heaven here as the Mike Munchak beefs up the other side of his offensive line, lands some verstility (Cooper could also play center) and gets a very smart and very talented football player for his blocking scheme.

11. San Diego Chargers -- D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama -- Should be some temptation to take Warmack here, but Fluker can make the most immediate impact in terms of helping beef up the rushing attack with Ryan Mathews. Any sort of non-corpse-ish person would improve the pass protection for Philip Rivers at this stage.

12. Miami Dolphins -- Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State -- If the Fins don't deal for Albert, I'm going to be furious, because it changes everything I think will happen with No. 1, this pick and the Dolphins trading up. WHATEVER. Instead they draft for a different need and grab a cornerback.

13. San Francisco 49ers (via mock trade with New York Jets via Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -- Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah -- And Trent Baalke rips the hearts out of Panthers fans hoping they were going to get a stud at 14 by swooping up in this mock trade to get a stud defensive lineman who can play end in the 3-4 and move around a bit.

14. Carolina Panthers -- Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri -- I hate this pick. Not because Richardson's not good and not because Carolina doesn't need a DT. He is and they do. But it seems too obvious, just like the last two years. But Dave Gettleman wasn't picking the last two years either, and he loves his hog mollies. Richardson can rush the pass and occupy blockers and will make Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson better immediately, as well as helping the secondary.

15. New Orleans Saints -- Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU -- Lots of possible directions for the Saints, but beefing up the pass rush is key, and adding Mingo would do that right away.

16. St. Louis Rams -- Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas -- I can't quit this safety-wideout combo for the Rams. And to me, even with the lack of really great tight ends in this division (outside Vernon Davis anyway), Vaccaro makes sense for Jeff Fisher's club.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia -- And undersized linebacker who fell because of health issues equates to good value for the Steelers, who can beef up their pass-rush presence by adding a talent like Jones.

18. Dallas Cowboys -- Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama -- Absolute coup for the Cowboys here, as they beef up their offensive line and provide Tony Romo with some sorely needed protection. Warmack's ability to road grade should help DeMarco Murray as well.

19. New York Giants -- Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State -- Reloading on the defensive line is a speciality in New York and after losing Osi Umenyiora and facing a situation where Justin Tuck could be gone, the Giants grab a potential goldmine in Carradine who can replenish their pass rush.

20. Chicago Bears -- Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame -- Conventional logic has the Bears going defense, but this is a new regime in Chicago and it's a regime that isn't facing a serious need, but a regime that needs to give Jay Cutler more weapons. Eifert is just that.

21. Cincinnati Bengals -- Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama -- Fully expect the Bengals to end up locking down Andre Smith, otherwise Menelik Watson makes sense here. And while I don't think that there's a first-round running back in this draft, I do think the Bengals would like to improve on what BenJarvus Green-Ellis offers them.

22. Atlanta Falcons (via mock trade with St. Louis Rams via Washington Redskins) -- D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston -- There's an obvious connection between Thomas Dimitroff and Les Snead, and being able to ring a buddy up when you move up to grab the cornerback you covet makes things a lot easier. That the Rams can move down and still snare a wideout doesn't hurt matters.

23. Minnesota Vikings -- Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington -- Minnesota has needs all over the place and picking up a wide receiver seems like a big-time priority, but they also need to add a cornerback. Trufant's looking like a pretty good value at this point.

24. Indianapolis Colts -- Datone Jones, DE, UCLA -- Jones can play the 3-4 end in Chuck Pagano's scheme and is a productive big body that should significantly help the Colts pass rush.

25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks) -- Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame -- Another guy who doesn't really work as a true first-round pick in my books. But that shouldn't matter because of the Vikings need for a middle linebacker and Rick Speilman's penchant for drafting Notre Dame guys.

26. Green Bay Packers -- Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State -- In an ideal world, the Packers aren't forced to move Bryan Bulaga off the right tackle spot. But with Derek Sherrod unlikely to be healthy by the time training camp begins (much less the season) they give themselves a little insurance for Marshall Newhouse on the left side, add a tackle with some upside

27. Houston Texans -- Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee -- Told myself I wouldn't give the Texans a wideout because it's too obvious, but, well, it's just too obvious. Hunter has some major, major upside and they have to get someone who can play opposite Andre Johnson.

28. Denver Broncos -- Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State -- Werner's a major value here for the Broncos, who want to upgrade their pass rush after losing Elvis Dumervil via fax.

29. New England Patriots -- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson -- Strong temptation to go secondary here, but with the injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, plus the lack of Wes Welker as a security blanket, I think they end up going wideout. Hopkins isn't a total burner, but he's an intelligent wideout who just makes plays.

30. St. Louis Rams (via mock trade with Atlanta Falcons) -- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee -- More options are available, but St. Louis isn't getting Patterson in the second, and he provides a different kind of playmaker for Sam Bradford, one that is sorely needed.

31. New York Jets (via mock trade with San Francisco 49ers) -- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- If John Idzik exits the first round while adding Austin, Smith and getting extra picks to boot, he's going to get a thumbs up from this guy.

32. Baltimore Ravens -- Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International -- Just another casual steal for Ozzie Newsome, as he replenishes the safety position by adding a guy who probably should've gone a few picks earlier than this.

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