offensive tackle

Former Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro became a mainstay in the Longhorns secondary. Sports Editor Christian Corona projects the hard-hitting safety to be selected by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 16 overall pick. The NFL Draft begins Thursday night.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

1. Kansas City - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Before signing Alex Smith, the Chiefs were in desperate need of a quarterback. Now that they’ve got one, they’re going to need someone to protect his blind side. He helped Ryan Tannehill become last year’s No. 8 pick and helped Johnny Manziel become the first freshman Heisman winner. Joeckel is a no-brainer here at No. 1.

2. Jacksonville - Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon

The Jaguars need help at a lot of spots and linebacker is certainly one of them. Workout warrior Dion Jordan can make an immediate impact.

3. Oakland - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

The Raiders lost both of their starting defensive tackles from last year, Tommy Kelly to the Patriots and Desmond Bryant to the Browns. Floyd would be a great candidate to fill one of those spots.

4. Philadelphia - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

After two disappointing seasons in Philadelphia, Nnamadi Asomgha left the Eagles for the defending NFC champion 49ers. Milliner is clearly the top cornerback prospect in this year's draft and would be a good fit here.

5. Detroit - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

The Lions, who badly need an offensive tackle to protect Matthew Stafford, who has thrown for more than 10,000 yards over the last two years, can either take Fisher or Joeckel here, depending on who Kansas City picks at No. 1 (assuming Jacksonville, Oakland and Philadelphia don't select an offensive tackle).

6. Cleveland - Ezekiel Ansah, DT, BYU

Ansah's draft has risen more than anyone's over the last year as the Ghana native who came to BYU to be on the track team hadn't made a single start before last season. But after making 62 tackles, 13 for loss, and breaking up nine passes in 2012, Ansah is a legitimate Top 10 pick.

7. Arizona - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

He's only the third-best offensive tackle draft prospect but look for Johnson to be the first Big 12 player off the board. Like many teams making early selections, the Cardinals need help in the trenches.

8. Buffalo - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Bills head coach Doug Marrone coached Syracuse's Ryan Nassib last year but the Bills would be silly not to pick Smith if they indeed decide to use this pick on a quarterback. Not too many other QBs out there that threw for 656 yards and eight TDs in a game last year.

9. NY Jets - Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

The Jets could go a lot of different ways with this pick but if they decide to use it on an offensive guard, they can't go wrong with Cooper or Alabama's Chance Warmack.

10. Tennessee - Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Speaking of Warmack, the Titans could use an offensive guard that can start right away and shore up their O-line. This makes a whopping seven linemen taken with the first 10 picks of this mock draft.

11. San Diego - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Lotulelei has, by far, one of the best first names in the draft and has one of the best games, too. The 6-foot-2, 311-pounder made 42 tackles, 10 for loss, including five sacks last year while preaking up four pass, recovering four fumbles and forcing three others -- massive numbers for a defensive tackle that will fit in great in San Diego’s 3-4 scheme.

12. Miami - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Milliner is far and away the best cornerback available in this draft but Rhodes is still mid first-round material. The Dolphins had the second-worst pass defense in the AFC and could use someone like Rhodes in their secondary.

13. NY Jets - Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

38 tackles and 4.5 sacks don't exactly scream first-round material but at 6-foot-4 and 241 pounds, Mingo was clocked at 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, where he vertical jumped 37 inches and broad jumped more than 10 feet. The Jets would be hoping that he can continue to develop after his college days the way the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul did after his South Florida days.

14. Carolina - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Richardson made 75 tackles, 10.5 for loss, including four sacks last season for the Tigers, outstanding numbers for a defensive tackle. The Panthers would hope he could continue that kind of production at the next level.

15. New Orleans - D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

The fact that someone like Fluker would be the fourth offensive tackle selected goes to show just how deep this OT class is this year. Drew Brees would be able to rest easy knowing he had Fluker protecting him.

16. St. Louis - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

With the Rams losing both of their starting safeties from last year after Craig Dahl signed with the 49ers and Quintin Mikell was released last month, the hard-hitting and versatile Vaccaro is a perfect fit for the Rams, who have two first-round picks this year. 

17. Pittsburgh - Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia

He came to Georgia as a defensive back three years and will leave as a superb linebacker. Ogletree, who led the Bulldogs with 111 tackles last year, could be the next great linebacker for the Steelers, who lost James Harrison over the offseason.

18. Dallas - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

The Cowboys were in the bottom third in the league in rush defense last year and Williams, who made 42 tackles, 13.5 for loss, could help change that. 

19. NY Giants - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Jones led the country with 24.5 tackles for loss last season while making 13 sacks and forcing seven fumbles. Those gaudy numbers are indicative of the fact that he's an outstanding linebacker that would fit in well with the Giants.

20. Chicago - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

The Bears have not had a tight end catch 20 passes in a season since Greg Olsen, who caught 194 passes for 1,981 yards and 20 touchdowns in four years with Chicago, left for Carolina two years ago. If Eifert is available here, the Bears have to take him.

21. Cincinnati - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

The Bengals would be foolish not to pick Austin here if he's still available. Even if he's not, there's still plenty of solid wideout prospects as Austin is just one of four projected here to be selected in the first round.

22. St. Louis - Keenan Allen, WR, Cal

The Rams need a wide receiver about as badly as they need a safety but with Vaccaro being the only safety worthy of a first-round pick, they need to take him at No. 16 if he's there. Allen is one of about six receivers that would be worthy of a first-round selection.

23. Minnesota - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Werner had 18 tackles for loss and an ACC-best 13 sacks. He would join a group of pass rushers that includes four-time All-Pro member Jared Allen and former Longhorn Brian Robison if the Vikings used one of their first-round picks on him.

24. Indianapolis - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

The younger brother of NFL veteran Marcus Trufant, Desmond could help a decent Colts secondary become good and, eventually, great. 

25. Minnesota - Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame

Imaginary girlfriend shenanigans aside, Te'o is simply one of the best linebackers in this draft. His performance in the national title game against Alabama is concerning but he could help an already solid Vikings defense.

26. Green Bay - Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State

Franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers likes to run around and Watson knows what it's like to block for a dual-threat quarterback from his days blocking for Seminoles signal-caller and fellow NFL Draft prospect E.J. Manuel. He'd be a good fit here.

27. Houston - DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson - Andre Johnson asked the Texans to draft a wide receiver and, with Austin and Allen off the board, Hopkins would be a good way to fulfill Johnson’s request. Clocked at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Clemson’s Pro Day, Hopkins scored in all but one of the Tigers’ games last season, ending his Clemson career with a 13-catch, 191-yard, two-touchdown performance in a Chick-fil-a Bowl win over LSU.

28. Denver - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

After a contract snafu kept the Broncos from re-signing Elvis Dumervil, Denver, who led the NFL with 52 sacks last year, could use someone like Jones at its disposal. Already with a quarterback that can take them to the Super Bowl, the Broncos now need to make sure they still have the personnel to effectively rush the passer. 

29. New England - Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

The Patriots had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last year and would do well to shore up their secondary. Taylor, who's used to winning because of his days playing for Chris Peterson at Boise State, would be someone Bill Belichick could work well with. 

30. Atlanta - D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston

Dunta Robinson is now in Kansas City and the guy he started opposite of last season, Asante Samuel is a solid cornerback but he's 32. The Falcons could use someone like Hayden to learn from Samuel and eventually become a focal point of their secondary.

31. San Francisco - Matt Elam, S, Florida

Elam should he could do it all at Florida, making 11 tackles four loss while picking off four passes and breaking up four others. Could he be the piece that pushes the 49ers, who fell to the Ravens in last season's Super Bowl, be the missing piece to their championship puzzle?

32. Baltimore - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

The Ravens could end the first round by picking a safety like San Francisco but, with Anquan Boldin now playing for the 49ers, they could use someone like Patterson to have at Joe Flacco's disposal.

See Daily Texan Managing Editor Trey Scott's mock draft here.

Illustrations by Colin Zelinski.

At the start of the 2013 recruiting cycle, Mack Brown and company knew they needed a ton of help in this class. And they got it. Almost.

1,810 pounds will have to do.

That’s the combined weight of the six 2013 linemen who have verbally committed to Texas: defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive end Jake Raulerson, center Darius James, offensive tackle Kent Perkins, offensive tackle Desmond Harrison and guard Rami Hammad.

Those six will throw their weight around with the other 14 offensive lineman and 15 defensive linemen on scholarship for the 2013 season.

Consequently, it may be a while before some members of the incoming class get the chance to carry their share of the load. Even though Hammad, Robinson, James, Perkins and Raulerson are all listed by rivals.com as the best prospects in Texas at their respective positions, their playing time could be scarce.

The Texas lines are packed with more experienced commodities (the only starter Texas will lose from either line is defensive end Alex Okafor), and acclimating the incoming freshmen to the speed of the college game will take time. Hammad, James, and Perkins especially are early candidates for redshirts.    

Harrison, however, is a notable exception. A junior college transfer, Harrison has only two years of eligibility left and is under pressure to make an immediate impact. Although he may not be a starter from Day One (like fellow junior college transfer Donald Hawkins), Harrison should provide valuable depth at both tackle positions.

Although Harrison’s niche is already well established, the same cannot be said for the class’ two defensive linemen, Robinson and Raulerson.

Robinson could be the cream of the crop in their class if he indeed makes it to Austin. Even though he has been committed to Texas since Feb. 16 of last year, Robinson has taken official visits to Southern California, Florida State and as of last weekend, Alabama.

If he signs with Texas on Feb. 6, he has the talent to find playing time in a crowded Longhorn defensive front. Rated by rivals.com as the best prospect in Texas, Robinson could cause just as much disruption as Malcolm Brown or Brandon Moore did in their first years at Texas.

Alternatively, Raulerson has been committed to Texas longer than any other member of the 2013 class. He is already taking classes at UT and will participate in Spring Practice. Unlike Robinson, Raulerson’s future as a Longhorn is secure; what role he will play is murkier.

Raulerson is listed by Texas as a defensive end, but he played offensive tackle throughout high school. At 6 feet 5 inches and 262 pounds, Raulerson would need to put on considerable weight to be effective at that position at this level.

As an early enrollee, Raulerson will have a head start on learning the system as well as access to Texas’ strength and conditioning program. Even so, with all the returning talent on the defensive line, Raulerson will have to make quite an impression to avoid a redshirt position in his first season.

Although it’s always difficult to project a recruit’s impact, this is particularly true with linemen. Discerning how a recruit will develop both physically and mentally is a tricky business.

Still, the potential for this group to be a force in the Texas trenches is real. And while that opportunity may still be a few years off, the Longhorns should be optimistic about the big things coming to Austin.

Whitewright High’s Tyrone Swoopes, a 6-foot-5 dual threat quarterback, is just one piece of the Longhorns’ 2013 recruiting class. Swoopes has enrolled early this spring to join the team.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

The end of the year was marred by decommitments and missed opportunities for the Longhorns’ 2013 recruiting class, despite strong showings by UT commits at end-of-the-year All-America games.

The class of 2013 now has only 13 members. Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks switched his commitment to TCU, and Belton tight end Durham Smythe decommitted from Texas to entertain other offers.

Although decommitments are an expected part of the recruiting process for any school, Texas has yet to fill the spots vacated by Smythe and Hicks.

Katy Seven Lakes offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch, Auburn athlete Cameron Echols-Luper and East Mississippi Community College defensive end Za’Darius Smith all recently spurned the Longhorns. Benenoch, who was once thought to favor UT, committed to UCLA Dec. 10. Marshall was offered a scholarship but committed to Auburn on Monday. Texas offered a scholarship to Echols-Luper on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough to prevent him from committing to TCU over the weekend. Smith visited Austin for the Dec. 7 Football Banquet (according to burntorangenation.com), only to commit to Kentucky Dec. 19.

Meanwhile, speculation continues that Arlington Heights defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson may also decommit. Robinson committed to Texas on Feb. 16, but has since made visits to Florida State, Southern California and Alabama. Robinson is rated as Texas’ best 2013 commitment by rivals.com.

Nonetheless, Robinson asserted his allegiance to Texas at the 2013 Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio Jan. 5.

Robinson was joined by five other 2013 Longhorn commitments in San Antonio: Whitewright quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, Bastrop cornerback Antwuan Davis, Dallas Jesuit wide receiver Jake Oliver, Lake Highlands offensive tackle Kent Perkins and Celina athlete Jake Raulerson. Cypress Woods linebacker Deoundrei Davis was also selected for the game, but is still healing from an ACL tear. Swoopes, Raulerson and Deoundrei Davis have already enrolled.

Bastrop’s Davis made the biggest splash of any future Longhorn. Davis broke up what would have been a sure touchdown in the second quarter, and came off the edge to block a field goal in the same drive.

The other major high school all-star game, the Under Armour All-America Game, also had a representative from Texas. Harker Heights center Darius James missed most of his senior season with a broken foot, but showed off his versatility by playing a few snaps at offensive tackle. Even so, James may not have had even the best month in his own school.

Fellow Harker Heights Knight and Texas commit Naashon Hughes, who played out his senior season expecting a grayshirt, was rewarded by the Longhorns with a full scholarship in mid-December. The outside linebacker will now start classes this coming fall.

Who else will join him in the class of 2013, however, is unclear. While potential candidates include Waco offensive lineman Andrew Billings, Hutchinson Community College outside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and Contra Costa Community College offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, to say that any of those players will sign with Texas on National Signing Day would be shortsighted.

To be more accurate, as National Signing Day looms and the Texas coaching staff scrambles for a handful of commitments, the only certainty in this class is how much remains uncertain.