2013 NFL Mock Draft: Kiper projects Geno Smith, Ezekiel Ansah to go early

Stacy Revere

ESPN's draft guru also has three surprising picks in the final five picks of the first round.

In the latest mock draft from ESPN's draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr., Ezekiel Ansah and Geno Smith are both selected in the top four picks, which is decidedly higher than most have each player ranked so close to the 2013 NFL Draft.

Smith was the top pick in the mock draft of SB Nation's Dan Kadar for a while, but in his most recent mock, the West Virginia quarterback falls completely out of the first round. That's a trend that has been popular in recent days and falls in line with Kiper's January belief that there is no quarterback worth a first-round pick.

On Monday though, Kiper projected Smith to land with the Philadelphia Eagles with the fourth-overall selection, although it came with a less-than-ringing endorsement:

"More inclined to believe they'll trade up from their Round 2 pick to get him later in Round 1, but can't reflect that here."

Smith was the only quarterback taken in Kiper's mock as defensive players dominated much of the first round, led by Ansah. The BYU pass rusher is considered one of the most intriguing talents in the draft class, but is new to football and would require some development before he is able to compete at the NFL level.

That didn't stop Kiper from making Ansah the first defensive player off the board and the second overall selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team in need of a re-tooled defensive line. Kadar also projected the Jaguars to take a pass rusher, but instead selected Oregon's Dion Jordan, allowing Ansah to fall to the tenth selection.

Kiper and Kadar don't disagree on all accords, though, as both of them have a somewhat unconventional pick for the Green Bay Packers. Both projected the Packers to select Alabama running back Eddie Lacy at No. 26 overall. Not since the 1963 NFL Draft has the running back position been shut-out of the first round and Kiper explained that the 2013 NFL Draft wouldn't be the one to break the streak:

"A running back is going to go somewhere in Round 1, and I like this fit."

After Lacy, Kiper continued with some interesting selections that don't match up with the opinions of many draft experts. Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden, Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long and SMU defensive end Margus Hunt are each projected to go in the final five picks of the first round in Kiper's mock draft.

None of those players is projected to go in the first round in Kadar's mock draft and they rank as the No. 76, No, 94 and No. 70 prospect, respectively, in the latest draft rankings from Kadar.

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