2013 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Barkley and 10 Sure-Thing 1st Round Studs
The 2012 NFL draft is in full swing, with players like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III taking center stage. But it is about to become old news.
Sports are all about predicting. That is what makes sports fun. You never know what's going to happen, and you are always kept waiting.
Well, if you haven’t read enough mock drafts yet, here is a 2013 mock draft. You won’t find Trent Richardson or Matt Kalil. Instead, you’ll see Robert Woods and Tyler Bray.
Get used to these names.
It is never too early for a mock draft, so here are my first-round predictions for the 2013 NFL draft.
1. Miami Dolphins: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Who else? Matt Barkley is the consensus No. 1 pick, and after one more year to hone his skills at USC, he will be ready to rule the NFL and deliver a star to the quarterback-hungry Dolphins franchise.
Barkley is ready for a pro-style offense even now, but after one more year of improving, the Trojan could be Andrew Luck-esque.
Barkley completed 69 percent of his passes in 2011 for 3,528 yards, with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He improved his decision-making and is an excellent leader.
USC is looking for a national championship this year, and their quarterback will be at the helm of that offense.
2. Cleveland Browns: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
He may not be a household name now, but by this time next year, Tyler Bray will be on everyone's radar.
Bray is a benefactor of the immense need for elite quarterbacks. We saw it happen this year, and it will happen again next year. But the Volunteer can still be a good behind center.
He has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback, and if the Browns are drafting this high, it means Colt McCoy didn’t work out.
The Browns have many other needs, but this seems like a great pick for an organization that needs to get out of the AFC North cellar.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Vikings just missed out on two star quarterbacks, and drafting anyone else here would be a reach. They should give Christian Ponder an elite supporting cast and watch him develop.
That starts with a good receiving corps that Woods can augment. The wide receiver position is bare in Minnesota. Adding an elite talent with the ability to be a dynamic playmaker is a must for Ziggy Wilf.
And the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2013 draft class has a huge ceiling.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
It is no secret that the LSU defense is menacing and a huge threat. The player that leads that great unit is none other than the monster, Sam Montgomery.
Last season he racked up 49 tackles, nine sacks and one forced fumble. He needs to bulk up, but after a season of growing and improving, expect Montgomery to be a coveted prospect who will add youth to an aging Colts defense.
5. Oakland Raiders: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Raiders have a mess behind center, but they have a competent quarterback. Stabilizing a good offensive line is important, and Fluker is the best tackle in the class.
6. St. Louis Rams: David Amerson, CB, NC State
Jeff Fisher needs another star cornerback to pair with Cortland Finnegan, and David Amerson is the right guy for the job.
The kid is supremely talent, and the 6-foot-3, 194-pounder can more than hold his own. He was nothing short of amazing in 2011 and looks to improve on a nation-leading 13 interceptions.
If he can do that, then the Rams will have selected the face of their defense.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
The Blaine Gabbert project doesn’t look to be going well if the Jaguars are picking this high, but don’t blame it all on the struggling quarterback. He has absolutely no weapons. I covered Jacksonville for a while this season, and their receiving corps make a college team look like the New England Patriots.
After missing out on the top wide receiver prospect in 2012, history will repeat itself, and Gabbert will get Wilson.
That isn’t a bad thing. Some have the Washington State prospect going higher than No. 7, but he fits in just fine here. His 82 catches for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns last year was phenomenal, and he looks to improve this season.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
This is the biggest need for the Buccaneers heading into the 2013 draft. The current right tackle, Jeremy Trueblood, is in the last year of his contract, and Donald Penn is not fit to be a left tackle.
Bring in Jake Matthews, and Penn can shift over to the right side, while the Aggie gets the start at left tackle.
Matthews is big and strong and will protect surging quarterback Josh Freeman in his quest to be elite. Jake Matthews comes from a football family and was raised in a very pro-football culture. His day will come when Tampa Bay calls his name.
9. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
The 2013 class is deep, and Rhodes is an elite prospect. In 2010 he was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and racked up four interceptions.
In 2011, teams stayed away from Rhode Island, but the Seminole was able to shut down stars Ryan Broyles and Michael Floyd. He tallied one interception to his name.
Rhodes will look to improve on his amazing skill set this year, and it shouldn’t be hard, as he is big and gifted with great hands.
10. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
If Arizona is picking in the top 10, that probably means that Kevin Kolb and John Skelton didn’t pan out. That isn’t surprising.
Tyler Wilson will be able to lead the Cardinals. This is a great situation for a rookie. He has Larry Fitzgerald to throw to and is complemented with a solid defense and a weak division. The Arkansas product should adapt perfectly.
That, added with a strong arm, great vision and experience, could result in a solid season for the Cardinals.
11. Seattle Seahawks: Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Seahawks will have holes on both sides of the ball, but the defensive needs are far greater. This team is on the verge of the playoffs, and a big playmaker like Hankins is just what the doctor ordered.
12. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Keenan Allen, WR, California
Sam Bradford needs an elite wide receiver. Even if the Rams nab a solid pass catcher in the 2012 draft, they will still need to bulk up on young talent for this franchise to compete in the future. Keenan Allen is full of talent and will be an instant playmaker.
13. Kansas City Chiefs: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Another LSU product and another elite pass-rusher. Adding Mingo might be the missing ingredient to a solid defensive line that includes Glenn Dorsey and Tamba Hali. He is big, strong and chock-full of crazy talent.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
I’m high on Te’o. He is every bit as good as Luke Kuechly. The only difference is that after another year in school, the Notre Dame prospect will be a lot more polished and will be heavily sought after. He will be an instant impact player.
15. Cincinnati Bengals: Xavier Nixon, OT, Florida
The Bengals are a very good team that is filled with youth. Here the Bengals bring in another piece of the puzzle to protect the crown jewel of Andy Dalton. Dalton-to-A.J. Green touchdowns are becoming the norm for Cincinnati fans, and Xavier Nixon will make sure those six points continue for a long time.
16. San Diego Chargers: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
The Honey Badger continues to be one of the most prolific, exciting and likable players in the college game. LSU is on the lookout for a second straight trip to the BCS Championship Game. Their defense is simply outstanding, and a lot of that has to do with Mathieu.
He was awesome last year, and if he can put together another great season, then scouts will be drooling. This may seem like a bit high for the undersized legend, but his size has never stopped him when dominating the SEC.
Mathieu is full of playmaking ability and can turn the game with a huge play. The Honey Badger just doesn’t care, but he might after getting drafted by a team on the verge of the playoffs.
17. New York Jets: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
The New York Jets are a ground-and-pound team. The only problem is that their corps of running backs aren’t suited for that style of offense. But Marcus Lattimore is. He is supremely talented, and if the Gamecock has a solid 2012, he will be going much higher than this.
18. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
I can make numerous Bountygate jokes here, but I won’t. Jones is a complete beast, as he led the SEC with 13.5 sacks in his year at Georgia. He is a proven player, and with another solid season, Jones could see his draft stock rise.
19. Buffalo Bills: Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
Aboushi might have been a first-rounder if he had entered the 2012 draft. But he didn’t, and he will improve radically as a senior. He is a great run blocker who is powerful but not always set in stone. This mobility will help the Virginia product in the NFL.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
The Eagles are in the market for a backup quarterback. Michael Vick keeps getting hurt, and Vince Young just won’t cut it in the NFL. Jones is a perfect fit in the City of Brotherly Love. The rookie will get action when Vick goes down, and the Eagles can train him to become a superstar when their starter hangs up his cleats.
21. Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Brown, OLB, Illinois
The Panthers will be more than happy when this playmaker falls into their hands. Brown combines his speed, power and talent into one unblockable force. He was all over the field for the Illini, which showed on the stat sheet. In 2011, Brown racked up 108 tackles, six sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.
22. Chicago Bears: DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
The 2013 cornerback class is very deep, and even though Milliner might not be the first- or second-best cornerback on the board, he is still a first-rounder. The Bears don’t have a standout corner, and Charles Tillman isn’t elite. Grabbing the Alabama playmaker would be a good decision for the Windy City.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah
The 2012 draft class pales in comparison to 2013 when we are talking about nose tackles. This class is incredibly deep at that position, and Lotulelei is an elite prospect. He is a hulk of a man, weighing in at 325 pounds. But that isn’t the surprising part: The Star is also extremely athletic and versatile for someone of his size and stature.
The Steelers add to their defensive depth with this pick.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
The 2013 draft class is weak at safety, but Jefferson is a bright spot. He is a solid prospect who won't turn any heads but will get the job done. Jefferson can cover deep but can also creep up when needed. He will try to be the first safety off the big board, and in this mock draft he succeeds.
25. Denver Broncos: Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma
This all depends on the Peyton Manning project, but judging by the Broncos' position in this draft, the ex-Colt played very well in the Mile High City. But he will still need an elite target. Enter Kenny Stills. Stills is speedy but not very big. He can play well with Manning throwing to him and will develop into a solid veteran when Manning retires.
26. Detroit Lions: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
Wagner is the best player available at this point but also fills an important need for the Lions. It is evident that the future of Detroit is in the hands of Matthew Stafford. Stafford has proven time and time again that he can be elite. Why would you ever want him hurt? Drafting the Badger is important to protect Stafford’s blind side.
27. New York Giants: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Giants are able to land the best available player here, who also happens to fit perfectly in the Big Apple. New York loves its defensive line. That unit has propelled the franchise to win two Super Bowls from 2007-2012. Short fits in wonderfully in a defensive line-first approach. Purdue is known for producing great NFL defensive linemen, and Short is one of them.
28. San Francisco 49ers: T.J. McDonald, S, USC
The 49ers add to their already wonderful defense by picking up the Trojan late in the first round. This is a great pick. McDonald doesn’t have a farm, but he does have incredible versatility and can play strong or free safety while fitting into nearly every NFL defensive scheme. He is staying for his senior year to win a title at USC and make a big splash in the league.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Banks has drawn comparisons to Stephon Gilmore of the 2012 NFL draft class, and with his size and speed, he might be better. The Mississippi State product would have been a high second-round pick if he declared for this year's draft. But after a year of experience, his talent can only grow. The Ravens land a good, developing player.
30. New England Patriots: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Patriots always need to update and upgrade their defense, so landing Mosley here is a steal for Bill Belichick and crew. The Alabama prospect resides in the tough SEC and will be able to make an impact for New England in their quest for a young defense.
31. Green Bay Packers: Khaled Holmes, C, USC
Yes, this is another USC product. But the Packers have a need at center, and Holmes is a very good prospect. They have Jeff Saturday on the roster, but how long will that last? Green Bay needs a young talent on their line, and this Trojan is just their guy. He will go from blocking for one elite quarterback to blocking for another elite quarterback.
32. Houston Texans: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Texans are a great team that was plagued by injuries this past season. The NFL world expects something great out of them, and Houston can deliver. Their offense is lethally dynamic but can always get better.
Owen Daniels is a great tight end, but providing depth for a star never hurts. Also, having a dynamic two-tight-end set would take the pressure off Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones to always perform at a high level. Either way, this is a great pick for Houston and makes them even more feared.