The first round of the 2012 NFL draft is ancient history, and now it’s time to start looking ahead. The 2013 draft is loaded with defensive depth, but the top of the board has outstanding offensive players.
With a full year of college games still ahead of them, obviously most of these guys still have work to do, but the following mock takes into consideration projected results from the 2012 season.
The focus is on players that are going to be Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Morris Claiborne at this time next year.
(Draft order based on projected finish for all 32 teams)
(Surefire Studs in Italics)
1. Cleveland Browns- Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Like Andrew Luck this past year, expect to hear scouts and analysts gush over Barkley for the next 12 months.
He decided to stay for his senior season because finally his team is eligible for a BCS title. A year after completing 69 percent of his passes for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and seven picks, he enters the new season with sky-high expectations.
The only issue is his height (6’2’’), but Barkley can make all the throws and is cool under pressure. I’ll never forget his come-from-behind win AT Ohio State in only his third career collegiate game as a true freshman. This guy has guts and once the Brandon Weeden experiment fails, the Browns finally get their franchise QB.
2. Miami Dolphins- Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
The Dolphins aren’t going to give up on Ryan Tannehill after one year, so they might as well go with the top talent on the board.
Montgomery is going to shine in 2012 with the Tigers because of his explosive speed off the snap and ability to destroy smaller blockers in his way to the QB.
He registered nine sacks as a sophomore and after registering double-digit sacks in 2012, he’ll declare early with the riches of the NFL too good to pass up.
Don’t these two seemed destined for each other?
Carson Palmer may very well be on his last legs as a starter, meaning the Raiders will be in the top-five looking for the next best thing.
After throwing for 3,638 yards, 24 TDs and only six INTs, Wilson is on track to be one of the best QBs in Razorback history.
But what really sells the Raiders is his incredible arm strength to go with all of the speedy receivers in Oakland.
4. Seattle Seahawks- Robert Woods, WR, USC
Pete Carroll recruited Woods once upon a time, and gets to coach him once again at the pro level. Nobody compares with Woods at the position and as we have seen in the last two years, Seattle isn’t afraid to reach for “their guy.”
5. Kansas City Chiefs- Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
After yet another season of mediocre QB play, the Chiefs don’t mess around and get the second-ranked player at the position.
Bray holds all of the physical tools to be a star, and at 6’6’’ and 220 pounds he will be able to clearly see over his linemen. He has a rocket arm with 59 percent accuracy despite dealing with a thumb injury for the majority of the 2011 season.
A strong season with the Vols will make him a star in the collegiate ranks, and a top-10 pick in the draft.
6. Arizona Cardinals- DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Cards have two star receivers, but no time to get them the ball!
Drafting arguably the best tackle in the draft will change that, and it will also shore up one of the worst running games in the league.
7. St. Louis Rams- Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
The Rams need to protect Sam Bradford better and do just that with arguably the most polished tackle of the entire class.
8. Indianapolis Colts- Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
Now that the Colts are a 3-4 defense under new coach Chuck Pagano, they need to get the right personnel on the roster.
After registering 13.5 sacks last year, he’ll be one of the top picks in 2013 as a perfect fit for the new scheme.
9. Tennessee Titans- Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
Honey Badger is already a star, but can he still be a turnover machine without Morris Claiborne on the other side of the field?
With the loss of Cortland Finnegan, it’s a strong position of need and the sheer athleticism of Mathieu makes him a valuable top-10 pick.
His explosiveness, speed and ability to return punts make him an instant star for Tennessee.
10. Minnesota Vikings- Kwame Geathers, NT, Georgia
Jared Allen needs a big tackle to focus on the run and the Williams’ brothers aren’t getting any younger. You may not know much about the athletically gifted Geathers now, but you will by next fall.
11. Buffalo Bills- Johnathon Hankins, NT, Ohio State
The Bills still need a lot of help on defense and getting a nose tackle that can take up the amount of space Hankins can is worth the first round pick.
12. New York Jets- Sharriff Floyd, DT, Florida
The Jets have no idea what there are doing when it comes to player personal anymore, so I fully expect them to take a player that should be selected more toward the 22-32 range.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars- David Amerson, CB, NC State
The Jags are slowly but surely getting better, and adding depth in the secondary is going to be the smart move in 2013.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Bucs have zero depth at receiver and drafting this tall and productive wide receiver would be a shrewd move for a team that lacks explosiveness.
15. Atlanta Falcons- Chris Faulk, OT, LSU
The Falcons need to beef up their protection and Faulk is a surefire success. He has great size, hands and feet, making him one of the more safe picks of the entire first round.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers- Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
With Casey Hampton likely to retire after the 2012 season, getting a big, beefy tackle is the way to go early in the ’13 draft. Short fits the mold.
17. New York Giants- Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida
Jenkins has insane speed and terrific instincts. With the way Jerry Jones trades his first-round picks, a different team will probably be in this position anyways.
18. Dallas Cowboys- Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Now that the secondary is shored up, it’s time to address the pass rush. Mingo is going to be a star in 2012 as he’ll have the chance to reach double-digit sacks.
19. New Orleans Saints- Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Saints defense is going to be horrific in 2012 and adding depth at linebacker is a must. Te’o is incredibly disciplined and is a great form tackler to boot.
He has the potential to lead the nation in tackling this season.
20. Chicago Bears- DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
Charles Tillman isn’t getting any younger and drafting his replacement is going to be a must after the 2012 season.
Milliner comes with a ‘Bama pedigree and can help the team right away.
21. Carolina Panthers- Barrett Jones, G/C, Alabama
I’m predicting a shocking successful season from the Panthers behind the demise of the Saints and Cam Newton. Jones is a versatile player that can play either right guard or tackle, and his SEC battle-tested.
22. San Francisco 49ers- Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Frank Gore isn’t getting any younger and drafting a premier talent like Lattimore to ease the load will help Gore stay fresh for the remainder of his contract.
23. Baltimore Ravens- Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Quietly one of the weaker spots on the team, Baltimore can get a surefire pro for the next 10 years if it selects Rhodes, who is going to be an outstanding pro.
I expect big things from Rhodes in his senior season.
24. Houston Texans- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Texans don’t have a ton of needs but shoring up the O-Line is certainly not the worst idea in the world. If everything falls right for the Texans, they could potentially win a Super Bowl in 2012 so depth is going to be the only real concern.
25. San Diego Chargers- Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
I was shocked when the Chargers didn’t address their receiver issues in the first round this season, and now it’s going to be a glaring issue throughout 2012.
Wilson is a speedster that has the potential to shine with an accurate QB like Phillip Rivers.
26. Cincinnati Bengals- Johnathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Despite drafting ‘Dre Kirkpatrick in 2012, the depth is still shallow at corner. Banks has shutdown potential and is poised to have a standout season for a Bulldog team that can be extremely good this season.
The Bengals would be the perfect fit.
27. Washington Redskins- Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah
If you want a disciplined, team first guy that has a terrific motor and never takes plays off, Lotulelei is your man. One of the best high-character picks of the entire first round.
28. Detroit Lions- Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Potentially a first round pick in 2012, Eifert is going to parlay an outstanding senior season into a lock for a pick in the top 32 in 2013.
Love this pick for the Lions.
29. Philadelphia Eagles- CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
With the limited window the Eagles have, they need a guy that can contribute from the get-go.
Mosley is polished, ‘Bama bred and incredibly quick for the position. He is one of the most polished players in the entire first round.
30. New England Patriots- Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
In Badger offensive linemen we trust.
Wagner is a surefire starter.
31. Green Bay Packers- Tom Wort, ILB, Oklahoma
AJ Hawk is going to be owed $5 million in 2013. Might as well get rid of him and draft a younger, and cheaper replacement.
32. Denver Broncos- Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
I wasn’t a huge fan of his ability to handle pressure in 2011, but has another year to prove everybody wrong. He has great mechanics and a decent arm, but lacks polish.
2012 is going to be a big year for Jones. Being able to learn behind Peyton Manning would be a great way to become acclimated with the pro game.
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