2013 NFL Mock Draft: Early Predictions for Next Year's Draft
The 2012 NFL Draft is well underway, and while this year's proceedings in New York City have left some fans cheering with glee (such as Browns fans when Cleveland selected Alabama running back Trent Richardson) and it's left others muttering in disgust (like Browns fans when Cleveland chose Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden).
With that said, it's never too early to look ahead to next year (and even if it is so what? Am I going to be more wrong than I was this year?), so here's an early glance toward the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Barkley, QB, USC: Just in case the 2011 season wasn't enough to convince Jaguars brass that Blaine Gabbert may not be the answer under center in Jacksonville the worst record in the NFL in 2012 should remove all doubt.
2. Indianapolis Colts: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: The addition of Andrew Luck solves only one of the Colts' innumerable problems, and after a season of getting the crud kicked out of him Luck will be begging for offensive line help next year.
3. Cleveland Browns: Robert Woods, WR, USC: The Browns decided that Weeden's advanced age (28) won't be a deterrent to his success in the NFL. The Browns wide receiver corps, on the other hand, is a different story altogether.
4. Miami Dolphins: Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU: Any number of needs on both sides of the ball and the arrival of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill will lead to another top 10 draft pick and the opportunity to continue the transition to a 4-3 defensive front in Miami.
5. Minnesota Vikings: David Amerson, CB, NC State: The Vikings' secondary is a hot mess right now, and the only difference next year will likely be that Antoine Winfield will be one more year older.
6. St. Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: The Rams allowed the most sacks in the National Football League in 2011, and that's not a problem that's going to be fixed overnight, especially after the team eschewed the offensive line early in the 2012 draft.
7. Oakland Raiders: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: The Oakland Raiders gave up a ton to get quarterback Carson Palmer. However, that ultimately futile pursuit of a 32-year-old passer with an elbow full of spaghetti will eventually lead the Silver and Black back to the drawing board under center.
At 6'4" and 216 pounds, Oklahoma's Landry Jones probably would have been a first-round selection had he declared for the 2012 draft, and the Tulsa World theorizes that returning to Norman for his senior season may be a decision that Jones ultimately regrets.
It wouldn't be a stretch to think Jones' name might be thrown around as a top five selection by now. Will he still be a first-round lock in 2013? You would guess so (he's currently rated by some as the No. 2 QB prospect behind USC's Matt Barkley), but things do change. Everyone knows the story of former USC quarterback Matt Leinart, and you wonder if he ever regrets his decision to stay in school for one more season.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: It wouldn't be the NFL draft without quarterbacks going early, and another season of spotty play from Kevin Kolb should get him the hook in the desert no matter how much scratch the Cardinals wasted on him.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: The Buccaneers traded down this year, passing on cornerback Morris Claiborne, and by this time next year a pressing need at cornerback will have become a gaping hole.
10. Seattle Seahawks: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal: Sidney Rice has been a bust in the Emerald City to this point, and the 6'3", 205-pound Allen topped 1,300 receiving yards for the Bears last season.
11. Buffalo Bills: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Fred Jackson isn't getting any younger and C.J. Spiller isn't getting any bigger, which could lead the Bills to look at the backfield in next year's draft.
12. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State: The Rams added small-school standout Brian Quick in the 2012 draft, but that isn't going to completely remedy their problems at the position.
13. Carolina Panthers: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: The Panthers ranked 25th in the NFL in run defense in 2011 due in large part to poor defensive tackle play, and to this point in the 2012 draft the team has done nothing to address that deficiency.
14. Tennessee Titans: Wes Horton, DE, USC: The Tennessee Titans ranked 31st in the NFL last year in sacks, and after getting to the quarterback a paltry 28 times in 2011 Tennessee badly needs to overhaul the defensive front.
15. Denver Broncos: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: Second-year pro Nate Irving has been slow to adjust to the NFL and D.J. Williams can't stay out of trouble, which leaves the Broncos with a potential hole at linebacker.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti T'eo had 128 tackles for the Fighting Irish in 2011, and the 6'2" 255-pound run stuffer passed up a shot at being a first-round pick in this year's draft to clear up some unfinished business in South Bend according to USA Today.
"I feel I'm not done at Notre Dame. I'll be coming back to Notre Dame," Te'o was quoted by Lisa Horne of Fox Sports on Twitter .
16. Kansas City Chiefs: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin: If the Chiefs struggle this year and pick higher Matt Cassel could be toast, but otherwise the team will look to improve the protection in front of him.
17. Chicago Bears: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU: The Bears brought back veteran defensive end Israel Idonije for a one-year deal. Even after adding Shea McClellin in this year's draft Chicago may well look to address the defensive line again next season, especially should McClellin kick to linebacker.
18. New Orleans Saints: DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama: At this point, I struggle to even consider what might happen to the New Orleans Saints over the next six months, but the loss of Tracy Porter is going to be felt by the team on the field this season.
19. San Diego Chargers: Johnathon Hankins, NT, Ohio State: The Chargers brought back 32-year-old Antonio Garay on what is essentially a one-year deal in 2012, which will leave the Bolts looking for a beefeater next season.
20. Cincinnati Bengals: Barrett Jones, G/C, Alabama: The interior of the offensive line is a prominent area of need for the Bengals even after adding Kevin Zeitler, and the 311-pound Jones can play both the guard and center positions.
21. Dallas Cowboys: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia: The Dallas Cowboys franchise tagged outside linebacker Anthony Spencer this year, but if Spencer doesn't turn it on in 2012 Dallas may be forced to look to the draft to improve the front seven.
Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones racked up 13.5 sacks in 2011, and the 6'3", 241-pound junior credits increased time preparing in the film room for his monster season, according to ESPN's Edward Aschoff.
While probably bigger, stronger and faster than the average individual, Jones said his year of SEC success following his transfer from USC happened because of his brain power. His time in the film room and time analyzing every move and twitch of his opponents helped him be the monster and All-American he was in 2011.
22. New York Jets: Michael Dyer, RB, Arkansas State: Off the field troubles have made the talented Dyer a headache for his coaches, which makes him a perfect fit for the circus that the Jets have become after he spends a season picking on Sun Belt kids as penance for being an idiot at Auburn.
23. Atlanta Falcons: Khaled Holmes, G/C, USC: The Falcons have a need along the interior of the offensive line, and although the Falcons addressed it somewhat with the addition of Peter Konz you can simply never have too many good, young offensive linemen.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee: Mike Vick is 31 years old and prone to getting banged up, so soon enough the Eagles are going to have to look to the future in Philadelphia under center.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah: Starter Casey Hampton is 34 years old and recovering from a torn ACL, which means that Pittsburgh is going to have to address the nose tackle position soon.
26. Detroit Lions: Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina: Jahvid Best, Mikel LeShoure and Kevin Smith all have injury histories, and depth at the running back position is always a precious commodity in the National Football League.
North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard gained over 1,600 total yards as a redshirt freshman in 2011, and the 5'10" 205-pound running back has an intimate appreciation of how grueling the position can be after missing all of the 2010 season with a torn ACL, according to the Charlotte Observer.
“You never know what’s really going to happen in life,” Bernard said. “Just having that mentality and being able to come back and know that everything is going to be okay at a point, I think my approach to the game is a lot different than some other players.”
27. Baltimore Ravens: Robert Lester, S, Alabama: Ed Reed has been a fixture in the Ravens secondary for several seasons now, but the end of the road is growing closer by the day, and Baltimore needs to procure a replacement in the near future.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: Carlos Rogers played well last season but will be 31 when the 2012 season starts, so by this time next year the 49ers will be looking to get both better and younger in the defensive backfield.
29. New York Giants: Chris Faulk, OT, LSU: The New York offensive line began to show its age rather badly at times last season, and while that didn't stop the G-Men from winning the Super Bowl, if they don't address the problem pretty soon it will.
30. Houston Texans: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: The departure of DeMeco Ryans leaves the Texans with a need at inside linebacker opposite Brian Cushing, and Mosley's experience in the 3-4 defense would probably appeal to Houston.
31. New England Patriots: Ray Graham, RB, Pitt: It would be interesting to see what the New England offense could accomplish with a more explosive weapon in the backfield, and apparently the Patriots are now in the habit of actually using their draft picks.
32. Green Bay Packers: Johnathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: Charles Woodson is 35 years old and may be headed for retirement or a switch to safety in 2013, leaving the Packers with an even bigger void at cornerback than they already have.
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