2013 NFL Mock Draft: Sure-Fire Stars Who Will Be Drafted Early Next Year
It's never too early to look ahead. Even if you're looking toward next year's draft a day after this year's version.
This one is for you, draft addicts.
So how will next season's draft shake out? Where will early candidates for top picks like Matt Barkley wind up? Who will be next year's savior for your favorite team?
Take a look into the crystal ball, my friends.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, OLB (Georgia)
Oh Jacksonville, what a decision you will have on your hands. Do you give up on Blaine Gabbert already and draft Matt Barkley? Do you trade the pick?
Since I can't predict either to those things before the season, let's give them Jarvis Jones to improve the linebacker corps and add to the pass rush as well. Jones will be a stud.
2. Indianapolis Colts: Sam Montgomery, OLB (LSU)
The Colts took care of Andrew Luck and the offense in this year's draft. Next season, expect the attention to turn toward the defense early.
3. Miami Dolphins: Robert Woods, WR (USC)
Ryan Tannehill is going to need an elite option at wide receiver moving forward. Woods will be that man.
4. Minnesota Vikings: David Amerson, CB (NC State)
He'll jump up the board after a big season this year, and the Vikings will get the corner they debated taking at this draft in Morris Claiborne.
5. St. Louis Rams: Manti Te'o, MLB (Notre Dame)
Early indications are that this is a draft loaded at the top with quarterbacks and defensive prospects. Since most of the teams early in this draft don't need quarterbacks, they'll add players like Te'o to instantly upgrade the defensive side of the ball.
6. Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo, DE (LSU)
The Titans spent early picks this year on a wide receiver, linebacker and defensive tackle. Next year, the need for an elite pass-rusher and cornerback will headline their draft board.
7. Seattle Seahawks: Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
It almost seems to good to be true, doesn't it?
It probably is, but don't think for a second that Pete Carroll would pass up on reuniting with Matt Barkley next year if it's possible, despite adding Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson to the team this year.
I'm almost positive that if the draft order fell this way, a team would trade up to land Barkley, considered the top prospect in the country. But since we basically have to make up a draft order, and this is my very early prediction for how things will turn out next season, the Seahawks magically end up with Barkley.
Fun times in Seattle, indeed.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Tampa Bay did well to improve the defense at safety (Mark Barron) and linebacker (Lavonte David) this year. They'll improve the pass rush by adding Okafor.
9. Cleveland Browns: Keenan Allen, WR (Clemson)
The Browns will be improved this season, but very quickly, the need for an upgrade at wide receiver will be evident. Enter Allen.
10. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Marcus Lattimore, RB (South Carolina)
Lattimore is a stud, and he'll be the eventual successor for Steven Jackson. Had he not lost most of the season in 2011 to injury, there would be more buzz around his name.
I know the Rams selected Isaiah Pead this year, but Lattimore is a special talent at running back. He's simply too good for the Rams to pass up here, and a team like the Chargers picking next very well could try to move ahead of the Rams to take him.
11. San Diego Chargers: Tyrann Mathieu, CB (LSU)
We all know how dynamic a game-changer Mathieu can be after an interception or as a punt returner. That alone increases his value dramatically.
But I believe Mathieu will improve his stock as a pure corner this year as well, alleviating the common concern that his lack of height (the Honey Badger only stands 5'9") will be an impediment to NFL success.
There are other short corners in the NFL that still lock down defenders. Mathieu will not only be one of them for the Chargers, he'll quickly become one of the game's most exciting players with his return skills as well.
12. New York Jets: D.J. Fluker, OT (Alabama)
One thing seems apparent heading into 2013 (well, seems apparent now, at least): Offensive line won't be a strength of next year's draft. The Jets could use an upgrade at the right tackle position, and Fluker will have a chance to be that upgrade.
13. Oakland Raiders: Tyler Wilson, QB (Arkansas)
The Raiders are getting a steal here, and I truly don't believe an aging Carson Palmer or Terrelle Pryor will be able to sway them in a different direction.
14. Arizona Cardinals: Oday Aboushi, OT (Virginia)
The Cardinals will have a choice to make here, one largely dependent on how he plays in 2012. Will they draft promising quarterback Logan Thomas or move in a different direction?
I think Kevin Kolb will be just good enough to keep the Cardinals from drafting a quarterback here. Instead, they'll improve the offensive line by selecting Aboushi.
15. Buffalo Bills: Logan Thomas, QB (Virginia Tech)
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent quarterback, but he's replaceable. Thomas is an absolute steal here and will be an excellent quarterback for the Bills in a year or two.
16. Carolina Panthers: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
You can never have too many top prospects at the cornerback position.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Barrett Jones, OG (Alabama)
The team will look for a young upgrade at the guard position. Jones is the best available.
18. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
Yeah, that's right, I don't have them making the playoffs next year. The championship hangover will last into the season. They'll add a stud tight end here to give Eli Manning a nice safety valve.
19. Denver Broncos: Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Even after drafting Derrick Wolfe this year, the interior of the defensive line will remain a major position of need for the team. Short will help alleviate the issue.
20. New Orleans Saints: Ricky Wagner, OT (Wisconsin)
It's hard to imagine the Saints overcoming all of the drama of this offseason and having anything but a mediocre 2012. The Wagner pick won't excite many fans, but he's a solid player who will add depth and should be an instant contributor for the team moving forward.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Knile Davis, RB (Arkansas)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a decent back, but he's little more than that. The Bengals will add Davis, who has the potential to be a dynamic player at the next level.
22. San Francisco 49ers: Landry Jones, QB (Oklahoma)
Sorry, but Alex Smith simply isn't a franchise quarterback. While his play won't keep a talented 49ers team out of the playoffs in 2012, he won't do the team many favors either. Jones will be selected to be the future starter of this team, and he might be given a shot to win the job as a rookie.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Nico Johnson, LB (Alabama)
I believe the Chiefs will be next year's surprise team and win the AFC West. They'll be in a position to draft the best available player here and, in this case grab Johnson, who would look very nice alongside Derrick Johnson in the middle of Kansas City's 3-4 defense.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Seantrel Henderson, OT (Miami)
Henderson brings with him a lot of upside, and with a solid core already in place, the Falcons can take a measured risk with this pick.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: John Simon, DE (Ohio State)
He'll be looked at likely as a 3-4 defensive end for Pittsburgh. With the run of pass-rushers done long before the team picks, they'll hope Simon can provide pressure from inside.
26. Detroit Lions: DeMarcus Milliner, CB (Alabama)
I thought the Lions should have made the secondary more of a priority early in this year's draft. They didn't, and this pick will reflect the team's lament that they didn't address the corner position a year earlier.
27. Philadelphia Eagles: Baccari Rambo, S (Georgia)
Frankly, this is the greatest last name for a football player of all-time. I have a feeling that safety play will haunt the Eagles all season long, and they'll address that with the versatile Rambo.
28. New England Patriots: Montee Ball, RB (Wisconsin)
Adding a bruiser to the offense will give the team a nice option in the running game, particularly by the goal line.
29. Chicago Bears: Khaled Holmes, C (USC)
The Bears are another team that can draft the best available player, and they'll add Holmes for some depth in the interior or their line.
30. Baltimore Ravens: Sean Porter, OLB (Texas A&M)
Porter is a value here, and he could end up being the Ray Lewis protege this team will need to find in the next year or so.
31. Houston Texans: Devin Taylor, DE (South Carolina)
The Texans continue to add depth and talent on the defensive side of the ball.
32. Green Bay Packers: T.J. McDonald, S (USC)
Green Bay will continue to look toward improving a suspect secondary by adding McDonald to close the first round.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are making moves like Bill Belichick.
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