It might be a little early to start looking towards the 2013 NFL draft, but as someone who covers the draft it's never too early. The 2013 class already has several players who look like they can make an immediate impact. An early look shows me this class could have more top-level prospects than the 2012 Draft.
The upcoming slides are a quick look at some prospects each team could target. I kept the draft order the same as the 2012 draft (before all the crazy trades). The Washington Redskins will be without a first-round pick next year, so their slide comes at the very end.
Pick: Sam Montgomery, Defensive End/Linebacker, LSU
The Indianapolis Colts focused on upgrading the offensive side of the ball during the 2012 draft. This means they must turn their attention to the defense in 2013. LSU's Sam Montgomery is an undersized defensive end who would fit nicely at outside linebacker in the Colts' 3-4 attack.
Montgomery does a great job using his quickness and speed to attack the edge. He excels at generating pressure on the quarterback, something that is a must-have in any defense. Montgomery would be a great replacement for Dwight Freeney, whose days in Indianapolis seem numbered.
Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins is also an option as a potential dominant nose tackle.
Pick: Robert Woods, Wide Receiver, USC
Brian Quick is a nice-looking prospect, but he doesn't have the upside of a No. 1 wide receiver. Another year has passed and the St. Louis Rams failed to bring in an elite wide receiver. Sam Bradford will struggle to reach his full potential unless this team finds him a playmaker. Robert Woods has the upside to be a real game-changer in the NFL.
Woods has good size and a lot of explosiveness. His production at USC shows he knows how to get open. Adding Woods to the mix would go a long way to improving the overall play in St. Louis.
Pick: David Amerson, Cornerback, NC State
David Amerson is an absolute ball-hawking defensive back who registered 13 interceptions last season. NFL teams love cornerbacks who can create turnovers and game-changing plays. The Minnesota Vikings considered selecting Morris Claiborne this year and would love to add a cornerback in next year's draft.
Amerson needs to keep producing, but it will be difficult for teams to forget a 13-interception season. The NFL's continued movement towards a pass-heavy league increases the value of the cornerback position. This is especially important for the Vikings, who have to deal with Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler in their division.
Pick: Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, Cal
It doesn't matter who's playing quarterback for the Cleveland Browns because he will struggle without weapons. Both Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden will find it hard to succeed when the inconsistent Greg Little is their top target. Targeting an explosive player like Keenan Allen would make sense as an early target in 2013.
At 6'3", 195 pounds, Allen possesses the size needed to create mismatches on the outside. He combines his size with good quickness and excellent hands. Allen is the type of player who could really rise as the college season progresses.
Pick: Manti Te'o, Linebacker, Notre Dame
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can add two stud defenders in back-to-back drafts they would put themselves in a good position. Mark Barron brings leadership and play-making ability to the secondary, and Manti Te'o does the same for the front seven.
Te'o is a true middle linebacker who makes plays from sideline to sideline. His size, strength and bulk allow him to attack the line of scrimmage. Te'o has the potential to be a superstar at the next level.
Pick: Marcus Lattimore, Running Back, South Carolina
The draft stock of Marcus Lattimore depends heavily on how he recovers from his recent knee injury. However, if he returns at 100 percent he could be a top-10 pick in the 2013 draft. The fact that the St. Louis Rams were even considering adding Trent Richardson says they're worried about the future of Steven Jackson.
Lattimore is an explosive player who can make plays in both the running and passing game. He's capable of running between the tackles and breaking off the long run. Adding two offensive playmakers like Robert Woods and Lattimore would really help Sam Bradford's development.
Pick: Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC
The Jacksonville Jaguars used this offseason to surround Blaine Gabbert with some good wide receiver options. Both Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon will help Jaguars management decide if Gabbert is their quarterback of the future. With this projection, I obviously don't have much confidence in Gabbert's ability. Matt Barkley has all the tools needed to be an excellent quarterback in the NFL.
Gabbert's job security is hurt because of the new rookie wage scale. The fact that Jacksonville hasn't paid him an enormous amount of money will make it easier for it to move on.
Pick: Jarvis Jones, Linebacker/Defensive End, Georgia
The Miami Dolphins will be running a hybrid 3-4/4-3 defensive scheme. This will allow them to select a potentially dominant pass-rusher like Georgia's Jarvis Jones. Adding Jones would help take a lot of pressure off Cameron Wake, the team's only true pass-rushing threat.
Jones' experience at Georgia is as a rush outside linebacker. However, at 6'2" and 243 pounds, he could bump down to defensive end in passing situations. Top-notch pass-rushers will always be coveted in the NFL.
Pick: Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State
At 6'4" and 317 pounds, Johnathan Hankins has the size to make it difficult for the opposing offense to control the line of scrimmage. He does a great job holding at the point of attack and stuffing the run. However, he also has the quickness to penetrate the pocket. The Carolina Panthers could use a presence like Hankins along the defensive line.
Carolina was expected to target the defensive tackle position in the 2012 draft, but it failed to add an impact player. This makes the position an even bigger need in 2013.
Pick: Tyler Wilson, Quarterback, Arkansas
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a surprising good season last year, but his overall upside is limited. If the Buffalo Bills want to become true contenders they'll need to upgrade the quarterback position. Arkansas' Tyler Wilson will be one of the first quarterbacks to come off the board in the 2013 draft.
Wilson has a strong throwing arm and does a good job reading the defense. His time under Bobby Petrino gives him experience working with pro-style concepts. Wilson considered entering the 2012 draft, and if he did he would have likely been the third quarterback off the board.
Pick: Logan Thomas, Quarterback, Virginia Tech
If the Ryan Tannehill debate showed us anything, it's that the quarterback position is heavily swayed by a prospect's potential. Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas may have the most upside of any quarterback eligible for the 2013 draft. He certainly has more upside than the Kansas City Chiefs' current quarterback, Matt Cassel.
Thomas boasts great size and a powerful throwing arm. He only needs to show more consistency this season to keep himself in the first-round discussion. One could argue Thomas is already a better prospect than Tannehill was at this time last year.
Pick: C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama
The Seattle Seahawks added Bobby Wagner in the 2012 draft, but they still have needs in their linebacking unit. Alabama's C.J. Mosley is an extremely athletic player who can play either inside or outside. The combination of Mosley and Wagner would give the Seahawks a nice young duo.
Mosely's experience working with Nick Saban and playing the the SEC will help his draft stock. He'll head into the NFL with better coaching than most prospects receive. This will better prepare him to make a quick transition into the NFL.
Pick: Tyler Bray, Quarterback, Tennessee
The Arizona Cardinals don't seem to sold on either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton as their franchise quarterback. Another season filled with poor quarterback play will force the Cardinals to look at a quarterback early in the 2013 draft. Tennessee's Tyler Bray has as much ability and potential as any quarterback eligible for the draft in 2013.
Bray has a powerful throwing arm and good size but lacks the production of a top prospect. However, a breakout season could catapult him into the top-10 discussion.
Pick: Barkevious Mingo, Linebacker/Defensive End, LSU
Anthony Spencer is a good player, but not worthy of the salary that comes with receiving the franchise tag. It would make more sense for the Dallas Cowboys to let him go next season and add a pass-rusher via the draft. LSU's Barkevious Mingo has the quickness and motor to consistently generate pressure on the quarterback.
Placing Mingo opposite DeMarcus Ware would make it difficult for opposing teams to keep their quarterback upright. Mingo's pass-rushing ability will allow him to take advantage of the one-on-one matchups. Dallas' defense would be very dangerous with both Mingo and Ware on the field.
Pick: Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
The future of Jason Peters is a bit in question after his Achilles tendon injury. His recovery from this injury will take some time. This makes the left tackle position a question mark for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jake Matthews is a good looking prospect who does a good job protecting the passer. Matthews comes from a great football pedigree, as he's the son of former NFLer Bruce Matthews. This is a kid that knows football and works hard to be the best at his position.
Philadelphia would be lucky to add such a talented offensive lineman.
Pick: Kawann Short, Defensive Tackle, Purdue
The New York Jets defensive line is only a dominant nose tackle away from completion. Sione Pouha is 33 years old and might not have many more productive years left in the tank. Purdue's Kawann Short excels at controlling the line of scrimmage and would succeed as a nose tackle in the NFL.
At 6'3 310 pounds, Short is a little undersized for a 3-4 nose tackle. However, his strength and thick low half allow him to hold at the point of attack. He's an excellent two-gap player who's able to occupy blockers, keeping the linebackers clean.
Pick: Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Florida State
When you're heading into the season with Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell as your starting cornerbacks, you're in a bit of trouble. Both are better served to be complementary or rotational players.
Florida State's Xavier Rhodes is a highly athletic corner who has good ball skills. He gives the Raiders a difference-maker in the secondary, which is something they need. He also brings some added value as an explosive returner.
Don't rule out the possibility that Oakland targets a quarterback in 2013. Carson Palmer was brought in by the previous regime, which means there's a chance he isn't in the long-term plans.
Pick: Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame
Injuries have taken their toll on Antonio Gates and limited his production over the last few seasons. His presence over the years played a major role in the development of Philip Rivers. This means that finding a long-term replacement for Gates is very important.
Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert is just a playmaker who's capable of developing into a real weapon in the NFL. Eifert has good quickness, size and hands that will help him make an instant impact. His experience at Notre Dame gives him plenty of opportunities in the passing game. He's talented enough to develop into one of the better tight ends in the NFL.
Pick: D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
The Chicago Bears decided not to address their offensive line during the 2012 draft, which could prove to be a major mistake. Another season of seeing Jay Cutler picking himself off the ground should convince them to address the line.
Alabama's D.J. Fluker is a massive player who's athletic enough to play left tackle in the NFL.
A tackle tandem of Fluker and Gabe Carimi would go a long way in improving the Chicago's pass protection. Fluker should be ready to make an immediate impact because of his experience against top-notch talent in the SEC.
Pick: Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End, Texas
The Tennessee Titans picked up Kamerion Wimbley via free agency, but he doesn't completely solve their need to upgrade the pass rush. Tennessee needs former first-round pick Derrick Morgan to develop into a consistent threat. Morgan's shaky future makes adding another pass-rusher a need, and Jackson Jeffcoat could be a potential target.
Jeffcoat has the quickness to bring pressure off the edge. He has received a lot of playing time at Texas and seems primed for a breakout season. The tandem of Jeffcoat and Wimbley has the potential to be pretty formidable.
Pick: Alex Okafor, Defensive End, Texas
Alex Okafor is another Texas prospect who could have a major breakout season. He's quick off the ball and can flatten out around the edge. This season could be a make-or-break year for Michael Johnson with the Cincinnati Bengals. He's extremely talented but not all that productive. Cincinnati could target Okafor has a more consistent option.
The Bengals have done a great job of the past few years adding talent to their roster. They're at the point where there isn't a specific need they must address. This should be a team that's in playoff contention for many years to come.
Pick: Sean Porter, Linebacker, Texas A&M
The Atlanta Falcons defense needs an infusion of explosive playmakers. John Abraham is on the back end of his career, and he only real excellent player in the front seven.
Texas A&M's Sean Porter is a multidimensional player who can make plays all over the field. He's the type of player who can play the run, drop into coverage and rush the passers.
He'll give the Falcons the option of using many different looks. Porter could even drop down and play some defensive end in passing situations.
Pick: Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama
The Detroit Lions added Dwight Bentley in the third round of the 2012 draft, but this doesn't solve their issues at cornerback. In a league filled with explosive passing offenses, the Lions must head into next offseason focusing on upgrading the secondary. Alabama's Dee Milliner is natural athlete with a ton of potential.
Milliner will be tested week in and week out during SEC play, and if he's able to hold his own could be a top-15 pick next year. He's exactly the type of top-end talent the Lions need to add at the cornerback position.
Pick: Knile Davis, Running Back, Arkansas
Rashard Mendenhall has had two productive seasons, a major knee injury and shown some lack of maturity. This equates to an uncertain future for Mendenhall with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Arkansas' Knile Davis would be a great replacement for Mendenhall.
Before hurting his knee last season, Davis was expected to have a dominant year in the SEC. He was also considered a potential first-round pick. He's now fully recovered and looking to rebuild his draft stock. This is a tough runner who has excellent speed.
Pick: Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State
Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks is a silky-smooth athlete who does a good job in coverage. His fluid hips and excellent speed allows him to cover just about any type of receiver. The Denver Broncos could use some depth/eventual replacement behind Camp Bailey.
Banks also would plush Tracy Porter for an immediate starting role. Today's NFL has a lot of explosive passing offenses, which makes it necessary to have more than two solid cornerbacks.
Pick: Nico Johnson, Linebacker, Alabama
Alabama's Nico Johnson has both the size and pursuit ability to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 system. He was overshadowed at Alabama by Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw, but he could end up developing into a better prospect.
Adding Johnson alongside Brian Cushing could be the last piece needed to make this to top defense in the NFL.
Pick: Devin Taylor, Defensive End, South Carolina
New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo looks to generate most of his pressure from the front four. His defense is most successful when he has a dominant pass-rusher at defensive end. This New Orleans Saints roster doesn't have the type of player he needs to succeed, whereas South Carolina's Devin Taylor fits the mold of a great NFL edge-rusher.
Taylor has both the size and quick burst needed to attack the edge. His decision to return to school will give him the ability to refine his pass-rush moves and add bulk. The bounty controversy hit the Saints' defense hard, but Spagnuolo and Taylor could help repair the unit.
Pick: Bacarri Rambo, Safety, Georgia
The loss of Nick Collins really hurt the Green Bay Packers defense last season. He was recently released, leaving Charlie Peprah as the starting strong safety. Peprah is a solid backup but doesn't have the potential to be a great NFL player.
Georgia's Bacarri Rambo boasts the athleticism and aggression needed to succeed in the NFL. He has good range in coverage and excels at supporting the run. Players going across the middle must always be aware of Rambo's position on the field.
Aaron Rodgers can find success with the current offensive pieces, but this defense still needs an infusion of talent.
Pick: Barrett Jones, Center/Guard, Alabama
The Baltimore Ravens will need to replace the aging Matt Birk sometime in the near future. That future may come as soon as next season. The center position is to important to have mediocre play, especially in the AFC North.
Alabama's Barrett Jones is a smart player with the physical skills needed to make a quick transition into the NFL. He has experience all across the offensive line, even playing some left tackle at one point in his career. This type of versatility on the offensive line is important because players are always at risk for an injury.
Adding Jones is a good way for the Ravens to ensure they can keep their offensive identity.
Pick: Keith Price, Quarterback, Washington
The San Francisco 49ers have put a ton of weapons around quarterback Alex Smith. This team is a Super Bowl-caliber team, and anything less could spell the end for Smith.
Washington's Keith Price is super athletic and has strong throwing arm. He'll get a chance this season to show NFL teams that he can be a major playmaker at the next level.
49ers fans might point to Colin Kaepernick as the future starter for the franchise, but his future depends on how much development he was able to make the last two seasons. Kaepernick needed a lot of mechanical work coming out of college.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares Price to a young Robert Griffin III.
Pick: Ray-Ray Armstrong, Safety, Miami
The New England Patriots used the 2012 draft to upgrade the front seven of their defense. Next year it will be time to focus on adding talent in the secondary, such as Miami's Ray-Ray Armstrong, who uses his size, range and toughness to make plays from the safety position.
He's a versatile player capable of lining up at either strong or free safety. Bill Belichick will be able to move him all around the secondary. His size and coverage abilities would make him a good option to line up man-to-man on tight ends.
Pick: Khaled Holmes, Center, USC
David Baas isn't the long-term answer at center for the New York Giants. He's a serviceable player, but brings little upside. The Giants could find that answer in USC's Khaled Holmes, a smart and physical player who could make an immediate impact. The base of New York's success is having a strong running attack, something Holmes will help keep productive.
Holmes also brings some versatility, as he can play both guard and center. However, his greatest value is as a leader along the interior of the offensive line.
The Giants could also target a tackle prospect, as they have several needs along the offensive line.
Pick: Ricky Wagner, Offensive Line, Wisconsin
The Washington Redskins are without a first pick next year thanks to the trade involving the No. 2 pick. This means they have to find talented players in the later rounds. Wisconsin's Ricky Wagner would be a great option for them to plug in at right tackle.
Washington's right tackle situation doesn't look very good. Jammal Brown is still on board, but he continues to play with inconsistency. Wagner is a massive player with good technique and strength. He's an underrated athlete, which helps him protect the quarterback.