2013 NFL Mock Draft: A Way Too Early Prediction
A lot of teams made some surprise selections in the draft this year, as is always the case, and a lot of teams left some pretty major needs unaddressed.
Going into next year, for example, the Titans are still looking for a pass rusher, the Broncos still need help at defensive tackle, and the Rams still need a left tackle.
That, along with the many players that will be leaving in free agency makes a little of next year's draft plans known already. So, with the information we have, what teams will be picking the top prospects of the 2013 class?
Read on to find out.
1. Oakland Raiders: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
As of right now, there's no way that the first overall pick isn't Matt Barkley.
Barkley would've been a top five pick had he declared this year (potentially before RG3), but he stayed in school instead, where he'll be in the running for a national championship next season.
In 2011, Barkley threw for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. This is in a pro style offense, mind you, not a spread. He also completed 69.1 percent of his passes and led his team to an impressive 10-2 record.
Barkley has the look of prototypical pocket passer. He's not as tall as some teams would prefer, listed at 6'2", but that's the same height as RG3, and it didn't hurt him.
Unless Barkley regresses drastically or another quarterback really breaks out, he'll be the top pick in 2013.
2. Indianapolis Colts: David Amerson, CB, NC State
The Colts could have the top pick in the draft next season, but if they do, they'll be trading it away since they already have Andrew Luck. But they will be bad next year, and they will have a very high pick.
They could go a lot of ways here, since there are still holes all over their roster. The two players I have competing for the No. 1 spot among non-quarterbacks are David Amerson and Marquess Wilson.
I think, since their wide receiver corps is already alright, the Colts will go for defense and take the dynamic play-maker from NC State.
In 2011, Amerson reeled in 13 interceptions. One more and he would've tied the all time FBS record.
I can't imagine him falling out of the first round, since no quarterback in their right mind is going to test him very often next season. If he comes out of 2012 with zero interceptions, I won't be surprised.
He's also tall (listed as 6'3") and quick for his size. He's an absolute stud at the position and will immediately beef up the Colts backfield.
3. Cleveland Browns: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
This might come as a surprise, since the Browns just drafted Brandon Weeden in the first round last year, so here's my reasoning:
The Browns are going to be bad again next year, as always. They also have the third toughest schedule in the NFL next year, and just got the news that Scott Fujita will be suspended for half the season.
They might only win three games next season, which means that the entire front office is probably going to get cleaned out. Head coach Pat Shurmur might even go with them if the season is bad enough.
An entirely new staff could decide that drafting Weeden was a dumb move and will bring in a true franchise quarterback in Tyler Bray.
Before Bray broke his thumb, he was completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and Tennessee was the most efficient team in the country on third downs. Bray also has great height (6'6") and a big arm.
If he can stay healthy and add a little weight for next season, he'll be the second quarterback off the board. If he really turns it on, he could even be the first.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
The Seahawks went for defense with their first two picks this year, so next year, I think they'll provide Matt Flynn with a target who happens to be a local product: Marquess Wilson.
Despite the poor quarterback play at Washington State, Wilson managed to have 1,000 yard seasons in both his freshman and sophomore years.
In 2011, Wilson caught 82 passes for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also has great height for the position, listed at 6'4", which will make him a dangerous red zone target.
If he stays consistent in his junior year, he ought to have yet another 1,000 yard season and assure himself a spot as the No. 1 wide-out of his class.
5. Miami Dolphins: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The Dolphins need someone who can rush the passer other than Cam Wake, who will be a 31 year old free agent next year anyway.
Next year's defensive end class looks incredible, and any of them could step up to be the first one taken, but right now, the top contender is Sam Montgomery.
Montgomery is one of the top defensive end prospects going into next year. The 6'4" pass rusher racked up nine sacks last season and 13.5 tackles for loss to go with 49 total tackles.
He's a little undersized right now, but he was just a sophomore. By the start of the 2012 season, he'll probably have bulked up a good bit.
Montgomery and Mingo (more on him later) will be terrorizing SEC quarterbacks week in and week out next season, and both of them should end up being very high picks.
6. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Nothing will sink a team like a good quarterback controversy. I think that's what's going to happen to the Cardinals in 2012. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton will both see their share of playing time, but they'll both end up disappointing and getting Ken Wisenhunt fired.
New regimes mean new quarterbacks, and that's what happens here.
Tyler Wilson hit the ground running when he stepped in for Ryan Mallett. He threw for 3,638 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also completed a very good 63 percent of his passes.
Now this coming year will be the make or break season for Wilson: his head coach is gone, his talented receiving corps are gone, and he's a senior. I expect him to do just fine.
With Wilson's big arm, I imagine he'll be snatched off the board quickly.
7. St. Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Rams added a lot of talent in the 2012 NFL Draft, but they never fixed the gaping hole at left tackle.
If you watched any Rams games last year, you know how little time that Sam Bradford has in the pocket before it collapses. With the lack of good receivers, that makes his job even harder.
If Brian Quick works out, it'll help, but the Rams still need to protect Bradford. Jake Matthews ought to be a start.
The big right tackle from Texas A&M will be a third generation professional football player. His father, Bruce Matthews, was a Hall of Fame interior lineman, and his grandfather, Clay Matthews Sr., was left tackle for the 49ers for years.
He's also cousins with All Pro linebacker Clay Matthews III. That's about as good as NFL bloodlines get.
He also looks like a pretty polished tackle. He's great in pass protection and a solid run blocker. He definitely has the potential to play on the left side in the pros.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Jaguars are probably not going to be ready to give up on Blaine Gabbert just yet, especially since he'll have a much better season with Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson to throw to.
Instead, the Jaguars keep adding bodies to their defense with Washington's standout corner, Desmond Trufant.
Last year, Trufant only had two interceptions, but he broke up 14 passes, all the more impressive when you remember he plays in the same conference as Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley (not to mention Marquess Wilson, Keenan Allen, and Robert Woods). With Luck gone, his number will probably go up a bit.
Trufant is listed as 6' tall, so he's got prototypical corner height. He's not the most physical corner, but he is quick and athletic and definitely worth an early first round pick.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Buccaneers were eying Trufant, but the Jaguars took him, depriving the Bucs of yet another chance at a shutdown cornerback. So, instead, they replace Brian Price, who hasn't done enough to warrant not being replaced, with Kawann Short.
Short is a complete defensive tackle. He had 54 total tackles and 17.5 tackles for loss in 2011. He's also pretty good at getting to the quarterback, racking up 6.5 sacks last year (11 in his career).
He also has all the measurables, standing 6'3" tall and weighing 310 lbs. His combination of run stuffing and pass rushing will make him the top tackle of the class when all is said and done.
10. St. Louis Rams: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
This is the selection that St. Louis got for trading away the second overall pick in 2012.
With the left tackle position fixed, the Rams turn to offense again, taking Steven Jackson's replacement, Marcus Lattimore.
Lattimore looked better than Trent Richardson in 2010, and he still might be. However, while both had great seasons last year, Lattimore's was cut short by a leg injury. If he comes back at 100 percent, he'll be the favorite for the No. 1 spot at his position.
In 2011, Lattimore rushed for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns in only seven games. The 232 lb running back ought to do very well next year even if he never recovers fully. He's big enough to power through defenses instead of making them miss with speed.
Unless he never heals properly, Lattimore ought to be the first running back off the board in 2013.
11. Dallas Cowboys: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
The Cowboys have certainly fixed their defensive backfield, but now they need someone who can get to the passer and isn't named DeMarcus Ware, so they take the best player on the board, Jarvis Jones.
Jones' size will probably limit him to 3-4 defenses, but he will flourish in those defenses. Jones had 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss last season, and that isn't even the most impressive thing about him. He also had 26 quarterback hurries.
That means that, in one way or another, Jones was in the backfield 59 times last season. That kind of pressure will get you noticed.
I expect big things from Jones next season.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Vikings had a great draft this year. In fact, it was one of the best. They got a franchise left tackle, two starter quality defensive backs, and two good depth receivers. However, they failed to get Christian Ponder a true No. 1 target.
They get that in Keenan Allen.
Allen broke out last season, and had 1,343 receiving yards. He only had six touchdowns, but that might be more on Cal's quarterback than on Allen.
Allen has the size, speed and hands to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL, and that's exactly what he'll be for the Vikings.
13. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Panthers were expected to pick a defensive tackle early in the 2012 draft, but they didn't. Instead, they're waiting to see if Terrell McClain and Sione Fua do any better in their second years in the league.
I have a feeling one of them, at least, won't pan out, leaving the Panthers with a big need at defensive tackle.
Star Lotulelei is the best defensive tackle in next year's class on most big boards. I have him second, but he's still a fantastic player. The 6'3", 325 lbs Utah standout had 43 total tackles last season, including nine tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
He looks like a natural nose tackle, but he can play in 4-3 defenses as well, which is what the Panthers run.
He won't get to the quarterback very often, but he'll certainly collapse the pocket and stop the run.
14. Kansas City Chiefs: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
The Chiefs will finally give up on Matt Cassel and take the fourth quarterback in the class, Landry Jones.
Landry Jones started 2011 competing with Matt Barkley as the second best quarterback in the country. Then Robert Griffin III started rising on boards and Jones fell off in the latter half of the season.
2012 looks bad for him as well, since Blake Bell will start taking more snaps (especially in the red zone). However, I think Jones will do well enough in this quarterback hungry league to still get taken in the first round.
Last season, Jones threw for a whopping 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns. However, he also threw 15 interceptions, which isn't great.
If he starts out 2012 like he did 2011, he'll be fine.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jonathan Brown, OLB, Iliinois
The loss of their head coach, the stigma surrounding the team, and the year-long suspension of Jonathan Vilma will make the Saints bomb next season.
Their defense need a major tune up, so they take Jonathan Brown, who can make an instant impact for them.
Brown produces everywhere. In 2011, he had 108 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, four quarterback hurries, an interception, four broken up passes, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
The play-making sophomore is a little undersized as it is (235 lbs), but he'll pack on some weight by next season.
As good as his 2011 was, I can't imagine that he'll fall too far in 2012.
16. Cincinnati Bengals: Bacarri Rambo, SS, Georgia
The Bengals don't have a ton of needs, but strong safety is one of those few.
Bacarri Rambo (isn't that a great name?) looks to be the top strong safety in next year's group. For a strong safety, he plays very well against the pass.
In 2011, he pulled in eight interceptions and broke up eight passes. He also had 55 total tackles, a tackle for a loss, and a quarterback hurry.
Since he projects as a strong safety, Rambo needs to work on playing harder against the run and getting into the backfield. As a strong safety, he'll be expected to do more than just defend against the pass.
I expect he'll do that more next year.
17. Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Titans were expected to take a pass rusher early in the draft, but they never did, probably because they expect Kamerion Wimbley to be a big enough upgrade. However, unless he just stuns everyone, they'll be in the market for a defensive end next year.
Luckily, there is a great one ready to go.
Barkevious Mingo, if he fills out his frame, will have prototypical 4-3 defensive end size. He's listed as 6'5" and 240 lbs right now, but he'll probably add 15 to 20 lbs by the next season, and his athleticism will remind the Titans of Jevon Kearse.
Mingo had a great year across from Sam Montgomery in 2011, with 7.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries, two broken up passes and a forced fumble. He doesn't play against the run as well as Montgomery, but he's a better pass rusher.
The 2013 class of pass rushers looks phenomenal right now, so it's hard to say which ones will go where, but you can bet that Mingo will be one of the first off the board.
18. Buffalo Bills: Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
The Bills didn't take a left tackle in 2012 because they seem to think that's what Cordy Glenn will be. Now, they have three right tackles and don't know what to do with themselves. I think by next year, they'll figure that out and take a left tackle.
Oday Aboushi is one of the many great tackle prospects in next year's class. The 6'6" tall 310 lb left tackle from Virginia is very strong (as you can see in the picture) and a pretty polished tackle.
He was the ACC offensive lineman of the week twice last season, and was a second team All ACC player last year.
Aboushi probably would've been a second round pick had he declared, but he returned to school for one more year, and now he might turn himself into a first round selection.
19. New York Jets: T.J. McDonald, FS, USC
The Jets just love picking defensive players with their first pick. Why would 2013 be any different?
The Jets also could use a new starting free safety, and T.J. McDonald is the best in the class, in my humble opinion.
Last year, McDonald had 67 total tackles, three interceptions, and two broken up passes. That may not sound great, but if you watch him play, he's always near the ball, and has a more important place on his team than the stats indicate.
He also has fantastic size, standing 6'3" tall and weighing in at 205 lbs. Before he decided to return to school, he was getting first round buzz, but then he decided to return.
If he keeps up the good work in 2012, he should be a first round selection.
20. Detroit Lions: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Kyle Vanden Bosch is getting old and Cliff Avril will be a free agent again, so the Lions will definitely be looking to take a defensive end early next season.
Jackson Jeffcoat is one of the top pass rushers in the 2013 class. Like Mingo, Jeffcoat has prototypical height, listed at 6'5", so if he fills out his frame, he'll have the perfect size for a 4-3 defensive end.
He also has some solid numbers backing him up. In 2011, he had 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks, seven quarterback hurries, and three broken up passes.
He and teammate Alex Okafor (also a potential first rounder) are one group of defensive end pairs that could be superstars next season. The others are Montgomery and Mingo at LSU, and Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins at Florida State.
21. New York Giants: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Giants need some upgrades along their offensive line, and one place to start is the tackle position.
D.J. Fluker probably would have been a first rounder if he'd declared this season. The monstrous 6'6" tackle is a very powerful run blocker, as evidenced by Trent Richardson's incredible season on the ground.
He's also no slouch as a pass blocker. A.J. McCarron didn't get sacked an awful lot last year, and that was the doing of his tackles.
Fluker is a natural right tackle, but he could play on the left side as well. That's probably what teams will expect out of him at the next level.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Ravens finally pick up Ray Lewis's replacement in Manti Te'o. Te'o is without a doubt the top inside linebacker in next year's class.
After his great junior season at Notre Dame, Te'o was considered a surefire first round selection before he decided to stay in school. Instead, he'll be a first round pick next season.
In 2011, Te'o had 128 total tackles, and 13.5 tackles for loss. For a middle linebacker, it's all about total tackles, and for the sake of comparison, first round selection Dont'a Hightower only had 85. Te'o's 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks are just a bonus.
Te'o is also a leader on Notre Dame's defense, which the Ravens will like, since losing Ray Lewis would mean losing the absolute leader of their defense.
23. San Diego Chargers: Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Chargers already lost Vincent Jackson, and in 2013, Malcolm Floyd will be a free agent. They'll need another wide receiver. Lucky for them, 2013's class is even better than 2012's.
Robert Woods is the No. 1 receiver on most big boards, but I just can't look at Woods and say he's better than either Wilson or Allen, so he falls to No. 3 on my big board.
In 2011, Woods caught 111 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns. With Barkley returning to school, Woods will have another great year in 2012, and could put up even more yards than he did in 2011.
Woods is a polished route runner who already has experience in a pro style offense, so he ought to have a smooth transition to the NFL.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez won't be around much longer, so the Falcons will want to replace him soon. Tyler Eifert might be the guy to do it.
2012's tight end class was pretty weak, but 11 of them still came off the board. After the Patriots had such success in a two tight end scheme, teams will be eager to grab promising players.
In 2011, Eifert had 63 receptions for 803 yards and five touchdowns. That's 136 more yards than Coby Fleener had, and Fleener had Luck throwing to him.
Eifert also has the right size for the position, standing 6'6" tall and weighing in at 249 lbs. If he has another season like 2011 and gets a few more red zone targets, he'll solidify his status as a first rounder.
25. Chicago Bears: Michael Dyer, RB, Arkansas State
Anyway, instead of taking an offensive lineman like they should, the Bears replace Matt Forte with Michael Dyer.
Dyer was fantastic at Auburn, rushing for 2,335 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last two years. Now that he's at Arkansas State, I expect Dyer to have a huge season. There's a big difference between SEC defenses and Sun Belt defenses.
Dyer has great speed and a low center of gravity that makes him tough to tackle. Even though he's just 5'9" tall, he's 207 lbs, so he's got enough size to play as an every-down back in the NFL.
26. Denver Broncos: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Some think that the Broncos are just fine where they are at wide receiver with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but I doubt they'll be opposed to giving Peyton Manning more weapons if they don't make a deep playoff run next season.
Justin Hunter is a bit of an unknown commodity right now. He has size (6'4" tall) and speed, but he's coming off an injury and hasn't had a full year of production under his belt.
However, since he was unquestionably the top receiver on the team last season, and Da'Rick Rogers, the No. 2, had 1,040 receiving yards last season, it makes sense to expect big things from him.
Furthermore, in his freshman year, Hunter had only 16 receptions, but he turned seven of those catches into touchdowns. That's right, nearly half his catches were touchdowns. That's how good he is.
If he isn't seriously hampered by his torn ACL, he'll be a first rounder.
27. New England Patriots: Kwame Geathers, NT, Georgia
Vince Wilfork is getting on in years, and the Patriots will soon need to find someone else. One of the nose tackles to watch going into next year is Georgia's Kwame Geathers, and he could very well end up as Wilfork's replacement.
Geathers doesn't have a ton of production from last season, but there is a ton of buzz surrounding him. He is a monster, listed as 6'5" tall and 350 lbs, and he can close off gaps like nobody's business.
If he turns some of his potential into production next year, he could sneak into the first round. It also doesn't hurt that true nose tackles are hard to find, so he'll be in high demand.
28. Green Bay Packers: Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Now that they've cut Nick Collins, the Packers will need a new free safety, and in next year's class, there is another one worth taking in the first round: LSU's Eric Reid.
In 2011, Reid had 76 tackles (53 of them solo), two interceptions, three passes broken up, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a couple of tackles for loss.
He isn't a big time play-maker, but he does cause some turnovers. More so, he does very well at what safeties are supposed to do: act as a safety valve (no pun intended) and prevent big plays.
With Brandon Taylor gone, Reid may get a few more turnovers next season, but even if his numbers don't really improve, he's worth a shot in the late first round.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Steelers already need some help at corner, but they were unable to address it in the 2012 draft. The 2012 class seems to be just as strong, so they'll have their shot next year.
Johnthan Banks would've been a first rounder had he declared this year, but instead he stayed in school. He had five interceptions (one he returned for a touchdown), nine broken up passes, eight tackles for loss, three sacks, three quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.
Banks is lanky, though. He is listed at 6'2" and weighs only 185 lbs. He'll need to bulk up in the NFL, but other than that, he looks like a great all around corner who makes plays in every way he can.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
The San Francisco 49ers are a pretty complete team, and the only reason they lost the NFC championship against New York was mistakes on their special teams. A dynamic kick/punt returner like Tyrann Mathieu could change that.
In 2011, Mathieu returned 27 punts for 421 yards and two touchdowns. Furthermore, those touchdowns came at times when the LSU offense needed a boost. He performs in crunch time, which is great for any position.
He also happens to be a very talented, albeit undersized, corner. In 2011, he had two interceptions, nine broken up passes, 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries, 7.5 tackles for loss, and six forced fumbles.
He also recovered four of those fumbles, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Mathieu is a play-maker in every sense of the word, and is worth taking a chance on, despite his size limitations.
31. Philadelphia Eagles: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Now that they've traded away Asante Samuel, the Eagles will need to grab a replacement, and so a third corner goes off the board in as many picks.
Xavier Rhodes is the best corner left. In 2011, Rhodes broke out and showed a lot of flashes of greatness. He only had one interception, four passes broken up, and 1.5 tackles for loss, but like I said, the potential is there.
Rhodes will have a lot more opportunities in his junior season to prove his worth, and as he's listed as 6'2" tall and 215 lbs, he's got a fantastic build for the position.
However, he's at the bottom of the list of first round corners because at this point, it's just potential.
32. Houston Texans: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Ladies and gentlemen, the World Champion Houston Texans.
Now that they have a Mercilus new rush linebacker (see what I did there?), the Texans defense should be even more impressive than it was last season.
Having Matt Schaub back under center ought to help, too.
One of the few needs that the Texans have left is safety, and there is one more safety worth taking this early: Florida's Matt Elam.
In 2011, Elam had an interception, four broken up passes, 1.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. That's pretty darn good for a sophomore.
Like Rhodes, he also has the measurements that scouts look for, standing 6'2" tall and weighing 215 lbs. I expect big things from him this season.
Other Guys to Watch
While making this mock, I left out a few guys because they just fell for one reason or another. However, they are still players to watch going into next year, and all of them could end up being first round picks. Depending how the season plays out, any of these guys could end up as very early picks.
Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford
Xavier Nixon, OT, Florida
Chris Faulk, OT, LSU
Khaled Holmes, C, USC
Barrett Jones, C/OG/OT, Alabama
Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech