The 2012 NFL draft has come and gone, and almost as soon as draftniks far and wide finish awarding gold stars and dunce caps to NFL teams for their performance in this year's draft the focus turns to next year's festivities in New York City.
As is the case every year, the quarterback position will dominate conversation about next year's draft class. With that in mind, here's a look at how the first round of the 2013 draft might shake out, with a focus on next season's crop of signal-callers.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Barkley, QB, USC: The Jacksonville Jaguars apparently have so much faith in the ability of second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert to move the ball this season that they selected a punter in the third round of April's draft.
Matt Barkley of USC likely would have been a top 10 draft pick in 2012 after throwing for over 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns last year. The NFL Network's Charley Casserly believes that Barkley will be right in the thick of things for the first overall pick next year.
His best asset is that he runs a pro-style offense very effectively. He sees the field and for the most part makes intelligent decisions. He can make plays on the move and is an accurate short-to-medium passer. He does not have a top-tier arm, but I believe it's an arm that can definitely suffice at the pro level.
2. Indianapolis Colts: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: The addition of Andrew Luck solves only one of the Colts' myriad issues, and after a year spent running for his life Luck will be begging for improved pass protection next year.
3. Cleveland Browns: Robert Woods, WR, USC: The Browns made a significant investment in a 28-year-old rookie quarterback this season, and it would be nice if by his 30th birthday Brandon Weeden had a decent wide receiver to throw to.
4. Miami Dolphins: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: The 6'5", 253-pound junior had eight sacks for the Longhorns a year ago, and Jeffcoat would help the Miami defense continue their transition to a 4-3 defensive front.
5. Minnesota Vikings: David Amerson, CB, NC State: The Vikings added Central Florida's Josh Robinson in the draft, but no matter how good Robinson may be he's not going to single-handily fix a Minnesota secondary that allowed the most touchdown passes in the NFL in 2011.
6. St. Louis Rams: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin: No team in the National Football League allowed more sacks in 2011 than the St. Louis Rams, and the team did next to nothing to address the offensive line in the 2012 draft.
7. Oakland Raiders: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: The Raiders gave up a ton to get quarterback Carson Palmer last year. However, Palmer is 32, has an extensive injury history and an elbow full of spaghetti, so after a disappointing 2012 season Oakland will look to the future at quarterback.
Much like Matt Barkley, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones probably would have been a first-round pick had he declared for the 2012 draft, but as Jones recently told the Orlando Sentinel he has a bit of unfinished business to attend to in Norman.
I considered about leaving. There were a lot more different factors for me to consider than just staying or going. I took a couple of weeks after the season was over to really think about what I wanted to do and what would be best for me and my family. Just praying about it and really feeling like God was wanting me to come back for my senior year and enjoy it and have another chance at some goals I wanted to accomplish here.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: The Buccaneers traded down this year, passing on cornerback Morris Claiborne. By this time next year, a pressing need at cornerback will have become a gaping hole, leaving the team little recourse but to address the secondary early.
9. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: Given the fervor with which the Arizona Cardinals pursued Peyton Manning it's safe to say that Kevin Kolb's leash under center in the desert is a short one, and another bad season will likely get Kolb the hook.
Tyler Wilson topped 3,600 passing yards and threw 24 touchdown passes last year for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and while Wilson has his sights set on some individual accolades and NFL glory the 6'3", 220-pounder is more worried right now about winning games for the Hogs according to The Washington Post.
While Wilson hasn’t shied away from saying he’d like to win the Heisman and be the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, the Greenwood, Ark., native would trade both to win a championship with his home-state Razorbacks.
“Those are things you shoot for, but we’ve got a lot of work to do on the field first,” Wilson said.
10. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: The Seahawks did very little to address the offensive line this season, and the team could likely do a lot worse than the son of Hall of Fame center Bruce Matthews.
11. Buffalo Bills: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Fred Jackson may have just signed a contract extension but he's still the wrong side of 30. That could lead the Bills to look at the backfield in next year's draft and Marcus Lattimore, who racked up 1,000 total yards in only seven games in 2011.
12. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Keenan Allen, WR, Cal: The Rams added a pair of wideouts in this year's draft, but they're so hard up at wide receiver right now that the rebuild will likely continue into next season.
13. Carolina Panthers: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: The Panthers ranked 25th in the NFL in run defense in 2011 due in large part to deficiencies up the gut, and somewhat surprisingly Carolina ignored the middle of the defensive line in this year's draft.
14. Tennessee Titans: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU: Mike Martin may have been a nice pickup, but after ranking 31st in the NFL last year in sacks the Tennessee Titans still badly need to upgrade the defensive front.
15. Denver Broncos: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: The 255-pound run-plugger topped 150 tackles in 2011, and Te'o would be an upgrade on second-year pro Nate Irving, who has struggled mightily in making the transition to the National Football League.
16. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee: The Kansas City Chiefs did an excellent job filling holes in free agency and the draft, and much like Kevin Kolb, Matt Cassel is another high-priced signal-caller who may find himself out of work if he doesn't show marked improvement in 2012.
Tyler Bray didn't post huge numbers for the Volunteers in 2011, throwing for fewer than 2,000 yards while missing five games with a broken thumb. However, the 6'6" junior has the size and arm strength that scouts covet, and as the Nashville Tennessean reports, Bray is dedicating himself more to the mental aspects of the game this season.
“I have started to look at it from a coaching standpoint,” Bray said. “Last year, I was a player and wanted to get out of here. I was tired and all of that. I’ve realized that we actually do need to work on stuff in the areas we need improvement on.”
17. Chicago Bears: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU: The talented and versatile Tigers star would help continue the Bears youth movement on defense that began this year with the addition of Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Barrett Jones, G/C, Alabama: The interior of the offensive line is an area of need for Cincinnati even after adding Kevin Zeitler. The 311-pound Jones is a stout blocker and versatile player capable of manning both the guard and center positions.
19. New Orleans Saints: DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama: The final fallout from "Bountygate" is still yet to be resolved, but regardless of how this bizarre season plays out for the Saints the team is going to need to start getting younger in the secondary.
20. Dallas Cowboys: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia: The Dallas Cowboys franchised outside linebacker Anthony Spencer in 2012. However, if Spencer doesn't improve markedly this season Dallas may be forced to look to the draft to improve the pass rush around DeMarcus Ware.
21. San Diego Chargers: Johnathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State: The Chargers brought back veteran Antonio Garay on what is essentially a one-year deal in 2012, which could leave the Bolts looking for a upgrade next season at a position where the Bolts haven't been shy about turnover in recent years.
22. New York Jets: Michael Dyer, RB, Arkansas State: Dyer may be 2013's version of Janoris Jenkins, with immense talent and a seeming inability to stop screwing up. However, he should dominate in the Sun Belt if the former Auburn star can stay out of trouble, and Shonn Greene is one of the least impressive starting running backs in the NFL.
23. Atlanta Falcons: Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina: The 5'10", 205-pound Bernard gained over 1,600 total yards as a redshirt freshman in 2011. If Bernard declares after another big season, he could be an excellent heir apparent to Michael Turner, who is beginning to show signs of breaking down after a ton of carries over the past several years.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tom Wort, ILB, Oklahoma: The Steelers chose to forgo grabbing James Farrior's replacement in this year's draft, and while Larry Foote can hold down the fort for a bit it's a temporary fix that will probably have to be addressed next season.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie may be playing his last season in Philadelphia, and it would nice if the Eagles could get some cornerbacks who don't have crippling cases of contactaphobia.
26. Detroit Lions: Khaled Holmes, G/C, USC: The Lions addressed the tackle position in this year's draft with the addition of Riley Reiff, but the Lions could still stand to get better along the inside of the offensive front.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Devin Taylor, DE/OLB, South Carolina: If Terrell Suggs' Achilles tendon is completely torn and he misses the entire 2012 season, then the team may have to start thinking about a future without the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah: The 49ers could use an upgrade at the nose tackle position, and at 325 pounds Lotulelei has the size to hold the point of attack in a 3-4 defensive front.
29. New York Giants: Chris Faulk, OT, LSU: The New York offensive line isn't getting any younger, and while that didn't stop the G-Men from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy last year it's an area that's going to have to be addressed.
30. Houston Texans: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: The departure of DeMeco Ryans leaves the Texans with a need in the middle of their defense opposite Brian Cushing. Mosley's experience in the 3-4 defense from his time with the Crimson Tide would appeal to Houston.
31. New England Patriots: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida, The Patriots focused their attention on defense in 2012, and it might be wise to begin the 2013 draft the same way with Floyd, who can play defensive tackle in the 4-3 or kick outside to end in the Patriots 3-4 looks.
32. Green Bay Packers: Eric Reid, S, LSU: Nick Collins was released and Charles Woodson is getting awfully long in the tooth, so the Packers are going to need to make the secondary a priority in next year's draft.
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