2013 NFL Mock Draft: Way Too Early First-Round Predictions
It is a bit of an understatement to say that predicting first-round selections for the 2013 NFL Draft is way too early at this point.
Even after months of speculation prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, nobody, short of the Dallas Cowboys organization and maybe Adam Schefter, could have predicted that Jerry Jones would trade up to grab Morris Claiborne, the best cornerback in the draft, at No. 6.
Seriously, next year watch the draft while following Schefter on Twitter. It is ridiculous. The guy breaks news of selections two picks before players are selected. Talk about anti-climactic.
Anyway, while it is impossible to predict the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft nearly a full year before it happens, we still have some idea of the talent that’s ready to come off the board just like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III did a month ago.
Here is a complete first round mock draft for next year.
For the sake of organization, the 2013 NFL Draft order will be that determined at the time of writing by Walter Football.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Matt Barkley has made vast improvements from year-to-year in each of his three seasons at USC.
With that said, it will be mighty difficult to improve upon a season in which Barkley threw for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Nevertheless, I think that Barkley is up to the task.
Since the Jacksonville Jaguars have the first overall pick, I think they go with Barkley as their new franchise quarterback.
Blaine Gabbert was not the answer to their problems during his rookie year and while that was not entirely his fault due to a lack of weapons in the passing game, the addition of Justin Blackmon probably will not help Gabbert enough to convince management he’s the guy.
When you consider that the Jaguars drafted a punter in the third round of this year’s draft, it does not appear that management has much confidence in their quarterback's ability to convert many third-down opportunities.
I’ll avoid the urge to make a joke about the success (or lack thereof) from prior quarterbacks coming out of USC.
In all seriousness, Barkley seems to be more Carson Palmer instead of Mark Sanchez or Matt Leinart.
2. Miami Dolphins: Jarvis Jones, OLB/DE, Georgia
Last season, Jarvis Jones recorded 13.5 sacks and 70 tackles as a sophomore. Four of those 13.5 sacks came in a 24-20 win at Florida.
Jones stands at 6’2”, which is shorter than both LSU pass-rushers Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, but I think the size can be overlooked with a guy of his talent level.
The Miami Dolphins have a lot of needs, but a pass-rushing upgrade to help out Cameron Wake, who they signed recently to an extension, seems to be the best fit at the moment.
3. St. Louis Rams: Robert Woods, WR, USC
The St. Louis Rams missed out on both Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd in this year’s draft and they desperately need to add weapons in the passing game to help Sam Bradford if he is going to succeed at the NFL level.
The pressure on Bradford to perform this season and beyond has been magnified by the Rams’ choice to essentially trade RG3 by moving down in the draft.
While I think it was the right call, Bradford’s career will now be compared to the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor. If he does not put up similar numbers and wins when compared with Griffin, Rams fans will not be happy.
With that said, the Rams may select the top receiver on Mel Kiper’s big board, Robert Woods out of USC.
He has great play-making and leaping ability, but I wonder if his numbers could be inflated by playing with a great quarterback like Barkley.
4. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The Cleveland Browns desperately need help at wide receiver moving forward, so they would be upset to see Woods off the board at No. 3.
Evidently the Browns planned to take Kendall Wright with the No. 22 pick a month ago, but after he went off the board to the Tennessee Titans, Mike Holmgren grabbed Brandon Weeden.
If they do not go with a player on offense next year, look for the Browns to add help in terms of rushing the passer.
I do not think you can go wrong with a guy whose name is Barkevious Mingo… that name simply does not have any bust potential.
5. Oakland Raiders: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The JaMarcus Russell experiment turned out to be a complete disaster and an aging Carson Palmer is a patch-job at best. As a result, I think the Raiders are a team poised to look for their franchise quarterback of the future in next year’s draft.
Not only is Tyler Wilson the second-best quarterback on the board, but according to CBS Sports, he is the second-best prospect.
The Raiders have a lot of needs moving forward, but success in the NFL starts and ends with the quarterback position.
Wilson still has to prove he is worthy of a top-ten selection as he switches to a different offensive system, but even if he struggles he likely cannot be worse than Russell was.
6. Minnesota Vikings: David Amerson, CB, N.C. State
The Minnesota Vikings are another team with a lot of needs moving forward, but one of the biggest is at cornerback.
If the Vikes have the opportunity to nab arguably the best corner in the draft, David Amerson, I think they pull the trigger.
Amerson has size, speed and impressive hands for a defensive player.
As a sophomore he recorded a ridiculous 13 interceptions. I would not expect similar numbers for Amerson moving forward considering opposing teams likely will not be throwing in his direction as often, but that does not change the fact that he’s an elite corner.
7. Indianapolis Colts: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Now that the Indianapolis Colts will be moving forward with their new franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, they need to make sure the offensive line can protect him.
D.J. Fluker from Alabama is arguably the best offensive tackle prospect for next year and he fills a big need for the Colts moving forward.
Fluker needs to show improvement next year, but his 6’6”, 335-pound frame speaks for itself.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers apparently were not enamored with Morris Claiborne in this year’s draft, so they traded back and ended up taking safety Mark Barron to bolster the secondary anyway.
The Bucs still need to address the cornerback position because Ronde Barber is getting closer to retirement and the question marks that surround Aqib Talib seem endless.
Insert Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu.
The Bucs did not like Mathieu’s former LSU teammate in this year’s draft. Maybe they will add an LSU standout next year to improve their lackluster cornerback position.
9. Seattle Seahawks: Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah
After shocking the football community a month ago by drafting defensive end Bruce Irvin at No. 15, the Seattle Seahawks have been taking a lot of flak from fans.
Despite their draft shocker, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reported that the New York Jets planned to draft Irvin in the first round of the draft before the Seahawks nabbed him. So apparently drafting Irvin was not as big of a reach as people seem to believe.
With that said, I think the Seahawks will attempt to not give their fans heart attacks next year by drafting the best player on the board, who at this point is defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from Utah.
10. New York Jets: Eric Reid, S, LSU
It is difficult to argue that the New York Jets are in the market for help in their secondary due to safety concerns.
The duo of Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry appear poised to be torched by Tom Brady and possibly Ryan Fitzpatrick this season.
Safety is a position the Jets have to address moving forward.
Eric Reid out of LSU appears to be the best prospect at the position by a wide margin.
11. Arizona Cardinals: Chris Faulk, OT, LSU
The Arizona Cardinals could be in the conversation as a team in pursuit of a new franchise quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft.
However, the Cardinals have over $60 million invested in Kevin Kolb from the deal he signed after coming over in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. In addition, John Skelton could already be giving Kolb a run for his money as he went 6-2 as the starting quarterback a season ago.
If both of these quarterbacks struggle this season, there is no question that the Cardinals could target a new quarterback to assist Larry Fitzgerald.
If one of those two guys steps up with Fitz and new addition Michael Floyd to throw passes to, I can see the Cardinals drafting for talented offensive line help.
Levi Brown is likely better suited as an offensive guard in the NFL, so I can see the Cardinals bolstering their offensive line with Chris Faulk, a massive offensive tackle from LSU.
12: San Diego Chargers: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The San Diego Chargers added a pass-rushing linebacker this year by adding Melvin Ingram, so would they draft another pass-rusher next year?
It is certainly possible when you consider their defense is getting up there in age. Also, in the NFL you can never have enough pass-rushers, it is one of the biggest keys to success (see: New York Giants).
Sam Montgomery is seen by many as a top-10 talent, if he were to fall to the Chargers outside of those selections, I can see them drafting an impressive prospect like him.
Good lord, five LSU players in the top 12? I guess that's the power of the SEC.
13. Denver Broncos: Johnathon Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Denver Broncos will likely need to add offensive line help at some point to protect their free-agent prize, Peyton Manning.
However, with Fluker and Faulk off the board at this point, the Broncos go defense with one of the best defensive lineman prospects in the draft.
Johnathon Hankins and Star Lotulelei are likely to be the two best defensive tackle prospects for next year, so it makes sense that both are off the board in the top 13.
The Broncos ranked 22nd in the NFL a season ago at stopping the run, so adding a big defensive tackle like Hankins would be a great fit.
14. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
The Cincinnati Bengals let Cedric Benson go after the season despite eclipsing 1,000 yards on the ground and added “The Law Firm” BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Green-Ellis is a solid running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass block, but he does not have the sheer speed and athleticism that you look for in a starting NFL running back.
Adding arguably the most dynamic running back prospect in next year’s draft, Marcus Lattimore, should help take some pressure off of Andy Dalton moving forward.
Lattimore rushed for 818 yards on 163 carries in seven games last season.
15. Tennessee Titans: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
The Tennessee Titans had a pitiful excuse for a pass-rush last season. As a team they only recorded 28 total sacks. To put that in perspective, Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings had 22 sacks by himself.
Instead of addressing the pass-rush in the first round of this year’s draft, the Titans selected wide receiver Kendall Wright. Wright is sure to be a solid receiver in the NFL, but he did not fill the Titans’ biggest need.
Jackson Jeffcoat is a solid prospect who could help the Titans in this regard.
Jeffcoat recorded 7.5 sacks a year ago, but really did not get things rolling until the second half of the season. If he shows improvement next season, he will help his stock even more.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
At 6’8”, 302 pounds, Taylor Lewan is quite the physical specimen as an offensive lineman. In the early going, Lewan ranks second among all offensive linemen according to draft guru Mel Kiper.
Lewan’s length and athleticism give him the tools needed to be a left tackle at the next level. He also has underrated strength, but could help his stock by getting even stronger.
Considering the Dallas Cowboys’ current offensive line depth is littered with rookies, there is a good chance a few of those players won’t pan out.
Lewan is a physical beast who is drawing comparisons to Jake Long.
17. New Orleans Saints: Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
The New Orleans Saints could go in a number of different directions in next year’s draft. However, after ranking 30th in the NFL a season ago against the pass in addition to losing Tracy Porter in free agency this offseason, the Saints will be in the market for a cornerback.
Rhodes is a big, physical corner who knows how to make plays on the ball.
Returning to school for another year to polish his game could potentially make Rhodes a top-15 talent in next year’s draft.
18. St. Louis Rams: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
After targeting the play-making wide receiver the Rams so desperately need, St. Louis should also look for an upgrade on their offensive line.
In addition to not having any weapons to throw to a season ago, Bradford was repeatedly knocked on his rear end behind a mediocre offensive line.
If Bradford is truly the quarterback of the future in St. Louis, they need to add as much help for him as possible for the future.
19. Carolina Panthers: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Believed by many to be the second-best receiver in next year’s draft behind Robert Woods of USC, Keenan Allen would fill a big need for the Carolina Panthers.
Steve Smith is still a dynamic receiver, but he is getting up there in age and outside of Smith there really is not much to speak of in terms of players Cam Newton can target in the passing game.
Adding a receiver with 6’3” size would be a good addition for the Panthers to place across from Smith until they eventually need his replacement.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
The Philadelphia Eagles have been making a habit of picking up over-hyped offensive lineman from the Buffalo Bills lately.
After signing Jason Peters (an overrated offensive tackle in my opinion), the Eagles targeted Demetress Bell in free agency this offseason to replace Peters after he ruptured his Achilles.
Neither of those two players are elite tackles at the NFL level and Bell could eventually move to guard to maximize his value after signing a five-year deal with the Eagles.
At worst, Ricky Wagner could move to right tackle when Peters eventually gets healthy.
21. San Francisco 49ers: Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama
It has been rumored that the San Francisco 49ers were targeting offensive guard Kevin Zeitler in this year’s draft, but missed out on him and had to turn their sights elsewhere.
With that said, the 49ers will likely still be in the market for offensive line depth when next year’s draft rolls around.
If the best offensive guard of next year’s draft according to CBS Sports is still on the board when they are drafting, I’d expect San Fran to make the safe pick and add the well-coached Barrett Jones.
22. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez is likely very close to retirement, so the Atlanta Falcons adding his successor next year via the best tight end prospect makes a lot of sense.
At 6’5”, 250 pounds, Tyler Eifert is a beast.
After posting 63 receptions for 803 yards and five touchdowns a season ago for Notre Dame, Eifert should only get better next season.
23. Buffalo Bills: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
After missing out on blue-collar linebacker prospect Luke Kuechly in this year’s draft by just one selection, the Buffalo Bills will be looking for a franchise-changing linebacker to help anchor their improving defense.
Adding Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency will bolster their pathetic pass-rush from a season ago, but the Bills may still struggle against the run.
Last season, the Bills ranked 28th in the NFL against opposing runners, giving up 139 yards per game on the ground.
For that to improve, the Bills need to add an instinctive middle linebacker to lead the charge against the run. Manti Te’o may turn out to be the best linebacker prospect in 2013, so he would be a great fit.
24. Baltimore Ravens: Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
We are getting closer and closer to the point when the Baltimore Ravens will have to search for Ray Lewis’ replacement.
He has been a game-changing linebacker at the collegiate level for Stanford and if he gets mentored by a guy like Lewis (who is no stranger to off-field issues himself), he could turn out to be a star for Baltimore moving forward.
25. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
With each passing season, it is becoming more and more evident that Matt Cassel is better suited as a backup quarterback in the NFL.
His first year with Kansas City was a mess, then he showed some improvement, but declined again last season with injury having a lot to do with his struggles.
The Chiefs have a very solid team, but the question mark at the quarterback position has been holding them back.
Tennessee’s Tyler Bray is 6’6” and has a gigantic ceiling as a prospect. There is a good chance that he could have a breakout season this year and skyrocket his stock. However, if he is around in the mid-to-late first round for the Chiefs, they should really consider moving in a different direction as far as their quarterback position is concerned.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Hines Ward has retired and Mike Wallace is proving to be more and more of a headache for Pittsburgh.
Wallace may only be around for one more year, so the Steelers should look to add a wide receiver in next year’s draft.
Justin Hunter from Tennessee may be a stretch in the first round considering he is recovering from a torn ACL. However, with a great prospect like Tyler Bray tossing the ball to him, Hunter may be prepared for a bounce back year.
At 6’4”, Hunter is one of the tallest wide receiver prospects for 2013.
27. Chicago Bears: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Defensive tackle may be one of the deepest positions in next year’s draft and the Chicago Bears have a pressing need there, so they will be very happy for the available depth.
Kawann Short had 17.5 tackles for loss last season, so if he manages to improve upon that already dominant number, he’ll ensure a spot in the first round if he has not already.
28. Detroit Lions: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Johnthan Banks is an impact cornerback who could be poised for a great season this year. There is a good chance that Banks could go higher than the late first round in 2013.
Cornerback may not be the biggest need for the Detroit Lions during next year’s draft, but they may just end up drafting the best player available, which at this point is Banks.
29. Houston Texans: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Houston Texans likely will not have a lot of needs in next year’s draft.
Their defense is rock solid, evidenced by the fact that Mario Williams was expendable this offseason because of the emergence of Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin.
I would not be surprised to see the Texans draft a quarterback in 2013 to groom behind the injury-prone Matt Schaub, but they won’t do so in the first round.
With that said, I think the Texans look to add offensive line depth and possibly a new right tackle by way of Jake Matthews from Texas A&M.
30. Green Bay Packers: T.J. McDonald, S, USC
Nick Collins had been one of the NFL’s most consistent safeties before a devastating neck injury last season derailed his career and forced the Green Bay Packers to make the tough decision to cut him.
So is the brutal lifestyle of the NFL.
Since his release, the Packers will have to move on by addressing the safety position.
T.J. McDonald is projected to be the second-best safety prospect in the 2013 draft.
31. New England Patriots: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
I have to be honest, I never know what Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots plan to do come draft day.
They made a consistent habit of trading down in the draft to add more picks, and then shocked a lot of people this year by trading up not once, but twice in the first round.
If they do choose to stand pat at the late first round, I expect the Patriots to go after a wide receiver.
Adding Brandon Lloyd is a step in the right direction, but Deion Branch is getting up there in age and Chad Ochocinco is a shell of himself. Not to mention the Wes Welker situation, which may or may not be resolved after this season.
Marquess Wilson has been overshadowed by other Pac-12 receivers, but as an underrated player he may be just as talented as Robert Woods and Keenan Allen.
32. New York Giants: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
One of the many factors that make the New York Giants such a great football team from year to year is their amazing depth of talent at pass-rushing positions, and some scrub named Eli.
Jason Pierre-Paul is blossoming into a star and the G-Men also have Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathius Kiwanuka.
The Giants love adding talented pass-rushers to their roster because it has been a big reason for their yearly success. William Gholston would fit right in by bolstering that stigma.
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