2013 NFL Mock Draft: Big-Time Playmakers Who Will Make Immediate Impact
Consensus No. 1 overall pick Matt Barkley took a tumble Saturday night when his USC Trojans lost to the Stanford Cardinal, but that won't affect his outlook as the best player in this draft.
With some college prospects making their case to be included in the first round, and others steadily standing pat in their hopes to be amongst football's elite within the next year, here's a look at my 2013 NFL Mock Draft, based on where I think teams will finish the NFL regular season in 2012 and what the draft order will look like next April.
1. Miami Dolphins: QB Matt Barkley, USC
I think this pick gets traded at some point during the offseason, unless the Arizona Cardinals somehow wind up with the top pick.
Barkley is the Andrew Luck- or RG3-type QB that franchises hope to have the opportunity to draft. Even if Miami is forced into drafting him, he's a QB that will immediately start, make plays for the offense around him and change the culture and future outlook of a franchise.
2. Cleveland Browns: DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
I'm not sure where he projects in the NFL, but it doesn't really matter if you can get to the QB. Look at Clay Matthews; the NFL is full of rosters that have players strictly on the field to take the QB to the ground because it's such a game-changer.
This guy is the next Von Miller in the draft, and he will help the Browns' defense from day one in its 3-4 scheme.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
No matter who is playing QB for this team, they're going to need some talent to protect him. Joeckel is a proven pass-blocker, and he'll also help the running game that coincidentally had its problems against the Houston Texans in Week 2.
4. Buffalo Bills: QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Ryan Fitzpatrick has done a great job keeping the position over the past few seasons, but it's time to start thinking about the future, the same way they currently are at running back with C.J. Spiller.
5. Indianapolis Colts: DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
With Mingo off the board, Montgomery is a nice consolation prize for the Colts, who are already dealing with a Dwight Freeney injury early this season.
6. Minnesota Vikings: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The big man has been a force on film so far this season, especially in the loss to Utah State. He could be the next award winner at his position in college, and this would be a great pickup for the Vikings' D.
7. Oakland Raiders: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
It's time the Raiders started addressing needs on defense in the first round, especially if they have confidence in Terrell Pryor going forward. We'll see how much confidence they have after this pick, which will amount to none if they select a QB.
8. Arizona Cardinals: QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Smith is doing everything he can to convince scouts that he's nothing like his fellow Mountaineer QB, Pat White. He's lighting up defenses early in the season, and proving he can be an effective passer at the next level.
There's little doubt Arizona will draft a QB here, but which one is the bigger question. I can see them trading up for a shot at Barkley, but that remains to be seen.
9. St. Louis Rams: S Eric Reid, LSU
Three out of the top 10 from LSU? Crazy, but it could definitely happen. Alabama could have a bunch in the first round too, and Reid will bring some playmaking in the secondary that St. Louis severely lacks right now in their defensive coverage schemes.
10. Seattle Seahawks: WR Robert Woods, USC
Russell Wilson needs a speedster to go alongside Sidney Rice in the passing game. Who better than Woods? He has a connection with head coach Pete Carroll, who will call his former colleagues in Southern California to get more information.
Woods could be a game-changer in Seattle, which has limited weapons in the passing game and is forced to rely on Marshawn Lynch and Wilson's creativity. This could be huge for their future as an NFC West contender.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
It's a big draft for QBs, especially since the turnover throughout the league is trending towards younger players taking the reigns. Thomas won't have to be a starter his first year, but he is an intriguing, Cam Newton-type prospect that merits consideration in the top 10.
12. Carolina Panthers: DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Another tweener prospect, I think Jeffcoat can put on the weight and do the job at defensive end, including stepping in as a starter for the Panthers' defense. They're only a few players away from putting this thing together, and the son of former Cowboy Jim Jeffcoat is a great start.
13. Tennessee Titans: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Milliner gets the SEC another first-rounder, and is another secondary threat in the long line of defensive playmakers over the past few seasons at Alabama.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
He fills a need, and the four-year player for the Irish will continue to make plays at the pro level. He's always around the ball, and knows what to do at the linebacker position. I think Te'o continues to climb up draft boards, especially if the Irish keep winning and playing well on defense.
15. New Orleans Saints: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
The big man for the Buckeyes will help fix a defense that suddenly forgot how to tackle or stop the run in the first two weeks of the season. You never know, though, and I could see the Saints taking a receiver in the first round here.
16. Cincinnati Bengals: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
If the Bulldogs make a deep run in the SEC, it will be behind Jones, their leader on defense and probably the best overall linebacker in the country. He could very well go much higher than this on draft night, as he has the ability to make plays all over the field against the fastest players in the country.
17. New York Jets: RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
When a player like this is on the board, you draft him. Shonn Greene has done good things for the Jets' offense, but Lattimore brings a dimension that could vault Gang Green back into elite status.
With the ACL injury behind him, Lattimore figures to hit his stride during conference play and could challenge for an NFL starting job if he runs the way he did during his first two seasons for the Gamecocks.
18. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
St. Louis will have two picks in the draft, and they'll address their two biggest areas of need: safety and O-Line. Lewan probably starts from the outset, and the Rams continue to quietly build with young talent.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Keenan Allen, California
The Eagles are pretty set with Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, but they could stand to add another explosive player in Allen, who would slide in nicely and make for some interesting three-WR sets in Philly/
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: DE Alex Okafor, Texas
The Steelers have some nice weapons on offense, so they could add some youth on defense with the pass-rushing guru from the University of Texas. He's moving up draft boards with his ability to get to the QB, and that could pay off for the always-tough Steeler D.
21. San Diego Chargers: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
San Diego replaces Vincent Jackson for good with Hunter, who needs some work on his route running but otherwise is a great receiver for the Vols.
He's a guy that could come in and have an A.J. Green-type season for whoever drafts him, due to his ability to make plays in the middle of the field and as a big body in the end zone.
22. Detroit Lions: CB David Amerson, North Carolina State
Amerson is the ball-hawking corner that led the ACC in interceptions in 2011, and his size (6'3") makes him an interesting prospect. He might move to safety in the NFL as a result of both his size and the ability to be around the ball.
23. Chicago Bears: OG Barrett Jones, Alabama
The Bears showed against the Packers that they need some help on the offensive line, and this guy is one of the best in the SEC. He'll be a starter at either center or guard when he reaches the NFL, and has potential to really help bolster an offensive line that has struggled in pass protection for years.
24. New York Giants: CB Johnathan Banks, Mississippi State
The Giants' secondary has been a major concern early on this season, even though it's been depleted by injury. Big Blue are poised to add something in the defensive backfield, maybe even pieces weapons after their inability to stop the pass so far this season.
25. Denver Broncos: DT Johnathan Jenkins, Georgia
The Broncos need to continue to bolster that defense, especially with Peyton Manning's offense giving no indication of slowing down. The Broncos are going to have to be on the field more than most teams, simply because Manning will start putting together quick TD drives.
26. Dallas Cowboys: G Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Cowboys really need a center, but Warmack is a good player and might even play that position in the NFL. I bet they will target Barrett Jones, but if they can't get him look for the Cowboys to try and add as much depth as they can to this interior line.
27. Houston Texans: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
He and Joeckel are the bookends for the Aggies' O-Line, and they are both worthy of first-round selections. The Texans don't have too many holes, and I could see them nabbing a receiver if there is a playmaker on the board.
28. Green Bay Packers: S T.J. McDonald, USC
The Packers are going to be judged this season by their defense. If they are able to win the Super Bowl, it will be through big turnovers and limiting damage. Adding a safety will be an offseason key, and McDonald is a top-5 lock at his position.
29. Atlanta Falcons: LB Sean Porter, Texas A&M
The Aggies have some real talent left from their days in the Big 12. Porter is no exception, and he should challenge for an immediate role on whatever team makes him their pick.
30. Baltimore Ravens: OT Brennan Williams, North Carolina
The Ravens need some depth here after preseason injuries affected them on the O-Line. Williams is a load, and he and Michael Oher could be starters within the next two years opposite each other.
31. New England Patriots: OT Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin
The Patriots have looked awful on the O-Line in their first two games, nothing like the lines that have been integral to postseason success. They fix some of that by adding depth here with Wagner, another huge guy from the state of Wisconsin.
32. San Fransisco 49ers: DT Kawann Short, Purdue
If you haven't heard of or seen this guy play, go look him up. He's the best defensive player at Purdue, and one of the reasons Notre Dame had problems running the football against them this year.
He totaled four tackles and two sacks against the Irish, and he would be a great addition to an already stifling defense.
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