Mid-season. We've reached that point in the college football season. Teams have played at least two or three conference games, in some cases more. A 2013 NFL Mock Draft seems to be order, right?
NFL scouts have five or six possible games of film on players to mull over and write up reports. And many are now speculating on the nature of the entire draft. Who will go first overall? Which players are top-five or top-10 talents?
And it's always fun to project which players will go where come April, even if most of these projections are likely to come up short when teams actually head to the podium in New York City.
Nonetheless here is the most updated 2013 NFL Mock Draft (based on standings as of October 12, 2012).
Not only does Barkevious Mingo have the coolest name in the history of ever, he's also got a motor few NFL players possess. The DE/OLB prospect would add something to a Browns team they mostly lack: speed.
That is the primary reason this would be a great pick. Whether it's on the defensive line or at outside linebacker, the Browns' team speed would pick up. And Mingo's ability to get after the quarterback at rapid speeds would be beneficial to a team playing three divisional opponents who now love to throw the ball—Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
If the Browns can get to the quarterback, that obviously makes their defense better. And that would allow the team to run the ball more often (their strength with Trent Richardson) and take the pressure off Brandon Weeden to have to win the game on his own.
At mid-season of the college football season, two of the best prospects in the 2013 NFL draft are LSU defensive ends. Because Cleveland just drafted a quarterback in the first round and the New Orleans Saints have a future Hall of Famer under center, the only prospect who may be more deserving of the No. 1 spot (Geno Smith) drops out of the top two.
But Sam Montgomery is extremely deserving of the No. 2 overall pick. In fact, Mingo and Montgomery could easily be flipped 1-2 based simply on preference. In my mind, Montgomery is a better fit for New Orleans, while Mingo is truly a better fit for Cleveland, based on their utter need for speed.
Montgomery would provide great ability to hold the point of attack as a run defender while becoming an every down end who can also get after the passer.
Of course, it is unlikely the Saints will be drafting in top-10 since they are set to have a great last 11 games. But if they did, Montgomery would be an outstanding selection.
The Kansas City Chiefs may be one of the most messed up franchises in the NFL at present. Matt Cassel may have seen the final straw float out of the starting quarterback drink he's been sipping on for almost four years.
Brady Quinn is not the answer. And Ricky Stanzi hasn't shown enough yet to steal the job from either of them. So drafting the best quarterback to come around since, well Robert Griffin III (wasn't a big Andrew Luck fan), isn't a bad idea.
Smith has the talent to become a cross between Cam Newton and Robert Griffin; that is to say a big quarterback with a big arm (Newton) who is predominantly a pocket passer who scrambles only when necessary (Griffin). Like Griffin, he is already an acutely accurate passer, even on deep throws.
But this is not meant to be a full scouting report. It is only to say that Smith already possesses the kind of unique talent to make him the No. 1 pick should a quarterback-needy team come up with that pick.
And he will almost assuredly begin to turn that team around quickly.
Of the top defensive tackles in the 2013 NFL draft, Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins is best suited to play inside a 4-3 alignment, such as the one Carolina runs under Ron Rivera. It is that distinction alone that causes Carolina to take Hankins over Star Lotulelei (Utah) or John Jenkins (Georgia).
Hankins has quite the motor for a player listed at 6'3", 220 lbs., and has the lateral quickness to effectively scrape across a zone blocking line and create penetration in the backfield in the run game.
At the same time, he has the burst to get into the backfield and create havoc against the opposing quarterback. In a division predicated on offensive balance (when Sean Payton returns, the Saints will lean more in that direction), having defensive players who can excel in both phases is of great importance.
At the mid-season point of the 2012 college football season, Bjorn Werner has shown he is one of the finest defensive ends in the country. And he is probably the best player in the Atlantic Coast Conference, regardless of position.
Some have questioned his draft stock, and it is generally one regarded with a great range of possibility. Still, a team desperate for a pass rush will likely reach for the true defensive end remaining (Jarvis Jones is an outside linebacker in 3-4 only).
Werner is unlikely to develop into Bruce Smith as a sack artist, but the German import should develop into a wonderful every down lineman who plays the run well and makes plays as a pass rusher. The Jaguars could do a lot worse with this pick.
Luke Joeckel is the best offensive tackle in the 2013 NFL draft, at least through the first half of the college football season. After spending big bucks on offensive guard Carl Nicks in free agency this past offseason, the Bucs need someone to pair him with on an underachieving offensive line.
Joeckel and Nicks together promise to make up one of the finest tackle-guard combos in the league for at least the next five seasons.
I like Matt Barkley the person. So my analysis of him can sometimes be clouded by my personal feelings towards him. But I believe the worldview he possesses will help him in the NFL, much to the degree it has Tim Tebow, without the theatrics surrounding him.
That worldview will help him overcome the great suffering of living and playing in Oakland for a wreck of a franchise. It's also interesting that the Raiders would be going from one Heisman Trophy winning Southern Cal QB to a runner-up and finalist for the award.
Barkley is a perfect fit for what the Raiders are currently trying to accomplish offensively (even if that seems ambiguous at best). Gregg Knapp runs a vertical version of the west coast offense. But it is not as field-stretching as the systems run by Sean Payton or Andy Reid.
Either way, Barkley fits the system well. And few players are mentally and emotionally as well suited for Oakland as Barkley. Believe me, that's a huge deal with a draft prospect.
Taking a guard with the eighth pick may be a bit of a reach, but when the best players available simply do not fit into your team needs you look for the next best player who does. Hence the Chance Warmack selection.
Were the Lions to select here and the draft fell this way, the Lions would probably desire to trade back. But that is not currently an option. At least the Lions fill a need that will help them keep Matthew Stafford erect in the pocket for years to come.
And Warmack should help them create an aggressive, physical attitude that will help them improve in the running game going forward.
Though Jarvis Jones isn't a perfect fit in Tennessee as a 3-4 outside linebacker, the team did select Akeem Ayers (another 3-4 OLB perfect fit) two years ago and are playing him at outside linebacker.
It is possible that if they were to make this selection the team may begin to transition to more of a 3-4 defense, as its two best pass rushers would be guys who are best standing up rather than with their hands on the ground.
The funny thing is that Jones is much too talented to last until the ninth selection, but he does because of team needs and best fits. Again he's not the perfect fit here either, but he's much too talented to pass up this late in the draft.
Keenan Allen has quite a range of possibility in where he lands. Depending on what team is selecting where, he could land anywhere from 5-15. He makes sense in St. Louis, where the team has consistently overlooked the need to equip franchise QB Sam Bradford with skill position talent around him.
Maybe, just maybe, the 2013 NFL draft will be the year he is given that help. In this mid-season mock draft, Allen is seen as the best overall talent at wide receiver. Tennessee's Justin Hunter is close but not quite there.
Allen fits the Rams west coast offense approach with Brian Schottenheimer calling plays.
The Buffalo Bills need more playmakers, especially at the receiver spot. Justin Hunter is a great deep threat with great ball skills, and possesses the ability to catch the ball in traffic and make things happen in the open field.
He may not be the perfect fit in Buffalo, but he could fit well and complement Stevie Johnson, Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller quite nicely.
Do you really think the Packers are going to end up with the 12th pick in this draft?
Me neither. Nonetheless, that is where they currently stand. For that reason, the pick here must be made. And the pick that makes the most sense is Dee Milner. The Packers have struggled to find corners the last few seasons, which has led to a lack of depth at the position.
It's possible they may decide to take Charles Woodson's eventual replacement at the safety spot as well. But the secondary seems to be the primary spot to address in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Were the Miami Dolphins to select Robert Woods 13th in the NFL draft, it wouldn't be the first time the team made a poor draft selection under Jeff Ireland. Woods does make sense for the offensive system first-year head coach Joe Philbin is trying to implement in Miami with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback.
Woods is a guy who makes plays after the catch. He is a bigger, more physical version of Peter Warrick, a historically bad draft bust in the first round for Cincinnati almost 15 years ago now.
The Dolphins might be better waiting until the second round to take Woods' teammate Marqise Lee, who combines run after the catch ability with a legitimate ability to stretch the field as a deep threat. Why Lee is not above Woods in draft analysts' minds is beyond me.
Again, at least Woods fits the horizontal nature of the Dolphins' passing game.
You know why the Pittsburgh Steelers are annually one of the best teams in the NFL? It's really quite simple. They make sneaky good draft selections like this one.
Instead of waiting to draft Troy Polamalu's replacement after the Polynesian freak has retired, they draft Reid now and allow him to learn from the veteran and star on special teams.
It helps that the team expects almost nothing in year one from their draft picks. By year three, Reid will be starting at one of the safety spots for the Steelers and likely will be a star shortly after.
In a perfect world the Jets would address their lack of skill position talent by selecting a receiver with this pick. That won't happen for two reasons. First, the Jets make ridiculous personnel moves under GM Mike Tannenbaum. And second, there isn't a player worth selecting available at 15 in this mid-season mock draft.
So they take the next best route and go offensive tackle and find an immediate answer to the hurting right tackle spot. At least whoever plays quarterback in 2013 will feel a little more comfortable dropping back from under center.
Ideally the Broncos would have liked to address the safety spot with this selection. But they are in a similar position to Green Bay, in that their entire secondary is a mess and in great need of finding long-term solutions to take over for borderline Hall of Fame players.
Banks could end up as the No. 1 corner by the time April's draft rolls around. If he doesn't, Denver would be giddy to have Banks fall into their laps at No. 16 as the eventual replacement to Champ Bailey. Banks could become the next shutdown NFL corner (if such a thing exists anymore).
The team could do a lot worse in this spot.
Would anyone be shocked if the suddenly senile Jerry Jones decided to end contract negotiations with Tony Romo knowing he could have a highly touted quarterback from his alma mater? At this point in the world order I think everyone would actually expect it.
If for no other reason than the fun of it, let's just say it's going to happen. And let's admit it should not.
It probably depends on who you to talk to about which Texas defensive end teams prefer—Jackson Jeffcoat or Alex Okafor. But the fact is that Jeffcoat appears to be an ideal fit as a 3-4 rush end/pass rusher.
The Colts would have been satisfied had Johnathan Banks or Dee Milner fell to them. But the pass rush could use some help as well since the team will likely trade Dwight Freeney at some point in the 2013 NFL offseason.
The Colts will run with Jeffcoat and hope they can become a dominant pass rushing team.
Good luck finding a picture of Jake Matthews. It's almost as if the guy doesn't exist. The New York Giants probably wouldn't mind a whole lot if the rest of the NFL treated him the same way in the draft process this offseason.
The Giants always take best player available. And they love it when they find a player who can step in and start from day one. Matthews likely can do just that for them in 2013.
Selecting at No. 19, that's a pretty sweet accomplishment.
I'll make this as short and sweet as I possibly can. Kawann Short is the exact type of player Pete Carroll would select in Seattle.
He has thrived taking players at least slightly ahead of where others have them ranked. And then he plugs them into a role most don't think they fit very well into. And somehow it works relatively well for the player, the team and therefore Carroll.
It's funny how it all works really. Carroll would be counting on the same kind of magic were he to make this pick.
If Manti Te'o is not the epitome of a Philadelphia Eagle under Andy Reid, then I'm really not sure an epitome exists. Te'o is tough, physically and emotionally. He is smart, but not freaky smart.
Most of all he just kind of has that Philly toughness. He'll hit you and make up for any physical limitations he has with his mentality. That seems to pretty well fit the Eagles under Andy Reid, at least in my mind.
Te'o would be an immediate upgrade in the middle of the Eagles' new Tampa-Two scheme. Any struggles the unit may have against the run will nearly be eliminated, and the pass defense won't be hurt any either.
In my mind, Te'o's stock will rise as we get closer to draft time.
One thing that observers had to be impressed with from the Rams in the past decade is their insistence on building their team from the interior then out, if at all. It left the team with little in terms of the skill positions.
And unfortunately, more often than not, they chose the wrong players. But the mindset seems like a solid one, which has worked for many franchises before. Selecting 24th, the Rams will continue their interior-building tactics by taking Alabama guard Barrett Jones.
Jones is the right choice for a team who wants to be tough and run the football effectively. Jones can help them do that the second he walks in the building.
Star Lotulelei could easily go 20 spots higher than this. And I would by no means be surprised if he does. Honestly I would probably select him in the top-five, or at least the top-10.
But every year there is a player who inexplicably falls. For the sake of argument, we're going to say this time that player is Star. I have no inside information to suggest this is true. It's merely a hunch.
Again he should be selected much higher. But if he were to somehow fall this low Cincinnati would be thrilled to select him here.
John Jenkins almost perfectly fits what Bill Belichick looks for in a defensive lineman. He has great size and has played in a 3-4, which will fit the Patriots' multiple front looks quite well.
He can line up inside or out and provides great versatility in his skill set. It's almost as if John Jenkins was created to play for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
If he ends up anywhere else, call it the upset of the draft.
The Chargers could certainly do worse than the best tight end prospect in the 2013 draft to eventually replace the semi-legendary Antonio Gates.
Eifert continues on a long tradition of tight end greatness at Notre Dame. Unfortunately for the players in that line, few have fared as well in the pros as expected. Kyle Rudolph looks to be the exception. But he's still so young that it may be too soon to make the determination.
Either way, the Chargers would probably be wise to make the selection given the players currently on the board.
In my opinion Marcus Lattimore could, should and probably will climb up draft boards the closer we get to April's NFL draft. And truthfully, he really should have been higher on this list but most teams have more pressing needs than a game-changing running back since those are often found later in the draft, anyway.
The other interesting part about this pick is that San Francisco will not be at 26. At this point it seems nearly unthinkable they could be picking anywhere but No. 32. They are hands down the best team in the league and only Houston is even in the same galaxy. Of course a lot could change between now and the end of the NFL season.
That said, if all goes as is, Lattimore would be a great addition to a 'Niners team who knows it will have to replace Frank Gore eventually. Lattimore can do everything—run between the tackles and get outside, catch the ball and block. He is NFL-caliber at each particular skill.
My personal opinion is that Tyler Bray should not come out a year early. At mid-season, Bray has proven to be a great talent, but is laced with inconsistencies and accuracy issues.
But this is a mock draft so those things are not supposed to play a key role in our selections. As such, Bray would fit Arizona's offense almost to a tee. Bray is one of the rare quarterbacks who is more accurate on the deep pass than the short one.
His presence would almost certainly reinvigorate Larry Fitzgerald and again take advantage of his unique ball skills. And Bray could begin to develop a rapport with what would be second-year receiver Michael Floyd.
Within a year or two Arizona's passing offense could be dynamic and dangerous once again. Of course the team still needs to be able to protect their quarterback. That's a whole other story.
Xavier Rhodes is a fourth-year junior who many draft analysts believe is actually the best of this year's cornerback crop. One thing we do know is that, coming from Florida State, he is a good athlete.
And at 6'1" he has the size the Bears could like for an outside corner in their predominantly Tampa-Two defense. Of course they would have LOVED if Manti Te'o had fallen to them here, but he is well off the board.
They also could have used this pick on a tackle, but naturally one did not fall to them either. Plus they're the Bears after all, so they probably would not have made the logical move.
When you watch the Minnesota Vikings it's interesting that the one piece seemingly missing from making them a great team is the one piece they let go a couple offseasons ago in the person of Sidney Rice.
Well at No. 29 in this NFL Mock draft, that clone falls to them in Baylor's Terrance Williams. He is big, fast and physical. He'll run by guys but also outmuscle them when necessary.
Alongside Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph and however long Adrian Peterson lasts, Williams would make another great weapon for up-and-coming quarterback Christian Ponder. The Vikings' offense could be dangerous for years to come with this addition.
Baltimore knows it could lose Ed Reed to retirement any offseason now. In fact, Ray Lewis is probably more likely to stick around another year than Reed is to do the same.
Even if Reed sticks around a year longer, it certainly cannot hurt to add his future replacement now. In fact, the young T.J. McDonald could be paired with Reed for a year, or at the least used in sub-packages to further enhance Baltimore's ability to create turnovers.
You might say the team should find Lewis' replacement instead, but it's possible they already have. Based on what we've seen from younger players who have stepped in for Reed, it is clear they do not yet have a replacement lined up for him.
Alex Okafor is a much better fit than his college teammate, Jackson Jeffcoat, for a 4-3 defensive end spot. And Atlanta, despite an improved defensive effort in 2012, is still desperate for players who can get after the quarterback with regularity.
That is something Okafor figures to have little problem doing at the NFL level. He may struggle as a run defender because he only lists at 265 lbs. But his explosiveness and range could make up for that on runs away from him.
There's little doubt he'd be a great pickup for an Atlanta team who has struggled to consistently get pressure on the QB for years.
Perhaps more than any other team, the Houston Texans have the luxury of not needing an upgrade at any one position. They can truly choose the best player available. In the opinion of yours truly, that guy is Corey Lemonier, who happens to fit well at outside linebacker in Houston's 3-4 attack.
Every team wants to find a player who fits the team well, even if they are using the BPA strategy. That's why this pick would be a home run for Houston.