2013 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Barkley and Falling 1st-Round Prospects
USC's Matt Barkley, once thought to be the top quarterback in the 2013 NFL draft, is rocketing down draft boards faster than the bullet train in Japan.
Barkley has only looked like a future starter in the NFL in three of the first five games, and his limitations as a passer have started becoming more and more evident.
Barkley is not the only college player whose draft stock is falling, either.
My latest mock draft will highlight a few players who find themselves tumbling down draft boards, for one reason or another.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia
Last year, we had "Suck for Luck".
This year the Kansas City Chiefs are on a "Blow-for-Geno" campaign so far this season, and it's hard to see this team winning another game.
Smith is this year's lock-down No. 1 draft pick, and the Chiefs will be doing cartwheels down the aisles on draft day when they take his name to the podium in April.
2. Cleveland Browns
Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, LSU
The Cleveland Browns have assembled quite a talented unit on defense, and the only thing this team is truly missing on that side of the ball is an elite pass-rusher.
Mingo is this year's top pure pass-rusher. He possesses an incredibly explosive first step, and his relentless motor and pure speed do the rest. Added strength and power will only make him more diverse, and a couple of years in an NFL weight room will give him those attributes.
With Mingo, the Browns will field a ridiculously tough defense to beat, and given the steady improvement we've seen from this team on offense this year, it's not out of the question to think the Browns could contend for a playoff spot in two years.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been surprisingly bad against the run this season, allowing opposing running backs to rush for 4.7 yards per carry and 163 yards per game.
Hankins is the premier defensive tackle of this year's draft class, and he'll give this team a massive upgrade in its run defense. As an added bonus, Hankins is an able pass-rusher with quick feet and an explosive first step who excels at disrupting the pocket of opposing offenses.
4. Oakland Raiders
Sam Montgomery, Defensive End, LSU
The Oakland Raiders desperately need some youth and explosion on the outside of their 4-3 defense.
It seems rather unfair LSU has the two top pass-rushers in the nation, but that's exactly what's happening. Montgomery isn't as quick as Barkevious Mingo, but his power and strength make up for any lack of speed (think a young Mario Williams).
He will fit in nicely with the old bulls the Raiders have in the middle of their defensive line, and he'll greatly improve their failing pass-rush in the years to come.
5. Indianapolis Colts
Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Franchise quarterback: Check.
Franchise wide receiver: Check.
Offensive line: Checking...
The Indianapolis Colts have the makings of a terrific team, should they assemble an offensive line worthy of Andrew Luck's talents.
Joeckel is this year's top offensive tackle. He has good length on the outside to go along with excellent lateral mobility and a good frame (6' 6" and 310 pounds). He will be a cornerstone player for the Colts for years to come—barring injury, of course.
6. Carolina Panthers
Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah
The Carolina Panthers have a ton of needs: offensive linemen, wide receivers, defensive backs, etc.
That said, this team could also use a disruptive defensive tackle to help their linebacking corps out in the running game and their defensive ends in the passing game.
Lotulelei is a stud in the trenches. Double teams don't phase this man, and he's going to make an instant impact in the NFL in both the running game and the passing game. He's exceptionally disruptive, and his presence on the Panthers defensive line will make last year's first-round draft pick Luke Kuechly much better in the long run.
7. New Orleans Saints
Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, California
The New Orleans Saints could really use an offensive tackle or defensive lineman here, but this year's top prospects in both areas have been taken already.
Allen is someone who will make an immediate impact for the Saints. Robert Meachem left this summer via free agency to the San Diego Chargers, and the Saints haven't been the same in the passing game.
Allen is the most polished wide receiver in this year's draft class. He has speed, size, agility, athleticism and is an excellent route runner. With Drew Brees throwing him the ball, he has an excellent chance to be the NFL's offensive rookie of the year.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
John Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will continue to build their fierce defensive line through the draft, and Jenkins' presence in the middle of their defense will make Gerald McCoy even more dangerous.
Jenkins is a massive man at 6'3" and close to 360 pounds. He is extremely powerful, surprisingly agile and will require a double team on most plays. This will free up McCoy and the rest of the young studs on the Bucs defensive line to disrupt plays in one-one-one situations.
9. Miami Dolphins
Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia
Jones is projected to go much higher in many mock drafts, but from what I've seen this young man has trouble against agile, athletic offensive linemen.
Like Von Miller, Jones can potentially thrive in a 3-4 scheme as well as a 4-3, and even though he's sliding down my draft board a bit, the Miami Dolphins won't let him slide any further.
Jones' presence in the Dolphins lineup will only further accent the incredible speed and athleticism this team carries on defense, and it's going to be tough for opposing offenses to defeat this group, given another year or two together.
10. Detroit Lions
Bjoern Werner, Defensive End, Florida State
Kyle Vanden Bosch is getting really old, really quick, and Cliff Avril will be engaged in another contract dispute with the Detroit Lions next year after signing his franchise tender in 2012.
This team needs youth and skill at a discounted rate, and given the new CBA's favorable rookie salary schedule, taking Werner here would be a steal.
Werner has been falling on my draft board the past couple of weeks, as his production of late hasn't matched his ferocious start to the 2012 season for FSU. Still, his speed and pass-rushing prowess is too valuable to let fall much further.
Furthermore, he's more than just an athlete, according to Jimbo Fisher, via ESPN.com, who says: "[Werner] has tremendous eyes. He can process what's going on, and he has a great feel for the game."
11. Tennessee Titans
Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End, Texas
The Tennessee Titans need of a few different upgrades on defense, one of which would be a pass-rushing defensive end.
Jeffcoat is a big, strong, young man with a frame that could use another 20-25 pounds of muscle and raw power. So far this year, Jeffcoat has tallied 16 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and four sacks.
He'll make a huge difference for the Titans from the beginning of training camp.
12. New York Jets
Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
If Mark Sanchez is still alive next season and playing for the New York Jets, he might appreciate a little help up front.
The Jets need an offensive tackle, and though they could think about taking USC's Robert Woods or a defensive lineman here, the smart bet is for them to make safety a priority—not to mention this team has need of a competent run-blocking tackle.
Lewan is a highly-skilled tackle who can take on quick, agile pass-rushers as well as handle bigger, power rushers. He's also a mauling run-blocker, and the Jets would be foolish to pass on this young man.
13. Dallas Cowboys
Alex Okafor, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Texas
The Dallas Cowboys have the makings of an elite defense, but this team needs another pass-rusher to complement an aging DeMarcus Ware.
Okafor has the look of a fine 3-4 outside linebacker. Not only is he an adept pass-rusher (already six sacks for Texas in six games), but he's extremely strong at the point of attack. He will be excellent at holding the edge on running plays, allowing the middle linebackers to run to the ball.
14. Buffalo Bills
Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC
No matter how many wins the Buffalo Bills eek out this year, the fact remains Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't the quarterback to take them to the promised land.
Barkley has struggled at times in his senior season for USC. He follows in Matt Leinart's footsteps in this regard, as he would certainly have been a high first-round draft pick in 2011 if he'd made the decision to come out as a junior.
Like Mark Sanchez, Barkley is excellent when he has good timing with his receivers. He hits them in stride on shorter timing patterns, but Barkley's shortcomings are revealed when the pocket breaks down or his receivers get jammed at the line.
He doesn't possess a particularly strong arm, and though he is athletic enough, he struggles with accuracy at times when running away from pressure.
Still, Chan Gailey (if he's still around) will believe he can mold an offense around Barkley that will work to his strengths.
15. St. Louis Rams
Justin Hunter, Wide Receiver, Tennessee
The St. Louis Rams are proving to be quite a competitive team in 2012, despite the fact that Sam Bradford has no protection and doesn't have a wide receiver on his roster that could even make half the teams in the NFL.
At this point in the draft, the Rams should take care of their need at the wide receiver position.
Hunter has excellent size at 6' 4" and 200 pounds, and his ability to leap up and snag balls at their highest point will be a tremendous boon for Bradford in the red zone. He's fast enough to get deep over the top of NFL safeties, and he has excellent hands.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama
Pittsburgh is clearly getting old and slow on defense, and one of the main areas of need for the Steelers is at cornerback. Ike Taylor isn't the player he used to be, and now that Troy Polamalu is dealing with health issues, his vulnerabilities are coming through more now than ever before.
Milliner is a big, strong tough defender who fits the mold of a Steeler to perfection. He is extremely physical at the line of scrimmage and has enough speed and athleticism to stick with most NFL receivers one-on-one.
17. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)
Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Sam Bradford has already been sacked 18 times through six games this season, and he's going to end up being a bust if the St. Louis Rams don't work hard next offseason to bring in offensive linemen to protect him.
Matthews would be an instant starter for the Rams at right tackle, and if he continues to get better, he has the skill set and physical frame to become a solid left tackle for this team for years to come.
This really is a no-brainer for the Rams. They would be absolutely foolish to let a player of his caliber fall at this point in the draft.
18. Arizona Cardinals
Chance Warmack, Offensive Guard, Alabama
The Arizona Cardinals would likely wish that Jake Matthews was still on the board—they might be the only team that needs an offensive tackle more than the St. Louis Rams—but they'll be content with taking the next-best thing.
Warmack is a battle-tested road grader of an offensive guard who will instantly start for the Cardinals and give them a huge boost on the ground.
Additionally, Warmack is a pretty good blocker on passing plays, and he'd be a massive upgrade over either Darren Colledge or Adam Snyder.
19. Minnesota Vikings
Da'Rick Rogers, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Tech
Rogers carries some baggage with him into the pros. He was dismissed from the University of Tennessee in late August for repeatedly failing drug tests according to Yahoo! Sports' Graham Watson.
That said, he wouldn't be the first incredibly talented athlete to have made a positive impact in the NFL after having gone through similar circumstances.
Rogers' talent, athleticism, hands and size make him worth the risk for the Minnesota Vikings—a team in need of a true No. 1 receiver to take pressure off the supremely talented Percy Harvin.
20. Philadelphia Eagles
Barrett Jones, Offensive Guard, Alabama
Chance Warmack is the better-known 'Bama guard, but Jones may end up being more valuable to his NFL team in the long run.
Jones is the most versatile offensive lineman coming out of this year's draft class, as he can literally play all five positions on the line with skill.
Watching Michael Vick get tossed around like a rag doll this year, it's plain to see this team is in desperate need of a strong guard to come in and give the interior of this line a shot in the arm. The added bonus with Jones is, of course, that he's able to pick up slack at any position if the team needs him to do so.
21. San Diego Chargers
Manti Te'o, Middle Linebacker, Notre Dame
Te'o is easily the best inside linebacker in this year's draft class, so why isn't he going higher in the draft?
There are just too many excellent skill players in the draft. Pass-rushers, wide receivers and offensive linemen are the name of the game these days in the NFL, and middle linebackers aren't as valuable as they once were—unless they're as fast as Patrick Willis.
Still, given the fact that Takeo Spikes is on his last legs, the San Diego Chargers could fill a true need while taking the best player left on the board.
22. New York Giants
Kenny Vaccaro, Strong Safety, Texas
The New York Giants are in need of secondary help.
Antrel Rolle has been playing out of his mind lately at free safety, but he needs a partner in crime to help him mop up the back end.
Vaccaro is an underrated player who has a bright future ahead of him in the NFL. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has been high on him since before the 2012 season, and seeing how he's performed so far this season for the Longhorns, I'm on board, too.
Vaccaro can cover many receivers one-on-one as well as many corners, and he's a force to be reckoned with at the line of scrimmage as a run-stuffing safety.
23. Green Bay Packers
Marcus Lattimore, Running Back, South Carolina
Size: 6'0" and 220 pounds.
Speed: 4.58 seconds (40-yard dash time, per CBSSports.com)
Power: According to ESPN Stats & Info:
Lattimore has gained 47 percent (258/549) of his yards after contact this season. That is up eight percent from 39 percent last season. Against SEC opponents, Lattimore has gained 44 percent of his yards after contact in his career and has gotten gradually better each season.
Drive to succeed: Priceless
Lattimore is this year's top running back prospect, and the Packers would be thrilled to see him sitting around, waiting to be taken at this point in the draft.
Combined with Aaron Rodgers and the explosive passing game, Lattimore would be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
24. Seattle Seahawks
Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame
The Seattle Seahawks could surely use an offensive lineman to bolster their offense, but taking Eifert has its benefits.
The best thing besides a solid offensive line for a developing quarterback is a reliable, big target in the middle of the field.
Eifert, at 6'5" and about 255 pounds, is just what Russell Wilson needs to take his game to the next level. Not only is Eifert a big target, but he has plenty of speed to get past linebackers, and he has the best hands of any pass-catcher in the 2013 NFL draft—wide receivers and tight ends.
25. Cincinnati Bengals
Baccari Rambo, Strong Safety, Georgia
Right now, Taylor Mays is the weakest link for the Cincinnati Bengals on defense.
Rambo would give this team one of the better secondaries in the NFL, once all their cornerbacks get healthy. He is fast, rangy, has good hands and has a nose for the ball—and playing next to Reggie Nelson will only accentuate his strengths.
In addition to Rambo's excellent range in the secondary, he's a ferocious tackler and loves the contact of playing near the line of scrimmage on running plays.
26. Baltimore Ravens
Eric Reid, Free Safety, LSU
The defense of the Baltimore Ravens is aging at a frighteningly fast rate, and it's about time to infuse some youthful talent into the roster.
Reid is a perfect replacement for Ed Reed, who may or may not talk about retiring again this offseason (okay, he'll definitely talk about it). The way it's going for Reed, he doesn't have much longer in the NFL, and the Ravens need to find his replacement now.
Reid is a talented ball hawk who loves to hit, and he'd slide right in and produce at a high level where Reed leaves off—whenever that may be.
27. Atlanta Falcons
Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan
Fisher doesn't get the same kind of attention as guys like Taylor Lewan or Luke Joeckel because he's from a smaller school, but this kid has the potential to be one of the true steals of the 2013 NFL draft class.
Fisher wouldn't be the first offensive lineman to make it big in the NFL from Central Michigan, either. Joe Staley has made quite a positive impact for the San Francisco 49ers.
At 6'7" and 305 pounds Fisher has mobility most big men can only dream of. He has plenty of room to grow, too, and given another 15-20 pounds of muscle, he could become a force to be reckoned with on the outside.
The Atlanta Falcons desperately need the help, too. Although the Falcons are 6-0 to start the season, Matt Ryan has been pressured far too often. Sam Baker has a lot to do with that, and Fisher would be an instant upgrade at the left tackle position.
28. Denver Broncos
Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State
Champ Bailey is 34 this season, and it won't be much longer before his legs don't allow him to keep up with the top receiver in the NFL. A switch to safety is likely in his future, and the Denver Broncos are frightfully short on depth at the cornerback position.
Banks is an excellent player, and he's the best senior corner in this year's draft. He is a four-year starter at Mississippi State, where he's been a reliable playmaker, intercepting three or more passes every season.
At 6'2" and 185 pounds, Banks is a physical, big cornerback who loves to press and has enough speed to hang with most receivers one-on-one all the way down the field. He'd be a perfect addition to the young, physical defense the Broncos have been quietly assembling.
29. New England Patriots
Terrence Williams, Wide Receiver, Baylor
Tom Brady wants to play until he's a grandpa, and the New England Patriots would be wise to keep bringing in talent for him.
Heck, even if Ryan Mallett ends up taking over in the next few years, this team needs help at the wide receiver position. Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman are all capable receivers, but none of them are true No. 1 receivers.
Williams, at 6'2" and 200 pounds, has the speed and physicality to become a true downfield target for Brady like he hasn't had since Randy Moss left town. Combined with the tight ends the Pats feature, defenses wouldn't know what poison to pick while Brady picks secondaries apart with ease.
30. Chicago Bears
Jonathan Cooper, Offensive Guard, North Carolina
I give the Chicago Bears offensive line a lot of credit for improving upon their poor play to start the season, but the truth is this unit still needs some help.
Cooper is a rock-solid slab of granite posing as a guard.
At 6'3" and 310 pounds, Cooper possesses excellent mobility and agility, and his ability to move laterally makes him an underrated pass blocker. He is perfect for the Bears offense, as he can get to the outside on power plays and screens for Matt Forte.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Florida State
Carlos Rogers was a revelation for the San Francisco 49ers as a cover corner in 2011, but mid-way through the 2012 season, it's clear that his best days are behind him.
Rhodes is a massive man for a cornerback, at 6'1" and 217 pounds, and his greatest strength is in his ability to press opposing wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. He has made seven interceptions in three years at Florida State and has defended 28 passes.
He'd be a formidable man to pair with Chris Culliver in the 49ers secondary for years to come.
32. Houston Texans
Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia
Speed, speed and more speed.
That's what Austin brings to the table, as well as a darn good set of hands.
Not only would Austin be a tremendous boon to Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and the Houston Texans passing attack, but he's also an explosive special teams player who can take it the distance on any given play.
His inclusion to the Texans offense is just what the doctor ordered to help this team take things to the next level.
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