2013 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting the First 3 Rounds
We are extremely early in the process for NFL mock drafts, but I believe they do hold some value at this stage. In particular, we can start to assess potential team needs and match them with early-season standouts from the college level.
For this mock, I projected every remaining game this season to come up with my draft order. While my Super Bowl participants may come as mild surprises considering the events of Week 6, the first team on the clock should be a shock to no one...
Kansas City Chiefs
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith has clearly established himself as the top QB in this year's class, so he is the logical No. 1 overall pick for Kansas City.
He has excellent mobility and can make all the NFL throws with zip and accuracy. I also love his willingness to stand tough in the pocket and take a big hit while delivering the ball accurately downfield.
While he was not as efficient last weekend in West Virginia's stunning blowout loss to Texas Tech, he has a chance to redeem himself this Saturday against Kansas State, the No. 4 ranked team in the country.
Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
This is a loaded DE class, and while Jordan isn't receiving significant attention from the national media at this point, he may have the most upside of any prospect at any position in this draft class.
He consistently displays an explosive first step and has the agility needed to bend and change direction on the edge to finish at the QB.
Jordan needs to add bulk to his frame and diversify his skill set, but he has the physical and athletic tools to become an elite pass-rusher at the NFL level.
New York Jets
Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Mingo is already at the top of a lot of analysts' boards, and with good reason.
He's a top-notch athlete capable of producing at a high level both as a pass-rusher and run-stopper.
LSU is once again loaded with NFL-caliber talent, but Mingo looks to be the cream of the crop.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
As good as Browns CB Joe Haden is, he is just one slip-up away from a year-long suspension, and Cleveland clearly lacks youth and depth at the position outside of him.
Milliner exploded onto the scene with a huge game in Week 1 against Michigan. He looks like a more complete talent at the position than former Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick did last year.
Milliner has the combination of size and athleticism that the NFL loves at his position, and he is more technically sound than past Alabama CB prospects.
Kenny Vaccaro, SAF, Texas
Safeties don't often get selected in the top 10, but most safeties can't play the slot in man-to-man coverage like Vacarro can.
Vaccaro has the speed and agility to cover WRs and TEs all over the field and also possesses the size needed to support the run.
Tennessee's secondary has holes everywhere, and, at this stage, Vaccaro could be the best available defensive back for the Titans.
Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Bills desperately need to upgrade the QB position, but in my mind no one at the position outside of Geno Smith is worth a top-10 pick.
Buffalo has a number of holes on both sides of the ball it could look to fill with this pick, but Allen's explosive playmaking ability could be too much to pass up.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
This will be the the first time Oakland will be picking in the first round since 2010, and the Raiders need to make this pick count.
They are another team that will be looking for a QB of the future, but again, the lack of standout talent at the position could cause Oakland to look elsewhere in the first round.
Banks has the size, speed and athleticism to be an elite player in all forms of coverage, and will be a highly coveted CB come April.
Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Vikings need to get younger on the defensive line, and in this mock they get their choice at DT.
Hankins has elite strength at the point of attack and is essentially immovable on run plays.
While consistency is at times an issue for the mammoth Ohio State DT, Hankins has too much potential to not be taken early on Day One.
St. Louis Rams
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Who out there believes Wayne Hunter is the long-term answer at right tackle for the Rams? I think its safe to assume that anyone reading this question would answer "not me."
In the last two years, the St. Louis offensive line has been decimated by injuries and high draft picks that haven't panned out. Luckily, in this simulation the Rams are in position to select the best tackle in the entire draft class.
Joeckel has the combination of size, strength and athleticism needed to start immediately at either tackle position.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Pittsburgh defense has not lived up to its long-maintained reputation for the last two seasons, and a large part of its struggles are due to an inability to consistently rush the passer.
James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley have struggled through multiple injuries, and young players like Jason Worilds have not lived up to expectations.
Jones has had an up-and-down year, but has the elite physical ability to literally take over games with the chips on the table.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Panthers need defenders that can stop the run and rush the passer, and Lotulelei can do both.
He reminds me of Haloti Ngata because of his surprising agility and mammoth size.
Lotulelei’s motor seems to run a bit inconsistently, but his ability to dominate at the point of attack could completely alter the mindset and effectiveness of Carolina’s defense.
New Orleans Saints
Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
2011 first-round selection DE Cameron Jordan is developing into one of the NFL’s better edge-setters against the run, but he has not been productive rushing the passer.
Montgomery would be an instant upgrade in this capacity, as he is a very good athlete with a polished skill set.
St. Louis Rams (From Washington)
Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
This would be a surprise pick considering how productive Danny Amendola was this season before his collarbone injury. However, Sam Bradford is at his best when he can work with reliable targets underneath, and Bailey is an explosive talent.
I expect the St. Louis offense to struggle the rest of the year without its biggest playmaker, so adding a second go-to target via the draft makes perfect sense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Scouts everywhere will be fixated on this weeks SEC matchup between LSU and Texas A&M, as some believe it will be a showcase game for the top two DEs and OTs of the 2012 draft class.
The Bucs need to add young talent to their offensive line, so it makes sense for them to target the best lineman available with their first pick.
San Diego Chargers
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Philip Rivers clearly misses having the big-bodied, athletic Vincent Jackson to work with, and the Chargers need to work quickly to find him a reliable new X receiver.
Hunter has the combination of size and athleticism that San Diego loves. By the time we get to April, he could be the top WR prospect in this year’s draft.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Cowboys have holes everywhere on their offensive line, and Warmack is an elite interior prospect.
He has an elite combination of strength and quickness, but it’s his desire to finish that makes him one of the best guards to come out of college in the last decade.
When all is said and done, he could grade out higher than any other prospect this year—regardless of position.
Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
The Lions need to continue upgrading their defensive back-seven, and Te’o may be the best available player at this stage.
My biggest concern with Te’o coming into the season was whether he could consistently make plays behind the line of scrimmage. His two goal-line stuffs to preserve Notre Dame’s victory over Stanford last Saturday could go a long way towards changing perceptions about him.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Throughout the NFL it seems that offensive lines are struggling to protect the QB, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Arizona, where injuries and youth have taken their toll on the Cardinals offense.
Rookie OT Bobby Massie has been a revolving door on passing downs, and I don’t think he has the lower body flexibility or core strength to be a starter for the long term.
Replacing Massie needs to be a priority for the Cardinals, and the fast-rising Fisher might be just the player they’re looking for to step in.
Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
By all accounts, the Dolphins appear to have hit a home run with rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, but the lack of perimeter weapons on the team is hurting his production and development.
Williams has an excellent combination of size and speed and would provide Tannehill an immediate threat downfield, which is something the Dolphins currently lack.
Robert Woods, WR, USC
The struggles of Michael Vick this season have been well documented, but I believe a major part of Philadelphia's offensive struggles stems from lacking a true X receiver.
Woods has very good height and the frame to add weight, giving him the ability to beat press coverage off the line of scrimmage.
Having this type of threat would allow DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to have more freedom in their alignments and allow the Eagles to create more mismatches in space.
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Colts need talent and depth on their defensive front, so while they expect 2011 fifth-round pick Josh Chapman to make more of an impact next year, taking a talented behemoth like Jenkins still makes sense.
Jenkins has the bulk and natural strength to dominate multiple blockers at the point of attack, making him a perfect fit at nose tackle in Indy's 3-4 defense.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Bears have yet to find a true starting TE since trading Greg Olsen to the Panthers before last season, so Eifert makes a ton of sense in Chicago.
He is a nightmare red-zone matchup and a more capable blocker than Olsen ever was.
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
The Bengals appear to have taken a step backwards this season, and a large part of the blame goes to the lack of a run game.
Lattimore has struggled through injuries this year, but when healthy he is a dynamic playmaker that can win with power, speed and quickness—the latter two traits being dimensions clearly missing from Cincinnati's current rushing attack.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
While I feel that Seattle rookie QB Russell Wilson has progressed nicely thus far, he would still benefit greatly from being able to throw to a dynamic talent like Austin.
Austin is a dangerous player in space because of his speed and elusiveness. He has also shown the toughness to work in the middle of the field despite his slight frame.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
While still playing at a high level, long-time Broncos star CB Champ Bailey is nearing the end of his career, and other attempts by Denver to find a worthy successor have failed.
Rhodes not only has the athleticism to be an excellent pro, but the height and length that defensive coordinators love.
Green Bay Packers
David Amerson, DB, North Carolina State
There has been some speculation that Amerson would benefit from a switch to safety, so what better team to draft him than Green Bay?
Learning behind a future Hall of Famer like Charles Woodson could be exactly what Amerson needs in order to tap into his immense potential.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Ravens have struggled to pressure the QB this season without Terrell Suggs and need to find a legitimate pass-rusher in this year's draft.
Werner could go higher than this, but would be a good fit in Baltimore's hybrid defense. He is a very competitive player at the line of scrimmage and has the speed and explosiveness off the snap to consistently threaten the edge.
Kawann Short, DT Purdue
The Falcons still need to improve the play of their defensive line. In this mock, Short is the best player available for them.
Short has the size, strength and foot-quicks to consistently penetrate the backfield.
New York Giants
Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama
New York's offensive line has become old and is in desperate need of young talent, particularly on the interior.
At this stage, Jones is the top interior player available, and it's hard to argue with his physicality and production at Alabama.
New England Patriots
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Hunt is a pure project at this stage, but wouldn't it be just like New England to jump on a player like him significantly earlier than anyone projects?
The Estonian is still new to football and has a very under-developed skill set, but his size and athletic potential are enough to vault him into the first round in this scenario.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are loaded everywhere on their roster and at this stage are most likely to focus on depth and developing talent.
William Gholston has had an underwhelming senior season at Michigan State, but he would be a perfect fit as a 5-technique DE in San Francisco's 3-4 front. He has the size, length and strength all 3-4 teams desire at the position.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
It may come as a shock that the second QB comes off the board to my projected Super Bowl champions, but to this point I have been very unimpressed with this year's QB class.
The Texans need a legitimate backup behind Schaub, and while Barkley isn't an elite physical talent, I believe he'd be able to step up quicker than almost any other QB in this class.
33. Kansas City Chiefs - Eric Reid, SAF, LSU
34. Jacksonville Jaguars - Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
35. New York Jets - Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (OH)
36. Cleveland Browns - Forfeited in Supplemental Draft (WR Josh Gordon)
37. Tennessee Titans - Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
38. Buffalo Bills - Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
39. Cincinnati Bengals (From Oakland) - Matt Elam, SAF, Florida
40. Minnesota Vikings - CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
41. St. Louis Rams - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
42. Pittsburgh Steelers - Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
43. Carolina Panthers - Robert Lester, SAF, Alabama
44. New Orleans Saints - Forfeited in Bountygate
45. Washington Redskins - Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford
46. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
47. San Diego Chargers - Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State
48. Dallas Cowboys - Sharrif Floyd, DE, Florida
49. Detroit Lions - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
50. Arizona Cardinals - Corey Lemonier, OLB, Auburn
51. Miami Dolphins - Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
52. Philadelphia Eagles - DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
53. Miami Dolphins (From Indianapolis) - Nico Johnson, LB, Alabama
54. Chicago Bears - Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina
55. Cincinnati Bengals - Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
56. Seattle Seahawks - Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
57. Denver Broncos - Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
58. Green Bay Packers - Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford
59. Baltimore Ravens - TJ McDonald, SAF, USC
60. Atlanta Falcons - Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
61. New York Giants - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
62. New England Patriots - Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
63. San Francisco 49ers - Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas
64. Houston Texans - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
65. Kansas City Chiefs - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
66. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee
67. New York Jets - Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
68. Cleveland Browns - Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois
69. Tennessee Titans - Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
70. Buffalo Bills - Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
71. Oakland Raiders - Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
72. Minnesota Vikings - Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
73. St. Louis Rams - Tony Jefferson, SAF, Oklahoma
87. Cincinnati Bengals - Duke Williams, SAF, Nevada
91. Baltimore Ravens - Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
92. Atlanta Falcons - Rick Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
93. New York Giants - Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE, Auburn
94. New England Patriots - Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
95. San Francisco 49ers - Denard Robinson, WR, Michigan
96. Houston Texans - Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma