2013 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Look at Where Top College Stars Will Land
November is an interesting month regarding the NFL draft, because there are so many key games at the pro and college levels.
NFL postseason implications intensify and the races for conference championships, BCS bowl games and the Heisman Trophy significantly enhance. Geno Smith is among the best quarterbacks right now, despite the West Virginia Mountaineers' slump.
With a 72.0 completion percentage through eight games in 2012, Smith's big arm and ability to make pre-snap reads can transition well for pro football.
As one of the expected first round picks in the 2013 NFL draft, let's move forward and check out where Smith and the rest of college football's top prospects get selected.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
It's the biggest weakness for the Kansas City Chiefs because Matt Cassel has been ridiculously turnover-prone this season.
Geno Smith is pretty much the opposite with 29 touchdowns to just three picks in 2012. K.C. needs to rebuild and the quarterback is the best place to start.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, LB/DE (Georgia)
The Jacksonville Jaguars need all kinds of help, and for the most part, it won't matter who they draft. That said, with just eight sacks in eight games, a better pass rush must become present.
So enters Jarvis Jones, who is a force off the edge by knowing how to force fumbles along with getting pressure and stuffing the run. Plus he can occasionally sink into coverage and defend reliably well against the pass.
3. Cleveland Browns: Sam Montgomery, DE (LSU)
Possessing great size, speed, acceleration and instincts, Sam Montgomery is the perfect fit for the Cleveland Browns.
Then again, the Browns have to get a front seven player capable of consistently beating plays at the point of attack. Montgomery's quickness bodes well here, as it improves Cleveland versus the run and in getting more quarterback pressure from the line.
4. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Luke Joeckel, OT (Texas A&M)
We can only imagine the potential of Sam Bradford and Co. if the offensive line provides better pocket protection. Well, the St. Louis Rams hit the jackpot in trading with the Washington Redskins last offseason.
Luke Joeckel has great feet and size to wall off Bradford's blindside. After all, this guy is providing a comfortable pocket for freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
5. Carolina Panthers: Johnathan Hankins, DT (Ohio State)
The Carolina Panthers present two solid edge defenders in Charles Johnson and Frank Alexander. Needing to dominate the interior, Johnathan Hankins will plug running lanes and draw double-teams from the start.
In turn, that frees up the linebackers to make more plays and the rest of the front seven to apply more consistent pressure.
6. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Controlling the line of scrimmage has to be a defense's first goal each week. This is where the Tennessee Titans have consistently failed, allowing 4.4 yards per rush and rank No. 30 against the run.
Therefore, landing Star Lotulelei solves this issue since he can wreak havoc in the backfield. Doing so will then draw more blockers and allow the second-level defenders to make more plays. And Tennessee has seen 288 rushing attempts through nine games, the most in pro football.
7. Cincinnati Bengals: Barrett Jones, OG (Alabama)
Barrett Jones is a much better offensive lineman than given credit. The man has contributed across the entire scrimmage line for Alabama.
That versatility and experience suits the Cincinnati Bengals to a T, as this offense must upgrade its rushing attack. That then helps with more reliable pass protection and Andy Dalton doesn't see a blitzkrieg each series of downs.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
What Ryan Fitzpatrick needs is a quarterback capable of challenging him for the starting role. Matt Barkley can do just that for the Buffalo Bills because the offense has struggled with Fitz's inconsistent decision-making.
Barkley may not enter pro football with the strongest arm, but he is quite accurate and Buffalo's solid offensive line and running game will make for one smooth transition.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
Halfway through the 2012 season and the New York Jets have recorded a measly 12 sacks. If there's any wonder to Gang Green's inability to stop the run it's because Rex Ryan's unit has yet to force an offense into being one-dimensional.
Barkevious Mingo, though, can certainly help as his overall athleticism is a great fit to New York. His lateral quickness will squeeze the edge against the run and help when defending the pass. In addition, the guy is also a solid blitzer.
10. St. Louis Rams: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
After sprucing up the offensive line, getting Bradford a big receiving target is the next best option for St. Louis.
Keenan Allen is 6'3" and possesses the leaping ability to beat anyone in single coverage. Provided the Rams' ground game can make enough of an impact to keep a defense hones—especially in the NFC West—Allen will enhance Jeff Fisher's offense to impressive balance.
11. Oakland Raiders: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
One defensive player not receiving an extensive amount of recognition is Florida State's Bjoern Werner. He has solid instincts and is a straight up complete player.
The Oakland Raiders have to snag a front seven defender like him because they don't get enough consistent quarterback pressure to assist the coverage. Werner improves that aspect and can also defend against the pass when needed.
12. Dallas Cowboys: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)
For one, Jay Ratliff will be 32 years old before the 2013 season kicks off. Secondly, Ratliff has been dealing with durability concerns as well.
Because of that unfortunate set of circumstances, the Dallas Cowboys best option in Round 1 is Georgia's John Jenkins. Presenting awesome size, strength and power, Jenkins will always draw double-teams and is athletic enough to win leverage battles.
In short, Dallas becomes excellent at defending the run and getting additional quarterback pressure.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Taylor Lewan, OT (Michigan)
The Philadelphia Eagles simply need better and more consistently reliable pass protection. Michael Vick, even when not scrambling, finds himself on the ground quite often.
Also, Vick will be 33 years old before next season begins. Include the possibility of his case of the fumbles continuing, it would not be surprising to see Nick Foles get an opportunity. Well, from a longevity perspective, selecting Taylor Lewan immediately adds dependability regarding pass protection.
Whether it's Vick or Foles, the NFC East presents excellent pass-rushers and Philly must provide top talent at the line.
14. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, OG (Alabama)
Along with better pass protection, the San Diego Chargers need to slam better on the ground. Ryan Mathews is doing well, however, selecting Chance Warmack gets that impact to another level.
Warmack is well-versed in pass protection and is explosive enough to immediately win one-on-one blocking situations. He improves the balance on San Diego's offense and the Bolts then become even more potent.
15. New Orleans Saints: Eric Reid, Safety (LSU)
As long as the New Orleans Saints draft defense then that's all that matters. Right now the Saints are supremely weak in every defensive facet, so going with Eric Reid only helps.
Reid can make plays all over the field—especially against the pass—and has the size to roll down for a blitzing linebacker or blitz himself. Include Reid coming from LSU and he'll be a home-state favorite.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT (Texas A&M)
Pass protection, period. In this era of pro football, protecting the quarterback is a team's most important need. Unfortunately, the Arizona Cardinals fail miserably in this area. Adding Jake Matthews will certainly suffice.
As the opposite tackle to Luke Joeckel, Matthews has a great upside and potential to contribute at either side for Arizona. And considering the 41 sacks allowed through nine games for the Cards, literally anyone will improve this line.
17. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
The Detroit Lions may rank No. 8 against the pass, but they also allow a 65.1 completion percentage and have recorded only five picks through eight contests.
What Detroit needs in the secondary is a playmaker. Dee Milliner is just that with 34 defended passes to this point in his career. Milliner's field awareness would pay dividends against pass-heavy NFC teams.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Hunter, WR (Tennessee)
Much like Bradford in St. Louis, Christian Ponder needs a younger and better-sized receiving target in the Minnesota Vikings offense.
Justin Hunter is perfect. He comes in at 6'4" and possesses solid acceleration and top-heavy speed. The Bears and Lions have a receiver like that in Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson, so Minnesota closes the competitive advantage gap with a big No. 1 receiver.
19. Miami Dolphins: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
The Miami Dolphins have recorded eight interceptions and 23 sacks through eight games in 2012. Still, the Dolphins need a secondary performer such as Johnthan Banks.
On Sunday, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck tossed for 433 yards and two scores (no picks) versus Miami. Ranking No. 29 against the pass and allowing an average of nearly 300 passing yards per game average, Banks can help force more turnovers with his size and knack for making plays.
Otherwise, we'll see more Luck-type numbers against this defense.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Robert Woods, WR (USC)
The Seattle Seahawks don't need a big receiver, because Sidney Rice can still be that guy at the young age of 26.
What Pete Carroll and Seattle do need is another playmaker for Russell Wilson. Robert Woods brings just that to the Great Northwest, as he possesses nice size and the ability to beat single coverage at a consistent rate.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Amerson, CB (North Carolina State)
Ranking dead last against the pass, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can go a few ways here defensively. The pass rush does need to improve, although the coverage must get better on the outside and wherever Ronde Barber is not.
Teams are challenging the savvy veteran because Barber has recorded three picks with 10 defended passes so far in 2012. David Amerson has that kind of turnover playmaking potential, though, with 12 interceptions last season and four to this point in 2012.
In a pass-heavy division, turnovers from the defensive backs are imperative.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
The Indianapolis Colts need a younger pass-rusher coming off the edge, as Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are only getting older.
Damontre Moore can be the talent to eventually take over, since he is of similar size and possesses great explosiveness. While also providing turnover capabilities, Moore is technically sound against the run and will be a backfield menace from the start.
23. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
Martellus Bennett is a reliable tight end for Eli Manning, but he's not a consistent playmaker such as Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.
Eifert for one, is a complete player as the Irish are a run-oriented offense. The guy can run block as good as anyone around and extend the lanes for Ahmad Bradshaw. Factor in the New York Giants' receiving corps and Eifert will be a popular target because of his size and sure hands.
He'll never see double coverage and is a competitive advantage inside the red zone.
24. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, LB (Notre Dame)
At some point, the Baltimore Ravens will have to move past Ray Lewis. And for whenever that happens, selecting Manti Te'o is a replacement inside linebacker capable of meeting Baltimore's expectations.
Currently, the Ravens struggle immensely against the run and uncharacteristically lack a pass rush.
Obviously part of that is due to Terrell Suggs' early season absence. Nonetheless, the pass defense didn't compensate and it was no surprise to see the Browns outgain the Ravens and get in scoring position consistently.
Te'o is simply a complete player and his awareness and instincts will serve well in any game situation.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Despite the Pittsburgh Steelers surging recently, Dick LeBeau's defense must still get younger and more explosive up front.
Texas' Alex Okafor possesses the right size and athletic combo to make an immediate impact because the Steelers need depth for a better pass rush. Okafor knows how to make plays behind the line, and he can create turnovers as well.
26. Green Bay Packers: Jonathan Cooper, OG (North Carolina)
Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 29 times this season, which has definitely been part of the Green Bay Packers' weaknesses in 2012.
Then again, that area was exposed in their two losses during 2011: regular season at Kansas City and postseason versus the Giants. Here, North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper is a good selection with his slightly smaller frame, which also makes him a quicker interior lineman.
Cooper's addition is solid for pass protection, but even better in helping the ground game become more evident. Once the Pack move the rock between the tackles, defenses won't attack Rodgers as much.
27. Denver Broncos: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
The Denver Broncos' front seven is improving and the pass defense has come along nicely in 2012. Nonetheless, Champ Bailey isn't getting any younger and with safety being the weakest link, it wouldn't be surprising if the veteran went the Ronde Barber route.
That said, Xavier Rhodes can help keep the secondary young and talented. He has great size for a cornerback, is reliable against the run and can defend well in zone or man coverage. With Von Miller and Co. working the pass rush, Rhodes will benefit in the turnover department.
28. Atlanta Falcons: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
John Abraham has reverted back to his earlier playing days and is totally dominating with seven sacks so far. However, the man will be 35 years old before 2013 begins, and the Atlanta Falcons need youth sooner than later.
Therefore, enter Oregon's Dion Jordan who is quite quick off the edge and a masterful rusher in accumulating tackles for loss. He is also reliable at creating turnovers which only plays well into Atlanta's potent offense.
29. New England Patriots: T. J. McDonald, Safety (USC)
Covering the intermediate and deep middle is still a weakness for the New England Patriots. Kyle Arrington, Devin McCourty and Tavon Wilson are solid defensive backs and the front seven is impressive at stuffing the run while getting pressure.
Nevertheless, taking USC's T.J. McDonald allows Bill Belichick to get more creative. McDonald's sure-tackling can fill any running lane and roll down for a blitzing linebacker. Additionally, he can sit back deep and play the ball to prevent anything up the seams in Cover 1, 2, or 3.
30. Chicago Bears: Ricky Wagner, OT (Wisconsin)
Much like the Packers, pass protection remains a concern for the Chicago Bears. Jay Cutler has been sacked 28 times and has completed fewer than 60 percent of his throws.
So, landing Wisconsin's Ricky Wagner for offensive line depth and the Bears will improve. Coming from the Badgers, we know Wagner is a stud run-blocker. What goes overlooked is his pass-blocking skill set since Sconnie doesn't throw as much compared to previous seasons.
Wagner is also going overlooked because of the 2013 draft being deep with a lot of potential first-round talent. Chicago's ground game, though, gets an upgrade while the sacks are significantly reduced.
31. Houston Texans: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
An explosive receiver that is awesome at collecting yards after the catch is what the Houston Texans need. Andre Johnson can go deep any time and Kevin Walter is a reliable possession target.
Tavon Austin is not only a deep threat, but he can take anything over the middle and outrun the defense thereafter. With so much explosiveness and acceleration, Austin is also a solid route-runner and a sure-handed target.
And since the Texans provide so much talent around him, Matt Schaub will dial Austin up quite often—mainly because no defense can afford to present double coverage.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Marquess Wilson, WR (Washington State)
Courtesy of basically any SEC receiver and the aforementioned Tavon Austin, Washington State's Marquess Wilson is going well underrated.
The San Francisco 49ers, however, must get a younger downfield playmaker capable of out-jumping any defender one-on-one. Wilson not only provides this talent, but the size for targets over the middle and to stock-block in the ground game.
This guy can make an immediate impact, and Alex Smith needs that in his receiving corps.
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