The end of the college football season is almost here, as is the end of the NFL regular season—and you know what that means.
Once again, it's mock draft time.
It seems like just yesterday that we were watching the likes of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck come off the draft board, and now, they'll be replaced by a new crop of talent ready to take things to the next level. And while the draft order is far from set, here's a look at the way things could pan out for 2013 NFL Draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Unless there are significant changes over the next three weeks—and during Pro Days and the Combine—the Chiefs are going to be picking first in April. They're going to need a quarterback and Smith is going to be their best bet.
Judging by the way things have gone this season in Kansas City—with Matt Cassel beginning the year as the starting QB and Brady Quinn likely ending it—the Chiefs are in limbo as far as the quarterback position is concerned, and they're going to need to make a big change. Smith threw for 40 TDs and just six picks in 2012 while leading the Mountaineers to a 7-5 overall record in 2012.
Smith isn't going to fix all of the Chiefs' problems, but he gives them a very solid start.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of problems, and one top-five draft pick isn't going to fix them. At this time last year, the Jaguars were right here, selecting in the top five, and they went with Justin Blackmon out of Oklahoma State. Blackmon will likely finish this season as the team's second-leading receiver, and while this offense has its issues, Jacksonville is going to have to draft some talent on defense in order to start working its way back into relevance (assuming, of course, it doesn't end up with the first pick. Then, could a QB be an option?).
And the Jaguars don't need to look much further than Tallahassee to find what they're looking for. Florida State had one of the NCAA's best defenses in 2012, and at the center of it was Bjoern Werner, a 6'4", 255-pound defensive end who is universally praised for his toughness and work ethic. He'll be a nice spark to a Jacksonville defense that currently ranks second-to-last in the league.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Raiders are right up there with the Jaguars as one of the worst defenses in the NFL (30th). Lotulelei, at 6'3" and 320 pounds, is widely regarded as the best defensive prospect in the pool and is a brick wall against the run.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Does Barkley deserve to be a first-round pick?
The 2012 season didn't end quite the way Matt Barkley and the USC Trojans thought it would; similarly, the 2012 season didn't end quite the way the Cardinals expected, given the fact that they started out 4-0. The Cards haven't won a game since then, mostly because they haven't been able to find a quarterback they can rely on.
That's where Barkley comes in. The USC senior put off the draft last year to return to school for one more year in the hopes of winning a national championship. That didn't happen, but Barkley still finished with some nice stats: 36 touchdowns, 2,273 yards. He wasn't as good as many expected him to be this season—especially in big games—and ending his season with an injury wasn't ideal, either. But he'll still be one of the best QB prospects on the board this spring, and a team like Arizona needs one.
5. Carolina Panthers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jones is considered to be one of the top talents available this year after finishing with 78 tackles, four forced fumbles and a pick in the cutthroat SEC. He has the potential to take charge and lead this Panthers defense.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Any time you're a left tackle who protected a Heisman winner all season, you deserve some recognition when draft day rolls around. Joeckel made Johnny Manziel look good all season and will do the same to whoever's under center in Philly next year.
7. Detroit Lions: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
And then there's the guy who should have been the Heisman winner, in the eyes of many. Te'o was at the center of one of the best defenses in the nation in 2012 and had a knack for forcing a turnover at the perfect time, especially in big games. Plus, he's a big character guy to boot.
8. Tennessee Titans: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore and the rest of his defense were certainly tested in the SEC last season, and for Moore's part, he passed. He can play linebacker or either defensive end and can really help a Tennessee defense that hasn't been able to stop anyone in 2012.
9. Cleveland Browns: Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Last year, when they were selecting in the top 10 of the draft, the Browns opted to go for an offensive solution in Trent Richardson; this year, it's all about defense—specifically Jenkins, who's the perfect size to be an effective NFL nosetackle.
10. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
For a brief stretch, Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like he could be the Bills' quarterback of the future, but given how futile Buffalo has been during his reign, that's now in doubt. Wilson is the next-best QB prospect on the board after finishing 2012 with 21 TDs and 3,387 yards. At 23, he has the maturity to take charge of this Bills team and start leading it toward a promising future.
11. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Ryan Tannehill ended up panning out OK for the Dolphins in 2012, despite the doubts that surrounded him upon his arrival in South Beach. Now, the Dolphins need to get him a weapon—preferably Allen, who finished 2012 with six touchdowns and 737 yards. With no Justin Blackmon-type player on the board (yet), he may be the best wideout option there is.
12. San Diego Chargers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Chargers have been awful in 2012, in part because their offense can't seem to get anything going. Part of that is due to the weakness of the offensive line; Matthews, a 6'5", 305-pound lineman who helped make Johnny Manziel a star, can help to rectify that.
13. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
He may be a bit undersized and has an injury history, but when he's good, he's good—and the New Orleans Saints need all the defensive help they can get, given that they're dead last in the NFL at present.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
He was a part of college football's top-ranked defense in 2012, finishing with 51 tackles, a forced fumble and two picks. He's helped Alabama get to its second straight national championship. Milliner may just be what the Bucs—29th in the NFL in total defense—need.
15. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The Jets have struggled defensively this year, mostly due to injury—and Mingo is built for the long haul. He's the right height for a linebacker but still has room to add strength, and he has excellent speed.
16. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
With two consecutive picks in this draft, the Rams will use them to bolster an offensive line that needs lots of help—if they hold on to both of them. First up is Warmack, a tough 6'2", 325-pound guard with excellent durability and instincts.
17. St. Louis Rams: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
And on top of Warmack, they'll add Lewan, a beastly 6'7", 302-pound tackle with exceptional speed.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
The 6'4", 260-pound defensive end finished with 44 tackles and a forced fumble in 2012. He's NFL-ready and can immediately bolster a middle-of-the-road Vikings defense.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Hankins may not be the best option in terms of speed, but at 6'3" and 335 pounds, he has ideal size—and he was a key defensive component of a team that finished the regular season undefeated.
20. Cincinnati Bengals: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Cincinnati experienced a renaissance on defense this season, currently ranking No. 6 overall in the league. Add Alabama defensive tackle Williams to that list—who, at 6'4" and 320 pounds, has excellent height, weight and speed—and there's a good chance this defense stays dangerous.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The impenetrable Steelers defense is conducting business as usual in 2012, currently sitting atop the NFL, and Ansah will bolster that unit with a size/speed combination that is being heralded as one of the strongest in this pool.
22. Chicago Bears: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd is a high-quality character guy who will continue to work hard in order to excel on the field, and the Bears—who boast a top-five defense in 2012—need guys like that to stay strong and competitive.
23. Seattle Seahawks: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
When the Seahawks gambled on Russell Wilson last year, it ended up paying off big. Hopefully, Patterson—who finished with five touchdowns and 778 yards in his junior season with the struggling Vols—can evolve into one of his prime targets.
24. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Nobody made much of the Irish's offense in 2012, but Eifert flew under the radar a bit with his 624 yards and four touchdowns, ranking him as one of the top two tight ends on the board this year.
25. Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Colts fared just fine offensively in 2012; on defense, not so much. Currently, they rank 22nd, but Rhodes—who garnered 35 tackles and three picks and comes from a shut-down FSU defense—could get this unit on the right track.
26. Green Bay Packers: Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee
We all know how much the Vols struggled in 2012, but Thomas didn't. At 6'5" and 297 pounds, he's the ideal height for an NFL offensive tackle, and he's durable enough to last for the Packers.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Offensively, the Ravens have been up and down in 2012, and they need a weapon to make Joe Flacco look good. Austin could fill that role after finishing his senior season with 1,259 yards and 12 touchdowns on 110 receptions.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
For yet another year, the 49ers have had one of the NFL's best defenses. Jordan could add some depth to this unit after finishing his senior season with 44 tackles and three forced fumbles.
29. New England Patriots: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Patriots have battled injuries on their offensive line all season and could use some depth. Fisher is a character guy who could add some at left tackle.
30. Denver Broncos: C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
The Broncos need depth at linebacker, and Mosley—a junior who registered 99 total tackles, two picks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2012—could fit in nicely.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Montgomery finished the regular season with 32 tackles and has good height, good speed and a good head on his shoulders. Plus, he's excellent against the run.
32. Houston Texans: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
As good as the Texans' offense has been in 2012 (for the most part), it struggles with depth at wide receiver, which is where Williams comes in. He tallied 1,764 and 12 touchdowns for the Bears in his senior season.