NFL Football is now a 24/7/365 sport. There is no offseason. It is by this logic alone that I am able to justify issuing my first 2013 NFL Mock Draft. I have watched both the NFL and college football closely and am ready to make some early outlandish predictions, the first of which is predicting the draft order when we are not even at the midway point of the NFL season. I have a great handle on the top NCAA football prospects, and I think I am confident on who stinks in the NFL, so without further adieu here is my first 2013 NFL Mock Draft:
1) Jacksonville Jaguars – Geno Smith, Quarterback (6’3 214lbs) West Virginia - The Jaguars are under new ownership, and it is time that they search for a face of the franchise, they should look no further than Heisman Trophy frontrunner Geno Smith. Jacksonville drafted quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the first round of the 2011 draft, but he has not panned out, and his struggles have lead to a total lack of confidence. Smith brings athleticism, accuracy and swagger to the quarterback position. He would instantly become the face of the franchise, and may be able to do the same things for the Jaguars that Robert Griffin III is currently doing for the Washington Redskins.
2) Cleveland Browns – Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker (6’3 245lbs) Georgia - The Cleveland Browns need playmaker on both sides of the ball, I think that their new regime will regret giving up an early second round draft pick to select wide receiver Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft, Gordon my develop into a nice player but I think more valuable players will be available at that draft position. The Browns desperately need an outside linebacker and a pass rusher and they get both in Jarvis Jones, who excels at pressuring quarterbacks and making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Jones is exactly the type of intimidating defender that the Browns are lacking on the defensive side of the ball.
3) Kansas City Chiefs – Matt Barkley, Quarterback (6’2 220lbs) USC - It is time for the Chiefs to go in a new direction as an organization, and that starts by drafting a new quarterback, who can lead them into the future. Enter Matt Barkley, a very talented prospect, who has a lot of experience on the national stage and great intangibles. He is an accurate passer, and while he does not have the biggest arm in the world, he makes great decisions with the football. It is time for the Chiefs to move on and find their quarterback of the future, and Barkley is a perfect fit.
4) Tennessee Titans – Sam Montgomery, DE (6’4 260lbs) LSU -The Tennessee Titans defense is dead last in the NFL right now, and a lot of these problems can be fixed by upgrading their pass rush, so an elite rush end like Montgomery is a great start. Montgomery will be the best defensive end in this draft class when all is said and done, adding him to the Titans young defense would be a major step going forward, especially if they can find help in the secondary in later rounds.
5) Carolina Panthers – Star Lotulelei, DT (6’4 325lbs) Utah - My favorite player in the nation to watch right now, Lotulelei is a dominant defensive tackle who commands double teams, and destroys plays in the backfield as they develop. The Panthers defense is awful, and adding a monster defensive tackle like Lotulelei will make everyone on that side of the ball better, because of the attention that he draws on every snap. The Panthers are headed in the right direction and will be much improved if they can add Lotulelei and then a playmaker for Cam Newton in the second round.
6) Oakland Raiders – Barkevious Mingo, DE (6’4 245lbs) LSU - The Raiders have a lot of needs and could go in a variety of directions with this pick, however one of their biggest weaknesses during the 2012 campaign has been their inability to pressure the quarterback, so they select Mingo here. Mingo is not producing this season the way that LSU had originally hoped, however, he has length and the frame to add strength combined with a quick first step and eye popping athleticism. He would fit well pressuring quarterbacks off the edge of the Raiders defense.
7) Indianapolis Colts – Taylor Lewan, OT (6’8 308lbs) Michigan - The Colts need to find rookie sensation Andrew Luck his blindside protector of the future, and if he declares for the draft, I still think Lewan is the best left tackle prospect in the country. Lewan is not ready yet, but he has excellent length and the frame to pack on plenty of length and strength. While Texas A&M left tackle Luke Jockel has been having a better 2012 season and looks to be a solid pro, long term, I still think Lewan is a better prospect.
8) New Orleans Saints – Dee Milliner, CB (6’1 199lbs) CB Alabama - The Saints defense has been absolutely horrendous this season, and while they could really use a pass rushing defensive end, I think that they need to draft the most talented defensive player left on the board regardless of position in 2013. In this scenario, cornerback Dee Milliner would present a huge upgrade to the Saints pass defense, and would become a great starter opposite Patrick Robinson.
9) St. Louis Rams – Chance Warmack, G (6’3 320lbs) Alabama - The Rams landed a ton of draft picks from the Washington Redskins for the second pick in the 2012 Draft (which became Robert Griffin III) so they will have a lot of opportunity to improve during the 2013 Draft. Although they need offensive playmakers, they should start off by upgrading the offensive line, where their play in the trenches has been awful this season. Chance Warmack is one of the best guards I have seen play on the college level, he is powerful and athletic, and brings the sort of attitude that the Rams really need to change the way this unit plays.
10) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – David Amerson, CB (6’3 190lbs) NC State - The Buccaneers really need a starting caliber cornerback that they can count on, and Amerson has excellent size and athleticism for the position, plus a knack for intercepting passes. He lead the nation with 13 interceptions in 2011 and already has three picks this year, even though teams are throwing away from him. He had a horrible opening game in a loss at Tennessee, but has rebounded well, and his draft stock is again on the rise.
11) Miami Dolphins – Justin Hunter, WR (6’4 205lbs) Tennessee - Ryan Tannehill had really impressed me so far in 2012, he has earned his teammates respect, and has shown a live arm with the athleticism to throw on the run. He desperately needs playmakers, more than one, to be successful. Luckily for the Dolphins, they absolutely fleeced to Colts when they shipped Vontae Davis to Indianapolis for a second round pick, so they have a lot of opportunity to get better. In 2011, Justin Hunter had 16 catches for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns through TWO games, until a torn ACL ended his season prematurely. Hunter has regained his explosiveness and has 45 catches for 497 yards and 4 touchdowns this season, and has the size and big play ability to be a superstar on Sundays.
12) Detroit Lions – Manti Te’o, LB (6’2 255lbs) Notre Dame - The Lions should focus this entire draft on their back seven on defense (plus a running back at some point) and who would be a better fit in Detriot than Te’o? A instinctive tackling machine and true leader, he would have an instant impact on this undisciplined Lions defense, and will be a Pro Bowl caliber linebacker for the next ten years. If the Lions draft a safety and some corners later in the draft, they could take a huge step forward in 2013.
13) Dallas Cowboys – Jonathan Hankins (6’3 335lbs) Ohio State - The Cowboys have a glaring weaknesses at interior offensive line and safety, but in this scenario, Hankins is simply too good to pass up. A massive nose tackle that is incredibly quick for his size, Hankins could anchor the Dallas 3-4 defense for years to come, and help a struggling unit improve quickly. Current nose tackle Jay Ratliff is a little small for the position and gets by with toughness and tenacity, but the sheer size and power of Hankins would be a huge upgrade.
14) Arizona Cardinals – Logan Thomas, QB (6’5 254lbs) Virginia Tech - The Cardinals have been playing amazing defense so far this season, but their offense needs a ton of work, and they could use an upgrade at every position other than wide receiver. If I’m running the Cardinals, I realize that I have something special going defensively, and that I need to immediately upgrade the offense. This franchise is desperate for a quarterback, and although he is not having a great year, his combination of size and physical ability will make him rise as we get closer to the draft. They need to spend the rest of their energy this offseason fixing an embarrassing offensive line.
15) Pittsburgh Steelers – Luke Jockel, OT (6’6 310lbs) Texas A&M - The Steelers need to focus on two areas and two areas only during the 2013 Draft 1) Get younger on defense and 2) Improving the offensive line. Partly due to injuries the offensive line has done a horrible job of keeping Ben Roethlisberger upright, and although they drafted two offensive linemen early in the 2012 Draft, they still need help. Luke Jockel is an excellent prospect. He brings a ton of experience to the table, and although he is not an excellent athlete, his amazing technique makes him one of the better prospects in this draft. He is a very safe pick with low bust potential.
16) Minnesota Vikings – Keenan Allen, WR (6’3 205lbs) California - The Vikings have been one of the surprise teams of 2012 so far, however they lack offensive weapons for quarterback Christian Ponder, especially on the outside. Keenan Allen will be a playmaker at wide receiver on the next level, he has good size and hands, plus he is a threat to take any reception the distance. He would be an excellent fit in Minnesota for a young, still developing offense.
17) New York Jets – Damontre Moore, OLB (6’4 250lbs) Texas A&M - The Jets have drafted defensive linemen in the first round of each of the past two NFL Drafts, however neither of these players are pure pass rushers, which is something the Jets defense sorely lacks. An elite running back or wide receiver would be very tempting here, as the offense desperately needs weapons, but Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense does not work without a pass rush. Moore played the “Von Miller Role” as a standup pass rusher in the Texas A&M defense, and excelled, this year he is playing with his hand in the dirt and already has 7.0 sacks. He would be a perfect fit and a huge upgrade for the Jets defense.
18) St. Louis Rams (From Redskins) – Robert Woods, WR (6’1 190lbs) USC - The Rams really need a playmaking wide receiver, and the bigger Allen or Hunter may fit that mold better, but Robert Woods is going to be an excellent pro. Nobody in the country runs better routes than Woods, he has incredible hands, and is shifty after the catch. The addition of Woods would finally give quarterback Sam Bradford a reliable target and safety blanket in the passing game.
19) Buffalo Bills – Alec Ogletree, LB (6’3 240lbs) Georgia - The Bills leading tackler is currently Nick Barnett, a castoff of the Green Bay Packers, who will be 32 years old when next season rolls around. Ogletree is an absolute tackling machine who is rising up draft boards right now because of his sideline to sideline play and ability to contribute as a pass rusher. Watch out for him as a prospect, his stock is currently rising fast.
20) San Diego Chargers – Jonathan Cooper, G (6’3 320lbs) North Carolina - The Chargers really need to fix their offensive line, which has been horrible since they lost tackle Marcus McNeil and guard Chris Dielman last season, and struggles to run block and protect the quarterback. Massive guard Jonathan Cooper would be a good place to start rebuilding the offensive line, he is quick for his size and opens up huge holes in the running game while also excelling as a pass blocker.
21) Philadelphia Eagles – Ricky Wagner, OT (6’6 320lns) Wisconsin - The coming offseason will be huge for the Philadelphia Eagles, as rumors persist that both head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Michael Vick will not be back next season, and that a new regime will take over with Nick Foles under center. If that is the case, the Eagles horrible offensive line will need to protect Foles, and open up holes for LeSean McCoy in the running game. They will get left tackle Jason Peters back from an Achilles injury which cost him the entire 2012 season, but they still need to upgrade right tackle, and massive Wisconsin tackle Ricky Wagner would be an excellent fit.
22) Seattle Seahawks – Jonathan Jenkins, DT (6’5 360lbs) Georgia - The Seahawks have an excellent young nucleus and if Russell Wilson can improve they will soon be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC West. In this scenario they grab a player that is unlike anyone currently on their roster, Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins, who is simply huge. The Seahawks biggest rival is the 49ers, who love to pound the football, so in this scenario the Seahawks grab a space eating defensive tackle, who is athletic, despite his weight.
23) Green Bay Packers – Marcus Lattimore, RB (6′ 230lbs) South Carolina - The Packers have the worst running backs in the NFL. Their starter, a washed up Cedric Benson, injured his foot and could be out for the rest of the season, and they have nobody decent to replace him. One of the best college running backs in recent memory falling into their laps would be a huge win for Green Bay and would bring a totally new dimension to their already high powered offense. They also need to fix their offensive line, which is simply atrocious.
24) Cincinnati Bengals – Bjoern Werner, DE (6’4 250lbs) Florida State - The Bengals need to get tougher up front, Werner is one of my favorite players in the country, he can do it all. Werner can succeed in multiple fronts and line up in several positions for the defense, and he is athletic enough to rush the passer and strong enough to hold up against the run. Great fit for a young Bengals team, which is assembling a nice level of youthful talent.
25) Denver Broncos – Sylvester Williams, DT (6’3 315lbs) North Carolina - Head coach John Fox loves defensive linemen, and the Broncos could certainly use an upgrade at defensive tackle, where another young contributor could really solve a lot of their problems. Sylvester Williams is an explosive defensive tackle who is extremely quick off of the line of scrimmage, and for a big man, is relentless in pursuit of a play.
26) Atlanta Falcons – Corey Lemonier, DE (6’4 250lbs) Auburn - The Falcons have a fatal flaw, and that is their absolute lack of a pass rush opposite ageless wonder John Abraham, and it will hurt them in the playoffs this year. Atlanta will focus next offseason on fixing this issue, as it is the one thing that is keeping them from becoming an elite team. Adding a pure edge rush specialist, like Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier would be huge for the Falcons, he only does one thing but does it extremely well. Pressure the quarterback.
27) Chicago Bears – Barrett Jones, OL (6’5 305lbs) Alabama - The Bears have an incredible defense which gives them a shot to win a Super Bowl, but they are getting older and that window might be closing, they need to improve their offensive line quickly to give Jay Cutler and their skill position players on offense time to make plays. This is why Barrett Jones is an excellent fit, he won the 2011 Outland Trophy, given to the best offensive lineman in college football and has played center, guard and tackle at the college level. He can succeed anywhere, and they Bears may need him to fill in at multiple positions on the offensive line, plus he is ready to start from day one.
28) Baltimore Ravens – Eric Reid, S (6’2 215lbs) LSU - Another one of my favorite players in the country, Eric Reid would be a perfect fit in Baltimore, as they look to create their next generation of elite defenders. Reid is an instinctive safety and a big hitter, who plays well against the run and pass, he can play alongside Ed Reed and eventually replace the future Hall of Famer.
29) San Francisco 49ers – Jesse Williams, DT (6’4 320lbs) Alabama - The 49ers need to figure out if Alex Smith will ever be good enough to win a Super Bowl, and if the answer is no, Jim Harbaugh needs to find another quarterback because they are loaded everywhere else. In this scenario, the rich get richer, and the 49ers add the experienced anchor of Alabama’s incredible 3-4 defense to their similar defensive alignment. Williams will fit right in and give San Fran another massive body in the trenches.
30) New England Patriots – Xavier Rhodes, CB (6’2 217lbs) Florida State - It’s no secret that the Patriots still have major issues in their secondary, a unit that Bill Belichick is currently working on rebuilding, and I think it is the unit that will cost them the Super Bowl this season. They could really use a big, physical cornerback like Florida State’s Rhodes, they have no cornerbacks with his skill level or physicality on the roster.
31) Houston Texans – Terrance Williams, WR (6’3 205lbs) Baylor - The Texans are excellent defensively, but really lack an outside weapon on offense for quarterback Matt Schaub across from the aging Andre Johnson, it is time to find another wide receiver. Terrance Williams is an explosive playmaker who can get open downfield and has the size and speed to excel in the Texans offensive scheme.
32) New York Giants – Kawann Short, DT (6’3 325lbs) Purdue - Linval Joseph has developed into an excellent defensive tackle for the New York Giants, he has been really impressive so far this season, and looks to be a future star at the position. Chris Canty is excellent for the Giants when he is healthy, but he always seems to be hurt, and behind him the Giants only have Rocky Bernard and Marvin Austin. Kawaan Short would be a nice fit on the interior defensive line for a team that lives and dies by dominating the line of scrimmage.
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