2013 NFL Mock Draft, 1.0
Even though the 2012 NFL Draft just concluded on Saturday, it's never too early to look ahead to next year's NFL draft.
Over the next week or so, we will release our site's first consensus NFL power rankings for the 2012 season and I will use the inverse order of those power rankings for subsequent mock draft updates during the season.
Here is my very early guess at how the first round will shake out in 2013:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Maybe Blaine Gabbert will turn into the franchise quarterback the Jags hoped he'd become when they traded up to draft him. (Then again, maybe Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima will realize that I'm the man of her dreams. In other words, it's not likely.) If Gabbert does not make major improvements in his sophomore season, especially with an upgraded receiving corps, the Jags may decide to hand the keys to the franchise to Barkley.
2. Minnesota Vikings - Dave Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
Although they used two of their first three picks on defensive backs (Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith and Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson), no defense allowed more passing touchdowns (34) or had fewer interceptions (eight) than the Vikings last year. The Vikings have to face Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler a minimum of six times per season and their secondary was a mess last year. Amerson, who led the country in interceptions (13), has the size (6-3, 195 pounds), ball skills and athleticism to help significantly upgrade the Vikings secondary.
3. Cleveland Browns - Robert Woods, WR, USC
By drafting Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and Mitchell Schwartz with their first three picks, the Browns improved at three offensive positions in need of an upgrade. That said, they still have one glaring weakness on offensive -- playmakers at wide receiver. In his sophomore season, Woods finished with 111 receptions for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns and is likely to be the top receiver selected in next year's draft.
4. Indianapolis Colts - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
In the first six rounds of the draft, the Colts used all of their picks to improve their offense with the exception of taking Alabama nose tackle Josh Chapman in the fifth round. A transfer from USC, Jones led the Bulldogs and the SEC in sacks (13.5), had 19.5 tackles for loss and was an first team All-American last year.
5. Oakland Raiders - Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
As a first-team All-SEC selection last year, Montgomery led LSU in sacks (9.0) and ranked third in the conference. Montgomery should be one of the first pass-rushers off the board in 2013.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
With great size (6-6, 335 pounds), Fluker is one of the top offensive tackles in the country and would certainly be an instant upgrade over Jeremy Trueblood on the right side.
7. St. Louis Rams - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
For the Rams to provide their franchise quarterback with the greatest opportunity to succeed, they need to surround him with weapons and provide him with better protection. Although they missed out on Justin Blackmon in the first round, they used two top-100 picks on receivers: Brian Quick (33) and Chris Givens (96). The Rams, who allowed a league-high 55 sacks in 2011, now boost their pass protection with the son of Hall-of-Famer Bruce Matthews.
8. Miami Dolphins - Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
Although the Dolphins drafted a receiver in the sixth round (B.J. Cunningham) and seventh (Rishard Matthews), the Dolphins top two returning weapons at wideout are Davone Bess and Brian Hartline. Wilson gives the Dolphins a big time weapon to help upgrade one of the league's worst receiving corps.
9. Seattle Seahawks - Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
In his first year as a starter, the sophomore signal-caller completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for more than 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also ran for 469 yards and 11 touchdowns, which is a Virginia Tech quarterback record. Thomas (6-6, 262 pounds) has as much upside as any other quarterback in the draft.
10. Buffalo Bills - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Mingo led LSU and ranked fourth in the SEC in tackles for loss (13.5) and finished second on the team in sacks (8.0) behind Montgomery last year. Both starting OLBs for the Bills (Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison) are in the early-30's.
11. Arizona Cardinals - Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
By drafting Notre Dame's Michael Floyd to line up opposite Larry Fitzgerald, the only thing the Cardinals need to upgrade their passing attack is to add, um, a quarterback. In his first year as a starter at Arkansas, Wilson completed 63 percent of his passes with a 24:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
12. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins) - Keenan Allen, WR, California
While he had all five of his 100-yard games in the first six games of the 2011 season, Allen (6-3, 205 pounds) had a breakout season: 98 receptions, 1,343 yards and six touchdowns.
13. Kansas City Chiefs - Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
Depending on how Matt Cassel performs in 2012, the Chiefs could look to go in a different direction in 2013. And depending on how Bray performs in 2012, he could be long gone by this spot.
14. Carolina Panthers - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes is a big (6-2, 215 pounds), physical and athletic cornerback. Considering the Panthers ranked 24th in the league against the pass last year and they have to face Drew Brees and Matt Ryan (at least) four times per year, this pick makes sense if Rhodes is still available at this spot.
15. New York Jets - Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
As the best inside linebacker in this year's draft class, Te'o has the versatility and athleticism to make plays in the tackle box and from sideline to sideline. Three of the Jets' four projected starting linebackers are 30-plus years old.
16. New Orleans Saints - Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The draft's best defensive tackle prospect, Hankins had the versatility to play both defensive tackle and end at Ohio State and has enormous upside.