Yes, we still have a week until the 2012 NFL Draft, but don't be surprised that there's some crazy souls out there already thinking about 2013. One would be our very own, Jason, who's in draft mode 24/7/365. Here's his first crack at mocking the 2013 landscape. --Michael B.--
1. Miami Dolphins – Matt Barkley QB, USC
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Quinton Coples DE, UNC
Team Needs: QB/WR/RT/S/WLB/TE
After being unable to trade up for RGIII, being left out of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, and unable to sign Matt Flynn Miami has tried everything to upgrade the quarterback position this offseason. Going into the 2012 draft they could use the 8th overall pick on Ryan Tannehill but that would be a huge panic-induced reach. If they take a QB in the later rounds it certainly won’t have an impact on them taking Matt Barkley in 2013 if they are drafting number one overall. As with Andrew Luck in 2012, Matt Barkley is the consensus top quarterback in his draft class and would’ve been a top 5 pick had he chose to enter the 2012 draft and forego his senior year.
2. Cleveland Browns – D.J. Fluker OT, Alabama
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Trent Richardson RB, Alabama; Ryan Tannehill QB, Texas A&M
Team Needs: WR/RT/OG/CB
If Cleveland is drafting in the top 5 yet again it will definitely be interesting to see what Mike Holmgren will do with this pick. Thanks to the rookie salary cap the Browns will not be financially obligated to keep Ryan Tannehill if they select him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft. With this pick they would have their choice of QB’s amongst a solid crop, excluding Matt Barkley of course, including Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray, Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, or Georgia’s Aaron Murray, whichever distinguishes themselves as the cream of the crop. Aside from QB the WR position has been a pain for the Browns as well. Holmgren doesn’t like drafting WR’s this early, which is why they won’t take Justin Blackmon in 2012, so they should bypass USC’s Robert Woods and Washington State’s Marquess Wilson. The definite need the Browns can fill here with the talent available is the gaping hole at right tackle. D.J. Fluker is a dominant run blocker as well as a quality pass blocker with good size at 6’6", 335lbs. and would give the Browns the best tackle tandem in the NFL and would give Tannehill, Colt McCoy, or whoever is playing back there the best possible chance to succeed.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Marquess Wilson WR, Washington State
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Matt Kalil OT, USC
Team Needs: OG/CB/WR/S/LB/DT
The Vikings have been struggling for a number one wide receiver ever since Sidney Rice left in free agency. They simply have to draft someone who can take the pressure off of Adrian Peterson and the running game. Therefore it’ll come down to USC’s Robert Woods and Washington State’s Marquess Wilson. Wilson combines solid size at 6’3", 183lbs. with the potential to be a big time threat in the NFL. Given that their need is just as dire at cornerback they could draft N.C. State’s David Amerson who is just as good of a prospect as Wilson. They released Cedric Griffin, Antoine Winfield will be 36 years old before the start of the 2013 season, and Chris Cook has legal issues. Elsewhere the Vikings also have serious issues along the interior of their offensive line. At guard Anthony Herrera is absolutely terrible and they released Steve Hutchinson.
4. Indianapolis Colts – Jarvis Jones OLB, Georgia
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Andrew Luck QB, Stanford
Team Needs: NT/CB/S/OG/OC/TE
The Colts do need to rebuild both their offense and defense. Reggie Wayne is nearing the end of his career and the Colts could find a replacement for him that could grow with Andrew Luck as Wayne did with Manning. The defense will have to undergo a major overhaul switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme. For now Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney will convert to OLB’s in the new scheme but for the long-term new Head Coach Chuck Pagano can draft UGA’s Jarvis Jones. Jones lead the SEC with 13.5 sacks in his first year playing in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme after transferring from USC. With another All-American season he’ll be a hot commodity come draft time with so many teams in the NFL now playing a 3-4 defense. The secondary is also a mess and with Coach Pagano’s defensive background it could come down to Jones or N.C. State cornerback David Amerson.
5. Oakland Raiders – David Amerson CB, North Carolina State
2012 1st Mock Draft Pick:
Team Needs: NT/OLB/TE/OC/CB/RB-depth/QB
Just like with Indy, the Raiders defense is converting to a 3-4 scheme. That means they’ll need a nose tackle as some point. After losing Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt in consecutive years they’ll have to replenish the secondary. David Amerson is this years prized cornerback prospect like Morris Claiborne this year and Patrick Peterson the year before. He has a 6’3", 195lbs. frame and ball-hawked 13 interceptions during the 2011 season. His combination of size and speed would appease the ghost of Al Davis. Oakland could use this opportunity to draft a successor to 32 year old Carson Palmer if they feel like Terrelle Pryor won’t be able to step into a starting role.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sam Montgomery DE, LSU
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Michael Floyd WR, Notre Dame
Team Needs: DE/RT/QB/CB
If Blaine Gabbert suffers through another horrible season it may be time for the front office to waive the white flag and draft his replacement, especially if they are drafting in the top 10 again. But if they’re committed to him and don’t draft either Quinton Coples or Melvin Ingram in the first round of the 2012 draft they’ll have to address the defensive end position here. Montgomery is the leader of a stout defensive line at LSU as well as its best player, including eventual 2012 first round pick Michael Brockers. If David Amerson were available they could take him as the successor to Rashean Mathis or take the best available wide receiver if they fail to take one early in the 2012 draft.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jake Matthews OT, Texas A&M
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Morris Claiborne CB, LSU
Team Needs: LB/OT/RB/DT
The Bucs biggest need heading into the 2013 NFL draft will be at both tackle positions. Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood has been battling weight issues and will be in the final year of his recently signed two-year deal and left tackle Donald Penn would be better served playing on the right side anyway. Prospects at any other position would be considered a reach but they could shore up their linebacker problem by taking Florida’s Jelani Jenkins to replace Quincy Black or the more likely scenario of taking Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o to play inside linebacker moving Mason Foster to Black’s position of strongside linebacker. Jake Matthews has good bloodlines as he is the son of Houston Oilers’ great Bruce Matthews and cousin of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III.
8. St. Louis Rams – Robert Woods WR, USC
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Justin Blackmon WR, Oklahoma State
Team Needs: LT/DT/OLB/CB/FS/RB
If the Rams miss out on Matt Kalil in the 2012 draft and Roger Saffold doesn’t have a bounce-back type of season their biggest need will be at left tackle. Unfortunately with the top two already off of the board the Rams will have to look elsewhere unless they want to reach. The same goes at the cornerback position with David Amerson already being gone. Even after taking Justin Blackmon in the first round of 2012 it wouldn’t preclude them from taking Robert Woods here. Woods is a premiere talent and could easily be the top wide receiver in 2013 and would give Sam Bradford another weapon to play with. After losing Brandon Lloyd to free agency the cupboard is bare at the position.
9. Seattle Seahawks – Xavier Rhodes CB, FSU
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Melvin Ingram DE, South Carolina
Team Needs: LG/LB/CB
This pick, just as with their 2012 first round pick, could be entirely determined on whether or not the Seahawks resign ILB David Hawthorne. If he’s not resigned they could take Luke Kuechly in 2012 or they could take Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o here. Their other big need is at cornerback. Marcus Trufant is gone and while Richard Sherman had a good 2011 season Brandon Browner was very inconsistent. Rhodes has the size at 6’2", 215lbs. that the Seahawks seem to prefer in their cornerbacks and he showcases the ability to be a potential shutdown corner at the next level.
10. Arizona Cardinals – Tyler Bray QB, Tennessee
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Courtney Upshaw DE/OLB, Alabama
Team Needs: LT/QB/ILB/WR/OG/CB
If Arizona is drafting this high again it’s going to be time to replace Kevin Kolb with someone like Tyler Bray who has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback. As always the Cardinals could upgrade the offensive line by replacing the atrocious Levi Brown, especially since this will be a tackle-rich draft. Elsewhere they could draft a wide receiver like Keenan Allen to take the pressure off of Larry Fitzgerald or realize that Stewart Bradley is a poor fit for a 3-4 defense and replace him with Manti Te’o.
11. Tennessee Titans – Jelani Jenkins OLB, Florida
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Michael Brockers DT, LSU
Team Needs: OC/OG/WLB/DE/CB-depth
The Titans big issues with the interior of their offensive line will have to wait because while this draft should be talent rich at tackle it’s quite poor at guard and center. Defensively their only pressing need will be at weakside linebacker. Current WLB Will Witherspoon will be 33 years old by the start of the 2013 season and drafting Jelani Jenkins would complete a great young set of linebackers with Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers. The Titans lost Cortland Finnegan to free agency and if Alterraun Verner cannot step into the starting role adequetly enough then the Titansd will be looking for a starter at the position so they could take Washington’s Desmond Trufant or the LSU "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu.
12. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) – Oday Aboushi OT, Virginia
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Justin Blackmon WR, Oklahoma State
Team Needs: LT/DT/OLB/CB/FS/RB
Here the Rams finally get a left tackle. If they do draft a tackle here the Rams can move Roger Saffold to right tackle which would be a much better fit for him, and move the terribly disappointing Jason Smith to left guard if they don’t cut him first. Oday Aboushi would’ve been the fifth or sixth tackle to come off of the board had he entered the 2012 NFL draft and with another stellar season he can catapult himself into the top half of the first round in 2013. Another position they could address is at defensive tackle. The Rams cut both Justin Bannan and Fred Robbins in the 2012 offseason an only signed Kendall Langford so they could draft either Ohio State’s Jon Hankins or Purdue’s Kawann Short.
13. Buffalo Bills – Desmond Trufant CB, Washington
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Riley Reiff OT, Iowa
Team Needs: WR/OLB/DE/CB
The Bills shouldn’t have too many needs heading into the 2013 draft. One issue they may face is at cornerback. Drayton Florence was terrible in 2011 and will probably be replaced in 2012 by Aaron Williams. On the other side Terrence McGee will be 33 years old during the 2013 season. A solid option to replace him would be Desmond Trufant, younger brother to former Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant. Desmond is a solid cornerback who excels against the run and is a decent blitzer. At quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid but unspectacular and the Bills could replace him to ensure a better long-term success. One thing that would help Fitzpatrick is find a better compliment to Steve Johnson at wide receiver than David Nelson.
14. Kansas City Chiefs – Landry Jones QB, Oklahoma
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Luke Kuechly LB, Boston College
Team Needs: QB/NT/O-line depth
Perhaps 2013 will finally be the year that the Chiefs realize that Matt Cassel is not a starting caliber quarterback. With another year of consistency issues and/or injury the Chiefs should pull the trigger while they have the opportunity to replace Cassel. Landry Jones has the size and arm strength to be a franchise QB, the only knock on him seems to be whether or not he can win under pressure. If he can win against the top competition, especially their bowl game, this upcoming season he should be able to cement his status as a top 2013 QB prospect. Another possibility would be to replace Kelly Gregg who is currently a 35 year old free agent if they fail to do so in 2012. This draft class should be loaded at the position and K.C. could draft Ohio State’s Jonathan Hankins. They signed Stanford Routt to replace the departed Brandon Carr at cornerback and should he be proven ineffective they could replace him here.
15. Dallas Cowboys – Barrett Jones OT/G/C, Alabama
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: David DeCastro OG, Stanford
Team Needs: OC/DL
Dallas’ biggest issues in 2013 should be the same as in 2012, that they need major upgrades along the interior of their offensive line. They signed Nate Livings, who was the weak link on Bengals offensive line in 2011 and as such will probably be replaced himself at some point, who will probably replace free agent Derrick Dockery but Bill Nagy and center Phil Costa both need to be replaced as well. So even if they do draft David DeCastro in the first round of the 2012 draft it shouldn’t preclude them from taking another interior lineman in 2013. Barrett Jones has been a rock playing on the Bama offensive line. He’s been a stand out at both guard and tackle and will start the 2012 season playing center for the Crimson Tide. That sort of versatility will make him a very hot commodity come draft time.
16. Carolina Panthers – Manti Te’o ILB, Notre Dame
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Dontari Poe NT, Memphis
Team Needs: CB/LB/RT/WR/S
The biggest issues for Carolina are on defense as they need players just about everywhere. In the secondary the Panthers need someone opposite of Chris Gamble and they need upgrades at both safety positions. At linebacker Thomas Davis cannot stay healthy and they lost Dan Conner to free agency. Manti Te’o would’ve been a high first round draft picked had he enter in 2012, possibly being rated even higher than Boston College’s Luke Kuechly, and should be rated just as high in 2013. He combines ideal size at 6’2", 255lbs. with good speed and could play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense. On offense they must find a replacement for right tackle Jeff Otah. He’s been constantly injured since being a first round pick and the Panthers could find someone to start at right tackle and eventually slide over and be a successor to Jordan Gross. At wide receiver the Panthers have needed a capable compliment to Steve Smith for years and as he will turn 34 years old shortly after the 2013 draft they will need someone who can be a number one WR when Steve Smith retires.
17. New York Jets – Brandon Jenkins DE/OLB, Florida State
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Jonathan Martin OT, Stanford
Team Needs: WR/S/OLB/ILB
Most of the Jets issues should be on defense, especially if they draft Jon Martin to replace Wayne Hunter at right tackle in the 2012 draft. A couple things they might address would be to find a better compliment to Santonio Homes. Plaxico Burress should be gone by 2013 so the Jets could look at Keenan Allen. At running back they could draft an upgrade to Shonn Greene like Marcus Lattimore. Defensively they’ve had a lot of trouble generating a consistent pass rush. At safety they desperately need to replace Eric Smith and Jim Leonard is a free agent coming back from a torn patellar tendon. They did sign LaRon Landry but that was only to a one-year deal. At ILB Bart Scott will in all likelihood be cut in 2013 and the Jets have already given him permission to seek at trade. If he’s available I think the pick would be Manti Te’o but as he’s not the next option is to take the best available pass-rusher. Had Brandon Jenkins entered the 2012 draft he would’ve been a first round pick.
18. San Diego Chargers – Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Mark Barron SS, Alabama
Team Needs: OG/ILB/CB/3DRB/OT-Depth
At this point the talent available doesn’t really fit the needs of the Chargers. They did lose Vincent Jackson to free agency in 2012 so they could replace him with Keenan Allen whose 6’3", 205lbs. frame would fit in with the type of wide receivers the Chargers prefer. If they go with the best player available it would be South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. The Chargers have no depth at the position after Mike Tolbert signed with the Panthers and Ryan Matthews his some injury issues. While Lattimore tore his ACL in 2011 if he returns to form he should be the top running back in the 2013 draft. He’s an absolute beast to bring down and does offer some pass-catching ability as well. Another need the Chargers may want to pursue is for a prospect who can play both guard and tackle. Standout guard Kris Dielman was forced to retire after a concussion caused him seizures. The Chargers also cut former starting left tackle Marcus McNeill and resigned backup Jared Gaither to start in his place. They’ll have to find a replacement for Dielman and it would be good if that replacement cold also serve as depth at tackle. As such Barrett Jones would be the ideal prospect if he’s available.
19. Cincinnati Bengals – Barkevious Mingo DE, LSU
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick CB, Alabama; Stephen Hill WR, Georgia Tech
Team Needs: RB/OG/S/DE/DL-depth
If the Bengals fail to use an early 2012 draft pick to replace Cedric Benson then they’ll surely be in play for Marcus Lattimore should he be available. A big issue they have is a safety. They resigned Reggie Nelson who has been able to revive his career in Cincy but is still very inconsistent and Chris Crocker is just terrible. Here they would have their pick between the draft’s top two safeties, USC’ T.J. McDonald and Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson. At defensive end they lost Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene to free agency in 2012 and beyond that they really don’t have any dominant pass rushers anyway. They could take FSU’s Brandon Jenkins or Bjoern Werner, LSU’s Barkevious Mingo, or Texas’ Alex Okafor. Mingo is the best pure pass-rusher of the bunch but is a little lean at 6’5", 240lbs. but he does have the frame to pack on a lot more weight. If he stays that light though he may only be an option for 3-4 teams and as such Alex Okafor would be the next prospect up at defensive end.
20. New Orleans Saints – Johnathan Hankins NT, Ohio State
2012 1st Mock Draft Pick: Brandon Taylor S, LSU
Team Needs: OLB/DT/DE/SS
Offensively the Saints are just about set and taking any offensive player would really only be a luxury. On the other side of the ball they do need a few players. At strong safety Roman Harper is constantly abused in coverage. They’ve needed to replace both outside linebackers for some time now. They did sign Chris Chamberlin from St. Louis but he is not a solution. New Orleans could take Oklahoma’s Tom Wort, Illinois’ Jonathan Brown, or Texas A&M’s Sean Porter. The defensive line probably has the biggest issues. At RDE Will Smith will be 32 years old by the start of the 2013 season. At tackle they did sign Brodrick Bunkley but he doesn’t offer much in the pass rush and Sedrick Ellis has never really lived up to his potential and has some injury issues. Jonathon Hankins could be 2013’s version of Dontari Poe only not quite as big. He’s 6’3", 335lbs but extremely athletic for his size and could work his way into the top 15 before all is said and done.
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Tyrann Mathieu CB, LSU
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Fletcher Cox DT, Miss. State
Team Needs: LB/SS/CB/OT-depth/QB
If the Eagles are serious in their interest in Ryan Tannehill than they could possibly take advantage of the solid crop of QB’s in the 2013 draft to eventually replace Mike Vick. Elsewhere they still need an upgrade at SLB if they don’t draft Luke Kuechly in 2012. Strong safety has been an issue ever since they jettisoned Brian Dawkins and they could finally fill that void with T.J. McDonald or Tony Jefferson. By now every draft "guru" knows that Andy Reid loves taking cornerbacks early and often. At some point he’s going to cut or trade Asante Samuel leaving only Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie to start opposite of Nnamdi Asomugha which would be just plain bad. Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu would be a top 5 pick if he weren’t only 5’9" and 175lbs. but he does make the most of it by being incredibly athletic. Another knock on him are some off the field issues that a team like the Eagles will probably look past.
22. Chicago Bears – Tom Wort ILB, Oklahoma
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Cordy Glenn OG/OT, UGA
Team Needs: LT/OC/S/CB/TE
Hopefully by the end of the 2012 draft the Bears should have taken care of their needs on the offensive line. Beyond that the only issue on offense should be an upgrade at tight end. Defensively the Bears have issues in the secondary. Both safety positions should be upgraded. At cornerback both Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman will be in the final years of their current contracts. At inside linebacker Brian Urlacher is currently recovering from an ACL injury and will be 34 years old shortly after the 2013 draft. Current SLB Nick Roach could definitely be upgraded. On the line DE Israel Idonije will be a 32 year old free agent. It really wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bears move up for Manti Te’o as he would be the perfect successor to Urlacher. Here they get Tom Wort, while not as good of a prospect at this point as Te’o does have better range and could replace Nick Roach immediately and eventually slide over to ILB when Urlacher does retire.
24. Atlanta Falcons – Chris Faulk OT, LSU
2012 1st Mock Draft Pick: Phillip Blake OG/OC, Baylor
Team Needs: LT/RB/DE/TE/CB
Atlanta was a solid playoff contender only a season ago but they seem to be falling apart quickly. The offensive line is a mess. Even if they draft Phillip Blake to replace Todd McClure at center they still need an upgrade over Sam Baker at left tackle. At tight end Tony Gonzalez is only getting older. And at running back Michael Turner seems to be wearing down. Defensively they lost stud ILB Curtis Lofton to free agency and replaced him with Lofa Tatupu who didn’t even play football in 2011. At cornerback they franchised Brent Grimes but probably won’t be able to afford to do it again if they can’t come to terms on a long-term deal. They did resign John Abraham but like Gonzalez he’s getting old as well. If this team is going to have any kind of success they have to find someone who can protect Matt Ryan’s blindside. Chris Faulk is a road grader at 6’6", 325lbs. with good athleticism who doesn’t get tested much as a pass blocker because of LSU’s run-based offense. Atlanta could also take Marcus Lattimore if he’s available or Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert to succeed Tony Gonzalez.
24. New York Giants – Tyler Eifert TE, Notre Dame
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Lamar Miller RB, Miami
Team Needs: OG/ILB/TE/OT/CB/FS
The Giants have issues all along the offensive line. At tackle William Beatty is injury prone and Kareem McKenzie is a free agent. The situation at guard is even worse. Defensively the Giants could use an ILB as Chase Blackburn and Jonathan Goff are currently free agents who have yet to resign. And of course they could always add another D-linemen to add to their stable. Another issue for the Giants is at tight end. Both Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum suffered ACL tears in the Super Bowl. They did sign Martellus Bennett to a one-year deal but he was an underachiever in Dallas. Eifert is the perfect receiving TE who has solid size (6’6", 249lbs.), speed, and runs good routes. You can also add the Giants to the list of possible teams that would love to draft Eifert’s teammate ILB Manti Te’o.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Star Lotulelei NT, Utah
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Dont'a Hightower ILB, Alabama
Team Needs: OG/NT/OT/WR/RB/S
It seems as though every year the Steelers biggest needs are on the offensive line, especially at guard, and 2013 will probably be no different. Unless they trade up for David DeCastro or Cordy Glenn falls into their lap in 2012 they will likely go into the season with Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky starting. Another issue is at right tackle where Willie Colon has barely played in two years due to injury and the Steelers have no depth behind him. At running back Rashard Mendenhall will be a restricted free agent. On defense the clear cut need is at nose tackle. Casey Hampton will be 36 years old by the start of the 2013 season and clearly his best years are behind him and as such 2013 may be his swan song. If the Steelers miss out on Dontari Poe in 2012 they’ll pretty much have to wait until the later rounds to draft a NT and at that point it would only be for depth behind Steve McLendon while Casey Hampton recovers from a torn ACL to begin the season. Thankfully the 2013 draft should be loaded with quality nose tackles, with as many as five going in the top two rounds. Right now the cream of this crop is Ohio State’s Jonathan Hankins but not far behind him is Utah’s Star Lotulelei who is 6’3", 325lbs. He is well built and has surprising athleticism for a man of his size.
Nose tackle prospects to watch for in 3013:
1. Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State 6’3", 335lbs.
2. Star Lotulelei, Utah 6’3", 325lbs.
3. Kwame Geathers, Georgia 6’5", 350lbs.
4. John Jenkins, Georgia 6’3", 350lbs.
5. Jesse Williams, Alabama 6’4", 320lbs.
6. Sylvester Williams, UNC 6’3", 320lbs.
7. T.J. Barnes, Georgia Tech 6’6", 335lbs.
26. Denver Broncos – Keenan Allen WR, Cal
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Devon Still DE/DT, Penn State
Team Needs: CB/RB/WR/LG/OC
After shoring up their biggest and only pressing need defensively with their 2012 first round pick you can believe the Broncos will do everything they can to take advantage of the short window of opportunity they have to win a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning. That means getting him as many weapons as possible and strengthening the offensive line as well as the running game. On the line the Broncos must make up for Josh Daniels’ mistakes at center and left guard by replacing Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton. Unfortunately this draft class is incredibly weak at both positions although they could draft a right tackle and switch Orlando Franklin to left guard. At running back Knowshon Moreno cannot stay healthy and Willis McGahee will be 32 years old during the 2013 season. At wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is the only real threat. This pick could come down to Marcus Lattimore to replace McGahee, someone line Chris Faulk so they can move Franklin and replace Zane Beadles, or even USC OC Khaled Holmes to replace J.D. Walton. The best weapons upgrade that Denver can do with the players available is Cal WR Keenan Allen. He’s 6’3", 205lbs. and could potentially be a big time threat in the passing game, giving Manning another toy to play with and making Denver a serious threat to go on a Super Bowl run.
27. Detroit Lions – Khaled Holmes OC, USC
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Janoris Jenkins CB, North Alabama
Team Needs: LT/OC/SS/RB-depth
Left tackle Jeff Backus will turn 36 years old at the start of the 2013 season and will be in the final year of his contract so that should be the Lions number one priority. Unfortunately by this point in the draft the top tier tackle prospect will be gone. The other hole on the offensive line is at center where they’ve need an upgrade over Dominic Raiola for a long time and he’ll be 34 years old by draft time in 2013. Defensively this team should be pretty well stacked except at strong safety. Amari Spievey was terrible in 2011 and should be replaced. This pick should come down to two USC products, either safety T.J. McDonald or center Khaled Holmes. The long-term success of this franchise will hinge on their ability to keep QB Matt Stafford upright and healthy. Like Peter Konz in the 2012 draft, Khaled Holmes is the only center prospect who should be an early pick at center. Also like Konz, Khaled Homes is known as a big road grader-type at 6’4", 310lbs. that can also play guard.
28. Baltimore Ravens – T.J. McDonald S, USC
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB, Illinois
Team Needs: LT/OC/LB/S/WR/OG/CB
By now everybody knows that the Ravens will go with the best player available, especially if it fits any sort of need. As far as needs go the Ravens have to find a long term solution at left tackle, but like the Lions they’ll have a hard time filling this need by the end of the first round. They managed to resign 36 year old Matt Birk but will need a long-term solution at that position as well. And of course they lost Ben Grubbs to free agency so if Jah Reid can’t step into the starting role then the Ravens will have to find a left guard at some point too. At wide receiver Anquan Boldin is starting to lose his ability to separate and will be 33 years old at the start of the 2013 season. Defensively the Ravens must eventually find successors to both ILB Ray Lewis and FS Ed Reed. At this point in the draft T.J. McDonald not only fills a position of need but is also one of the best players available. He’s 6’3", 205lbs., is a hard hitter, and has the ability to play both safety positions.
29. Houston Texans – Kwame Geathers NT, Georgia
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Kendall Wright WR, Baylor
Team Needs: OG/RT/NT/SS/CB
The Texans really don’t have any huge pressing needs except at guard. They lost Mike Brisiel to free agency and Wade Smith just needs to be replaced and if they don’t address it in free agency will need to invest at least one early pick at the position. They also traded right tackle Eric Winston for some bizarre reason so that’ll be address too. Even if they do take a wide receiver in the first round of the 2012 draft they make still need to address the position again because age is a concern amongst their receiving corps. Defensively they traded DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles and will have to replace him if Darryl Sharpton can’t step up into a starting role. Really the only thing missing from this defense is a solid nose tackle to eat up blockers and allow the linebackers to flow to the ball. Kwame Geathers is a behemoth at 6’5", 350lbs. and carries his weight very well. He’s been an incremental piece to revamping Georgia’s defense where they were ranked 61st in the first year of their conversion to the 3-4 defense and 5th in the second year. The big difference was Geathers who converted from an offensive tackle to a nose tackle in that second year.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Kawann Short DT/DE
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Coby Fleener TE, Stanford
Team Needs: RG/RT/FS/DE/WR/QB
As with the Texans the 49ers don’t have a lot of pressing needs but perhaps on the offensive line. Right tackle Anthony Davis has been a bust so far and with another poor season it should be time to either cut him or move him to right guard where they have a hole anyway after Adam Snyder left in free agency. At center Jonathan Goodwin will turn 35 years old during the 2013 season. With the up and down career of starting QB Alex Smith the 49ers could seek his replacement in this QB rich draft class. Even at the end of the first round they could still find a quality prospect like Georgia’s Aaron Murray whose prospects have been compared to Drew Brees when he came out of Purdue. Defensively this team is well stacked. The only real issue is a lack of depth at defensive end and Justin Smith will be 34 years old next season. So the 49ers can just sit back and take the best player available which would be Kawann Short. He’s been able to produce quality numbers despite being on a Purdue team that is completely devoid of talent around him.
31. New England Patriots – Tony Jefferson S, Oklahoma
2012 1st round Mock Draft Picks: Nick Perry DE/OLB, USC; Kendall Reyes DT/DE, UConn
Team Needs: WR/S/OC/CB
Offensively the Patriots will have issues at both wide receiver and center. Currently starting center Dan Koppen is a 32 year old free agent who missed most of the 2011 season with a fractured leg, so heading into the 2012 they will go with backup Dan Connelly as the starter. Should he fail the Patriots will need to find a replacement and could possibly draft Khaled Holmes if he’s available. At wide receiver they need youth and long term starters instead of signing and resigning aging veterans to one-year deals. But most of the Patriots issue are on defense. Hopefully they’ll use their multiple early picks in the 2012 draft to fill these holes but will still have a couple positions to address in 2013. Because of the weak 2012 safety class they’ll most likely have to go without filling the gaping void at strong safety. Tony Jefferson is a solid prospect who is equally adept at covering deep and playing in the box and will jockey with T.J. McDonald, Florida’s Matt Elam, and Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo to be the first safety off of the board.
32. Green Bay Packers – Johnathan Banks CB, Mississippi State
2012 1st round Mock Draft Pick: Peter Konz OC, Wisconsin
Team Needs: OLB/S/CB/DE/RB
Most of Green Bay’s issues are on defense. Offensively their only concern should be at running back if they fail to resign Ryan Grant or replace him in the 2012 draft. On the other side of the ball the Packers need to find a complimentary edge rusher to go with Clay Matthews. Unfortunately drafting at the end of the first round will make that difficult. Other issues are in the secondary. Charles Woodson will be 37 years old during the 2013 season and the Packers need to find his long-term successor. Also in the secondary they must find a possible replacement for Nick Collins if he can’t come back from a serious neck injury that forces him to retire early. So it’s likely that the Packers will take the best possible secondary prospect. With T.J. McDonald and Tony Jefferson both already off of the board the top prospect should be MSU CB Jonathan Banks. Had he entered the 2012 draft he would’ve been a high second round pick and will only get better with another year of development. He has solid size at 6’2", 185lbs. and is similar to 2012 prospect Stephen Gilmore only more of a consistent player.