Like most of you in Steelers Nation I still have my head in the clouds over the great job that Kevin Colbert & Co. did the last 3 days. But it's over, that is yesterdays news, and now it's time to look ahead to 2013. Please note that while I am a homer I try to be as unbiased as possible when creating the draft order. The only reason the Steelers are drafting where they are is because I feel that from top to bottom they filled every need with quality prospects from the 2012 draft. So without any further ado, here it is. My preliminary 2013 first round mock draft.
I hope you all enjoy
I want everyone out there reading this to thank God, Allah, Art Rooney, or whoever it is that you pray to, for the blessing that is the Oakland Raiders ineptitude to make the playoffs in the weak AFC West. Had they made the playoffs their compensation paid to the Cincinnati Bengals in the Carson Palmer trade would have escalated to include their 2013 first round pick, which in this mock draft (and in all likelihood will actually happen)is the first overall pick. The Bungles could have then ransomed it for a treasure trove of picks like the Rams got from Washington, settings them up quite nicely for the future.
1. Oakland Raiders – Matt Barkley QB, USC
Notable 2012 draft picks: Tony Bergstrom OG, Utah; Juron Criner WR, Arizona
Team needs: QB/NT/OLB
Oakland’s earliest pick in the 2012 draft was a compensatory pick at the end of the third round so they didn’t really get a chance to fill their biggest needs. They will be converting to a 3-4 defense this coming season and will need pass-rushers and a nose tackle to anchor the front of the defensive line. Picking atop the 2013 draft they will really only have one option and that is to find a successor to Carson Palmer who will be 33 years old at that time. Palmer’s career has be derailed by injury and the Raiders must take this opportunity to draft their future starter. Matt Barkley has gotten consistently better every year while at USC and should be the favorite to be the top quarterback to come off of the board in 2013.
2. Cleveland Browns – David Amerson CB, North Carolina State
Notable 2012 draft picks: Trent Richardson RB, Alabama; Brandon Weeden QB, OSU; Mitchell Schwartz RT, Cal
Team needs: WR/OG/SLB/DE/CB
Another draft in the books and Cleveland still needs a legitimate number one wide receiver. They reached for Brandon Weeden in the first round so there’s no chance of them trying to get a quarterback here. While they can get the top wide receiver here, which would be USC’s Robert Woods, GM Mike Holmgren doesn’t like drafting wide receiver’s this early. What he does love drafting early is cornerbacks. They already have Joe Haden on the roster but behind him is are Philly castoffs Sheldon Brown and Dimitri Patterson. David Amerson is a 6’3", 194lbs. ballhawk who had 13 interceptions last season and would give the Browns a shutdown duo at cornerback.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Jarvis Jones OLB, Georgia
Notable 2012 draft picks: Andrew Luck QB, Stanford; Coby Fleener TE, Stanford; Josh Chapman NT, Alabama
Team needs: CB/OLB/RB
Now that Indy has their quarterback for the foreseeable future they could draft Robert Woods to give him a weapon like Peyton Manning had with Marvin Harrison, although they did manage to give him two quality tight ends and a solid slot receiver in the 2012 draft. New head coach Chuck Pagano’s focus in this draft will be the defense. He’ll be converting them to a 3-4 scheme so it should be expected that the will draft heavy for the defense. David Amerson would be the ideal prospect as the Colts currently have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL but as he’s unavailable the second option would be for the top available pass-rusher. Jarvis Jones is the ideal outside linebacker for a 3-4 defense. In his first season starting in Georgia’s new 3-4 scheme all he did was lead the SEC in sacks with 13.5 and should turn in another quality season with nine total starters returning to Georgia’s defense.
4. Miami Dolphins – Robert Woods WR, USC
Notable 2012 draft picks: Ryan Tannehill QB, Texas A&M; Jon Martin RT, Stanford; Lamar Miller RB, Miami
Team needs: WR/S/DE
If the Dolphins are drafting this high in 2013 there is really only two options they could go with. The first is for a defensive end to pair with Cameron Wake in their new 4-3 defense. They drafted Oliver Vernon who may fill the job but could still take another defensive end like LSU’s Sam Montgomery here. The other option is for a wide receiver to replace Brandon Marshall whom they traded to the Bears. They drafted Ryan Tannehill in the first round and it would be nice if they gave him a weapon to play with. At this point it’s a tossup for who will be the top wide receiver in the 2013 draft. Robert Woods is the most NFL ready wide receiver but Washington State’s Marquess Wilson may have the higher ceiling.
5. Minnesota Vikings – Marquess Wilson WR, Washington State
Notable 2012 draft picks: Matt Kalil LT, USC; Harrison Smith SS, Notre Dame; Josh Robinson CB, UCF
Team needs: OG/FS/WR/CB
Minnesota had one of the best drafts in 2012. They finally got a left tackle to protect Chris Ponder’s blindside but they still need to address the guard position after releasing both Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera. Drafting Harrison Smith was a huge upgrade at strong safety but they still have a hole at free safety. They also addressed the cornerback position with Josh Robinson but could still take another one here as Chris Cook has legal troubles and Antoine Winfield will be 36 years old shortly after the 2013 draft and has a long injury history. If David Amerson were available he would garner a lot of consideration as did Morris Claiborne in 2012 but with the talent available they have to go with Marquess Wilson to give Ponder another weapon for his development. The Vikings got great value in the later rounds of 2102 with Arkansas wide receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs and drafting Wilson here would completely revamp their wide receiver corps.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars –
Jeff Locke P, UCLA Xavier Rhodes CB, Florida State
Team needs: CB/S/QB/RT/DE
"And with the sixth overall pick the Jacksonville Jaguars select Jeff Locke, punter from UC…" oh that’s right, the Jags already took a punter in the third round of the 2012 draft. Getting past that huge reach and looking ahead the Jags could have a few clear cut needs in 2013. Depending on how well Andre Branch does in his rookie season they could take LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery. Of course if Blaine Gabbert is as bad in 2012 as he was in his rookie season he and GM Gene Smith could both be gone in which case the Jags would be looking for a new QB, here it would be either Tennessee’s Tyler Bray or Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson. Regardless of what happens with the talent currently on the roster the Jags will have issues at cornerback. William Middleton will be an unrestricted free agent and Rashean Mathis will be free agent who turns 33 after the draft. Currently I have Xavier Rhodes as the second highest rated cornerback for 2013 but this may still be a little early for him. He combine’s very solid size at 6’2", 215lbs. with good athleticism and a lot of great tape to evaluate him with. He completely shut down 2012 first round pick Michael Floyd.
7. Arizona Cardinals – D.J. Fluker OT, Alabama
Notable 2012 draft picks: Michael Floyd WR, Notre Dame; Bob Massie OT, Ole Miss
Team needs: LT/OLB/QB/ILB
Different draft, same needs for the Arizona Cardinals. They still need a left tackle to protect Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, or whoever is playing quarterback. They drafted Bob Massie but he’s more of a right tackle prospect who would be an upgrade over Jeremy Bridges. And with another poor, injury-plagued season the Cards may pull the plug on Kolb which would be convenient because they could find his replacement in Tyler Bray here. On defense their biggest need should be finding some competition for O’Brien Schofield at OLB and a replacement at ILB for Stewart Bradley who is not a good scheme fit for a 3-4 defense. D.J. Fluker is the top rated tackle so far for 2013. He’s 6’6", 335lbs. and has been a stone wall for the Crimson Tide and would be a HUGE upgrade over Levi Brown at left tackle.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jake Matthews OT, Texas A&M
Notable 2012 draft picks: Mark Barron SS, Alabama; Doug Martin RB, Boise State; Lavonte David OLB, Nebraska
Team needs: CB/OT/DT
Tampa Bay had a good draft but they really failed to address their biggest need which is at cornerback. They managed to sign Eric Wright in free agency but this has got to be Ronde Barber’s last season at 37 years old and Aqib Talib will be going to prison at some point. Another issue is at offensive tackle. Jeremy Trueblood needs to be replaced badly and Donald Penn is mediocre at left tackle. Drafting someone like Jake Matthews would allow them to get rid of Trueblood and move Penn over to the right side. Jake Matthews has good bloodlines as he is the son of Houston Oilers great Bruce Matthews, and the cousin of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III.
9. Seattle Seahawks – Sam Montgomery DE, LSU
Notable 2012 draft picks: Bruce Irvin OLB, WVU; Bobby Wagner ILB, Utah State
Team needs: RDE/OG/CB
Bruce Irvin at 15 overall? OK, moving on. The Seattle Seahawks had a defensive end mocked to them by almost everyone in the first round of the 2012 draft because they need to bolster a seriously lacking pass-rush. At 245lbs. Irvin will most likely play OLB which won’t fill Seattle’s biggest need. Sam Montgomery is one of the last remaining elite prospects at this point so it makes sense, which is why Seattle probably won’t take him. Another issue could be at cornerback. They are apparently going to retain Marcus Trufant but with his back issues he probably won’t be around too much longer. This past season Richard Sherman was solid but Brandon Browner was very inconsistent so the Seahawks could look at taking the top available cornerback which could be Alabama’s DeMarcus Millner, Washington’s Desmond Trufant, MSU’s Jonathan Banks, or the Honey Badger himself Tyrann Mathieu.
Notable 2012 draft picks: Michael Brockers DT, LSU; Brian Quick WR, Appalachian State; Janoris Jenkins CB, North Alabama
Team needs: OT/OG/OLB/FS
Unfortunately St. Louis is just on the outside looking in as far as the elite prospects in this draft class go. Their biggest needs are on the offensive line. Roger Saffold would be much better moving inside to guard, or even to right tackle. Both of the elite tackle prospect are gone. They also need two outside linebackers after not resigning Brady Poppinga and Chris Chamberlin who need to be replaced anyway. At this point Aboushi is a slight reach but there is usually a premium on left tackle prospects and he does project to play on the left side.
11. New York Jets – Manti Te’o ILB Notre Dame
Notable 2012 draft picks: Quinton Coples DE, UNC; Stephen Hill WR, GT; Demario Davis OLB, Arkansas State
Team needs: RT/OLB/S/ILB
The Jets took two safeties on day three of the 2012 draft but that may not be enough to fill the void at both safety positions. They also did nothing to fill the huge hole they have at right tackle. The Jets did manage to get Demario Davis but could still draft another pass-rusher here like LSU’s Barkevious Mingo. One issue that will come up is with Bart Scott. They’ve already given him permission to seek out a trade and will likely release him before the 2013 draft if they are unable to find a trade partner. A perfect replacement is Manti Te’o. He’s a combination of both Dont’a Hightower and Luke Kuechly and had he chosen to enter the 2012 draft could’ve been chosen before Kuechly.
12. Buffalo Bills – Tyler Bray QB, Tennessee
Notable 2012 draft picks: Stephen Gilmore CB, South Carolina; Cordy Glenn OT, UGA
Team needs: QB/WR/DE
Buffalo did a good job plugging their holes on defense by drafting heavy at cornerback and linebacker but could still use another defensive end to pair with Mario Williams. On offense they still need a compliment to Steve Johnson at wide receiver but perhaps their biggest need may be at quarterback. If the Bills end up drafting this high again it’ll be because of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s mediocre play at quarterback. Tyler Bray has good size and a strong arm and head coach Chan Gailey has an affinity for players from the southeast so it could be Bray, Tyler Wilson, or even Georgia’s Aaron Murray.
13. St. Louis Rams – Jelani Jenkins OLB, Florida
Notable 2012 draft picks: Michael Brockers DT, LSU; Brian Quick WR, Appalachian State; Janoris Jenkins CB, North Alabama
Team needs: OT/OG/OLB/FS
It’s unlikely that the Rams will keep this pick, especially since the top prospects available fail to match up with the Rams needs. As of right now there aren’t any 4-3 outside linebackers or safeties worthy of this pick. The Rams could trade back to the end of the first round and take one of a number of safeties like USC’s T.J. McDonald, Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo, or Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson, or trade back a few spots to get a better value for Florida’s Jelani Jenkins.
14. Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Hankins DT/NT, Ohio State
Notable 2012 draft picks: Luke Kuechly LB, Boston College; Amini Silatolu OG, Midwestern State; Joe Adams WR, Arkansas
Team needs: DT/RT/S/WR
The Carolina Panthers got solid prospects with every pick in the 2012 draft but still failed to address their biggest need at defensive tackle. If they take one here it’ll be a matter of preference. Purdue’s Kawann Short is the ideal tackle for a 4-3 defense but Jonathan Hankins from Ohio State is something special. He’s B.J. Raji with twice the athleticism. The Panthers could go in a number of different directions with this pick. They still need to replace Jeff Otah at right tackle and while Joe Adams was a good day three pick they still need a long-term successor to Steve Smith at wide receiver so someone like Cal’s Keenan Allen would make sense as well.
15. Kansas City Chiefs – Tyler Wilson QB, Arkansas
Notable 2012 draft picks: Dontari Poe NT, Memphis; Jeff Allen OG, Illinois
Team needs: QB/RB
Looking over the Chiefs roster they have a pretty stacked team save for the quarterback position. If Matt Cassel struggles in 2012 it’ll be curtains on his time in K.C. Luckily for the Chiefs the 2013 draft should be loaded with quality QB prospects. Another issue they could face in 2013 is at running back. Jamaal Charles will be coming back from an ACL tear this season and while they did sign Peyton Hillis it was only to a one-year deal and he has his own injury history. As of right now the only running back worthy of a first round pick is South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore who will be coming back from his own ACL tear in 2012.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Barkevious Mingo DE/OLB, LSU
Notable 2012 draft picks: Morris Claiborne CB, LSU; Tyrone Crawford DE, Boise State
Team needs: OC/OG/S/OLB
Offensively the Cowboys biggest issues are the same as they were before the 2012 draft and that is at guard and center. Phil Costa and Bill Nagy have to be two of the worst interior offensive linemen in the NFL. Unfortunately for Dallas there are no Mike/Maurkice Pouncey’s or David DeCastro’s in this draft class. Of course having said that, that’ll actually depend on how NFL teams view Alabama’s Barrett Jones who is shifting into the center position this season after having played left tackle last season, and guard the season before that. Another issue will be dependent on what they do with Anthony Spencer. They franchised him this offseason and it will be too expensive to do so again next year, plus he’s too inconsistent to give a big long-term contract to in addition to. Mingo is a lightning quick edge rush that will need to add some bulk to his 6’5", 240lbs. frame but once he fills out he should be a terror in the NFL for years to come.
17. Tennessee Titans – Alex Okafor DE, Texas
Notable 2012 draft picks: Kendall Wright WR, Baylor; Zach Brown OLB, UNC; Mike Martin DT, Michigan
Team needs: OC/OG/CB
If Phil Costa and Bill Nagy aren’t the worst center/guard combo in the NFL then that honor goes to Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris, but as with the Cowboys the Titans won’t be able to do anything about it here. Their need at cornerback will be entirely dependent on whether or not Alterraun Verner can step into the starting role to replace Cortland Finnegan. Tennessee also needs to upgrade their pass-rush. They lost Jason Jones to free agency, although they did sign Kamerion Wimbley and drafted Mike Martin, but could easily spend this selection on the highest rated tackle or end. Alex Okafor dominated his conference last season and with another quality season he would be a steal here.
18. New Orleans Saints – Bjoern Werner DE, Florida State
Notable 2012 draft picks: Akiem Hicks DT, Canada; Nick Toon WR, Wisconsin
Team needs: DE/DT/WR/SS
New Orleans is a loaded team but they have trouble generating a consistent pass rush. Most of their defensive linemen are stout against the run but do not get up field all that well so drafting the top available pass-rusher is the likely scenario here. Often times Werner played better that his fellow FSU teammate Brandon Jenkins. The Saints are also very opportunistic and could just go with the best player available that fits any kind of need. They lost Robert Meachem to free agency and could replace him with Cal’s Keenan Allen here.
19. San Diego Chargers – Keenan Allen WR, Cal
Notable 2012 draft picks: Melvin Ingram OLB, South Carolina; Kendall Reyes DE, UConn; Brandon Taylor SS, LSU
Team needs: OG/WR/CB
Kris Dielman was forced to retire after concussion-induced seizures so the Chargers will have to replace him in 2013 since they failed to do so in 2012. At Wide Receiver they already lost Vincent Jackson to free agency and could lose Malcom Floyd in 2013 if they refuse to pay him. With the talent available and two clear-cut needs it’ll come down to Alabama’s Barrett Jones and Cal’s Keenan Allen. GM A.J. Smith tends to ignore the offensive line early and Allen has the size at 6’3", 205lbs. that Smith prefers at WR.
20. Chicago Bears – Desmond Trufant CB, Washington
Notable 2012 draft picks: Shea McClellin DE, Boise State; Alshon Jeffery WR, South Carolina
Team needs: CB/LT/RG/LB
Chicago definitely needs to upgrade their offensive line. They could take Barrett Jones, LSU’s Chris Faulk, or Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner. Defensively they still need a successor to Brian Urlacher and could use an upgrade over Nick Roach. A solid option would be local product Jonathan Brown from Illinois. A bigger issue is at cornerback. If the Bears ever hope to compete with the Aaron Rodgers led Packers they will have to upgrade their secondary. Desmond Trufant is the younger brother of Seattle’s Marcus Trufant.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina
Notable 2012 draft picks: Dre Kirkpatrick CB, Alabama; Kevin Zeitler OG, Wisconsin; Devon Still DT, PSU; Mohamed Sanu WR, Rutgers
Team needs: RB/DE
Cincinnati had one of, if not the best draft in 2012 getting great prospects all around and filling a lot of needs. A couple of need leftover are at defensive end and at running back. While they are now stacked at tackle the end position is filled with mediocre talent such as draft busts Derrick Harvey and Jamaal Anderson. At running back it’s unlikely that they will resign Cedric Benson and while they did sign BenJarvis Green-Ellis he is better off in a backup/complimentary role. Marcus Lattimore is an absolute beast and a complete back, and if he comes back strong in 2012 from his ACL tear he could be chosen much higher than this.
22. New York Giants – Kawann Short DT, Purdue
Notable 2012 draft picks: David Wilson RB, Va Tech; Reuben Randle WR, LSU; Brandon Mosley OT, Auburn
Team needs: OG/DT/LB/FS
The Giants managed to draft some quality tackle prospects in the later rounds but depending on how they pan out may still address it here. They also have a lot of injury issues at tight end and this is about the range where Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert could come off of the board. One area where the Giants love to spend picks on is the defensive line. The Giants lost some depth at tackle this offseason and Kawann Short is the best available prospect at this point.
23. Denver Broncos – Barrett Jones OC/OG/OT, Alabama
Notable 2012 draft picks: Derek Wolfe DT, Cincinnati; Ronnie Hillman RB, San Diego State
Team needs: LG/CB/DT/WR/OC
Even though I thought it was a bit of a reach, especially when there were better players at the position on the board, the Broncos did fill their need for a defensive tackle with Derek Wolfe. However they could still use another one and if Kawann Short was still available he would be the likely pick. At wide receiver they need a dependable starter opposite of Demaryius Thomas for Peyton Manning to throw to. On the offensive line the Broncos have to make up for Josh McDaniels mistakes which is Zane Beadles at left guard and J.D. Walton at center. They drafted Baylor center Phillip Blake on day three but who knows how well we will pan out. Barrett Jones will be 2013’s most versatile lineman. He started his career at guard before dominating at left tackle last season, and this season he will be moving to center. If Blake pans out at center Jones can replace Zane Beadles at guard.
24. Atlanta Falcons – Chris Faulk OT, LSU
Notable 2012 draft picks: Peter Konz OC, Wisconsin; Jon Massaquoi DE, Troy
Team needs: LT/RB/ILB/RG/TE
Thanks to the trade up with the Browns fort the right to draft wide receiver Julio Jones the year before, the Falcons did not have a lot of opportunities to upgrade their team. They got lucky to have Peter Konz slip to them in the second round but they still need a long-term solution at left tackle over Sam Baker. At running back Michael Turner is beyond being on his last legs and as such I could see the Falcons making a play for Marcus Lattimore. A very enticing option will be Tyler Eifert to succeed Tony Gonzalez at tight end. The player who makes the most sense is LSU’s Chris Faulk. He has good athleticism for a big man and has been a road-grader for LSU’s power running game. The Falcons will only go as far as Matt Ryan will take them so the Falcons need to do what they can to protect him.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – DeMarcus Millner CB, Alabama
Notable 2012 draft picks: Fletcher Cox DT, MSU; Mychal Kendricks ILB, Cal; Vinny Curry DE, Marshall
Team needs: SS/CB/QB
The Eagles get an A+ for their 2012 draft and filled a majority of their needs with top quality prospects. One issue that has plagued them since they released Brian Dawkins is at strong safety. With all of the safety prospects on the board they would have their choice and would probably take USC’s T.J. McDonald. At cornerback they got a steal with Brandon Boykin to cover the slot inside but Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie is terrible and should be replaced. Andy Reid likes taking cornerbacks early so this pick makes sense.
26. Baltimore Ravens – T.J. McDonald S, USC
Notable 2012 draft picks: Courtney Upshaw OLB, Alabama; Kelechi Osemele OG, Iowa State
Team needs: LT/S/ILB/OC/WR
The Ravens aren’t going to find a long-term solution at left tackle at the end of the first round. Depending on their faith in fourth round pick Gino Gradkowski they could take USC’s Khalid Holmes to be Matt Birk’s replacement. Two options they could take to replace long time stalwarts Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are Oklahoma ILB Tom Wort and USC safety T.J. McDonald. McDonald is a big hitter at 6’3", 205lbs. and has the versatility to play both safety positions.
27. Detroit Lions – Brandon Jenkins DE, Florida State
Team needs: SS/CB/OC/RT
The Lions got a steal when Riley Reiff fell to them in the first round but they still have issues on the offensive line. At right tackle Gosder Cherilus could be upgraded and he’ll be a free agent in 2013. Center Dominic Raiola can definitely be upgraded so the Lions could be one of many teams that the end of the first round who could draft Khaled Holmes. Defensively their issues are in the secondary. They drafted Dwight Bentley late in the third round and sent a couple late picks at cornerback but could use this pick on Tyrann Mathieu. If the Lions keep to their code of taking the best player available it would be Brandon Jenkins. They put a premium on pass-rushers and if they are unable to come to a long-term deal with Cliff Avril they will need a defensive end at some point.
28. New England Patriots – Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu CB, LSU
Notable 2012 draft picks: Chandler Jones OLB, Syracuse; Dont’a Hightower ILB, Alabama; Alfonzo Dennard CB, Nebraska
Team needs: WR/S/CB
The Patriots seem focused on revamping their defense so that they can "win now" while Tom Brady is still in his prime. They still need help in the secondary, especially at safety they need someone to pair with Patrick Chung. Offensively the Pats need to stop signing aging veterans at wide receiver and look for some long-term solutions. 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 Pats will probably look past.
29. Houston Texans – Star Lotulelei NT, Utah
Team needs: NT/WR/OG/ILB/SS
Houston got a few solid players in the draft but reached badly for DeVier Posey so there are a number of WR’s with late-first to early-second round grades that they could choose from. Depending on where they use Brandon Brooks, either at guard to replace Mike Brisiel or at tackle to replace Eric Winston, they will need another starter on the offensive line. Defensively their only need is at nose tackle. They’ve lacked an anchor and get it here with Star Lotulelei who is 6’3", 325lbs. who is well built with surprising athleticism.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Ricky Wagner OT, Wisconsin
Notable 2012 draft picks: A.J. Jenkins WR, Illinois; LaMichael James RB, Oregon
Team needs: RT/FS/CB/QB
San Fran has such a loaded roster that they really do not have any pressing need. One that should be addressed by 2013 is at right tackle. Anthony Davis has been a complete bust and by this draft time he’ll either be released or moved inside to guard. He gives up way too many sacks an penalties to survive on the outside any longer. Ricky Wagner is just another in a long line of beefy Wisconsin linemen.
31. Green Bay Packers – Khaled Holmes OC, USC
Notable 2012 draft picks: Nick Perry OLB, USC; Jerel Worthy DE, MSU; Casey Hayward CB, Vanderbilt
Team needs: OC/S/RB
The Packers only have two big needs after a phenomenal 2012 draft and that is at center and safety. They released Nick Collins who will likely never be able to come back after a serious neck injury. At center they were unable to resign free agent Scott Wells and had to settle for signing 37 year old Jeff Saturday. This pick could come down to two USC products, either T.J. McDonald or Khaled Holmes. With McDonald already off of the board this pick is easy although they could look at some of the other safety options like Tony Jefferson or Bacarri Rambo.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jonathan Banks CB, Mississippi State
Notable 2012 draft picks: David DeCastro OG, Stanford; Mike Adams OT, OSU; Alameda Ta’amu NT, Washington
Team needs: CB/S/RG/WR/K
After what can only be described as a dream draft by the Steelers in 2012 could the 2013 draft be one where they go into it without any absolute dire needs that must be addressed? Depending on the development of Mike Adams and their plan for Willie Colon the Steelers might still have to find a right guard. If Colon gets injured again it might be time to cut him and move on, or maybe he won’t want to play guard in which case the Steelers may release him. Wide receiver may be an issue depending on whether or not the Steelers can sign Mike Wallace to a long-term deal, plus in 2013 Antonio Brown will be a restricted free agent. And Rashard Mendenhall will be a restricted free agent as well. Defensively is Alameda Ta’amu the successor to Casey Hampton at nose tackle? He has question marks surrounding him otherwise he wouldn’t have fallen into the fourth round. Even though he got a late start to his starting position James Harrison will be 35 years old shortly after the 2013 draft. Will Jason Worilds, or even Chris Carter, be ready and able to step into a starting role? Ike Taylor will be 33 years old shortly after the 2013 draft and behind him at cornerback there isn’t much experience. Our stalwart safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu are getting old as well, currently 32 and 31 years old respectively, and the Steelers will need to find their successors sooner or later. Given how well the Steelers drafted in 2012 I think they should just stick to their draft model of taking the best player available that fills any sort of need be it immediate or in the near future. The best available lineman at this point is Miami’s Seantrel Henderson but he doesn’t really project to guard and he has character concerns. At wide receiver it’s Tennessee’s Da’Rick Rogers who also comes with character questions marks. If the Steelers decide not to bring back Mendenhall they could replace him with Wisconsin’s Montee Ball. This draft is deep with nose tackles, even with the top two already being off of the board, and the Steelers could take either of the Georgia boys in 6’5", 350lbs. Kwame Geathers or 6’3", 350lbs. John Jenkins. Weighing need with the talent available it should come down to cornerback or safety. I’m sure everyone would love to see USC’s T.J. McDonald in Black ‘n Gold but as he’s unavailable they could take either Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson or Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo. Both have the versatility to play either safety position, but Rambo is my favorite as he lead the SEC last season with seven interceptions and is a big hitter. But when all is said and done I think given the prospects still on the board the Steelers will pick Jonathan Banks from MSU. He has good size at 6’2", 185lbs. which is something the Steelers prefer in their CB’s. He also has 12 career interceptions, including two off of Tim Tebow which he returned for touchdowns.