Now that we’re a whole 48 hours removed from the 2012 NFL Draft, it’s time to turn our sights to the 2013 NFL Draft.
Yes, I know. Constructing a 2013 Mock Draft in April of 2012 is beyond absurd. It’s ridiculous. Hell, it’s borderline pathetic.
But as football fans and true NFL diehards, we are all very sick, sick people. Let’s be sick together.
Last May, I did a 2012 mock draft one day after the 2011 NFL Draft. Looking back on that mock now, there were some definite home runs. I accurately had Andrew Luck going first overall, and nailed 12 of the 32 first-round picks. But I also had some real duds. I had Cliff Harris, an electrifying cornerback and punt return man out of Oregon, going fourth overall. He went undrafted over the weekend. I had Nate Potter, the big offensive tackle out of Boise State, going 20th overall. He went to Arizona late in the seventh round.
A lot can happen between now and April, 2013. Under-the-radar prospects can emerge in their junior and senior seasons, top players can fall victim to injuries, and off-the-field issues can rear their ugly heads. But let’s take a stab at this anyway.
And if even daring to do a mock draft a year in advance wasn’t a large enough of an act of hubris, I’ve taken the liberty of telling you just how every team’s going to finish next season, as well.
With that, I present you the first of several 2013 NFL mock drafts. This one has all draft eligible underclassmen entering next year’s draft. Enjoy, sickos.
1. Oakland Raiders: Matt Barkley, QB, USC: Barkley would have been the third quarterback taken in the 2012 draft. He returns to USC and has a fabulous year. A starter as a freshman in 2009, Barkley showed flashes and made great strides in 2010 and ‘11. 2012? The sky’s the limit for the 6-foot-2, 220-pound former Gatorade National Player of the Year. Put him in the silver and black, to replace another USC great, Carson Palmer, after Year One of the Reggie McKenzie Era is a struggle as the offense fails to get going and the defense struggles in the suddenly ultra-competitive AFC West.
2. Indianapolis Colts: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia: Andrew Luck shows flashes in his rookie season, but Indy’s still a long ways from being competitive. Jones had 13.5 sacks in 2011 and could have been a top-20 pick had he come out in 2012. He’ll be a wonderful pass rusher at the next level, in Chuck Pagano’s 3-4, which should struggle mightily in 2012, and the offense won’t turn around overnight.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU: Mongtomery is a 6-foot-4 defensive end with electrifying speed. One of the stars of the 2011 LSU defense, he flies up boards after a strong season and Combine performance. He stays in purple and gold after the Vikings, in the midst of a stadium controversy, suffer through an awful 2012 season, despite Christian Ponder improving from his freshman year and Adrian Peterson having a great recovery from his knee injury. Not enough defense.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: Blaine Gabbert suffers through a tough sophomore season, and with a first-round talent in Justin Blackmon lined up on the outside, there are no more excuses. Jacksonville pulls the plug on their 2010 first-round pick and scoops up Wilson, the talented quarterback out of Arkansas. Though Bobby Petrino and the Razorbacks’ top three receivers from 2011 are no longer in Fayetteville, Wilson excels and catapults himself into top-five territory.
5. Cleveland Browns: Robert Woods, WR, USC: The Browns have their running back and quarterback of the future in Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden. They get the receiver in Woods, the do-everything talent out of USC. Go dig up Woods’ tape from the Minnesota game last year, if you’re not familiar: 17 receptions, 177 yards, 3 TDs.
6. St. Louis Rams: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: The Rams grab Sam Bradford’s tackle for the future in Fluker, who’s 6-foot-6 and quick on his feet. He was once the top high school recruit in the country.
7. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): David Amersen, CB, North Carolina State: RG3 plays well in Year One, but the Redskins don’t make the leap in the NFC East standings, so the Rams get another top-10 pick and select Amerson, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound cover corner with great speed. He’ll excel in the ACC this season and jump into the top 10 next April.
8. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee: The Chiefs miss the playoffs, Matt Cassel’s time as the franchise quarterback comes to an end, and the reins are handed over to Tyler Bray, the big gunslinger out of Tennessee. Bray came on strong toward the end of the 2011 campaign and is expected to be an All-SEC quarterback in 2012.
9. Tennessee Titans: Kawaan Short, DT, Purdue: I actually liked Short as an NFL prospect more than both Jerel Worthy and Devon Still, two 2011 second-round defensive tackles out of the Big Ten, coming into this year’s draft. He opted to return to school for another season. A 6-foot-3, 315-pound run stuffer with an ability to get into opposing teams’ backfields, he’ll be a force at the next level.
10. Carolina Panthers: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida: The Panthers improve but still miss the playoffs in the crowded NFC South. Cam Newton does the job on offense but the defensive line looks for an upgrade. Insert Floyd, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound run-stuffing defensive tackle. Shariff was a top high school prospect and should emerge on to the national radar with a big 2012 season in Gainesville.
11. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, California: Ryan Tannehill gets his shot early on in the 2012 season and has some ups and downs. He needs a receiver for the future. The Dolphins get him one in Allen, a 6-foot-3 physical receiver out of Cal. Allen had 98 catches for 1,343 yards last season. He should be a breakout star in 2012, his junior year.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: The Honey Badger! The 2011 Heisman finalist has another outstanding season in Baton Rouge and opts to leave school early for the draft in January. Tampa improves in the Bucs’ first season under Greg Schiano but fails to reach the playoffs for the sixth straight year. Mathieu comes in as Ronde Barber’s eventual replacement.
13. Cincinnati Bengals: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin: Wagner’s a 6-foot-6 mountain of a man and the perfect guy to add to the Bengals hard-nosed offensive line. He joins a recent Badgers tradition of sending offensive linemen to the draft’s early rounds (Gabe Carimi, Kevin Zeitler, Peter Konz).
14. Seattle Seahawks: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Jackson’s father Jim Jeffcoat was a longtime NFL defensive lineman. Jackson hasn’t quite lived up to expectations yet, but should have a big season in 2012. Matt Flynn plays well in his first full year as a starter, but the Seahawks fall short of the playoffs.
15. New York Jets: John Hankins, NT, Ohio State: The Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow experiment goes better than expected, as both quarterbacks get along and make contributions. Alas, New York falls a win shy of the playoffs. Hankins is a big 335-pound, 3-4 nose tackle. Perfect for Rex Ryan’s defensive line.
16. New Orleans Saints: Chris Faulk, OT, LSU: The Saints miss the playoffs for the first time in years, as they fall short in Week 16 and 17 games against the Cowboys and Panthers. Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger, but they pass on Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and grab an offensive tackle in Chris Faulk, a local product out of LSU.
17. Chicago Bears: John Banks, CB, Mississippi State: Despite finally giving Jay Cutler two NFL receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the Bears miss the playoffs for a second straight year. John Banks is a big, 6-foot-1 cornerback who can go up against the Calvin Johnsons and A.J. Greens of the league.
18. Philadelphia Eagles: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State: Johnny Adams has been shutting down receivers in the Big 10 for multiple seasons and will be expected to join Nnamdi Asomugha and 2012 fourth-rounder Brandon Boykin in containing the likes of Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Victor Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks in the NFC East after Philadelphia misses the playoffs by one game.
19. Denver Broncos: Barkevious Mingo, DE/LB, LSU: Another LSU player goes flying off the board in the first round. Les Miles and John Chavis’ D is loaded and Mingo might be the most talented player of the unit. A 6-4. 240-pound junior, he’d be another dynamic pass rusher in John Fox’s 4-3 scheme. And yes, Philip Rivers beats out Peyton Manning for a playoff spot in 2012. Barely.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU: Hunt, a 6-foot-7 project with tremendous potential, stole the show in last year’s BBVA Compass Bowl, recording five tackles and three sacks. The Cardinals grab him after finishing with a winning record and nearly securing the second wild-card spot in the NFC with one of the top defenses in the league and a healthy Kevin Kolb.
21. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: The Bills’ D improves with the additions of Mario Williams and Stephon Gilmore, and Ryan Fitzpatrick catches fire in the final month to catapult the Bills to their first playoff berth since 1999. Buffalo goes 4-0 in December, with wins over the Rams, Seahawks, Jets, and Dolphins. The Ravens win a hard-fought game in Baltimore, but the future’s bright in Buffalo. Jake Matthews is a 6-foot-5 mauler out of Missouri City, Texas. His father is Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews. Clay Matthews is his cousin.
22. Detroit Lions: Desmond Trufant, Washington, CB: The younger brother of Marcus Trufant, Desmond has a breakout season with the Huskies and goes to Detroit, which finishes in second place in the NFC North for the second straight year only to fall in another playoff shootout, this time in Atlanta.
23. San Diego Chargers: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame: The ‘Bolts finish the season one game ahead of the Broncos but lose to the wild-card Steelers in the opening round of the playoffs. The defense picked up two contributors in Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes in the 2012 draft. They pick up a great linebacker in Te’o in this draft.
24. Dallas Cowboys: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: The 49ers beat the Cowboys in San Francisco in the wild-card round of the playoffs, leading to a host of questions around whether Tony Romo will ever be more than just “a guy” in Dallas. When Jones slips to the 24th pick, the Cowboys scoop him up.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh: The Texans take advantage of a home game in the playoffs and beat the AFC North champion Ravens in a defensive battle in Houston. The Ravens go offense in the draft, taking Street, the 6-foot-3 athlete out of Pitt. In 2011, Street had 53 receptions for 755 yards.
26. Atlanta Falcons: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State: The Falcons finally silence their critics, winning a playoff game in their home building over the high-flying Lions. It’s the first career playoff win for both Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez, but Atlanta comes up short against the Giants in the divisonal round. Jerel Worthy gets a lot of the press, but Gholston could have the better pro career. A 6-foot-7 tower, he’s a run stuffer who can get to the quarterback. He had five sacks in just 11 games in 2011.
27. New England Patriots: Cassius Marsh, DT/DE, UCLA: The Patriots lose in the divisional round, falling at home to the Steelers. A former top-50 high school recruit, Marsh has a breakout year in 2012, leaves early and sneaks into the first round next April.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Jon Cooper, OG, UNC: The 49ers beat the Cowboys in the wild-card round of the playoffs but come up short in Green Bay. San Francisco goes offensive line in the 2013 draft, scooping up Cooper, a 6-foot-3 mauling guard out of North Carolina.
29. New York Giants: Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami: The defending Super Bowl champion Giants win the NFC East, defeat Atlanta in the playoffs for the second straight year, but come up an Eli Manning game-winning drive short of returning to the Super Bowl for the second straight year. They grab Henderson, the former No. 1 high school recruit, with the 29th pick. Henderson, a 6-foot-8, 345-pound presence, leaves school early and adds youth to an aging offensive line.
30. Houston Texans: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: The Texans beat the Ravens in the divisional round but fall short against the Steelers in the AFC championship game. After going defense with their first-round picks in the previous two seasons, Houston gives Matt Schaub another target in Eifert. In 2011, the 6-foot-6 product out of Fort Wayne caught 63 balls and scored five touchdowns.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jeffrey Whitaker, DT/DE, Auburn: The Steelers and Packers face off in a rematch of the Super Bowl XLV shootout in Dallas, with the outcome being the same. The Steelers look to their defensive line in the draft, going with Whitaker, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound run stuffer.
32. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: The Packers bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Lambeau with a 14-2 record and a 3-0 run through the playoffs. Green Bay chose defensive players with their first six picks of the 2012 draft. They grab Lattimore, one of the top running backs in football, just 18 months after he suffered a career-altering knee injury.