This is my fourth attempt at a mock draft for the 2013 NFL festivities, and it's becoming harder each week to determine the order in which teams will select than the needs of each organization.
Some teams showed their true colors this week, and others were surprising. Oh, and there was the debacle tie in San Francisco between the Niners and Rams on top of it all. With that in mind, here's my latest mock draft.
First, here are links to my previous mocks:
Now, on to the picks.
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Until the Chiefs show up and upset someone, they look like the odds-on favorite to be on the board first. As I've said a few times before, Matt Cassell isn't good and they need to make a splash. Barkley is the best of an albeit average class of quarterbacks, and the Chiefs will replace one former USC signal caller with another if they get the chance.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jarvis Jones, OLB/DE, Georgia
Jones is considered by many analysts to be the best pro prospect in the draft, and he continues to be a big-time player on a team in the BCS picture. Jacksonville will put weekly pressure on the Chiefs to keep their hands on the distinction of "worst team in the NFL," and the AFC South looks better all the time (Indianapolis appears to be a legit playoff contender now). The Jags have been outscored by 119 already and have lost their last six.
3. Carolina Panthers - Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Panthers are a mess, but they have a lot invested in their offensive backfield. The Panthers would probably be best served by trading down from here; there will be a lot of interest in LSU OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo, but the Panthers have a couple of good defensive ends in Charles Johnson (7.5 sacks) and Greg Hardy (6.5 sacks). Cam Newton needs someone other than Steve Smith and Greg Olsen to get open, and Woods is a big play threat.
4. Cleveland Browns - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Browns are bad. They need to do something about their offense, and the temptation here might be to go with a big receiver after taking a running back and quarterback in the first round in 2012. But a new front office isn't likely to saddle up on a quarterback that will be 30 next year. I'm sticking with Smith going to Cleveland.
5. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU
This could/should be a volatile offseason for the Jets, who are among the most disappointing teams in the NFL. Their defense has been one of the many areas of glaring weakness this year; they're near the bottom of the NFL in sacks. If Mingo makes it to five, there's little chance the Jets let him slide any further. He's a big-time player who would make an immediate impact.
6. Buffalo Bills - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Bills spent a lot of money on their defense last offseason, and in spite of being middle-of-the-league in sacks, they're allowing a ton of points (near the bottom of the league allowing over 30 points per game). With most of that money used up front, having someone who can cover would make sense here for the Bills. This might be a little high for a corner, but it's a need in Buffalo.
7. St. Louis Rams (from WSH) - Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Rams will enjoy watching the second half struggles of a team in Washington relying on a rookie quarterback. The Rams have allowed more sacks than they would like to admit, so using their first of two picks on a potential all-pro guard would make Sam Bradford a happy man.
8. Oakland Raiders - Da'Rick Rodgers, WR, Tennessee Tech
I still think the Raiders stay with tradition and leave the reservation with a long-shot here on a kid with enormous talent but a few question marks off the field. A failed drug test led to an early exit from the Tennessee program, but he's settled in at Tennessee Tech nicely. He's been compared to Julio Jones, and would be a tremendous asset.
9. Tennessee Titans - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Titans have issues all over the field, which was made painfully clear against the Bears. But they destroyed the Dolphins this weekend and Chris Johnson has shown a few signs of being a game-changer still. Werner's a high-energy end who would help their defense a great deal.
10. St. Louis Rams - Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
The Rams would make Bradford the happiest man in the NFL if they picked a big-play receiver and a solid lineman in April. Allen would be a great compliment to Danny Amendola, something they desperately need.
11. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Eagles have serious issues everywhere, but with good talent at the skill positions on offense, it would be wise to protect their quarterback. Joeckel's a big kid who is considered by many to be the best tackle in this year's class. After Michael Vick's brother begged for him to be traded out of Philly for his protection, it's time the organization gets their line in order. And it probably won't be Andy Reid making this selection.
12. Miami Dolphins - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Lotulelei is considered a top-ten talent by most analysts, and many are calling him the top defensive tackle coming out in 2013; he could help solve a number of problems. The Dolphins pass defense has been mediocre this year, and they're older at defensive tackle (both listed starters turn 29 in December).
13. San Diego Chargers - Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
The unavoidable comparisons between Te'o and the late Junior Seau would make this a welcome selection for the struggling Chargers. But the reality is that Takeo Spikes is 35, and the Bolts desperately need another young playmaker at inside linebacker. I maintain that the Ravens will do all they can to get into the top ten to get their hands on Te'o as a potential replacement for Ray Lewis, so Te'o being around into the teens is a long shot.
14. Arizona Cardinals - Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
They don't have a running game, but there isn't a back that makes sense in the first round this year. And while Kevin Kolb has done some nice things over the last couple years, a franchise quarterback is still an enormous area of need here. Wilson is an intriguing prospect who's rough enough that another year with Kolb wouldn't be out of the question... but having the future in the fold would be a wise decision.
15. Detroit Lions - Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee
The Lions have so much talent on offense it's almost laughable that they can't stay above .500 for very long. Their starting tackles aren't impressing anyone; Gosder Cherilus will be 29 when the 2013 season begins, while Jeff Backus will be 36 in late September next year. Riley Reiff will be a starter for them at one tackle some day soon, but picking up another tackle would be a wise play here.
16. Cincinnati Bengals - Eric Reid, S, LSU
The Bengals desperately need a big safety and haven't received consistent play from Taylor Mays or Reggie Nelson. Reid is a big kid (6-2, 215) who hits, has a nose for the ball and has succeeded against the best competition college football offers while at LSU.
17. Dallas Cowboys - Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Montgomery is a very well regarded prospect that could be off the board before the tenth pick. But his size (6-5, 260) might lead to questions about how he would fit into both a 4-3 and a 3-4 at the pro level. Anthony Spencer isn't doing enough opposite DeMarcus Ware, so getting younger at the outside linebacker position might be a wise move here. But, if the Cowboys miss the playoffs this year, who knows what that roster will look like next year.
18. Minnesota Vikings - Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Antoine Winfield is still playing at a high level, but he'll turn 36 in June. Banks, who's listed at 6-2, would be a smart move both for depth in 2013 and as a potential replacement for Winfield; there's no such thing as too many corners in the NFC North.
19. Tampa Bay Buccanneers - William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
The Bucs are at the bottom of the NFL in passing yards allowed, and have struggled to keep their defensive ends healthy for a couple years. Gholston's a big (6-6, 278), physical end that can play all three downs. I predict Gholston will be the workout freak that's the talk of the combine this spring.
20. Seattle Seahawks - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Seattle needs some offensive weapons, and getting the best tight end available here is also the best value for their needs. There isn't another receiver that makes sense in the first round, especially at 20, so a big tight end is a good fit. Seattle might be a team to watch; they might opt to trade down from here.
21. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Andrew Luck has been a revelation this year, and their schedule lines up favorably for a potential playoff return for the Colts. But they need to do a better job of keeping Luck on his feet. Cooper's a big kid that would add depth to their line.
22. New Orleans Saints - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Saints are having a nice turnaround, winning their last two and handing Atlanta their first loss. But they're still giving up a LOT of yards through the air and could use help at the safety position. They might sneak into the playoffs this year, affording them the ability to take a good safety at an appropriate pick. Vaccaro is listed at 6-0 and 210 pounds and would likely step into the Saints secondary from Day One.
23. New York Giants - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Giants inability to protect Eli Manning might be what ultimately costs them a trip back to the Super Bowl. Lewan is enormous (6-7, 310), but more importantly could step in soon as a starting tackle on either side.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Damonte Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Steelers are old on defense, and the outside linebacker/defensive end position might be the most glaring area of need. Lamarr Woodley turned 28 last week, while James Harrison will turn 35 in June. Moore has pretty good size (6-4, 250) and has been a highlight player on an A&M team that will get a lot of attention following their win at Alabama. Moore has the chance to return to school, but could be a top-ten pick if he comes out.
25. Green Bay Packers - Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama
Green Bay needs help at running back, depth in their secondary and now have injury issues at linebacker as well. However, if we've learned anything over the last three years, it's that Aaron Rodgers can beat any team with his arm as long as he's able to stand in the pocket and throw. They've had issues keeping him on his feet, though. Adding a tackle here makes sense. Jones can play either guard or center, and would help their line a great deal here.
26. San Francisco 49ers - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Niners defense is as good as it gets, but their line is getting older. Williams is a big kid (6-2, 320) who eats up space. He grades out as well as any defensive tackle in this class, but doesn't have a lengthy resume; he has only been at UNC for two seasons. He would provide a big body in front of the stud linebackers in San Francisco.
27. Chicago Bears - Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
This might be a knee-jerk reaction to what we saw on Sunday night, but the Bears still need a tight end. Desperately. If he's still available, Ertz (6-6, 250) could be an ideal replacement for disappointing Kellen Davis; the Bears need anything from the tight end position, and Ertz is an enormous target.
28. Denver Broncos - Kawaan Short, DT, Purdue
The Broncos might look at a running back to replace Willis McGahee, and at some point they'll need to admit that Champ Bailey isn't 25 years old any more. But both of their starting defensive tackles are on the wrong side of 30, making that a position of both need and value here. There's a very good chance that Short will jump up the boards in a lot of front offices after a solid season on an underwhelming Purdue team.
29. New England Patriots - Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
As I've said in every mock draft I've ever written, as long as Bill Belichek is in New England, the safest bet with the Patriots is that they won't pick with their own pick when the draft arrives. But, if we leave them here for the sake of the mock draft, getting a top-rated defensive tackle would be par for the course with the Pats.
30. Baltimore Ravens - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Ravens will be desperately trying to get their hands on Te'o. They'll also hope to see one of Vaccaro and Reid available here as a potential replacement for Ed Reed. But if they can't trade up to get Te'o and both safeties are off the board, the Ravens will undoubtedly find a gem that once again reminds the league that Mr. Newsome is arguably the best talent evaluator in the game. Ogletree is considered a potential top-15 pick and is the #2 inside linebacker in this year's class behind Te'o.
31. Atlanta Falcons - Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Falcons would love for there to be a top tight end on the board here, but it's a long shot that either Eifert or Ertz is still available at the bottom of the round. Without a tight end that fits here, taking a replacement for John Abraham makes sense. Jordan is big (6-6, 240) and might be leaving a national champion at Oregon.
32. Houston Texans - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Texans could use an outside option to play opposite Andre Johnson and, if they're picking this late in the draft, they obviously didn't have many holes during the year. Whether or not they end up the top team in the AFC is now an open discussion with Brian Cushing done for the year, but they're good and deep on both sides of the ball in a mediocre division.