It might be way too early to be posting a mock draft, but some teams are already looking forward to April (I’m looking at you Browns). This will be a weekly post, so have no fear about it being out of date when you actually become interested in mock drafts (usually when your team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs) However, it is indeed really early, so I will only be posting the Top 10 picks until midseason, when things have become much more clear.
The draft order is based on ESPN.com’s power rankings, so all I am doing is picking the best player to help each team. With that said, here we go.
Pick 1- Indianapolis Colts
Jarvis Jones- OLB Georgia
The Colts actually looked better than a lot of teams last Sunday, so I don’t see them staying in this spot. However, they are there now, and they could use help all over the place. One thing they did not address in the 2012 draft was the defense. It switched to a 3-4 and while Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are talented, they cannot be part of Indy’s long-term plan.
That’s where Jones comes in. He looks like the best outside linebacker in the 2013 draft class, and he projects as a 3-4 player. Seems like a perfect fit. He can generate pressure with a healthy mix of power and speed, and is actually good in pass coverage. He already has 3.5 sacks through his first two games, and there are plenty more in store for the young Bulldog.
Pick 2- Cleveland Browns
Matt Barkley- QB USC
Go ahead, call for my head. “Why would the Browns draft a QB in the first round two years in a row?!?” I’ve heard that question so many times, and my answer is always the same. “Did you see the Browns game?” If they did, they would see that Brandon Weeden looks like a guy who will take some time to develop, and the soon to be 29-year-old doesn’t have a lot of that to spare.
Barkley is at the moment the consensus top QB in the draft, and he was off to a great start, throwing 10 touchdowns to just one interception. Then he played Stanford and looked mediocre. I see him bouncing back from that performance.He has weapons around him which could make him look better than he is, which is cause for concern, but at least he knows how to use those weapons. Unless Weeden has a huge turnaround, I don’t see the Browns going with anyone but Barkley.
Pick 3- Miami Dolphins
Keenan Allen- WR Cal
After trading away Vontae Davis, I almost had the Dolphins drafting a corner here, but there shocking lack of talented receivers kept calling out to me. And the team is going to want to surround rookie Ryan Tannehill with playmakers fast. Reggie Bush can’t do everything, although he might have to try this season.
Allen is a rare talent at receiver that can take over a game. He isn’t the fastest guy at the position, but he has size, hands, and, most importantly, smarts. He runs excellent routes, knows how to use his size against the smaller defenders, and can make some plays after the catch. Look for him to rise up many draft boards this year, as well as continue to improve. And for a guy already averaging 72 yards a game, that’s saying something.
Pick 4- Jacksonville Jaguars
David Amerson- CB NC State
Talk about a heartbreaking defeat. Unless, of course, you were a Vikings fan. Which I am, so it was GREAT! But that aside, the Jags were my toughest team to mock. Mostly because all along I had them taking a QB, then Blaine Gabbert goes and has an impressive game. I feel I’ll end up changing this one every week, but for now I’m content with Amerson.
That’s because the Jaguars corners have been plagued with injuries the past few years. Add in the fact that the team’s top three corners (Mathis, Cox, & Middleton) are all in a contract year, and drafting a corner makes much more sense. While Amerson struggled in his season debut, he bounced back with back to back impressive showings. He has a great hands for a corner, and projects as a true shut down type of guy. Much like Darrelle Revis, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Pick 5- Minnesota Vikings
Star Lotulelei- DT Utah
As I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of the Vikings, so I would hate to see them pick this high again. But if it means Lotulelei could be wearing purple, it makes it much more bearable. The Vikes have a good d-line, but there is a huge (and I mean huge) hole where Pat Williams used to play. This could finally be the year the team fills it.
Lotulelei can do it all. He has the size and strength to clog the middle, as well as the technique and finesse to generate pressure. He’s like a Dontari Poe, but only he has had success at the collegiate level. While his combine numbers probably won’t be as good as Poe’s, his production will make up for it. He already has 1.5 sacks in his first two games, and was a huge factor in Utah’s upset over BYU. Plus, his name is just awesome.
Pick 6- St. Louis Rams
Robert Woods- WR USC
The Rams had to have been upset when Jacksonville trading in front of them to draft Justin Blackmon. That was their guy, and they were going to get him AND the ransom they got from the Redskins. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. No need to fret though, as they grabbed Brian Quick in the 2nd round. But oh yeah, he hasn’t recorded a catch in any preseason or regular season game yet… Now don’t get me wrong, I like Quick and think he will turn it around soon, but why not spoil your young QB and get another great receiver.
Woods could easily be the first WR drafted in 2013, but I think Allen will pass him. That should sit just fine with Rams’ fans as Woods is no slouch. Through the first two games, he had 135 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Granted his performance against Stanford was bad, but don’t read into that, as he is too talented not to recover.
Pick 7- Seattle Seahawks
Luke Joeckel- OT Texas A & M
While dropped passes were what ended up dooming Seattle in week 1, it was the play of the O-Line throughout the game that seemed the most uninspired. Getting some better protection for either Russell Wilson or Matt Flynn has got to be top priority, and getting some help for Marshawn “Taste the Rainbow” Lynch wouldn’t hurt either.
In comes Joeckel, a 6’6”, 310 pound mammoth, who has the technique to play left tackle against the big boys. He demonstrated that against Florida’s solid pass rush, and has been a consistent performer throughout his short career. He would be an immense improvement over J.R. Sweezy. He could even play left and they could bounce Russell Okung back over to right where he seems better suited.
Pick 8- Oakland Raiders
Barkevious Mingo- DE LSU
The Raiders are rebuilding. There, I said it. Everyone knows it, but it doesn’t seem that anyone is saying it. However, I like what management did with the team’s limited draft picks after the misguided trade for Carson Palmer. This could be a short turnaround. And part of that turnaround is drafting the beast that is Barkevious Mingo.
Oakland’s defense could use some more pressure, and Barkevious Mingo could be pass rusher they need. Plus, with a name like Barkevious Mingo, he would be embraced into Raider nation. And in case you couldn’t tell, I love his name a whole heck of a lot too. Mingo’s biggest weakness is against the run, but he projects to be a guy that can get double-digit sacks consistently, and he continues to improve. He will gradually learn how to play the run better, and the Raiders will reap all of the rewards.
Pick 9- Buffalo Bills
Chance Warmack- OG Alabama
Call me crazy, but I don’t think Buffalo will target a QB next year. At least not in the first round. They just invested so much into Fitzpatrick that I think they will try to fill other needs instead. Whether that’s the right decision is a different story, but I feel this is what they will do. And to be fair, fixing a broken O-Line is never a bad thing.
Warmack is a beast. He can pass block better than any guard I have seen in the past few years. Add in his size (6’3”, 320 pounds) and an ability to use that size in the run game makes him a great addition to any team. The Bills could easily go in a few other directions, but I think they will try to build a line for CJ Spiller and a QB to be named in 2014.
Pick 10-Carolina Panthers
Kawaan Short- DT Purdue
Whenever a team is starting both Ron and Dwan Edwards, there is a problem. And while it was the offense that let them down in week 1, the defense is the bigger concern long-term. Last year the Panthers tried to fix the front seven of the defense by taking Luke Kuechly in the first round, and the team will continue fixing it with the addition of Short.
Probably the best pass rushing DT since Ndamukong Suh, Short has shown the temperament needed to be an elite lineman. He has the size (6’3”, 312 pounds) and skill everyone dreams of in an interior lineman, and the production is there. He had 6 sacks in 2010, 6.5 in 2011, and already 4 this season. He needs to work on defending the run a little more, but he is already very accomplished at that as well. He could become the first DT taken in 2013 come draft day, but for the moment he falls to Carolina.
So there it is, my first Bustasports Mock Draft. Feels good to get that off of my chest. I’ll post it earlier in the week next time, so you have longer to disagree with all of my opinions. Feel free to comment, and see you all next week.