Early look at 2013 NFL Mock Draft
The 2012 NFL Draft illustrated teams' focus on the passing game, with quarterbacks, cornerbacks and pass rushers flying off the board. Teams can now afford to be much bolder at quarterback thanks to the rookie salary slotting system, allowing them to take guys higher than graded and to give up on former first-rounders quicker than before. Next year's class doesn't have an Andrew Luck in it, so predicting the top QB picks will be tougher, but teams will always find players to fit that need.
The Jaguars made a commitment to Blaine Gabbert this offseason by improving his receiving corps, but those efforts may give them an excuse for dumping him if the offense struggles again this season. They can say they tried to put Gabbert in a position to succeed, and move on. Wilson may have been the third quarterback taken if he had entered this year's draft. He doesn't jump out at you as a classic No. 1 overall, but will end up grading higher than both Matt Barkley and Tyler Bray.
Colts management is going to be patient surrounding Andrew Luck with talent, and Joeckel is exactly the kind of building block they'll need. The Aggie lineman gets less attention than he should because Bruce Matthews' son Jake is on the other side, but Joeckel is the bona fide stud left tackle. NFL teams certainly know all about him after watching hours of Ryan Tannehill tape this offseason, and will be watching him closely this season.
The Bucs went safety this year with first-round pick Mark Barron, but still have plenty of room to improve in the defensive backfield. Amerson had 13 interceptions last season and could insert himself into Heisman contention if offenses aren't smart enough to avoid him this season.
If you want to see what an NFL throw looks like, look up Bray on YouTube. But the 6-foot-6 signal-caller has been inconsistent at Tennessee -- in part because he and his receivers have been injured. He's a boom-or-bust prospect a year out -- he's been fragile and could move up to No. 1 or fall back into the pack.
Woods is listed at 6-1, 190, so he lacks Calvin Johnson size, but teams have to realize there aren't a lot of Calvin Johnson types out there. Justin Blackmon is about the same size as Woods and went No. 5 overall in this year's draft. Woods is more polished and will get a lot of attention playing for the Trojans this season.
After focusing on offense in this year's draft, the Browns turn back to defense in 2013. Montgomery had nine sacks last season and stands out on a defense once again loaded with future NFL players.
Cornerbacks have been going higher than expected in recent years, and the Dolphins need to continue to chase the Patriots. Rhodes is sometimes overshadowed by defensive backfield mate Greg Reid, but he's a better pro prospect. You can compare Rhodes to LSU's Morris Claiborne and Reid to Tyrann Mathieu.
Barkley has been compared to Andrew Luck for staying at USC even though he could have been a high selection in 2012, but he may get picked apart in a way Luck did not. Some people wonder if Barkley is big enough, and how much his outstanding receivers and the system at USC help him look good. Trojans QBs have not done well in the NFL lately, but if anyone can overlook that it's Pete Carroll.
The 2011 Outland Trophy winner for outstanding offensive lineman is 6-5, 302 pounds, and solid. The Rams didn't seem interested in upgrading their offensive line in this year's draft, but left tackle Rodger Saffold is far from elite. Jones has also shown versatility playing at different spots on the line at Alabama. Some have teammate D.J. Fluker rated higher, but Jones is too solid to pass up.
Jones totaled 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in 2011, and enters the season as the highest-profile defensive player. But at 6-3, 241 pounds, he's not very big for his position. He's caught between outside linebacker and defensive end, like No. 18 overall pick Melvin Ingram in this year's draft.
The Rams turn one of their picks from the Robert Griffin III trade with the Redskins into a productive cornerback. Banks reportedly got a fourth-round grade from the NFL Draft advisory board and decided to return to Starkville. But the advisory board is notoriously stingy. He's a better prospect than that. Banks has had plenty of big plays at Mississippi State, including two pick-6s off Tim Tebow in one game.
The Cal receiver missed spring practice after having ankle surgery, but if he can stay healthy he has the size and explosiveness to be the second receiver taken. Allen got off to a great start last season, but fell off because of quarterback problems at Cal. The Bears' passing game will improve this year and Allen will shine.
Gilbert hasn't really come on to most people's radar yet as a cornerback, even though many recognize his outstanding return skills. The former high school quarterback and track star could turn develop into a very good cover man. He's already intercepted passes from Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill.
Even as teams have de-emphasized drafting running backs high in recent years, three went in the first round this year. If healthy, Lattimore will have the same kind of production Trent Richardson had last season.
The Texas A&M lineman is Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews' son, and bloodlines matter to the NFL. The Cowboys are still trying to put together a complete offensive line.
The Broncos will jump on the tall, athletic defender. Okafor's linemate Jackson Jeffcoat will also get a lot of attention, but he's just a junior, and Mack Brown finds a way to get his players to stay through their senior year.
The Vols receiver tore his ACL in the third game of last season, but is expected to make a full return this season. He averaged over 15 yards per catch in the two games he did play and reminds some people of Randy Moss.
Jenkins fits the mold of slightly undersized but very athletic 3-4 pass rushers who move up on draft day, like No. 15 overall pick Bruce Irvin out of West Virginia.
The Giants go best player available and continue to rework their line with the next breakout offensive line star from Wisconsin.
Teams may have character concerns about Gholston, but they won't doubt his athleticism. At 6-7, 280 pounds, Gholston wanted to play linebacker at Michigan State and probably had the skills to do it. Gholston was suspended last season for unsportsmanlike conduct in a win over Michigan. That anger can work if Gholston channels it toward quarterbacks.
Jones struggled at the end of last season and probably hurt his chances of being a top pick in this year's draft. If he can return to his 2010 form, however, he has the size to get back in the good graces of NFL teams, who are always eager to take a chance on tall gunslingers.The Chiefs could also look at Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, who often gets compared to Cam Newton as a potential breakout star.
Mingo had eight sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss last season, and the Saints will find a way to fit him into their scheme as they rebuild that defense.
The 6-4, 215-pound Miami safety served an NCAA suspension for taking benefits from booster Nevin Shapiro, but enough time will have passed for NFL teams to overlook that part of his past. Perhaps the Ravens' famous Miami alums can help management see Armstrong's value.
The 6-6, 335-pound right tackle already projects as a fantastic run-blocker. Now he has to prove he can be an effective all-around tackle. If he does, he could shoot up much higher.
The Eagles have been searching for an answer at safety since Brian Dawkins left. Reid has had some big plays at LSU, including a game-saving interception in the Tigers' regular-season win over Alabama.
Scouts can't help but notice the massive Jenkins when they check out Jarvis Jones. The Steelers did draft Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu in the fourth round of this year's draft, but there's no guarantee they've found Casey Hampton's successor yet.
Porter had 17 tackles for a loss and 9 ½ sacks, and broke up four passes last season. He's 6-2, 235 pounds and would fit in well in the Packers' scheme. Porter will blow up at the Combine thanks to his physical prowess.