2013 NFL Mock Draft (Full First Round)
Believe it or not, the Vikings' offense and defense were both ranked 14th in points this year, despite the feeling that their defense was their strength (at least that's how I felt). Their biggest weakness, however, is the passing game, in which they were ranked 31st. With talks of Percy Harvin possibly leaving, and a complete lack of a No. 2 receiver even if Harvin stays, Hopkins makes sense at this spot. He doesn't blow you away with straight-line speed, and could lose stock at the combine, but he simply gets the job done. He stepped up in a big way for the oft-sidelined Sammy Watkins at Clemson in 2012, catching 82 passes for 1405 yards and 18 touchdowns.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
This is a bit late for Richardson to be drafted, but I just didn't see the right fit after Carolina's pick. If he does fall to this area, I wouldn't be surprised to see another team trade up to jump the Colts and steal him. However, if he does fall to the Colts at 24, they'll take him in a heartbeat. He's a versatile defensive tackle who makes a lot of plays on the ball carrier, has the awareness to effectively defend screen plays, and can collapse the pocket in the middle. LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery may be tempting here with the expected departure of Dwight Freeney, but the Colts seriously lack a playmaker in the middle of their defensive line, and Richardson can fill that void.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Seahawks defense was the best in the league in 2012 as far as points allowed, and while their offense was no slouch, I think they address the wide receiver position with this pick. No Seahawk receiver topped 750 yards receiving, and the front office should focus on getting their sensational young quarterback a more consistent weapon. A former safety, Allen is often able to find open areas in the secondary, resulting in easy throws for his quarterback. He has nice hands and can make things happen after the catch. He dealt with some nagging injuries in 2012, but if he stays healthy he could add a new dynamic to the Seahawks' offense.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Packers focused heavily on defense in last year's draft, and it was very much improved in 2012. However, there are still a couple of areas where the Packers struggle: they gave up 4.5 yards per carry (26th in the league), and the only player to register more than 4.5 sacks was Clay Matthews. Floyd could fit well into the Packers' 3-4 defense as a defensive end, and as a powerful 300+ pound player, he could wreak havoc on runs between the tackles. While he may not rack up sacks himself, his size and the attention he requires could free up other pass rushers.
27. Houston Texans: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
The Texans' offense and defense were both very solid this season, so I think they go with a bit of a "best player available" approach with this pick. Minter is an NFL-ready linebacker who can break down plays quickly, get off blocks, and make tackles. He is also quick off the snap when sent on a blitz. With Brian Cushing recovering from a torn ACL, Bradie James set for free agency, and no other inside linebackers worthy of starting, Minter would be a good addition to the Texans' 3-4 base defense.
28. Denver Broncos: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
The Broncos are pretty much set in every facet of the game, but their weakest area was their ground attack, with which they averaged only 3.8 yards per carry on the season. Part of that was due to the injury to Willis McGahee, but with McGahee turning 32 years old next October and having a history of knee issues, the Broncos shouldn't be planning on using him as a workhorse for too long. With Peyton Manning's 37th birthday coming up in March, the run game will likely be more important every year. Pegged as a potential every-down back, Ball could provide the Broncos with a talented bell cow.
29. New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
With Wes Welker's future in New England uncertain, the Patriots may have a big shoe to fill in the slot. As a matter of fact, the Patriots could use some more depth at receiver regardless of whether or not Welker stays. Austin is a tiny, quick little playmaker who caught 114 passes at 11.3 yards a clip for the Mountaineers in 2012 - sounds pretty Welker-esque, doesn't it? He also ran the ball for 643 yards and three touchdowns, providing that unique versatility that Bill Belichick loves in his offensive players.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
I have Montgomery dropping quite a bit due to his awkward size for his position - 6'5'' 260 pounds. If he bulks up enough, he could be suited for a defensive end role in a 4-3 defense, but if he stays lean he may be forced to adjust to a 3-4 outside linebacker position. The Falcons' defense really struggled up front this season, and if they stick with the 4-3 (which they ran in 2012), they could take a shot with Montgomery and try to turn him into a much needed presence in the trenches.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, S, Florida
With a lot of uncertainty regarding whether Ed Reed will return to the Ravens next season, and the fact that pass defense was the Ravens' worst unit on a per-play basis, it makes sense to address the secondary. Elam, like Reed, is a bit undersized but packs a huge punch. His anticipation, speed, and tackling ability make him a very good all-around safety prospect that could provide the same style of play that Reed has put on the field for the Ravens for so many years.
I have the Ravens picking before the 49ers simply because the 49ers are favored in the Super Bowl. Don't get mad, Ravens fans.
32. San Francisco 49ers: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Most mock drafts you see will bring up the same theory about the 49ers - they need to find someone to replace Justin Smith, who will turn 34 towards the beginning of next season and will be a free agent in March of 2014. To address the inevitable decline of their monster in the middle, the Niners will want to go with the biggest, baddest defensive front man they can find. Jenkins has a shot at taking that role from Smith when the time comes and helping the 49ers' defense move seamlessly into the post-Smith era.
Second round coming soon.