The 2013 NFL Draft is still a long ways way, but after seven weeks of college football we are beginning to get a very clear picture of where this yearâ€™s top prospects stand. More importantly, after six weeks of NFL action â€“ it is becoming increasingly obvious what various teamsâ€™ biggest holes are. Put those two things together and you have a recipe for an early mock draft.
Itâ€™s impossible to say for certain that everything will ultimately turn out this way, but at the moment all signs point to some combination of the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars being at the top of the draft board. What do all of those teams have in common? They could all use a top-tier defensive player. And when itâ€™s all said and done, top-tier defensive players is going to be what this draft is remembered for.
For all of the rumblings in the preseason about how many quality quarterbacks are going to be available â€“ there are only two worth discussing right now. Of those two, Matt Barkley hasnâ€™t lived up to the hype all season long, and Geno Smith sort of got exposed this week against Texas Tech. Beyond that, there is one legitimate running back in this thing, and he couldnâ€™t make a dent versus LSUâ€™s defense on Saturday. Sprinkle in a handful of quality wide receivers and you end up with a very unimpressive grouping of offensive skill position players to choose from.
Make no mistake about it, offensive skill position players and cornerbacks will go in the first round, but they will go because teams are severely lacking in those positions, not because they are oh so impressive this time around.
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With all of that in mind, here is the standard guidelines we go by in these things:
The draft order was determined by ESPNâ€™s power rankings from one week ago. Obviously things will change as the season progresses, but that is the structure we opted to use for now. This draft was made after Week 6. We didnâ€™t hold anyoneâ€™s performances from that particular Saturday against them, and now you see why. There is just too much material on prospects at this point to mark them down for one bad showing; LSU, specifically, showed exactly why you canâ€™t write off college kids after one bad outing. Finally, we weighted team needs over best player available whenever it was clear that a team had a really glaring hole. In the case of teams that didnâ€™t have particularly glaring holes, we emphasized best player available.