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Sam Farmer's NFL mock draft: Where's USC quarterback Matt Barkley?

With less than three weeks to go before the NFL draft, The Times' Sam Farmer pencils out the first round — which, in his view, will not include USC's Matt Barkley.

April 06, 2013|By Sam Farmer
  • USC receiver Robert Woods, left, sneaks into the first round while quarterback Matt Barkley doesn't.
USC receiver Robert Woods, left, sneaks into the first round while quarterback… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

So Manti T'eo goes in the first round, but USC's Matt Barkley doesn't?

With less than three weeks to go before the NFL draft, that's a distinct possibility. The Times projects four safeties, two guards and the controversial Notre Dame linebacker to go in the opening round, but only one quarterback.

A look at how the first round could unfold:

1. CHIEFS — Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M: If they don't sign Branden Albert to a long-term deal, the Chiefs need a capable blind-side bodyguard for newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith. Joeckel and Eric Fisher are the best in this class.

2. JAGUARS — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida: Floyd, the best defensive tackle in the draft, would be a welcome addition to a team that finished 30th in total defense last season and last in sacks.

3. RAIDERS — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: Even though they signed Tracy Porter to a one-year deal, the Raiders still need a lot of help at corner. Milliner ran a scorching 4.31-second 40 at the combine.

4. EAGLES — Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Philadelphia isn't going to spend all that money to hire Chip Kelly, then leave the cupboard bare at quarterback. Michael Vick is at best a short-term solution.

5. LIONS — Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan: Fisher has more of a mean streak than Joeckel, and some evaluators like him better. With the retirement of Jeff Backus and the departure of Gosder Cherilus to Indianapolis, the Lions need tackles.

6. BROWNS — Ziggy Ansah, DE, Brigham Young: The raw but gifted Ansah would further upgrade an improved Browns pass rush, essential in a division featuring quarterbacks Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton.

7. CARDINALS — Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma: If Bruce Arians is going to turn around the league's last-ranked offense with Carson Palmer, he needs to keep the quarterback upright. The Cardinals badly need a top-shelf tackle.

8. BILLS — Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Louisiana State: The Bills will consider a quarterback here, but Kevin Kolb buys them some time, and they can pick one up later in the second round. After all the money they spent on their defensive front last season, they still need pass-rush help.

9. JETS — Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon: In five of the last six drafts, the Jets have selected a defensive player with their top pick. The law of averages might say they'll go offense, but their pass rush remains well below par.

10. TITANS — Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: The Titans started five different offensive line combinations in the second half of last season and have an acute need at guard. A Hall of Fame guard himself, Coach Mike Munchak knows just what he wants.

11. CHARGERS — Chance Warmack, G, Alabama: Opinions vary on who is the best guard in this class, Cooper or Warmack. Protection breakdowns played a big role in Philip Rivers' performance meltdowns over the last two seasons. Warmack could develop into the next Kris Dielman.

12. DOLPHINS — Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: The Dolphins filled so many needs in free agency, they have the luxury of taking the best player available. The big, rangy Rhodes would be a good pick here, providing they don't trade up to grab Johnson.

13. BUCCANEERS — Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: The Buccaneers need a lot of help on defense — they finished with a No. 31 ranking last season — but a pass-catching tight end could be too tempting for a franchise that opted not to re-sign Dallas Clark.

14. PANTHERS — Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Lotulelei might be the best player in this draft, but his heart scare is giving teams pause. He's gotten the medical go-ahead so far, and if he can put teams at ease he should rocket back into the top five.

15. SAINTS — Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: Jones' once sky-high stock has dropped because of spinal stenosis and possibly because of his decision not to work out at the combine. Still, he could be a bargain at this spot and a good addition to a wobbly defense that Rob Ryan aims to fix.

16. RAMS — Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee: With Danny Amendola gone, the Rams could use help at receiver. West Virginia's Tavon Austin is a safer pick here, but the 6-foot-3 Patterson, who played just one season of big-time college football, has greater upside.

17. STEELERS — Matt Elam, SS, Florida: With Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark in their early 30s, the Steelers need to develop replacements. Elam's build is similar to Polamalu's, and the Florida prospect is a hammering hitter and playmaker.

18. COWBOYS — Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas: Dallas released starting safety Gerald Sensabaugh, and Vaccaro could be a ballhawk on the back end of Monte Kiffin's defense. The Longhorns haven't had a player selected in the first round since safety Earl Thomas in 2010.

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