Pass-rushers were all the rage in the 2012 NFL draft. Top prospects like Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram may have fallen a bit, though there were still seven sackmasters taken in the first round and another five in the second.
Apparently, there's no such thing as putting too much pressure on the opposing passer.
The class of 2013 might not be quite so stacked with quality defensive ends, outside linebackers and edge-rushing hybrids, though there figure to be more than a few off the board within the first 32 picks regardless.
1. Cleveland Browns: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Matt Barkley doesn't hit quarterbacks; he is one, and a darn good one at that.
2. Indianapolis Colts: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Robert Woods will hope that Indy's opponents can't get after Andrew Luck too often. Otherwise, his life out wide will be that much more difficult.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
Let's say Blaine Gabbert shows some signs of life this season, or at least enough to convince the Jaguars to not spend their first-round pick on a new quarterback.
Chances are, Jacksonville would need a defensive upgrade at that point. GM Gene Smith did well to snap up Clemson's Andre Branch in the second round this year, but he can't expect one rookie to turn around a unit that ranked 25th in sacks last season.
Picking up LSU's Sam Montgomery would be a step in the right direction. He notched nine sacks for the Tigers as a sophomore and has the sort of size, speed and athleticism to terrorize quarterbacks as an outside 'backer or a down lineman from time to time.
4. Minnesota Vikings: David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
David Amerson won't account for any sacks himself, per se, though the shutdown coverage he provides in the defensive backfield will buy time for the Vikings' rushers to get to the quarterback.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Bucs will hope that DJ Fluker can keep Josh Freeman safe behind the line.
6. Oakland Raiders: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
The Silver and Black have struggled to protect their passers ever since Rich Gannon last slung a sidearm pass in Oakland. They'll likely put their money on Tyler Bray to stand upright for longer than the USC-trained tandem of Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart will this season.
Unless, of course, they wind up at No. 1 with a shot at another Trojan—Matt Barkley.
7. Miami Dolphins: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
The Dolphins would be wise to spend this pick on a new owner and/or general manager.
What's that? They can't do that?
Oh, well...in that case, Miami should seek out a pass-rushing partner for Cameron Wake. That way, at least the 'Fins will have a solid defense to lean on while they cringe through the growing pains that Ryan Tannehill is sure to endure.
8. St. Louis Rams: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Protection will be paramount for the Rams if they're ever going to keep Sam Bradford healthy for long enough to allow him to develop into an elite passer.
9. Arizona Cardinals: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
The Cards opt to cut the chord on Kevin Kolb and bring Landry Jones, a New Mexico native, closer to his desert roots.
10. New York Jets: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
11. Seattle Seahawks: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
We won't know until the Seahawks improve the corps of receivers to whom he can throw.
12. San Diego Chargers: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
The Honey Badger is certainly capable of contributing in the pass rush, but figures to spend more time pestering wide receivers as his position demands.
13. New Orleans Saints: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
There's no telling which of the Saints' defenders will be suspended by the league, or for how many games, in the after-aftermath of the Bountygate scandal. In any case, New Orleans could use a big, athletic tackle like Johnathan Hankins to improve its defensive push up front.
14. Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
LSU's pass rush might rival that of some terrible NFL teams, thanks to the tandem of Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo off the edges.
Mingo, in particular, looks like a beast-in-the-making at defensive end, assuming he packs on a few extra pounds to his 6'5" frame before he makes the jump. With Tennessee, the Louisiana native would provide some depth behind Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley while working his way into a starting spot at some point down the line.
15. Buffalo Bills: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Bills are set at the ends with Mario Williams and Mark Anderson...at least, until either (or both) of those guys flame out. They could use another body at tackle, though, and Kawann Short is one of the best at that spot in this draft class.
16. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
You know what else would help Sam Bradford avoid another season-long beating? A wide receiver with elite tools, like, say, Cal's Keenan Allen.
17. Carolina Panthers: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Panthers won't ignore their need at defensive tackle again...will they?
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
A healthy Marcus Lattimore could make Cincy's offense one of the best and most balanced in the NFL.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Barrett Jones can do it all (i.e. protect the passer and block in the running game) and would provide a nice dose of youth to Dallas' aging offensive line.
20. Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
The Chiefs netted all of 29 sacks last season—the third-fewest in football—and didn't do much of anything in the draft or free agency this year to improve that part of their game. Dontari Poe, their top pick, should be able to wreak some havoc form the inside, but isn't a sackmaster, per se.
That won't be as much of an issue once Alex Okafor ends up on the field in KC. The 6'4", 260-pound senior-to-be has the size and strength to contribute off the edge from Day 1 in the NFL.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Don't expect the Steelers to ignore their need at linebacker again, especially if a tough tackling machine like Manti Te'o falls into their lap.
22. Chicago Bears: Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
Jay Cutler showed last season that he can be an excellent quarterback when given even a modest allowance of pass protection. An upgrade at offensive tackle with Virginia's Oday Aboushi, then, may well give Cutler the peace of mind to be a Pro Bowler.
23. Detroit Lions: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
Assuming one of the three corners the Lions drafted this year works out, they'll turn their attention to safety. So far, Tony Jefferson looks like the best of the bunch.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tyler Eifert looks like a solid choice to succeed Tony Gonzalez...unless the future Hall of Famer finds the Fountain of Youth.
25. Denver Broncos: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The same goes for Champ Bailey in Denver, who may well find his spot filled by Xavier Rhodes at some point down the line.
26. Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Faulk, OT, LSU
The Eagles will do what they always do (i.e. build from the inside out), except, this time, they'll finally get around to rebuilding their offensive line.
27. Houston Texans: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Kareem Jackson will struggle across from Johnathan Joseph, necessitating the introduction of a new corner, like Desmond Trufant.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Johnathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Niners did nothing to address their tenuous situation at corner this offseason, leaving them with a clear need at the position heading into the 2013 draft.
29. Green Bay Packers: Khaled Holmes, C, USC
Jeff Saturday can only protect Aaron Rodgers for so long. He'll hand off the responsibility to USC's Khaled Holmes before too long.
30. New England Patriots: Kwame Geathers, DT, Georgia
If the Pats don't trade out of the first round, they'll fill the middle with a big body like Kwame Geathers'.
31. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Giants have long had a penchant for picking up defensive linemen, which made their lack of one in the 2012 draft so odd.
Not that they necessarily needed one, though the ongoing contract dispute between Osi Umenyiora and New York's front office may force a change before too long.
Don't be surprised, then, if Big Blue goes for Bjoern Werner, the big German out of Florida State, to serve as a younger bookend to Jason Pierre-Paul.
32. Baltimore Ravens: TJ McDonald, S, USC
The Ravens found a tentative replacement for Ray Lewis this year in Courtney Upshaw. Next up, a safety to replace Ed Reed.
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