While fans of contending teams spend their weeks dreaming about a trip to the Super Bowl, others' fanbases are forced to look ahead to the 2013 NFL draft. They hope the class will provide the talented prospects needed to move them into the playoff conversation next season.
As it stands now, it's a pretty deep class that lacks elite talent. Geno Smith will be the most notable name during the offseason, but beyond him, there's an opening for players to emerge as top-five picks between now and April.
Let's take a look at a mock draft of the entire first round, with a closer look at a couple defenders worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Even though the Jaguars would probably prefer to target a playmaker with this pick, Lotulelei provides too much value to pass up given the lack of big-play options available.
3. Carolina Panthers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Panthers are in an interesting spot. Since their offense has underperformed in the second year with Cam Newton leading the way, they would probably like to get him another weapon, but there isn't one worth taking here.
Instead, they will probably have to look toward the defensive side to find a player who can help out at the linebacker level. Jones has been one of the top defenders in college football this season and would bring some versatility to the unit.
Should the Panthers decide to play it safe and take Jones, they would then target some offensive pieces in the following rounds to help out Newton. They won't be as polished, but at least they add another impact player to a defense that needs more.
4. Cleveland Browns: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Cleveland has a lot of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. A dominant edge rusher can solve multiple problems at once, and Werner definitely has that type of potential.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The Raiders have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The defense isn't on the same level, however. Montgomery can begin the process of rebuilding the unit.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
It seems like every year, there are a couple members of the Alabama secondary ready to make an immediate impact at the next level. Milliner would be a perfect fit for Philadelphia.
7. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Barkley returned to the Trojans with hopes of winning a national title, but the move didn't alter his draft stock. He remains a fringe top-10 pick who makes sense for the Bills.
8. Detroit Lions: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Te'o helped Notre Dame's defense become one of the best units in the nation. The Lions need a player with his type of passion in the middle of their defense.
9. St. Louis Rams: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Rams selected Michael Brockers with their first pick last season. Pairing him with Hankins would give St. Louis a terrific interior of the defensive line for many years to come.
10. Arizona Cardinals: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Arizona would love to have a quarterback available to take here, but there just isn't one with enough value. Taking the best player on the board is a better option.
11. New York Jets: Keenan Allen, WR, California
It doesn't matter who's playing quarterback for the Jets if they don't have any weapons to use. Allen would give the team a No. 1 wideout of the future to build around.
12. Miami Dolphins: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Dolphins need to find a player capable of getting pressure on the opposing quarterback to take some pressure off their struggling secondary. Moore is the best edge rusher left.
13. San Diego Chargers: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
One of the main reasons Philip Rivers has struggled over the past two seasons is the lackluster offensive line protecting him. Joeckel would fix at least one of the holes up front.
14. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Sam Bradford needs more protection. Putting Lewan opposite Rodger Saffold should give Bradford a lot more time to stand in the pocket than he's received at any point in his young career.
15. Tennessee Titans: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Tennessee doesn't have much choice. It has to address the pass-rushing situation. The Titans rank 29th in the league with just 16 sacks through 11 weeks, and that's a major reason the defense has struggled so mightily this season.
Jordan is exactly what you'd expect from an Oregon player. He's showcased tremendous athleticism and should continue to develop once he adds a little more strength. He hasn't really needed it at the college level, but will against NFL tackles.
It's going to take him a couple seasons before he reaches his potential, but the Titans can't afford to pass up on a player with his type of upside given their struggles getting to the quarterback. He would be a nice fit.
16. Cincinnati Bengals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Mid-American Conference has started to received some much-deserved recognition this season, which should help the draft stock of players like Fisher. He would boost the Bengals line.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Dallas' offensive line needs some reinforcements to help open up holes for DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones. It has too much talent to struggle like it has at times in 2012.
18. New Orleans Saints: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
It's no secret the Saints have to address their defense, which continues to lag way behind their offense in terms of efficiency. Banks should be able to help the secondary right away.
19. Minnesota Vikings: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The Vikings need another wide receiver to take attention away from Percy Harvin. Hopkins should provide solid value at this spot and should be a good fit for the offense.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Josh Freeman's resurgence has overshadowed some ongoing issues along the offensive line in Tampa Bay. Matthews would make sure the team's franchise QB is protected.
21. Seattle Seahawks: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Depending on how confident they feel after the season at wide receiver, the Seahawks might opt to go that route instead. But Jenkins would be another nice piece for the defense.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Indianapolis spent last season's draft rebuilding the offense after the departure of Peyton Manning and the arrival of Andrew Luck. Now it's time to focus on the defense again.
23. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Giants have a lot of pass rushing talent along their defensive line, but could use another player adapt at stopping the run. Richardson would also provide terrific value by this point.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Compared to recent years, it's a down class in terms of defensive tackle talent. Williams is the last one with definite first-round ability, and the Steelers won't let him sneak by.
25. Denver Broncos: C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
The impact of Peyton Manning is amazing. Simply by adding him to the equation, the Broncos now have one of the most explosive offenses in the league and will head into the offseason with freedom to upgrade the defense.
Mosley is an intriguing prospect because he can play on the outside or the inside and was excelling in an expanded role for the Crimson Tide this season. He's only begun to show what type of play he can be. He's definitely on the rise.
Denver is quietly putting together quite the roster. As long as Manning stays healthy, the Broncos are going to be a force in the coming years. Mosley would be another step in the right direction if his rising stock doesn't get him picked earlier.
26. Green Bay Packers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Green Bay's secondary still needs some work despite making some progress since last season. Rhodes has the type of talent that may cause his stock to rise before draft day.
27. New England Patriots: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
In typical Patriots fashion, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them trade this pick. Assuming they don't, adding another rusher like Okafor is their best option.
28. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Another option in the passing game should be high on Chicago's priority list during the offseason. Eifert should make the transition to the NFL quickly after starring with the Irish.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Anquan Boldin isn't the reliable option he was during his prime, meaning the Ravens need to seek out another target for Joe Flacco. Patterson is the best one left on the board.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama
The 49ers have a couple different options with this pick given their already solid depth. Upgrading the offensive line should be on the to-do list. Jones would help the cause.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
Atlanta doesn't have many flaws, giving the Falcons a chance to have a luxury pick here. Carradine has a lot of potential as a rusher and is worth a flier at this point in the round.
32. Houston Texans: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The round begins with West Virginia's quarterback and ends with one of his targets. Austin should fill the void opposite Andre Johnson that has existed for so long.
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