With the playoffs approaching fast, many of the teams across the NFL have shifted their focus to the 2013 edition of the draft and the latest crop of quarterbacks to enter the league.
There are many experts that do not believe there is an elite QB in this class, but that will not keep many teams that need help under center from taking a risk in the first round and snagging a potential starter.
*Order based on current records (as of Week 15), highest seeds advancing through playoffs the furthest and tiebreakers settled by strength of schedule.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-12): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The only QB coming out this season that could become a game-changer would be West Virginia star Geno Smith.
With the ability to throw on the run and get away from trouble in the pocket—as well as get the ball downfield with his strong arm—Smith could be the dual-threat star under center that could return the Chiefs to prominence.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Jacksonville Jaguars have to get back to fundamentals, and reinforcing the defensive line with a stellar tackle like Star Lotulelei is the right way to start the draft.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-10): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
With solid play from the defensive tackles in Oakland, the Raiders need to focus on improving their pass rush. That’s where stellar defensive end Damontre Moore of Texas A&M comes into play.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
If the concussions to stars like Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy weren’t enough to prove the Philadelphia Eagles need serious help on the offensive line, the lack of depth and talent is what will eventually cost Andy Reid his job.
5. Detroit Lions (4-10): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
While there is still a serious need at running back if Jahvid Best doesn’t return next season, the biggest flaw for the Detroit Lions is at the cornerback position. While taking Dee Milliner of Alabama here is a bit of a reach, this is a risk worth taking.
6. San Diego Chargers (5-9): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
It is uncertain if Philip Rivers will be under center in 2013 for the San Diego Chargers, but no matter who is the QB, the organization must address its flaws on the offensive line by taking a player like Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.
7. Buffalo Bills (5-9): Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Buffalo Bills defensive unit is one of the worst in the entire NFL and they need to be shaken to the core. With a need at middle linebacker and a natural-born leader in Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, this is the perfect selection.
8. Cleveland Browns (5-9): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
With a strong core of young players on the offensive side of the ball, the Cleveland Browns must reach to grab Alabama guard Chance Warmack in the early first round to protect their previous investments.
9. Tennessee Titans (5-9): Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Tennessee Titans complete lack of a pass rush is a genuine concern, and there may be no better defensive end suited for their defensive schemes than LSU standout Barkevious Mingo.
10. Carolina Panthers (5-9): Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Games are won and lost in the NFL in the trenches of the offensive and defensive lines, and the Carolina Panthers have been flat-out beat on their defensive front. They need a defensive tackle like Jonathan Hankins of Ohio State.
11. Arizona Cardinals (5-9): Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
There is no question that the Arizona Cardinals are hunting for a quarterback in the first round, and they will take a big risk by selecting Arkansas star Tyler Wilson.
Wilson is a serious project that the Cardinals must be willing to take on for the long haul and not abandon after a few bad matchups. With so much turnover at the quarterback position, the team must be ready to hand the reigns off to the rookie through good, bad or ugly play.
With serious raw talent and the physical prowess to be an NFL star, if Arizona can draft Wilson and get him learning under the tutelage of a great coach and veterans, this could be a great pick down the road.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
After watching teams struggle to find a way to run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, yet pass all over the field at will, it is clear that the team needs major upgrades in the secondary. That starts with Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks.
13. Miami Dolphins (6-8): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
As impressive as the Dolphins’ defensive unit was this season, a future as bright as Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner will not fall past Miami. The ability to keep Werner at defensive end or turn him into an outside linebacker is another reason to snag the star here.
14. New Orleans Saints (6-8): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
With the New Orleans Saints going back to the drawing board with many of their defensive schemes, the team should be looking to utilize a stellar pass rusher liker Dion Jordan from Oregon to improve their lackluster unit.
15. New York Jets (6-8): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
That’s why—after defending Sanchez for years—Ryan must go back to the USC well and draft the new starting quarterback for Gang Green, Matt Barkley.
Barkley didn’t have a great season for the Trojans, but terrible play from the offensive line made his life very difficult. With ample time in New York, the young QB has the potential to be a star.
16. St. Louis Rams (6-7-1): Keenan Allen, WR, California
The St. Louis Rams have a plethora of smaller wide receivers around Sam Bradford, but they have yet to find the tall target they can lean on in the red zone and in tight coverage. If Cal wideout Keenan Allen falls to No. 15, the Rams will find their man.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7): C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a very specific way of running their defensive unit, and taking a linebacker from Alabama like C.J. Mosley is the right choice for the team.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones has a hard time stopping the run, but against the pass, there are few better in the 2013 class. If the Cincinnati Bengals can hone all this young man’s raw talent and skill, they will have a Pro-Bowl caliber player.
19. St. Louis Rams* (From 8-6 Washington Redskins): Dallas Thomas, G, Tennessee
It’s obvious that Jeff Fisher views Sam Bradford as his quarterback of the future, so he must protect the young star by drafting a strong guard like Tennessee’s Dallas Thomas.
20. Chicago Bears (8-6): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
There is no quarterback in the league that takes the kind of beating Jay Cutler does, and the Chicago Bears must get him some offensive line help before it’s too late. While tackle Eric Fisher of Central Michigan is a bit of a reach, this is the smart move for the future.
21. Dallas Cowboys (8-6): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
After spending the offseason adding cornerbacks, the Dallas Cowboys must add help at the safety positions to reinforce the changes they made last season. The Cowboys secondary has been beat too many times to let a star like Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro slide past.
22. Minnesota Vikings (8-6): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
The Minnesota Vikings should be better against the run, but the lack of elite play from the linebacker spots will force the team’s hand. They’ll reach for Georgia’s Alec Ogletree.
23. New York Giants (8-6): David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
If you don’t think the New York Giants will be adding talent and depth to the secondary by drafting a young star like NC State’s David Amerson, look at the shutout loss in Week 15 and how porous the safeties and cornerbacks played.
24. Indianapolis Colts (9-5): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
While the Indianapolis Colts should look to address their major secondary flaws, a talent as great as LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery falling to them in the mid-20s will make this pick easy.
25. Baltimore Ravens (9-5): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Injuries destroyed the Baltimore Ravens this season, but there is still a very real need for help at defensive end. With the body and ability to play the pass or the rush, a raw talent like Ezekiel Ansah of BYU is exactly what the Ravens need.
26. Seattle Seahawks (9-5): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
One of the biggest reasons Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel was as successful as he was this season was because of the stellar play of Jake Matthews and the Aggies’ offensive line. With Russell Wilson scrambling around in Seattle, Matthews is the perfect fit at tackle.
27. Green Bay Packers (10-4): Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Aaron Rodgers is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL when he has time in the pocket, so the Green Bay Packers must do everything in their power to protect him. Green Bay will grab versatile Barrett Jones from Alabama.
28. New England Patriots (10-4): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The offseason in New England will feature a complete renovation at a few positions, and one of the biggest upgrades will be adding more talent at the wide receiver position. With the possible departure of Wes Welker, it will be Tennessee’s Justin Hunter that becomes the team’s No. 1 receiver.
29. San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1): Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia
San Francisco’s defensive line is stacked, but they are thin at the tackle position. With an absolute stud like Georgia’s Johnathan Jenkins projected to fall, the 49ers could pick up yet another defensive gem.
30. Denver Broncos (11-3): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Denver Broncos have looked great in 2012, but they are still in a transitional state while head coach John Fox installs his 4-3-base defense. With a need for a versatile defensive tackle, North Carolina's Sylvester Williams is exactly what the Broncos need.
31. Houston Texans (12-2): Robert Woods, WR, USC
Despite just how great Andre Johnson can be at times for the Houston Texans, they need a No. 2 wide receiver that can make big plays. With USC's Robert Woods possibly falling this far, the rich will just get richer.
32. Atlanta Falcons (12-2): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
With Tony Gonzalez reaching the twilight of his career, the Atlanta Falcons must think long-term with their first-round selection, and grab one of the best pure tight ends in the 2013 draft, Stanford’s Zach Ertz.
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