If the 2013 NFL draft were today, who would be picked No. 1 overall?
The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills have hired new head coaches, putting the No. 1 and No. 8 picks overall into clearer focus in terms of team identity. With Andy Reid in Kansas City and Doug Marrone in Buffalo, it seems likely both teams will be looking for a quarterback early on.
As the NFL draft order comes in to focus, it's time to start looking ahead to the 2013 NFL draft. With hires and fires on the radar, and underclassmen entering the draft every day, here's an updated look at the first round.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Kansas City Chiefs made the most difficult decision of the offseason when they fired general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel before hiring Andy Reid as new coach and football czar. Now they must decide what to do with the No. 1 overall pick.
It's worth noting that the last time Reid was in a comparable situation, he drafted Donovan McNabb to be his franchise quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles didn't have the No. 1 overall pick back in 1999, but the franchise was in a similar situation as the Chiefs see themselves now—badly needing a quarterback.
It's very likely that Reid becomes enamored with West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith—an athletic, strong-armed quarterback who can do some amazing things in and outside of the pocket. The Chiefs may not see Geno as the No. 1 overall player in this class, but he is the best player at a position of need for the struggling franchise.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Jacksonville Jaguars are without a general manager, leaving head coach Mike Mularkey and the future of the club in question. Until we know who the head coach and general manager will be in 2013, predicting how the team will use the No. 2 overall pick is tough.
Looking at the team needs for Jacksonville, finding a pass-rusher is the clear-cut priority even with the addition of Jason Babin through free agency late in the year. Babin can lock down one pass-rushing spot, but the team needs to beef up the other side while preparing for the long haul.
Bjoern Werner was one of the best pass-rushers in all of college football in 2012, and that ability to turn the corner and attack the quarterback will put him very high on many wish lists around the league. Werner would be an impact player for the Jaguars in his rookie year.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Oakland Raiders could go any number of directions here—quarterback, offensive line, secondary, defensive line. Ultimately, general manager Reggie McKenzie has to pull the trigger on a player whom he believes can be a long-term starter and provide an instant impact.
Offensive tackle Luke Joeckel ranks as my top overall player, but with Jared Veldheer in place at left tackle, Joeckel isn't a need for the Raiders. That puts Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei as the top-ranked player on my board who is a need for Oakland.
Lotulelei will slide in and replace Richard Seymour on the Oakland defensive line, giving the team a monster in the middle of the line who can rush the quarterback and be an anchor against the run game. Lotulelei may not be a household name yet, but by the April draft he will be.
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The best overall player in the 2013 NFL draft, Luke Joeckel ranks as the best player available for the Philadelphia Eagles and is a big need for whomever the new head coach will be.
No matter who is calling the shots for the team next season, Joeckel is a can't-miss prospect who the team would be lucky to build around. Even with left tackle Jason Peters expected to return in 2013, Joeckel would be a better long-term solution than a 31-year-old tackle coming back from an Achilles tear.
Positions like quarterback and defensive tackle may take priority here, but Joeckel is by far the best player the Eagles can draft at No. 4.
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Two Texas A&M offensive tackles in a row? They're worth it.
Rumors have begun spinning that Jake Matthews would not be entering the 2013 NFL draft, but that hasn't been announced yet by the offensive tackle or his family. Until Matthews sends out that announcement, we're moving forward with the potential Top 5 player in the class.
Matthews has played right tackle only at Texas A&M, but watching his footwork and knowing his athletic ability, it's easy to project the redshirt junior at either side once in the NFL. It also helps that he comes from a bloodline that includes one of the game's all-time greats (Bruce Matthews) and an All-Pro linebacker (Clay Matthews).
The Lions may be tempted to look at linebackers or cornerbacks here, but there's no doubting that the offensive line needs major help. They have an elite-level quarterback in Matthew Stafford, but they must make moves to protect him.
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
With the Cleveland Browns still looking for a new general manager and head coach, any predictions on who they will pick in the first round are based only on team needs and not on personnel or schematics. That said, it's easy to pick out defensive end as a substantial area of need.
Jabaal Sheard looks like a keeper at defensive end, even if he hasn't flashed elite potential as a pass-rusher in his first two seasons. Sheard will be solid, but the front office will be tasked with finding a 10-sack end in this year's class.
Damontre Moore was a 10-sack guy for the Texas A&M defense, and he has the athleticism and technique to make the transition to an NFL pass-rusher coming off the right edge of the defense.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
It is no surprise that the Arizona Cardinals would address the left tackle position with their first-round pick. In fact, it's the only smart play for the team with the NFL's worst offensive line.
Lewan had some negative plays this year, but he was still one of the most consistent and impactful left tackles in college football.
Check out his game against 2014 top prospect Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina. Lewan was able to contain one of the best college football players you'll ever see, keeping the Gamecock held in check for most of the game.
There are some technical issues that others will complain about—Lewan gets a bit high at times and can be heavy-footed on the edge—but he's a sure-fire left tackle prospect, and that's what Arizona needs.
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
New head coach Doug Marrone comes to Buffalo from Syracuse, and with him comes a pro-style offense that will require a quarterback who can make big-time throws down the field. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't that guy.
With general manager Buddy Nix and Buffalo's front office seeing a restructuring this offseason, there is some doubt about what direction the team will go. But the Bills ultimately lack a quarterback who can move the chains and execute the offense.
Enter Tyler Wilson.
Doubters will point to a decline in production from Wilson this season, but those same doubters ignore that Wilson went through a season that saw his head coach fired amid a scandal and his top three wide receivers departing for the NFL.
What Wilson was able to do behind a decimated Arkansas offensive line was a test of courage, and he easily passed.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The New York Jets need a quarterback. They also need a lot of help filling out holes across the board on offense and defense.
The Jets haven't yet announced who their new general manager will be, but once a hire is made, we'll know more about what to expect from the franchise in the offseason. No matter who is running the show, head coach Rex Ryan and the new general manager will know that a quarterback can wait if they don't love the guy sitting there at No. 9.
If a quarterback isn't the pick, look for the Jets to address their lack of a pass-rush from the outside linebackers. When your leading sacker in a 3-4 defense is a rotational defensive end, you have problems. Adding Jarvis Jones, who has shown when healthy that he can be a terror for offensive linemen, would give the Jets defense instant credibility on the edge.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Tennessee Titans managed to keep their staff in tact after a disappointing season, but there is reason for optimism as a young roster has another season under its belt. Where does the team go next?
There's a good chance the Titans look to beef up the interior of the offensive line here, and they could with Alabama guard Chance Warmack. Some may want to see Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te'o here, but Colin McCarthy has been a very good player for the team in his two seasons. If any position needs more talent, look to the secondary.
Dee Milliner ranks as the best cornerback in this year's class—something the Titans desperately need after they rolled the dice on letting Cortland Finnegan leave in free agency. Milliner could step in as a rookie starter and immediately improve a secondary that faces Matt Schaub and Andrew Luck four times each season.
Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Last week's mock draft had Manti Te'o falling all the way to No. 17 overall. This week the Heisman Trophy candidate goes off the board at No. 11. Why the change?
First and foremost, there are no left tackles available on the board for the San Diego Chargers to consider here this week with Joeckel, Matthews and Lewan off the board. That erases the value pick at the Chargers' biggest area of need.
Whereas last week there were no teams with a heavy need at inside linebacker, San Diego's second-biggest need is replacing Takeo Spikes and getting better on the inside of their 3-4 defense.
Te'o has the strength to play well on the inside of a 3-4 set, and this would even help in masking some of his weaknesses—like his lack of great speed. Te'o could be a thumper and a good coverage linebacker when lined up in a four-linebacker alignment, much better than when isolated in a 4-3 defense.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The Miami Dolphins will keep their front office and coaching staff together after a strong first season from Joe Philbin's team. Now they must focus on getting better at key positions and upping the talent level.
Fans in Miami might not love the idea of drafting an offensive guard No. 12 overall, but Chance Warmack is worth it. Watch Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy or T.J. Yeldon dominating defenses with their legs over the last two years, and you'll see Warmack clearing lanes and punishing defenders in the hole.
Offensive guard may not be a sexy pick, but it's a damn smart one for a team on the rise.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
It's no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers must invest in their secondary again in 2013 after spending a first-rounder on strong safety Mark Barron last year. This season the focus must be on cornerback.
With Eric Wright missing time due to a suspension, the team's lack of depth at cornerback was exposed following the trade of Aqib Talib to New England. Replacing Talib, and finding a better long-term option, will be the focus in Round 1.
Johnthan Banks isn't Dee Milliner, but he is a very physical, athletic presence on the edge at cornerback. He has the size and speed to keep up with No. 1 wide receivers in the NFL, but you can also use him as a blitzer and know he'll be able to get the job done.
Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The Carolina Panthers don't have a general manager yet, but once they make a hire, expect the new boss to underline the defensive tackle position as an early focus for the team in the offseason.
With their first pick in the draft, the Panthers could go a few directions. But with Alabama's Jesse Williams on the board, it makes sense to go ahead and take care of their hole at defensive tackle with an impact player who can both rush the quarterback and stuff the run.
Williams has been the best of the Alabama defensive linemen this year, and he'll bring a three-down skill set to Carolina's front four.
Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The New Orleans Saints must find athletes to pressure the quarterback from their front four. That means investing draft picks into defensive ends and tackles. Up first, getting an elite pass-rusher.
Oregon's Dion Jordan is banged up, and his shoulder injury could force him down the board by the time April gets here. Make no mistake, though: Jordan has top-five potential.
As a raw athlete, Jordan has few peers in this year's class, but he's a bit undersized to be a three-down player at end in his rookie season. That won't stop the Saints from adding Jordan to be a pass-rusher and situational player for them as an end or outside linebacker.
Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee
With two picks in the first round, the St. Louis Rams have options. Those options include beefing up the offensive line, spending picks to address needs at wide receiver or continuing to build up a defense that was drastically improved in 2012.
The smart money is on investing heavily in an offensive line. The team has keepers in left tackle Rodger Saffold and right guard Harvey Dahl, but the rest of the unit is replaceable. The only way we'll ever see what Sam Bradford can do at quarterback is if he's protected.
Dallas Thomas is versatile enough to play guard or tackle, but he's more valuable as a powerful right tackle than anywhere else. Thomas could be a fixture stopping the high-powered pass-rushers the NFC West features and would help in the run game as well.
Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
In last week's mock draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to pick up Manti Te'o. This week doesn't reward them with Te'o, but they may have a better NFL linebacker in Arthur Brown.
If you haven't seen Brown play yet, do yourself a favor and at least YouTube clips of the Kansas State inside linebacker. Wearing No. 4, Brown has been a wrecking ball for the defense, showing off rare speed moving laterally and great vision to locate and get to the football.
Brown won't enter the league with the hype of Manti Te'o, but he's a more athletic option at inside linebacker. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, that's not a bad thing. Put Brown next to Lawrence Timmons at middle linebacker, and you have a duo to rival the one in San Francisco.
Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The Dallas Cowboys failed to make the playoffs again in 2012, and once again they'll enter the offseason with an eye toward improving the talent in the secondary. Last year it was at cornerback; this year it's at safety.
The Cowboys can stay instate in finding their next free safety, as University of Texas star Kenny Vaccaro ranks as the best at the position in this year's class.
Vaccaro's ability to play free or strong safety, as well as dropping down to cornerback in nickel situations, makes him an extremely valuable defender. Add in playmaking skills that the Cowboys lack at safety, and it's easy to see Vaccaro lining up in the Dallas secondary next season.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
If you haven't heard of Ezekiel Ansah yet, that's OK, but get ready for an onslaught of pre-draft information on one of the most athletic players in this year's class.
Ansah, the 6'6", 270-lb freak at defensive end, will turn heads once the national spotlight is shined on to his games. If this year's class has a Jason Pierre-Paul, it's Ansah, and for a team looking to complement JPP, Ansah is a nice project to work with.
The Giants have more needs than you may think, but fixing a defensive line that's likely to lose Osi Umenyiora and needs to upgrade over Justin Tuck is a priority in getting the team back to the playoffs.
Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
The Chicago Bears must fix their offensive line.
No matter who general manager Phil Emery brings in as the new head coach, the overall focus of the offseason must be on building an offensive line that can protect quarterback Jay Cutler. Right now, the Bears don't have one player worth building around on that front. Emery and his scouts have their work cut out for them.
A downfall of the previous regime was in their offensive line scouting, but Emery did a good job in Kansas City at identifying talent and assisting in the building of a very good line. It's possible that left tackle Branden Albert follows Emery to Chicago as a free agent, but if not, look for left tackle to be the team's first-round pick.
Justin Pugh was a surprise entree into the 2013 draft class, and he does come with question marks about a shoulder injury that limited him before the season, but Pugh's 2012 film was very good. A tall, lean athlete with good feet, Pugh has a chance to see the late first round due to the need at the position.
Eric Reid, FS, LSU
The Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs for a second straight season, but their year also ended in Houston with a first-round loss for the second straight year. Back to the drawing board.
What gets lost in the team's opening-round exit is that Marvin Lewis and Co. have built a contender in a short amount of time. With strong, smart drafting and low-risk free-agent signings, the Bengals have managed to become one of the more balanced teams in the game. Now they must work on filling in holes on both sides of the ball.
The biggest weaknesses are at pass-rusher and free safety, but the team has young prospects to develop at end. Focusing on adding a playmaker at free safety—someone who can tackle and cover—would take this defense over the top.
Eric Reid is a stud in the LSU secondary, and if he can bring that same swagger to the Bengals defense, the team will be in great shape.
Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama
With their first pick in the draft, the St. Louis Rams addressed their offensive line with right tackle Dallas Thomas. Up next, fixing the middle of the offensive line.
Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones can play guard or center, and the Rams could use help at either position. Ideally, Jones would come in as a left guard, powering the run game and adding to the pass protection that is so vital to the team's offense clicking in 2013.
Jones is a highly decorated blocker and will be viewed as one of the safer picks in the late first round. And with the Rams needing so much help up front, this may be one of the better need/value picks of the round.
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
After watching the Minnesota Vikings exit the playoffs in the Wild Card Round, you could make a strong case for any number of positions being drafted in the first round. From a team-building standpoint, it's time to focus on the defensive tackle position.
Kevin Williams can still be an impact, but he suffers from having little help beside him at tackle. The team is set at defensive end, but their inability to stop the run or rush the quarterback from the middle of the line continues to be a problem.
Adding a big body like John Jenkins—someone who can rush the quarterback and stack up against the run—makes the most sense for the Vikings in a best-player-available mindset.
This pick could easily be a wide receiver, but without an elite player available at the position, continuing to build the defense is the key.
Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The Indianapolis Colts made an improbable run from first overall pick to a playoff team, but now Ryan Grigson's staff will be asked to find playmakers on both sides of the line who can help the team make a repeat run in 2013.
There are two clearly-defined areas where the team can go—offensive tackle or outside linebacker. With Barkevious Mingo still on the board, the Colts can make a splash by adding a dynamic, athletic pass-rusher who can replace the aging Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis in the team's 3-4 schemes.
Mingo may not be on the board at No. 24 once the draft rolls around, but his production isn't quite living up to raw potential as of January.
Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
For the Baltimore Ravens, the 2013 NFL draft will be all about getting better on defense. With their first pick, general manager Ozzie Newsome will be able to sit back and draft the best defender on the board.
It just so happens that the best defender on our board is from Newsome's alma mater. Adrian Hubbard is the next in a long line of Alabama linebackers who are tailor-made for the NFL. Coming out of Nick Saban's schemes, Hubbard is ready for action as a rookie in the 3-4 defense.
Hubbard isn't Courtney Upshaw, the player the team drafted in the second round last year. He's more athletic and a much more active pass-rusher off the edge, giving the team the manpower to replace Paul Kruger should he leave in free agency.
Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Seattle Seahawks are rarely predictable in the first round of the NFL draft, but they are successful in finding players who fit their schemes and fill holes. While John Schneider and Pete Carroll may not be conventional, they are highly efficient.
It's tough to identify a draft need for Seattle outside of a wide receiver and a run-stuffing tackle on defense. The front office can sit back and wait, pulling the trigger on the top player left on their board at either position.
Johnathan Hankins ranks as our top defensive tackle on the board, and he is higher than any wide receiver. While he won't bring a ton of pass rush to the table, the Seahawks are set with pass-rushers. What they need Hankins to do is stuff the run, and that's what he does best.
Sheldon Richardson, DE, Missouri
The Green Bay Packers are in a unique situation. The fans implicitly trust general manager Ted Thompson, who has done a remarkable job keeping the talent level high in Green Bay. Thompson must now work to keep that going through another rebuild.
The team is likely to lose Greg Jennings to free agency at wide receiver, but they're in position to weather that storm with so many young players on the roster. Still, this could be an area of need in Round 1. The more likely scenario has Green Bay addressing a defensive line that's been bothersome.
Sheldon Richardson played tackle at Missouri, but he would slide outside to defensive end in Green Bay's 3-4 scheme. Richardson's quickness off the ball would make him a very dangerous asset in Dom Capers' defense, and it would allow Green Bay to get back to pressuring the pocket with its defensive ends.
Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
General manager Rick Smith could go several directions with Houston's first pick, but the obvious need is adding to a secondary that's surviving with only Jonathan Joseph as a long-term solution.
Thanks to a fierce pass rush, the Houston secondary has been able to play above its talent level, but now the front office will shift its focus to getting a No. 2 cornerback who can stand up against the Andrew Lucks of the NFL.
Jordan Poyer is a rising name to keep an eye on. With great size and ball instincts, Poyer would be a natural fit opposite Joseph in a defense that asks the cornerbacks to play plenty of man coverage while the front seven attacks the backfield. Poyer's skill set shows us he can play at this level early on in his rookie season.
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The San Francisco 49ers desperately missed defensive end Justin Smith once he went down with injury over the last two-and-a-half games. With Smith out, the entire San Francisco defense was less aggressive and less impactful. That's a scary future for Jim Harbaugh's defense.
The best answer is to draft and develop a reliable backup and eventual replacement for Smith. Florida's Sharrif Floyd has displayed the strength and motor to be a factor as a 3-4 defensive end. While he's no Justin Smith, Floyd has the skill set that Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will want from a five-technique on the end of the defensive line.
Adding an athlete like Floyd to the defense makes more sense for San Francisco than investing another first-rounder in an offensive weapon who wouldn't be likely to see major playing time.
Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
The New England Patriots continue to roll out an elite offense each season, but the key players are either getting older or entering free agency this offseason. The roster we see next season could be drastically different.
One area where Bill Belichick has never been great in the draft is at wide receiver, but that's the position the team finds itself needing the most of for 2013. Wes Welker and Julian Edelman are both free agents, and while Brandon Lloyd was a key signing in 2012, he wasn't quite the impact most hoped for.
Terrance Williams would give the Patriots something they lack at receiver—size and speed. At 6'2" and with exceptional run-after-catch skills, Williams would open up new avenues for Tom Brady and the offense even if Welker and Edelman return.
Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
If you're the Denver Broncos, you have to go into 2013 looking to improve the interior of the defense. That's step No. 1 to staying on top in the AFC.
The team would love to find a defensive tackle on the board worth selecting, but there are none of note at this time. The next best thing is drafting a middle linebacker who can become a true three-down player and add another level of talent to the interior.
Alec Ogletree can be a bit reckless at times, but he's a violent, attacking middle linebacker who will run free within the hashes making plays. If you want to shore up your run defense, Ogletree is the inside linebacker to do that for you.
Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
With an aging roster, the Atlanta Falcons know that it's time to start drafting viable replacements for guys like John Abraham and Tony Gonzalez.
The front office, headed up by general manager Thomas Dimitroff, can address these holes by drafting the best player available at a number of positions. That could be left tackle, tight end or defensive end. No one could be upset with any of the three depending on what the team does in free agency.
The easy solution at the end of Round 1 would be to add a pass-rusher who can come in as a future replacement for Abraham. Alex Okafor made big plays all season on a Texas defense that otherwise underperformed as a unit.
With solid pass-rushing moves and a proven ability to stop the run, Okafor would be an ideal fit in the Atlanta defense either replacing No. 55 or lining up with him.