While there are four teams still in the hunt for the Super Bowl trophy, the rest of the NFL has already shifted its focus to the offseason and the 2013 NFL draft.
The 2013 draft class is full of talented prospects who have the skills to make a difference at the next level, and on the right team, these players could catapult a franchise to a postseason berth.
All of the following teams will be looking for the kind of player that can step right into the NFL and become the final piece of the Super Bowl-contending puzzle.
No. 9 Overall: New York Jets
The New York Jets have been mediocre at best over the last two seasons, but there is a plethora of talent on the team already. The organization must have one of the best drafts that it has had in years, and that starts with a monumental first-round pick.
Head coach Rex Ryan knows he must get his team back to basics, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With the inability to stop the run and middle linebacker Bart Scott getting older by the second, the top candidate at No. 9 overall as the heir apparent would be Manti Te'o of Notre Dame.
Scott understands that his days are likely numbered in New York (h/t New York Times), and the team realizes that the addition of a new middle linebacker like Te’o could transform it back into a contender.
Add in the return of injured superstars like Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, and there is no reason to believe the Jets won’t contend next season.
No. 5 Overall: Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions have one of the most impressive offensive units in the NFL, but there are serious issues on defense that are holding the franchise back. More specifically, there are major issues in the lions’ secondary.
The defensive front seven for the Lions could use another serious pass-rushing threat, but the inability of the cornerbacks to cover players down the field or receive any help from the safeties kills Detroit.
That’s where taking a potential NFL superstar like Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro could be a reach well worth the risk. The Lions could trade back in the first round and not only grab Vaccaro in the latter stages, but also grab another cornerback with the other picks they acquire.
Detroit wasn’t far from playoff contention in 2012-13, but a revamped secondary would turn the Lions into a playoff-caliber team in the NFC North.
Whether they actually make the postseason in that stacked division is an entirely different question, though.
No. 4 Overall: Philadelphia Eagles
New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly will have his first huge test on draft day, but the veteran college coach is a student of the game first and foremost and will be ready to start his NFL tenure off with a bang.
Kelly will find a great player at No. 4 that fits the team’s needs and his schemes.
Look for the team to shore up the glaring weaknesses along the offensive line by taking a prospect like Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel.
The addition of a potential star like Joeckel to an offensive line that was putrid, as well as the return of injured stars like Jason Peters and Todd Herremans, will transform the Eagles from a four-win team to a 10-win team.
Philadelphia will make the playoffs next season.
2013 NFL Draft Order
22. Rams (from Redskins)
29. Baltimore Ravens*
30. Atlanta Falcons*
31. San Francisco 49ers*
32. New England Patriots*
*Playoffs to determine final four spots