NFL Draft Order 2013: Teams in Prime Position to Snag Defensive Studs
With a slew of defensive playmakers headlining the 2013 NFL draft class, several teams at the top of the draft in dire need of help on that side of the ball are in prime position to get it.
An absence of high-profile skill players and lack of surefire franchise quarterbacks should mean the top 10 is littered with selections that will provide instant support to teams that have recently struggled to combat the league's high-octane offenses.
Here is a breakdown of several organizations that should see an immediate upgrade on defense with the selection of these premier college prospects.
No. 2 pick: Jacksonville Jaguars
As often as Jack Del Rio's head coaching tenure with the franchise was criticized, the defense was always respectable. That wasn't the case in 2012 without him.
Getting pressure on the quarterback has been a huge problem for the Jags.
They managed only 20 sacks this past season, which makes the need for a pass-rusher absolutely critical. New head coach Gus Bradley is defensive-minded himself, and relies heavily on man-to-man coverage for his scheme to work.
The better the pass rush, the more effective Jacksonville's defense will be. The Jags do not have the personnel in the secondary to get it done in one-on-one situations without more disruption from the defensive front.
A plethora of sack masters could become immediate impact players for the franchise. As of now, GM David Caldwell will likely grab the best defensive end available.
Projected selection: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
No. 3 pick: Oakland Raiders
With massive defensive ends Lamarr Houston, Matt Shaughnessy, Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly on the interior, conventional knowledge states that the Raiders should go with a speedy edge rusher.
However, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei would be an intriguing prospect for Oakland to look at.
Consistently dominated at the point of attack, the Raiders were unable to stop either the run or pass very effectively. Lotulelei is No. 1 in Scouts Inc.'s big board (h/t ESPN), and is the premier run-stopping DT in the class.
The rotation of Lotulelei, Seymour and Kelly on the inside would be such a load for opponents to handle, and all of those players would stay fresh and be able to collapse the pocket from the inside.
Getting a speedy edge rusher that will likely only play in third-down situations isn't a big enough return for a such a large investment at this point in the draft. Seymour may also not return in 2013, which would make Lotulelei an especially smart choice.
Projected selection: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
No. 5 pick: Detroit Lions
The defensive line is set with Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Kyle Vanden Bosch, and the Lions have a stellar linebacker corps as well.
That leaves the secondary as the most important area the Lions must improve. CB Chris Houston is a free agent, and there aren't a lot of very promising young corners on the roster other than 2012 third-round pick Bill Bentley and Jacob Lacey, whose seasons were cut short by injuries.
Few programs have become such a machine for productive NFL players than Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide, and this year should be no exception.
Dee Milliner is the top corner prospect at the moment, and not only has outstanding instincts and stellar ball skills, but he also packs a punch in run support.
Zone coverage is Milliner's forte, which would allow him to integrate into complex schemes very quickly and be able to start from day one.
Projected selection: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
No. 6 pick: Cleveland Browns
Jabaal Sheard has proven to be a solid pass-rusher in his first two seasons, but the Browns need a true elite-level player at defensive end.
Veteran Juqua Parker provided solid production in registering six sacks of his own, but he will be 35 prior to the start of the season. And although Frostee Rucker is a stout rush defender, he isn't known for his pass-rushing prowess.
That's why a tandem of Sheard and Florida State Seminoles standout Bjoern Werner would be a load for opponents to handle.
Werner hasn't played organized football for very long, but he is one of the top athletes on the board. He is relentless, and can come in and is in good enough physical shape to play every down in the NFL as a rookie.
The rotation of Ahytba Rubin, Phil Taylor, Billy Winn and John Hughes at defensive tackle would round out an extremely deep and dangerous defensive front for Cleveland.
Projected selection: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
No. 8 pick: Buffalo Bills
The area of the Bills' defense that needs the most help is at linebacker. If the cards fall their way, star Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones could still be available at this point.
It largely depends how much new head coach Doug Marrone likes his former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who has an outside shot at going this high should he impress in workouts.
But if Jones is still on the board, the Bills would be unwise to pass on him.
Jones is a flat-out playmaker who is strong against the run, can be a nightmare as a pass-rusher and has the ability to drop back into coverage. Facing such a high level of competition in the SEC and having outstanding versatility, Jones would be able to fill in from day one in Buffalo.
A more exotic defensive scheme, developed chemistry with the defensive front and the addition of Jones would make the Bills' defense formidable next season.
Projected selection: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Here is the 2013 NFL draft order through conference championship weekend, with the Super Bowl participants' slots still to be determined:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
5. Detroit Lions (4-12)
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11)
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
9. New York Jets (6-10)
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
19. New York Giants (9-7)
20. Chicago Bears (10-6)
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
22. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) (trade with Washington Redskins)
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5)
27. Houston Texans (12-4)
28. Denver Broncos (13-3)
29. New England Patriots (12-4)
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
31. Super Bowl loser (Ravens vs. 49ers)
32. Super Bowl winner (Ravens vs. 49ers)
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