While offense is the focus of the NFL and the draft, two defensive-minded teams are set to play in the Super Bowl. In order for other teams to catch up defensively, they can turn to the draft to find a number of talented players.
The defensive pool of players in the 2013 NFL draft is quite large. The first round is filled with defensive talent that can help take teams to the next level. This mock draft focuses on teams that need to get top defensive players.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
While he isn't the best player available, the Chiefs opt to keep Branden Albert and free up their options for the first pick. They go with Smith to give the new regime a new identity and a new starting quarterback.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Jaguars struggled defensively, as they were ranked 22nd in passing yards allowed and 30th in rushing yards allowed. Their weak play on the defensive line was a big factor in their inability to stop anything. Star Lotulelei will help them along the line and give them a player who can win one-on-one battles.
As the top-ranked defensive tackle, Lotulelei will be ready to step in contribute. The pick fits perfectly with the defensive-minded attack that new head coach Gus Bradley will try to implement.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Oakland Raiders need as much help on defense as they can. The Raiders finished 28th in points allowed, giving up an average of 27.7 points per game. Like the Jaguars, they struggled on the defensive line. Selecting Werner gives them a force on the defensive line and allows them to fill other holes in later rounds.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Eagles benefit from the Chiefs taking the best quarterback over the best player. They swoop in and grab Joeckel to anchor their offensive line for whichever quarterback wins the starting job.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions were burned with poor cornerback play this last season and need to tighten up their secondary. With Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler in the division, the Lions need to do whatever they can to improve their defense. Dee Milliner, the top cornerback in the draft, will definitely help to improve the Lions.
The Lions could use the pick to draft a player on one of the lines, but their need is clearly at the cornerback position. Milliner can come in and take meaningful snaps against the wide receiver-rich NFC North.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Browns' improving defense could use another pass rusher on the defensive line to solidify the unit. They go get Moore to anchor down the position. His strong play and his high motor make him a top pass rushing talent in the draft.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Arizona Cardinals need to figure out their quarterback situation. They reach in the first round and grab their guy Wilson in hopes he justifies his high draft spot.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State
The Bills see the Cardinals reach for a quarterback and fear sets in. They don't want to miss out on the quarterback rush and reach as well. The big-armed Glennon gets a chance to start for the Bills next season.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Jets win big with Jones falling to them at the ninth pick. Jones is one of the most talented players available and gives the Jets a pass-rushing linebacker that will demand attention from offensive lines. The biggest concern with Jones is the fact he has the medical condition spinal stenosis. Based on medicals during the draft process, his stock could change.
The Jets struggled to get sacks last season, finishing 25th in sacks with only 30. Jones gives them more of pass rush, and his discipline will also help in the run game. The Jets need to improve their defense with the lack of offensive talent they possess.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
LeRoy Harris (28) and Steve Hutchinson (35) are starting to age and the Titans could use a solidifying force on the offensive line. They draft Warmack to be that guy and give them additional depth on the offensive line.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Erich Fisher, OG, Central Michigan University
Fisher was the big winner from the Senior Bowl's practice week. He drew rave reviews for his strong play and ability to win his one-on-one battles. The Chargers draft him here to settle their offensive line as they look to re-vamp their offense.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Dolphins desperately need help at the wide receiver position. They'll likely be involved during free agency, but even if they are able to grab a top wide receiver, could look for a rookie. They try to surround Ryan Tannehill with talent by drafting Allen.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Buccaneers secondary was putrid last season and got worse with the departure of troubled Aqib Talib. The Buccaneers have other pressing needs, but cornerback is the biggest. The Buccaneers gave up the most passing yards in the NFL with an average of 297.4 yards allowed per game.
They draft Banks to give them someone to cover the Falcons' and Saints' stables of receivers. They need to hit on this position. With multiple holes, the Buccaneers need Banks to come in and play right away. If he can play well, their defense will much better.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Panthers did surprisingly well against the run this season, finishing 14th overall in rushing yards allowed. In addition to helping stop the run, Floyd will help the Panthers get more from their pass rush. He will help in both aspects on the defensive line.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
The Saints finished 25th in the league with only 30 sacks on the season. Their defense struggled largely because of a lack of pressure. They get this pressure from Ansah, who has only been playing football for three or four years.
Ansah can come in right away and provide depth in the Saints defensive line rotations. He needs more coaching to perfect his craft, but the physical tools are all there for Ansah. With coaching, Ansah can be a big factor for the Saints next season.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Vaccaro is the highest ranked safety in the class and would help to improve the Rams secondary. He has good speed and moves very well. He is a versatile safety who plays extremely physical football.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Steelers get a steal here as Mingo falls down to the 18th pick. The Steelers defense has aged significantly over the last two seasons and they need to reload. Mingo gives them an elite pass rusher to terrorize AFC North quarterbacks.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-7): John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Cowboys would have loved to get Mingo here, but they will be plenty happy to get a beast on the defensive line in Jenkins. The big tackle moves well for his size and will help his team get some push on the defensive line.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
One of the biggest reasons the Giants played poorly this season was their formerly dominant defensive line was stagnant. They look to remedy that situation by drafting the impressive Okafor. He gives the Giants some new life on the defensive line.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Bears made it a point of emphasis to give Jay Cutler multiple weapons on offense. Eifert not only provides another weapon, but he can help block for Cutler as well. The receiving threat did well to improve his all-around game this past season.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Bengals could use better play from the linebacker position, as Ray Maualuga played poorly. Ogletree is a sound linebacker who uses his intelligence and physical style to make plays.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) (10-6): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
After using the first of their two picks in the first round on defense, the Rams look to give Sam Bradford some much-needed protection. Fluker's big frame and ability should allow him to come right in and contribute on the Rams' line.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings improved dramatically from 2011 to this past year, but still can't seem to find wide receivers. They have struck out in free agency and turn to the draft to win a weapon for Christian Ponder.
With Adrian Peterson tearing up defenses, the Vikings need a threat in the passing game. Patterson gives them that threat as an all-around, big receiver.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Colts do with some better play from the cornerback position. They draft Rhodes here to give them a big-bodied cornerback who can come in and play right away. His play at Florida State showed he's ready for the next level.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Seahawks benefit from the wealth of defensive line talent in the draft and get a huge talent in Richardson. Their defensive line failed them in the playoffs as they struggled to stop Atlanta both in the air and on the ground. Richardson can come in and help them get some push.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
The Packers got decent play from the center position towards the end of the year from Evan Dietrich-Smith. While Dietrich-Smith was serviceable, the Packers still have question marks on the interior of their line. Jones will help to settle those issues either at center or left guard.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Texans have a serious lack of speed on their offense, despite having multiple playmakers. They need to add a speedster to give their offense some variety. Austin can come in and get snaps in the slot and help the Texans offense.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
The Broncos take Minter here to get some help at the inside linebacker position. D.J. Williams hasn't exactly been the guy they've needed. Minter gives them an intelligent young player who will grow around the talented youthful core the Broncos have.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Patriots got burned in the playoffs and their secondary issues persist. They draft Elam towards the end of the round in hopes he helps their pass defense. The talented, play-making safety should offer some quality, but he can't be expected to be the only answer.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Falcons need a pass rusher and somebody to potentially replace John Abraham. The veteran is showing his age, and his injured play during the playoffs hurt the team. The Falcons look to Oregon-man Dion Jordan to fulfill his role.
31. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)*: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Despite his terrible play in the national championship game and the girlfriend fiasco, Te'o still has talent to offer a team. The Ravens need a linebacker to replace Ray Lewis, assuming he actually hangs up his cleats this season. This pick could change based on what other twists come from the crazy story surrounding Te'o.
32. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)*: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The 49ers will have to decide whether to pay Isaac Sopoaga to hold down the middle of their defensive line. Assuming they decide to let Sopoaga walk to a wealthy contract elsewhere, the 49ers need to fill that hole. They do so with the talented and big-bodied Jessie Williams from Alabama.
*Order subject to change based on results of Super Bowl