Pass-rushers are going to be at a premium in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Although they've long been the cornerstones of the offensive side, quarterbacks are dominating the league in a way never before seen. Rule changes are making it easier and easier for QBs to pick apart opposing secondaries.
With the physical side of the game being toned down, the easiest way to disrupt a quarterback is to pressure him in the pocket. There's much less chance to incur a penalty giving a first down to the offense.
As a result, teams will be valuing very highly the best defensive ends and outside linebackers. Here's where each one will end up, along with the rest of the prospects in the first round.
The order is via NFL.com.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
It's hard to envision Andy Reid not going with a quarterback here. The Kansas City Chiefs offense struggled mightily with the combination of Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel. The Chiefs aren't going anywhere relying on those two.
Geno Smith is the best of what is a rather weak quarterback class. Although he's far from where Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were last year, Smith is still a very good prospect and could be good for a couple of wins by himself.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The pass rush of the Jacksonville Jaguars was anemic last year and by far the worst in the league. There isn't the kind of QB prospect who might push Jaguars management to move Blaine Gabbert out of town.
Therefore, a defensive end like Bjoern Werner should be the target. He's the best end available and the best pass-rusher in the draft.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Oakland Raiders had a hard time getting after the quarterback in 2012. They could go for an end or linebacker who could rush off the edge.
The Raiders still need to address a rush defense that gave up 118.6 yards a game. Star Lotulelei is a run-stuffer, but he has the versatility to be able to collapse the pocket as well.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Luke Joeckel sits atop most experts' boards as the best prospect in the 2013 draft. With the Philadelphia Eagles' struggles in protecting the quarterback, Joeckel fills an immediate need.
Much like with the Jaguars, there isn't the kind of can't-miss QB to select here. Instead, Joeckel can be the guy to protect his signal-caller's blind side for the next decade.
5. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Much of the Detroit Lions' selection hinges on the future of Cliff Avril. Even if he stays, Damontre Moore would be an upgrade over Kyle Vanden Bosch. Moore was one of the best pass-rushers in the nation with the Texas A&M Aggies.
He has the size and speed to immediately be a force in Detroit. Moore and Werner could very easily swap draft places.
6. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Since the Cleveland Browns are shifting to a 3-4 defense, they'll need to add the kind of player who can fit into a hybrid OLB/DE position. Barkevious Mingo is still a raw prospect, but he doesn't have the kind of issues that Jarvis Jones does.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Regardless of what has been said about the quarterbacks in this draft, it makes a lot of sense for the Arizona Cardinals to move in that direction. With Bruce Arians, they have one of the best coaches in the NFL when it comes to developing QBs.
Despite the drop that Matt Barkley has suffered, he has the tools to succeed in the league. He just may not be at the level that was first thought.
8. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Just because Doug Marrone is now with the head coach for the Buffalo Bills doesn't mean Ryan Nassib should be packing his bags for Buffalo. It's not a guarantee former college coaches select their former players in the draft.
Tyler Wilson is an unpolished quarterback but should improve as he gets good enough coaching. Nobody has a stronger arm than him.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Should Jarvis Jones fall this far, the New York Jets would be getting great value. His back issues could scare some teams off. Jones would be the pass-rusher the Jets need, yet he could also contribute to the run defense.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Chance Warmack is one of the best prospects in the draft. With how offensive guards are valued, though, he could find himself falling to the middle of the first round. Although the Tennessee Titans could go in other directions, Warmack is a smart choice.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The San Diego Chargers offensive line was dreadful in 2012, ranking last in the league according to Football Outsiders. There's no way Joeckel will fall this far, so Eric Fisher looks to be the best offensive tackle available.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Ryan Tannehill needs some targets. Keenan Allen could be the game-breaker in the receiving corps that Davone Bess and Brian Hartline aren't.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked last in the league in pass defense. Dee Milliner is the best corner in the draft, so Tampa should consider itself incredibly lucky should Milliner fall to No. 13. He would immediately be the best cornerback on the Buccaneers in 2013.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Sheldon Richardson has been rising up draft boards in recent weeks. He's athletic enough to improve the Carolina Panthers run defense while providing help in the pass rush.
15. New Orleans Saints: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Clearly something needs to be done about the New Orleans Saints defense. No team has ever given up more yards than the 2012 Saints. Ezekiel Ansah has the potential to possibly be the best pass-rusher to come out of this draft.
16. St. Louis Rams: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Warmack would be great here, though he might not last this far. Lane Johnson could be a rock on the St. Louis Rams offensive line for years. The team needs to start surrounding Sam Bradford with a solid core of players.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Casey Hampton is starting to get up there in age. With his talent waning, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to start looking to get a young space-eater on the defensive line. There isn't a stronger player in the draft at that than Jesse Williams. He just needs to start developing some moves to complement his superior strength.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Dallas Cowboys will need to start adding some defensive tackle depth to satisfy Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense. Unlike some other DTs on the board, Johnathan Hankins has the size and skill to provide some different dimensions on the defensive line.
19. New York Giants: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The pass rush for the New York Giants fell off a bit in 2012. Dion Jordan has a few issues, but if he can come through, he'll become one of the better players coming off the edge in the NFL.
20. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tyler Eifert is the best tight end in the draft. He would be a very good target for Jay Cutler while also contributing a lot as a solid run-blocker.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
The Cincinnati Bengals linebackers left a little to desire at times. They could try and address a defensive line that will likely be hit hard because of free agency, but Ogletree has the kind of all-around game the Bengals defense could use.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
With Warmack off the board, Jonathan Cooper is still a versatile option for the Rams. He could play wherever the team needs him on the interior line. He and Johnson could anchor the St. Louis offensive line for the long term.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson will be the best receiver on the board. The Minnesota Vikings really need to upgrade their air attack. Christian Ponder can't succeed unless the team upgrades the receivers.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Kawann Short is a freak of nature. He's a huge interior lineman who can defend the run. His massive wingspan also allows him to swat balls at the line of scrimmage without even getting off his feet.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Sam Montgomery has seen his stock fall a little bit recently. The lack of depth at defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks was clear when Chris Clemons went down in the playoffs.
26. Green Bay Packers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Green Bay Packers need to improve their offensive line. D.J. Fluker will be the kind of strong, physical lineman the Packers so sorely missed in 2012.
27. Houston Texans: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Free agency could hit the Houston Texans hard when it comes to inside linebacker. Drafting Kevin Minter would allow the Texans to let either Bradie James or Tim Dobbins to walk this offseason.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Denver Broncos are one of the few teams in the league that needs absolutely no help when it comes to the pass rush. Johnathan Jenkins could help the lone weakness on the Broncos defense: stopping the run.
29. New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Wes Welker's future is a bit up in the air, so it would only make sense the New England Patriots would work to find his successor. Tavon Austin isn't a big-play receiver, but he can be a reliable option in the slot.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
The Atlanta Falcons did a great job to package some picks together in order to move up and draft an elite prospect in Julio Jones. They could very well do the same to get a better pass-rusher with Alex Okafor. He would be the best option this late into the first round.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Ray Lewis is going to leave a rather large hole in the Baltimore Ravens defense. Manti Te'o isn't the most athletic inside linebacker in the draft, but he is the most NFL-ready.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The San Francisco 49ers need to let Dashon Goldson walk. Kenny Vacccaro is the best free safety on the board and would do very well filling in for Goldson in 2013.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!