Not every first-round NFL draft pick is ready to turn around a franchise from day one.
Every 2013 NFL mock draft will have you believe that these teams are infallible, and that their first-round pick is going to instantly alter their franchise's fortunes.
That simply isn't the case.
The NFL draft's Round 1 is all about getting maximum value from a selection by taking players with the greatest possible upside.
Sometimes upside comes with raw talent, especially at the quarterback position and pass-rusher group.
Let's take a new look at the 2013 draft and highlight those players who will have the most to learn in their rookie seasons.
Highlighted players have their pictures under sub-headlines.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
All quarterbacks who are drafted have room for improvement. The leap from college to professional football is a steep one, and Geno Smith will undoubtedly experience some bumps along the way. He isn’t a sure thing but does have the attributes NFL scouts look for in a starting quarterback.
A good measuring stick for Smith in his rookie season would be to monitor his propensity to scramble. Pressure is going to be much more prevalent in the NFL, and he’ll need to prove he can beat that coverage with his arm, not just his legs.
Overall, Smith should be able to work himself into the Kansas City offense slowly and by utilizing the effective legs of Jamaal Charles. Charles will be his best friend and will help him to acclimate slowly to the NFL game by taking some of that pressure off.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore should be able to come in and immediately improve a very lackluster Jacksonville Jaguars pass rush. The team was last in the league with just 20 sacks for the entire season. To put that in perspective: Houston’s J.J. Watt led the league with 20.5 sacks and San Francisco’s Aldon Smith had 19.5 on the season.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Oakland needs to do a better job clogging running lanes, and Star Lotulelei specializes in just that. But he isn’t just a space-eater. Lotulelei has the quickness and instinct to get through blocks and disrupt plays before they can develop.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
No matter who is taking snaps for Chip Kelly’s first NFL team, he’s going to need a big and physical blocker to open holes. Luke Joeckel is as close to a sure-thing offensive line prospect as there is, and he makes sense for a team that struggles to protect its passer.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Detroit can definitely use some help in its secondary as injuries have exposed depth problems. Dee Milliner is pro-ready and would be an upgrade for the Lions, regardless of depth.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Cleveland will make the transition to the 3-4 defense this season under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. That means it will need an elite pass-rusher who can also drop into coverage. If they’re thinking like I am, and Barkevious Mingo is still on the board, this is a no-brainer.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State
You can’t teach the type of arm that Mike Glennon has. The signal-caller demonstrated that big arm at the recent Senior Bowl and impressed with the velocity of his throws. Still, there are gaps in his game that make him somewhat of a development pick for the Arizona Cardinals.
Glennon is a true pocket passer, with a strong pocket presence and ability to work the ball down the field. The downside of this is that he isn’t an effective scrambler and sometimes panics too quickly from pressure. That greatly disrupts his accuracy and makes him a different player.
The NFL pass rush, as we all know, is stronger than anything he faced in college and will challenge him on a consistent basis to improve in the pocket. He could end up being a steal as the second quarterback off of the board if he can learn in his rookie season and fight the impending battles against pocket pressure.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Buffalo needs to find itself a quarterback who can play under pressure, in the cold, and a guy who can put the team in a position to win football games. Ryan Nassib, formerly of Syracuse, has proven that he has that ability after being developed by new Bills' head coach Doug Marrone.
Marrone, a former offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, groomed Nassib and is now in perfect position to pick his project and bring him to the next level. Despite how easy that sounds, it will take some work.
Last year Ryan Tannehill was picked one slot ahead of this with the idea that he would be groomed and developed. That development happened quicker than expected, and the Dolphins could have ended up scoring a draft-day coup by taking the chance on their QB of the future.
Nassib has some work to do, there is no doubting that. He has the ability to elude pressure and make nearly all of the throws he will be asked to in an offense run by Marrone in Buffalo. His arm strength is his biggest concern, and that isn’t something that can simply be taught.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The New York Jets need some tenacity on defense. They need to make a big splash here defensively in order to get back some of the intimidation they have lost on the defensive side of the ball. Adding Jarvis Jones into the mix should help bolster the unit and bring back some of what it lost.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Tennessee Titans improved as the season wore on but could definitely use more help on the edge of their defensive front. Bjoern Werner is big, physical and would be a blessing if he fell to them here at No. 10. Not only can he get after the QB, Werner has excellent instincts and can set the edge to contain and bottle up opposing rushing games.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
San Diego isn’t going to go very far until they can keep the heat off Philip Rivers. Eric Fisher is a mauler and could be a day-one contributor for the Southern California franchise.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Keenan Allen, WR, California
Keenan Allen has the complete package when it comes to wide receivers in this draft. He’s physically ideal at 6’3” and 210 pounds and has all of the qualities you look for in a true No. 1 receiver. Not only can he run routes, he’s an excellent pass catcher who gains separation through his technical ability as well as his speed and quickness.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers desperately need help at cornerback. Looking in their home state is a great place to start, as Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes (6’1” and 217 pounds) is the type of big and physical corner they will need in order to compete with the potent passing games of the NFC South.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Johnathan Hankins is a big, big man who would add another key piece to an improving Carolina front seven.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The New Orleans had a terrible season defensively. In fact, they allowed the most yards in a single season by a defense in NFL history. Dion Jordan is a nice hybrid-type player who will help immediately due to his ability to use his athleticism to make plays in the offensive backfield.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The St. Louis Rams need to give Sam Bradford more time to get the ball to his talented wide receivers downfield. There is a good young group of targets developing for Bradford and he would, if asked, definitely be a big supporter of this pick.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
It’s hard to believe Chance Warmack would make to Pittsburgh here at No. 17, but if he does, it’s impossible to think they would pass him up. The Steelers need help along their offensive line in order to get back to the power-running game that has made them so successful in recent years.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator, is planning to transition the team to the 4-3 Tampa Cover-2 defense this offseason. A guy like Ezekiel Ansah could step in and provide a huge boost to his rebuilding efforts, giving him an elite pass-rusher to match with DeMarcus Ware. Look out.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The New York Giants were awful against the pass for large stretches of 2012, despite their effective pass rush. Adding a new corner here, especially one of Johnthan Banks’ caliber, is definitely a good move for Jerry Reese.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Manti Te’o could still pan out to be a top-tier NFL talent, despite getting embarassed by the Alabama offense in the BCS title game. The Chicago Bears could use an heir to Brian Urlacher’s throne in the middle linebacker and defensive team captain role.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Cordarelle Patterson, Justin Hunter’s teammate, has gotten endless praise for his size and potential, despite not producing at a Division I school.
This pick makes sense for a Cincinnati offense that struggled to put points on the board at times in 2012. A good running prospect should still be available in the second round, meaning the best player should be picked here, and his name is Cordarelle Patterson.
Still, Patterson will need to demonstrate that he can get separation, especially from press coverages in the NFL. If he can get into his routes and use his size and speed to get open in space, he will be a dangerous threat.
It might not happen overnight, but Patterson’s upside is through the roof. If he develops properly and is coached up the right way, he could find himself playing in Honolulu in the not-so-distant future.
22. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) (from Washington): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
St. Louis has the luxury of two mid-first round picks and will use its second to snag some help in its secondary. Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan definitely boosted their defensive prowess last season, but adding a talent like Vaccaro would only make them better.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Justin Hunter, Patterson’s teammate, did produce at Tennessee and outplayed the highly touted wide receiver. Hunter has proven he has the hands and speed to haul in big plays and be a true difference-maker for a football team. Minnesota would do well to add him opposite Percy Harvin and hope QB Christian Ponder can capitalize with his suddenly explosive passing offense.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
John Jenkins is a tank at 6’4” and 359 pounds. He’d fit in nicely on the defensive line of the Indianapolis Colts’ 3-4 defense. Indy struggled at clogging gaps and preventing big runs, and Jenkins should help alleviate some pressure off linebackers by absorbing double teams.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Seattle’s defense could use another big body along its defensive line in order to shut down running lanes. Sheldon Richardson, if still on the board here, would be the perfect for the Seahawks’ big and aggressive defense.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Kevin Minter is a nice fit for a fast and physical Green Bay Packers defense. Despite their successes at rushing the passer, the Pack hasn’t been big on containing the quarterback and shutting down opposing running games. Minter’s presence in the middle of their defense could help rectify that from day one.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Running the football is important in the NFL, and the Texans already have one of the best one-two punches in the league with Arian Foster and Ben Tate. What they don’t have is a big-play threat in the passing game except Andre Johnson. Terrance Williams, if available, could be that guy for Gary Kubiak’s offense.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Peyton Manning needs a top-tier tight end who can open things up more for his wide receivers. Eifert is arguably the best in this class as a pass catcher and will also help upfront as the Denver Broncos focus on remaining balanced offensively in 2013.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Matt Elam, S, Florida
New England has a real need for help in its secondary. It traded for Aqib Talib during the season but needs to do some work at the safety position. Florida’s Matt Elam is NFL-ready and would be a nice pick for the Patriots here.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Pass rush is one of the weaknesses of the Atlanta Falcons. That could be changed by adding a player like Sam Montgomery opposite John Abraham, especially if he’s available at the bottom of the first round.
31. *Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Ravens will need to replace Ray Lewis, and I’m not sure that replacement is currently on their roster. Ogletree has elite size and strength and could be exactly what Baltimore is looking for in this instance.
32. *San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
What would an offense look like comprised of Colin Kaepernick, Tavon Austin and LaMichael James? I’d call it: The future.
*Pick order is pending on results of Super Bowl XLVII.
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