What do you do to find stars in an NFL draft without college football's best player?
With Jadeveon Clowney still ineligible to enter this year's player pool, there isn't a buzz around an obvious number one player, especially without a top-tier quarterback in this year's draft. That means that those teams looking for a star player to make a big splash next season may be caught in a difficult position.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs, holding the first overall pick, need to land a star player to turn their team around after a trying 2012; ideally, that player will be able to contribute to an offense that scored an abysmal 211 points last year. However, this draft isn't full of offensive stars. According to ESPN.com, the top skill-position player on Scouts Inc.'s Top 32 is Geno Smith, who ranks 23rd on their list.
With so many needs, Kansas City may be wise to get as much value as possible by trading down for some extra picks. They can't afford to waste the pick on overpaying a player who's not worth the top selection.
New Orleans Saints
One team that could use a star defensive contributor—of which many appear to be available—is the Saints, whose defense gave up a league-worst 440.1 yards per game and 454 points.
Rattled psychologically if nothing else by the Bountygate scandal, New Orleans also didn't have a pick in the first two rounds of last year's draft. It'll be key for them to pick up one or two strong defensive players to help them improve on this season's 7-9 record.
New England Patriots
But even some top teams can use a key defensive contributor. After their defense broke down once again in the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots—despite drafting 29th overall in the first round—will have to look for a defensive star to share the load. Vince Wilfork was shut down against the Ravens after Kyle Love went down, while the secondary crumbled after the loss of Aqib Talib.
Unless New England brass are willing to trade up, they're going to have to rely on their scouting department to find a diamond in the rough. That being said, with so many great defensive players projected to go early, don't be surprised if they move up if they see the right missing piece.
Some teams have desperate needs on both sides of the ball, and Jacksonville is firmly in that category. The Jaguars pick second overall and have pressing needs at quarterback, defensive end and cornerback, three of the most important positions in the game.
Luckily for them, they pick early enough that their projected best fit is clear: Texas A&M's Damontre Moore, a defensive end. But that's only one problem out of three. If they can address one of the other two needs in the second round, the Jaguars could begin to turn it around in 2013, just as the draft is designed to help teams do.
For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.