Projecting the Best Available Players for Every NFL Team's First Draft Choice

Michael DulkaContributor IFebruary 10, 2013

Projecting the Best Available Players for Every NFL Team's First Draft Choice

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    With the NFL draft months away, team priorities will change based on free agency, the combine and other evaluations. Some teams will opt to draft the best player available while others will draft for need.

    The 2013 NFL draft class is filled with talented pass-rushers who figure to be taken in the first round. While the quarterback class isn't nearly as talented as last year, teams looking for quarterbacks this year won't wait to make their pick. Over the next few months, the quarterback stock should rise. 

    These projected picks are based on team needs following the Super Bowl. The players listed aren't necessarily the best players at that pick, but the players who provide the most value to the team drafting. 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

    Drafting Geno Smith gives the Chiefs a quarterback and face of the franchise as they look to build an identity with new head coach Andy Reid. Smith isn't the clear-cut top overall player in the draft. He has a high ceiling, but his inconsistency leaves question marks.

     

    Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

    Joeckel would be the less attractive pick, but would help to solidify the Chiefs' offensive line. His strength and size make him a potential anchor on the offensive line for years to come. The Chiefs gave up the 11th-most sacks in the league and will need to protect whichever quarterback they decide to open with next season.

     

    Best Choice: Luke Joeckel

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah 

    The Jaguars need to beef up their defensive line. They gave up 380.5 yards per game as they were unable to stop anything on the ground or through the air. They were especially bad against the run, finishing as the third-worst run defense in the league.

    Lotulelei's strong presence would be an immediate help in the run game. His big body and ability to clog the middle make him a top talent and perfect pick for the Jaguars. 

     

    Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

    As much as the Jaguars need run-stoppers, they need players who can also help them stop the pass. Werner has a great ability to get to the quarterback. His explosive first step and power make him the top pass-rusher in the draft class.

    The Jaguars need to get him playing with a higher motor to get the most out of him.

     

    Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

    Moore is another top pass-rusher, but is undersized for a 4-3 defensive end. He has great footwork and handwork that help to combat his size issues, but he can still be eliminated for plays at a time.

    He's strong against the run. And despite his lack of size, Moore is a playmaker who figures out ways to get to the quarterback and make opposing offenses pay.

     

    Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

    The Jaguars need to draft a cornerback somewhere in the draft. It's hard to imagine them using the second pick on Milliner, but crazier things have happened. This pick seems more likely if the Jaguars trade a couple picks back and give somebody the chance to grab Geno Smith.

    Milliner, as the top corner in the draft class, would definitely help the Jaguars secondary. 

     

    Best Choice: Star Lotulelei

3. Oakland Raiders

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    Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia 

    Carson Palmer isn't the Raiders quarterback of the future, so they will surely be tempted to draft Geno Smith. Palmer put up decent stats last season, but the majority of his success came with games already decided. Smith could start right away, but the Raiders would have to decide what to do with Palmer. If the Raiders are still in love with Palmer, Smith won't be the pick. 

     

    Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

    The Raiders need to improve a defense that struggled in most facets of the game last season, giving up the 15th-most total yards. Werner would give them the best pass-rusher in the draft class. His ability to get to the quarterback with his quickness makes him a prime prospect for the Raiders. 

     

    Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

    The Raiders also have a need at cornerback and could select Milliner with the third pick. Given how bad they were in the trenches, it seems unlikely they wouldn't pick a lineman, but Milliner's value could increase quite a bit at the combine.

    With so many holes, the Raiders could be looking to trade this pick if Smith or Milliner is not available.

     

    Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

    The Raiders need help upfront and could get some in the form of Moore. The big defensive end does very well rushing the passer and plays the run game strongly. He's not as talented getting to the quarterback as Werner may be, but his strength and ability to play the run could help him get the nod over Werner. 

     

    Best Choice: Bjoern Werner

4. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

    Chip Kelly will be tempted to take an athletic quarterback who would seem to fit his system perfectly. Smith wants to make plays through the air, but can also do so with his feet. His inconsistency throughout last season and his college career are worrisome, but this seems to be a good fit for the quarterback.

     

    Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

    Milliner is far and away the best cornerback in the class and would definitely help the Eagles secondary. The Eagles didn't give up a lot of passing yards (24th-most allowed), but they gave up 33 touchdowns while only getting eight interceptions. Milliner isn't necessarily a ball hawk, but his coverage will help the defense come up with turnovers. 

     

    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan 

    Fisher's draft stock has made a great rise since his dominant week at the Senior Bowl. He's worked to close the gap between him and Luke Joeckel, but still remains as the second-best tackle in the draft class. Kelly could be interested in getting Fisher and locking up one of the tackle positions for the foreseeable future.

     

    Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

    Jones has shot up draft boards and could go all the way up to the fourth pick depending on how the first three picks play out. With Smith still on the board, it's hard to imagine Jones would be selected here. With new head coach Chip Kelly, the Eagles will need athletes on both sides of the ball to run his up-tempo scheme. Jones would add a lot of athleticism and talent to the Eagles defense should he be the pick. 

     

    Best Choice: Geno Smith

5. Detroit Lions

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    Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama 

    Because of their need at cornerback, it would be extremely hard for the Lions to pass up Milliner. They have struggled mightily against the potent passing attacks in the NFC North. Milliner would immediately help the Lions be tougher against the pass. But more glaring needs at other positions could swing the Lions away from picking Milliner with the fifth pick. 

     

    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

    Detroit is another team that could swoop on Fisher amid the hype of his Senior Bowl performance. He will need to continue to impress throughout the rest of the draft process to stay ranked so highly.

    The Lions could use help on the offensive line to keep Matthew Stafford upright and open things up for the run game. They found some success running the ball toward the end of last season and could continue to do so by improving their offensive line early in the draft. 

     

    Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

    Defense is where the Lions need the most help. Their linebacker play has been subpar, and they could use a fresh player to revitalize their defense. Jones is widely considered the top linebacker in the class because of his high intensity and high quality play throughout games.

    Jones is very good at rushing the passer, but also plays the run very well. Jones is versatile and can fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. 

     

    Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

    Having just cut Kyle Vanden Bosch, the Lions need help on their defensive line. They already have a couple studs in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but would benefit from the addition of Damontre Moore. He has a great ability to play the pass and the run. Moore still needs to develop and would be able to do so alongside the rest of the Lions' talented defensive linemen.

     

    Best Choice: Jarvis Jones

6. Cleveland Browns

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    Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

    Mingo is a player about whom there is a great difference of opinion. Some have him ranked within the top 10 picks, while others have him near the end of the round. The Browns have a young but talented defense that is a few playmakers away from being successful.

    Mingo's freakish athletic ability makes him an intriguing prospect. He rushes the passer with ease, but struggles in the run game.

     

    Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

    The Browns are in the market for a cornerback who will fit defensive coordinator Ray Horton's defensive scheme, but it's unclear where they will look to get that player. Milliner could immediately play opposite Joe Haden to give the young defense a formidable pair of corners.

    Milliner has great ability to cover and is far and away the best cornerback in the class. He's not a flashy playmaker, but he's extremely solid.

     

    Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

    Offensive guards aren't supposed to be taken in the first 10 picks of the draft, but Warmack looks to challenge that notion. The big guard played so well at Alabama that teams will actually look at Warmack as a potential option early in the draft.

    The Browns need to do a better job protecting Brandon Weeden and creating running lanes for Trent Richardson. Their offense is solid, but better offensive line play will make them even better. 

     

    Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

    The Browns need to get a 3-4 pass-rusher for defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Moore seemingly fits the bill with his ability to get to the quarterback in a hurry.

    Moore has great strength and his size seems to fit that 3-4 outside linebacker position better than a defensive end, where he would be undersized. Moore also plays well against the run. He would make the Browns defense exciting to watch. 

     

    Best Choice: Damontre Moore

7. Arizona Cardinals

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    Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas 

    As they head into the season under new head coach Bruce Arians, the Cardinals need to figure out their quarterback situation. They can't afford to let one of their biggest problems continue under the new regime. Wilson is a strong-armed prospect who should be able to compete for the starting job. He likely won't be successful on day one, but he can be a good quarterback eventually. 

     

    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

    Fisher killed it during the practice week at the Senior Bowl and flew up draft boards everywhere. As the second-best tackle in the class, the Cardinals could be tempted to take Fisher and hope he sticks for a decade. 

     

    Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State

    Glennon has a strong arm that makes him an intriguing prospect. While he also has good size (6'6", 232 pounds), he's not very athletic and struggles to move in the pocket. But he played well at N.C. State, running their offense with great efficiency. 

     

    Matt Barkley, QB, USC

    There isn't much agreement about Barkley heading into the NFL draft. Some analysts have him ranked low, while others have him being taken high in the first round. The Cardinals could take a look at him here because of his polished play and potential. He didn't have a great senior season, but the physical tools are still there. 

     

    Best Choice: Tyler Wilson

8. Buffalo Bills

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    Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State

    The Bills need to draft a quarterback to give them somebody to challenge Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting job. The latter hasn't played up to his contract, so it could be time for the Bills to move on with a new quarterback.

    Glennon has a strong arm that allows him to make difficult throws. And he showed during his college career that he knows when and when not to use his arm strength to his advantage. 

     

    Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee 

    If the Bills want to wait to get a quarterback later in the draft, they could give him a nice weapon by drafting Patterson in the first round. The wide receiver has strong all-around skills and could lower the Bills' dependence on the unreliable Stevie Johnson.

    While Patterson does have the highest ceiling in the class, he definitely comes with sloppiness issues. At Tennessee, he was often bailed out by his athleticism and playmaking ability that won't work the same way in the NFL. 

     

    Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

    Depending on his performance leading up to the draft, Ogletree's stock could make the Bills think about drafting the linebacker. Ogletree seems to have elite talent at the linebacker position, with an uncanny ability to cover the field. He's great at anticipating plays, and his speed makes him the extreme playmaker. 

     

    Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

    With so much money already tied to the position, it's hard to imagine the Bills using a first-round pick on the defensive line, but Jordan's freakish combination of size and speed makes it hard for the Bills to pass him up.

    Jordan is huge (6'6", 243 pounds) and has the ability to run right through blocks, but still maintain enough speed to get around blocks as well. Jordan would be a nice fit on the Bills defense. 

     

    Best Choice: Mike Glennon

9. New York Jets

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    Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

    The Jets will be another team interested in the pass-rusher from Oregon. The Jets were 25th in the league with 30 sacks. They have talented cornerbacks, but the defense gave quarterbacks too much time to throw.

    Jordan could immediately give the Jets a talented pass-rusher who is incredibly hard to block. 

     

    Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

    Mingo is another freakish athlete who would help the Jets defense. He rushes the passer incredibly well but struggles against the run. He would need coaching to get better at keeping an edge and making plays in the run game.

    The knock on Mingo is that he takes plays off and doesn't give his all on each snap. That's not exactly what the Jets need as they look to revitalize their team heading into next season. 

     

    Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young

    The Ghanaian defensive end is still learning the ins and outs of his position, but has still managed to have a ton of success. He's raw as would be expected for a newcomer to the game, but the physical and mental tools are all there to be a great pass-rusher at the next level.

    The Jets desperately need help in that department. Ansah would provide it.

     

    Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

    If the Jets trade Darrelle Revis, they could have a need at cornerback.  Milliner could be the perfect player to meet it.

    The Alabama corner had a great college career because of his ability to cover all different types of wide receivers. The Jets would definitely benefit from having Milliner as part of their defense. With a ton of pass-rushing talent in the draft, the Jets could trade to get a solid rusher late in the first or early in the second round. 

     

    Best Choice: Barkevious Mingo

10. Tennessee Titans

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    Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama 

    The Titans need to improve their offensive line. With Steve Hutchinson and LeRoy Harris aging, both guard positions could be up for grabs. Warmack would give the Titans a lock-down guard for the foreseeable future and would provide good value at the 10th pick in the draft.

    Guards usually aren't the highest-picked players, but Warmack seems to be a special talent and should be considered as such for the Titans. 

     

    Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri 

    Richardson is an incredibly athletic defensive tackle. He has quickness to get in the backfield against the pass or the run.

    The Titans were terrible on the defensive line and would benefit from the big-bodied Richardson (6'4", 295 pounds). This isn't the highest need on the Titans' list, but if they think the value is there to improve in the defensive trenches, Richardson could be the pick. 

     

    Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

    The best safety in the draft is a target for the Titans because of his playmaking ability. Vaccaro's athletic ability allows him to cover short, intermediate and deep routes. He also plays the run well and would add a physical element to the Titans defense. 

     

    Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia 

    The Titans need better play from the middle of their defense. They need a linebacker who will make an immediate impact. Ogletree has that type of ability.

    The Titans gave up the sixth-most yards in the NFL this season. They need to improve against the pass and the run. Ogletree would help against both. 

     

    Best Choice: Chance Warmack

11. San Diego Chargers

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    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan 

    Fisher is the second-best tackle in the draft class who —with an impressive Senior Bowl week —has pushed Luke Joeckel for the No. 1 spot. In mock drafts, he's been most popularly slotted at the 11th pick to the Chargers.

    If he lasts that long, it makes perfect sense. The Chargers need to do a better job protecting Philip Rivers. Fisher can be a big part of that. 

     

    Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

    The Chargers' second-biggest area of need is at cornerback. They could be tempted to grab Milliner if he lasts until the 11th pick.

    The Chargers would have to absolutely love Milliner and his potential to pass up Fisher, but it could happen depending on interviews and performances at the combine.

    Either way, the Chargers could get the best player at either of their two biggest needs.

     

    Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

    Another tackle, Johnson could be the guy who challenges Fisher in the months leading up to the draft. Johnson is a talented pass-blocker but struggles in the running game.

    He has the strength and quickness to be a solid run-blocker but needs coaching. If both players are still on the board at pick No. 11, the Chargers seem better served by taking Fisher and making him their tackle of the future.

     

    Best Choice: Eric Fisher

12. Miami Dolphins

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    Keenan Allen, WR, California

    There's no debating that the Miami Dolphins need to add a wide receiver or two. Allen is the most talented and a sure thing in this class of wide receivers.

    He does it all with great hands, smooth route-running and decent speed. He's also attractive because of his ability to play multiple positions and return punts. 

     

    Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida

    The Dolphins will need to take a strong look at Floyd with the 12th pick in the draft. The massive player (6'3", 303 pounds) looks to be a big threat on the defensive line.

    He would immediately help the Dolphins control the line of scrimmage and make opposing offenses uncomfortable. Floyd is still fairly raw and will need time and coaching to grow into a top-tier talent, but the tools are there. 

     

    Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee 

    Patterson has great hands and ability to pluck the ball out of the air, making him quite the aerial threat. He has possibly the greatest skill set of any of the receivers in this draft class, but he needs to focus to reach his potential.

    He only played a year at Tennessee as a JUCO transfer. If the Dolphins want to take a risk here, they could get a higher return than they would by selecting Allen with their first pick. 

     

    Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

    The Dolphins could look to make things easier on Cameron Wake and get another stud pass-rusher. Jordan would be just that. He has incredible size and blazing speed that make him extremely hard to block.

    In college, Jordan got away with using his athleticism and speed to shed blockers and didn't have to rely too much on being physical. He will need to show he is willing to be a physical player to put it all together.

     

    Best Choice: Cordarrelle Patterson  

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

    The top safety in the class, Vaccaro could immediately help a Buccaneers secondary that struggled this past season. The Bucs gave up a whopping 297.4 yards per game (most in the league).

    In a division with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton, the Bucs need reinforcements in the secondary.

     

    Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

    The top cornerback in the class, Milliner would immediately be a solid contributor for the Bucs. He should be able to play effectively against some the NFC South's talented wide receivers.

    He's not a ball hawk, but his play would help the Buccaneers slow down opposing offenses. 

     

    Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

    The Bucs also need help at inside linebacker. Te'o could give them his help, despite his poor showing in his final college game.

    Regardless of the fake girlfriend hoax, Te'o still has a lot to offer an NFL team in the middle of the field. He's extremely physical and has good instincts (on the field). 

     

    Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

    Ogletree would immediately improve the Bucs defense. He's one of the top linebackers in the class. He's a better prospect than Te'o and would likely have more of an impact right away. 

     

    Best Choice: Dee Milliner

14. Carolina Panthers

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    Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

    The Panthers need to improve their defense, and it starts up front. They need a bigger and better presence on their defensive line.

    Richardson provides that. He's a superb athlete who has a big body. His athleticism should help the Panthers be better suited to defend against the more mobile quarterbacks who are taking over the NFC.

    The Panthers were solid against the run with the 14th-ranked rush defense, but they would definitely benefit from drafting Richardson.

     

    Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida 

    The massive Floyd would help contribute in the same way Richardson would. A big body up front would help the Panthers better control games from the trenches.

    Floyd has a great motor and a willingness to play hard. He could be a big asset to the Panthers down the road. 

     

    Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

    The Panthers could go in a different direction and draft an offensive tackle to protect their franchise quarterback. Cam Newton needs protection to stay healthy and make plays.

    The knock on Johnson is that he's not as strong in the run game as the pass game. That's a concern for the Panthers who like to run the football. They would need to see that Johnson has the potential to improve as a run-blocker.

     

    Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

    Hankins has great size (6'3", 320 pounds), but also has the versatility to make him an interesting prospect for the Panthers. Hankins played mostly nose tackle, but showed an ability to play other positions on the defensive line and make the most of specific matchups.

    That type of versatility is big in the NFL and could mean Hankins gets drafted higher than most thought coming into the draft. 

     

    Best Choice: Sheldon Richardson

15. New Orleans Saints

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    Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

    The Saints will be another team that takes a hard look at Jordan. The Saints need to find a new identity on defense following the mess that was last season.

    Jordan gives them that and a new edge with his ability to rush the passer, using his rare combination of speed and size. The Saints finished 25th in the league in sacks (30). They need to get more pressure on the quarterback. 

     

    Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young 

    The young man from BYU is another talented prospect who excels rushing the passer. Ansah hasn't played football for long, so he's still learning how to play his position.

    He has an incredibly high ceiling but needs the right coaching to excel in the league. He has great size (6'6", 270 pounds), speed and power, but doesn't have a very explosive first step. He needs to figure out ways to counter this and get more consistently to the passer. 

     

    Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

    The Saints' other big problem last season was their inability to shut down passing games. They made some below-average offensive teams look like they had high-octane passing attacks.

    After giving up 292.6 yards per game (second worst in the league), the Saints could use help in the secondary. Vaccaro would give them playmaking ability from the safety position. He has great on-field speed that will help him contribute from the start of camp. 

     

    Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

    Hankins has monstrous size, but also has the ability to play nose tackle and defensive end. He demanded double-teams throughout his college career. 

    The Saints could use linemen who can both play the run and the pass. Hankins would fit the bill if the Saints wanted to go interior defensive line in the first round. 

     

    Best Choice: Dion Jordan 

16. St. Louis Rams

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    Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

    The Rams could use help at safety, and Vaccaro is the best in the draft class. He reacts incredibly well against the pass and the run, making him a big-play threat.

    The ability to play both well would highly benefit the Rams as they look for a player to pair with Quintin Mikell. Vaccaro fills a need and would be one of the best players available when the Rams hit the clock. 

     

    Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

    The Rams need to do a better job of protecting Sam Bradford. Johnson could be the player to help do that. He rarely missed assignments and won the majority of his matchups throughout his career at Oklahoma, keeping Landry Jones upright.

    The biggest knock against Johnson is his performance in the running game. He struggles getting forward push and creating holes for the back. 

     

    Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina 

    Another big hole for the Rams is at the guard position. They need to find a player who can play the opposite guard position from long-time right guard Harvey Dahl.

    Cooper is incredibly talented and isn't far behind Chance Warmack as the top guard in the class. The Rams gave up 35 sacks last season and plenty more pressures. They need to tighten up their line, and Cooper is one player who could certainly do that. 

     

    Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia 

    The Rams could use an athlete in the middle of the field. Ogletree would give them that with his athleticism and speed.

    In a division with Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, the Rams need as many playmakers on defense as they can get. Ogletree would give them a fast player who can run with those guys, but he needs to improve his tackling. 

     

    Best Choice: Kenny Vaccaro 

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Keenan Allen, WR, California 

    With Mike Wallace likely heading out via free agency, the Steelers need another target for Ben Roethlisberger. Allen has great all-around talent and would be much more of a consistent weapon for the Steelers.

    He doesn't have Wallace's blazing speed, but he is better over the middle of the field. Allen is a versatile player who can line up anywhere and take advantage of the defense. 

     

    Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young

    Ansah is a freak rushing the passer and still doesn't exactly know how to fully play the position. A newcomer to football, Ansah still is very raw but has all the physical and mental tools to be a great player with some top coaching.

    The Steelers have the coaching to turn Ansah into a dominant player. He will likely need time to develop, but he can still contribute right away. 

     

    John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

    The Steelers could use more youth on their defensive line. Jenkins gives them a strong defensive lineman who is athletic enough to be used at different spots along the line.

    For a man of his size (6'3", 358 pounds) and position, he does a surprisingly good job rushing the passer and collapsing the pocket. He needs to work on using his hands and making sure to wrap up on tackle attempts. 

     

    Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia 

    The Steelers would benefit from adding a young and productive linebacker to give their defense some new life. Ogletree has great speed and does well against the pass and the run.

    The Steelers need to improve in both areas to get back to having one of the best defenses in the league. 

     

    Best Choice: Ezekiel Ansah

18. Dallas Cowboys

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    Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida 

    The Cowboys could decide to let Jay Ratliff go during the offseason. Drafting Floyd gives them that flexibility and the ability to use that money elsewhere to upgrade the defense.

    Floyd's massive size make him an immediate impact guy for a defense that desperately needs help. He can immediately win battles upfront to better control the trenches in the running and passing games.

     

    Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

    Another player who could contribute immediately on the defensive line, Williams has similar ability to Floyd. He is very raw heading into the league and will need coaching to become a solid player on the defensive line.

    His ceiling is very high, but his ability to get lost or attack the wrong gap will hurt him from the start. 

     

    Kawaan Short, DT, Purdue

    Short would also be able to immediately help the Cowboys' poor defensive line. The big man also has the ability to be a force against the run and pass.

    His ability to shed blocks and move fairly quickly allow him to make plays. The Cowboys finished 19th in yards allowed, so there is plenty of room for improvement.

     

    Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina 

    The Cowboys finished 16th in the league with 36.5 sacks allowed. Romo was constantly facing pressure and made mistakes with guys in his face.

    The Cowboys could look to improve their offensive line by selecting Cooper in the first round. The talented guard isn't far behind Chance Warmack. 

     

    Best Choice: Shariff Floyd

19. New York Giants

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    Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

    The Giants struggled to get pressure upfront and it killed their defense. When they are able to get to the quarterback, the Giants are a top defense in the league.

    Okafor is a player who could help get them back to the top defensively. He has great power to get through blockers and get to the quarterback.

     

    Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

    Ertz is probably the best pass-catching tight end in the draft. He's an extremely polished route-runner and has very good hands.

    That said, Ertz struggles to win his individual battles as a blocker. With some coaching, Ertz could become more of a well-rounded tight end. The Giants could use another weapon to give Eli Manning some of the best options in football. 

     

    Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

    Eifert isn't far behind Ertz in receiving ability and is a better blocker. He's willing to get downfield and sacrifice his body to make plays.

    At Notre Dame, he lined up all over the field, including some plays from the wide receiver position. Eifert would give the Giants a weapon in the passing game and help in the running game with his ability to block. 

     

    Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

    The Giants could also use better play from their cornerbacks. Banks is the second-best cornerback in the class behind Dee Milliner and will certainly attract attention from the Giants.

    He's doesn't have great speed, but he's fast enough to hang with most receivers. The Giants would benefit from his strength in the run game and his ability to blitz. 

     

    Best Choice: Tyler Eifert

20. Chicago Bears

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    Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

    The Bears need a replacement for Brian Urlacher. Whether that's in the first round or later rounds, they need a player who can either start immediately or become the Bears' middle linebacker when Urlacher finally retires.

    Te'o, while he doesn't have great speed, can offer the Bears a lot from the middle of the field. He's smart on the field and able to read defenses, putting him in good position to make plays. He lacks quickness to make him an elite player, but he could still fit this defense nicely. 

     

    D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

    The Bears have done a terrible job protecting Jay Cutler. Fluker offers them a strong tackle who can immediately compete on their offensive line. He's strong in pass protection and is an effective run-blocker, which is good news for Matt Forte

     

    Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

    Similar to Te'o, Ogletree would immediately give the Bears a middle linebacker who is capable of making plays. His athleticism would be a huge upgrade over what Urlacher is working with at this point in his career.

    With his quickness, Ogletree can have a big impact for the Bears next season. 

     

    Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

    Johnson is another guard who could help protect Cutler. He's good in pass protection but struggles in the running game.

    With the Bears' balanced attacks of late, they would need him to improve his run-blocking. Johnson had a solid week at the Senior Bowl against some of the top defensive talent in the draft class. 

     

    Best Choice: D.J. Fluker

21. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia 

    The Bengals could use better play from the middle linebacker position. Rey Maualuga struggled this season and doesn't seem to be the best option going forward.

    Ogletree would be able to contribute immediately. He's an athletic guy with great sideline-to-sideline speed. He knows when to use his speed, and he uses his intelligence to seek out plays as they are happening rather than just reacting. 

     

    Datone Jones, DT, UCLA

    Jones had a huge week at the Senior Bowl and has moved into first-round territory. He has great size (6'4", 275 pounds) and speed and could help bring the Bengals defense to life.

    Geno Atkins alone is enough to terrorize an offensive line, but the pair of Atkins and Jones could be absolutely deadly for the Bengals. Jones would likely need a big week at the combine for the Bengals to take him with their pick. 

     

    Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

    Looking for a linebacker, Te'o could be the guy drafted by the Bengals in the first round. Te'o doesn't have elite speed but is still able to make plays. He compensates for his lack of speed by anticipating where the play is going.

    The Bengals certainly have a need at the position, but it's hard to see Te'o being the pick if Ogletree is available when the Bengals are on the clock. 

     

    Matt Elam, S, Florida

    The Bengals could also use help at safety, and Elam is one of the best safeties in the draft. His hard-hitting, physical play could bring life to the Bengals defense.

    But it seems the needs are bigger elsewhere. Elam's not the best in coverage, but he does play the run fairly well. He needs to improve as a pass defender to become a good safety in the league. 

     

    Best Choice: Alec Ogletree

22. St. Louis Rams

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    Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

    After going for defense with their first pick, the Rams could be looking to give Sam Bradford protection with their second pick in the first round.

    It's not typical of head coach Jeff Fisher to pick an offensive lineman this high in the draft, but the Rams have a strong need. Bradford was under pressure way too often, and they need to do a better job of keeping the face of their franchise upright.

    Johnson could be the guy as his draft stock continues to climb after a strong week at the Senior Bowl. 

     

    Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

    As mentioned in the previous Rams slide, "Another big hole for the Rams is at the guard position. They need to find a player who can play the opposite guard position from long-time right guard Harvey Dahl. Cooper is incredibly talented as an offensive lineman and isn't far behind Chance Warmack as the top guard in the class. The Rams gave up 35 sacks last season and plenty more pressures. They need to tighten up their line and Cooper is one player that could certainly do so."

     

    Tyler Ertz, TE, Stanford

    If Fisher stays true to his past drafting tendencies, the Rams could use this pick for a skill position and grab the most talented pass-catching tight end in the draft class.

    Ertz could immediately be paired with Lance Kendricks to give Bradford a big weapon on offense. While it's not necessarily a need, grabbing Ertz here would be fairly solid value for the Rams. 

     

    Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee 

    Another tackle, Thomas would be the surprise pick here, but his ability to be effective in run-blocking and pass protection make him an option for the Rams. Thomas can pretty much play anywhere on the line.

    That could be useful if the Rams have injuries or get into trouble with depth. Thomas would need to have a good few months leading up to the draft to get picked this high, but it's on the table. 

     

    Best Choice: Jonathan Cooper

23. Minnesota Vikings

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    Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

    The Vikings could look to add to their defensive line in hopes of taking a young defense to the next level. Williams would give them a big body in the middle to help shut down the run and allow their pass-rushers to get to the quarterback. Williams has great strength and uses his hands well to shed blocks. 

     

    Keenan Allen, WR, California

    With Adrian Peterson playing as well as he is, the Vikings need an average passing game to become a very dangerous team. Christian Ponder needs more weapons in the passing game and Allen could be just that.

    By drafting Allen, the Vikings would have a young wide receiver who can develop and makes things easier on Peterson.

     

    Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

    Williams would have an immediate impact on the Vikings defense. They have some young talent in the secondary and would benefit from better play upfront. Williams can use his size to create problems for opposing offensive linemen, making it easier for the Vikings to stop the run and rush the passer. 

     

    DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

    Hopkins would give the Vikings a similar playmaker to Allen. He's good overall and would give Ponder a threat down the field. The Vikings have struck out trying to find solid wide receivers in free agency and must turn their attention to the draft to bring in more talent. Hopkins would contribute right away. 

     

    Best Choice: Keenan Allen

24. Indianapolis Colts

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    Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

    The Colts need help at cornerback. As a defense, the Colts gave up the 12th-most passing yards, allowing an average of 236.8 yards per game. Banks would help right away. He's definitely in the second tier of corners in the draft behind Dee Milliner. 

     

    Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

    The Colts could also benefit from some better play on the defensive line to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Okafor would help with his incredible strength to beat blockers and get in the backfield. He's fairly strong against the run but needs to work on his fundamentals. If Okafor can improve his burst, he can develop into a playmaker. 

     

    Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

    Rhodes has great size (6'2", 217 pounds) and plays physical defense against receivers. He could help the Colts right away. While he's physical in the passing game, he struggles in the run game and making plays on the ground. He's not the fastest guy on the field and could struggle to cover faster wide receivers on a consistent basis. 

     

    Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

    Trufant is a solid cornerback who does most things well but doesn't do anything exceptionally well, which could hurt him come draft time. He's solid, but he's not a guy who's going to create a bunch of turnovers. That said, he's strong all-around and covered all types of wide receivers during his career at Washington. 

     

    Best Choice: Johnthan Banks 

25. Seattle Seahawks

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    Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia 

    Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch make the Seahawks offense extremely dangerous, but their lack of wide receiver talent will hurt them. Austin would be a great fit as a speedster who would dominate with the time Wilson can buy in the pocket. The Seahawks could also use Austin in creative ways to get him the ball quickly in space. 

     

    DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson 

    Hopkins isn't a speed guy like Austin, but he would give the Seahawks a big-play receiver. He would help to open up the field and make things easier for Wilson and the running game. He's more of an all-around receiver than Austin if that's the route the Seahawks want to go. 

     

    Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

    The Seahawks' run defense declined down the stretch and got punished by the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs. They need another big body on the defensive line to allow their fast linebackers to make plays. Williams would give them depth on the line and a solid run-stopper. 

     

    Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

    Hankins is a beast of a defensive tackle and would immediately help the Seahawks become a top rushing defense once again. The big knock on Hankins is an inability to have an impact throughout the game. The Seahawks would need to figure out how to make Hankins more consistently productive.

     

    Best Choice: Johnathan Hankins

26. Green Bay Packers

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    Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

    The Packers' running game hasn't been good enough throughout Aaron Rodgers' tenure as the starting quarterback. They added Cedric Benson in an uncharacteristic move last season and got production before a foot injury ended his year. They found a spark late from DuJuan Harris, but could use another young back to give them a formidable rushing attack. Lacy's size and speed make him a great fit for the Packers offense. 

     

    Barrett Jones, C, Alabama

    Perhaps the Packers' biggest offensive weakness is their offensive line play. Rodgers has been sacked too many times, and it's cost the Packers games. Jones would give them a starting center or consistent play at either guard position with his versatility. Evan Dietrich-Smith is the starter at guard as of now. How the Packers view him could determine whether Jones is the pick. 

     

    Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

    The Packers could also use another body on the defensive line. Williams' big frame (6'3", 313 pounds) would help the Packers control more upfront and help in the run game. Having to play Adrian Peterson twice, the Packers would benefit from having Williams clog the middle of the field. 

     

    Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

    Minter is an intriguing prospect for the Packers as their play in the middle of the field was lacking. They got consistent play from long-time starter A.J. Hawk, but he failed to make big plays and isn't very physical.

    The Packers have been beaten physically on a number of occasions the past two seasons. Minter's physicality and instinctual play could add a lot to the Packers defense. 

     

    Best Choice: Eddie Lacy

27. Houston Texans

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    Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

    The Texans desperately need to add weapons on offense and could choose to add a speed guy in Austin. Outside of Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, the Texans don't have many threats in the passing game. Austin's speed and small size make him a viable slot receiver and a nice complement to Johnson and Daniels. 

     

    John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

    The Texans could use a beast on the defensive line to draw attention and tighten up the front seven. Jenkins can immediately help in the run game and collapse the pocket in the passing game. That should make things easier on J.J. Watt, who should be slightly freed up by the attention on Jenkins. 

     

    Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech

    Patton had a great week at the Senior Bowl and could sneak into the first round. He's a solid all-around receiver and blocks well when called upon to do so. While he's a very good receiver, Patton doesn't have great speed and struggles breaking tackles. 

     

    DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson 

    Hopkins would give the Texans a deep threat as well as somebody who can run multiple routes. His game would fit nicely into the Texans offense alongside Johnson.

    Hopkins needs to work on catching the ball more cleanly but shows a lot of potential. His ability to get separation will be critical to his success in the league. The Texans absolutely need another playmaker, and Hopkins is the guy to get that done. 

     

    Best Choice: DeAndre Hopkins

28. Denver Broncos

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    Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

    The Broncos could use a consistent middle linebacker to improve their defense. D.J. Williams and Keith Brooking haven't been able to get the job done. Minter could immediately contribute. He's a sound tackler and uses his smarts to make plays. He's a hard hitter who can bring a more physical presence to the Broncos defense. 

     

    Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

    After getting torched by the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, it's clear the Broncos need help in the secondary. Rhodes' large size (6'2", 215 pounds) gives him the ability to play physical with wide receivers and go up to get the football with them. If he can improve his tackling, Rhodes would be another player who could immediately make the Broncos much more physical. 

     

    Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

    Depending on how his interviews go at the combine, the Broncos could be tempted to draft Te'o. Despite the media circus, Te'o can still have an impact on whichever team drafts him. He's not the quickest linebacker, and that hurts him at times. But he's instinctual and smart on the football field. He would immediately give the Broncos a solid inside linebacker. 

     

    Kawaan Short, DT, Purdue

    The Broncos could also use more help on the defensive line. The defense was very good, but it would benefit from more depth and a stronger defensive line. Short has a rare combination of size and speed, making him a force against the run and the pass. He's able to take on blocks with his size and able to make plays after freeing himself up. 

     

    Best Choice: Xavier Rhodes

29. New England Patriots

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    Matt Elam, S, Florida

    The Patriots secondary got abused this season, and the problems have carried over from year to year. They need to improve this area if they intend to get back to winning the Super Bowl. Elam would give them an automatic upgrade in the secondary and help in getting stops. Elam is an incredible athlete and a hard hitter. He needs to work on his coverage, but the physical tools are there to do that. 

     

    Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

    Having to make a decision on Wes Welker, the Patriots could look to draft a replacement. Austin fits the role of a slot receiver, but it's hard to imagine he could immediately have the impact Welker did. Even with Welker, the Patriots need to add more weapons for Tom Brady. Outside of their plethora of tight ends, they don't have much talent in the wide receiver department. 

     

    D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

    Swearinger is one of the hardest-hitting players in the draft and would certainly add physicality and attitude to the Patriots defense. During his tenure at South Carolina, Swearinger's versatility and athleticism allowed the Gamecocks to use him as a cornerback at times. That would be great for a Patriots team that loves to play the matchup game. 

     

    Kawaan Short, DT, Purdue

    The Patriots seem to be playing more 4-3 defense than 3-4, so another big body on the defensive line could help them. Short has great size and strength that will allow him to make an immediate impact on the defensive line. He's strong against the run and quick enough to make plays in the passing game by collapsing the pocket. If the Patriots want to go in the trenches with this pick, Short should be the guy. 

     

    Best Choice: Matt Elam

30. Atlanta Falcons

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    Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

    The Falcons, who will need to replace Tony Gonzalez, could do so with Zach Ertz. The big tight end is the best pass-catching TE in the draft and would fit in nicely with the Falcons' pass-happy offense. As if Matt Ryan needed any more weapons, the Falcons would be smart to get Ertz and let him grow into the position. Ertz needs to improve his blocking, but shouldn't have a problem fixing it with solid coaching. 

     

    Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

    Okafor is a strong defensive lineman whose versatility allowed him to play all over the defensive line. The Falcons need a pass-rusher, as John Abraham looks to be headed downhill.

    Okafor will give them a strong pass-rusher who can help get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. With talented defensive backs, the Falcons will definitely benefit from ramped-up pressure coming from their front seven. 

     

    Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

    Montgomery is another pass-rusher the Falcons could draft. He would give the Falcons a pass-rusher and a three-down lineman. Montgomery was good against the run, which the Falcons could definitely use. Montgomery has been quiet among all the other talented pass-rushers in this draft class, but he could definitely be a sleeper in the right situation. The Falcons defense needs a guy like Montgomery.

     

    Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

    The Falcons struggled to run the ball throughout the season. They had some success down the stretch, but the team would benefit from having a consistent running back they can count on for years to come. They likely won't use a first-round pick on a running back, but it's an interesting thought. Michael Turner is slowing down and they need a player to pair with Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield. 


    Best Choice: Sam Montgomery

31. San Francisco 49ers

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    Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

    The 49ers' run defense lost a little bit of its shine toward the end of the season, so the 49ers could use new talent on the defensive line. Williams would offer a fairly raw but extremely talented defensive lineman who could increase the level of talent there. If he plays well in camp, he could force the 49ers to find creative ways to get him on the field. 

     

    D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

    A hard-hitting safety, Swearinger would fit right in for the 49ers. With Dashon Goldson's contract up, the 49ers could look to go a different route than paying top dollar for their safety. Either way, the 49ers secondary got lit up in the playoffs and was one of the team's few weaknesses. If they can get some talent at the safety position and get more production, they will be that much better next season. 

     

    Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

    The 49ers have a couple nice assets in the passing game, but with Randy Moss likely out of the picture and the status of Mario Manningham's knee unknown, the 49ers could grab a wide receiver in Round 1. They have enough talent to grab a position outside of need to help their offense.

    The team lacks a true slot receiver, and Austin would give them a fast one. Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh could surely get creative with Austin in their formations. 

     

    Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

    Trufant excelled at the Senior Bowl and could continue to climb the cornerback rankings prior to the draft. Trufant has the skills to be a solid corner in the league. The 49ers corners were decent-to-good during the playoffs, but they could use some depth at the position. 

     

    Best Choice: D.J. Swearinger

32. Baltimore Ravens

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    Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

    The Ravens will need someone to replace Ray Lewis in the middle of the field. By drafting Minter, the Ravens will fill the void and give Minter a chance to have an immediate impact. He's a smart linebacker and a sure tackler in the run game. The Ravens gave up more yardage on the ground than usual. Minter can help get that number back down. 

     

    Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

    Despite all the pre-draft publicity, Te'o can be a solid contributor for the Ravens. He's not the fastest linebacker by any means, but he's instinctual on the field and makes plays. He was overmatched in the national championship game and will need to prove that his performance in that game was a fluke.

     

    Eric Reid, S, LSU

    The Ravens could replace Ed Reed with Eric Reid should the team decide to move on from their aging safety. While it seems ever more likely that Reed will be back in Baltimore for another season, things change quickly in the NFL. Reid, an athletic and smooth safety out of LSU, could hold down the position for the foreseeable future. 

     

    Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

    Joe Flacco's big contract could mean the Ravens struggle to pay his playmaking receivers down the line. They could look to draft a wide receiver to give Flacco another weapon and make some of their more expensive offensive assets expendable.

    Austin's speed and quickness would give the Ravens a slot receiver who defenses would be forced to pay as much attention to as Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith. 

     

    Best Choice: Kevin Minter