The 2013 NFL draft may see one of the weakest quarterback classes in recent memory, but with a handful of NFL teams needing a QB, team executives don't have much of a choice but to work with what they've got.
Last season, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck proved that rookie quarterbacks can take a franchise to the playoffs, which is what a few head coaches will be hoping for when they set up their draft boards in April.
Below are my first-round projections for the upcoming draft with an emphasis on which teams must draft a quarterback, which are denoted by italic text.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
I've seen some mock drafts floating around that have the Chiefs drafting Luke Joeckel or another offensive lineman with the No. 1 overall pick.
My question to them is: Who is that offensive lineman going to protect?
Smith has excellent mobility and could be trouble for opposing defenses if he's paired with Jamaal Charles.
The pistol offense was highly effective last season and we could be seeing another team utilize the scheme in 2013.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU
The Jaguards had the least amount of sacks of any NFL team last season (20) and must draft a defensive lineman to put pressure on opposing QBs.
Bjoern Werner racked up 13 sacks at Florida State last season and could be a key member of Jacksonville's defense for years to come.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Oakland should be looking to record more QB sacks and stop the run on defense in 2013, and that's exactly what 6'4", 320-pound Star Lotulelei can do.
The former Utah defensive tackle is arguably the best run-stopper in the draft on the defensive line and also showed the ability to get to the QB, recording five sacks.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
It's not a flashy pick for the Philadelphia Eagles, but Chip Kelly's spread offense relies on quick offensive lineman who can block down the field.
Luke Joeckel has excellent awareness—especially against the blitz—and can keep a fragile QB like Mike Vick safe (if that's who the Eagles go with under center next season).
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions' defense allowed 26 passing touchdowns last season and only picked off 11 passes, highlighting a need for a cornerback.
Dee Milliner is the best corner in this draft class, owning excellent instincts and cover skills to help Detroit's defense in 2013.
6. Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
The Browns owned the 23rd-ranked total defense last season and were especially weak against the run, which is where former Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones can help.
He's an excellent wrap-up tackler and was excellent on third down in college.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Arizona's quarterback situation was in shambles in 2012, as four different players started the position and essentially failed miserably. Kevin Kolb was the only QB who ended up throwing more touchdowns than interceptions.
It's clear the Cardinals need to make a move at QB and they can do that with former Arkansas man Tyler Wilson.
Wilson really opened some eyes during his time at the 2013 Senior Bowl, displaying his strong, accurate arm and mobility in the pocket.
After starting in the SEC for two years, Wilson has the skills and intangibles to lead an NFL offense next season.
8. Buffalo Bills: Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State
Former N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon is another guy who went down to Mobile, Ala. and impressed some scouts (h/t Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports).
At 6'7", Glennon has excellent mobility for his size and has arguably the best arm of any quarterback in this draft.
Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News has already speculated that Ryan Fitzpatrick's performance in 2012 wasn't good enough to warrant a pay day from the Buffalo Bills, which could make the Bills in the market for a quarterback.
As I said earlier, it's a shallow class at the position, but judging by what the scouts are saying from his week at the Senior Bowl and his body of work at N.C. State, I like Glennon to Buffalo.
9. New York Jets: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
We all know Rex Ryan loves his defense and I can't see him and the New York Jets passing up a prospect like Dion Jordan.
Jordan is a 6'6" defensive end whose versatile enough to lineup at DE or outside linebacker and make some plays for this Jets defense.
10. Tennessee Titans: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Tennessee Titans desperately need help on the offensive line.
Football Outsiders ranks their offensive line No. 31 in the NFL in terms of run blocking, which can't be much to the liking of running back Chris Johnson.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Philip Rivers can be one of the best in the NFL when he has the time to throw, but he hasn't had much time lately.
Rivers was the second-most sacked QB in 2012, which partially led to a 7-9 finish for the Chargers.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Brian Hartline had a sensational season for Miami in 2012 but the Dolphins need a No. 1 wideout in that offense.
At 6'3", Keenan Allen uses his frame to get separation from defenders and makes plays above his shoulders.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Tampa Bay owned the worst pass defense last season, surrendering 30 touchdowns and almost 4,800 yards.
Xavier Rhodes isn't the best corner in the draft, but he has good size (6'2") and pitches in against the run as well.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Carolina's defense allowed more than 110 rushing yards per game last season. If they want to cut that down, Sheldon Richardson is the perfect candidate at the No. 14 spot.
Richardson uses his quick hands and feet to move along the defensive line and track down the ball carrier, which is just what the Panthers need.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
New Orleans had the worst total defense last season, surrendering more than 7,000 yards.
Barkevious Mingo is a versatile pass-rusher who can play on the defensive line and drop back in coverage with the linebacking corps.
16. St. Louis Rams: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
In order to keep franchise quarterback Sam Bradford healthy, the St. Louis Rams need to bolster their offensive line.
Former Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson comes in at 6'7", 300-plus pounds and could be a key member of St. Louis' offensive line next season.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Pittsburgh may want to think about getting younger at linebacker and Alec Ogletree could be the candidate.
Ogletree has excellent speed for his 6'3", 237-pound frame and could help the Steelers return to the postseason in 2013.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
In a division like the NFC East, you have to be able to stop the run and the Cowboys couldn't do that last season, ranking 22nd in the league.
Defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins excels at stopping the rush and has excellent size for his position (6'3", 335 pounds).
19. New York Giants: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Osi Umenyiora's likely departure from the Giants means New York is in the market for a playmaker at defensive end.
As a guy who could have easily been named the 2013 Senior Bowl MVP, Ezekiel Ansah can get to the quarterback and does an excellent job of keeping his hands up when rushing the QB to bat down passes.
20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Brian Urlacher will be 35 when next season starts and he's beginning to show signs of wear and tear.
Manti Te'o is a reliable linebacker and excellent wrap-up tackler who could be the future of the Chicago Bears' defense.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The Cincinnati Bengals could have a hole to fill on the defensive line this offseason with Robert Geathers possibly testing free agency.
Datone Jones had an excellent senior season at UCLA, posting 19 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks.
22. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Craig Dahl didn't have his best season in 2012 and the Rams might be looking to replace him.
Former Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro owns fantastic cover skills and doesn't mind pitching in against the run.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
With Percy Harvin's situation with the Vikings still unknown, Minnesota has to be looking at a wide receiver in the draft.
Former Tennessee wideout Cordarrelle Patterson uses his 6'3" frame to make plays over the top, which is what the Vikings' offense desperately needs.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Alex Okafor could be a key component to an NFL defense, given his versatility to play both defensive end and outside linebacker.
The Colts had the 26th-worst defense last season and could use a durable playmaker like Okafor.
25. Seattle Seahawks: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Seattle lacks a serious playmaker in its receiving corps.
DeAndre Hopkins did nothing but make plays for Clemson in 2012, hauling in 82 catches for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns.
I'm sure Russell Wilson wouldn't mind having a WR of Hopkins' caliber.
26. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
If you thought the quarterback position was shallow this year, take a look at the running back pool.
Eddie Lacy undoubtedly has first-round potential and can give Green Bay an edge in the rushing department that it's not accustomed to having.
27. Houston Texans: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
The Houston Texans dealt with a lot of injuries at linebacker last season and should look to add depth at the position.
Kevin Minter is a reliable tackler, sporting five double-digit tackle games in 2012, highlighted by 20 against Florida.
28. Denver Broncos: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
There aren't many needs on this Denver Broncos team but the interior of the defensive line is one of them.
Kawann Short is effective against the run and pass and has quick feet that help him track down the ball carrier.
29. New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin has some of the best big-play ability out of any receiver in this draft and can be a solid slot receiver in the NFL.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez's retirement means the Atlanta Falcons need to fill a void at tight end.
Tyler Eifert has already established himself as a threat in the passing game, and with some work at run-blocking, he can be an NFL tight end.
31. San Francisco 49ers: D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
Both Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson were dominated in Super Bowl XLVII by the Baltimore Ravens and could have the 49ers looking elsewhere for coverage.
While I don't see them starting a rookie in 2013, D.J. Swearinger has great awareness on defense and is a sure tackler.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Baltimore's defense played well when it counted but let's not forget it allowed an average of more than 120 rushing yards per game.
At 6'4", 320 pounds, former Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams is a run-stopper who can fill the gaps on the defensive line and allow for others to make plays around him.
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