In the ever-changing world of NFL draft projections, prospects have to deal with being a hot commodity one day and then quickly turning into an afterthought the next.
With no clear choice for the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft class, there are sure to be surprises in New York City this April.
Until then, the best college football players from a year ago will continue to move up and down teams' draft boards.
Here are my predictions for each first-round pick, with the players whose draft stock has drastically risen recently in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Before the combine, Joeckel was en route to locking up his standing as the projected No. 1 pick, but he failed to stand out in Indianapolis, and this changed. Then, the Chiefs' decision to use the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert provided another reason to believe he would not go first overall.
Now, Kansas City has caused further confusion by releasing right tackle Eric Winston and opening up a spot on the offensive line. Despite all the doubt, Joeckel is the Chiefs' best option.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
This draft class is loaded with defensive ends, and the combine caused a major shake-up among the talented prospects at this position.
Bjoern Werner and Damontre Moore lost their status as Top Five talents due to poor showings in Indy, while a few others made the most of their opportunity.
Jordan was certainly one of these players, and the Oregon product showed off his speed with a 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash. In combination with his height and length, his explosiveness makes him an ideal edge-rusher in the NFL.
Jacksonville desperately needs a playmaker who can get to the quarterback, and right now, no defensive end looks more promising than Jordan.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
In addition to being loaded at defensive end, this draft class also has an incredible amount of talent at defensive tackle.
Utah’s Star Lotulelei originally had a comfortable lead as the best player at this position, but Floyd is making a strong push for this distinction.
He was extremely impressive during the final few games of the college football season and has continued to look like an ideal three-technique defensive tackle in the lead-up to the draft.
Floyd is a perfect fit for the Raiders defense, and he has proven throughout the pre-draft process that he is worth a Top Five pick. Considering his ceiling and Oakland's needs, this would be a terrific selection.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Many feel that Lotulelei has the talent to be the top pick in this year’s draft, but a heart condition that was discovered at the combine has caused some concern. USA Today’s Mike Garafolo reported that the abnormality may be something very minor, and until there is a more conclusive diagnosis, he will remain a top prospect.
Lotulelei has the ability to be a dominant force in the trenches for any defense, regardless of its scheme. The Eagles will not be able to pass him up with this pick.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions are back to picking early in the draft, but do not expect Detroit to spring for a wide receiver. The team has addressed the secondary in free agency by signing Glover Quin, and now it has the chance to continue adding talent.
Milliner is hands-down the best defensive back in the draft. He has all the tools to become a shutdown corner in the NFL, and the Lions would love for him to fall to No. 5.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
In 2010, the New York Giants gambled on a defensive end out of South Florida who was a raw talent with incredible physical gifts. His name is Jason Pierre-Paul, and that move has certainly paid off.
The Browns have an opportunity to repeat that strategy, as Ansah has a remarkable blend of size and speed, but limited football experience.
He stands 6’5” and weighs 271 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds and posted 21 reps in the bench press at the combine.
This showing has scouts extremely excited about his athleticism, and his stock will continue rising up until draft day. Although the Browns have done an excellent job adding to the front seven in free agency, Ansah has too much upside to pass up.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Like the Chiefs, the Cardinals need a quarterback, and according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today, they may get their man in Carson Palmer from Oakland. If that is Arizona's plan, the team can take a top talent at another position.
In the end, the Cards will wisely choose Fisher, who has the ability to be a fixture along the offensive line for a long time, and wait for another opportunity to draft a young passer to develop.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith is the best quarterback in the draft, and because of this, a team in the Top 10 will take a chance on him. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson showed last season how much difference a new QB can make, and Buffalo will look to equal those franchises’ success.
The West Virginia product does not appear to be on the level of these players, but he has exceptional arm strength and was incredibly productive in college. He certainly has a chance to succeed in the NFL, and the Bills will be willing to take a chance on him.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Jets will ensure that at least half of the teams with a Top 10 pick choose a prospect who played on the defensive line in college. However, Mingo’s exceptional speed and lack of bulk makes him a better fit as a linebacker in the Jets’ defense.
He is a freakish athlete who ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash at the combine, and New York needs a player with his abilities to disrupt opposing passers in 2013.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
It is an all too common story for guards and centers who show all the signs that they will be studs early in their NFL careers to drop in the draft because they don’t play a sexy position. If a player has the right stuff, teams should draft him regardless of where he plays.
Warmack proved to be an exceptional run-blocker in college while also doing a fine job in pass protection. He is a complete and polished product, and Tennessee will ensure that he does not slide in this draft.
11. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Justice will finally be given to offensive guards. Players at this position rarely get picked high in the draft, but Warmack and Cooper are special players.
Cooper has the strength and athleticism to dominate in the trenches in addition to opening holds on screens and pulls. San Diego needs help up front, and Cooper is an ideal player to bolster the team’s offensive line.
12. Miami Dolphins: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Johnson was extremely impressive in Indianapolis, and if he is able to live up to his potential, he will be a quality lineman for many years in the NFL.
The Dolphins need to address this position now that Jake Long has signed with the Rams. If Johnson is still available here, the team will be thrilled to take him.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The difference between a poor showing at the combine and a disappointing one can come down to a few tenths of a second. Werner's draft stock has taken a serious hit since the combine, but the Buccaneers just had their hand forced.
With Michael Bennett's departure, the team will be extremely tempted to take a defensive end, and Werner is the best one on the board.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers need a defensive lineman who can excel in their 4-3 scheme, and Richardson fits the bill.
The Missouri product has the strength to contribute against the run but also possesses the quick first step necessary to be a productive pass-rusher in the NFL.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Saints shouldn’t even consider taking an offensive player during the first two days of the draft, and with their first selection, it should go with the best defensive player available.
Jones made plays in college that no other linebacker was capable of pulling off, and New Orleans’ defense would greatly benefit from adding the turnover-creating machine out of Georgia.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Rams are extremely thin at wide receiver, and Patterson is the best pass-catcher in the draft. He stands 6’2” and weighs 216 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds and hit 37 inches for the vertical leap.
With his combination of size, speed and athleticism, St. Louis would be wise to take him with its top pick.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Steelers' biggest need is at outside linebacker, but there are no players who offer value at that position with this pick. Troy Polamalu is not getting any younger and the injuries are starting to pile up.
It is time to for Pittsburgh to start thinking about the future at safety, and Vaccaro is an exciting talent.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Cowboys are one of the teams switching defensive schemes this year. Rob Ryan’s 3-4 left with him, and Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 will now be the strategy for the Cowboys.
This leaves the team in need of another defensive tackle, and Williams is the best still on the board at this point due to his size and quickness.
19. New York Giants: D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Franchise quarterbacks are not easy to find, and the Giants do not want to be in a position where they are failing to provide Eli Manning with adequate protection. A once-dominant offensive line now struggles all too often.
Fluker can help immediately. He is a mature and polished player with the size and strength to contribute at a high level as a rookie.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
Ogletree’s athleticism would suggest that he has a shot to be a Top 10 pick, but a recent DUI has been added to the list of red flags on his character.
Still, he is a remarkable football player and the Bears can certainly use his talent.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Bengals need to bolster their linebacking corps. Although there is plenty not to like about Te'o as a prospect after his tumultuous offseason and poor showing at the combine, his production in college speaks for itself.
There isn't a better linebacker available with this pick.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
The Rams filled their need for a wide receiver earlier in the round, and now the team needs to bolster its offensive line.
Sam Bradford needs better protection, and Watson is a terrific athlete for his size and has a chance to be a fixture at tackle for St. Louis.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Austin has the skill set to be the next Percy Harvin. He has blinding speed, incredible agility and can contribute both on offense and on special teams.
Minnesota traded Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, but brought in Greg Jennings. Another receiver would bring exceptional balance to the Vikings offense, and the team should add another pass-catcher early in the draft.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut
The Colts have improved their secondary through free agency, but they still need more depth at cornerback. New arrival Greg Toler is a decent player, but Wreh-Wilson has the potential to be a much better defensive back.
He has the size and cover skills to improve Indianapolis’ secondary immediately, and the young Colts will continue improving if they land the UConn product.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks): John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Minnesota got their man to replace Harvin, and now it is time focus on defense. Leslie Frazier will remember back to his time as the Vikings defensive coordinator when he had the best defensive tackle tandem in football with Kevin and Pat Williams.
Pat Williams was a run-stopping force who ate up multiple blockers, allowing Kevin Williams to become a dominant interior pass rusher. But since Pat has retired, the Vikings lacked this dynamic, and Jenkins' massive frame (6'4", 346 pounds) will allow them to get it back.
26. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Packers faced a predicament with tight end Jermichael Finley, who has failed to live up to expectations after signing the talented tight end to a big-money extension last offseason. However, the team has decided to retain him for now.
Still, Eifert is a tremendous talent at tight end, and Green Bay will have the option to use two exceptional athletes at the position in the passing game. The Notre Dame star has all the skills to be an excellent option for Rodgers.
27. Houston Texans: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Hunter is an exciting physical talent at 6’4” and 196 pounds. He ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and posted a 39.5-inch vertical leap.
But he had limited experience at Tennessee and is still a raw prospect. But the Texans have gotten by without a true threat opposite Andre Johnson for this long, and the team can afford to take on a project.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
While the Broncos had an impressive season defensively, the team was still soft in the middle of its defensive line. Adding Hankins would fix that in a hurry.
At 6’3” and 320 pounds, he is a mountain of a man who will eat up multiple blockers and be valuable asset in stopping the run.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Trufant showed off his blazing speed at the combine, and the Patriots need help in the secondary. Even though Aqib Talib is back, he is only under contract for one year, and New England should turn an eye toward the future.
The talented Washington product will add athleticism to New England’s group of defensive backs and give Bill Belichick the depth he is looking for.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Atlanta signed pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora in free agency, but it could still use help at defensive end with talented options at the end of the first round.
Montgomery was actually more productive than teammate Barkevious Mingo this past season, but he has not been as impressive in the pre-draft process. Still, he gets results on the field and the Falcons will be happy to have him.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Depth along the defensive line is crucial to success in the NFL. With few holes to fill, the 49ers will spring for Short in the first round and add another player to their rotation.
He has the athleticism to fit multiple schemes and the talent to be an asset for San Francisco.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Minter may be a slight reach at the end of the first round, but the team has no choice but to load up on middle linebackers as early as possible. Ray Lewis has retired, and instead of passing the torch to Dannell Ellerbe, the Ravens let him leave for Miami.
The LSU product certainly has the ability to succeed in the NFL, and Baltimore should take a chance on him with this pick.