NFL free agency is only days away, meaning the 2013 NFL draft is right around the corner.
As we move through the month of March, pro days are in full swing, as the nation's top prospects are doing their utmost to impress NFL scouts, general managers and coaches.
The outcome of the free agency process will necessarily impact the draft, but as it stands now, this is how the first round could shake out when the draft kicks off on April 25.
Note: Highlighted top prospects will be italicized.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
After the Chiefs slapped Branden Albert with the franchise tag, Joeckel seemed to be the wrong pick here. But then right tackle Eric Winston was released (h/t Pro Football Talk), paving the way for Joeckel to be the top pick once again.
The question now remains: Will Albert be moved to the right side or will the Chiefs ask Joeckel to play on the right side for one season while Albert plays out his franchise tag?
Albert expressed his displeasure at the idea of moving to the right side on Twitter, but his account has since been deleted (h/t ArrowheadAddict.com).
Joeckel is the top player in this year's draft, and he's a pure left tackle. If the Chiefs do end up taking him (which would be the right move), Albert better get nice and cozy with the idea that he'll be playing on the right side in 2013.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
New head coach Gus Bradley will need a LEO to rush the passer, and Mingo fits the bill. This incredibly athletic young man has the speed and agility to get around the corner and give opposing quarterbacks fits, and he'll help Jacksonville improve upon a league-worst sack total of a year ago.
3. Oakland Raiders—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Oakland needs to rebuild its roster from the ground up, and adding a premier defensive tackle would be a terrific way to begin this process. Floyd is a disruptive three-technique tackle who will be a cornerstone pick for Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
The Eagles will be revamping the entire roster in the next two years or so in an effort to bring in players that fit into new head coach Chip Kelly's vision for the club. Jordan is an explosive pass-rusher who is also adept at covering in space, which are ideal traits for a 3-4 outside linebacker.
5. Detroit Lions—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Lions could draft offensive tackle Eric Fisher here, but the team has long been without a star cornerback. Playing in the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, that isn't ideal.
Milliner is as sure a thing as any player in this year's draft. He's a solid cover corner with blazing speed who is tough against the run and who has excellent ball skills.
6. Cleveland Browns—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jones has spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column in his neck), which has reportedly caused a few teams to drop him from their board as a first-round pick (h/t Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio).
That said, he's been playing without complication for the past two seasons with Georgia, logging an incredible 28 sacks and 44 tackles for a loss during that time.
Jones is an experienced 3-4 outside linebacker who is ready to make an immediate impact for the Browns. The team is reportedly looking at signing Cliff Avril and/or Paul Kruger to play the same position (h/t the Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot), but Jones would be cheaper and at least as productive as either one of them.
7. Arizona Cardinals—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Neither Matt Barkley nor Geno Smith is a better player than Fisher, and both young quarterbacks would be absolutely demolished in 2013 without any protection. The best course of action for the Cardinals in Round 1 is to draft the best offensive lineman available, which is Fisher.
8. Buffalo Bills—QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tarvaris Jackson are the two men currently in place to compete for the starting quarterback position for the Bills, which isn't encouraging for Bills fans. Smith's raw talent is undeniable, and though he may not start right away, he would likely be the team's starter by the end of the season.
9. New York Jets—DE/OLB Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
The Jets need pass-rushers in a bad way, and Ansah is an intriguing prospect with amazing upside as either a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker, much like Terrell Suggs was when he came out.
10. Tennessee Titans—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Tennessee needs to get back to basics in 2013 and run the ball with Chris Johnson early and often. The best way to give the team a boost in that capacity is by drafting this year's top run-blocking guard. Warmack is a certified road grader, and he'd be a big help to the team's offense.
11. San Diego Chargers—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
This is a no-brainer pick. The Chargers desperately need to upgrade their offensive line to protect Philip Rivers, and Johnson is worth a top-10 pick. He's a stud left tackle in the making, and adding him to the roster will add a couple of seasons to Rivers' career.
12. Miami Dolphins—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
It makes sense that the Dolphins could draft wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson here, but the team needs a cornerback just as badly, since Sean Smith seems to be as good as gone in free agency.
The latest reports indicate that the team will pursue Mike Wallace hard in free agency (h/t South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly), which would lessen the need to draft a receiver—especially this early.
Rhodes is a big, physical corner who loves to play bump-and-run coverage against the best receivers on the other side. There were some questions about whether or not he is fast enough to keep up with elite receivers on the outside, but a 4.43-second 40 at the combine put those fears to rest.
He's ready to step in from Day 1 and lock down one side of the field for the Dolphins, and he could end up becoming a better player in the long run than Smith ever will be.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
The secondary of the Bucs is a mess. Even if free-agent and soon-to-be 38-year-old safety Ronde Barber returns for another season, it would be wise for Tampa Bay to draft this year's top safety to pair with Mark Barron.
14. Carolina Panthers—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The Panthers have an impressive front seven, but the unit is missing one final element that has kept it from dominating: It needs a stud defensive tackle to anchor the line.
Lotulelei missed the combine workouts after an abnormality in his heart was discovered.
USA Today's Mike Garafalo recently reported that his condition could have been due to, "dehydration, too much sodium in his diet or rapid weight loss in a short timeframe that prompted tests to reveal his heart wasn't pumping at full capacity."
The star tackle from Utah apparently lost 10 pounds in three days leading up to the combine, which could explain his condition.
If he's cleared as fully healthy, Lotulelei might not make it this far in the draft. He's a dominant defensive tackle who will thrive in any scheme in the NFL, and if he falls to the Panthers, he won't fall any further.
15. New Orleans Saints—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Richardson is an ideal candidate to convert to a 3-4 defensive end. The Saints are looking at a difficult transition to a 3-4 defense under Rob Ryan this season after years of playing in a traditional 4-3. Adding a dominant interior lineman like Richardson would make this job a bit easier.
16. St. Louis Rams—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Scoring Patterson here in the draft would be a tremendous coup for the Rams. Sam Bradford needs receivers and he needs offensive linemen, and Patterson will be a dynamic playmaker that will spark St. Louis' offense in a major way this upcoming season.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—OLB/DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Pittsburgh has gotten old in a hurry on defense the past few years, and it's time to add new blood. Moore was considered to be a potential top-five pick before the combine by some experts, and his poor showing in Indy dropped his stock.
That said, his 26.5 sacks in three seasons with the Aggies shows that he's capable of producing at a high level, despite lacking the elite athleticism that many of the NFL's top pass-rushers possess.
Moore isn't explosive on the edge, but he's a skilled and relentless pass-rusher who reminds me of another Steelers legend, the aging James Harrison.
Harrison and the Steelers are trying to find "common ground" to renegotiate his bloated contract (h/t the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette), and if the two sides can come to a deal, he'd be an ideal player to show Moore the ropes for a year or two.
18. Dallas Cowboys—DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Werner, like Moore, was considered to be one of the top players in this year's draft class before the combine. He didn't post impressive numbers, though, and his stock has fallen a bit as a result. He's a natural left defensive end, though, and he'll fit in perfectly with Monte Kiffin's new 4-3 defense in Dallas.
19. New York Giants—OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Protecting Eli Manning needs to be the top priority for Jerry Reese and the Giants in 2013. He was under constant fire last season and suffered his worst season in years. Fluker is a right tackle, but he is a dominant player at that position.
20. Chicago Bears—TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
The Bears brought new head coach Marc Trestman along to help Jay Cutler realize his full potential as an NFL quarterback. Adding skilled receivers will be just as important as Trestman's guidance, and Eifert is one of the top weapons coming out if this year's draft.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Ogletree is a phenomenal athlete and football player, and if not for some very real character concerns, he'd be selected much higher in this year's draft. Rey Maualuga is hitting the free-agent market this spring, and the Bengals would be wise to let him sign on with another team and draft Ogletree.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
After landing the draft's most explosive receiver, the Rams now turn to their offensive line and land another player of excellent value. Cooper is an elite pass-blocking guard who is also adept at creating running lanes. He proved at the combine that he's stronger than people thought, putting up 225 pounds 35 times on the bench.
23. Minnesota Vikings—WR Keenan Allen, California
Allen is a highly skilled receiver who does most of his damage after the catch, which is a perfect fit for the Vikings and quarterback Christian Ponder, who doesn't possess an elite arm. Adding him to the lineup to play opposite Percy Harvin would give Ponder a full complement of weapons with which to operate.
24. Indianapolis Colts—NT John Jenkins, Georgia
The Colts are transitioning to a 3-4 defense after years of drafting for a 4-3 scheme. Last year, the defense played admirably under less-than-ideal conditions, and adding a stud nose tackle to plug up the middle would make for an easier go of it in 2013.
25. Seattle Seahawks—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
When Chris Clemons went down with an ACL injury last year, Seattle couldn't generate any pass-rush. Bruce Irvin is an explosive athlete on the outside, but he's not bulky enough to handle the edge on a permanent basis. Jones is a big man with excellent pass-rushing moves, and he projects as a full-time defensive end who can play all three downs.
26. Green Bay Packers—OG/C Barrett Jones, Alabama
Aaron Rodgers needs protection, first and foremost, if he's going to continue playing at a high level in the years to come. Jones isn't the most dominant offensive lineman in this year's draft, but he's a player who can step in and play any position on the line with skill.
27. Houston Texans—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Houston needs to add an explosive element to its offense or suffer another disappointing finish in the playoffs. Austin is one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the draft, and adding him to the lineup to play the slot would give the Texans the firepower they've been missing.
28. Denver Broncos—DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
The Broncos have assembled a dynamic group of players to surround Peyton Manning and Von Miller, but if you take a look at the team's depth chart, there's one position that is sorely lacking depth. The team needs defensive tackles, and Hankins will provide a huge boost in this regard.
29. New England Patriots—WR Robert Woods, USC
With Wes Welker hitting the free-agent market this spring, it may be time for the Patriots to look ahead to the future and draft some receivers this April. Woods is a skilled outside receiver who is terrific after the catch, and he has the game to come in and start right away.
30. Atlanta Falcons—TE Zach Ertz, Stanford
Tony Gonzalez may or may not return to play one final year for the Falcons in 2013, but regardless of what the Hall of Famer decides to do, Atlanta needs to look ahead to the future. Ertz is a promising young tight end who is a better run-blocker than Eifert, and adding him would be a smart move for the Falcons.
31. San Francisco 49ers—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
The 49ers were unable to stop teams from passing the ball at will during the playoffs and the Super Bowl, and though the team also needs depth on its defensive line, Trufant is too good to pass up on at this point in the draft.
32. Baltimore Ravens—ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
For all the hype surrounding Te'o's poor 40 time at the combine, there's no doubt this young man is a talented player who has the skill to become a big-time linebacker in the NFL. Even if the Ravens can sign free agent Dannell Ellerbe, the team has a need for another inside linebacker, and Te'o would be a steal at the bottom of the first round.
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