Few NFL teams have found success by solely relying on free agency or the draft to compile talent. In order to build a winning franchise, general managers must find balance by both adding veteran talent through free agency and infusing fresh faces via the draft.
The “need vs. value” conundrum is a hotly-debated topic among NFL draft circles. Neither can be completely ignored when drafting, but there is certainly a place for both philosophies; every team makes various needs-based selections throughout the selection process.
A lot can change in the six-plus weeks leading up to the draft, and free agency will have a major impact on the landscape of the NFL.
Beginning March 12, teams will have the option to sign free agents whose contracts have expired this offseason. Players who were released from a current contract were already eligible to be signed, but the vast majority of free agents will find new homes on March 12 and after.
As teams begin adding players in free agency, positional needs begin to disappear, further shaping the draft landscape. Not every move in free agency will change a team’s strategy in April, but some will, and we’ll be left to re-examine what we expect to happen in the draft.
Bleacher Report will be keeping an eye on all the major moves that could affect teams’ offseason strategies. The following mock draft will be continuously updated to reflect this year’s free-agent signings.
|Pre-Free Agency||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
|Day 1 Pick||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
|Day 2 Pick||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
|Day 3 Pick||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
|Day 4 Pick||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
|Day 5 Pick||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
|Day 6 Pick||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
|Day 7 Pick||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
|Day 8 Pick||Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M|
Signing wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a new deal gave the Kansas City Chiefs the option to tag left tackle Branden Albert with their franchise designation. With Albert under contract for another year, it seemed Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel would no longer be in play with the first pick.
Then the news broke that right tackle Eric Winston was released, once again opening the door for Joeckel to don a Chiefs jersey in 2013 (via CBS Sports).
Joeckel is a prototypical NFL left tackle, and he also happens to be the best player available in this year’s draft. With all the tools to be an All-Pro blindside protector, there’s little chance the Chiefs would waste his talent at the right tackle position, instead moving Albert to the right side or inside at either guard position—a move with which he would apparently be unhappy (via CBS Sports).
Still, Joeckel has the talent to be a Joe Thomas-type left tackle, and Albert’s displeasure in the potential move to another position shouldn’t deter the Chiefs from selecting the Texas A&M product. Kansas City needs to take advantage of value with the first pick, and Joeckel looks like the only player worth the selection right now.
|Pre-Free Agency||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
|Day 1 Pick||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
|Day 2 Pick||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
|Day 3 Pick||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
|Day 4 Pick||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
|Day 5 Pick||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
|Day 6 Pick||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
|Day 7 Pick||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
|Day 8 Pick||Bjoern Werner||DE||Florida State|
Jacksonville notched just 20 sacks in 2012, and the league’s worst pass rush needs to get better. Finding a top-tier pass-rusher in this year’s draft will likely be a top priority.
New general manager David Caldwell has a lot of options with the second pick, but he also has a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Using the selection on the team’s most glaring need makes a lot of sense.
Florida State’s Bjoern Werner is the top 4-3 defensive end in this draft class. He doesn’t stand out in any one particular area, but his high motor and athleticism make him a solid pass-rusher and excellent all-around player. If Jacksonville hopes to match need and value with its first-round selection, Werner is the best option.
Key Acquisitions: LB Kevin Burnett (per Courtney Fallon)
|Pre-Free Agency||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Day 1 Pick||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Day 2 Pick||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Day 3 Pick||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Day 4 Pick||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Day 5 Pick||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Day 6 Pick||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Day 7 Pick||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Day 8 Pick||Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
Carson Palmer is nearing the end of his career and Terrelle Pryor wasn’t given much of a chance in 2012. Now it seems the Oakland Raiders are interested in moving in a new direction on Draft Day, as Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller reported in January:
As I reported from Senior Bowl...RT @aaron_nagler: I'll bet if KC or JAX don't take Geno Smith, Reggie McKenzie will.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 18, 2013
While Oakland has several needs to address this offseason, using a high selection on a potential franchise quarterback is always a tempting option. Nothing impacts an offense more than the man under center.
Geno Smith doesn’t have the elite talent we’ve seen from a couple quarterbacks in recent drafts, but he still has a fairly high ceiling. The West Virginia product has the arm to be a very good NFL quarterback.
There’s always the possibility that the rumors of Oakland’s interest in Smith are a smokescreen to tempt another team to trade up for his services, but for now, it looks like he is the leading candidate to be selected third overall.
|Pre-Free Agency||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
|Day 1 Pick||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
|Day 2 Pick||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
|Day 3 Pick||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
|Day 4 Pick||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
|Day 5 Pick||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
|Day 6 Pick||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
|Day 7 Pick||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
|Day 8 Pick||Dion Jordan||OLB||Oregon|
The Philadelphia Eagles are undergoing a major transition this offseason. With new head coach Chip Kelly running the show, the Eagles are going to look a lot different in 2013.
The wide-9 defense is out, and new defensive coordinator Billy Davis will likely look to employ a 3-4 base with his new schemes. Oregon defender Dion Jordan would be a terrific fit for Davis at outside linebacker.
Jordan lined up all over Oregon’s defense last season. With a lengthy frame, exceptional quickness and outstanding athleticism, he presents the Eagles with a versatile option as an edge-rusher and possible three-down linebacker very early in his career.
The Eugene connection can’t be overlooked, either. Kelly coached Jordan last season, and he knows what to expect from him should the Eagles select Jordan with the fourth pick.
|Pre-Free Agency||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
|Day 1 Pick||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
|Day 2 Pick||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
|Day 3 Pick||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
|Day 4 Pick||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
|Day 5 Pick||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
|Day 6 Pick||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
|Day 7 Pick||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
|Day 8 Pick||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
The Detroit Lions have a lot of needs to address this offseason, including defensive end, offensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback.
Cornerback Dee Milliner could still be an option here, but the Lions need to add some players who can protect their franchise quarterback. With Backus' retirement, it now seem Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher is the logical choice with this pick.
|Pre-Free Agency||Ezekiel Ansah||OLB/DE||BYU|
|Day 1 Pick||Ezekiel Ansah||OLB/DE||BYU|
|Day 2 Pick||Ezekiel Ansah||OLB/DE||BYU|
|Day 3 Pick||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
|Day 4 Pick||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
|Day 5 Pick||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
|Day 6 Pick||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
|Day 7 Pick||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
|Day 8 Pick||Dee Milliner||CB||Alabama|
With Detroit now in a position to seriously consider addressing its offensive line, there's a good chance Milliner is still available when the Browns pick at No. 6.
After adding Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves, outside linebacker is no longer Cleveland's most glaring positional need. The Browns still need a quality corner to play opposite Joe Haden, though.
Milliner has all the physical tools to be a shutdown cornerback in the NFL. He still needs to work on high-pointing the football and holding onto it, but the interceptions will come.
Key Acquisitions: CB Antoine Cason (per Adam Schefter)
|Pre-Free Agency||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
|Day 1 Pick||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
|Day 2 Pick||Eric Fisher||OT||Central Michigan|
|Day 3 Pick||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
|Day 4 Pick||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
|Day 5 Pick||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
|Day 6 Pick||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
|Day 7 Pick||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
|Day 8 Pick||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
The Arizona Cardinals’ pass-protection unit was one of the worst in the NFL last season, and bolstering their offensive line should be first on their offseason to-do list.
Arizona had the opportunity to shore up its offensive line in the 2012 draft, but it passed on several offensive tackles until the fourth round, finally selecting Bobby Massie with the 112th pick. In hindsight, waiting to address the position was a glaring mistake.
The Cardinals could also consider USC quarterback Matt Barkley with this pick, but it won’t matter who they put under center in 2013 if they can’t first strengthen a poor offensive line.
With Eric Fisher already off the board to Detroit, Lane Johnson becomes the best available offensive tackle. A former quarterback, defensive end and tight end, Johnson is extremely athletic with the quick feet and strong hands to be an exceptional left tackle in the NFL.
Key Acquisitions: DE Manny Lawson (per Adam Schefter)
|Pre-Free Agency||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 1 Pick||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 2 Pick||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 3 Pick||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 4 Pick||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 5 Pick||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 6 Pick||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 7 Pick||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 8 Pick||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
The Buffalo Bills will be in the market for a new quarterback this offseason, but the No. 8 pick isn’t the right spot to acquire one.
New head coach Doug Marrone will likely be looking for a new quarterback on which to hitch his wagon, though there’s reason to believe he may hold off on finding one until the second round (or later), especially with former Syracuse signal-caller Ryan Nassib probably available beyond the first round.
Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson could be a good option here. He is an explosive athlete with all the physical tools NFL teams look for in an X-receiver.
Patterson still needs to hone his route-running skills and work on becoming a better all-around receiver, but he has a mile-high ceiling.
The Bills still need to find a quality receiver to pair with Stevie Johnson, and there isn’t a better pass-catcher in this class.
|Pre-Free Agency||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
|Day 1 Pick||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
|Day 2 Pick||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
|Day 3 Pick||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
|Day 4 Pick||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
|Day 5 Pick||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
|Day 6 Pick||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
|Day 7 Pick||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
|Day 8 Pick||Barkevious Mingo||OLB||LSU|
The New York Jets need to find a new option under center, but as ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out, Mark Sanchez’s job is probably safe for one more year:
RT @alexcosenza13: Who's starting for the jets at qb week 1? ... Jets fans won't like this, but Sanchez.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 5, 2013
With quarterback likely not an option at this point in the draft, the Jets can turn their attention to another glaring concern.
New York notched just 30 sacks in 2012, and adding a quality pass-rusher needs to be a focus in this year’s draft. As deep as this crop is at the outside linebacker and defensive end positions, the Jets can take advantage of terrific value with the ninth selection.
LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo will likely transition to outside linebacker in the NFL, due in part to his thin frame and exceptional athletic ability. He’s still very raw in many aspects, but the Jets employ a lot of exotic defensive schemes, especially in passing situations. They will no doubt find a fit for the explosive edge-rusher.
If Darrelle Revis is dealt during free agency, cornerback Xavier Rhodes may also be an option here, but as it stands, Mingo is the best option for improving a defense that finished 20th in the league in scoring defense last season.
|Pre-Free Agency||Star Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|Day 1 Pick||Star Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|Day 2 Pick||Star Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|Day 3 Pick||Star Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|Day 4 Pick||Star Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|Day 5 Pick||Star Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|Day 6 Pick||Star Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|Day 7 Pick||Star Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|Day 8 Pick||Star Loutlelei||DT||Utah|
Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei missed the NFL Scouting Combine due to a reported heart condition. While his health concerns may scare off some teams in the top of the first round, there’s no guarantee those issues will be an ongoing problem for Lotulelei in the future.
It’s hard to predict how serious the heart condition is, though. Bleacher Report’s Dave Siebert did an extensive report on the issue, breaking down the potential long-term effects of Lotulelei’s possible dilated cardiomyopathy condition.
It’s still too early to tell how this may affect Lotulelei’s draft stock, but for now, we have to assume he’ll be healthy enough to play in the NFL. If he is, the Tennessee Titans could get a steal with the No. 10 selection.
Tennessee needs to get more stout on its interior defensive line, and adding a space-eating defensive tackle should be a priority this offseason. If the Titans don’t address the need through free agency, expect them to key in on a top defensive tackle in this year’s draft.
|Pre-Free Agency||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
|Day 1 Pick||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
|Day 2 Pick||Lane Johnson||OT||Oklahoma|
|Day 3 Pick||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
|Day 4 Pick||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
|Day 5 Pick||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
|Day 6 Pick||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
|Day 7 Pick||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
|Day 8 Pick||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
The San Diego Chargers are still in search of a suitable replacement for left tackle Marcus McNeill, who retired prior to the 2012 season. Jared Gaither failed to impress at the position last year, and using this pick on a franchise left tackle would be an ideal solution for the Chargers.
Unfortunately, the top three offensive tackles are already off the board.
Antoine Cason signed with the Arizona Cardinals, and while San Diego signed Derek Cox in free agency,it could still use another fresh face at the cornerback position. Milliner is already off the board, but they can still find a terrific pass-defender in Xavier Rhodes.
The Florida State prospect is long and lean, and he has the speed and toughness to match. Finding a starting left tackle here would have been the best option, but Rhodes is a good consolation prize.
|Pre-Free Agency||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
|Day 1 Pick||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
|Day 2 Pick||Xavier Rhodes||CB||Florida State|
|Day 3 Pick||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
|Day 4 Pick||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
|Day 5 Pick||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
|Day 6 Pick||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
|Day 7 Pick||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
|Day 8 Pick||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
The Miami Dolphins have addressed their need at the wide receiver position this offseason, first re-signing Brian Hartline to an extended deal and then adding former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace and former Rams receiver Brandon Gibson.
The Dolphins also signed former New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller, and choosing a player of either position in the early rounds of the draft doesn't seem to be a possibility at this point.
Cornerback Sean Smith signed with the Chiefs, and the position is now a major concern heading into 2013. Milliner and Rhodes would have better options, but with both having already been selected, Washington's Desmond Trufant becomes the next-best choice.
Trufant looked terrific at the Senior Bowl and his workout at the combine was equally impressive. He won't garner the same attention as the top two corners in this draft, but he has the potential to have an equally impressive NFL career.
|Pre-Free Agency||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
|Day 1 Pick||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
|Day 2 Pick||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
|Day 3 Pick||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
|Day 4 Pick||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
|Day 5 Pick||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
|Day 6 Pick||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
|Day 7 Pick||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
|Day 8 Pick||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
Finishing last in any major category is something that usually warrants an overhaul in the offseason, especially when that category is total pass defense.
Tampa Bay signed safety Dashon Goldson to a long-term deal in free agency, and while cornerback is still a major concern, there aren't any still available worthy of this pick.
If the top corners are already off the board, the Bucs may take advantage of value here and select a top-tier defensive tackle to pair with Gerald McCoy. Sharrif Floyd is one of the best in this draft class.
Floyd is a prototypical one-gap defensive tackle who is as good an interior pass-rusher as he is a quality run defender. This isn't an ideal needs-based pick, but adding Floyd would give Tampa Bay one of the best defensive tackle combos in the NFL.
Key Acquisitions: CB D.J. Moore (NFL.com)
Key Departures: CB Chris Gamble (ESPN.com)
|Pre-Free Agency||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
|Day 1 Pick||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
|Day 2 Pick||Sharrif Floyd||DT||Florida|
|Day 3 Pick||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
|Day 4 Pick||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
|Day 5 Pick||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
|Day 6 Pick||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
|Day 7 Pick||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
|Day 8 Pick||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
Carolina doesn’t have a lot of glaring holes to fill, but it certainly needs to beef up its defensive line. The Panthers fielded a mediocre run defense in 2012, but adding a disruptive tackle like Missouri's Sheldon Richardson would go a long way toward improving in that area this season.
Richardson is probably a better fit at 3-4 defensive end, but that doesn't mean he can't be successful in a one-gap system. With terrific size, athleticism and first-step quickness, he could still fit well in a 4-3 front.
The Panthers aren't in desperate need of pass-rushing defensive linemen, but they could certainly benefit from adding a defensive tackle who is strong and wide enough to attack offensive linemen and plug gaps in run defense.
Key Departures: OT Jermon Bushrod (ESPN.com)
|Pre-Free Agency||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
|Day 1 Pick||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
|Day 2 Pick||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
|Day 3 Pick||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
|Day 4 Pick||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
|Day 5 Pick||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
|Day 6 Pick||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
|Day 7 Pick||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
|Day 8 Pick||Jarvis Jones||OLB||Georgia|
Was told tonight that at least 10 teams have removed Jarvis Jones from their draft board due to spinal issue.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 24, 2013
Unfortunately for Jones, his condition isn’t an easy one to overlook. He easily has enough talent to be a top-five pick on Draft Day, but teams are generally wary of investing heavily in a player who may not be able to sustain a career in the NFL.
Still, Jones will bring tremendous ability to whichever team drafts him. The premier outside linebacker in this class, he has the size, speed, quickness and awareness teams love in a true outside linebacker, especially for a 3-4 front.
With the arrival of Rob Ryan and his attacking 3-4 scheme, this pick makes a lot of sense. The Saints won’t have a lot of depth at the position after the transition, and even if they make some moves in free agency to address that, there’s still room for a top talent like Jones through the draft.
|Pre-Free Agency||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
|Day 1 Pick||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
|Day 2 Pick||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
|Day 3 Pick||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
|Day 4 Pick||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
|Day 5 Pick||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
|Day 6 Pick||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
|Day 7 Pick||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
|Day 8 Pick||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas|
With the release of Quintin Mikell, the St. Louis Rams now have holes to fill at both safety positions. Offensive tackle and wide receiver will also be on their list, but Vaccaro has the talent to warrant this selection.
Vaccaro is a fast, heady and versatile defender against both the pass and the run. St. Louis will have the option of playing him at either vacant safety position.
With another pick at their disposal in the first round, the Rams can afford to address one of their biggest needs at No. 16 overall. Vaccaro offers tremendous value here.
|Pre-Free Agency||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
|Day 1 Pick||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
|Day 2 Pick||Sheldon Richardson||DT||Missouri|
|Day 3 Pick||Ezekiel Ansah||DE/OLB||BYU|
|Day 4 Pick||Ezekiel Ansah||DE/OLB||BYU|
|Day 5 Pick||Ezekiel Ansah||DE/OLB||BYU|
|Day 6 Pick||Ezekiel Ansah||DE/OLB||BYU|
|Day 7 Pick||Ezekiel Ansah||DE/OLB||BYU|
|Day 8 Pick||Ezekiel Ansah||DE/OLB||BYU|
General manager Kevin Colbert promises change this offseason. After the Steelers' 8-8 finish in 2012 and the uncharacteristically early end to their season, expect a big shakeup in the coming months.
According to an ESPN report, linebacker James Harrison has been released after being unable to find common ground with the Steelers in a contract restructuring effort. With Harrison no longer filling a big pass-rushing role in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have to consider addressing the position this offseason.
Pittsburgh doesn't have the cap room to be a major player in free agency. Instead, expect Colbert to patch up some of his team's needs through the draft.
BYU's Ezekiel Ansah may not fall this far in the first round, but he's still very raw as a football player. His lack of experience in pads may scare off some teams, though he would be a terrific value pick at No. 17.
Ansah has all the physical tools to be an exceptional edge-rusher in the NFL. A big, athletic and physical player, Ansah could develop into Harrison's old role with a little help from one of the league's best pass-rushers in LaMarr Woodley.
|Pre-Free Agency||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
|Day 1 Pick||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
|Day 2 Pick||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
|Day 3 Pick||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
|Day 4 Pick||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
|Day 5 Pick||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
|Day 6 Pick||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
|Day 7 Pick||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
|Day 8 Pick||Chance Warmack||OG||Alabama|
Monte Kiffin assumed the role of defensive coordinator this offseason, and he’ll be bringing his signature Tampa-2 defense with him.
Dallas has some good pieces in place for the transition, but there’s still room for improvement. Even after tagging Anthony Spencer to presumably play the strong-side defensive end position, the Cowboys need to continue adding quality pass-rushers and athletes who can play in space.
Still, Dallas' most glaring need is on its offensive line. The Cowboys haven't run the ball effectively in recent years and Tony Romo has been persistently harassed by A-Gap pressure—both direct results of poor interior offensive line play.
If Alabama guard Chance Warmack weren't available here, Dallas would likely turn to the defensive side of the ball. A few picks have changed with free agency acquisitions, though, and Warmack is now on the board at No. 18. Need and fit come together for a terrific pick for the Cowboys.
|Pre-Free Agency||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
|Day 1 Pick||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
|Day 2 Pick||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
|Day 3 Pick||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
|Day 4 Pick||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
|Day 5 Pick||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
|Day 6 Pick||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
|Day 7 Pick||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
|Day 8 Pick||Alex Okafor||DE||Texas|
Like the Steelers, the New York Giants missed out on a playoff berth last year and will likely be making some big changes this offseason. A couple of those moves have already been made.
Between Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Canty being released and the likelihood of Osi Umenyiora leaving in free agency, the Giants suddenly have a few more holes to fill. They have a lot of options, but this pick will come down to finding a player who can make a big impact in his formative years with the team.
Defensive end Justin Tuck has been largely ineffective in recent years, and New York needs another pass-rushing defensive end to line up opposite Jason Pierre-Paul. Finding one will be near the top of its priority list.
Texas defensive end Alex Okafor is one of the most underrated players in this year’s class. He has the frame, quickness and surprising strength to be a formidable 4-3 defensive end.
Aside from schematic fit, Okafor also offers the versatility the Giants love in pass-rushing ends. They often slide Tuck inside in obvious passing situations, and Okafor spent time doing the same at Texas.
The need, value and fit all line up here. If Okafor is still available, there’s a good chance he’ll be on New York’s radar.
|Pre-Free Agency||Menelik Watson||OT||Florida State|
|Day 1 Pick||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
|Day 2 Pick||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
|Day 3 Pick||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
|Day 4 Pick||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
|Day 5 Pick||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
|Day 6 Pick||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
|Day 7 Pick||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
|Day 8 Pick||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
The Bears were in serious need of a quality left tackle, and according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, they managed to lock up former Saints Pro-Bowler Jermon Bushrod to a five-year deal.
Chicago may still look to add an interior lineman and swing tackle this offseason, but it looks more likely the Bears will opt to address other positional needs with their first round pick.
Brian Urlacher is a free agent, and at 34, there's a chance Chicago doesn't re-sign him in an effort to get younger and more athletic at the inside linebacker position. Should the Bears choose that route, Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree would be an excellent option.
A former safety, Ogltree has the cover skills and athleticism to play deep-middle coverage in Chicago's Cover-2 schemes. He's also aggressive and physical enough to make plays at the line of scrimmage and play tough against the run.
Key Departures: DE Manny Lawson (per Adam Schefter)
|Pre-Free Agency||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
|Day 1 Pick||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
|Day 2 Pick||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
|Day 3 Pick||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
|Day 4 Pick||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
|Day 5 Pick||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
|Day 6 Pick||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
|Day 7 Pick||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
|Day 8 Pick||D.J. Fluker||OT||Alabama|
The Cincinnati Bengals used the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson, meaning right tackle Andre Smith is now eligible to hit the open market. According to reports, he may be looking for as much as $9 million per year.
There’s little chance Smith finds that kind of money elsewhere, but the Bengals almost certainly won’t pay him that much. If the two parties don’t reach an agreement, finding a new right tackle could be an option in the first round.
Right tackle isn’t typically a premium position in the early rounds of the draft, but Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker warrants such a selection.
At 6’5” and 339 pounds, Fluker has the massive frame teams look for in a right tackle. He carries his weight well, though, and his surprising flexibility and wide base make him a capable pass-blocker and a mauler in the running game.
|Pre-Free Agency||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
|Day 1 Pick||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
|Day 2 Pick||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
|Day 3 Pick||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
|Day 4 Pick||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
|Day 5 Pick||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
|Day 6 Pick||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
|Day 7 Pick||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
|Day 8 Pick||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Clemson|
The Rams were already able to add a quality safety with their first pick, and with Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins still available, they’ll also have a chance to add a terrific pass-catching threat with the No. 22 pick.
St. Louis has focused on the defensive side of the ball often in the last couple drafts. This year’s overall plan should be more offense-oriented.
Danny Amendola signed with the Patriots and Brandon Gibson left for Miami, leaving Sam Bradford with even less to work with in 2013. Hopkins would go a long way toward filling that void.
The Clemson product has the speed and polished route-running skills to consistently make big plays at the NFL level. He isn’t overwhelmingly big, but his 2012 production speaks for itself (1,405 yards, 18 touchdowns).
|Pre-Free Agency||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
|Day 1 Pick||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
|Day 2 Pick||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
|Day 3 Pick||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Day 4 Pick||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Day 5 Pick||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Day 6 Pick||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Day 7 Pick||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Day 8 Pick||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
As first reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, Minnesota traded Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for several draft picks. Of all the positions the Vikings were already thin at, wide receiver is the most troubling.
Minnesota found an excellent replacement in former Packers receiver Greg Jennings, and adding another receiving threat would instantly add an element of balance to the Vikings' passing attack.
West Virginia's Tavon Austin would be an ideal selection to add some offensive firepower in the first round. Like Harvin, Austin is absolutely electric with the ball in his hands, and he has the speed to match.
Austin's biggest detriment is his size (5'8", 174 lbs.), and he doesn't project well as an outside receiver in the NFL. Still, Austin has all the physical tools to be an elite slot receiver at the next level, and with so much need at the receiver position, the Vikings can't afford to pass on such a talented playmaker.
California's Keenan Allen is a better all-around receiver, but he hasn't shown the straight-line speed NFL scouts would probably like to see from a No. 1. He didn't run at the combine and according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News, Allen also didn't run at his pro day as a result of a nagging knee injury.
With Allen's question marks and Hopkins already off the board, Austin is the most logical selection here.
Key Departures: DE/OLB Dwight Freeney (ESPN.com)
|Pre-Free Agency||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
|Day 1 Pick||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
|Day 2 Pick||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
|Day 3 Pick||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
|Day 4 Pick||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|Day 5 Pick||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|Day 6 Pick||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|Day 7 Pick||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|Day 8 Pick||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
Ryan Grigson, the 2012 Executive of the Year, prefers a “best player available” approach to drafting, and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper will certainly be in the discussion should he be available here.
The Colts added a couple quality defensive pieces in free agency, but they didn't do much to address an offensive line that still needs some patchwork, especially with young Andrew Luck under center.
Cooper has the ability to play center and both guard positions, though he'll need to bulk up some if he is to be effective on the right side of the line. Indianapolis' interior line wasn't awful in 2012, but it wasn't all that great, either.
Cooper would add versatility, depth and an upgrade of talent at several spots along the Colts' offensive line.
|Pre-Free Agency (Seattle)||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Pre-Free Agency Update||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Carolina|
|Day 1 Pick||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Carolina|
|Day 2 Pick||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Carolina|
|Day 3 Pick||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Caolina|
|Day 4 Pick||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Carolina|
|Day 5 Pick||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Carolina|
|Day 6 Pick||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Carolina|
|Day 7 Pick||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Carolina|
|Day 8 Pick||Sylvester Williams||DT||North Carolina|
The reported trade that will send Percy Harvin to Seattle will also net Minnesota another first-round pick.
As reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the Vikings will receive Seattle's 2013 first-round and seventh-round picks as well as another mid-rounder in 2014.
The Vikings needed another early-round selection this year. With holes to fill on both sides of the ball, they can now add a receiver to replace Harvin and a quality defensive tackle to shore up their interior defensive line.
North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams plays even bigger than his 313-pound frame would suggest. With a strong lower body and surprising quickness off the snap, he has the ability to play in multiple fronts as either a one-gap or two-gap defensive tackle.
Williams isn't a great pass-rushing interior lineman, but he is adept at anchoring against double-teams and stuffing the run. He'll be a good fit in Minnesota.
|Pre-Free Agency||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|Day 1 Pick||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|Day 2 Pick||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|Day 3 Pick||Jonathan Cooper||OG||North Carolina|
|Day 4 Pick||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
|Day 5 Pick||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
|Day 6 Pick||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
|Day 7 Pick||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
|Day 8 Pick||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
With Charles Woodson’s release, the Green Bay Packers have one more need to address. Safety will certainly be a consideration at No. 26, and with only one safety having been selected already, they have plenty of options with this pick..
Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien is one of the most intriguing defensive backs in this class. He has the size, speed, toughness and ball skills to be a tremendous safety in the NFL, and there's a possibility he won't even make it this far in the first round.
Apart from Vaccaro, Cyprien is the most pro-ready safety in this draft class. The need is there, and the Packers will get an immediate starter should they choose to select him at No. 26.
|Pre-Free Agency||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Day 1 Pick||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Day 2 Pick||Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Day 3 Pick||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
|Day 4 Pick||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
|Day 5 Pick||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
|Day 6 Pick||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
|Day 7 Pick||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
|Day 8 Pick||Keenan Allen||WR||California|
Andre Johnson has been without a running mate for far too long. He's been Houston's only real receiving threat in recent years, and it's time for the Texans to get him some help.
Patterson, Hopkins and Austin have already been selected. Fortunately for the Texans, California's Keenan Allen is still on the board.
Allen has raised some concerns about his durability this offseason; he failed to run at either the combine or his pro day as a result of a knee injury (per Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News). Paired with a lack of elite straight-line speed, Allen may slide in the first round.
Still, the Cal product has the route-running ability and ball skills to be a terrific Z-receiver. If he can prove he has better speed than he has shown on film, Allen could also develop into a quality X-receiver in the NFL.
|Pre-Free Agency||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
|Day 1 Pick||Desmond Trufant||CB||Washington|
|Day 2 Pick||Johnthan Banks||CB||Mississippi State|
|Day 3 Pick||Johnthan Banks||CB||Mississippi State|
|Day 4 Pick||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
|Day 5 Pick||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
|Day 6 Pick||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
|Day 7 Pick||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
|Day 8 Pick||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
Champ Bailey was victimized in the AFC Championship game, capping off a subpar season for the veteran cornerback. He’s one of the best of all time, but it’s time for the Broncos to consider finding his replacement.
Denver added former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency, though, and adding more talent to the position can probably wait until later rounds.
According to Adam Schefter, a "contract snafu" caused defensive end Elvis Dumervil to void his agreement with the Broncos, meaning he is now on the free-agent market. Denver may attempt to re-sign him, but there's nothing to suggest that to be the case just yet.
With an impressive showing in free agency, the Broncos now have a lot fewer holes to fill. Unfortunately, defensive end is now an additional need barring Dumervil re-signing.
With Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore still on the board, the Broncos would have to seriously consider selecting him this late in the first round. He didn't perform well at the combine, but Moore was never considered an athletic freak.
Moore simply knows how to get to opposing quarterbacks, and with a need now open at defensive end, that's exactly what the Broncos may have to consider here.
|Pre-Free Agency||Johnthan Banks||CB||Mississippi State|
|Day 1 Pick||Johnthan Banks||CB||Mississippi State|
|Day 2 Pick||Justin Hunter||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 3 Pick||Justin Hunter||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 4 Pick||Justin Hunter||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 5 Pick||Justin Hunter||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 6 Pick||Justin Hunter||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 7 Pick||Justin Hunter||WR||Tennessee|
|Day 8 Pick||Justin Hunter||WR||Tennessee|
New England was obviously prepared to lose their slot receiver, and a contingency plan involving former Rams receiver Danny Amendola was in place. According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Patriots locked him up to a five-year deal on Wednesday.
Cornerback will still be a possibility here, but the top four are already off the board and Aqib Talib signed a new deal to return in 2013 (per ESPN). This would be an excellent opportunity for the Patriots to land a big-play receiver who, along with Amendola, could breathe new life into their passing attack. With Brandon Lloyd no longer in Foxborough, the need is still there.
Tennessee's Justin Hunter is an electric talent, but an ACL tear slowed his career with the Volunteers. When healthy, he is one of the most explosive receivers in the nation.
Key Acquisitions: RB Steven Jackson (per Adam Schefter)
|Pre-Free Agency||Tank Carradine||DE||Florida State|
|Day 1 Pick||Tank Carradine||DE||Florida State|
|Day 2 Pick||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
|Day 3 Pick||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M|
|Day 4 Pick||Tank Carradine||DE||Florida State|
|Day 5 Pick||Tank Carradine||DE||Florida State|
|Day 6 Pick||Tank Carradine||DE||Florida State|
|Day 7 Pick||Tank Carradine||DE||Florida State|
|Day 8 Pick||Tank Carradine||DE||Florida State|
In December, new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan claimed the Falcons were better off sticking to a 4-3 base defense in 2013. Since that time, Atlanta has released defensive end John Abraham, prompting questions about the sincerity of that claim.
The Abraham move could be the foreshadowing of a schematic change, but there’s still no word out of Atlanta proving that to be the case. For now, we have to assume the Falcons will stick to the 4-3.
With Abraham gone, defensive end should become a priority on draft day. This year’s class is so deep at defensive end that Atlanta will be able to find a game-changer with the 30th pick if they choose to go in that direction.
Florida State's Tank Carradine is one of the most talented pure defensive ends in this class, but an ACL tear in 2012 may force him to slide down a lot of draft boards. If his knee checks out with teams in pre-draft medical evaluations, there's little reason to believe he'll fall out of the first round entirely.
|Pre-Free Agency||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
|Day 1 Pick||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
|Day 2 Pick||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
|Day 3 Pick||Jonathan Cyprien||S||Florida International|
|Day 4 Pick||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
|Day 5 Pick||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
|Day 6 Pick||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
|Day 7 Pick||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
|Day 8 Pick||Johnathan Hankins||DT||Ohio State|
The San Francisco 49ers have some positional needs on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback, defensive end, defensive tackle and safety will all be considerations with this pick.
Fortunately for San Francisco, trading Alex Smith will give it an early second-round pick with which to address one of those needs.
After losing Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean-Francois and Dashon Goldson in free agency, the 49ers will likely look to add the best prospect available to replace one of those players. This class is loaded at the safety position, but there is a defensive lineman still available who warrants a selection here.
Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins is the kind of big-bodied tackle who projects well to multiple positions in a 3-4 front. He's big and strong enough to command a double-team on every play, but he's also quick enough to seal the edge and force pressure from the outside.
Acquiring Glenn Dorsey will be a big boost, but San Francisco needs more talent to put around him. With the two paired up on the defensive line, the 49ers will be able to field one of the best three-man fronts in the NFL.
|Pre-Free Agency||Alec Ogletree||ILB||Georgia|
|Day 1 Pick||Arthur Brown||ILB||Kansas State|
|Day 2 Pick||Arthur Brown||ILB||Kansas State|
|Day 3 Pick||Arthur Brown||ILB||Kansas State|
|Day 4 Pick||Arthur Brown||ILB||Kansas State|
|Day 5 Pick||Arthur Brown||ILB||Kansas State|
|Day 6 Pick||Arthur Brown||ILB||Kansas State|
|Day 7 Pick||Arthur Brown||ILB||Kansas State|
|Day 8 Pick||Arthur Brown||ILB||Kansas State|
With Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe both finding a new home on Day 1 of free agency, the Ravens have some serious holes to fill at the linebacker positions.
Alec Ogletree would be an excellent choice, but Chicago's signing of left tackle Jermon Bushrod now puts the Bears in the running for a top-tier inside linebacker in Round 1.
With Ogletree off the board, Baltimore has one less choice at the inside linebacker position, but there are still plenty of quality options available including Manti Te'o, Kevin Minter and Arthur Brown.
While Minter and Te'o could both be first-round selections in April, Brown's skillset is best suited for the Ravens' defensive schemes. He's lean, athletic and good against both the run and the pass. Ray Lewis' retirement and lack of depth at the position will force the Ravens to make some additions to their linebacking corps early in the draft this year.