As teams continue to plunge into free agency with hopes of filling holes, they always keep one eye on the draft. After all, it's a better financial move to eliminate a void with a rookie rather than a pricey veteran. That is, if the team is confident the draftee can step right in.
Given the depth available in this year's class, which is its saving grace due to the lack of truly extraordinary prospects, teams should be able to find potential starters throughout Round 1 and potentially beyond. It's especially good news for front offices dealing with cap issues.
Without further ado, let's check out the updated projected picks for the entire first round. A couple defensive players are highlighted, as denoted by italics, due to each prospect's ability to help their potential new teams in a significant way next season.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Unless something changes before draft day, it appears the Chiefs will decide between Joeckel and fellow tackle Eric Fisher. While Fisher has closed the gap, the edge still goes to the Texas A&M star.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
After a dreadful pass-rushing display last season, the Jaguars must bring in multiple players to address the problem. Jordan brings plenty of athleticism and has the edge speed to wreak havoc in the NFL.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders are always one of the toughest teams to predict because they tend to make some surprising choices. Floyd makes the most sense given his upside and Oakland's defensive struggles.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Philadelphia could end up with whichever offensive tackle the Chiefs decide to pass on. That should be a perfectly acceptable result for the Eagles, who are getting a potential top pick at No. 4.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions offense welcomed another big name to the fold early in free agency as they signed Reggie Bush. With Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson already in place, the foundation is definitely there for one of the league's most explosive offenses.
Their draft focus should be on improving the defense. Milliner is the top cornerback on the board thanks to a terrific combination of across-the-board production, ability and field awareness, which makes up for his lack of experience.
Last season, the Lions gave up over 27 points per game, which more than offset any strong play from the offense. If the defense can make even moderate improvement and the offense is as good as advertised, Detroit will make a big turnaround.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Even though the Browns are still in need of some playmakers on offense, solidifying the defense first seems like the best option. Ansah is a player who will make his presence felt immediately.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Matt Barkley could land here or slide completely out of the first round, as he does in this projection, given the wide range for QBs this year. Johnson provides much better value with this pick.
Who's a better option for the Bills?
8. Buffalo Bills: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Buffalo should take a quarterback and a wide receiver with its first two picks, it just comes down to the order. Patterson is exactly the type of explosive option they need, making him the better choice here.
9. New York Jets: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
No matter how many lackluster veteran quarterbacks the Jets have on the roster when draft day arrives, Smith will be their best bet. Getting the class' top QB at No. 9 is extremely rare these days.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Warmack has the talent base necessary to step into Tennessee's lineup and quickly establish himself as a top guard. It's hard to pass that up, given the team's need opposite newly-signed Andy Levitre.
11. San Diego Chargers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Chargers are in prime position to make a trade because their biggest need is offensive tackle and the top three are gone. If they don't make a move, Lotulelei would be the best possible selection.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The secondary remains an area of concern for the Dolphins. Rhodes is a player who can provide the playmaking ability Miami lacked last season and is the clear No. 2 corner on the board.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Werner is one of the draft's toughest prospects to place, aside from quarterbacks. Early in the process he was frequenting the top five, but has gone through a minor slide. That's perfectly fine with the Bucs, who would probably be glad to grab him.
The Florida State product is a versatile edge player that's flashed some very good pass-rushing skills and should only continue to improve with experience. He's also shown an innate ability to read plays, helping him make an impact even when he doesn't get a hit on the quarterback.
Tampa Bay's defense gave up nearly 380 yards per game last season, which ranked in the bottom five. One of the main reasons was a lack of pressure off the edge, finishing in a tie for the third-fewest sacks. Werner would certainly help in that area.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Richardson isn't the type of selection that's going to send a wave of excitement throughout the fanbase. He's just a solid, reliable prospect capable of filling a void for the Panthers
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Whether Jones will fall to this slot will be decided over the next month. If he does, the Saints shouldn't hesitate to pounce on him as a way to upgrade their lackluster defense.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Slowly, but surely, the Rams are showing signs of progress. There are still some major needs on the offensive side of the ball, however, and it all starts with improving the shaky line.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Steelers' defense, which has been the team's calling card for a long time, is in need of some fresh faces. Moore is a potential top-10 pick that shouldn't fall past Pittsburgh on draft day.
18. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Cowboys need more consistency and building it starts in the trenches. Giving Tony Romo more time in the pocket would have a trickle-down effect throughout the offense.
What should the Giants target at No. 19?
19. New York Giants: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Mingo is another member of the deep pass-rushing group that could sneak into the top-10, depending on each team's preference. He would be a good fit for New York as it attempts to revitalize the defense.
20. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Bears signed Martellus Bennett. If the team is completely convinced he can fill the tight end void, it will go in a different direction. I'm not convinced he's the answer, so Eifert is still an intriguing option.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Vaccaro's talent level is undoubtedly intriguing enough for him to go higher than No. 21. There just wasn't an ideal fit earlier in the round. If he does end up reaching this point, it would be tough for the Bengals to pass.
He's a do-it-all safety. To go along with good size, Vaccaro has shown the ability to drop down in the box to help in run defense and has enough speed to cover when needed. He's also displayed great vision, which is crucial for any safety prospect.
The Bengals could opt to go for a receiver here instead, but there's a lot more depth at that position than at safety. It gives Vaccaro a little extra value. He's a player that can help Cincinnati's defense move inside the top five overall.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WSH): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Austin is the type of receiver every offense needs in today's NFL. Somebody who can use his quickness to create mismatches in the slot and help keep the chains moving.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Minnesota's receiving group needs help. Christian Ponder needs plenty of help to keep the offense moving, especially since the Vikings can't depend on 2,000 yards from Adrian Peterson every year.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
Upgrading the defense remains Indianapolis' top priority. Ogletree is a versatile linebacker that would join a group that failed to impress throughout last season and has a good chance to earn playing time.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA): Robert Woods, WR, USC
Using one of the selections they received in the Percy Harvin trade, the Vikings select another wide receiver to bolster the number of targets available for Ponder.
26. Green Bay Packers: Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas State
Brown is exactly the type of linebacker the Packers need. He's somebody who can cover a lot of space at the second level, rack up a lot of tackles and cover. Lack of prototypical size is only a minor concern.
Should the Texans take a WR in Round 1?
27. Houston Texans: Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
The Texans' pick is one that's remained relatively consistent throughout the process so far. They need another wide receiver and Patton is the best one available at this point.
28. Denver Broncos: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
It's clear Denver is in championship mode. Anything less than a Super Bowl would be a disappointment, so the Broncos might as well take Elam, who's prepared to make an impact in the secondary.
29. New England Patriots: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The approach remains the same for New England. The offense should be able to generate plenty of points, so adding pieces to the defense with the hope it can make some positive strides is the way to go.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Okafor helped his draft stock with a strong showing in Texas' bowl game. Whether teams believe he can be that dynamic on a weekly basis in the NFL will decide where he ends up. Atlanta could use him.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Although San Francisco could use a slot receiver for Colin Kaepernick to utilize, it would be better off going with Trufant here and trying to address the wideout situation later on.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Ravens need linebackers, plain and simple. Te'o had a solid college career at Notre Dame and is a better pure football player than an athlete, as his combine results would suggest.