Each team comes into the NFL draft with a certain strategy. Whether it’s to invest in a franchise quarterback or add players at certain positions, the general managers already have a plan in mind before the draft even begins.
Here’s a good strategy for each team to have going into the draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Strategy: Bring in protection for Alex Smith
The Chiefs made a big move by bringing in Alex Smith at quarterback. Now, the team must add players to protect their investment. Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M is a popular option for the No. 1 overall pick, and it would be wise to bring him in to keep Smith upright.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Strategy: Fix the pass rush
The Jaguars ranked last in the NFL by a wide margin with only 20 sacks. That needs to change quickly. As far as defensive tackles go, Floyd is a good pass-rusher that could be an actual threat on this defense.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Strategy: Avoid offensive weapons
It seems that the Raiders pick up a wide receiver early every year, but this year they need to work on defending the pass. Milliner’s speed and physical play style could change the mentality of this defense, which hasn’t been the same since the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, LT, Central Michigan
Strategy: Protect the QB
The offensive line was abysmal for the Eagles last year. Michael Vick was hit on almost every play, and injuries at the QB position piled up throughout the year. Fisher would only be a nice start, but he’s a solid tackle that can start repairing the wreck that is the Eagles’ offensive line.
5. Detroit Lions: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Strategy: Take what’s available
If a guy like Fisher or Milliner is available, the Lions should jump at the chance to pick one of them up. If not, the Lions wouldn’t go wrong picking Jordan. He’s a guy that could pick up the slack with Cliff Avril gone and make the Lions’ defense intimidating once again.
6. Cleveland Browns: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Strategy: Get a weapon for Brandon Weeden
The critics bashed on Weeden last season, but the lack of talent at wide receiver made it difficult for him to shine. Josh Gordon had some bright moments. No one else made much of an impact. If the Browns are serious about getting this offense off of the ground, Patterson can be a big game-changer for the team.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma
Strategy: Keep the QB upright
If the Cardinals are really set on Drew Stanton as their starting quarterback, then they are going to need someone to keep him from dying in the pocket. Johnson is another appealing offensive tackle that can provide some solid protection. Whatever they decide to do at the quarterback position, they better have a plan for protecting him.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Strategy: Find the long-term solution at QB
The release of Ryan Fitzpatrick means that this team is ready for a franchise quarterback. While the position isn’t exactly the deepest in the draft, there are a couple of guys that could do alright.
Geno Smith would be the best option for the Bills. He has the tools to play in the league for a while, with signs of very impressive accuracy during his time at West Virginia. He may not be a slinger like Brett Favre, but he’s a poised quarterback who has the potential to start for a team.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, OLB, BYU
Strategy: Avoid more controversy
If the Jets are looking for a guy better than Mark Sanchez in this year’s draft, they aren’t going to find him. Besides, adding another QB to the mix would create even more unwanted attention from the media. A safe pick would be Ansah. The team needs a true pass-rusher on defense.
10. Tennessee Titans: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
Strategy: Improve the defensive line
The defensive line was ugly for the Titans last year, and the team needs to focus on guys that could turn it around during the draft. Carradine is a very popular defensive end that many are calling the best prospect at the position. It wouldn’t instantly fix the D-line, but it would certainly help.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Strategy: Protect Philip Rivers
With Louis Vasquez gone, the Chargers need protection for Rivers. Warmack may be a reach, but they need someone to come in quickly and help this team out.
12. Miami Dolphins: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Strategy: Defensive help
The Dolphins need some help defensively, especially at safety. Bringing in Vacarro could help this team out a lot. He has the talent to be a starter before the season begins.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Strategy: Cornerback, cornerback, cornerback
The Bucs need a cornerback worse than anything right now. They need to pray that Rhodes is available, and take him if he is.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Will Lotulelei's heart condition hurt his NFL career?
Strategy: Bring in an inside presence
The interior defense for the Panthers was not pretty last season. Even with the issues with a heart condition, Lotulelei should still be a solid pick. The Panthers need to bring in someone for the inside, and the defensive tackle out of Utah would be a perfect fit.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Strategy: Focus on pass rush
A lot of teams need pass-rushers, including the Saints. Luckily, there are plenty available in this draft. Mingo is a scary guy against the pass and should fit in well with the Saints’ scheme.
16. St. Louis Rams: Menelik Watson, LT, Florida State
Strategy: Keep Sam Bradford alive
The Rams have struggled keeping Bradford healthy. Injuries keep coming up for the former No. 1 overall pick.
Watson is a guy that has skyrocketed up the draft boards. He may only have one year of football under his belt, but he did a great job at Florida State protecting E.J. Manuel. A former basketball player, Watson is an athletic guy who has good footwork for a lineman.
The Rams need to protect their quarterback, especially with the contract they gave him.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Strategy: Replace James Harrison
The outside linebacker position was a concern before Harrison’s release, but now it’s the biggest need for the Steelers. Jones has fallen down the draft boards due to spinal stenosis. But the doctors have said he is cleared to play. With linebacker being such a big need, it’s easy to see the Steelers picking him up.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Strategy: Prepare to replace Anthony Spencer
The Cowboys may have put their franchise tag on Spencer, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be traded. The team will need another big pass-rusher. Werner can be that guy. He would fit in well with a 3-4 defensive scheme.
19. New York Giants: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Strategy: Bring in guys to defend the pass
The Giants need a guy opposite of Corey Webster. Teams picked on the other side of the defense a lot last season, and Trufant would stop that from happening. He’s the complete corner, with size, speed and intelligence.
20. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Strategy: Look for any offensive linemen
Cooper may be a stretch, but something needs to happen to keep Jay Cutler from getting rocked on a consistent basis. Cooper is a very popular lineman. He has the tools to make an impact. While guards aren’t as important in protecting the passer as tackles, the Bears really need just about anything on the line.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Strategy: Find the long-term option at RB
BenJarvus Green-Ellis simply didn’t cut it last year, and the offense needs a back that can be an impact player. Lacy is a bruiser at the running back position. An offense with Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Lacy would be pretty scary.
22. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Strategy: Give Bradford someone to throw to
With the second pick for the Rams in the first round, they will need to look for someone that Bradford can get the ball to. Austin had a tremendous combine workout. He's a very popular option as a slot receiver. Since the Rams need someone at wide receiver, Austin would be a good choice.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Strategy: Add depth to the secondary
Now that the Vikings have addressed the situation at wide receiver by signing Greg Jennings, they will look to make their secondary better. With guys like Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford in the division, protecting the pass is crucial.
Johnthan Banks is another guy that can start for a team on day one. He’s a physical guy that would make the secondary for the Vikings better. After not picking up Morris Claiborne last season, the Vikings need to make up for that mistake.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Strategy: Pick up an actual pass-rusher
If the Colts are seriously looking for some pass-rushers, they will need to do better than Erik Walden. Alex Okafor is a guy that can fill the defensive end position while also being a threat to get to the quarterback. As long as the Colts still think that the pass rush is an issue, Okafor would be a good choice for them.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Strategy: Additional presence on DL
The trade to give Percy Harvin to the Seahawks gave the Vikings an additional first-round pick. This should be used to add another frightening presence opposite Jared Allen. Moore may have disappointed at the combine, but he is still a first-round option. He may not be a solid overall defensive end. But he can get to the quarterback without much effort.
26. Green Bay Packers: Jesse Williams, DE, Alabama
Strategy: Find a defensive end for the 3-4 scheme
The defensive ends were not up to the task for the Packers in 2012. Injuries may have hurt the whole team, but the team needs to consider bringing in some depth on the defensive line. Williams could fit in the 3-4 scheme. He would thrive developing under Dom Capers.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Strategy: Bring in someone to complement Andre Johnson
It had to be frustrating for the Texans, and Matt Schaub, to see Johnson double-teamed consistently last year. In order for this team to really break out as an offensive force, they need a No. 2 receiver that can step in and become the No. 1 guy once Johnson begins to slow down. Hopkins has solid hands and would fit well opposite Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
Strategy: Find a guy to replace Champ Bailey
Bailey’s time in the NFL may finally be coming to an end, and the Broncos will need someone to fill in for him once he leaves. Poyer could come in and be the No. 2 guy at corner as Bailey finishes out his career, then take over as the top guy. Poyer’s size makes him an appealing first-round pick.
29. New England Patriots: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Strategy: Find someone to fill the inside of the defense
Guys like Albert Haynesworth didn’t cut it last season at the defensive tackle position. Richardson should be taken earlier, but a lot of teams don’t need a defensive tackle. The Patriots should consider grabbing Richardson as a steal.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Strategy: Replace John Abraham
The release of Abraham means that the Falcons need another guy at defensive end. Datone Jones is a guy that could wind up in Atlanta. He has the size and skill to make an impact on the defense.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Cyprien, SS, FIU
Strategy: Prepare to replace Dashon Goldson
Goldson is likely gone for the 49ers, so another safety would be key. Cyprien is a heavy hitter, and while he isn't a free safety, his physical play could have him make the transition without much trouble.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Strategy: Replace Ray Lewis
After winning a Super Bowl, the Ravens’ defense is now pretty much missing. The biggest piece missing is Ray Lewis, the team’s heart and soul. Te’o may have had his own issues off the field, but he is still a great middle linebacker that was a true leader for the Fighting Irish. Replacing a legend with another natural leader only seems appropriate.