We're less than one month away from the 2013 NFL draft. The event will take place from April 25 to April 27 and see dreams made, franchises improved and needs filled.
The question is, what are the easiest solutions for every first-round team's draft needs?
For some, landing the best player available is the best route to take. For others, addressing specific positional weaknesses is the only rational route to take.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M Aggies
The Kansas City Chiefs have constructed one of the most promising offensive cores in the NFL with Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. The key for that trio to thrive is to bolster an offensive line that allowed 40 sacks in 2012.
Luke Joeckel can play in either tackle spot and become the long-term answer on the blindside if Branden Albert walks in 2014. If he doesn't, the Chiefs will have constructed a prime offensive line to protect their franchise players.
A no-brainer here.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida Gators
The Jacksonville Jaguars could stand to draft Eric Fisher and improve their offensive line. With that being said, the Jags will not survive the AFC South without improving their pass rush.
In order to do so, the Jags land in-state product Sharrif Floyd. Floyd is an elite interior lineman prospect, displaying the versatility to stand up or line up at scrimmage.
No matter how he would be used, Floyd would go a long way towards reviving the Jaguars' lifeless franchise.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia Mountaineers
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Carson Palmer is unlikely to restructure his contract with the Oakland Raiders. This will present Oakland with two options, as they can either keep him at $13 million per season or release him.
This type of quarterback controversy suggests that the Raiders will be looking for a fresh start. In order to achieve that, they will select the best available quarterback in Geno Smith.
It just so happens that Smith has made a living out of connecting with undersized speedsters at wide receiver—you know, what Oakland has on their roster.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon Ducks
The Philadelphia Eagles could look in a variety of different directions here. When it comes down to it, however, the Eagles just lost Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
With that being said, it would be hard to imagine head coach Chip Kelly passing up on Dion Jordan. After all, Jordan did play for Kelly at the University of Oregon prior to Kelly taking over in Philadelphia.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan Chippewas
Putting loyalties to specific players aside, we must acknowledge facts. The Detroit Lions have a fragile quarterback, an inconsistent offensive line and no guarantee of a brighter future in that regard.
In order to protect Matthew Stafford, Detroit must land in-state product Eric Fisher. If they're able to, the Central Michigan alum would offer a major long-term upgrade over their current situation.
Dee Milliner is another option, but Fisher is a steal.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama Crimson Tide
The Cleveland Browns' wish comes true with this pick, as they create a potentially elite cornerback tandem. Paired with Joe Haden, Dee Milliner would bolster a rapidly developing defense.
With the signing of Paul Kruger, Cleveland has already improved their pass rush. By drafting Milliner, they would now have two reliable corners to make an opposing quarterback's job all the more difficult.
In a division with Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton, this is a dream pick.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma Sooners
According to Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, Drew Stanton is Arizona's starting quarterback. This closes the door on drafting Matt Barkley and creates the opportunity for the Cardinals to improve their offensive line.
By drafting Lane Johnson, the Cardinals would land a potentially elite outside blocker. Not only is Johnson an experienced player, but he possesses great size for the position.
This isn't a sexy pick, but it's an effective one.
8. Buffalo Bills: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia Bulldogs
In terms of raw ability, Jarvis Jones is the type of player that could go first overall in this draft. He's an elite pass-rusher with the versatility to play both inside and outside the tackles.
As for why Buffalo doesn't go quarterback here, one has to believe that new head coach Doug Marrone will be looking to the second round. As for why, Marrone was Syracuse's head coach last season and his quarterback, Ryan Nassib, should be a available.
Jones would go a long way towards improving the defense before Buffalo thinks field general.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU Cougars
There are few prospects as intriguing as Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansash of the BYU Cougars. Not only is he a supreme athlete at 6'5" and 271 pounds, but his upside is out of this world.
Ansah has only played football for three years and is already proving to be one of the better pass-rushers in the nation. This presents the New York Jets with the opportunity to rebuild their defense with youth and promise.
A high-character, high-upside player is exactly what the Jets need. As for wide receiver, look for the Jets to make a move in the second round.
10. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tennessee Titans have an elite running back in Chris Johnson and a promising, but injury-prone, quarterback in Jake Locker. In order to protect both of those commodities, the Titans must bolster their interior.
By selecting Jonathan Cooper, the Titans would be able to open lanes for Johnson to hit. That's a luxury that CJ2K has not been afforded in recent seasons.
As for Locker, protecting him up the gut will go a long way towards preserving his health.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama Crimson Tide
Conventional wisdom tells us that we will not see two consecutive guards go off the board. The fact of the matter is, the Chargers need to improve their offensive line.
Chance Warmack would go a long way towards improving the Charges' offensive line. He's played in a system in which he's protected Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
Perhaps Warmack is what Ryan Matthews needs to turn his career around.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State Seminoles
This is a reach in terms of talent-to-pick ratio, but it's one that makes sense. Miami could stand to add depth to their pass rush, but Barkevious Mingo is more of a 3-4 player.
With this in mind, the Dolphins will likely look to boost their secondary. Safety is an option, but Reshad Jones has displayed enough promise for Miami to look to fill their need at cornerback.
Xavier Rhodes, an in-state prospect, is the ideal fit.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU Tigers
Barkevious Mingo is one of the most intriguing prospects on the board. Mingo is a supreme athlete with pass-rushing skills, but his build suggests that he will only be able to play standing up.
With that being said, Greg Schiano is the type of coach that is more than capable of molding elite athletes into quality players. Mingo could struggle early on, but under Schiano's guidance, he should find his way.
Star Lotulelei is another option.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah Utes
Star Lotulelei is an elite talent that could end up cracking the top 10 based on that fact alone. Unfortunately, Lotulelei has a heart condition that could scare some teams away.
That's music to Carolina's ears, as they find the anchor of their defensive line with Lotulelei. Taking a top pick-caliber talent at No. 14 is hardly a risky move.
This could pay dividends for a Panthers team that should be on the rise in 2013.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri Tigers
The New Orleans Saints are well aware of the fact that they need to improve in virtually every phase of their defense. They'd go a long way towards doing so by drafting Sheldon Richardson out of Missouri.
Richardson has the size and burst to make a real difference for the league's worst rush defense. His ability to clog the middle would open the door for players such as Jonathan Vilma to enter the backfield.
Both in the long term and short term, Richardson would be a huge pickup.
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas Longhorns
The St. Louis Rams play in a division in which they will face elite read-option quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. In order to contain those players, they must have an elite safety in place.
Kenny Vaccaro could be that player, as he is the top player at his position. More importantly, he's the best player at one of St. Louis' greatest positional needs.
Vaccaro is the no-brainer here.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee Volunteers
Even with Mike Wallace's departure, wide receiver is hardly a need for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With that being said, Cordarrelle Patterson has extraordinary upside.
He's a big-body player who knows how to break into the open field. With Ben Roethlisberger slinging the ball his way, Patterson would have the opportunity to improve an already great wide receiver corps.
This is a low-risk, high-reward signing at this stage of the draft.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina Tar Heels
The Dallas Cowboys ranked 22nd in opponent rushing yards during the 2012 NFL regular season. In order to improve in that regard, they must improve their offensive line.
Sylvester Williams is the perfect player in that regard, as he's one of the most powerful players in the draft. Not only will he create lanes for DeMarcus Ware enter the backfield, but he will disrupt the opposition's running game.
This is a need pick, more so than one that will placate Dallas' playmaker desires.
19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State Seminoles
The New York Giants love to load up on defensive linemen and create an interchangeable rotation of pass-rushers. After ranking 22nd in sacks and missing the playoffs. However, the Giants appear ready to reload in that regard.
Bjoern Werner out of Florida State deserves to go higher based off of ability and work ethic. With such a deep class of linemen, however, Werner is a victim of supply and demand.
Fortunately, Werner falls into position to compete for a Super Bowl ring during his first year in the league.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia Bulldogs
Finding a player truly worthy of replacing Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher is a tough task. Unfortunately, it must be done.
According to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Bears will miss Urlacher. When an opposing quarterback calls you out, it's pretty clear that you need an inside linebacker capable of defending the pass.
Who better than former safety Alec Ogletree?
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide
The Cincinnati Bengals have a consistent and reliable running back in BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He moves the chains, rarely turns the ball over and displays an undeniable will to win.
With that being said, the Bengals would benefit from the edition of a young, chain-moving ball-carrier. Eddy Lacy of the Alabama Crimson Tide could serve in that role.
As a physical runner with an AFC North-type of build, Lacy is the ideal player here.
22. St. Louis Rams: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Volunteers
The St. Louis Rams addressed a defensive need by drafting Kenny Vaccaro earlier this round. They now touch upon their need for a big-body wide receiver by selecting Justin Hunter.
Hunter is 6'4" and 196 pounds. He's excellent downfield, can make plays over smaller defenders and might just be the better of the two high-profile Tennessee wide receivers.
St. Louis could be landing a franchise receiver with this one.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M Aggies
The Minnesota Vikings are an old team along the defensive line. Even as Jared Allen continues to be one of the league's elite pass-rushers, Minnesota will be exposed if they do not add athleticism along the front seven.
Damontre Moore could help the Vikings in that regard, as his youth and athleticism are noteworthy. This would add a new dynamic to a defense that must put pressure on the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford.
This is a bit of a risk, but at 23, you won't find much better reward.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington Huskies
No matter what transpires in free agency, the Indianapolis Colts will need help at cornerback. The best way to go about this is to draft speedster Desmond Trufant.
Trufant is the brother of another NFL corner, Marcus Trufant. This exposure to the league could help Trufant, but even if it doesn't, his ability will speak for itself.
Trufant's speed and ball skills will make him a valuable weapon in Chuck Pagano's system.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia Mountaineers
The Minnesota Vikings made a huge acquisition by signing Greg Jennings. Not only will this help them move the chains, but it gives them an elite red zone receiver.
To go alongside Jennings is Tavon Austin, who could begin to replace Percy Harvin. As a speedster that can work out of the slot, Austin would provide Christian Ponder with yet another intermediate target.
Paired with Jennings, Austin could help Minnesota go from one of the worst receiving corps in 2012 to one of the most promising in 2013.
26. Green Bay Packers: Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU Panthers
Jonathan Cyprien is a versatile safety with excellent size and high-quality zone defense skills. This is exactly what the Green Bay Packers need after Charles Woodson's departure.
Cyprien would step in to a pass defense that surprisingly ranked 11th in terms of passing yards allowed in 2012. With his ability to play in the box, Cyprien could also help limit big running plays.
In a division with Adrian Peterson, drafting Cyprien is a wise move.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson Tigers
The Houston Texans have needed a secondary option at wide receiver for nearly a decade. Even as Kevin Walter provides quality work, the Texans often leave Andre Johnson on an island against double-teams.
By drafting DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans would add another downfield threat. This would enable Johnson to work the intermediate game more and face lighter coverage.
This could be the move necessary to push Texans to the Super Bowl.
28. Denver Broncos: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Say what you will about Manti Te'o, but he is one heck of a talent. Not only can he drop back in pass coverage, but he can attack the backfield and defend the run.
The Broncos will likely address their need at defensive end via free agency. They'll also be better off finding a defensive tackle in the second round.
Te'o is a low-risk player, no matter what his detractors may tell you.
29. New England Patriots: Matt Elam, FS, Florida Gators
The New England Patriots need to improve their defensive backfield. They were 29th in opponent passing yards in 2012 and had only inconsistency at free safety.
In order to improve in that regard, the Patriots will likely target Matt Elam. Elam is a physical player with excellent closing speed and the versatility to make an impact on special teams.
This is just an all-around quality move.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA Bruins
Datone Jones is quietly making his way up draft boards due to his elite size and versatility. He can line up outside the tackles or take it down and attack the interior.
With John Abraham all but gone, the Falcons must acquire a pass-rusher to add to their defensive line. Even if Abraham were to end up with Atlanta, adding youth and depth is a must.
This is a long-term upgrade for a team with a bright future.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU Mustangs
Do the San Francisco 49ers really have a need to fill? After the past few drafts and periods of free agency, it's hard to find one.
Some concerns could be with depth and age, as well as a question mark at safety. Unfortunately, there is questionably applicable talent along the defensive line and at safety at this stage of the game.
It's a major reach, but Margus Hunt could be the long-term replacement to Justin Smith. Trading back is clearly an option.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU Tigers
The Baltimore Ravens lost a lot more than just Ray Lewis during this past offseason. Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Anquan Boldin are amongst the names who joined Lewis in departing.
In order to move forward, the Ravens must look for the best defensive player available. In this instance, that's none other than inside linebacker Kevin Minter.
He may not be Lewis, but Minter plays screens well and attacks with ferocity during blitzes.
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