The countdown to the 2013 NFL draft is beginning to reach a fever pitch as it's less than a month away.
With the combine and Senior Bowl both come and gone, you're not going to see the kind of movement witnessed in previous weeks. There's less opportunity for prospects to showcase themselves on a national stage.
It's almost impossible for a draft picture to come into focus. One would never be able to accurately predict the correct actions and intentions of 32 NFL general managers.
There are, however, some picks that seem like much better fits than others. It would be extremely unlikely for a team to avoid selecting what looks to be a future star.
Here is how the first round of the draft could look, with the best fits in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Alex Smith may or may not be a franchise cornerstone for Kansas City. That trade did allow the Chiefs to avoid reaching for a quarterback with the top overall pick. Instead, they are now free to take Luke Joeckel, who is arguably the best player in this draft.
Joeckel has everything you'd look for in a franchise tackle. He's got the size and tools to excel in the NFL. The failing of many tackles in the NFL is their footwork. They can't move quick enough to handle pass-rushers. Joeckel is rather light for his frame, which results in him being pretty quick for an offensive lineman.
Whether it's giving Smith time in the pocket or opening up holes for Jamaal Charles, Joeckel should fit right in in Kansas City.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Jacksonville was absolutely dreadful last season when it came to getting after the quarterback. The Jaguars were last in the league in sacks, only recording just 20.0. Although there are plenty holes to fill for Gus Bradley, getting a solid pass-rusher is a great start. Dion Jordan is an athletic freak. The only glaring weakness is his strength, and he can easily bulk up when he hits the league.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Unlike a lot of defensive tackles, Sharrif Floyd can get after the passer. He's very strong, yet quick enough to beat opposing linemen. Floyd would help to strengthen the Oakland Raiders in the heart of their defense.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Few players have taken a bigger jump than Eric Fisher over the last few months. He could even be a realistic choice at No. 1. He's not quite as strong as Joeckel, so it may take Fisher a little bit longer to hit his stride.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Detroit has lost two pass-rushers this offseason. It looks to have been the Lions' plan all along considering how many talented defensive ends are in the draft. Ezekiel Ansah has loads of upside. He could become the best player to come out of this draft, period. The only thing that worries you about Ansah is his reliance on his physical gifts alone.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Browns could have one of the best pass defenses in the league come the 2013 season. No opposing quarterback would look forward to playing the Browns considering Joe Haden is on one side and Dee Milliner the other.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Geno Smith looked very good at his pro day (h/t ESPN.com). That should come as a huge shock considering the event is engineered to make the player look as strong as possible. Regardless, Smith is for real and should flourish under the tutelage of Bruce Arians.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Matt Barkley might be a bit of a reach with the eighth pick, but the Buffalo Bills desperately need a franchise quarterback. Barkley had a tough senior year. That doesn't greatly affect the kind of career he can have in the NFL. He should be an extremely productive QB for the next decade.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia
The Jets could be getting the steal of the draft in Jarvis Jones. Reports of his possible neck problems might have scared some teams off (h/t Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk). Jones is a great combination of strength and speed. He can rush the passer and defend the run.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
If Chance Warmack was an offensive tackle, he'd be the nailed-on favorite for the top pick. His talent level is extraordinary for a college prospect. If he falls to the 10th pick, the Tennessee Titans would be crazy to pass up on him.
He's a fantastic run-blocker. Warmack is very big, yet he's able to move downfield a little to continue opening up paths for his running back. Putting him in front of a player like Chris Johnson is a match made in heaven.
Warmack would also be a welcome addition for Jake Locker. He's very good at keeping defensive tackles and inside linebackers at bay. Regardless of being an offensive guard, Warmack has top-10 skill.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Lane Johnson is an extremely quick tackle. He'll have no problem handling fast pass-rushers coming off the edge. The area of concern is Johnson's strength. He simply needs to add some bulk in order to not be overpowered by stronger linemen.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Mike Wallace is now a member of the Miami Dolphins, so their biggest need is out of the way. Miami can now look to improving the pass defense and drafting a player like Xavier Rhodes.
He's an extremely physical corner. Rhodes loves to bump opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage. With the way the league has clamped down on any contact outside of the five-yard bubble, it's imperative that a corner can knock wideouts off their routes as early as possible. Rhodes may well represent the new wave of cornerback.
The flip side is that Rhodes can be prone to drawing flags as a result of his aggression. There's no doubt that he'll have some trouble early on finely tuning when and when not to bump the receiver. As he gains more and more experience, Rhodes will become an All-Pro cornerback.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei is the best run-stuffer in the draft. With the diminishing impact of the running game, premier defensive tackles aren't in as much demand. Lotulelei also has enough athleticism to get pressure on the quarterback as well.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Sheldon Richardson had a very good season in what was his last year in college. It was, coincidentally, the one season in which Richardson dominated. He had a very high motor last year and looked great on some plays. The question is whether or not he'll be able to maintain that performance when he receives a hefty pay day.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Saints need all the defensive help they can get. New Orleans was historically bad on that side of the ball last season. Barkevious Mingo has the tools to succeed, but it's a matter of him putting it all together. He's got a ton of speed but needs to add some other moves to avoid becoming a one-trick pony.
16. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro is the complete safety. He's good in pass coverage and can read the run and react very well. Vaccaro is extremely aggressive but smart enough not to make too many risks where he'll get caught out of position.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
With Mike Wallace gone, the Steelers need to add a deep threat to their offense. Cordarrelle Patterson is exactly what Pittsburgh needs. He's not the most polished wideout, but Patterson has the kind of physical tools you can't coach and is very good in the air.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Jonathan Cooper is a very good offensive guard. Unlike Warmack, he's also got some versatility on the offensive line. Cooper can play at either one of the guard positions, and should the situation demand it, center.
19. New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
Alec Ogletree has all the tools to succeed in the league. His off-field issues precede him and will cause any team to worry (h/t Dan Hanzus of NFL.com). Ogletree is one of the best linebackers in the draft, so the risk is a bit less should he go in the middle to end of the first round.
20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te'o, ILB Notre Dame
Manti Te'o is one of the most NFL-ready players in this draft. His ceiling isn't through the roof, though. That's the biggest thing holding him back. Te'o isn't a freakish athlete. Brian Urlacher's no longer a member of the Chicago Bears (h/t The Boston Globe). Te'o is the best person to replace somebody as heralded as Urlacher.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Andre Smith remains a free agent. The Cincinnati Bengals were very smart to let him hit the market and let it tell him that his contract demands were ridiculous. Smith was very good last season, but part of you has to wonder how much of his motivation from last year came from playing for a contract.
The Bengals would be much better off drafting D.J. Fluker. With Andrew Whitworth already has the left side of the offensive line locked down. That would allow Fluker to slot in perfectly at right tackle.
Run blocking has been a bit of an issue for Cincinnati over the last couple of seasons. It improved last year, but Fluker's skill is exactly what the team needs right now. He's not a great pass-blocker, but that shouldn't be a major issue when he's on the right side of the line.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Rams need a slot receiver with Danny Amendola off to New England. Tavon Austin is the best slot-receiver in the draft. He's got a ton of speed. While Austin's size is a bit of a concern, it's not going to worry teams because of his overall talent.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Percy Harvin leaving this offseason isn't a huge shock for the Vikings. Minnesota always looked likely to draft a wideout in the first round. Keenan Allen isn't the best athlete, but he has more than enough to create some separation in the secondary.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore has taken a tumble down the first round. He's been found out a bit in terms of his physical tools. Moore is still a talented pass-rusher who just needs some seasoning in order to become a force on the defensive line.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Sylvester Williams has all the tools to succeed. He's got good size and strength to be able to manhandle offensive linemen. The only question is whether Williams will be able to do that on every play, or if he'll only show flashes.
26. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Green Bay doesn't have tight end at the top of their board. Having Tyler Eifert dangled in front of them might be too much for the Packers to pass up. He's the best tight end in the draft and a very good pass-catcher.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Andre Johnson needs someone to demand the attention of opposing secondaries. DeAndre Hopkins isn't a great athlete, but he is a very good route-runner. Hopkins is able to create just enough space between himself and his defensive counterpart.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Denver doesn't have a ton of holes in its team. One of the Broncos' biggest needs is in the middle of the defensive line. Johnathan Hankins is a tough run-defender and will be exactly what Denver is looking for.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Desmond Trufant should be a very good corner in the league. While he doesn't have the highest upside, Trufant is good in pass coverage and will offer support against the run.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Having signed Osi Umenyiora, the Atlanta Falcons might not be needing to draft a pass-rusher in the first round (h/t ESPN.com). Johnthan Banks is an aggressive corner who always seems to find himself near the ball. He'd be a nice upgrade for the Falcons' secondary.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
There's a definite hole on the inside of the San Francisco 49ers' defensive line. It's a hole they can fill with Jesse Williams. He's one of the strongest players in the draft and will be a handful for opposing linemen.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Kevin Minter may well turn out to be the best inside linebacker in the draft. He doesn't look to be as ready for the NFL as Te'o, but Minter's physical gifts mean he should have a slightly higher ceiling.