With free agency plodding along, the direction teams are headed in the 2013 NFL Draft is coming into clearer view.
With the draft less than a month away, it is time to start dialing in the mocks, and I'm feeling a lot more confident about projecting these selections then I was prior to the start of free agency.
In my full first-round mock below, I'll pay extra attention to some of the more intriguing picks—those will be marked in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
It's been a wild offseason for the Chiefs at the tackle position.
To start with, they placed the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert. This seemed to indicate that Kansas City was moving away from taking a tackle at No. 1.
Things have drastically changed since.
Now, the Chiefs almost have to take a tackle.
The Chiefs have held a private workout with Joeckel, and he has all the skills to go No. 1 overall. He could stand to add a little polish in pass protection, but he is a powerful run blocker, and he is ready to handle starting duties in the NFL.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Jaguars' needs are many, but none may be more glaring than their need for a pass rush. Last season, the Jags were dead last in sacks.
With the defensive-minded Gus Bradley taking over coaching duties, it would be a surprise if the Jags didn't use their first selection on a pass-rusher, and none has more potential than Dion Jordan.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders' defense is severely lacking in difference-makers. They need to take the best defensive player available with this selection, and that is Sharrif Floyd.
Floyd is strong and explosive, and he can get into the backfield. He had 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks last season.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Geno Smith is a possibility here, but I don't see Chip Kelly spending this pick on a quarterback when he had plenty of success with his offense at Oregon with less than elite signal-callers.
Bjoern Werner is a complete, high-motor player who will bring a solid pass rush.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The Lions need to get stronger in the front seven and with Cliff Avril leaving via free agency, the Lions need to bring in someone who can put some heat on the passer.
Ezekiel Ansah is a solid pick. He is a high-effort player with the ability to get to the passer and hold his ground against the run.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Dee Milliner would be an excellent compliment to Joe Haden at corner. Milliner is the complete package. He is capable of playing both man and in zone, and he is solid in run support.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
As USA Today's Mike Garafolo reports, the Cardinals are close to adding veteran quarterback Carson Palmer. This erases their immediate need to add a quarterback. However, that certainly doesn't mean they won't draft one.
Palmer is 33, and Arizona still needs its quarterback of the future. With the best quarterback in this draft still available at No. 7, the Cardinals will grab West Virginia's Geno Smith.
Smith certainly has the talent to be a starter in the NFL. He has a good arm and solid accuracy. He also has decent mobility.
He needs to work on his consistency and decision-making, and with Palmer presumably handling the starting spot for the next couple of seasons, Smith will have time to develop his game.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The Bills are in a similar situation to the Cardinals. They recently inked veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb to a two-year deal, and they will add him into the quarterback mix with Tarvaris Jackson.
While this gives them viable options for the upcoming season, it certainly doesn't mean this team should be comfortable standing pat at quarterback.
At this point in their careers, neither Jackson nor Kolb should be expected to make big strides in their development. Buffalo must find someone with a higher ceiling.
While the Bills could wait until the second round to identify a quarterback in this draft, that would run the risk of seeing the Bills seeing their top targets already off the board.
I see this motivating them to spend the eighth pick on USC's Matt Barkley, who the Bills are reportedly bringing in for a workout.
Barkley does not have elite tools, and he needs to improve his accuracy on deep throws. However, he has a decent arm, good accuracy on the short to intermediate routes and decent elusiveness in the pocket with the ability to throw on the run.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Chance Warmack is a mauling guard with attitude. He is a physically dominant player, and the Jets have to get back to being a bully.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Titans need more consistency at defensive end. Bjoern Werner is a nice fit.
He is a high-motor player who is strong against both the run and the pass.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Philip Rivers is not going to get his career back on track if he doesn't receive improved protection.
Lane Johnson has good feet and solid strength. He will be a nice addition.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Dolphins have some nice pieces in place on defense, but they could stand to add a talented corner.
Rhodes is a physical corner who will excel in bump-and-run coverage.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Star Lotulelei's heart condition is the only reason this athletic beast will still be on the board at No. 13. Tampa Bay needs to add some muscle along the defensive line and won't hesitate to take Lotulelei.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson's ceiling is through the roof. He has all the tools to be a great No. 1 receiver. This selection will give Cam Newton a top-flight target he can grow with.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Saints need to add some serious talent on defense.
Barkevious Mingo is an excellent athlete with great speed and the ability to get to the passer.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin is an explosive playmaker, and the Rams desperately need to add someone with big-play capability.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Steelers won't hesitate to pull the trigger as they look to restock their pass rush.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Cowboys must reshape their defensive line as they transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense.
Sylvester Williams will bring a strong interior presence and help the Cowboys improve their rush defense.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Giants season fell apart last year as their vaunted pass rush dropped off and their corners were consequently exposed.
Johnthan Banks will be an instant upgrade for New York, and help solidify their pass defense.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Bears signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod to bring some much needed protection on the edge.
However, they would still be wise to add D.J. Fluker. He can fill a hole at guard for the Bears, while also having the potential to be an excellent tackle down the road.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore is a good value at No. 21, and he will help complete a Bengals defensive line that has the potential to be one of the fiercest in the NFL.
22. St. Louis Rams* (From 10-6 Washington Redskins): Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro's lack of speed will keep him on the board until the Rams take him with the 22nd selection.
Despite his lack of elite speed, he is still a solid prospect and the best safety in this class.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Datone Jones has the size to play inside or outside on the defensive line. This will boost the Vikings' rotation and allow them to spell the aging Kevin Williams.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Nose tackles are hard to find. While Jesse Williams is a bit of a reach at No. 24, this 323-pound prospect is too much for the Colts to pass on.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from 11-5 Seattle Seahawks): Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Vikings would be wise to use the pick they acquired by trading Percy Harvin to land a weapon for Christian Ponder.
Keenan Allen is a natural receiver who will be a consistent producer in the NFL.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
The Packers are in a tough position here. They need an upgrade at tackle, but there isn't a great value at No. 26.
While Watson is a bit of a reach, he is worth the risk for the Packers.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Texans need another weapon at receiver. Robert Woods has great ball skills, and he will help take the attention of opposing safeties off of Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Broncos are in need of a boost in the interior of their defensive line. Johnathan Hankins was not the most consistent performer but he has tremendous potential.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
New England needs to stop trying to patch together their secondary, and land some real talent.
Desmond Trufant has great speed, decent size and the ball skills to be a No. 1 corner.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Falcons have to add some beef in their defensive line. Kawann Short will definitely bring that while helping the Falcons defense gain consistency against the run.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
The 49ers have few needs. However, one of those needs is at center.
Jones is the best center in this draft, and he has the attitude to fit right in with this team.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
The Ravens need to find a long-term replacement for Ray Lewis. Alec Ogletree is a nice option. While he won't be the dominant force that Lewis was, but he should be a solid starter for years to come.