1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The Chiefs couldn't afford RT Eric Winston and a franchised Branden Albert, so they released Winston. Albert could be moved to right tackle, leaving left tackle for Joeckel. However the competition shakes down, the Chiefs know they must first protect Alex Smith.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Jacksonville’s sack totals from 2008 through 2012 is 29, 13, 26, 31 and 20. Need I say more?
3. Oakland Raiders – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Raiders lost Desmond Bryant in free agency, released Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour is now a free agent. Oakland needs pass-rush help, but not as badly as they need to fortify the interior line.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Ansah can rush the passer as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. It will be up to new head coach Chip Kelly how he uses Ansah.
5. Detroit Lions – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Losing DE Cliff Avril won’t distract the Lions from addressing the perforated secondary. Knowing they have to face Green Bay’s deep receiving corps, Chicago’s Brandon Marshall and Minnesota’s Greg Jennings help keeps things in perspective.
6. Cleveland Browns – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
By adding OLB Paul Kruger to play opposite of sack leader Jabaal Sheard (seven in 2012), Cleveland’s defense can select Rhodes to pair with Joe Haden for two potentially shutdown corners.
7. Arizona Cardinals – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
The NFLPA would sue the Cardinals if they draft a quarterback before providing a passer with a safe work environment. No quarterback can be productive when the offensive line allows 58 sacks.
8. Buffalo Bills – QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Considering general manager Buddy Nix openly said he wants to draft a quarterback soon, it seems highly unlikely that the Bills pass on Smith. After pulling the plug on Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo needs a new face of the franchise.
9. New York Jets – OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
New York will build on its strength and add more bite to a defense that had just 30 sacks. Mingo joining D-linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Quentin Coples could be scary.
10. Tennessee Titans – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Through free agency the Titans added G Andy Levitre and the versatile G/T Rob Turner. Even though Tennessee got good production out of DEs Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley (12.5 sacks combined), the latter is 29 years old. They will grab Werner for a long-term pass-rushing tandem.
11. San Diego Chargers – LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
It appears that the Chargers will let Shaun Phillips leave as a free agent, even though he led the defense with 9.5 sacks. The Chargers also released ILB Takeo Spikes. Ogletree could play either inside or outside, so San Diego will figure out where he plays after drafting him.
12. Miami Dolphins – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
If the Dolphins have any intention of competing with division rival New England, they have to do something about their 27th-ranked pass defense. Miami could really use Trufant, especially after losing CB Sean Smith in free agency.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Lotulelei was a top-10 pick until a heart condition that required additional testing discovered at the NFL Combine raised a red flag (recent tests by Utah showed no abnormality). A strong pro day eased some fears. If he clears the medical exams conducted by individual teams, Lotulelei probably won’t be available here.
14. Carolina Panthers – WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
WR Steve Smith led the Panthers in receiving yards for the last eight seasons and in 10 of the last 11. How much longer can the 33-year old Smith keep it up? Carolina will begin preparing for life after Smith with this pick.
15. New Orleans Saints – OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Switching to a 3-4 won’t automatically fix last season’s worst defense. To make it work, they need pass rushers. Despite Jones’ slow 40 time, the Saints will put their faith in his production at Georgia.
16. St. Louis Rams – S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
There is a huge hole in the middle of the secondary as last season’s starting safeties are no longer with the team (Craig Dahl via free agency, Quintin Mikell released).
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
A poor offensive line is thinner after releasing OG Willie Colon and two starters (OT Max Starks and OG Ramon Foster) becoming free agents. Selecting a guard is possible, but protecting QB Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side takes priority.
18. Dallas Cowboys – OT Kyle Long, Oregon
Even though QB Tony Romo passed for 4,903 yards, it came at a price, as he was pounded behind a porous offensive line. Dallas can’t rid themselves of RT Doug Free fast enough. Romo might even help him pack his bags.
19. New York Giants – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Whether you believe the zone-option offense is a fad or not, the Giants have to see it twice a season from Washington. They allowed 455 rushing yards in the two regular season games against the Redskins. Better run defense might help the Giants sweep the Redskins and be ready for Philadelphia possibly running some zone option as well.
20. Chicago Bears – OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
QB Jay Cutler might be the toughest player in the league for playing behind an offensive line that gave up 149 sacks over the past three seasons. Get Cutler some protection.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – DT Jesse Williams, Alabama
.If you’re going to nitpick the Bengals, you’d have to admit the run defense has room for improvement. Adding Williams as a situational hydrant will make it tougher for division foes up the middle.
22. St. Louis Rams – OLB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
Of the starting linebackers, Rocky McIntosh’s production lagged well behind what James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar did. It’s not that McIntosh did a bad job, but Greene could do the job better.
23. Minnesota Vikings – WR Keenan Allen, California
The second-worst pass offense found its replacement for Percy Harvin in Greg Jennings, but it’s going to take more than just the former Green Bay Packer to make defenses think twice about putting eight defenders in the box to stop RB Adrian Peterson.
24. Indianapolis Colts – ILB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
The 29th-ranked run defense would welcome Te’o with open arms. Yes, he had a bad game against Alabama. But give him some linemen to keep clean with, and Te’o should return to being the hard-nosed, instinctive play-maker we’re familiar with.
25. Minnesota Vikings – CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
Not only did the Vikings release CB Antoine Winfield, but Minnesota needs more size at the position to defend in their division. The 6’0” Poyer will have a better fighting chance than the 5’9” Chris Cook and the 5’10” Josh Robinson.
26. Green Bay Packers – OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
With QB Aaron Rogers on the verge of becoming the NFL’s highest paid player, it will worth it for the Packers to get him some insurance after the offensive line allowed 51 sacks last year.
27. Houston Texans – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Houston’s passing offense has almost everything: a solid quarterback, a top receiver and a productive tight end. What they lack is a slot receiver that defenses must respect. Austin can be that guy.
28. Denver Broncos – DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
I guarantee you the Broncos will get their selection card in on time. After the fax fiasco that cost them DE Elvis Dumervil, Denver will be happy to find a long term replacement in Montgomery.
29. New England Patriots – DT Kawann Short, Purdue
The Patriots have been in hot pursuit of an inside pass rusher this offseason. They’ve gone as far as Canada in search of such a player. Their search should lead them right to Short.
30. Atlanta Falcons – DE Alex Okafor, Texas
Don’t think the pass rush was taken care of after signing DE Osi Umenyiora. The Falcons can use an upgrade at the other end. Okafor can make an initial contribution as a situational pass rusher before moving up to the starting lineup.
31. San Francisco 49ers – DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
San Francisco has experienced a 2-for-1 loss in free agency, watching NT Issac Sopoaga and DE Ricky Jean-Francois leave while bringing in DE Glenn Dorsey. But will the 49ers stay put or trade up?
32. Baltimore Ravens – ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
The reigning Super Bowl Champions will have a hard time repeating after being picked apart in free agency, and the retirements of ILB Ray Lewis and C Matt Birk haven't made things easier. Minter has some very big shoes to fill, especially if he starts from day one.
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