The 2013 NFL draft is now just three weeks away and counting. The festivities get kicked off on April 25 from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. With free agency winding down, teams are now putting the finishing touches on their draft boards.
Upcoming private pre-draft visits may force teams to make a few changes, but for the most part, organizations know who they will be targeting on Days 1, 2 and 3.
With just under a month to go, let's take a look at 50 draft-day predictions that may very well ring true.
With Randy Moss departing and Mario Manningham slow to recover from his late-season ACL injury, the 49ers are still looking for help at wideout. Even though Tavon Austin may be the first wide receiver off the board in April, the San Francisco 49ers have what it takes to trade up and add another weapon to Colin Kaepernick's arsenal.
The word on the street is, Austin is getting plenty of pre-draft love from Jim Harbaugh and Co. The Niners have yet to find a player who can man the slot on a consistent basis, so Austin may end up being their guy. It would cost a lot to up and get him, but his playmaking ability would pay immediate dividends in Greg Roman's offense.
Chance Warmack has to be the pick at No. 7. Sure, the Arizona Cardinals have a pressing need at left tackle, but they also have a pressing need at offensive guard. And there is no better guard in this year's draft class than Warmack.
An interior presence on the offensive line is just as important as an edge presence. Strong offensive lines are not predicated on a franchise left tackle only—most have strong interior presences as well. A fine example of that is the San Francisco 49ers.
There are two top-flight tight ends in this year's draft class. The first is Tyler Eifert of Nortre Dame, and the second is Zach Ertz of Stanford. Neither player is worthy of a top-20 pick, so don't be alarmed when neither player is drafted until the second round.
In all likeliness, Eifert will be the top tight end off the board and Ertz will follow. Both players are drawing interest from the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers.
Prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, talent evaluators believed Star Lotulelei had the potential to be the No. 1 pick overall. But after a heart condition was discovered at the combine, teams either removed or lowered Lotulelei on their draft boards.
He won't fall as far as Jarvis Jones will, but his fall will be significant enough for him to land outside the top 10. Yet he won't fall out of the top 15, the Carolina Panthers will jump all over him with the 14th pick. They need interior defensive line help in the worst way.
When the Buffalo Bills are on the clock with the eighth pick, they will have first dibs on this year's weak quarterback class. Geno Smith won't land anywhere before the Bills make their firs selection, so it appears Doug Marrone will be passing over his collegiate quarterback for the only great signal-caller in the 2013 draft.
Smith has the mental and physical ability to come in day one and start for Marrone. He shouldn't have any problems beating out Tarvaris Jackson or Kevin Kolb.
Much like this year's tight end class, there isn't a running back who will be selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. Eddie Lacy is the only back who has first-round talent, but with the position being undervalued, teams will try and draft him on their way back around in Round 2.
Teams like the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and the St. Louis Rams will all be taking a long, hard look at Lacy.
Even though this year's safety class has extreme depth, that doesn't mean a team inside the top 15 should make a play for the the classes top player at that position. Former Texas Longhorn Kenny Vaccaro belongs in that 20-32 range, which is exactly where the Cincinnati Bengals will draft him.
The Bengals need a safety, and Vacarro's skill set would be well utilized in Cincinnati.
There was some early chatter that cornerback Dee Milliner may end up being a top-three pick because of the weak quarterback class. But that talk has since cooled and the Cleveland Browns appear to be the front-runner for his services.
Cleveland is in dire need of a cornerback opposite of Joe Haden, so the Milliner pick just makes too much sense for it not to happen. Not only will he fill a position of need, but he will easily be the best player available.
Jarvis Jones' medical red flags have been well documented. He has spinal stenosis, a fairly serious condition that affects many football players. The injury is viewed by some as so serious that he has been completely removed from certain teams' draft boards.
Prior to this red flag, Jones was viewed as the best player in this year's draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers will be a team that is extremely happy he fell out of the top 15.
The Vikings did the right thing by shipping the disgruntled Percy Harvin to Seattle. In all likelihood, he would have hit the free-agent market and not even taken the time to think about staying in Minnesota. So hats off to the organization for looting the Seahawks in the process.
With the extra first-round pick they acquired from Seattle, Rick Spielman will look to fill Harvin's spot with another dynamic playmaker. Two names that jump off my tongue are Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins. Both players have big-play potential, but Allen's game most resembles that of Harvin's.
Barrett Jones is viewed as the Swiss Army knife of offensive linemen. He played offensive tackle, offensive guard and center at the collegiate level. Unfortunately for him, he is viewed solely as a center by talent evaluators.
Which means he will head this year's weak center class. Even though Jones may have the talent to go in the first round, every team knows it can draft him on Day 2. Without a doubt, he will be the first center taken in the draft, yet it won't come until the third round.
The quarterback class is weak this year, and everyone knows it. It isn't like the class of 2012, which is why there will only be one first-round quarterback this year. Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib both have the potential to be very good, but not great.
The only quarterback who has the potential to be great is West Virginia's finest, Geno Smith.
With many defensive line prospects continuously shooting up draft boards, there is one player who is on a downward spiral. Damontre Moore's draft stock has reportedly taken a huge hit because he didn't interview well or test well at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt.
After poor testing and a poor interview, Moore could end up being a late second-round pick or an early third-round pick.
Picking up Carson Palmer for basically a ham sandwich has to be considered a short-term win for the Arizona Cardinals. But much like the Oakland Raiders, they shouldn't settle on an aging veteran quarterback. They should be doing their homework on potential fits in this year's draft class.
Outside of Mike Glennon, I have hard time finding a fit for Bruce Arians' vertical passing attack. So the Cards should consider drafting the 6'7" 220-pound senior quarterback out of North Carolina State. Let Glennon sit a year and learn behind the former No. 1 overall pick.
Whether it's in Minnesota or Chicago, Manti Te'o will be the starting middle linebacker for one of those two teams. Both teams would use a second-round pick on the former golden domer.
The Bears have the 50th pick and the Vikings have the 52nd pick, so Rick Spielman would have to jump Phil Emery if he coveted Te'o that much.
Doesn't it seem like every year the New England Patriots are put in a position to draft a cornerback in the first round? As of late, Bill Belichick hasn't had the greatest luck when drafting corners early in the draft. Darrius Butler and Terrence Wheatley never made an impact as second-round picks, and the jury is still out on Ras-I Dowling.
He may end up being a fine player one day, he just has to find a way to stay healthy first. The only real luck they've had came in 2010 when they drafted Devin McCourty with the 27th pick. This year the organization may be in luck again if they draft Desmond Trufant at No. 29 overall.
Trufant would fill a big need at either right cornerback or in the slot.
This year's crop of kickers isn't quite the same as it was in last year's draft. There's no Blair Walsh or Greg Zuerlein. The only kicker I see as draft-worthy is Dustin Hopkins from Florida State. Hopkins was 25-of-30 on field-goal attempts in 2012, and his big leg consistently booted balls out of the back of the end zone on Saturdays.
A team like the Detroit Lions should consider themselves fortunate if they are able to land Hopkins. He would be a great replacement for the team's former second-round pick, Jason Hanson.
Defensive tackle, wide receiver and safety all appear to be the deepest position in this year's draft class. Which is why teams like the Vikings, Packers, Colts, Jaguars and Panthers won't have a problem spending a first-round pick on highly-regarded players.
Sure, defensive tackle may not be the sexiest position around, but when a team is trying to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, sexy goes out the window. Based on how the draft falls, this number may easily jump up a notch or two.
There are teams inside the top 10 who need both offensive tackles and offensive guards. For example, the Arizona Cardinals could stand an upgrade at both positions, but guard seems to be the less talented of the two positions in the desert.
If Chance Warmack is drafted at No. 7 overall, it wouldn't surprise me to see Jonathan Cooper get selected three picks later by the Tennessee Titans. Even though they added Andy Levitre at left guard in free agency, Cooper would solidify their hole at right guard.
Even though the Oakland Raiders just acquired Matt Flynn from the Seattle Seahawks, Oakland should still be doing its due diligence on the 2013 quarterback class. All signs point to them passing on Geno Smith with the third pick in this year's draft, so I would expect them to address the issue when they make their second selection at the top of the third round.
Arkansas' Tyler Wilson should definitely be a guy in play at No. 64 overall. He's an accurate passer that saw his draft stock tumble after a nightmare season in 2012. His offensive line crumbled around him and losing Bobby Petrino didn't help either.
It appears LSU's Sam Montgomery may have been a little too honest at the NFL Scouting Combine. He admitted to scouts and front office personal that he was kind of lazy on certain Saturdays. Here's what Montgomery told The Advocate in Baton Rouge: "You know, some weeks when we didn’t have to play the harder teams, there were some times when effort was not needed."
That comment alone may have caused the defensive end to free fall out of the first round.
Despite franchising current left tackle Branden Albert, Kansas City appears to be in the market for another blind-side protector. After cutting Eric Winston, the Chiefs can now decide if they want Albert or Joeckel at right tackle going forward.
To me the best course of action would be just that. Keep Albert for one more year and then slide Joeckel over to left tackle in 2014. Spending a year getting your feet wet on the right side can often help a player develop into a top-notch left tackle.
The hot topic of debate when it comes to Alec Ogletree is whether you leave him at middle linebacker. Many feel he is best suited as a coverage outside linebacker in a 4-3. If that rings true, does Ogletree immediately become the best 4-3 outside backer in the draft?
I say no because of a guy named Arthur Brown. Like Ogletree, it appears as if Brown will be making the switch to outside linebacker in the pros. The former Kansas State Wildcat is an excellent team leader and very good all around athlete. In 2012, he finished his first season at Kansas State with 101 tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss.
By popular demand, draftniks and talent evaluators believe Tyrann Mathieu will have his name called on draft day by the San Francisco 49ers. I can see why they would say this (a plethora of draft picks), but I believe it will actually be the 49ers' biggest rival who ends up drafting the often troubled cornerback.
Mathieu would be a perfect fit for the Seahawks' "bandit" package. If you're unfamiliar with the package, it's a package they deploy in third-down situations. It features three athletic safeties, and the third-safety usually does a lot of blitzing.
Given the deep safety class, the Baltimore Ravens will be able to find Ray Lewis' replacement in Round 1 and Bernard Pollard's replacement in Round 2. If all goes as planned and there isn't a run on safeties in the second round, John Harbaugh should be able to nab D.J. Swearinger with the 62nd pick.
Swearinger is an aggressive, physical run defender that does a good job at the line of scrimmage. His ball skills are a bit inconsistent, but based on everything we know, he won't be asked to cover too many tight ends. They will leave that to the newly acquired Michael Huff.
There are a few mock drafts out there that have the Philadelphia Eagles drafting Geno Smith at No. 4 overall. That scenario would be hard to believe based on their current quarterback situation with Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon.
Based on the Eagles needs, they have more holes on the defensive side of the ball. However, I still believe they will draft a quarterback this year. It just won't be in the first round. If he's available at the top of Round 2, E.J. Manuel will definitely be the pick. He has one of the highest ceilings of any quarterback and seems to fit Chip Kelly's offense the best.
If the Arizona Cardinals pass on offensive tackle Lane Johnson at No. 7, there's no question the Miami Dolphins would be interested in leapfrogging a number of teams for the left tackle's services. Their biggest threat would be the San Diego Chargers who currently own the No. 11 pick.
The jury is still out on Jonathan Martin. Some believe he has what it takes to play left tackle in the NFL, and others believe he is better suited at right tackle. I guess we will find out what general manager Jeff Ireland thinks in less than a month.
Prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, talent evaluators had Barkevious Mingo pegged as a top-10 pick. However, that song and dance has changed quite quickly for numerous reasons. Ultimately leading me to believe Mingo will fall outside of the top 10.
A drop in draft stock is good news for Rob Ryan and the New Orleans Saints. After firing Steve Spagnuolo, the Saints made the switch to Ryan's 3-4 defense. Adding Victor Butler was a nice touch at outside linebacker, but they still need another pass-rusher. And odds are, they won't find a better pass-rusher than Mingo at No. 15 overall.
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese has never been shy about the fact that he loves pass-rushers. After letting Osi Umenyiora walk in free agency, it only seems fitting that Reese will draft another first round pass-rusher in 2013.
Let's not forget Justin Tuck didn't come close to the year he had in 2011, so his time as a member of the G-men might be winding down as well. Tuck will undoubtedly be on the roster in 2013, but after that all bets are off. Which is exactly why the Giants will need to stop Bjoern Werner's free fall and take him with the 19th pick.
Werner has the experience and ability to play from day one. Even if he doesn't start, he could spell Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul when need be.
As I mentioned above, the Houston Texans will be looking to add a playmaker opposite Andre Johnson in Round 1. Choices like Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson will be long gone at No. 27, so it will be up to general manager Rick Smith to find the next best wideout available.
The buzz around the NFL is that Tennessee's other wide receiver, Justin Hunter, is drawing plenty of first-round interest, much like Patterson. Hunter's size and reliable hands would be the perfect complement to Johnson.
Moreover, Hunter has experience at the X and Z receiver positions, so he could fill in anywhere on the field if need be.
After impressing scouts for all-32 NFL teams at his pro day, Marcus Lattimore has seen a nice bump in his draft stock. With 22 days to go before the draft, Lattimore's projected draft position has now settled into the mid-third-round range.
Yet not every team may be willing to bite on the often-injured running back that early. There are major concerns in regards to his knees, and some teams feel like he may never be the same player he once was.
However, a team like the San Francisco 49ers may be willing to take a shot on a guy like Lattimore because they have the ability too. Plus, they wouldn't need him to be an immediate contributor and could ultimately stash him on injured reserve for a year while he continues to heal.
It is believed that Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans will be looking to add offensive playmakers in back-to-back rounds. Based on the notion of them adding a wide receiver in round 1, they will most likely target a tight end in Round 2.
In all likelihood, this year's draft won't see a tight end taken in Round 1. Which means Houston would have the possibility of either drafting Tyler Eifert, or Zach Ertz in Round 2. All signs point to Eifert being the first tight end off the board, so the Texans would seemingly do whatever it took to snag Ertz before the 49ers could.
Houston loves to use multiple tight end sets, and Ertz's has the skill set to eventually take over for Owen Daniels when that time comes.
With Breno Giacomini entering the final year of his deal, it would be wise of John Schneider and Pete Carroll to find his eventual successor. Despite not having a first-round pick, Seattle should be able to find a top-notch right tackle towards the end of Round 2.
A few names that immediately come to mind are Terron Armstead and Kyle Long. Bother players are strong, fast and oozing with potential. Depending on what happens with the San Diego Chargers at No. 45, the Seahawks may have the opportunity to pick the player of their choosing with the 56th pick.
If the Kansas City Chiefs select Luke Joeckel with the first pick in this year's draft, the No. 2 pick becomes a no-brainer for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd would play the three-technique in Gus Bradley's defense, much like Alan Branch did for the Seattle Seahawks.
Floyd is viewed as a player who has exceptional pass-rushing skills for a man of his size. He's quick off the ball and can shoot gaps better than any defensive tackle in this year's draft class. Jacksonville needs a defensive lineman who will be in the offensive backfield more often than not.
Replacing the legendary Ray Lewis seems like a daunting task in all reality, but someone has to do it. It's doubtful that any player will play middle linebacker the way Lewis did for so many years, yet there's no better time than now to try and replace him.
With Manti Te'o proving he is not worthy of a first-round pick, Kevin Minter becomes the Baltimore Ravens' best bet at No. 32. Even though Minter had a disappointing 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine, he plays fast on tape and is physical at the point of attack. Not to mention it seems like he is always around the ball making tackles.
After signing Tony Romo to a ridiculous contract extension, the Dallas Cowboys made it clear who their quarterback of the future will be. Yet Jerry Jones will need to make a real effort at investing in the offensive line if he wants to see Romo play out the entirety of his contract.
The $108 million man was sacked 34 times last year, so the Cowboys will be looking to draft the best offensive lineman available with the 18th pick. Depending on the way the draft falls, it could either be Chance Warmack or D.J. Fluker donning Dallas' historic blue star in 2013.
If Chip Kelly passes on Dion Jordan at No. 4 overall, expect Rex Ryan and the New York Jets to run to the podium. After wiping out their line backing crew during the offseason, the Jets are in desperate need of viable pass-rushing options going forward.
Not only can Jordan rush the passer, but he can drop into coverage and cover the tight end. Leading up to the draft, he has drawn comparisons to Aldon Smith and Von Miller. I wouldn't quite put him in that category quite yet, but if he can become a similar player, Ryan's defense may again become of the league's top units.
The beauty of Datone Jones is the fact he is not a scheme specific player. He is viewed as someone who can play defensive end in both the 3-4 and the 4-3. In Green Bay he would be used on the Packers three-man defensive line.
Even though he is a bit undersized, Jones has excellent potential. It seems like he has the ability to keep adding size to his frame. He would most likely take over for Ryan Pickett given his age and him being in the final year of his contract. If Jones continues to work on his strength, he could be a 10-year starter for Ted Thompson's Green Bay Packers.
Cutting James Harrison may have been the Steelers' best offseason move. They can now turn their attention to a younger, cheaper pass-rushing option on draft day. Jarvis Jones' medical red flags will definitely cause him to fall out of the top 15 on April 25.
Which in turn will be music to the ears of head coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers front office. At No. 17, Jones will be the best player available and he will fill an immediate need. One could easily see the former Georgia Bulldog pile up sacks in Dick LeBeau's pressure defense.
Despite running drills with the wide receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine, Denard Robinson's best shot at making a name for himself in the NFL will be at running back. He's not a natural pass-catcher and he doesn't appear to be the best of route-runners, yet teams will find a way to get him the ball in space.
He's an electric playmaker who possesses good vision and cutback ability. A team who is in need of an athlete that puts pressure on a defense will snatch Robinson up. I could see the Falcons, Giants and Jaguars all using Robinson as a multi-threat athlete out of the backfield.
Ever since the NFL Scouting Combine, the stock of quarterback Matt Scott has gone through the roof. Multiple teams, including the Browns, Jaguars and the Bills have reportedly shown pre-draft interest in the dual-threat quarterback.
As a senior, Scott finished with 3,620 yards passing with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. There is definitely some talent in his game, yet he may not ever be more than a career backup. A steep price to pay for a top-75 player in my opinion.
Letting Elvis Dumervil get away because of the whole contract fiasco may be a blessing in disguise. Despite the fact Denver will take a cap hit in 2013, it may end up getting a better long-term replacement at right defensive end.
Dumervil is 29 years old, so it would have only been a matter of time before the Broncos were looking for his potential replacement anyways. A few names John Elway and the rest of the front office could target during the draft are Damontre Moore, Datone Jones and Tank Carradine. All three players would be a nice addition to Jack Del Rio's defensive line.
Washington doesn't have a first-round pick in this year's draft because of the Robert Griffin III trade. Yet that shouldn't stop the Redskins from selecting the best defensive back available with the 51st pick. They are thin at both safety and cornerback, so expect one of those two positions to be the Redskins' first pick.
A deep safety class will allow the organization to take one of the best safetys out there at the end of Round 2. Matt Elam is the playmaker Jim Haslett's defense has been missing since he took over in 2010. He arguably has more range and better ball instincts than any other safety in this year's class.
With 12 picks total, this prediction is an absolute no-brainer. San Francisco will be in a position to move and wiggle anywhere they please. If they felt it was necessary, they could move up for a guy like Kenny Vaccaro or Tavon Austin in the first round.
Not to to mention the 49ers could also move up in the middle rounds and snag a running back like Marcus Lattimore or a cornerback like Tyrann Mathieu. The options really are endless, so it will be important for the 49ers to pick up as much quality talent as they can by trading up. Because we all know, 12 selections aren't making the opening day roster.
At this point it's practically a foregone conclusion that Alabama running back Eddie Lacy will be the first running back off the board come draft day. However, things get awfully murky after him. Teams will most likely be targeting a player who best fits their offensive system since there is no clear-cut No. 2 back.
Johnathan Franklin of UCLA is quite possibly the most well-rounded back in the draft because of his rushing ability, pass-catching ability and his blitz pick up in pass-protection. Look for a team like the New York Jets or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to target the 1,700-yard rusher on Day 2 of the NFL draft.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is due $7.5 million in 2013, so it would be wise of the Minnesota Vikings to draft his potential replacement with the 23rd pick. At 32 years old, Williams isn't getting any younger and his play no longer merits such a fat payday.
Enter Slyvester Williams, Minnesota's best option when it comes to replacing the six-time Pro Bowler. Some mocks have him going as high as No. 18 to the Dallas Cowboys, but I have a hard time believing the Cowboys will pass on an offensive lineman there.
Right now Williams is at his best when he's rushing the quarterback. But with proper coaching, he could develop into a well-suited all around player.
Every year there are more than a few players who have the potential to not pan out. It usually ends up being one of the combine's top workout warriors, or a one-year wonder who came on strong during the final year of his collegiate career.
This year's highest bust potential belongs to Margus Hunt from SMU. He will definitely be one of the strongest players on Sunday's in the NFL, but he won't be able rely solely on his athleticism to win one-on-one matchups. If he isn't drafted by the right team, it would be wise to expect Hunt to fail.
A team like the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens could do wonders with a guy like Hunt because of the coaching staff's creativity.
The punting and kicking class isn't as strong as it was in 2012, but that doesn't mean there isn't some talent to be had. Ryan Allen from Louisiana Tech will easily be the first punter off the board in this year's draft. He averaged 48 yards a punt in 2012 and led the nation with 22 punts downed inside the 10-yard line.
Allen could be an option for the Oakland Raiders after they lost out on Shane Lechler to the Houston Texans.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert instills confidence in just about no one. His first two years in the league have been an absolute train wreck to say the least. With a new sheriff in town, look for the Jaguars to explore every avenue possible when it comes to fixing the quarterback position.
Chad Henne doesn't have what it takes to challenge Gabbert for the starting job. Which is why David Caldwell and Gus Bradley need to pull the trigger and draft Matt Barkley at the top of the second round. Barkley is a guy who could easily overthrow the former first-round pick and give the Jaguars a legitimate shot at winning more than two games.
Offensive tackle Terron Armstead was a bit of an unknown name prior to the NFL Scouting Combine. Yet all that changed as soon as he blazed a trail by running a 4.71 second 40-yard dash. It's also worth mentioning teams took interest in him after he bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times and broad jumped 112 inches.
Look for Armstead to get selected in the middle of Round 2. The San Diego Chargers are a team that should definitely take a look as they need someone to protect Philip Rivers' blind side.