The 2013 NFL draft is rapidly approaching, meaning there is no finer time to start taking a calculated approach to identifying where the best prospects will wind up on draft day.
We’ve gone through all 32 picks in the first round and done some critical analysis to determine which direction these franchises are likely to go in with the selection.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve come up with.
Note: Highlight players italicized
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
The Chiefs addressed a number of needs this offseason, but still have a huge void to fill at left tackle.
Fortunately, this organization can take care of that by making Joeckel the No.1 overall pick, likely shoring up the position for the next decade—and possibly longer.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
The Jags' line was one of the worst units against the rush and pass in 2012, making a versatile pick like Floyd a must at No. 2 overall in this draft.
He can control the line by drawing numerous blockers and clogging lanes to stuff the run, while also being versatile enough to get into the backfield and disrupt the pass if left in single coverage.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
Oakland’s secondary is a work in progress and the biggest need going into the 2013 campaign.
Fortunately, Milliner should be sitting here at No. 3, offering the Raiders a chance to solve their cornerback woes by bringing in a lockdown defender.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
The Eagles' offensive line has to improve this coming season if this team is going to compete for the NFC East. Fisher has immense potential and is a candidate to be selected No. 1 overall, making this a home run selection for the team.
Philly may have issues at other positions, but none are more critical to the possible success of this franchise than offensive tackle.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
Werner is a complete player that can not only get into the backfield and rush the passer, but also help contain the run by squeezing the edge.
He’s the total package that Detroit needs to bolster its poor overall defense and get back into playoff contention in the upcoming season.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Jordan is the best prospect left on the board and he should fall no further than Cleveland at No. 6.
While the Browns overhauled their pass rush by signing Paul Kruger in free agency, you can never have enough players with this versatile Oregon star’s athleticism and explosiveness along the D-line or in the linebacking corps.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Warmack is a freak of nature who will boost the atrocious Cardinals O-line into something closer to respectable.
He is one of the best run-blocking prospects we’ve seen in years and is more than capable of holding his own on passing downs, giving Carson Palmer a chance at making a play before the pressure gets there.
While Arizona didn't take a huge risk on Palmer, it does need to protect the investment, as he could become the veteran leader this team needs to return to prominence.
Warmack will also completely overhaul the running game and aid Rashard Mendenhall in his quest to live up to his immense potential.
The Cardinals are a team that could go many different directions at No. 7, but they would be downright foolish to pass on a sure thing like Warmack.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
The Bills continue to add quarterbacks this offseason, hoping to find a solution under center after releasing Ryan Fitzpatrick.
It would be wise of this franchise to nab the best signal-caller in the class here for his upside and potential, although there is a chance it could explore trading back in order to pick Smith.
Buffalo inked Kevin Kolb to a two-year deal worth up to $13 million, but he's clearly not a long-term solution in this league. Smith has a much higher ceiling and could be the quarterback of the future for this organization.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Ansah is the high-upside, productive pass-rusher the Jets direly need to add this offseason.
If Gang Green is going to return to respectability, it must add an elite prospect like Ziggy to put pressure on the QB and help stuff the run before it gets going.
10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Rhodes is a perfect cornerback in the modern NFL. He is lengthy, athletic and more than capable of making a play on the ball.
The Titans struggled to defend against the pass last season, making an elite CB like Rhodes a no-brainer here at No. 10.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
The Chargers aren’t going to contend in the AFC West if they aren’t able to keep QB Philip Rivers upright.
Johnson is one of the most athletic and agile left tackle prospects in this class and he’ll immediately be able to step in and keep the pressure off Rivers, allowing the signal-caller time to make plays and put points on the board.
12. Miami Dolphins: Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
With the acquisition of Mike Wallace, Miami got its playmaker on the offensive end of the ball. They also addressed a mediocre secondary by signing Brent Grimes in free agency.
Now the organization must continue focusing its attention on defending the pass, as there is still plenty of room to improve in that area. Trufant is a quality talent that would be able to compete for a starting job from Day 1.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
The Bucs were one of the best teams against the run in 2012, but couldn’t get much done against the pass.
Lotulelei’s presence would assure this squad remains competent defending the ground game, while also adding a player that can find his way into the backfield and create disruptions and generate sacks on the QB.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
Carolina needs to bolster its secondary and has an opportunity to do so by taking Vaccaro, the top safety in this class, at No. 14
He’s an opportunistic playmaker that is great in coverage and run support, while making sure to not concede any home run plays to the opposition.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
The Saints’ historically bad defense will get a much-needed pass-rusher if the team tabs Mingo in the middle of the first round.
He’s an athletic freak capable of getting into the backfield with ease and will only improve as he gains more experience on the football field.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
The Rams could be a dark horse contender in 2013 if they are able to find an elite No. 1 WR prospect with one of their two picks in this draft.
Patterson has the most upside and is already NFL-ready with his speed and hands. Once he learns to create separation and run crisper routes, he could become a star.
St. Louis is in a strange position between contending with the Niners and Seahawks for the NFC West crown and bottoming out with the Cardinals. The Rams aren't good enough for the former, but not bad enough for the latter.
We expect Patterson edges them much further towards the contending scenario and has St. Louis fighting for a postseason berth in 2013.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
The Steelers' once loaded linebacking corps has been greatly hindered by attrition and age over the past few years.
Longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau deserves a chance to cultivate another star for the Pittsburgh defense and Jones looks to be that guy.
He’s able to get into the backfield and all over the field to defend against the pass and run, while displaying numerous leadership qualities that could make him an instrumental part of the Steelers' D in short order.
Jones should be able to start right away for this organization and might be a huge favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year—an honor that often goes to a prolific first-year linebacker.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
The Cowboys need to upgrade the O-line if they are going to have a chance to nab the tightly contested NFC East crown in 2013.
This team was one of the worst rushing squads in football last year and QB Tony Romo needs more time to throw if he’s going to live up his massive extension.
19. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
Speaking of teams that have gotten away from their identity, the G-Men’s defensive line—a unit that led this franchise to two Super Bowls in five years—took a huge step backwards in 2012.
Big Blue can get things back on track by nabbing Richardson, a versatile run-stuffer that is also skilled enough to sneak into the backfield and harass the opposing signal-caller.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
Chicago addressed its patchwork offensive line via free agency, freeing this squad up to take a shot on securing an elite linebacker to replace Brian Urlacher.
Ogletree is an athletic freak that can quickly move sideline to sideline and projects to be one of the better run-stuffers and coverage LBs in this class.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
The Bengals need to improve the secondary by adding a playmaker who can defend against the pass well.
Elam is their guy, even if he’s not exactly a value at No. 21.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)
Brown is an athletic talent that would greatly bolster the Rams' linebacking corps.
This unit gave up plenty of yards on the ground last year and needs to add players that can help address the problem. The K-State standout could turn this group from poor into respectable during his rookie season.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
After trading Percy Harvin to Seattle, the Vikings have to add an elite wideout in this draft.
In 2012, superstar RB Adrian Peterson faced stacked boxes and QB Christian Ponder struggled to develop into a consistent threat—and that was with a dynamic WR like Harvin in the lineup.
Austin is a speed demon that can get open and stretch defenses, making him a natural fit for the void Harvin left.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
The Colts need to find a complete player that can rush the passer and defend the run. There’s no sure thing available here, so they’ll gamble on a high-upside talent like Moore.
On tape, this young man can do it all, but it remains questionable if he can continue to succeed at the next level.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA): Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
The Vikings need to add a defensive lineman to help control the line of scrimmage and tie up blockers to allow the pass-rushers freedom to work.
Short is ideal at this and can even get into the backfield himself.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
Williams is a big defensive tackle that will command a double-team on practically every snap.
He’s going to be able to stuff the run and greatly improve the effectiveness of the Packers' pass-rushers.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Clemson)
The Texans' passing game relies too much on Andre Johnson, meaning this front office would be smart to nab a great receiving prospect like Hopkins.
Even if he never develops into more than a No. 2, Hopkins will help keep this offense balanced and unpredictable.
28. Denver Broncos: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
After the release of Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos need to find a suitable replacement.
Okafor could be their guy, as he’s a top-notch pass-rusher that will be able to play situational downs during his rookie year.
29. New England Patriots: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
The Pats' window is closing with Tom Brady under center, meaning the team has to add an elite receiving threat if they are going to win their first Super Bowl since 2004.
Allen is the best on the board and could quickly develop into one of Brady’s favorite targets this season.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)
The Falcons' offense is strong enough to win a Super Bowl, but the defense is holding the team back.
If they can add a mean defender with a ton of athleticism and upside like Williams along the D-line, that line of thought could quickly change.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Cyprien, Safety (Florida International)
Cyprien is a playmaker, pure and simple.
He has a good frame, knack for being around the ball and overall tackling ability that this Super Bowl runner-up needs to return to the big game.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, LB (Notre Dame)
Te’o may not be the player that Ray Lewis was, but he’s going to help ease the loss of the superstar linebacker.
There is no better player to install in the middle of Baltimore’s defense available here at No. 32, making the Notre Dame star an obvious choice.