Free agency has helped put teams' NFL draft needs into perspective.
Defensive tackles appear to be a strength of the draft, but quarterbacks aren't as highly thought of. Will we see more than one taken in the first round?
It's hard to tell, but my prediction is that Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib and Mike Glennon will have to wait until the second or third round to hear their name called.
They shouldn't feel too bad about that, though.
One look at Russell Wilson's 2012 season should tell them they can still make an impact in their rookie year, even if they aren't drafted in the first round.
This mock draft spotlights players that will hit it big if they are drafted in the spots listed below.
(The players who are spotlighted will feature an image and italics.)
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M
No matter how much posturing is done with organized workouts, it still doesn’t make much sense for the Chiefs to draft anyone but Joeckel.
He will be the No. 1 pick.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
With the Jaguars likely adopting a strong defensive approach from their new head coach Gus Bradley, a stud pass-rusher like Jordan makes the most sense. If he pans out, he will be a star.
3. Oakland Raiders - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Raiders need a presence at DT and a difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball.
With Lotulelei receiving doctor's clearance to play in the NFL after a heart concern, per Joe Schad of ESPN, he should fly back up draft boards.
Before the health scare, many had Lotulelei as possible No. 1 overall pick. Look for him to be one of the biggest stories of the 2013 season.
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Eric Fisher, LT, Central Michigan
Fisher is a great pick for the Eagles here.
He has the ability to play more than one spot on the O-line, which will allow him to start in the event Jason Peters is healthy for the season.
If Peters isn't active, Fisher could step right in and play left tackle.
5. Detroit Lions - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
As cover corners go, Milliner is the best in the draft. The Lions secondary could use a playmaker, and Milliner qualifies.
How would you rate this QB class (Smith, Barkley, Nassib, Glennon)?
6. Cleveland Browns - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Some may consider this a stretch, but Trufant's speed and ball skills are a better match for what the Browns like to do on defense. They could trade down and still get him, but I'll keep him here for now.
7. Arizona Cardinals - Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma
With Carson Palmer in town, per Mike Garafolo of USA Today, the Cards can put off their need for a quarterback to the later rounds.
Instead, they can draft a physical specimen like Johnson to protect Palmer now and the QB of the future later.
8. Buffalo Bills - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Palmer trade (ESPN) should put Smith on a platter to the Bills, unless someone leap frogs them with a trade. Buffalo needs a franchise QB, and Smith is still tops in that regard.
He has an excellent opportunity to start from Day 1, and with new head coach Doug Marrone regarded as a quarterback guru, Smith's first year will be guided by a capable leader.
The Bills won't make the playoffs, but Smith will shine if he's drafted here.
9. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
No defensive player would be in a better position to shine in this rookie class than Mingo. He is a prototypical 3-4 OLB, and playing for Rex Ryan would put him in a scheme that is perfect for him.
His play could help save Ryan's job. The Jets must get pressure on the quarterback to be successful, and Mingo could help bring that back to Gang Green's attack.
10. Tennessee Titans - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
With a defense ranked 27th in the NFL, it's clear where the Titans need to concentrate their draft focus.
Floyd is a difference-maker on the line of scrimmage who could be an impact player for Tennessee.
11. San Diego Chargers - D.J. Fluker, LT, Alabama
Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times in 2012, which should lead to the Bolts drafting an offensive lineman. This team has to protect the quarterback better in 2013.
12. Miami Dolphins - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Dolphins lost Sean Smith in free agency to the Chiefs, per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. They need to replace him at cornerback, and Rhodes' size and physicality make him a smart choice.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Bucs pass defense was 32nd in the NFL in 2012. They could go for a corner here, but instead I think they tab Werner as a potentially dominant pass-rusher.
14. Carolina Panthers - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Richardson has as much upside as any defensive player in the draft. The Panthers already have an ultra-talented linebacking corps, and adding Richardson could make them even stronger in the middle.
His versatility allows him to move inside and out, but his character has been questioned in the past, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.
If he stays focused, he could wreak havoc as a rookie.
15. New Orleans Saints - Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
Jones’ stock has fallen a bit, but he still has tremendous potential as a pass-rusher. That skill is something the Saints desperately need.
16. St. Louis Rams - Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
I love Warmack, and he’s a perfect fit for a Jeff Fisher team. He’s big and physical, and most of all he’s a locker room leader.
If you ask me which player will play in the most Pro Bowls from this draft class, I’d probably say Warmack. He would be an instant upgrade to the Rams' O-line and culture from the moment he arrives.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Steelers need a new anchor for their defensive line, and Jenkins is a good fit. He has the size and strength to play the position Casey Hampton manned for more than a decade.
18. Dallas Cowboys - Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
With two Cowboys guards going under the knife this offseason, per Calvin Watkins of ESPN, Dallas needs to ensure depth at the position.
This team needs to solidify the running game, and that starts on the inside.
19. New York Giants - Matt Elam, FS, Florida
The Giants have clear needs at safety, and Elam’s hard-hitting style would likely make him an immediate starter. This kid packs a wallop, and if he doesn’t curtail his style a bit, he could find himself fined heavily.
20. Chicago Bears - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Which linebacker will have the greatest impact as a rookie?
This is the most logical pick for the Bears. Brian Urlacher will not be back, per Andrew Seligman (h/t Yahoo! Sports), and the Bears have addressed the offensive line through free agency. It is time for the next era at middle linebacker to begin.
Ogletree has off-the-charts athleticism, excellent size and a mean streak.
He’d be fortunate to step into a situation with a team that already has four or five Pro-Bowl caliber players on the unit.
Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Henry Melton, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings would make things easier for anyone.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The only thing the Bengals offense is missing is a playmaker at running back. Drafting Lacy here would resolve that issue.
22. St. Louis Rams - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Vaccaro is a smart and hard-hitting safety who would make the Rams’ first-round selections look even better. It should be no secret; I love the direction this team is headed.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikes still need a big receiver to make their attack complete with Adrian Peterson out of the backfield. Patterson would be a great complement to what they already have.
24. Indianapolis Colts - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Jones’ versatility would fit in well with the Colts’ 3-4 scheme. He’s a relative new name to the first-round discussion, but he could be a sleeper because of his pass-rushing ability.
25. Minnesota Vikings - Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Besides receiver, another of the Vikings' areas of need is the secondary. Banks isn’t as fast as Milliner or Trufant, but he’s physical and shows good ball skills.
26. Green Bay Packers - Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Aaron Rodgers’ 2012 season was impressive, but it was downright remarkable if you consider the fact that he got sacked 48 times. The Packers could take Watson to ensure Rodgers doesn’t have to run for his life this season.
27. Houston Texans - Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Inside linebacker depth is an issue for the Texans, and this was apparent in 2012 when Brian Cushing went down. Minter is a player who could start or play alongside Cushing on the inside.
28. Denver Broncos - Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
This is a matter of taking the best player available. Short projects as an interior defensive lineman who draws bodies and snuffs out the inside running game.
29. New England Patriots - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Patriots can’t be too comfortable with the prospect of Danny Amendola staying healthy for an entire season.
Even if he does, it is hard to ignore how much of a weapon Austin could be in the Patriots offense.
Furthermore, the impact he could make as a return man is even more inviting. The league should hope—or make sure—he doesn’t fall into Tom Brady’s hands.
30. Atlanta Falcons - Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Atlanta had just 29 sacks in 2012, and its best pass-rusher, John Abraham, is 34 years old. The Falcons need to bring in a player who can make a difference in this regard.
31. San Francisco 49ers - Eric Reid, FS, LSU
The Niners need to address the free safety position. Reid has been a valuable leader on strong college defenses for the past three years.
Even if he isn’t ready to start from Day 1, he would supply depth early and almost certainly become the long-term starting option.
32. Baltimore Ravens - Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Winning the Super Bowl often results in drafting the best player available. Let us not forgot how good Te’o looked for most of his collegiate career.
If the Ravens take him, he’ll be starting by Week 5.
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