Stocks are gaining intrigue as the 2013 NFL draft approaches, because where a player ends up does have a significant impact on the immediate future.
It's a two-way street, because one team may or may not fit better for a specific prospect than another. Along with team needs, the overall personnel and development will determine a franchise's success as Round 1 is a colossal investment.
Certainly some players are a greater risk as opposed to others, but nothing is given or guaranteed in pro football. That's also why we've seen late-rounders make a stronger impact as rookies, most notably Florida Atlantic's Alfred Morris for the Washington Redskins last season.
So, what will your team do in the first round?
Let's check it out.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
Kansas City's strength resides on the ground, and slamming with Jamaal Charles gets inflated with Luke Joeckel. His impact in the trenches also creates a better play-action, which gives impressive balance to the Chiefs offense.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
According to Joe Schad of ESPN.com, Star Lotulelei got cleared:
The NFL has been told "it is safe" for Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei "to participate in professional athletics without restrictions," according to a letter provided to teams that was written by Dr. Josef Stehlik of University of Utah Cardiology.
Well, this significantly enhances his draft stock, and Jacksonville is in dire need of an improved defensive line. Providing the athleticism to contribute anywhere up front, Lotulelei's impact takes the Jaguars in a positive direction.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
The Raiders won't challenge anyone in 2013 without an upgraded pass defense. Dee Milliner possesses the talent to immediately take over half the field, not to mention get physical at the line and help vs. the run. In short, his ability to isolate one-on-one takes pressure off the rest of the secondary.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
Philadelphia's immediate future regarding postseason contention lies with Eric Fisher. He's a stellar pass-blocker and the Eagles need to cut down their turnovers. Given the NFC East's pass-rushing depth, and Fisher's ability to wall the edge allows Philly to move with balance and efficiency.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
The Lions have the offense to enter the NFC's playoff picture. It's the defense that must step up. Adding Bjoern Werner simply helps present a better run defense and assist Ndamukong Suh in the front seven. An effect of Werner's contributions also complements the secondary to lock down better in coverage.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Cleveland trading back instead of reaching for a cornerback is certainly a good idea. But electing to snag Dion Jordan gives an enormous boost to an improving front seven.
Earlier in free agency the Browns brought in Paul Kruger as reported by Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Clearly, his addition amplifies Cleveland's pass rush, but pairing Kruger and Jordan together is a nightmare for quarterbacks.
Jordan accounted for 23.5 tackles for loss the past two years, as well as 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Last season, Cleveland did record 38 sacks; however, the pass rush was not dominantly consistent and as a result, the pass defense allowed a 63 completion percentage and 27 passing touchdowns.
Rushing Jordan and Kruger allows the cornerbacks to mix coverage between press and bailing at the snap. In turn, the Browns improve their turnover ratio and win the field-position battle.
Backed by a developing offense, Cleveland is headed in the right direction.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
The Cardinals won't flirt with January unless the offensive line receives an upgrade. Fortunately, this draft is loaded with an abundance of talent in the trenches. Chance Warmack is the best option at No. 7 overall, because his complete repertoire establishes a better ground attack and sets up a reliable pocket for the quarterback.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
The Bills' future at the helm sits with Geno Smith. Already supplied with a strong running game in C.J. Spiller, Smith develops nicely off play action to spread the field. This then gives more balance to Buffalo and forces a defense to honor the pass instead of constantly stacking the box vs. Spiller.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
The Jets ranked No. 2 in pass defense last season, so just imagine their potential with a better front seven. Ezekiel Ansah's impact will bolster the run defense and give New York additional quarterback pressure. Ultimately, the coverage finds more turnover opportunities and Gang Green's offense sees better field position.
10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Tennessee's lackluster pass defense cost it quite often last season. Therefore, opting for Xavier Rhodes shields one half of the secondary to enhance the coverage. His size and quickness bodes well in man-to-man, and Rhodes' knack for helping against the run benefits the front seven.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
Philip Rivers simply needs more dependable pass protection. Lane Johnson offers this from the start, because of his incredible body control to maintain balance. Include this athleticism when run-blocking, and San Diego features excellent ball control to keep opponents honest.
12. Miami Dolphins: Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
Miami addressed the coverage with Brent Grimes in free agency, according to Mike Garafolo of the USA Today. Still, bringing in talented depth with Desmond Trufant connects another piece of the puzzle for the Dolphins. His field awareness and playmaking skills alone will pay quick dividends in a pass-oriented league.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
Tampa Bay ranked No. 1 in rush defense last season, but that number is quite deceiving. For one, the Buccaneers compete in the pass-happy NFC South against offenses such as New Orleans and Atlanta.
Secondly, Tampa only defended 377 rushing attempts throughout all of 2012. That ranked No. 3 for least number of rushes attempted against the Bucs. By the same token, the Buccaneers still gave up 13 rushing touchdowns and managed a mere 27 sacks.
On the bright side, the pass defense was addressed with safety Dashon Goldson (via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com) in free agency. Needing to complement the improved coverage, Tampa selects Sharrif Floyd at No. 13 overall.
And yes, he's definitely a gem at this position because of holding top prospective talent. Factor in the depth along the defensive front this draft, though, and there will be stellar athletes that fall. As for Floyd, his 19.5 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries between 2011 and 2012 help the Bucs control more up front.
The pass rush then seeps into the backfield more consistently and additional turnovers are forced.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
Given the high-powered attacks that exist within the NFC South, Carolina's best option to counterbalance that is with Kenny Vaccaro. The Panthers need to generate more turnovers, and Vaccaro's contributions will benefit the pass rush and put opponents into tougher third-down situations.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
The Saints can draft anywhere on defense and it will be an improvement. Going for Barkevious Mingo, however, gives more discipline against the run and a pass rush when needed. His burst at the snap and quick feet control the edge, which in turn, puts New Orleans into more favorable spots on second and third down.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
As an explosive and versatile playmaker, Cordarrelle Patterson makes St. Louis a tougher playoff contender. The NFC West has quickly turned into one of pro football's strongest divisions, and presenting a dynamic route-running receiver is to the Rams' advantage.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
Pittsburgh's absence from the postseason was due to a lack of forced turnovers. Ironically, logging sacks and forcing fumbles are the specialties of Jarvis Jones. His knack for quarterback pressure will either create fumbles or ill-advised throws, which gives the offense more possessions in better field position.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
Not only does Tony Romo need help with pass protection, but Dallas must establish a more punishing ground game. Jonathan Cooper brings each to the Cowboys courtesy of excellent agility and balance to redirect. His impact will bash defenders up front and set up a nice pocket for Romo to survey the coverage.
19. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
The Giants have brought in two defensive linemen—Cullen Jenkins (via NFL.com's Kimberly Jones) and Mike Patterson (per Mike Garafolo)—in free agency. That said, Big Blue still needs talented depth up front and Sheldon Richardson is just the answer. Possessing a strong nose for menacing the backfield, Richardson's capabilities at eating blocks and creating quarterback pressure complements New York's entire front wall.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
Despite the acquisition of D.J. Williams in free agency as reported by Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com, Chicago has to get another 'backer to shell in coverage and stop the run. Alec Ogletree offers these services with supreme athleticism. He'll fill lanes from the snap and possesses the quickness to isolate slot receivers, tight ends and running backs one-on-one.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
Cincinnati remains a solid AFC contender, but has to spruce up the coverage. Matt Elam's wherewithal for rolling down to the intermediate level, for one, allows the linebackers to attack more up front. Elam also brings the awareness to react accordingly in Cover 1 and 2.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)
Arthur Brown completes the front seven for St. Louis. The Rams need more reliable coverage at the intermediate level, not to mention a 'backer capable of quickly filling running lanes. Brown will do each, as well as provide a pass rush when called upon and generate turnovers.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
Percy Harvin is gone via trade according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. So, Minnesota replaces him with Tavon Austin. Easily one of the quickest and most dynamic players this draft, Austin's ability to widen intermediate passing lanes and accumulate yards after the catch inflates the Vikings' overall offensive output.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
Fielding an upgraded secondary to lockdown better in coverage, Indianapolis continues to build with Damontre Moore. He has a great knack for getting quarterback pressure and locating the ball to make plays from the backside.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle): Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
From the Harvin trade, Glazer also reported that Minnesota received Seattle's Round 1 pick. As a team that thrived on controlling the line of scrimmage in 2012, the Vikings emphasize that even more with Purdue's Kawann Short in 2013.
Given that Kevin Williams is turning 33 years old before the season, Short's potential and upside is the future for Minnesota along the line. Include his 45 tackles for loss, 14 defended passes and 19.5 sacks over the previous three campaigns, and this production will greatly complement Jared Allen.
Minnesota needs more backfield turbulence generated from the interior of its defensive front, and Short's tenacity won't be denied. From the start, he won't face double-teams courtesy of Allen on the outside; plus, few rookies draw extra blockers right out the gates.
However, once Short proves the dependability at interfering with any developing play, his presence gains the attention of offensive tackles and pass protecting running backs. The end result is a significant increase of quarterback pressure that collapses the pocket across the entire line of scrimmage.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
Green Bay remains a legit Super Bowl contender, but the Packers become a stronger threat with Sylvester Williams. As a force within the trenches, Williams' established talent to disrupt a backfield will close running lanes and let the 'backers make more plays. And when not drawing extra attention, he can apply pressure to flush the quarterback out of the pocket.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Clemson)
Featuring a more high-powered offense will put Houston over the top. So, enter DeAndre Hopkins, who will take advantage of single-coverage situations and draw a Cover 1/2 safety his direction.
Once proven to make plays, attention is derived from Andre Johnson and opponents focus more on shutting down the Texans' passing game. Arian Foster benefits accordingly by facing fewer defenders in the box.
28. Denver Broncos: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
The Broncos need to get a No. 2 pass rusher opposite of Von Miller. Alex Okafor is a great fit for the Mile High City, because his initial jump at the snap will capitalize on longer developing plays. Count his lateral quickness and Okafor will also defend reliably well against the run.
29. New England Patriots: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
New England has the tight end duo in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to occupy linebackers and nickel/dime backs. Mixing Keenan Allen into Tom Brady's passing game formula and the Patriots present a downfield target to force the safeties back. As a result, Brady continues to spread the field and the ground game is provided with wider lanes.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)
Atlanta got its pass rusher in Osi Umenyiora, per Jay Glazer.
Supplying him with an interior complement in Jesse Williams then takes care of the Falcons' defensive line issues. Last year, Atlanta gave up an average of 4.8 yards per rush, recorded only 29 sacks and gave up an average of 365 total yards.
Even with the explosive offense to score points and push the pace, Atlanta must win the trenches on defense to complement its attack. Williams may have collected only 37 tackles last season, but his power and ferocity will penetrate to close off any developing blocking scheme.
The instant aftermath limits the extension of running lanes, which then allows 'backers to meet the ball-carriers at the immediate point of attack. For passing plays, he'll draw blockers to garner attention and leave Umenyiora one-on-one.
Together these two will constrict running lanes and sport an all-encompassed pass rush. In short, the opportunistic secondary sees more chances to generate turnovers.
31. San Francisco 49ers: John Cyprien, Safety (Florida International)
John Cyprien is a complete defender capable of helping with perimeter run support or zoning off at the underneath. Either way, his size and top speed for rolling down underneath lets the 49ers blitz their linebackers more with confidence. And when not blitzing, allowing Cyprien to read in Cover 1 or 2 will create a deeper coverage umbrella to minimize big plays.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o, LB (Notre Dame)
Baltimore's front seven is missing one piece: An inside linebacker who knows how to make plays. Therefore, Manti Te'o comes aboard and will produce because of the pass rush's impact. Te'o's quickness in the box fills running lanes, and his awareness in coverage shells the intermediate level.
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